Choosing the right diet for your dog can be daunting for a new owner and any change in diet should be discussed with your vet.
The importance of a balanced diet is vital in maintaining overall health. An unbalanced diet may lead to problems such as: poor growth, weight gain, weakness, bladder stones, skeletal problems and digestive problems among others.
What we recommend
We recommend that a ‘complete’ diet is fed to your dog. This is to ensure that the correct balance of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, fibre, minerals and vitamins are obtained.
Our recommended range includes Hills and Royal Canin. These diets are scientifically formulated to include all of the essential nutrients required to ensure optimal health. These companies also have a range of diets tailored to pet’s specific medical needs, aiding in recovery or control of disease.
Is your dog a little picky? Does he or she frankly think ‘dog food’ may be a step too far? Don’t worry – we also recommend Butternut Box. This is a complete diet in a home-cooked style. Most of the recipes are made with a single protein source, so may be used for dogs with some food allergies. To order your first discounted box, please use our referral link www.butternutbox.com/SkylarkVets.
A wide variety of excellent diets are available on the market, and what may suit one pet won’t necessarily suit another. We are happy to discuss any potential diet you may be considering and to ensure the new diet suits your pet’s needs. Needs may vary according to life stage, activity level and pre-existing conditions.
All new diets should be introduced slowly (over 2 weeks). This is to avoid any digestive upsets as well as increase the likelihood of fussier pets eating it.
Plenty of fresh drinking water should always be available.
The roles of the most essential nutrients are as
Provide energy needed for vital body functions and act as building blocks for other nutrients.
Essential for growth and repair of all tissues and organs.
Supply energy, allow absorption of fat soluble vitamins (A,D,E & K) and supply essential fatty acids.
To maintain healthy digestion
Vitamins and minerals
Maintain a strong immune system, healthy cellular function, nerve function and skeletal structure.
Dog and cat nutritional needs vary considerably. You should therefore never feed dog food to your cat, or vice-versa.
Dogs are omnivores and require larger amounts of carbohydrates compared to cats in order to meet their energy requirements. This is particularly true of very active dogs and pregnant or lactating bitches to ensure healthy foetal growth and milk production.
Growing, pregnant and lactating animals also have higher protein requirements, as do animals who have suffered trauma, burns or diseases such as cancers.
Animals with kidney disease will require more controlled levels of high-quality protein. This to help prevent further kidney damage or discomfort from toxic breakdown. This may come in the form of a prescription diet.
Obesity is a growing problem with dogs and cats of today, with 1 in 3 pets being overweight or obese.
Many people over-estimate their pet’s food requirement, or feel that feeding treats is a way of expressing love. As a result, we are seeing an increased number of animals with obesity related diseases. These include: diabetes mellitus, joint problems and heart problems.
These diseases can have a negative effect your pet’s quality of life, or sadly even shorten it.
Please contact us for advice on how to change feeding habits, accurately weigh food, advice on prescription weight loss diets and exercise plans to effectively assist you in helping your pet to lose weight.
We also offer weight clinics which offer support in starting a new feeding and exercise regime.
We recommend that owners carry out a lot of research before putting their dog on a raw diet. These diets require a lot of commitment to successfully ensure a balanced diet for their pet, and do come with some risks.
If you are sure that a raw diet is the right choice for your pet, you should seek advice from us or from a veterinary nutritionist. You should feed a variety of meat and include whole animals (including bones- these should never be cooked).
Supplements may be required to ensure that the diet is correctly balanced. An unbalanced diet may lead to problems such as: poor growth, weight gain, weakness, bladder stones, skeletal problems and digestive problems among others.
You should also be aware of the increased risk of parasites (particularly if feeding wild-caught food such as rabbits) and the increased risk of zoonotic food poisoning illnesses such salmonella or campylobacter.
A growing number of companies offer prepared complete raw diets, and also follow strict standards for hygiene. These diets can be a suitable option for people new to raw feeding.
Correct food hygiene practice should be always be
carried out, and extra care taken when cleaning up after your pet. You should
always wash your hands after handling, cuddling or playing with your pet.
A raw diet is not recommended to for pets in households where there are people who may be immuno-compromised.
Many supporters of raw food diets believe this method of feeding is closer to a dog’s natural diet. However, please bear in mind that farm animals produced for food do not necessarily eat a natural diet themselves. There may therefore be nutritional deficiencies or excesses in the meat itself, which could impact on your pet’s health.
Contact us for support
We recognise that many owners may still wish to feed home prepared or raw food diets to their pets and support owners in making the choices that are right for them. We are always available to provide advice and support on nutrition- please give us a call if this is something you would like to discuss.