Nutrition is important to your pets’ health. It is important to learn what your pet needs to stay healthy, happy and active. Making sure your pet eats what he should and not what he wants is the best way to ensure these needs.
What’s the importance of good nutrition?
A complete and balanced diet is essential to maintain your pet in good health. He needs fresh water, protein, fats, minerals, vitamins and carbohydrates.
Water is by far the most important nutrition your pet requires. An adult dogs’ body is 60% water and even higher in puppies (84%), it is understandable then that as little as 10% loss of body water can cause serious problems. Make sure that your pet receives 2.5 times the amount of food as water, but often it is just easier to offer the water free choice.
Protein is a very important part of your pets’ diet, as it is the building blocks for life. Proteins come in different qualities, animal proteins have the highest quality and vegetables have the lower qualities. Considering that dogs are mostly carnivorous, they require a much higher level of protein than we do for example. Cats are completely carnivorous and require even higher amounts compared to dogs. It is said that dogs can eat cat food but that cats cannot eat dog food. This is because the protein taurine is not synthesized by cats, whereas it is in dogs. A rule of thumb: Always make sure to feed your pet food that is made for his species, age and energy requirements.
Fats They are an essential part of your pets diet, they are extremely high in energy as compared to carbohydrates. Fats are readily available from both plant and animal products. Some fats can be synthesized by the body, and some cannot. Despite their importance in food, there are many problems associated with over consumption of fats. The proper balance must be attained for your pet to be as healthy as possible
Minerals and Vitamins Minerals are important for nerve conduction, proteins, fats and carbohydrates are necessary for energy. Vitamins are important to help your pet process bio-chemicals.
Carbohydrates Are part of the nutritional requirements for your pet, however these are much easier to give in excess than any other form of nutrition. Normal dry pet food contains between 30-70% carbohydrates as they are a cheaper form of nutrition. In some pets, the surplus energy will be stored as fat, and obesity can occur. Take care to provide what is needed to your pet, preferably before weight gain occurs, as weight loss is much more difficult to achieve.
Why shouldn't I give my pet table scraps?
Table scraps do not offer the nutrition that they need. The more you give them human food the less likely he/she is to eat their own. Your pet will get less of the vitamins and minerals he needs and probably more of those he does not need. Table scraps are also the quickest route to weight problems, even worse it can lead to your pet becoming a picky eater. Breaking your pet of the habit is difficult. Table scraps should never account for more than 10% of your mature pets' diet.
Treats are better than table scraps because they have the nutrition your pet needs to maintain his health. They also encourage good behavior, as treats are usually given as a reward. Many have ingredients not found in regular dog food, and so can provide additional nutrition.
Foods to avoid: Chocolate, coffee, tea, citrus extracts, dairy products, onions, garlic, sugar, especially no bones that splinter easily, and keep your pet away from high-fat, greasy foods.
What is in dog food and why is it better?
Most dry foods are soybean, corn or rice based. The higher priced pet food contains a mixture of agricultural ingredients, such as poultry, meat, seafood, feed grain byproducts and added vitamins and minerals to complete the nutritional needs of your pet. Although they are higher priced, they are worth looking into because your pet will eat less of the higher quality products, absorbs more, thus reducing the cost.
Finding the right food for your dog can be a difficult process, however, a good place to start is by reading the list of ingredients. Like human food labels, pet food labels are listed in order of weight. Higher quality pet food will contain some type of meat as the first or second ingredient, meaning that a higher percentage of food is in protein. Make sure to buy the food that is made for your pets' age, puppy food is likely to make an older dog fat, whereas adult food will not supply a kitten with all of its nutritional needs for growth.
Pets love to be on a routine so you may want to consider feeding your him while the family dines. This may keep him from begging or creating problems during family meals.
Requirements for good nutrition
Nutritional requirements vary, depending on the activity, stress level and medical history of your pet. Protein, fats and carbohydrates are needed to give your pet energy. Your pet expends energy in many different ways. For example, outdoor pets are likely to experience increased levels of exercise, thus requiring a higher percentage of protein and fat for energy production than a pet that stays indoors most of the time. Pets in various life stages require different amounts of nutrients as well. Working dogs need more calories, while the non-active ones needs less. Kittens require more calories than older cats, as they are growing and are usually a lot more active.
Supplements are a good way to ensure that your pets' nutritional needs are met. There are a lot of supplements available for different ages, breeds and health concerns. A good place to start is to ask your veterinarian for recommendations.
Arthritis and Joint Supplements These supplements are used to treat various joint conditions including arthritis. These supplements have been shown to improve joint health and some refer to them as "joint lubricants".
Skin and Coat Supplements These supplements usually contain Omega Fatty Acids, nutrients that the body uses to maintain your pets' skin and coat healthy.
Multi-Vitamins Use these for an all around supplement, they provide your pet with the essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients your pet needs to lead a healthy and extended life.
Antioxidants These supplements are known to slow the aging process by protecting the body from damage that free radicals can cause. They work by enhancing the immune systems function, and neutralizing free radicals.
Food Supplements These are manufactured to aid in digestion and nutrient absorption. They have been known to effectively improve overall health of cats and dogs.