It’s important to feed your pet the right diet, not only to help their health thrive but also to reduce the risk of them developing some conditions as they grow, live and age.
A dog’s diet will change and vary during their lives, which is determined by their size and the breed. Puppies grow quite rapidly, going through several physical and mental changes from birth to reach their full adult body in just under a year.
As puppies grow, they require a greater need for nutritional elements to support their development, however, a dog’s diet is more complex than this, with nutrition also linked to the progression of some physical conditions.
For example, evidence shows that growth spurts in large and giant dogs are linked to the development of Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD), a painful condition that affects dogs joints where the cartilage starts to flake. Feeding your dog the right diet and the correct quantity of food can help achieve a consistent growth rate and prevent OCD from developing. From an early age, puppies should be fed a specialist, breed specific diet from a reputable brand, portioned out to the size of the puppy.
Adult dogs’ nutritional needs vary, depending on the breed and their activity level. A working dog, or one that is very active, may have an extremely high energy level and will benefit from a specialist working dog diet that is energy rich. Dogs with a more sedentary lifestyle may benefit from being fed less food, or a moderate calorie-restricted diet to prevent excess weight gain.
As a dog starts to age the chance of developing some conditions increases. By adjusting your pet’s diet, conditions such as kidney disease or arthritis may be assisted. In particular, an older dog will require a less energy dense diet with a slightly reduced protein content but may benefit from supplementation of some elements such as fatty acids. Senior diets are recommended for older pets as they can help support the ageing process.
Nutritionally, dogs can be fed a wet (tins or pouches) or dry food; providing it is high quality, both types of pet food will provide a nutritionally balanced diet. Most dry food is formed into little biscuits called kibble. It is important that a dog is fed an appropriate sized kibble – what may be a mere morsel for a Labrador may be a massive and challenging biscuit for a Miniature Yorkshire Terrier.
In recent years, home cooked or raw diets have risen in popularity. While dogs can be given a nutritionally balanced diet at home, getting it wrong can mean that dogs develop problems due to receiving an unbalanced diet which has been fed over a period of time. An added risk associated with providing a raw diet is that infections such as salmonella may transmit from the food to the dog and can potentially be transmitted from pets to humans too. We advise that most dogs are fed on a high quality, commercial pet food, as this is the most reliable way to serve their nutritional needs.
Dogs with particular conditions such as kidney, bladder or intestinal problems may be recommended a prescription diet. These diets are specifically formulated to help with the treatment of a condition or to reduce the risk of recurrence. At Animal Trust, our vets will advise if changing your pet’s diet is the best option to help treat their condition.
If you require guidance on dog nutrition, we are more than happy to help. Book a free consultation at one of our branches for more information.
Cats have some very particular nutritional requirements and feeding them the wrong diet can lead to life-threatening problems. For example, cats have a very high protein requirement, particularly for the amino acid, taurine. A diet deficient in taurine can lead to serious heart problems. For this reason, we always recommend that cats are fed a quality, commercial pet food that is either wet or dry in order to minimise the risk of deficiency and developing these problems.
The nutritional requirements of cats vary during their lives; a young, growing kitten will have different nutritional needs to an ageing cat. Younger cats are prone to urinary problems, whereas in older cats they’re more susceptible to conditions such as kidney disease. Providing your cat with a diet that is designed for their particular life stage can help minimise the risk of these problems occurring.
Once a cat has developed a condition, they may be recommended to go onto a prescription diet which can assist with their treatment. With some conditions, such as kidney disease, feeding a diet specially formulated to treat this is one of the most effective ways to extend their life.
We are more than happy to assist with any queries you may have about your cat’s diet or nutritional needs. Book a free consultation for further guidance.