Specialty Diets Help Age-Related Conditions
Pet food makers produce reduced calorie diets for overweight pets, balanced fibre diets for pets prone to constipation, extra nutrient diets for pets susceptible to joint disease, balanced essential fatty acid and selected protein diets for individuals prone to itchy skin problems. They produce ranges of foods to nourish pets with kidney, bladder, heart, liver, bowel or skin conditions, nourishing high energy convalescing diets for debilitated pets or for those who have had surgery, high fat, low carbohydrate diets to slow cancers, high fibre diets for diabetics, pre-digested foods for allergy sufferers, increased digestibility diets for elderly pets or those with digestive disorders. Ashley McManus is our dedicated Nutrition Nurse. If we feel your pet will benefit from a specialty diet we will book an appointment for you with Ashley.
Diet Influences Kidney Disease
Kidney failure is common in older cats. The target of dietary management is to minimise clinical signs of kidney failure, help maintain the pet’s well-being and if possible prolong life. You may have read that a low protein diet is good for pets with age-related kidney disease but this is not so. A low protein diet has little effect on kidney failure. Failure is managed by maintaining nitrogen balance and this is done by reducing dietary phosphorus. Because protein is a major source of phosphorus, feeding a low phosphorus diet with moderate amounts of high digestible protein with a high biological value is useful. Supplementing the diet with omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids probably protects the kidneys and possibly lowers blood pressure (hypertension is a problem with feline kidney failure). On the other hand, too much omega 6 fatty acids probably damages the kidneys. Antioxidant dietary supplements scavenge free radicals so they may be useful in delaying further kidney damage. A good diet for older pets with impaired kidneys should also contain fibre to trap nitrogen waste products, B vitamins and a good balance of omega 3 and 6 polyunsaturated fatty acids to reduce renal inflammation. All major pet food manufacturers produce foods formulated to help pets with kidney disease.
Diabetics Benefit From Slow Digestion
As pets have got fatter, the incidence of sugar diabetes has increased. The condition is usually diagnosed when a pet owner notices her pet is drinking more, eating well but possibly losing weight. Grant Petrie is responsible for the standards we follow in treating sugar diabetes.
Most diabetics need twice daily insulin injections but equally important is food management. With the right balance a good diet improves the regulation of blood sugar and specifically minimises the fluctuation in blood sugar that’s triggered by eating.
If your pet is diabetic, avoid all semi-moist foods as these stimulate the greatest blood sugar increase after eating. Starchy foods require more digestion and this slows the rate of delivery of sugar into the blood stream. Certain fibres, for example, a fibre called CMC or carboxymethylcellulose helps slow stomach emptying and by doing so slows the delivery of sugar into the bloodstream. Some carbohydrates such as barley are digested slowly and this too results in slow delivery of sugar into the blood stream. At the opposite end of the scale, rice is digested quickly, resulting in a blood sugar “peak” and sudden high insulin demand. The best diet for a diabetic pet is made from a fixed formula with consistent carbohydrate, fat and high quality protein. Most major pet food manufacturers produce a range of diets formulated to help pets with diabetes.
Introduce Diet Changes Slowly
Food for pets with liver disease contain extra nutrients together with restricted levels of high quality and very digestible protein. Those for pets with bladder stones have balanced minerals and produce urine with a very specific pH measurement. Older pets can produce a variety of different types of bladder (or kidney) stones and there are specific diets for each type of stone. When changing your pet’s food, make that change to the healthier diet a slow and steady one. Sudden diet changes affect the living environment of beneficial digestive micro-organisms in your pet’s intestines. That’s why loose stools or diarrhoea can occur if you abruptly change from one diet to another. Start by adding a little of the new food to your pet’s existing diet and gradually increase the proportion of new food over the following four or five days. Old pets have often developed their own fixed preferences for certain textures of food, or odours or flavours. If your pet is less interested in the new food that is beneficial for controlling whatever health problem it has, warm it up to room or body temperature. Wet foods can be put in the microwave for a few seconds but be very careful! You want to release the odours from the food by warming it to the tastiest temperature not make it dangerously hot inside. Always thoroughly stir warmed food, especially warmed in the microwave so that there are no hidden hot parts that will burn your pet’s mouth. If the best food for your pet is only available in a dry form, add water and let it soak long enough to become soft. It can then be warmed just like wet food, releasing its odours which hopefully your pet will find appealing. If this doesn’t work, ask us whether it’s ok to add some tasty and smelly fat to the food. A little tinned or bottled goose fat or duck fat can turn even the blandest diet into a gourmet dinner.