Updated: Aug 6
I get SO many questions on food.
And I'm beyond grateful that pet owners seek me out for my help and advice.
But, it's not so easy as to just simply name a brand.
A lot of factors go into food recommendations.
Yes, I can tell you which brands I prefer over others and which ones I tell people to avoid.
Some pet foods have had dangerous recalls, and even lawsuits for pet illness and death. They tend to us very low quality, and contaminated ingredients!
I do NOT recommend brands with a long history of recalls, and lawsuits. That being said, I pride myself in having over a decade of research in this area and continuously keeping up with pet food related news, studies, etc.
So, you might be wondering:
"How do you make suggestions then?! What goes into thought?"
Factors That Affect Food Recommendations
1. Your pet's needs.
Switching to a higher quality food doesn't automatically mean it's suitable for your dog or cat. Yes, even I have made this mistake. Calories can vary drastically between 2 foods, so even if the ingredients are better, it may not fit your animal's needs. I always take caloric needs into account. I also like to know what other foods you have tried. If your pet did not do good on duck, then I can narrow down my recommendation and avoid potentially triggering anymore problems related to duck.
2. Your budget.
When someone asks about what food I would recommend, I always ask what they are willing to dish out... Literally! I like to tailor my suggestions to your needs, as well as your pet's. There are thousands of foods on the market at every price point imaginable.
I like to be sure you get the best quality that you are able to afford.
3. Where you prefer to shop.
If you only like to shop at one store, what I recommend would be very different than if you were willing to shop online. Big box stores & common grocery stores don't often carry the brands I prefer. But if that is all you have to go off of, we can make do with what we've got.
Would you prefer to feed kibble for cost and convenience? Does your cat only like to eat canned food? Does your senior dog struggle to crunch on dry kibble? Maybe you want to feed a raw or even a hybrid diet. I always tailor diets to you and your pet's preferences.
While this is a general baseline I start at, many other things may affect what I recommend such as:
Aging pets may need additional immune support as well as different nutrient requirements to maintain good muscle mass, joint health, and cognitive function.
Lifestyle & activity level
Extremely active dogs and cats will need a nutrient dense, high protein diet. Sedentary animals will need a lower calorie food with a set feeding schedule to avoid over-eating.
I also love to recommend seasonal dietary support with changing weather to assist in promoting optimal health and adaptation to environmental factors. Various climates can cause activity and metabolic changes in pets. It's important to help your dog or cat adapt to their environment as best as possible. Warming broths are a great addition for winter, whereas summer may bring a diet with more fish for cooling the body.
The individual pet's medical history and health conditions always come into play. For instance, cats and dogs with a UTI history will need a higher moisture diet with supportive supplements.
Overweight dogs and cats need close monitoring and a tailored diet per their individual needs which are based on a set of metabolic calculations. Weight loss or gain requires specific nutrients and various areas of extra support such as cleansing/ detox.
That's a lot to consider, huh?!
As explained above, there are many reasons why I obtain a detailed history and other information to provide the best insight to what may help you dog or cat achieve optimal health & vitality!
I think people tend to get irritated when I don't give them a list of 'good brands.'
And understandably so! We all want to do what's best for our animals.
So why wouldn't I just recommend a huge list of the brands that I approve of?
Well, one of the main reasons that I don't is:
I want people to do their research.
Pet owners need to know the WHY.
Why is this brand better? Why is it more suitable for their pet's needs than another?
I want people to know how to look for a brand with minimal to no recalls, who source their ingredients from trusted places, etc. If someone just tells you:
"Hey this is good," then do you even really know if it's good? That's the same as simply trusting a brand that isn't good.
I want people to be curious and look into things. To ask questions. To understand what good nutrition means.
Everyone just wants a quick fix nowadays. I like to teach the skills to make better choices so pet owners, like you, can use that knowledge for life with other pets down the road. Because each animal you have will be so very different in their nutritional requirements through their lifestages.
A few examples of scenarios I've encountered:
A woman I was messaging seemed upset because I wouldn't give her specific recommendations for her dog's UTI (including bloody urine). I explained multiple times that if it's a repeating issue (had it 2x in 2 months) then more testing needs to be done with a vet and probably a diet change, with supportive supplements. I stated that there could be many variables with recurring urinary problems… it may not even be a UTI (a culture was never done) and it could possibly be crystals or even stones, which may be why antibiotics aren't working, etc.
I can't just make a blanket recommendation, and yes I feel bad, but I would hate to suggest something when I don't know what else her dog may be dealing with. This could waste her time and money.
When I first started providing consultations I was chatting with someone who stated she wanted a new food cause their cat had an upset stomach... And the further I got into asking questions, the more the picture became clearer. She said their cat had chronic kidney disease and was old…
That is serious! And it is precisely why I no longer make any recommendations for anything without a full consultation, which requires a full history being taken and a full review of the animal's veterinary records.
This is more than just a brand recommendation. I want you to provide the best for your pet in every way possible, armed with knowledge, so you and your pet can have Happy Trails!
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