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Direct From Your Kitchen: Healthy Snacks For Your Dog04.15.14

by Cate Burnette, RVT

Every dog likes a snack now and then, and, as pet parents, we love giving our furry kids the treats they enjoy. But what do you do if your pooch is overweight, needs a particular diet because of health issues, or you no longer want to feed commercial treats with artificial additives? Some of the best-tasting, most nutritious treats available for dogs can come directly from your kitchen.

If your dog likes the occasional ice cube or ice cream cone, substitute cubes of frozen low-sodium chicken or beef broth as a treat. Pour the broth into an ice cube tray or small muffin tin and freeze. When you’re ready to give the treats, run the bottom of the tray under warm water to loosen the cubes, and let your pup enjoy! The protein, vitamins, and minerals in the broth make a healthy supplement to your pet’s regular diet.

Homemade treats may be the answer for pet parents wanting to keep their dogs from ingesting the additives in commercial treats. Artificial preservatives such as BHA (butylated hydroxysanisole), BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene), propyl gallate, and ethoxyquin have all been cited as creating specific problems in animals including organ failure and cancers. Recipes for homemade dog treats can be found online.

Raw or par-boiled vegetables can be a healthy alternative to store-bought treats. Carrots, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, and zucchini are rich in Vitamin A, most of the B-Complex Vitamins, and the minerals your dog needs to stay healthy as he ages.

A piece of fruit daily can replace the artificial sugars found in commercial treats with Vitamins A and C, beta-carotene, anti-oxidants, and natural plant sugars that can help your pooch retain his youthful energy. Some of those fruits include bananas, melons (pulp only), peeled and sliced apples, and blueberries.

If your dog loves commercial chews, small bites of dried meat can be a tasty, nutritious treat for your pet…and you can make them at home. Thinly slice pieces of calf or chicken liver, beef, chicken, or fish and place them in a food dehydrator until they’re totally dry and chewable. As an alternative, lay the slices on a cookie sheet and bake them in the oven for 200ºF until the meat is dried. The extra protein, iron, and minerals found in dried meats can be beneficial to your dog’s health.

Most dogs adore the occasional soft- or hard-boiled egg. This small package of pure nutrition not only tastes good to your pets, it also adds immense nutritive value to canine diets. Make sure you remove all bits of shell and leave the eggs unseasoned.

If cooking for your dog at home is just not something you have the time to do, look for all-natural treats made with fresh fruits and vegetables. Manufactured without chemical additives, DOGSTREAT Peanut Butter snacks contain no corn, wheat, or soy that can exacerbate your dog’s allergies. DOG for DOG, manufacturer of DOGSTREAT, was recently awarded the Best New Product Award at the Global Pet Expo 2014. Additionally, when you buy one bag of DOGSTREAT, another bag is donated to local and national animal shelters to help other dogs in need.

Please Note: Even though they may taste good to you, there are some foodstuffs that you should never give as treats to your dogs. Some of those foods include grapes or raisins, onions, avocado, milk products, pitted fruits including peaches and plums, and macadamia nuts. All of these products can result in stomach upset and other more serious symptoms including muscle tremors, weakness or paralysis of the hindquarters, vomiting, elevated body temperature, and rapid heart rate. ***Please seek immediate veterinary advice if your pet ingests any of these foods.

Posted in Foodwith No Comments →

Ingredients to look for when choosing dog food04.08.14

Because we love our furry family members and want them to live long and healthy lives, concentrating on their nutritional needs is an important aspect of good doggy care. Knowing what nutrients and foods work best for your dog can be a confusing and, often, contradictory task, so we have provided you a list of essential ingredients to look for in commercial dog foods. These same nutrients can be found in human food if you choose to go with a homemade diet for your dog.

Pork and chicken provides the protein necessary for all aspects of your dog’s growth and development, important components of cellular structure, and contribute to a healthy immune system. They also deliver essential amino acids not manufactured in your dog’s body, including arginine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. A deficiency in any of the amino acids can cause health problems.

Turkey contains selenium, necessary for a healthy thyroid and immune system, and Vitamins B3 and B6, needed for a healthy coat and bone growth.

Salmon and ocean fish lower cholesterol with their high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, and have been shown to help lessen the effects of canine senility in senior dogs.

Brown rice, a whole grain, provides complex carbs for energy, and fiber for intestinal health.

Oatmeal is rich in fibers, Vitamin B1, and minerals promoting bone and muscle growth.

Flax seeds are great for fiber and full of the omega-3 fatty acids that aid in cardiac health.

Eggs are the perfect blend of no carbs, high proteins, and saturated fats that can provide energy without adding unnecessary calories.

Canola oil works as a light coating for upset stomachs.

