Dogs and cats should be fed a balanced diet to ensure and maintain optimal health and well-being, according to VCA Hospitals, an operator of over 1,000 animal hospitals in the US and Canada. Hence, it is important for owners to find out what their dog or cat’s nutritional needs are to help them choose the appropriate foods to feed them.
A Nutritional Survey In A Referral Animal Population (2017)
V. L. Vandendriessche, P. Picavet, and M. Hesta of Wiley Online Library, one of the largest and most authoritative collections of online journals, books, and research materials, wrote that a total of 100 surveys were completed for the study on nutrition among animals. Dogs and cats were mainly referred for internal medicine (30%) and orthopedic problems (20%). However, there was a clear species difference with 66.5% of cats being referred for internal medicine and none for orthopedics, while 23.5% of dog referrals were for internal and orthopedic problems. 14% of dogs were also referred for neurological problems.
Six of 15 of cat owners purchased their diet at the veterinary clinic (40%). One bought food at the pharmacy, five at the animal shop, and two at the supermarket. Seven of 15 cat owners said they received diet information from their veterinarian (47%), while the remaining respondents based their food choice on information received through the animal shop or self-acquired. Only 27% of cat owners weighed the amount of food on a daily basis.
Only 18% of dog owners bought their food at the veterinary clinic, but 38% bought food at the animal shop. Further, 19% bought theirs at the supermarket, online (11%), or directly from the supplier (8%). 25% receive dietary information for their pet from the veterinarian, while 48% relied on self-acquired knowledge and 16% depended on the information provided by the breeder. Unlike cat owners, 43% of dog owners weighed the amount of food on a daily basis.
Regarding the type of diet, 83% of dogs and 87% of cats consumed a commercial diet. Of the commercial type of diet, dogs and cats were fed with dry (83% and 50%), wet (3% and 14%), semi-moist (1% and none for cats), or a combination of any of the aforementioned commercial diet types (13% and 36%).
The animals were also fed a BARF diet (4% and 0 for cats), raw diet (4% and 7%), homemade recipe (2%), or a combination of any of said diet types (7% and 6%). Regarding the type of in-betweens owners chose to give to their pets, they cited pet treats (6% and 45%), chewing bones (3%), table scraps (1% and 10%), vegetables/fruit (1%), and bread (3%). Other in-betweens mentioned by the owners were Dentastix/oral bar (5%), others (dairy products; 9% of cats), and a combination of any of the in-betweens (81% and 36%).
Having veterinarians routinely use nutritional guidelines would improve the nutritional status of all companion animals and might minimize the prevalence of diseases caused by poor nutrition or management.
Feeding and Nutritional Guidelines for Dogs
Dogs need water, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals—which are required as part of their diet and play a critical role in the basic functions of their body. You can use the nutritional guidelines developed by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) for the nutritional content of commercial pet foods. Bear in mind that these are only guidelines so your dog may need more or less depending on its health. Consult your veterinarian regarding the specific nutrients your dog needs.
When looking for the right dog food for your canine, it is recommended to feed it the highest-quality food you can afford. The differences between premium and budget dog food are found in the quality and source of ingredients, not the nutrition label. However, it is still recommended to consult your veterinarian about the best dog food you can provide to your pet. In general, you can choose a dog food that contains real, recognizable, whole-food ingredients. If most of the ingredients are unfamiliar to you, find another product.
Select a low-calorie diet for your dog as most adult, indoor, spayed or neutered canines have low energy requirements. A diet should ideally contain less than 350 calories per cup. If your dog food has 500 calories per cup and you own a 20-pound dog, the amount you should provide is tiny. Also, high-calorie food products entail your dog packing on excess pounds.
Feeding and Nutritional Guidelines for Cats
Try to choose high-quality cat food, which can be challenging since the pet nutrition industry is highly competitive and depends on persuasive advertising to market their products. Moreover, the number of meals, as well as the type of food offered, will depend on your cat’s individual preferences and activity levels.
For instance, outdoor needs may need more calories than indoor cats, who may be less active. Bear in mind that the nutritional requirements and dietary preferences of your cat will change over its lifetime. Kittens, adults, and seniors all have specific nutritional needs. Therefore, your cat should consume a diet formulated for these life stages.
Young kittens need to consume more food frequently as they are growing rapidly. At eight weeks, they need to be fed five times a day. By six months, you can feed your kittens two times a day. For adult cats, high-quality commercial adult cat food should be fed as these have been formulated to contain all of your cat’s nutritional needs.
You can feed them dry or wet food. Exercise care when feeding canned diets since it is easier to overfeed your cat. It becomes harder for your cat to lose weight from being obese or overweight than to prevent it from gaining excess weight.
Most owners feed their cats small meals of moist food once or twice a day while providing dry food in between a canned diet. This is okay so long as your cat receives enough calories and gets enough exercise. If your cat has certain illnesses, a special therapeutic or prescription diet may be helpful to control symptoms and slow the progression of the disease.
Like humans, cats and dogs need proper nutrition to stay healthy. While you can use nutritional guidelines, it is strongly recommended for owners to consult a veterinarian to pinpoint their pet’s exact nutritional needs.