A cream and orange cat looking out a window.

Let’s begin by congratulating you on your new pet! Becoming a pet owner for the first time can be both thrilling and overwhelming. For the most part, feelings of love and joy prevail as you and your new pet get to know each other. But don’t forget, their health and happiness ultimately depends on you!

Pet nutrition is an area that tends to be particularly confusing for new pet owners, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Like humans, pets have specific nutritional requirements that must be met in order to thrive. Fortunately, the team at Conrad Weiser Animal Hospital is here to help you make the best choices for your new addition!

Finding the Right Food

At first glance, feeding your pet seems like an easy part of pet ownership. You buy the food, pour it into their bowl, and you’re done, right?

Not quite. You cannot tell the nutritional quality of a food by  the list of ingredients on the food bag or can. Don’t be fooled by marketing statements and claims.  Only a small number of food companies do any food research or test their products with feeding studies. Please ask the doctors at Conrad Weiser Animal Hospital for their advice and opinions about your pet’s nutrition.

Finding a food that matches your pet’s life stage is another important component of pet nutrition. For example, senior dogs shouldn’t eat puppy food, as it will be too high in fat and calories for an older pet.

Portion Control and Treats

As more and more pets suffer the effects of obesity, portion control becomes increasingly important. Learn how many calories is in a single serving of your pet’s food, and ask your veterinarian to help you determine the right portion size for your pet.

Similarly, treats have a tendency to add unnecessary calories to a pet’s diet. On average, treats should make up no more than 5% of their daily caloric intake (less for overweight pets). For a fun, nutritious, and low-calorie option, washed, raw vegetables, like babby carrots and green beans make good treats as a snack for your hungry pet (ooked veggies and raw fruits have calories).

Fad Diets

The pet care industry isn’t immune to the fad diets of humans, and grain-free, organic, raw, and vegetarian diets for pets are growing in popularity. It’s important to keep the following in mind:

  • Dogs are omnivores, meaning they can and should eat a variety of nutrients. There’s no evidence that grain-free diets are healthy for dogs, and in some cases, this can lead to health problems. Very high animal meat diets; vegetarian, raw and grain-free diets have all been implicated in causing problems with many pets.  
  • Cats are obligate carnivores who require large amounts of animal products to produce the amino acids their body needs. In some cases, feeding your cat a fad diet can have dire consequences.  

Pet Nutrition for Health Issues

If your pet is grappling with a health issue, your veterinarian may prescribe a specific diet. These foods are specially formulated to support various conditions, such as kidney disease, arthritis, weight loss, or skin sensitivities. There’s no need to worry if you don’t see an AAFCO statement on your pet’s prescription food. All prescription foods have been heavily researched, studied, and tested, and all meet AAFCO requirements.

As you can see, pet nutrition is a multifaceted concept. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns. We’re always here to help!