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Advice on Veterinary Pet Diets

Advice on veterinary pet diets and pet nutrition

Advice on Veterinary Diets and Pet Nutrition

Written by Mark Riggs - BVetMed MRCVS Mole Valley Farmers Head Vet *

 *Head Vet until December 2014

Which dog or cat food to buy can be an emotive subject for many a pet owner.  Pet nutrition is a hot topic in the press, especially the online press, with many conflicting views of what food is best.  What to feed your dog or cat is very much a personal choice and there are few definitively right or wrong answers as long as a few basic choices are understood.


The first choice to make is whether to feed a commercially available diet or to take on the responsibility of sourcing your pet’s nutrition yourself.  This may seem an odd choice to start with for much of the audience but there is a growing online voice that leans towards feeding raw bones to dogs. This option should be very carefully considered as it’s not without risk.  Dogs, especially smaller breeds, are now only distantly related to their wolf ancestors and through thousands of years of evolution have become omnivores rather than strict carnivores and lack the ability to tackle a solely carnivorous diet.  That said, and to balance this article, there are situations where such a diet may be considered appropriate.


Lets assume you have decided to take the more convenient route of using a commercially available balanced diet, the second option that needs to be considered is whether to feed tinned food, dry food or a combination of the two.  Wet food alone is probably the most appealing to our pets but runs the risk of causing dental disease later in life and is the most expensive option in the long run.  On the flip side the cheapest option is to exclusively feed dry food.  Such diets are usually cereal based and contain varying levels of animal proteins.   


The third option is which particular brand or make of diet to choose. This is where things can start to get a little bewildering as there are so many different diets available.  In general the higher the price of the diet the better the quality of the ingredients.  That said, not all dogs and cats need to be fed higher end diets and would still do very well on own the lower costing diets.  It is really all about finding the diet that best suits your individual pet and not being afraid to try different brands until you find the one that hits the mark.  Palatability, stool quality, coat condition and overall happiness of your pet are all indicators as to whether the diet is right. In changing over to another brand do take your time to do this slowly though.  Many of the digestive problems seen in practice are due to diets being changed too quickly.


Finally, it is worth mentioning in certain circumstances your vet may recommend a ‘prescription’ diet to aid in the treatment of some chronic conditions.  These diets, based on years of careful research, are formulated precisely tocontain the exact nutrients required during these disease processes.  For instance, some dogs may be intolerant to certain proteins and so there are diets that only contain novel, non reactive proteins .  A further example would be cats suffering with kidney problems.  Such cats do much better when fed special renal diets that generally contain lower levels of protein and phosphorus.  Although these diets are called ‘prescription’ diets they are not exclusive to vets and can be purchased online.  We have a selection of veterinary diets for cats and dogs online at great prices with free delivery.


In summary, take your time to find the diet that best suits you and your pet, and take your time to swap between brands.  Do consult your vet if you have any questions as they are always willing to help and don’t be afraid to shop around, especially for prescription diets.


Hills J/D (mobility)

Much has been said in the press and online regarding the benefit of joint supplementation for our canine friends. In my experience joint supplementation certainly has a place in managing osteoarthritis and is a great adjunct to other medicines such as anti inflammatories.  Hills J/D is ideally placed for those wishing to feed a daily joint supplement as it is specially formulated to contain the right amount essential fatty acids and cartilage nourishment.  No longer will you need to remember to give a daily tablet as the supplements are in the diet already.  Not only should this diet be considered for our ageing dogs, it can also be considered for highly active dogs who just love to run!


Obesity is an epidemic that is not only affecting a large proportion of the human population, it is also affecting an ever growing number of pet dogs.  Even just a few extra pounds of weight on a dog can have some life limiting effects.  Overweight dogs are more likely to suffer from joint and mobility issues earlier in their lives.  They are also more prone to metabolic issues such as liver and kidney disease. In conjunction with suitable veterinary advice, help is on hand in the form of calorie reduced diets to help your dog lose weight and be more mobile.  Hills R/D is specially formulated to be low in calories yet still highly palatable to keep your dog on the right weight loss.


Coming down in the morning to find the unpleasant gift of diarrhoea is never a good start to the day! Some dogs are just prone to a sensitive stomach with the slightest change in their dietary intake creating an upset tummy.  If your dog is in this group, long term dietary modification may be a sensible path to follow.  In conjunction with suitable veterinary advice, Royal Canin Sensitivity Control is ideally placed to minimise tummy upsets that are due to food intolerances or sensitivities. Sensitivity Control only contains selected protein and carbohydrate sources, these are less likely to be reactive for sensitive dogs in comparison to other commercial diets that contain many protein and carbohydrate ingredients.


Although the majority of skin issues in dogs can be resolved relatively quickly with appropriate veterinary intervention, some conditions such as allergies require a much longer term approach.  Part of this longer term approach can involve dietary modification.  With suitable veterinary advice, many dogs that are known to have sensitive skin can benefit from diets such as Royal Canin Skin Care.  The higher levels of essential fatty acids in diets such as Royal Canin Skin Care are thought to have an anti inflammatory effect in the skin and to provide more of a physical barrier to allergy causing particles.  It is always advisable to gather veterinary advice prior to using this diet to feed your dog.


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Some advice on  veterinary diets and pet nutrition from our Head Vet Mark Riggs.

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