A healthy diet is a common new year’s resolution for humans, but we should consider what we feed our pets too. We’ve summarised the essentials required for your various pets, so take a moment to check you are providing them with a healthy diet.

Dog’s Dinner

Dogs are carnivores at heart and, although as man’s best friend they have adapted to be able to eat scraps off our tables, they are not designed to eat cereals. Therefore, whether you choose to feed a raw, dry or wet diet, the healthiest option is to opt for grain-free choices.

While a raw diet is considered the most nutritious way to feed your dog, if you are doing a homemade plan it is important to ensure that you are getting a balanced diet including muscle meat, bones, offal, organs, and veggies if you or your dog wants (see our article on whether or not to feed veggies here). Even though your dog may appear healthy now, if you are missing out on offal and organs by only feeding meat and bone, you could cause a long term deficiency.

We all know that snacking on chocolates, crisps and sweets defeats a healthy diet, and likewise it’s important not to undo all the good nutrition for your dog with sugary treats. Natural, vegetable and meat treats such as Whimzees and Nature’s Menu should be used instead as a reward or, if your dog has a tendancy to put on weight, consider low fat options such as Pet Munchies. 

Cat’s Got The Cream

Cats are obligate carnivores, which means that they only require meat and have not adapted to process cereals and grains. For felines it is therefore even more important to choose a diet with a high meat content, but again it is essential to ensure a nutritious mix of muscle meat, bones, offal and organs to mimic their natural prey. For cats it is essential to feed appropriate levels of taurine as they are unable to produce this vital amino acid, so it is sensible to add dark meats and heart to the mix. 

If you want to give your cat a treat, then why not make her work for it with one of our treat dispensers as many domestic cats are overweight.

Bouncing Bunnies

Rabbits can be fussy and pick out only the bits of muesli that they like, so bunny nuggets ensure that your rabbit eats a nutritionally balanced diet. Hay and grass should be the main staple as they require high fibre content, but foraging for food not only keeps a rabbit entertained and mimics its natural habitat, it also helps to wear down the teeth. You should also aim to feed 5-6 greens a day, providing a variety for of veggies, plants and herbs.

SIMAG3155_1[1]weet treats should be limited to just a couple of tablespoons a day as rabbits can suffer from obesity, leading to a variety of health issues. While carrots themselves are high in sugar, carrot tops can be fed much more freely.

Certain foods are toxic to rabbits and must be avoided: onions, shallots, garlic, chives, rhubarb, foxgloves, bluebells.

Greedy Guinea Pigs

Guinea Pigs are naturally vegans and as such enjoy a wide diet consisting of raw vegetables, fruits, herbs and branches. Like rabbits however, they must have plenty of hay, and a variety of fresh herbs can be offered freely.

The following foods should not be fed to avoid an upset tummy: onions and garlic, large quantities of cabbage, legumes, potatoes and avocado. Fruit provides a sweet treat for guinea pigs, but should only be offered once a week due to high levels of fructose and fruit acids. 

Happy Hamsters

Wild hamsters feast on seeds, grain, grasses and some insects, so it is sensible to follow a similarly mixed omnivore diet of vegetation and meat. Be careful not to overfeed your hamster and to limit the quantity of fruit and vegetables as it can prove too much for their digestive system – a small cube of apple, carrot or cucumber is sufficient, but avoid citrus fruits which can cause an upset tummy.

For a treat, once a week you can offer hammy a little hard-boiled egg or some meal worms, both of which are a good course of protein.

Ravenous Reptiles

Each species of reptile will require its own diet to replicate the natural prey, but for many captive reptiles it is possible to persuade them to feed on something more convenient, such as live insects or frozen rodents. Small carnivorous lizards can enjoy a variety of insects, while larger reptiles and snakes can be partial to mice or rats. Dead animals that have been frozen kills off any bacteria present and removes the risk of the prey damaging your pet. 

It is important to ensure the size of food is appropriate to your reptile, as trying to swallow something too large can cause injury, choking, internal blockage and even death. Typically lizards should be given prey no bigger than 2/3 of its head, while snakes should not tackle something greater than the widest part of its body.

Fresh Water

All animals must have access to plenty of fresh water, so make sure that you provide a ceramic or stainless steel bowl of water or a bottle on a hutch (covered if outdoors).

For any further information or a personalised meal plan to suit your pet, please call or come in store to talk to a member of staff.

Written by: Lucy Ellis

Photos: Dog’s Dinner and Cat Attack by Lucy Ellis; Nibbler by Jenna Hall; Hamster House by Helen Ruth; Ana by Michaela Eastwood; Toothless, Bright Claw and Nagini by Nicki Gurney