Diet Page

Feeding your pet – the importance of diet.

Feeding your pet an appropriate diet is one of the fundamental parts of owning an animal. However, vets still regularly see animals with preventable diseases, caused by incorrect feeding.

It is vital that pet owners research the correct diet for their pet, according to the species (and sometimes breed), life stage and lifestyle.
Young, working animals such as sheep dogs will have a higher energy demand than older dogs living a more sedentary lifestyle.

There is a lot of conflicting advice online about feeding your pet, it’s little wonder that it is such a minefield! We have covered the basics of a good diet on these pages. If you have require more information or own a species not listed here, please do contact us!

For all species, the most important thing is to ensure that your pets diet is correctly balanced. Most of the commercial foods available for dogs and cats are complete diets. This means that they have the right nutritional values to ensure that your pet can sustain good health, without any nutritional deficiencies that may lead to disease.

There are many different diseases across all species which can be a result of poor diet. Below are some key points. For more information, please refer to the species-specific diet information sheets on this website or get in touch with us.

Taurine Deficiency:

Obligate carnivores such as cats are unable to synthesise taurine for themselves, and therefore need to obtain it from meat. A lack of taurine can lead to neurological problems, blindness and heart disease. Cats and other carnivores such as ferrets should never be fed a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Vitamin Deficiencies:

A lack of certain vitamins can lead to a variety of illnesses across all species. For example: Guinea-pigs will suffer from scurvy if deficient in vitamin C. A vitamin D deficiency will have an affect on a reptile or bird’s ability to uptake calcium, leading to osteoporosis. A lack of vitamin D can cause rickets in all species. A deficiency in vitamin A will affect skin condition, growth and cause nerve damage in dogs, potentially leading to blindness. The right balance of vitamins is important for all species.

Surplus of Vitamins:

In the same way that a lack of vitamins can be damaging, an excess of some vitamins can also cause disease. For example, too much vitamin A can cause muscle damage, bone deformities and general weakness.

Mineral Deficiencies:

Animals require a diet with balanced amounts of different minerals to stay healthy- birds and reptiles may require supplements containing calcium to prevent osteoporosis.

Obesity:

Weight gain is a growing problem among our pets. Many owners will unwittingly feed far more than is required for their pet, or will feed excessive amounts of treats. Obesity can lead to type-two diabetes, heart disease and joint disease. It is important to remember that with high quality diets, the feeding guide amounts may appear small, but will in fact be plenty to sustain a healthy animal. The feeding guides are meant as a rough guide only. If your pet is gaining or losing weight, you may need to adjust as needed!

Dental Diseases:

Dental diseases in small animals such as rabbits and rodents can be caused by poor diet. These animals should be be fed hay ad-libitum to ensure correct wear on their teeth. Diet can play a role in the dental health of dogs and cats too, with dry food being better for the teeth than wet food. Daily tooth brushing of dogs and cats is always recommended if possible.

Ultra-Violet Lighting:

This is required by species such as reptiles and birds, who require UVB to regulate synthesis of vitamin D3 so that they can metabolise calcium properly.

The above list is not a complete one, but designed to portray just some of the many different problems that may arise as a result of incorrect feeding.

 

Raw Diets

The popularity of raw diets is on the rise, with dog owners understandably choosing to feed what they deem is a more natural diet for their pet. Whilst a complete, balanced raw diet is achievable if properly researched, it is a diet we are hesitant to recommend for a number of reasons. The meat for sale in our supermarkets is sold for human use and as such it is expected that the meat will be cooked before being served. Therefore, this meat is not guaranteed to be free from dangerous bacteria and parasites, such as salmonella or campylobacter.

We strongly advise against feeding a raw diet to your pet if you or anyone in your household is immunocompromised. Strict hygiene should be followed when washing up food bowls, handling your pet and disposing of faeces from your pet. From a nutritional point of view, there is a lot of scope for error when feeding a home prepared diet. It is essential that the diet is thoroughly researched to ensure it is correctly balanced.

It is also worth remembering that the farmed animals themselves are not usually fed a balanced diet. (They are fed energy dense diets to increase weight gain) Therefore the meat will not accurately reflect the nutritional value of meat from an equivalent animal in the wild.

Some companies now offer pre-prepared raw meals for pet consumption. This may be a worthwhile option for pet owners who have weighed up the pros and cons of a raw diet and still feel that this is the diet they would like to feed. All food companies must be well researched to confirm that the diets they produce are balanced and complete.