1) What has he/she been eating? How much and how often is he/she fed?
2) How old is the pet?
3) Does the pet have any allergies or skin issues?
4) Are there any medical conditions that you should know (past or present)?
Puppies – What to Feed
Feeding your pet healthy food is essential if he/she is to grow into a healthy adult. A puppy diet will provide the extra nutrients and fat needed. Additionally, other ingredients are critical such as DHA for brain development, omegas for a shiny coat and enough (but not too much) calories for energy. For small and medium breeds, you should feed puppy food for at least the first nine months. For large to giant breeds or breeds that tend to have hip and joint issues, you can feed a breed-specific puppy food for up to 18 months. (Timing is determined on when they stop growing).
Rescue Pets – What to Feed
Often newly adopted pets are stressed and may have not been on a proper diet prior to their arrival in your household. Select a diet based on needs, including overweight, dry coat, poor digestion….
POOR COAT – A better food will improve the pet’s coat. Start with a food that provides additional omegas or ingredients for the coat (such as coconut oil, fish protein, fish oil, canola oil, flax). If the pet’s ears and between the paw pads are irritated, the pet probably has allergies. Look to feed a diet formulated with limited ingredients and a protein source that they haven’t had before such as duck, rabbit or lamb.
POOR DIGESTION / LOOSE STOOL – If your pet has loose stools or diarrhea, it may be due to stress, a poor diet, too fast a transition to a new diet or feeding too much. If you are feeding a good diet, you may be feeding too much during a meal. Either cut back or feed more often. A good diet starts with high-quality ingredients as opposed to lower quality or highly processed ingredients such as glutens, starchy grains and by-products. A pet cannot be healthy without a healthy intestinal tract. To improve intestinal health, add the following to the diet:
- Pre and/or probiotics: a supplement specifically designed for pets will work better than plain yogurt
- Enzymes: Try a supplement, raw food or bones; Pumpkin is also a good option that’s full of fiber and minerals.
Transitioning to a New Diet
OVERWEIGHT – Overweight pets are susceptible to many health issues (joint pain, heart stress). Feeding a low-fat diet often will not result in reduced weight. Your pet needs high-quality protein for optimal health. Here are some ways to lose those extra pounds:
- Replace 1/3 of the diet with canned pumpkin. Feed a good senior or weight management diet. (The extra glucosamine in a senior diet helps the joints.) Cut back the current diet and slowly increase the pet’s exercise.
SENIOR PETS – If you adopted a pet over seven years old, I thank you. Increasingly, old pets find themselves in shelters or rescue groups because their owners cannot take care of them. Senior pets are some of the most loving animals and with a little focus on nutrition and supplements, there is no reason why senior pets can’t live a long and happy life. As our pets age, their bodies do not process foods as efficiently, so look to feed a less-processed diet, make sure to manage their weight and increase water /moisture in their diet.
As parents of a new furkid, you are responsible for what your pet eats. Not all pets are the same and not all pets like the same things. With some research and a little trial and error, you can make a difference in what your pet eats and the life your pet enjoys.