Archive for the ‘Dogs Health’ Category

Does Your Dog Need Vegetables?

Friday, January 30th, 2015

You need veggies to be healthy, but does your dog need them?

While vegetables aren’t necessary for a dog’s health, in most cases they can’t hurt, experts say.

Dogs can benefit from vegetables in their diet. Corn and potatoes give them carbohydrates for energy, plus minerals and fiber. But dogs don’t need vegetables to get these nutrients. Other foods, like rice and grains, can fill these needs too, says Jennifer Larsen, assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of California, Davis, Veterinary Teaching Hospital. Dogs are omnivores like people, so they can eat a wide variety of foods, not just meat.

Should I Add Veggies to My Dog’s Food?

In most cases, you don’t need to add them to his kibble bowl, says veterinarian Evy Alloway, who practices at Killingworth Animal Hospital in Connecticut.

If the dog food you buy has a stamp of approval from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (or AAFCO) it means it offers a balanced diet. Everything she needs is already in her food. You don’t have to worry about giving vegetables — or grains, for that matter — to your dog to make sure they get a balanced meal.

Veggies as Treats

While you don’t need to add vegetables to your dog’s diet, it doesn’t mean that you can’t. Many pet owners offer carrots, green beans, or broccoli to dogs as treats.

They’re low-calorie, so they’re good for Fido. But don’t offer too many vegetables as snacks. Treats of any kind should not make up more than 10 percent of your dog’s diet. Ask your vet for what that means for your dog based on his weight and activity level.

They’re Good for Overweight Dogs

Vets often recommend mixing vegetables into the kibble of an overweight dog as filler. It’ll make his meal feel more satisfying with few calories.

Just be forewarned: A sudden change from the typical fatty, processed, meaty treats to fiber-filled vegetable ones can be a little tough on your dog’s system. To ease the transition, soften raw vegetables a bit first by steaming them. You can also puree them in a blender.

“If your dog becomes constipated, your vet may recommend mixing canned pumpkin in with his food for a few days until the situation rights itself,” Alloway says.

Pureed pumpkin is also used to clear up mild diarrhea. It tends to absorb extra water that’s in the stool and harden it up, while also adding fiber.

Vegetables to Avoid

Feel free to stock up on vegetables for your dog, but whatever you do, don’t feed him onions, garlic, or chive, which can lead to anemia. Unripe tomatoes are another no-no. They can be toxic to dogs. Also, steer clear of avocado and raw potatoes, which can potentially make dogs very sick.

You can try giving your dog fruit. But never offer grapes or raisins. They can quickly lead to illness and kidney damage.

DIY Dog Food? Enlist an Expert

Some people want to make food for their dogs themselves. If you want to, vets say it’s important to have a veterinary nutritionist help you plan meals and come up with recipes. That way you can make sure your pet is getting a balanced diet and doesn’t suffer from any nutritional deficiencies, which can easily happen.

Article reposted from:
By Suz Redfearn – WebMD Pet Health Feature

Healthy dog food will never have these 5 ingredients

Saturday, January 24th, 2015

Dog food manufacturers are expected to meet certain quality and labeling standards and the Association of American Feed Control Officials assists with this. However, many of the cheaper brands only meet the minimum standard of healthy dog food and may actually contain unhealthy ingredients. While they will keep a dog alive, they will not necessarily help the dog thrive.

While a dog will eat just about anything, owners should take the time to read pet food labels, be able to recognize quality ingredients versus unhealthy additives, and choose the healthier dog food options. Initially the greater price of higher quality dog foods may mean an added expense. However, the investment can result in a healthier dog with greater longevity, less trips to the veterinarian, and less waste management time due to the greater digestibility of ingredients.

Many veterinarians and dog advocates agree that healthy dog food will never have these five ingredients:


Butylated hydroxytoluene and butylated hydroxysanisole are preservatives that are very common in cheaper dog food brands. Dog Food Advisor states, “According to the National Institute of Health, BHA in the diet has been found to consistently produce certain types of tumors in laboratory animals.” Although these chemical preservatives are “generally recognized as safe” in low doses, dog food containing them that is fed every day increases the health risks of these chemicals.

2. Artificial colors

Dogs could not care less what color their food is and the addition of chemical colorants is simply a marketing scheme to please the human eye. However, artificial colors such as Blue 2, Red 40, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 have no health value and many studies have shown that in large amounts they can present health risks.

