Saturday, May 2, 2009

Promoting mental, dental and overall physical health with chew treats

Chews provide mental and physical stimulation for all dogs, and are an important support to dental health. Learn which chews are best, and how to minimize dental expenses.
Dogs, especially puppies need to chew. If you don’t provide good chews for them, they will find their own, often your furniture! Chew treats provide pleasure, mental and physical exercise, and help make a dog who is easy to live with.
Appropriate chew treats help keep dogs’ gums and teeth healthy. Canine dental work has become a “routine” maintenance procedure, one that requires a general anesthetic. Surgery is expensive and never without risk. Healthy dogs who eat a fresh, meat and vegetable diet often have much cleaner teeth and better gums than those eating grain-based dry food, and seldom need dental work. Chews and stuffed toys, some designed for dental stimulation, can provide needed exercise for gums and teeth and aid in plaque removal.
For some dogs, chews are not an option. Poorly aligned teeth, may break when dogs chew hard objects. Some dogs have thin tooth enamel, easily worn away. Consult your veterinarian about the safety of hard chews for your dog. If they can’t chew, you may need to brush their teeth on a daily basis. This small chore may save your dog the risk and you the expense of veterinary dental cleaning.
Rawhide: Don’t use it! Rawhide chews are high in fat, add no beneficial nutrients, and can cause blockages in the stomach or intestines, a life threatening event. Any form of rawhide can be irritating: We have known many dogs with chronic diarrhea, diagnosed with food issues, who actually had a problem with rawhide.
Green treats promoted for dental health or just for chewing often have a gluten base. Gluten is one of the most common allergens for dogs. It has no place in a dog’s diet.
Other cooked or smoked body parts require careful evaluation for each individual. Chews like tracheas and tendons are digestible and add beneficial cartilage to the diet. However an enthusiastic large dog can choke on them. Discard pieces that are small enough to swallow. Be careful of hoofs: Dogs can break a tooth on them. We do not recommend pigs’ ears because they are extremely high in fat.
Bones provide a natural source of glucosamine, chondroitin, collagen, and calcium for healthier joints and connective tissue. Bones can sometimes be excellent, and sometimes a danger. Know your chewers! Whether the bones are raw or cooked, heavy chewers can destroy a large knucklebone in a short time, and this is a heavy digestive load. Dogs raised on bones seldom overdo chewing (this may not apply to the average Labrador!), but should be supervised closely until you are confident that they are safe with the bones you give them.
Bones cooked at high temperatures may splinter. Sterilized and cooked bones may be fine for a light chewer who will gradually wear the bone away. Slow-roasted bones rarely splinter.
Raw bones are best. Small dogs do well with slices of femur, the round bones, which may be cut to under an inch or up to a foot. Beef knucklebones are great for larger dogs, and some smaller ones. Fresh bones are a rich source of good fats, but they provide a lot of calories, and
If your dog doesn’t need the calories, remove as much fat from them as you can. Start slow, with a 5 or 10 minute chewing time allowed. Dogs who destroy what they are given rapidly need to move up a couple of notches in durability. Raw bones may be stored in the refrigerator or freezer, but thaw them out before use: ice is very hard!
Promote mental health and agility. Treat balls and food-stuffed toys provide an interesting challenge for your dogs with no side effects! Few dogs can destroy the all purpose Kong, These can be stuffed with almost anything: a few crunchy bits, a piece of cheese, and a smear of peanut butter can keep dogs working for a long time. Kongs can be left safely with most dogs when you leave the house, and can help a dog through the difficult first hour you are gone.
Treat balls stimulate the brain. They work best when stuffed with tiny crunchy treats. If you feed dry food, use some of the food for stuffing the ball, and watch your dog roll, bounce or shake the ball to get at the food!
There are many new choices in both these categories. These toys take a beating, so look for durability.
Supervise all chew activities carefully.
Good chews provide mental and physical stimulation, entertain dogs without your active participation, and help keep the teeth and gums clean and healthy. They add to the quality of your dog’s days, helping them live longer, more satisfying lives.
Contibuted by Steve Brown and Beth Taylor, co-authors of
"See Spot Live Longer: How to help your dog live a longer and healthier life."

Friday, May 1, 2009

Pet Food Ingredients de-mystified: Sweet potato still a questionable novel (?) protein source

The sweet potato has become an increasingly popular ingredient in specialty petfoods. However, according to Dr. Greg Aldrich, PhD and President of Pet Food & Ingredient Technology Inc., which facilitates innovations in foods and ingredients for pet, it’s use in pet foods has not been ewll researched yet. In an article for the, an on-line magazine for pet food professionals, he writes:

“In the ever widening search for novel pet food ingredients, one candidate was literally right under our feet. That is, until the last couple of years, when sweet potatoes became the "darling carb" of new products and increasingly popular in specialty pet foods. For example, sweet potatoes can now be found in:
Elimination diets for the treatment of food hypersensitivities/allergies (e.g., salmon & sweet potato);
As an option for pet owners wanting to provide variety (e.g., sweet potato vs. corn or rice);
As an ingredient in the new no-grain and raw formulas; and
As a novelty in boutique and ultrapremium petfoods.

