Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘pet nutrition’

In Part 1 of “Is there a grain of truth behind the health claims of grain-free pet foods?” we waded into the debate over a popular trend in the pet food marketplace. We discussed what grains are good for and why grain-free pet foods have become favored among pet owners. We reviewed your pet’s 6 basic nutritional needs. And we defined gluten as a mixture of proteins found in grains such as wheat, barley, brewer’s yeast, and rye.

Now, we’ll go a bit deeper, and answer the question, “Should you change your pet’s food?”

First big question: Do pets experience gluten intolerance? Cats – never. Dogs – almost never (it’s only been proven in one particular line of Irish Setters!)

Second big question: Don’t grains cause food allergies? Perhaps, but those instances are far less common than allergies to animal-sourced proteins. The most common culprits in food allergies are chicken, beef, and dairy proteins.

The bottom line, according to Kara Burns, an expert in pet nutrition, is that grain-free pet foods are no more beneficial than a pet food with grains.

Bonus big question: Should you switch your pet back to a grainy diet? Not necessarily. Consider whether your pet’s nutritional needs are otherwise being met by the diet of your choice.

Are your pet’s skin and furcoat healthy? Poor health can look like this:

  • red, inflamed skin
  • skin sores
  • large, flaky dandruff
  • odor
  • fur loss
  • itchy skin
  • chronically irritated or infected ears

Does your pet maintain a healthy weight? Poor health can look like this: 

  • obesity (cannot feel ribs; no definition of waist from above, or between chest and belly when viewed from the side
  • underweight (prominent ribs, spine, and hip bones)

Does your pet have a healthy gut? Poor health can look like this: 

  • flatulence (gas)
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea or chronically soft stools

The symptoms listed above may indicate that your pet’s food is not providing the proper nutrients, or perhaps your pet is unable to digest and utilize the nutrients provided. Of course, other disease processes can cause the same symptoms; your pet’s veterinarian is the best source of information.

So while feeding a grain-free diet may not be necessary to maintain your pet’s good health, it can be adequate as long as your pet’s nutritional needs are being met. If your pet digests the food well and is healthy, there is not a pressing need to change diets. The biggest change you might notice, however, is that grain-free diets can cost more than traditional pet food.

*This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, or recommend treatment for any condition or disease. Your veterinarian is the best source of information about your pet’s health.

This article is based on the peer-reviewed article researched and written by Kara M. Burns, MS, MEd, LVT, VTS — “Grain-Free Pet Foods: Fact vs. Fiction” published in Veterinary Team Brief, Vol. 5, No. 2.

Read more from PetMD.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Like many pet owners, you may have spent hours researching the best food for your pets, as well as the variety of brands available. You may have discovered that pet food manufacturers have become experts at marketing — they have to, in order to stand out in a packed market. Sometimes, those marketing efforts become confusing to the consumer.

Today, we’re going to wade into the deep waters of pet nutrition and discuss grains and grain-free pet food.

Fact: Whole grains are a healthy source of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, essential fatty acids, and protein.

Fact: Grains help keep calories and fat at lower levels in pets foods, according to the Pet Nutrition Alliance (PNA).

Fact: According to the PNA, “Grains provide a good source of fiber, which promotes normal bowel function, maintains the health of the [gastrointestinal] tract, and helps in the management of certain diseases [such as diabetes mellitus and colitis.] 

Let’s review your pet’s basic nutritional needs. Dogs and cats need the following six nutrients in some form:  

  • water
  • vitamins
  • minerals
  • carbohydrates
  • fat
  • protein

Notice that carbohydrates are on the list of basic nutritional needs. Since “carbs” are a necessary part of your pet’s diet (they provide energy), pet food must contain an ingredient which provides this important nutrient. When a pet food manufacturer removes grains as the source of carbohydrates, it must be replaced with something else. Sometimes, the substitution is potatoes, sweet potatoes, or cassava. Other substitutions are beans, peas, or lentils. None of the substitutions are substantially better for your pet than grains, and some may provide less fiber, fewer nutrients, or even cause gastrointestinal problems (vomiting, diarrhea, flatulence.)

