All posts tagged 'og Food'

New Year’s Goals for Pet Kids

Frenchie

Ah, January. A season for new beginnings, new resolutions, and some measure of regret for all the indulgences of the holiday season. If my gym is any indication, “get more exercise” is still on the top of most people’s list of New Year’s resolutions.

Fur kids don’t make resolutions, but if they did, half of them would be joining us in our pursuit of a healthier weight. Here’s a few facts about canine and feline weight you might not know:

1. More than half of dogs and cats in the US are considered overweight. It’s right up there with dental disease in terms of how frequently it is diagnosed. Because it creeps up slowly over time, many pet parents don’t even realize it’s happening until an annual vet check. Suddenly, your 12-pound cat is now 15 pounds. Yikes!

Tabby

2. Being overweight increases other health risks. Diabetes, joint disease, heart and lung disease, some forms of cancer and high blood pressure are all linked to excessive weight in dogs and cats. If this sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the same list we see in people. We all need to make an effort to go out and play, walk or run as a team!

3. Weight loss is a process. Some companion animals lose weight more easily than others, so it may take some experimentation to figure out the best course of action for your own dog or cat. One of the most common pitfalls is neglecting to measure food portions. When my dog Brody put weight on after my son took over feeding duties, I was shocked to realize that he was dumping food in the bowl without measuring. Brody was being overfed by almost 30%!

Whippet

4. Helping your fur kid be healthier can make you healthier, too! The Journal of Physical Activity and Health found that people who live with dogs are 34% more likely to walk at least 150 minutes a week. And if your fur kid is a puppy, guess what? You walk faster than people walking without a dog. Sometimes not in a straight line, am I right?

5. Pet kids at a healthy weight live longer. Dogs and cats at a normal weight have an average life expectancy up to 2.5 years longer than those who are overweight. So commit today and add more and better years to not just your own life, but your companion animal’s as well!

The great thing about weight, compared to other medical conditions, is that it is reversible. Talk to your veterinarian about the course of action that’s right for you. They can help you figure out your companion animal’s caloric requirements and ensure weight loss is done gradually and safely.

Here’s to a fruitful and healthy 2017, and successful squad goals!

Dr V Dr. Jessica Vogelsang, DVM

Compulsive Paw Chewing

Picture in your head a really itchy dog. Got it?

Now what did you see? Chances are, you envisioned a dog scratching away at his ears or belly, or maybe rubbing his rear end on the corner of your couch. And while all of this is indeed very common for itchy dogs, we often tend to overlook one of most frequent symptoms of allergic disease … paw chewing.

If you were to request a referral to a veterinary allergist, I would send you to a dermatologist. I know that’s odd compared to people, but we do that because in dogs, most allergic diseases manifest in the skin. Referred to as “pruritus” by veterinarians, the type of itchiness that we are talking about with allergic disease isn’t the minor irritation of a flea bite but the unrelenting, keep-you-up-all-night, horrifying discomfort that we humans associate with conditions like chicken pox or poison ivy. Yes, it’s bad for these little guys. Well-meaning pet parents try to dissuade their dogs from biting and licking by using e-collars or putting socks on their feet, but none of that addresses the underlying itchiness. As soon as the physical barrier is removed, they’re right back to the destructive reaction.

Oftentimes a dog begins by licking very gingerly at their paws. Being a good pet parent, you check their toes and pads for causes of the irritation, such as burrs, ticks or cuts, but – alas – find nothing. As the irritation worsens, the dog begins to chew instead of licking, plucking fur out and gnawing at their toes like they were little rawhide chews. After a while, the skin becomes weakened (or worse, broken) by the constant chewing, which almost invariably develops into secondary bacterial and/or yeast infections. Sometimes by the time the pet arrives at the vet, their poor little toes look like ground beef.

What are the types of allergic disease?

What causes this infernal itchiness? Chances are, it’s allergies. Dogs suffer from three main categories of allergic disease: fleas, environmental allergies (referred to as “atopy”) and food allergies. So, which one is your dog experiencing?

Flea allergies are the most common allergic disease in dogs. However, flea allergies result in itchiness primarily on the hindquarters and at the base of the tail. Atopy is the second most common form of allergic disease. Dogs react to the same environmental allergens that humans do … things like trees, grasses and pollens, molds, dander, perfume, dust mites, even cats and people! Depending on the cause, these allergies may be seasonal.

And, so, what remains are food allergies. Food allergies are the least commonly diagnosed form of allergic disease, although it may be underdiagnosed in canines. In our post "The Scoop on Grain-Free Pet Foods", we discussed the prevalence of food allergies:

Food allergies or adverse food reactions are abnormal reactions to ingredients found in everyday foods. Recent estimates indicate that less than 5% of skin diseases in dogs and cats are accurately diagnosed as being caused by a food allergy. Even though the incidence of adverse food reactions remains unclear, a lot of pet parents believe that grains are prime suspects. However, the most commonly identified food allergens among dogs and cats are proteins in beef, dairy, chicken, soy and corn. Food allergies can cause itchy skin alone or even gastrointestinal problems as well.

How are allergies diagnosed?

Truthfully, it takes a good bit of medical detective work. Flea allergies are the simplest … if you find fleas on an itchy dog, mystery solved! Atopy is diagnosed by ruling everything else out first since there is no one specific test for it. When it comes to food allergies, it takes a good bit more effort and time. Blood tests, even though they are available on the market, are somewhat unreliable. The only way to truly know if your dog is allergic to food is to perform a strict 8-12 week elimination trial with a hypoallergenic diet and see if the condition improves.

