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Pet Food Information

What ingredients should I look for when choosing a pet food?

Animal protein - Dogs and cats do best on a diet high in animal protein. Look for a named, single-source meat, poultry, or fish protein as the first ingredient (chicken, venison, duck, etc.). High quality dry kibble diets may list animal proteins as “meal,” which is a dried and more concentrated form of the meat, poultry, or fish protein (rabbit meal, chicken meal, salmon meal).

Fruits, vegetables, and whole grain - Look for vegetables and fruits (broccoli, carrots, blueberries, or cranberries). These ingredients contain antioxidants and important vitamins and minerals to help your dog maintain proper health. If you are feeding a product that contains some grain, be sure the grains are whole and hearty (brown rice, oatmeal, or barley).

Complete and balanced - Diets that are complete and balanced contain the vitamins and minerals your dog and cat need for daily health and well-being. In kibble and canned diets, also look for chelated minerals (iron proteinate, zinc proteinate). Chelated minerals are more easily absorbed during digestion.

What ingredients do you recommend avoiding when choosing a pet food?

Unnamed proteins and generic fat sources - Try to avoid products that contain unnamed, generic proteins (meat and bone meal, poultry meal). Also try to avoid foods with generic fat sources (poultry fat, animal fat).

Meat protein substitutes - We believe protein should come from meat! Try to avoid foods that include meat protein substitutes (wheat gluten, corn gluten meal). Since dogs and cats naturally prefer to eat like a carnivore, you should also try to avoid foods high in grain - especially corn, wheat and soy.

Unnecessary artificial additives - Avoid foods that contain chemical preservatives (BHA, BHT) or artificial coloring (caramel color, FD&C colors).

Download How to Choose a Dog Food

How do I transition my pet to a new food?
It is always a good idea to start out slowly on a new diet with any pet. Slowly increase the amount of new food being added to the present diet over a period of 3-4 weeks. If any digestive upset or loose stool occurs, make the transition more gradual. It is a good idea to allow your pet's digestive system to calm down and return to normal before proceeding. There is no need to rush this transition.

What should I feed if my dog/cat has allergies?

It is important to work closely with your veterinarian to determine if your pet's reaction is food-related or not. If it is food-related, it can be a true allergy (immune response) or simply intolerance. Either case requires careful identification of the irritant and special attention to ingredient quality and pet food labels.

Common food irritants can include chicken, beef, eggs, wheat, and corn. Typically, irritants are proteins (animal or plant), and not fats. As a result, if your pet is allergic to chicken protein, it will likely not be allergic to chicken fat. Products that are chicken-free (no chicken, chicken organs, or chicken eggs) but include chicken fat should be safe to feed.

Allergies or intolerances may develop from repeated exposure – in other words, by not varying or rotating protein species. We recommend rotating not only flavors, but also styles of food (raw, kibble, can) to help prevent allergies, intolerances, and picky eaters.

For more information, please browse our pet food library here.

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