Dealing With Pet-Related Pests Naturally Without Pesticides

By Amber Kingsley

Chemicals, fertilizers and pesticides can be dangerous for our dogs and cats, as well as other animals and wildlife. The toxins found in some of these deterrents and ingredients used to increase a harvest of vegetables and fruits can decrease the lifespan of our pets or cause them unnecessary illnesses and health risks.

When we think of pests, we usually imagine flies and mosquitoes which can be pesky enough in their own regard. But they also carry a number of Casey the Black Labrador, Dalmatian Mixdiseases, like heart-worm or the Zika virus that can be deadly in some cases. But our feathered friends can also be problematic when it comes to our pets. Birds also carry parasites and diseases, along with their feces, they can also damage our property, invade our dwelling space and irritate our animals.

Luckily there are some methods of keeping these flying menaces away from our property and our animals without harming us or the environment. For example, there are some visual deterrents that can keep these animals at bay. Putting out plastic birds of prey, like an owl or falcon, will not only make other flying predators think twice before flying by, they can also curb the rodent population from moving into the area.

Food and Treats

Another way of keeping unwanted animals and pests from encroaching into your space is to ensure we’re not inadvertently feeding them in some way. Don’t feed or give your pets treats outdoors if at all possible, but if you do give them food outside, be sure to bring in the bowl and any leftovers. If you have fruit bearing trees or a garden, keep ripe or fallen foods off the ground.

Don’t store pet foods or treats outdoors, and make sure that garbage cans and other sources of potential meals are either tightly sealed or kept in an outbuilding or other indoor location like a garage. Speaking of outbuildings, be sure these are closed at all times to keep unwanted tenants from taking up residence inside.

There’s No Place Like Home

Doug the Bernese Mountain Dog, Poodle MixMake your yard, garden or other outdoor area less likely for critters to move in. Use items as hiding places or shelter from a storm. Overgrown bushes, shrubs, wood and compost piles are a common attractant for animals. Keep this shrubbery well-groomed and trimmed and be sure things like compost and piles aren’t easily accessible to your pets.

When it comes to flies, mosquitoes and other flying pests, make sure that exterior doors, windows and screens in your home are all in good working order. Screens with holes can be patched, windows and doors can be better sealed or efficient weather stripping can be installed to prevent intrusion through these small spaces. You can also use citronella candles and other natural ways to keep these flying critters away.

Don’t forget to rid outdoor areas of standing water in barrels, buckets and puddles to keep baby mosquitoes (larvae) from forming in the first place. Swimming pools should always be properly maintained, and report abandoned or neglected pools to local health officials. If you have a bird bath, be sure to wash them out every few days to stop larvae from sticking to the bottom.

We can keep our pets safer and our property less inhabited by flying pests and pesky forms of destructive wildlife by using some of these preventative measures. Don’t pick up a spray to keep them away, instead utilize some simple practices to make them less welcome in our environment.

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Chihuahua Pincer Mix

Addressing Eye and Ear Disorders Holistically (Article)

by Dr. Larry Siegler, Consulting Vet for OnlyNaturalPet.com

Eye Disorders

The eyes have been called “a window to the soul.” You know when your cat is giving you “the look” by the way he holds his head and seems to glare. Your dog can melt your heart with her adoring big brown eyes that assure you she loves you from the tip of her wet nose to the end of her wagging tail. Our companions find many ways to communicate with us without words, and their eyes can be a fascinating and important communication tool for them. Eye health is important for more than just vision, but vision is of course our primary concern.

The following are the most common eye problems veterinarians see. Any time you suspect a vision problem due to a change in behavior, or you notice your companion squinting or showing signs of eye discomfort, it is important to seek veterinary advice promptly.

Cataracts

A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s natural lens. The lens is made up of mostly water and protein. A cataract is formed when protein begins to clump together in an abnormal way and clouds a small area of the lens.

Cataracts often require surgery, though the timing of the surgery may or may not be urgent. When a younger dog develops cataracts it is typically due to congenital issues and the cataracts often progress more rapidly requiring surgery sooner rather than later. This is also true for cataracts caused by diabetes. For an older animal, however, you may be able to slow the progression enough to delay or even eliminate the need for surgery, depending on the extent of vision impairment at the time of diagnosis and the age of the animal.Chloe and Isabel

Prevention and treatment both begin with the basics: a very high quality diet supplemented with additional vitamins and minerals. Diet is the foundation of good health and this is the most important thing you can do for your companion. Many chronic degenerative diseases such as cataracts develop over time as a result of inadequate nutrition and exposure to toxins in the food and environment.

