April 2018

Six Principles of Eating Clean

Clean-breakfast

Everything old is new again, as is common with all sorts of trends, but now Millenials are seeking out a simpler, more nourishing philosophy of food. Thanks to their renewed commitment to health, the principle of "eating clean" has found a home in this demographic. And, for some of their parents as well.

Eating clean is a new way of referring to a relatively longstanding mindset. In the 1960's, the natural food movement rejected processed foods, which were wildly popular at the time, not for health reasons, but rather for ethical ones. Today, it's about choosing more nourishing options than those offered by giant corporations that use unrecognizable chemical ingredients.

The whole idea behind eating clean is a reliance on healthy, whole and unprocessed food. Rather than counting calories, or restricting oneself to one kind of food (like, for instance, only those low in carbohydrates), this guiding philosophy is more a lifestyle, a consciousness about what qualifies as nutritious. Those who practice it find that it gives you more energy, and because it's flexible and thus adaptable, regardless of your unique routine. For our modern times, where people generally feel pressed for time and always in need of quality fuel to burn, it's the perfect fit.

Colorful-salad

To adopt the "eating clean" mindset, you won't have to keep up with complex formulas or calculations. Fortunately, you'll only need to understand six essential principles of this dietary philosophy, as follows ...

1. Stop eating processed foods in favor of whole, natural foods. A simple rule to remember is that if it comes in a box, can or brightly colored packaging, it's probably processed. Your grocery cart should be full of color, but only natural colors - fruits, veggies, nuts ... you get the idea.

2. Just say "no" to refined foods. Obviously, it takes a great deal of effort to do this 100% of the time, but committing to a daily intake of whole grains from sources like brown rice, quinoa, amaranth and millet is definitely the way to go. And don't forget legumes and beans, as they're great vegetarian sources of protein. You'll also want to end your consumption of high fructose corn syrup, opting instead for sugars from maple syrup, honey and dehydrated sugar cane juice.

3. Say "goodbye" to meals with huge portions. Instead, spread out your consumption with 5-6 small meals evenly spaced throughout your day. These meals don't have to be all exactly the same size. A less drastic change for people who are accustomed to eating breakfast, lunch and dinner is to have three primary meals with small snacks in between. By adopting the small-snack strategy, you'll be less inclined to overeat at your main meals. Additionally, you'll find that spacing out your meals and snacks will help keep your energy up and your blood sugar levels even.

Fruit-salad

4. Every meal should include proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Most Americans don't need to be told to consume carbs and fats, but we often fall short when it comes to protein intake. Not only is protein essential for healthy muscles, it's great for curbing your appetite. Like with almost anything in life, balance is key.

5. Don't overdo it when it comes to the consumption of sugar, fat and salt. Don't worry, it's not that difficult when you eliminate processed foods from your diet. As you live with your new mindset, you'll soon find this is true, because clean foods are typically low in all of these ingredients.

6. Remember to move your body. Just as important as consuming clean foods is using that fuel to power regular physical activity. Establishing an exercise habit may be challenging at first, but within just a few weeks, it'll become second nature. Not only will you feel better, you'll sleep better too! And when you're burning that healthy fuel, you'll be decreasing your body's store of fat while also building your muscles. Soon, you'll be burning more energy even when you're resting, with the added benefit of improving your heart, lung and bone health, too!

We hope you'll start adopting some of these super healthy clean food attitudes and habits. We guarantee that once you commit to living healthier, you'll be able to enjoy the fruits of clean eating.

Lessons for Heartworm Awareness Month

Pug

April is National Heartworm Awareness Month, so I wanted to give everyone both a refresher and an update on this disease. Heartworms are transmitted via mosquito bites, meaning it is not transmissible directly from pet to pet. The tiny larvae are injected into the bloodstream, where they mature into fully grown adults. They live in the heart and large blood vessels. The mature worms produce larvae, which go back into circulation and can be picked up by mosquitoes, ready to transmit to another host, thus repeating a vicious cycle.

While dogs make for ideal hosts, cats can also be infected. However, canines experience the most severe form of the disease. If you are unsure whether your cat should be on heartworm prevention, speak with your veterinarian.

As you can imagine, foreign bodies the size of spaghetti strands can do a lot of damage in the heart. As the parasites disrupt normal heart and lung function, pets display signs of heart disease such as cough, low energy and coffee-colored urine. Treatment involves either surgery to physically remove the worms or injections of a drug called immiticide. Once a heartworm dies it can cause an embolus (a blockage) as it travels through the bloodstream, so patients are under strict cage rest to minimize treatment risks.

Bottom line, heartworm disease is a terrible thing and no one wants their companion animal to experience it. 

