Do you supplement your pet’s recommended dry food with moist grocery store food? You are not alone. But many pet owners don’t realize that supplementation of a veterinarian-recommended food is usually unnecessary and may even decrease its effectiveness. There are ways, however, to provide variety for your pet without compromising dietary goals.
Foods recommended by your veterinarian have been formulated with specific nutrient profiles based on the health and wellness needs of your pet. You want your pet to eat the appropriate foods so that obesity and health problems can be avoided. Most pet owners prefer to feed dry food as their pet’s main source of nutrition, but supplementing with table scraps, treats, or a different type of pet food in addition to a recommended dry food can actually interfere with proper nutrition. For example, these foods may add too many calories or expose your pet to high levels of potentially damaging minerals such as sodium.
The right food, the right way
Your veterinarian knows what’s best and will recommend an appropriate food for the breed, sex, age, and health status of your pet. Make sure you understand not only what to feed your pet and why, but also how to feed your pet (see Smart choices list at left). Discuss your pet’s dietary needs with the veterinary health care team at each visit and don’t hesitate to ask if you’re unsure of any details about how to feed your pet!
Smart choices for feeding your pet
1. To add a moist food to dry kibble for variety, use the same formula or brand of moist or canned food.
2. When adding a moist or canned food, be sure to feed less dry food to balance out the total calories and nutrients your pet should be getting each day.
3. For treats, use dry kibble or moist nuggets from the pet’s daily allotment – and be sure to give them each day.
4. Avoid any table foods as they add calories, protein, sodium, and phosphorus and may interfere with the pet’s health.
5. Make sure you have adequate quantities of your pet’s veterinarian-recommended food on hand so you won’t be tempted to substitute with anything potentially harmful.
When adding moist food for variety, use the same formula or brand to maintain total daily calories and nutrients.
TIP: Easy Treats
Hold back 1 or 2 tablespoons of either your pet’s allotted daily dry food or moist nuggets to use as treats. Be sure to give them each day during a play session so your pet won’t be underfed.
A therapeutic food developed for cats with kidney disease contains reduced phosphorus to help slow the progression of kidney disease, reduced sodium to help decrease systemic and kidney hypertension, reduced calcium to offset the risk for hypercalcemia, and reduced protein to decrease kidney workload.
If the owner of a cat in kidney failure repeatedly replaced equivalent calories of the cat’s veterinarian-recommended therapeutic food with a canned grocery store brand of sardines and tuna, the cat’s calcium intake would triple, his phosphorus intake would double, and his protein intake would rise, effectively canceling out any beneficial effects of feeding a therapeutic food, and put the cat at risk for life-threatening decline.