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Dietary Pet Care

dietary_careWhat should I feed my pet?

Any diet fed to your pet should be complete and well-balanced. The American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) sets the standards for pet food manufacturers. An AAFCO statement on the label will provide information to help know which food is best suited for your pet’s life stage. If a food does not reach AAFCO requirements it is labeled to use intermittently or as a supplement.


  • Are carnivores, but this does not mean that they do not eat plant material
  • Studies have shown that if left to eat whatever they want, cats will consume the appropriate amounts of protein, fat, and carbohydrates.
  • View the WSAVA Global Nutrition “Savvy Cat Owners Guide here.


  • Are omnivores and have the digestive enzymes suitable for processing starchy foods. Their teeth and length of GI tract are suitable for both plant and meat consumption.
  • Studies have shown that domestic dogs are genetically designed to process carbohydrates, unlike their ancestor the wolf and unlike cats.
  • View the WSAVA Global Nutrition “Savvy Dog Owners Guide” here


(Puppies and Kittens)

  • Tend to need more nutrient dense foods (large breed puppies have even more specific requirements).
  • Should be fed 2 or more small meals a day to meet their daily caloric needs.
  • Free feeding can lead to obese adults


  • Pets are considered adults at 6 months, though some large and giant breeds are mature as late as 12 months.
  • Typically require changes in protein, carbohydrate, and fat amounts because they are no longer growing.
  • Often need decreased caloric intake to accommodate their changing metabolism.


  • Pets are deemed seniors at the age of 7 years. Large and giant dogs may be seniors at 5 years.
  • Further reduction of caloric intake is usually needed.
  • There is not yet an AAFCO guideline for senior diets, however clinical trials have been performed to evaluate the changing needs of senior pets, and some diets have become available.


  • Feed the daily amount divided into 2 or 3 meals a day (not free choice).
  • Meals decrease the chance of weight gain and associated conditions (arthritis, bloat, etc…)
  • Providing small, frequent meals increases metabolism by causing a spike in calorie burning energy.
  • Allows you to notice any changes in appetite.
  • Often makes medicating pets easier.


  • A common cause of obesity and other ailments in pets are too many treats.
  • Can be anything from grocery store brand dog snacks to a cube of cheese.
  • Can contribute a large amount of calories.
  • A 20 pound dog consuming 1 ounce of cheese is equivalent to a human eating two and a half hamburgers as a snack.
  • Some foods are not safe for pets to eat. Many human foods are toxic or too high in fat for pets to digest properly.


  • Many medical conditions can be managed with prescription diets, often decreasing the need for medications.
  • Prescription diets are not just for senior pets. Young pets can suffer from ailments such as allergies, diabetes, and obesity.
  • Some diets may only be needed temporarily, such as for tube feeding, after stomach upset, or for a food trial.
  • Other diets are used for long term treatment of conditions like dental disease, kidney disease, allergies, and some anxiety disorders.


  • One of the most commonly seen diseases in veterinary medicine.
  • 54% of dogs and cats are overweight or obese.
  • Many diseases can be caused or worsened by being overweight or obese such as diabetes, arthritis, and heart disease.
  • Causes a decrease in life expectancy.
  • There are three ways to achieve weight loss in pets: increase exercise, decrease calories and increase metabolism.
  • If you would like to help your pet lead a happy, healthy, life we will create a customized weight loss plan for your pet.

Frequently Ask Questions:

Q: My pet doesn’t finish his food. Does that mean he’s a picky eater?

A: The most common reason for not finishing food is that too much food is being offered.

Q: Does my pet need variety in his diet?

A: No. It is not necessary and in some cases changing food rapidly can cause stomach upset. If the diet is changed for any reason, do so gradually over a period of 5-7 days.

Q: What size scoop/cup should I use to measure my pet’s food?

A: Use a standard 8 ounce measuring cup for dogs and ¼ cup scoop for cats, unless told otherwise by your veterinarian. If you do not have one, we would be glad to provide you with one.

Q: My pet’s food says it is made for all life stages. What does that mean?

A: “All life stages” means that the food is designed for the most demanding life stage of life, which is growth. Therefore, these foods are most appropriate for puppies and kittens.

More Questions? Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have. We also have an email address to further assist you: EhrlichNutrition