Blueberries and cranberries are full of fiber and the Vitamin C necessary for a healthy immune system.

Apples are rich in Vitamins A and C, and the mineral potassium, making them a great supplement for dogs with heart disease.

Celery is a rich source of antioxidants, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and potassium. It is known to lower blood pressure, prevent age-related vision loss, and have anti-cancer properties.

Beets are high in antioxidants and are a good source of Vitamin C and manganese. Beets are also rich in folates, an important B vitamin for a healthy heart and normal tissue growth. They also contain the essential minerals iron, potassium, and magnesium.

Parsley contains high levels of the mineral potassium that is good for the heart, is rich in calcium needed for bones, and high in the Vitamin A that encourages good eye health. Parsley also helps your dog’s breath smell better.

Spinach is high in beta-carotenes, Vitamins A and C, and the antioxidants that increase immunity from disease.

Lettuce contains good fibers for a healthy digestive tract, breaks down cholesterol in your dog’s body leading to a healthy heart, and is rich in Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.

Vitamin A encourages good eye health and works for overall skin and coat health.

Vitamin D3 is important for healthy bone formation, boosts the immune system, and promotes proper muscle and nerve control.

Vitamin B12 is essential for energy

Vitamin E works to boost the immune system and protect your dog from disease. This vitamin is essential for maintaining a healthy skin and hair coat.

Zinc promotes cell growth and replication, skin function, metabolism of proteins and carbs, and assists in wound healing.

Manganese is essential for the metabolism of enzymes in your dog’s body, promotes healthy neurological functions, and increases bone development in puppies and traumatized animals.

Calcium regulates the heartbeat, is necessary for building bone and tooth tissue, and aids in blood clotting, muscle contraction, and nerve transmissions.

Niacin (Vitamin B3) aids in the metabolism of fats, carbohydrates and proteins in the body. It lowers cholesterol and helps with the synthesis of hormones, including testosterone and estrogen.

Finding a good, all-natural commercial dog food can be a trial if you shop at your local grocery or pet store. We recommend DOG for DOG manufactured devoid of the additives found in most commercial dog foods and free of corn, wheat and soy. DOG for DOG contains all of the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients needed to keep your dog healthy and happy, and was recently awarded the Best New Product Award at the Global Pet Expo 2014. Additionally, when you buy one bag of DOG for DOG, another bag is donated to local and national animal shelters to help other dogs in need.

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How Nutrition Affects Your Developing Puppy03.18.14

You will need to make sure your puppy is eating the right amount of food at all times, because small young dogs are particularly susceptible to bouts of hypoglycemia – or low blood sugar. This condition, if left unchecked, can cause your puppy to suffer acute organ failure, go into a coma, and die.

When a puppy is born, its nutritional requirements consist mainly of mother’s milk. Newborn pups must consume colostrum (the mother dog’s first milk) within the first 12 to 24 hours after birth in order to receive the full benefits of her antibodies. These specialized cells in the immune system recognize organisms that invade the body and provide protection against disease. A healthy mother dog passes this special immunization to her puppies in her milk.

At around 3 weeks of age – a fairly early stage of puppy development – you can begin feeding your pup a bit of dry puppy food mixed with water in a thin gruel several times a day. Gradually reduce the water content of the gruel so that by 4 to 6 weeks of age your puppy will be eating as much dry food as she does mother’s milk. She will still be suckling on the mother until around 8 weeks of age when she is ready to be weaned and placed on solid food.

Most puppies grow to their full size in under a year, so they require a high-protein, all-natural diet with balanced Omega fatty acids to allow for developing coat, muscles and bones. Look for those products that are corn, wheat and soy-free to help stop any symptoms of food allergies before they begin.

Puppies of different sizes have different nutritional needs. For your medium-sized puppy – such as a Border Collie or Australian Shepherd – a high-quality puppy food is probably sufficient according to veterinary nutritionists. However, large or giant breed puppies, as well as the small and toy breeds, may need a size-specific diet to help them through all the stages of puppy development.

Large and giant breed puppies – like Labrador Retrievers, Great Danes, Saint Bernards, and Irish Wolfhounds – tend to grow extremely fast in their first year, with some dogs gaining 100 pounds in a matter of months. This rapid growth puts a huge strain on growing bones and developing muscles, causing these large dogs to suffer from serious orthopedic issues including hip dysplasia and arthritis as they age.

Traditionally, pet parents were urged to feed their large-breed puppies food high in fat and calories and to give calcium supplements to help their pups develop into big and strong dogs. Modern canine nutritionists have found that these types of foods actually increase your large puppy’s growth rate, causing her rapidly developing bones to become less dense, weaker, more porous, and more prone to degenerative conditions.