Some people are not comfortable with feeding raw food. If this is the case for you, consider dehydrated or freeze dried food to supplement the diet, or a very high quality canned food — or even better yet, home-made food or healthy leftovers. Basically, the fresher the diet, the better it is for an animal’s health and immune system.

Herbal supplements (I recommend the herb Bilberry) can be extremely helpful for cataracts. Bilberry is believed to improve circulation to the eye and thus the delivery of needed nutrients to eye tissue. The dosage for cats is approximately 20 mg. per day, and for dogs 40-280 mg. per day depending on the size of the dog. In addition, a high quality antioxidant supplement may slow the progression of cataracts.

Homeopathy can be helpful in some cases of cataracts. The choice of remedy, however, is very specific for each animal and needs to be guided by a veterinarian trained in homeopathy.

Conjunctivitis

Eye inflammation, or conjunctivitis, generally occurs more often in animals with pre-existing immune or allergy-related problems. When your dog or cat shows symptoms of sore, red eyes with a discharge, the first thing to do is determine the cause. This may be as simple as a minor scratch or irritating foreign matter, a result of environmental toxin exposure or airborne allergies, or more serious issues such as feline herpes or glaucoma. A trip to the veterinarian is crucial when you see signs of eye irritation, as waiting too long can mean the difference between saving the animal’s sight and losing it. Eyebright is a very common herb used for eye irritations. Eyebright eye washes are often helpful to control symptoms and minor infections.

If allergies are suspected as the cause of conjunctivitis, it is best to change to a hypoallergenic diet. Nutraceutical allergy formulas can also be quite helpful in battling airborne allergies. They act as a natural antihistamine and anti-inflammatory agents.

Feline Herpes

If a cat’s eyes are watering and producing a thick whitish discharge, feline herpes may be the cause. The inside lining of the eyelids become inflamed, and shallow, painful ulcers develop. The eyewashes containing eyebright mentioned above can assist in cleansing and soothing the eye.

Feline Herpes is generally a result of a weakened immune system, so diet and immune support need attention. To help control the virus the amino acid L-lysine may be helpful. L-lysine can be found at any natural food store. The dosage for cats is 500 mg. twice a day. Several products contain L-lysine along with other vitamins and herbs to help support the immune system during infection and on a long-term basis.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy

This condition involves a shrinking or degeneration of the retina of the eye. Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is more common in dogs. PRA may develop slowly, initially resulting in night blindness. If you notice your companion hesitating to go outside at night or down a darkened hall or stairway, suspect vision problems and see a veterinarian.

In cats this disease is most commonly related to Taurine deficiency, which is now less of a problem than previously as all commercially available cat foods are formulated with added Taurine. Raw diets that include organ meats provide the most natural source of Taurine. For those feeding a home-prepared diet, Taurine supplementation is important. Taurine is readily available at health food and vitamin stores. Cats can receive up to 500 mg. or more per day.

Doug the Bernese Mountain Dog, Poodle MixAs with any degenerative disease, diet is the place to begin in stopping or at least slowing this condition. Bilberry is useful for PRA for the same reasons it may help with cataracts — increased circulation and nutrients to the eye tissue.

Zinc and/or Vitamin E deficiency is thought to affect PRA. Supplementing the diet with zinc is important if your dog is from a breed predisposed to PRA. Vitamin E in a high quality antioxidant formula is also valuable in preventing and treating PRA.

Essential fatty acids, particularly DHA from fish oil, may also play an important role in preventing or slowing the progression of PRA. I recommend essential fatty acids be a daily part of every companion animal’s diet as it plays such an important role in maintaining health in a wide variety of ways.

Ear Disorders

Chronic ear infections and yeast problems are frequently a sign of allergies. Allergies are becoming more and more common and troublesome in both dogs and cats. Diet, digestive enzymes, probiotics, and essential fatty acids are the basics for treating allergies and chronic ear problems from the inside out.

