Pets are members of our families, and pet food companies have started to realize that pet owners want to feed them like a family member. What this has created is a massive variety of pet foods, some of which have great marketing, but little nutritional value. Plus if you talk to five different people, you will get five different opinions of how your should be feeding your pet.
Some of this information may be challenging to find on your own, and you may need to contact the company. Dragon Lake Veterinary Hospital carries mostly Royal Canin in the clinic, and they have provided a statement with their answers to these questions for customer convenience.
The internet is such a wonderful resource for information! The downside is there is no rule about what can and can’t be posted online as factual. It is up to the information consumer to use critical thinking and decide for themselves what to believe. Here are some things you can look for to help determine if the online information is credible:
Reading the bag instructions is just not good enough. The amounts recommended on the bag of food you buy at the pet store or even from the vet should be treated as a starting point for your pet’s nutritional needs. Think about two humans who are roughly the same weight. Their nutritional needs might vary drastically depending on their build, lifestyle, and natural body chemistry. Pets are no different, some pets may be more active than others, some may have a higher metabolism, it’s all variable. That’s why it’s important to communicate with your vet regularly about your pet’s nutrition. It’s easy for small changes in weight or muscle mass to go unnoticed at home - especially if you have an animal of the high-fluffiness variety.
Body condition scoring can help you stay on track with your pet's diet. It is also something you can practice at home!
There are four main areas to check: the ribs, pelvis, waist, and abdomen. To check the ribs, you can use your own hand as a guide! First, make a fist and run your other hand along your knuckles. This mimics the feeling of the ribs in an underweight animal. Next, flatten your hand and run your other hand along your flat knuckles. This would be how the ribs would feel for an animal in ideal body condition. Next, turn your hand over and run your fingers over your knuckles from the palm side of your hand. This is about how the ribs would feel in an overweight animal. This is of course just a guideline, everyone’s hands will feel a little different.
The pelvis should be felt minimally under a layer of fat, but should not be prominent or protruding. To check for a waist, look at your pet from above. They should be in a natural standing position and should have an hourglass like shape, with an indentation at the waist. When viewed from the side, the abdomen should have a slight “tuck” going from the sternum to the groin.
Body condition scoring is a good tool you can use at home to help you determine where your pet is at. Then, if you suspect there may be a problem, you can book an appointment with your vet. There are many reasons a pet may gain or lose weight other than simply food related reasons, so it is important to have a veterinary exam if there has been a weight change.