Q: Is my cat getting all the vitamins and nutrients she needs from commercial pet food? I feed her a mixture of dry and wet food and occasional treats. Should I be giving her supplements as well?
A: Similar to processed human foods, off-the-counter pet foods are mostly formulated to provide pets their necessary balanced nutritional levels. These foods commonly follow strict guidelines from the Association of American Feed Control Official (AAFCO), and continuing dietary research findings from nutritional organizations to help protect and promote public health of its consumers through the regulation and supervision of food safety. AAFCO establishes standard ingredient definitions and nutritional requirements according to protein, fat, vitamin and mineral levels so that commercial pet food formulas provide the optimal growth and maintenance for dogs and cats around the world. As a result, commercial pet foods that comply with AAFCO standards provide pet owners a basic assurance to feeding nutritionally sound diets in accordance to Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) to suit different life-stages and gender groups. However, one must understand that feeding a balanced diet does not necessarily mean that it is optimal for your pet’s well-being.
More recently in the past 20 years, nutritional research has discovered that popularly marketed “balanced” processed foods have been lacking in enzymes because of high temperature cooking, non-listed trace elements such as boron, selenium, vanadium, co-factors and anti-oxidants which are found in fresh unprocessed foods. This means that processed food formulas may under supply the essential nutrient needs for optimal life requirement. Like humans, we should avoid feeding highly processed foods exclusively to our pets. Such a diet should be balanced off with fresh meats, vegetables and clean water or supplements in order to supply the necessary coenzymes, co-factors,
trace elements and anti-oxidants.
Pet foods come in different quality standards, ranging from supermarket quality, to premium offerings in specialized pet stores, to raw diets or home-cooked meals. However, each animal is an individual, differing from age, breed, medical condition and activity level and thus require difference nutritional needs. Although price may be an easy indication of quality of food, it is always advisable to check with your veterinarian or nutritional experts to make more accurate choices when feeding your pet.
Ensuring that your pet receives its well deserved optimal nutrition will strengthen its overall immunity, nervous and hormonal systems. This will help combat stress from natural aging, illnesses and pregnancy, play or environment challenges. Today, our pets are not only deprived from their natural environment, but are also subjected to cages, high-rise concrete settings and processed foods in Singapore’s increasingly stressful urban and fast paced society. When stress comes to play, enzymes and trace elements are primarily used by the body to manage situational changes. Being said, supplements are a good choice in supplementing your pet’s nutritional requirements whenever
An optimal balanced diet for your pet can be obtained from good quality commercial pet food alone, or through a variety of commercial foods, raw or home prepared foods. Nevertheless, I advise that you consult your veterinarian to work out together an appropriate diet for your pet as different breeds at its various life stages have different nutritional requirements.
Source: PETS MAGAZINE (SINGAPORE), Ask the Expert Section – Issue 28 (October/November)
Author: Dr. Jean-Paul Ly