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Cat and Dog Food

When it comes to cat and dog food, choice and contradictory information can be confusing. VetEnt staff know you want the best for your pet, so we’re here to help you choose the right cat and dog food.

Cat and Dog Food – An Introduction.

There are many wild ideas out there about the evils and secrets of the food industry, or the benefits of the latest diet (all-meat, vegetarian, seaweed, seafood, raw diets etc. etc.). This is by no means limited to humans, but also applies to cat and dog food, and it can be very difficult to know what’s true and what’s not. 

For the most part, as experienced vets we haven’t seen any obvious health problems in pets being fed higher-quality commercial cat and dog foods. On the other hand, all vets have seen health problems associated with various lower-level commercial or home-made diets. But if we all work together, puppies with bone-growth abnormalities from too much calcium and cats with severe dental disease from jellymeat diets will become a thing of the past.

Cat and Dog Food – Dietary Essentials 

Our vets use the following cat/dog food rule: it’s best to feed small-volume portion sizes which are high in animal protein (at least 30%) and animal fats (at least 20%). Good cat or dog food supplies your animal with energy, which is obviously supplied by fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Vitamins, minerals, and water in cat and dog food don’t supply any energy but they are vital, with water being the most important of all. Essential amino acids are found in proteins, and essential fatty acids in fats and oils. Although carbohydrates and fibre in cat and dog food are beneficial to your pet, they are not essential.

Cat and Dog Foods Need to Meet Different Requirements! 

From a nutritional point of view, cats and dogs are not just small humans! We, for example, need Vitamin C in our diet (as do guinea pigs) but cats and dogs do not because they can manufacture sufficient Vitamin C in their liver. What’s more, cats are not small dogs! Dogs, like us, are omnivores and their digestive system is designed to deal with a mixture of dog food types, both of animal and plant origin. This means dog food can be vegetarian, provided it meets the dog’s basic nutritional requirements.

Cats, on the other hand, are obligate carnivores. Unlike dog food, their diet must contain nutrients derived from meat. Cats cannot be fed a vegetarian diet without serious risks to their health. They require several specific nutrients such as taurine, arachidonic acid and higher levels of protein. This means you can never feed a cat dog food as an exclusive diet.

Cat and Dog Food Play a Role in Clinical Nutrition!

The use of specific diets to successfully help manage disease has taken off in the last few years, and we now have a lot more options available to us for treatment.

Types of specific diets:

  • In disease, energy requirements may go up a lot (i.e. heart failure, cancer, hyperthyroidism, major trauma) and higher energy dog and cat foods should be given.
  • Altering the diet can be used to treat certain diseases, for example the ability to dissolve certain crystals and stones in the urinary bladder by altering the acidity of the urine. Significant studies have shown that the use of a specific kidney-formulated diet is one of the most important factors in prolonging life in cats with chronic kidney disease.
  • Life stage diets (puppy/kitten, adult and senior/geriatric) and breed-specific cat and dog food have been formulated specifically to provide the right nutrients for the right age and for certain breeds that are prone to specific diseases or conditions (i.e. German Shepherds and skin). Check the labels to see if it is suitable as kitten or puppy food.
  • Low-allergen cat/dog foods and foods formulated with ‘novel’ proteins have been designed to reduce allergies and are beneficial to sensitive animals.
  • Foods and biscuits have been formulated to reduce the formation of tartar on the teeth.


Cat and Dog Food – How to Choose? 

For a start, it is almost impossible to make home-made cat/dog food that would meet all nutritional requirements on a daily basis and would be digestible and acceptable to an animal. It is safer to feed a manufactured pet food from a reputable company. At VetEnt we only stock diets that have met AAFCO standards (American Food Industry Standards) or equivalent and that have been tried and tested and are backed by scientific evidence. 

Our pet vets can advise you on the most appropriate cat/dog food for your pet, particularly if it becomes ill (find your local vet clinic here).

Finally, weigh your pet regularly because that can give you a simple and effective indicator of many food-related problems. Always remember to stick to feeding guidelines; even the best diets will lead to obesity if overfed.

At VetEnt we believe strongly in evidence-based medicine. That means we can be confident that the foods we recommend have undergone stringent analysis and/or food trials to ensure they are a complete and balanced diet for your pet.

The standards are set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) indicate the life-stage for which food is adequate (gestation/lactation, growth and maintenance), as well as ensuring nutritional adequacy. Nutritional needs for senior pets can vary depending on health conditions, there is no AAFCO standard for senior food.

Premium foods contain consistent, high quality ingredients that are more digestible. This means more nutritional value per serving, less waste out the other end, and better value for money. Good quality foods are free of food colourings which can cause food allergies and contain higher levels of animal protein as well as natural antioxidants and Vitamin E which acts as a preservative (rather than chemical preservatives).

Sometimes, your vet will recommend a special or prescription diet for your pet. These are diets that are specially formulated to help in the treatment of certain diseases or health problems and can significantly improve your pet’s quality of life.  These diets are the result of many years of research and are constantly being tested and improved as our understanding of health problems also grows.

Main points to win the battle with the bulge:

Dieting.

Feeding is kept only to the scheduled daily amount. Treats are only to be healthy ones and should be kept to a minimum.

Exercise.

Along with the diet, it is just as important to exercise your pet. Do not exercise your pet beyond its means and gradually work up to longer periods of exercise. As your pet’s fitness level increases, keep it interesting for you and your pet by adding resistance and obstacles.

Playtime.

Teach your pet new tricks; remember it’s all fun for them. Try taking your dog to off-leash parks or even try swimming. Play with toys and balls to help them practice their natural instincts.

The pet and owner bond.

Owners need to separate their own feelings from that of their pets, acknowledging that the pet will not starve without extra food and that food is not love.

Join a club.

As with people, it is much easier to lose weight when you have support, join Podgey Pets today.

The Facts About Obesity.

Obesity is the most common form of malnutrition seen in companion animals.

The main cause of obesity is an imbalance between intake of food and consumption of energy used by the body. This means that if pets eat too much or don’t exercise enough, they may become obese.

Dietary therapy for obesity is aimed at moderate controlled energy restriction, which means feeding less food along with increasing physical activity. In order for the diet to be successful there needs to be discipline and co-operation from everyone coming in contact with your pet.

Health Issues Associated with Obesity.

Obesity can cause serious health problems and as a result reduce both the quality and length of your pet’s life. 

  • Heart problems 
  • Respiratory problems 
  • Joint and skeletal problems – more weight on the joints speeds up arthritis 
  • Pancreatitis – the pancreas helps with food digestion but can get inflamed and cause severe illness in obese animals 
  • Diabetes 
  • High blood pressure
  • Poor grooming – obese animals may not be able to reach around to groom themselves as normal, resulting in matted fur and poor coat condition. In extreme cases, infections of the skin and skin folds can occur.