PETS ARE WHAT THEY EAT:
PET NUTRITIONAL COUNSELING
At the Animal Hospital by the Sea, our trained staff is available to help you choose the right diet to keep your pets looking and feeling their best. A well-balanced nutritional diet can address your pet’s particular energy needs and prevent or manage potential health problems such as dental issues, allergies, bone and joint problems, poor reproductive vitality, suboptimal performance, and poor quality coats.
We recognize that one food does not fit all when it comes to choosing a diet for your pets, and there may not truly be one food that is simply “good for all life stages,” as is so often claimed. Today, we can find literally hundreds of diet formulations and ingredients readily available to even the most casual pet owner. Everyday, pet owners are inundated with marketing schemes, each company attempting to take advantage of the slightest variation in ingredient or consumer preference. At the Animal Hospital by the Sea, we are happy to help you determine your pet’s actual needs, sort out the reality from the marketing claims, and choose which products will optimize your pet’s health and welfare. Some of the factors considered are:
Growing puppies and kittens have different nutritional and metabolic needs than active adults, and at the other end of the scale, the aging process causes our senior pets to develop their own dietary requirements. We can help you determine at what point it is best to transition your pet from one diet to the next, or, in the case of multiple pets sharing a food supply, what diets would be most ideally suited for all the pets in your household.
SIZE AND BREED
Large and small breed dogs have different nutritional requirements, and individual cats may have different requirements as well. Certain breeds have health considerations, such as a tendency for digestive issues or skin problems. The diet you choose should help manage these conditions without having to resort to additional supplements and medications.
Your pet’s current and past health issues will impact the types of diets that work best for them. Hypo- and hyperthyroidism; diabetes; skin, kidney and liver problems; bladder stones; digestive issues causing chronic vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation; and pregnancy and lactation are just a few of the diseases and health conditions that will be affected by your diet choice.
Pet weight management is so important to the health of our pets for many of the same reasons it is for us—and then some. Dogs and cats with orthopedic conditions such as dysplasia or arthritis will be less active and limp more frequently when they are stressed with extra weight. Obesity is the number one risk factor for the development of Type 2 diabetes in cats, a debilitating illness. The fact is that there are dozens of obesity-related disorders recognized in dogs and cats, and as pet owners, we have to accept the responsibility for allowing their weight gain. We understand that much of the problem comes from a lack of awareness about what we may be feeding. One “Busy Bone Chew Treat” is equivalent to three McDonalds’ chocolate shakes for an adult human. A 10-pound dog eating one “Good Life Recipe Wholesome Mini Bone” packs enough calories to correspond to three Hershey Bars for an adult human. There are no official guidelines to dictate what pet foods may be labeled “weight management” and some brands marketed as “light” or “reduced calorie” may actually only be about 10% lower in calories than regular food. If your pet has a serious or even a developing weight issue, let us help determine first if there is any underlying health concern to cause it and then prescribe a scientific plan to manage a return to a healthy size.
Just like people, pets vary in their activity levels. Some are happy to curl up in a bed all day, while others are champion agility and working dogs, proud breeding stock, or service animals. Each type of pet will have his or her own unique nutritional requirements. An overweight house pet will have different needs than an active outside pet. Likewise, outdoor cats that “dine out” by hunting may find the amount and type of food required to keep them healthy different than what is required for a cat kept inside. The staff at the Animal Hospital by the Sea can help you determine your pet’s body condition score and ideal caloric intake.
Nutritional researchers and pet food companies have long realized that cats have much higher dietary nutritional requirements than dogs, and their diets have been modified accordingly. The result is that cat foods are invariably much richer than dog food. Considering a cat’s inability to process carbohydrates efficiently and our tendency to keep them as relatively inactive house pets, we’ve created a national epidemic of feline obesity. Did you know that overweight cats are even more predisposed to developing diabetes than their canine or human counterparts, and that the diet type may be a huge contributing factor? Ask us how something as simple as switching to a primarily canned food diet may help your cat lose weight and lessen his or her risk for this devastating disease.
The Animal Hospital by the Sea recognizes that our clients may have varying beliefs and convictions when it comes to choosing their pets’ diets. Whether you have strong opinions regarding certain commercial diet brands or you prefer your pet eat a homemade raw diet, our goal is to ensure that your pet receives a complete and balanced diet. We are open to discussing the wide variety of pet food programs available and will work together to see that your pet receives the nutrition he or she needs.
For your convenience, the Animal Hospital by the Sea carries a full line of prescription Royal Canin Veterinary Diets. Other prescription brands are available for home delivery through our online pharmacy and supply portal at VetSource. Feel free to contact for assistance in choosing a prescription diet to help your pet with everything from bladder problems to liver disease to food allergies.