Leonard Animal Clinic - November 2019



Pet Gazette

From Your Hometown Vet


What’s on the Menu? Hard Truths About Pet Food and Nutrition

When it comes to food, my family has a list of very specific things we want on the table for Thanksgiving dinner. The two biggest must-haves are broccoli rice casserole and sweet potato casserole. Now that my sisters and I are grown, we split up the work so everyone is responsible for a side dish. I’m a big fan of broccoli rice casserole, so I’m happy to make it. I’ve never really liked sweet potato

are extremely rare, especially in dogs. It can happen, but when it does, it’s usually the protein in the food causing the problem, not the grain.

casserole, but I’ll still make it when it’s my turn. It’s tradition, after all!

Planning our Thanksgiving dinner has gotten me thinking a lot about the food we give our pets. Next to behavior, nutrition is one of my primary focuses as a veterinarian. I’m even certified as a Hill's Veterinary nutritional advocate. First, I have to say, no matter how much your pets beg, don’t feed them any table scraps, and make sure no one else is sneaking them Thanksgiving treats either. Diarrhea and pancreatitis are big problems after Thanksgiving, especially in dogs. Stick to pet treats and pet food.

Another common misconception about pet food is price. A lot of people assume expensive food is automatically better. This isn’t necessarily true. The best indication of pet food quality isn’t the price tag. If you want to know if your pet’s food is complete and balanced, check the bag for the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) approval. This will usually be under the feeding instructions. AAFCO is a regulatory organization that sets labeling, ingredient, and nutritional requirements for pet food. While AAFCO isn’t a government organization and has no regulatory authority, it does help protect consumers and safeguard the health of animals. Checking for the AAFCO seal on your pet food is a good way to make sure your pet is getting the nutrients they need. Good nutrition in pets is a passion of mine. I’m glad to be able to give my dog two complete and balanced meals a day. That’s something I don’t usually get myself! If you have any questions about pet food and treats or just nutrition in general, please don’t hesitate to ask. I’m happy to help everyone let their pets eat as well as we do on Thanksgiving — with more reasonable portion sizes, of course.

“A lot of people assume expensive food is automatically better.”

Speaking of pet food, for a long time, a big trend has been grain-free diets. Clients have asked me what the best grain-free food is for their dog or cat. Unfortunately, research from just the last six months has shown these grain-free diets are implicated in heart disease in some dogs. Going 100% grain-free means some dogs aren’t getting the amino acids they need to keep their hearts healthy.

Many people have chosen grain-free diets for their pets because they think their dog or cat has a food allergy. The reality is that food allergies


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