Philly is Cozy after his bath
Dedicated to the health and welfare of companion animals
Five Part series: Part 2
- “Freedom from thirst, hunger and malnutrition”
The “Five Freedoms” are contained in the BC SPCA Charter and express the dedication of the BC SPCA ensuring that all animals are healthy, happy and cared for.
Part 1 of the “Five Freedoms” dealt with the “Freedom from discomfort: from thermal and physical discomfort”: by ensuring that an appropriate environment (shelter) is provided for your animal, one that provides warmth and protection from the elements.
Part 2 of the “Five Freedoms” deals with the Nutritional needs of your animal. Proper nutrition helps guarantee a healthy and happy pet, ensuring your pet has the body mass and ability to fight illness, cold and varying issues they will face. An underweight malnourished animal does not have the resources to fight illness or maintain body heat .
Managing the changing dietary needs of your pet is a lifelong commitment. What you feed your pet has a very real impact on the quality of life for your animal. Their energy levels, health, emotional and physical well-being is totally dependent upon you.
Stages of Life: All animals have different nutritional needs (dependent upon the animal) which vary with age, temperament, activity, health and reproductive status, as well as environment.
During the Growth period in all dogs, increased proteins, minerals, vitamins and a higher caloric diet is needed to meet the increased energy demands. Well balanced diets decrease the amount of food required preventing overfeeding/obesity. Mushy growth formula may be introduced at 4-6 weeks of age, with time restricted meal feedings (10-20 minutes) 2 – 3 times daily. Remember smaller breeds need more frequent feedings than giant breeds as their energy requirements are higher.
Maintenance dogs (those who are adults, start maintenance once they reach 90% of adult body weight) being fed “optimum” protein and energy content foods containing controlled amounts of phosphorus, sodium and calcium. Recommended: time restricted feedings, twice daily, amounts being adjusted to maintain an optimum body weight.
Seniors (7 yrs old and up) require “restricted calories, mild to moderate levels of Protein, Phosphorus and restricted Sodium”, increased levels of fiber, Vitamin E, folic acid, B12, Calcium, Zinc Thiamine and Choline. Increased fiber promotes gastrointestinal health, reduces total food digestibility aiding regularity and weight control. Recommended: introduction of the Senior diet is at 7 years of age, with twice daily time restricted feedings. For Giant Breeds introduce at age 5.
Working Dogs “nutritional needs may exceed the nutritional elements present in most maintenance dog foods”. These animals require higher energy producing calorie diets derived in foods containing increased fat. Additional nutrients must be balanced to the increased need for energy. Recommended: small frequent feeds and introduction of increased calories as required . Quality nutrition fed regularly allows the animal to maintain body mass, coat condition and the ability to defend itself against the extreme Northern Climate, demands of work and disease.
Lactating Females (producing milk) during the 3rd to 5th weeks of milk production, caloric demand is 2-4 times higher than normal maintenance, the nutritional needs are that of the growing animal. Recommended: introduce higher nutritional food during the last 3 weeks of pregnancy continuing while she is producing milk/nursing her pups, feed free choice (always available). Remember the female has just given birth and her own system is now recovering, requiring the additional nutrients to remain healthy, ensuring the health of her offspring.
For you Cat owners growing kittens require increased levels of vitamins, minerals and proteins as well as a high caloric (energy) diet. A mushy growth formula may be introduced at 4 weeks of age, and 2 or more meals of free choice feeding can start after weaning.
Adult cats require more protein than dogs, and a high energy controlled mineral diet which produces a naturally acid urine which can reduce the risk of certain lower urinary tract problems. Urinary bladder stones can result due to excessive levels of magnesium ingested, it is extremely important to maintain pH levels of 6.2 to 6.5 in produced urine. Water intake is essential in controlling Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease. Multiple water bowls of fresh clean water is recommended.
A Lactating Queen requires a growth diet (that of kittens) as she requires 2-3 times more dietary energy intake at this time. This feed should be introduced at the beginning of pregnancy, continue through the lactation process and be free-choice fed. (Animal is free to eat whenever she wants to).
