From the very first day you bring a new pet home through the final days of their life, nutrition plays a critical role in your pet’s overall health and well-being.
Whether your pet has special dietary needs or simply needs to a good quality maintenance diet, our nutritional counseling services can help you accomplish your goals and keep your pet in good health.
We provide dietary counseling and feeding practices for pets of various life stages, such as growth, pregnancy, nursing, and their “golden years.” If your pet has a medical condition, we can also help you select the most appropriate diet for your pet’s needs.
At What Age Should I Switch My Puppy/Kitten to Adult Food?
For most puppies and kittens we recommend switching to an adult maintenance diet around 9 to 10 months of age. Certain breeds have different nutritional needs based on their rate of growth, therefore our doctors will discuss appropriate nutrition for your pet at their wellness visits. Puppy and kitten foods are higher in fat and calories than adult food and are only appropriate to feed your pet if they are in the growth phase of their development. Continuing a puppy or kitten diet with your adult dog can result in obesity.
Should I Feed My Pet Dry, Canned, or Both?
If your pet is healthy and has no specific dietary needs, feeding a good quality dry food is usually best. Canned food can act as “glue” and stick to the teeth allowing bacteria to build up faster. As a result, mixing a canned food with your pet’s dry food will cause accelerated plaque development, possibly resulting in dental health problems such as gingivitis and infected teeth.
Keep in mind that a dry food-only diet is not right for every pet. There are medical conditions that may benefit from feeding a canned food diet. If this is the case for your pet, our doctors will discuss how a prescription diet can help your pet.
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The Benefits of Prescription Diets
There are many reasons our doctors recommend prescription diets. Prescription food is a treatment for a medical problem, just like a prescription medication. Feeding a prescription diet for some conditions can even eliminate the need for other medications. Diets you find in the pet store or grocery store may try to mimic the formulation of prescription diets, but they are not tested for effectiveness in clinical trials with animals. Prescription diets have consistent formulations and are proven to be effective. The wrong diet for your pet can exacerbate their symptoms or make their medical condition worse.
What is the best way to switch my pet to a new diet?
Switching diets should never be done abruptly, as it can result in vomiting, diarrhea, and even pancreatitis, a serious medical condition that can lead to hospitalization.
A gradual transition to a new diet should be done over a 7-10 day period. Start by mixing 1/4 new to 3/4 current food. Then mix 1/2 new food to 1/2 current food. Then mix 3/4 new food with 1/4 current food, and finally a diet of 100 percent new food. Conduct each step in the transition process for at least 2-3 days before moving onto the next.
What About Preparing My Pets Food at Home Instead of Using a Commercial Diet?
While many pet owners are concerned with pet food recalls and the quality of commercial pet food, we still recommend feeding a commercial diet to your pet for several reasons. A good quality commercial diet contains the proper nutrient ratios, and balance of vitamins and minerals. Diets prepared at home can lack the essential nutrients your pet needs to stay healthy. Also, if homemade food is not prepared and stored properly, your pet could become sick. As your pet ages, a prescription diet may be required to maintain their health. If they are used to eating only homemade food they may refuse a diet that can prolong their life.
If pet food quality and food safety concern you, we can suggest a brand of commercially prepared food that will be safe and healthy for your cat or dog.
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