Nutrition in the New Year

The New Year is a time for fresh starts. We humans are the first to create health and nutrition plans for ourselves, but what about our pets? Our animals can join in on the fresh new start too. If you’re interested in getting your pet back on the right track, here’s a quick quiz that will help you get started.

1.  Do you know your pet’s body condition score?                                    
a.  Yes                                    
b.  No                                    
c.  What’s a body condition score?

If you answered b or c, it’s time to visit your veterinarian to have an honest discussion about whether your pet is at a healthy weight. A body condition score (BCS) is an estimate of how much fat you can see or feel along your pet’s sides, back and abdomen. Our New Year’s resolution should be to help keep our cats and dogs at a healthy score throughout their lives. Your veterinarian can show you how to determine the current BCS and offer advice and treatment if your pet is too thin or too heavy.
                  
2.  What kind of treats and snacks do you give your pet?                                    
a.  I give bits and pieces of whatever I am eating at the time.                                    
b.  I buy commercial treats such as biscuits, chews, morsels or rawhide.
c.  I only use treats recommended by my veterinarian or made by the same company as my pet food.

Americans are well known for giving snacks and extra food to our pets. In most other parts of the world people don’t often give treats, except for specific purposes such as training. While cats and dogs don’t need treats, they can be an occasional supplement to a complete and balanced, high-quality pet food diet. Resolve to check with your veterinarian to make sure treats are OK, and limit the total amount to 10% or less of your animal companion’s diet.
                  
3.  What do you look for when selecting brands and types of pet food?    
             
a.  I compare prices or use coupons and look for a good value.                  
b.  I research pet foods on the Internet and look for reviews and ratings.                  
c.  I ask my veterinarian for advice and recommendations.                  
d.  I get information from breeders, pet stores, advertisements, etc.

Just like we trust doctors for their human health expertise, we should trust vets for their animal health expertise. Stick with the experts that have had a formal education and veterinary clinical experience with cats and dogs. Advice from the internet can be convincing, but it’s often misinformed and unproven. Resolve this year to work closely with your vet to better understand pet nutrition and find a pet food with a complete and balanced nutritional profile.

Whenever you would like information about nutrition in general or have questions about your own pet, start by calling your veterinary clinic and then calling or emailing the company that manufactures and supports the diet you are feeding. Then if you still have questions, or want to do more research, resources like the WSAVA nutrition toolkit can be incredibly helpful. Lastly, you can always seek out a nutritional consultation from a specialist. There are veterinarians who have had advanced training and received board certification in animal nutrition and would be happy to help. You can find more information at the American College of Veterinary Nutrition.

From your friends at Royal Canin—have a happy and healthy New Year!

Our resolution is to make the world a better place for pets. Click here to learn more about how we do that with our specialized pet food formulas.