Vets Corner – Healthy Eating

April 17, 2013 at 10:56 am 4 comments

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The most important thing we can do to keep our pets healthy and happy for as long as possible is to feed a high quality diet and feed the appropriate amount of food consistently.  This sounds so easy and so logical doesn’t it?  Yet with about 80% of pets that I see whether in for a wellness visit or an illness, I find myself discussing this very concern.

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During a physical exam on every patient every time we see them we assess and give a body condition score.  A 1 is the skinniest pet you could ever imagine and a 5 is the heaviest pet you could imagine.  A score of 3 is ideal and what we are always aiming for.  Of the many pets that are a grade 4 or 5 I find that often owners are not really feeding too much food, but that they are giving an excessive amount of treats and table scraps.

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What I also find often is that it is one person in the household that just can’t help themselves from giving their pet treat after treat.  Of course the dog or cat always wants to hang around that person.

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The information to try to change that behavior comes from a Purina study that proved that dogs that are lean live two years longer than dogs that are obese, and that they live a much better quality of life.  That is huge considering the normal life span for most dogs is 12-13 years.

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The quality of the food also plays a huge role in the overall health of our pets.  Foods that are very high in grains like most inexpensive dry foods are more likely to add fat rather than muscle, and make pets more likely to have issues like urinary tract infections or bladder stones, diabetes, and pancreas problems.  Cats especially do not do well with these high carbohydrate foods as they are carnivores meaning that the vast majority of their nutrition must come from meat.  A premium high quality meat based dry cat food should have a protein content of about 50%.  We also recommend canned foods for cats as even the inexpensive canned foods are meat based and usually will contain 50-60% protein.  The other advantage for cats who are not big drinkers is that the canned food is about 80% moisture which is very good for their urinary system.

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One of the most exciting things that has occurred for me in veterinary medicine in the last few years is that we not only can help better control diabetes in cats with diet, but in 80% of the newly diabetic cats that are switched to a high protein, low carbohydrate canned cat food can be cured of their diabetes.  (I must add that in many cases insulin is needed initially to control the blood sugar until the body responds to the diet change.)  The vast majority of diabetic cats are Type 2 diabetics and are usually overweight male neutered cats that have been on a higher carbohydrate dry food all their lives.

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It used to seem so easy to pick out a food for our dogs and cats.  Now it seems like the pet food aisles never end and every brand has several different variations.

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The best thing to do for your pet is to consult your veterinarian to see if they have any special concerns where a particular diet could make a difference.  Although premium foods are more expensive, in general you do get what you pay for and if a good diet can prevent an illness it will more than pay for itself in the long run.

Dr. Landorf – Oakwood Hills Animal Hospital
from Pet Sitters Associates, LLC Quarterly Newsletter

Entry filed under: Cats, Dogs, Guest Posts. Tags: , , , , , , .

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4 Comments Add your own

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