However, almost nothing has been published regarding sweet potato nutrition or usage in companion animal diets. Given we are starting from scratch, what information is available?

Not even a potato?
Sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) originated in the equatorial forests of the Americas (Peru and Ecuador) and have been cultivated for 5,000 years. They made their way to Europe following the explorations of Columbus and then on to Asia in the 16th century. Today, global sweet potato production is ranked fifth by weight, with more than 95% produced by developing countries. This is in part because sweet potatoes are well suited for cultivation on small free holding farms in tropical climates.

Partially due to agronomic and visual similarities between sweet potatoes and yams, there's confusion about the names, but the two are not actually related. The yam (Dioscorea spp) is a monocot tuber that originates from Africa and Asia, whereas the sweet potato is a dicot storage root from the Convolvulaceae (morning glory) family.

In fact, despite its name, the sweet potato is not even related to the potato (Solanum tuberosum). The "Irish" potato is a member of the Solanaceae (nightshade) family, which includes tomatoes, red peppers and eggplants and originates in the Andean mountain chain of South America. While the yam, potato and sweet potato are all root crops, the yam and potato taste bland and starchy and contain insignificant amounts of carotenoids. The sweet potato, as the name implies, is sweet to the taste, and the orange varieties are high in beta carotene.

That sweet taste
According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 21, raw sweet potato (edible portion only) is mostly water (>77%) and carbohydrate (20%). On a moisture-free basis, the carbohydrate fraction is mostly starch (55%) and dietary fiber (13%), with the remainder soluble sugars. The protein level is comparable to other tubers and grains (~7%), fat is insignificant (< 0.5%) and ash (~4.4%) is a tad higher than other starch sources. The sweet potato represents a decent source of potassium (~1.5%) and is enriched with beta carotene (375 ppm) to a level nearly 60% that of carrots.
The sweet taste of sweet potatoes is developed by the enzymatic production of maltose from starch. Maltose is a disaccharide-reducing sugar composed of two glucose units in a 1-4 linkage and has a mildly sweet taste. Maltose content in the fresh, raw sweet potato is negligible; however, during storage and, more importantly, cooking, carbohydrate hydrolysis occurs. As cooking temperatures exceed the gelatinization temperature (~75˚C), starch is hydrolyzed to amylose by β-amylase; then β-amylase converts the amylose to maltose.

These enzymes are stable long enough during normal cooking processes for the hydrolysis to occur before inactivation at around 95˚C. The variety of sweet potato, storage conditions and cooking practices all influence the production of maltose. Baking is more effective at increasing the maltose concentration than is boiling (canning). The degree to which maltose would evolve during extrusion was not found in the literature. However, one could surmise that the brief residence time in conditioning and extrusion during kibble production would limit maltose development.

Sweet potatoes in pet food are well liked by dogs and are neutral on palatability for cats. Although the sweet potato, like any other plant ingredient, contains some anti nutritional components (e.g., trypsin inhibitors), these are not identified as an issue. Further, there are no case studies available on dogs or cats in which toxicity, intolerances or sensitivities are an issue.

Processing and sourcing
Unlike other root crops that store well, sweet potatoes have a limited shelf life. For this reason, their cultivation is timed so they can be sold fresh, or they are harvested in a "campaign" and frozen, canned or dried to chips or flour.

In canned pet foods, raw sweet potatoes can be chopped to incorporate into the batter. Upon canning, sweet potatoes will retain most of their shape but become soft in texture. In dry pet food applications, fresh sweet potatoes can be a bit more of a handling issue as they must be ground and managed with the slurry, similar to other fresh ingredients like meats, fruits and vegetables.

The other option is sourcing dry sweet potato as a chip, flake or flour. At present, sourcing chips or flakes seems more common, although sweet potato flour is reportedly used as a wheat flour extender during times of scarcity.

Sweet potato as an ingredient is not currently defined by the Association of American Feed Control Officials, so the name likely follows the nomenclature of the common name or USDA standards. Cost is a substantial challenge: Sweet potatoes can run five to 10 times the cost of common grains.

Like other novel ingredients used in pet foods, sweet potato will likely have a long term fit. But this will be limited by the availability of animal specific nutritional information and a more pet food friendly supply infrastructure.

Names and stories
In North America, the sweet potato is often (mistakenly) called a yam. There are several stories as to why. In one, slaves of the US's antebellum South mistook sweet potatoes for the yams of their native Africa and called them nyami. Another story goes that over eager marketers in the 1930s, attempting to differentiate their sweet potatoes from another, incorrectly labeled theirs as yams and the name stuck.

