Raising pets to wellness | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Dr. Marco Ripoll, DVM (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine), Technical Manager, Animal Science, Inc. (Left) and Dr. Menandro Valerio, DVM, Fellow in Canine Medicine, Philippine College of Canine Practitioners (Right).
Dr. Marco Ripoll, DVM (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine), Technical Manager, Animal Science, Inc. (Left) and Dr. Menandro Valerio, DVM, Fellow in Canine Medicine, Philippine College of Canine Practitioners (Right).

MANILA, Philippines – As cats and dogs step into more advanced life stages, their needs, from basic food to physical activity, will begin to change. Setting expectations and providing best care as they grow older will prove to be a challenge. However, by engaging in the right steps towards age and basic nutrition, the health and wellbeing of every pet can be guaranteed.

With the aim of building on responsible pet ownership in the Philippines, the Well-fed, Well-nurtured campaign of the trade association for US pet food brands, the Pet Food Institute (PFI) and the Veterinary Practitioners Association of the Philippines (VPAP) recently led a lecture on animal aging, nutrition, and proper feeding. Dr. Marco Ripoll, DVM (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine), Technical Manager, Animal Science, Inc. and Dr. Menandro Valerio, DVM, Fellow in Canine Medicine, Philippine College of Canine Practitioners (PCCP) shared expert insights with pet owners on administering care for their maturing cats and dogs.

Wellness Starts at Concepcion

During the forum, Dr. Valerio shared that the health and wellness of your pet today is a result of the quality of care that he received upon conception. The regular check-ups, basic vaccinations, and good nutrition, will determine his health when he grows older. Keeping in mind that essential basic and professional veterinary care will depend on your cat or dog’s age can surely add more years and quality to the life of your developing pet.

Creating a simple action plan to foster responsible pet ownership should be the first step that every owner should take. Upon welcoming a new pet as a member of the family, one should be able to determine the changes in the home environment and additional activities in the daily routine to involve the cat or dog. The map to being a responsible pet owner should include a communication scheme between you, your veterinarian, and of course your pet. Regular veterinary counseling can help you beyond diagnostic check-ups. Your veterinarian can guide you in making decisions and provide support in understanding the life of your pet.

Managing Health with Growth

Any changes in feeding practices and physical and mental exercises should be done gradually. One should be mindful of the pace and requirements needed to meet an animal’s necessities. As an example, a diet plan should be changed slowly for a week or so to favor the digestive system of cats and dogs.

Pet food contents direct a balanced health status. Pet owners are encouraged to design their feeding practices with pet foods that combine appropriate nutrients and high quality ingredients fortified by vitamins and minerals to help their pets experience a healthy and long life.

Dr. Ripoll stressed certain methods that pet owners can adopt to support their pet’s health. It is important to follow the recommendations on the pet food label regarding how much to food to give to a pet.

Whether the food is given several times throughout the day or the pet is allowed access all day long, the key is to measure the amount of food given.  Each pet has a different metabolism and activity level.  It may be necessary to adjust the amount fed, either giving a bit more or a bit less, depending upon whether the pet is maintaining weight, gaining weight or losing weight on a particular diet.  Pet owners should be able to easily feel the ribs of their pet cats and dogs.  If it is difficult to feel the individual ribs, then the pet is probably getting a bit pudgy.  If you can see the ribs, then the pet is too skinny.  With older pets, as with puppies and kittens, it can be helpful to take up food and water several hours before bedtime to help avoid accidents.

“Commercial pet food has changed the lives of millions of pets because pet owners are now able to give scientifically-formulated and nutritionally-balanced food to address their pets’ complete dietary needs. US pet food brands are made with the highest of standards, so that pet owners can be assured that ingredients used in production, processing techniques and labeling policies guarantee the highest safety and nutritional levels for their cats and dogs,” said PFI President Duane Ekedahl.

Veterinary counseling will also evolve and involve a more advanced series of exams for your growing cat or dog. A consultation with your veterinarian should include the measurement of your pet’s weight and assessment of his health status. Any significant changes to the weight of your pet can be coupled with the early stages of a growing disease such as obesity or malnutrition. That is why keeping your pet in a well-balanced diet is vital to avoid encountering minor to severe health problems. Regularly ask your veterinarian to recommend the type of food and supplements that you should provide based on your pet’s age, weight, health status, and breed. Be attentive to his weight and match the nutritional needs with his age.  Know that giving excess nutrients, as good as it may sound, can also be harmful to your pet’s health.

With the advances in veterinary technology, special preventive care programs are now also available to extend the lifespan of your pet. Programs as such can include combinations of oral exams, blood tests, urinalysis, and radiographs (X-rays) that can determine the deficient and sufficient body necessities of the cat or dog. Being able to recognize potential problems earlier can speed up the treatment and develop a good outcome.

“Beyond the health procedures and routines, every owner should know that the most important support that a pet can receive is love and guidance through the stages of life. Veterinary support and proper nutrition are avenues to show immense care for your pet’s wellbeing. PFI and VPAP are set to highlight this in leading the road to a well-informed Philippine pet community through the Well-fed, Well-nurtured campaign,” said Dr. Gabriel Paz, VPAP President.

PFI will continue to roll out informational materials, partnerships, and workshops to drive awareness towards proper care for pets. “Fostering responsible pet ownership via the campaign is only the first step towards a mature pet community. We are working on building our relationships with organizations like VPAP to create initiatives that will advance pet care practices that enable us to successfully maintain our pets’ wellbeing,” added Ekedahl.

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