4 Mistakes To Avoid When Feeding Your Dog

Every year we hear about watching our dog’s weight and what to do to keep them fit and trim. But it can be tricky to do because not every dog has the same metabolism or the same level of energy. Not every home is equipped to provide the perfect plan and ratio of diet and exercise. But, there are some mistakes to avoid when trying to find solutions to keep our dogs from overweight.

Don’t cut back too much on the calories
Of course when we think of losing weight, the first thing that comes to mind is cutting back on food and calories. But don’t cut back too much or too fast. Definitely try feeding less and cutting back on treats but too much can lead to other problems. Talk to your vet about how much to feed your dog and ask about the best low-calorie foods.

Supplements aren’t always needed
If your dog has a good diet, there usually isn’t a need for supplements. Sure, some fish oil can help but you may not need to give it everyday. Vitamin supplements may not be needed at all if the food contains the recommended amounts. If your dog has some medical needs, your vet can talk to you about what supplements may be beneficial for your pet but a good diet does not often require supplements.

Switching to the raw food diet
There’s been a lot of hype about raw food as the ideal diet for pets. However, there is not definitive proof that this type of diet is superior overall. In fact, there might some health risks due to bacteria contamination that can make the people in your house sick. While this diet often contains little to no preservatives and other additives, make sure the raw food packets have gone under high pressure pasteurization to decrease the risk of bacteria.

Cut down and cut out people food
This isn’t to say that fruits and vegetables aren’t treats for your dog, depending on the type, but cut back on the bad people food like table scraps from dinner. No more pieces of bread, no more last few bites of a hamburger with cheese, and no more begging at the table. Cut up carrots, sweet potato treats, and other good people food will make your pup happy and be low in calories and fat.

What other tips do you have? Let us know!

Image from dogobedienceinsider.com

4 Great Organic Brands of Dog Food

When looking what to feed your dog, organic is a great choice. But how do you know it’s organic? The labels will tell you a lot about the ingredients. The first ingredient should always be a meat – turkey, lamb, chicken, etc. If the first ingredient starts out with water, dehydrated something or other, or some chemical sounding thing that you don’t have time to google on your smartphone, it’s probably not organic. The next bit of information to look for is where the food is made, or how it’s made. The websites of the companies will often state where their food is made, how it’s made, and where the ingredients are resourced.

If you are wondering which brands are the best – we like these 4

  1. Newman’s Own Organics – The website states its food is 95% organic and the first few ingredients are chicken, chicken liver, and chicken meal. There is also organic soy meal, brown rice, peas, and much more in their dog and cat food. Newman’s food is human grade, meaning it’s fit for human consumption.
  2. Orijen – this brand is from Canada and the food is delivered fresh, not frozen to pet stores. The bags are airtight to prevent the food from spoiling. When reading the labels, the first few ingredients are chicken, salmon, and herring. The company sources the ingredients from local farmers who raise cage free animals and grow chemical free fruits and vegetables.
  3. California Natural – This brand is made for pets who may not be able to tolerate other pet foods such as a dog with a sensitive stomach or a mild allergy to some types of foods. There are no chemical preservatives and the food uses chicken and turkey broth instead of water to aid in digestible protein.
  4. Blue Buffalo – The website states that no by-products, dyes, or processed foods are used in the making of the pet food. Some of the ingredients found in Blue Buffalo include but aren’t limited to: alfalfa, bacon, brown rice, chicken liver, lamb, salmon, oatmeal, and sweet potatoes. There are a number of different types for all stages of your dog’s life cycle and treats. Your pup might love the elk antlers!

What brand do you feed your dog?

Image from WsePetCompanion.com

How To Figure Out If Your Cat Has Food Allergies

Many cats with skin allergies will develop red sores and bald spots that look like hot spots on dogs. Often times it seems to appear on their back in the middle of the shoulder blades. Sometimes the sore might ooze and if left untreated it can get infected. While there are a number of reasons that this may occur, one reason, that is often overlooked (possibly because we have a “worst case” mindset) is that there is an allergic reaction to food. This isn’t to say your cat might have an autoimmune problem or other disease.

How to Determine Whether Your Cat Has Food Allergies

  • Start a hypoallergenic diet –
    A hypoallergenic diet contains a protein source that your cat has not been exposed to before, such as rabbit, venison or duck.
  • Feed this food, and ONLY this diet, for up to 10 weeks, before concluding whether or not food allergy is the culprit.
  • Alternatively, you may opt for a skin biopsy. This simple procedure will very likely reveal the diagnosis.
  • Keep a diary – note any litter box issues, any changes in appetite, and keep track of the red sores and spots

As always, consult a veterinarian in case it’s more than a dietary problem and also to create plan that will help your pet thrive and purr.

