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Pet’s Diet Plays an Important Role in Health

by Stacy Conroy If you own a pet, you probably depend on your veterinarian and pet food manufacturers to tell you what your pet needs. But if you rely on television and magazine advertisements to tell you how to keep your pet healthy, you may want to think again. Can we really trust what the ads say? How will what they are selling make a difference in your pet’s health and quality of life? There are a few ways to determine how well your pet is without a trip to the vet. First, is your pet’s coat full, soft and shiny? Are his/her eyes bright and full of energy? Does your pet have a clean smell both in breath and body? Does your pet eat its meals with enthusiasm and have the energy to play for a couple hours each day? If you answered no to any of these questions, your pet may not be in optimal health, and it could have something to do with its diet. If your pet often scratches itself, over grooms, or licks an area of its body until the hair is gone, it is likely allergic to something in its food. Other signs of possible food allergies are yeast infections in the ears or elsewhere. Yeast can be smelled as a strong sour odor in your pet’s ears and is often accompanied by dark wax. Other areas of the face and groin can also be affected by yeast overgrowth and show up as flaky dry skin. An allergy to the protein in grains often causes or contributes to the chronic ailments seen in many pets today. If your pet has stiff joints or is having trouble walking, running and playing, regardless of its age, your pet may have arthritic conditions. One thing to consider is that your pet is a carnivore — nature never intended for dogs and cats to eat large amounts of grains in their diets. However, most commercial pet foods list grains as their main ingredients. What can we do, you ask? Throw away your old beliefs about pet food! We’ve been told time and time again from pet food companies, and even some veterinarians, that pets should eat the same food their entire lives. Nothing could be further from the truth. Dogs and cats need variety and should eat a different, high quality brand of food every three to four months. If you rotate foods, your pet will be less likely to become allergic to the proteins in the grains or deficient in something the food may be missing. Choose bagged and canned foods that list meat as the first ingredient and preferably the first two ingredients. When you introduce a new food, do it gradually, mixing it with the old food for a few days so your pet’s system can adjust. By rotating a few good brands throughout the year, you may help alleviate some uncomfortable symptoms your pet may be experiencing.
by Stacy Conroy