By Alfred Ardis
Sometimes a pet displays signs of poor health that aren't necessarily related to a disease or illness. When this happens, changing pet food may be a good way to ensure that they're getting the proper nutrients. Here are common indicators that it may be time for a change.
Flaky or Dull Coat
Just like fatty acids keep humans' skin healthy and hydrated, if a pet's food lacks the proper fatty acids, it may result in a dull or flaky coat. If a cat or dog usually boasts a silky and healthy looking coat, but it slowly becomes less vibrant or more knotted with time, it can be an indication that their diet is lacking in said fatty acids. If this indicator appears, keeping an eye out for a brand that includes high levels of Omega-3 or Omega-6 fatty acids may help return the shininess to a pet's coat.
Fatigue or Lethargy
It's normal for animals to go through lethargy during certain stages of their lives, such as when they are pregnant or are growing older. However, if a young and otherwise healthy cat or dog begins showing signs of excessive sleep and lack of interest in play or other activities, it could be a bad sign. This may be the result of an underlying illness. In order to combat this, finding a pet food with high levels of antioxidants can help the animal's immune system and speed up their recovery time. However, it's a good idea to contact a vet before making such changes to ensure that the lethargy isn't a sign of something more serious.
Even though humans' diets generally stay the same through all stages of their lives, the same isn't true of animals. Luckily, pet food comes equipped with the right nutrients for all the stages of a cat or dog's life. Puppy or kitten chow is fortified with the vitamins and nutrients needed for higher levels of activity as well as for healthy growing. But the same is true for animals of older ages. When a pet is considered a "senior," which is around 5-7 years depending on the size of the animal, it's a good idea to find a food that will allow them to age comfortably. Older animals do not need the high levels of fat and nutrients in "all age" foods, and an excess of these can actually be harmful.
If a cat or dog is itching excessively, most of the time it's an indicator that fleas or other pests have made their home in its coat. However, just like humans, some animals are born with natural allergies. These allergies may manifest themselves in upset stomachs, but they may also result in an itch that won't go away. In this case, it's a good idea to take the pet to a veterinarian to determine if an allergy is present and to find a low-allergen food that can reduce its irritation.
Knowing what food is right can be hard, and it may take a few attempts to get it right. But the result will be a healthier and happier member of the family!