Baby Animal,  Pet

Basic Nutrition for Optimum Health for Pets

Basic Nutrition for Optimum Health for Pets

Good nutrition is the essence of life. Where would we be without it? It is the most important thing to remember when bringing a new puppy or kitten into the household as the future growth and health of the animal is essential.

Today, people are more informed than they have ever been. There are television programmes, articles in newspapers and magazines and an amazing amount of information on the internet to help them choose correctly for their pets.

Yet they still manage to get it wrong. A small chiot is brought into the family home and, in the beginning, all is well and the correct diet is given. Then the owners get complacent and seek cheaper alternatives and problems begin to arise.

The chiot fails to thrive, begins to exhibit signs of dietary malnourishment and professional help is needed.

Getting It Right

Correct nutrition is absolutely necessary to help the animal thrive and grow and become a healthy, fit adult.

Many people do not realise that a cat’s diet is very different to a dog’s. Their nutritional needs are not quite the same as they cannot digest plant proteins so, put simply, they need meat in their diet and cannot be vegetarians.

A cat will prefer to eat small meals several times a day and should be fed according to level of activity and age. Overfeeding will only create an obese cat, so measure food carefully and monitor accordingly. If the animal is refusing to eat or drink there may be something wrong, so consult a veterinary surgeon as it may be unwell.

Always provide clean, fresh water, never milk. Access to water should be unrestricted and neither food nor drink should be placed near the cat’s toileting area. It goes without saying, but ensure the bowls for food and water are kept clean.

Only introduce dietary supplements if advised by a veterinary surgeon. Good quality cat food is manufactured to include all the basic dietary requirements a healthy cat needs and it can do more harm than good to introduce something which is going to upset the nutritional balance.

Different for Dogs

Most modern commercial dog foods contain all the nutrients a healthy, growing dog needs without the need for supplements. This is why it is better to buy food rather than prepare it at home when important elements may be missed.

Treats are best avoided, especially if the dog is not having enough exercise. Although it is always nice to reward good behaviour too many treats can lead to obesity and its inherent problems of arthritis, heart disease and diabetes.

On the subject of treats, on no account ever feed a dog chocolate designed for human consumption. It is extremely poisonous to dogs as are onions, raisins, grapes and sultanas and can cause death in extreme cases.

It is best to feed dogs once or twice a day and to weigh or measure the food out according to the size and activity level of the dog. Always allow access to fresh water and the dog will thrive and be a joy and asset to the family for many years to come.

Diyana Hall is a veterinary surgeon and writes regularly on animal nutrition for a range of pet websites and blogs.

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