With all the information that’s out there about pet nutrition, how do you know what to believe, what’s hype, and what’s best for your dog or cat?
The important thing to remember is that each pet is an individual, and there’s no one-size-fits-all.
With that in mind, your veterinarian at Shepherd Spring Animal Hospital can partner with you to determine the best diet for your furry best friend, based on their breed, age, medical history, any food allergies, and taste preferences.
Here are a few things to consider…
Keeping your pet at a healthy weight
More than half of pet dogs and cats in the U.S. are now clinically overweight or obese. It’s one of the most common medical conditions we see.
Unfortunately, extra weight can lead to a variety of different medical problems, including:
- Back problems
- Ligament/tendon injuries
- High blood pressure
- Liver disease
- Certain cancers
- And more…
Of course, there are many factors — including exercise and lifestyle — that contribute to the weight of your furry family member.
But, nutrition is one of the key factors. The type of food they eat — as well as how much of it they eat — can have a significant effect on your pal’s weight.
And just like humans, staying fit can help to increase lifespan… and that means more years for you and your pet to enjoy together.
So, let us help you choose a food that works best for your pet’s metabolism, and create a feeding plan that helps them stay fit and healthy.
How many calories does my dog or cat need?
We can give you a general guideline for how many calories your buddy needs per day, based on their age, weight, activity level, health history, and other factors.
Then, we’ll translate that into a specific amount of wet food or dry food (or both, if they prefer a mix) to feed. We’ll also help you factor in treats — because treats in moderation are perfectly fine for most pets!
Of course, just like humans, individual metabolisms may vary… so, after our initial calculations, let’s stay in touch and monitor your pet’s weight over time, to be sure their new feeding plan keeps them healthy and happy.
The importance of a balanced diet
A good quality food is important for getting a proper nutrient balance, and the right amounts of important vitamins and minerals.
Sometimes, with lower quality foods, your pet might be missing out on something. A good example is ‘taurine’, a very important amino acid. Without it, cats develop heart disease.
But when you have a diet that’s complete and balanced, you won’t have to worry about your pet suffering from a nutrient deficiency — and, you won’t have to give them any vitamins. The right food is really all they need!
Does my pet need supplements?
Even though a healthy diet covers all of the basic nutritional requirements — some dogs and cats can benefit from certain supplements.
Common examples include glucosamine (for joint health), or probiotics and prebiotics (for digestive and immune system health).
We’ll let you know if this is recommended, based on your pet’s age and medical history.
A note for pets with food allergies and sensitivities
Unfortunately, food sensitivities are a common problem for dogs and cats.
Often this causes symptoms in the skin (like itchiness, redness, hair loss, greasy or smelly fur, and infections), but it may show up in other ways, too.
Most commonly, dogs and cats are sensitive to a protein found in the food, such as chicken. But, they can be allergic to just about anything, and often discovering the culprit requires a “food trial.” If this is recommended for your pet, we’ll explain exactly how it works.
If you suspect your pet may have a food sensitivity, or want to know more about it, go ahead and give us a call!
To schedule a nutritional or weight loss consult for your pet, call us at 850-273-5627.