What does this mean for you? Many times, when a pet is experiencing unrelenting itching and paw chewing, we start treatment before arriving at a specific diagnosis to try and get the pet some immediate relief. Regardless of the actual cause of the allergies, eliminating potential allergens across the board can push them below the “allergen threshold” and help them feel better. When it comes to compulsive paw chewing, here’s what I recommend:

  1. Start with a trip to your vet. Your veterinarian will help you sort out the problem sooner rather than later; a detailed history will give her clues as to what type of allergy your dog may be experiencing. She can run tests, prescribe medications and determine whether your pup has secondary bacterial or yeast infections that require treatment.

  2. Check those toes! Contact dermatitis can occur when the skin comes in direct contact with an allergen such as grass. It’s always a good idea to give the paws a good rubdown with a damp cloth when your dog comes indoors after playing outside. Witch hazel is a gentle cleaner that can help with mild irritation. Whatever you do, avoid products that contain alcohol … ouch!

  3. Investigate your dog’s diet. Even for pet kids who don’t have food allergies, a high quality diet with a new protein source can reduce the immune burden. Omega-3 fish oils can help the skin remain an effective barrier against the environment.

  4. Consider other causes. If nothing else changes, don’t forget that itching is not the only reason pet kids chew on their feet. Pain from arthritis and anxiety are often culprits. Like allergies, arthritis pain and anxiety don’t simply go away on their own.

The take-home message here is, paw chewing is uncomfortable but treatable! While there are plenty of things you can do at home to help the symptoms, addressing the underlying cause is key to nipping those problems in the bud. With some attention and love, your dog can be back on his non-itchy feet in no time.

Dr V Dr. Jessica Vogelsang

The Inside Scoop On Homemade Pet Food

Girl thinking about what to cook

If you’re reading this, chances are it’s not the first time you’ve given some degree of thought to the concept of a homemade pet diet. Whether you regard this topic with interest or with repulsion, a series of pet food recalls combined with the ‘foodie’ movement have resulted in growing discussion among pet parents about the costs and benefits of becoming a personal chef for one’s pet kids. More...

The Scoop on Grain-Free Pet Foods

Dog and cat laying on grass

This month, I’d like to talk to you about a subject that’s near and dear to my heart. Finding the perfect pet food that reflects both your expectations and represents the best veterinary science has to offer. In particular, we’ll be taking a closer look at grains in dog and cat foods, addressing the top three concerns of pet parents. Are these concerns valid or are they misrepresentations of reality? The truth may surprise you! More...

As part of our unwavering commitment to the health and well-being of all companion animals, we want to take time to alert you about this unfortunate situation. " />

Competing Brands Announce Recalls

I am truly saddened to hear of the current pet food recall concerning possible salmonella contamination. I have seen firsthand the devastating effects of this kind of infection in dogs and cats. Our hearts go out to the pet parents who are right now sitting on “pins and needles”, worrying about the health of their companion animals.

As part of our unwavering commitment to the health and well-being of all companion animals, we want to take time to alert you about this unfortunate situation.

Here’s what we know so far. According to the FDA, Diamond Pet Foods and other brands produced at their Gaston, South Carolina facility between December 9, 2011 and April 7, 2012 have voluntarily recalled dry dog and cat foods due to potential salmonella contamination. This recall affects the following pet food brands:

4Health
Apex
Canidae
Chicken Soup For the Pet Lover's Soul
Country Value
Diamond
Diamond Naturals
Kaytee Fort-Diets (a rat and hamster feed)
Kirkland
Natural Balance
Premium Edge
Professional
Taste Of The Wild
Wellness Complete Health®
Super5Mix®

The scale of this recall is massive … products were distributed to customers in 41 states (Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, DC, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Vermont, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Wyoming) and may have been further distributed to other states through various pet food channels.

Symptoms of salmonella infection in pets include decreased appetite, fever (possibly quite high), lethargy and abdominal pain. If left untreated, dogs and cats may experience vomiting and/or diarrhea (sometimes bloody), and they may refuse food or water. If you know a pet exhibiting any of these symptoms, please contact a veterinarian immediately.

Keep in mind that infected – but otherwise healthy – pets can still be carriers of the disease, potentially infecting other companion animals and humans. You should always thoroughly wash your hands after handling your pet’s food and touching surfaces that might have been exposed to the contaminated products. Since these bacteria can also be present in the feces of your dog or cat, you should dispose of it carefully. According to the Center for Disease Control, 14 people in nine states have been infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Infantis.

For complete information on these recalls, we encourage you to visit the FDA’s web site at http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/default.htm.

Please be assured that this recall does not affect any of our Life’s Abundance products. We are fully confident that our products are completely safe. As you know, we employ numerous safety and quality controls to ensure the highest quality of our products.

When a recall occurs, many pet food companies rely on the media to inform consumers. However, people lead busy lives and often they are not aware of news reports or articles, which can lead to an extremely unfortunate situation for affected pet parents and their companion animals.

The good news for Life’s Abundance customers is that we employ an unparalleled, quick-response system. If we need to share information about a product with our customers, we can do it quickly and effectively. Thanks to our unique distribution system, we are able to pinpoint the lot numbers which identify the individual products shipped to each of our customers. Because we maintain databases with our customer's contact information, we can email them immediately about any issues with their products, should they arise. Also, through our automatic Interactive Voice Response system, we are able to call hundreds of our customers anywhere in the country within just a few hours. At Life’s Abundance, we believe informed consumers make for healthy pets!

Thank you for taking the time to read this important post, and thank you for all that you do to make the world a better place for companion animals.

Dr Jane Bicks   Dr. Jane Bicks