Healthy Diet, Healthy Pet

Kapi-Mana News Pet Health Column Article for 5 February 2013

Written by Dr Ian Schraa, 05/02/2013

The most important thing you can do for your pet’s health is feed them a good, healthy, balanced diet.

Whether you have a dog, cat, rabbit, guinea pig or bird they all need to be feed. Why not feed them a good diet then? The main reason that people don’t is the higher price of good quality foods. Unfortunately if your pet has problems that a good diet could have prevented or at least reduced then it was probably a false economy to feed them a cheaper food in first place.

There is a huge variation is options and quality of food. And it is sometimes actually difficult, even for veterinarians, to say what foods have in them. The lack of strict requirements on labelling and ingredients is actually quite horrifying. Pretty much anyone can make up a pet food, put a label on them and sell it. In some supermarkets in New Zealand you can buy a pet roll that says it provides all the necessary nutrient value for cats, kittens, puppies and dogs, including older ones! Amazing and total rubbish. The nutritional requirements for a growing kitten is very different from that for an older dog.

Growing animals, just like human babies and growing children, need specific dietary requirements to ensure the proper development of their bones, brains, muscles, intestinal system and immune system. As vets we see animals on poor or inadequate diets get bone and joint diseases as young animals, and are prone to infections and parasite infestations.

Cats are not small dogs and should never be fed dog food routinely. Cats have much more specific protein and vitamin requirements and will get sick if constantly fed dog food.

The raw diets are very popular at the moment. People think that dogs particularly need to eat a more natural diet. This may sound logical but the main problem with this is that it has been shown that domesticated dogs fed on premium commercial dog foods will actually live twice as long as their natural counterparts. It is not that the natural diets are necessarily bad, just often the commercial diets are better, because they have been scientifically researched and have all the requirements needed for better health at specific life stages. Don’t get me wrong. I still feed my dog bones and leftovers but 95% of her diet is a high quality completely balanced AFFCO approved food.

Why have a pet if you are not prepared or able to even feed them properly? A healthy pet is a happy pet, and surely we own pets primarily to have and enjoy their happiness and the happiness they bring to us as pet owners.

Next month I will go into more detail about food as it is the foundation to having a healthy, happy pet.

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View all staff » Dr Ed Dakin

Dr Ed Dakin

Senior Veterinarian
Qualified in 2000 with B.Vet. Med. (Liverpool)
Started at Rappaw in 2006

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