It's crucial to give a balanced diet to your pet. This means the
diet provides all your pet's nutritional needs - eg carbohydrate,
protein, fat, vitamins/minerals, fibre - in the right amounts.
It all seems very complicated! What should I feed my pet??
Our message is: Feed a high quality commercial pet food.
High quality foods
contain more reliable quantities of better quality ingredients with less
waste. Cheaper foods (eg supermarket own brands) are often a false economy as you often need to
feed more, and the ingredients can vary - sometimes the food won't say
specifically what it contains. Companies known to produce high quality
diets include Hills, Royal Canin and Purina. The World Small Animal Veterinary Association recommends you
choose a pet food from a company that provides a contact number for
enquiries about its products. This way, you can check the product has
been developed with qualified nutritionists using feeding trials.
Ok so I've chosen the food I'd like to give my pet, how much shall I give him?
Use the feed guide on the bag or tin to work out how much to
feed your pet in a day, based on target normal body weight for your dog's or
cat's breed. Dry food can be highly calorific, so you will only need to
feed a small amount to meet your pets' daily calorie needs. Weigh out
the amount of food your pet needs on a daily basis - then use a small
cup or mug which WHEN FULL contains just the right amount. Don't use a
huge mug then 'half fill' it, as it's likely you will give more than
half. Use a container you can't overfill.
How long should I keep my dog on puppy food?
is a really good question, and will depend on your dog's breed - check
the food packaging to see what they recommend. It's often possible to
swap to adult food between 6 and 12 months old, depending on the breed.
My pet is getting older now, do I carry on feeding him the same thing he's had since he was a puppy?
It's best to consider a 'life stage' diet - many of the pet food
manufacturers make different foods targeted at different ages, eg
junior, adult, mature adult, senior. This is because our pets have
different needs as they get older - notably dogs tend to be less active
as they age so need fewer calories; cats can't always cope with high
levels of protein in their diet when they are elderly so senior diets
limit protein and phosphorus.
My pet is getting a bit chunky, if I cut his food down he keeps pestering me for food?
swapping to a 'low calorie' diet for pets carrying a few extra
pounds.Weigh out his food so you know how much you are giving him daily,
then make allowances for calories in any treats you give him.
My dog is a crossbreed, so I'm not sure how to tell what he should weigh.
Body condition scoring is a helpful way to tell if your pet is
normal weight or under/overweight - a normal weight pet should have a waist line, and you
should easily be able to feel its ribs.
Shall I just give dried food, or wet/dried? She gets bored with just dried food.
You can feed a combined wet and dry diet, but you need to work out
how much of each to give to meet your pet's energy needs. Cut the dried
down below the full daily amount needed if fed on its own.
Can I give treats as well?
Yes you can give
treats, apparently 86% of us do! But be sensible and limit them. Check
our separate information page about giving snacks to your pet here
Shall I feed my dog a raw diet?
Raw diets are a major concern for the veterinary profession. We do not recommend feeding these diets. Studies of raw diets have
shown they commonly have nutritional deficiencies/excesses that can
cause problems, and there is a risk of bacterial contamination such as
Salmonella, E coli and Campylobacter to both pets and owners. Feeding
raw bones can cause obstructions and intestinal perforations. They are
totally unsuitable diets for puppies.
I've seen a 'Vitamin Supplement' on sale in a pet shop, shall I get some for my dog?
If you are feeding a balanced, well made commercial diet, there
is no need at all for 'vitamin supplements', the diet contains
everything your pet needs, and you could be making a 'balanced' diet unbalanced.
Some foods are complementary foods eg mixer
dried foods, they are designed to be fed with other foods eg with wet
food, as they aren't balanced on their own.
How come dogs and cats don't get scurvy ie
vitamin C deficiency? They don't eat fruit?!
What a great question. Humans
can't make vitamin C so need it in the diet.
Animals - other than us,
primates and guinea pigs - can all make their own and don't need it in
Can my cat be vegetarian like me? I don't want to handle meat.
No. Cats are carnivores - they MUST have a meat diet, as they can't make certain amino acids.
My cat loves liver, is it ok to give him some every day?
No... don't give pets large amounts of liver - it contains high
levels of vitamin A which can lead to problems with the bones in the
spine. This can be a problem in cat fed liver regularly.
My dog only eats chicken, this is ok isn't it, as it's quality food?
You mustn't feed 'just chicken', or any other meat - it's a good protein source but clearly on its own is not a balanced diet.
If your pet is a fussy eater, please come and talk to us about
how to help feed your pet a balanced diet without having to resort to
hand feeding and bribery! Some breeds eg cockerpoos really aren't food
motivated, but will eat enough if left to their own devices. Labradors
have been proven to have a gene which gives them a good appetite - but
obviously this makes them prone to weight gain.
I've decided to swap to a better quality pet food, how do I go about it?
Try not to make sudden changes to your pet's diet - if you want
to swap to a different food, do it gradually over several meals. Sudden
diet changes can lead to stomach upsets and diarrhoea.
How many times a day should I feed my pet?
Feed dogs at least twice daily - owners often seem to feed dogs
once daily, but it's better to feed them more often. Cats are grazers
so can be fed multiple times a day, but make sure you weigh out their
daily allowance to avoid over-feeding.
I've got 2 cats, one is skinny and only eats a few
mouthfuls of food before walking away, my other cat is oveweight, and
hovers around to finish off the other cat's food. What do I do?
This is a common problem. Try to feed them separately and stop them
eating each other's meals. There are cat feeders available which are
microchip operated so only allow one cat to feed from it.
My dog drinks a lot so I don't let him have water overnight, is this ok?
not. Always allow your pet unlimited access to fresh water, and
have several bowls around to choose from. This is especially important
with cats. Cats don't like having joined food/water bowls, so give them
separate bowls if possible. If your pet is drinking a lot, there might
be something wrong - bring them in for a check, and try to bring a
morning urine sample along too if you can!
What about rabbit and guinea pig feeding?
Please see our separate sections on these species.