National Nutrition Month

 

Happy Spring, everyone! We hope you are all enjoying the
warmer weather! Since March is National Nutrition Month, we thought we would
share some facts and delve into some common myths about pet nutrition.

 

People often ask what brands of pet food are the best. While
we don’t typically recommend a specific brand, it is important to make sure
whatever brand you buy has an AAFCO statement on the bag. It should say,
“Animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate that (brand of food)
provides complete and balanced nutrition for (life stage).” This statement
ensures that the food both meets certain standards of nutrient content and that
company has done sufficient testing and feeding trials. There are different
life stages that a food can be formulated for, including gestation and
lactation, growth, maintenance, and complete for all life stages. If it is
labeled for all life stages, it will have enough nutrients for the most
demanding life stage, growth. It may contain levels that are too high for adult
or senior pets.

 

In addition to commercial foods, homemade diets are another
option. They require extra time and thorough research to be prepared correctly,
but they can be successfully created to be complete and balanced. There are
many resources available to help people create homemade diets that are
nutritionally complete, including several books dedicated to the subject.
Please ask us for more information if you are interested in homemade diets.           

 

In addition to regular wellness foods, many medical
conditions can be helped by specially formulated prescription diets. We
commonly prescribe dietary changes for a wide variety of medical issues,
including urinary stones, cystitis, kidney and liver disease, allergies, and
irritable bowel issues. Prescription foods are only available through
veterinarians. They may not all be suitable for other pets that do not have the
same medical condition.          

 

Cats and dogs have different nutritional needs. Cats are
obligate carnivores, while dogs are omnivores by nature. Thus, cats cannot
thrive on dog food, and vice versa. Cats require several essential animo acids
that they must get from their food, including Taurine and Arginine. Cat foods
are formulated to include appropriate levels of these amino acids. Without
them, cats can develop serious medical concerns, including heart and eye
problems.

 

There are several common myths regarding pet foods. One of
the most common is that all animal by-products are bad. However, the truth is
that by-products are not necessarily bad, and can actually be a good source of
protein and other nutrients. By-products may include intestines, udders,
stomachs, and brains – all of which carry nutritional value. They do not
include horns, teeth, hooves, or hair (except small amounts that are
unavoidable during processing). Another common misconception is that grain-free
foods are better. Corn is actually a good source of protein and carbohydrates
for dogs, and very few are allergic to it. For cats, meat or meat-by products
should ideally be the first ingredient, since they are carnivores. They are able
to easily digest grains, however, so they should not necessarily be avoided
completely.         

 

There are some foods to avoid at all times, as they can be
toxic to animals. Here is a list of toxic foods and the harm they can
cause: 

 

-Avocado – large amounts can be toxic to dogs

-Alcohol – affects brain and liver   

-Onion and Garlic – destroy red blood cells, causing anemia

-Coffee, Tea, and Caffeine – can be fatal in large amounts

-Grapes and Raisins – can cause kidney failure in dogs

-Dairy – animals are lactose intolerant, and diary products
cause GI upset

-Macadamia nuts – as few as 6 can make a dog sick, more can
be fatal

-Candy and Gum – the sweetener Xylitol can cause liver
failure, and sugar can lead to diabetes, dental problems, and obesity  

-Chocolate – can cause GI upset, abnormal heart rhythm,
seizures, and death

-Raw eggs – contain Salmonella or E. Coli

-Fat trimmings and bones – can cause pancreatitis, GI obstruction,
GI lacerations

-Raw meat and fish – parasites, bacterial food
poisoning  

-Salt – excessive thirst, tremors, depression, hyperthermia,
and larger amounts can cause death 

-Yeast Dough – can rise in the stomach, causing bloat or
alcohol poisoning

-Baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, and other spices – can
be toxic  

-Human medications – many are toxic to animals, including
Ibuprofen and Tylenol (Acetaminophen) which can be deadly in small amounts  

 

If you have any additional questions about your pet’s
nutrition, please don’t hesitate to ask us. Happy Nutrition Month from all of
us at Granite City
PetHospital!  

 


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