Saturday, November 1, 2008

Dry or wet food? Answered at the pet super market?

Well, I don't think so.
Franny Syufy in her column on About the other day had an article on canned cat food in which she made a couple interesting remarks. She reports that these days she receives more and more e-mails from male cat owners, however she is concerned about the fact that they are not always following her advice. I am seeing a similar trend at my place, it looks like my inquiries about cat food are evenly split between male and female owners. On whether or not the males follow my advice more than the females I cannot agree with Franny’s observations, most often both sides are listening. Though I have to say that I get my inquiries from pet owners who know they came to a place selling pet nutrition. Franny on the other side is supposed to be a columnist on totally neutral territory, though looking at the website I can see why she tends to always favor her opinion towards the countless advertisers on the site.
She also addressed two specific e-mails she recently had received on the specific topic of dry vs. canned cat food. In one the cat owner reported of his cat suffering from feline leukemia and HIV. And he adds that he favors the canned versions despite the fact that his local pet supermarket people told him canned food has the following disadvantages: “It is mostly water”, it “goes right through” and it “makes cats fat”. This advice doesn’t surprise me. I myself frequently visit the local pet super markets and experience generally the same. To be frank, I would say that most of the employees over there have absolutely no idea what they are talking about. In many cases it is school kids. Now granted, I understand all this: First I think it’s great that these kids take on a job in an attempt to make some money on the side. And it certainly is not their fault that they are not being trained properly. Second, I understand the store chain’s pressure to deal with ever increasing overhead and their reasoning for hiring inexpensive help and not providing proper training. Training is an investment and who knows how long these kids are going to stay there to work. At least these kids speak our native language, so that in itself is a plus. However, I just believe that over the long run such cost saving strategies may hurt the chain. This would be good for me because hopefully pet owners are moving towards places where they do not just get proper advice but also proper food. In regards to the food “going right through”, I wish, who ever came up with this idea in the first place should have made them aware that this is the case as well for most of the junk kibble they sell over there. Just because it’s called like it is science doesn’t automatically make it the best food. I’d say, whatever advice you get over there, be very careful and take it with a big grain of salt.
Franny had her own comments on that subject: She did not want to go “against” the “experts” from the XYZ store, but, but in the interest of the cat needing superior nutrition due to its illness, she just hopes that the cat owner buys a “high quality” food, short off saying “you are most likely not going to find that over there. So that to me sounds like she agrees with me. She also commented on a 2nd e-mail she had received on that same topic. In it the writer described the food being sold at those stores in a fashion which I do not want to repeat here (I was surprised that they did). But Franny in an effort of trying to be politically correct all the sudden said that she does not entirely agree with him. A little contradiction here, where is the objectivity? Well, maybe her management just sold an ad on their page to one of these markets.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Prevention as a key to healthy, well aging pets

