Selecting the Best Pet Food Based on Your Pet’s Individual Needs

ppppIn the past I've avoided posting too much about what I feed my dogs.  Feeding Kitsune hasn't always been the easiest task.  As a biologist, a pet blogger, and a concerned pet guardian, I understand the importance of a healthy diet.  For many dogs, the ultimate healthy diet is a properly balanced raw or home cooked diet.  I discovered raw diets for dogs shortly after we got Kitsune, and spent hours upon hours researching how to provide a properly balanced raw food diet.  Unfortunately, not for lack of trying, I've never been able to get a fully raw diet to agree with Kitsune.

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At first I blamed myself - what was I doing wrong?  It didn't take us too long to discover that Kitsune has food allergies.  I'm not happy about the fact that he can't eat certain foods, but I remember, when we first discovered his allergies, feeling relieved.  Knowing what foods bother him would surely help us to better cater to his needs.

Still, try as I might, we could not get a full raw diet to work for him.  After ruling out any medical issues, discussing his sensitivities with a top NYC holistic vet, and putting in hours of personal research, we eventually came up with a diet plan that works well for Kit.

Resorting to feeding him kibble, albeit high quality kibble, made me feel a bit like a failure.  Being in the circles that I am, feeding anything outside of exclusively raw or home cooked diets is often looked down upon.  In case anyone is wondering, Kitsune currently eats a combination of Acana, the Lamb and Okanagan Apple formula, and home cooked meals.  He normally gets Acana for breakfast, and a home cooked meal for dinner.  I supplement his regular diet with raw meaty bones (for his teeth, and because he enjoys them so much), home made and/or limited ingredient treats, his supplements (which I'll talk more about in a future post),  and all natural chews.

With his sensitive stomach, even these occasional treats sometimes cause a bit of GI upset.  It's a delicate balance.  With all the countless hours I've spent researching, talking with experts, and tweaking Kit's diet, I think the most valuable thing I've learned is that you have to find what's right for your pet as an individual.  Like with people, no two dogs are exactly the same.  Food that is life changing for one dog isn't going to be the right diet for all dogs.

10848355_1516848941926889_1479598734_nThis day and age, there are so many options available when it comes to feeding our pets.  Besides the growing body of knowledge about home prepared diets, there are hundreds of companies selling commercially prepared foods - everything from common kibble to commercial raw diets.  Taking into account the shear number of available options, plus the fact that not all foods work for all pets, selecting the 'perfect' food for each of your pets can really be a daunting task.

Luckily you don't have to go in alone!  There are so many amazing resources out there for pet owners who want to find the food that will work best for their pet.  Once we realized that raw wasn't working for Kitsune, I spent a lot of time on the Dog Food Advisor website reading reviews.  I don't own a cat myself, but for those of you that do, I recently learned of Reviews.com's list of the best cat foods

Your pet's veterinarian can be a great source of knowledge as well.  Just be careful - it's unfortunately true that some vets don't get much training on pet nutrition, and will push certain foods because they are being paid to do so.  This isn't the case with all veterinarians though!  An increasing number of vets seem to be supporting higher quality foods, some of them even recommending and helping owners to create balanced raw/home cooked diets.

As long as you feel you are doing the absolute best for your individual pet(s), no one should fault you for what you do or don't feed them.  After all, I don't think anyone would expect all humans to be able to eat the exact same diet and all thrive on it.  So why would we expect that to be the case with our pets?

Also remember that your pets' diet is something that can very much be subject to change.  As you learn more about what does and doesn't work for your pet, more about specific diets, or your pet's dietary needs change, it's ok to try new foods.  Just because Kitsune is doing well on Acana now doesn't mean that will necessarily be what I feed him for the rest of his life.  I am continuously assessing my pets' health, including how they are doing on their current food, and making changes as needed.

I'd love to hear from you!  What are you currently feeding your pets?  How did you go about selecting the right food for them?