There are many differing opinions on exactly what to feed your pet and how often to give them a meal. Here are some points to consider:
Should I feed my pet a home cooked meal or a commercial dry food?
People often think that dogs and cats get “bored” eating commercial dry food, but in most instances, pets are happy with a routine. While humans have a very developed sense of taste, dogs and cats instinctively eat to survive. We can train our pets to be fussy by offering too many choices and this sometimes occurs in small breeds of dogs or cats that eat slowly. This doesn’t mean they don’t like the food, they are just not as greedy as your typical Labrador Retriever!
If you choose to give your pet a home prepared meal, it is very important that it is balanced. This can be hard to achieve in the fast growth phases of puppy-hood, particularly in large breeds of dogs, where it is important there is a precise ratio of calcium to phosphorus, or risk developmental problems of the skeleton.
What about cats?
Cats are obligate carnivores, so it is not appropriate to feed vegetables in the diet. However, meat alone is insufficient as there is not enough calcium.
Are pet-grade minces sufficient?
Pet grade minces may contain sulphite preservatives which can neutralise thiamine leading to thiamine deficiency. These should not be fed more than once every second day.
Should I feed once or twice a day?
Very young puppies up to 12 weeks of age need 3 meals a day. After that, twice daily feeding is usually appropriate. If your pet is prone to obesity, then once a day is acceptable but a small meal twice a day may lead to less scavenging behaviour.
It is acceptable to leave some dry biscuits out for cats to “graze” on during the day. Some cats may overeat with ad-lib dining, so those cats need specific meal times and a consistent amount given to keep weight under control, or risk diabetes.
Should I buy a supermarket brand or a premium brand of food?
You will find that most vets feed their own pets a premium dry food, such as Hills Science Diet. Premium pet food companies have large research departments dedicated to developing the best pet diets for a long and healthy life. Benefits include a shiny coat, less pet odour and even less poos because they are so highly digestible. Fewer motions means less waste and less cleaning – a definite benefit! Less food is usually required for the same caloric intake, so while these diets are more expensive for the same weight of dry food, the cost is not as significant as you are feeding less per meal.
Is a premium dry food a complete diet?
Hills Science Diets are designed to be a complete diet for your pet, which is very convenient for busy pet owners. Feeding about 80% premium commercial dry food and 20% “other”, including meat, pasta, vegies is acceptable too but not essential.
All our hospital and boarding animals are fed Hills Science Diet at Gordon Vet Hospital.
Our nursing staff at reception are trained in pet nutrition so questions are welcome!