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Care Nutrition for Dogs

Care Nutrition for Dogs

Just like people, all dogs are unique. Their breed, size, age, weight, lifestyle and overall health are key deciding factors in how we care for them and what we feed them. Here we take a look at how care nutrition diets, also known as speciality care or special needs diets, can assist with some common canine health problems.

Supporting health conditions with care nutrition

Sometimes our dogs can experience health issues like joint pain, weight concerns, sensitive skin or allergies, just like us. If they do, they may benefit from being fed a special care nutrition diet after a proper diagnosis and diet recommendation by a vet. Here are some of the most common canine health issues that can be supported by care nutrition diets:

*For more specific or serious conditions (relating the above canine health concerns), your veterinarian may recommend a therapeutic vet-only diet for these health conditions. 

Before switching your dog’s food to a care nutrition diet, proper diagnosis is essential for finding the best specialised diet. If you have any concerns about your pet’s health, talk to your local Animates Vetcare clinic for dietary advice.


Oral Health

While many people believe that bad breath is normal for their furry friends, it can be an indication of dental disease.

What causes canine dental disease?

Plaque, which is made up of food particles, saliva, and bacteria, is just as much of a problem for dogs as it is for us. It sticks to the tooth surface and will calcify into tartar if not removed. Tartar also builds up below the gum line, making it hard to tell if your pooch is developing or already suffering from dental disease.

Tartar build-up can destroy tissue and bone, resulting in doggy bad breath, oral pain, tooth decay and even tooth loss. If left untreated, severe dental diseases can lead to heart, liver and kidney problems as the bacteria travels around the body.

Signs of dental disease:

  • Bad breath
  • Tooth discolouration caused by plaque or tartar build-up
  • Redness or inflammation of the gum (gingivitis)
  • Difficulty eating food

Other signs of dental disease include pawing at the mouth, discomfort, drooling excessively, lumps or bleeding around the mouth; loss of appetite. However these symptoms could also indicate another health problem. If you notice one of these symptoms, consult your vet for a proper diagnosis.

Tips to keep your dog’s teeth and gums healthy:

  • Brushing is best! Just like in people, daily brushing of your dog's teeth is the best way of reducing plaque formation. Make sure to use pet-specific toothpaste as human toothpaste is harmful to pets.
  • Regular vet checks (we recommend every six months) to help identify any development of dental disease early on.
  • Certain dental chew toys have various shapes and grooves that make it easy to get into your dog’s mouth and help assist in oral health.
  • When shopping for products to help with your ’s dental health, look for the VOHC (Veterinary Oral Health Council) Seal of Approval.
  • Don’t give your dog bones to chew. Bones are often harder than your dog’s teeth, so they can cause damage. Also, bone shards can damage your dog’s digestive tract causing serious illness.
  • Feeding your dog a dental care diet can significantly reduce the development of tartar. Speak to your vet about feeding your dog a special dental care diet.

Dental Care Diets

After inspecting your dog’s teeth, your vet may suggest adding specialised dental food to the feeding routine. Dental-specific foods are designed to keep pets’ teeth clean, while still providing a complete and balanced diet. Using a combination of mechanical and gentle abrasion, a dental diet for dogs helps to scrub off bacteria-laden plaque like a toothbrush would. These special formulations also contain ingredients that promote fresh breath and healthier teeth.

If you are concerned about your pet’s dental health, book an appointment at your local Animates Vetcare clinic for a dental check-up. Our vets can recommend appropriate diets, dental treats and treatment options to help improve your dog’s oral health.

Weight Management

Pet obesity is a big issue in NZ with around half our dogs being overweight. Certain breeds are predisposed to becoming heavy-set and this can start from as young as 6 months! Most pet obesity happens because they are fed more calories than they need. This, in combination with a lack of exercise, means excess calories are stored as fat.

Signs that your pet may have a weight problem:

  • No obvious waist
  • You can’t feel their ribs easily
  • Difficulty walking and shortness of breath

Other signs of obesity include the collar getting too tight, slower movement and sleeping more than usual. However these symptoms could also indicate another health problem. If you notice any of these symptoms, consult your vet for a proper diagnosis.

Weight Management Diets

Dogs that are overweight can suffer from strain on their joints caused by the extra pounds and it can even lead to a shorter lifespan by up to two years! To keep your dog sporty and trim, weight care diets provide precise nutrition for less active pets or those needing to lose a little weight. Typically, these diets help your pet feel fuller for longer and are lower in calories.

Identifying if your dog has a weight problem is essential for their overall health and is the key to preventing health risks associated with excess weight. While these care nutrition diets are perfect for those pets that are a little overweight, some pet’s need a therapeutic weight loss diet to really get them melting off the extra weight - so, check with your vet first to see what they recommend.

If you think your pet may have a weight problem (including being underweight), seek advice from your local Animates Vetcare clinic.

Stiff Joints and Mobility

Degenerative joint disease, otherwise known as arthritis, is inflammation of the joints. Arthritis occurs when the cartilage lining of the joint wears down, resulting in inflammation, swelling and pain. The cartilage lining can wear down because of disease, poor structure or development (e.g. hip dysplasia), unusual gait, excessive weight gain, or just wear and tear as your dog gets older.

Arthritis can affect dogs of almost any age, negatively impacting quality of life and preventing them from enjoying daily activities, such as walking, running or playing.

