Nutrition of Small Animals

Nutrition of Small Animals

The basic nutrition of cats and dogs

Nutritional requirements

Whenever it comes to dogs and cats nutrition, it is typically different from human being. In case one makes a mistake with the feeding it might lead to serious consequences on their health. If the food is not balanced it might lead to obesity, digestive problems, renal insufficiency, and dysfunction of the liver and bone problems. To achieve a balanced diet in both dogs and cats a specific dosage of cereals, meat as well as vegetables should be used such that they get enough carbohydrates, amino acids, minerals, vitamins and trace elements. Also, these requirements for nutrition in animals normally vary depending on its age, size, and activity. For instance, a hunting dog cannot feed with the same proportion of food as the house dog. The manufacturer in many cases provides rations to be adapted for the requirement of different kind of pets (Maria, Katherine, George & Jr. 2013). Moreover, industrial foods are prepared in a way that all the nutrients are mixed with the right proportion hence when used healthy lead life for the pet.

To be specific dogs will require a good balance of phosphorus or calcium as well as vitamin D to ensure they have strong bones together with healthy teeth. Also, fats and oils should be provided as they are the major sources of energy. Finally, for the dogs, proteins should be provided to ensure body muscles are maintained. In contrary, the cats need twice of proteins offer to the dog. At many times vitamin A should be provided with a lot of caution since too much of liver can be harmful. If the fatty acids are not balanced they can lead to the cat’s shiny coat fading away. To prevent eye as well as heart disease, taurine (vitamin-like substance) should also be provided (Palika, 2012).

Nutrients are necessary for cats and dogs

Cats and dogs require the following nutrients so that they achieve good health and faster growth and development. First, fat, as well as fatty acids, are important in ensuring that the pet has healthy skin as well as coat. Furthermore, they increase the palatability of the food. On the other hand, protein is necessary for providing better growth, muscle tones together with. Another aspect of nutrient is the carbohydrates that are sources of vitamins, energy, and minerals. Also, they provide fiber that helps to prevent constipation and some cases assisting in weight management (Palika, 2012). To ensure blood clotting, mineral metabolism as well as vision they need vitamins. Finally, minerals are necessary to ensure the healthy function of muscles together with nerves. Many times people have confused quality diet to the ingredients list. However, the best ingredient is chosen by providing an optimal blend of nutrients to the pet.

Essential vs. nonessential

More effort should be put in ensuring nutrients requirements of both the species is very considered to enable formulation of nutritionally balanced and complete diet. Though it minds looks easy, the key requirement is having the right balance as well as the right amount of calories. It is a very a complex procedure to design the recipe and includes optimization of the nutrients. For instance, the cat has a higher requirement for protein as compared to the dog. Taurine which is a major requirement for cats should be available in the diet however they have a low capacity to synthesize taurine as opposed to the dog hence cannot have the intake of dietary sulphur containing amino acids. Also, the cat has difficulty in synthesizing nicotinic acid from tryptophan efficiently (Weeth, 2015). The cat cannot have the satisfaction of vitamin A requirement with herbivorous diet since it is unable to convert carotene to retinol acid. To add on this, linoleic acid cannot be converted by the cat to meets its requirement for arachidonic acid. In any case, the cat is unable to bear the high level of carbohydrates in the diet. This difference is significant in formulating diet so that nutritional requirements of cats and dogs are met with the specification.

Digestion and metabolism

Digestive system plays a critical role in the absorption of nutrients in the body that is ingestion of food, then later breaks the food into particles in the mouth and the stomach then the nutrients are later absorbed in the intestines before eliminating the waste at the rectum. The main organs involved in this process include the mouth, small intestine, stomach, large intestine, pancreas, and liver. The food upon proper chewing it is swallowed and the passes through the esophagus that is a small hose-like tube that connects the mouth to the stomach it usually follows a straight path through the neck and the chest into the stomach. The food passes through the esophagus through a process known as peristalsis (Weeth, 2015). The dog has got a stomach that is a sac-like structure that digests food and stores a large volume of food. The stomach has got gastric juice in its lining that assists in food digestion. It also contains acids and enzymes that help in breaking down of food. Upon completion of food digestion in the stomach it enters the duodenum and leaves the stomach within twelve hours of stay.

Later in the small intestine which is a tube-like structure that links the stomach to the large intestine. It forms part of the longest part of the digestive system. In the dog, it has three parts that are the duodenum which is the first part then the second part that is known as jejunum and finally the ileum is the third part that is directly connected to the large intestine. The duodenum has a connection to the bile duct and pancreas that produce enzymes that assist in food digestion at the small intestine. Jejunum contains the villi that assist in the absorption of food nutrients and at long last food that is emptied into the ileum from the jejunum is passed into the large intestine (Weeth, 2015).

Large intestine in dogs normally links the ileum to the anus. Its function is to absorb water from the undigested food and also temporarily store the undigested food. It has several parts that include the caecum then the colon that connects the large intestine into the rectum (Weeth, 2015).

Nutritional impact on growth and development

The goal for the feeding program in pets is the normal maintenance of health as well as optimal body weight. If these pets are feed well they have greater chances of reducing the diseases that are already present. Older cats and dogs that have a lean body and are fed well with appropriate diet do not require any change in their diet just because of their age. In many cases, dog owners should monitor the uptake of food for their pets to ensure they do not contract diseases. Also, there should be proper care for pets about their dental health (Wood, 2012). To add on this pet’s physicals condition should be sustained through general exercise. This kind of exercise can help to maintaining muscles, enhancing blood circulation as well as optimal body weight.

Contrary obese pets that are geriatric dogs, as well as cats, can have the problem due to unintended weight that is not taken care of by the owner. In any case, the animal is fed with more food that contains fewer calories it shall have normal weight as opposed to when fed with feed that has got high calorie. Another scenario, pet food with less energy is inappropriate to pets that engage in high energy activities. Where the symptoms for unnecessary weight loss cannot be verified then symptomatic treatment for loss of weight can be implemented. To ensure better feeding, the feed should be energy dense, highly palatable, nutrient dense to ensure appropriate feed is given to the pet (Wood, 2012)

Feeding regimens and best husbandry practices

Some veterinary doctors have proved that continuous ingestion of a small quantity of food stimulates oral bacteria growth that might promote dental disease. In many cases, dogs are fed in groups since some dogs might dominate and mistreat others while feeding and in case they are fed at a personal level the food intake should be monitored. A dog must be fed at least once a day except for veterinary order. All adult dogs should be fed with nutrients that can allow them to sustain their body mass and can vary depending on the sex, age, breed, activity, and temperance (Maria et al., 2013). Whenever a dog or cat body size is determined it weight can be a point of reference in future evaluations. The food should be stored in a cool and dry place to avoid contamination, and all the equipment for feeding the pets should be disinfected to avoid contamination.

Maria R. C. de Godoy, Katherine R. Kerr, George C. Fahey, & Jr. (2013). Alternative Dietary Fiber Sources in Companion Animal Nutrition. Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute.
Palika, L. (2012). The ultimate pet food guide: Everything you need to know about feeding your dog or cat. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press.
Weeth, L. P. (2015). Appetite stimulants in dogs and cats. Nutritional Management of Hospitalized Small Animals, 128-135. doi:10.1002/9781119052951.ch13
Wood, C. (2012). Animal people. Crows Nest, N.S.W: Allen & Unwin.

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