Tamera Manzanares wrote in the Steam Boat Pilot & Today, a Steamboat, CO based newspaper, an article on the topic “Aging Well: Prevention key to keeping 4-legged friends healthy”. Though Tamara usually writes for the Aging Well program (Aging Well is a community based program of healthy aging for adults 50 and older) and normally talks about different topics than pets, I would say she has earned quite some credit for her article, which addresses a number of important issue related to our pets.
“Few people would refute the benefits of sharing time with a pet. For older adults who look forward to fresh air exercise with a pup or the unconditional love of a lap cat, pet companionship may be even more powerful.
Although studies suggest pets can help lower a person’s risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and depression, a special bond between an animal and older person, especially an adult coping with ailing health and loneliness, speaks for itself.
If pets can make us healthier, it makes sense to do everything we can to keep them healthy, especially if it means preventing expensive pet illnesses and emergencies that could make it hard to keep and care for our pets.”
Many health habits for humans can be applied to pets. One of the most important of these is weight management because, just like their owners, obese pets are more likely to develop heart disease, arthritis and diabetes.
A veterinarian can advise each owner about a pet’s ideal weight and how much and how often that animal should eat. Limiting treats and snacks and not feeding pets table scraps are among ways owners can help animals lose weight and stay trim.
When money is tight, pet owners may opt to buy less expensive pet food. Although low quality food is better than no food at all, they should keep in mind that purchasing a good quality food is an investment into their pet’s long term health, said Craig Stanton, a veterinarian at Pet Kare Clinic in Steamboat Springs.
“If they spend a little bit more on good nutrition ... then they avoid a lot of other problems,” he said.
Inexpensive pet food tends to have more grains and less protein, which can cause pets, especially cats, to lose lean body mass and gain fat, leading to conditions such as diabetes and liver disease, Stanton explained.
Just as they would with their own food, pet owners should compare pet food labels, looking for brands with minimal grains and more protein and other recognizable nutrients.
Owners considering less expensive pet should make sure nutrition information on the food they choose includes a statement from the Association of American Feed Control Officials that a food is “complete and balanced” or meets minimum nutrition recommendations for dogs and cats, Stanton said.
Although nutritious food costs more, pets likely won’t need to eat as much as they would a lower quality food that won’t go as far in meeting their nutrition needs.
Taking care of a pet’s teeth also is very important in preventing bacterial infections that can lead to kidney and heart disease in animals, said Stanton, noting that by the time he usually sees animals for dental problems, they are experiencing chronic pain and must have teeth and bone removed.
“Dental disease is probably the No.1 killer of animals,” he said.
Special chewy treats for dogs and cats and water additives are among dental health techniques that may be helpful for older adults and others having a hard time using a finger brush to keep their pet’s teeth clean.
Regular grooming and removal of seeds, burrs and other objects from a pet’s fur can save a pet owner from visits to a professional groomer or veterinarian to have painful mats removed.
The issue of vaccines can be very confusing because there are so many types of vaccines available to pets. To avoid unnecessary vaccines (which can be money-making schemes in less-reputable clinics) pet owners should request only core vaccines, or those that are required by law and/or protect against diseases a pet is more likely to encounter, Stanton said.
A trusted veterinarian also can recommend noncore vaccines and vaccination frequency based on a pet’s lifestyle.
Overall, a person who is attentive to a pet’s behavior and tendencies can prevent expensive pet emergencies and catch illnesses or other problems early, when they are easier to treat.
It only takes few minutes for an unleashed or wandering dog to get a face full of porcupine quills that can cost an owner $250 to $1,000 to have removed. More than a few local dogs have had the rather undistinguished honor of ending up on the “Porcupine Hall of Fame” page on the Pet Kare Clinic’s Website.
Leashing dogs, keeping cats indoors and removing items pets may ingest from homes and yards are just a few ways pet owners can help keep their animals out of trouble.
Pet owners hoping for a little more peace of mind may consider pet insurance. Policies typically cost $30 to S40 a month and will cover about 80 percent of emergency veterinarian costs and 100 percent of prevention costs, Stanton said, noting that it’s best to ask a veterinarian about the best policies.
Pet owners on tight budgets shouldn’t delay taking their pet to a veterinarian for fear of not being able to pay the bill. Some clinics will work with clients to establish a payment plan, especially if that client has good payment history. Many communities also have programs to help low-income individuals with emergency veterinarian expenses.”
Thank you Tamera and also Dr. Stanton for speaking my mind and for providing good basic advise. I would say you have addressed the issues on hand better than some of the so called “specialists” of my local newspaper in the “Pet corner” sometimes do. Needless to say that I especially liked the comments related to pet nutrition.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Human drugs primary cause of pet poisonings

