Choose the Right Diet For Your Dog or Cat

Much like human diets, trendy pet diets generate buzz. Does your pet really need gluten free dog food? Should you make your pet’s food at home? What should you do if your dog or cat has food allergies? Learn more here.

Food Allergy Myths
Be Careful About Alternative Diets
How To Switch Pet Food

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Banfield Nutrition Guide

Select the categories that fit your pet, and our handy e-tool will provide nutrition information to help you make good decisions for your dog or cat. Be sure to discuss these factors with your Banfield veterinarian: together you can finalize a nutrition plan for your unique pet.

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Banfield Nutrition Guide

Select the categories that fit your pet, and our handy e-tool will provide nutrition information to help you make good decisions for your dog or cat. Be sure to discuss these factors with your Banfield veterinarian: together you can finalize a nutrition plan for your unique pet.

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Food Allergies and Health Conditions

Along with breed size, activity level and age, your pet’s health conditions are factors to consider when you decide his or her diet. Browse here and discuss diet options with your Banfield veterinarian.

Pet Health Conditions

Diet Guide: You can help manage arthritis with a diet formulated to maintain an ideal weight, reduce inflammation and maintain healthy joints. These diets may include ingredients that have been shown to reduce inflammation such as fish oils and New Zealand green mussel, or glucosamine and chondroitin, which may have mild benefits to joint health. True food allergies are caused by one or more protein sources that your pet may be reacting to, but can only be diagnosed with a full dietary trial. Your veterinarian may recommend testing diets with alternate protein sources, or a special hydrolyzed protein diet. Dogs with diabetes respond best to treatment when at an ideal body condition. Therapeutic diets that are high in fiber may help some dogs regulate their body sugar, but may have no benefit or cause unnecessary weight loss in others. Keeping treats and other food sources to a minimum can also help regulate body sugar.

Keeping your cat at a healthy weight is the best way to prevent diabetes. For diabetic cats, once started on the right medication a low carbohydrate diet and weight loss (if necessary) may help your pet's body to regulate sugar and in some cases achieve remission. High fiber diets may be recommended if low carbohydrates aren't effective.
Fish oil is recommended for appetite concerns or any muscle loss. In pets with mild heart disease, only mild sodium restriction is recommended. If the disease has progressed to congestive heart failure, greater sodium restriction is advised. Any pet with heart disease should have high-quality protein in adequate amounts to maintain lean body mass. Pets with chronic kidney disease can benefit from a longer and better life with therapeutic diets that have a low phosphorus content and protein levels appropriate for the level of disease. Omega-3 fatty acids can be included in diets or given as a supplement to reduce inflammation. Some pets with liver disease can have a copper build up in their body and benefit from diets and treats that are low in copper. Vegetable-based protein sources may be recommended over meat-based sources for dogs with severe liver function problems. Reducing calories is key to treating obesity, but simply feeding less of your pet's regular food may create nutritional deficiencies. Not all foods marketed for weight loss are appropriate for overweight pets, and a diet specially formulated to control calories but also deliver essential nutrients is your pet's best path to weight loss. High protein content can help maintain lean body mass. Soluble and insoluble fiber can help some pets feel full, but will result in more bathroom trips. There are many different causes and treatment options for GI issues. Some pets may benefit from prebiotics and/or probiotics that maintain the balance between good and bad bacteria. Your veterinarian may also recommend diets with different types and levels of fiber or fat. Therapeutic diets that contain restricted iodine levels are one option available for cats with hyperthyroidism. Cats fed an iodine-restricted diet should not eat any other cat food, table scraps or treats, as they may reduce the effectiveness of the diet. Some pets may have urinary stones which require dissolution. Veterinary therapeutic diets can help dissolve stones or reduce the risk of developing future stones by altering the ratio of minerals or pH of the urine. Stress reduction for cats and increased water consumption have been shown to help in the treatment of some urinary conditions. Visit your local Banfield veterinarian if you have any other concerns with your pet’s diet.

Food Allergy Myths

Similar to humans, pets can develop allergies - and sometimes have allergic reactions to pet food ingredients. Separate myth from fact with this handy myth-busting tool.

MYTH
If you've been feeding your pet the same diet for a while, something else must be triggering the allergic reaction.
SEE FACT
MYTH
If the pet food label says the food is "for healthy skin," it probably is not causing the pet's allergic reaction.
SEE FACT
MYTH
If your pet has an allergic reaction, it’s probably because of the grain in the food.
SEE FACT
MYTH
If your dog or cat can't eat its current food, the next step is to switch to another food.
SEE FACT

Be Careful About Alternative Diets

Just like human diets, there are trendy new diets out there for pets. Here are topics to discuss with your Banfield veterinarian.

Natural & Organic Diets
Raw Diets
Homemade Diets
What To Know: AAFCO has an industry-wide definition of "natural" pet foods but there aren't any specific official rules governing the labels for "organic" dog and cat food brands Learn More
What To Know: Lots! There can be serious risks for both your pet and your family; raw meats and eggs can contain bacteria, viruses and parasites. Learn More
What To Know: A truly balanced homemade diet can take a lot of time, expense and effort to make sure your pet gets the right mix of nutrients and protein. Learn More

How to Switch Pet Food

When you and your Banfield veterinarian decide it's time to switch your pet’s daily diet, it's important to do it gradually so your pet keeps eating and getting his or her daily nutrients, and to help prevent any stomach upset as you transition to a new food.


Size, Texture and Other Considerations

Wet or dry? Big crunchy food or bite-size kibble? Compare and contrast the options for your best buddy.

  • Wet food vs. dry food

    Dry food isn’t inherently better or worse than canned pet food (and vice versa), so it’s important that you and your Banfield veterinarian weigh both options. Especially if your pet is a finicky eater, switching between pet food brands can be tricky. And both cats and dogs can be overfed, causing weight gain.

  • Finding the right size kibble

    Most dry cat foods are a similar size, and work for most adult cats. For dry dog food, it's a different story. Small breed dogs need to easily crunch up their food without choking. If large breed dogs chow too quickly on smaller kibble, it may cause choking. Diets made to help with dental problems may have larger than normal kibbles with a special fiber meshwork to help scrape teeth safely.

  • Breed size and diet

    Size plays a big factor in finding the right diet, especially for dogs. Make a note to ask your Banfield veterinarian how to optimize your dog's daily diet for his or her breed size.




The nutrition content and tools provided on this site are for informational purposes only and should not be relied on as or substituted for veterinary medical advice. For nutrition information specific to your pet, please visit your Banfield veterinarian.