Nutritional Needs of Your Pet - Part 2

A few weeks ago, we kicked off a new series here at Petnet intended to take a deeper look at special diets for your pets. In our first installment, we took a broad look and dietary needs based on age, showing how a  puppy’s nutritional needs differ considerably from an adult which in turn differs from a senior pet.

Today we’re going to turn our attention to special diets related to allergies or being overweight.Food Allergies

If you pet has ever had a bout of diarrhea or vomiting or itchy skin, your vet may have mentioned the possibility of a food allergy. Many dogs and cats develop them and a very common food allergy is chicken. One possible reason is that a huge percentage of pet foods contain chicken and our pets eat the same food every day, multiple times, over weeks, months and even years. It’s not at all surprising that over time they develop a negative reaction to it that manifests in an allergic type reaction or a food sensitivity.The simplest fix is to stop feeding them chicken or treats made from chicken or chicken by products and see if their stomach issues go away. If so, you may have found your answer. Your vet can also run some allergy testing to get to the bottom of it, but utilizing what is called an “elimination diet” can be a simple way to check if it is a food that is causing their issues..  The idea behind an elimination diet if to completely eliminate an ingredient (starting with proteins like chicken or beef) for 3-4 weeks and see if the pet’s condition improves. If there is no change, you can eliminate another protein and start again.

Food allergies can also manifest themselves in itchy or dry skin. If your pet is excessively scratching at all parts of their body, you might give the elimination diet a shot, systematically remove the foods that may be creating the issues and see if there is a food that needs to be permanently deleted from their diet.

Overweight

Pet obesity is a huge (no pun intended) problem, not just in the United States but in the UK and Europe. We all love our dogs and one way to show they that they truly appreciate is to feed them and to feed them often. But being overweight is not good for your pet.  It leads to health issues and possibly an earlier death.

Hopefully you recognize when your dog is overweight, but if you need some help in determining, check out this guide from Purina, or ask your veterinarian.If your dog is overweight, your vet may recommend a diet dog food. These are typically lower in calories but may contain more fillers to make up the volume.  All you really need to do is cut back the amount of food you feed your dog at their meals and also cut out the people food and snacks. You don’t have to cut the snacks completely, but just be smarter about them and maybe even introduce some vegetables as snacks. Most dogs love baby carrots!

It’s the same method that humans need to follow to lose weight. You don’t need special diet food, to lose weight, just push yourself away from the table sooner. For our pets, since WE are the ones feeding them, we have an obligation to take the table away from them. You don’t need a fancy diet food, they just need less of what you are currently giving them and more exercise.



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