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The Benefits of Changing Your Pet’s Diet
Could you imagine eating the same foods day after day for 10 to 20 years? Not only would it get boring, but you probably wouldn’t get the nutrients and calories you need at different stages in your life. Your pet’s nutritional needs change in the same ways over time. A diet that works for your one-year-old German shorthaired pointer today probably won’t provide what they need throughout their life. As they grow older, experience health conditions, or gain a few pounds, their nutritional needs will change.
Here are seven reasons you might need to change your animal’s diet and what it can do for their overall health and wellness:
Just like humans, pets can have allergies to trees, grasses, medications, or foods. Unfortunately, they can’t tell you that their diet or a product at home is causing them to feel bad, so you have to pay attention to their behaviors. Cats or dogs with allergies almost always have problems with their skin when they react to environmental allergens or foods. Common signs you might see include dry, red, itchy, flaky, or damaged skin.
If you suspect your pet has allergies, consult a veterinarian before you make any changes to their diet. The doctor might want to perform a few tests to determine what might be causing your pet’s symptoms. They can also help you decide what food or special diets will work best. You can purchase over-the-counter food for a pet with sensitive skin or stomach or talk to your veterinarian about a prescription. Homemade dog food is another excellent option if your dog has severe allergies and you want to monitor exactly what they are eating.
Maintains a Healthy Coat
Not all pet foods are created equal. Many foods provide only basic nutrients, leaving room for improvement in your pet’s diet. Foods rich in essential fatty acids help to maintain a thick, shiny, and bright coat. If your pet’s skin or fur isn’t as healthy as you would like, search for products with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
When your pet is ill or has to have surgery, you want to give them all the love they need. This may also be the perfect time to change up their diet to provide them with extra calories, nutrients, or vitamins they need to recover.
Choose diets high in antioxidants to give them the extra boost their immune system needs. It’s critical to remember that if your pet is suddenly weak or lethargic, you need your veterinarian to evaluate them before you make any significant diet changes.
Supports an Aging Pet
Did you know that animals are considered “middle-aged” around five to seven years old? This is about the time you’ll start noticing a decrease in their energy levels and an increase in the number of hours they sleep each day.
As they age, their nutritional needs change. It’s typical for older pets to need fewer calories, more fiber, and foods that are easily digested. They might also need supplements to keep their joints moving smoothly. Senior pets can experience dental issues, so along with a change in the nutrients in their foods, they might also need a soft or moist diet. Additives like citric acid help prevent tooth problems, such as calculus, or the hard, rock-like material that forms on teeth. If you’re looking for appropriate food for your senior pet but can’t find one, terms to look out for include “adult” or “adult maintenance.”?
Chubby pets can be cute and cuddly. But, just like humans, too much weight can impact their life expectancy and set them up to experience other health conditions. To fight against the obesity epidemic in humans, doctors recommend increased activity and fewer calories. The same is true for your pets.
So, if your animal is a little too thick around the middle, try switching them to a diet specially made for weight loss. These types of formulas ensure that your pet is still getting the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients they need while keeping calories low.
Alleviates Stomach Upset
If your furry friend struggles with loose stools, passing gas, or a belly that makes lots of rumbling or gurgling sounds, this might be a sign of food intolerance. Another problem that your cat or dog can struggle with (as well as you, yourself) is gastroesophageal reflux disease ( GERD ) , commonly called acid reflux. If your animal experiences spitting up, evidence of pain with swallowing, weight loss, or poor appetite, GERD might be the issue.
A new diet can often relieve these symptoms and have your pet enjoying life and mealtime again. If your pet is experiencing new GI problems, it’s always best to talk to your animal healthcare professional to get an accurate diagnosis before you make any diet changes. Foods labeled for sensitive stomachs are often a good fit for pets with these types of belly issues.
Keeping Them Happy and Healthy
Your pet depends on you to keep them well fed. This doesn’t just mean that they have food in their bowl, but that they have the right food for their life stage. You might have to make a few diet changes throughout their lifetime as they age or develop any health concerns to ensure they get the right balance of calories and nutrients. With proper diet and nutrition, your pet will
be giving you cuddles for years to come.
Noah Yarnol Rue is always looking where his next trip will take him . When he’s not traveling the world, he’s writing articles on the new things he learns. Noah also enjoys a good meme from time to time. You can find Noah on LinkedIn.