Enough confusion still exists that today the USDA requires products sold as yams (which are actually sweet potatoes) to carry the extra "sweet potato" identification. But, by whichever name they are labeled, sweet potatoes, not yams, are the more commonly available ingredient for pet food applications.”

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Pet food going wild: Understanding evolution and ancestral diets unlocks innovation

Petfood, an on-line community for pet food professionals recently took a closer look at the industry’s latest trend towards going “wild” with it’s pet food. These days, every day you open a magazine you are assured to be confronted with an announcement of yet another manufacturer introducing his latest “wild” creation.

The on-line magazine believes that an improved understanding based on unbiased scientific research of evolution and canine and feline ancestral diets will unlock innovations. But why are pet food manufacturers touting "wild" ingredients? One manufacturer in his promotional materials sums it up this way: "Before dogs were domesticated, meat was their key source of nutrition. Inspired by a dog's heritage and nutritional needs, … was developed to nourish every dog as nature intended." Sounds good, but the science is not always clear as to what nature intended.

Unfortunately, an all to familiar problem within the industry, sometimes marketing gets ahead of the science. So it is once again the case on the concept of wild, ancestral pet foods. Let’s keep that in mind while we look at some of the wild pet food diets that are becoming more popular.

Making wild assertions, marketers of wild ingredient based pet food say they provide a diet rich in quality meat with high nutrient bioavailability, the way nature intended. Other claims include:
"We use a savory fresh protein from US Department of Agriculture inspected sources as the number one ingredient, and quality, low-ash chicken meal as the number two ingredient."
"It's a return to your dog's ancestral diet while recognizing its modern day lifestyle. We use only meat protein sources, healthy fruits and vegetables, no grains, fillers, by-products or artificial colors, flavors or preservatives."
In addition, the standard claims and disclaimers tend to apply: No grain, no by-products, roasted meat, fish and poultry, all natural, no artificial preservatives, colors or flavors, no corn, no wheat, no soy, no gluten, no fillers, chicory root for digestive support, antioxidants to protect cells, the ideal blend of omega fatty acids and chelated minerals.

For the most part, proponents of wild ingredient products believe the ideal diet is the pre-agricultural diet on which a species evolved. They say such diets contain the foods that best suit the species' digestive and metabolic systems and are least likely of all foods to cause an allergic reaction.

Here are some of a few manufacturer’s statements made in response to the on-line magazine’s inquiry:

An early example of wild petfood marketing is the Evolution Diet Pet Food Corp., which started in 1987. It's not typical of most wild petfoods in that the products are vegetarian. I remain confused, because I believe in the carnivore concept, but the company apparently insisted that it would be included in the magazine's article. Founder and CEO Eric Weisman says he founded the company after examining what went into conventional petfoods and deciding he wanted a "better alternative" for his own pets. His dogs and cats were having health issues he thought were related to the ingredients in conventional petfoods. Weisman worked with Darwin Brightsman, PhD, an animal nutritionist, to formulate Evolution Diet Pet Food products. At the time, Weisman was a physician in private practice using vitamin, botanical, nutraceutical and nutrition therapy for people. Weisman notes he is still using "state-of-the-art combinations" of vitamins, herbs and nutraceuticals developed to treat joint, vascular and other diseases in sick pets at the Evolution Diet Rescue facility, which he has operated in St. Paul, Minnesota, USA, since 1987.

Merrick, maker of Before Grain products, asserts that dogs and cats do better when fed grain free diets. This is, they say, what nature intended. The company says a diet based primarily on fresh meat, blue fruit, nutrient-dense vegetables and high-quality meat contributes to better health and longevity. Ingredients used include buffalo, beef, chicken, salmon, turkey and tripe. Merrick points out enthusiastically that Before Grain products contain acai, an Amazon palm berry, and blueberries. Freeze dried acai berries and blueberries are "carefully added to the kibble after the cooking process." Merrick contends these "super blue fruits" are high in antioxidants and anthocyanins.
"Years of domestication have turned pets from fierce predators to best friends," contends Taste of the Wild Pet Foods. "However, modern science proves that dogs and cats still share the DNA of the wolf or wild cat.

Taste of the Wild Brand Dog and Cat Food offers pets a diet dictated by genes. It allows pet owners to provide their pets the kind of natural, balanced diet that they could find in the wild."

Canidae All Natural Pet Foods offers grain-free formulas for dogs and cats. Most contain 80% protein and 20% fruits and vegetables, "designed to increase energy levels." The products contain no corn, wheat, soy, grain fractions, glutens or fillers, says the company.

