DIET


Note: Currently, the Fergus Veterinary Hospital is conducting product testing on a new line of pet food targeting arthritis, intestinal and dental care in one package. Depending on our impressions, this may be a diet option for cats and dogs that we offer in the near future. Stay tuned for updates!

Please choose from the following options:



DIET GUIDELINES:

Diet: Dogs

Diet: Cats


DIET: DOGS

What should I feed my dog?

  • There are currently a wealth of options when it comes to deciding what to feed your pet, including a number of therapeutic and specialty diets! This can become overwhelming for many owners. To further complicate things, the ingredient list often does little to inform you of a food’s quality, although it can be helpful when trying to avoid certain products that your pet may be allergic to. Statements such as “contains no grain,” “contains fruits and vegetables,” “highest protein percentage” and the first ingredients are not very informative or important. Generally, the goal of any appropriate diet is to optimize body weight by producing a lean, muscular and athletic dog, to aid in appropriate joint and bone growth, to provide the nutrition required for your pet to feel well and to reduce the risk of common diseases that affect the long-term health of your pet (such as obesity, periodontal disease and arthritis). Surprisingly, 50% of pets will end up overweight, 85% will have periodontal issues and 20-90% will develop arthritis in their lifetime. Therefore food choices are an important decision, particularly for the prevention of bone and joint disorders in larger breed dogs, which have different growth requirements when compared to small breed dogs. For this purpose, the division between small and large breed is around 50 lbs (or 22.7kg). While almost all pet foods are capable of preventing starvation, only a select few can improve the overall quality and quantity of your pet’s life. As well, dogs benefit from having a diet that combines both wet and dry food. Therefore, when deciding on a specific diet, it is best to consult a veterinarian to ensure that you are taking full advantage of the scientific advancements that have occurred in the pet food industry.

What should I feed my puppy?

  • Puppies have a number of specialty diets available to them that are based on their specific growth and nutritional requirements, which differ substantially from older dogs. In addition, large breed and small breed dogs require further nutritional differences. Therefore, it is imperative that you feed your puppy a diet that addresses these issues. For example, small breed (less then 50 lbs at maturity) puppy foods typically have increased calcium, phosphorous and fat contents, while large breed (more then 50 lbs at maturity) puppy food tend to have higher protein and carbohydrate contents. This results in a puppy food that is less calorically dense for large breed dogs, which facilitates proper bone development and prevents them from growing too quickly. It is generally recommended to transition dogs onto adult food when they reach 80-90% of their skeletal size. For small breeds, this occurs around 6 months, medium breeds around 8-9 months, large breeds around 12 months and giant breeds around 18-22 months.

How often and how much should I feed my puppy?

  • When deciding on an appropriate feeding regimen for your new puppy, there are a number of guidelines that should be followed. Puppies less than 8 weeks of age should be fed 4 times a day. From 8-15 weeks, you can reduce this to 3 times a day and older then 15 weeks should be fed twice a day. As well, the manufacturer suggested quantities are listed on the package and should be used as s starting point for feeding your pet. You should routinely re-evaluate (i.e. weekly) your puppy’s body condition and make any necessary changes to the quantities you are feeding them. Ideally, your puppy should have a slight fat cover over their ribs, a definite waist and a tuck in the abdomen. If you find that your puppy is too thin, try increasing their food intake by no more then 10% per week. Conversely, if you find that your puppy is overweight, reduce their food intake by no more then 10% per week.

How much should I feed my dog?

  • After approximately 15 weeks of age, your dog should be fed twice a day for the remainder of their life. Initial quantities should follow the manufacturer guidelines provided on each bag, divided into two equal portions. The goal of feeding is to achieve a lean, muscular, athletic dog and therefore you may need to adjust your dog’s intake up or down depending on their body condition. You can determine if any changes are necessary by routinely re-evaluating your dog. However, you should never exceed more then 10% change per week, regardless of whether you are increasing or decreasing their intake.

