A proper diet for health and vitality
The food that a pet needs depends on their species, age and lifestyle. In every case, a nutritionally balanced diet throughout life is key to promoting good health.
Your pet needs the right food in order to be healthy and happy. It’s also a legal requirement for pet owners to make sure their pet has a suitable diet.
‘Life-stage feeding’ means feeding your pet different food at different ages, according to their needs.
For example, puppies and kittens need food containing more calories because they are so energetic.
Many commercially produced pet foods are available for different life stages, for example, puppy/kitten, junior, adult and senior. Life-stage feeding is good because it matches a pet’s food to what is needed at different ages.
Feeding your dog a com-plete commercial pet food is the best way of ensuring they get all the nutrients they need. Follow the guidelines on the packet to ensure you are feeding the correct amount. Weigh the food out to check you are getting it right. It’s usually best to feed adult dogs twice a day. Puppies need feeding more often, with smaller amounts. Your vet is the best person to advise you about your pet’s nutritional needs.
Cats have to eat nutrients that are only found in meat – they can’t be vegetarians. Comme-rcially available complete foods contain all the nutrients cats need. Follow the guide-lines on the packet to ensure you are feeding the correct amount. Weigh the food out to check you are getting it right.
Hay is essential in helping to prevent dental disease in rabbits. Rabbit teeth grow continuously throughout their life. This means they need to be constantly nibbling to wear their teeth down.
Wild rabbits nibble lots of grass. Pet rabbits should mimic the natural diet by having constant access to good quality hay or grass.
If rabbits don’t eat enough grass or hay, their teeth can become overgrown, leading to painful mouth ulcers. Vets advise that rabbits should be fed at least their body size in hay each day, a handful of fresh vegetables, morning and evening, one tablespoon of commercial rabbit nuggets (not muesli-type mix) once daily for rabbits under 3.5kg, or one table-spoon twice daily for rabbits over 3.5kg.
Don’t feed muesli-type rabbit mixes as these are associated with serious dental disease.
Vets are seeing more and more pets that are over-weight. Obesity leads to a reduced quality of life, such as not wanting to play, or having difficulty breathing. It also causes serious health problems such as arthritis and diabetes.
Preventing obesity depe-nds on having the right food in the right amounts and taking the right amount of exercise.