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Health eTips is produced by the staff of the St. Charles County Department of Public Health. The department consists of three divisions - Environmental Health and Protection, Health Services and Humane Services - that provide a wide range of services focused on enhancing the well-being of this community.

If you have questions about the Department of Public Health or have suggestions on public health topics you'd like to see explored in this blog, please email us.

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Jul 10

Feeding Your Pet

Posted on July 10, 2018 at 3:49 PM by Doug Bolnick

WHAT TO FEED YOUR PET?


Dogs and cats require different foods to make up their diets. Cats are carnivores, which means they eat only meat and require specific amino acids from their meals. Dogs are omnivorous, which means they get theirOwner feeding adult dog nutrients from a variety of meats, vegetables, grains and fruits. Pet foods are regulated by veterinarian groups, the Food and Drug Administration and others to ensure that they are safe and sound for furry friends.


What Can a Label Tell You?

Pet owners can learn a lot about the makeup of your pet’s food by reading the label. Like people food, labels list their ingredients in order by weight. The label also suggests feeding recommendations and designates the type animal the food is intended to serve. In addition to the food label, manufacturer’s information is available to provide more about their products.


Varieties of Pet Food

Dog and cat foods come in two varieties — dry (kibble) or wet (fresh or canned products). Either type is specially formulated to provide the basic nutritional requirements, but remember that these requirements differ for various breeds, ages and lifestyles. Consult a veterinarian on the most appropriate food for your pet.

Storing Dry Food
  • Store in a cool, dry location that is not accessible to the animal. It’s best to store the food in a sealable container along with its original packaging to maintain access to the product information, in case there is a problem.
  • Follow the expiration or “best by” date. Look on the packaging and throw away any old food.
  • Wash the bowl regularly with soap hot water. Completely dry before refilling.

Storing Wet Food
  • Refrigerate or throw out any uneaten food to prevent illness. Once opened, wet or fresh products can only be left out at room temperature for about two hours and in a refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • Do not feed your pet any containers that are damaged, dented or bulging.
  • Wash hands, utensils and scooping utensils before and after handling food.


How Much Should You Feed Fido, Fifi?

Obesity is a growing problem for pets and leads to many health issues. However, it’s an easily controlled problem, as owners can limit the amount of food their pet eats. Veterinarians can advise on the about the proper amount for dogs or cats to eat, depending upon lifestyle. In addition, manufacturers provide recommendations to review on the packaging.


Give This, Not That

One contributing factor to the obesity issue is extra, fatty treats. Veterinarians can help with suggestions for healthy treats and recommend those that help with health concerns like plaque buildup on teeth. Be cautious that some seemingly safe treats for humans can have dangerous consequences when eaten by pets.

Here are a few safe treats for dogs:
  • Green beans
  • Apples
  • Pumpkin
  • Carrot
  • Peanut butter

Here are a few food items that can endanger pets:
  • Chocolate, especially dark chocolate
  • Grapes and raisins
  • Onion, garlic and chives, especially in cats
  • Avocado, especially the skin, pit and leaves from the tree


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