Proper nutrition is a key element to your pet’s health throughout all the stages of their life.
Did you know that obesity is the number one nutritional problem facing pets today? Obesity alone can lead to a number of severe health problems if not addressed. A healthy, well-balanced diet can help manage your pet’s weight, as well as a number of other health factors. Liver, kidney, bladder and heart health are all directly impacted by an animal’s diet.
Why is proper nutrition so important?
It is important to consult with your veterinarian about your pet’s nutritional health because every pet is different, with a unique set of needs. Your pet’s nutritional needs will vary throughout their lifetime based on their lifestyle, overall health and age.
It is important to realize that your pet’s nutritional needs change as they age. Puppies and kittens require certain nutrients at different levels than do older pets. Below are a few guidelines to help you begin a discussion about your pet’s nutrition with your veterinarian.
It is always a good idea to have a consultation with your veterinarian before making any major changes to your pet’s diet. Discussing your pet’s nutrition can help you to be able to provide the best possible diet for your pet in any stage of their life.
Puppies and Kittens: (up to 12 months)
Because puppies and kittens are in a stage of their lives where their bodies are quickly changing, they need a diet which will help support rapid growth. Puppy and kitten diets focus on things like:
- Strong Muscle Growth
- Bone Development
- Strengthening of Teeth
These diets tend to be higher in proteins, which help provide the ‘building blocks’ needed during development. What is right for one puppy or kitten may not be what is best for another. Development and growth varies from breed to breed…so it is important to discuss your pet’s specific needs with your veterinarian. Good feeding habits established early in life can help set your pet up for a lifetime of healthy eating!
Adults: (1-6 years)
As your pets enter their adult years of life, their nutritional needs change. Instead of a diet focusing on building and development, adult pets need a diet that aims to maintain the healthy body their puppy and kitten diets helped to build.
Dogs are omnivores. This means that they require both vegetables and grains along with the significant amount of proteins which come from the meat in their diet. Cats, on the other hand, are carnivores. They require even more protein in their diets than dogs do. Cats are not able to produce the amino acid ‘taurine’, which their bodies require for healthy maintenance, and therefore require a diet which will provide these nutrients for them. This essential amino acid is found in foods such as eggs, fish, meat and milk.
It is important to discuss your adult pet’s dietary needs with your veterinarian, so that together you can create a nutritional plan which will help keep your pet healthy and happy.
Seniors: (7 + years)
Just like the way all pets develop differently, each pet also ages uniquely. Generally, pets aged seven and older are referred to as being ‘seniors’. Pets entering the senior stage of their lives require diets focused on:
- Antioxidants – which help to boost and maintain your senior pet’s immune system. Additionally, they help improve age-related cognitive behavior changes with the aging brain.
- Joint Supplements – which aid in managing problems related to arthritis.
- Digestive Health – which makes the digestion of nutrients easier for sensitive senior intestinal and urinary systems.
Senior pets in particular are prone to weight related issues…so some senior diets are specially geared towards helping pets to either lose or maintain weight.
Each pet is ready to begin a senior diet at a different point in their life. Schedule a consultation with your veterinarian to discuss whether or not your pet is ready for this change.