Selecting the proper diet for your pet can be overwhelming. Just go to any pet supply store in Colorado Springs, CO and you will have seemingly unlimited choices of pet food. Without fail, there will be a sales representative trying to convince you of the need to feed organic, holistic, grain free or even a raw diet to your pet. It can be a daunting experience, especially considering that so many pet food companies are competing for your dollar, in an industry that is not as regulated as we would like to think it should be. Many people remember the pet food scare in 2007 when melamine was sickening and even killing cats and dogs, but did you know that there are almost weekly pet food recalls even today. At Polo Springs Veterinary Hospital, we offer nutritional counseling as one of our services. Many factors are considered when tailoring a nutritional plan for your pet. Age, weight, physical activity, medical history and genetic predisposition play a role in determining your pet’s nutritional needs. We carry a wide variety of high quality pet foods, nutritional supplements and health-conscious treats. We also prescribe special diets to target potential or current health problems. Please consult us to help your sort through all of the available diet options and select a nutritional plan that is right for your pet. Polo Springs is also able to provide intensive nutritional counseling for our patients that require it. We consult directly with our board certified veterinary nutritionist to help with more advanced problems related to obesity, organ malfunction, nutritional deficiencies, dietary hypersensitivity/allergies, disease prevention, chronic gastrointestinal problems etc. With any nutritional consultation, we always start by assessing your pet’s health, age, genetic predisposition, lifestyle and current body condition score (this is a measure somewhat similar to the BMI index used in humans that helps us determine if they are at a healthy weight) in order to create a plan to meet your goals. Whether your companion is in perfect health, or suffering from a chronic debilitating disease, the importance of proper nutrition should not be overlooked. Recently there has been a push by the pet food industry to feed grain free diets. It is no doubt trendy, but is it really better for your pet? For example, only 1% of dogs are actually allergic to grains. Corn is an excellent source of protein, energy and fatty acids. It even contains twice the antioxidants as an apple on an ounce by ounce basis. In addition, domestication of dogs has actually led to their enhanced ability to digest grains. Domestic dogs show genetic mutations on 10 genes that enhance their ability to digest starches compared with wild wolves. As a side note, most of the therapeutic/prescription diets that are recommended for dogs and cats with heart, kidney, liver, pancreatic, gastrointestinal, joint, and skin disease contain grains, including corn. Another dietary fad is feeding an exclusively raw meat diet because “this is what their ancestors ate”. However dogs, even wolves, are omnivores, meaning that they need to consume both meat and plant sources of energy. Cats, despite being obligate carnivores, still do need sources of carbohydrates included in their diets. There are two main concerns with feeding pets uncooked meat products. First and foremost, it is not a nutritionally balanced diet for either cats or dogs. This can lead to disastrous health consequences from vitamin and mineral deficiencies, most notably calcium and phosphorus imbalances. Furthermore, these diets pose a health threat to humans and pets alike from bacterial contamination. A common problem we encounter is obese pets. Obesity is not something we take lightly. It is a life threatening condition that needs to be addressed. Overweight pets will live on average two years less than their healthy counterparts. Once the problem has been diagnosed, we will recommend dietary and exercise changes. We offer a variety of prescription weight loss diets and perform precise calculations through a computer program to start your pet’s weight loss regime. Because obesity is so dangerous to our pets, our weight loss program is complimentary to our patients, and includes weight checks and dietary adjustments for progressive weight loss (usually calculated every two to four weeks). In addition, we offer extensive client education to assist you and your pet. Without a specific program tailored to your pet, it is very difficult for them to reach their goal weight. Successful weight reduction requires a lot more then just feeding a special food – it is truly a team effort. Many clients report to us that they can’t believe how much better their pet feels and acts once they have lost weight. Let us help you and your pet achieve success! Prescription diets are not limited to weight loss programs. We can treat a variety of medical conditions such as skin, joint, kidney, liver, heart, gastrointestinal, pancreatic and allergic skin disease with dietary management. Once a pet is on the optimal diet for their medical problem, we are frequently able to wean them down or even off of their medications. Frequently, we will recommend nutritional supplements in addition to a specific diet. We only use high quality supplements that have been thoroughly tested for safety, purity and efficacy. We are also available to help you interpret pet food labels as these can be very confusing! For example, did you know that “tuna cat food” must contain 95% tuna whereas “cat food with tuna” can only contain 3% tuna. Furthermore, the terms “premium”, “ultra-premium”, “gourmet” or even “holistic” have no regulated meaning within the pet food industry. These terms can be used in labeling of any pet food without corresponding to superior ingredients. We want to partner with you to ensure the optimal nutrition for your pet. We will help you select a proper diet, determine an appropriate amount to feed, and support your efforts to avoid sharing human food with your pet. Together, we will help your pet maintain a healthy weight and live a long happy and healthier life.