Diet and nutrition

There are now so many different types and brands of pet food available that it is easy to become confused as to which one is most suitable for your pet.  It is worth taking the time to discuss your pets nutritional needs with one of your veterinary surgeons or practice nurses because feeding the best food for your pet can greatly enhance the quality of his/her life.

Pet Foods –

Pet foods fall into three main categories:  Complete moist, complete dried and complementary.

Complete moist foods –

includes most canned foods, pouches and some of the small foil trays.  They can contain up to 85% water.

Complete dried foods –

includes most of the bagged/boxed foods available. They usually contain around 10% water.

Complementary foods –

These can be moist, semi-moist or dry. They include snacks and treats, mixer biscuits and a few tins/trays/pouches of food.

When buying food for your pet, always read the label first as it is easy to pick up a complementary food by mistake.

If you are feeding your pet a good quality complete food, as directed, it should not be necessary to supplement as well, but discuss this with your vet/nurse as there may be certain cases where supplementation can improve health.

People are often wary of feeding dried foods because of past links with bladder stones. Many years ago, some dried foods were found to contain excessively high levels of minerals which contributed towards the formation of bladder stones. This is no longer true. Complete dried foods have been carefully formulated and tested and there is no reason why they should be “less safe” to feed than moist foods.  It is however, important to ensure that your pet drinks sufficient amounts of water as dried foods contain less moisture. Feeding a pet solely on dried foods is usually only not recommended if a cat/dog has previously suffered from bladder problems. Dried food is generally more convenient and economical to feed, but take care not to let your pet eat too much or weight gain may occur.

You will need to take your pet’s age into consideration when purchasing food for him/her as there are now ranges of food that covers from weaning through to old age, as well as certain breed-specific diets. Animals of different ages/breeds or with medical conditions have differing nutritional requirements.

Many pets will not just eat any brand of food put in front of them, so you may need to experiment before you find one that suits your pet and your pocket. However, it is not a good idea to offer your pet several different foods at once. This is often how fussy eating habits are acquired.

homepage_Cat looking through hole - CopyPick one food and only offer that food for 2 to 3 days. Offer fresh helpings little and often, warmed or with added water if necessary. If your pet does not seem keen and only eats a little then it is probably worth persevering for a few more days.  If your pet refuses to eat the food, then try another sort.

Most food labels have feeding guidelines, but remember, they are just guidelines and your pet may need more or less than stated. Be guided by how your pet looks and feels. If you over-feed your puppy or kitten, the number of fat cells he/she produces will be increased. Each fat cell has the potential to grow larger. If you over-feed an adult dog or cat, the existing body fat cells will increase in size but not quantity.Therefore, by over-feeding your pet whilst they are young and still growing, you are giving rise to a potentially very overweight pet.Try not to give too many treats either, as these too may lead to weight gain. Be warned!

This practice stocks Royal Canin. We have free samples and information leaflets on all of the diet that we stock

It is possible to make up a “home made” diet for your pet, but it is both time consuming and costly. Imbalances in certain nutrients may occur and freshly prepared food does not keep for long. Pet food manufacturers have spent a great deal of time and money formulating high quality, well balanced diets for your pets, so make the most of them.

It is understandable that some people who do not eat meat would prefer for their pets not to do so either and vegetarian foods are available for dogs. This is not so for cats because cats require certain nutrients found only in meat.

When changing your pet from one food to another, do it gradually over a few days, because sudden changes in diet can lead to digestive upsets and many animals will not take to sudden changes and will refuse the new food. Mix the two foods together and slowly decrease the amount of the existing food whilst increasing the proportion of the new food.

If you require further advice on nutrition for your pets, please feel free to make an appointment with our practice nutritionist, Justine Thorne, at the Veterinary Hospital or discuss it with one of our vets or nurses.