From the Vet: What to Look for When Buying Pet Food

Dog wit empty bowl.

Every pet needs plenty of TLC, quality veterinary care, and a healthy diet. But finding a food that checks all the boxes—nutritious, delicious, and within budget—can be overwhelming. There are more options now than ever before, with new brands, specialty diets, and textures, and even refrigerated foods for both cats and dogs.  

At Rocklin Ranch Veterinary Hospital, we’re here to help you find the foods that best meet the needs of your pet’s breed and age, while taking into consideration any medical conditions or lifestyle factors. We’re happy to provide nutritional guidance during your pet’s wellness visits or anytime you have questions. 

In the meantime, our pet experts have put together some tips to help you the next time you’re perusing the pet aisle or pointing and clicking on your favorite pet food delivery app or website.

It’s What’s on the Inside That Counts

High price tags, fancy packaging, or cute commercials don’t guarantee quality pet nutrition. Spend a few moments scanning the package and the label. While we don’t expect you to become an expert on pet nutrition, here are a few quick tips:

  • Make sure the package contains a nutrition adequacy statement from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) so that you know the food contains the required vitamins and minerals to meet your dog’s or cat’s unique nutritional needs.
  • Choose a food labeled for your pet’s species, age, and condition (if applicable).
  • Follow the feeding directions.
  • Meat should be the first ingredient.
  • Avoid chemical preservatives like BHT, BHA, and ethoxyquin; food dyes; and propylene glycol (used as a moistening agent).
  • Watch out for high concentrations of carb fillers like wheat gluten and corn meal.

Specialty Diets for Medical Needs

Therapeutic diets (both prescription and nonprescription) are available to help alleviate symptoms and slow the progression of a wide range of conditions, including:

If your pet has a diagnosed medical condition, your veterinarian can recommend an appropriate therapeutic diet. 

The Grain-free Craze: Is it OK?

Before switching your pet to a grain-free diet, consult with your veterinarian. The FDA is exploring a link between grain-free diets and a heart condition called canine dilated cardiomyopathy. Grain-free diets may still be recommended for pets with food allergies

Your Pet’s Palate

Ultimately, our pets have to actually eat the food we buy for them to get all the proper vitamins and minerals, so be prepared for trial and error as your pet progresses through each life stage. Some pets prefer dry kibble, while some enjoy a combination of both wet and dry foods. There are even pet food complements and toppers that can be used to add nutritional value or make pet food more palatable!  

Your pet’s quality of life is greatly impacted by what he or she eats. Contact us at (916) 624-PETS (7387) if you have questions or to schedule a nutrition consultation.

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