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What we eat: It’s acknowledged as one of the most important things we can do to help keep us young, healthy and active, yet a majority of pet owners and health professionals concentrate only on the amount of food we give our pets, and not the quality. Ensuring your pet is eating right will help your best friend fight against disease, old age, and obesity. And this doesn’t mean you need to hire a personal chef for your 7-pound cat, Parker. It simply means you need to read beyond the “Natural” and “Healthy” advertisements on the front of the food’s packaging.

A Few Simple Rules To Go By: Make sure that the following are NOT NOT NOT listed as ingredients in the food you feed your best friend:

  • Artificial colors, flavors, chemicals preservatives or additives
  • By-Products
  • High in Grain (same thing as too many carbohydrates, which will put on weight)
  • The term “rendered meat”

Unfortunately there is very little enforcement when it comes to overseeing the Pet Food Industry. It is a $15 billion industry that is only there to turn a profit. I encourage people to buy products WITHOUT by-products, as this can often mean waste that is unfit for human consumption — including intestines, hooves, udders, heads and old or rotten meats that are most likely diseased. Places like Whole Foods often sell pet food marketed as healthier and natural and though it may not list “by-products” or “rendered meat” in its ingredients, it very well may be high in grain which will pack on the pounds and often leads to heart and/or other diseases.

You may have heard of those pet owners, likely dog-owners, who believe in a raw food diet. While careful consideration goes into why this is possibly the right diet for your animal, there are other alternatives that come in a can or a bag, that are not pricey, and not any more time consuming than your previous feeding regimen.

One of my favorite pet food retailers and resources in the San Diego area is Noah’s Arc, Pet Wash and Boutique. The owners and their staff are knowledgeable (and very sweet) and will work with you to find food and routine that is right for your pet.

Once you’ve found a dry and/or wet pet food that works for you, remember never to mix dry food with wet, or dry food with water — this creates bacteria and will make your pet sick.

Here is a great website that really breaks down the basics on pet food.

Also check out Noah’s Arc. They will be an online retailer very soon!

– DANAE BLYTHE

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