What treats should I feed my dog?

  • There are many treats available on the pet food market. While none will make your pet fit, some are considerably worse then others. For this reason, it is typically safest to stick to the larger brands. However, many of the claims these products make should be taken with a grain of salt. For example, if you wish to improve the health of your dogs teeth, your efforts would be better directed at brushing their teeth and/or feeding them an appropriate preventative specialty diet rather then feeding them teeth cleaning treats. It is unlikely that they could ever consume enough treats to benefit their teeth in any appreciable way. Generally, it is helpful to have two broad categories of treats in your home. The first should provide a large reward in a small quantity, which is useful for training (without filling them up). Secondly, owners often find it helpful to have treats on hand that provide a distraction by occupying the dog for a longer period of time.

When and how do I change my dog’s diet?

  • When changing your dog’s diet, it is imperative to gradually transition them by slowly increasing quantities of the new food. This change should take about a week and will help to avoid any gastrointestinal upset your pet may experience with an abrupt diet transition. As well, changes should only be made based on lab data (e.x. blood and/or urine tests) that indicates an alternate diet is required.

Should I give my dog the raw (or BARF) food diet?

  • A great deal of debate surrounds the practice of feeding dogs a raw food diet. While some believe it to be healthier, there are also a number of issues associated with doing so that one should be aware of before making this decision. Thorough research should be performed on the topic before endeavouring to pursue this path. In particular, the required preparation increases the time commitment associated with feeding your animal, and errors here may lead to increased risk of food contamination that can make you and your pet ill. As well, formulation errors, substitutions, or omissions from the original recipe, can lead to an unhealthy and incomplete diet for your pet, resulting in malnutrition and disease. Feeding trials providing sound scientific research on these diets is severely lacking. Finally, there is an increased cost associated with these diets. In general, we discourage pet owners from feeding these diets to puppies and kittens, due to the challenge of correctly balancing the macro, micro, and vitamin nutrients this age group requires. Furthermore, it is generally a good idea to avoid these diets in homes where immunocompromised individuals (including the young, the old, the sick, and the pregnant) reside, due to the risk of food-borne illness. It is interesting to note that cold pressing technology may be able to create pathogen-free food in the future, but is still in the early stages of development. PLEASE NOTE: At this time, we would ask that you inform the staff if your pet is currently being fed a raw food diet so that we can take appropriate precautions to protect ourselves and our family’s health, as well as any other pets in the hospital at the time. Thank you for your cooperation!

Should I measure my dog’s food and water consumption?

  • The food and water consumption of your dog should be measured or monitored on a daily basis. This will help alert you to any changes, subtle as they may be, which can reflect disease development. As well, this can also help you to ensure that your pets are acquiring an optimal amount of food and water to maintain a healthy physical and mental state.

DIET: CATS

What should I feed my cat?

  • There are currently a wealth of options when it comes to deciding what to feed your pet, including a number of therapeutic and specialty diets! This can become overwhelming for many owners. To further complicate things, the ingredient list often does little to inform you of a food’s quality, although it can be helpful when trying to avoid certain products that your pet may be allergic to. Statements such as “contains no grain,” “contains fruits and vegetables,” “highest protein percentage” and the first ingredients are not very informative or important. Furthermore, there is currently no evidence that grains are bad for your cat, provided that they are already at their optimal weight. Generally, the goal of any appropriate diet is to optimize body weight by producing a lean, muscular and athletic cat, to provide the nutrition required for your pet to feel well and to reduce the risk of common diseases that affect the long-term health of your pet (such as obesity, periodontal disease and arthritis). Surprisingly, 50% of pets will end up overweight, 85% will have periodontal issues and 20-90% will develop arthritis in their lifetime. Therefore food choices are an important decision! The Fergus Veterinary Hospital currently recommends feeding a combination of both wet and dry food to your cat. This helps to ensure that they obtain adequate water via wet food, while still getting the mechanical action of dry food on their teeth to help clean them. Additionally, one should be cautious when choosing a pet food based on palatability, since this may be at the cost of good nutrition and cats notoriously fixate on such foods, thereby causing problems when attempting to transition them to a new diet. It is best to consult a veterinarian to ensure that you are taking full advantage of the scientific advancements that have occurred in the pet food industry.

