Feed Your Pet Right
CHOOSE A PROTEIN-RICH FOOD
Both cat and dog food should be at least 30 percent protein, says Royal. Check the label, since even all-natural varieties can come up short. Unless you're buying from a trusted brand that divulges the source of all its ingredients, choose food with muscle meat not meat meal. Meat meal is made from organs and other animal parts and the quality varies greatly.
PICK THE RIGHT FORMULA
If you're home during feedings, serve wet food. Cats get most of their water from food (in the wild, they eat prey with a moisture content of about 70 percent), so a wet formula will keep them from getting dehydrated. Many dog owners think dry food will help combat tartar on teeth, but Royal says the opposite is true: Since most kibble is higher in carbs, it will stick to teeth. If you choose dry food (which can be left out all day), serve a low-carb kibble.
KNOW YOUR CARBS
Common carbs in pet food include corn, bran, spelt, gums and pectin, and soybean hulls (they'll be identified in the ingredient list). If you choose a formula with carbs, look for one made with bran or beet pulp--they're the least likely to cause stomach upset. Barley, sweet potato, and rice are also acceptable choices, says Royal. (Avoid wheat gluten--many of the pet foods recalled in the past contained contaminated wheat gluten.)