The Dog Channel reported on 10/18/08 on the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals offering tips to protect cats and dogs.
The most common cause of household poisonings in cats and dogs is from the ingestion of human drugs, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. In 2007, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center handled 89,000 cases of pets exposed to prescription and over-the-counter human medications. Cats and dogs can easily grab pill vials from counters and nightstands or eat pills found on the floor. ASPCA experts urge pet owners to be aware of the following health hazards:
Pets are ultra-sensitive to anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen and naproxen, which can cause stomach and intestinal ulcers and kidney damage in cats.
Antidepressants can trigger vomiting, lethargy, and a condition called serotonin syndrome.
The popular pain remedy acetaminophen is especially toxic to cats, and can damage red blood cells and interfere with oxygen flow.
Pseudoephedrine is a decongestant found in many cold remedies, but acts like a stimulant in cats and dogs, who can experience elevated heart rates and seizures.
Dr. Helen Myers, ASPCA veterinary toxicologist, advises pet owners to keep drugs in a cabinet. “And consider taking your pills in a bathroom, so if you drop one, you can shut the door and prevent your pet from accessing the room until the medication is found,” she added. Dr. Myers also recommends learning the name, dosage, and quantity of all prescriptions should an accident occur. For example, if you keep several medications in a bottle in your purse, put in a known amount, “so if your dog gets into the bottle, you know what the worst-case scenario is.” If your pet does swallow any pills, stay calm and try to assess how many are left in the bottle versus how many might have been consumed. This information is crucial for veterinarians when assigning a pet’s risk level and determining a proper course of treatment. In the event that a pet swallows human medications or other toxic substance, call a veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center’s 24-hour hotline at 888-426-4435. The ASPCA experts’ top 10 list of dangerous drugs are:
NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like ibuprofen or naproxen are the most common cause of pet poisoning in small animals, and can cause serious problems even in minimal doses. Pets are extremely sensitive to their effects, and may experience stomach and intestinal ulcers and, n the case of cats, kidney damage.
Antidepressants can cause vomiting and lethargy and certain types can lead to serotonin syndrome, a condition marked by agitation, elevated body temperature, heart rate and blood pressure, disorientation, vocalization, tremors and seizures.
Cats are especially sensitive to acetaminophen, which can damage red blood cells and interfere with their ability to transport oxygen. In dogs, it can cause liver damage and, at higher doses, red blood cell damage.
Medications used to treat ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) in people act as stimulants in pets and can dangerously elevate heart rates, blood pressure and body temperature, as well as cause seizures.
Fluorouracil, an anti cancer drug, is used topically to treat minor skin cancers and solar keratitis in humans. It has proven to be rapidly fatal to dogs, causing severe vomiting, seizures and cardiac arrest even in those who’ve chewed on discarded cotton swabs used to apply the medication.
Often the first line of defense against tuberculosis, isoniazid is particularly toxic for dogs because they don’t metabolize it as well as other species. It can cause a rapid onset of severe seizures that may ultimately result in death.
Pseudoephedrine is a popular decongestant in many cold and sinus products, and acts like a stimulant if accidentally ingested by pets. In cats and dogs, it causes elevated heart rates, blood pressure and body temperature as well as seizures.
Anti-diabetics Many oral diabetes treatments, including glipizide and glyburide, can cause a major drop in blood sugar levels of affected pets. Clinical signs of ingestion include disorientation, lack of coordination and seizures.
Vitamin D derivatives: Even small exposures to Vitamin D analogues like calcipotriene and calcitriol can cause life-threatening spikes in blood calcium levels in pets. Clinical signs of exposure, including vomiting, loss of appetite, increased urination and thirst due to kidney failure, often don't occur for more than 24 hours after ingestion.
Baclofen is a muscle relaxant that can impair the central nervous systems of cats and dogs. Some symptoms of ingestion include significant depression, disorientation, vocalization, seizures and coma, which can lead to death.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Cat with hyperthyroid condition Tapazole treatment causing loss of appetite and lethargic behavior

