Educational Articles

Nutrition

  • Pigs are omnivores that typically eat multiple small meals throughout the day. A mini-pig’s base diet should consist of a commercially available, nutritionally balanced pelleted chow formulated for mini-pigs. Different formulations are available based on the life stage of the pig. In addition to pelleted pig chow, pigs may be fed small amounts of other foods, including fresh or frozen vegetables and small amounts of fruit. Pelleted food should be offered first to help ensure it is consuming a balanced diet. The exact amount of pelleted food to feed depends on the brand being fed; most brands give general feeding recommendations calculated from their caloric content. Treats such as small pieces of succulent fruits or vegetables may be offered once or twice a day and are best used as rewards in training.

  • Rabbits are herbivores and are considered grazers. Rabbits should have a daily diet of mostly hay, a smaller amount of fresh vegetables, and a limited number of pellets. Hay is the most important part of a rabbit's daily intake. A common cause of obesity and soft stool is over-feeding pellets. Rabbits should be fed and provided with fresh water daily; hay should be available at all times. A pet rabbit’s diet should be supplemented with a variety of leafy green vegetables every day. The high sugar content in fruits (and even carrots) may upset the normal GI tract bacteria if given in excess. Rabbits engage in coprophagy, which means they eat their own feces at night. These fecal pellets are called cecotropes and serve as a rich source of nutrients, specifically protein and vitamins B and K.

  • Once your cat has reached adulthood, their nutrient profile will change from when they were a kitten. Your veterinarian can help you determine what proportion of each nutrient is needed based on your cat's lifestyle and current body condition. It is important to lay a good nutritional foundation to maximize the health and longevity for your cat and reduce the potential for developing obesity.

  • Once your dog reaches adulthood, his nutrient profile changes from when he was a puppy. Your veterinarian can help you determine what proportion of each nutrient is needed based on your dog’s lifestyle and current body condition. Avoid free-feeding and work on a meal schedule. Following these steps can help your dog lead a healthier life and avoid becoming overweight or obese.

  • Food allergies can be problematic for many cats, especially after years on the same diet. Clinical signs may manifest as gastrointestinal or skin problems. Some animal proteins are the most common causes and strict avoidance is the best way to treat affected cats. An eight to twelve-week elimination diet trial on a special veterinary diet is the only definitive method to diagnose a food allergy and, in some cases, the veterinary diet may need to be continued long-term.

  • Food allergies can be problematic for many dogs, especially after years on the same diet. Clinical signs may manifest as gastrointestinal or skin problems. Some animal proteins are the most common causes and strict avoidance is the best way to treat affected dogs. An eight to twelve-week elimination diet trial on a special veterinary diet is the only definitive method to diagnose a food allergy and, in some cases, the veterinary diet may need to be continued long-term.

  • Adverse food reactions in dogs are either caused by food allergy – an immune response to something ingested or food intolerance – a non-immunological response to something ingested. Signs of food intolerance are usually only digestive in nature. Food intolerance will generally occur on the initial exposure to the food or food additive in contrast to food allergy which requires repeated exposures to develop. Different causes of food intolerance include food poisoning, or inappropriate ingestion of an irritant, reaction to food additives, histamine reactions, lactose intolerance and dietary indiscretion such as eating fat or bones. A dietary history is important in diagnosing these conditions.

  • It is suggested that a selection of various fruits and vegetables be fed to your bird every day. A good source of carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, fresh produce should comprise no more than 15-30% of the diet. Bright yellow, red, and orange vegetables and fruits, including bell peppers, carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, mango, papaya, and cantaloupe, all contain a great deal of vitamin A which is a critical nutrient in a birds’ diet.

  • Gastrostomy tubes are placed percutaneously through the skin directly into the stomach and may be needed for cats who are unable to chew or swallow their food, or for cats with diseases causing anorexia. Special liquid diets or canned diets blended with water are recommended to be given in multiple feedings throughout the day, dependent on the cat’s reason for the tube. Instructions are provided by your veterinarian for tube feeding and tube maintenance. The tube can be removed as early as 14 days after placement once the cat is eating well. Your veterinarian will remove the tube.

  • Gastrostomy tubes are placed through the skin of the abdomen into the stomach to enable long-term nutrition in dogs that either refuse to eat or are unable to chew and swallow food. A special liquid diet or homemade mixture liquefied with water will be recommended by your veterinarian. Step-by-step instructions are provided. The decision to remove the tube will be determined by your veterinarian.