What should I feed my kitten?

  • Kittens should be fed a specialty kitten food. Like adults, it is best to feed them a combination of both wet and dry cat food. Younger kittens are weaned onto wet food and can generally begin to receive some dry food beginning around 6 weeks of age, although some variability exists. For specific recommendations on particular brands of food tailored specifically to your kitten, please consult with the Fergus Veterinary Hospital!

How often and how much should I feed my kitten?

  • When deciding on an appropriate feeding regimen for your new kitten, there are a number of guidelines that should be followed. Kittens less than 6 weeks of age should be fed 4-6 times a day. From 6-12 weeks, you can reduce this to 4 times a day, between 12-16 weeks reduce to 3 times a day, and older then 16 weeks should be fed twice a day. As well, the manufacturer suggested quantities are listed on the package and should be used as s starting point for feeding your pet. You should routinely re-evaluate (i.e. weekly) your kitten’s body condition and make any necessary changes to the quantities you are feeding them. If you find that your kitten is too thin, try increasing their food intake by no more then 10% per week. Conversely, if you find that your kitten is overweight, reduce their food intake by no more then 10% per week.

How much should I feed my cat?

  • After approximately 16 weeks of age, your cat should be fed twice a day for the remainder of their life. Initial quantities should follow the manufacturer guidelines provided on each bag, divided into two equal portions. The goal of feeding is to achieve a lean, muscular, athletic cat and therefore you may need to adjust your cat’s intake up or down depending on their body condition. You can determine if any changes are necessary by routinely re-evaluating your cat. However, you should never exceed more then 10% change per week, regardless of whether you are increasing or decreasing their intake.

What treats should I feed my cat?

  • There are many treats available on the pet food market. While none will make your pet fit, some are considerably worse then others. For this reason, it is typically safest to stick to the larger brands. However, many of the claims these products make should be taken with a grain of salt. For example, if you wish to improve the health of your cats teeth, your efforts would be better directed at brushing their teeth and/or feeding them an appropriate preventative specialty diet rather then feeding them teeth cleaning treats. It is unlikely that they could ever consume enough treats to benefit their teeth in any appreciable way.

When and how do I change my cat’s diet?

  • When changing your cat’s diet, it is imperative to gradually transition them by slowly increasing quantities of the new food. This change should take about a week and will help to avoid any gastrointestinal upset your pet may experience with an abrupt diet transition. As well, changes should only be made based on lab data (e.x. blood and/or urine tests) that indicates an alternate diet is required, or based on life-stage changes (e.x. kitten, young adult, medium adult, senior adult, and geriatric).

Should I give my cat the raw (or BARF) food diet?

  • A great deal of debate surrounds the practice of feeding cats a raw food diet. While some believe it to be healthier, there are also a number of issues associated with doing so that one should be aware of before making this decision. Thorough research should be performed on the topic before endeavouring to pursue this path. In particular, the required preparation increases the time commitment associated with feeding your animal, and errors here may lead to increased risk of food contamination that can make you and your pet ill. As well, formulation errors, substitutions, or omissions from the original recipe, can lead to an unhealthy and incomplete diet for your pet, resulting in malnutrition and disease. Feeding trials providing sound scientific research on these diets is severely lacking. Finally, there is an increased cost associated with these diets. In general, we discourage pet owners from feeding these diets to their kitten(s), due to the challenge of correctly balancing the macro, micro, and vitamin nutrients this age group requires. Furthermore, it is generally a good idea to avoid these diets in homes where immunocompromised individuals (including the young, the old, the sick, and the pregnant) reside, due to the risk of food-borne illness. It is interesting to note that cold pressing technology may be able to create pathogen-free food in the future, but is still in the early stages of development. NOTE: At this time, we would ask that you inform the staff of all pets currently being fed a raw food diet in our hospital so that appropriate precautions can be taken to protect ourselves and our family’s health, as well as any other pets in the hospital at the time. Thank you for your cooperation!

