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Diet and nutrition

<Back to diet and nutrition

Feeding your dog and cat

As a general rule once a puppy or kitten has been weaned it no longer needs to have milk in its diet. The mother's milk is made up differently from the milk that we as humans use. Milk and cheese products are rich in protein, fat and minerals, and some cats and dogs cannot digest the lactose. This leads to diarrhoea and occasionally some vomiting. These symptoms can usually be cleared up by removing the milk from the diet.

As a general rule once a puppy or kitten has been weaned it no longer needs to have milk in its diet. The mother's milk is made up differently from the milk that we as humans use. Milk and cheese products are rich in protein, fat and minerals, and some cats and dogs cannot digest the lactose. This leads to diarrhoea and occasionally some vomiting. These symptoms can usually be cleared up by removing the milk from the diet.

When you go to collect your puppy or kitten you will probably be given a diet sheet, and even some food, which means that you can keep your pet on the same dietary regime that it has been used to. It is a big step for your new pet leaving its surroundings, so the fewer upsets it has to deal with the better. All meals should be given at room temperature, not straight from the fridge. If the food is from the fridge it might be a good idea to take it out an hour or so before feeding.

If you want to change your new pet onto another diet this should be done over a period of a week or so. You can do this by mixing a little of the new food with the one the animal is used to, increasing the amount until you are entirely using the new food.

Dogs and cats should not be fed bones unless they are of the rawhide type for dogs. Bones can cause constipation, obstruction and/or perforation of the digestive tract. These problems can become quite serious with the animal possibly requiring surgery.

Cats require different food to dogs. They require more protein and have higher specific requirements for a variety of nutrients. One of these is taurine.

A cat must have taurine in its diet. This is an essential nutrient which helps to avoid certain deficiency conditions. As cats cannot make sufficient taurine for their requirements it is is supplied directly in the diet. Dogs do not need taurine in their diet, so for a balanced diet dogs and cats must stick to their own specific diets. Cats are carnivores and cannot live healthy lives on a vegetarian or low protein diet. The protein they need must be given in the form of meat, fish and fat. Virtually no taurine is found in plants or cereals. Dogs on the other hand can survive on a vegetarian diet, but this is not ideal.

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