Nutrition for Dogs and Cats
“What should I feed my pet? “is a question Veterinarians hear on a daily basis. Good Nutrition is important for our four legged friends and can prevent certain health issues or help correct some types of diseases. Making the decision which food to feed can be hard. Should you dry kibbles or wet canned food? Should you feed a raw diet or cook? The amount of products offered in pet stores can be overwhelming.
As a direct descendant from wolves the intestines of dogs is still equipped for the digestion of prey animals, but has developed the ability to be flexible for other Nutritional sources. Due to Evolution and domestication dogs belong to a group often referred to as “carni-omnivores”, a grey zone between meat- and “everything” eaters.
The needed Nutrients and calories differ from every life stage. Puppies have other nutritional requirements than adult or senior dogs. In general it is important that dog food has a careful balance of calcium/phosphorus and sufficient vitamin D for strong bones and healthy teeth. Proteins, carbohydrates, and fats are the most important nutrient sources for dogs.
Grain free diets are often discussed and recommended in the media. For a healthy dog, that tolerates its food well, grain is not harmful and can be a source of energy. The most commonly grains found in dog food are corn, wheat, oats, rice and millet. In cases of allergies or food intolerances a grain free diet can be beneficial.
Should you decide to feed a raw diet or cook, it is important that there is a balance between proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals. The addition of vitamins and minerals is often necessary to prevent any deficiency symptoms. Ingredients such as onions, leeks, and garlic should not be used to toxicity. Avocados, raisins, and citrus fruits should also be avoided.
Cats have different nutritional requirements than dogs, due to them being true carnivores (“meateaters”). Cats need twice as much protein than dogs. The addition of an amino acid called Taurin is especially important for felines, due to deficiency causing heart and eye diseases. Taurin cannot be produced by felines but is necessary for the function of retina, heart, nervous- and immune system. Taurin can only be found in animal derived feed ingredients, which is why cats need high quality proteins and fats. Feline diets should consist of two thirds meat and only one third grains or vegetables. A sole vegetarian diet is not recommended for cats, but some plant derived nutrients are needed to obtain vitamins and minerals not found in protein sources. Carbohydrates can only be digested in limited amounts and should not be the main ingredient in cat food.
Should you decide to feed a raw diet or cook for your pet it is recommended to thoroughly cook any meet to prevent infections with bacteria, such as salmonella, or potential parasites. Tuna should only be fed in small amounts due to the methylmercury often found in these fish. Onions, garlic, leeks, grapes and raisins should also not be included in home cooked diets. Liver should only be offered in small amounts due to the high levels of vitamin A which can cause toxicity.
Wet food is often recommended for kidney or bladder diseases in order to increase the consumption of water. Dry kibble is often recommended to prevent dental disease and tartar buildup. A mix of both is there for beneficial, but not necessary to ensure proper nutrition.
Most high quality diets offer a balanced relationship of all needed ingredients and nutrients. Companies such as Vet-Concept, Royal Canin and Hill’s test their diets in long-term studies to ensure that deficiencies do not occur. Diets of these companies can also be purchased in our hospital. For further individualized recommendations please contact us at the hospital. We will be happy to offer you any feeding advice and diet recommendations.
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