Expert advice on diet
and nutrition for your
furry family members
by T. FOSTER JONES
avigating the maze of pet food choices to
find the best one for your pet can be an
arduous task. The Connection asked
Melissa Brookshire, a doctor of veterinary
medicine at Diamond Pet Foods, which manufac-
tures Kirkland Signature™ pet food, for expert advice.
Costco Connection: What is key to look for on pet
food labels to ensure the best possible quality?
Melissa Brookshire: There are many factors when
choosing the best food for your pet.
First, use your pet’s taste preferences and any
potential dietary sensitivity to select a food with the
right protein sources. Look for a food that contains
healthy ingredients like sweet potatoes or peas.
You should also look at the guarantees on the
packaging for extra nutrients like antioxidants,
omega-; fatty acids and probiotics. These added features help keep your pet feeling great.
Finally, make sure that the main nutrients, such
as protein and fat, are in the food at a level that your
veterinarian feels is just right for your pet.
CC: Why are probiotics important?
MB: Probiotics are live bacteria that help support
your pet’s digestive and immune health, which is critical for overall health and well-being. Canine- and
feline-specific probiotics do a lot to help your pet.
CC: Is high-protein pet food better for a dog?
MB: High-protein diets may not be appropriate
for every pet. Most pets lead moderately active lives,
and a food with moderate protein and fat is best.
CC: How can I tell if my pet is the right weight?
MB: Vets use body condition more than weight as
the standard for determining whether a pet is lean
and healthy. When you stand up and look at your
dog or cat from above, you should be able to see a
waistline between their ribs and their hips. When
looking from the side, with your pet standing up,
their belly should tuck up a bit, not hang down
toward the floor. And for dogs, it is ideal to see the
last couple of ribs.
CC: How does age affect a pet’s dietary needs?
MB: Young, growing pets have different nutrient
requirements than adults.
Puppies have a higher energy requirement. They
also need special levels of omega-; fatty acids for
brain development. They require slightly more protein and fat and different amounts of various amino
acids, vitamins and minerals.
Kittens grow up very quickly. They benefit from
a diet that contains plentiful protein from animal
protein sources and highly digestible fat for energy.
Older pets are more sedentary, requiring fewer
calories, but they may need a diet higher in fiber to
maintain a healthy, lean body condition. Their protein needs remain the same, to support muscle.
Bones and joints also need support. Some helpful
sources are calcium, glucosamine and chondroitin.
Specialized nutrients such as antioxidants,
omega-; fatty acids and probiotics help support a
healthy pet at every stage of life.
has 14 grain and
grain-free pet food
include two organic
for dogs and
one for cats.