Signs your dog may have arthritis:

  • Stiffness or slowness when getting up or down, or after resting
  • Unusual sitting posture
  • Difficulty going up or down stairs
  • Reduction in activity or reluctance to exercise

Note: these signs could also indicate another health problem. If you notice one of these symptoms, consult your vet for a proper diagnosis.

Joint Care Diets

Although arthritis is not curable, there are a number of joint care diets for dogs that have been shown to assist in alleviating pain and improving the movement of diseased joints. These diets often contain omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil, and glucosamine, and chondroitin sulphate to help reduce joint inflammation and ease discomfort. These diets are great for dogs that are predisposed to getting arthritis (such as certain breeds or highly active dogs). Always consult your vet before buying special foods or supplements for joint care.

If you're concerned about your pet’s joint health, a proper diagnosis is essential before switching your dog’s food to a joint care diet. To discuss treatment options and to help you find the best joint care diet for your dog, book an appointment at your local Animates Vetcare Clinic.

Sensitive Skin

As with humans, dogs can suffer from sensitive skin, allergies and skin irritations. These skin conditions can have a wide range of causes – environmental allergies, fleas, food allergies, hormonal imbalances, bacterial infections, stress and more. If your dog is suffering from a skin problem, have it checked out by a vet to get a professional diagnosis. Along with treatment, your vet may suggest a care nutrition diet to support your dog’s skin health.

Signs of a skin problem:

  • Dry, flaky skin
  • Red itchy skin
  • Hair loss

Other signs of skin issues include licking and scratching, excessive shedding of fur and bald patches. However these symptoms could also indicate another health problem. If you notice any of these signs, consult your vet for a proper diagnosis.

Sensitive Skin Diets

Essentially, a healthy diet equals a healthy coat. A nutritious, balanced diet with adequate quantities of high-quality protein will help to provide strength to your dog’s hair, as it is mainly made up of protein. Additionally, omega-6 fatty acids will help to add shine and support the skin and omega-3 fatty acids will help to reduce sensitivity, inflammation and dryness.

If you're concerned about your pet’s skin health, a proper diagnosis is essential before twitching your dog’s food to a skin care diet. To discuss treatment options and find the best skin care diet for your dog, book an appointment at your local Animates Vetcare Clinic.

Just like us, our pets can get anxious about certain experiences, surroundings, or changes at home. Situations such as a trip in the car, moving to a new home, or the arrival of a new baby can make a dog nervous and trigger anxiety. Adapting your dog’s nutrition can help them cope with change. However, before changing your pet’s diet we always recommend you bring them to an experienced veterinarian.

Some signs that might suggest your dog is anxious include:

  • Pushing back their ears
  • Tucking in their tail
  • Dribble or yawn excessively
  • Hiding
  • Panting or pacing
  • Whimpering
  • Becoming destructive

Note: these signs could also indicate another health or behavioural-related concern. If you notice one of these symptoms, consult your vet for a proper diagnosis.

Relax Care Diets

With precisely balanced nutritional solutions with proven efficacy, relax care diets are formulated with specific nutrients to help your dog feel relaxed in an intense and changing environment.

If you have ongoing concerns about your pet’s anxiety, book an appointment at local Animates Vetcare clinic. Our vets can recommend appropriate diets, calming aids, supplements to help reduce your dog’s anxiety.

A digestive disorder is any condition that prevents proper digestion or alters the rate at which food passes through your dog’s digestive tract. Digestive problems can happen for a variety of reasons and they might be temporary or permanent.

Some of the more common causes of gastrointestinal disorders:

  • Garbage gut (dietary indiscretion)
  • Parasites
  • Stress
  • IBD (irritable bowel disease)
  • Excessive growth of bacteria in your pet’s intestines (dysbiosis)
  • Inflammation of your pet’s pancreas (pancreatitis) or insufficient digestive enzymes
  • Food sensitivities

Signs of digestive problems in dogs:

  • Diarrhoea or soft stools
  • Change of appetite
  • Flatulence
  • Stomach gurgles
  • Constipation

Other signs of digestive problems include vomiting and sudden inactivity. However, these symptoms could also indicate another health problem. If you notice any of these signs, consult your vet.

Sensitive Digestion Diets

Digestive discomfort is no fun for anyone, including your pet. A diet containing high-quality nutrients – balanced for intestinal comfort and better absorption – can help support your pet’s gut health. Digestive care foods, such as Hill’s sensitive skin and stomach, contain easily-digested proteins, prebiotics and fibre to assist digestive health.

It’s vital to speak to your vet and have an accurate diagnosis, before you buy a digestive care diet for your dog. For dietary recommendations and treatment options to support your dog’s digestive health, book an appointment at your local Animates Vetcare clinic.

If you need any more information about what to feed your dog to support their special health needs, pop into your local Animates store or Animates Vetcare clinic. Our knowledgeable store and clinic staff will help you choose suitable a care nutrition diet for your dog’s health needs.

It’s important to know that Therapeutic Diets are also available, which are prescribed to your pet by a vet. These diets are formulated to a high degree to focus on treating a specific ailment of your pet’s – from Hill’s J/D (for Joint Disease), to Royal Canin Diabetic food to help prevent insulin spikes. These diets are only available from vet clinics, such as an Animates’ Vetcare, so if you feel your pet needs to be reviewed by a Veterinarian, make sure you visit your local Animates Vetcare clinic.

Optimal Care Plan. Give your pet the best care.