Food For Thought - Medicine In A Bowl

Dog Food

In the world today there are many things we have no control over. As pet owners though, one thing is for sure: We all would like the ability to influence the growth, development, health, longevity, and quality of life for our pets. However, this ultimate goal can be affected by our own time, resources, and of course, our pets.

Some good news though… scientific advances have proven that we and our pets “are what we eat”. This can be an avenue to help us develop and protect health for ourselves as well as our pets.

Key nutritional factors affect all life stages; therefore, investing in optimal nutrition can help protect your pet against health issues later in life.

In the developmental stages of life, young pets need high quality nutrients and diets that are fine-tuned according to the specific type of breed. Too much or too little of certain nutrients can create health problems later in life. Kitten On LedgeFor example: excess calcium and calories can lead to structural stress in large breed dogs which inevitably can cause muscle and skeletal problems. Cats on the other hand, need a specific amino acid (taurine) as well as a specific fat (arachidonic acid) supplemented in their diets; this is because cats are unable to produce these essential nutrients by themselves. Ingredients are important, but so is the amount of food your pet receives. The amounts fed can set the stage for future weight issues.

Dog Food

For healthy adult animals, balanced nutrition is key to maintaining health. Before you know it, your pet will have become a senior citizen! An animals’ size generally correlates with their age, meaning that a smaller patient would age slower than a larger patient. It’s at this time we start to worry about underlying diseases.

Symptoms of impending health issues can include: obesity, increased thirst, excessive urination, skin irritation, less activity, or difficulty getting around the house. You may think that your pet is “just getting old,” but many of these signs can be related to serious health conditions. Thankfully, all of these symptoms can be helped and potentially treated with the right combination of dietary nutrients.

Instead of waiting for conditions to worsen, consider a “new” form of therapy which is constantly being developed and researched: Therapeutic Diets. Specific diets can play an important part in disease prevention and management. By providing some nutrients and limiting others, a pet’s life can be improved and even increased in length. The key to nutritional therapy is your pet’s food BOWL.

Working with your veterinarian to get the proper assessment and diagnosis allows us to select foods that aid in the management of certain conditions. Cute PuppySome of the more common conditions that can benefit from a therapeutic diet include: obesity, diabetes, renal failure, arthritis, dental disease, gastrointestinal issues, and allergies. Based on the type of disease, nutrients (such as fat, carbohydrates, proteins, sodium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, vitamins, antioxidants and fatty acids) may be added or reduced to improve the health of your pet. Even modifications to the form of the food can help certain diseases, such as canned food for renal failure, or large tough kibbles for the dental disease.

Once the right diet is found, we have the privilege and responsibility of being able to directly affect our pet’s health and quality (and quantity) of life. This duty is not only a time and money saver – but can also lessen the amount of medications and/or veterinary treatments your pet may need. It is certainly easier to fill the food bowl than give medications to an unwilling companion!

Therapeutic nutrition – the best nutrient combination in a bowl – can play a role in enhancing the quality and quantity of life for our pets. If only we could figure out a system to make the same changes in our own lives to reap these wonderful benefits.

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