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What we eat, and the way we live our lives has seen a lot of interest over recent times. The increase in awareness that what we eat can affect our impact on the environment, the health of our bodies and minds, has huge cultural significance as well as being part of our self-care and enjoyment of life. It's not a surprise that this has filtered down to the pet food industry, and what we choose to feed our pets. The UK pet food industry is estimated to be worth a staggering £3.2 billion - and all these products are advertised not to our dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, and fish - but us as their owners! So how do you navigate choosing which is the best diet for your pet?

Firstly, whatever pet you are looking to feed, it's important to find good advice based on the most recent evidence as to what your pet needs to stay healthy. This can also include to a large part their behaviour, food can be a great way to interact with your pet, stimulate their hunting and seeking behaviour, and reward training. Did you know that both veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses have parts of their training dedicated to the husbandry of our pets? That includes what their dietary needs are and how to make sure we give them the behavioural stimulation they need too. So speaking to your local vet can be a great place to start. Contrary to what some clients believe, although we work closely with certain pet food brands - in particular, the ones that provide prescription diets that we need to use for pets whose medical conditions require special diets, we do not work on commission or sales from these companies. A quick survey of my colleagues shows a surprising variety in what we choose to feed our pets. Great information on dietary needs can also be found on websites such as rspca.org.uk.

We are very lucky in the UK, that pet food sold has to meet very strict requirements for safety and quality. Did you know that any meat in your pet's food has to be the same health and hygiene standards as meat that we would buy and eat ourselves from a butcher's or the supermarket? Facts such as these can be found on the Pet Food Manufacturers Association website - pfma.org.uk. I can thoroughly recommend this website (and often do to my clients) as a really good way of looking into pet food. It covers many of the common questions I get asked as a vet, they have easy-to-read information sheets which are based on the most up-to-date evidence. They also have information on not just dogs and cats, but our small furry pets such as rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas, and even pet birds and fish too. As an independent body, they can be a great resource for the confused pet owner. Whatever you decide on for your pet, please do always feel able to ask a veterinary professional their opinion - we enjoy being asked and will try our best to give you a nonbiased, evidence based response