Mediaplanet: Why is it important to feed a customized nutrition plan to your pet?

Bernadine Cruz: No two dogs' nutritional needs are the same. I hear the question all the time: “What do I feed my dog?” Many times pet parents give up and pick a brand based on popularity. If you knew what your dog needed and had the time to cook, you’d customize a nutrition plan, starting with the right pet food.

“'It’s diet, genetics and luck that will make a difference in your pet’s health.'” 

And you'd probably also include a few supplements and treats that are appropriate for that unique pet's diet. When customizing your dog’s nutrition plan, you’ll be asked questions like your dog’s age, weight, activity level, gender, known allergies and health concerns.

A multitude of unique factors need to be considered before determining a dog’s unique nutritional needs. If dogs could talk, a customized diet is what they’d want.

MP: How can a dog owner be proactive about their pet's nutrition?

BC: Proper nutrition is so important. I tell my clients all the time, “It’s diet, genetics and luck that will make a difference in your pet’s health.” We can’t control the genes, and we can’t control the luck, but the diet is something we can control that will make a big difference.

It doesn’t take a lot of work to do a little homework. You want a food that is minimally processed, has real meat as the first ingredient, has no wheat or soy or corn fillers and no poultry byproducts. Look at the brand’s website for their nutrition philosophy.