How to Choose a Diet

Choosing an appropriate, satisfactory, economical diet for your pet may feel daunting, with so many choices and so many different opinions on pet foods.  By appropriate we mean one matched to your pet’s species, lifestage, and activity.  Satisfactory means a diet that is:

1) Complete – contains all required nutrients. 

2) Balanced –all nutrients are present in the proper proportions.

3) Palatable – will be eaten in sufficient amounts to keep the pet in moderate body condition.

4) Digestible – can be absorbed into the pet’s body for use.

5) Safe – is free of deficiencies, excesses, toxins, etc.

And economical means that the food is available at a price per Calorie that fits your budget. 

There are three broad classifications of foods available for pets:

  • Conventional Commercial diets are most commonly fed.  Common commercial foods are made with chicken, beef, lamb, or fish products and by products, grains such as corn, wheat, rice, barley and/or oats, and added vitamins and minerals to ensure that the final diet is satisfactory.  These foods may be formulated for specific life stages such as puppy/kitten, adult, or for “all life stages”.
  • Veterinary therapeutic diets are used to manage a variety of health related issues and diseases in cats and dogs.  They are available through veterinarians and made to be fed under their supervision because of one or more variations in nutrient content from typical balanced diets.
  • Home-prepared diets – owners occasionally prefer to prepare food for their pets themselves.  Nutrition consultations are available to discuss this option for individual pets. Guidance for these individuals is also available from other websites to ensure the ongoing health of their pet.

The information below can help guide you through the process of choosing a satisfactory diet by showing you how you can compare foods to decide which is best for you and your pet.