Today I learned about a 14 year old cat diagnosed with hyperthyroid condition. Her vet is treating her with Tapazole tablets. However, this resulted in the cat becoming very lethargic and refusing to eat. Apparently these are common side effects of this medication. Reducing the dose didn’t help. After stopping the treatment, the cat started eating again. The pet corner columnist vet wasn’t too helpful. He just confirmed that the pet owner’s experience indeed reflects the side effects of Tapazole and he recommended reducing the dose by cutting the daily dose into half and then slowly raising it up again to the originally prescribed dose of 2.5 to 5 mg every 12 hours. Did I say “today I learned”? Actually, you will agree with me, I didn’t learn a lot here, at least not anything as to how the owner’s particular problem can be solved. So I did a little more research on my own. Hyperthyroidism is the most common hormone disorder that affects cats. It comes with a wide variety of signs resulting from the overproduction of thyroid hormone made by the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is small and consists of two lobes, one on each side of the trachea/windpipe in the neck. This gland produces the major thyroid hormone called thyroxine (T4) and a small amount of another hormone, triiodothyronine (T3). These hormones regulate the body's metabolic rate and affect every system in the body. Production of the thyroid hormones is controlled by the hormone called thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). TSH is produced by the pituitary gland found at the base of the brain. If the thyroid gland produces excessive amounts of the thyroid hormones, a condition called hyperthyroidism is the result. Most common cause is a non cancerous increase in the number of cells in the thyroid gland. Groups of these abnormal cells form small nodules on the thyroid gland and are termed adenomas. Multiple adenomas may form in the same lobe. In approximately 70% of the cases, both lobes are involved. Note that only 1 to 2% of hyperthyroid conditions in cats are caused by malignancy (cancer).
The number of incidents of hyperthyroidism in cats has increased very noticeable over the last 25 years. Reasons for this increase are unknown. Probably they are due to multiple factors, some of the sounding very familiar on this blog: The ingredients and types of foods fed, immunological factors, and environmental influences may be involved.
Hyperthyroidism occurs most commonly in middle to old-age cats with a reported range of onset between 4 and 22 years. Median age for acquiring the disorder is just under 13 years. Only 5% of hyperthyroid cats develop the disease before 8 years of age. There is no indication that specific breed or genders are more than others are impacted.
Signs that a cat may have this disease are numerous. Research finds the most common ones with the frequency to be: Weight loss 90%, increased food consumption 53%, vomiting 44%, increased water consumption/ urination 40%, increased activity, behavior changes, nervousness 34%, unkempt hair coat/hair loss 30%, diarrhea 20%, tremors 15%, weakness 13%, panting or labored breathing 12%, decreased activity 12% and loss of appetite 7%. Rapid heart rates are common in cats with hyperthyroidism, and heart murmurs and high blood pressure can also occur. If not treated, cats with hyperthyroidism may and do quite frequently develop a heart condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. In this condition the muscle of the heart becomes excessively thick which may lead to heart failure and death.
The disease initially is diagnosed by watching the signs as described above. There are currently three ways to treat hyperthyroidism in cats: Medical treatment with Methimazole, a human anti thyroid drug, surgical removal of the affected gland or treatment with radioactive iodine. The advantages of a medical treatment with Methimazole (Tapazole) are easy availability, low short term cost, does not require anesthesia or surgery, hospitalization or special facilities, treatment is reversible if need be, development of hypothyroidism is very rare, it is preferred in cats with kidney failure or other serious disease and used prior to radiation or surgery to stabilize cat. The disadvantages include that it is not a cure since the adenoma will continue to grow, it requires a lifelong therapy, it may have to be given more than once daily, comes with the typical difficulties of giving meds to a pet and may have side effects (for example, as we have learned on the very top of this comment, loss of appetite). It also requires periodic blood work.
Surgical removal ensures that the condition is cured if all of the abnormal tissue is removed. The cost is approximately the same as what you would spend for years of treatment with Methimazole. Hospitalization is short and after surgery there is no longer a need for daily medication. It does require anesthesia and that the animal is a good surgical candidate. Post operative complications can occur to parathyroid gland or nerves in the area. Though it happens rarely it may cause hypothyroidism. Surgical removal is not possible if the thyroid tissue is located within the chest and finally the last disadvantage is that it may have to be repeated if removal wasn’t complete during the first attempt.There are also radioactive iodine treatments available, having the advantages that they don’t require anesthesia, sedation, or surgery, all abnormal tissue is treated, again no need for daily medication, don’t destroy healthy tissue or other organs and normal thyroid function returns within a month. They are a preferred treatment if malignancy is present or the thyroid tissue is located within the chest . Availability of this expensive ($1,000+) option is limited. It requires a specialized facility, hospitalization and quarantine. During the initial days following the procedure treatment of other diseases is not possible. In rare cases it may need to be repeated and it, though rarely, could cause hypothyroidism.
Finally, there is chemical ablation. However, this procedure is still considered to be experimental with only limited availability. Therefore II decided not to exploit this venue any further. I wanted to find out more as to how I would help that pet owner who was asking the vet in the pet corner. We still don’t have a great answer for that yet. But here is where I would start:
Earlier in the above comment I talked about the reasons for this disease and, isn’t it so typical, named the food and its ingredients as a possible cause for this disease. Since I promised no advertising on this blog, I am not going to mention any products here. However, I would recommend a nourishing growth formula combined with raw elements and meat only varieties out of a can combined with supplements for adequate nourishment. e-mail me if you have specific questions regarding this recommendation.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Canine Protein Requirements Part 2a Definitions

