Dr.’s Office for Pets | Consider age, activity to determine your pet’s diet | SierraSun.com

Dr.’s Office for Pets | Consider age, activity to determine your pet’s diet

Gina Kang, DVM, MS
Special to the Sun

According to the American Animal Hospital Association, up to 59 percent of our pets may be overweight.

In dogs, obesity may exacerbate joint problems, and in cats, obesity may predispose them to diseases such as diabetes mellitus.

Following the guidelines on your pet food bag is a good start for calculating your pet's food needs. However, each individual pet can have different needs based on his or her activity level and metabolism.

If you run a few miles a day with your dog, you may need to feed him or her more than the recommended daily amount. Alternatively, if your pet does not do much exercise, he or she may need less than the recommended amount as listed on the bag. If you do not know what your pet's ideal weight should be, you can consult your veterinarian regarding ideal body weight.

Should my pet free feed?

In general, free feeding is not recommended and can lead to weight gain. Measuring meals also makes it easier to monitor how much your pet is eating daily. Decreased appetite can indicate more serious disease, and knowing how much your pet normally eats can help identify a decreased appetite.

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What's the best diet for my pet?

Choosing the correct diet for your pet can be overwhelming considering how many choices for pet food are available. If your pet is eating normally, maintaining weight and passing normal stools with his or her current diet, any diet change would not be recommended. Try to keep your pet on the same diet if he or she is doing well on it.

However, dogs and cats can have diseases that require specialty diets such as food allergies and inflammatory bowel disease. The correct diet can also depend on the age of your pet. Puppy diets tend to have a higher calorie content, while senior diets tend to have fewer calories with a higher fiber content.

Are table scraps ok?

Feeding table scraps is not recommended, especially since those calories can add up and cause weight gain. In addition, some table scraps, which are high in fat, can cause GI upset as well as diseases such as inflammation of the pancreas.

Where does my pet's food come from?

Pet food recalls do occur, and there have been evidence of problems with jerky treats imported from China as well as other cat and dog foods The latest information on pet food recalls can be found at the FDA website http://www.fda.gov/animalVeterinary/safetyhealth/recallswithdrawals/default.htm.

Please call your veterinarian if you have any other questions regarding pet food contamination.

Gina Kang, DVM, MS, lives in Truckee and works at the Doctor's Office for Pets on 10939A Industrial Way, No. 101, Truckee. She sees all pets including cats, dogs, reptiles, birds and small mammals. Visit http://www.doctorsofficeforpets.com or call 530-587-5144.