Pet of the Week: Happy (copy)
Courtesy Kalina Croft

Q: I just got a new kitten and need to know how much to feed her each day and what is the best diet to offer a growing kitten.

A: Nutrition is very important as your kitten is growing as the appropriate nutrients will give your kitten optimal growth and development.

On average, kittens should gain a pound a month in the first 6 months if they are eating well and growing appropriately. Training your kitten to eat meals rather than free-feeding her is recommended so you can monitor her appetite and the amount of food she is eating as well as prevent over eating and weight gain in the future. It is also recommended to feed your kitten three times daily until 6 months of age.

Typically, during the first 6 months a kitten will need to eat approximately 100 calories per pound of body weight per day. So, a 2-pound kitten will need to eat 200 calories a day to fulfill its nutritional needs.

Weighing your kitten once a week is a good idea to monitor her weight and adjust the amount of food you’re feeding. It’s also recommended to monitor a kitten’s body condition as it is growing. If it is looking a little thin, you can increase the amount of food you’re feeding; if it’s getting a little chubby, you can decrease the amount of food you are feeding. Make sure you measure the amount of food you are feeding and not just “eyeballing” it as that can lead to over feeding.

When choosing your kitten’s food remember that not all cat food is made the same. Make sure to read the labels so you know you’re buying food with quality ingredients. Compare brands and buy the highest quality food your budget will allow.

It’s also very important that you are feeding cat food and not dog food because cats have very specific nutritional requirements that are not completely fulfilled with dog food. It is recommended that you feed both canned and dry food to your kitten so that they’re exposed to diverse textures of food and do not get picky about their food preferences.

Once your kitten reaches 6 months of age, you can start feeding twice daily and decrease the amount of calories to 200 – 400 per day based on your kitten’s nutritional needs.

Q: My dog turns 13 years old next week. What can I do to help him age gracefully and stay as active as possible?

A: For most breeds of dog you will start seeing the affects of aging around 10-12 years of age. This is typically the age when arthritis starts to become more of an issue or you might notice that your dog’s eyesight or hearing is diminishing. Sometimes it seems like you wake up one day and your dog has aged overnight!

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This is unfortunately part of the normal aging process for a dog but there are certain things you can do to try and help your geriatric animal have a decent quality of life in their later years.

First and foremost, it is vital that you keep your dog on the thinner side to keep the weight off the sore joints. This can be done with daily exercise and putting him on a senior diet so you can closely monitor his caloric intake. As dogs age, their metabolism slows down and they don’t need as many calories each day.

Getting your dog up and moving, even if it is for short periods of time, is essential to help keep his mind sharp and his muscles moving. Adding a joint supplement and fish oils to his diet will help lubricate the joints and keep him as comfortable as possible.

Acupuncture and laser therapy are nice supplemental pain management treatments for older animals on top of oral pain medications. Placing night lights in dark hallways and making sure there is nothing your older animal can trip over or fall off of is recommended when you cannot monitor them closely.

Dr. Julianne Miller is a Flagstaff veterinarian. She can be reached at drmiller@canyonpet.com.

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