Our guidance to the optimal diet for your pet
Keep them Healthy
Optimal for your Pet
We believe that nutrition is an important part of keeping pets healthy and can also play a vital part in the management of some illnesses.
This is why we stock a select range of cat and dog pet food in practice, recommending diets that have been scientifically created to provide optimal nutrition, which tastes great!
Explore the guide to pet nutrition to discover the truth behind current trending diets and what your pet really needs for a balanced diet, or contact us to book in for a nutrition consultation with a member of the team.
Learn about diets specifically designed to aid treatment for pets with medical conditions:
Probiotics are live beneficial bacteria that help support intestinal health and a healthy immune system in cats and dogs. Prebiotics are nutrients, normally types of fibre, that help supports these bacteria.
There is a vast array of evidence that shows that probiotics are exceptionally beneficial for both us and our pets. Intestinal health is the main reason for their use, to help restore balance when there has been disturbances in the bacterial population that may cause diarrhoea.
Probiotics are also widely used in human and veterinary medicine when antibiotic courses are prescribed. The antibiotics will treat the bad bacteria but will also have some effect on the good bacteria. Probiotics are recommended 1-2hours after the administration of the antibiotic to help restore the balance in the gastrointestinal tract. Probiotics have been shown to lessen the side effects of antibiotics in dogs and cats, this can include diarrhoea, abdominal discomfort, nausea and vomiting. Probiotics have also been shown to help maintain adequate intake of calories for animals that eat less when on antibiotics.
There are several veterinary probiotics that are available on the market, as in human supplements not all products are the same. Some will contain other elements as well as the probiotics and therefore will have different indications. It is important to use a product that has proven levels of the bacteria within them and proven results.
What we Recommend
Many cases of short-term diarrhoea a probiotic and prebiotic mix with an adsorbent is as beneficial as a course of antibiotics. We would recommend VetPro Digestive Function Probiotic Paste for this role. If the diarrhoea continues for more than 2-3days, or your pet seems unwell we would recommend seeking veterinary attention
Diagnosing if your pet has a true food allergy can be very difficult. A food allergy is an over-reaction of the immune system against proteins in the food that would normally be considered harmless.
If you are concerned that your pet has a food allergy, we would recommend a consultation with a veterinary surgeon. It can be useful to bring a full nutritional history with you.
Elimination diet trial: where possible use a short transition period followed by exclusive feeding of the hydrolysed diet for 8–12 weeks, as directed by the veterinary professional. In most cases positive responses are likely to be seen within 3–6 weeks. If clinical signs resolve, these diets can be fed for life.
There are a few hydrolysed diets that we recommend, so if your cat doesn’t like the flavour or consistency of one we have others to chose from. Diets we recommend include Purina HA, Royal Canin Anallergenic, Specific HΩD and HΩW and Hills z/d. Don’t forget! It is very important that you feed your pet only the recommended diet plus fresh water to drink. Exposure to any other food source might be the one that triggers an allergic reaction. This includes treats and liquid foods.
It has been found that feeding a diet for cats or dogs with kidney issues is the one number thing you can do to help extend their lives. There are different stages to the diets that we recommend depending on the stage of renal disease your pet has. On diagnosis your veterinary surgeon will stage the level of renal disease and give recommendations based on these findings. Monitoring is needed as your pet’s requirements will change.
There are a wide range of renal diets, that are highly palatable to help your pet to eat as much as they want. With renal disease we allow pets to try and retain any weight that previously you might have wanted to lose. Encouraging them to eat is very important.
Renal diets have a lower level of protein in them, as this is the by-products of the digestion of proteins is what causes illness in renal patients. They can’t filter these by-products (mainly Urea, Creatinine and phosphate) out of the body efficiently enough. It is important though, that as the protein levels are restricted the quality of the protein is increased. Depending on the stage of renal disease will alter the level of protein restriction in the diet. This is why monitoring is important so we can ensure your pet is on the correct diet for the stage of renal disease.
Renal diets are also restricted in the amount of phosphate within them. This is the most important element of the renal diet for the long-term health of your pet. There can be reasons why we can’t feed a renal diet, for example dogs with a history of pancreatitis. In these cases, we would recommend a phosphate binder. It is important that the daily dose is divided between each meal that your pet has each day. The dose that your pet requires of a phosphate binder will increase as their disease progresses. It is important to have regular blood tests so that we can ensure the correct dose is being given.