Image from Sam Has Eyebrows

Jerky Treats Linked To Illness in Pets

The FDA is looking into a recent outbreak of illnesses that are connected to jerky treats. There’s been almost 600 deaths and over 3,000 illnesses since 2007 from treats made from chicken, duck, sweet potatoes and other ingredients. The treats are made in China and it’s unclear what other ingredients might be in the treats.

So, the FDA is asking for help. They are reaching out to vets and pet owners asking them to contact the agency if they have seen the illnesses firsthand so they can work towards a solution. Come on fellow pet lovers, let’s help and find out what’s going on.

The symptoms that have been recorded so far are: (1) decreased appetite, (2) vomiting, (3) diarrhea, (4) increased water intake, (5) and increased urination. About 60% of the cases involved gastrointestinal illnesses and some others had liver and kidney problems.

If you have jerky treats, please refrain from giving them to your pet and hang onto them. If your pet has become ill, bring them with your pet to the vet so they can, if needed, send the treats to the FDA or try to figure out what’s in them that is making your pet sick.

For more information, read the article on CBS .

Photo: www.fda.gov

Pets 101: Switching Types of Pet Food

If your pet needs to change diets, it’s important to do it slowly. Whether it’s moving from kitten or puppy food to adult, or to a special diet. It’s best to introduce the food gradually because they need to get used to the new food, their bodies need to get used to ingesting it, and new food given too fast or without an introduction could mean an upset belly.

The best trick is to integrate it with the old food in the course of a week or so. Gradually mix
an increasing amount of the new product with the old over a period of time until your pet is receiving only the new product. This is very important as to not disrupt your pet’s digestive balance. This allows the pet’s digestive system to smoothly adapt to the new food.

Here’s A Sample of How to Introduce New Food

Day 1 – 75% of the old food, 25% of the new food at meals
Day 2 – 75% of the old food, 25% of the new food
Day 3 – 60% of the old, 40% of the new
Day 4 – 50% of the old and 50% of the new
Day 5 – 40% of the old and 60% of the new
Day 6 – 25% of the old and 75% of the new
Day 7 – 0% of the old, 75% of the new

If at any time during the transition your pet develops any digestive upsets, slow the rate at which you are switching to the new diet.

Note: If your pet refuses to eat, do not go for more than 24 hours without consulting your vet.

If your pet isn’t enjoying the new food, talk to your vet about changing from a dry to wet or adding something like a little chicken broth or other flavors to entice your pet to eat. Sometimes adding some warm water helps release the smell and flavors of the new food.

With any diet change, consult your vet and figure out what works best for your pet.

Image from PetMD.com

On Wisconsin!

It all started at a terrific little restaurant on East 34th Street in New York City called The Barking Dog. Although pets aren’t allowed inside the restaurant, there’s a large outdoor dining patio where pets are permitted. And just inside the door I spotted a large bowl filled with dog biscuits. The walls are adorned with photos of dogs and cute sayings on a blackboard about dogs and people. All-in-all, a very nice, family-type restaurant with an extraordinarily wide range of dishes on the menu.

Okay, that’s the pet-friendly story from your pet-friendly website. However, now to the food. Have you noticed that almost everything you can order on the menu in almost any restaurant today comes with cheese? How did that happen? Do I want cheese on my bacon and egg sandwich? On my grilled Portobello mushroom sandwich? Grilled chicken with cheese on top? No matter what you order today, they ask, “Do you want cheese?” A cheeseburger maybe (I prefer blue cheese), or a ham and cheese sandwich for sure.

It’s certainly the doings of Wisconsin—the cheese state and home of the Cheese Heads. Now it’s a perfectly nice place. Our next door neighbors are from Wisconsin, and we’ve never had a problem with them (except when the Giants played Green Bay in the playoffs in 2008, but that’s another story), and frankly I can’t recall them ever serving me cheese at their house. Also my son and daughter-in-law attended the Univ. of Wisconsin, and my granddaughter currently goes there. But still—enough is enough. I’m tired of cheese on everything I order.

Even macaroni and cheese, my all-time childhood favorite from Kraft, you can’t order in a restaurant without it being four cheese macaroni. Or four-cheese pizza! Whatever happened to just plain Mac ‘n Cheese, or plain pizza with mozzarella and tomato sauce? Or a hot dog with sauerkraut and mustard—not a cheese dog. But do I really want cheese on my fries? Why?

Fortunately, the cheese craze hasn’t taken over the dog-food market entirely. It turns out that cheese is not great for dogs. Pets lack significant amounts of lactase, the enzyme needed to break down lactose in dairy products. As a result, some may have difficulty with digestion and end up with stomach upset, although probably low-fat cheeses are okay. In fact, here are ten foods that are not good for your pets: http://bit.ly/f02k4g.

I think someone should look into the Wisconsin Cheese Lobby. Check with Vermont also–they’re no slouch in cheese-producing prowess.