News & Advice

Food for thought

Mar 9, 2020 | Cats, Dogs, Pet Health

Food is not only a requirement in order to live and function normally, but we also love it and so do our pets!

Food, however, is not all equal.

When it comes to feeding our pets, not only do we want to feed them something that they enjoy eating, but we also want to make sure that the food we are feeding is ticking all the right boxes for optimum health.

It can be extremely confusing trying to decide on the best food to suit your pet’s needs, especially when there are a lot of different information and opinions to take into consideration.
Ideally what we want from our pet’s food is something that is tasty, provides long lasting energy and also helps to prevent any health issues from arising and/or slow down the progression of any pre-existing health concerns.

What health issues can a diet help prevent?

  • Malnourishment, but more commonly obesity
  • Lacklustre coat and skin issues often associated with a poor skin barrier
  • Dental and gum disease
  • Bone and joint issues, often due to either growing too quickly or not receiving enough nutrition while growing

How do I decide what diet is best for my pet?

Dietary requirements vary between species and different life stages ie. puppies need to be fed differently from adults. They also vary between breeds, due to the large variety of sizes. The first thing to do is to think about what life-stage your pet is currently in. The life stages are junior, adult and geriatric. To complicate things slightly, it also depends on the species and breed/size of your pet as to where they sit in terms of life stages. For example a 9 year old cat is classed as senior, whereas a 9 year old Great Dane is closer to geriatric.

Puppies and kittens
Puppies and kittens are going through their crucial growing stage that will set them up for life. It is extremely important to have these animals on a specified puppy/kitten diet that will contain the right levels of nutrients to support their growth and bone development. Puppy food is also split into small, medium and large breed – so you need to be feeding the right puppy food for the size your puppy will be when it is an adult.

Adult foods are split into size ranges or to specifically target a particular problem condition that we want to manage. A large or giant breed dog will generally have very high energy requirements, paired with long legs and big bodies to carry (think of a Great Dane or Labrador). Size specific food provides plenty of extra support for their bones and joints in order to prevent and/or delay injury and osteoarthritis.

A small breed dog may have moderate to high energy requirements for their size/breed, but their bones and joints are much more able to cope due to their smaller overall size. However, these dogs are prone to dental disease, due to smaller mouths and teeth that sit closer together. Diets for these dogs need to provide the correct energy requirements as well as contribute to oral health.
When it comes to cats, we are often focussing more on prevention of common diseases such as dental disease, obesity and kidney disease.

It is important not to forget that cats can be anything from as lazy as they come (sleeping all day, eating, then sleeping some more) to keen hunters who are always on the go. We must consider this when choosing a diet specific to our cats’ needs, as it simply does not make sense to feed the same amount and type of food to a very active, lean and muscular cat, as well as an extremely lazy, overweight cat. There are also diets for cats who are stress-prone, to aid in calming and relaxing them through use of special formulations in their food.

In our old animals we are often choosing a diet that will support our animal through any specific pre-existing health issues (this can range from kidney or liver disease to skin/coat or dental issues). These diets often have lower energy content as our pets are often less active at this stage and we want to prevent them becoming (or reverse them from being) overweight, in order to help protect their worn joints.

Quality of a diet

Just like human food, there is a huge difference in quality between pet foods. It can seem like a good idea to purchase a cheaper food that looks to have all the right information on the label, however remember that although these foods may have the correct main ingredients, these ingredients may not be at the correct levels. Additionally, these foods often contain a large amount of ‘fillers’. These are just extra bits and pieces that have no real nutritional value, and are simply there to fill in space and bulk out the food. With these foods, you will find you need to feed more food in order to fulfil your pets’ nutritional requirements.
Feeding a higher quality food may cost you more initially, but will last you longer as you can feed a smaller amount in order to maintain optimum nutrition. This means that you may actually find you are either spending the same amount by feeding a better food, or possibly even saving money in the long run.

This is not to mention that the higher quality foods have sound research behind them to ensure they are nutritionally complete and so that we can be confident we are feeding our pets the best diet possible.


In this day and age, convenience is a big factor for the majority of people when it comes to decision making. Ensuring you are feeding a high quality diet provides extra convenience through:

  • Feeding less, pay minimal overall cost
  • Feeding less = less faeces to pick up
  • Higher quality food with minimal ‘fillers’ = less odour
  • Higher quality food = potential for less additional medication or other supplements required i.e. for bones and joints, skin and coat, teeth etc. This saves money, time and stress.

When you are looking to choose a diet for your new pet, or if it is time to re-assess the diet your pet is currently on, stop in at your local Anexa FVC clinic to have a chat to one of our helpful veterinarians or veterinary nurses. We can help to match a diet specifically to your beloved pet and their current needs. Remember, “You are what you eat”. So let’s think nutritionally balanced and complete.

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