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Hot topic discussion: What should I feed my pet?

We all remember that day when we decided to get that new pet to be part of our family. It is a time full of excitement and joy. We go to the pet store and buy new bedding, collars, and toys. Then we walk down that pet food aisle and all of a sudden we are faced with the daunting decision of what to feed our new family member. The decision is not so easy with seemingly hundreds of dog food bags staring you down.

With all of the options in front of you, how do you really know what food is best for your pet? The answer is not always so easy. Our veterinary team at Heartwood Animal Hospital want to help support you in making the best diet choices for your beloved pet.

The brand of food is a very important primary factor to consider. Since 2018, an increased incidence of a severe life-threatening heart condition called dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) has been reported in pets eating grain-free diets containing legume seeds (peas, lentils) and/or potatoes listed within the first 10 ingredients of the ingredient list. The recent incline of reports of diet-related DCM has been a hot topic of discussion among many veterinary-client appointments over the last two years. Diet-related DCM is not reported from pet foods formulated by companies that employ veterinary nutritionists that closely balance micro- and macro- nutrients within their diets and perform thorough quality control tests on their diets. Such pet food companies include: Hill’s Science Diet, Royal Canin, Purina, Iams, and Eukanuba.

Every pet should receive the benefits of a properly-formulated and safe diet. For this reason, raw diets and homemade diets are not recommended. Raw pet food is more likely to carry bacteria such as Salmonella and Listeria that cause food-borne illness. Homemade diets can put your pet at risk for obesity and nutrient imbalance. If your pet requires a homemade diet, please reference a veterinary nutritionist (such as BalanceIT.com or your local veterinary school) to help ensure a well balanced diet that meets all needs for your pet.

Diet recommendations are also based on life stage, breed,
life style, and underlying medical conditions of the animal. Our veterinarians at Heartwood Animal Hospital are glad to discuss the best diet recommended for your pet based off their individual needs.

If you have any questions about what may be the best specific diet for your pet, please make an appointment for a consultation with one of our veterinarians.

More information on diet-related DCM and how to choose the best diet for your pet below:

1)FDA report on diet-related DCM: https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/news-events/fda-investigation-potential-link-between-certain-diets-and-canine-dilated-cardiomyopathy#diet

2)“A broken heart: Risk of heart disease in boutique or grain-free diets and exotic ingredients:” https://vetnutrition.tufts.edu/2018/06/a-broken-heart-risk-of-heart-disease-in-boutique-or-grain-free-diets-and-exotic-ingredients/

3)“It’s not just Grain-Free: An update on diet-associated dilated cardiomyopathy:” https://vetnutrition.tufts.edu/2018/11/dcm-update/

4)“Dangers of Raw Diets for Dogs:” https://www.hillspet.com/dog-care/nutrition-feeding/dangers-of-raw-diets-for-dogs

5)Recommendations on Selecting Pet Foods: https://www.hillspet.com/dog-care/nutrition-feeding/dangers-of-raw-diets-for-dogs

– Dr. Chelsea Landa

*Note: Heartwood Animal Hospital does not have a financial affiliation with above mentioned companies or dog food brands

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