You are what you eat!
So, it’s essential that you choose carefully when deciding what to feed your pet, particularly during the growth phase (depending on your dog’s eventual adult size that could be anything from 10 months to 3 years, and 12 months for a cat!) What your pet needs is different during babyhood, growth, adulthood and with increasing age, and he or she may have specific needs as well, plus different medical conditions that may develop where diet plays a role.
A Labrador puppy will have different needs to a Yorkshire Terrier puppy, and those needs will change significantly over the years. A 10 year old is very different from a 3 month old! And the right diet at the right time can almost double the amount of time a pet with kidney problems – for example – has to enjoy a happy life!
Don’t forget what vets recommend for your pet is what they will feed their own pets too! Their recommendation will be a complete, balanced diet, made with top quality ingredients and added nutrients to meet your pet’s individual needs – to make sure that your growing pet develops strong teeth and bones, muscles and a healthy immune and digestive system.
As your pet’s nutritionist, your vet in general will recommend a high quality, tailored nutrition food which has many health benefits for your pet and is easy and convenient to feed. These diets are tailored to your pet’s individual needs, taking into account their age, lifestyle, size and even their breed! Just one bag can last you for many weeks and a dry food will often work out at a low cost per day when compared with feeding a wet food.
That’s not to say there isn’t a role for tins and pouches but as vets we tend to use these foods in special situations – post-surgery convalescence for example, when pets have different needs, or in older cats where we wish to increase their water intake - we can't make them drink more so we give them some wet food to 'sneak' extra water into them. A tin or pouch of food is usually about 80% water which makes it an expensive way to feed your pet.
The vet’s choice – and what vets feed our own pets – is a top quality dry food, totally balanced and with superb ingredients. These foods are better balanced and use better quality ingredients than ‘supermarket’ brands – even those we see on TV every day. These ‘premium’ brands are also both more digestible and higher in fibre, meaning that your pet gets all the goodness from the food, and the end result is generally less poo, of a better consistency, and so much easier to poop scoop or remove from the litter tray. Lovely, eh?!
Believe it or not, depending on what you are currently feeding your pet, you may be very pleasantly surprised! Ask your vet or veterinary nurse for a ‘price per day’ comparison – as it will often work out less expensive to feed dry food than tins or pouches!
How much should I feed my pet and how often?The amount will depend on the exact food, your pet’s ideal weight (you feed for the weight they should be, not necessarily the weight they are!) and will also vary depending on their individual requirements. For example a 30kg German Shepherd will require more than an 8kg terrier – but a 20kg active Border Collie may need more than a sedentary 40kg Labrador. Your veterinary practice will be able to give you advice on your pet’s target weight and on how much of what food to feed. Please ask – the vets and veterinary nurses in your practice will be delighted to answer all your feeding questions.
Puppies and kittens need to be fed 3-4 times daily when very young but as they get older twice a day is fine. They don’t need milk or any other supplements – just the correct amount of the correct food, formulated for growing youngsters and free access to water.
In particular you have to be very careful what you feed larger breed puppies.They need a completely different balance of nutrients compared to smaller dogs, to ensure their joints and bones don’t ‘grow too fast’ or they gain too much weight too quickly. Again please ask your vet for advice, because this is really important.
Older pets also need a different balance of nutrients to support them as they get older – they should move on to a ‘senior’ or ‘mature’ diet at around 7 years of age. And if your dog or cat is a bit too cuddly, it’s not a case of just feeding them less of their normal food – again, talk to your vets, because they will have a range of diets which reduce the calorie content but still provide all the right, balanced nutrients. As a bonus, they not only taste great, but their formulation helps make you pet feel full, so he or she will be content and not look for extras. And as previously said we often advise feeding cats some wet foods as they get older to help increase their water intake.
What you feed your pet is your decision, but the advice from your vets and veterinary nurses is simple – just feed the best! Do the right thing, and feed your pet the best food you can. The vets answer is one of the diets they recommend – and which they will feed their own pets. Food’s not just about opening the can and watching it go down, it’s about long-term good health, and supporting your pet’s nutritional needs throughout his or her life.
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