Therapeutic diets can be lifesavers for pets

petpoints08121

Pet owners have many choices when buying dog and cat food. Some are basic foods providing an economical choice that is nutritionally complete; others are premium or super-premium foods. This trend will continue as owners seek the best nutrition available for their pets.

Pet nutrition has come a long way. As a veterinarian, I see significantly fewer problems with urinary tract stones than when I first started in practice. Dry, flaky skin that was common years ago is less so now.

There also are therapeutic diets that require veterinary supervision. My second Bernese mountain dog, Vern, had abnormal kidney values that I noticed when he was neutered. The problem increased over the next few months, and I thought we were going to lose him. After a medical work-up that including a kidney biopsy, he was diagnosed with renal dysplasia.

We gave him medication that controlled his high blood pressure and started a special kidney diet with low total protein and a high-quality protein component. He lived longer than average for a Bernese mountain dog.

Special veterinary diets are also used for pets predisposed to bladder stones. These foods are formulated to help prevent and even dissolve some types of stones.

My cat Daisy vomited all the time. Her weight and blood chemistry were normal, but clearly something was wrong. After consultation with a feline specialist, we tried a high protein/​low carbohydrate diet designed for diabetic pets. It worked like a charm, and she lived a long happy life.

Diarrhea is a common complaint in pets, but it will usually self-correct in a few days. We always check a stool sample in these patients and sometimes treat for parasites. Often a special diet is prescribed for the short, or even long, term.

Chronic loose stool also can be a big problem. Before an involved medical work-up with endoscopy and biopsy, we try a therapeutic high-fiber diet. Diets that are very low in fat may be used for pets that are prone to pancreatitis.

A pet with a food allergy may benefit with a super purified, limited antigen diet. Changing the protein fraction may help control itching and intestinal distress. Older dogs or dogs that have seizures may benefit from new diets that are designed for improving brain health.

My current dog, Millie, began limping as she aged, so I started her on a new diet designed for joint health. It has worked so well that I have yet to give her any medication for pain.

High-calorie pudding-type diets can help pets that have a feeding tube or need supplemental feeding while recovering from illness. Weight loss foods are used for pets at unhealthy excessive weights. Used incorrectly, these diets can be problematic, but with veterinary supervision, they can be lifesavers.

While commercial food is appropriate for the majority of pets, therapeutic diets can be a tremendous benefit for those who have specific needs. read more…

Shop your Pet Supplies here.

 

Interesting: The hidden environmental costs of #dog and #cat food

bigstock-hungry-dog-56634944

Gregory Okin is quick to point out that he does not hate dogs and cats. Although he shares his home with neither — he is allergic, so his pets are fish — he thinks it is fine if you do. But if you do, he would like you to consider what their meat-heavy kibble and canned food are doing to the planet.

Okin, a geographer at UCLA, recently did that, and the numbers he crunched led to some astonishing conclusions. America’s 180 million or so Rovers and Fluffies gulp down about 25 percent of all the animal-derived calories consumed in the United States each year, according to Okin’s calculations. If these pets established a sovereign nation, it would rank fifth in global meat consumption.

Needless to say, producing that meat  — which requires more land, water and energy and pollutes more than plant-based food  — creates a lot of greenhouse gases: as many as 64 million tons annually, or about the equivalent of driving more than 12 million cars around for a year. That doesn’t mean pet-keeping must be eschewed for the sake of the planet, but “neither is it an unalloyed good,” Okin wrote in a study published this week in PLOS One.

“If you are worried about the environment, then in the same way you might consider what kind of car you buy … this is something that might be on your radar,” Okin said in an interview. “But it’s not necessarily something you want to feel terrible about. ”

This research was a departure for Okin, who typically travels the globe to study deserts — things such as wind erosion, dust production and plant-soil interactions. But he said the backyard chicken trend in Los Angeles got him thinking about “how cool it is” that pet chickens make protein, while dogs and cats eat protein. And he discovered that even as interest grows in the environmental impact of our own meat consumption, there has been almost no effort to quantify the part our most common pets play.

To do that, Okin turned to dog and cat population estimates from the pet industry, average animal weights, and ingredient lists in popular pet foods. The country’s dogs and cats, he determined, consume about 19 percent as many calories as the human population, or about as much as 62 million American people. But because their diets are higher in protein, the pets’ total animal-derived calorie intake amounts to about 33 percent of that of humans.

Okin’s numbers are estimates, but they do “a good job of giving us some numbers that we can talk about,” said Cailin Heinze, a veterinary nutritionist at Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine who has written about the environmental impact of pet food. “They bring up a really interesting discussion.”

Okin warns that the situation isn’t likely to improve any time soon. Pet ownership is on the rise in developing countries such as China, which means the demand for meaty pet food is, too. And in the United States, the growing idea of pets as furry children has led to an expanding market of expensive, gourmet foods that sound like Blue Apron meals. That means not just kale and sweet potato in the ingredient list, but grain-free and “human-grade” concoctions that emphasize their use of high-quality meat rather than the leftover “byproducts” that have traditionally made up much of our pets’ food.

