If your pet has been experiencing some less-than-desirable symptoms, a special diet may be just what he needs. Things like regular stomach upset, rashes and even ear inflammation can signal an allergy or intolerance to some common cat and dog food ingredients. If you’re not sure if your pet could benefit from a special diet, here are three common reasons why you should alter the food you feed your furry friend.
1. Is Your Pet Gassy?
Supporters of grain-free pet diets often talk about the way our pets’ ancestors ate in the wild. Your carnivorous dog’s and cat’s predecessors would have sought out plenty of protein as they hunted for food. And today’s pet foods often contain a lot of carb-filled grains— such as corn, barley, wheat and rice. It may be worth discussing a grain-free diet with your veterinarian if you suspect your pet has an intolerance to grains. Common signs can include an upset stomach and too much gas.
When shopping for a grain-free dog food and cat food, make sure to review the ingredients and protein-to-carbohydrate breakdown so you know exactly what you’re feeding your pet (some grain-free foods use high-carb vegetables to replace the grains instead of protein). Your vet will tell you exactly what the food makeup should look like for your cat or dog, as some breeds actually do well with some carbs.
2. Are Rashes and Stomach Upset a Regular Thing?
While some animals struggle with food intolerance, food allergies are generally more severe. Signs that your furry friend is suffering from a food allergy include extreme itching, chronic gas, chronic diarrhea, rashes or even ear inflammation and infections. If you suspect your pet has a food allergy, make an appointment with your vet. She may have you try an elimination diet to determine the offending food(s). If necessary, your vet may offer a prescription for a special food for pets with strong sensitivities or suggest a limited ingredient diet.
3. Is Your Pet Entering His Senior Years?
As your best pal ages, his activity level decreases, so foods with too many calories can contribute to weight increases and even obesity. Many older pets also require ingredients that are easier to digest. Special senior diet formulas for dogs and cats help address the changing nutritional needs of aging pets.
Dogs enter the senior life stage at around half of their lifespan. For a larger pup, that’s generally around age six. For a smaller dog, it may be closer to eight. Cats generally enter their senior years around age seven to ten, although it can vary for each cat. Your veterinarian can help you determine which senior foods are best suited for your pet’s specific breed and health needs.
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