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A high quality nutritional program for your pets keeps them happy, healthy, and in peak condition throughout their lives. Proper nutrition is essential for their long-term health and happiness. Other than proper veterinary care, it is the single most important consideration you can give to your pets. Make the healthy choice for them.
It is important to regularly review your pet’s current nutritional requirements. Your pet’s nutritional needs change with each life stage. The nutritional requirements for a growing puppy or kitten are very different from those of a normal, active adult pet. The same holds true for major differences in mid-life adult pets and senior pets. Also the lifestyle of your pet will dictate its needs. A working dog, pregnant pet, and less active pet all have very different nutritional requirements.
ALL PET FOODS ARE NOT THE SAME:
Pet foods vary in their quality and ability to meet the needs of your pet. There are three classes of food from a quality perspective, generic brands, standard formulations, and premium formulations. Premium diets use the highest quality ingredients, are the most digestible, have greater nutritional utilization, and are the most costly. Standard formulations would include the better brands of food available at the grocery store.
With premium diets, most of the food eaten is digested with less excreted from the body as waste. Because of this increased digestibility, if you feed according to the label, the premium diet can actually cost less than the lesser expensive pet foods. Pets fed a premium diet typically have a more shiny hair coat, more sparkle in their eyes, a moist nose, smaller & firmer stools, and overall better health.
Quality nutrition also maintains a stronger, immune system more capable of resisting disease. It also allows the pet to make quicker recoveries from illness, accidents, and surgical procedures. A proper balance of vitamins and minerals enhances tissue repair and organ maintenance.
READING THE PET FOOD LABEL:
There are major differences in pet foods. The label can provide you with important information about the quality of the food you are buying. For proper nutrition, the diet must provide the proper balance of the five basic nutrient categories: protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. The label will list all ingredients in descending order by weight. The protein source will probably be the first ingredient listed and is an important indicator as to the overall quality of the diet. Higher-quality pet foods will have animal meat as the major protein source. Quality protein sources include chicken, meat meal, fishmeal, and/or dried whole egg. Lesser-quality pet foods often use plant-origin proteins, such as soybeans. Your pet’s digestive system can absorb meat proteins much more efficiently than plant-origin proteins. You want to feed a high-quality protein because it is highly digestible and provides your pet with the nutrients it needs to carry out normal body functions and to produce a strong-boned, well-toned and muscled body, along with a healthy, shiny coat.
In addition to the label listing all the ingredients, you will also see a listing of the guaranteed analysis. This is the percentage of crude protein, crude fat, fiber, and moisture that are present in the diet. These percentages will change significantly with each life stage and your pet’s lifestyle. It is important to feed the right food for each life stage of your pet.
Evaluation of the pet’s stools is another indication of pet food quality. Stool quality is an indication of how well your pet is digesting the diet you are feeding. When all the right factors are present, your pet should have a low stool volume, be firm and dark, and have a reduced odor. If stools are soft, loose, watery, light-colored, or smelly, this can be an indication that you are feeding a lower quality diet that is not meeting your pet’s nutritional needs.
Water is also an essential nutrient that must be available to the pet:
Fresh, clean water should always be available. Canned foods contain about 80% water whereas dry foods contain about 10% moisture. Pets eating canned food therefore get more of their water requirements from the food than those fed dry foods but also run the risk of becoming overweight if only fed on canned food.
TASTE IS IMPORTANT TO YOUR PET:
Some less nutritious diets are very bland tasting…much like chewing on cardboard. To increase the palatability and entice your pet to eat these less nutritious diets, some manufacturers add flavor enhancers. Better quality diets using high-quality protein sources in combination with high-quality fats, provide a diet formulation that have a very appetizing taste and smell for your pet.
PETS DON’T NEED A VARIABLE DIET:
Switching brands of pet foods frequently will make your pet a much more finicky eater as well as lead to many more digestive upsets. Vomiting and/or diarrhea are common consequences of abrupt changes in the pet’s diet. If you do change diets, it is important to do it SLOWLY over a 5-10 day period. Begin by adding a small amount of the new food and gradually increasing its proportion in the total diet while decreasing the proportion of the diet being replaced.
LIFE-STAGE FEEDING GUIDLINES
Puppy / kitten
- Puppy / kitten food is available in wet or dry forms, and what you choose will largely depend on you and your puppy's preference. Please take care to choose a Premium pet food from your vet that gives them everything they need, to grow and develop into their full potential.
- Strict feeding times as well as quantity food given will aid in the early detection of illness in you puppy if they do not eat as normal. Also helps to keep good energy levels throughout the day.
- Whatever food you choose, you will most likely need a couple of sturdy, non-toxic feeding bowls; one for food and the other for water. A feeding mat is also a good idea to protect the floor and the bowls from skidding around.
Water: Your PET must have an adequate supply of and access to fresh water at all times. Not having water to drink for a sustained length of time can harm your dog's health.
Treats & titbits: Although it is tempting to give them table scraps, it does not provide your dog with the correct balance of nutrients. Try to be sparingly with treats, as giving too many, can lead to weight gain or nutritional imbalances.
Special Breeds with special needs.
- Some breeds have genic health problems e.g. Labradors and Main Coon Cats who are prone to Hipdisplaysia or Schnauzers who have Urinary tract problems; Yorkshire Terriers with Dental problems. That’s why it is important to have them check out by a vet on a regular basis and supporting them by feeding a premium and/or breed specific brand foods.
Preventative prescription maintenance.
- If your pet has been diagnose with a specific health condition – good news: most of them can be maintained by giving premium prescription food. Ask your vet about a support diet for your beloved pet.
- Firstly knowing and understanding your pet’s needs helps to establish what food to give, how much and how often.
- Tips on how to feed and when:
- Free Choice: Food is available to your dog at all times.
Time-Limited Feeding: Food is available to your dog for a limited time only (i.e. remove all leftovers after 5 minutes) ..
- Free Choice: Food is available to your dog at all times.
- Tips on keeping your adult pet healthy:
- Weigh your dog regularly
- Feed them based on the feeding guidelines on the back of the bag of food and veterinary recommendations.
- Evaluate your dog's physical condition using our body condition scoring system every two to three weeks for the first six months. See our CHART to help with your evolution.
- Adjust the amount you feed accordingly.
- Repeat on a regular basis.
- At around seven years old your dog or cat at 9 years old will reach the senior stage of life. The nutritional needs of older dogs or cats is different from those of younger adults, so you should change your pet's food to a senior food so you can help keep them younger for longer.