Despite all the benefits of keeping a pet, it can be challenging to raise one. Nutrition, in particular, constitutes a crucial aspect of an animal’s wellbeing. The pet food market or industry is quite saturated, with different brands offering various things. This makes the process of feeding your animal friend seem complicated. Fortunately, there are a few things to take note of to make things easy for you.
Pet Nutrition Facts:
- Carbohydrates are great for GI health
In animals, carbohydrates are not only an excellent source of energy; they promote the functioning of the digestive system as well. Carbohydrates constitute fiber, sugars, and starches, and some sources of this nutrient include peas, millet, whole corn, and potatoes. Fibers, in particular, create the feeling of fullness in animals, so they are great for overweight animals. The fermentable or soluble form of fiber is good for the bacteria in some animals’ gut, which produces free fatty acids for the colon cells, keeping the digestive system in top-notch shape. The non-fermentable or insoluble fiber absorbs water in the intestines, making it easy for food items to go through the gut. Carbohydrates also give some pet foods some structure and texture that makes them easy to consume and store.
- All pets require protein in their diet
Aside from carbohydrates, proteins are another excellent source of energy. The amino acids within this nutrient are essential for pets since their bodies cannot produce enough or any at all. There are about 20 amino acids, with ten vital for dogs and 11 crucial for cats. Protein aids the body to function correctly by facilitating the maintenance and repair of tissues and cells, supporting the immune system, and producing antibodies, enzymes, and hormones. The protein meal you choose for your pet should be highly digestible and of high quality. A few sources of protein include poultry, meat, and fish. Despite these benefits, protein is shown to be a leading cause of allergies in some pets. This happens when the nutrient is broken down into molecules which the immune system misidentifies as a threat.
- Many cats are lactose intolerant
This may come as a surprise as you may have seen many cats lapping up milk effortlessly. However, the truth is that many cats lack or are not able to produce enough of the required enzyme that breaks down and digest lactose, the sugar present in milk. Therefore, the animal may experience diarrhea since the undigested sugar absorbs water into the intestines. The cat may also experience excessive flatulence when the undigested lactose ferments and produces gases. Instead of milk, you can offer your cat cream, which is high in fat, which many cats enjoy.
- Fats contain a lot of energy
As compared to protein and carbohydrates, fats provide the most energy to animals. Some sources state that for dogs, fat provides over twice as much energy as the other two nutrients. Dietary fats help in building cell structure and promote its functions. They also enhance the texture and flavor of food, making them a great way to improve appetite, especially in sick dogs. Despite these benefits, too much fat can cause problems for your pet. Even though fats may not clog arteries in cats and dogs as they do in humans, they can trigger the inflammation of the pancreas, causing pancreatitis. Fats also contain a lot of calories, putting your pet at risk of developing obesity.
- Cats are carnivores by nature
There are two amino acids that are crucial for healthy growth in cats; taurine and arginine. Arginine helps cats remove ammonia from their body, and its deficiencies may cause convulsions, drooling, vomiting and even death. Taurine deficiencies may also present heart failure, blindness, birth defects, and deafness in cats. Plant food does not contain enough of these two nutrients, and so it will be challenging for the animal to survive on such a diet. Additionally, a cat’s digestive system is more adapted to break down and digest protein. Ideally, a cat’s diet should constitute 26% protein as compared to 18% for dogs. It is recommended that, as much as possible, a cat’s diet mimic what they would consume in the wild.
- Pets do not require additional vitamins
Usually, if the food you choose for your pet has passed animal feeding trials or is formulated to meet the standards laid out by the American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), it should contain all the necessary nutrients your pet needs. If a pet needs any additional supplements or vitamins, a qualified would have to confirm and guide on the best way to do so.
Pet Nutrition Myths:
- Cats and dogs should not be fed table scraps
According to the definition, which is healthy leftovers and does not include seasoned meats, and pizza, it is okay to feed your pet table scraps. Some research suggests that giving your pet what is leftover of fresh meat and vegetables is okay since they may provide vital nutrients for cats and dogs.
- Commercial meals are of lower quality compared to homemade food
The idea that homemade meals are superior to commercial food was due to the recall of some pet food products. However, a lot goes into making homemade meals which may make it more challenging. Commercial diets are easy to use since they have been formulated according to expert recommendations.
- Preservatives approved for use in manufactured pet food can cause cancer
Currently, there isn’t substantial research that shows that preservatives cause cancer. Preservatives approved for use in pet food manufacturing protect fat and vitamins that are fat-soluble from oxidizing when exposed to air. The oxidation process produces toxic compounds known as peroxides, which can interfere with the integrity of the membranes of red blood cells.
- Calcium supplements do not cause developmental bone disease in giant-breed and large-breed dogs
Even though calcium is good for dogs, some studies have shown that too much calcium contributes to the development of bone disease in giant-breed and large-breed dogs. This happens even when the calorie intake is appropriate for the dog. Therefore, the calorie intake must be reduced to prevent abnormal growth.