Those who market wild-ingredient products believe the ideal diet is a pre-agricultural diet. This diet, they say, contains the foods that best suit digestive and metabolic systems and are least likely to cause an allergic reaction. It's an appealing idea, but the jury is still out.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Treating Arthritis in Dogs with Hyaluronic Acid

A few days ago, within my comment “Pre-programmed disaster: People medication may kill your pet” I talked among other things about dogs with joint problems, what to do about them and which supplements may be helpful. I usually do not like to promote products, which we are selling in our on-line store on this blog, but this one is something I want to bring to every dog owner’s attention:

Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a joint health supplement for Cats and Dogs. It helps eliminate your pet's joint pain and let them enjoy the other anti aging benefits of HA such as increased mobility, softer, healthier coat and skin, faster wound healing and clearer vision with healthier eyes. It is an easy to administer oral dietary supplement, taste and odorless, proven to be safe and effective.

Did you know that one out of every four pets suffer from arthritis or other type of joint disorder? This is unfortunate because your pet cannot tell you when and if they hurt. It can be difficult to know when your pet is in pain. However, we do know that pain perception is common to both humans and animals, so observing your pet's behavior is the key to recognizing possible discomforts. Nobody knows your pet like you do. You are the most important element when it comes to recognizing joint problems in your pet. Are they slow to move? Do they tire easily or have difficulty climbing stairs? Are they sensitive to touch and become aggressive? If any of these symptoms are recognizable in your pet, your pet may be experiencing some type of joint disorder and HA may help.

Oral HA can be used for overall joint health and relief from arthritis, bursitis, hip dysplasia, osteochondrosis (OCD) and other degenerative problems with the shoulders, elbows and hocks. It is the important component of synovial fluid and is responsible for the lubrication and shock absorption in the joints and tissues.

HA is a special compound that exists naturally in animals. It is one of the most heavily researched substances in medicine today with thousands of clinical trials mostly in the fields of orthopedics and eye surgery. Its function in the body is, amongst other things, to lubricate movable parts such as joints and muscles by restoring the amount and viscosity of synovial fluid. It is found most abundant in skin tissue to preserve moisture in the skin and regulate tissue permeation and transport of nutrients between the cells skin making it a great wound healing and moisturizing agent. Numerous medical studies have proven HA to be effective in relieving joint disorder in horses and humans. HA restores proper lubrication, joints are less stiff and pets regain full movement.

In all mammals, HA is found in the soft connective tissue and the synovial joint fluid (the fluid secreted by the lining of the joint to nourish and lubricate the joint). HA is a polysaccharide composed of repeating units of N-acetyl-glucosamine and D-glucuronic acid.The main source of HA is rooster combs but another important source of HA is microorganisms grown through a fermentation process. In humans, HA is found in the soft connective tissue and the synovial joint fluid (the fluid secreted by the lining of the joint to nourish and lubricate the joint).

The chemical name is Sodium Hyaluronate (COO Na) (CH2OH). HA, a glycosaminoglycan, can exist in the following forms depending on the chemical environment in which it is found. As the acid, hyaluronic acid; and as the sodium salt, sodium hyaluronate. It is composed of repeating sub units of D-glucuronic acid and N-acetyl-D-glucosamine linked together by glycosidic bonds.

Before using HA you need to ask yourself the following questions:
Is Your Pet Mature? Most dogs and cats mature at the age of one or two years. Larger breeds of dogs mature faster. If your pet has any of the symptoms on this page, or has been diagnosed with any of the conditions listed, you owe it to them to try the latest breakthrough in joint and health maintenance.
Is Your Pet Overweight? It may be due to lack of exercise caused in part by discomfort. Relief will most likely dictate rejuvenation of your pet's natural incentive for exercise.
Is Your Pet's breed more susceptible to one of these conditions? Larger breeds of dogs mature faster and therefore are prone to developing certain conditions in their 2nd and third years. Using HA may prevent the onset of certain conditions listed here by maintaining a healthy amount of synovial fluid in the system.

An increasing number of animal owners and veterinarians are reporting of the many benefits of HA. Some veterinarians using HA have reported results within 3 to 4 days! Dr. Williams Jones, DVM, claims: “We tried the products on 12 dogs that varied in size from 10 to 86 pounds. All the patients that were in this limited study were dogs that had radiographic verficiation, physical signs and symptoms of hip dysplasia or osteoarthritis. All the patients's activity levels were increased following administration of both products. Six out of 12 showed excellent activity levels within 3 days of administration of HA. Four out of 12 patients showed dramatic levels of jumping ability; two out of 12 showed moderate levels of activity after receiving HA. Based on this limited study, I would conclude that in my professional opinion, HA is a product that I would recommend to my clients for use in their pets with hip dysplasia and/or osteoarthritis. In fact, I'm afraid to take my own dogs off HA.”

Recognizing the Signs and SymptomsArthritis is a degenerative disease that involves the deterioration of joint cartilage. This disease often affects many joints leading to pain, stiffness and decreased mobility. With these conditions, your pet's quality of life is decreased.
The key in preventing arthritis is to become aware of the signs and symptoms that your pet may exhibit as part of an arthritic condition. Becoming familiar with the signs and symptoms of joint disorder will help you to begin treatment early, thereby preventing irreversible damage to your pet’s body.
The key is to look for a change of behavior in your pet. Since arthritis is a progressive condition that manifests itself over time, the signs of pain become more apparent as the condition becomes more severe. They include decreased activity, a reluctance to walk, run, jump or play, lagging behind on walks, stiffness, limping, difficulty rising from a resting position, soreness when touched, acting aggressive or withdrawn and exhibiting other personality changes.

