Unsure about fulfilling your pet dogs' nutritional needs? Veterinary surgeon Dr Chow Hao Ting shared his insights and some helpful resources to look into through a virtual talk in PAWFull habits
In PAWfull Habits, veterinary surgeon Dr Chow Hao Ting shared his insights into dog nutrition and some tips for pet owners. Three main areas were covered in the session:
Some types of diets available;
How we should go about changing our pets' diets; and
How to choose the best pet products
Generally, there are Wet, Dry, Raw, Vegan, Semi-moist, and Canned diets. Pet owners should weigh the pros and cons of a diet when deciding which one to follow. For instance, one should note that Raw Diets may result in potential problems such as nutritional imbalances and the prevalence of potentially serious pathogens, and the fact that it is unsuitable for pets with obesity, CKD, or compromised immunity.
As a rule of thumb, your pet food needs to:
Provide complete and balanced nutrition
Not be fed in excess
Be sustainable (e.g financially)
Your pet may need to change its diet when it is approaching a new life stage, is suffering from an illness, or requires nutritional support. Here are 3 steps that may help you with this process:
Research: what are the calorie requirements required for the age group your pet is in?
Consult a vet
Trial: introduce your pet to the new diet through a 7-day transition, and change it gradually according to how it responds to the new diet. Your pet may require some time for its body to adjust!
*Unless your pet is showing strong signs of discomfort or health implications with the new diet, give your pet a month or two of adjustment before evaluating whether to transition to a new diet again.
In order to determine if your dog or cat is well-nourished, you could check if its body condition score is optimal, and/or use the WSAVA nutritional toolkit. However, do take note that these are just general rules - some breeds of dogs will just be perpetually skinny!
When it comes to choosing the dog food you are getting, do evaluate the brand and the label. Look out for indications that the food has been appropriately formulated by trained nutritionists, the nutritional adequacy statement is present, and the food matches the nutritional needs of your pet. Ultimately, it may help to:
Look objectively for scientifically proven facts
Evaluate the nutritional content of the food
Refer to trusted sources for accurate information about the product
Avoid choosing products simply because they are well-marketed (don't be fooled by a fancy font!)
Refrain from believing the vast information on the internet
During the Q&A segment, Dr Chow also shared a very helpful link to calculate the nutritional value of the meals we are feeding our pets, especially if they are home-cooked: Secure.balanceit.com/ez
Skin issues in dogs was another prominent issue raised. Skin issues can be caused by food or environmental allergies - you would likely need to undergo a food trial to figure this out. This would include feeding foods that your pet has never eaten before, such as kangaroo or frog meat. Find more information here: https://veterinarypartner.vin.com/default.aspx?pid=19239&id=4951526
Once again, we would like to thank Dr Chow for spending his Saturday afternoon with us, and all of the participants that joined us in PAWfull Habits! We hope you learnt as much as we did.