Get your pet’s diet right and you’ll be setting them up for a healthy and content life. Taking their nutrition seriously ensures that you look after their health from their teeth to their bones. You maximise their strength and potential, whether they are the smallest hamster or the largest dog. In turn, this means you won’t have any unnecessary vet bills which has to be welcome given that a 10 minute consultation alone, simply because your pet ate something it shouldn’t, could cost you around £40 before any treatment.
Let’s look at why your mog, pooch or other furry friend needs you to take care with their nutrition.
Nutrition for Pets – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
So what do they actually need? Well, some of it will depend on the animal in question. Take a small gerbil and a cat for example: one is a herbivore and one is a carnivore. They obviously have different nutritional requirements. However, we see common elements. Much like our diets, mammal pets need a careful balance of water, protein, fat and carbohydrate along with appropriate vitamins and minerals.
The four macro-nutrients (water, fat, protein and carbohydrate) form the bulk of your pet’s diet.
Water: As with humans, pets that are mammals have bodies predominantly made up of water, with a higher proportion when young. It’s the most vital nutrient and contributes to all physiological functions. Pets should have direct access to fresh drinking water at all times.
Fat: Contrary to popular belief, fats provide more energy gram for gram than carbohydrate. Fat is an essential part of your pet’s diet for various bodily functions including the health of the skin and the immune system. Fats also help to ‘deliver’ many vitamins and minerals.
Protein: Protein sources for pets are typically meat-based or cereal-based. Protein is essential for repair and growth. Animals that are more active, working dogs or any lactating ‘mum’ for example, need more protein.
Carbohydrate: Often given pride of place in off-the-shelf pet foods, carbohydrates are either sugars or starch. Sugar is not necessary in a pet’s diet and in excess can cause diarrhoea and bacterial overgrowth in the intestine. Starchy carbohydrates, such as rice or wheat, is not an essential nutrient for pets such as cats and dogs.
Alongside the macronutrients, healthy pets require a careful balance of vitamins and minerals.
Unfortunately, we don’t always give our pet’s diet the consideration it deserves. Table scraps are viewed as treats, and we assume that pet food is suitable whatever we buy. The harsh truth is that whilst there is some regulation in the pet food industry, it doesn’t go far enough. For example, ingredients lists can be bland and generic, such as ‘cereals’, without clear guidance on composition.
So how do you ensure your pet has good nutrition?
You need to identify brands you can trust, as well as know the rights and wrongs of straying from the ‘packet’. For example, table scraps aren’t just a behavioural minefield, they are also playing with the dietary balance that an excellent pet food delivers. You’re also playing with fire if you don’t know exactly what is safe for your animal or not. For example, grapes can prove toxic for dogs, yet that is not as well-known as the perils of chocolate.
Carefully formulated pet food from trusted brands will contain the right balance of both macro- and micro-nutrients. The food you choose should be tailored to your pet, such as the difference between the Pet Goody’s Super Premium Dry Puppy Food and our Working Dog Wonder Food. Choosing from suppliers who are pet lovers themselves will ensure they’ve done the hard work of tailoring the food for you.
Give your pet the diet they deserve, and be rewarded with an animal in fine fettle, full of vitality and health.