Changing trends: Lithuanians pay more attention to nutrition and health of pets

The healthy lifestyle wave that spread across the world did not leave pets aside. The specialists noted that more pet owners buy higher quality and healthier food.

High quality food is very important for animal health.

According to its composition, the animal food can be divided into three classes: economy, premium and super premium. The economy class food is the cheapest and contains little meat (which means less protein) and a lot of grains (carbohydrates). Due to the synthetic additives and sugar in its composition, animals eat such products with pleasure, but it is not very nutritious.

"Food of this class is equivalent to fast food for humans," said Urtė Barbora Liutkevičiūtė, the doctor at Dr. Leo veterinary clinic. "Animals, just as humans, need to receive a certain amount of nutrients with their food. The food of lower quality contains only a few per cent of products of animal origin – mainly bone meal, offal (organs) and various animal waste. The rest comprises grain and meal, corn, rice and sugar beet pulp – less nutritious carbohydrates," she added.

According to Liutkevičiūtė, cats require a particularly high quantity of meat, as they are predators by nature. The dog's food may contain less meat, but it is still important to ensure that other products in its composition are of proper quality. According to doctors, in order to protect animal health, it is necessary to pay attention to the class and ingredients of the food.

The quality of premium and super premium class food is much higher and often contains more fresh meat. It does not include genetically modified products, preservatives or artificial flavourings. Moreover, it is enriched with vitamins, minerals and amino acids necessary for every living organism. Due to its composition, the higher class food is better absorbed by the body, so animals will consume it in smaller amounts.

"I can state from my experience that the exterior condition of an animal can say a lot about the food it eats. Even older animals that receive a better quality nutritious food will have a shiny fur, healthier teeth and less health problems, such as skin or digestive disorders," noted Liutkevičiūtė.

Attention to animal nutrition is growing

The traders emphasise that in the past years interest in higher quality pet food has increased.

Gytė Kalinovienė, a pet food specialist at Senukai trade network, stated that premium and super premium food sales increased by at least 10 per cent in 2018, as compared to the same period last year.

"The attitude of clients to their pets and their health is taking a turn for the better. The customers increasingly more often inquire about the food ingredients, quantity of meat in it, and ask about the mineral and vitamin content in certain products. The increasing sales of high quality food demonstrates that the customers adopt a more responsible behaviour towards their pets," said Kalinovienė.

According to this specialist, they see more and more customers who come looking for a type of food recommended by their vet, which is designed to resolve certain health issues or prevent diseases. The specialist, however, suggests not to wait until the animal gets ill and requires a specific type of food. Owners must take care of their pets' health from the early days. Especially, when nowadays doing so is very easy – high quality food is available outside the veterinary pharmacies.

"Several years ago, it was not a common practice to buy high quality food in regular supermarkets and people had to go to specialised veterinary pharmacies. Therefore, with the view to the customer needs and comfort, we regularly supplement our supply with new premium and super premium class brands," commented Kalinovienė on the recent changes.

Currently, the economy class pet food at Senukai trade network comprises some 20 per cent of the range. The remaining 80 per cent are premium and super premium class food.

Care for animal safety and warmth

Pet health depends more than on nutrition only. Having found a perfect food balance, the owners also consider special animal clothing. The specialist at Senukai noted that short-haired dogs could catch a cold or suffer from lung inflammation. "There is an overall trend to purchase clothes both for small and larger breeds of dogs. In the past two years, the sales of clothes for the four-legged friends have grown by two-fold," she said.

During the cold seasons, when the days start getting dark early, the customers frequently purchase special safety leashes. The light-reflecting or LED collars and leashes with several flashing functions have become increasingly popular in the past years. Walking their dog with such innovative devices gives assurance to owners that the drivers and other road users will see their pets from a distance, which can help avoid accidents in a simple manner.

"Considering the figures of the total sales, it is possible to conclude that growth has been observed in the entire animal products segment. Nowadays, pets are considered to be real family members, therefore, we intend to continue expanding the range and variety of high quality products," stated Kalinovienė.

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