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Taking Good Care of Your Pets: The Benefits of Natural Foods

Apr 17, 2012 10:39AM ● Published by Erin Frisch

Pets

For most people, their pets are an important part of their family, and with so many people realizing how important it is to eat a healthy diet, many are changing not only their own habits but also those of their pets. It’s important to keep a close eye on what you feed your pets, especially in light of all the recent pet-food recalls. If you are reconsidering your pet’s care plan, learn about how changing his or her diet may influence a pet’s health. Before making any dramatic changes, it’s wise to consult your veterinarian. That way, you’ll ensure the best possible outcome for your pet’s health.

Better Health for Your Pet A diet of natural foods provides many health benefits for pets. Natural foods promote a healthier and more robust immune system to help prevent illness and disease. Healthy pets are better able to resist parasites and the diseases associated with them. A pet-care program that includes a diet of natural foods can also help your pet maintain a healthy weight and, with your vet’s guidance, can even help pets that are overweight or suffering from malnutrition return to a healthier weight. Natural foods can also address other problems, such as allergies, dull or dry coats, and skin problems including sensitivity, rashes, itchiness, hot spots, and hives.

Different Diets for Different Pets Not only should your pet have a diet that fits the nutritional needs of its species—you should also keep in mind your pet’s lifestyle and breed when making an animal care plan. Research your best friend’s nutritional needs carefully, and consult an expert such as a veterinarian or reputable breeder. A working dog or one that engages in agility requires a diet that’s different from that of a senior toy breed, just as a kitten’s diet should be different from that of an adult cat. Learn your pet’s nutritional requirements so you can find the best natural foods to meet them.

Ingredients Some packaged pet foods may appear to be made of natural ingredients, but they can still contain chemical or synthetic ingredients. Read the ingredients list carefully to know what you’re really buying. The ingredients are listed in order of the greatest volume. Beware—some manufacturers move undesirable ingredients lower down the list by splitting them into two categories, such as corn and cornmeal. Look for foods that meet the nutritional needs of your pet with appropriate levels of healthy ingredients. Your vet is your best bet for helping you determine the right diet.

Watch Out for Unnatural Preservatives Some preservatives that may be harmful to your pet include ethoxyquin, propyl gallate, propylene glyco, butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), phosphoric acid, menadione sodium bisulfate vitamin K3 (also listed under other names such as menadione dimethyl-pyrimidinol bisulfate or menadione dimethyl-pyrimidinol bisulfite), sorbitol, and Dl-alpha tocopheryl acetate. The healthiest pet foods have started using natural alternatives to traditional chemical coloring agents, so it’s possible to avoid foods that use chemical dyes.

Your pet is important to you, and feeding a balanced diet of natural foods can help ensure a longer, healthier, and happier life. Don’t forget that, just like you, your pet needs plenty of fresh water. If you have any questions about feeding or caring for your pet, be sure to talk to your veterinarian.

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