This week, Royal Canin gives us the low-down on ‘feeding your breed’ and explains what breed-specific nutrition can really do.

If you are the proud owner of a pedigree dog or cat, you are not alone. Around 75% of the UK’s pet dog population are of a particular breed*, and although moggies are still the most common choice of pet cat, pure-bred cats are certainly becoming more popular. There are over 200 dog and around 50 cat breeds to choose from, each with its own distinctive character and appearance. And as it is increasingly recognised that breed characteristics can influence nutritional specificities too, breed-specific nutrition is becoming a popular choice.

When it comes to feeding your dog or cat, tailored health nutrition is the future. Of course, every pet requires a balanced diet providing all the essential energy and nutrients they need at just the right levels, and this must be ensured first and foremost. However, just as with our own diet, food can mean so much more. By accounting for particular attributes and sensitivities we can go beyond simply providing for basic requirements and actually feed to help support optimum health and condition. And advances in our knowledge mean that diet can now be adapted not only to age, lifestyle and size, but also to breed characteristics.

Your dog or cat’s breed can actually influence their daily energy needs. Some breeds are prone to weight gain or a large appetite and so benefit from a lower dietary energy content to help support a lean bodyweight. However, energy levels can be increased for those breeds with higher average maintenance needs. More concentrated energy levels can also be useful to reduce meal size and therefore help avoid digestive overload in breeds for which this is a concern.

What about the kibble itself? Size and even shape of the kibble can be adapted to precisely suit each breed. Perhaps your pet is a short-nosed breed such as a Boxer or Persian and finds it difficult to pick up their food. By studying a breed’s feeding behaviour and mouth shape the kibble can be designed to be much easier for them to pick it up, making mealtimes much less frustrating! A tailored kibble design can also help slow down rate of feeding (great for breeds like the Labrador or Siamese who often gulp down their food), encourage crunching to help promote dental health and improve palatability for fussy breeds.

Finally, it is well known that different breeds of dog or cat are prone to certain health concerns so breed-specific diets are formulated with a nutrient profile to help maintain a healthy physiology. For example, Royal Canin’s Miniature Schnauzer diet has a lower fat level to help promote healthy lipid metabolism. And as Dalmatians are prone to urate bladder stones, formed from uric acid in the urine, the Dalmatian diet is formulated with a low content of purines to help limit the excretion of uric acid.

In addition, breed diets make great use of health nutrients – those superfood elements which we are learning can bring extra benefits to a diet. Looking at each breed’s particular sensitivities, the right combinations of health nutrients can be selected to help support mobility, digestion, skin and coat or heart health for example, helping to keep dogs and cats at their very best through nutrition.

Royal Canin takes all of these considerations together to produce diets tailored to the specificities of over 20 breeds of dog and 4 breeds of cat, the widest range of breed nutrition.

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Written by: Hannah