CLICK ON A TOPIC BELOW TO LEARN MORE
Calculolytic diets contain: smaller amounts of protein thereby decreasing ammonium ion formation via digestion; acidifiers and smaller amounts of phosphorous and magnesium to decrease crystal formation and help with dissolution of stones; and larger amounts of salt to increase thirst and urine production thereby flushing out excess crystals. With these diets, signs of discomfort usually disappear within a week, and stones are actually dissolved within 4-16 weeks (average 8 weeks). Stone dissolution is determined by both size and number.
Dogs may develop the unpleasant habit of eating feces, and in some may become almost a compulsive behavior. Several theories of cause include boredom, too much confinement, lack of certain enzymes in the digestive system, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and neuroses. Coprophagy usually does little harm but can transmit intestinal parasites and fecal bacteria, which may cause tonsillitis or intestinal upset.
Feeding Adult Cats
Cats enjoy variety in their diets. Variety should be provided in the form of various balanced cat foods, not by the addition of table foods. The dietary needs of cats differ from those of dogs. Dog food does not supply all the nutrients cats need and severe health problems can occur in cats fed only dog food. Cats require much higher levels of dietary protein than do dogs. Unfortunately, protein is the single most expensive ingredient in cat foods and consequently, bargain-brand cat foods contain low-grade, poorly digestible protein. In order to maintain your cat’s good health, avoid the cheaper brands of cat foods. Fish and milk are not natural foods of cats and alone do not provide an adequate diet for cats. Numerous commercial cat foods are available that provide a complete and balanced diet for cats. Special prescription diets are available for specific health needs. Water should be fresh and available at all times.
Feeding Adult Dogs
Many commercial dog foods are available but cheaper foods may lack high-quality, usable protein. One should consider your dog’s age, activity, breed and temperament when choosing a diet for your pet. Once you find a good quality diet that your dog likes, do not change it. Variety is not needed in your dog’s diet. Special prescription diets are available for pets with cardiac, renal, allergic, nutritional, skin and intestinal diseases as well as pregnancies.
Feeding Orphan Kittens
Kittens need a warm (80-85o F), clean, dry environment during the early weeks of life. Warmth can be provided by hot water bottles, heat lamps, warm water mattresses but dry heating pads should be avoided since burns may occur. One should remember that kittens are unable to move away from heat sources, so monitor the kittens closely for overheating and burns. Provide clean paper or cloth and a box high enough to keep the kittens confined for their first several weeks of age. Kittens may be fed by stomach tube or nursing bottle. Your veterinarian or hospital staff can instruct you in either method. Kittens should continually gain weight, therefore monitor their weight. Feed newborn kittens 6-8 times a day and decrease the frequency gradually to 3-4 times daily by 2-3 weeks of age. After each feeding kittens should be stimulated to urinate and defecate by gently stroking the genital area with a cottonball or tissue moistened with warm water. Note that continual crying by the kittens or failure to gain weight may indicate a problem, therefore contact your veterinarian.
The total daily requirements for kittens under 4 weeks of age are:
1st & 2nd wk of age: 6 calories/ounce of body weight/day
3rd & 4th wk of age: 8 calories/ounce of body weight/day
Feeding Orphan Puppies
Puppies need a warm (80-85o F), clean, dry environment during the early weeks of life. Warmth can be provided by hot water bottles, heat lamps, warm water mattresses but dry heating pads should be avoided since burns may occur. One should remember that puppies are unable to move away from heat sources, so monitor the puppies closely for overheating and burns. Provide clean paper or cloth and a box high enough to keep the puppies confined for their first several weeks of age. Puppies may be fed by stomach tube or nursing bottle. Your veterinarian or hospital staff can instruct you in either method. Puppies should continually gain weight, therefore monitor their weight. Feed newborn puppies 6-8 times a day and decrease the frequency gradually to 3-4 times daily by 2-3 weeks of age. After each feeding puppies should be stimulated to urinate and defecate by gently stroking the genital area with a cottonball or tissue moistened with warm water. Note that continual crying by the puppies or failure to gain weight may indicate a problem, therefore contact your veterinarian. In general, a pup should double its weight in 8-10 days and overfeeding can be worse than slight underfeeding.
The total daily caloric requirements for puppies under 4 weeks of age are:
1st week: 3.75 calories/ounce of body weight/day
2nd week: 4.50 calories/ounce of body weight/day
3rd week: 5.00 calories/ounce of body weight/day
4th week: 5.50 calories/ounce of body weight/day
Food hypersensitivity is an allergic reaction to food. Many affected pets have ingested the offending food substrate for over 2 years. Signs include red itchy skin, various skin lesions and in some cases, vomiting, diarrhea, respiratory distress, malaise or even seizures. Diagnosis of food hypersensitivity is difficult and time consuming. It requires feeding a hypoallergenic diet for at least 6-8 weeks and once symptom free, gradually adding back foods substances. Those re-initiating symptoms are eliminated from the pet’s diet. Treatment is avoidance of offending food substrates.
