Getting Weight Management and Diet Right for Your Pet
We all know how important diet is; ‘You are what you eat,’ and the same applies to our furry friends. At our West London clinics, we spend a lot of time talking to pet owners about diet as we know what a difference it makes to pets general health and wellbeing.
Choosing pet food for dogs
Dogs are omnivorous like us. Dogs need a balance of protein fat and carbohydrate similar to humans. All good quality dog food has this balance and therefore should provide exactly what is needed.
Bear in mind, there is a big difference in quality most of the time; you get what you pay for. It is possible to feed a dog a balanced diet based on our diet but please do your research first to make sure your dog is not missing out on essential minerals and vitamins. I think it's best to give your dog some commercially made dog food in combination with scraps if that's what you wish to do.
Cat food gives felines what they need
Cats are obligate carnivores and cannot make taurine an amino acid essential for life. All cat food has added taurine so it’s important our feline friends are fed cat food and not just meat.
Until recently it was not possible to give cats a vegan diet but taurine can now be made synthetically and is added to vegan cat food. Making a homemade diet for cats is extremely hard and I would always recommend that cats are given cat food. You can give them the odd treat if you want to.
There has been recent growth in the feeding of raw food to cats and dogs. If you want to feed this, please bear in mind that raw chicken potentially contains salmonella bacteria. Cats and dogs are relatively resistant to this but we are not. I see many patients who look very well on this diet, but it is not something I would want to do in my household with children around. The jury is still out as to the long-term effects of raw feeding and even though there is plenty of evidence to suggest it is very healthy, I remain to be convinced.
Preventing and tackling pet obesity
Obesity is a result of eating too much and a lack of exercise. When you give your 10kg dog a digestive biscuit it's the same as giving the average adult 7 digestive biscuits! Feeding guides on the packets of cat and dog foods are designed for really active pets. If your cat lives indoors or just wanders into the garden and sits under a bush all day then she doesn't need as much as an active cat.
If your dog only gets a big two or three hour walk at the weekend and during the week has three or four short walks around the block each day they will not need as much as an active dog that runs every day.
We often confuse our pets asking for attention with hunger and feed them when a cuddle or a quick walk would have done them (and us) a lot more good.
If you’re worried about your pets' weight or just want advice on what to feed them speak to your veterinary nurse. Nearly all vet clinics run free weight watchers clubs and are happy to give free advice. At our practice, our nurses run weight clinics every day.
Enjoy your time with your pets
Emma the Vet
Notting Hill & Barons Court Vet
About Dr Emma Nicholas Head Vet MA (Cantab) VetMB MRCVS
In 1994 Emma graduated from the University of Cambridge and is a member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. Since early 2000s Notting Hill & Barons Court Vet have earned a special place within the West London community offering friendly veterinary services to the highest standards whilst keeping treatment affordable for local pet owners. The surgeries at are the cutting edge of veterinary practice and have built up strong relationships with specialists in all fields of veterinary medicine. The team pride themselves on being a source of support to all their clients and patients.