How to choose pet food
A pet food buying guide
Feeding your pet is an important aspect of pet care. Therefore, learning how to choose pet food that will provide the right nutrition for your pet is essential and can be easy, especially when you keep a few simple factors in mind.
>> What kinds of pets are in your household?
The specific type of animal that you have is, of course, an important consideration when determining how to choose pet food. When you buy pet food, the type that you purchase will vary according to the type of pet that you have. For dogs and cats, you can usually find a number of quality pet foods in both the wet (canned) and the dry (bagged) varieties. Reptiles such as snakes and lizards may require live foods such as mice or crickets, which you can obtain in most pet supply departments. Small pets such as ferrets, hamsters, mice and rats require seeds and greens to stay healthy. Birds do well with seeds, grains and suet, and most fish eat small flakes of food.
>> What type of food is best for your pet?
One factor that often gets overlooked when considering how to choose pet food is convenience. Often, when you buy pet food, convenience plays a large part of the decision process. For many pets, dry varieties are best since they are easy to buy, widely available, convenient to store and easy for your pet to eat. Next, in terms of convenience and popularity, is wet food. Wet types of pet food are available in cans and vacuum-sealed pouches. Many of the top-rated pet food brands offer both a line of wet foods and a line of dry foods.
Specialty foods, which come in a number of forms like dehydrated, live and raw, are another important factor when considering how to choose pet food. For animals such as snakes, for example, raw foods are recommended. Once you have determined the correct type of food for your pets, do a pet food comparison by carefully reading the labels to see what the various brands of foods contain.
>> Consider foods for special dietary needs
Animals, like people, can have special dietary needs, and this is important to keep in mind when considering how to choose pet food for your animal. For example, your pet might have an allergy to grains and will need a special type of pet food to manage this. Furthermore, puppies, kittens and senior animals require specialty formulas. Keep in mind, also, that your veterinarian is only a phone call away should you have questions about a specific food for your pet.
There are a number of top-rated pet foods for almost any dietary requirement. A few of the more common specialty pet foods are as follows:
- No grains: This type of pet food contains no grain fillers. Pet food brands with no grains are also often top sellers among organic pet foods. They are most commonly available in brands of dog and cat food because these are the types that are most likely to use grains as filler.
- Gentle blends: These cat and dog food brands are designed for animals with sensitive digestive systems, such as older, less active animals.
- Indoor only: These are the best pet foods to feed your dog or cat if it does not go outside very often.
- Young: Many pet food brands now have specialty formulas for young animals. When you are planning to buy pet food for young animals, be sure to compare the nutrition labels so that you know what the differences are between these and types of pet foods for older animals. Pet foods for young animals often have increased calcium to support the growth of strong bones and muscles.
- Old: Senior animals have different nutritional needs than younger animals. Older pets move less, may have medical conditions and often have digestive issues. The best pet foods for senior animals take these issues into consideration, as well as caloric values since older animals tend to not move around enough to burn off excessive amounts of calories.
>> What does your pet like to eat from?
When you shop for pet food, you might also consider picking up a new feeding station for your pet. Ceramic crocks are popular since they do not move around a lot due to the fact that they are heavier than other feeding bowls. Stainless steel pet supplies include bowls for larger animals such as dogs and cats, as well as feeder bowls for cages to accommodate smaller animals. These are lightweight and easy to clean. If you purchase stainless steel cat or dog supplies such as feeders, the bowls are often detachable for easy cleaning. Plastic feeders, especially for caged animals, are highly popular due to their relatively low prices and broad selection of styles. Raised pet feeders lift the bowls of the feeder off the floor and closer to the height of the animal's mouth. Coop cups are generally designed to be fastened to the interior of a coop or cage and are often used in birdcages or cages for other small animals such as hamsters.
Automatic feeders are another variety to consider. No matter what kind of pet you have, you should keep at least one automatic feeder in the house. That way, if you are called out of town for a few days, you still have a way to provide your pet with an appropriate amount of food on a daily basis. The best automatic feeders are the ones for which you can regulate the amount of food and when it is dispensed.
>> Consider accessories
Now that you have determined how to choose pet food, you might also consider what accessories you will need for measuring and storing food, for providing water and for keeping your pet's feeding area sanitary.
An important consideration is food storage. Although cans of wet food can be stored in any convenient closet, dry food must be stored properly once it has been opened. A non-BPA plastic container with a wide enough mouth to either scoop or pour the dried food is the recommended storage option for dry food. Measuring scoops can also make your life easier. A scoop can be kept in with the pet food, if you are using dry food, or it can be stored in a spot near where your pet food is kept.
As for water bowls, there are many from which to choose; often, you can even match the water bowl to the food bowl. You can choose from freestanding bowls, or you can get a set of raised bowls. If you travel frequently, you can even get an automatic water feeder that dispenses water at set times so that there is always water in the bowl when your pet needs it.
One accessory that you should also consider when shopping for pet food and accessories is a pet placemat. Pet placemats keep food from falling onto your floor. They can easily be wiped down or shaken out after each meal, as well.