Recognizing ArthritisHave you noticed any of the following in your pet's behavior: Was he/she slow getting up from a resting position? Did he/she have trouble getting in the car or up the stairs? Was he/she much slower on recent walks? How long has this condition been going on?
Unfortunately, pets can't tell their owners if and where they hurt. So it can be difficult to know when your pet is in pain. However, we do know that pain perception is common to both humans and animals, so a guideline to follow is, if you think a activity would cause you discomfort, you can assume it may be the same for your pet. Therefore it is good for you to know the facts:
Arthritis is a degenerative disease that involves the deterioration of joint cartilage. This disease often affects many joints leading to pain, stiffness and decreased mobility. With these conditions, your pet's quality of life is decreased. Arthritis is a progressive disease. Left untreated, irreversible damage can occur which can prevent your pet from participating in everyday activities such as walking and running.
The key in preventing arthritis is to become aware of the signs and symptoms that your pet may exhibit as part of an arthritic condition. This familiarity with the signs and symptoms of arthritis will help you to begin treatment early, thereby preventing irreversible damage to your pet's body.
Arthritis affects 30% of dogs and cats. This is underestimated because these are just the actual cases that have been diagnosed and reported. Most cases never get diagnosed because most pet owners pass off the signs as of arthritis as "old age" when in fact it is most likely arthritis. Arthritis is not specific to certain breeds or discipline. Small animals of all age, size and breeds are affected equally. Arthritis is the number one chronic pain condition treated by veterinarians.

Preventing Joint ProblemsOlder pets have a variety of lameness problems due to a number of environmental stressors, but you can help prevent some of these stresses by: Avoiding obesity, quick changes in duration or intensity of exercise, hard and unstable ground surfaces and feeding a diet high in protein and other nutrients. Joints can never heal or become stronger without proper nutrition.

Summing it up, treatment of joint injuries can be very difficult. Pet owners should become very familiar with recognizing joint disorders in their pets. Because joint problems are progressive, treating early can give your pet a better chance at getting back to their normal activities such as walking and running. If treatment is not started early, often times injury to the joint is far past repair and it is quite likely that the animal will never regain normal movement. If any of these symptoms are recognizable in your pet, your pet may be experiencing some type of joint disorder and HA may help.
HyaFlex™ Oral Hyaluronic Acid Dietary Joint Health Supplement for Cats and Dogs

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Pet Food ingredients de-mystified: The healing properties of garlic

Ward Johnson of Sojourner Farms and producer of Sojos natural dog food products reports on his website:
“Technology can be a dangerous thing. For example, we’ve had a couple of people call and say that they read on the internet that garlic is harmful to pets. Garlic? Harmful to pets? Are we talking about the same garlic that’s been used by holistic vets for decades as a natural flea treatment and antioxident? Okay, we admit – garlic can be harmful to pets, and people for that matter. Then again, so can water. Allow us to explain.

Garlic (Allium sativum) has been used for thousands of years for medicinal purposes. Sanskrit records show its medicinal use about 5,000 years ago, and it has been used for at least 3,000 years in Chinese medicine. The Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks, and Romans were known to have harnessed the healing properties of garlic as well. According to the Whole Dog Journal, small amounts of garlic not only act as a natural flea repellant, but garlic can be used for its wonderful antifungal and antibacterial properties. It also promotes the production of white blood cells thereby acting as an immune booster for dogs with low or compromised immunity and may benefit dogs with diabetes by helping reduce blood-sugar levels.

What makes garlic so great for dog health problems? Allicin appears to be the active component in the root bulb (cloves) of the garlic plant which trigger its healing properties. Allicin is formed when alliin, a sulfur-containing amino acid, comes into contact with the enzyme alliinase when raw garlic is chopped, crushed, or chewed. Heating garlic will lessen the medicinal capabilities, but naturally dehydrating it won’t. That is to say the garlic used in a nutritional supplement, or garlic found in one of our pet food mixes is simply raw garlic that has been crushed and dehydrated.

Despite its healing qualities, Garlic contains a compound named thiosulphate. In extremely high levels thiosulphate can be a dangerous toxin that cause hemolytic anemia in dogs. But we’re not talking about garlic dog treats, supplemental garlic, or healthy table scraps that may have included fresh garlic in the recipe. We’re talking about situations where your pet sniffs out several bulbs of garlic you were about to use for a giant batch of homemade spaghetti sauce for the whole neighborhood and winds up eating 50 cloves in one sitting. We repeat . . . it would take up to 50 cloves for garlic to be harmful to your dog! 50 cloves of garlic wouldn’t be a good idea for anyone, let alone your dog. In the event that your dog did get into a basket of garlic cloves, the symptoms of hemolytic anemia can develop within a few hours or a few days. Signs include vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, depression, and loss of appetite. If you see these symptoms in your pet and you're missing a lot of cloves of garlic, call your vet.

