What to feed our pets can be an important question as it can vary from pet to pet. Many pets have specific needs and require prescription food due to their allergies, weight or organ function. Otherwise many of us simply reach for whatever is over the counter. While many of these can be perfectly fine it’s a good idea to make sure your pet is getting a healthy, balanced meal. You should always feed a pet food labeled as Complete and Balanced for their stage of life. Pet food bags have feeding guidelines on them to help you figure out how much to give but even this isn’t always accurate. Most of those guidelines are directed towards highly active pets that haven’t been spayed or neutered so you may need to be feeding your pet less. If you’re not sure if your pet is maintaining a healthy weight have your veterinarian check. A healthy weight pet should have a waist that tucks in and easily palpable ribs with a thin layering of fat under the skin. Most people view overweight pets as normal because that is what we generally see but a lean pet is much healthier and will live longer.
Did you know that 54% of all cats and 55% of all dogs in the US are overweight or obese? There are many risks associated with being overweight:

  • Joint Problemsdogfoodthoughts
  • Exercise Intolerance
  • Diabetes
  • Hepatic Lipidosis (cats)
  • Heart Problems
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Increased anesthetic risk
  • Shorter lifespan


Sometimes giving too much of their pet food isn’t the culprit of fat pets, it’s the treats that add up during the day. Treats should make up no more than 10% of your dog’s diet. Many pet treats sold in stores are high in fat and calories and table scraps can be far worse. If your dog deserves a treat or you just can’t say no to giving them something throughout the day there are healthy alternatives. Take a small amount of their usual food from their usual feeding amount and keep it in a separate bag. Use this bag as their treat allotment for the day. This way there’s no extra calories and they still feel fulfilled. Or try giving them crunchy fruits and vegetables. Dogs often love carrots, broccoli or even apples. Try giving pieces of these instead of fatty treats. Their waistlines as well as their teeth will thank you! But do be careful, as some foods can be harmful to pets.
Some foods to avoid with animals:

  • Chocolate and sweets in general
  • Coffee and Tea (caffeine)
  • Onions
  • Grapes and Raisins
  • Avocados
  • Mushrooms
  • Fruit pits and seeds
  • Salt
  • Walnuts
  • Xylitol (often found in sugarless gum)
  • Yeast dough


While very popular in pet food stores; hypoallergenic, novel protein and grain free diets are not always the cure to your pets allergy problems and can even limit our options if they need a novel source in the future. The majority of sufferers are allergic to environmental causes like dust, pollen and molds or fleas.  We can help rule out these possibilities and if needed recommend some helpful flea preventatives and antihistamines. Only about 10% of allergic pets are food allergic. However if your pet does suffer from food related allergies there are ways to cope with this as well. Generally what is recommended is a food elimination trial. This takes 8 – 12 weeks with either a completely hypoallergenic diet or a novel protein source diet. This is something we can also help guide you through. There are many misconceptions concerning diets and pet food stores and the internet can offer up a varying and conflicting wealth of information. Remember that pet stores are there to sell you food and don’t usually have a nutritionist on hand to tell you the facts! Let your veterinarian and our trained staff help you figure out what’s a good diet plan for your pet. Remember that “grain free” and “organic” does not always mean complete and balanced. By-products and “chicken-meal” are not necessarily bad things, nor are grains. What matters is the appropriate nutrients and that it’s coming from a reputable company that does quality testing. Ask yourself a few things before buying your foods; Does the company have extensive testing of their products? Do they have a veterinary nutritionist? What is their history of food recalls? Is the product complete and balanced in nutrition?


Another popular option are raw food diets. We generally ask people to avoid these since it is a challenge to make them complete and balanced and there are risks of food born illness. Salmonella and E. Coli can sicken both owners and pets alike. While there are supplements to help ensure your pet still gets the needed nutrients in their diet the safest option would be a commercially produced pet food. The AVMA recently passed a resolution advising against the feeding of raw protein diets. You can read about it Here.

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For high anxiety pets Royal Canin has come out with a new Calm diet. As a complete and balanced food you can feed it as their main diet or for when you know high stress will be an issue (holidays, vacations, etc.). It’s safe to give in multi-pet households. Ask your veterinarian if you’re interested in trying out this new product. It’s available for cats and dogs 33 pounds and under.

For some diet recommendations we would suggest Purina, Royal Canin, Iams or Science Diet. If you have questions on your current diet let us know! We’ll do some research with you. If you would rather cook your own homemade diet we can help you with that as well. Balance IT is a nutritional supplement that can be added to your homemade mixture that we often recommend for such circumstances.
We’re committed to helping you have a happy, healthy pet and our personal weight coaches can help you achieve this. We are more than happy to set up a nutrition coach appointment and figure out how to best feed your pet!
We here at KMVC are also proud participants of the Purina Project: Pet Slim Down!  This helpful nutrition/exercise program is available online for free!  Get started today to help achieve your pet’s weight loss goals.

Kearny Mesa Veterinary Center, KMVC, veterinary, vet, clinic, pet, dog, cat, San Diego, groom, grooming, kitten, puppy, AAHA

Kearny Mesa Veterinary Center, KMVC, veterinary, vet, clinic, pet, dog, cat, San Diego, groom, grooming, kitten, puppy, AAHA


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