You've probably heard the expression "You are what you eat", well that's just as true for our pets as it is for ourselves. There are three main factors contributing to your pet's health: genetics, environment and nutrition. You can't do anything about their genes, but the environment you create and the food you choose for them could have a direct effect on their future health.
Not all pet foods are the same, and it is important that the food you choose includes the correct balance of all the necessary vitamins, minerals and nutrients they need. Many manufacturers now offer diets tailored to the natural changes in nutritional requirements that take place as your pet ages, e.g. puppy/kitten, adult, senior. We are always happy to advise on the most appropriate food for your pet.
When introducing a new food we recommend that it is introduced gradually, by mixing gradually increasing amounts mixing in with the previous food. You should also monitor your pet's weight regularly, and adjust the amount of food you give them to keep them at a healthy weight. Take care with treats too! It's easy to give a few small treats here and there and this can result in weight gain.
Providing easy access to clean, fresh drinking water is just as important as providing the right food.
Foods to avoid
Remember there are certain human foods that can be harmful or even fatal to your pets. Although it can be tempting to share, you must avoid giving your pets foods such as:
Chocolate - contains Theobromine, which is toxic and causes vomiting, diarrhoea, restlessness, hyperactivity and seizures. As a general rule chocolate with a high cocoa content is more toxic.
Onions, Garlic, Chives - cause stomach irritation and red blood cell damage and anaemia (particularly onions).
Caffeine - although a couple of laps of tea or coffee will not do any harm, the ingestion of moderate amounts of coffee grounds or tea bags can lead to serious problems. Signs are similar to chocolate toxicity.
Alcohol - is significantly more toxic to dogs than to humans. When consumed, alcoholic beverages and food products can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, decreased coordination, difficulty breathing, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, coma and even death.
Avocado - the fruit and seeds contain a substance called Persin that can cause vomiting and diarrhoea.
Macademia nuts - can cause dogs to experience weakness, depression, tremors, vomiting and hyperthermia (increased body temperature).
Corn on the cob - unlike most vegetables, corn does not digest well in a dog’s stomach. If your dog swallows large chunks of the cob, or even whole, it can cause an intestinal blockage due to it's size and shape.
Grapes and Raisins - can cause kidney failure. Be particularly careful with foods such as fruit cake where a single mouthful can contain a large number of raisins.
Bones - dogs can choke on bones, or sustain injury as the splinters can become lodged in or puncture your dog's digestive tract. If you choose to give your dog bones be sure to keep an eye on them, and avoid giving cooked bones (which splinter easily) or giving bones that are small enough to get stuck in their bowels.
Xylitol - an artificial sweetener found in chewing gum, and many reduced-sugar products. It causes a dramatic lowering of blood sugar levels and even very small amounts can be fatal.
Lilies - many varieties of Lily are extremely toxic to cats, and all parts of the plant are poisonous. Cats can be poisoned if they eat part of the plant, or even when they groom themselves after picking up pollen when they brush against the flower. Lily toxicity causes kidney damage.
Antifreeze - poisoning by antifreeze containing ethylene glycol is unfortunately quite common in cats. Ethylene glycol smells and tastes sweet so cats will drink from spills on the ground and lick it off their paws. Even a few drops in a puddle can cause serious kidney damage and may be fatal.