What should be the ideal food for dogs and cats.

1. Does my pet’s age matter when it comes to what food to buy?

Kittens and puppies have different nutritional needs than adult dogs and cats. For example, young pets need to eat more energy-dense, higher-calorie foods to support their growth, as well as consume more of certain essential nutrients that support proper development.

When selecting a pet food, it is important to determine if your pet has finished growing. Then, look at the pet food label to see the intended life stage of the cat or dog food, which generally indicates that the food is for growing puppies and kittens, adult pets, or pets of all life stages.

Cats are usually fully grown by 10-12 months of age, but for dogs it varies by size. It’s best to check with your vet to determine if your pet is fully grown and you can change his food.

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2. What should I know about the different types of pet food?

Wet, dry and cool: Wet, dry or fresh pet foods can be safe and nutritionally balanced options for a cat or dog. The main differences between wet and dry pet foods are cooking processes and moisture content. Dry pet food typically has a moisture content of 10-12%, while wet pet food contains 75-78%. If you feel like your pet isn’t drinking enough water, wet pet food can meet your pet’s hydration needs. It is also more suitable for pets with dental problems. If you are considering fresh foods, you should know that they are kept in the refrigerator to preserve their freshness and quality.

Organic and Natural: When you see pet foods labeled “natural,” know that there are specific guidelines to help understand what that may or may not mean. Natural pet food is defined by the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) as “a food or food ingredient derived solely from plant, animal or mine sources, but that has not been produced or subjected to a chemically synthetic and does not contain any additives or adjuvants.

Raw food: Keep in mind that during a two-year study by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), raw pet food was found to be more likely to contain bacteria such as Salmonella or Listeria. Humans can be exposed to these potentially dangerous bacteria by handling crude oils or being licked by pets. It is strongly suggested that dog and cat owners consult with their veterinarian before feeding this type of food.

Colors, flavors and preservatives: Colors, flavors, and preservatives can be added to pet foods to enhance them in some way, whether through the food’s taste, appearance, or shelf life. These ingredients, along with others that may be added to a pet food recipe for a functional purpose, are regulated and recognized as safe.

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3. What ingredients should pet lovers look for?

Pet food manufacturers consider a diverse mix of ingredients when developing a dog or cat food recipe to ensure each serving is complete and balanced, meaning it meets the pet’s total nutritional needs. The ingredients used in a recipe will vary based on nutritional content, function, consumer demand, and prices, but pet food ingredients are regulated at the state or federal level. Diagnosed food allergies are relatively rare in cats and dogs and are best identified through careful elimination dieting with a veterinarian.

4. Does it matter how pet food is stored at home?

Don’t forget that pet food storage is an important part of food safety. Proper tips for storing pet food include checking packaging for damage before bringing it home, keeping bags and cans of food in a cool, dry place off the ground, always sealing the bag, and keeping it out of the reach of children and pets curious.

Dr. Carlos Cifuentes.

MV La Salle University.