3. Ethoxyquin

This dog food additive is an antioxidant that has been used in dog foods for decades to preserve the nutritional value of fats. However, according to Vet Info, there may be a link between ethoxyquin and the following health problems in dogs:

  • allergic reactions
  • behavior problems
  • cancer
  • deformed puppies
  • infertility
  • organ failure
  • skin problems

One issue is that ethoxyquin may be added to ingredients before they are added to the dog food and thus it may not be listed on the label. Dog food labeled “organic” is less likely to contain the additive.

4. By-products

After the good meat is cut off of animals for the human industry, what is left over are the by-products and these are rendered into pet food. PetMD describes this rendering as, “an industrial process of extraction by melting that converts waste animal tissue into usable materials.” These by-products may also be labeled as meal, or digest, and include brain, bone, intestines, hoof, manure, animal fat, beaks, organs, and bones. Rendered by-products are not fit for human consumption but meet the minimum standard set for dogs.

5. Propylene glycol

This chemical is the main ingredient found in antifreeze and it is added to dog foods to regulate moisture and bacteria. This potentially toxic chemical has been banned in cat food by the FDA but is still allowed in dog food. However, this ingredient will never be found in healthy dog food. According to Pet Poison Helpline, “When ingested by pets, propylene glycol can result in severe sedation, walking drunk, seizures, tremors, panting, anemia, and lethargy.”

Article reposted from:
By Alana Marie Burke

Dog Obesity and Fat Dogs - A Growing Health Problem

Monday, January 19th, 2015

Dog obesity is one of the fastest growing health problems for dogs today. In this article we’ll discuss the ideal weight for your dog, how to prevent dog obesity through diet and exercise, and what to do if all else fails.

The Dog Obesity Issue

According to the CDC approximately one-third of adults in the United States are obese and the trend towards obesity appears to be worsening. Veterinarians are noticing a corresponding increase in the prevalence of dog obesity. Just as in people, obesity in dogs is associated with various health problems such as diabetes, hypothyroidism, osteoarthritis, cardiopulmonary disease, hypertension and various types of neoplasia such as mammary cancer and transitional cell carcinoma of the bladder. These dog health conditions associated with dog obesity negatively impact the quality of life and longevity for our overweight canine companions and dramatically increase the cost of their veterinary care.

How to Assess Your Dog’s Ideal Weight

BCS stands for Body Condition Score and is a simple non-invasive way of assessing your dog’s weight and should be part of your dog’s regular physical. The most common BCS system is a nine point system where 4/9 to 5/9 are normal, 6/9 to 7/9 are overweight and 8/9 to 9/9 is obese with the dog weighing more than 30% over the ideal weight. You can get an idea of your dog’s BCS by feeling his ribs and looking down to visually assess his waist or lack of. When a dog is at their ideal weight one can feel the ribs along the side of the chest easily since there is no excessive fat covering them and when looking down from above at the dog’s back one can observe a slight hourglass shaped waist after the ribs. When dogs are obese the waist disappears and is either flat or rounded out.

Studies have shown that people tend to underestimate their dog’s BCS so your veterinarian is the best source for a reliable BCS. Get into a habit of asking “What’s my dog’s BCS?” whenever you go in to see your vet. Armed with the knowledge of your dog’s BCS you have a better idea of what his ideal weight should be and what steps you can take to help your dog achieve a healthier weight.

An Ideal Diet for Your Dog

The first step towards helping your dog reach their ideal weight is to know what the ideal energy intake needed to achieve maintenance. This is the level of caloric intake that will not cause your dog to gain or lose weight. A useful formula to estimate the necessary caloric intake to maintain weight is the metabolic energy requirement (MER).

MER(kcal) = 132 x (body weight in kilograms)0.75

So using the MER formula, an average 30 pound adult dog would require approximately 937 kcal per day to maintain their body weight. Keep in mind that the MER is simply an estimate because each dog has their own unique metabolism. Another thing to keep in mind is that the MER formula is a conservative formula that tends to overestimate a dog’s actual caloric need to maintain a certain weight. Your dog’s life stage and activity levels need to be factored in as well, puppies, working dogs and pregnant dogs need 2x or more their MER. Older sedentary dogs in contrast need only approximately 0.8 times their MER to maintain weight. Ask your veterinarian to help you calculate your dog’s MER if there is any confusion. In any case one should now have an idea of what ballpark your dog’s caloric needs are.

