ASK THE VETS: Food can be tailored to your pet’s specific nutritional needs | Columns

There are special diets that can acidify or de-acidify the urine and prevent the specific…

There are special diets that can acidify or de-acidify the urine and prevent the specific types of stones. Symptoms of canine cognitive dysfunction, a similar disease to Alzheimer’s, can now be successfully treated in most patients through a specially designed dog food.

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Customized nutrition is not just for sick dogs and cats anymore. A dramatic improvement of intelligence and ease of training in puppies was recently linked to feeding high levels of DHA, an essential fatty acid, during a critical time of brain development. Symptoms of joint diseases, including hip dysplasia, can be dramatically reduced, or even eliminated, if large breed dogs are fed appropriate amounts of food with very specific calcium and phosphorous ratios. Healthy skin, regular stool, athletic performance, hairball prevention, lean body mass, and many other specialized needs can be affected by proper nutrition.

Each and every pet is different in breed, age, activity level, lifestyle, and medical history. For this reason, customized diets should be used in consultation with your veterinarian. While you will find many label claims at the grocery store or pet shop, be sure to check with your veterinarian before making changes to your pet’s meals.

How much should I feed my pet?

The simple answer is just enough to maintain an ideal body condition. Ideal condition means that while you cannot see the ribs, you should be able to feel them without pushing through much fat covering. You should also see a waistline when viewing your pet from above and a tuck of the belly between the chest and rear legs when viewed from the side.