How to Find Quality Pet Nutrition Information Online

Pet owners commonly seek out dog and cat food information online, whether it’s product reviews, advice on alternative diets, or how to manage your pet’s weight.

But how do you know if the information you are looking at is trustworthy and accurate?

The World Small Animal Veterinary Association has created two helpful guides for finding quality dog and cat nutrition information online.

 

Here are a few important tips (be sure to check out the full guides and other great pet resources on the WSAVA website):

  • Research the credentials of authors of the materials you are reading.  Advice from a certified veterinary nutritionist is more reliable than information put out by pet owners and pet food companies.
  • Be aware if a website’s address is a .com (commercial), .edu (educational), or .org (non-profit).  This can make a difference in the quality of the information.
  • Check to see if any statements or claims are backed up by legitimate sources.  Does the article link to any references, and are they quality references?  Research studies are better sources than promotional materials.

  • Make sure the information you are reading is recent and up to date, as veterinary medicine is always changing.
  • Be especially careful of any anecdotal information, such as pet owners stating that their pets were “cured” by a particular product.

  • Many articles about the “best” pet foods or ones that rate pet foods come from websites that get financial compensation if you click on a product link (such as Amazon affiliate websites).  View these sites with plenty of caution.
  • When in doubt about any information about pet nutrition you find online…ask your veterinarian for guidance and advice!

 

Vets Explain Health Risks of Homemade Cat Food Diets

Researchers at the University of California–Davis have found that homemade diets for cats are often lacking in essential nutrients and could even contain potentially toxic ingredients.

The study, shared in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, evaluated over 100 published recipes and found significant problems with almost all of them.

Most of the recipes, even those written by vets, lacked three or more essential feline nutrients, such as zinc, iron, thiamine, and vitamin E.

Some of the recipes contained ingredients that are toxic to cats, including garlic, onion, and leek.  Some also included bones, which can damage the gastrointestinal system.

Many of the recipes also lacked adequate preparation and feeding instructions, forcing readers to make assumptions about how to make the food and how much to feed their cats.

Feline health experts note that the trend of homemade pet food diets, while popular for dogs, can be trickier for cats because of their unique nutritional requirements as true (or “obligate”) carnivores.

Cats require certain specific nutrients (like taurine) that are only found in animal proteins in order to survive.  The safest option for cat owners is to buy high-quality commercial cat food.

Sometimes vets will recommend a homemade diet for medical reasons, but it’s important to follow a diet that has been created by a certified veterinary nutritionist.

 

Spending on US Pets Reaches All-Time High in 2018

The American Pet Products Association recently released its latest pet industry spending numbers and reports that we spent a record-breaking $72.56 billion on our pets in 2018, up $3 billion from the 2017 figures.

The survey found that millennial pet owners are driving the spending, with their willingness to pay more than previous generations for quality pet products and services.

Here are a few key spending figures from the APPA survey:

  • Food: $30.32 billion
  • Supplies and over the counter medications: $16.01 billion
  • Veterinary care: $18.11 billion
  • Live animal purchases: $2.01 billion (this is down 4.3% from 2017)
  • Other services (boarding, grooming, etc.): $6.11 billion

Premium brand pet foods and treats continue to be a driving factor in pet industry growth.  Other areas of growth include nutritional supplements and digital pet-related technologies.

The APPA also notes that Americans, especially millennials, are acquiring greater numbers of pets through shelters and rescues, which may account for the decrease in live animal sales.

Check out the statistics, including spending estimates for 2019, on the APPA website HERE.

 

New Pet Obesity Statistics for U.S. Dogs and Cats

The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention has released the results of its 2018 Pet Obesity Survey.  You can click HERE to read the full report.  Here are a few interesting findings about our pets:

  • 59.5% of cats and 55.8% of dogs are classified as either overweight or obese.  This translates to 56 million cats and 50 million dogs.
  • 25.7% of cats and 36.9% of dogs were rated as overweight.
  • 33.8% of cats and 18.9% of dogs were rated as obese.

  • 68% of pet owners report that they have tried to help their pets lose weight.
  • Calorie reduction/smaller portions and increased exercise were reported to be the most effective pet weight loss methods.
  • 53% of pet owners reported that their veterinarians discussed their pets’ weight with them, however 40% said that their vets did not provide them with dietary advice.

Could your dog or cat lose a few of those extra pounds?  APOP has created some helpful pet weight loss tools for owners.  You can find information on ideal weight ranges, pet caloric needs, and weight reduction advice for both dogs and cats.

 

 

The Most Common Food Allergen Sources for Dogs and Cats

Many pet owners struggle with adverse food reactions in their dogs and cats.  It can be difficult to determine what exactly is causing the reaction, and if the reaction is a sign of a food sensitivity or a true food allergy.

The term cutaneous adverse food reaction (CAFR) is used by vets to describe food sensitivities, food intolerances, and food allergies that affect the skin.  The digestive system may or may not be involved in pets with CAFRs.

Veterinary researchers reviewed dozens of scientific studies and published an article listing the most common food offenders for dogs and cats that experience CAFRs.

The most common allergens for dogs are beef, dairy products, chicken, wheat, and lamb.  Less common sources include soy, corn, egg, pork, fish, and rice.

Cats also experience adverse food reactions.  The most common sources for cats are beef, fish, chicken, wheat, corn, dairy products, and lamb.

Talk to your vet if you suspect your pet has a food allergy or intolerance.  Many vets will advise you to try an elimination diet that removes a suspected food source like beef or chicken.  Always make pet dietary changes with guidance and supervision from your vet.

True food allergies tend to be less common than food sensitivities.  If your pet’s skin is affected (as in a CAFR) and not just the digestive system, there’s a better chance that it’s an allergy and not simply a digestion issue.