First and foremost you should select the type of food that matches the stage of life your pet is in. For example, if your pet is under 1 year of age, you should be feeding it puppy or kitten food. If it is between the 1-7 years of age, your pet should be fed a food formulated for adults. Once your pet is around 7 years of age, you should discuss with your veterinarian if it is time to change to a senior/mature adult diet – and this is where yearly senior wellness exams and bloodwork will help to determine this (but we will discuss this in a different blog post). The reason it is so important to select a food based on life stage is that your pet requires different amounts of protein, calcium, fat, etc. throughout its lifetime.
Below are some guidelines in regards to protein, fat, salts, and minerals for different life stages.
Cats on the other hand do still require more protein than dogs, but still not as much as the predatory feline species. Domesticated cat food should have a ratio of 1-1.5X protein to 1 carbohydrate. These values should be very close in percentages in the food with protein being slightly higher.
Other considerations are to select for the size pet you have. A Great Dane puppy requires more calcium for its fast growing bones than a Chihuahua. Therefore it is important to feed a Great Dane puppy a puppy food formulated for large breed dogs. A Yorkshire Terrier may have a difficult time chewing up regular sized kibble, therefore you may need to feed him/her a food with small kibble pieces.
The recommendations above are the most important when selecting food for a healthy pet. And some of the dog and cat food brands will not get any more technical or diverse than that. However, if you choose to dive deeper into feeding a diet that is specific to your pet’s needs, your pet’s health status is another thing to consider. If your pet has problems with its joints, then feeding a healthy mobility/joint diet can be helpful. If your pet has sensitive skin or a sensitive stomach, then choosing a food that is specifically formulated for that can keep your pet’s stomach happy and healthy. If your pet is overweight, feeding a food classified as “light” can help reduce their weight and keep them in a healthy body condition. There are a number of health issues where over the counter foods can be helpful, however, there are some that can also be harmful. So if your pet does have some health concerns, you should discuss with your veterinarian the type of food that is best suited for you and your pet.