Why Balanced Nutrition is so Important for Pets
When it comes to balanced nutrition for pets, we hear a lot of conflicting things. While it’s important to understand that high-quality ingredients and sourcing of ingredients is of key importance, ensuring that your pet’s diet is balanced is also as critical. An excess of one nutrient can lead to serious health problems in pets. A deficiency in any of the nutrients, and the results may be just as severe as a surplus.
Just like in humans, our pets need balance in their diet. They need the right combination of protein, fats, vitamins, minerals and fiber. Too much, and you create a health problem. Too little, and you can create a health problem. Today we’ll take a look at the common components of pet food to demonstrate what happens when your pets are receiving the correct balance of nutrients in their food, as well as a brief look at what happens when they don’t…
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Protein is one of those “vital ingredients” for pets, whether they are obligate carnivores (like your cat) or omnivores (like your dog). Animals need protein to nourish muscle tissue, but too much protein can result in your pet’s liver and kidneys working overtime to eliminate excess nitrogen. While there are conflicting studies according to institutions (and study sponsorship), I think we can all agree that a properly balanced diet includes protein.
Fats are beneficial for your pet’s skin and coat, but can also cause weight issues in pets. The amount of fat your pet needs is completely individual and you will need to keep a close eye on your pet to ensure they are reaching the correct balance. Regardless of low fat or high fat diets, you must look at the source of the fat. Healthier sources of fat include fish oils, beef fat, chicken fat and even flax seed oil. Dogs in particular can often tolerate higher levels of fat, but too much of or the wrong type of fat can result in pancreatic issues and weight gain or even chronic obesity.
There are two types of fiber: Soluble (dissolves in water) and insoluble (doesn’t dissolve in water). Each are important to your pets diet. However, the down side to this is that adding fiber dilutes a food’s caloric content.
Fiber acts as a “stool normalizer.” If your dog is subject to frequent bouts of diarrhea or constipation, soluble or insoluble fiber may be the solution to your problem. While it’s very important for our dogs and cats to have fiber, it’s also important to know how much is good or bad for your pets. Fiber can help absorb excess water from inside the colon and at the same time create acids that help a dog’s colon repair itself, thus reducing the risk of colon cancer.
Reducing the risk of canine colon cancer can be as simple as increasing dietary fiber in dogs. But add too much and excess fiber can decrease the digestibility of other important nutrients. Fiber can also help stop or start both diarrhea and/or constipation and is an important aspect of weight loss.
A study (1) showed that dogs fed a high-fiber diet lost more than five times the fat mass of dogs fed a low fiber diet. Why? Because dogs feel “fuller” and tend to eat less food, less often.
1) Fahey GC, Practical considerations in feeding dietary fibers to companion animals, Petfood Forum Proceedings, 1995, Watt Publishing, Mount Morris, IL, pp 44-54
Nutrients are critical for our pets survival, so choose your pet food wisely. Natural ingredients do not guarantee optimum nutrition, precisely balanced nutrients do. Take a close look at your pet’s food and use names you trust, such as Hills Ideal Balance, when selecting a food for your dog or cat.
Check out the Ideal Balance website for great information about finding the right Ideal Balance food for your pet and use this handy Comparison tool for dog food to see how Ideal Balance stacks up against the competition., and be sure to take advantage of the “Which Food is Right for My Pet” tool!