Should I measure my cat’s food and water consumption?

  • The food and water consumption of your cat should be measured or monitored on a daily basis. This will help alert you to any changes, subtle as they may be, which can reflect disease development. As well, this can also help you to ensure that your pets are acquiring an optimal amount of food and water to maintain a healthy physical and mental state.


CHOOSING A DIET:

Why did the veterinarian recommend a specific food? Recommendations based on purpose!

Diet goals for pets of “normal health”

Picking a pet food company: Questions to ask when selecting a pet food manufacturer

Pet Food Advice: Questions to ask when evaluating advice about pet foods

What are the benefits of feeding my pet the food carried by the Fergus Veterinary Hospital?

“…but the ingredient list on the store brand pet food is almost identical to the foods carried at the clinic!”


Why did the veterinarian recommend a specific food? Recommendations based on purpose!

  • Each pet has individual needs when it comes to their nutritional requirements. As such, the veterinarian makes recommendations based on this and has suggested a food that will help to optimize your pet’s weight, overall health, and general well-being. If there was only one breed, age, and health status for dogs or cats, there would only need to be one set of food characteristics. Since there are many breeds, ages, and health status variability, there will be a need for different types of foods. Diets formulated to aid in the treatment of specific diseases require a case by case discussion with the health team and are beyond the scope of this brief discussion.

Diet goals for pets of “normal health”

  • Diet category 1: The purpose of this category is to nourish the body by providing nutrients above the minimum and below the maximum established safe amounts and to enhance/promote the health of the three systems most affected/influenced by nutrition (oral health, joint health and weight management). Typically these diets are found in veterinary hospitals, or the better speciality pet food stores. Obviously, these are the types of diets the Fergus Veterinary Hospital provides.

  • Diet category 2: The purpose of this category is to nourish the body by providing nutrients above the minimum and below the maximum established safe amounts. These diets are typically targeted to specific age, weight, etc. classes. These are available at pet food and speciality retailers. These typically are the premium brands, backed by the major companies. (See picking a pet food company below)

  • Diet category 3: The purpose of this category is to provide sufficient calories and other nutrients. These are usually designed to be sold on a price basis (aka as low as possible). These diets are never of high enough quality to be recommended or sold at the Fergus Veterinary Hospital. There can be a wide variability in quality in this group, with some being worse than others.

Picking a pet food company: Questions to ask when selecting a pet food manufacturer

    1. Are their products tested by feeding trails?

    2. Are the energy amounts based on feeding trail or (error prone) mathematical formulae?

    3. Is the recipe (formulation) based on research or a copy of another product on the market?

    4. How many animal nutritionist do they have on staff? Are any board certified (specialists)?

    5. How many veterinarians do they have on staff?

    6. Do they do research and development ?

    7. Can you get a technical bulletin on the product listing max and min of all important nutrients as well as ingredients, the purpose of the diet , whom it should be fed to and whom it SHOULD not be fed to?

    8. If there is a problem, whom do you contact?

    9. Do they make their own food, or sub contract it out to be made? Who does the quality control then?

    10. If not tested by feeding trails, does the company at least formulate to AAFCO standards?

    11. Are the products tested microbiologically to be safe?

Pet Food Advice: Questions to ask when evaluating advice about pet foods.

    1. Only your veterinary team will see the lab data or actually see inside your pet. They are more familiar with your pet than anyone else. Furthermore feeding recommendations are not ideologically based, but directed by research, experience and your pet.

    2. Nutrition is about balances, trade offs, interactions between ingredients and so on. It is very, very complicated. We spend time every day staying on top of the information. Our texts are several hundred pages. If information is not coming from an animal nutritionist, veterinarian or related specialist, treat it with caution. As well, treat with caution any recommendation that goes against the veterinarian and scientific research.

