By Jessica Vogelsang, DVM
It’s a long-held myth that pets should be on the same pet food their entire lives. The truth is, we now know our pet’s dietary needs can and do change over time due to factors like their life stage, their overall health, and their activity level. Do you think it might be time for a change? Check out our top six signs you may want to get a brand new bag of pet food.
Diets rich in essential fatty acids are a key component in keeping a pet’s skin healthy, and therefore his or her coat, in tip top shape. Many pet foods are designed with skin and coat improvement in mind. Look for a diet containing both Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids to make your pet’s coat shiny and bright in no time.
If your pet had recently undergone a stressful event, illness, or surgery, he may understandably be a little worn out. Diets with high levels of antioxidants can help boost the immune response to accelerate your pet’s recovery and get them back on their feet in no time. Remember: a pet who is suddenly acting lethargic and weak should be evaluated by a veterinarian before making dietary changes.
Depending on the size of the animal, pets are considered middle-aged to senior around 5-7 years. And as our pets age, their nutrient requirements change too. Senior diets, for example, are generally lower in calories but higher in fiber, and often have supplements specific to this lifestage such as joint support and antioxidants. AAFCO does not have requirements for senior pets, however, so look for a food labeled for “adult maintenance.” This is because an “all life stage” food is formulated with kittens and puppies in mind. It will also deliver too much fat and nutrients your senior pet does not require. In fact, the pet food could even be harmful to a senior pet.
It doesn’t take much for a pet to wind up with some extra weight on their frame — and this is particularly noticeable with small pets. If your pet needs to lose a few inches, a diet specifically designated for weight loss will ensure that they still have the proper amount of essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals while ingesting fewer calories. These diets take advantage of the latest research in pet weight management to ensure your pet is on their way to a healthier weight in no time! If your pet is extremely overweight or obese, however, it's best that you consult with your veterinarian for a therapeutic nutritional solution.
Chronic flatulence, loose stool, or rumbly stomachs can be the result of food intolerance or the low quality of food that you’re feeding your pet. Some pets simply don’t tolerate certain diets or ingredients as well as other ones. GI upset is an inconvenience to owners as well as being uncomfortable for your pet. If this is an ongoing problem for you, ask your health care professional to diagnose the problem. The solution may be as easy as switching to premium food or a sensitive stomach diet that’s right for your pet.
Allergies are common in pets, and food is just one of several possible causes. Regardless of the cause, though, allergic pets may benefit from a low-allergen diet that reduces the amount of potential allergens they are exposed to. Your veterinarian can recommend either a prescription diet or an over the counter sensitive skin diet, depending on your pet’s particular needs.
Choosing the proper diet is one of the most important ways owners can ensure their pet’s long term health, but it’s no substitute for medical care. If you suspect your pet may have a medical condition that would benefit from a new diet, be sure to have a checkup with your vet to make sure you’re on the right path before making any changes! Good food and good choices lead to a long, healthy, happy life.