Educational Articles

Nutrition

  • Orphaned puppies will need extra care for survival to compensate for the loss of their mother. Puppies must be kept warm, very clean, and fed frequently using an appropriate amount and type of formula by bottle or less often tube feeding. To ensure nutrition is adequate, daily weight checks should be performed for the first 4 weeks, then weekly thereafter. Puppies must be stimulated to urinate and defecate. Environment, feeding instruments and the puppy must be kept meticulously clean as they are more susceptible to infection than puppies cared for by their mother.

  • All snakes are carnivores. Some eat warm-blooded prey (rodents, rabbits, birds), while others eat insects, amphibians, eggs, other reptiles, fish, earthworms, or slugs. Since snakes eat entire prey whole, it is easier for their owners to feed them nutritionally complete diets and certainly prevents many of the dietary-related diseases commonly seen in other reptiles. Live prey should not be fed to snakes. Snakes can be offered either thawed, previously frozen prey, or freshly killed ones. Smaller or younger snakes usually eat twice each week, while larger, more mature snakes typically eat once every week or two. If your snake has a decreased appetite, see your veterinarian. A large, heavy ceramic crock or bowl filled with fresh clean water should be provided at all times.

  • All pet rodents must be fed a good, high quality rodent chow available at pet stores. Many veterinarians also recommend offering hay and fresh vegetables to rodents to encourage chewing and the wearing down of their continuously growing teeth. Diets containing seeds and nuts are not recommended, as they are high in fat and low in nutrition. Water may be offered in a bowl or in a sipper bottle. Seeds, nuts, pasta, unsalted popcorn, or a whole grain cracker can be offered as occasional treats. You can also feed your rodent fresh, well-cleaned vegetables daily and occasionally give a small amount of fruit. Unlike most pets, guinea pigs do not make their own vitamin C and should be fed a commercial high fiber guinea pig pellet with added vitamin C. Chew toys made from hard wood are commercially available in pet stores for rodents and should be offered to help prevent overgrowth of the incisors.

  • Interactive feeders that require a pet to think and work for their food call upon the natural instinct to hunt or forage. Besides being fun, these food puzzles may help both physical and behavioral problems in cats and dogs. When used correctly, interactive feeders may benefit pets that eat too quickly, become bored when alone, or suffer from separation anxiety.

  • The various stages of reproduction provide unique stresses to the body. Each has specific nutritional concerns that should be addressed to maximize both other and puppy health.

  • Special attention needs to be given to a cat’s nutrition before and during her pregnancy to promote a healthy birth and healthy kittens. It is important to maintain a good body condition throughout pregnancy as her weight increases. A good quality kitten or all life stages diet is recommended during the entire pregnancy; ideally one evaluated using feeding trials. This diet is usually fed throughout the lactation period, but attention to body condition is essential here as well, and the diet may need to be restricted if there is a small number of kittens or the cat starts becoming overweight. Weaning is usually aided by feeding significantly less food for a few days while restricting access to nursing to decrease milk production.

  • Special attention needs to be given to a dog’s nutrition during her pregnancy to promote a healthy birth and healthy puppies. It is important to maintain a good body condition throughout pregnancy as her weight increases. A good quality adult maintenance diet is recommended during the first 40 days but after this the energy demand increases greatly and this is most easily met by feeding puppy food. This diet is usually fed throughout the lactation period, but attention to body condition is essential here as well, and the diet may need to be restricted if there is a small number of puppies or the dog starts becoming overweight. Weaning is usually aided by feeding significantly less food for a few days while restricting access to nursing to decrease milk production.

  • Feeding your cat can be easily accomplished with mealtimes on a set schedule. At least two meals per day are best for your cat. The use of food toys or interactive feeders adds interest to your cat’s mealtime. Routines help your cat adjust to changes that may occur in your home as well as allow you to monitor her health.

  • Feeding your dog can be easily accomplished with mealtimes on a set schedule. At least two meals per day are best for your dog. The use of food toys or interactive feeders adds interest to your dog’s mealtimes. Routines help your dog adjust to changes that may occur in your home as well as allow you to monitor his health.

  • With all cancer management strategies, providing optimal nutrition for your cat is essential. The metabolic effects of cancer will persist after treatment but with your veterinarian’s guidance, you can adjust your cat's nutrient profile and potentially avoid some of these negative side effects. Carbohydrates promote cancer cell growth, while cancer cells have a difficult time using fat as an energy source, so foods that are relatively high in fat and low in carbohydrate may benefit cats with cancer. The effects of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy will be considered when your veterinarian advises a nutrient profile, formulation, quantity, and delivery method for your cat.