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What should I feed my dog/cat?

The best advice you can receive about feeding your pet is this: feed your pet the highest-quality food you can afford. Ensure the food you offer contains the required nutritional value; water, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, minerals, and vitamins.

The best method to choose a food for your dog is to ask your veterinarian. However, here are some general tips to help you decide what should go into your dog’s food bowl

There are various factors that influence which dog/cat food you should buy for your four-legged companion:

• Size

• Age

• Weight

• Activity

• Allergies or intolerances

  • Select diets with real, recognizable, whole-food ingredients. If the majority of listed ingredients are unfamiliar to you, find another diet.

  • Select a low-calorie diet. Most adult, indoor, spayed or neutered dogs have low energy requirements. Your dog’s diet should contain a relatively small number of calories per cup; ideally less than 350 calories. If your dog food contains 500 calories per cup and you have a 20-pound/ 9kgs dog, the amount you should feed is tiny (and unsatisfying!). Making matters worse, high-calorie foods mean even a few extra kibbles can really pack on the pounds. Now, about Cats. On average, 1-cup of cat food is equal to 300 calories and a 6 ounces of canned cat food is about 250 calories. If your cat weighs 8 pounds/about 3.5kgs, he should be taking in about 240 calories per day to keep his nutrition. So, feeding a full 1-cup serving of dry does set him over the caloric intake for the day. Keep in mind serving sizes when filling up your cat’s bowl so as to not overfeed him. The amount of calories your dog or cat takes in everyday does depend on their weight, age and activity level.
  • Establish additional nutrient goals depending on the pet’s medical history. For example, pets with chronic kidney disease may benefit from diets lower in protein and phosphorus. This step will help to guide diet selection.

On choosing a satisfactory diet: Is it complete and balanced? If so, for what life stages? Confirm that the life stage on the label matches the life stage of the pet.

What is meant by life-stage nutrition?

Dogs have varying nutritional needs during different stages of their lives, and feeding a diet that is formulated for all life stages is not necessarily appropriate. An all-purpose dog food may not provide enough nutrients to meet the needs of a growing puppy or a pregnant or nursing mother. Conversely, this same all-purpose diet may provide excessive nutrients to a senior or inactive dog.

Feeding your dog according to its stage of life (puppy, adolescent, pregnancy, adult, senior) is now recommended by respected nutritionists to maintain your dog’s overall health and well-being and improve both the quality and the quantity of your dog’s life.

Life-stage feeding for puppies: Early in life, puppies must eat often and lots! They need relatively larger quantities of food because they are growing rapidly and have limited space in their tiny stomachs.

At 6 to 8 weeks of age, they need to be fed about four to six meals a day. By 6 months, the need for food is decreased because puppies are about 75% of their adult size and can be fed two to three meals a day.

A good-quality puppy food has advantages over adult dog food because it has been specially formulated for a puppy’s demanding nutritional requirements and contains the appropriate amount of calcium. Because of their rapid growth, any nutritional mistakes made during puppyhood will have more severe, even irreversible and lifelong, consequences.

Because growth is almost complete by 8 to 10 months of age, the average puppy can be switched to adult dog food at about 12 months of age.

If you have a large- or giant-breed puppy, one that is going to weigh more than 50 pounds (23 kg) as an adult, or is at-risk for hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, or other growth abnormalities (for example, Labrador and Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds), you should feed a puppy food specially formulated for large-breed puppies. These diets are formulated to contain the optimal ratio of proteins and calcium to moderate rapid bone growth that can lead to joint disorders. Your veterinarian may also recommend a transitional adolescent diet for your pet’s ‘teenage’ years.

After weaning, the majority of puppies lose the ability to digest milk sugar (lactose). Therefore, while small amounts may be tolerated, feeding milk can cause intestinal upset and diarrhea because dogs cannot digest it properly.

Life-stage feeding for the older dogs: Older dogs, especially those over 7 years of age, will benefit from a diet formulated for their needs. Senior dog diets often have lower calories, higher protein, lower sodium, and fewer carbohydrates. Many also contain ingredients such as prebiotics or probiotics to maintain healthy intestinal microbial populations, increased omega-3 fatty acids and other antioxidants to combat inflammation, and glucosamine to promote joint health. Be sure to ask your veterinarian about the best food for your senior dog. Some senior diets will include medium chain triglycerides to help slow down changes to the brain that can lead to senility issues.

How often should I feed my dog>

•  For most pet dogs, feeding once or twice per day is recommended. Many dogs will benefit from eating equally divided meals two to three times per day.

•  Regardless of the feeding schedule you choose, avoid allowing your dog to exercise vigorously after consuming a large meal, especially if your dog eats its food rapidly. (There are feeding bowls designed for dogs that eat too fast) This will help minimize problems with bloat, intestinal obstruction, or other serious digestive disorders.

• Be sure your dog has access to fresh, clean water at all times.

Weight matters.

Keeping your pet in a healthy weight class is easy if you follow the recommended feeding instructions for their ideal weight, you can usually find this on the label or website of the diet you are feeding your pet. If you are preparing your pet’s diet yourself please consult with your veterinarian for proper feeding instructions.

How to tell if your pet is overweight:

You can tell if your pet is overweight at a glance. Is there a waist — a dip between their rib cage and thighs — that you can see from the side and when looking at them from above?

Or you can use this touch test: Run your hand along your pet’s backbone and ribs. Can you feel the bones without pressing down? If not, your dog or cat may be carrying some extra pounds.

It’s in your pet’s best interest to not be constantly fed extra meals or unnecessary treats. Just like with people, extra weight on animals can lead to health problems

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