Many animals with food sensitivities and allergies have seen dramatic improvement on raw, freeze dried, or dehydrated food. As discussed previously, the fresher the diet, the better it is for your companion’s health & immune system. Dry food is just not a good option for cats, especially those with allergies. Dry kibble can be part of a healthy diet for dogs; however dogs with chronic ear problems or allergies require hypo-allergenic food, which means no wheat, corn or soy. Sometimes it may mean no beef or chicken too, due to a protein sensitivity. This usually can be accomplished with grain free foods.

Most animals with food allergies have unhealthy gastrointestinal systems that are not able to digest food properly. Leaky gut develops and then molecules that are too large for the body to process are allowed through the gut wall, setting off allergic reactions and creating the optimal conditions for yeast infections. The symptoms may appear in the ears, but you have to heal the gut to really get rid of the allergies. Digestive enzymes help break down Soft and Maple the Curly Coated Retrieversthe food so that there is less of a chance of the larger molecules passing through the intestinal walls, probiotics help restore a healthy balance of flora in the gut and aid digestion, and fatty acids help reduce inflammation and heal the gut as well as nourish the skin.

Supplement every meal with digestive enzymes to aid digestion and assimilation of the nutrients in processed foods. Digestive enzymes must be added at every meal of cooked or processed food. The enzymes do not remain in an animal’s system beyond digestion of the food immediately present in the digestive tract. A raw diet does not necessarily need digestive enzyme supplementation once an animal has been fully transitioned to raw food, although the addition of enzymes can enhance the healing quality of the raw diet.

Probiotics are especially important for an animal that has been on steroids or antibiotics as they kill the healthy gut flora and set up conditions for the allergies to worsen. Probiotics are helpful for any animal that has had chronic gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting or diarrhea as well.

Essential fatty acids, preferably fish oil, are vital to nourish the skin and coat and help reduce inflammation in the animal’s system. Allergies involve inflammation of the gut and often can affect the joints as well. You can increase the dosage above what is recommended on the bottle, but if you see loose stools, then reduce the dosage a bit until stool consistency normalizes. If the change in diet and adding enzymes and fatty acids do not completely solve the issue, then consider a supplement.

(Reprinted with permission from OnlyNaturalPet.com)

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Exercise for Dogs and Cats (Article)

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by Dr. Jean Hofve, DVM, Veterinarian Advisor for OnlyNaturalPet.com

We tend to emphasize nutrition, and rightly so because it truly is the foundation of good health. However, one of the other great cornerstones of vibrant health and long life is exercise. Moderate, regular exercise will help keep your pet at a healthy weight and keep the joints flexible. It also provides mental stimulation, which is important for all pets, but especially those who spend most of their time indoors.Doug the Bernese Mountain Dog, Poodle Mix

Exercise for Dogs

Big dogs make great hiking companions, especially here in rugged Colorado, where we’ve joked for years about the Labrador Retriever being the “state dog.” Most medium-sized and large dogs seem able to handle all kinds of weather. But it’s easy to let a smaller dog become a couch potato, going out only to answer the call of nature and hurrying right back in. They’re not built for long treks, and they can disappear completely in a foot or two of snow!

The first step with any dog is to make sure you have the right collar or harness. Studies have shown that excessive pressure from a neck collar can damage a dog’s trachea (windpipe), so a walking harness may be a better choice for dogs that pull. Small dogs do exceptionally well with supportive harnesses. Of course, a good leash that’s sturdy and easy to handle is always a good investment!

Exercise for Cats

Cats need exercise too, and while it’s possible to train a cat to walk with a cat harness and leash, at-home interactive play is the best way to keep your cat’s mind and body engaged and resilient. A 15-minutes session once or twice a day is ideal.

To help your cat get the most from these interactive toys, the key is to “BE the prey.” Use your imagination, and have fun! If you’re a mouse, run, jump and hide; if you’re a bird, flutter and dive. Always let your cat catch the prey in the end, and follow up with a high-protein treat such as canned food. This not only exercises your cat’s physical side, but also satisfies the mental/emotional “hunter” part — an important consideration in multi-cat homes to prevent aggressive behavior. It’s also a terrific way to help chubby kitties lose weight, as well as to prevent boredom and the unwanted behaviors that sometimes go with it!

