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When it comes to picking the perfect food for your pet, the choices can seem overwhelming — especially when so many brands claim to be the one and only food you should be feeding your pet. But not all pet foods are the same — and making sense of their labels is nearly impossible without some basic guidelines.

In Part 1 of our series on pet food label claims, we’ll talk about some of the common words you’ll see on pet food labels, and we’ll tell you what they really mean.

Believe it or not, there are rules governing the words that can be used to describe pet food — and those words are linked to the contents of the food.

We’ll look at several imaginary pet food label claims, focusing on meat content.
Pet Food A is “100% chicken”
Pet Food B is “Beef entree”
Pet Food C is “Veal formula”
Pet Food D is “Salmon recipe”
Pet Food E is “Vegetables with lamb”
Pet Food F is “Venison flavor”

So how much meat does each product actually contain?
A: Anything listed as “100%” or “Full”  must be made of at least 95% of the listed ingredient. In this case, the food must be at least 95% chicken.

B/C/D: Anything described as “entree,” “formula,” “recipe,” “dinner,” or “platter” must comprise at least 25% of the listed ingredient. In our examples, beef, veal, and salmon make up at least 25% of the imaginary foods.

E: Anything following the word “with” comprises 3-24% of the food. In our example, lamb may be as little as 3% of that food.

F: Anything listed as “flavor” need only be detectable to a pet as a flavor. Our example does not need to contain a certain percentage of venison; it only needs to taste like venison.

What about words like “holistic,” “premium,” “high quality,” and “human grade”?
There are no legal or standard definitions for those words. Such descriptors are often used as marketing tools to set one company’s food apart from the others. 

However, certain claims, such as “organic” and “natural” are defined and standardized.
Look for the Organic seal on pet food, which indicates the food contains no hormones or pesticides.
Look for the word “natural” which means there have been no chemical alterations of ingredients. (Vitamins are the acceptable exception to this rule.)

Watch for Part II of our series, “How to make sense of pet food label claims.”

 

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Ho ho ho! Get ready for the holiday season with Little Creek Veterinary Clinic!

Prescription Diet Order and Delivery

The cut-off date to order your pet’s prescription diet for pre-holiday delivery is Friday, December 16th, at 4:30 PM. Final pre-holiday delivery date is Monday, December 19th.

Food deliveries will resume, post-holiday, on Monday, January 9th. Don’t get left out in the cold with no food for Fido or Fluffy — order today!

Clinic Holiday Schedule

Little Creek Veterinary Clinic will be closed on the following dates:

  • Wednesday, December 14
  • Wednesday, December 21
  • Saturday, December 24
  • Monday, December 26
  • Saturday, December 31

Client Contest Continues

Our Client Contest is running through December 19th. Click here for all the details and see how easy it is to enter!

December Rabies Boosters Now Due!

Don’t let your pet get lost in the holiday shuffle — with friends, family, and delivery people coming and going at your house, be sure your pet is up-to-date on his Rabies booster. Better safe than sorry!

Check this list of Rabies tags expiring this month. If your pet’s tag is on it, Contact Us for an appointment today.

dec-rabies-list

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Welcome to National Pet Dental Health Month!
PetDental_logoPet

A healthy mouth = a healthy pet. 

     “By the age of three, more than half of all cats and dogs are beginning to show signs of a dental problem.” – Hill’s Pet Nutrition

What is periodontal disease?
     It is a disease affecting the tissues that support the teeth and can lead to destruction of the tooth root, gums, and jaw.

What are the precursors to periodontal disease?

  • Plaque – a colorless film containing bacteria
  • Tartar – hardened plaque along the gumline
  • Gingivitis – inflammation of the gums, leading to gum disease and tooth loss

     “Infection associated with periodontal disease can be responsible for bad breath, and bacteria can enter a pet’s blood stream and spread to vital organs such as the heart, liver and kidneys.”  – Hill’s Pet Nutrition

What are contributing factors to periodontal disease?

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Breed – especially among breeds of dogs and cats with small, crowded mouths
  • Age

What signs should I look for at home?

  • Bad breath
  • Bleeding gums
  • Drooling
  • Tooth loss
  • Tartar buildup
  • Pain when eating
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Change of eating habits
  • Subdued behavior

What can I do about it?

  • Schedule your pet to get a dental exam and teeth cleaning from the veterinarian. Some pets may need the services of a veterinary dental specialist. Pets sometimes need root canals, just like people!
  • Clean your pet’s teeth after its meals, using a pet-specific toothpaste or liquid dentifrice.
  • Add Oxyfresh Pet Oral Hygiene Solution to your pet’s drinking water.
  • Feed Prescription Diet t/d to healthy adult pets. Hill’s t/d food is designed to scrub your pet’s teeth as he chews.

