What shouldI feed my pet?
I’m often asked by pet owners at my hospitals what they should feed their pets. With somany pet foods available and so much conflicting information around, decisions about nutrition can be difficult and confusing for pet owners.
Dogs and cats, just like humans, must be feed an appropriate, balanced diet specific totheir needs and stage of life. This is critical to avoid health problems such as obesity and certain nutritional deficiencies that can cause musculoskeletal,neurological and gastrointestinal diseases.
Some pets will also need specific diets to help them cope with existing disease. For example,many older cats suffer from kidney disease and specific prescription diets can help reduce the workload on the kidneys and have been shown to help kidneyfunction in these pets. Many dogs (including my own Labrador!) can have food allergies that require the avoidance of certain sources of protein whilst maintaining an appropriately balanced diet using novel sources of protein.These types of dietary decisions must be made with the assistance of your vet to ensure your pet is getting what it needs to maintain health.
Similarly,certain life stages have specific nutritional requirements. Puppies and kittens must have the right balance of energy and calcium (among other requirements) to ensure correct development of bones and muscles. Conversely, older pets require less energy in their diet to ensure they don’t develop obesity and often benefit from the addition of certain joint supplements to their food.
Unfortunately,it is very difficult to ensure pets receive adequate nutrition with home prepared diets. A large independent study recently found that most home prepared diets for pets are unbalanced and, without specific advice from a veterinary nutritional specialist, may be putting these pets at risk. Similarly,raw foods (particularly meats) can be dangerous for pets and owners due to contamination with bacteria such as Salmonella,E. coli and Campylobacter and, as such, are not recommended.
The easiest way to ensure your pet is receiving adequate, safe nutrition is to feed a tested, premium pet food specific for its life stage and in consideration of any pre-existing medical conditions. Drop into one of my hospitals at either Newport or Avalon for a free veterinary nutritional consultation from one of our vets or vet nurses to ensure your pet is getting exactly what it needs.