pet nutrition

General Introduction on Pet Nutrition

Good nutrition is essential to ensuring a long and healthy life for your pet. In fact, nutrition is SO important that it is the 5th vital sign that is assessed by our team in every pet (the others?- pulse, respiration, temperature & blood pressure). Studies show that a balanced diet and maintenance of a healthy weight can increase longevity in dogs by up to 15%.

There is plenty of “information” available about the ideal diet for your pet. Supermarkets, pet shops, social media, even your Vet Centre – you will be bombarded with suggestions and advertisements offering benefits, stories of harm and anecdotes of miracles. This is not easy to sort out and many people (qualified and otherwise) are keen to give advice. It’s a bit like having a new-born baby at home!

WASAVA (World Small Animal Veterinary Association) produced nutrition assessment guidelines in 2011 which the team at BVC use to guide our decisions in relation to individualised nutritional advice. These suggest a complete/balanced diet providing all essential nutrients in the correct amounts and proportions for your pet’s species, life stage, and health status. These are used in conjunction with the American Animal Hospital Association’s (AAHA) more general Nutrition and Weight Management Guidelines.

Whatever you choose to feed your pet, you need to ensure that there is a correct balance of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Too much or too little of any of these components can be extremely harmful. Another pitfall is to feed your pet as if it were human, we know those begging eyes are hard to resist, but your pet does not need to share your dinner and enjoy (all the) table scraps!

Finally, the benefits of a good quality, balanced diet can be seen in your pet’s overall health with impacts for:

  • Weight control
  • Coat condition
  • Dental hygiene
  • Gastrointestinal health
  • Stool firmness (honestly, instead of sloppy, stool should be well formed and easier to clean up – who doesn’t want that???)

There are diets that are available for all life stages (general or maintenance diets) and those targeted at common and specific health problems such as kidney disease, urinary tract issues, weight control and arthritis.