With this information it is a simple matter to determine how many cups of food is needed per day. Good quality dog foods will have their caloric level per cup written on the bag and there are numerous online sites to help consumers determine how many calories are in their dog’s brand of food if the label is lacking in information. With this information, one now knows approximately how much food they need to feed their dog to maintain their weight. Remember to factor in treats as well and decrease how much regular food you give accordingly. Ideally treats should not compose more than 3-4% of daily caloric intake.

To determine what adjustments, if any one needs to make in how much they feed is to consider the dog’s BCS. If the BCS is high then healthy weight loss can be achieved by feeding 80% of the current intake to achieve a gradual weight loss of 1-2% of body weight per week. Special weight loss diets are available that are lower in calories than regular brands of dog foods but are packed with essential nutrients so that your dog doesn’t miss out on anything vital. There is a risk that feeding maintenance diets during the weight loss phase will not provide all the nutrition that your dog needs so check with your veterinarian with any questions about the best diet to feed.

How to Prevent Dog Obesity through Exercise

Reducing an overweight’s dog’s caloric intake can be a little complicated and involves some trial and error but increasing energy expenditure is a breeze. It’s fun too! Simply incorporating some regular exercise into his normal daily regimen will make the weight loss program much more effective. A walk around the block, socializing at the local dog park, tossing a ball or Frisbee around in the backyard and swimming if your dog likes water are all good ideas to help get your dog moving. It also reinforces the human-companion bond and can even help you achieve your own weight loss goals. Get moving, your dog will thank you!

A Last Resort to Treating Dog Obesity

If increasing exercise and decreasing caloric intake are not working there are medications available that can aid weight loss. Dirlotapide also known as Slentrol is available by prescription from veterinarians and works by suppressing the appetite and hindering fat absorption. Pharmacologic intervention should only be considered as a last option and only as a part of an overall weight loss program because all too often people rely on the drug to do all the work and do not make the necessary lifestyle modifications of eating less and moving more. This can result in excess weight returning when the drug is discontinued. This pattern of weight cycling does more harm than good.

Obesity is very treatable and the benefits are tremendous in terms of quality of life and longevity (and reduced vet bills!) so step back and take an honest look at your dog and how much he is eating and how much exercise he gets. Make adjustments as needed so your dog can live his life to the fullest.

Article reposted from:
By Dr. Kristy Conn

What to Expect When Your Dog Gets Older?

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

Dogs age faster than humans. The average life expectancy of a medium-size dog is about 12 years and depends on many factors, including breed, size, genetics, nutrition, environment and vaccination history, to name a few. In general, large and giant breeds tend to age faster than smaller and toy breeds. Great Danes, for example, seldom reach 12 years of age, while occasionally Chihuahuas may reach 20 years old. Any dog between 7 and 8 years of age should be considered middle-aged (although that would probably be considered senior for large breeds); a dog is a senior when he’s reached the last 25 percent of his predicted life span.

Daily exercise, play time and reinforcement of good behavior with praise and nutritious treats can help reduce stress for senior dogs. (Image Credit: Thinkstock)

Once a dog has entered his senior years, there are steps you can take to help ensure that your dog is as healthy and comfortable as possible in his remaining years. The following are five basic recommendations for caring for your aging dog.

1. Schedule comprehensive physical exams and diagnostic workups every 6 months

A well-known phrase in veterinary medicine states: “For every one problem missed by not knowing, nine others are missed by not looking.” A comprehensive physical exam by a veterinarian on a regular basis (every six months) can help to ensure that any health problems your dog is experiencing are discovered early. Some pets may benefit from even more frequent veterinary visits, especially pets with pre-existing health issues that should be monitored. In general, the earlier a problem is discovered and therapy initiated, the better the chance of a favorable outcome. While many illnesses are incurable, early intervention and treatment may help slow the progression of a disease, relieve pain and keep your dog comfortable longer.

While the physical exam is very helpful, it cannot provide your veterinarian with all the information necessary to completely evaluate the function of many body systems. That’s why a diagnostic workup, or tests to help detect disease, is also recommended. Blood tests such as the complete blood count ( CBC) and blood (serum) chemistry profile are extremely useful in evaluating the function of many body systems. Other laboratory tests often incorporated in a diagnostic workup include urine analysis (UA), radiography and fecal tests.

An exam every six months will also give the doctor the opportunity to assess the need for preventive care, such as dental cleanings and vaccinations. Visits are also an opportunity to discuss concerns or questions regarding your pet’s oncoming geriatric years.