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Information for this article adapted from “Oral Health:  Caring for your pet” by Hill’s Pet Nutrition. Copies of the pamphlet are available at our office.

Repost from February 6, 2012.

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Feeding time at the zoo

  Is it time for a change?

There are a number of good reasons you might change the food your pet is eating, including:

  • Pet enters a new stage of life, such as going from puppy/kitten to adult to senior
  • Pet develops a food allergy
  • Pet requires a prescription diet to manage health issues, such as obesity or liver disease
  • Pet refuses to eat its regular food
  • Pet could benefit from a higher-quality food than the one it currently eats

Before changing your pet’s diet, consult with your veterinarian.
In the case of prescription diets, your pet may need to be
on a strictly measured amount, rather than free-choice feeding.

The key to making the switch is to gradually introduce the new food, in order to reduce the possibility of digestive upset. 

This is the trick to introduce a new food to your pet:

Days 1 and 2: Feed 3 parts old food and 1 part new food*

Days 3 and 4: Feed 2 parts old food and 2 parts new food (i.e. half and half)

Days 5 and 6: Feed 1 part old food and 3 parts new food

Day 7: Feed only the new food

*Be sure to calculate how much of each food to give, so that you are not overfeeding.

If your pet experiences loose stools during the transition, your veterinarian may recommend adding probiotics to the diet.

Est. 1973

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If your pet has food allergies or certain dietary restrictions, you’ve likely spent a good deal of time examining food labels to ensure no offending ingredients are present. But what if all your hard work was for naught? That seems to be the case for some un-named foods examined in a recent study by Chapman University.

Seriously...what's in there???

Seriously…what’s in there???

The pet food study found that 16 out of 52 foods tested contained a meat ingredient that was not listed on the label. And, the meat that was listed on the label was not even detectable in 7 out of the 52 samples. The study noted that the majority of labels (31 of 52) contained correct information; however the university declined to name any of the pet food brands tested.

What does the FDA require on pet food labels? Click here to find out!

The study did determine that no horsemeat was present in any of the samples. So, what’s in there? Here’s the breakdown:

  • 51 samples contained chicken
  • 35 samples contained pork
  • 34 samples contained beef
  • 32 samples contained turkey
  • 26 samples contained lamb
  • 9 samples contained goat.

This bird meat was found in only one of the samples.
Click here to find out what it is!

The study noted that pork was not mentioned on 7 out of 52 pet food labels, representing the “most common undeclared meat.” Meanwhile, the makers of 2 cat foods, 2 dog foods, and a dog treat claimed beef as an ingredient — but no beef was actually present in the sample. The study could not determine whether ingredient substitutions and omissions were accidental or intentional.

So what does this mean for pet owners? Most of us are not equipped with the sort of high-tech lab equipment needed to test our pet’s food. We’re left to research and trust the manufacturers.

But keep your eyes open. If your pet has been doing well on a particular brand, but seems to develop skin or intestinal disorders following the purchase of a new bag of the same brand of food, it could be due to a wayward undeclared ingredient.

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Here are some chances to score fame and prizes for your pets this Halloween!

Enter your pet’s photo into these costume contests and ask your friends and family to vote for your pet!

1. Blue Pearl Emergency Hospital in Virginia Beach is organizing a contest in which the winner get FREE pet food for a year! Enter on Facebook.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

 

2.  Oxyfresh is holding a costume contest in which the winner receives an iPad Mini!

 

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

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Did you know that Norfolk has a Pet Food Pantry and Pet-friendly Emergency Shelter? We’ve written about this before, but it’s worth repeating.

The Pet Pantry is administered by the Norfolk Animal Care Center (aka “animal control.”) Help is temporary and is based on financial need. Click on the Pet Pantry link to learn how to apply for membership.

One important caveat: pets must be spayed or neutered to be eligible for assistance.

If you are not in need of assistance, please consider donating unopened bags and cans of food to the Pet Pantry.

Make sure you have enough to feed them all. The Norfolk Pet Pantry can help.

Make sure you have enough to feed them all.
The Norfolk Pet Pantry can help.

Meanwhile, all this Nor’easter wind, rain, and car-killing flooding has gotten me thinking about the heavy storms of years past. Historically, a number of people who should have evacuated to emergency shelter during hurricanes, didn’t do so because they refused to leave their pets behind.

In response to this concern, Norfolk has opened Bayview Recreation Center to people evacuating with the following types of pets: dog, cat, bird, rabbit, rodent, or turtle; provided the pet can be crated and is not used for commercial purposes. Learn about the shelter’s Rules and Regs here.

Remember: don’t wait until the last minute to take action. Plan ahead and know what you’ll need in the event of an emergency evacuation with your pets.

Saving the Whole Family

Get this booklet at our clinic!

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