Cat & Dog  Food

When it comes to cat and dog food, choice and contradictory information can be confusing. VetEnt vets know you want the best for your pet, so we’re happy to help you choose the right cat and dog food.


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Dog & cat food – an introduction

There are many wild ideas out there about the evils and secrets of the food industry, or the benefits of the latest diet (all-meat, vegetarian, seaweed, seafood, raw diets etc. etc.). This is by no means limited to humans, but also applies to cat and dog food, and it can be very difficult to know what’s true and what’s not. So let’s shed some light on the matter of cat and dog food.

For the most part, as experienced vets we haven’t seen any obvious health problems in pets being fed higher-quality commercial cat and dog foods. On the other hand, all vets have seen health problems associated with various lower-level commercial or home-made diets. But if we all work together, puppies with bone-growth abnormalities from too much calcium and cats with severe dental disease from jellymeat diets will become a thing of the past.

Dog & cat food – dietary essentials 

Our vets use the following cat/dog food rule: it’s best to feed small-volume portion sizes which are high in animal protein (at least 30%) and animal fats (at least 20%). Good cat or dog food supplies your animal with energy, which is obviously supplied by fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Vitamins, minerals and water in cat and dog food don’t supply any energy, but they are vital, with water being the most important of all. Essential amino acids are found in proteins, and essential fatty acids in fats and oils. Although carbohydrates and fibre in cat and dog food are beneficial to your pet, they are not essential.

Dog and cat food needs to meet different requirements!

From a nutritional point of view, cats and dogs are not just small humans! We, for example, need Vitamin C in our diet (as do guinea pigs) but cats and dogs do not because they can manufacture sufficient Vitamin C in their liver. What’s more, cats are not small dogs! Dogs, like us, are omnivores and their digestive system is designed to deal with a mixture of dog food types both of animal and plant origin. This means dog food can be vegetarian, provided it meets the dog’s basic nutritional requirements.

Cats, on the other hand, are obligate carnivores. Unlike dog food, their diet must contain nutrients derived from meat. Cats cannot be fed a vegetarian diet without serious risks to their health. They require several specific nutrients such as taurine, arachidonic acid and higher levels of protein. This means you can never feed a cat dog food as an exclusive diet.

Dog and cat food play a role in clinical nutrition!

The use of specific diets to successfully help manage disease has taken off in the last few years, and we now have a lot more options available to us for treatment.

- In disease, energy requirements may go up a lot (i.e. heart failure, cancer, hyperthyroidism, major trauma) and higher energy dog and cat foods should be given.

- Altering the diet can be used to treat certain diseases, for example the ability to dissolve certain crystals and stones in the urinary bladder by altering the acidity of the urine. Significant studies have shown that the use of a specific kidney-formulated diet is one of the most important factors in prolonging life in cats with chronic kidney disease.

- Life stage diets (puppy/kitten, adult and senior/geriatric) and breed-specific cat and dog food have been formulated specifically to provide the right nutrients for the right age and for certain breeds that are prone to specific diseases or conditions (i.e. German Shepherds and skin). Check the labels to see if it is suitable as kitten or puppy food.

- Low-allergen cat/dog foods and foods formulated with ‘novel’ proteins have been designed to reduce allergies and are beneficial to sensitive animals.

- Foods and biscuits have been formulated to reduce the formation of tartar on the teeth.

Dog & cat food – how to choose?

For a start, it is almost impossible to make home-made cat/dog food that would meet all nutritional requirements on a daily basis and would be digestible and acceptable to an animal. It is safer to feed a manufactured pet food from a reputable company. At VetEnt we only stock diets that have met AAFCO standards (American Food Industry Standards) or equivalent and that have been tried and tested and are backed by scientific evidence. 

Our pet vets can advise you on the most appropriate cat/dog food for your pet, particularly if it becomes ill (find your local vet clinic here)

Finally, weigh your pet regularly because that can give you a simple and effective indicator of many food-related problems. And always remember to stick to feeding guidelines; even the best diets will lead to obesity if overfed.

Click here to download a printable version of the Pet Food Factsheet, or visit the Pet Food Factsheet page for more information.

You may also be interested in Dog and Cat vaccinations.

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