The bottom line there is that dogs and cats can get into many things around the house that are toxic if consumed in large quantities. But, when used in moderation, garlic can be a healthy supplement. According to Charlie Fox, the co-author of The Garlic Cure (McCleery & Sons, 2002), garlic can be used to stimulate and support immune function, trigger gastric juices for better digestion, encourage the growth of friendly bacteria, and prevent infections. He’s seen garlic reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer as well as improve blood sugar regulation and promote detoxification.”
Contribution by Ward Johnson, Founder & Owner of Sojourner Farms, the maker of
Sojos natural dog food products. Ward feels good adding garlic to some of his products because of the natural health benefits (and taste benefits!) and he assures you garlic is not being added to his homemade dog food in toxic amounts. Sojos lists ingredients according to the guidelines in order from highest quantity to lowest so you can tell when you see garlic near the end, it’s being added in moderation to take advantage of its healing properties, while still being far lower than toxic levels. For more information on Sojos natural dog food and natural dog treats, with or without garlic, please visit us online.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Pre-programmed disaster: People medication may kill your pet

Unfortunately pets get ill from time to time. What ever the reasons are, whether it is life long feeding the wrong diet or other circumstances, these reasons today shall not be the subject of my comment. As the headline suggests I want to go into a little different direction.
This one pet owner wrote to Dr. Michael Fox in the Palm Beach Post’s pet column the other day:
“I have a 10 year old pit bull mastiff mix. He is on a daily dose of glucosamine for his joints. On cold mornings he is really stiff. Is it ok to occasionally give him an Advil?”
Joint problems unfortunately are common with heavy large breeds like in this example bull mastiffs. That the owner wants to ease the pain is understandable and I commend her for her best intentions.
About the glucosamine: Dr. Susan Baker, D.V.M, answered another pet owner in the same column: “One glucosamine tablet will not hurt your dog. Glucosamine is a nutraceutical*. It can be purchased without a prescription at regular human pharmacies.” (Comment: Why send her to the human pharmacy? Go where she belongs for that, the pet supply store or the vet, this way she will not get tempted or talked into buying the wrong stuff.)
Dr. Baker continued: “You can think of it like a vitamin in your dog’s joints. It helps nourish and support the cartilage (sponge white stuff at the end of the bones) and joint fluid. The joint fluid is important to keep the joint moving freely. Think of your dog’s arthritic joints like a rusty hinge on a door frame. If we put grease on the rusty hinge the door will open better. Glucosamine does a similar thing to your dog’s joints. The big thing about glucosamine is that it needs to be taken at least six weeks daily to see results and then continued for life. Not all glucosamine supplements are equivalent. Stick to good quality supplements and ask your vet to recommend the right one for your pet.” (Comment: Or instead of asking your vet ask knowledgeable pet food supply store reps for their advise, it’s going to cost you a lot less money and there is a huge number of good quality products available to you without having to go the prescription route.)
Sorry I wandered away from the actual topic, but joint problems and glucosamine are a very common issue and it just offered itself to talk about it briefly. Coming back to the “Advil woman”: I could write and bring up plenty more of similar questions and inquiries. It amazes me how many pet owners are under the impression that people medicine will do the trick on their companion animals as well. It is bad enough that we live in a time where it is all too common that illness and diseases are being treated with some type of remedy rather than finding the actual cause and eliminating that. It is worse that some people even think like the mastiff owner. And these are only the pet owners wondering about what they are doing. I wonder how many are out there putting their animals on a human medication regiment without even talking about it and thinking it is totally ok. Well, here is what I read on a pet insurance company’s** website about those “treatments”:

“As pet owners, we dread seeing our furry friends suffer pain. It’s natural to want to ease your pet’s pain if he’s experiencing illness or discomfort. But before you act, you must be aware that common medications used for adults and even children can be toxic and even fatal to your pet.

In fact, animal poisoning by drugs is the most common type of small-animal poison exposure, according the American Veterinary Medical Association. This type of poisoning accounted for 75 percent of toxin exposures in 1990 and resulted in 82 fatalities.

It is always recommended that you contact your veterinarian before administering any medications to your pets. It could be the difference between life and death.

Danger Lurks in the Medicine Cabinet
While some over-the-counter medications are used to treat cats and dogs, the dose is critical, says Dr. David Reinhard, a consulting veterinarian for VPI Pet Insurance. “There is often a fine line between the effective dose and the toxic dose in cats and dogs,”

Reinhard says. Below is a list of some of the most dangerous drugs for cats and dogs.

