Nutrition is an essential part of preventative health care. Prescription nutrition can also significantly help battle diseases that your pet may encounter. More than 50% of the pets over the age of 3 are overweight. Every pets’ nutritional needs are different. These needs are based on age, breed, health conditions and lifestyle factors. Diet changes are recommended when the pet enters a new life stage.

Cats are carnivores and require a high amount of protein in their diet. They need 3 essential amino acids; 1. taurine for a healthy heart and vision, 2. arginine for the liver to function properly, and 3. methionine for healthy hair coat, skin and eyes.

Most people think dogs are carnivores but actually they are omnivores. Wolves in the wild get most of their nutrition from meat but they can occasionally eat plant matter. Domestic dogs diverged from grey wolves between 13,000 and 17,000 years ago. Dogs have several digestive and metabolic traits that appear to be more associated with omnivores such as humans, pigs and rats. This has led to the classification of dogs as omnivores.

Dogs need protein and fats in their diet which gives them energy and keeps their skin, coat, nose and paws in good health. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the persuasive marketing campaigns which use buzz words and marketing terms such as ancestral grains, grain free, grass fed and free range. However, good nutrition is not about the ingredients themselves as much as it is about the right balance of nutrients within those ingredients, how the ingredients are handled and where the ingredients are sourced from.

At the Animal Hospital of Northwood our goal is to devise a plan that will create a balanced diet that will strengthen your pet’s immune system and increase the time you get with them! Just as it is in humans’ diet and nutrition are the foundation of your pets’ health and longevity. An overweight pet is predisposed to arthritis, respiratory disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and liver disease.

During each visit at the Animal Hospital of Northwood our doctors will evaluate your pets Body Condition Score (BCS). This is a number assigned to your pet based on evaluation of fat at a few key body locations. A body condition score of 1 means the animal is severely underweight and a Body Condition Score of 9 means an animal is severely overweight. An ideal BCS is a body condition score of 4-5. Most pets have a BCS of 6 or higher. For every number above 5 your pet is an extra 10% overweight.

The Animal Hospital of Northwood is accepting new patients from the Safety Harbor, Clearwater, Dunedin, Palm Harbor and Oldsmar area. We would be happy to help your pet.