Demystifying nutritious pet food

Demystifying nutritious pet food

Pet food can be confusing. After all, our furry friends have much different dietary needs than we do. We can’t necessarily go based just on taste alone—I mean, you’ve seen what dogs will put in their mouths—we need to be an advocate for our pet’s long-term health. We know what happens if we feed ourselves fast food every day—obesity, heart problems, lethargy—and the same can be said for our pets.

Check the label

When shopping for a quality pet food, you don’t necessarily have to grab the most expensive bag you can find. Boutique brands and slick marketing can skyrocket a price unnecessarily. Your first stop should be in the ingredients label. Remember that the first five or so ingredients are the main components of the food. Look for actual meats, vegetables, and whole grains. You’ll want to avoid by-products, partial grains, or things like “meat meal.”

You will also want to try and avoid artificial preservatives that can cause cancer, like nitrates, BHA, and BHT.

Avoid Fillers

In order to bulk up kibble, a lot of lower-quality pet foods are filled with processed grains—much like inexpensive breads in the people food world—these ingredients may be filling, but lack nutrients important to your pet’s health, can lead to weight gain, and lead to your pet having to eat much more to get their needs met.

Common fillers to look out for include cereal by-products, corn bran, rice bran, oat hulls, and modified corn starch.

Check the Guaranteed Analysis (GA)

The Guaranteed Analysis is on the information label and it measures four nutrients: protein, fat, fiber, and moisture, plus checks for nutritional requirement compliance and verifies claims made on the label.

Consider your pet’s individual needs and preferences

Dry food or wet food is more of a personal preference consideration than a “which is better” scenario. Some pets prefer wet food, but kibble is generally fine for most applications. You may also consider a formulation that is for your pet’s specific needs—age, dental health, weight, or any other health considerations.

Paws Pet Pantry is dedicated to providing proper pet nutrition to the homeless and economically disadvantaged members of the Springfield, Missouri community. Nutritionally complete pet food can be rather costly, and with financial concerns being the #1 reason pets are turned over to shelters, we strive to provide food security to those in bad financial situations in the Ozarks.

When you go out to pick up a bag of food or tasty treats for your pets, consider grabbing one more for a beloved, hungry pet in need. Your generous contribution can make a huge difference in the life of a struggling member of our community and their precious, furry family member.

Email us at or call at (417) 501-6416 to drop off your donation.

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