DETROIT – We love our pets like family, so we want to make sure what we're feeding them is natural and fresh. But one expert, Associate Professor Dr. Richard Hill from the University of Florida, tells us we may be focusing on the wrong thing. He says we should pay less attention to the ingredients and more attention to the nutrients in the food.
Dr. Hill says to look for "complete and balanced" on the label and that the food meets the nutritional profile of the Association of American Feeding Controlling Officials or AAFCO.
"If a dog eats this food, it would get all the nutrients that it needs and it doesn't need any supplements," says Dr. Hill.
You've probably heard words like by-products and meal. Dr. Hill says meal just means the meat has been cooked and rendered into a dry product and by-products means the rest of the carcass.
"What does a cat normally eat? It eats mice. It eats birds. It doesn't slice off the meat, right? It doesn't take just the breast and leave the rest, it eats the whole thing, right? It needs to eat the whole thing because the whole thing contains all the nutrients it needs," Dr. Hill added.
He said one of the biggest myths out there is that dogs can't eat carbs and that foods with them are unhealthy. "In fact, dogs are able to deal with them quite well," Dr. Hill said.
What about the fancy brands versus the brands you might find at your local grocery store? "It's a bit like if you buy a different car. You can buy an expensive car and you can get a cheap car. They both will probably get you to Orlando but one might be a better experience," he said.
There are some mistakes that most pet owners make. The first one: keep your pet's food in the house in an airtight container. He recommends buying smaller bags of food that your dog or cat can eat within a month.
Next, most of us are feeding our pets way too much. If our pets stay lean he says they will be healthier and live longer.
Finally, many people give their pets way too many of their calories in their treats.
Consumer Report Hank Winchester (Help Me Hank) says the best thing pet owners can do is to pay attention to your pet and its behavior to see if you notices any changes in their overall well-being. And, of course, maintain a good relationship with your vet.