Posts Tagged: dog nutrition
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.Continue…
Guess who gets hit by cars?? That’s right…intact males. The urge to breed is strong and can put your Romeo in harm’s way. Neutered males won’t develop testicular cancer either.
Every puppy that isn’t born makes the chance of a shelter pet finding a new home that much greater.
It’s a fact. Bacteria from the mouth can harm the heart, kidney, and liver.
Painful dental disease can lead to weight loss and poor body condition.
In people, periodontal disease has been linked to poor control of Diabetes.
Heartworm disease causes permanent damage to the heart:
Preventatives can save your dog or cat from the devastating effects of Heartworm disease. Congestive heart failure, pulmonary clots with concurrent damage to the lungs, liver enlargement, weight loss and eventual death are all the results of untreated Heartworm disease.
In cats, just one or two worms can cause death.
Roundworms absorb nutrients, interfere with digestion, and can damage the lining of your pet’s intestines.
Hookworms can cause anemia and severe diarrhea. Small puppies can and do perish from Hookworm infestation.
Giardia and Coccidia cause diarrhea and poor body condition.
Fleas and ticks not only feed on your pet’s blood but also carry dangerous diseases such as Plague, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted fever, Ehrlichia, and Anaplasmosis.
Blood work can catch changes in body systems early in the disease process before major damage has been done. The earlier we treat a disease such as diabetes or kidney failure, the better the chance to extend the quality and length of your pet’s life.
Obedience Training Saves Lives:
Well behaved pets receive better medical care because we can examine them more closely.
Good manners make rehoming a pet much easier should the need ever arise.
Dogs that bite put themselves and others at risk of injury and death.
People who do their research before getting a pet are much less likely to give them up down the road:
Make sure you are ready for the responsibilities of pet ownership before you dive in. Do your homework and choose a pet based on how well they fit your lifestyle, not on looks or what your friends have.
Don’t let your pet become a shelter statistic. Use this link: https://www.animalplanet.com/breed-selector/dog-breeds.html to help you find your next dog.
I don’t know about you, but fall is my favorite season: The changing leaves, the cool, crisp breeze at night which is a perfect excuse for bonfires and s’mores, and most of all, PUMPKIN!!! I’m sure I’m not the only one who waits for Pumpkin flavored EVERYTHING to hit the shelves, but did you know that pumpkin can actually have some great health benefits for our pets?
Pumpkin contains nearly three grams of fiber per one cup serving. Fiber promotes a sense of fullness and can potentially enhance weight loss by reducing the urge. Additionally, fiber can help with feline constipation. As cats mature into their adult and geriatric years, constipation is a serious problem. The primary emphasis of treatment is placed on diet. Increasing fiber levels helps increase motility through the colon by creating a bulkier amount of stool, which stimulates the colon wall to contract thereby helping your pet eliminate waste appropriate.
Increased dietary fiber can also help pets suffering from diarrhea (opposite of constipation). Both cats and dogs are prone to different forms of diarrhea, but most often the primary offender is changes in diet or eating something the animal is not supposed (dietary indiscretion, aka our garbage lovers).
Diarrhea is can be classified as large or small bowel diarrhea, depending on a number of characteristics of the patient and their feces. Large bowel diarrhea comes from the colon and is also known as colitis. The nature of large bowel diarrhea appears vastly different from its small bowel counterpart and may have one or all the following characteristics: mucus, blood, urgency to defecate, flatulence, and large or small volume. Small bowel diarrhea relates to the small intestine, which is the part of the digestive tract that connects the stomach to the large intestine (colon). Small bowel diarrhea often takes on a pale appearance, lacks urgency in its production, and has a mushy consistency.
Pumpkin can add a healthy amount of moisture (water content) to any cat or dog diet, but especially those that consume highly processed and dehydrated kibble. According to the University of Illinois Extension’s article, Pumpkin Facts, this healthful fruit (yes, it’s a fruit and not a vegetable) is composed of 90% water. Adding pumpkin to each meal or serving it separately as a snack can promote a pet’s improved state of hydration and reduce heat in the body.
Miscellaneous, Healthful Benefits of Pumpkin
Pumpkin provides a natural source of many beneficial substances involved in the day to day cellular functions, especially potassium. Pumpkin even has more potassium content than a banana! Potassium is an electrolyte essential for muscular contraction and recovery from activity. Pumpkin is also rich in Vitamin C, as one cup contains at least 11mg. Vitamin C is a substance vital for its antioxidant and immune system supporting effects. Additionally, pumpkin is a great, whole-food source of carotenoids, such as beta-carotene.