As pets with renal disease have limited ability to concentrate their urine, you might notice ‘accidents’ happening more frequently. This also means that as they can’t concentrate their urine, they do need to drink more. Some pets are better than others at doing this. If they don’t drink to replace what is lost in the urine, they can become dehydrated. There are ways to encourage them to drink more; more water bowls, drinking fountains, wet foods, renal broths and for cats specific diets that encourage them to drink more.
The dilute urine also contains lots of water-soluble vitamins and electrolytes. Renal diets are supplemented in these to help with the ongoing loses.
As renal patients tend to be older they are a little less tolerant to change. We would recommend transitioning a renal diet over 2-3weeks. Using the same principles as in the section on transitioning a diet, just taking longer.
With cats, we would also recommend only feeding one flavour of wet food at a time. Cats have a cyclic approach to their foods. They will eat something very well for a period and then seem to go off their food. If you keep to one flavour, when they want a change you have a different flavour to then swap onto.
Cats and dogs, like humans, can suffer from gastrointestinal upsets leading to vomiting and diarrhoea. These upsets are often of short duration and self-limiting, however, sometimes they can become chronic and recurrent, and this can be a source of distress for both you and your pet. Gastrointestinal conditions are one of the most common reasons pets are taken to their veterinary clinic. Diet plays a crucial role in helping the condition resolve, and when combined with other treatments, most pets will be able to make a complete recovery.
We would recommend feeding a highly digestible diet that is designed for pet’s with diarrhoea. These diets are complete and balanced ensuring that your pet gets the correct nutrition when they are unwell. These diets also contain prebiotics (specific types of fibre) that support the good microbes within the digestive system. These can become imbalanced when unwell, both pre and probiotics are needed to help return the digestive system back into balance.
We don’t recommend feeding chicken and rice, scrambled eggs and other homecooked ‘bland’ foods. The reasons for this are:
There is no evidence base that supports the role of these foods for gastrointestinal upsets.
Homecooked foods will be nutritionally unbalanced and are not necessarily highly digestible. GI diets will normally end up being more cost effective than buying the chicken and rice.
There are specific diets that are designed for this role, that are highly digestible and have been proven to reduce the volume of stools that are produced and to reduce the length of time that the pet has diarrhoea for.
For dogs and cats with GI upsets we recommend feeding little and often. For animals that have been vomiting or look nauseous; this would be a teaspoon for a small breed dog or cat, a tablespoon for a large breed dog, if they keep this down, then 15mins later the same amount and repeat. Normally once they have a small amount of food on-board, they feel much better. We would recommend the normal amounts on the feeding guidelines spread out over 4-6meals in the day.
Similarly, with the amounts of water offered, if the animal has been vomiting, we would recommend only offering a small amount at a time (1-2tablespoonfuls). Allow them to drink this, if they keep it down 15mins later, same again, and repeat.
Most diarrhoea is self-limiting and if there are no signs of clinical illness the veterinary surgeon will not prescribe antibiotics. The same as with humans. Keep feeding and hydrating.
We would also recommend thoroughly clean up after your pet with disinfectants, including litter trays for cats and gardens/decking/patios for dogs. We can help with which products are safe for pets. Light exercise might help with any abdominal discomfort but be warned exercise also stimulates the digestive system.
Purina EN, Royal Canin Gastrointestinal, Hills i/d.
We all know that we should drink more water, this is the same for our pets as well. There are also some disease process that cause cats and dogs to urinate more, hence they need to drink more. If they don’t replace this water loss, they can become dehydrated.
For dogs and cats with bladder stones and crystals we want them to drink more, in order to dilute out the urine more and cause dissolution.
Not all water tastes the same, ever been on holiday and the water tastes different. This really depends on the mineral content on the water. Our pets also have preferences. Some do prefer rainwater to tap water. It is thought that this is due to tap water being chlorinated. As their sense of smell is so much better than ours, it must be like drinking swimming pool water. If you fill a jug of tap water and leave it to stand for 12-24hours, all of the chorine will evaporate off.
Availability is a big thing, you know you won’t drink much is there isn’t a drink around to have. Try having several bowls around the house, inside and out.