Tylenol: Acetaminophen, the active ingredient in this pain reliever, is very toxic in cats, Reinhard warns. The drug interferes with oxygen uptake in the blood of cats and can result in death if not treated promptly. Acetaminophen (also used in Excedrin and other aspirin-free drugs) can be used in dogs, but the dose is key. Consult with your veterinarian. Acetaminophen overdose in dogs can cause severe liver damage. As few as two regular-strength pills can cause overdose in dogs.
Aspirin: This drug is also very toxic to cats except in a very low dose. At times, veterinarians will use aspirin as an anticoagulant for cats with heart disease, Reinhard says. This should only be done under a veterinarian’s supervision, as aspirin can be fatal. Dogs can tolerate this drug, and veterinarians will sometimes recommend it for use as a pain reliever. Chronic use of the drug produce side effects such as gastrointestinal bleeding.
Ibuprofen: This is the active ingredient in over-the-counter medications such as Advil, Motrin and other NSAIDS such as Aleve. This drug is never recommended for cats or dogs. “There are many drugs available specifically for dogs that relieve chronic pain and loss of function from arthritis,” Reinhard says.

“There is often a fine line between the effective dose and the toxic dose in cats and dogs.”

Safe Options
There are some over-the-counter medicines that are safe to use on your pet, according to Reinhard. While these are some common medicines that can be safe for your pet, it is very important that you consult your veterinarian for dosage instructions.
Imodium: This drug can be used to treat diarrhea in dogs and cats. Collies are prone to toxicity from this product, so it shouldn’t be used to treat that particular breed. If the treatment is not effective within 48 hours, stop using it, Reinhard advises.
Metamucil: This can be used as a bulk laxative and stool softener in dogs and cats. It is also used to treat fiber responsive diarrhea. However, if your pet is suffering from an intestinal obstruction, Metamucil is not recommended.

What to Do If Your Pet Is Poisoned
If you suspect that your pet has been poisoned by a medication, call your veterinarian immediately. If your veterinarian is not available, call one of these animal poison hot lines. There is often a charge with these services, but paying a minimal fee could save your pet’s life.
As a precaution, dog owners might want to keep Ipecac syrup on hand. The drug is used to induce vomiting in case of accidental poisoning of dogs. It is not recommended for cats. Cat owners should use 3 percent hydrogen peroxide as an alternative. However, you should not induce vomiting in your pet without first consulting a veterinarian; you might do more harm than good, Reinhard says
Pets Are Different
Though we like to think of our pets as part of the family, the simple fact is, their bodies are not like ours. Medicines that we use all the time to treat pain or illness can have devastating effects on our pets. Talk to your veterinarian if you have questions about any medications. Never assume a drug is safe for your pet.”

I hope this is a wake-up call for the pet owners addressed above.

*Nutraceutical, according to
Wikipedia, is “a portmanteau of nutrition and pharmaceutical, refers to extracts of foods claimed to have a medicinal effect on human health. traditionally the nutraceutical was contained in a medicinal format such as a capsule, tablet or powder in a prescribed dose, although more modern Nutraceuticals such as Probiotic drinks and yogurt are now found in ordinary supermarkets alongside normally everyday versions of the product. More rigorously, nutraceutical implies that the extract or food is demonstrated to have a physiological benefit or provide protection against a chronic disease. Functional foods are defined as being consumed as part of a usual diet but are demonstrated to have physiological benefits and/or reduce the risk of chronic disease beyond basic nutritional functions.”
VPI (Veterinary Pet Insurance) Health Zone “Protect Your Pet from Toxic Medications - What’s Safe for You Could Be Deadly To Your Pet”

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Raw food, a scary thing?

Phoebe Kerr towards the end of last year expressed her opinion about raw feeding on Natural under the following headline: “Feeding raw: Taking Your Pets Health into Your Own Hands” Here’s what she had to say:

“For many, the discussion of feeding your pet a raw food diet can be a scary thing. There is so much work and knowledge that is involved, not to mention all the health factors to take into consideration for both you and your pet. Or at least this is what your vet and mainstream media may lead you to believe. If it doesn't come in a bag with feeding instructions on the back then can it really be trusted? There may be feeding instructions but there is also generally a list a mile long of ingredients and without a PhD in Veterinary Nutrition you would be lucky to know the purpose of half of those ingredients.With the veterinary field booming because of illnesses such as diabetes, thyroid disease, obesity, dental disease and a slew of other issues it is time for people to take their pets health back into their own hands. Veterinarians are just like doctors, they make money by keeping their patients sick. Whether or not they are doing this intentionally is a different story, but they are keeping their patients sick. If you ask a vet what pet food they would recommend after they tell you your pet has three teeth that need to be removed due to dental disease, they would generally recommend a kibble or wet food that they also sell at their clinic. If your pet is obese they tell you to cut calories. Who can sit there and watch their poor animal, their responsibility, pout and beg for food because they are hungry? There are some enlightened veterinarians and technicians out there but for the most part they repeat what the pet food reps told them.Raw food diets are a way to get your pet back to a simpler way of eating. Dogs are omnivores, cats are obligate carnivores and they require species specific food. Dogs benefit from a diet of predominantly raw meats. They do not need grains in their diet. Vegetable nutrients are best absorbed through pulverized vegetables, which can be achieved by using a high-speed blender to make them vegetable juice, consisting mostly of fresh greens, or giving them tripe. Dogs do not have the required teeth for grinding plant material making it difficult for them to get the nutrients and enzymes out of whole vegetables and greens. Cats need meat; their little systems are designed to eat meat. Their teeth are designed for slicing through meat and breaking small bones. Cats do not have any flat teeth for grinding herbaceous material.

