By Michele C. Hollow of Pet News and Views
Thanks to all of you who participated in the Iams/Jersey Animal Coalition/Pet News and Views challenge and asked questions about your pet’s nutrition. I collected so many questions for Dr. Marcie Campion, pet nutritionist with Iams, that we will get six posts total. Today is post 5.
Pet News and Views: I have an 11-year old male German Shepherd Dog and I’ve been feeding him the same dry food twice a day every day for the past four years since I adopted him. I give him one cup in the morning and one cup at night, with plain yogurt mixed in. He enjoys treats of grape tomatoes, cucumbers, bananas, and other vegetables, little bits of cooked egg, and pieces of cooked meat when I have them—all in small quantities. He’s very healthy and, in some ways, seems younger than his 11 years. I know there are better quality foods than the one I’ve been giving him, but I don’t know if it’s a good idea to change at this point in his life. Do you have any advice on whether it’s a good idea to change his dry food to something else?
Dr. Marcie Campion: There is nothing wrong with changing your dog’s diet. It can be tricky transitioning your dog to a new food. Here are some tips for a successful transition:
• Start by mixing 25 percent new food with 75 percent old food. Slowly change the proportions over the next three days or so by gradually increasing the new food and lessening the amount of the old food. At the end of this process, you should be feeding your dog 100 percent of the new food.
• Introduce the new food by gently encouraging him to try the new food.
• Don’t give in to demands! Giving in only reinforces refusal behavior and makes it more difficult to make a nutritious dietary change.
PNAV: What are the best vegetables to serve to a mid-size elderly dog who really likes vegetables?
Dr. Campion: Many veggies are great for dogs, including: carrots, cabbage, lettuce, spinach, cucumber, beets, and zucchini.
PNAV: My cat has not been himself for a few days. He has been throwing up once in a while. Should I feed him his regular food or give him something else until he is normal?
Dr. Campion: These are questions for your vet to answer.
PNAV: Can’t wait to try the new natural Iams food. I hope it won’t be too expensive. Will it also be sold in stores such as Wal-Mart and grocery stores?
Dr. Campion: Absolutely, all of our IAMS Naturals recipes are available at pet specialty stores, mass retailers, and grocers.
PNAV: I have a wonderful Labrador that goes everywhere with me. He is so smart. As he is getting older, I notice he has some trouble getting up. Is there a natural supplement I can give him? I hate to put him on medication if I can avoid it.
Dr. Campion: It’s a great idea for your pet to take vitamin supplements. It acts as that extra layer of support for general wellness which is so important if we want our pets to live as long as possible. But you have to be careful. You want to use supplements that are made for a cat or dog, never use your own.