Other scientists prefer that you feed your large breed puppy an all-natural food lower in calories, yet full of the antioxidants necessary to support her growing immune system and free of any grains that may later cause allergic reactions. Protein and calcium levels vary by manufacturer, however, so you need to check with your veterinarian about which, if any, brand of puppy food to feed your growing little pooch.

Your small and toy breed puppies – like Chihuahuas, Bichon Frises, and Yorkies – have their own set of special nutritional needs. Because of her smaller size and higher metabolism, your small breed puppy needs to eat more often and consume food higher in fat and calories than a larger breed puppy. Feeding her a nutritious, all-natural treat bar made with organic peanut butter can get her through those hungry times until her next meal.

For the first 3 or 4 months of her life, your toy puppy needs to be fed 3 to 4 times a day. You can gradually decrease the amount as she matures until she is receiving her daily allowance of calories in twice-a-day meals. Even as an adult, she should continue to eat twice a day to cope with her high metabolism. Make sure not to overfeed her, however, because just a few extra bites of kibble can translate into excessive weight for a tiny dog.

It’s important to remember that how your puppy feels physically can determine how she behaves. A hungry dog is going to be more food aggressive than one that is receiving the right amount of food. A puppy that is eating the proper amounts and types of her needed nutrients will have plenty of energy to play and learn. Using all-natural treats made with fruits, veggies, and a bit of organic peanut butter can be just the ticket to help your pup focus during training exercises.

Just like your school-age children, your puppy can’t learn or be trained if she goes to “school” hungry or tired.

Posted in Food, Puppieswith No Comments →

Medical Marijuana for Dogs?03.11.14

Medical Marijuana for Dogs

by Cate Burnettet, RVT

Please Note: This article is not an endorsement for medical marijuana use in pets, and is only intended to provide pet owners with information on a possible new veterinary therapy.

With 20 states enacting laws that allow humans to consume medical marijuana with a doctor’s prescription, the veterinary community is looking into the possible use of the plant in the treatment of various illnesses for pets.

Dr. Douglas Kramer, a small animal veterinarian in California, admits to using marijuana to help his cancer-stricken Siberian Husky. “Nikita was wasting away, and she’d stopped eating,” he recalls in the article. “I’d exhausted every available pharmaceutical pain option, even steroids. At that point, it was a quality of life issue, and I felt like I’d try anything to ease her suffering.”

Dr. Kramer started feeding Nikita a small amount of marijuana daily and he reports that her appetite returned and she seemed to be much less painful during her final months.

Because of his own experience, and the tales from a number of his clinic clients, Dr. Kramer is pushing to bring veterinary medicine into the debate regarding the use of medical marijuana. He believes the evidence is clear that marijuana can be successfully used as an alternative or adjunctive treatment for pain and palliative care in animals. “The veterinary community needs to address the issue, but we don’t want to talk about it, even though it’s clear our clients are giving marijuana to their pets, with good and bad effects,” he says in the JAVMA article.

A recent article in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association provides anecdotal evidence that marijuana may be proving to be effective as an analgesic (pain relieving drug), an appetite stimulant and an anti-nausea medication in dogs with cancer and osteoarthritis.

According to the article, a senior Labrador Retriever-type dog named Miles was diagnosed with advanced splenic cancer and given 2 months to live. His veterinarian prescribed Tramadol to relieve his pain. But, Denise, Miles’ owner, did not like the residual effects of the Tramadol on her dog.

“Every time we gave it to him, he would just sleep; he wouldn’t even move. He’d just lay there like he was dead,” said Denise, who asked that her real name not be used in the article.

When a friend suggested that she give Miles a tincture of marijuana sold as a pet medicine in legal marijuana dispensaries throughout southern California, Denise tried it, thinking it could not be any worse than the drugs he was already taking.

Within an hour of ingesting the medical marijuana, Miles’ appetite was back, he was no longer vomiting and within a couple of wees he was running at the beach and back to his old self. “It couldn’t have been a coincidence,” Denise says in the article.

In the same article, other pet owners have reported similar results when giving their pets medical marijuana for chronic pain. Ernest Misko, who noticed the palliative effects marijuana had for his own back pain, used the same tincture as Denise on his 24-year-old arthritic cat, Borzo. Within a few days, Borzo was walking better and appeared to be pain-free, reports Misko.

Becky Flowers’ 20-year-old Paso Fino horse Phoenix was diagnosed with a degenerative ligament disease that was so painful she eventually could no longer walk and had stopped eating and drinking. None of the conventional veterinary pain medications helped for very long. In desperation, Flowers gave her horse a small amount of marijuana to eat, and, according to Flowers, within an hour Phoenix was up walking, eating and drinking. She continues to feed Phoenix a marijuana-laced butter once a day and says the horse is “doing incredible.”