2. Change to a senior diet

As animals age, their bodies’ nutritional needs change. Senior dogs generally require fewer calories and less fat than adult dogs do. Increased fiber may help maintain proper function of the digestive system. Most pet food companies offer a reduced-calorie or senior diet made especially for aging pets. Your veterinarian can recommend a diet specially formulated for older dogs. Obesity from overeating, lack of exercise or a diet too rich in calories is one of the surest ways to put the health of a pet at risk. Take at least a week or so to gradually transition your dog to a new food, though, since abrupt diet changes can cause gastrointestinal problems.

3. Provide regular exercise

Regular exercise for geriatric animals is important for a healthy and happy life. The key word here is regular. Though the vigor, speed and endurance associated with younger dogs will seldom be seen in senior pets, this does not indicate that they enjoy exercise less or that it is any less beneficial to their bodies. Regular exercise helps prevent obesity, stimulates the cardiovascular (heart and blood vessels) system and contributes to the well-being of a pet. Exercise also helps the musculoskeletal system by maintaining muscle tone and range of motion, which may be especially important for dogs with osteoarthritis. Talk to your veterinarian about what kind of exercise is best for your senior dog.

4. Reduce stress

Senior dogs may not adjust to physical and emotional change as well as younger dogs do. Most domestic animals thrive on daily routine and often have developed incredibly precise biological clocks. Changes in routine, environment and even diet can all contribute to stress. Boarding can be particularly stressful to a senior dog. Home care with a skilled pet sitter may be more healthy for a senior pet than a lengthy stay at a boarding facility.

Development of long-term, healthy habits can contribute to the physical well-being of your dog. These healthy destressors may include daily exercise, play time, brushing/grooming, and reinforcement of good behavior with praise and nutritious treats. Even brushing your dog’s teeth, if taught slowly as a routine and rewarded afterward, can become a destressor, while at the same time helping to maintain good hygiene.

5. Be an alert dog owner

Many diseases of senior dogs are due to the slow, almost imperceptible deterioration of organs or systems. Unless you are extremely observant, many of these conditions may go unnoticed until the problem has deteriorated into the final stages. Careful observation of behavior, mobility, hearing, vision, hair coat, appetite, thirst, urination habits, defecation habits, weight changes and other aspects of your dog’s daily routine can help you notice differences or abnormalities if or when they begin to surface. Early diagnosis and initiation of treatment may be of critical importance to your dog’s future and quality of life.

In summary, it’s important to be aware that dogs age much faster than humans. However, if given special care and attention during the senior years, your dog may live a healthier, happier and longer life.

Article reposted from:

What Causes Cancer In Our Dogs And Cats - It's Not like They Smoke or Drink?

Monday, January 12th, 2015

Did you ever wonder what causes cancer in pets? I mean, it’s not like they smoke or drink, or do drugs. So, why do our four-legged friends get so sick?

Hearing the news that your pet has been diagnosed with cancer can be both devastating and terrifying at the same time. It is natural to have many questions about exactly what the diagnosis means, what might happen to your pet as the cancer progresses, and what options you have for treating the disease.

Image credit:

One of the most common questions I am asked by owners during an initial appointment is, “What caused my pet’s cancer?” I can definitely appreciate why this is an important piece of information they would want to understand. Unfortunately, this is a very difficult question to answer accurately, as in nearly all cases cancer is typically caused by a combination of genetic and environmental influences, many of which may have occurred years before the diagnosis was made.

The fact that certain types of cancers occur more often in particular breeds of dogs and cats lends much evidence to the concept of a genetic cause for the disease. We do know that the genetic mutations that cause cancer can occur in the reproductive cells of male and female animals, and these mutations can be passed on to puppies and kittens, giving rise to a heritable predisposition to different types of tumors. Most cancers, however, arise from mutations that occur to genes during a dog’s or cat’s lifetime that were not present at birth. These mutations can result from internal factors, such as exposure to naturally occurring hormones, or external factors, such as environmental tobacco smoke, chemicals, or even sunlight.

In people we know that up to one-third of all tumors are related to environmental and lifestyle factors. In veterinary oncology, we have discovered that nutrition, hormones, viruses, and carcinogens such as smoke, pesticides, UV light, asbestos, waste incinerators, polluted sites, radioactive waste, and canned cat foods can increase the risk of cancer in pets.

Some examples of known causes of cancer in companion animals include:

Increased risk of mammary cancer in un-spayed female dogs and cats:

  • Dogs spayed before experiencing their first heat cycle have a 0.5% chance of developing mammary cancer during their lifetime. This increases to 8% if they are spayed after they have experienced one heat cycle, and 26% if spayed after they have experienced two heat cycles.
  • Cats spayed before six months of age are seven times less likely to develop mammary tumors than cats spayed after six months of age.
  • It is thought that the hormones that are released during heat cycles cause mutations within the mammary tissue, leading to the development of tumors.

There is a possible association between environmental tobacco smoke exposure and development of oral cancer in cats.

  • The hypothesis is that the carcinogens present in cigarette smoke will be passively deposited on the fur of the cats, and when cats groom themselves, they inadvertently ingest these particles, which can lead to tumor development within the oral cavity.

There is an association between Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and development of lymphoma in cats.

  • FeLV and FIV are retroviruses that affect cats, and can cause a variety of clinical signs in infected animals. Many cats that test positive for either virus as kittens may not show any clinical signs for several years. These viruses are known to cause cancers in cats. Cats that test positive for FeLV are 60 times more likely to develop lymphoma than cats that test negative for this virus, and cats that are FIV positive are five times more likely to develop lymphoma. Cats that test positive for both viruses concurrently are 80 times more likely to develop lymphoma.

Studies have shown conflicting information regarding the risk of exposure to herbicides and/or pesticides and the development of cancer in pets. For example, some studies have shown an increased risk for the development of lymphoma, which is a cancer of white blood cells, while other studies have refuted the risk. Because the results are inconclusive I generally recommend that owners should strive to minimize their pets’ exposure to these chemicals and discuss any concerns they may have with their primary care veterinarian.

It is important to remember that it is often difficult to prove “cause and effect” when it comes to cancer. This is true for even well designed research studies designed to look at those exact parameters, so one has to be careful when researching this topic and not over interpret the available information. There are so many potential interactions between genes and environment influences that could lead to the development of a tumor, and ultimately, we may never be able to know exactly what caused the cancer in the first place.

Although I can appreciate why an owner would want to try and understand how it is their pet developed cancer, what I often try to have owners focus on is, now that we have the diagnosis, how we can move forward with a plan to treat it so that we can provide the best possible quality of life for as long as possible for their pet? Keeping the emphasis on the present tense is what allows owners to continue to maintain their wonderful bond with their pets during the duration of their cancer treatment and beyond.

Dr. Joanne Intile writing for PetMD

Article reposted from:
By Michael John Scott

Rotating Your Dog's Diet? Here's What You'll Need to Know to Change Your Dog's Food Safely

Friday, January 9th, 2015

Diet rotation is mostly frowned upon by most veterinarians. And for good reason, because making drastic changes to your furry pal’s diet can often lead to several problems.

However, several people are in favor of diet rotation and this practice is becoming increasingly popular among dog owners. The key is to doing it the right way so that your pooch isn’t stressed by the changes. Some dogs may also need to have their diet changed for a number of reasons.

Whether your pooch needs a change of diet, or if you’re thinking of rotating his diet, there’s nothing to be worried about. When done the right way, it sure is going to benefit your dog.

Here are a few things you should know about diet rotation.

Why Change Food?

It has always been believed that a dog should be fed the same type of food. An increasing number of people consider diet rotation to be beneficial to the dog as the practice can expose their dog to varied nutrients for example, protein. The amino acids in all proteins are different depending on the food source. By alternating between meat mixes, you’ll be giving your pooch a variety of proteins that will help him stay healthier.

Moreover, switching between diets regularly minimizes the long-term effects of trace amounts of toxins present in different foods. And diet rotation also makes you feel good about yourself because you know you wouldn’t be able to live on the same type of food every day of your life. Why should your beloved pooch eat the same food day in and day out?

Speaking of nutritional needs, if your puppy has turned into an adolescent or if your adolescent is turning into an adult, you’ll need to change his food. Growing dogs require more nutrition, and the nutritional needs of senior dogs are different too.

Apart from these reasons, you may need to change your dog’s food because it just isn’t right for him. If your dog develops skin allergies, non-cutaneous allergies such as gastro-intestinal disorders, gastro-intestinal motility disorders, food intolerances, or chronic illnesses such as liver diseases, heart problems, urinary stones, or renal failure, it could be possible that the food you’re feeding him is the culprit.

How to Change Dog’s Food?

Whether you want to change your dog’s diet completely or consider diet rotation, always be sure to go about it gradually. If you feed your pooch a particular brand of food or a particular type of meal and switch to another brand or type all of a sudden, your pooch’s tummy is sure to get upset.

Your pet’s stomach has several bacteria that help in digestion. If you suddenly change your dog’s diet, it can impact the ability of the bacteria to digest food properly. This leads to common symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting. That being said, some dogs can handle sudden diet changes. But to stay on the safer side, avoid taking that route.

You also can’t be sure whether your pooch will like the changes. Introducing new food suddenly may turn your pal into a picky eater. As such, it’s best to buy small-sized packages of dog food or try out dog food freebies to see what works best for your furry friend.

You can switch from one brand to another or between wet and dry food as per your liking. Start by feeding your dog a mixture of 25% new food and 75% old food. Continue this for three days and look for signs of GI disturbances. You may want to continue feeding your dog a mix of the old and new food in this ratio for a couple of days more.

If all seems well, feed your dog a mix of 50% new food and 50% old food. Again, continue for a couple of days and check for signs of illness. Increase the ration of new food to 75% and decrease that of old food to 25% for another couple of days. Your dog will now be ready to eat 100% new food.

If you intend to rotate your pooch’s diet frequently, follow this same method. Once you start feeding him 100% new food, continue for a few days, and then begin adding the other variant gradually in the same way.

Things to Keep in Mind

As you’ll be alternating between food types and/or brands, you’ll find that the dog food you purchase takes longer to finish. This can affect the freshness of the product and can also lead to loss of essential nutrients. Be sure to store the food in a clean and dry place that is away from direct sunlight.

Additionally, if you include too many variations in your dog’s diet, you could easily forget what you’re feeding your dog. In order to ensure you’re doing it all right, organize the food in some way so it’s easy for you to remember.

You can also make a food diary and note your dog’s diet changes in it. Maintaining a diary will also help you keep track of GI disturbances or other illnesses.


Now that you know so much about diet rotation, you can be confident going about it. Just be sure to follow the right method; you certainly don’t want your dear pooch to fall ill.

It is important to keep in mind that a veterinarian always knows best. They can tell you everything about your dog’s health and also know his daily nutritional needs. So before making any drastic changes to your pooch’s diet, always consult your dog’s vet.

Article reposted from:

By Nicola Reynor

10 New Year's resolutions for pet owners

Friday, January 2nd, 2015

Here are 10 New Year’s resolutions to keep your pet safe, happy and healthy during 2015.

  • Keep identification on your pet! A collar, current rabies tag and a personalized identification with a good phone number will get your lost pet back to you. Get your pet microchipped by your veterinarian as it is the perfect back-up to tags. Have photos of your pet just in case.
  • Keep your pet safely contained at home. Fences not only make ‘good neighbors’ but keep your pets safe from cars, guns, getting lost and so much more. Keep cats indoors if at all possible.
  • Take your pet to the vet at least once per year to keep vaccinations current, get your heartworm prevention renewed and have your pet get a general check-up.

(Photo: AP)

  • Spay and neuter your pet. There are just so many health benefits for both female and male pets besides how much this will help reduce the overpopulation that results in far too many homeless pets.
  • Feed your dog the best quality food you can and don’t overdue the treats. Tubby pets can develop many health problems, and they can have shortened lives. Treats do not equal love.
  • Take care of your pet’s coat, teeth and nails. Dirty or matted coats cannot effectively protect your pet from the elements, may hide health problems, and are uncomfortable for your pet. Long nails can be painful and can eventually cripple your pet. Bad breath may be because of tooth decay or gum disease and should be checked out by your veterinarian.
  • Keep your yard and litter box clean. Cats have less litter box problems when they are cleaned regularly to remove waste and picking up feces in the yard frequently can help reduce smell, flies and parasites.
  • Pet proof your home and property. Keep poisons of all kinds out of pet reach, watch out for poisonous plants indoors and outside, keep electrical cords out of reach, don’t leave out strings or ribbons for a cat to swallow and make sure there is no antifreeze leaking from older vehicles.
  • Learn about your pet and its breed traits so you can better understand what motivates your pet. Do homework on a breed or pet BEFORE bringing a new one home.
  • Spend time interacting with your pet. Our pets are social animals that thrive on human attention. Teach your pet manners so it is pleasant for others to be around. Our pets love us unconditionally; love them back with all your heart, and take care of them the best you can!

“Each of us can only do the best we can for as many as we can and that will never be good enough for those of us who care!”

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Benefits and Disadvantages of Choosing the BARF Diet for Dogs

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014


The dog BARF diet, biologically appropriate raw food, focuses on feeding your dog food that has not been processed and matches a diet that dogs ate before becoming domesticated pets.

What is a BARF diet for Dogs?

In an effort to provide their dogs with quality food, many owners have made the switch to a BARF diet. The acronym sounds less than appealing, but it stands for bones and raw food or biologically appropriate raw food. The philosophy behind a BARF diet is that dogs should be offered a nutritional plan that resembles the diet that their ancestors ate in the wild: uncooked meat, edible bones, organs, and plants. The practice remains a bit controversial, but modern sled dogs typically eat a BARF diet because raw meat is readily available in the wilderness, and supporters use this evidence as reason to pursue a raw feeding plan.

Are There Benefits to a BARF Diet?

Supporters of the BARF movement report positive changes in their pets’ overall health. Most BARF diet literature says that raw foods can provide:

  • A shiny coat
  • Healthy skin
  • Clean teeth
  • High energy levels
  • Smaller stools

While there is little scientific evidence to support these claims made by BARF proponents, the number of advocates of raw feeding are growing rapidly. Owners take comfort in knowing precisely what their dogs are consuming and knowing that the food they offer their pet is not processed or full of additives and preservatives. There are entire online communities dedicated to raw feeding, and owners typically stand by their claims that raw diet improves canine health.

Are There Risks to a BARF Diet?

Any time an animal consumes raw meat, there is a risk of bacterial contamination. Additionally, a BARF diet does not ensure balanced nutrition. Owners must work with a dog nutrition expert or veterinarian to develop a supplement plan that will ensure the dog is getting the right balance of vitamins and minerals. Additionally, bones are always a choking hazard, and some can splinter, leaving the dog at risk for a torn GI tract.

To get around some of these risks, many owners adopt a partially-raw diet, providing their dogs with cooked meat instead of raw meat, and leaving fruits and vegetables as the only raw ingredients. Other owners include some kibble in the dog’s raw diet to help include some of the essential vitamins and minerals that aren’t provided in the BARF plan.

How to Switch to a BARF Diet?

Owners interested in adopting a BARF diet for their dogs should conduct as much research as possible before selecting a plan. There are hundreds of variations of the BARF diet, so it will be important to choose a plan that meets a family’s budget, comfort level, and provides the maximum amount of nutrition. It can be useful to work with a dog nutritionist that specializes in raw feeding plans.

As with any dog food switch, the change will have to happen gradually to help the dog adapt. Raw foods will be introduced slowly into the dog’s regular kibble meals. Over time, more raw food will be added as kibble is subtracted. A raw feeding plan is a personal choice. As long as the owner is watchful and safe, and consults with a vet or nutritional expert on how to provide nutritional balance, owners can feel comfortable making the switch to a BARF diet.

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Keep your Dog safe and warm in winter and cold weather

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

If you live in a region where the winters are cold, then you probably have a yearly routine to prepare yourself for the season change. You might change out your wardrobe, get your car ready for winter, and insulate your home. Don’t forget to take precautions to keep your dog warm and healthy. There are plenty of winter hazards out there, such as antifreeze and ice. Take steps to keep your dog safe! Here are some cold weather tips to you and your dog this winter:

Image credit: Susan D'Angelo

  • Do not leave your dog outside unsupervised without a heated shelter. Just because your dog has fur, it does not mean he can withstand the cold. Though some dog breeds (like Huskies and Malamutes) are better suited to cold weather, all dogs should have access to a warm shelter at all times. Most dogs do best living indoors. However, if your dog must live outdoors, provide a heated dog bed and adequate shelter.
  • Small dogs or those with little to no hair should have sweaters or jackets for protection against the cold. Some of the most common breeds that will benefit from protective clothing are Chihuahuas, Miniature Pinschers, Whippets, and Greyhounds. Remember, not all dogs will tolerate clothing, so don’t push it – just make an extra effort to keep them out of the cold. Keep food and water in a place where they will not freeze – preferably inside! A heated dog bowl can help outdoor water and food from freezing.
  • Watch those feet! If your dog will tolerate it, consider foot protection booties. This can keep your dog’s feet safe from harm, such as dangerous objects hidden by the snow or salt on roads and walk ways. Additionally, booties can help give your dog a better grip and prevent slipping on ice.
  • When walking your dog near ice, use extra caution to avoid slipping. Always keep a close watch your dog and be sure he says nearby. Do not allow your dog to run across frozen bodies of water – he could fall into icy water if the ice is too thin!
  • If you use an indoor or outdoor fireplace, always keep a safety guard around it in order to protect your dog away from the flames and soot. Do not leave a fire unattended.
  • If your dog is in the cold and begins excessively shaking or shivering, get him back to warm shelter as soon as possible. If you suspect your dog is developing hypothermia, bring him to a vet immediately.
  • Avoid letting your dog eat snow or anything else on the ground. Dangerous objects or chemicals may be hidden in the snow. Also, eating snow this can cause stomach upset and even hypothermia. Always keep fresh room temperature water available at all times.
  • Beware antifreeze – It is highly toxic! Antifreeze tastes good to pets, but even a small amount can kill your dog. Though exposure to antifreeze is a risk all year, the risk is especially high during the colder months. Keep your eyes on your dog at all times – and keep antifreeze out of reach. If you suspect your dog has had ANY exposure to antifreeze, get to a vet right away.
  • In general, be sure to contact your vet if any abnormal behavior or signs of illness appear. Also, have a look at the cold weather checklist from the Veterinary Medicine guide.

Did you know that your dog’s normal temperature is a few degrees higher than yours? Winter is the perfect time of year to snuggle up – so have fun and stay warm!

Article reposted from:
Written by: Jenna Stregowski, RVT

9 Reasons to Be Thankful for Pets

Sunday, November 30th, 2014

Your cat or dog is a member of your family and deserves to be appreciated for all the love and companionship he offers you. Here are some of the many reasons to be thankful for cats and dogs, not only on Thanksgiving but every day of the year.

1. Pets Are the Best Snuggle Buddies

Cuddling with cats and dogs is truly the best. You can cozy up on the couch or in your bed, and your furry friend won’t care that you’re binge-watching Scandal again. Your animal just wants to snuggle. And, best of all, in the colder months, your cat or dog is like a heater with four legs.

2. They’re Always Happy to See You

It doesn’t matter if you’ve been gone for five minutes or five hours, cats and (especially) dogs, greet you like you’re an A-list celebrity on the red carpet when you come home. And after a long day at the office, nothing beats a “welcome home” tail wag or meow.

3. They’re Good for Your Health

This is something to truly be thankful for: Cats and dogs can improve your health. Studies have shown that pets provide numerous health benefits for humans. Walking a dog for just 30 minutes a day can reduce your risk for heart disease, relieve stress and more. And you can break a sweat by playing games like fetch and chase with your cat. Plus, owning a pet can help you build better relationships.

4. Pets Know How to Have Fun

Dogs and cats like to have fun just as much as we humans do. And there are so many fun games you can play with them. It just takes a little creativity. Bring out your inner child and play hide-and-seek with your animal. Cats tend to be really good at it. Or, instead of fetch, lead your dog in a game of soccer or chase.

5. They Make You Laugh

There’s a reason cats and dogs are the stars of so many viral videos: They’re funny. Some dogs make the craziest sounds just to get a belly rub. And some cats can be entertained for hours with a simple piece of paper. Pets don’t even have to try to be funny, they just are. Think about it: How many times have you laughed out loud this week because of your animal’s silly antics?

6. They Comfort You When You’re Down

Maybe you had a stressful day at work or something is upsetting you, somehow cats and dogs just know when you’re feeling blue. You can cry your eyes out and your pet won’t mind. He’ll be there for you, no matter what.

7. Pets Don’t Ask for Much

Dogs and cats don’t care that “everyone” has the new iPhone and will never demand cars for their 16th birthdays. Most pets are happy to have food, water, shelter and a family who loves them. And, yes, they sometimes demand to be petted or beg for treats, but in the grand scheme of things, that’s not much to ask for, right? And if you say “no,” your pet won’t sulk in her room and say you’re the worst parent ever.

8. You’ll Never Feel Alone

Whether you live alone, your spouse is on a business trip or your kids are away at college, when you have a dog or cat, you don’t feel so lonely when loved ones aren’t around. Really, who else will follow you from room to room as you go about your day? Doing the dishes? There’s Sophie sitting patiently by the dishwasher to “help.” Taking a shower? There’s Tiger pawing at the door. While your animal’s constant presence may be a little annoying at times, be grateful that you have a loyal and devoted companion by your side.

9. A Pet’s Love Is Unconditional

Pets don’t care what you look like, what you do for a living, that you bite your nails or clean only when company’s coming over. They don’t judge your fashion choices or hairstyle. It makes no difference to them that you have no idea how to brine a turkey or make perfect homemade mashed potatoes. Pets just love you. It’s as simple as that.

Article reposted from:
By Laura Cross |