Whether you have a new kitten, puppy or a pet that has reached their golden years, proper nutrition plays a large role in keeping them healthy. Caring for your companion properly helps to ensure that you will have many happy years together. As you care for your pet, the food you select, the exercise you provide and the love you give all work together to keep your pet in top condition.
Just like a baby has different nutritional needs than an adult, kittens and puppies have different needs than the cats and dogs they will grow into. It is important to remember that those needs change as your furry friend grows. Talk to your primary care veterinarian about choosing one of the various nutritious pet foods on the market. Caring for your pet according to their lifestyle (size, age, activity) means you are giving the best care possible throughout your pet’s life.
If you decide to change your pet’s food, or need to because of a life stage, change it slowly. Start off with 75% of the previous diet to 25% new diet. Gradually add more of the new diet and less of the previous diet over a two to three week period. Switching to a different diet too quickly can produce gastrointestinal upset. If during the process of switching diets you notice vomiting or diarrhea; please call your pet’s veterinarian.
Hickory Veterinary Hospital carries a variety of prescription diets in both dry and canned preparations for a variety of medical conditions (bladder stones, heart disease, pancreatitis, etc.) Please speak with a veterinarian regarding your pet's specific medical needs. We carry prescription diets by Hills, Purina, IVD, Royal Canin and Eukanuba.
Food allergies are thought to make up 20% of allergic skin disease in pets.
Believe it or not it is not uncommon for cats and dogs to develop a food allergy. There are a variety of diets for allergy prone pets. Allergy diets should have a limited protein and limited carbohydrate source. Often a pet needs the protein and carbohydrate source to be novel. This means that the pet has not eaten the carbohydrate or protein source before. The most common food allergens include beef, dairy products, fish and wheat. Signs of food allergies can look like other diseases, such as diarrhea, bloating, and stomach pain.
Some Helpful Nutrition Tips
If you are switching your pet's diet please do it slowly, over a period of a few weeks. Introduce the new food slowly in with the existing diet.
- Do not feed your pet raw meat. Raw meat can contain bacteria, which could lead to possible infections.
- Do not feed your cat dog food; cats have special protein needs that are NOT supplied in dog food.
- Do not feed your cat milk large amounts of milk can cause gastrointestinal problems.
If you are feeding a nutritionally complete diet there should be no need to give vitamin supplements (unless suggested by your veterinarian). Too many vitamin supplements can be just as bad as too little.
What is Bloat?
Some breeds of dogs are predisposed to a dangerous condition called bloat. These are large, deep-chested breeds like German Shepherds, Retrievers, Great Danes, and even Dachshunds. In this condition, the stomach, often full of a large meal or large amount of water, can swing around inside the dog and twist. These dogs will often have bloated stomachs and retch repeatedly with nothing but foam coming up. This is a life threatening condition and the veterinarian should be called immediately. Researchers believe a combination of anatomical conformation and exercising with a full stomach predisposes to bloat. Deep-chested dogs should not exercise after meals and their kibble should be soaked prior to feeding so it does not expand within the stomach.