Category Archives: Veterinary Dietetics

Normal Dogs

Healthy dams of good breeding produce healthy offspring. The probability of producing healthy, vigorous puppies can be improved by breeding animals from lines known to be free of genetic problems, by avoiding inbreeding, and by breeding bitches between 2 and 6 years of age. When these criteria have been met, success depends primarily on the diet and feeding management of mother and offspring. Feeding During Gestation And Lactation Before a bitch is bred, she should receive a physical examination, her vaccinations should be updated, and worming should be performed if necessary. The dog should be of normal body weight and moderate body condition; excess weight may predispose to dystocia, whereas underweight bitches may have difficulty conceiving. Moderate body condition should be attained before breeding if problems are to be avoided later. Owners should be asked to measure the dam’s usual food intake at this time; it will be important to remind them of this information when the puppies are weaned. The dam should be fed an excellent-quality commercial diet during gestation. During the first 6 weeks of pregnancy she should maintain her normal weight and feeding schedule. A decrease in food intake commonly occurs during Read more […]

Puppy Care And Feeding

The first week of the puppies’ lives is the most critical to their survival. Newborn animals are physiologically immature; body fat percentage is low — 1% to 2% compared with 12% to 35% in adults — and they do not develop adequate glycogen reserves until after the first few days of nursing. Puppies have rapid respiratory rates (15 to 35 breaths per minute from 24 hours to 5 weeks of age) and heart rates (200 to 220 beats per minute from 24 hours to 5 weeks of age). The first nutritional concern with puppies is that they receive colostrum immediately after birth; all pups should be held up to a nipple to ensure they get colostrum within 24 hours of birth. The next priority is that they stay warm. Neonatal pups cannot regulate their body temperature (which is 94° to 97° F for the first 14 days). They need to be kept in an environment that is 85° to 90° F during the first week, and 80° to 85° F during the second week of life. Hypothermia makes pups unable to eat, which may result in their rejection by the dam. A good way to ensure that pups are eating and developing normally is to weigh them daily. Pups should gain 1 to 2 g per day per pound of anticipated adult body weight. For example, if the anticipated adult Read more […]

Adult Dogs

Healthy adult dogs have relatively small nutrient requirements compared with those in the reproductive stages of life. They may be maintained for years on a wide range of commercial or homemade diets with apparently little consequence. This adaptability maybe an explanation for the fervent belief of some owners that a seemingly peculiar diet is beneficial for their pets. The probability of a diet-related problem, however, should be lower for animals fed properly formulated commercial diets, because these diets have been more thoroughly tested, and have been fed to millions of animals successfully for generations. Because no adverse consequences are observed in a single animal does not mean that a diet provides superior nutrition. Tech Tips: Dog Growth When clients ask how much to feed a new puppy, the best thing to do is to teach them how to assign a body condition scoring to their pet. They will then be able to adjust the amount of food offered as necessary during the puppy’s growth period. It is also a good idea to provide clients with a body condition scoring sheet, which provides a ready reference at home, as well as a pet food measuring cup. These are available through most pet food manufacturers on request. • Read more […]

Performance Dogs

After reproduction, work places the greatest nutritional demand on dogs. Dogs engage in guard and police work, racing, and hunting. Hard work increases all nutrient needs. For most “weekend athlete” dogs, these increases are proportional to the increase in energy needs, so they can be met by eating more of the same diet. Studies of sled dogs in the field and beagles on treadmills, however, have suggested that diets designed to support hard work and maximize stamina should have high digestibility and low bulk and should provide 50% to 60% of dietary energy from fat, 30% to 40% from protein, and 10% to 20% from carbohydrate. The digestibility of commercial dog foods ranges from approximately 70% to 85%. Food bulk — the fiber and mineral content — therefore represents 15% to 30% of the food. Increasing the fat content usually increases the digestibility of dry dog foods. Moreover, high-fat diets often are lower in mineral and plant fiber content. Reducing the bulk improves stamina by increasing nutrient density and reducing the volume of indigestible material in the colon. In studies comparing the influence of fat and carbohydrate on stamina in racing sled dogs, red blood cell mass responded to training and racing Read more […]

Geriatric Dogs

No definition of the word old is applicable to all dogs. In one survey veterinary specialists believed geriatric should be applied to dogs based on age within breed groups. Diseases associated with aging, such as cancer and cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, and renal disorders, were thought to begin to increase in frequency at the ages… Great variation also exists among individual animals; as the saying goes, “it’s not so much the age as the mileage.” The physical signs of aging — graying of the muzzle, decreased activity, or loss of sight or hearing — are more reliable indicators of advanced age in any particular dog than is its chronologic age. Presence of these signs suggests loss of the reserve capacity of body systems that allow young animals to adapt to changes in their environment and should raise the index of suspicion for the presence of age-related diseases. Dietary advice for owners of aging dogs depends on the animal’s usual diet and its current health status. Although all clients should be asked about the specific brand and amount of food they feed to their pet, what “people food” it consumes, and the type and amount of supplements given, this information is even more useful for evaluating the nutritional Read more […]