Basic Pet Nutrition
Your pet’s nutritional health depends on you
feeding them a complete & balanced food.
There are 6 basic nutrients required by all animals:
Proteins, Fats & Carbohydrates – provide energy to the body
Vitamins, Minerals & Water – satisfy other metabolic needs
Proteins – serve as the source for essential amino acids in animals. Dogs require 10 amino acids, while cats require 11
(the additional is taurine).
♦ The amount of protein required in the diet depends on your pet’s species, age, and the quality of the protein.
Cats require at least twice as much protein as dogs.
♦ The quality of protein can be determined by measuring the biologic value. The more amino acids present in a protein, the higher its biologic value ⇒ better quality ⇒ less required.
Carbohydrates – are added to commercial pet foods as an energy source to supply calories, add variety, fiber, and palatability to the diet.
♦ Cereal grains (including corn, wheat, & soy) are the most common source of carbs in pet food.
♦ Carbs in excess of an animal’s energy requirements are stored in the body as glycogen or fat and may lead to obesity.
Fats – the most concentrated source of energy in the diet.
♦ They also enhance palatability, are necessary for the absorption, storage & transport of the fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E & K), and serve as a source of the essential fatty acids.
♦ Fats need to be stabilized with an antioxidant or preservative to maintain quality when added to dry food.
Vitamins – are important in chemical reactions of metabolism, working in coordination with enzymes.
♦ Fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, & K) can be stored within body fat and in the liver, so dietary excess can lead to toxicosis.
♦ Cats have additional vitamin requirements: preformed vitamin A and the B vitamin, niacin, must be supplied in their diet.
Minerals – include macrominerals (calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and magnesium) and trace minerals (iron, zinc, copper, manganese, iodine, cobalt and selenium.)
♦ It’s best to feed a diet known to contain the proper amount and balance of minerals for your pet’s particular life stage or activity level. An excess of some minerals can be harmful.
♦ The term “ash”refers to all minerals in the diet, though magnesium seems to be the main contributing mineral associated with struvite related lower urinary tract disease (LUTD). However, “low ash” foods may still contain excess levels of magnesium, making them inappropriate for urinary tract health.
Water – is the most critical nutrient, and all pets should have access to fresh, clean water at all times.
♦ Only a 10% loss in total body water causes serious illness, while a 15% loss may result in death!
Take home message: Read all labels to make sure you are feeding your pet(s) a balanced diet for their particular life stage & activity level, and/or feed the doctor recommended Science Diet or Royal Canin Wellness foods that are tested for their quality and proper nutritional values. If your pet has specific dietary needs due to illness, your veterinarian may prescribe a certain food from Hill’s or Royal Canin Prescription Diet products.