Why Pet Nutrition Matters

Image of an overflowing bowl of kibble.

With more than half of all dogs and cats overweight or obese, pets are increasingly at risk for a number of chronic health problems, according to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). An appropriate, balanced diet can make a significant difference for a pet’s overall health, reducing the risk for chronic health conditions including heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and other types of chronic pain.

Nutrition counseling and weight management are an essential part of every veterinary wellness exam. Just like humans, dogs and cats have unique wellness needs. A one-size-fits-all approach to dietary management overlooks important aspect of nutrition counseling. Today’s veterinarian makes dietary recommendations based on a pet’s specific needs, such as weight loss, organ function, mobility restrictions, or a chronic pain condition. A veterinary nutrition evaluation will also take into account a pet’s medical history, food preferences, and current activity level.

For some health conditions, dietary management can completely resolve the problem, no medication or surgery required. For example, consider the case of Max, a dog who was overweight and suffered from disc-related back pain. Max had been on chronic pain medication, including muscle relaxers, but was still unable to be active. Dietary management helped Max safely lose weight and today he romps in the neighborhood dog park like he was never in pain. The lesson here is simple: nutrition and dietary management matters.

Dietary management should start as soon as pet owners introduce a new pet into their family. Puppies and kittens have unique nutrition requirements in order to grow into healthy adult pets. For example, large-breed puppies should be fed a large-breed puppy food; this food helps these puppies safely grow slowly over time. Rapid weight gain should be avoided as it can strain the musculoskeletal system and increase the risk for skeletal and joint problems, including hip dysplasia.

In addition to considering which pet food to use, the AAHA also reminds pet owners to keep a close eye on their pets’ treats. Treats can be a sneaky source of calories and sabotage a pet’s weight management diet. Positive praise is just as effective and calorie free.

An extra few pounds may seem insignificant to us, but those pounds can adversely affect a pet's health. Veterinary care that proactively monitors a pet's weight and diet is the best way to keep pets healthy and active throughout their lives.

Sources:

American Animal Hospital Association, “Nutrition: The First Step in Preventative Care.”

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North Shore Animal Hospital

Monday:

8:00 am-6:30 pm

Tuesday:

8:00 am-6:00 pm

Wednesday:

8:00 am-6:30 pm

Thursday:

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Testimonials

  • "The staff are always very good- friendly, caring and efficient and always follow up to see if there are any questions or new developments. I always feel that my pets are both well cared for and cared about. Thank you for all of your help."
    -Scott Farnsworth
  • "For a first time Dog owner, I am extremely grateful that the clinic answers all of our questions and ensures our puppy is growing in a healthy manner. All of the staff are nothing short of Wonderful!"
    -Andy Donovan
  • "North Shore's staff is extremely friendly and knowledeable. They go above and beyond to make their furry patients feel safe and calm. My dog is extremely cooperative and happy while she is in their care. I highly recommend their services."
    -Erica Frazier
  • "We have been coming to North Shore for at least 15 years. Our cats have always been treated with respect and kindness. From the moment we step through the doors, we are treated as guests!"
    -Terry Preischel
  • "As a new pet owner, I had lots of questions. The staff answered all of my questions. The staff was so friendly and kind to myself, dog and children. I was expecting to feel uncomfortable as a new pet owner, but my first visit was beyond my expectations."
    -Erica Pie