I figured that it may be a good idea that we get a basic understanding of protein with it’s typically used definitions and elements before we continue a discussion of various view points on canine protein and protein requirements. So I tried to come up with the following and hope it is not too boring nor confusing.
The AAFCO Nutrient Profiles for Dogs include recommendations for Crude Protein and 10 Essential Amino Acids, Crude Fat, Linoleic Acid (Omega-6 fatty acid), 12 Minerals and 11 Vitamins. This article today focuses on protein, I will address the other nutrients at a later point.
AAFCO’s protein details are: Protein, amino acids to include arginine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine cystine, phenylalaline tyrosine, threonine, tryptophan and valine.
Nutrient Profile values are expressed on a DM or Dry Matter basis to support efforts in accurately comparing various foods with various different moisture content. DM is also more meaningful related to the nutrient content of a food as water (or moisture), while an important nutrient, contributes no caloric value. Ironically, AAFCO labeling requirements allow for the nutrient content to be shown as “as fed” basis thereby including the moisture present in the food.
While the AAFCO regulations reflect minimum and maximum nutrient content, protein requirements vary from species to species, and specifically during the rapid growth stages of a puppy and for senior animals. Pregnant and lactating dogs require the same amounts as a puppy. Sick, weak or debilitated dogs usually need additional protein. Dogs with compromised kidneys may need to be restricted on their protein intake and require a high biological value diet If a dog has kidney problems excessive protein is definitely not recommended. This also brings up the question if a dog can be over fed with protein. The answer is yes and no. In a healthy dog excessive protein intake gets excreted into the urine, used as calories or is converted to fat and usually does not cause any harm. The answer to this question is important as protein is the most expensive nutrient in a food and you do not want to pay more than what you actually need. Most dog foods available on the market have a protein content based on the AAFCO minimum with a security cushion of a couple percent built in.
Proteins are the building blocks in animal nutrition and one of the most important nutrients in the diet. They also are one of the nutrients most widely debated. For around twenty thousand years as dogs, and for several million years before that as wolves, the only problem canines had with protein was getting enough of it. Dogs primarily lived on meat diets thereby consuming high percentages of their food as protein. Along with that they also took in a fair portion of fat, a little fiber and carbohydrates, but the primary food was meat. Felines were similar however they were even stricter carnivore not eating any carbohydrates. The discussion about protein originated when commercial dog foods became widely available and started replacing the traditional meat and meat byproduct diet. Initially the cheaper forms of leftover meat made up the food with little regard for flavor or fashion. With the interest in health as related to diet, a whole new generation of dog foods has entered the market. These quality foods challenge the earlier foods by promoting a product that is better than ever for our companion animals. At the center of debate for the newer products is protein, its source, digestibility, and quantity.

Protein is made up of amino acids which are chemical units or building blocks. They are an integral part of every living cell in an animal’s body. Protein is necessary for the formation of healthy cells, enzymes, hormones and a variety of body secretions, ligaments, tendons, organs and protective tissues. Next to water, protein makes up the majority of an animal’s body weight. The body can manufacture some of the total 28 amino acids needed, but others must be provided in the food. They are called “essential amino acids”. A dog’s natural diet consists typically of approximately 55% protein deriving from meat. The problem with protein is that AAFCO does not require a manufacturer to list what type of protein makes up “crude protein”. Thus, dogs may be consuming too much indigestible protein, i.e. protein deriving from sources like for example grain. Good, high quality animal source proteins provide superior amino acid balances compared with the amino acid balances supplied by grain based sources.
The word protein comes from the Greek word “proteios” = "primary". Proteins were first described and named by the Swedish chemist Jöns Jakob Berzelius in 1838. However, the central role of proteins in living organisms was not fully appreciated until 1926, when James B. Sumner showed that the enzyme urease was a protein. The first protein to be sequenced was insulin, by Frederick Sanger, who won the Nobel Prize for this achievement in 1958. The first protein structures to be solved included hemoglobin and myoglobin, by Max Perutz and Sir John Cowdery Kendrew, respectively, in 1958. The three-dimensional structures of both proteins were first determined by x-ray diffraction analysis; Perutz and Kendrew shared the 1962 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for these discoveries.
But aside from all that history, why do animals need protein? Proteins are necessary for all aspects of growth and development and are very important in structural make up and the immune system. In addition, they are burned as calories and can be converted to and stored as fat. In reality, our pets do not need the protein but they need the building blocks that make up the protein, which are the so called amino acids.
Amino acids combine in a condensation reaction that releases water and a new "amino acid residue" that is held together by a peptide bond. Proteins are defined by their unique sequence of amino acid residues; this sequence is the primary structure of the protein. Just as the letters of the alphabet can be combined to form an almost endless variety of words, amino acids can be linked in varying sequences to form a vast variety of proteins. Twenty standard amino acids are used by cells in protein biosynthesis, and these are specified by the general genetic code. These 20 amino acids are biosynthesized from other molecules, but organisms differ in which ones they can synthesize and which ones must be provided in their diet. The ones that cannot be synthesized by an organism are called essential amino acids, versus the alpha amino acids, which can be synthesized by the body.
Stay tuned for Part 2b when I am going to address amino acids in more detail.

