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dog nutrition

Over the last 30 years an enormous amount of research has gone in to pet nutrition to help us understand their needs which are so different from our own. This has resulted in a variety of diets to support your pet through each life stage and support any diseases or ailments they may suffer from.

nutrition Although you may feel tempted to feed your pet fresh meat, this can have detrimental effects on their health as well as yours (some raw meat contains a type of tapeworm that can be transmitted to humans), a balanced diet is the kindest option.

We stock a large range of the Hill’s foods the new Vet Essentials range and prescription diets tailored to your pet's individual health requirements. Our vets and nurses will be able to advise on which diet is most suited to your pet and how much and how often to feed.

Click here to learn more and find out why you should choose Hills Vet Essentials for your cat.

The Facts About Nutrition- All you need to know about the science behind a healthly, balanced diet.


Water is the most important nutrient of all and essential for life. Animals can lose almost all their fat and half their protein and still survive, but if they lose 15% of their water, it will mean death.
The amount of water an animal should consume per day is roughly equivalent to its daily energy intake in calories. This means that a healthy dog or cat would normally need around 50 ml per kg bodyweight per day; e.g., 200 ml for a 4 kg cat.

The nutrients that supply us with energy are carbohydrates, proteins and fat.
Simple carbohydrates and starches in foods are used by the body as a source of glucose. As such, they have several major functions:

1. Provide energy.
2. Produce heat when they are metabolised for energy.
3. Can be used as building blocks for other nutrients (e.g., certain amino acids, lactose (the sugar in milk) and vitamin C).
4. Provide storage of energy in the form of glycogen or fat.

To make a protein, amino acids are linked together in a long chain. The chain is then bundled into to a three-dimensional structure, like a tangled ball of yarn.
Proteins are the essential building blocks of all tissues and organs of the body including:

  • cartilage, tendons and ligaments (collagen and elastin)
  • the element of muscles that contract (actin and myosin)
  • skin, hair and nails (keratin)
  • blood proteins (haemoglobin, transferrin, albumin and globulins)
  • enzymes
  • hormones
  • antibodies

Proteins are often described as the 'backbone' of cells because they have a structural role in all cell walls. Proteins are required for all tissue growth, replenishment and repair.
If there is more protein available than necessary for building blocks, proteins may also be used as a source of dietary energy.

Dietary fats are required to:

  • supply energy: dietary fat provides the pet with 2.25 times more calories per weight unit than protein or carbohydrates
  • aid absorption of the fat soluble vitamins (vitamins A,D, E and K): dietary fat provides a physical environment in the gut that enhances the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. Dogs and cats need at least 1-2% dietary fat in their food to absorb fat-soluble vitamins
  • supply essential fatty acids: Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
  • Essential fatty acids are fats that must be present in the diet, as the body cannot manufacture them. They are needed for:
  • constituents of cell membranes to maintain fluid membranes that allow passage of molecules
  • the synthesis of diverse, active substances in the body, i.e., prostaglandins
  • control of water loss through the skin


More than 18 mineral elements are believed to be essential for mammals.


Skeletal structure Calcium
Acid base balance
Fluid balance
Cellular function All
Nerve conduction Potassium
Muscle contraction Calcium


The threat of free radicals
Cells are continually under attack from compounds called 'free radicals'. Generated as a 'by-product' of the body's own metabolism or as a result of external factors like pollution, free radicals can kill cells by damaging the membrane, the enzymes and the DNA contained within. Free radicals pose a particular risk to the cells of the nervous and immune systems, and they are even thought to contribute to the progression of many diseases and the onset of premature ageing.
How antioxidants help
Antioxidants help prevent the free radicals from damaging cells. Whilst the body's normal antioxidant defences provide some protection, the addition of antioxidants to the diet provides an additional 'active shield' that supports those natural defences.
Clinically proven antioxidants
Hill's Science Plan foods contain a unique combination of antioxidants such as vitamins E and C, beta-carotene and selenium, and that superior antioxidant formula has been clinically proven to help maintain your pet's health, reduce the risk of disease and strengthen the immune response.
Protecting puppies and kittens
Because puppies and kittens are particularly at risk from free radicals, Hill's Science Plan Healthy Development formulas contain antioxidants clinically proven to help build healthy immune systems right from the start.

Vitamins can be divided into two main groups depending on whether they are soluble in fat or water. In addition, there is a group of vitamin-like substances that are similar to vitamins without fitting exactly into the categories.


L-Carnitine is one of the best known vitamin-like substances. It is a natural component of all animal cells. Its primary function is to help convert fat into energy. L-Carnitine transports fatty acids across the inner membrane of the mitochondria (the energy factories of the cell), so they can be oxidised and converted into energy.
With age, the mitochondria become less efficient and more free radicals are produced. L-Carnitine helps improve the efficiency of the mitochondria, so fewer free radicals are produced and mitochondrial health is maintained for longer. Liver, skeletal and heart muscles contain 95-98% of the L-carnitine in the body and are significant storage sites.
L-Carnitine has been shown to help overweight cats lose weight.


Vitamin C plays an important role in immune function and may have some benefit in the recovery of stress due to exercise.


Vitamin A is required for:

  • normal vision
  • healthy coat
  • healthy skin
  • healthy mucous membranes
  • healthy teeth


The primary function of vitamin D has to do with calcium and phosphorus and includes:

  • enhancement of intestinal absorption and mobilisation
  • retention and bone deposition


  • a powerful biological antioxidant
  • an aid to maintain membrane integrity

The body produces harmful free radicals (oxidants) that cause damage to the cells as a by-product of normal metabolism. Free radicals weaken the immune system, accelerate signs of ageing and have an important role in the development of many different diseases. The biologically active antioxidants, of which vitamin E is one of the most significant, can protect the body from the harmful effects of free radicals, if the levels of antioxidants are high enough.


Vitamin K is synthesised by gut bacteria, and regulates the formation of several blood-clotting factors.


The individual B-vitamins have specific functions but overall they:

  • act as components of enzymes
  • act as co-factors in the metabolic processes



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