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Nutrition

Feeding your pet a high quality premium diet will contribute to their overall health including, general well-being, weight management, digestion, oral and skin/coat health. A high quality diet contains the correct amount of carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, amino acids and fats that are tailored specifically to your pets needs and requirements. The ingredients manufactured in these diets have been standardized and regulated. When deciding on what to feed your pet, there are many things to determine and consider.

The following questions will help you decide what food is best for your pet:

a) What kind of pet do you have? Choosing a diet for the kind of animal you have is critical for their health and wellbeing. For example, you shouldn’t give canned pet food to your fish because it would not meet the nutritional needs that your fish has. Your veterinarian can help you with determining the proper diet for your pet.

b) What life stage is your pet in? At all life stages, different nutritional requirements are needed. It is important to find the right diet for the stage your pet is in. Puppy/kittens, adults, geriatric, nursing/pregnant pets all have specific needs and therefore a diet that will facilitate those needs must be fed. It is also important to remember that life stages change periodically and the diet will also need to be changed to reflect this.

c) What body condition is your pet in? If your pet is an ideal weight, you can start by feeding the recommended amount that is stated on the pet food bag and consult with your veterinarian for further guidance. Overweight pets may need to be fed a specific diet to encourage weight loss. And underweight pets may need to be fed larger amounts or more frequently until they reach their ideal weight. Monitoring your pets body condition (http://www.purina.co.uk/content/docs/downloadable-pdfs/bodycondsytempdf.pdf?sfvrsn=2) and weighing your pet regularly will help ensure that your pet is getting an accurate amount of food.

d) Does your pet have any underlying medical conditions? It is common for pets to develop medical conditions throughout their life that can influence what sort of nutrition they require. Whether it be a short or long term condition, a disease or allergies, it is essential to feed the appropriate diet to assist in its management. It is crucial to consult your veterinarian if a medical condition should arise, and they will be able to provide the best diet recommendation to keep your pet healthy and happy!

If a diet needs to be changed at any point in your pets’ life, it is recommended to change the food gradually over 3-4 days. This will minimize the occurrence of any gastrointestinal problems ie. vomiting and/or diarrhea. Always consult your veterinarian before making changes to any diet. Fresh, clean water is important for your pet and must be made accessible at all times. This will ensure your pet stays hydrated, but also helps your pet digest food, eliminate its waste and help lubricate its tissues. Feeding your pet human food is NEVER a good idea. Human foods, such as chocolate, grapes, and pizza etc, can cause gastrointestinal problems for your pet. Many human foods are toxic to pets as well! The food we eat can contain very high salt and fat content which can also have unfavorable effects on your pet too (ie. vomiting, diarrhea, indigestion, pancreatitis).

Remember! Resist the whining and begging, and avoid the temptation of sharing your meal/snacks with your pet. Your pet can have pet treats, but they must not consume more than 10% of their daily nutritional requirements!

“You are what you eat”…..when you feed your pet a healthy appropriate diet, you will be supporting your pets health and well being, and hopefully they will be with you for many years to come! If you want to give your pet a treat, remember hugs are always calorie free!

For additional information regarding nutrition, please refer to: http://www.aspca.org/search/node?search=nutrition.

Additional Resources

Blog Post: Feeding Your Puppy

Blog Post: Nutritional Needs of Older Pets

Blog Post: How to Get Your Pets to Eat Veggies

Podcast: Pet Nutrition

You Tube: Cat Nutrition Tips

You Tube: Dog Nutrition Tips

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