Adult animals dietary advice

There is a huge variety of diets on the market for adult animals, but not all pets are the same, so how do you decide which one is the best for your pet? Here we discuss the different options that are available for lifestyle diets, and also our advice on the best way to fed your pet.

General feeding tips

  • Feed the highest quality food you can afford. We would always recommend the veterinary standard diets, they contain the best quality ingredients and are formulated to be an exact match to your pets nutritional needs, they are also not as expensive as you may think!
  • Feed a majority dry diet, not only is dry food more practical than wet, as it can be left down without smelling or attracting flies, it is also far better for dental care.
  • Always feed a diet which is suitable for the age and lifestyle of your pet. For example, animals who have been neutered will have a slower metabolic rate, so they may require less food or a low calorie diet. There are also now breed specific diets for both cats and dogs.
  • Feed the correct amount! It sounds simple, but it is very easy to over feed your pet, they will not tell you! Always weigh out your pets food, and follow the manufacturers guidelines.
  • Keep treats to a minimum. It is easy to hugely increase your pets calorie intake with too many treats, feed them sparingly, and only when your pet deserves them.
  • Don’t feed your pet table scraps. Again, this will increase the amount of calories your pet has, and also encourages bad habits of begging.
  • Use chews to encourage dental health. There are various dental chews on the market, the denta-stix and rasks work very well. Clean teeth with help reduce doggy breath and dirty teeth can cause health problems, especially in later life.

Lifestyle diets

Not all adult animals are the same, individuals can have very different nutritional needs. There is a huge variety of diets on the market, designed to help all kinds of problems. Here we run through the most common, and how they could help your pet.

Dental care

  • Dirty teeth and smelly breath are very common problems in pets. 80% of animals over the age of 3 will have some degree of dental disease
  • Most of the premium veterinary diets, such as Hills, Proplan or RCW, are formulated with dental care in mind. So feeding these diets gives the added benefit of not always requiring additional dental care
  • There are several diets on the market aimed at dental care, the biscuits are very fibrous, so when the animal bites they don’t shatter, which means the teeth sink into the biscuit and are wiped down. Also, they tend to be large, or unusually shaped, so the teeth can bite into them.
  • It is possible to feed the dental diets as your animals only food, but the kibbles can also be used as treats, just a few a day can really help to improve dental care.
  • Special chews, powders or regular brushing can also be used to help keep teeth clean.

There are several diets on the market designed specifically to clean teeth
Specially shaped chews can really help to keep the teeth clean
Brushing your pets teeth is also a really good way of keeping them clean


  • Some cats, especially those with long coats such as Persians, are prone to vomiting hairballs from all the grooming they do.
  • Hills Science Plan foods produce a diet designed to minimise the formation of hairballs, and help the fur to pass more easily along the guts.
  • This is achieved by the diets having high levels of vegetable fibre. This helps sweep the hair though the guts, and prevents it from clumping together and being vomited back up.
  • It is worth noting that when cats are itchy they don’t scratch like dogs, they lick, and over grooming can also be a sign of stress. If your pet suddenly starts producing hairballs, it may be worth a trip to the vet to make sure nothing else is wrong before changing their diet.

Long haired cats can be prone to hairballs, but they can occur in any cat
Some veterinary diets are designed to help prevent hairball formation If your cat suddenly starts producing hairballs, take them to the vet before changing the diet, fleas and stress can cause over grooming

House Cats

  • Many cats these days are kept solely as house cats, this can be for many reasons, they live near to busy streets, they are pedigree animals, or they live in flats.
  • These animals have different nutritional requirements to animals allowed outdoors, and there are now diets designed especially for them
  • These diets tend to be lower in fats and calories, as indoor pets are less active than outdoor ones.
  • They also contain high levels of fibre to prevent the formation of hairballs, and often ingredients to promote good hair growth, as cats indoors tend to groom themselves more.
  • They are also designed to prevent bladder crystals or stones forming, something which indoor pets can be prone to, and ‘Proplan House Cat’ formula contains an ingredient which makes the urine smell less in the litter tray.

There are several premium diets on the market designed for indoor cats, your vet should be able to help you choose the most suitable for your cat.


