What are the basic building blocks of nutrients that cats and dogs need to enjoy healthy lives?
Protein, Carbohydrates, Fat, minerals, vitamins and water are the basics.
Proteins – Cats are true carnivores and need more protein than dogs. The 22 amino acids in protein, 12 of which an animal synthesizes, are necessary for every facet of growth and development in animals. The amino acids which must be consumed are arginine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methiomine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptofen, valine and taurine. While dogs synthesize taurine, cats cannot and must have it added to their diets.
Carbohydrates – Carbohydrates supply energy. This energy is used for biological and metabolic processes which contribute to normal body function. However, since both dogs and cats produce enough glucose, the product of carbohydrates, they are not considered essential. With dogs, carbohydrates can aid as an energy source so that proteins can work elsewhere in the body. Cats cannot break down carbohydrates as effectively as dogs, so a higher protein diet is essential for their good health. But cats do benefit from a small amount of carbs.
Fats – Dogs and cats don’t suffer as humans do from the effects of moderate amounts of animal fats. Fats are an energy source for pets, but a diet high in fat can lead to obesity in our pets. Fats also contribute to the health of coats and skin of pets.
Water could be the most essential nutrient for dogs and cats. They can go for days without food but, especially on very hot days, will become dehydrated very quickly. Remember to clean the water bowl daily. Fresh clean water should always be available.
Improper nutrition can affect your pet’s behavior as well as his/her health. If your pet shows any symptoms such as being jittery, nervous, stressed, cranky, hyperactive, aggressive, s/he should be examined by the vet, but check the labels on your dog food if you are feeding commercial foods. If you are feeding raw or home-cooked, make sure your pet is getting the correct amount of nutrients necessary for good health.