    3. The Internet: There are many statements about pet foods on the web. You can find a web-page to support any opinion. Unfortunately good information can get drowned out by the bad or just plain nutty. If someone claims to have the solution to “problem xyz,” ask for the evidence to support it! Furthermore, try checking the evidence against research search engines like google scholar. Is there any independent opinions to back up the statement?

What are the benefits of feeding my pet the food carried by the Fergus Veterinary Hospital?

  • What you are getting is a known quantity! The diets carried at the Fergus Veterinary Hospital have undergone rigorous feeding trials to ensure their quality and appropriateness for your pet! As well, they have fixed formulas, which guarantees consistency between batches. This is particularly important for hypoallergenic diets, and for pets with sensitive stomachs. As well, in many cases the ingredients, formulation and characteristics of the diet recommended form a prevention or therapeutic foundation for a particular disease or group of diseases we are trying to manage for the patient.

“…but the ingredient list on the store brand pet food is almost identical to the foods carried at the clinic!”

  • Unfortunately, the guaranteed analysis does not necessarily equate with a guarantee of nutritional quality! This can be very misleading for many owners. Take the following chart, for example:

    Guaranteed Analysis
    Crude Protein Min 6.0%
    Crude Fat Min 4.0%
    Crude Fibre Min 6.3%
    Moisture Max 78.0%
    Ash Max 2.7%

    This data represents a label with an appropriate guaranteed analysis for canned dog food that would seemingly be a good choice for your pet! However, the actual ingredients in this diet include 4 pairs of old leather work shoes, 1 gallon of used oil, 1 pail of crushed coal and 68 pounds of water! While this example is extreme, it nicely illustrates the complexity of choosing a pet food!

    The order of ingredient lists can also be misleading, since they are recorded by decreasing weight PRIOR to processing. This means that chicken, which is 70% water, may not really be the largest component of the food once it has been prepared. Similarly, products such as wheat may be listed as different types (e.x. whole wheat, rye wheat, wheat flour, etc), but are all still essentially the same product. If you add all these wheat products up, they may actually constitute the largest portion of the food! It is also important to remember that the quality of the ingredients is far more important then quantity! Luckily, the Fergus Veterinary Hospital staff is here to help you avoid these confusions.



OBESITY PREVENTION:

Obesity prevention is a very important component of animal health-care. Unfortunately, owners often fail to realize this! Much like humans, our pets can suffer ill health as a secondary complication of obesity, such as diabetes, heart disease, skin problems, high blood pressure and arthritis! Fortunately, diet and exercise are often effective tools in achieving and maintaining an optimal body weight. This state is judged by the appearance of your pet and the corresponding body condition score (BCS). The BCS scale ranges from 1-5, with 3 being optimal, anything above overweight and anything below underweight! At the Fergus Veterinary Hospital, we provide weighing of your pet as a free service to our clients! If you would like to develop a weight management plan for you pet, please contact the Fergus Veterinary Hospital for an assessment of body condition score, overall health and to obtain an exercise and diet plan. With these few easy steps, you can help your pet live a longer and healthier life!

“It’s ok, my pet’s just a little overweight!”

What causes weight gain?

How do I know my pet is overweight?

What SHOULD my pet look like?

Say no to unhealthy snacks!

What kind of exercise can I do with my dog?

What kind of exercise can I do with my cat?

“So how much SHOULD I feed my pet?”

“I reduced how much my pet eats, and they still won’t lose weight!”


“It’s ok, my pet’s just a little overweight!”

  • Unfortunately, even a little weight could be a big problem. For example, the average dog weight for a great dane is 130 pounds. If s dog like this gained 10 pounds, that would be equivalent to a woman gaining 10 pounds! Similarly, a 1 pounds weight gain on a chihuahua is equivalent to the same woman gaining 31 pounds! As well, a 4 pound gain in a persian with an average weight of 11 pounds is equivalent to a 45 pound weight increase in this average sized woman! Once again, this can lead to serious health consequences and impact the quality of your pet’s life!