The Senior Cat requires a lower calorie high quality maintenance diet with protein, phosphorus and sodium levels which are optimum.
Choosing the Right Food and Why
By law Pet foods manufacturers are required to list crude ingredients such as protein, fiber, fat and moisture . Energy producing ingredients are the proteins, carbohydrates and fats listed in minimums, non-energy ingredients include fiber, minerals, vitamins and water; calcium, phosphorus and ash contents may also be listed. Look for:
In Dog Food:
“a) canned – at least 4% fat and 0.2% calcium, not more than 75% water
b) dry – at least 10% fat, 25% protein for growth, 20% protein for maintenance”
In Cat Food:
“a) canned – at least 10% protein, and 5% fat, not more than 2% ash and 75% water
b) dry – at least 30% protein and 10% fat, not more than 75% water
Canned foods: at least two animal source proteins and at least one cereal. Good quality animal proteins derived from: “Poultry by-products: backs, necks and wings and Meat by-products: kidneys, lungs and heart.” Poor quality sources: the heads, feet and feathers (Poultry) and the intestinal lining, udders or stomachs (Meat).
Protein: a combination of 23 different essential amino acids are essential for healthy growth and development of your pet. “Protein is a primary constituent of many body tissues, enzymes and hormones and is a necessary component of hemoglobin and antibodies.” Cats require twice the amount of protein than dogs and younger animals require more protein than adults. Further cats require taurine, a beto amino acid present in meat. Without this the cat may develop cardiomyopathy and retinal degeneration. Note that excessive protein can be harmful to the kidneys in both animals.
Carbohydrates and Fats: an energy source are stored in the body as fat. Fat provides a greater source of energy serving to “transport fat soluble vitamins and provides essential fatty acids such as linoleic, linolenic and arachidonic acids. Linoleic acid must be supplied.”
Dietary Fibre: essential to the gastrointestional function of your pet, allowing water to be readily absorbed in the stool helping prevent constipation. Increased fibre does not provide increased levels of energy, it is useful in treating animals for obesity.
Vitamins: water soluble (C and B-complex) and fat soluble (A,D,E and K) are needed for metabolism. Cats require additional vitamins compared to dogs, requiring Vitamin A and Niacin as well.
There are two groups of Minerals: “macro-minerals( necessary for skeletal structure, electrolyte balance and nutrient transfer) and micro-minerals (trace minerals and enzymes components)”. The proper mineral balance is essential in allowing the absorption of other minerals.
Calcium: a mineral is required in the largest amount in the diet, but it must be in the correct amount and proper proportion to phosphorus. Excessive phosphorus decreases calcium absorption. Lameness, renal calcification and spontaneous fractures can result from too high a phosphorus intake, excesses in Calcium can promote retarded bone growth and decrease the absorption of iron, copper, zinc and phosphorus. Higher incidences of Hip Dysplasia, shoulder problems, bone curvature, reduced adult weight and body size have been associated with excessive calcium ingestion during growth.
Phosphorus: while in the diet is extremely important it must be in correct ratio to Calcium. Improper ratios can result in Hyperparathyroidism. Excessive phosphorus can cause renal damage.
Sodium (salt) adds to food flavor, it does lead to fluid retention, hypertension, renal and heart disease, just as it does in humans. “The National Research Council standard calls for a minimum of 95 mg/kg B.W. (1%) in the diet, however most commercial pet foods contain 10-20 times the needed amount.”
Water: 70% of total body weight is composed of water and is required in the largest amount by all animals. It is essential that your pet has an ample supply of clean fresh water at all times. “Seriously ill animals can lose up to 10% of their water content and a 15% water loss results in severe dehydration and often death.” Amount of daily water is dependent upon your Animals Daily Energy Requirement. Working animals that require a higher caloric intake obviously require more water.
(Nutritional reference materials: AWCP: TRU; Small Animal Nutrition by Hill’s ®)