Managing Common Health Problems with Customized NutritionApril 17, 2020
Just like humans, dogs and cats need a specific combination of protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and water every day to maintain good health. Similarly, pets can also be prone to common health problems such as obesity, periodontal disease, and urinary stones.
The relationship between diet and health has become increasingly evident in both the human and pet world, and as a result, an increasing amount of nutraceutical pet foods are being developed with higher quality ingredients and more customized nutrition.
Although it can be a daunting responsibility, our pets depend on us for good care, so it’s important to educate ourselves about some of the most common health problems pets face and the role pet food and we, as pet parents play to help prevent and manage them.
Prevention is the best medicine
Some more severe ailments must be diagnosed and monitored closely by a veterinarian, while others are mild to moderate and manageable, and fortunately, some of the most common health issues can be prevented with a little pet parent intervention and a few healthy habits:
- Exercise them daily
- Provide them with mental stimulation
- Make sure they’re hydrated
- Groom them regularly
- Have their teeth cleaned
- Choose a pet food that caters to their specific nutritional requirements
While these all sound easy and straight forward, you’d be surprised how many of us skip out on some of these simple tasks. It is important to keep in mind that it is the combination of all these actions that will contribute to the optimal health of your pet.
Choosing the right pet food
Functional diets can play a key role in both supporting good health and preventing health issues. In addition to being specifically formulated to the health issue at hand, your pet food should also support the general wellbeing of your pet by offering high quality ingredients, including quality protein, a good source of healthy fat such as salmon oil and, and prebiotic fibers and probiotics to help promote and maintain a healthy gut.
It is important to note that in some cases, such as in the case of allergies, a change in diet may be all that is required; however, in most cases diet alone will not solve the problem. Diet represents only one component of the care a pet requires to improve their health.
Let’s look at some of the most common issues and how each of them can best be managed through food and a little TLC.
Obesity and Weight Management Problems
According to the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, between 50 and 60 per cent of Canadian pets are either overweight or obese. Overweight dogs and cats are more prone to developing other health problems, like diabetes. When managing a weight problem, it is first and foremost, important to feed your pet appropriate portions based on its target or ideal weight rather than its current weight. It is also recommended that you start them on a weight management food. Key features to determine a highly functional formula include:
- Low fat to help limit weight gain: look for clear statements that identify that the diet offers reduced or lower fat (e.g. has 50% less fat)
- High fiber to help curb appetite: look for (1) higher guaranteed maximum of crude fiber content, 6% or above (2) high fiber ingredients like Miscanthus grass, alfalfa, and anything with the word “fiber” in it
- Supplemented with L-Carnitine to help convert fat into energy and maintain lean muscle mass
Care Tip: Weight loss is not only about calories-in, its equally as important to focus on calories-out. Increasing your pet’s energy expenditure through daily activity and exercise is crucial to maintaining a healthy weight.
Gastrointestinal Issues, Dermatological Issues & Food Allergies/Intolerances
For dogs and cats with sensitive stomachs, sensitive skin, or who suffer from food-related issues, eating a food that caters to their sensitivities can make all the difference. There are a few key components that you need to look for in your pet food:
- A single animal protein diet made with an alternative source of protein such as fish
- A diet free of common allergens such as poultry, egg, dairy, wheat and soy
- A source of hydrolyzed protein: This highly digestible protein is partially broken down making it easier for sensitive tummies to digest and less likely to cause an allergic reaction.
- A good source of omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon or salmon oil to help maintain a healthy skin and coat.
- A rich source of prebiotic fibers such as fresh pumpkin, and probiotics to maintain a healthy gut microbiome.
Oral Health Problems
According to petfoodindustry.com, it is reported that approximately 70% of cats and 80% of dogs develop some form of periodontal disease by the time they are 3 years old and that every dog or cat can be affected to some extent during its life. Keeping your pets’ teeth clean is a crucial component of maintaining their overall health. Scientists believe that continuously fighting the chronic bacterial infections that accompany periodontal disease can take a serious toll on a pet’s immune system over the course of its life.
Whether healthy and looking for a form of prevention or currently suffering from oral health issues such as gingivitis, tartar and plaque accumulation, or halitosis (bad breath), all dogs and cats can benefit from a dental kibble. Look for a formula that includes:
- Larger kibble: A larger kibble prolongs chewing to help mechanically clean teeth and fight plaque and tartare.
- A good source of insoluble fiber to help create a “brushing” effect as they chew.
- Oral care-specific ingredients such as Stay-C-50®: A specialized Vitamin C molecule that helps fight the problem at the source by attacking oral bacteria.
- Brush or wipe their teeth clean, especially near the gumline, at least once every 2-3 days
- Follow your veterinarian’s advice and have your pet’s teeth professionally cleaned when recommended, especially if there are signs that plaque and tartar may be accumulating below the gumline
- Offer them treats in the form of dental chews and bones
Certain cat breeds may be more prone to developing urinary health problems. While existing problems must be treated by a vet, if you know your cat is prone to developing crystals, it is crucial that you increase their water intake by offering them canned food, as well as feeding them a formula designed to create an unfavourable environment for crystals to take form. Look for the following in your pet food:
- Controlled urinary pH to create an unfavorable environment for crystal formation: while reducing urinary pH can help to prevent struvite crystals, if pH is too acidic calcium oxalate crystals are more likely to form, so look for balance, not just reduction in urinary pH
- Low magnesium levels to help decrease the likelihood of struvite crystal formation – look for Max 0.08% magnesium in the guaranteed analysis of your pet food.
Hairballs are an unpleasant natural occurrence, but there are steps you can take to minimize the mess, starting with a Hairball control formula. Hairball control diets are specifically formulated to help eliminate ingested hair through the stool rather than through regurgitation. Ingredients that help with hairballs include:
- Pineapple extract (Bromelain) to help degrade and reduce the formation of hairballs to make them easier to pass
- High insoluble fiber to improve intestinal transit and increase hair eliminated through stool: look for maximum guaranteed crude fiber content of 10% or higher
Care tip: Regularly brushing your cats’ hair will help significantly decrease the amount of hair shed and ingested during self-grooming.
Anxiety, Aggression and Hyperactivity
Pets who suffer from stress and behavioural issues, suffer on a broad spectrum. Some need more care than others to manage their issues. There are diets available that have been formulated to help support mental wellbeing in pets with behavioral problems, but these diets alone are not a cure-all solution for these types of problems. Caring for pets with stress-related issues is much more encompassing. As a starting point, you should look for a food made with some of the following beneficial ingredients:
- Hydrolyzed Casein, also known as Lactium® for its proven anti-anxiety effects.
- L-tryptophan: an amino acid required for serotonin production studied for its role in mood regulation and alleviating dominance aggression signs in dogs.
- L-tyrosine: an amino acid required for dopamine production, a nutrient important for attention and focus.
- Formulas that support mental wellness and stress management are designed for just that – to ensure pets have excellent nutritional support for their mental wellbeing.
- Regular physical and mental exercise also play a key role in managing behavioral issues.
- It is important to discuss additional treatment with your veterinarian or other industry experts, whether in the form of medication or therapy.
Made in Canada and developed by the makers of SubZero, with leading industry professionals, Nutrience Care is formulated to provide the highest quality nutritional solutions for the customized care pets need.
As part of its promise to support pets’ general wellbeing, Nutrience Care is also designed to support overall gut health being made with DIGESTIBOOST, an inclusion cold-formed and air-dried to preserve nutrients. DIGESTIBOOST is rich in soluble, insoluble fiber to promote healthy bowel movements as well as prebiotics to promote beneficial gut bacteria.