Glossary of Terms


Calories - also referred to as kilocalories, kCal, or kcal; are a measurement of the energy derived from food. 

Carbohydrates - one of the three macronutrients that provide energy in an animal’s diet. They are split into two categories according to their function:

  • simple carbohydrates, aka sugars (glucose, fructose, saccharose, lactose, etc) are found in fruit, flour, milk, sugar and sugar products
  • complex carbohydrates, which include starch (energy sources) and dietary fibre (needed for general hygiene in the digestive tract).

Dietary Fibres – Type of carbohydrates found in plants, including cellulose, hemicelluloses and pectins that cannot be produced by the body. While they are of no direct nutritional value (they are not digested or absorbed), dietary fibres are very important: insoluble fibres do not absorb water. They provide bulk, which facilitates intestinal transit and helps to exfoliate old cells from the lining of the intestine, which improves nutrient absorption and intestinal health. Soluble fibres absorb water, which helps to slow gastric emptying, maintains steady blood glucose levels, and helps to prevent both constipation as well as diarrhea. Fermentable fibres are broken down by the beneficial bacterial population in the colon, producing short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) to feed the cells lining the intestine, and reduce the number of pathogenic bacteria.

Digestibility – The degree to which a food item can be broken down into its components for use in the body.

Energy - In order to function properly, an animal’s body needs the energy contained in its food (whether animal or vegetable in origin). Energy is measured in Calories and is provided by carbohydrates, proteins, and fat.

Energy Requirements - The amount of energy required to fulfill the body’s daily energy needs. This amount depends on age, physiological status (growth, gestation, lactation, maintenance, illness etc.), physical activity, size of animal (in dogs) and neuter status (in dogs and cats).

Enzymes – type of proteins that help to break down materials (such as food) in the body, without being altered themselves.

Essential Nutrient – a nutrient that needs to be obtained from the diet. Essential nutrients either cannot be made in the body or cannot be made in sufficient quantities to meet the needs of the body.

Fat or lipids - one of the three macronutrients of an animal’s diet. They provide an energy rich fuel source and supplying building blocks for the formation of tissues in the body.

Gastrointestinal Tract – A series of muscular organs where food is digested and made available for absorption. These organs include the mouth, esophagus, stomach, and small and large intestines.

Ingredients - The “visible” elements in a recipe or mixture. An ingredient can be a source of several nutrients.

Inorganic – Matter that is inanimate and not derived from plant or animal origin.

Macronutrient – nutrients required in large quantities by the body. These include carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.

Metabolism – set of chemical reactions that occur within the body to sustain life. Metabolism includes two types of reactions: those that build molecules (anabolic) and those that break down molecules (catabolic).

Micronutrient – nutrients required in small quantities by the body. These include vitamins and minerals.

Mineral – Inorganic matter required for processes in the body.

Non-Essential Nutrient – a nutrient that can be made from other nutrients within the body. These nutrients also may be obtained from the diet. Non-essential does not mean not important or not beneficial.

Nutrient – a substance provided in food that supports life by performing a number of functions in the body. Nutrients are divided into six groups, carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water.

Nutrition – The understanding of how food can provide nourishment for health.

Organic – Matter derived from plants or animals.

Proteins – One of the three macronutrients in an animal’s diet. They are very large, complex molecules providing energy and playing many critical roles in the body.

Vitamin – organic matter with no energy value required for processed in the body, however, can be involved in processes to obtain energy from macronutrients





  • Myths around Urinary Tract Health in Dogs and Cats

    Myths around Urinary Tract Health in Dogs and Cats

    7 March, 2014 by Dr. Doreen M. Houston

    Myth 1: Salt in urinary diets is bad. It can lead to kidney failure, hypertension and associated heart disease, and calcium oxalate bladder and kidney stones.


  • Does your dog have seasonal environmental allergies?

    Does your dog have seasonal environmental allergies?

    5 July, 2013 by Laura Western

    Like humans, dogs can be allergic to ragweed, grass, pollens, molds and dust mites. Humans’ seasonal environmental allergies are typically identified by sneezing, running nose, and red irritated watery eyes but when a dog is affected by seasonal environmental allergies the typical symptoms are much different. #ItchyPetSeeYourVet