Nutrition & Diet - Petaluma Veterinary Hospital

What is Nutritional Counseling?

Nutritional counseling is a discussion with one of our experienced veterinarians who understands the importance of providing the correct nutrition for your pet based on their individual circumstances. Their education and experience help them to assess the various unique elements of your pet and make a recommendation for the right diet to fulfill their nutritional needs.

Your veterinarian will also provide valuable information and guidance about things like portion sizes, types of food (for example a soft diet) and any supplements that they feel would benefit your pet’s overall health. You will also be advised on how to switch your pet to their new diet. This is important as new foods should be phased in gradually to avoid stomach upsets.

What Issues Can Nutritional Counseling Help With?

Pet nutritional counseling has been found to be valuable in helping to alleviate and treat the symptoms of a variety of health problems that can affect our animals. These include but are not limited to the following conditions:

  • Arthritis

  • Diabetes Mellitus

  • Inflammatory bowel disorders

  • Thyroid disorders

  • Kidney problems

  • Liver problems

  • Food intolerances

  • Lower urinary tract disease

  • Some forms of cancer

  • Weight issues/obesity which is a leading cause of many of the above health problems and more besides

Adapt Your Pet’s Diet to Meet Specific Needs

As your pet grows older, their nutritional requirements change, and it is important to adapt their diet to reflect this and to cater to any medical issues they may have. Obesity and other dietary-related health issues can become more common as your pet gets older, so choosing the right diet can have a great impact on your pet’s overall health.

At Petaluma Veterinary Hospital we carry high-quality therapeutic prescription pet food for cats and dogs. Some of the brands include Royal Canin and Hill Science Diet. Prescription pet foods are specially formulated for optimal balance and nutritional support for your pet.

Please discuss various dietary plans and products with one of our veterinarians to help you provide your pet with a good nutrition balance. Your vet may also advise you to give your pet natural supplements like probiotics or glucosamine to further improve their health and to help reduce the symptoms of some health conditions that are more common in older animals, like arthritis.

Pet Obesity and How to Prevent It

Just like humans, pets who are overweight are at increased risk of a number of health problems including but not limited to:

  • Cranial cruciate ligament injury

  • Decreased life expectancy by up to 2.5 years

  • Heart and respiratory disease

  • High blood pressure

  • Insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes

  • Kidney disease

  • Osteoarthritis

  • Varying forms of cancer

How can I tell if my pet is overweight?

There are several methods that you can use to determine if your pet may be overweight or obese. These are simple physical checks that you can do in your own home. Dogs and cats should be hourglass-shaped with a clear taper at their waist. Overweight animals do not have this taper and appear more oval or egg-shaped.

In a pet of a healthy weight, you should be able to feel, but not see, their ribs. Visible ribs are indicative of an underweight animal. If you place your hands on either side of your pet’s chest and still cannot see their ribs then they are very likely to be overweight. Animals do not usually reach major levels of obesity until they are at least 7 years old, but when they do they have noticeably large amounts of hip and neck fat, and a very large and round abdomen.

Just like their human friends, the key to combating obesity in pets is to decrease the number of calories being eaten and increase the amount of exercise taken. Many guidelines suggest that food is automatically reduced by 25%, however, we recommend that you speak to your veterinarian who will consider your pet’s breed, age and general health before recommending drastic changes to their diet or lifestyle.

Weight Loss Tips

  • Avoid giving your pets snacks from the dinner table – these nibbles quickly mount up to a lot of extra calories.

  • Limit treats to several times a week. Calories given as treats must be deducted from the total daily recommended calories.

  • Follow feeding instructions and ensure that your pet is eating the right amount of food for their current stage of life.

  • Consider how many times per day you feed your pet. Sometimes splitting larger portions into smaller, more regular meals will help keep your pet feeling full and satisfied.

  • When it comes to exercise with your pet get into a routine. Whether it’s going for walks or playing with them, try and do it at the same time every day. This way your pet knows what to expect and it quickly becomes a habit for both of you!

When you become a pet parent, you become responsible for every aspect of your pet’s care to ensure that they live a long, active and happy life. There are lots of ways in which you can help them to achieve this, but one of the most obvious and successful is by ensuring that they consume the right diet.

Like us, animals must be given the correct blend of nutrients to reach optimal health. However also like us, their nutritional requirements can vary depending on various factors, including breed, age, and current health. Their nutritional requirements will also change over time. For this reason, you must regularly review what your pets are eating and if it is the best diet for them. An easy way to do this is to schedule nutritional counseling discussions with one of our veterinarians at Petaluma Veterinary Hospital.