This will discuss the special cases that take the above information and tweak it. There are circumstances like age and diseases that warrant changes in the pet’s diet. There are tombs of books on the different diseases of the pet; my intent is to make suggestions once the diagnosis is obtained.
The first circumstance I mentioned is age. I have already covered juvenile, adult, and senior pets, but I want to mention one subcategory of juvenile pets, the little tiny puppies and kittens that lost their mother. These orphans need to be fed, but the obstacle is finding something they will eat. Kittens and puppies less than 4 weeks will probably need to be bottled fed. There are several good milk replacers on the market and baby bottles. The trick is having the hole of the nipple be big enough for suckling, with a little encouragement from the bottle holder. The second trick is feeding numerous times (5-6) in a 24-hour period. The third trick is to get the orphan on canned puppy/kitten food as soon as possible. This is usually accomplished starting at 4 weeks of age.
There is one more young pet consideration. I have seen numerous small breed puppies come into my exam room, just obtained and are skinny. Almost always the problem is, they are being fed dry puppy food and do not have any idea how to eat. Usually it is a multi-fold problem: improper weaning and wrong form of food. The solution is usually simple, canned puppy food. Warning, do not put your finger with a dollop of food in front of the puppy, they will bite it trying to get to the food. The canned puppy food is temporary. After several weeks to one month, dry puppy food can be introduced slowly reducing the canned puppy food.
Some of the common diseases that I want to mention are: kidney, liver, pancreatitis, diabetes, bladder stones, feline lower urinary tract disease, and food allergies. This is not a dissertation on veterinary medicine, but some dietary suggestions. Always consult your veterinarian first.
Kidney disease usually requires diets that are low in sodium and low in protein. Kidney disease is usually monitored with blood pressure readings and blood parameters. Sodium retains water; too much sodium causes too much water retention. Look at your feet the next day after eating a bunch of salty snacks. Too much water retention causes high blood pressure. So this compounds the hypertension already caused by the kidney disease. One of the blood parameters is blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and kidney disease usually has high BUN. Urea comes from protein metabolism. So if the patient is fed a high-protein meal, this increases the urea level. A high BUN level makes the patient feel worse, decreasing appetite and water consumption, ultimately making the kidney disease worse.
There are two general liver disease states that are treated differently with diet. Chronic liver failure requires a very high-quality diet, but again, restricted protein. High protein metabolism can cause elevated ammonia levels that affect the brain. Acute liver problems (normal liver but the organ has been insulted and enzymes are elevated) require a very high-quality, easily-digestible diet.
Pancreatitis is usually complicated by high fat content. Once the disease has been treated and the crisis is over, this condition responds very well with a low-fat diet. I personally prefer the low-fat, high-fiber diet. This disease is very controllable if the owner is very strict with the specific diet. Or conversely, relapses are very common if the owner is not strict. Chronic pancreatitis patients may end up with diabetes requiring insulin and/or digestive enzymes every meal so the pet can digest their food.
Diabetes mellitus is a disease in which the patient requires insulin supplementation. Consistency is the cornerstone for successful treatment. For dogs, the best diet seems to be a high-fiber diet. The fiber slowly releases the carbohydrates into the blood, therefore causing less glucose spikes. Cats on the other hand require more of a high-fat diet. Be very consistent with everything, because at some point your veterinarian is going to have to figure out why the blood sugars aren’t being controlled. The fewer variables you give your veterinarian, the easier it is to figure out.
Bladder infections in cats are a unique disease. Many variables like genetics, stress, diet, and sometimes bacterial infection all play a part. Again, I have found that a strict diet used for feline urinary disease not only treats the disease, but usually prevents re-occurrence. In dogs, there are other non-dietary predispositions that cause their bladder infections. Diets can help dogs a little, but not as well as diets can help cats. Bladder stones are another issue in dogs. Bladder stones can be dissolved with a very strict specific diet and can also be prevented with a very strict specific diet.
The last disease is food allergies. Food allergies are not that common; 4-10% of all allergies are food related. Food allergies are caused by the protein source in the food. It is very difficult to test for food allergies. There is no skin test or blood test that tests for food allergies. The only test is a food trial. Food trials must be conducted for 8–12 weeks and must be very strict. With a little guidance, is does not have to a hit or miss type of proposition. Hydrolyzed protein diets are very good at proving if a pet has food allergies, again, over a strict trial period of 8-12 weeks. The hard part is finding a diet the food allergic pet can eat. Again, with a little guidance from your veterinarian, there are numerous choices.
Nutrition directly impacts the health of your pet – whether normal feeding or using special diets for special cases, whether treating for, or preventing, disease. Please consult with your veterinarian about what is best to feed your pet.