Updated: Feb 6
Did you know that what you feed your new puppy or kitten can determine their health for the rest of their life? Yep, their food is super important! In this blog post, I share:
why nutrition is important,
how to identify what's the best food you can feed your puppy or kitten, and
the basic components of a healthy diet for puppies and kittens.
There can be a lot of confusion around what to feed puppies and kittens. Should you feed what the shelter or breeder recommended? Should you feed what the vet recommended? Is supermarket food ok? Can you feed human food scraps? What about bones?
No doubt these and many more questions have crossed your mind when working out what to feed the new furry addition to your family. Or maybe they haven't. Maybe you've been more focussed on behaviour training, toilet training, toys, beds, cute outfits, vaccinations etc.
Nutrition is just as important, if not more important, then these things. Because, as I stated above, the food you feed can determine their health for the rest of their life.
Puppies especially will likely eat anything whereas kittens can be a bit more fussy. But just because they may eat anything, doesn't mean you should feed them just anything.
So how can you know what is the best food to feed your puppy or kitten?
Take a look at their evolutionary history - that of the cat and dog, not your new puppy or kitten whose history is quite short!
From an evolutionary perspective, today's domestic dog originated from the wolf. And today's domestic cat originated from the African Wild Cat. The outward appearance of dogs and cats may have changed significantly from their ancestors, but their internal workings are more or less the same, eg their digestive system. And this is why we look at what the dog's and the cat's ancestors ate to guide us to the best food to feed.
We should also look at modern knowledge around diet, health and longevity and apply those principles as they relate to dogs and cats.
What are the basic components of a healthy diet for puppies and kittens?
To get to the crux of the matter, let's break things down.
Puppies and kittens need nutrients that support growth. They also need protective nutrients to extend healthy life and prevent disease.
Nutrients that support growth include good quality protein, fats, vitamins and minerals. Australian vet, Dr Ian Billinghurst, says that certain of these nutrients (namely, protein, fat and calcium) shouldn't be fed in excess. Billinghurst's view is that when fed in excess, these nutrients can result in rapid growth and obesity, which in turn can contribute to skeletal conditions such as dysplasia (other contributors may include nutrient deficiencies, over-feeding, exercise, trauma and genetics).
Protective nutrients include nutrients from foods such as antioxidants, enzymes, phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals. These nutrients can help to protect the body from harm. They can extend life due to their anti-degeneration benefits. They can support the body to function optimally for longer, thus helping the body to live longer as well as helping to prevent disease.
Protective nutrients are commonly missing from processed pet foods.
The best way to ensure your puppy or kitten is getting these nutrients in their diet is to feed a diet that consists of REAL FOOD - a species appropriate diet with supportive food-based supplements.
For puppies, this means feeding raw meaty bones (human grade, preferably free range, organic); organ meats (preferably organic); vegetables (completely pulverised for nutrient absorption); fresh and preservative free minced meat (human grade, preferably free range, organic); healthy fats; digestive support foods; a food-based vitamin/mineral supplement; and free range/organic eggs.
For kittens, this means feeding raw chicken necks (human grade, preferably free range, organic); organ meats, especially heart, which contains essential taurine for cats (preferably organic); vegetables (completely pulverised for nutrient absorption); fresh and preservative free minced meat (human grade, preferably free range, organic); healthy fats; digestive support foods; a food-based vitamin/mineral supplement; and free range/organic eggs.
These diets don't differ much from what I recommend you feed your adult dog or cat. That's because, no matter the age, the essential foods are the same. It's mainly the frequency of feeding and the incorporation of diced meat that differs.
Would you like help in putting together a diet for your puppy or kitten? Attend one of my upcoming workshops or purchase a one-on-one puppy wellness/kitten care program, tailored to your new puppy or kitten.