When it comes to their pet, all a pet parent wants is for their pet to stay healthy and playful. Just like humans, a fur baby too needs a lot of love, care, cuddles and a healthy diet and apt nutrition for staying happy and fit. That said, it’s ok to indulge and reward your pets with treats from time to time, as long as she’s not overindulging in too many snacks, too often. Most first time pet parents are overwhelmed with the variety of pet food available and confused as to what the right diet and nutrition for a puppy or kitten should be. The following section is a suggested guide on how to provide your new pet with the right nutrition for her healthy growth and development.
Fulfilling the nutrients:
To make the task slightly simpler, one must understand that if the nutrients of the diet
are balanced carefully, the pet gets a good and healthy start. The food should contain the right
combination of nutrients like protein, vitamins, minerals, as well as the carbohydrates.
Along with food, your pet must always have access to clean drinking water. Just like humans, a puppy or kitten’s diet is also incomplete without adequate water. One may take care of the above nutrients while preparing a meal for your fur baby. However, depending upon your family’s needs and budget, there are also many brands of pet food to choose from. With options ranging from grain free to special needs diets, dry kibble to gravy varieties, picking up the right food for your pet is still no cakewalk!
Though the nutrients in most commercially available foods are nearly the same for all, the quantity and proportions differ from
one variant to the other, so as to cater different breeds, ages and special needs such as food allergies, calorie restricted diets, diets for special needs such as pregnancy and lactation, joint supplements, liver or kidney specific diets, the list goes on and on.
It’s best to identify a diet plan that suits not only your puppy or kitten’s needs but also your family’s time and budget requirements. Asking your vet about supplements for young pets is advisable if you wish to prepare home cooked meals as balancing the diet is challenging with this option. Your vet can guide you about the best food and supplements if required.
How much is too much?
While the general rule of thumb for any diet plan is to balance the intake of food with the energy requirements, portion size is the key to healthy eating habits. For example, a pet that is regularly exercised tends to have higher metabolic needs than one who leads a sedentary lifestyle in an apartment. Some high energy breeds such as retrievers need adequate exercise or they fall into the trap of obesity at a young age and as they age, obesity related complications begin to surface.
Store bought packaged foods come with a guide on portion size, and some brands also provide a measuring cup or scoop to help you measure the portion accurately. But when on a home cooked diet, you have to be in control of both nutritional values as well as the correct portion size. Your vet can guide you with the right portion sizes according to breed, activity levels and the age of your pet. As vets, we get to hear from a lot of pet parents that “my pet always looks hungry, begs from the table” etc. We discourage pet parents from over feeding not only at meal times, but also in between meals when your family might be eating and the pet wants a bite (or a plate of its own!) too. This is a bad habit that leads to obesity later on, and we can’t stress enough, the importance of not allowing any table scraps to be given to the pet!
Snacks and treats
Pets tend to be the most pampered members of the family, and they more than deserve it! But exercising caution while rewarding with treats or in general munching on jerky or biscuits would go a long way in maintaining a healthy weight. Here, it’s important to understand that limiting the treats doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re a strict pet parent. What you can limit on calories, you can make up for generously, in love and hugs! Replacing bigger sized treats with bite sized treats is one way of reducing the portion size of snacks. With the variety of snacks available in the market, both pets and pet parents have plenty of options to choose from, so the onus of choosing wisely lies on you.
… to be continued…
Watch this space for our exclusive obesity and rehab guide for older pets in the next blog. Till then, happy parenting and we hope you’re enjoying the journey with your fur babies! ❤️