Definition: Gluten is a mixture of proteins found in wheat, barley, brewer’s yeast, and rye. (Source)

So how did the grain-free / gluten-free idea show up in pet food? As with other trends in animal health (antioxidants, glucosamine supplements, probiotics), grain-free diets are a carry-over from human health needs. The grain-free diet follows on the heels of an effective celiac disease / gluten intolerance awareness campaign. Relatively few people actually have celiac disease, requiring them to abstain from grains, yet many people (who are unaffected) have applied this diet restriction to themselves. Since pet owners are more conscientious than ever about what they feed their pets, the grain-free trend has shown up in pet food.

Pet food manufacturers are constantly monitoring trends to give the consumer what he or she wants. Does this mean the pet is getting something it needs? Not necessarily. The pet food companies are in the business of selling food. These days, that means hopping on hot topics in order to differentiate themselves in a crowded market. And although pets have been shown to benefit from antioxidants, glucosamine, and probiotics, there is “no credible evidence…showing grain-free diets are better for pets, nor do any nutritional foundations support this claim,” according to veterinary nutrition expert Kara M. Burns.

[End of part 1]

Coming up next: Part 2 – Is there a grain of truth behind the health claims of grain-free pet foods? And should you change your pet’s diet?

This article is based on the peer-reviewed article researched and written by Kara M. Burns, MS, MEd, LVT, VTS — “Grain-Free Pet Foods: Fact vs. Fiction” published in Veterinary Team Brief, Vol. 5, No. 2.

Read Full Post »

Every year, around Turkey Time (that’s Thanksgiving and Christmas), pets are rushed to the emergency room with a sudden onset of illness after sharing the family meal.

So what’s wrong with all those animals?

The answer: acute pancreatitis.

[How do you say that word? Try this: pan-cree-uh-tie-tis.]

The pancreas is a V-shaped abdominal organ that produces digestive enzymes and insulin. (Insulin regulates blood sugar. A lack, or insufficient quantity, of insulin results in diabetes.) 

Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas, in which the organ essentially digests itself via the enzymes it produces.

(More info below — keep scrolling!)

[Pets Best Insurance reveals bizarre
holiday-related pet insurance claims – click here!]

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

What causes acute pancreatitis?
Common causes are:

  • high-fat diets (long-term)
  • singular high-fat meal (like meat trimmings)
  • obesity
  • infection
  • blockage of the pancreatic duct
  • abdominal injury or surgery
  • hyperstimulation by certain drugs and venom

Because of the high fat content of many holiday feasts, pets that are fed from the table are at serious risk of becoming gravely ill. In some cases, pancreatitis will be fatal.

We recommend feeding your pet its own food prior to mealtime, to make it less likely to beg. If you or your guests are tempted to share food with Fluffy and Fang, we recommend moving your pets to a separate area of the house during mealtime and after-dinner cleanup.

Let your guests know that your pets are on a strict diet and cannot have table food. If you have to – blame the vet! We’re always happy to play wet blanket when it comes to giving pets unnecessary – and even harmful – treats.

Symptoms of pancreatitis
Watch for:

  • abdominal pain
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • fever
  • weakness
  • depression
  • collapse from shock

How do you know if a pet is experiencing abdominal pain?
Look for these signs:

  • restlessness
  • panting
  • trembling
  • hunched-up posture
  • “praying” posture
  • resting on cool surfaces
  • vocal or physical response to touch (on the belly)

Which types of dogs or cats are most at risk of pancreatitis?
Normally, in this type of article, I list the age span, breeds, and gender of dog or cat most commonly affected by the disorder. I am not going to do that in this post for one specific reason: I do not wish to give any pet owner the impression that his or her pet is “safe” from pancreatitis and can join in the family meal. We just don’t recommend it for any pet.

Take Action
If you believe your cat or dog may have pancreatitis (even at a non-holiday time of year), take him to the nearest Veterinary Emergency Hospital. Immediate intervention in a critical care setting will give your pet the best chance at recovery.

Remember: some cases of pancreatitis can be deadly, so prevention and early intervention are key to your pet’s good health.

*****************************************************************
Resources for this article include:
Instructions for Veterinary Clients
Saunders Comprehensive Veterinary Dictionary
Saunders Manual of Small Animal Practice
The 5 Minute Veterinary Consult
*****************************************************************
This article was originally posted on November 12, 2012.

