The Good, the Bad, and the Trendy: Fad Diets for Dogs

dog food diet fads

With food of all kinds readily available, and new fad diets and ideas about eating that emerge every year (all claiming to be the healthiest), it’s easy to spend a lot of time thinking about what we eat. It’s no surprise that many pet owners are also focused on best options for their furry friend’s diet – after all, pets deserve to live long and healthy lives, too!

From raw diets to grain-free, the choices can seem overwhelming. This is why the team at Animal Family Veterinary Care Center is here to sift through the choices and spotlight some of the fad diets for dogs, so you can make an informed decision.

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Are You Avoiding Giving Your Cat Exercise Opportunities?

It’s not that whacky to think that our pet cats actually disdain some of the things we do. We’re not talking about vacuuming the floor or using the (really loud) blender for smoothies. No, cats seemingly sneer at us when we lace up for a jog, or tune up our bikes for the trail. Do we avoid cat exercise because they appear to dislike it? 

Perhaps. 

But with feline obesity on the rise each year, we must all do our part to instill a love of feline fitness. Here we have 5 possible reasons to explain why you (and your cat) may be shirking the responsibility.

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Overweight Pet? The Sneaky Reasons Your Pet Isn’t Losing Weight

For pets and people alike, it’s easier to keep the weight off than to lose it. An overweight pet with even a few extra pounds can experience disastrous consequences to their long term health and wellness. However, weight-loss diets can be very difficult to maintain – especially once behavioral patterns are established to overeat, sneak treats, and munch on snacks throughout the day.  

The Heart of the Matter

The perils of pet obesity are becoming more commonly understood. Despite warnings of developing associated diseases (such as osetoarthritis, diabetes, cancer) and early mortality, a shockingly high number of pets are considered overweight or obese, especially seniors.

The Breakdown

Weight gain occurs when an individual consumes too many calories with insufficient opportunities to burn them off. Many pets live fairly sedentary lives and eat energy-dense food. Lots of naps combined with even a normal amount of food plus regular treats can be so much more damaging than you think.

An overweight pet simply needs less food and more exercise, right? It’s not always as easy as that.

The Measuring Cup

Overfeeding is the most obvious reason for added weight, but certain medical conditions like Cushing’s syndrome or hypothyroidism can affect a pet’s metabolism. Before you make changes to  your pet’s diet, we recommend ruling out what could be going on beneath the surface. 

Additionally, a wellness exam is helpful in discerning whether your pet is up for rigorous exercise from now on.

Trying to Lose Weight

There could be many other explanations behind why an overweight pet isn’t losing weight, or isn’t losing it fast enough. 

The ideal place to start is with an understanding of the Body Condition Score (BCS). Taking into account your pet’s species, breed, age and lifestyle we can determine their weight and exercise plan, all in order for them to achieve the optimal score on the BCS. 

A Greater Challenge

Once you know how much your pet should ideally weigh, you can determine their daily intake of food, snacks, treats, supplements, and people food. Take a long look at the ingredients lists on food labels, and call us with any questions

An overweight pet might benefit from shaving about 25-40% of their previous calorie count, but because they depend on critical vitamins and nutrients, cutting calories from their meals isn’t necessarily a healthy alternative. Instead, reduce the amount of extra calories they receive from snacks and treats. 

The Rx Solution

Prescription diets can help to ensure an overweight pet gets all the nutrition they need, without extra calories. We are happy to discuss viable options for your pet’s weight and lifestyle. 

While dieting, we recommend weighing your pet every 2-4 weeks and noting any changes on the BCS. It’s reasonable to aim for losing 1-2% of body weight every week. That being said, it can take over a month for pet owners to see any changes. Please let us know if no changes to weight have occurred after 4-6 weeks. 

Still Struggling

While restricting unnecessary calories is the foundation for weight loss, the process can be supported by increased exercise. Preserving muscle mass and increasing metabolism are just two benefits of exercising to lose weight.

Other options may involve:

  • Food puzzles
  • Slow feeders
  • Fresh veggies and fruits (to help your pet feel full during meals)
  • Ensuring that all family or household members are adhering to the dietary restrictions (and always use the same exact measuring cup!)
  • Camp Canine can keep your pup distracted from a rumbling tummy and will engage them in calorie-burning activities 

Dedication to an Overweight Pet

A few extra pounds put on over the course of many months can really sneak up on pet owners. Surely, preventing extra weight gain is the best option, but with daily discipline and dedication, an overweight pet can definitely achieve their optimal weight.

As always, if we can assist you with questions, please let us know at Animal Family Veterinary Care Center.

Preventing Pancreatitis in Pets: Knowing the Score This Thanksgiving

pancreatitis in petsIf you haven’t had enough pumpkin spice flavor in your life lately, you’re in luck. Thanksgiving is just around the corner, a fact that has most Americans jumping for joy. Between the turkey, gravy, casseroles, and desserts, we consume far more than we ought to – and pay for it later.

