A recent episode of a $400 veterinarian bill left me feeling much more than broke. I exited the office with empty pockets, a sick cat curled up in her carrier and essentially no answers.
Gypsy, my five-year-old Calico, had begun vomiting on a daily basis. While it is normal for felines to regurgitate their food on occasion from excessive cleaning — or so I hear — an everyday occurrence can be a sign of something much more serious.
While the vet couldn’t give me an exact reason for my pet’s discomfort, he had mentioned it was possible that the food I was providing her wasn’t sitting well and to try something more natural.
This of course got me thinking: Why don’t we feed our pets the same high-quality foods that we feed our families?
More than 62 percent of American households own at least one pet. That number, according to the American Pet Products Association, includes 83.3 million dogs and 95.6 million cats owned in the United States.
Many pet owners consider their furry friends as part of the family. So why not feed them foods with natural, whole ingredients rather than byproducts and additives?
After all, dogs and cats have stomachs that are designed to eat raw food. The digestive systems of domesticated pets are not created to digest processed or cooked products.
With consumers becoming increasingly aware of certain dietary preservatives and synthetic chemicals that pose health hazards, it’s no secret that these same principles also apply to our pets.
Unfortunately, our four-legged friends are often fed the over-processed and chemically altered foods that don’t resemble any identifiable meat or vegetable.
Now, am I saying pet owners should only feed their animals raw food? Not necessarily. But I do think we should be mindful in the food brands we are purchasing for them.
Change it up
While people get to change up their meals, most pet owners feed their pets the same exact food day after day.
But like most things in this world, variety is the spice of life.
According to an article published by Dog Food Analysis, there is no one dog or cat food brand that has it all. Mammals are designed to consume a range of different foods in order to obtain all needed vitamins and minerals.
Although little Gigi may prefer chicken over seafood-flavored kibbles, research shows that no pet — or any mammal for that matter — should eat only one food item.
And most importantly, switching between a variety of pet food brands can prevent your furry friend from developing a food allergy. The vast majority of allergies are built up over time from constant exposure to a specific food item.
Read the ingredients
Fortunately, more pet food manufacturers are beginning to understand the importance of our pets’ nutrition. The natural pet food market is growing rapidly and more high quality foods are becoming available.
But that doesn’t always mean you should completely trust what is in their food. Whether for yourself, your child or your pet, I am a big believer in reading the ingredient list.
To first few ingredients listed should contain real meat, whole grains and vegetables to ensure your pet is getting the best nutrition.
After all, no dog or cat owner wants to worry about the continuing problem of pet food recalls. Just recently, several different types of Bravo Pet Food for dogs and cats was recalled after routine testing revealed that some of the batches were contaminated with salmonella.
It can be a scary world out there when determining what to feed and not feed your pet, but I believe with a little research and label-reading, you can make sure you are filling their food bowls with the proper nutrition they need.