Do you have a favourite mug for your coffee? Don’t like drinking tea out of a paper cup? Our pets are the same. Like us, they can have preferences to the types of bowls that we use. Cats tend to prefer very wide rimmed bowls, or even saucers to drink from. Try different drinking vessels for your pets to get them to drink more: ceramic bowl, saucers, plastic bowls, metal bowls.
Where you position these vessels is also very important, especially for cats. Cats don’t like to drink, where they eat or where their litter tray is. They also like seclusion, so try putting the bowl somewhere quiet.
Some pets love running water, there are a vast amount of water fountains available.
Wet food, as the name suggests, contains more water than dry. On average dry foods are around 10% water, whereas wet foods can be around 75-85% water. It is possible to add water to both wet and dry foods, but this can effect the palatability of the diets and the pet might end up consuming less.
Some urinary diets contain salts that encourage your pet to drink more water. There is also a product called Purina Hydracare that looks and tastes like a pouch of food, without being a food. It has proven to increase a cat’s water intake and hence make their urine more diluted, helping to improve their hydration. This supplement can be used for cats with FLUTD and when hydration is an issue.
Oral hydration supports are available and contain electrolytes to help with rehydration. These are available for cats and dogs, and even for cats with renal disease.
Products we Recommend
Cats: Oralade, Oralade renal, Purina Hydracare
Mobility or joint issues are some of the most common conditions affecting cats and dogs. More than 80% of cats over the age of 8years have some form of mobility issue. It is a myth that cats sleep more as they get older – it can be that they are experiencing mobility issues are just more sedentary from the pain. Many dogs and cats won’t vocalise that they are in discomfort and will just be more quiet than previously. In dogs, one in five will be affected with osteoarthritis over 12months of age.
Mobility issues will be more common in older pets (like in humans) and it will tend to be more common in those that are overweight.
Managing joint pain and inflammation is exceptionally important in health and welfare of your pet, ensuring good quality of life is vital. Pain medications can be a part of this and we would recommend discussions with your veterinary surgeon. Nutrition, nutritional supplements and being at an ideal body weight are also very important. Guidance on these elements can be gained from your veterinary practice.
In dogs and cats it has been found that very specific Omega-3 fatty acids can be used to help down-regulate the genes that are responsible for inflammation within the joints. In dogs these are DHA and EPA in cats EPA. Cod Liver oil does contain these specific fatty acids, but not in sufficient levels to make a difference.
The diets and supplements that we recommend contain these fatty acids in the levels required to make a significant difference in your pet’s mobility. These Omega-3 fatty acids are important, as pain medications will help control pain, but the Omega-3’s help reduce any ongoing damage by inflammatory pathways.
This is a plant extract that supports the body’s natural anti-inflammatory process and plays an important role in maintaining smooth and comfortable joint movement.
Weight loss is difficult, there’s no misconception around this, but we are here to help. Weight loss is more successful when done in conjunction with veterinary professional. When the pet has mobility issues, it is still achievable. Even losing 10% of the weight your pet needs to lose can potentially double their quality of life. It can make a real difference to them! We do have specific diets for weight loss, or older animals with mobility issues – please ask to discuss with our veterinary team.
Diets and Supplements we Recommend
Purina JM, Royal Canin Mobility, Hills Metabolic + Mobility (for overweight pets)
VetPro Joints and Mobility with Omega-3s
Cats can develop bladder problems for a number of reasons, the most common is a disorder termed Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disorder (FLUTD), this can present with a number of clinical signs including:
Diet can be of some benefit in these cats, by helping to make the urine more dilute and helping with the dissolution of crystals.
There are many risk factors for developing FLUTD, these include being overweight and stress. Ensuring that your cat is kept nice and lean can be very beneficial, a diet that helps with the urinary tract and with weight loss maybe beneficial in these circumstances.
In dogs urinary tract problems can present with the same clinical signs but the causes are different.
Discussion with your veterinary practice will help identify possible the possible different causes of bladder issues for your pet.
There are a very large amount of diets for cats and dogs that are available and which diet to use does depend on a whole range of factors. We would recommend discussing this with someone at your veterinary practice.
When changing your pet to a new diet it is important to make this change gradually to avoid upset tummies. Check out our easy transition feeding guide on how and when to start this process or give us a call and we’ll be happy to discuss when placing your pet food order.
Highfield Veterinary Centre
Find us here:
We use 3 different types of cookies on our website. You can say which ones you're happy for us to use below.
These cookies do things like keep the website secure. They always need to be on.