Nutritional Advice

Nutritional Advice

Along with regular exercise and veterinary care, careful nutrition is the best way you can contribute to your pet's prolonged good health.

These are the basic nutrients every pet needs:

  • Water is the most essential nutrient in any diet. Your pet's body is made up of approximately 70% water and will quickly perish without it. Ensure your pet can access fresh, clean water at all times.
  • Carbohydrates supply energy and help energise the brain and muscles, making your pet bright and active.
  • Fats also supply energy and in the right amounts help build strong cells and promote nutrient absorption. Too much fat however, can lead to such obesity-related health problems such as diabetes, heart disease and osteoarthritis.
  • Proteins are required for a healthy coat, skin, and nails. Your pet's body uses the amino acids in proteins to make enzymes and hormones in the blood stream and to maintain a healthy immune system. Proteins can come from plant and meat sources, but cats and dogs need a high-quality animal protein.
  • Vitamins and minerals help regulate many body systems. For example, your pet needs the minerals calcium and phosphorous for strong bones. Antioxidant vitamins like vitamin E and C help boost your pet's immune system during times of stress.

How do you make sure your pet's diet is healthy?

We strongly recommend that you:

  • Feed premium pet foods. Premium foods offer high-quality ingredients, are made by companies specialising in nutritional research, and show a solid track record of quality and palatability. Feeding poor quality pet foods may lead to obesity, irregular bowel movements, or excess intestinal gas.
  • Make sure the food is fresh. When you purchase pet food, check for freshness and purchase only the amount necessary for your pet. Store pet food in a cool, dry place and in a food container it tightly closed. Discard uneaten food and always place fresh food in a clean bowl. In general, hard food (or "kibble") is preferred for maintaining dental health and minimising tartar build-up. Soft, canned food tends to be more palatable and can be stored for longer.
  • Feed the right amount. Ask us or check the label for how much to feed according to your pet's ideal weight (not necessarily the same as their current weight). Avoid feeding pets as much as they want or feeding a large amount at one time. Doing so can lead to obesity, gastrointestinal upset, or even bloat, a life-threatening condition.
  • Maintain a daily routine. A regular schedule will help your pet keep normal bowel movements and avoid indoor accidents. Younger pets need to be fed more frequently, as they are usually more energetic and burn more calories.
  • Avoid "people" food. Feeding table scraps will result in an unbalanced diet, can cause stomach upsets or even life-threatening inflammation of the pancreas. Some human foods like raisin’s and chocolate are also toxic to dogs.

Tips when choosing food

Look for quality – check out the ingredients list to find out what’s really in the food

  • Animal protein like chicken or meat as the first ingredient
  • Balanced with wholegrain and fibre in the form of beet pulp
  • Avoid artificial colours, flavours and preservatives

Look for best value – high quality dry foods have detailed feeding instructions based on the size of your dog. From this you can work out number of meals per kilogram and the number of meals in each bag. Be sure to compare the cost per meal basis. A 15kg bag of dry food might seem expensive but may feed your dog for up to 2 months.

Fact – tinned food can contain up to 80% water and has to  be used quickly once opened. High quality dry kibble contains less than 10% water, are highly digestible, convenient and stay fresh for weeks after opening.

Weight control – if your puppy or kitten is overfed, he can grow too quickly causing problems with skeletal development, excess weight and excess fat cells – all increase the potential for health issues and reduce longevity. It is therefore important that your pet grows at an optimal rate.

By feeding your puppy or kitten controlled amounts of a balanced food you can achieve a regulated growth rate leading to an adult dog of the appropriate breed size, with a lean body condition. This will reduce stress on the skeleton and positively support long term health prospects

Cats

Kittens are different from adult cats, so their nutritional needs vary. We recommend feeding a good quality dry kitten food for the first 12 months of their life such as the Hills pet nutrition Hills feline kitten healthy development food. They should then be gradually swapped to an adult dry food. Complete dry foods are specially formulated to ensure kittens get all the nutrition they need to grow healthy and strong. When you first bring your kitten home it's best to carry on feeding her the food she's been used to. However, not all kitten foods are the same – some have much better quality ingredients than others, which is why you might want to change your kitten's food to a "complete" kitten food.

Offering your kitten a bit of variety is also a good thing. A small amount of wet food or a different flavoured dry food is a good idea from time to time. This means your cat is more likely to adapt to a different food if they need to be swapped onto a special prescription diet as they get older.

Just like people, cats all have unique nutritional needs based on age, health and activity level. It's important to choose your food according to your pet's age and lifestyle because of the biological changes your cat will go through.

To figure out how much to feed your kitten, use the feeding guide on the label of your kitten food as a starting point and adjust the amount to maintain optimum body weight. Amounts may vary depending on age, size, activity level, temperament, environment and health. At every veterinary visit, discuss your kitten's weight and the amount of food you're feeding to ensure your kitten's needs are met.

Believe it or not, kittens don't need milk. And for some cats, cows' milk can actually cause diarrhoea. Fresh water is all your kitten needs.

It is very important to make sure your kitten has a bowl of fresh, clean water at all times. If you suspect your kitten is not drinking enough, it may be that she can taste chemicals in the water, so you may want to try filtered or bottled water. Some cats even prefer to drink from flowing water sources, like fountains or dripping taps, so you can buy water fountains designed especially for cats. And don't forget that if she's eating dry, crunchy food, it's essential you give her plenty of water.

While it is always best to only feed your cat foods which have been specifically formulated to meet their nutritional needs, if you choose to occasionally offer your pet a taste of what you're eating, it is important to realise that some ‘human’ foods can be harmful to cats.