Published By
Sarah Li

3 major aspects to consider when choosing your pet’s diet: Safety, Nutrition Values and Palatability

Reading time 10 min
Published By
Sarah Li
As “parents”, knowing that your “kids” enjoy their meals and stay healthy is the scene that every pet owner could ever dream of. However, while owners spend so much effort trying to provide a nutritious diet by studying through the commentaries and recommendations on the internet, their heads simply go blank once they step into the pet store, not having a clue how to make the right decision. In this article, we will show you how to choose a suitable diet for your pet based on 3 major aspects: food safety, nutrition values and palatability.
dog eating


Through this article you can learn:

Rule no. 1: Food Safety

How can we ensure that the diet for cats and dogs is safe to consume? The Global Nutritional Guideline developed by the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) provides very detailed suggestions for a pet’s diet. We have selected a few key questions where pet owners can gather relevant information by doing research or making enquiry, and assess whether the pet food manufacturer is a reliable one. 

(Related Article: 6 questions for the manufacturer regarding pet food’s safety)

• Do they employ qualified nutritionists?

Talking about food safety, the first thing is to figure out who formulates the diet. Does the manufacturer hire qualified nutritionists for the job? Even the qualifications and background of the nutritionist are worth looking at. At Royal Canin, our formulas have been researched and developed by veterinarians, scientific experts, nutritionists and pet professionals across the world.

• How do the manufacturers carry out product testing?

Before the launch of the product, strict clinical tests should be carried out to ensure that the product is safe to consume. And long-term examination is recommended to verify the validity of the products to the pet's health. Manufacturers should also carry out corresponding tests for cats and dogs that are under treatments, to testify whether the diet can effectively control or prevent disease. Besides, pet owners are recommended to support manufacturers that practice non-invasive tests. 


• What is the quality control process?

The quality control process for pet food products can be divided into two main areas - food ingredients and manufacturing process. First of all, the manufacturer should try to use the raw material from accredited local suppliers, and apply strict selection criteria by professionals to ensure the product quality before entering the production center. Secondly, check out whether the manufacturer is certified by external organizations, and make sure that they have clear division and control on the production line, preventing the risk of transferring harmful substances or infectious disease from one area to another.


(Related article: Get to know Royal Canin’s persistence on quality and food safety control)


Rule no. 2: Nutrition Values

Pet owners tend to believe that the more the food ingredients, the easier to achieve a balanced diet. However, instead of the variety of food ingredients, it is the nutrition values from within that matter. In fact, chicken and bean curd share very similar nutrition values even though they are two totally different food ingredients. That’s why pet owners are suggested to check out the nutrition content (such as protein, fat, minerals, vitamins, etc.) to decide whether the nutrients are essential to their pets. At Royal Canin, we focus our efforts on understanding the unique needs of domestic cats and dogs. Everything we do is designed to create precise nutritional formula to help them have a long and healthy life.


Digestibility is another important aspect besides nutrition values. Digestibility refers to the portion of nutrients that can be absorbed after digestion. Any nutritious food ingredients of low digestibility are not vital to cats and dogs. Therefore, even though the combination of food ingredients looks nutritious, if you do not understand how the digestive system works, the actual nutrients cats and dogs can get will be way less than what you expect. 



If so, what are the factors that affect digestibility? Actually, different types of food, proportion and quality could affect digestibility. Even slightly changing the grinding or cooking method would make a difference. Just like a boiled corn, the digestibility will be much higher for cats and dogs after removing the coat. It is the same when it comes to meat and some of the animal by-products. If the ingredient is overcooked, digestibility will go down and the actual proportion of protein cats and dogs can absorb will decrease.


Paying attention to the shape of your pet’s poop is the simplest way to check how well your pet digests. Normally, animal poops at least once a day, and of moderate texture. If the frequency is not consistent, or the texture is not stable, there may be signs of low digestibility. 

Rule no. 3: Palatability

While most of the diet recommendations emphasize on safety and nutrition values, pet owners should also consider palatability.
Palatability refers to the texture and eating experience of cats and dogs. Just like food critics evaluate the food by the look, taste and smell, animals also care a lot about the aroma and texture of their diets. According to the article “Palatability has become so popular in the world of pet diets, is it really that important? By Dr. Song”, pets have less taste buds than humans do. But in terms of the number of olfactory receptor cell , cats possess up to 200 million and dogs possess around 125 -200 million, which is way more than the 5 million that humans have. Thus, for a pet's diet, it does not only have to taste good, but smell good too!

After having an idea of the physical features of cats and dogs, you will understand that different breeds develop their unique eating style to accommodate the size of their mouths and jaws. And they also have their own favourable food form, texture, size and shape. Age is also one of the factors in determining your pet’s eating habit. For a 12-year-old cat, it probably prefers softer or mousse-like texture food as it may find the diet it used to have is hard to eat or chew. To fulfill a senior cat’s diet needs, you can choose a diet with a crunchy outside and soft inside texture that helps to stimulate its general appetite.

Many pet owners misunderstood the meaning of palatability, and believe that it is just a gimmick from the businessman. Think about this, even cabbages, the most nutritious vegetable on earth, sometimes get rejected by children; it is essential that a nutritional diet has to be welcomed by our pets. Therefore, regardless of age, size and breeds, the above 3 rules are the key aspects to consider when selecting a healthy diet for your pets. 

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