Written By Dr. Gary A. Borgman
In the most recent issue of Osceola Woman, I discussed some considerations when choosing a new household pet. The legally required Florida Certificate of Veterinary Inspection is your best assurance of good health and appropriate preventative immunizations/parasite control medications. Healthy and hungry puppies and kittens do need to eat, and this is the time to do it right!
We usually recommend sticking with the current diet from the breeder or a pet store for at least the first few days. Any changes in type of food should be gradual. The new diet should be introduced over several days, gradually increasing the percentage of new food in the bowl. There are many choices of diets. Selection of specific brands and types of food should be any early conversation with your family veterinarian and staff.
Kitten nutrition advice is easy. Most kittens readily accept dry kitten chow/growth formulas and the food can be offered “free-choice” with the full bowl re-filled as needed. An important caution is that milk can cause diarrhea in kittens (and puppies) and should be avoided. As kittens grow up, most adults will need portion control to avoid obesity and all the associated health risk factors such as diabetes and internal organ disorders. At some point, it is advantageous to consider introducing canned food to maturing kittens and young adult cats, while decreasing or eliminating dry foods. Cats are carnivorous. Higher protein canned diets are considered healthier in the long run.
Puppy nutrition is much more complicated. Most puppies can receive all their nutritional needs with two meals per day of a well balanced growth formula. Some small and active individuals such as Yorkshire Terriers need multiple small meals per day to avoid hypoglycemic events. There are many choices of brands of puppy foods and this is best discussed with your veterinarian at the first wellness visit.
I like to recommend a “timed meal” which means we offer enough food to satisfy the puppies appetite by filling his/her stomach in about 15 minutes. I like to offer this meal inside a crate with the door open. This makes the crate training easy because entering a crate is rewarded. When the puppy emerges and starts circling and sniffing the floor it is time to move to the designated elimination venue. Crate training is the “best thing since sliced bread” for puppy house training.
Large breed dogs (over 50 pounds at maturity) should be fed a growth formula (puppy chow) specifically labeled for large breed dogs. These diets will help minimize joint problems such as hip dysplasia and the resultant osteoarthritis later in life.
The nutritional needs of mature dogs and cats is a complex issue. There are literally hundreds of pet food manufacturers, hundreds of products available, and thousands of opinions about feeding pets. The Hills Company, which manufactures and distributes the Science Diets and Prescription diets, has been involved in pet nutrition longer than any other pet food manufacturer. Additionally, the Purina Company offers their Pro-Plan Prescription diets. Innovative Veterinary Diets also offers some unique and effective prescription diets. Many other manufacturers claim superior knowledge and products. As my father-in-law was fond to quip “the advertising speaks well of it”.
We are here to answer your questions and assist you in your nutritional decisions for you puppies, kittens and adults pets. We are here to help and to serve and we welcome your questions at Kissimmee Animal Hospital (Tel 407-846-3912) and Poinciana Pet Clinic (Tel 407-518-0880).