Giving your dog or cat the right balance and quantity of healthy foods isn't quite as straightforward as it might seem. Some animals are willing to eat anything and everything in sight, while others are extraordinarily finicky.
Different pets need different nutrient ratios and portion sizes for optimal health at various stages of life. Some pets can even display allergies or sensitivities to certain foods. To make sure you're feeding your pet in a manner that will support a lifetime of wellness, you need professional guidance -- and that's exactly what our experienced team at Richview Animal Hospital can provide.
Why is the process of feeding a common household pet so complex? There are more variables than many pet owners realize. These may include such issues as:
- Canine vs. feline nutrition - Dogs and cats are very different creatures and require different balances of nutrients. For instance, dogs can get their nutrition from both animal and plant sources, while cats are strictly carnivores. Dogs can make their own vitamin A from the food they eat, while cats must get it from animals that have already processed it. An amino acid called taurine is also very important in the feline diet. This is one reason why your dog and your cat should only eat food products formulated for their nutritional needs.
- Allergies - Some pets experience allergic reactions to specific foods, just as humans do. In addition to digestive or respiratory symptoms, food allergies often express themselves in the form of dermatitis (skin irritation). Determining which ingredient is causing the allergic reaction is critical for alleviating the symptoms.
- Human food - Many human foods are toxic to dogs and/or cats. Keep citrus fruits, garlic, onions, caffeine, alcohol, chocolate, grapes, raisins, nuts, and the non-sugar sweetener xylitol out of your pet's reach. Even non-toxic foods may contain too much fat, sodium and sugar for your pet.
- Caloric intake - Puppies and kittens require lots of high-quality food to support their growth, development and activity level. As they reach adulthood, their dietary intake may taper off. Older, more sedentary pets may need still less food to avoid obesity, a dangerous condition that that lead to high blood pressure, diabetes, organ disease and even a heightened cancer risk.
Diet and Nutrition Services at Richview Animal Hospital
You can trust your friends at Richview Animal Hospital to help you feed your pet the right nutrients in the right amounts. We can provide a pet nutrition plan customized to your animal's specific needs, challenges and current stage of life. We can also perform allergy testing and administer elimination diets to relieve a food allergy issue. If you need to help your pet lose weight, we can provide the necessary guidance to adjust his diet and/or increase his activity level.
We also provide a nutrition assessment including:
- Nutrient-sensitive disorders (e.g., intolerances, allergies and organ-specific diseases). Diet choice for these animals should be restricted to those formulated to meet the disease-associated nutritional limitations of the specific animal.
- Problems related to diet factors are referred to as diet-induced disorders (e.g., nutrient imbalances, spoilage, contamination, adulteration). Animals with these disorders may be treated by feeding a diet known to be appropriate for the animal.
- Feeding factors include the frequency, timing, location and method of feeding, whereas environmental factors include space and quality of the pet's surroundings.
- Feeding-related and environment-related disorders (e.g., over- or underfeeding, excessive use of treats, poor husbandry, competitive eating in dogs, or lack of appropriate environmental stimulation). These situations require effective communications to produce the appropriate behavioral changes in the client.
- Low or high activity level, multiple pets in the home, gestation, lactation, or age <1 year or >7 years, all create a need for closer scrutiny. Although these factors by themselves may not trigger an extended evaluation, they should cause the veterinarian to scrutinize the pet's situation more closely.
- Feeding recommendations for adult dogs can vary, depending upon the breed, activity, metabolism and owner′s preference. Whether or not an animal is fed once or twice daily, it should be fed at the same time, and fresh drinking water should always be made available. Just as with humans, a dog′s appetite may vary from day to day. This should not pose a problem unless the loss of appetite persists or the dog shows signs of illness or weight loss.
- Even though your pet might enjoy meat, it is not a balanced diet. Raw meats may contain parasites and cooked meats can be high in fat. If supplemental meat or table scraps are fed, they should not account for more than 10% of your pets diet. Higher levels can dilute the nutritional value of the commercial diet, predispose an animal to obesity and may create a finicky eater. Also remember, soft bones, such as chicken bones, should never be given as chew toys, as they may splinter and lodge in the mouth and throat.
- We carry a variety of formulated nutritional balanced diets for each specific age of your dog or cat as well as prescribed diets that help meet the needs of geriatric pets or those who suffer from heart conditions, gastrointestinal conditions, kidney problems, obesity, diabetes, colitis and some types of allergies.
If your dog is experiencing medical problems, speak with a Doctor to see if a recommended prescription diet may benefit your pet′s current medical condition or nutritional needs.
Call (416) 245-8805 to learn more about Richview Animal Hospital's diet and nutrition services. We can help your pet eat his way to better health!