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It has been a long acknowledge truth that diet plays a huge role in a persons health. What we eat has been linked to a whole range of health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and cancer. We are encouraged to cut back on things that are bad for us and favour ingredients that promote good health.

A pets diet is equally important. What cats, dogs and other pets eat can have a dramatic effect on a pets health and wellbeing, and the issue is complicated by the staggering variety in different pets needs. A cat and a dog obviously have different needs, but even with these definitions there are a lot of different needs that can be addressed. A small dog like a pug has such a different size shape and purpose to a sheep dog that its metabolism and other specific needs are bound to be different.

A breed specific food will likely control a pets calorie intake to match the animals natural needs, as well as containing ingredients that help to protect against health problems that particular breeds are susceptible to, a hypoallergenic food will help care for cats and dogs with allergies, and so on.

Speciality foods come in many different verities each specifically deigned to care for a particular pet or a particular problem. Here is a list of some of the most common speciality foods and why you might want buy them.

Breed specific- The terms ‘dog’ or ‘cat’ encompass a huge variety of weights, shapes and metabolisms. A Chihuahua can be as small as a kilo and a half and fifteen centimetres tall, where as a chow can be 30 kilos and fifty six centimetres, a greyhound has a different metabolism to a pug, similarly cats come all sorts of shapes and sizes. If a pug ate food designed for a greyhound it would get fat pretty quickly. A pug might have a natural inclination toward certain illnesses that can be protected against through diet, a greyhound might have different ones. Pet food companies such as Royal Canin offer a wide variety of food designed specifically for different breeds of dogs and cats.

Age- As your cat or dog ages and their bodies change so do their nutritional requirements. As a kitten or a puppy is developing they require a higher concentration of nutrients in order to not only maintain themselves but to also create the capacity for growth. Whereas it is natural that a senior or geriatric pet needs a different nutritional profile to help guard against ailments associated with age. Similarly a young animal requires higher carbohydrate levels to fuel their active lifestyle, whereas an older pet who is far less active would just grow fat. Picking the right food in line with a pet’s age will help your pet by keep your pet healthy and active throughout their life.

Specific health concerns – Companies such as Royal Canin offer a range of products designed to aid in the recovery or managements of specific health problems such as Urinary Health, Diabetes, Digestive Support, Liver Health, Illness and Surgery Recovery Support, Renal Health, Weight Management, and Cardiac Health. These products are designed to use ingredients that specifically help to care for animals with these ailments and are available through your vet or licenced vendor.

General health – As well as the more specific problems that can be helped by diet, there are also a range of products designed for more general health and care of a pet. For example foods that help control the weight of a dog , or a food designed for cats who are fussy eaters, or hypoallergenic food for animals with allergies.

The most common Speciality food type for general health:

Hypo allergenic- Just like people, pets are perfectly capable of developing allergic reactions to certain foods. Allergies can manifest themselves as something as simple as a mild irritation, but at its worst an allergic reaction can be life threatening.

A hypo allergenic food will typically use sources of protein and carbohydrate that an animal hasn’t had a chance to develop allergies to. Often hypo allergenic foods will use duck or venison as a protein source and oats or rice as a carbohydrate source.

Urinary tract health – Urinary tract foods aim to prevent the development of crystals and stones in the urinary tract by controlling the levels of calcium, oxalate, phosphorous and magnesium in a pets system.

Hairball prevention – Because a cat cannot digest its own hair as it grooms itself the fur that it removes builds up in the cats mouth and stomach. This can only be expelled by being bought back up through the mouth. This can often be distressing for cat and owner alike. While not able to completely remove the need for hairballs, hairball prevention foods are designed to be high in fibre, the fibre sticks to the hair helping it move through the
digestive tract instead of being spat back up.

Dental health – Dental health foods are simply foods designed to clean a pets teeth as they chew. Dental health foods might also contain ingredients that aim to reduce the build up of tartar. These foods are especially beneficial for pets who won’t sit for their owner to clean their teeth, or for breeds and animals that are susceptible to gum disease.

Joint care – Designed for pets who have trouble getting around, Joint care foods contain ingredients such as glucosamine and chondroitin which work to rebuild damaged cartilage and reduce inflammation around joints.
As you can see whatever your pet’s specific needs there is likely to be a speciality food to cater for your animal. A speciality food while a little more expensive has the many advantages over a generic food. A carefully selected balanced diet can help to protect a pet’s health and create the right conditions for a long and healthy life