Starting puppies and kittens on the right foot with the best nutrition

Plato, who lived thousands of years ago said, “The beginning is the most important part of the work.”  This couldn’t be any truer than it is with nutrition.  Selecting the right nutrition is one of the most influential things you can do for your new puppy or kitten. Good nutrition isn’t just about the ingredients; it is also about the right balance of nutrients to promote good health and quality of life.

The first twelve months are critical, because it’s when the brain and central nervous system are developing. It is also our best chance at getting the right foundation for healthy bones and joints. And it’s our only chance to develop a healthy immune system.  This is why it is so critical to take your new puppy or kitten to your veterinarian for their vaccinations.

Vaccinations stimulate a puppy or kitten’s immune system to build antibodies against various diseases such as parvovirus or kennel cough in puppies and cat flu in kittens. Development of a healthy immune system is very dependent on superior nutrition.  In fact puppy food fortified with antioxidants including vitamins E and C has been shown to promote a healthy immune system in puppies. Good quality protein is needed in higher levels for puppies and kittens for all the growing they are going to do,  but also to provide critical parts of the immune system to fight infection. Omega-6 fatty acids found in vegetable oils also help promote a strong immune function.

It’s also important to look for a highly digestible puppy or kitten food. What does ‘highly digestible’ mean?  It means more of what the puppy or kitten is eating is actually being digested and absorbed. This means smaller meals can be fed for those smaller tummies.  In fact, the higher the quality and digestibility a food has, the less that needs to be fed and this means less to pick up in the backyard!

Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly one known as DHA, found in oily fish like anchovy, mackerel and sardines, are critical for the development of the eyes and brain in puppies and kittens and should be included at correct levels in a good quality growth food.

This brings us to calcium which is perhaps the most misunderstood component of a puppy’s diet. These days excess calcium in puppy food is more common than a deficiency. High levels of calcium and too many calories may actually increase the risk of certain developmental bone and joint diseases; particularly in large and giant breed dogs (dogs that will weigh over 25kg as an adult). Don’t forget excess calcium can also come from treats like cheese, milk or bones.

We know that a pet’s nutritional needs change as it goes through life. That’s why we need to feed a growing pet quite differently from an older, less active one and  why it’s so important to choose a puppy or kitten food that is complete and balanced for the ‘growth of puppies’ or the ‘growth of kittens’. Look for this information on the label.

Hill’s™ Science Diet™ puppy and kitten foods provide precisely balanced nutrition to meet your pet’s special needs. These formulas have meat as the first ingredient; are highly digestible so only small amounts need to be fed; contain a clinically proven combination of antioxidants including vitamin E and vitamin C shown to promote a healthy immune system in puppies; contain high levels of DHA from top-quality fish oil for brain and eye development, balanced minerals for strong bones and teeth, and overall provide the correct balance of nutrients for your puppy.

For more information on feeding puppies and kittens visit the Hill’s™ Pet Nutrition web site.

Dr Delisa Appleton BVSc (Hons) PhD.

Professional Consulting Veterinarian, Hill’s Pet Nutrition.

Delisa graduated from the University of Queensland with honours in 1987 after which she worked in mixed and small animal veterinary practice for 7 years before commencing work in the nutrition industry.  She then returned to the University of Queensland to undertake research into nutritional aspects of obesity and diabetes in cats and was awarded a PhD in 2004. She is currently employed as a Professional Consulting Veterinarian with Hill’s Pet Nutrition.

Hill’s™, Science Diet™ and Prescription Diet™ are trademarks of Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc.

© 2018 Hill’s Pet Nutrition Pty Ltd.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.