Everything You Need to Know About Your Pet’s Nutrition

Everything You Need to Know About Your Pet’s Nutrition

Just like us, a healthy, balanced nutrition is essential for your pet’s health and happiness. But what does that look like?
Your pet’s nutritional needs include:

  • Protein – This is important for cell growth, muscle repair, and skin, coat and nail maintenance. The amino acids in proteins also play an important role in keeping a healthy immune system.
  • Carbohydrates – This delivers energy and rejuvenates the brain and muscles. They also help maintain digestive health and affect reproduction.
  • Healthy Fats – These will help promote nutrient absorption and build strong cells. They’re the biggest source of energy in your pet’s diet and provide essential fatty acids which a dog or cat’s body can’t make on its own.
  • Vitamins and Minerals – These are needed for many important chemical reactions that regulate the body’s systems. Antioxidant vitamins like E and C boost immune systems, and calcium and phosphorus help to support strong bones.
  • Water – Another essential for your pet. You should ensure that they have access to fresh, clean water at all times. It is important to note that dogs may drink twice as much water on a hot day, and will need more water after exercise.

What should you look for in pet food?

It is important to look for products that are advertised as ‘complete and balanced’. This means that the pet food is formulated to contain all necessary nutrients in the appropriate proportions and quantities. You’ll need to check the labels carefully, as some pet foods sold in grocery stores do not meet these requirements, and actually say so on the packaging!

As a baseline, the pet food should comply with the Australian Standard for the Manufacturing and Marketing of Pet Food. Premium foods will offer high quality ingredients and are the best for maintaining good health. Your vet can help you choose a high quality pet food that is most appropriate for your pet’s age, size and health.

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How should you transition your pet’s diet?

You could be wanting to change your pet’s diet for a number of reasons. Perhaps they need to lose or gain weight, they have a food sensitivity, or they are entering a new stage of life. Sometimes even if you just can’t buy your regular food this time around. Whatever the reason, it is best to consult with your vet first in case your pet has specific dietary needs.

Dogs and cats can experience a stomach upset if you try and transition them to a new diet instantly, instead of gradually introducing the new food. Effects can include vomiting, diarrhea and loss of appetite. But most commonly, your pet may develop an aversion to the new food after a few days of seeming to enjoy it.

You should transition to a new pet food slowly, over a period of about 10- 14 days. Some pets, especially cats, may require more time, so it is always good to consult with your vet who can provide a personalised transition schedule.

This means gradually adding the new food to the old food, adjusting the ratio each day to include more of the new food and less of the old food, until you are just feeding your pet the new food.

Does my pet need a special diet?

There are a number of reasons that your vet may recommend a special diet. For example, special foods are recommended for kittens and puppies as they have extra nutritional needs and these foods will have a greater nutritional value than regular food. Senior pets may also require special diets as they have a decreased level of energy expenditure and may need ingredients that are easier to digest.

If you suspect your pet may have a food allergy, it is very important to bring this up with your vet. Signs of a food allergy could include chronic diarrhea, vomiting, rashes, extreme itching or chronic gas. As your pet is as unique as you are, we highly recommend consulting with us about any dietary concerns or queries that you have. Contact us by phone: 02 9416 1300, Email us: reception@arkvets.com.au or book an online appointment.