  • Once your pet has been neutered, there is a big change in their metabolic rate, and so their calorific requirements.
  • While most pets do well on an ordinary diet, some need to go on a light diet to ensure their weight remains stable.
  • It is especially important in neutered, male cats that their diet and weight is controlled, as if they become fat, they will be prone to developing bladder stones and crystals.
  • There are now diets on the market designed for neutered cats, both male and female, which are lower in calories, but are also designed to make bladder stones much less likely to develop.
  • These foods are able to control stones by altering the acidity of the urine to make it difficult for them to form, and also diluting the urine.

Several companies have created diets especially for neutered cats. This is particularly important in neutered male cats who can be prone to gaining weight and bladder stones

Performance diets

  • Many very active dogs, such as working animals, those that do a lot of agility, have much higher than average enery requirements and benefit from special ‘performance’ diets.
  • These diets have an optimal protein to fat ratio and are very energy dense, which means the animal doesn’t have to eat large volumes of food to get all the energy and nutrition they need.
  • They are also designed to be very palatable, it is important these animals eat when they need to, or they may not cope with the stresses and strains of a working day.
  • These diets are also generally high in vitamins and anti-oxidants, to help the dog stay in the best possible health while working hard.

Working dogs, such as sheep dogs and gun dogs will need a special diet in order for them to be able to cope with their very active lifestyles Performance diets are designed with these dogs high energy needs in mind Dogs who work very hard on agility can also sometimes require special diets.

Sensitive skin

  • Some animals, especially dogs, have a tendency to itch or scratch, or have occasional reddening of the skin, and it can be related to food or environmental allergies.
  • However, while these problems are often seen, it is important to correctly treat your animal against fleas and other parasites first, before you consider dietary sensitivities.
  • Some individuals can be very badly affected and require medication or prescription diets, but others just benefit from dietary management.
  • Diets designed to help dogs with sensitive skin tend to contain a small number of protein sources, to reduce food sensitivity and increased fatty acids and antioxidants to maintain the skin in good health. They also tend to be free from wheat, gluten, red meats and dairy products, all of which are common foods to which pets can be allergic.
  • There are lots of diets on the market which bill themselves as ‘natural’ or ‘from nature’. While these products may contain fewer additives, they are NOT hypoallergenic or always suitable for animals with sensitivities.

Diets for sensitive skin will use low allergenic foods, and contain ingredients to help maintain the skin in good health.
Reddening of the skin, itchy skin, ears or paws, or excessive grooming can all be signs of irritated skin.
If your pet has sensitive skin, only use diets that state that on the bag, diets billed as ‘natural’ may be no better than ordinary ones.

Sensitive stomach

  • Many animals have sensitive stomachs, and are prone to bouts of diahorrea or vomiting, sometimes after eating unusual foods or treats, but not always.
  • For these animals ordinary cat and dog foods can be too rich, or contain too many additives for their digestive system to cope with.
  • There are prescription diets available for the worst affected individuals but sometimes just changing to a diet designed for sensitive stomachs can help.
  • These diets tend to contain highly digestable ingredients, such as high quality proteins, which are more easily absorbed by th body, higher levels of fibre to encourage solid faeces and added nourishment for the cells of the intestines, so they function correctly.
  • Animals with sensitive stomachs also often benefit from being fed several small meals in a day, rather than just one large one.

There are several diets designed especially for pets with sensitive stomachs on the market, but sometimes a premium food of any kind can be beneficial, as they are such high quality.
Animals with sensitive stomachs can benefit from little and often feeding.
Good quality diets will help pets with sensitive stomachs have healthy, solid stools.

Weight control

  • Some animals are prone to weight gain, this may be because they are less active, they are of a breed which is at risk of weight gain, for example Labradors or Staffordshire Bull Terriers, or they have been neutered, which slows the metabolic rate.
  • Animals who have gained weight are at risk from many diseases, including arthritis, heart disease and diabetes, and recent studies have proved that animals who are over weight do not live as long as their thinner pets.
  • It can be difficult to keep some animals at the right weight while feeding normal food, without them becoming very hungry.
  • Weight control diets are generally just lighter versions of the normal diets, they tend to be higher in fibre and lower in fat, so your pet feels full but takes in fewer calories.
  • Always take the advice of your vet before starting your pet on a diet, they will be able to advise you on the best way to go about it, and on the correct amounts to feed.

There are many different light diets on the market for pets, always ask your vet for advice on which will be best for your pet, and how best to feed it.

Please note, this is an advice only website, if you have any specific concerns about your pet, please contact your vet.

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