Do you have questions about your pet’s health and nutrition? We have answers! The Pet Food Institute teamed up with Danielle Conway, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, to answer some of the most common and important questions around pet food labels, ingredients, nutrients and feeding guidelines. In this Vet Talks video series, Dr. Conway teaches us how to maintain a pet’s ideal body condition through proper nutrition to support a long, healthy life.

Click to expand the topics below to hear directly from Dr. Conway as she shares her guidance and takes the complexity out of pet nutrition.


Reading the Pet Food Label
Understanding how to read a pet food label is the key to selecting the right pet food for your cat or dog. Ensuring the food you select is developed for the right species and stage of life is the first step in reading the label on your pet’s food. In addition, feeding cats and dogs pet food that is labeled “Complete and Balanced” will ensure your pet is getting the 40+ nutrients in their diets, in the proper amounts, that they need to thrive.
Dr. Conway shares how to easily find the information needed to make an informed decision about your cat or dog’s food, and why this information is so essential to your pet’s health.

Pet Food Ingredients and Nutrients
Reading the ingredients listed on the back of a pet food bag or can is not unlike reading the ingredients from human snacks or foods. Ingredients on the pet food label are listed in descending order, with the biggest contributors first and the smallest listed last. The major ingredients, or the first few listed, will have recognizable animal or plant names, while the minor ingredients may be less recognizable, as those are the ingredients that supply minerals, vitamins and other nutrients.
Learn about ingredient function, by-products and the important nutrients guaranteed in your cat or dog’s pet food from Dr. Conway.

Maintaining a Pet’s Healthy Body Weight
Did you know that almost 60% of dogs and cats in the United States are overweight or obese? Managing your pet’s weight may grant him or her a better quality of life for a longer period of time. Dr. Conway explains the risks pets face when their weight is not properly maintained, as well as a simple, at-home assessment of body condition and muscle mass you can give your cat or dog.
Refer to or print out this resource for your next veterinary visit to start the conversation about your pet’s healthy weight: Download Digital PDF          Download Printable PDF

Feeding Guidelines for Pets
Every cat and dog is different, as are their daily dietary requirements. Key pieces of information, such as how many calories your pet should be consuming each day, and how many calories you are currently feeding your pet, are imperative when establishing a healthy diet for cats and dogs. Treats also can majorly impact your pet’s weight and should never account for more than 10% of a pet’s daily calories.
Dr. Conway shares straightforward feeding tips that will help keep your cat or dog’s calorie intake on track.

Life Stage Formulas 101
Like humans, caloric and nutrient needs of individual pets, even those of similar size, can vary significantly. Pets need to take in different quantities and ratios of nutrients in different amounts depending on their stage of life. Pet food makers develop formulas to address the unique nutritional needs of growing puppies and kittens, pregnant cats and dogs, and aging animals.
Dr. Conway discusses the different life-stage pet food formulas available for cats and dogs and how following the proper life-stage for your pet will help ensure his or her ideal body condition.

Therapeutic Pet Food 101
A therapeutic pet food, also known as a prescription diet, is formulated to meet the specific needs of your pet, developed to help diagnose, treat, or prevent nutrient-responsive diseases common to cats and dogs. Pet food makers clinically study certain vitamins, minerals, protein, fats, carbohydrates, and other nutritional components to determine their effect on the disease process. Therapeutic pet foods can help treat conditions such as kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, liver disease, urinary stones, obesity and more.
Learn more about the development and benefits of a therapeutic pet food from Dr. Conway, and how to work with your vet to choose proper food based on your cat or dog’s health issues.