Nutrition Basics for Dogs & Cats

Table scraps will not provide the balanced diet which dogs and cats require. Ideally, table scraps should not be fed. Owners who do offer them should never feed more than 10% of the animal’s daily food intake.

Raw liver, fed daily in large quantities, can cause a vitamin A toxicity in dogs and cats. This is particularly true if it is fed along with a complete and balanced diet already containing ample vitamin A. Raw eggs present a risk for contracting a bacterial infection with Salmonella.

Repeatedly adding raw eggs to a dog’s or cat’s diet can cause a deficiency of the vitamin biotin. Raw egg whites contain avidin, an enzyme which ties up biotin (makes it unavailable for absorption into the body). Symptoms of biotin deficiency include skin abnormalities, loss of hair, and poor growth.

Milk is a food and not a substitute for water. As a food, milk is incomplete and does not provide a balanced diet. It can be useful as a treat for some dogs or cats, however, large quantities may not be well tolerated. Milk contains lactose which requires the enzyme lactase for breakdown in the intestinal tract. If the intestinal tract does not contain sufficient lactase, consumption of a high level of lactose can cause flatulence, intestinal discomfort, and diarrhea in some pets.

Obesity is the number one nutritional disorder among dogs and cats. This extra weight puts them at risk for certain health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal problems and diabetes mellitus.

Tips for weight control include reducing or eliminating table scraps and treats (which are usually high in fat & calories), using a measuring cup, reducing the amount of caloric intake (either by reducing the amount being fed or switching to a lower fat diet under the guidance of your veterinarian), and increasing activity.

Please consult your veterinarian before beginning any weight reduction program. Remember, your family veterinarian is your complete source of medical knowledge and guidance for all of your pet’s health care and behavioral needs.

If you need a veterinarian, please visit the Find a Veterinarian page for a list of NJVMA veterinarians in your area.