If you don’t want to go through the efforts of carving, cooking, and pureeing/mashing your pumpkin, then purchase the canned or glass bottled version to give your pet. Avoid pumpkin pie filling due to fat, sugar, and other ingredients (spices, flavorings, or other preservatives) that could cause digestive tract upset. Below is an easy, fun fall dog treat recipe involving pumpkin that you can try out for your furry friend!!!
Peanut Butter and Pumpkin Dog Treats
2 ½ cups whole wheat flour
½ cup canned pumpkin (NOT PUMPKIN PIE MIX)
2 tablespoons peanut butter
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Whisk together flour, eggs, pumpkin, peanut butter, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl. Add water as needed to make the dough workable, but the dough should be dry and stiff.
- Roll dough into a ½ inch thick roll. Cut into shapes or ½ inch pieces.
- Bake in preheated oven until hard, about 40 minutes.
Here’s a link for healthy pumpkin treats for people.
Much of this information was compiled from an article written by Dr. Patrick Mahaney.
Once you have determined that your pet is overweight what is the next step? First you need to determine what weight your pet should be. We can help with that at the clinic. There is an actual measuring system that will provide an accurate result.
- Decrease caloric intake
- For real weight loss to occur, your pet must eat at least 30% fewer calories than what it would take to maintain their ideal weight not their current weight.
- Keep your pet out of the kitchen and away from the dining table. This will decrease begging and you will be less likely to cave in to big, sad eyes.
- If your household has more than one pet be sure to feed them separately.
- Meal feed. Don’t leave food down all the time. There is no way to keep track of intake
- If your pet seems hungry in between meals, divide the same amount into smaller portions and feed more frequent smaller meals. Just remember begging is simply a learned response to getting, not requiring food.
- Feed a diet that is formulated for weight loss. Diets have become much more advanced and feeding the right diet can be a huge help. Science Diet recently added Metabolic Diet to their line of weight loss foods. Our clients who have tried it have been pretty happy with the results so far.
- Increase Activity
- Take your dog for a walk. It’s good for both of you! Don’t just stay on the street. Try varying the surfaces. Use sand, water or even snow, in the winter, for resistance. Add some obstacles like logs, hills or ditches.
- Try introducing fetch, fly ball or agility to your routine. It’s fun, great exercise and a wonderful new way to bond with your dog.
- If you have access to water, try swimming. However, please be careful with the strong current in the local rivers. Stick to areas that are safe for both of you.
- Don’t forget Day Camp. This provides plenty of activity for your pet while you are at work. It’s the best cure for working owner’s couch potatoes we have come up with in a long time.
- What about cats?
- Cats are problematic. Most are indoors and many also very thrifty when it comes to calories.
- Pay attention to what you feed. Yes, cats can be meal fed and they generally don’t require near as much food as you think. Again we have had very good results with Hill’s Metabolic Diet.
- Cats do better with canned food. It is generally higher in protein and lower in carbohydrates than most dry kibble.
- But…stay away from canned foods with gravy. They are almost always higher in calories.
- Use a food specifically formulated for weight loss in cats.
- Never, ever starve your cat to induce weight loss. They are particularly susceptible to fatty liver disease and not eating for more than 24 hours or too rapid of weight loss can cause this syndrome in cats. 1% or 0.2 to 0.4 pounds per week is plenty for a 20 pound cat.
- Weight loss and cats is tough and cats are way harder to induce into activity. It may be that the best exercise for a cat is simply adding another cat.
Has the U.S. become the nation of too much? When it comes to weight, yes we have! Pet obesity has become a huge, no pun intended, health issue for both dogs and cats in this country.
How to Tell if Your Pet is Over Weight
1) Run your hands down the side of your pet with medium pressure. You should be able to feel ribs under a thin layer of subcutaneous fat. If you can’t your pet is probably too heavy.
2) If you feel your pet is too heavy bring them in for a more precise body measurement. This set of measurements can determine exactly how over weight your pet is and what a good target weight is.
Causes of Obesity
1) Sometimes obesity is just a matter of too much food and too little activity.
2) However, obesity can also be rooted in other issues.
- Cushing’s Disease
- Diabetes: Diabetes can be caused by too much weight but can also be the cause of weight gain if an animal develops non-insulin dependent diabetes. Confusing but ultimately weight loss will help both.
- Any disease process that affects the hypothalamus or pituitary gland: The hypothalamus regulates appetite and the pituitary gland regulates most hormone production in the body.
- Breed: Beagles, Labs, Bassets, Cattle dogs, Cockers, Chihuahuas, Dachshunds, Golden Retrievers and most cats to name a few.
