Nutrition and Weight Watchers Clinics
Dogs and cats have different nutritional requirements depending on their age,
breed, sex, activity level, reproductive status, environment and health status.
and balanced diets are available for growth, adulthood and maturity to meet
their nutritional requirements during each life stage.
are also various diets available to support dogs and cats with medical
conditions including liver and kidney disease, urinary tract disease (crystals,
stones and cystitis), arthritis and mobility problems and many more. These are
“prescription” diets and will be recommended by a vet or nurse if they feel
they would be appropriate for your pet.
stock Hill’s and Royal Canin, but some other brands are available to order.
The amount of food puppies require changes during growth and depends on the
puppy’s age, breed, gender, activity, temperament, environment and metabolism.
need more energy, protein, calcium and phosphorous than adult dogs (in relation
to their bodyweight). Growing puppies need twice as much dietary energy per kilo
as adults; their energy need is greatest just after birth.
is needed for growth and development; puppies should be fed a diet that contains
at least 22% protein. Calcium is also important, but supplementing the diet with
treats and milk will result in an excess of calcium in the body which can lead
to developmental skeletal disease. It is important not to feed a high calorie
diet as puppies that become overweight will have an increased number of fat
cells and will be pre-disposed to obesity for the rest of their lives.
Free-choice feeding – Providing
food all day long allows the puppy to feed as and when it wants to. This can
help combat boredom, however it can encourage overeating.
– Food is available for a set amount of time two to three times a day. This
leads to a reduced intake in most breeds of dog. It is important to measure the
amount of food consumed so that they do not over or under feed. Three 10-15
minute feeding sessions are normally recommended for the first month after
weaning. After this two meals per day are adequate.
– This method maintains optimum growth rate and body condition. A measured
amount of food is given based on the energy requirements (as indicated by the
food manufacturer). Large and giant breeds of dog need to have the amount of
food adjusted more frequently than smaller breeds.
general, a measured amount of food should be fed to control bodyweight and
growth rate. Feed 2-4 meals per day to begin with and decrease to two meals per
day once they are six months old. When introducing new foods blend them in
gradually over 4-7 days to prevent stomach upsets. During the growth phase the
amount of food given should be adjusted every two weeks.
and medium sized breeds reach 50% of their adult weight by around 4 months old,
compared to 5 months for large breeds. Small breeds of dog can reach adulthood
by 8 months old, large breeds can take 2 years.
starts at 3-4 weeks old and should be complete by 6-8 weeks old. Dry puppy food
can be soaked in water or milk formula, gradually adding less water until they
are weaned onto dry food.
breeds can have adult food gradually introduced from 8-10 months of age, split
into two meals.
sized breeds can have adult food from one year old; large breeds from 15 months
and giant breeds from 18-24 months.
Small dogs can
have mature/senior food from 8 years old; medium sized breeds from 7 years and
large breeds from 5 years.
nutritional requirements of mature dogs are based on examination of physical
body condition and medical history. Protein levels must be controlled. Excess
protein is broken down by the liver and excreted by the kidneys, and as mature
dogs are more likely to have some degree of liver or kidney disease, this excess
protein will put unnecessary strain on these organs. Diets containing 18-20%
protein are recommended.
levels should be between 0.2-0.35%. Increased sodium in food can contribute to
high blood pressure and heart disease.
Weaning starts at
4-5 weeks of age and should be complete by 7-8 weeks. Kitten weaning diet can be
mixed with milk formula or water and eventually given dry. This can be fed up to
four months old (variable – according to manufacturer’s guidelines). Growth
food containing high levels of good quality protein can be fed until they are
neutered (or until 12 months old). High energy food is needed during this growth
phase. Milk should not be given as lactose can cause diarrhoea.
all meat diets and those containing lots of liver should be avoided as they can
cause mineral imbalance and lead to weak bones. It is important to weigh out the
correct amount of food required; this can be split into set meals or be left
down all day for the kitten to eat as and when they want to.
Adults require less protein and fat. Most cats are fully grown by the time they
are one year old.
Canin diets are divided into “neutered” and “un-neutered”; once neutered,
cats require fewer calories.
Mature and senior
Most mature or senior foods can be fed from 7 years of age. As with dogs,
older cats require less protein as the conversion of protein to energy becomes
less efficient, which can lead to muscle wastage and weight loss. Diets
containing 30-40% good quality protein are recommended. Calcium levels should be
controlled to reduce bladder stones and crystals. Phosphate levels are reduced
as kidney disease is common in older cats and phosphorous is excreted via the
kidneys. Diets should contain around 0.7% phosphorous.
Canin have changed their senior and mature ranges. There are now low calorie
options and options for cats showing signs of arthritis or those that have been
diagnosed with medical diseases (such as kidney disease). The new “senior
consult” range replaces the mature and senior ranges.
Neutered dogs and cats require fewer calories, so in order to prevent
obesity the amount of food given should be reduced by 15-30% on average. Where
possible, low fat or light diets should be given.
Obesity is a growing problem among cats and dogs. Some breeds are more prone to
becoming overweight than others and indoor cats are more at risk as they tend to
are many health problems associated with obesity including heart problems,
exercise intolerance, arthritis and joint problems, diabetes, liver disease,
urinary problems, increased blood pressure and breathing problems. Overweight
animals also find it more difficult to groom themselves and their coat can
run weight clinics where your pet will be weighed and given a body condition
score (BCS). The ideal BCS is 3/5, this means that the ribs and spine are not
visible but are easy to feel, there is an obvious waist and minimal abdominal
fat. If your pet is overweight the nurse will recommend a low calorie diet and
calculate the daily amount of food needed based on your pet’s ideal weight and
BCS. Treats can be given as part of the daily amount, but must be kept to a
minimum and human foods are not allowed as tit-bits.
The nurse will arrange to see your pet every 2-4 weeks and the daily amount can
be adjusted if required. Once your pet has reached its ideal weight, a suitable
maintenance diet will be selected and the amount will be calculated.
most common diets used for weight loss are Hill’s w/d, r/d and m/d (cats
only). Royal Canin obesity management and satiety support are also available.