As with us - nutrition is the basis for any healthy pet - providing the necessary building blocks that helps to ensure that your pet has a life worth living.
Why is food so important? Well, it has a direct impact on the condition of:
•The SKIN and COAT - Some allergies are caused by food or more specifically, what's in it - causing excessive scratching and licking. Without the necessary Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids to condition the skin, skin can be left exposed and sensitive to outside allergens and that often leaves the coat dull. The skin also needs antioxidants and nutrients that enhance the formation of essential oils that helps condition the skin and creates a protective barrier. Dry, flaky and itchy skin, a dull coat and excessive hair loss is common where a cheap or unbalanced diet is being fed. Colorants and flavorants can help to make food more palatable, but usually contributes to an irritated skin. Be sure that the food you're giving your pet is fully balanced and has all the necessary nutrients and supplements to keep their skin happy.
•MUSCULO SKELETAL GROWTH - directly linked to the quality, quantity and absorption of the protein and calcium in the food - can be hindered by feeding food that either has too little protein or protein that isn't digestible, or food that has incorrect percentages of calcium and other minerals and trace elements in it. Be aware that too much calcium can be just as damaging as too little calcium when fed to a growing puppy or kitten... Essential to the formation, growth and maintenance of good muscle tone and bone development, the importance of proper, digestible protein cannot be stressed enough. Good sources of protein are egg and de-boned chicken which have been found to be easily digestible. Always check food labels for ingredients - the protein source should be listed first, indicating the main ingredient in the food. Food that is rich in proteins like bone meal or feathers (that have not been liquefied), might seem like a good choice, but can be highly indigestible.
The recommended amount of food to be giving daily is usually a good indication of the food's digestibility, since you would need to feed much less of a more digestible food.
• DIGESTIVE FUNCTION - meaning the maintenance of the natural flora in the stomach and intestines - will be determined by the carbohydrate, fibre and the presence of pro-biotic in the food. An unbalanced food that has too much fibre or carbohydrates in it can lead to chronic diarrhoea, flatulence and big smelly stools. A good carbohydrate like rice will be easily digestible and will not hinder intestinal function - allowing for smaller stools. Fibre, like beet pulp, will help bind stools and stimulate healthy intestinal function - helping to prevent loose, smelly and large stools.
•DENTAL HEALTH - is maintained by giving correct food in the form of dry kibbles. Common causes of tooth decay in pets can be linked to the food that is given - table scraps and soft food get stuck between teeth and causes bacterial growth and eventually tartar to build up. Giving your pet bones, can cause teeth to fracture and can damage gums. Dry food should be given in meals to allow the mouth to have time to 'clean' itself. Some super premium veterinary food brands have a layer of Hex methyl Phosphate crystals spayed on the kibbles, which helps reduce tartar build-up.
•ORGAN FUNCTION - Heart, kidneys, liver, pancreas, and bladder is affected by the food you feed them. High levels or incorrect levels of trace minerals and sodium, in the form of salt (which is generally used in cheaper brands to enhance flavour and palatability) can affect the function of the heart, kidneys, liver, pancreas and bladder, and in prolonged cases, be the main contributing factor to eventual organ failure. Incorrect quantities of fat in food can cause serious conditions like obesity, diabetes, heart and liver problems. Incorrect quantities of minerals (like salt) can lead to ph. imbalance in the urine and can cause bladder stones to form.
In the end, they really are what you feed them...