Read Full Post »

Every year, around Turkey Time (that’s Thanksgiving and Christmas), pets are rushed to the emergency room with a sudden onset of illness after sharing the family meal. So what’s going on with all those animals?

The answer is: acute pancreatitis.

[How do you say that word?  Try this: pan-cree-uh-tie-tis]

The pancreas is a V-shaped abdominal organ that produces digestive enzymes and insulin. (Insulin regulates blood sugar. A lack, or insufficient quantity, of insulin results in diabetes.) 

Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas, in which the organ essentially digests itself via the enzymes it produces.

[Where did pancreatitis rank in VPI’s pet insurance claims in 2011? Click here to find out.]

What causes acute pancreatitis?
Common causes are:

  • high-fat diets (long-term)
  • singular high-fat meal (like meat trimmings)
  • obesity
  • infection
  • blockage of the pancreatic duct
  • abdominal injury or surgery
  • hyperstimulation by certain drugs and venom

Because of the high fat content of many holiday feasts, pets that are fed from the table are at serious risk of becoming gravely ill. In some cases, pancreatitis will be fatal.

We recommend feeding your pet its own food prior to mealtime, to make it less likely to beg. If you or your guests are tempted to share food with Fluffy and Fang, we recommend moving your pets to a separate area of the house during mealtime and after-dinner cleanup.

Let your guests know that your pets are on a strict diet and cannot have table food. If you have to – blame the vet! We’re always happy to play wet blanket when it comes to giving pets unnecessary – and even harmful – treats.

Symptoms of pancreatitis
Watch for:

  • abdominal pain
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • fever
  • weakness
  • depression
  • collapse from shock

How do you know if a pet is experiencing abdominal pain?
Look for these signs:

  • restlessness
  • panting
  • trembling
  • hunched-up posture
  • “praying” posture
  • resting on cool surfaces
  • vocal or physical response to touch (on the belly)

Which types of pets are most at risk of pancreatitis?
Normally, in this type of article, I list the age span, breeds, and gender of dog or cat most commonly affected by the disorder. I am not going to do that in this post for one specific reason: I do not wish to give any pet owner the impression that his or her pet is “safe” from pancreatitis and can join in the family meal. We just don’t recommend it for any pet.

Take Action
If you believe your cat or dog may have pancreatitis (even at a non-holiday time of year), take him to the nearest Veterinary Emergency Hospital. Immediate intervention in a critical care setting will give your pet the best chance at recovery.

Remember: some cases of pancreatitis can be deadly, so prevention and early intervention are key to your pet’s good health.

VPI Holiday poster

************************************************************************************************
Resources:
Instructions for Veterinary Clients
Saunders Comprehensive Veterinary Dictionary
Saunders Manual of Small Animal Practice
The 5 Minute Veterinary Consult

*************************************************************************************************

This article was originally posted on November 19, 201 2.

Read Full Post »

P1080409

What is arthritis?
Arthritis
is a general term for abnormal changes in a joint. These changes occur when cartilage is worn away faster than it can be replaced. Cartilage acts as a cushion to protect the bones. When it wears away, joints become swollen and painful.

Although arthritis is not curable, the good news is that nutrition can help manage the disease, improve mobility and ease the pain. With the right nutrition and care from your veterinarian, your pet should be able to enjoy an active, healthy life for many years to come.

What causes arthritis?
Age
…As pets get older, cartilage will begin to degenerate. Many senior dogs suffer from arthritis to some degree.

Breed…Large breeds are more prone to arthritis. These include Labradors, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds and Rottweilers.

Excess weight…Weight gain puts extra stress on the joints, which can lead to arthritis.

Accidents and damage…Joints can deteriorate as a result of stress or trauma caused by an accident.

Congenital defects…Some pets are born with conditions that make arthritis more likely in later life.

Infection…Occasionally, an infection can lead to the destruction of joint tissue and cartilage.

Does my pet have arthritis?
If your pet has arthritis, the first thing you’ll notice is that he or she finds movement difficult and is reluctant to walk, run and jump. Your pet may also yelp or flinch when touched in the affected area.

Arthritis makes it difficult to:

  • Rise from rest
  • Jump
  • Walk and run
  • Play
  • Climb stairs

If you see any of these signs in your pet, it could have arthritis, or it could have a more serious condition. Have your pet examined by the veterinarian before beginning treatment.