Here’s the good news … it’s completely preventable. Once the mosquito injects the larva into the bloodstream, it takes six months for them to mature into adult heartworms. During that time the larvae are susceptible to a variety of medications. Heartworm prevention is available in a number of forms: pills, injections and topicals. They are all prescription medications, so your veterinarian can advise you as to which choice is best for your dog or cat.

Buddies

If you have a dog or a cat, here are five important things you need to know about heartworm disease.

1. While heartworm disease is indeed more prevalent in the Atlantic and Gulf states, it has been diagnosed in all 50 states! Even if you live in a state with low incidences of the disease, all states have microclimates where heartworm flourishes. The American Heartworm Society tracks diagnosis information and publishes an incident map every three years. To see how many cases have been reported in your area, visit https://www.heartwormsociety.org/veterinary-resources/incidence-maps.

2. Dogs travel more than ever before. 2005 was a turning point in prevalence of the disease. Why? After Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf states, humane organizations rallied together to relocate homeless animals across the nation. Some of those dogs carried heartworm disease. Suddenly veterinarians who had never seen heartworm disease in their careers were diagnosing it for the first time.

3. All-natural remedies simply don’t work. I think by now you all know by know how much I value honesty and transparency. If you want to treat your pet for fleas with natural remedies, I will let you know that they simply don’t work as well as the medications I recommend, but I’m not going to fight you on it. Fleas don’t kill dogs and cats, though. Heartworm does. It is simply too devastating a disease to trust anything but the prescription medications that we know work. Anyone who claims otherwise is, in my opinion, displaying their ignorance and spreading poor advice.

4. Pets need monthly prevention to be adequately protected. A very common question is, "why do I need to give my pet monthly heartworm prevention pills if it takes six months for a larva to turn into an adult heartworm?" As the larva develops into an adult, it transitions through several phases. Not all of those phases are susceptible to our heartworm preventives. If we only dose heartworm prevention intermittently, there’s a chance we will miss our window for catching the larva at the susceptible stage.

5. Pets should be tested yearly. Yes, even pets on regular heartworm preventive. Why? Because sometimes things happen. You are late with a dose. The dog spits out the pill when you aren’t looking. Once your pet has adult heartworms, those preventives aren’t going to work. Will it harm your pet to give preventives with active heartworm disease? No, but it’s not going to cure it either.

Here’s the bottom line: we give you very conservative, comprehensive protocols for heartworm prevention because treating adult heartworm disease is so hard on pets. Some do not survive. Having a patient die during heartworm treatment is one of my more devastating memories. Trust me, better to be safe than sorry.

It’s impossible to give a comprehensive overview of heartworm disease in this short blog post, but that covers the basics. You might have questions about things you have heard about such as heartworm that is resistant to the normal medications, or about different protocols for treating heartworm disease. If you do, congratulations for being such an informed pet parent! Your veterinarian, as always, is the best source of information for you.

Enjoy your summer and maintain that prevention regimen!

Dr V
Dr. Jessica Vogelsang, DVM

Five Reasons Why Pets Eat Grass

Tempted to Graze

It’s a question pet parents routinely ponder. While there are competing theories regarding why dogs and cats consume grass, a conclusive answer has yet to be supported by scientific study. Here’s a brief overview of the current speculation behind your companion animal’s impulse to graze …

1. It’s an ancestral thing. The prey of wild dogs and cats frequently have grasses in their intestinal system, so domesticated dogs and cats still retain a yearning for a spot of grass in their diet.

2. Our companion animals know of some nutritional value in grasses that we have yet to uncover (such as antioxidants).

3. They do it to provoke vomiting if they’ve eaten something that has upset their stomachs.

4. They are augmenting their keen sense of smell with taste to discover more about their environment.

5. They simply like the taste and texture of grass, so it’s just for the sake of satisfaction!

Although we may never know the exact reason why, we do know that this is one of the most commonly asked questions that veterinarians hear from their clients. If you notice excessive grass-eating with either your dog or cat, please consult your vet.

Six Amazing Facts About Canine Perception

one-with-nature

Have you ever wondered how a dog perceives the world? If you're like many pet parents, at some point you've asked your dog, "What are you thinking right now?"

We already know that dogs have a sense of smell that puts our own to shame. But how do they use all of this sensory information? According to a brand new research study, the answer to that question just became a good bit clearer.

Researchers found that canines actually construct a mental image of what they smell, before they see it. Furthermore, behavioral scientists were amazed to find that the dogs in their study expressed surprise when the object they thought they were tracking turned out to be different than they expected! 

In light of this remarkable view into canine perception, we're taking a closer look at how dogs view, interact and understand the world.

To view the full-size PDF, simply click on the image below. 

PDF DocumentPDF Document

Interested in more details about the latest ground-breaking research into canine perception? Check out the study below!

Bräuer, J., & Belger, J. (2018). A ball is not a Kong: Odor representation and search behavior in domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) of different education. Journal of Comparative Psychology. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/com0000115