Our pets are living longer than ever these days, and better nutrition is a big part of the reason why. Proper pet nutrition can extend your pet’s life expectancy and make the quality of that life even better.
Increased energy, as well as the prevention and treatment of many health conditions, are only some of the reasons to make good nutritional choices for your pet.
Pet Nutrition and Obesity
The obesity epidemic that plagues our nation is not limited to people. An estimated 54 percent of our dogs and cats are considered overweight or obese. Carrying around excess weight can lead to problems for your pet, such as:
Stress on major internal organs
Joint and bone problems
High blood pressure
Decreased life span
Besides getting plenty of exercise and restricting treats, portion control is key in helping pets shed excess pounds. Your veterinarian can work with you to come up with a plan for getting your pet back down to his or her ideal weight, without compromising overall health and nutrition.
Picking a Pet Food
Choosing a pet food can feel like an overwhelming task in today’s world, where store shelves are filled with seemingly endless options and popular opinions about pet nutrition differ widely. Fortunately, providing your pet with high-quality nutrition doesn’t have to be complicated.
Your veterinarian should be your primary source for information about your pet’s diet. He or she will help you choose an appropriate food for your pet’s age and lifestyle, and, if necessary, can prescribe a veterinary diet to address specific health needs.
Look for the AAFCO statement on any pet food you buy. AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) sets the nutritional standards for pet foods sold in the United States.
Proper nutritional balance is essential when it comes to feeding your pet. Pets need the right proportions of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other key nutrients in order to thrive.
As pets age their nutritional needs change. The AAFCO statement on the pet food label should tell you for which life stage the food is appropriate.
Pets and People Food
Almost every pet owner is guilty of sharing people food with his or her pet from time to time. While certain people foods are safe for pets, and some are even beneficial, there are quite a few that can be detrimental to your pet’s health, including chocolate, Xylitol, onions, raisins, alcohol, and bread dough.
High-calorie table scraps can also contribute to weight gain in pets. If you would like to offer your pet a healthy treat, try cooked or steamed vegetables like pumpkin, green beans, sweet potatoes, or carrots. Many pets also enjoy fresh fruit like watermelon, blueberries, and mangos.
Check in with Your Veterinarian
Because every pet has his or her own unique nutritional needs based on size, breed, age, and lifestyle, it’s important to maintain your pet’s regular wellness exams. By discussing your pet’s nutrition with your veterinarian on a regular basis, you can be sure that your pet is getting what he or she needs throughout every stage of life.
Your friends at Animal Kind Veterinary Hospital look forward to seeing you and your pet soon!