So, what about a diet change?
An otherwise-healthy
senior dog can safely switch to a diet containing supplemental ingredients which help reduce pain associated with arthritic changes in joints. Hill’s Prescription Diet j/d is just such a food; in fact, studies have shown its effectiveness in helping dogs improve mobility. Prescription Diet j/d can even reduce the need for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs used to counteract joint pain and inflammation.

Hill’s Prescription Diet  j/d contains elevated omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce inflammation in the joints and block the production of enzymes that destroy cartilage. Plus, added glucosamine and chondroitin provide building blocks for cartilage repair. Prescription Diet j/d also contains carnitine, which helps dogs burn fat, while maintaining lean muscle mass, since obesity is a major contributor to arthritis.

Prescription Diet j/d is available to our registered patients when recommended by Dr. Miele.

Visit www.HillsPet.com for additional information. 

The Joint Health brochure is available at our office.

*************************************************************************
Information taken from  “Joint Health,” a guide produced by Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc.

This article was originally published on October 20, 2011.

Read Full Post »

  Every year, around Turkey Time (that’s Thanksgiving and Christmas), pets are rushed to the emergency room with a sudden onset of illness after sharing the family meal. So what’s going on with all those animals?

  The answer is: acute pancreatitis.

[How do you say that word?  Try this: pan-cree-uh-tie-tis]

  The pancreas is a V-shaped abdominal organ that produces digestive enzymes and insulin. (Insulin regulates blood sugar. A lack, or insufficient quantity, of insulin results in diabetes.) 

  Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas, in which the organ essentially digests itself via the enzymes it produces.

[Where did pancreatitis rank in VPI’s pet insurance claims in 2011? Click here to find out.]

What causes acute pancreatitis?
Common causes are:

  • high-fat diets (long-term)
  • singular high-fat meal (like meat trimmings)
  • obesity
  • infection
  • blockage of the pancreatic duct
  • abdominal injury or surgery
  • hyperstimulation by certain drugs and venom

  Because of the high fat content of many holiday feasts, pets that are fed from the table are at serious risk of becoming gravely ill. In some cases, pancreatitis will be fatal.

  We recommend feeding your pet its own food prior to mealtime, to make it less likely to beg. If you or your guests are tempted to share food with Fluffy and Fang, we recommend moving your pets to a separate area of the house during mealtime and after-dinner cleanup.

  Let your guests know that your pets are on a strict diet and cannot have table food. If you have to – blame the vet! We’re always happy to play wet blanket when it comes to giving pets unnecessary – and even harmful – treats.

Symptoms of pancreatitis
Watch for:

  • abdominal pain
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • fever
  • weakness
  • depression
  • collapse from shock

How do you know if a pet is experiencing abdominal pain?
Look for these signs:

  • restlessness
  • panting
  • trembling
  • hunched-up posture
  • “praying” posture
  • resting on cool surfaces
  • vocal or physical response to touch (on the belly)

Which types of pets are most at risk of pancreatitis?
Normally, in this type of article, I list the age span, breeds, and gender of dog or cat most commonly affected by the disorder. I am not going to do that in this post for one specific reason: I do not wish to give any pet owner the impression that his or her pet is “safe” from pancreatitis and can join in the family meal. We just don’t recommend it for any pet.

Take Action
If you believe your cat or dog may have pancreatitis (even at a non-holiday time of year), take him to the nearest Veterinary Emergency Hospital. Immediate intervention in a critical care setting will give your pet the best chance at recovery.

Remember: some cases of pancreatitis can be deadly, so prevention and early intervention are key to your pet’s good health.

 

************************************************************************************************
Resources:
Instructions for Veterinary Clients
Saunders Comprehensive Veterinary Dictionary
Saunders Manual of Small Animal Practice
The 5 Minute Veterinary Consult

Read Full Post »

     

     You may already know that a sudden change in a pet’s diet can lead to vomiting or loose stools. Here is a formula for making a gradual switch, in order to prevent digestive upset in your dog or cat. (This method will require that you have some of the “old” food on hand to mix with the new.)

Days 1 & 2:  Mix 3 parts old food to 1 part new food

Days 3 & 4:  Mix old food half and half with new food

Days 5 & 6:  Mix 1 part old food to 3 parts new food

Day 7:  Feed only the new food.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »