As we enter the holiday season, now is a good time to give you a few tips about food safety for your pets. During this time of year as we enjoy special treats we often feel compelled to share some with our pets. There are a few reasons to proceed with caution. For instance, many of us will feed the skin from the turkey to our dogs, we often did. However, the skin is extremely fatty and this surprise load of fat can cause an episode of pancreatitis. This occurs because the unusual load of fat requires a discharge of pancreatic enzymes that can inflame the pancreas. This can be quite serious and is a cause for many emergency room visits during this time of year.
For people constipation is generally the result of a diet high in processed foods that are usually dry and low in fiber. Does this diet sound familiar? It is very similar to the diet many people feed their animals. It should come as no surprise then that constipation is a major problem for many dogs and cats.
Those that have worked with us know that we are whole food proponents. Meaning that we prefer to get nutrients from real, whole foods that haven’t been heavily processed. Our belief in how dogs and cats should be fed isn’t just an ideology, but is rooted in real facts.
Antibiotics work by affecting bacteria cells in several ways. Beta-lactam antibiotics (penicillin) kill bacteria by interfering with the process they use to build cell walls. Macrolide antibiotics (erythromycin) block bacterial specific ribosomes and prevent them from building proteins. Since proteins do all the cell’s work, a bacterium that cannot build proteins cannot survive. Quinolone antibiotics (ciprofloxacin/levofloxacin) work by causing bacteria DNA strands to break and then prevents the breaks from being repaired.
If you have a dog or cat as a family member, then chances are you are familiar with corticosteroid drugs. This class of drugs were historically used to relieve life-threatening inflammation such as that which may occur with serious brain or spinal cord injuries.
A majority of more health conscious consumers, like our clients, place a priority on the quality of their animal’s diet. This is a good idea since a nutritious diet can make a real difference in your dog or cat’s health. However, something that should be considered is how completely that food is digested. This is where the role of digestive enzymes becomes very important. If the expensive, premium food you are providing to your companion is not being properly digested then your animal is not going to derive all the benefits from their diet that they should. This can be harmful to their health and a waste of money as well.
Freeze-dried diets for dogs and cats have become more popular. However, we have a valid concern with this type of diet, and that is moisture content. Freeze-dried diets have a moisture content as low as just 2%. Compare this to dehydrated diets at 5%, kibble pet foods at 5-10%, canned foods at 75-85% and raw pet foods at 70-75%.
During the course of your animal’s lifetime chances are you have used a medication. However, have you ever given thought to the possible consequences of giving that particular drug to your animal? Being concerned with drug side-effects is a fairly recent phenomenon. This could have to do with all the information available on the internet; the television commercials that list fairly horrific potential side-effects in a light, entertaining manner; the exploding use of pharmaceutical drugs or side-effects you may have experienced yourself.
There is a lot of confusion about omega fatty acids. All too often they are referred to as “essential fatty acids”. However, “essential” should only be used when discussing alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) (an omega-3 fatty acid) and linoleic acid (LA) (an omega-6 fatty acid). These two fatty acids are referred to as “essential” because they must be ingested as the body can not synthesize them itself.
When it comes to joint support, many of us have become too comfortable with the current model of reactionary medicine. By this we mean reacting to a symptom, such as limping or some form of discomfort, making a veterinary appointment, and then using a medication to suppress that symptom. This is far from optimal when the goal for most of us is a high quality of life and maximum longevity for our canine and feline companions.
Due to a recent FDA report, grain-free pet foods have become a concern for many consumers. This is due to the connection being drawn between ingredients used in grain-free diets, like potatoes and legumes such as peas and lentils, being low in taurine and the increase in cases of canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) which is a disease of the cardiac muscle that can lead to heart failure. However, this concern should not be associated with grain-fee diets alone. Any processed pet food that is low in high-quality meat protein and organ meat, and this includes diets that include grains, will be low in natural taurine.
Water comprises approximately 60% of an animal’s body weight, so providing fresh, filtered water should be a priority for pet parents. This is because water can be contaminated with a huge variety of unhealthy chemicals. These include benzene, nitrates, arsenic, lead, chemicals from pesticides etc. However, one of the most dangerous chemicals is actually added to municipal water as part of the treatment process - chlorine! This chemical has long been associated with an increased risk of bladder and rectal cancers and recently even breast cancer. In fact, the U.S. Council of Environmental Quality recently released a report stating that the risk of cancer is 93% higher among those drinking chlorinated water than among those not drinking chlorinated water! Unfortunately, well water can be just as bad so be sure to have yours tested.
Have you ever heard the term Biological Value? It is a very important term that everyone should be aware of because it pertains to how the proteins your dog or cat eats are utilized by the body. Not all proteins are the same when it comes to your animal, but they are considered the same when listed on a pet food nutrition panel. Feeding your animal a diet with a majority of protein that has a lower Biological Value, unless expertly combined as with a vegetarian diet for people, is not optimal because deficiencies will occur due to essential amino acids that are missing or present in low numbers. Most animal protein sources have high Biological Values and are considered to be complete proteins because they contain all essential amino acids in a balanced profile, while most plant sources have to be properly combined to attain this status and often require additional supplementation as well.
The weather is finally warming, but that good news brings out one of a dog owners most disliked pests - ticks! Tick related illnesses are a major concern for pet owners, however, the truth is dogs actually do quite well with tick related illnesses. We understand though, that this is an emotionally charged issue and many people are afraid. Whether you decide to use tick pesticide products in the end is up to you. Let us share a couple of thoughts.