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Six simple steps to a balanced diet


Six simple steps to a balanced diet
This article contains: cat dog pet diet weight loss

A balanced diet is essential for good health and an energetic pet. But what exactly is meant by a balanced diet?

 

To keep your particular pet eating the best diet for them, keep in mind the following factors:

1: Different species, different needs
Each species of animal differs in the way it handles food and therefore each has different dietary requirements. For example, cats have a very definite need for meat in their diet because they must have a particular amino acid (taurine), which is only present in animal protein.

2: The effect of gender

The sex of your pet should also be considered. For example, neutering can have a more profound effect on the metabolic rate of a bitch than a dog, lowering it more in the female after spaying than in the dog after castration. This is why a spayed bitch is more inclined to gain weight than a castrated dog, unless you make appropriate changes to the diet.

3: What life stage are they at?
If you have owned your pet from a few weeks of age, it is obvious how much it is growing and its body is changing. There is actual weight gain while the bones are growing and muscles are developing. After a period of maturity, ageing starts to take place, often accompanied by a reduction in activity. A pet's diet should therefore address the different needs of each stage in life. If your pet is feeling unwell, it may lose its appetite at precisely the time when its body has increased needs for high-quality nutrition.

4: Are they stressed or bored?
There are also numerous external factors that will influence the ideal, balanced diet for your pet. A stress, such as being away from home in a kennel, can result in weight loss if your pet goes off its food. Alternatively, some pets may gain weight while in kennels, due to a reduction in exercise.

5: How do they look?
The aim of any diet is to maintain your pet at a body condition of 3, on a scale where 1 is emaciated and 5 is morbidly obese. For rabbits and other small furries, a reduced scale of 1 (thin), 2 (ideal) and 3 (overweight) may be used. It is useful to be able to put a figure to an individual pet's appearance in addition to the actual body weight because this gives an idea of how the weight is being carried. After all, what may be an ideal weight for a tall person could be grossly overweight for a short person. You can also measure your pet around the chest and waist and monitor changes that way.

6: What tastes good?
Any diet that is offered to your pet will only be eaten if it is palatable. If a tablet could be formulated which met all the needs for your daily diet, would you eat it as willingly as three delicious meals per day? It stands to reason that if the food is not eaten then your pet's needs won't be met.

PS: Your pet's diet isn't working if...

  • He's overweight or underweight for his size and shape.
  • He's not thriving. If your pet is still young and growing, is he developing as he should do? If you see their littermate, how does he compare?
  • His coat isn't glossy and in great condition - the outward sign of a healthy pet.
  • He's lethargic. Is your pet exercising as much as you would expect, or lying around?
  • He isn't alert. Does your pet seem as keen and interested in life as you would expect?
  • He has dental problems - this is best avoided by feeding a balanced diet from the outset.


By Alison Logan, vet

Originally published in issue 5 of PetPeople, the Petplan customer magazine

 


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SUE GREEN
Chloe is my 11 year old persian and she is an idiot. She behaves more like a dog, follows me around all day even helps to put the bins out..... In the summer she loves being out in the garden and picks fuschias which brings indorrs, even through the cat flap if she has to, drops them at your feet and you have to throw them for her to bring back to you. In the winter she stays indoors. She is an idiot but she is my idiot and I adore her.
Maurice Busby
I have had Tigi who is a rescue male cat about 4 weeks he is 3years old,he is a beautiful large tabby and white,with a largeappetite and plenty of energy as you would expect from a young cat.The only food he will eat is Whiskes sardines,I have great difficulty obtaining it,and i believe they are discontinuing supplying it.I have tried mixing tuna with the sardine he sorts it out and leaves the tuna,The trend now with the manufacturies is to supply different flavours in packs wich i think is only done for ease and more convienient for transporting.and for no other reason.I am sure the suppliers dont know much about cats or is take it or leave it,we have no choise.I am a widower,my wife and i have had different breeds of cats for over 50 years,but this one is a tricky one,have you anysuggestions?
kath smith
i think this site is great I have a 17 week old kitten who is a dare devil he lies on banisters that have rather larges drops and climbs walls
Sarah Ballantyne
We have 2 young sphynx cats, Shammy & Buffy. They are the most beautiful, affectionate cats I have ever known. On the subject of diet, Buffy was very ill just after we got her and i had to take her to the vet every other day for nearly a year but she was not really getting any better. I decided to try an alternative and took her to see a holistic vet in Bath, Nick Thompson. He is absolutely fantastic. He put Buffy on a new diet, cooked white fish and raw chicken (all introduced slowly) with additional petplus vitamins and minerals. Buffy improved immediately! Both Buffy and Shammy are on this diet now and are very happy and healthy. Pet Plan have been great and paid for all Buffy's treatment both standard and complimentary.
Petplan
Hi Maurice, Lovely to hear about Tigi. We asked Brian Faulkner, Petplan's Vet of the Year to look into your query and he came back to us with the following advice:Cats can be difficult to change foods but usually do make the transition sooner or later. I suggest you contact Whiskers and explain your problem, if haven't already done so. If so, try your local veterinary practice as they will have a local representative for the various pet food companies including Royal Canin and Hills. Often they will provide free of charge samples as a trial...but not always! Some do money-back-guarantee bags if Tigi won't eat it. I would also suggest making the transition to dry food only - again some cats do this easily, some don't - but it is much better for their teeth in the long run and cheaper too! So, contact Whiskers or your vet to ask about trying different pet foods. Hope that helps,Brian the Vet
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