At this point, however, the AVMA has not come out in support – or rejection – of the medical benefits of marijuana in animals citing a lack of statistical research. Dr. Dawn Boothe, director of the Clinical Pharmacology Laboratory at Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine and the American College of Veterinary Clinical Pharmacology notes that veterinarians shouldn’t discount marijuana’s potential therapeutic effects simply because it is a plant or a controlled substance. Morphine is both, and its effect on humans and animals has been thoroughly studied. Dr. Boothe says that has not happened as yet for marijuana, and owners who give the drug to their pets may be unintentionally putting their animals at risk.

In Colorado, where recreational marijuana use is now legal, veterinarians are seeing a definite increase in the number of pets being brought in to clinics and emergency hospitals suffering from marijuana poisoning after ingesting pot-laced edibles.

An ABC News Report quotes Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald of the VCA Alameda East Veterinary Hospital in Denver as saying that since 2010, the number of poisoning cases seen at the hospital have grown from “roughly two cases a month to one every other day.”

Dilated eyes, drooling, and appearing drunk are all symptoms that your pet might show with an overdose of marijuana. Eaten in high levels, it can lead to seizures. In even higher levels, death has been known to occur.

“There’s no antidote for marijuana,” says Fitzgerald in the report. “The only way we treat is just be supportive, we watch for seizure and measure body temp and then put them on fluids to try and expel it quicker.”

After noticing that some of her animal patients were overdosing on their owners’ attempts to use medical marijuana for pain and nausea, Seattle veterinarian Sarah Brandon has spent the last five years developing a hemp-based product that has many of the same beneficial compounds as pot, but without the THC that causes the problems. Called “Canna-Pet” and sold at $1 a pill, the compounds feature all the natural components of marijuana, without the high.

According to Brandon, the results have been dramatic. “We’ve had a 100 percent positive reaction. We’re seeing cats and dogs experiencing discomfort walking or even moving around significantly improve.”

For dog ownerswho don’t live in areas where medical marijuana is legal, or who are averse to giving pets an unfamiliar drug, you can try an all-natural herbal tonic developed to relax and calm anxious, nervous dogs. With just a few drops of tonic in your dog’s mouth daily, the compound begins to work in about 20 minutes. Used in conjunction with veterinary analgesics, you can help your painful dog unwind enough to allow pain meds to work quickly and more effectively.

For dogs experiencing painful arthritis, hip dysplasia and luxating patellas, you might try an all natural herbal tonic also containing collagen. This mixture can help patients in as little as a couple of weeks.

What do you think? Should veterinarians be allowed to provide medical marijuana to their patients or is it too risky?

Posted in Anxiety & Nervousness, Arthritis & Hip Dysplasia, Ingredients, Old Agewith No Comments →

Bubbles n’ Beads is the best shampoo for a really dirty dog.03.04.14

This is my dog Brie. She is a white Westie mix. But you’d never know it from this picture. On this particular day she had rolled around at the beach, in the wet sand, which apparently had lots of hidden algae. (either that or Brie is all ready for St. Paddy’s Day.)

Brie had never ever ever been so dirty in her life. Not only was she green, but she was covered in wet sand. There wasn’t an inch of her that was spared from this green, grainy goo.

I’m sorry, I wasn’t going to even risk taking this dirty dog through my house and to the bathtub. She was stinky and filthy. If she escaped my arms it would have been disastrous. I didn’t even want her in the bathtub as the amount of sand on her would surely have clogged the drain.

I’m not normally the type of dog owner to wash my dog with a garden hose but on that particular day that was the plan of action with Brie. I ran in the house (sans dog) to get Bubbles n’ Beads so I could give her a good scrub.

I had always known this shampoo was excellent for cleaning a dirty sandy dog because we’ve lived at the beach a long time and Brie often gets dirty. The little beads in this shampoo help to dislodge dirt and grime and the scent neutralizes foul odors.

So I put Bubbles n’ Beads to the test. Taking a big gulp of air (Brie was really stinky) I grabbed my green dog, doused her with water, applied the shampoo and rubbed and scrubbed, spraying her often with the hose to get rid of loose sand.

After only one big application of Bubbles n’ Beads all over Brie’s body she was clean and fresh smelling (the scent of the shampoo is reminiscent of clean laundry) without any sand, residue or green goop. I towel-dried her and she was off to the kitchen to wait for a treat!

The whole cleaning process took me less than ten minutes. The shampoo is all natural, has tons of amino acids to help with coat structure and strength and it feels and smells divine.

Since that day a few weeks ago, Brie has had lots of other beach days, but happily the algae in the sand relocated to Australia! For more tips on cleaning a really dirty dog, click here.

Posted in Grooming, Shampoowith No Comments →

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