For sustaining a healthy life and to perform the survival activities properly, your pet needs proper nutrition. Pet food should be a wholesome mixture of all the essential nutrients that an animal needs depending on its age and physical activity.
When you buy pet food, look for the following five nutrients and their portion per serving as it would decide how much of what nutrient has your pet eaten. Different animals need a different amount of these biomolecules so it’s not one shoe fits all theory.
As the essential building blocks of tissues and bones, healthy proteins must be part of every pet’s diet. Amino acid chains make the muscle structure and maintain a healthy physical appearance. So proteins cannot be compromised in your pet’s meal.
There are two sources of proteins for pet food
i. Animal protein
This kind of protein is a compulsory part of the diet for carnivorous pets. The animal protein or meat protein is mostly from the skeletal and smooth muscles of slaughtered animals. When buying pet food, opt for the one with the maximum quantity of such a portion.
Most food companies sell frozen meat or add it in dry food as a dry protein source which can be fed either dry or after soaking, as your pet desires.
ii. Plant protein
All types of proteins herbivorous animals eat are from plants. These amino acids are usually obtained from grains, nuts, seeds which are either fed directly to animals or are crushed and mixed in the packed food. When you buy pet food, look out for the smaller portion of plant-based proteins too.
Glucose acts as a main energy source for the body in animals too. Most vets do not recommend too many carbs in pet food but it really depends on what your little friend likes. Just as we humans consume carbs based on how they would be metabolized in our body, animals need the same preference regarding the choice of carbohydrates.
On this basis, there are two types of carbs and they metabolize differently.
i. Simple carbs
These are the carbs in all tasty things. Means all refined things like white bread, pizza dough, etc. And also these are the carbs you need to be aware of the most as so many companies add these in pet food to make it delicious and appealing for animals. It might be a good idea to start with refined carbs if your pet is not eating anything. But getting them used to such carbs can be harmful in the long run.
Simple carbs have a high glycemic index which means that they will be absorbed in large amounts in your pet’s bloodstream and would raise the blood sugar level. With frequent consumption, these high sugar levels would cause insulin resistance and diabetes which is common mostly among dogs and cats with no physical activity.
A bit lesser percentage of complex carbs than proteins is a good idea for pet food. They have a low glycemic index and take longer to digest which would keep your pet full for a longer time. When combined with healthy proteins, they can provide satiety and good health. This is why portion control in nutrients is necessary.
Before you buy pet food, check for the source and percentage of carbs in it. The preferred sources are whole grains and starchy vegetables.
Fat sources usually appear with protein or carbohydrates portions, especially in dog food. But there are two different kinds of fats too and animals need them both at different stages.
i. Saturated fats
Not all animals need it, but most do. Domestic pets attain saturated fats in the form of butter mixed in milk or on bread with meat. They are important in building the lipid portion in the cell membranes that’s why these are mostly given to newborns of cats, dogs, and cattle.
You can also add these fats to your grown pet’s meal if it lives in a cold climate. Animals who do not have fur beat the cold by burning fats in their body.
ii. Unsaturated fats
These are omega fatty acids and are required mostly during the early development stages of pets. Still, when you buy pet food, look for unsaturated fats in small percentages.
4. Water content
Most animals are not fond of drinking water by themselves or face difficulty in metabolizing dry food. For them, make sure to soak the dry pet food in water and feed it to them. This would keep them safe from digestive distress and dehydration.
Buy pet food that is dry and not wet as the latter usually lacks the number of important nutrients to accommodate water.
Along with water content and macronutrients, pet food requires vitamins, zinc, calcium, and many others in just a few milligrams for proper tissue growth and elasticity, healthy bones, and proper brain functioning. The nutrients are basically co-factors assisting macronutrients to metabolize properly.