What causes weight gain?

  • A number of factors can contribute to your pet’s weight gain. This includes:

    1. Age: older pets are less active and require fewer calories

    2. Breed: dogs such as golden retrievers, cocker spaniels and king charles spaniels, as well as mixed breed cats are more susceptible to weight gain

    3. Neuter/spay: studies indicate that neutering or spaying your pet decreases their metabolism, and therefore their caloric requirements

    4. Medical problems: weight gain may be associate with a medical issue, and therefore warrants veterinary attention to resolve any underlying issues, or simply to develop a plan of action

How do I know my pet is overweight?

  • Aside from noticing a weight gain, your pet may have difficulty walking, slow movements, shortness of breath, a bad temper and an increase in time spent sleeping. As well, you will notice their ribs are difficult to feel when running your hands along their body, they may lose the appearance of an obvious waist and you may find that their collar needs to be loosened!

What SHOULD my pet look like?

  • Ideally, your dog or cat would have a well-proportioned waist, a tail base with some contour and a slight fat cover, an abdominal tuck and ribs that are easily felt with a slight fat cover. This would indicate a body condition score of 3 (optimal weight)!

Say no to unhealthy snacks!

  • Everyone likes to give their pets treats from time to time. However, it is important to choose these wisely! While no treat is “healthy,” some are considerably worse then others. For example, 1oz of cheddar cheese for a 20 pound dog is equivalent to a human consuming 2 1/2 hamburgers, or 1 1/2 chocolate bars! For a 10 pound cat, this is equivalent to a human eating 3 1/2 hamburgers, or 4 chocolate bars! Therefore, if you would like some recommendations about more appropriate treats, please contact the Fergus Veterinary Hospital! You may even want to consider more healthy rewards, such as praise, attention, toys, massages, fun games, and walks with you!

What kind of exercise can I do with my dog?

  • Anything your dog loves to do! This may mean going for a walk, or running along side you, your bike, or your rollerblades (note: some of these may require some training before your dog is safe to rollerblade or bike with)! As well, you may want to create a natural obstacle course using trees, benches, ditches, etc. for your dog to crawl under, run around, and jump over. If your dog enjoys fetch, take them to the park with their favourite toy (note: sticks may splinter and cause injury to your pet).

What kind of exercise can I do with my cat?

  • Cats often love to play with many commercial toys, such as fishing poles, or feather toys. Similarly, you can easily make your own toys by creating a tin foil or paper ball! As well, cats may enjoy playing in boxes and paper bags. When it comes time to feed them, try to change locations frequently to keep your cat on the hunt! This can be achieved by using obstacles or feeding from tall furniture.

“So how much SHOULD I feed my pet?”

  • This question has a very individual answer for every pet and depends on a number of factors including species, breed, age, activity level and metabolism! Therefore, it is important to consult the veterinarian for an answer tailored specifically to your pet! However, it is often helpful to begin with a quantity based on the guidelines printed on your pet food package (assuming you have already chosen an appropriate diet). From here, you can adjust the amount based on your pet’s weight fluctuations. To help with this, the Fergus Veterinary Hospital provides free pet weighing to all clients!
    As well, avoid “free feeding,” which gives your pet access to their food all day long and removes your ability to control their intake. Instead, try feeding them at designated times throughout the day, with a set quantity, and separate multiple pets during this time.

“I reduced how much my pet eats, and they still won’t lose weight!”

  • Reducing the quantity of your pet’s food alone may not be enough to achieve your weight loss goals. Incorporating an exercise plan and switching to a lower calorie food can greatly assist you in this. For information on transitioning your pet’s food, please refer to the “Diet Guidelines” above. As well, the veterinarian can make recommendations on which diet your pet should be fed to optimize their health!