Articles

Nutrition

  • Esophagostomy tubes are placed through the skin of the neck into the esophagus to enable ongoing nutrition in dogs that either refuse to eat or are unable to chew and swallow food. A diet will be recommended by your veterinarian, but must be liquefied with water before it can pass through the tube. Step-by-step instructions are provided. The decision to remove the tube will be determined by your veterinarian.

  • Dog food has been made so palatable that it can easily create gluttonous behavior. Meal feeding and portion control are important to prevent obesity. Owners should not give in to begging behavior. Dogs that are still hungry after their meal can be supplemented with snacks such as green vegetables recommended by your veterinarian. Dogs that eat too quickly can be fed creatively to slow down eating.

  • Turtles are omnivorous, eating both animal protein and vegetable matter. As juveniles, they are mainly carnivorous, become more omnivorous as they age. When feeding turtles, offering a variety of food is important to help stimulate the turtle to eat and provide nutritional balance. The carnivorous portion of their diet should consist of commercial turtle or fish pellets, as well as a variety of invertebrates and vertebrates. The plant portion of the diet should be made up of vegetables, preferably ones that float and can be left in the water for the turtle to nibble on throughout the day. Some veterinarians suggest adding a balanced, commercially available multivitamin once per week with an additional source of calcium, such as a calcium block or cuttlebone, twice per week. Having a well-functioning filtration system that is cleaned regularly is key to ensuring good water quality. Turtles and other reptiles commonly carry Salmonella bacteria on their skin or in the gastrointestinal tracts, so always wash your hands thoroughly after feeding, cleaning, or handling turtles.

  • Bearded dragons are omnivorous, meaning they eat both plant- and animal-based foods, including insects. Generally speaking, bearded dragon's diet should be about 50% plant-based material and 50% animal-based material.

  • Box turtles are omnivorous. Generally, your box turtle's diet should be about 50% plant-based material and 50% animal-based material, but be sure to discuss a specific diet plan for your turtle with your veterinarian. Most young turtles eat daily, while older turtles can be fed daily or every other day, depending upon the pet's individual appetite, body weight, and overall health. Most (80-90%) of the plant material fed to box turtles should be vegetables and flowers, and only 10-20% should be fruit. As a rule, dark, leafy greens should make up the largest part of the diet. Fruit should be fed more sparingly than vegetables, since they are often preferred by box turtles over vegetables and tend to be less nutritious. The key is to feed a wide variety of healthy items, including both plant- and animal-based protein sources. A common problem seen in pet box turtles is over-supplementation with vitamins (especially vitamin D3) and minerals. Check with your veterinarian about the need to supplement your pet's diet with any kind of vitamin or mineral. Fresh clean water should always be available to box turtles.

  • Ferrets are true carnivores and cannot handle a diet containing more than 4% fiber. There are several good commercial ferret foods available that are dry foods. Ferrets have a very quick gut transit time (the time from eating to defecating) of three to four hours, so they appear to eat and defecate constantly. Fresh water should be available all the time.

  • Our knowledge of bird nutrition is constantly evolving both from heightened awareness of the importance of nutrition and from increased research into birds’ different needs. As with all other animals, birds need a proper balance of carbohydrates, proteins, fat, vitamins, minerals and water. Different species of birds often require different foods.

  • The goal of feeding growing kittens is to lay the foundation for a healthy adulthood. Portion feeding is recommended to maintain a good body condition. Proper nutrition is critical to the health and development of kittens, regardless of breed, and it directly influences their immune system and body composition. An optimal growth rate in kittens is ideal; it is a slow and steady growth rate that allows the kitten to achieve an ideal adult body condition while avoiding excessive weight and obesity. Growing kittens need higher amounts of all nutrients in comparison to adult cats, but excess energy calories and calcium can create serious problems. Preventing obesity must begin during the weaning stage and continue through to adulthood and old age. Together with your veterinarian and veterinary healthcare team, you can help your kitten grow into as healthy of an adult cat as possible.

  • The goal of feeding growing puppies is to lay the foundation for a healthy adulthood. Proper nutrition is critical to the health and development of puppies, regardless of breed, and it directly influences their immune system and body composition. An optimal growth rate in puppies is ideal; it is a slow and steady growth rate that allows the puppy to achieve an ideal adult body condition while avoiding excessive weight and obesity. Growing puppies need higher amounts of all nutrients in comparison to adult dogs, but excess energy calories and calcium can create serious problems. Together with your veterinarian and veterinary healthcare team, you can help your puppy grow into as healthy of an adult dog as possible.

  • The preferred basic diet for guinea pigs is unlimited amounts of Timothy or other low-calcium hay, supplemented with smaller amounts of a commercial, high-fiber, Timothy-hay based guinea pig pellets. The diet should be supplemented with a variety of fresh, well-washed, leafy greens or colored vegetables; especially those high in vitamin C. Guinea pigs cannot manufacture their own vitamin C, therefore it is important that guinea pigs receive a vitamin C tablet or liquid vitamin C directly by mouth every day. Provide fresh clean water in a sipper bottle and check the tube for blockages each day.

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