One of the major areas of concern when giving your pet raw meat is parasites, bacteria and salmonella. If you are conscious of the type of meat you are buying, parasites should not be a problem. Make sure that you are purchasing meats from a reputable source and if you can afford organic grass fed that is an even better choice. Not everyone that wants to feed raw can afford the cost of organic however, so when you are milling through the meat aisle trying to find meat for your dog, make sure to look at the nutrition labels. The reason is because it is very important to take notice of the salt content. Salt water is pumped into some meat as a preservative. High sodium levels are indicative of meat that has been packaged with preservation being the main concern. Another thing to remember if you are unable to feed organic is a lot of meat companies use radiation to preserve their meat. If you can find a local farmer or raw food co-op that would be your best bet. Even if they aren't getting organic product you are going to be getting a higher quality of meat, especially if you know the farmer. There are also a lot of internet sites that meat can be ordered from, although this option can become very expensive unless you are doing bulk orders. Salmonella and bacteria are more of a concern for yourself then for your pet. A dog's digestive system is much shorter than that of humans and also becomes very acidic when food is introduced to it. The stomach acid kills off any bacteria that may be present on the meat. Dogs should not be fed pork or fish products to prevent parasite exposure. When preparing your pets food make sure you clean up your area and clean any other service the raw meat touches. This may sound like a lot of work but it really isn't.

Another concern for many people is stomach or intestine perforation. This is a valid concern but the chances aren't any higher than your pet choking on food (whether it be junk kibble, super premium kibble, home prepared food or a raw food). Everyone that has a dog or cat has heard at one point or another "chicken bones are dangerous." Well this is true when you are referring to cooked chicken bones. Cooked chicken bones are brittle and rigid making the chance of breakage higher if consumed by your pet. When cooked chicken bones break they can form sharp ends that have the potential to puncture a pet's intestinal wall. This is not to say that just cooked chicken bones are dangerous, any cooked bone is dangerous for your pet, even the smoked bones they sell at the pet store for chewing purposes. Raw bones are a completely different story. There is that chance of perforation, but it is a much smaller chance. Dogs systems are designed to process these bones. Softer bones are best for consumption but a lot of people also feed recreational bones, such as marrow (soup) bones, to keep their pet busy or to promote dental hygiene.

This is a very broad topic with many different points to cover. Raw food has many benefits for your pet. The same holds true for pets as it does for people, "you are what you eat." Pets just have different requirements. By giving your pet a chicken wing or leg a day you will help promote a healthy lifestyle, more energy, healthy coat, pristine teeth and smaller bowel movements just to name a few. There is also the potential to turn your pet's health issues around by putting them on a more natural diet. They are not little people and do not benefit from grains, legumes, beet pulp (watch out this is probably GM now), sugars, or any of the chemical preservatives that can be found in a generic bag of chow. If you wouldn't eat it yourself, why would you feed it to your pets?”

As you all know, in a lot of areas I share the author's opinion. And after all, feeding raw doesn't sound scary to me but makes a lot of sense. And that's really all I have and want to say today.

Contributed by
Phoebe Kerr for Natural, a site, which describes itself as follows: “The NaturalNews Network is a non-profit collection of public education websites covering topics that empower individuals to make positive changes in their health, environmental sensitivity, consumer choices and informed skepticism. The NaturalNews Network is owned and operated by Truth Publishing International, Ltd., a Taiwan corporation. It is not recognized as a 501(c)3 non-profit in the United States, but it operates without a profit incentive, and its key writer, Mike Adams, receives absolutely no payment for his time, articles or books other than reimbursement for items purchased in order to conduct product reviews. The vast majority of our content is freely given away at no charge. We offer thousands of articles and dozens of downloadable reports and guides (like the Honest Food Guide) that are designed to educate and empower individuals, families and communities so that they may experience improved health, awareness and life fulfillment. To respect our readers, the NaturalNews Network refuses to engage in pop-up ads, pop-under ads, interstitial ads, spamming practices or other annoying content. We focus on providing empowering content for intelligent readers. The NaturalNews Network is not for sale, and does not accept money to cover any story (or to spike it). We are what the news industry used to be, before it sold out to big business. We have no particular religious affiliation and are considered religion-neutral. We also have no particular political affiliation and do not endorse political candidates."