The endless indulgence does not set a great example for our pets either, who watch every move we make intently. It’s no wonder that pancreatitis in pets occurs like clockwork every holiday season. Fortunately, there are definite ways to counteract this dangerous medical condition.

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How To Read A Pet Food Label

AnimalFam_iStock_000084005055_LargePart of being a responsible pet owner is providing your pet with a nutritious diet. For most of us, this nutritious diet is probably going to come in the form of a commercially produced pet food. Easy, just run to any store, grab the first bag of food you see, and you’re all set, right?

Not so fast. It’s safe to say that most pet owners give a little more thought to the food they buy for their furry friends. Unfortunately, choosing a food amidst the seemingly endless varieties and the ever-present marketing claims that pet owners are bombarded with can be a daunting task.

Choosing the right food for your pet is much easier when you have a basic understanding of how to read a pet food label. Continue…

A Walk in the Park: Creating a Safe and Enjoyable Dog Park Experience

Funny catchingDog parks can present several benefits for our canine companions. From opportunities to socialize to essential mental and physical engagement, our dogs thoroughly enjoy those daily or weekly dog park excursions. But, there is a caveat: dog parks can also be sources of dog fights and irresponsibility on the part of pet owners.

Whether you’re new to the dog park routine or are simply looking for some tips to make your dog’s social experiences more enjoyable, we will cover some dog park basics that are often overlooked or ignored. Continue…

Is a Meat First Diet Really Better For Your Pet??

 

 

On any given day we take in  far more information than we could ever possibly process.  We are bombarded with a multitude of claims from television and print media in the form of news, entertainment and advertising.  If that’s not enough, we also have the  internet.  Everybody seems to be telling us what is best for our pets.  It can be so hard to sort through the noise that sometimes we just listen to whom ever says it the loudest and the most often.  That’s why advertising works so well.

One of the more current popular theories circulating is that a diet that is meat first and/or grain free is better for your dog.  The assumption being that your dog is simply a wolf with a collar and an inside bed.   Not really.

Scientific study has indicated that excess proteins, fat, calcium and phosphorus can harm your pet over time. That’s what feeding a diet primarily comprised of meat does.   The popular BARF or raw meat diet compounds that further by not cooking the protein source.  It is important to understand how the diet you feed your pet effects them.   If you’d like to get a better understanding of how the emphasis on meat first can affect your pet please read the two articles we have linked below.  Then make up your own mind.

Wedekind/Richards PhDs : Avoiding  mineral excesses for optimal pet nutrition.

Brian Mckenzie in Science Based Medicine on the BARF diet:

Davenport, Iowa Veterinary Clinic Lists 10 Reasons People Take Pets to the Humane Society.

According to the ASPCA, “approximately 5 million to 7 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year, and approximately 3 million to 4 million are euthanized (60 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats). Shelter intakes are about evenly divided between those animals relinquished by owners and those picked up by animal control. These are national estimates; the percentage of euthanasia may vary from state to state.”

That is a really sad statistic.  We work closely with many of our local shelters at Animal Family and are always surprised at the quality of the pets we see.  These animals are neither worthless nor dangerous.  In fact, often the opposite is true.  Many are purebred and almost all are loving, healthy animals who through no fault of their own end up homeless.

The 10 most common reasons owners give when surrendering a pet at the Humane Society of Scott County are:

  1. The owner is moving and is not able to take their pet with them
  2. The pet is too active for the owner to handle.
  3. The owner does not have enough time to devote to pet care
  4. The owner has encountered problems with housebreaking
  5. The animal is too expensive to care for.https://www.animalfamilyveterinarycare.com/training/
  6. The animal is too young, too old or has developed health issues.
  7. The owner or a family member is allergic to the pet.
  8. The pet does not get along with another animal in the household.
  9. The pet belonged to a child who no longer lives in the home.
  10. The pet has become pregnant

Do you see a common thread among many of the reasons for pet relinquishment listed above?   How many of these problems could be avoided by a little research and planning before acquiring a pet.  For all the information on specific breeds that is available, it seems that people still jump into pet ownership on impulse.

So, please, before you bring a pet into your life, do your research. Think about your lifestyle, future plans, and overall health.  How busy are you?  Can you even afford a pet at this time?  Do you have the time or interest for training, walks and general health and coat care.  Don’t pick your pet based on looks.  Don’t assume you have to have a puppy and never, ever give a pet as a gift without a thorough discussion with the prospective new owner first.

Next week, we will go over what you need to think about before you add a new pet to your family.

Davenport IA, Veterinarian Talks Explains Diseases You Could Share With Your Pet…but Shouldn’t

 

According to the AVMA, in 2007 there were 72 million pet dogs, 82 million pet cats and over 4 million pet birds. At least 3% of the US households own a reptile. Almost one half of those pet owners consider their pets to be a member of the family. We are a pet loving country. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that we can share more than love with our pets. Did you know that according to the Center for Disease Control that almost 14% of the US population has been infected with Toxacara (roundworm of dogs and cats). That’s because up to 30% of dogs fewer than 6 months of age and 25% of all cats are infected with roundworms.

