So how important is it to feed a good pet food to my pet?
The short answer is --- VERY important.
The longer answer is that feeding a good quality food with a good balance of nutrition and quality items that make up the food are essential for proper growth of the pet and providing care to your pet throughout adulthood. As your pet ages it may need a prescription diet to help out the kidneys like Hill's KD or Purina NF, or you may need to feed your pet a certain food to prevent dental disease like Hill's TD, or you may want to prevent struvite stones from forming in your pet's bladder and feed it Royal Canin Urinary SO or Hill's CD food. Nutrition is not only important in our dog and cat patients, but also our exotic pets. The Guinea Pig can not produce Vitamin C in its body, so if they are not supplemented in the diet they will develop scurvy. Reptiles and Amphibians need to be provided with the proper diet and UV-B spectrum lighting to prevent calcium deficiencies in the body and metabolic bone disease. Birds that are fed a mostly seed or all seed diet are deficient in calcium, vitamins esp A/E/D, are low in micro/macrominerals, they also get to much fat and phosphorus in the diet. So, as you can see nutrition is so important to you and your pets. Since you are what you eat, you can not make a healthy body without eating healthy food.
Another question that we commonly get at the Arbor Ridge Pet Clinic is the following:
I have been feeding my pet -INSERT FOOD HERE (Example - ProPlan, Royal Canin, Science Diet), but my friend just told me I am feeding a horrible food and it is not natural, organic and it has corn in it. Is this really bad for my pet?
The short answer is NO, these new food and organic stores in town are trying to tell you this because "organic" and "natural" are the "IN" thing right now. Now let me explain why my answer is no. First off food companies like Hill's, Purina, and Waltham (now owned by Royal Canin) have been producing pet food for a long time and more importantly in that time they have put millions of dollars into research to make their food a good and continually improving product. Many of these new and organic food companies have little or NO research to back up their diet and their claims of having a better food. Second many organic and natural foods claim that "fillers" like corn and chicken and meat by products are horrible things. A byproduct of soybeans is vitamin E, an important vitamin for our pets. Many of the meat meals consist of internal organs, these are highly digestible and an important part of a carnivore's diet. In the wild a wolf or big cat like lions after a fresh kill will consume the intestines first prior to eating the muscle. Corn is a "natural" ingredient that is filled with readily digestible carbohydrates and essential fatty acids for the animal. Many of the organic and natural food contain RAW meat, this is potentially dangerous for many reasons, one it can contain parasites and harmful bacteria that can harm your pet and it is not precisely balanced for your pet. Always remember to ask yourself what is "natural"? Corn and by-products are still natural. Always look for the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials, www.aafco.org) seal on your foods and don't always fall for hype or verbage without the research to back up their claims.
The Arbor Ridge Pet Clinic does promote any one food, it is important to discuss diet with your veterinarian and find a proper good diet for your pet.
For more information on the AAFCO rules and reulations, please check out their website at www.aafco.org