Nurture with Nutrition – Wellness Guide for Your Pet

Nothing compares to the joy of coming home to your furry friend. To keep your pet happy and healthy, it is important to follow the right nutritional practices. Learn how you can give the best nutrition to your pet and maintain their health!

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A loyal companion improves heart health, emotional well being, and decrease stress for pet parents. But when pets become weak due to improper nutritional practices it can have negative impact on their health and wellness. Better nutritional practices play key role in wellness of your pet. But question that arises is “How much should I feed my dog? Does the food I’m providing meet my pet’s nutritional needs?”

As our knowledge of the relationship between diet and health of dogs continues to advance and as the range of dog foods available continues to expand, it becomes important to base feeding choices on information provided by national organizations like NRC, FDA approved, etc. Dogs need several different kinds of nutrients to survive like – amino acids from proteins, fatty acids, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals to maintain good health.

The science of nutrients

Your pet’s unique nutritional requirements will depend on its size, breed, and stage of life, among other factors. Commercial dog foods come in a variety of forms. The most common types are dry, semi-moist, and canned. The moisture content of these foods ranges from 6 to 10 percent for dry, 15 to 30 percent for semi-moist, and 75 percent for canned. Most canned food has relatively more fat and protein and fewer carbohydrates than does dry and semi-moist food, and generally contains much higher levels of animal products.

Power-packed proteins and amino acids

Dogs cannot survive without protein in their diets. There are 10 essential amino acids that dogs cannot make on their own. They are the building blocks for many important biologically active compounds and proteins. Moreover, they donate the carbon chains needed to make glucose for energy. Studies show that dogs can tell when their food lacks a single amino acid and usually avoid such a meal. Dogs are known to selectively choose foods that are high in protein. Whether this is simply a matter of taste or a complex response to their biological needs for all 10 essential amino acids is not known. Crude Protein requirement in adult dogs weighing 33lbs (14.9kg) is 25 gm each day.

Furries need fats and fatty acids

Dietary fats, mainly obtained from animal fats and seed oils of plants, provide most concentrated source of energy in the diet. They give essential fatty acids which can’t be synthesized in the body. It serve as carriers for fat-soluble vitamins (A,D,E.K). Fatty acids play an important role in maintaining cell structure and function. Fats in food are known to enhance the taste and texture of the food which your pet would relish. Essential fatty acids (EFA) are necessary to keep your pet’s skin and coat healthy. Deficiencies in “omega-3” family of essential fatty acids may cause vision problems and impaired learning ability. Another family of EFA called “omega-6” is known to have important physiologic effects in the body. According to NRC, total fat requirement in adult dogs weighing 33lbs (14.9kg) is 12gm each day.

Don’t let the energy drop

It is required to sustain the normal activities of their daily lives like growth, pregnancy, lactation, and exercise and is fulfilled through carbohydrates, protein, and fats in their diet. The major sources of carbohydrates in commercial dog foods are cereals, legumes, and other plant food stuffs.

Fermentable carbohydrates include certain starches and dietary fibers that pass undigested through the small intestine to the colon for microbial digestion. They are required for regulation of blood glucose concentrations and to enhance immune function. Non-fermentable fibers, such as cellulose and wheat bran, contribute little in terms of energy or nutrition and are primarily used to decrease caloric intake of the overweight animal.

Vitamins are vital

Vitamins are organic compounds that take part in a wide range of metabolic activities. Vitamin deficiencies can cause a variety of health problems. Clinical signs of vitamin A deficiency, one of the first deficiencies studied in dogs, include motor and vision impairment, skin lesions, respiratory ailments, and increased susceptibility to infections. Dogs fed diets lacking vitamin E show signs of skeletal muscle breakdown, reproductive failure, and retinal degeneration. Thiamin deficiency can lead to brain lesions and other neurological abnormalities if the deprivation is sudden and to heart damage and death if it is chronic. Some vitamins, such as vitamin D, are not only essential in small doses, but also toxic in excess amounts.

The magic of minerals

Twelve minerals are known to be essential nutrients for dogs. Calcium and phosphorus are crucial for strong bones and teeth. Dogs need magnesium, potassium, and sodium for nerve impulse transmission, muscle contraction, and cell signalling. Many minerals that are present only in trace amounts in the body, including selenium, copper, and molybdenum, act as helpers in a wide variety of enzymatic reactions.

The proper balance of nutrients is essential for your pet. Each and every nutrient in your pet’s food has a purpose. Without adequate nutrition, your pet would not be able to maintain muscle tone, build and repair muscles, teeth, and bone, perform normal daily activities with ease or fight-off infection.

(Dr Gopal Jaiswal, BVSc & AH, is a Consultant Veterinarian at Tails and Treats Vety Hospital, Rudrapur and Dr Shriya Bhatt, MVSc in Animal Nutrition, CVASc, is from GBPUAT, Pantnagar, Uttarakhand)