Recall Alert Update

Make sure you check out the Recall Alert, which today has been updated with yet another recall

Monday, October 27, 2008

Treating pets as what they are: Animals

Finally I found someone who speaks up against something what has become very common these days and is bothering me for quite a while now. Around every holiday and now specifically with Halloween approaching, dressing up pets, specifically dogs, is on order again for many pet owners. Jaque Estes of the wrote on 10/25/08:
“If dressing up pet causes it stress, don't do it : My grandpuppy Kodi and I have something in common. Neither of us wants to wear antlers, cupid outfits or bunny ears to commemorate various holidays. But as Halloween approaches, I can only wonder what costume Rachel, my daughter-in-law, will try to convince the 2-year-old Welsh Corgi to wear.
Rachel is not the only pet owner who likes to dress her pup up. I have friends who have tried to dress up not one, but three dogs for their family Christmas photos. It is always humorous as none of the dogs wants to sit still for the photo, much less with reindeer antlers or Santa hats perched on their heads. In recent years the photo attire has been toned down to holiday scarves which seem to be more acceptable to the frisky canines.
So in an effort not to alienate loved ones and friends, and the rest of you who may actually have an animal that enjoys the attention they get while wearing a silly costume, I will not judge this practice. I will only make some suggestions to preserve your pet's well-being, if not his dignity.
Animals who resist being put in a costume shouldn't be forced to. They are not going to look cute if they are spending the night rolling around on the ground trying to free themselves. With the exception of those pets who seem to enjoy hamming it up -- and yes there are some -- dogs and cats forced into a costume can be stressed out and can hurt themselves trying to prevent the costume from going on, or in an attempt to get it off.
When dressing an animal up, it is important to make sure the costume is the right size and fits properly. Only use costumes designed for animals, not old baby doll outfits. Animal costumes often have Velcro closures that will allow the costume to fit snuggly but not constrict and can be quickly removed if necessary. The animal should be able to move freely in the outfit without falling out of it or tripping over decorations, and it should not restrict his ability to see, hear, bark or meow.
The best guideline is to use the same common sense you would for a toddler when selecting a costume for your pet. Elastic bands and small decorations should be avoided as they can cut off circulation and be ingested.
Try the costume on the dog before Halloween when you are less likely to be in a hurry. This will give you an idea of how your pet really feels about being dressed up and give you an opportunity to make sure the outfit fits properly, doesn't distress him or result in unusual behavior. A dog that doesn't want to be dressed up may resort to more aggressive behavior and nip or bark and not be worth the bother or fun for anyone.
I haven't mentioned cats as much. Although I have seen the occasional cat willing to be dressed up for "tea," most are not such good sports. Forcing a cat to do something they don't want can easily result in a lot of hissing and scratching and you having to change your costume from a fairy princess to a zombie to incorporate the bandages you will need to stop the bleeding. Cats don't like to wear collars and leashes, so a full costume most likely will not be well received.
Dressed or au natural, all pets should be watched carefully Halloween night, kept away from candles, candy and the front door. It is never a good idea to take your pet along with you to parties or trick or treating. The extra commotion, strange sights, sounds and smells may end up being the "trick" that lasts long after the last goblin has gone home.
And Kodi, be a good boy. It only lasts one night.”
While reading this, besides a few critical comments between the lines, such as “resistance”, “being forced”, “being stressed out”, this article concentrates more on what should be considered with regards to make the holidays and dressing up pets more safe. My comment on all of this focuses a lot more on dressing up an animal and speaks against it: I simply have no understanding whatsoever for people dressing up their animals. I like to have as much fun on holidays as everybody else. But the buck has to stop somewhere and that is in my opinion the animals. Sometimes I wonder if the pet owners who love to dress up their pets are the same owners who complain that their dogs bark. Who want them to stop walking circles before they relieve themselves. Who complain about too much or not enough attention they get from their pets. And just about everything else their pets are doing and so much more they expect of them. One can read about it every day when following the strangest inquiries on blogs and in newspaper columns. Asked by pet owners who simply expect their companion animals to act more like humans than like animals.
To those pet owners I have to say: If they bark let them bark, that’ is one of their ways to communicate. Unfortunately nature has not given them any other means to communicate. Nature also had no consideration for them being dressed up as some alien monster or cute clown. People, don’t forget: They are animals. They do not enjoy what you enjoy. Period. If some of them act like they enjoy being dressed up, please rest assured that they act this way because they want to please you. Because they unconditionally love you and respect you for many reasons. You should return the same unconditional love and respect. Rather than spending hundreds of Dollars on expensive dog costumes, invest that money in some healthy nutrition. This is an area where many pet owners should treat their dogs or cats much more like humans. Trust me, this is also something your pet would much more appreciate than being dressed up. If you love your cat or dog, let them be what they are: Domesticated, but not humanized canines and felines. Real animals, nut just dressed up as such.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Canine Protein Requirements Part 1

