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What is the best food for my pet?

Dry Iams Cat food has been the only cat food my girls have eaten since I got them. They are both healthy and sound at...

Dr. Eric Barchas  |  Mar 2nd 2008


Dry Iams Cat food has been the only cat food my
girls have eaten since I got them. They are both
healthy and sound at 4 years of age now. Should I
consider changing the food and what would you
suggest as a safer food?

T.
IL

What’s the best dry food to feed male cats?

M.
NJ

I must confess that I am very hesitant to delve into this topic. The subject of feeding pets really gets people going. It seems that many people are more passionate about their pet’s food than their own.

Nonetheless, every day since I started writing for Dogster and Catster, I have been barraged with questions like the ones above. People really want to know which food is the best.

If you talk to 100 different people about pet food, you will almost certainly will get 100 different opinions. And the opinions may be strong. Some people swear by brand “A”. Others think that brand “A” is made by the devil himself. Some people think that pets can only thrive on raw foods. Others protest that they have been hospitalized after catching Salmonella from their pet’s raw diet. (One of my clients confessed that this happened to her three times!) In the court of public opinion, it seems that every food is simultaneously the best and the worst on earth.

So, what is a concerned pet lover to do? Consider an analogy with food for people.

A gentleman from Thailand once assured me that Thai cuisine is absolutely the best diet for a robust spirit and a hearty constitution. The French are famously loyal to their cuisine; Mexicans, Italians and Chinese are no less so. Japanese have long life expectancies, and they credit their diet. If you ask me, Indian food is as tasty and nutritious as it gets.

None of these foods is inherently superior to the others, no matter what their boosters say. The same is true of high-quality pet foods. People, cats, and dogs can thrive on many different types of food.

Here is what I recommend: feed your pet a high-quality, nutritionally replete diet that the pet likes and that doesn’t cause upset stomach or other individual reactions. Almost all of the premium commercial diets are nutritionally replete, and I have patients that are thriving on each and every one of them (including Iams). If you want to feed a home-made diet, that’s fine, too. But do your research, and make sure that the diet meets your pet’s needs.