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Services / Nutrition and Maintaining a Healthy Weight

Nutrition and Maintaining a Healthy Weight

Nutrition plays a huge role in your pet’s overall health. Making sure that you are feeding a balanced diet that is suitable for your pet’s age and lifestyle will affect their overall growth and also their mood.

Pet diets have changed a lot in the past few years and are produced in facilities on par with human food processing standards. However, there are also some differences between pet food companies and the research that goes into the production of diets. As consumers there are some things that you can look for to help you choose a good diet for your furry family member.

Look for the AAFCO emblem on foods: this stands for Association of American Feed Control Officials and this organization sets the nutritional standards for pet food sold in the US and Canada. They have 2 methods for determining the nutritional adequacy of foods, one that looks at just the formulation of the food and one that involves food trials to make sure that the food is not only adequate but also favorably accepted by pets.

Look for a food that is aimed at the life stage of your pet, so kitten or puppy, adult or senior. This is important because an active, growing puppy has very different nutritional needs to a senior dog.

Myths about pet foods

There is a lot of misinformation about pet food and it is probably one of the most common conversations we have at the hospital especially with so many human dietary exclusions.

Corn and grains: when properly processed corn is very digestible and can be a good source of Essential Fatty Acids, antioxidants such as Beta Carotene, vitamin E and carbohydrates and proteins. It is very rare that pets have an allergy to corn, allergies to the protein source are far more likely.

By-Products: By-products are basically anything that isn’t classed as prime meat (such as chicken breast) but this doesn’t mean that they are inferior ingredients.

Common by-products in pet food can be:

  • Animal fats – for example chicken fat is a by-product from chicken processing.
  • Animal proteins – this could be lamb meal or fish meal and means it has been ground.
  • Pork, chicken and beef liver – these may be the internal organs of the animals.
  • Beet pulp – dried residue from sugar beets.
  • Tomato pomace – made from tomato skin, pulp and seeds.
  • The levels of calcium and phosphorous in foods can also give some indication of what kinds of by-products have been used as they will be higher in some lower quality foods containing more ground bones than other more nutritional sources.

Home cooking: sometimes there are pets who don’t seem to like anything we try from the pet store and that can be worrying for owners, one solution is to try to cook your own pet food at home. There are some excellent pet food recipe books available, Hilary’s Blend Cookbook would be one choice. The important thing to remember is that you should be adding a vitamin and mineral supplement to balance the food and it should contain a well-researched balance of protein, carbohydrates and fats.

Please feel free to talk to us at any time about your pet’s nutrition, we are here to help.

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