Nutritional Diseases in Pets
We all want to do the right thing by our fur-babies and feed them a healthy and palatable diet, however with so much contradictory information available on the internet and a vast range of products to choose from, knowing what to feed them can sometimes be confusing and overwhelming.
Like humans, pets can suffer from various nutritional diseases as a result of imbalanced diets or deficiency of essential nutrients.
Some common nutritional diseases in pets include:
Obesity is the most common nutritional health problem in dogs and cats. Overfeeding and lack of physical activity can lead to extra kilos, which can increase the risk of other health problems such as diabetes, joint problems, chronic inflammation, compromised immune function, pancreatitis (dogs) and diabetes (cats).
Anorexia is a decrease or loss of appetite for food. Although anorexia is often an indicator of other underlying conditions such as pain, gastrointestinal blockages, response to medications or oral disease, diet can also play a role. For example, a mineral imbalance such as low potassium levels can interfere with appetite.
A thorough examination should be carried out by a vet to rule out other causes before altering your pet’s diet.
Rickets is a disease of the bony growth plate and mostly occurs in puppies and kittens. It is caused by dietary insufficiencies of phosphorus, Vitamin D or calcium, and is often seen in pets that are fed all-meat diets.
Home-made diets can be deficient in minerals, therefore we recommend speaking to our team about a premium commercial diet for your pet.
Often triggered by fatty foods, pancreatitis occurs when the pancreas becomes inflamed, allowing digestive enzymes from the pancreas to spill into the abdominal cavity. Signs include:
Diabetes mellitus is a disease of the pancreas and is caused by the failure of the pancreas to regulate blood sugar. It is more common in older male cats.
As obesity is a risk factor for diabetes in cats, a supervised weight control program may help to resolve it.
Anaemia is a reduced number of circulating red blood cells, haemoglobin or both. It is caused by an iron or copper deficiency and can result from feeding an unbalanced home-made diet.
The most obvious sign of anaemia is that gums may appear pale pink to white instead of their unusual healthy ‘salmon pink’ colour.
Diarrhoea can occur for a number of reasons related to diet, including:
Food intolerance or allergic reaction
Infection or inflammatory bowel disease
Sudden change in diet
Ingestion of poisonous substances or spoiled food
Diarrhoea can become serious if your pet becomes dehydrated, so it is vital that you book an appointment with one of our vets if symptoms persist.
Constipation is the inability to defecate and is caused by increased water absorption from the large intestine.
For dogs, a balanced diet with increased amounts of soluble fibre such as canned pumpkin or psyllium can help. Cats will do better with a highly digestible balanced diet containing prebiotics.
Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD)
Problems can occur with urinary function when a male cat’s urethra becomes partially or totally blocked. They are then unable to urinate and this condition can become potentially life-threatening.
Feeding a prescription diet and encouraging water intake will help to dilute urine and prevent the formation of crystals in the urethra.
Some foods can cause an allergic reaction when the pet’s immune system responds to proteins as a threat. This can result in:
It can be difficult to ascertain which particular foods are causing the reaction. Diagnosis may involve a series of tests and a food elimination trial to pinpoint the cause.
It is important to feed pets a balanced diet that meets their specific nutritional needs.
If you have any questions or concerns about your pet’s diet, please book a consultation with one of our experienced vets.