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Beware of the New Anallergenic Dog Foods with Feather Meal

Friday, 19. July 2013 4:22

Dr. Karen Becker ~ Healthy Pets blogpost 17 July 2013

Beware of the New Anallergenic Dog Foods with Feather Meal.

Category:Nutrition, Pet Wellness | Comments (1) | Author:

February is National Pet Dental Health Month!

Monday, 30. January 2012 13:38

So, what does that mean? It means taking care of your dog’s mouth is asBrushing Teeth! important as taking care of your own. Chew toys designed for aiding the removal of plaque, raw bones, and brushing your dog’s teeth – ideally weekly – will help tremendously in preventing long-term health problems. The consequences of not doing these things are certainly not worth it. Our family dog, Lulu, died young for a small dog at 12. We did not clean her teeth and towards the end of her life she suffered from gingivitis (infection of the gums) and endocarditis (infection of the heart). There is a direct link between dental hygiene and the health of your dog or cat’s immune system and organs such as the heart, kidney, and liver. I have no doubts she would have lived longer if we had been more aware of the importance of dental hygiene.

So, how do you get your furry friends, cat or dog, interested in a teeth brushing? First, start early when they’re kittens and puppies. Our littlest pup is now used to getting her teeth brushed and will cock her head to the side and relax her lips in anticipation of the brush. It’s super cute.

If, you’ve started later in life as I have with my chocolate Labrador then the best is to relax them by stroking their head, cheeks, and calmly talk to them while rolling them on their side. When they are comfortable, lift their lips back and rub their teeth, either with a piece of gauze, or if they are comfortable, ideally with a soft-bristled brush. Don’t use human toothpaste. It contains fluoride; if swallowed in huge quantities it can be toxic and dogs can’t rinse and spit! The toothpaste I use is Kissable! from Cain &Able – all natural pet toothpaste.

If your dog or cat will not let you brush their teeth then using a pill or powdered form of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), Pet Naturals, or Plaque Off is an option. Preliminary studies have shown that CoQ10 is particulary useful in the treatment and prevention of periodontal disease and gingivitis in pets. Plaque Off contains Ascophyllum nodosumis, a specific kind of seaweed that shows benefits in dental health for animals and humans. Customers and employees at the Big Bad Woof have noticed the effects they see in their own animals. It takes a few months, but you will see a decrease in plaque on their teeth.

Chewable snacks are another option for maintaining dental health. At the Big Bad Woof, we usually promote products that do not contain soy, wheat gluten, or corn. The ubiquitousness of these ingredients may lead to the development of allergies in your pet. Some suggested products are below.

  • True Blue – Super easy dental swipes. If using gauze to cleanse your dogs teeth, this product has added ingredients to freshen breath.
  • Breath-less – A company based out of FL sells products similar to Greenies.
  • Paragon – A company based in Holland sells dental chews for dogs in fun shapes.
  • Zukes – A company based in CO sells dental bones for dogs.
  • Smart n’tasty – A company based in California sells dental treats for cats and dogs.
  • For raw food enthusiasts – Chicken necks or turkey necks can decrease the build-up of plaque.

I hope this finds you excited about the prospect of improving your dog or cat’s health starting the month of February! Don’t be afraid to try new things, research your choices, and consult your veterinarian.

Category:Nutrition, Pet Wellness | Comments (1) | Author:

Rotating Diets is Good for Your Companion Animals

Sunday, 25. September 2011 8:17

Many pet owners are taught that rotating diets are not good for their pets’ health, and if they ever do decide to switch, it must be done slowly and over a 2 – 3 week period of time. While part of this can be true let’s look at the reasoning behind this advice and why feeding a more varied diet allows your pets to thrive.

Hap chewing on an elk neck

Many commercial pet foods found in your local supermarket and big-box stores contain ingredients which derive the bulk of protein and calories from plant sources as opposed to meat sources, and the high incidence of grains in these foods are also known allergens to many dogs and cats. For dogs, there is also an added issue of switching from a corn-based to a wheat-based diet which if not done very slowly, can cause severe health issues. With the wheat glut of the 1980’s, many pet food manufacturers changed their formulas causing dire consequences to some animals, which is where the “do not change their diet” started, and became the prevailing wisdom.

Many holistic and integrative veterinarians support rotating diets with healthy animals. Dr. Leanne Lipton, DVM of Meridian Veterinary Services adds “Combinations of foods and rotations of foods are very important to maintain a proper diet. If you feed just one type of food all the time over months and years then you will miss something or most likely cause a health problem in the future. Many studies of companion animals allowed to hunt and forage for themselves showed that a typical diet has much more variety than expected. In fact, many animals will eat smaller animals whole, bugs, bark, etc. I frequently tell my clients to rotate flavors and brands of foods for their pets. Sometimes gastrointestinal (GI) upset occurs so just keep a list of what works and what doesn’t. Often adding probiotics and prebiotics can prevent or treat GI upset. In the end it is trial and error”.

If you as pet owner are taking the time to read your labels, and identify good foods which have meat proteins or meat meal proteins as the top ingredients (not meat by-products) you are already going a long way to improving your pet’s health.  Many holistic and integrative veterinarians recommend that the better the quality of the proteins, the more you can avoid and/or support some of the health issues that are prevalent in our pets today, including arthritis, diabetes, thyroid disease, pancreatitis and allergies.

Consequently, as you feed better foods you can start to add variety by switching proteins in the same brand or rotating between different brands of dry and canned food. The advantage is each food has different ingredients and just like us,  will draw a variety of good health benefits from a varied diet which is lean in calories. You should be able to do this without a long transition time if using premium foods. If you do want to do a slower transition due to sensitive stomachs etc then it can be a 50/50 mix over one to two weeks.

At The Big Bad Woof we encourage rotational diets and have several brands, like Fromm’s and Nature’s Variety which were designed to allow rotation of the protein sources for both dogs and cats. We also like to see fresh, whole foods used in both our own and our pet’s diets. A simple way to integrate whole foods into their diets is to provide fresh veggies (like peeled carrots of the ends or broccoli as fresh chews) give them the ends of fresh (not processed) meats you are preparing, as long as you trim the fat and don’t cook the meat. NEVER feed them cooked bones, they can splinter and cause severe abdominal issues. Raw bones can be fed as a special treat and are high in key nutrients.

Raw diets allow much more moisture to be taken in by your animal, as well as being a very clean diet, which allows the animal to maximize their nutrient uptake and lead to lower stool volume. Transitioning to a raw diet as an alternate or addition to canned food or kibble is easy.  Adding  complete raw foods daily or weekly to their normal fare is a great way to start.  There are a number of easy to serve local and national raw diet manufacturers available now in the marketplace, making the feeding as easy as taking out a sausage or patty and placing it in their bowl.

Rotation is good for your dogs and cats, as well as making sure they are getting plenty of moisture, so read your labels and don’t be afraid to make a switch. The associates at The Big Bad Woof can assist with further questions about the right food choices for your pet and any other supplements your companion animals may need.  It is not about having your animals survive, but about having them thrive!

Pennye Jones-Napier


The Big Bad Woof

Stores located in Old Takoma & Arts District Hyattsville

(originally printed in The Washington Blade / DC Metro Weekly, Sept 2011)

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