Very often my customers ask me about protein requirements for their animals. Today I am going to start here a small series of comments addressing this issue and looked at from various view points.
Darcy Lockman, a Brooklyn freelance writer for the Studio One Networks in The Dogs Daily just recently had an interesting write up on canine protein related issues.
She reported of a NYC vet who had seen the consequences of canine protein deprivation a few weeks after hurricane Katrina. She was working in New Orleans as a volunteer providing animal care during the cleanup after the disaster. Her observation was that “The dogs were like a skeleton with skin on it. Without the normal amount of protein, the body just began to break down. The poor animals could barely walk.” As she set out to put meat back on the dogs’ bones, it was protein that played a major part in returning these pooches to their fighting weight. The following explains how she sees the importance of protein and what kinds of protein your dog needs to stay healthy.
Why do dogs need protein anyway? Dogs evolved from wolves in the wild, which are surviving primarily on a diet of other animals. The dogs’ digestive systems adopted to utilizing meat, fat and bones. This diet provided them with amino acids, the building blocks of protein they needed and could only get from animal food sources. They came to rely on these amino acids to build, maintain and repair their bodies, from skin to muscle tissue. However, not just any protein will do. “Like humans, dogs need a variety of amino acids, and not all proteins contain them,” said the vet.
Now, let’s look at protein deriving from animals versus plants. Dogs are omnivorous. They are able to make use of the nutrients in both plant and animal sources. However, plant protein alone does not supply the amino acid balances they need to thrive. “For dogs vegetable protein is definitely inferior to animal protein.” While protein in commercial dog foods comes from both meat and plant sources, the most nutritious dog food will have a high quality animal protein listed as one of its first, if not the first ingredient. “Higher quality animal protein is more easily utilized by the body” explains the vet.
She classifies a high quality protein as follows: Meats and meat byproducts provide high quality protein for dogs. By-products, including blood, internal organs and bones, while they may not appetizing to humans, were a necessity for canines in the wild. Before becoming companion animals to humans who fed them promptly and nutritiously every morning, these dogs could not afford to leave any part of their prey uneaten. Their bodies came to rely on the whole animal as a nutrition source.
But how do you identify a high quality protein food? Basically, very quickly with a glance at the ingredient listing on the bag. The first ingredient listed should be a specifically identified high quality protein source. “The label should specify, which animal the protein comes from, for example, chicken or beef,” says the vet. Any variation on, like in this example, chicken or beef is acceptable, to include meal and by-product meal.
Let’s summarize: Feed your normal weight dog a commercial food that contains high quality protein like for example chicken, chicken meal or chicken by-product meal. Consult your vet about the special dietary needs of your pet at all life stages. Unless he tells you so, don’t give your dog protein supplements. The NYC vet additionally in her summary had included not to feed table scraps to your dog. I do not agree with her on this part as I think there is nothing wrong with feeding your dog healthy table scraps (see my comment on feeding dogs human food the other day). Maybe she meant not to feed the dog the regular dog food and then top it off with even more protein from table scraps.
With a diet rich in high quality protein, your dog will maintain muscle mass as it ages and be more likely to experience long term health and well being. While the above sums it all up in a nutshell I want to shed more light onto the subject and provide a little more specific information to all what was said here today. So, stay tuned…