- Age: Just like us as pets age their metabolic rate slows and the tendency to become over weight increases.
- Neutering and Spaying: When they are not hormone driven animals will put on weight more easily. That said the benefits of altering your pet far outweigh the negatives.
- Activity level: Too many pets spend all their time inside with too little activity. This is a particular challenge for cat owners.
- Food quality: The quality of food we feed has improved. Pets need less to stay fit and healthy. Conversely if you have a finicky pet who has trained you to only feed them high caloric “junk food” they will quickly become overweight.
- Medications: Glucocorticoids, Anti-seizure drugs and tranquilizers can all contribute to weight gain.
Health risks associated with obesity
2) Heart and blood pressure disease: The heart has to work much harder in overweight pets. That leads directly to high blood pressure and heart disease.
3) Bone/Joint damage: Extra weight leads to increased stress on bones and ligaments. Almost all of our cruciate repairs could use a little weight loss.
4) Respiratory problems: Too much fat makes for a greater work load and puts extra pressure on the lungs and trachea. If you own a dog or cat with a shortened, also known as brachycephalic, facial structure this can cause serious health problems. Likewise, many of our collapsing trachea dogs show improvement with weight loss.
5) Increased anesthetic risk: What happens if you have a lot of fat and your anesthetic is fat soluble? You wake up more slowly. How much harder is it to perform surgery in an abdomen that is full of fat? A lot harder. Has obesity been shown to decrease resistance to bacteria? Yes.
6) Decreased lifespan and quality of life: Everything mentioned above will shorten your pets’ life. It will also seriously impinge on their ability to enjoy the life they have.
On the next blog we will talk about strategies for weight loss.
Pet foods have undergone enormous changes in the last 10 years. There are more choices than ever before. Some companies cater to the size, life stage and even the breed of our pets. At the other end of the spectrum are those who claim their food is appropriate for all life stages. It’s confusing and when you add in the scares caused by the constant stream of recalls. So how can we decide what is best for our pet?
Pet food standards are set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). Using these guidelines the nutritional adequacy of pet food is determined by either
Formulation: With this method, the diet is not actually fed to animals so there is no guarantee of pet acceptance or the bioavailability of nutrients.
Feeding Trial: This method substantiates that a given food used as the sole source of nutrition provides a complete and balanced diet for the life stage of that animal.
Let’s look at a few other definitions.
“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Not so when it comes to pet food labels. If the label says:
- Chicken, beef, seafood and there are no other modifying terms like entrée etc…it must contain at least 95% of that ingredient.
- When dinner, entrée, platter are added it need only contain 25% of that ingredient
- If the label says “with” chicken etc… it need only contain 3% of that ingredient
- If it simply says flavor it doesn’t even have to have a % it just needs to disclose the source of the flavor.
There has been an explosion pet food labeled as natural, organic or holistic. Let’s look at exactly what that means.
- Organic: Grown with only animal or vegetable fertilizers, such as bone meal, compost, manure etc… Only pet foods which meet these requirements may be labeled as such. However, keep in mind that this does not stop a company from putting the term organic in the name or making a big deal out of using one or two organic ingredients without having a wholly organic food. Look for the USDA organic label. That means that at least 95% of the food is organic. A diet labeled made with organic must contain at least 70% organic ingredients.
- Natural: According to AFFCO (American Feed Control Officials) this label applies to food that consists of all natural (what is found in nature) without any chemical alterations.
- Holistic: Who knows? This term has no legal definition and any manufacturer can label their food holistic regardless of the ingredients.
By-Products are not all created equal. We have a tendency to see the term By-Products as bad. A by-product is really just an ingredient that is produced while making something else. Vegetable oils, liver, beet pulp and Vitamin E are all by-products. Both animals and humans include by-products in their diet. The key is quality.
Preservatives can be natural such as vitamin E, spice extracts or citric acid or synthetic such as BHA and BHT. Both types of preservatives are found in human and animal foods. They help keep food from spoiling as fast.
Guaranteed Analysis: This number gives the maximum and minimum amount of each an item such as protein. Protein is simply measured as a % of Nitrates. This does not tell us what the actual nutrient content of protein really is. Make sure you know the difference. The manufacturer is not required to put the actual nutrient content on the bag. You should be able to get this by calling and asking for that information. Just be sure that is what you actually are given.
Ingredient Statement: This is a list of ingredients by weight. Again, it does not tell you anything about the quality of those ingredients.
