“One of the big mistakes that I see people make often is that they forget that cats and dogs are different! Cats are not small dogs!” says Dr Innis Cloete owner of Kingsway Vet Centre.
Cats are what we call obligate-carnivores. Which means they must eat meat. The important nutrition they need can only be found in meat. So it’s really important cats regularly get fed meat or fish.
Dogs are opportunist-carnivores, they eat meat but they can also eat other things. They’re a lot more tolerant to grains, they can digest a lot of the proteins from these foods.
The basics of pet nutrition are exactly the same as humans. They need protein, carbs, fats, vitamins and minerals. But it’s when we look at different breeds that things get a bit more complicated.
“Your 4-month-old Labrador puppy needs a completely different diet to someone else’s 4-month-old Jack Russell”!
Different breeds grow at different rates.
So it’s important to feed them the right meals when they’re young to avoid health problems later in life caused by nutritional deficits. So when you choose a food, it’s important that you choose the right food for the right stage of your puppy or kittens life. Most food packages have these instructions clearly labelled.
“I always say to people, if you want to invest in good food for your pet, that first year is extremely important.”
If you’ve got a keen eye, you’ll probably notice that puppy or kitten food is more expensive than adult pet food and there’s a good reason for it. Most of the research into nutrition for our pets go into kitten or puppy foods. The second most researched food is senior food. Pets are considered “seniors” once they reach about 7 or 8 years of age. These pensioners again need a totally different diet.
Your pet is probably not going to give you an indication that they’re ready for a new type of food.
“If you’ve bought good quality food for the right age and they’re not eating it, that’s a problem with you and not the dog!” Dr Innis laughed. “Especially those little chihuahuas that are picky eaters. I see this so often, owners come to me and say ‘this week they only ate chicken, last week they only ate fish’ and so one, but this doesn’t mean they’re not nutritionally satisfied!”
Dr Innis Cloete from Kingsway Veterinary Centre joins Jeziel in the studio each week to chat all things pets. He’s an expert on any creature, whether it swims, flies, slithers or flaps. Have a listen to this week’s segment on pet food below.