By Dr. Louise Murray, Vice President of the ASPCA Animal Hospital
Pet owners want to provide their furry friends with a healthy diet, but all the available pet food options can be overwhelming at times. Here are some tips to help you select the right food for your pet.
It’s helpful to read pet food labels before making a purchase. Here’s what to look for:
Make sure the food meets the standards of the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).
Review food ingredients and the order in which they’re listed, since ingredients are listed in order of relative amounts. Feeding cats carbohydrates such as corn may lead to health issues including obesity and diabetes. Dogs are omnivores, like us, and as such are more nutritionally flexible.
Foods labeled as gourmet, premium, or super or ultra premium are not required to contain higher quality ingredients, and are not held to higher nutritional standards; the term natural also does not have an official definition.
When the label lists meat by-products, this refers to animal parts that we may not choose to eat but are not intrinsically unhealthy for pets. The term by-productmeal refers to animal tissue that has been rendered, an industrial process converting slaughterhouse offal and deceased animals from various sources into a more stable material; some owners prefer to avoid foods containing meat meal.
If you prefer to make homemade food for your pet, read these helpful tips:
You can prepare healthy meals at home if you ensure that the diet is balanced for your pet’s species, stage of life, and any health conditions. An unbalanced diet can lead to serious problems, such as bone fragility, heart disease, and blindness. Homemade diets must be balanced by a board-certified veterinary nutritionist. Pet Diets and Balance It provide helpful guides for at-home pet food preparation.
If you prepare food for your pet, ensure all meats are cooked properly. Raw meat can be contaminated with harmful bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella, presenting a health hazard not only to your pet but to your family as well, and can be found in the stool of pets who consume uncooked meat.
Ever wondered why dogs and cats need different foods?
The nutritional needs of dogs and cats are very different. Dogs are omnivores and can do well on either meat-containing or vegetarian diets, while cats are strict carnivores with very precise nutritional needs.
Because their ancestors lived in desert environments, cats often don’t drink enough and they produce urine with relatively little water in it. Therefore, it’s a good idea to include moist foods in your cat’s diet to help prevent the formation of crystals and stones in the urinary tract. Another characteristic of cats is that they can become seriously ill if they resent a food change or go on a hunger strike so any diet change must be made slowly and carefully. When switching foods, watch your cat’s appetite closely, and never try to starve a cat into eating a new food!
Always be sure to check with your pet’s veterinarian regarding the best diet for your companion, and discuss any special dietary needs your pet may have.
It’s been all over the news: The glamour and excitement of the games in Sochi have come at the expense of thousands of innocent stray dogs. Ahead of the games, the government hired a private company to eliminate stray dogs from city streets.
Now, the athletes themselves are joining the public outcry and efforts to save these precious dogs. Last week, slopestyle skier Gus Kenworthy tweeted photos of four adorable stray puppies and their mother. (He them found hiding near the competition area.) The medalist pledged to bring the pups back to the States the moment he saw them.
We’re so happy the pups now have a second chance. Thank you, Gus!
The action doesn’t end there. ESPN correspondent Sarah Spain also saw the plight of the Sochi dogs and wanted to get involved helping homeless pets in her own community—so she’s pitching in!
“Like many people I was heartbroken to learn about the stray dogs being killed in Sochi,” says Spain. “While we may not be able to help those dogs, we can help homeless pets in our own backyard,” she explains. “In honor of the Sochi dogs, I’ve teamed up with a dedicated group of celebrities to help raise funds for the ASPCA.”
What could be better than finding your life-long match? On the heels of Valentine’s Day, the ASPCA has teamed up with OkCupid and Draftfcb New York to help single pets find their perfect companions! Several of our adorable adoptable cats and dogs now have their very own profiles on the well-known dating site.
Each OkCupid pet profile incorporates our Meet Your Match® program which evaluates the animal’s personality and matches it to an adopter’s preferences.
If you're a member of OkCupid, keep your eyes out for our furry singles looking for love. If not, you can still check out the dating profiles of Karma, Bella, Mona and Florsheim. You’re not going to believe how cute they are!
Enter to Win a Pet Lovers Gift Pack! Already taken? Well, you can still help our adoptables find true love by entering our True Love contest. Visit our contest page to vote for your favorite pet, share their profile on your social networks and you’ll be automatically entered to win a special Pet Lovers Gift Pack!
Thanks for helping us make a love connection for these homeless pets.
Lights, camera, action! If you watched NBC’s Today Show this morning, you probably saw a segment featuring three newly famous ASPCA adoptable dogs: Wishbone, Nautica and Bam Bam.
These adorable pups made their TV debut for a segment with hosts Kathie Lee and Hoda, and taste-tested homemade dog meals from veterinarian and talk-show host Dr. Katy Nelson. They were joined by U.S. slopestyle ski competitors Joss Christensen, Gus Kenworthy, Nick Goepper—recent gold, silver and bronze medalists, respectively.
Every single day, ASPCA staffers have the privilege of meeting some of the most wonderful, spirited animals you could ever encounter. In fact, one of the hardest parts of our job is resisting the urge to adopt each and every one of them! But every now and then, we’ll meet an animal that inspires us to throw that resistance out the window. Such was the case with our very own Dr. Colin Dwyer, DVM, and an abused Pit Bull named Zeus.
As a veterinarian for the ASPCA, Dr. Dwyer has seen his fair share of dogs. He’s also seen his fair share of heartbreak. “I’ve met a lot of dogs that are ideal in every way, but that get ignored because they’re too big, or are of a demonized breed such as Pit Bulls,” he says. Determined to make a difference for one such dog, Dr. Dwyer waited patiently for the perfect fit.
In January, members of the ASPCA’s Anti-Cruelty Group and the Adoption Center’s behavior staff all recommended that he meet a dog named Zeus. “They knew my love for big dogs, and everyone in the hospital had fallen in love with Zeus while caring for his injuries,” says the vet. The two were introduced, and it was an ideal match. “Zeus was the dog I’d been waiting for: a large Pit Bull covered in scars, but housetrained and as sweet as can be,” he says. “He is one of the most affectionate dogs I’ve ever met—amazing given his history of neglect and abuse.”
After adopting Zeus, Colin changed his name to Goose. He tells us, “Goose is adjusting well to our house, aside from shamelessly hogging the bed! He is quiet, cute, well-trained and also very playful.” Everyone at the ASPCA is so happy for Dr. Dwyer and Goose, not only for proving that all dogs—including big ones, scarred ones and bully breeds—can make perfect pets, but also for demonstrating how lucky we are to work with these truly extraordinary animals every single day.
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