Nutritional Requirements and Feeding of Growing Puppies and Kittens

CHAPTER 8 Nutritional Requirements and Feeding of Growing Puppies and Kittens

Nutrition during the first year of life can greatly influence the longevity and health of puppies and kittens. Inadequate protein and energy intake can decrease growth rate, inhibit neural myelination and neurotransmission, decrease brain growth, and inhibit cognitive function. Many neonatal deaths result from inadequate nutritional intake or the inability of the neonate to adequately digest and absorb nutrients as a result of the immature digestive system. At birth, the gastrointestinal (GI) tract must transition from processing amniotic fluid to digesting milk. The release of hormones and digestive enzymes and the activation of secretion, motility, and absorption are adaptations that begin shortly after birth. These changes are critical to allow the GI tract to perform required functions.

Milk Replacer Requirements

Formulated puppy and kitten milk replacer is available commercially. Both powder and liquid forms are available. Powdered formula lasts longer, since the unused powder can be frozen for 6 months. Once powdered formula has been reconstituted, contents should be used within 48 hours, provided the unused portion is refrigerated in a glass container. Liquid milk replacer should be used within 48 hours once the can is opened, provided the unused portion is refrigerated. Formulated milk replacer is superior to homemade versions because commercial products generally provide the correct balance of protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals needed for growing neonates. Ingredients and caloric density of the puppy milk replacer can vary with manufacturer. The label recommendations should be for the product being administered.

Milk replacer is made from bovine milk and is lower in protein, calories, fat, calcium, phosphorus, and carbohydrates. This may explain the decreased growth rate of orphan puppies and kittens, even though the caloric intake may be equivalent. Bovine milk is higher in lactose than either canine or feline milk, which can cause diarrhea in puppies and kittens fed milk replacer. It is advised to dilute milk replacer 25% to 50% with water or a balanced electrolyte solution for the first 2 days of feeding to minimize the occurrence of diarrhea.

If commercial milk replacer is temporarily unavailable, an emergency formula may be used (Box 8-2). This emergency formula is strictly for emergencies and should be replaced with a commercial milk formula as soon as possible.

American Feed Control Officials

The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) was established in response to the increasing number of pet food diets available on the market, some of which did not meet the specific nutritional needs of animals. The AAFCO is made up of a variety of individuals and is not regulated or managed by any pet food manufacturer. Any foods that are recommended by veterinarians should meet the expectations and testing of AAFCO. A label that reads “complete and balanced” must either meet a nutrient profile or pass a feeding trial. To be classified as “safe,” the food must meet all nutrient minimum and maximum ranges that have been established by the AAFCO as being safe.

To compare diets, food must be looked at on a “dry matter (DM) basis.” The AAFCO’s definition of DM basis is the level of nutrients contained in a food. A “guaranteed analysis,” or “as fed basis,” must be converted to DM to effectively compare diets. For example, a canned diet contains approximately 75% moisture, whereas a dry diet contains approximately 10% moisture. To effectively compare the two products, the moisture content must be removed. Ingredients are listed on the label by weight and can include moisture. Therefore some products may list chicken as their main ingredient, but it may only weigh more than the corn or wheat products that follow because of its moisture content.

The most commonly used unit of measurement is the kilocalorie (kcal), defined as the amount of heat necessary to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram (kg) of water by 1 degree Celsius. Calories are used to maintain physical activity, digestion, growth, and basal metabolism. Most foods are recommended in kilocalorie/8 oz cup of dry food or kilocalorie/can. Puppies and kittens require a larger amount of energy early in life, which decreases as they age. It is important to follow the feeding recommendations established by the pet food manufacturer, since diets vary by company, as well as within a specific product line. The AAFCO nutrient requirements for puppies and kittens are listed in Tables 8-1 and 8-2, respectively.

Sep 11, 2016 | Posted by in SMALL ANIMAL | Comments Off on Nutritional Requirements and Feeding of Growing Puppies and Kittens

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