Nutrition and Congestive Heart Failure
A low-salt (low-sodium) diet is a vital part of treatment for patients with congestive heart failure. Heart disease leads to sodium retention and therefore water retention. The increase fluid forces an already weakened heart to work much harder. A low-sodium (low-salt) diet helps prevent salt and water retention thereby decreasing the workload of the heart. Low-salt prescription diets can be purchased from your veterinarian.
Nutrition and Diabetes Mellitus
Pets with diabetes mellitus do not produce adequate amounts of insulin. Insulin regulates blood sugar and its usage. If insulin levels become too low, blood sugar levels become abnormally high. Dietary carbohydrates (starches and sugars) and fats result in elevated blood sugar. Although some carbohydrates and fats are a necessary part of your pet’s diet, overall reduction of these components with concurrent increases in dietary protein can reduce blood sugar and insulin requirements while meeting your pet’s nutritional requirements. Close dietary supervision is paramount with diabetic pets. Pets receiving insulin need to eat sufficiently with each insulin peak, therefore avoiding dangerously low blood sugar or hypoglycemia. For “nibblers” allow free access to food, while “gluttons” should be fed two to three meals daily depending on frequency of insulin administration, insulin type and owner compliance. Please consult your veterinarian for proper feeding schedules.
Nutrition and Digestive Disorders
Pets with digestive disorders may readily experience vomiting and diarrhea. Many foods may exacerbate the disorders. It is therefore necessary to provide these pets with bland, easily digestible, yet tasty diets in numerous small amounts. Examples include specific prescription diets as well as cooked eggs, low fat cottage cheese, cooked white rice, boiled unseasoned beef and skinless chicken. Water should be offered in small amounts throughout the day. Crushed ice cubes can provide fluid for pets with irritated gastrointestinal tracts.
Nutrition and Kidney Disease
The kidneys function to eliminate waste products and conserve water. Kidney disease can result in elevations of waste products to toxic levels. Nutritional therapy for kidney disease is directed at minimizing the kidney workload while providing adequate nutrition. This consists of restricting the amount of protein, phosphorous and sodium (salt), while providing adequate amounts of non-protein calories, vitamins (especially water soluble vitamins) and minerals. The best way to provide nutritional therapy for kidney disease is via prescription diet. Consult your veterinarian.
Nutrition and Liver Disease
The liver functions to metabolize proteins, fats and carbohydrates; detoxify and excrete drugs and toxins; form and eliminate bile. Excessive amounts of proteins and fats may over tax the diseased liver. Diets should contain minimal amounts of fat, limited but highly digestible proteins, adequate carbohydrates to fulfill caloric needs and sufficient amounts of fat soluble vitamins. The best way to provide nutritional therapy for liver disease is via prescription diet. Consult your veterinarian.
Nutrition and Obesity
Obesity is the state of being seriously overweight, leading to more physical ailments and usually a shorter life span. Obesity is usually the result of excessive calories and inadequate exercise. Nutritional therapy for obesity should simply reduce calories sufficiently to obtain optimum weight with adequate nutritional balance. Weight loss is best accomplished gradually over a 60-90 day period in order to avoid the deleterious effects of rapid weight loss. Pets, as well as owners, must be re-trained to feed moderately with daily allotments split into 2-3 feedings. Avoid free feeding. Snacks should be minimal and fat free! Exercise should be modified according to age, breed and current health status. Consult your veterinarian.
Self feeding is the practice of allowing pets unlimited access to food. This method is better suited for dry foods since canned foods tend to crust and spoil when left out for extended periods. Cats usually self feed with fewer problems (eg. obesity) than dogs because of the “nibbler” instinct. Few cats need to be placed on a feeding schedule, although canned food feedings should always be limited to avoid spoilage. Do not self feed dogs. This practice leads to a greater amount of over eating and obesity.
Weaning is the process by which a puppy’s diet changes from mother’s milk to solid foods. Usually this period begins at 3-4 weeks of age as is completed by 6-8 weeks of age. Weanlings should be weighed frequently and their weights recorded. There should be progressive weight gain. Be aware of puppies that do not gain weight or inactive puppies that feel cooler than their littermates. Begin weaning around 3-4 weeks of age by pan-feeding milk replacer. At first, the puppies may wade through the food and lap very little but should lap readily within a few feedings. In about a week, blend milk replacer with a good-quality puppy food to form a thin gruel and offer it 3-4 times daily. The gruel should be gradually thickened with more and more puppy food until the puppies are eating only good quality puppy food (slightly soften until their teeth have erupted).