Cats and dogs can carry Roundworms, Tapeworms, Hookworms, Leptospirosis, Ringworm and Rabies to name a few. Pocket pets and reptiles can carry Salmonella. Birds can also carry Salmonella as well as Psittacosis (a bacterial disease).

Who is most at risk? According to our friends at CAPC (Companion Animal Parasite Council), it is generally those who come in contact with the soil the most often. That includes, gardeners, plumbers, sunbathers and of course children. Immune compromised individuals need to be particularly careful.

So should we get rid of all of our pets? No need to get so carried away. Following are some relatively simple measures you can take to control the risk of zoonotic transmission in your family.

  1. Wash your hands after handling pets, soil and feces. Be especially vigilant with youngsters.
  2. Don’t eat or smoke while you handle your pet. Especially if it is a reptile, bird or pocket pet.
  3. Pets and food preparation do not go together.
  4. Keep your pets on a regular schedule of deworming. Dogs and cats should be on broad spectrum, year round anti-parasitic products.
  5. Get annual fecal parasite checks. That’s because you may give your pet his preventative but he may either spit it out or throw it up later on.
  6. Treat pets and their surroundings for fleas.
  7. Dispose of pet feces on a daily basis.
  8. Cover up your children’s sandbox when it’s not in use.
  9. Feed only cooked, canned or dry dog and cat food.
  10. Don’t allow birds or reptiles to roam loose in the house.
  11. If you are scratched by your pet, wash the area thoroughly.
  12. Vaccinate. Yes, there is some risk (1/10,000) of soft tissue sarcomas in cats with the use of Rabies and Feline Leukemia vaccines. We try to make it safer by vaccinating every 3 years. However, our biggest concern is that Rabies is out there and it kills all of us all the time.
  13. Immune compromised individuals should not own reptiles or amphibians.
  14. Don’t let your dog or cat drink from the toilet bowl. According to CAPC this can spread human adapted strains of parasites to pets

Ways to Recognise Illness in Your Cat From Davenport, Iowa Veterinarian

The decrease in feline veterinary visits has us worried.   We love our cats but do not provide them with the same level of care that we do our dogs.  It’s true that cats are great at masking illness.  However,  by putting off a veterinary visit until your cat is seriously ill,  we  only make for greater expense for us and stress for our pet.  We all need to learn how to better recognise the signs of illness in cats, so this week we have decided to reprint a great article  from Pet Docs on Call covering  just this subject.

 

By Dr. Jen Mathis, Certified Veterinary Journalist and member of the Veterinary News Network received veterinary care in the past year.hadn’t”There are 82 million pet cats in the U.S., compared with 72 million dogs, making cats the most popular pet.  Yet studies show the number of feline veterinary visits is declining steadily each year. A 2007 industry survey revealed that compared with dogs, almost three times as many cats

Though there are many myths about cat health, the truth is, cats need regular veterinary care, including annual exams and vaccinations, just like dogs do. More importantly, because they are naturally adept at hiding signs of illness, annual exams can result in early diagnosis of health problems. Early diagnosis often results in longer quality life at less cost.

Boehringer Ingelheim is trying to help cat health by teaching about the 10 subtle signs of sickness in cats:

1. INAPPROPRIATE URINATION – At least 80% of the time this is a medical problem often associated with conditions ranging from kidney disease to arthritis. Behavior is the least likely cause.

2. CHANGES IN INTERACTION – Cats are social animals. Changes in their interaction often signal pain or anxiety.

3. CHANGES IN ACTIVITY – Medical conditions such as arthritis can produce a decrease in activity while an increase can signal a condition such as hyperthyroidism.

4. CHANGES IN SLEEPING HABITS – While cats sleep 16 to 18 hours a day, they usually should be quick to respond to someone walking into a room. Difficulty lying or rising is also a problem.

5. CHANGES IN FOOD AND WATER CONSUMPTION – Eating or drinking more or less can be signs of a range of underlying medical conditions.

6. WEIGHT LOSS OR GAIN – Weight changes in cats often go unnoticed because of their thick coats. It is not an expected part of aging, but rather a medical problem.

7. CHANGES IN GROOMING – A poor hair coat is a common sign of many medical conditions in cats.

8. SIGNS OF STRESS – Sudden lifestyle changes can cause stress in cats, resulting in symptoms such as decreased grooming to eating more frequently. These are also signs of illness, so sickness should be ruled out before stress issues are addressed.

9. CHANGES IN VOCALIZATION – An increase in crying or howling is common with older cats and can be caused by high blood pressure (leading cause of blindness), kidney problems, thyroid issues, stress or pain.

10. BAD BREATH– 70 percent of cats have gum disease as early as age 3. Pets are not supposed to have bad breath as it usually means infection. Since 2/3 of the tooth is under the gum-line, many cats have problems that can’t be seen without x rays. Dental problems cause kidney problems.

“Have we seen your cat lately?” If not, an exam may be just what your cat needs to help live a longer quality life! For more information, please check with your veterinarian!”