Ash: Ash is not really ash. It is a combination of calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium sodium and other minerals that remain after a food has been processed. Ash content can affect urinary health in cats.
Dry Matter Basis: Comparing dry and canned foods can be very difficult if we look at only the “as fed” numbers. This is because canned food can contain up to 75% or more in moisture. Learn to compare all diets on a dry matter basis. To do this you will need to do a little math.
- Subtract the moisture content from 100%
- X diet has 75% moisture: subtract 75% from 100% = 25% dry matter basis
- If the label states the diet contains 10% protein “as fed”
- Divide 10% by 25= 40% dry matter basis.
Finally who’s a carnivore? Not your dog. In spite of all the colorful ads on TV which hint otherwise and in spite of our desire to see the wolf in our dog. When it comes to food dogs are omnivores just like us and coyotes. Cats are true carnivores in the house.
- Much of the information for this blog was derived from the Nutrition Manual published by Hills Science Diet.
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:
Have you ever wondered what motivates someone to become veterinarian? We have. So this week we decided to find out why Animal Family’s Dr. Scott Bernick chose his career path.
- How old were you when you decided to become a veterinarian? ” I was nine years old.” Really? That’s very young to be so certain what you want to do. “I grew up on a farm and spent a lot of time working with the animals there. I always admired our farm vet.” So why small animals? I raised hunting dogs when I was young and that sparked my interest in small animals.”
- What is the best part of your job? “You get to interact with many wonderful pets and their owners. We see a lot different species and have clients from all different walks of life. It’s really the best of both worlds.”
- What’s the most interesting case you’ve ever had? “Addison’s disease is very rewarding to treat. The dog’s present as very sick. Often they are almost flat out. As the veterinarian we provide the proper medication and treatment and the pet is nearly back to normal within hours!”
- What’s the most difficult part of your job? When the pet can’t tell you what is wrong. Sometimes it would be so much help if they could just speak. We learn to rely a lot on our owners, on blood and other lab work and of course on our experience.”
- Why become a vet when you could have just as easily gone into human medicine and made more money? ” You get to deal with animals that cannot help themselves. That may sound like a simple statement but it means the world to those of us in the profession.”
- We know that you have to like animals for this job but what are the other unique requirements? A veterinarian absolutely must be able to communicate with the animal’s owner. They are an integral part of the success of any diagnosis we make or treatment we undertake. Veterinary medicine is as much about people as pets.”
- How has veterinary medicine changed since your parent’s time? More specialists. Even though a veterinarian still wears many hats, there are now more specialty practices we can turn to when we have a more complex case.”
- Even though both jobs require the same amount of education; how does veterinary medicine differ from human medicine beyond the obvious question of species? “Human medicine has easier access to specialty practices, however, veterinarians are often required to be the general practitioner, surgeon, ophthalmologist, internist, dentist, etc. This makes our practice both more interesting and more difficult. In veterinary medicine we still see the bulk of our cases through from start to finish. That is often not the case in human medicine. I think that allows us to develop strong relationships with our clients and their pets. We become very invested in the well being of our patients.
- What do you think the new horizons for veterinary medicine will be? Cancer treatments are becoming more common and we are seeing more successful outcomes. Today, pets are a part of the family. Their owners want to do more to both extend and improve the quality of their pet’s lives.
- If someone gave you a magic wand and you could go back and do it over again, would you still become a vet? ‘Absolutely!!”
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:
- The owner is moving and is not able to take their pet with them
- The pet is too active for the owner to handle.
- The owner does not have enough time to devote to pet care
- The owner has encountered problems with housebreaking
- The animal is too expensive to care for.https://www.animalfamilyveterinarycare.com/training/
- The animal is too young, too old or has developed health issues.
- The owner or a family member is allergic to the pet.
- The pet does not get along with another animal in the household.
- The pet belonged to a child who no longer lives in the home.
- 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.
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.
- Wash your hands after handling pets, soil and feces. Be especially vigilant with youngsters.
- Don’t eat or smoke while you handle your pet. Especially if it is a reptile, bird or pocket pet.
- Pets and food preparation do not go together.
- Keep your pets on a regular schedule of deworming. Dogs and cats should be on broad spectrum, year round anti-parasitic products.
- 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.
- Treat pets and their surroundings for fleas.
- Dispose of pet feces on a daily basis.
- Cover up your children’s sandbox when it’s not in use.
- Feed only cooked, canned or dry dog and cat food.
- Don’t allow birds or reptiles to roam loose in the house.
- If you are scratched by your pet, wash the area thoroughly.
- 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.
- Immune compromised individuals should not own reptiles or amphibians.
- 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