Proper Pet Nutrition: Cat and Dog Food

September 19, 2011
Cool Kitty

cool kitty taking a break

Teresa Arsenault

Keep your pets well with proper nutrition! Here are tips for feeding your dog and cat.

Note: Your pet may have special health concerns that will dictate which kind of diet is best. Consult your vet when you first adopt your pet, then follow these general diet guidelines.

Choosing the Right Food for Your Cat

  • Kittens up to four months old may need to be fed three times a day, and twice a day after that. Some pet owners just leave food out continuously. This is usually fine, but wet food may spoil and the cat will not eat it. This method also makes it hard to keep track of what the cat eats, making it difficult to track changes in appetite that may signal a health problem.
  • Most commercial cat food contains taurine, an amino acid that is found naturally in chicken and beef. If cats don't get enough taurine, they can be prone to heart or vision problems, depression, cirrhosis, and other health issues.
  • Watch your cat's bowel habits to know if she is getting the right kind of food. Diarrhea and constipation indicate a problem. Stools should be firm, compact, and relatively small. A thick, shiny coat and a bright eyed look mean your cat's nutrition is probably good.
  • Caution: If you think a change in diet is necessary, institute the change gradually. Cats hate a sudden change of food.

Choosing the Right Food for Your Dog

  • Feed your dog a high-quality diet. Adding extra vitamins and minerals is usually not necessary and, for some large-breed puppies, could actually be detrimental. A large-breed puppy may grow too quickly with excessive proteins or vitamins, putting him at risk of hip dysplasia, a common ailment of larger dogs.
  • Feed a puppy three or four times a day, leaving the food out for only five to ten minutes at a time. Older dogs can be fed twice a day.
  • Don't get carried away wtih treats, even when you're trying to train your dog. Too many treats can lead to weight problems or finicky eating. Use more love and affection as your dog's reward in training, and choose low-fat and reduced-calorie snacks.

DID YOU KNOW? Many dogs like the taste and crunch of raw fruits and vegetables such as carrots, apples, broccoli, and green beans. Give your pet a few of these each day instead of high-calorie snacks. Bananas, watermelon, and blueberries are also a favorite. Make sure to stay away from grapes though, as they are toxic to dogs.

How do you tell is your pet is too chubby? See our tips.


The Old Farmer's Almanac Pet Lover's Companion

Reader Comments

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You show a picture here...identical to my British Short Hair ...such a great, intelligent cat. I love that photo.
He was over weight...(his breed ranges up to 35 pounds) he was 25 pounds...starving all the time... he ate fast, looking for more.
I am now feeding him "raw animal food, professionally done"... all protein ...he is losing 22 pounds. He is 8 years old.
He eats smaller portions, 1 tbsp. twice daily, and he does not eat fast, because he dissects every part of it, even though it is finely mashed... he is so fussy and wise. I love him so much
I also give him high quality dry food...very, few treats.
Oh, his stool is healthy with no gas...even easier to clean his toilet.
Thanks for this blog...I really enjoy it...I read it every day.

We give our cat a natural

We give our cat a natural high protein food and she has horrid gas. What's up with that?

I have no idea. I hate it

I have no idea. I hate it when they do it in the middle of the night. Gosh, it wakes me up.

Does your cat inhale its food

The Editors's picture

Does your cat inhale its food quickly? This can be a cause of gas (too much air).

We have a 6 month old kitten

We have a 6 month old kitten who has diarrhea. What can we feed her to firm up her stool? She has had all of her shots and has been fixed. We are looking for a natural remedy. Her brother eats the same food and he is fine. Please let us know. Thank You!

You need to consult with your

You need to consult with your vet. A common cause of diarrhea is giving kitten milk once they are weaned; they can't
absorb milk sugar lactose. Other problem could be a parasite which is why you need to consult a professional.

I had a similar issue with my

I had a similar issue with my kittens. The vet didn't help and then my daughter n law suggested Kefir. Just a little kefir and we had improvement on the first day.
Gave him a literacy day for a few days and he has been fine ever since.