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The Dos and Don'ts for Your Pet's Diet

Tuesday October 21st 2014

In recent years the PDSA has surveyed thousands of pet owners about their pet's diets. The findings show that many of us aren't providing our pet with the well-balanced diet they need to live long and healthy lives. While the best dietary advice will always come straight from your vet, following these dos and don'ts will set you on the right path.

The Dos and Don'ts for Your Pet's Diet

Do provide access to drinking water at all times
Your pets can easily become dehydrated if they don't have access to drinking water. Constipation and lethargy are just a few of the symptoms of dehydration, so it's essential to always provide them with a fresh bowl of water.

Do feed pets according to their 'life stage'
Puppies, adult and senior dogs have different dietary requirements - as do kittens, adults and senior cats. Many pet food brands have products specifically formulated for these requirements, so take advantage of them.

While adult pets can be fed twice a day, puppies and kittens should be fed smaller meals four times a day until they are six months old.

Do weigh out food portions
The most common nutritional problem reported by vets is obesity, which causes a number of other health problems. Follow packet recommendations for food portions and weigh it out to ensure you're not over-feeding your pet.

Do be treatwise

Treats should be just that - treats for special occasions. They can also be used for training purposes, but it's important that you reduce the appropriate amount of food given at meal times. Remember that you can show your pet you love them without relying on treats - playing games with your pet or showing them extra affection is just as appreciated by dogs and cats.

Do think twice before giving your cat milk
Many cats become lactose intolerant, so while they may enjoy being given a saucer of milk it could only cause them problems such as diarrhoea, vomiting and irritated skin.

While cat milk is essential for new-born kittens, cow milk certainly isn't essential for cats.

Do regularly clean your pet's feeding bowls
Leftover food is the perfect environment for bacteria to grow, which has the potential to cause your pet illness. Wash your pet's food bowl between every meal.

Do seek advice from your vet for newborn kittens and puppies

If you're at all concerned that your newborn puppy or kitten isn't being properly fed by mum, consult your vet right away. They can teach you how to feed your kitten or puppy formula milk and provide you with the necessary equipment to do so.

Don't just rely on common sense
According to that same PDSA study, 26% of dog owners rely on their common sense when it comes to mealtimes. With 35% of dogs being overweight, relying on common sense alone obviously doesn't work.

Don't ignore your pet's loss of appetite
A complete loss of appetite is a symptom of a number of different problems. Don't try to diagnose your pet's medical condition yourself as this could just delay the appropriate treatment. Instead, consult your vet.

Don't give dogs chocolate as a treat
Chocolate contains theobromine, which is toxic to dogs (and cats). Other human foods to avoid include onions, sultanas, raisins and grapes. Unless you're absolutely sure the food is fit for dog consumption, don't give it to them.

Don't give your puppy/kitten solid food until they're ready
Puppies can generally eat solid food from five weeks, while kittens should be around 3 weeks old.

Don't be embarrassed about asking for help
While this list of dos and don'ts is a good place to start, you might have a lot more questions about your pet's diet. Don't ever be afraid about asking your vet a silly question - when your pet's health is at stake you need all the information you can get.

This article was written on behalf of helpucover. helpucover is a trading style of Pinnacle Insurance plc, an insurance company who offer a range of cover including Income Protection, Pet Insurance, GAP insurance and Gadget Insurance. Visit us online at