“The trend is that people will be looking for more good cuts of meat for their animals and more high-protein foods for their animals,” Okin said.

What to do about this? That’s the hard part. Heinze said one place to start is by passing on the high-protein or human-grade foods. Dogs and cats do need protein — and cats, which are obligate carnivores, really do need meat, she said. But the idea that they should dine on the equivalent of prime rib and lots of it comes from what she calls “the pet food fake news machine.” There’s no need to be turned off by some plant-based proteins in a food’s ingredients, she said, and dog owners in particular can look for foods with lower percentages of protein.

The term human-grade implies that a product is using protein that humans could eat, she added. Meat byproducts — all the organs and other animal parts that don’t end up at the supermarket — are perfectly fine, she said.

“Dogs and cats happily eat organ meat,” Heinze said. “Americans do not.”

Okin has some thoughts about that. The argument that pet foods’ use of byproducts is an “efficiency” in meat production is based on the premise that offal and organs are gross, he says. (Look no further than the collective gag over a finely textured beef product known as “pink slime.”) But if we would reconsider that, his study found, about one-quarter of all the animal-derived calories in pet food would be sufficient for all the people of Colorado.

“I’ve traveled around the world and I’m cognizant that what is considered human edible is culture-specific,” he said. “Maybe we need to have a conversation about what we will eat.”

In the meantime, Okin suggests that people thinking about getting a dog might consider a smaller one — a terrier rather than a Great Dane, say. Or, if you think a hamster might fulfill your pet desires, go that route.

Heinze, for her part, sometimes offers the same counsel to vegetarian or vegan clients who want their pets to go meat-free. They are typically motivated by animal welfare concerns, not environmental ones, she said, but such diets are not always best for dogs, and they never are for cats. read more…

Shop you Pet Supplies here…

Quick and Easy Health Checks for Your Pets

Swamp Yankee Style

With three cats, two horses, one pup and six chickens, making sure everyone is healthy on the farm is always a concern. Doing regular health checks can help you catch symptoms early and avoid unnecessary illnesses and vet bills. Here are some simple things you can do to keep an eye on your pet’s health and stay in tune to what is normal for them. By becoming familiar with you pets normal health, it will be easier to identify when something isn’t right and they need some medical attention.

How to give your cats and dogs a quick health check:

  1. When you are petting your pets, take a few minutes to check out their skin and fur. Does their coat feel greasy? Do they have dry dandruff? Any sign of fleas or flea dirt? Is the skin healthy gray color or does it look pink and inflammed?
  2. Smell your fingers…

View original post 386 more words

For all we give to our #pets, we get much in return

cat-and-dog-together-via-shutterstock-800x430

Owning a pet can make you healthier

 

As loving pet owners, we are rightly concerned about the health and well-being of our four-legged friends. In fact, we spend most of our time here helping as best we can to decipher some of the ailments pets may experience and how to make their environments better so that they may live a longer and, most importantly, a better life.

Zoetis, a major producer of pet medicines has teamed up with the Human Animal Bond Research Institute to remind us that for all we give to our pets, we get much in return. Here are just some of the reasons pet ownership is a two-way street to better health:

• Heart attack survival. Have a cat? You are 60 percent less likely to die from a heart attack than a non-cat owner. Dog owners experience lower blood pressure and walk more with increased physical activity; that’s a win-win.

• As we age, depression and loneliness have shown to be less prevalent among those who have had a close relationship over the years with pets than among those who never owned a pet.

• Children also have science to back up their request for a new puppy or kitten. Kids exposed to pets have fewer allergies and eczema, and those with autism have demonstrated better social interaction and feel less isolated.

• Post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSS) affects too many service men and women as well as many others that have gone through stressful events in their lives. Pets have shown to lower anxiety and depression rates. Many sufferers find dealing with a pet easier than with people. Depression in general is lessened among many groups.
Get home and garden tips sent to your email inbox

• Owning a pet and increasing your activity helps not only the heart but the waistline as well. Obesity rates are lower among dog owners, and those that walk their dog are 69 percent more likely to keep up a long-term program to stay active. Read more…

Shop all your Zoetis Products here…

Heat Illness Risk for #Pets

hot20car20safety_1497639684174_22866705_ver1-0_640_360

“We understand many families want to take pets with them while they run errands, but this sets you and your loved companion up for a bad situation,” said Erica Little, Environmental Health Administrator. “In as little as 10 minutes, the temperature in your car can rise 20 degrees. Your car can quickly become a heat trap that puts your loved pet at danger of serious illness or even death.”

The Health Department provided these tips to keep animals safe during the summer heat:
• Do not leave a pet unattended in a hot car.
• Always make sure pets have access to cool, clean, fresh water as well as adequate food and shelter.
• Walk your dog in the morning or evening when temperatures are cooler. If you must walk mid-day, shorten the distance. And keep your dog in the grass as much as possible, as hot sidewalks can burn the pads of their feet.
• Do not leave a dog outdoors unattended on a chain or tether. Long-term chaining during the summer can result in countless insect bites, dehydration and heat stroke.

