By 2017, more than half of Australian households own either a cat or dog, meaning more than $2 billion is spent annually of feeding our furry loved ones. Nutrition plays a huge role in the lives of pets –  influencing their coat and skin, to their teeth, and even their longevity. However, with so many pet food products out there, how do we distinguish between what is the best possible option for our loved one.

Firstly, it is suggested to look for products advertised as “complete and balanced”, which is food that contains all nutrients required by dogs and cats (in appropriate quantities and proportions!). To ensure specific “complete and balanced” foods are suitable, compare it with the Australian Standard: Manufacturing and Marketing Pet Foods AS 5812:2011 to see if it complies. A study recently conducted by Sydney University found that out of 20 supermarket pet food products, eight of these did not meet Australian nutritional standards. While the study refused to release the names of these eight companies – it creates a feeling of doubt when buying supermarket pet food, and whether or not these foods are providing adequate proteins, fats, vitamins and nutrients.

It is highly recommended buying vet approved food / food that is purchased from the vet for a number of reasons – mainly because it can be individually chosen to fit a pet’s needs and will meet Australian standards. At Direct Vets, we proudly use Royal Canin and Hills Pet foods and medical diets for the health and wellbeing of your pet. Our nursing staff are trained and experienced in assessing your pet’s nutritional needs having undertaken courses in Pet Nutrition. They are also able to offer free “weight assessment” programs, to help you trim your pet down after that winter weight gain.

But, if you are stuck still wondering what is the best for your pet, here are a few easy to remember tips:

  • Dry food is low mess and well formulated, however ensure the animal (especially cats) are drinking plenty of water to avoid the risk of urinary tract disease
  • Tinned food is readily available, just ensure it is marked as complete and balanced to comply with Australian Standards.
  • A combination of dry and fresh meats is recommended to provide diversity and ensure optimal nutrition
  • Bones are a great addition to a pet’s diet, and can aid in prevention of gum disease, bones from the truck such as ribs and briskets are better than leg bones, which are harder and may break teeth. Ensure the bones are appropriate for the size of your pet, too small and they may swallow them whole.
  • Cats need high levels of protein and fat from meat than dogs, and are less able to process carbohydrates due to the shorter length of their large intestine.
  • Cats cannot make Thiamine so it needs to be added to their diet. Human use fish products are not suitable as they contain an enzyme that destroys Thiamine
  • Kittens and puppies have extra nutrient needs and special food is recommended.
  • There is no need to feed your pet “grain free” unless it specifically has an intolerance. If they were eating whole carcasses in the wild, they would be eating the prey gut content, including you guessed it – grains! Fibre is also as important in your pets diet as it is in yours, to prevent constipation,  bowel cancers and anal gland issues.

Pet nutrition is a major aspect of veterinary care. Over the last ten years’ pet nutrition has come along in leaps and bounds, especially regarding the quality of pet food and nutritional information. Advances in nutritional care have been developed to aid in the treatment of many conditions from heart disease to joint care, so it is of the utmost importance that you are choosing the correct foods for your beloved pet. At Direct Vets, we are always here to help!

And if your pet is a little on the “plumptuous” side, we offer a free weight loss program.