What are the essential factors for a satisfactory diet for any animal?

Answer:

There are animal, pet owner, and product factors to consider when selecting a diet:

  • Animal factors:
    1. Species—cats have more stringent nutrient requirements than dogs.
    2. Life stage—puppies and kittens have more stringent nutrient requirements than adults.
    3. Spay/neuter status—intact animals typically require more calories and may need a more energy dense diet.
    4. Activity level—a sedentary animal may need a less energy dense diet.
    5. Health status—certain disease conditions may warrant special dietary intervention.
  • Client factors:
    1. Cost—can the owner afford the diet?
    2. Convenience—is the food readily available?
    3. Personal preference—does the owner prefer to feed only dry food?
    4. Personal values/beliefs—is the owner looking specifically for a natural diet or a vegetarian diet due to personal lifestyle?
  • Product (diet) factors:
    1. Is the diet complete (contains all required nutrients1,2) and balanced (all nutrients in proportions1,2) for the species and life stage?
    2. Is the diet palatable? Will it be eaten willingly and in sufficient amounts to keep the pet in ideal body condition?1,2
    3. Is the diet formulated so nutrients can be absorbed and utilized by the body?1,2
    4. Is the diet free of toxins, contaminants, and unsafe ingredients?1,2
The Science Behind our Recommendations
1. How to choose a diet. College of Veterinary Medicine, Veterinary Medical Center, The Ohio State University Web site.  http://vet.osu.edu/vmc/how-choose-diet. Accessed July 8, 2013. 2. Baldwin K, Bartges J, Buffington T, Freeman L, et al. AAHA nutritional assessment guidelines for dogs and cats. J Am Anim Hosp Assoc. 2010 Jul-Aug; 46(4): 285-96.