Choosing the right pet food for your dog or cat

Becoming a pet owner for the first time means you have lots of responsibilities. From ensuring your pet has enough exercise and all the necessary medical shots, to pet-proofing your home, there's a lot to take on board when you add a new furry member to the family.

One of the most important aspects of caring for your new pet involves keeping an eye on their dietary intake. The right pet food for your cat or dog is essential in keeping them healthy and well-fed, and there are also a variety of common human foods that can be lethal to your pet.

The right food for your pet

It can be confusing knowing which brand or product to go for when there are so many companies vying for pet owners' attention. Debate still rages around whether to go all-natural and organic, premium or basic and whether homemade or store bought is better.

Veterinarians recommend feeding cats and dogs a well-balanced diet that will cater to their needs and keep them healthy.1

When purchasing cat or dog food, you need to consider the age of your pet. Food made specifically for puppies or kittens as opposed to adults and older pets will be created with the right nutrients for their age group.2

If your pet has an allergy or special requirement, their food will need to accommodate this as well. There are special products you can buy to cater for overweight animals, pets with sensitive skin or upset stomachs and allergy-specific formulas for pets who may be intolerant to some ingredients.

Ask around at the pet store if you are unsure about which product to go for, or consult your pet's veterinarian if you are worried about their diet.

Homemade cat or dog food is another option some pet owners prefer, although it can be difficult to make food that has all the nutrition, carbohydrates, energy and vitamins your pet requires on your own.

If you are going to make your own food, or even give your cat or dog a treat from your meal you should be aware that some foods can be highly toxic and should be avoided. For example, chocolate, coffee, onions grapes, sultanas, nuts, stone fruits and cooked bones can all have dangerous effects on the health of your pet, so make sure to avoid feeding these to your cat or dog.3

Looking after your pet's health

Taking the adequate steps to care for your pet and create an appropriate diet will help ensure they can live a healthy and long life.

Pet insurance can also give you peace of mind about your pet’s health. If your cat or dog does suffer an illness or injury, a pet insurance policy can be invaluable for ensuring you can afford the care they require.

You can compare pet insurance online to find the level of cover you prefer, whether that's accident only or inclusive of optional extras such as emergency boarding.

  1. About pets, Australian Veterinary Association
  2. Best Dog Food: Choosing Dog Food Ingredients for Optimal Nutrition at PETCO
  3. About pets, Australian Veterinary Association

These articles are provided as reference material to allow more informed decision making, but are not intended as being a complete source of information on any topic. All readers should make their own independent analysis on the topic to make sure they have considered the aspects that are important to them.