Nutrition advice for pets

Maintaining a healthy weight is as important for pets as it is for owners. Overweight pets can suffer from a range of health problems including osteoarthritis, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Obesity also causes both physical and emotional distress and reduces life expectancy.

Good nutrition is an essential part of maintaining a healthy weight. Dogs, cats and rabbits have different nutrition requirements depending on their species, breed, size, age and lifestyle. The following nutrition guidance should help you to provide a complete diet for your pet.

What is a complete diet?

A complete diet is a food made from carefully selected ingredients, and when fed on its own, will provide all the nutrients that your pet needs in a palatable, nutritionally balanced format. A biscuit diet is also helpful in combating dental disease. Cats require 41 essential nutrients and dogs 37. Years of extensive and continuing research into nutrition enable pet food manufacturers to ensure that prepared pet food provides all the nutrients that pets need. Prepared fixed formula pet foods have played a key role in the decrease of nutritional disorders, and as a result, have led to pets living longer healthier lives. We stock a wide range of diets from Hill’s, one of only two companies selling fixed formula diets in the UK. This means that the actual ingredients will be the same in every batch, every bag and every tin.

Is it safe to feed a homemade diet?

Yes, as long as it is complete and balanced for the species, life stage, and lifestyle of the pet. Formulating a complete and balanced diet in the home is possible, but complex, time-consuming and very expensive.

Life Stages

1-12 months – Puppy/kitten Diet: Growing dogs and cats require a diet which is easily digestible and most importantly contains the right balance of energy and minerals. This is especially important and also most difficult to achieve for large breed dog and we recommend a specific puppy diet for dogs with a predicted adult bodyweight of 25kg or more. Small dogs require a different diet to larger breeds. Calcium levels in the diet are particularly important for growing pets. Too much results in over-calcification of bones, which could lead to conditions such as joint abnormalities and arthritis in later life. Too little Calcium can lead to bones becoming weak, painful and liable to fracture.

1-6 years – Adult Diet: An adult dog or cat requires an energy content in its diet suitable for its lifestyle. It should also be completely balanced to ensure the health of all the body’s vital systems, especially, skin, gut and urinary tract and dental health. It should also look after the immune system and be conducive to good weight management.

7 years and beyond: At 7 years old (earlier in larger dogs) pets are well into middle age. Hopefully, they will still appear and act young and fit. However subtle changes are beginning to occur in the body’s metabolism and organ systems and use of an age-appropriate diet is proven to help slow down ageing changes. Older pets require a diet lower in protein as the kidneys, which deal with the toxic breakdown products, are finding it more and more difficult to filter these out.

Reducing the number of toxins the kidneys have to deal with extends the life of your pet. Senior pets also require a diet lower in salt and phosphorus to reduce the stress on their hearts. High digestibility is essential for an older pet to absorb all the goodness it can from its food.

Large breed dogs paradoxically require a lower plane of nutrition, especially when growing, and are more susceptible to the adverse effects of vitamin and mineral supplements. We stock specially formulated large breed diets.


The easiest way to ensure your pet gets the correct diet for its lifestyle is to speak to your vet or vet nurse who will advise you.

Free weight clinics for pets

White Cross Vets offers free weight clinics for dogs, cats and rabbits. If you have any concerns about your pet’s weight, pop into your local practice or book an appointment online for a free weight clinic and to discuss the best diet and exercise plan for your pet.

Exercise and weight management advice for pets