Feeding Your Pets!
We first want to start by saying thank you for choosing Heart Lake Veterinary Hospital as your hospital for Veterinary Care! One of the first things many of us think about when getting a pet, is what do we feed our furry friend? How much food is our pet supposed to get? What kinds of food should I be feeding my pet? Things to avoid or watch out for? Where do I shop for my food? The Pet Store? Online? At my local Veterinary Hospital? There are so many questions and concerns that you may have for your pets, and they can all be addressed here by a skilled member of our Veterinary Team. We strive to help you make the best and most effective decisions for you and your pet food needs.
It’s important to remember that setting a pet up for success includes doing many things, one of the key things is to feed a high quality, healthy, well balanced and nutritious pet food!
What makes a pet food high quality? High Quality means that the ingredients will not only taste good for your pet, but also are highly available and digestible for your pets. Available means that the nutrients in each ingredient are able to give your pet the energy and fuel that they need to live a healthy day to day life. Digestible means that the pet can use the nutrients from the food, and both make and get the most out of what they are eating. High Quality also means that the food is prepared in the best and most effective way for your pet to enjoy, without getting sick or falling ill!
NOT ALL foods are accessible or available (or even digestible) to pets. Animals must have the appropriate physical and chemical mechanisms and enzymes to digest certain foods, and access everything the food has to offer. Some instances require pets to be on specialized diets to meet their specialized needs!
What makes pet food “Healthy”? What about Well Balanced and Nutritious? What all of this means is that the nutrients from the food you give to your pet is going to make them live their happiest, best and most successful life! Well Balanced means (more specifically) that the food is scientifically formulated to meet or exceed the needs of a pet for that specific lifestage, by providing an appropriate “balance” of nutrients (rather than a focus on ONE or TWO key nutrients). This plays hand-in-hand with a diet being “Nutritious”, meaning that it contains all of the key essential nutrients for every pet to live and sustain a healthy life!
If you would like to know all of the Essential Nutrients for your pet, then you can always ask a member of our Team to go through it with you! The important thing to know is that pets require NUTRIENTS, rather than INGREDIENTS
Each pet has unique needs, very similar to ourselves! Each pet requires both specialized and individualized nutrition plans and recommendations, which is why we offer Nutrition Consultations and Recommendations for every step of the way during all of your pet’s milestones. While we do want to change the food too often, it is warranted during certain times. Changing a pet’s diet too often can result in something called a food aversion (more commonly known as food pickiness!) Keeping things consistent is important to ensure pets are receiving regular and proper nutrition each and everyday.
What are the different Lifestages for a pet?
• Youth (under 1 year old)
• Adult (over 1 year old)
• Senior (over 7 years old)
• Geriatric (over 10 years old)
Each Lifestage has different energy and nutrient requirements, that are unique to that phase in a pet’s life. These requirements also change for pets after they undergo a Spay or Neuter Procedure, and/or if they experience any sort of disease or condition warranting nutritional restriction and/or intervention. If your pet does require ANY changes to their current Nutrition Plan, you can have the faith in us that our team will keep you informed on the best and most up to date Nutrition Recommendations for your pet!
Puppies and Kittens have different requirements and demands compared to their adult and senior counterparts. Most diets are marketed to be “All Lifestages” meaning that they can feed the pets with the HIGHEST energy demands and requirements. These are usually the Youth (Puppies and Kittens) and Pregnant Pet Populations. Diets that are specific to the Lifestage (and Lifestyle Factor) are more specialized and unique diets to meet the pets needs at that time.
Examples of Lifestyle Factors? Lifestyle factors take into account specific dietary needs during a point of a pet’s life
• Intact (not spayed or neutered)
• Prone to weight gain
• Weight Loss
• Growth (Puppies/Kittens)
• Pregnant (there are different requirements for the “trimesters” of pregnancy for both dogs and cats!)
Another important factor to consider is feeding and portion control. While we love our pets and want to ensure they have food they enjoy, everything should be consumed in moderation. It’s very important to be conscious of not only what we’re feeding, but how much. Overweight animals are at an all-time high in Canada and the world, with close to 50-60% of pets being overweight and/or obese.
Constantly being overweight (and obese) can pre-dispose animals to disease and conditions that can affect their life moving forward into adult and senior/geriatric life. Pets can experience conditions like Diabetes, Joint and Mobility concerns, if they are overweight for a prolonged period of time.
Portion control means that we are feeding the appropriate amounts according to our pet’s unique needs and ensuring that they are not getting too little or too much! This also means that we keep treats and additional foods that stray from the primary diet, to a minimum and controlled amounts each day. Treats should be used with moderation, especially if incorporated into everyday feeding. Treats usually allot for ~10% of a pet’s daily calorie intake!
Some pets do really well on meal feeding! Some do well on grazing smaller meals throughout the day. Either way, it is important to measure out and have the feed calculated for daily consumption. Much like people, pets have different feeding preferences and it’s important to make sure that their individual plans work well for them.
If you have any questions or concerns about any of your pet food needs, there are knowledgeable staff at our Veterinary Hospital to address anything that you may need! Pet Nutrition is constantly changing and evolving with all sorts of new trends, we are keeping ourselves well educated in order to deliver the best and most effective recommendations to you and your pets!
Nicholas Wright BSc, RVT