Kids, seniors and those with mental or physical illnesses have the highest risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Some symptoms of heat exhaustion are: heavy sweating, paleness, fatigue, muscle cramps, fainting or nausea.

If someone has heat stroke, their body temperature rises to above 104°F and they may show signs of red, hot or dry skin, a rapid pulse, throbbing headache or unconsciousness.

To protect against illnesses like these:
• Drink plenty of water, avoiding extremely cold drinks.
• Avoid strenuous work/exercise and stay in an air-conditioned area.
• Wear loose, light clothing and protect yourself from the sun.
• Try to not be outside during the hottest times.

read more…

Shop all your Pet Supplies here…

 

Love traveling with Pets

56007f618fd8b-image

What better place to drive than beautiful California. Up the coast, the wine country, the mountains. Which pretty much means my significant other Cookie and our dog Guillermo get dragged along for weekend getaways.

Just as you should be driving defensively, watching out for bad drivers, road hazards and so forth, you should practice defensive pet traveling.

The first thing to watch out for this time of year is the dreaded Foxtail grass. The grass puts out a stalk with seeds that resemble a stalk of wheat, especially when they dry and turn from green to straw color. What make them dangerous for our pets are the seeds. They have a tiny barb on the end that loves to embed into the skin or enter the nose, ear or eye.

Pets that inhale a foxtail up their nose often sneeze violently and may paw at their face. We often see foxtails enter the feet of dogs at the webbing between the middle two toes. This weedy grass is all over the place and it only takes a second for your pet to pick up one of these things when you stop for a potty break. Google an image of the foxtail grass and avoid them.

Bees and bugs. The flowers really bloomed this year and the bees are loving them too. Bees tend to hang out on the clover in the grass and your pets can easily step on them. If you can find the stinger, remove it by scraping it with a credit card or your fingernail. Don’t grab and pinch it with your fingers because you may squeeze the sac attached to the stinger and inject more venom into your pet.

Just as in people, pets may have mild or severe allergic reactions to bee stings. An anaphylactic reaction is the most severe and your pet may vomit or collapse. Owners may mistake this for a seizure. This is a true emergency and you need to get to an animal hospital as soon as possible for supportive care.

Overheating. Not every place you come across on your travels will be pet friendly. Do not leave your pet in the car unattended, even if it’s just to run in to get a sandwich to go. Cars become virtual ovens in minutes and unlike humans, dogs and cats can’t sweat and take advantage of the breeze from a half rolled down window. Even if you don’t think the temperature in the car feels too hot to you, your pet simply can’t tolerate heat the way a person can.

Bring extra water, pet food, medicine that your pet may be taking — and a bowl. This should be obvious, but with all the hustling to get out of town it’s often overlooked. read more…

Shop your Pet Supplies here…

FortiFlora (Probiotic) may be right for your pet

fortiflora

1. What Are Probiotics?

Probiotics are live microorganisms similar to those found naturally in the intestines, which help maintain balance in the digestive tract. After being consumed, they help to inhibit harmful pathogens from colonizing the GI tract. Nestlé has pioneered research into how probiotics can be beneficial to health, leading to many products that help humans achieve healthy digestion, like infant formulas, nutritional drinks for children and yogurt for adults. At Purina, this research has gone to helping cats and dogs too.

2. When Might a Pet Need Probiotics?

If you’ve noticed your pet has had gastrointestinal incidents, like vomiting, diarrhea or excessive gas, your pet might benefit from a probiotic supplement.

These GI conditions are often associated with an imbalance in intestinal microflora (bacteria), which can be triggered by stress (related to boarding or changes in the home environment), dietary problems or food change. Since antibiotics work by killing bacteria, antibiotic therapy can also leave a pet in need of a probiotic boost.

3.  Do They Taste Good for Pets?

It depends how you feed the probiotic to the pet. Some supplements are oral pastes, some are powders, some are pills or capsules. In point 4, we’ll discuss why your pet may prefer the flavor of FortiFlora®.

4. FortiFlora® may be right for your pet

If you think probiotics might be right for your pet, you should ask your veterinarian about Purina Veterinary Diets® FortiFlora® Probiotic Supplements. Available only by prescription, they are safe and effective for cats and dogs. Here’s why:

  • FortiFlora Probiotic Supplements are made with a proprietary micro encapsulation process that stabilizes the microorganisms and creates multilayer protection against moisture. This helps make sure that when the probiotics get where they need to be in your pet’s GI tract, they’ll still be alive and effective at doing what they need to do.
  • Unlike traditional supplements, FortiFlora comes in a packet that you can sprinkle right on your pet’s food. We’ve made it so tasty to pets that it’s actually been shown to increase their desire to eat.
  • FortiFlora contains antioxidant Vitamins A, E and C, which can help support a strong immune system. read more…

Shop FortiFlora Now…