PETS International Food November 2013 Changing nutrition with changing lifestyle By: Dr George Collings The environment and the routine of the home are what pets get used to. Changes in this pattern can lead to stresses to the immune system. In an effort to keep the bond with their pet, many people will take their pet on business trips and vacations, not realizing that any departure from the everyday environment is a new stress for animals leading to reduced drinking, poor eating, loose stools and changed temperament. Some pets travel well, but many do not. i i n nee What do these lifestyle changes mean to your pet’s nutritional needs? Travel As mentioned above, many pets become very stressed during travel. Illness from ‘shipping’ is normal across a wide variety of animals. The immune system can become challenged leading to skin and hair coat changes, poor eating, limited drinking and digestive problems. Specific fibres can help digestive upsets and a more concentrated food with higher calories may counter the reduction in intake. Some glucans and immune products have been shown to help in stress situations. Drinking must be encouraged above all efforts. It is often said “it is harder to get a pet to drink than it is to eat”. Staying at home As more dogs and cats are left at home while their owners are off to work, food left out can lead to over-eating plus it can become People and their pets live in a variety of settings from city dwelling in high rises to suburban housing to wide- open country farms. These settings have wide climate differences from frigid cold to humid high-heat to arid high-heat. The focus on health also varies with some focusing on meal control with daily exercise to ongoing problems of being overweight. With frequent travel and long trips, tired people and pets rush from home to kennels and hotels. Time constraints at work lead to fewer walks, late meals and more limited bonding between owner and pet. 36 www.petsinfo.net November 2013 Food PETS International stale. Canned food left out too long can become a bacterial problem. Natural anti-microbials can help reduce this potential in the food and water bowl. Climate It is normal for pets and other animals to eat less during the hot times of the year while eating more in the cold months. This reaction is directly related to activity and providing body heat. Higher fat foods are necessary for active pets in cold environments along with fresh water. A frozen water bowl means there is limited water intake. Space If our pets have wide open places to run, they will need greater access to water with more frequent feeding. Mineral nutrition may need to increase. If the home is in the city, smaller stools may be more desirable to pick up on walks. In this case, a higher energy – low fibre food may help the owner. Exercise Following the feeding recommendations on the pet food package will likely help maintain the pet’s weight. However, eating calories from food, treats, supplements, food scraps, bones, and chews add up to a high level of nutrition that is both imbalanced and a body weight challenge. The need for regular exercise increases. In many countries, the number of pets that are overweight directly mirrors their owners. Without regular walks, the choice for the pet is a lower calorie food with high fibre coupled with limited numbers of extra treats and chews. Food changes Most pet food companies will describe a transition from one food to another food over seven days. In practice, consumers like to offer their pets choices like they enjoy in eating. These frequent changes in foods are all too common, leading to digestive upsets, undefinable nutrition and potentially hard-to-feed pets. Pets would be better off if foods were changed less frequently. Nutritional regimes must be maintained for long-term health. Food trends Many foods in the pet market follow the same trend as the holistic, human food markets. While there are many new and exciting nutrition and health options that are of value to both humans and pets, there are many demonized ingredients which are considered unacceptable in some pet foods. The balance of nutrients and the fortification of these more unusual foods become a greater challenge and performance can be poorer. Nutritionists are more interested in nutritional balance and fortification than ingredients used. Foods become more designed for the owner than for the pet which can lead to poor performance and health issues. Life stage Many nutritional differences exist between puppies and adults which have led to many differences in nutritional products. No matter what age the pet is, a focus on immune improvement, mineral balance, vitamin provision, protein quality and fatty acid type is critical for the stresses during these changes in size, physiology and health. The range in nutritional options for adult dogs or cats is as wide as the range in activity and physiological condition (breeding, lactation). This can cause high confusion among consumers on how to choose a food. Economy Many owners have faced cut backs at home due to the economy however this has not slowed the spending of pet owners on their pets. Social media Dr George Collings firstname.lastname@example.org www.cnutritionsolutions.com With millennial people, networking and texting is regular and normal. Finding information online is the preferred path. Ultimately, this leads to blogging, tweeting, and purchasing. All of this increases the need for access to nutritional information, expert support and answering questions. Greenness The focus on climate change has prompted major efforts to show creative and sustainable pathways in pet food manufacturing and the ingredients used. Simply, consumers want to know the impact of the food on the environment. Pet choice With active and busy owners, smaller breeds are growing in popularity. Small dogs can go on airline trips more easily. Smaller breeds tend to be more active and therefore need a different level of nutrition than large breeds. Cats are also popular with busy owners because they can be left alone with clean water, plenty of food and clean litter boxes. Product opportunities All of these market and lifestyle trends in our world create many nutritional variations leading to many product opportunities.
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