Responsible pet ownership does not stop and start with meeting your pet’s daily needs. It peaks at times when signs of illness or injury surface and it is your obligation as an owner to take the necessary steps for immediate treatment at your veterinarian or local veterinary clinic. Signs of illness are many and varied but can include a temperature, refusal of food, vomiting continuously, coats becoming rough and dull (a slower process), constant diarrhoea or a persistent dry nose or pale yellow gums. Though these may be the more obvious signs, any behaviour changes or physical symptoms that are out of the ordinary should be investigated, as they may indicate a medical condition needing treatment.
As with humans, dogs and cats can suffer from a number of life threatening diseases, allergies and lifestyle conditions that require special veterinary care and treatment. Often, the first point of call when dealing with medical issues is a balanced, nutritious diet as so often a tweak in the nutritional composition of one’s diet can have a great effect on illness. For example, hyperthyroidism can be managed with a low iodine diet or urinary crystals, which many cats and some dogs suffer from, can be improved with foods that promote overall bladder health and an optimum urinary pH. When treated in conjunction with a reputable and high quality particular nutrition food you can be sure that the correct, complementary nutrition is being ingested, giving your pet their best chance at overcoming their health concerns.
Particular nutrition foods are scientifically formulated to target a specifically diagnosed problem with precise nutritional support and can help to improve a pet’s quality of life when suffering from particular conditions, e.g. hyperthyroidism, heart, kidney or liver disease, urinary crystals, moderate to severe skin allergies, joint mobility, recurrent dental issues, diabetes, gut infections, infectious organisms (even different worm or protozoal varieties) amongst others. Feeding a standard, commercially available diet is often not an option with these types of conditions as they do not contain the specific nutrients, in precise quantities needed, that will help manage your pet’s disease, providing adequate nutritional support for the diagnosed condition (as the veterinarian recommended particular nutrition food will). So, how do you identify these reputable and high quality brands? Follow your vet’s recommendation and ensure that the brand has committed to putting the wellbeing of your pet first by becoming a member of the Pet Food Industry Association of Southern Africa (PFI) – look for the PFI logo on the bag or confirm membership via the PFI website (www.pfisa.co.za).
Generally only available from a vet’s room, the prescribed food is often intended to supplement medical treatment and it is not uncommon for a vet to prescribe a change in the particular nutrition food part way through the pet’s treatment to match your pet’s stage of recovery. As an example, there may be a need for a “recovery” food followed by a “gastro intestinal health” food. The prescribed feeding regime often requires a little more of a financial contribution, however the benefits that the change in food will make will be well worth it for your pet. Once placed on a particular nutrition feeding regime you should be able to return to the veterinarian for additional stock without the need for a follow up consultation. At least until the period recommended is completed. Check with your vet as to the safety of returning to your normal food, should you have been happy with the brand and cost per kilogram thereof, and remember to make a gradual change over 7 to 10 days so that the repaired or promoted health of the gut is not overly disturbed again.
Pet owners are often concerned that their pets, with diagnosed ailments, may not enjoy or even eat the particular nutrition food. These days, most brands are so confident in their formulation that they will take back the food if the pet does not wish to eat it and refund the purchase price. Confirm this with your vet before making a purchase. Palatability is the most important factor to consider and there are usually both wet and dry food options available. Be sure to follow the feeding guidelines displayed on the packaging and keep in touch with your veterinarian to monitor progress.