I am writing in response to the inaugural All About Pets article about pet nutrition. First of all, I would like to applaud the idea of writing a column dedicated to the health and wellness of our beloved community pets. I feel obliged to address the theory that all pets benefit and require an ever-changing variety of foods and that “feeding the same thing for years” ends up causing deficiencies.
As a small companion animal veterinarian, I see many pets with allergies (food and/or environmental). Diagnosing a food allergy with an elimination diet trial requires the selection of hypoallergenic food (home-cooked or commercial product) that the pet has never eaten before. Continually changing diet ingredients thus limits hypoallergenic diet choices we have left to diagnose and treat food allergies.
Although some pets have “guts of steel,” sudden food changes can cause significant distress to many pets including vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, flatulence, pain, and lethargy. It is always best to mix in new foods gradually over at least one week to allow your pet to adjust to the change.
Assessing and comparing nutrient levels between pet foods via the guaranteed analysis is problematic because this information does not take into account the variation in water content between foods. A better approach is to judge the quality of a pet food based on the nutritional expertise of the manufacturer and their quality control measures.
I would like to point out that The Dog Food Advisory website is written by a graduate from a human school of dentistry who does not appear to have any professional education in animal nutrition. Alternatively, the Clinical Nutrition Service within the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University provides scientifically sourced and unbiased nutrition information for pet owners (https://vetnutrition.tufts.edu/petfoodology/).
Ashlee Albright, DVM