Ask Dr Josie Gollan: Pet Nutrition

Dr. Josie Gollan is our trusted brand ambassador and companion animal veterinarian with over 10 years of clinical experience. We opened the floor to our customers on social media and asked them what questions they wanted answered about their pet’s nutrition.

Q: Are any of your diets recommended for cats with kidney urinary issues

A: Typically, cats that have kidney disease require a specifically formulated low-protein diet. The Feline Natural range certainly tends to be a higher protein diet, which is excellent for overall nutrition for cats but for those with kidney disease it may not be appropriate. I would certainly recommend speaking to your veterinarian about a specifically formulated diet for your cat with kidney disease. Urinary tract disease is slightly different to kidney disease and some parts of the Feline Natural range can be beneficial; particularly the wet foods which have a very high water content which can help with ensuring adequate hydration which can benefit cats with urinary disease. However, depending on the type of problem they have, a specifically formulated diet may be required for them too. It can be fiddly; I highly recommend discussing the specifics of your cat’s case with your vet and following their direction.

Q: Are veterinarians taught pet nutrition as well?

A: Veterinarians are certainly taught about nutrition at vet school, we do a whole subject on the matter. However, just like all parts of our professional development, it is important to continue to stay up to date across the new developments and knowledge that we gain in the area so that we can offer the best advice to our clients in terms of looking after their pets.

Q: Should I be worried about my cat’s teeth if he has bad breath?

A: If your cat has bad breath, it can most certainly be a sign of dental disease. I would highly recommend taking your cat to the vet and getting them to assess your cat’s teeth. Most likely they will recommend a scale and polish under general anaesthetic, which is a very important part of preventative health in terms of maintaining good oral and dental hygiene for our cats’, just like we do for ourselves.

Q: What health benefits do flaxseeds offer?

A: Flaxseeds can be an excellent addition to our pets’ diets. They are a rich source of plant-based, omega 3 fatty acids and we know that that has positive health benefits for our pets when consumed. They are great for joint, eye, brain, and cardiovascular health as well as skin & coat health, and helping to promote healthy immune function for our pets. They are also a great source of fibre. Adding fibre to our pet’s diet is important as long as it is in the correct amounts; we don’t want to excessively add fibre because that can have problems in terms of digestibility for our pets. So, they are a great source of fibre, as well as omega 3 fatty acids. Importantly however, when adding flaxseeds to a diet they do need to be ground. If you feed them whole, they are likely to go in one end and out the other, without giving off any of those benefits.

Q: Covid-19 is ongoing and affects cats. How have you adjusted this in your practice?

A: Covid-19 has certainly proved challenging for the veterinary space, as it has for many industries and basically everyone on the planet. I think for us, one of the most challenging parts of it was the lack of client-vet interface when we had the social distancing, and our typical consultations were done without the owner present – taken over the phone or via email. It can be very challenging to understand the nuance of the situation when you don’t have that face-to-face contact with a person and understanding their needs and wants and how we can best look after their animals’. The other thing that was a challenge was the huge demand we had during that time. There was a massive uptake – especially in Australia – of Covid kittens which put incredible pressure on the veterinary industry. We are getting back into the swing of things and as an industry I think we are looking forward to best serving our clients and their pets.

Q: What benefits do Green Lipped Mussels add?

A: Green Lipped Mussels – which are native to the waters of New Zealand – are an excellent addition to your pet’s diet. They are a rich source of omega 3, which we know have a multitude of health benefits for our pets. They are excellent for joint health, eye health, brain or cognitive health; they also confer an anti-inflammatory affect to many organ systems in the body and are great for heart or cardiovascular health. We also know that for skin or coat health Omega 3’s are essential. The Feline Natural range include green lipped mussels, and therefore Omega 3’s, in all of their Complete & Balanced diets.

Q: What kind of health issues can carbohydrates cause?

A: Whilst I think we need to be careful about vilifying an entire macro-nutrient (namely carbohydrates) when it comes to feeding our pets’, I think it is really important to identify that cats and dogs have different carbohydrate requirements to each other, as well as very different to what we need as humans. Most importantly, cats have a lower carbohydrate requirement because they are obligate carnivores and it is all to do with their metabolism, how they work and how they get energy for their daily requirements. In cats that are fed higher carbohydrate diets, we tend to see an increased risk in them becoming overweight or obese and with these conditions we certainly do see an increased risk as well in the possibility of developing diabetes; which is something you definitely want to avoid if you can. So, it is not about vilifying carbohydrates, it is about feeding our pets the appropriate amount of carbohydrates in their food.

Q: Why are there synthetic vitamins and minerals in this food when some other freeze-dried diets don’t have them?

A: The addition of some vitamins and minerals to the Feline Natural range is essential in ensuring that the meals are complete & balanced for all life stages; When you are using wholefood, natural ingredients it is important to realise that depending on a variety of factors (such as time of year, or the grass that the animals are eating), the nutrient value/content can differ. By adding additional minerals and vitamins, Feline Natural is essentially fortifying the diets to ensure the diets meet the AAFCO feeding guide requirements, that they are nutritionally balanced for your animal and that your pet is not going to end up with a nutritional deficiency.

Thanks for tuning in! Make sure to follow us on Instagram at @felinenatural to submit your own questions in the future and see more for Dr. Josie Gollan.

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