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Healthy Pet Food: What is it?

Drs. Foster & Smith Educational Staff
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Years ago, a major pet food manufacturer, in order to illustrate the importance of using quality, highly digestible ingredients in pet food, created an unconventional diet - the "Old Shoe" diet. This "unique" formulation provided 10% crude protein, 6.5% crude fat, and 2.4% fiber - acceptable levels until you consider that the primary ingredients were four pairs of old leather work shoes, one gallon of used crankcase oil, one pail of crushed coal, and 68 pounds of water.

The "Old Shoe" diet clearly illustrates the need for ingredients actually useful to a pet's body. A dog could conceivably eat old shoes, used oil, and coal, but this unwholesome, unhealthy, unsavory (and potentially lethal) diet would provide few usable, digestible nutrients. The dog's digestive system would take virtually nothing from the food, then eliminate essentially the same amount that went in.

Thankfully, today's pet owners have a selection of pet food much more appealing - and infinitely more nutritious - than old shoes. Today's wide variety of pet foods typically fall into three major categories:

  • "Grocery-store" foods - found in grocery stores and mass-market retailers - are typically made with less-digestible, inexpensive ingredients and are therefore a cheaper, though less healthy, alternative.
  • Premium foods - often found in grocery stores, pet stores, and veterinarian offices - are usually more expensive than "grocery store" foods because their ingredients are of a higher quality, and are therefore somewhat more beneficial and digestible.
  • Healthy foods - the newest addition to the pet food market - lead the way in providing pets with the highest quality, healthiest, and most nutritious ingredients.

Healthy ingredients make healthy foods

Healthy foods provide the nutrition your pet needs to thrive - not just survive. Their wholesome ingredients can make a definite difference in your pet's health. Top-quality sources of protein (with no meat by-products), carbohydrates, fat, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, as well as natural colors, natural flavors, and natural preservatives give your pet abundant nutrition for optimal health.

Healthy pet foods typically contain:

  • Fresh, wholesome protein sources such as real meat or fish as the first ingredient (or one of the first two ingredients) to strengthen muscles.
  • Quality carbohydrate sources like whole barley, potatoes, and rice to maximize energy.
  • Quality fiber sources such as beet pulp, pea powder, and bran to maintain bowel health and function.
  • Natural fat sources like chicken fat and fish oil to provide energy and help maintain coat and skin health.
  • Natural preservatives such as Vitamin E, citric acid, and rosemary to slow the process of fat oxidation, which causes food to spoil.

Benefits beyond healthy nutrition

Since healthy pet food ingredients are packed with nutrients, your pet will get proper nutrition from a smaller quantity of food at every meal. Your bag of healthy food will last longer, so you won't spend as much on food as you first think. Plus, nutrient-dense, quality ingredients mean that your pet's body will take the maximum amount of nutrition from the food during digestion, and yield less waste as a result. You'll have less waste to clean up. With healthy pet foods like our Drs. Foster & Smith foods, your pet can enjoy energy, happiness, and overall good health. And you'll enjoy many wonderful years with your best friend.

If you're not sure what to feed your pet, contact your veterinarian for advice on which pet food will fit your pet's individual needs.

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