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Sun, Jan. 19

Powers: Some thoughts — food and feeding
All About Pets

Pet food comes in colorful packages, but read the label and know what you are buying. You get what you pay for. (Christy Powers/Courtesy)

Pet food comes in colorful packages, but read the label and know what you are buying. You get what you pay for. (Christy Powers/Courtesy)

It is always wonderful to get feedback from those who have read this column. Thank you, thank you. What more could one ask? You validate what I do. I am ever hopeful that what I write might be of help to someone.

Several questions have surfaced recently about food and feeding our pets. I was visiting with some folks and the subject came up. Someone stated that she only feeds her pup once a day. Being a believer of twice a day feeding, I decided to address this subject again.

I firmly believe that our pets need two meals a day. They need to eat to get energy to begin the day and a refueling at dinner time. And make mealtime special. Let them watch you prepare their meal and let them know that it will be wonderful.

Having worked in the pet food industry and written extensively about it for a ton of years and talking with pet owners and hearing their concerns, I am continually doing research in this field that is constantly changing and improving.

My number one piece of advice regarding pet food and the selection of a product to feed your pet - read the label. That is - the ingredient label.

Also on the label are recommendations about how much you should feed - although it might serve as a guideline, I suggest you basically disregard that information. How much you should feed your pet is based on his age, activity level, weight and physical condition. No one can advise you better than you yourself. Just like you realize your own weight condition, you must be mindful of the condition of your pet.

Standing over your pet, you should see kind of a half hour glass shape; wider through the rib cage and then a narrowing behind the ribs. But getting closer, you want to be able to feel the ribs and the back bone. You do not want them protruding- but you want to be able to feel them, just like we should be able to feel our own.

Many people say that their dog is not too heavy; It is just that they have a lot of hair. Well - the touch test still works. You want to be able to feel the ribs and the back bone.

So, reading the label, what is in this product that you are feeding? You get what you pay for. Cheap food has cheap ingredients like corn and soy. Some pet owners today are looking for grain free and for others it is not an issue. Many dogs have allergies and there are foods to meet the various needs. Allergies can be from the food we feed or from environmental sources, particularly now with all the allergens floating through the air.

Meat should always be the first ingredient in our dog’s food. Chicken or beef or fish etc. - but not chicken or whatever by product. We want the real thing. Make sure you see it there as the number one ingredient. However, as Donna at Whiskers Barkery just reminded me, chicken meal is a dehydrated form of chicken so it can actually be more nourishing than just chicken which contains water.

Also on the ingredient label, you should see a list of things that sound pretty good to you as well. Broccoli, apples, cranberries, yams, things that we know should be on our dinner plate.

People used to brag that they never fed their pets people food. Today, lots of people are making their own pet food out of fresh human grade groceries. Making your own food can be tricky because you want to be sure that all the pet’s nutritional needs are met. And it is expensive. A wide variety of excellent pet food is available today; A combination of kibble, fresh, freeze dried and dehydrated. Walk along the isle and read the labels. Just remember, you get what you pay for.

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