Mayfair Animal Hospital offers nutritional counseling to all of our clients. We can help you learn how to understand the many confusing issues surrounding pet foods.
Good Nutrition is Key!
Good nutrition plays an important role in your pet's health. With all of the commercial pet food diets that are available today, it can be difficult to decide which type and/or brand is the best for your pet. There are diets not only for each stage of a pet's life, but also for certain nutritional situations. Many diseases (i.e., allergies, diabetes, heart, liver and kidney problems) can be managed with special (prescription) diets. There are also special diets available for pets that may need to drop a few pounds to get back to their ideal weight.
How Much Should I Feed My Pet?
While most pet food products provide feeding guidelines based on the pet's weight, these are just guidelines. A more accurate method involves calculating the daily energy requirements (DER) of the pet based on either the current body weight or the weight goal (gain or loss). Once the DER is established, daily kilocalories (kcals) may then be determined. Each pet food product package (excluding snacks and treats) is required to provide the kcals per 8-ounce cup or can. The daily feeding amount is then calculated for the individual pet by dividing the DER by the kcals of the product.
Example: A 40-lb dog who is looking to maintain weight at 40 lbs. has a Daily Energy Requirement (DER) of 985 kcals per day. If the dog is fed an adult maintenance dog food that contains 364 kcals per 8 oz measured cup the daily allotment of that food would be 2.7 cups per day divided between meals. Treats and snacks would need to calculated and deducted from the 985 kcals per day and the dog food adjusted down accordingly.
Example: A 15-lb cat who is looking to downsize to 12 lbs would have a Daily Energy Requirement (DER) of 200 kcals per day during the weight loss phase. If the cat is fed a "light" adult cat food consisting of 316 kcals per 8 oz measured cup the daily allotment of that food would be 2/3 cups per day divided between meals. Any treats or snacks should be deducted from the 200 kcals. If the cat is fed a "light" canned adult food consisting of 75 kcals per 3 oz can, the daily allotment for that product would be 2 and 2/3 cans per day divided between meals. Any treats, snacks or dry food would be deducted from the 200 kcals and the quantity of canned food would be adjusted accordingly.
Which Treats Are Good for My Pet?
Most available snacks or treats are the equivalent of "junk food." Ideally, choose a treat with the lowest amount of kcals per treat. For dogs, the best choice might be a puppy treat or "mini" treats. Many fruits and vegetables are great choices for dog treats such as carrots, green beans, sweet potato cubes, melon, apples or berries. Always avoid grapes and raisins, as they have been linked to kidney failure in dogs. Cereal products such as plain Cheerios or plain, bite-sized shredded wheat are great snack choices and are also recommended as treat rewards when training a puppy or adult dog. Cat treats are generally high in calories, fat and sodium, and do not add any nutrient value to the cat's daily nutritional intake. Reserving a small portion of the cat's daily dry or canned food may be used as snacks or treats. Cats primarily fed a dry food diet might enjoy a small amount of canned food once or twice daily.
How Do I Transition My Pet to a New Brand of Food?
The transition from one food product or flavor is recommended over a 7-day period. Generally the following is suggested: Days 1-2: mix 75% of current food with 25% of new food; days 3-5: mix 50% of both products; days 6-7: 25% of current food with 75% of new food. Day 8 and beyond: feed 100% of the new product. A slow transition will help to avoid any gastrointestinal upsets such as vomiting and/or diarrhea.
How Can Nutrition Impact My Pet's Health?
Early detection of any disease will help your veterinarian most effectively develop a long-term treatment plan for your pet. Nutrition is a key component of any treatment plan. Diabetes may warrant a diet low in fat and high in carbohydrates, while managing kidney disease may require a diet low in protein, sodium and phosphorus. Hyperthyroidism in cats may now be managed completely with a prescription diet uniquely formulated to nutritionally and medically manage this medical condition.
If you have any questions regarding your pet's nutritional needs, our Veterinary Nutritional Advocate is here to help you decide which diet is right for your pet.