Importance of YOU in Playtime

Jackson the Terrier MixWhen you start an exercise program for your pet, use the same common-sense precautions you would with any other new activity. Don’t go hog wild all at once; your pet can get sore muscles and even cause damage to joints, because they don’t know when to stop and will usually keep going as long as you can. Build up your pet’s endurance gradually, and watch for signs that he’s had enough — wanting to lie or sit down, or showing any degree of labored breathing.

You’ll notice that all of these suggestions have one thing in common: you! Sure, you can leave toys out for your pets to play with, but their greatest joy is to play with you, so please make room for that quality time with your best buddy.

(Reprinted with permission from OnlyNaturalPet.com)

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Hey pet parents… You should know who makes your pet foods

By Rodney Habib — Pet Nutrition Blogger

Believe it or not, most pet parents today have no idea who makes their pet foods. In fact, they also have no idea that most of the brands out there are owned by the same companies! Check it out:

Know who makes your pet's food

Mars Inc. — Mars Petcare creates 41 brands in total, including four billion-dollar brands…

Pedigree
Iams
Whiskas
Royal Canin
Banfield (vet clinics)

Other leading brands include:

Kitekat
Cesar
Nutro
Sheba
Chappi
Catsan
Frolic
Perfect fit
Greenies
Eukanuba
California naturals
Innova
Evo

Nestle — Purina’s significant brands and product lines include…

Alpo
Beggin’ StripsBakers
Beneful
Busy
Chef Michael’s
Deli-Cat
Fancy Feast
Felix
Friskies
Gourmet
Just Right
Merrick Pet Care
Mighty Dog
Purina Beyond
Purina Cat Chow
Purina Dog Chow
Purina ONE
Purina Pro Plan
Purina Veterinary Diets
Secondnature
T Bonz
Tidy Cats
Waggin’ Train
Whisker Lickin’s
Zuke’s

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What You Need to Know About Your Pet’s Food (Article)

by Dr. Larry Siegler, Contributor for OnlyNaturalPet.com

Your Companion’s Diet

Nutrition is the foundation of good health for our animal companions. Diet is the most important component of your pet’s health care. The best diet for your dog or cat is not unlike the best diet for you — it consists of a variety of whole foods enhanced with vitamins and minerals, enzymes and supplements, when necessary, to promote optimal health, prevent disease or to address health issues.

Hallie the Beagle MixOur animal companions are natural hunters and carnivores — just look at their ancestry. The dog at your feet (or on your sofa) has evolved from the wolf, and his digestive system is virtually the same despite thousands of years of domestication. They have very short intestinal tracts geared to the consumption and digestion of raw foods. The cat on your lap is a true or “obligate” carnivore (meat only diet) and is specially designed by nature to hunt small rodents and birds. Her digestive tract, as well, is intended to assimilate raw food best.

Commercially prepared kibble has become the standard diet for most pets in our culture. It is relatively cheap and quite convenient. Knowledgeable guardians and many veterinarians, however, are becoming increasingly aware of the true nutritional needs of companion animals and are taking a proactive approach to nutrition by placing more importance on getting the highest quality ingredients and carefully controlled preparation than on cost and convenience.

Whatever food you choose to offer your pet, putting some thought into your decision now can produce big rewards over his or her lifetime and very probably help him or her avoid serious and costly illnesses caused by poor nutrition and feeding practices.

Freshness

When determining the best diet for your companion, there are two things to keep in mind: The fresher, the better, and rotation is optimal. First let’s discuss freshness…

Fresh food is teeming with life. It contains natural enzymes, probiotics, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals in their most natural state, making them more digestible and more easily assimilated. Heat is the number one enemy of nutrients in food. The fresher the food, the more bioavailable the nutrients in that food will be. This means that the antioxidants in the fruits and vegetables listed in the ingredients will be far more likely to be intact and digestible in raw food than in dry kibble or canned food, which are processed at high temperatures. This is also true for natural enzymes, probiotics, amino acids and vitamins and minerals in your pet’s food.

The less heat-processed the food, the more likely it is that the nutrients will be preserved in their natural state by the time you feed it to your companion, and the more digestible those nutrients will be. So even if dry kibble is a part of your companion’s diet, adding fresher foods like fresh or frozen raw food & bones, or fresh cooked meat, healthy table scraps, freeze-dried or dehydrated foods and even canned food can enhance the quality of his or her overall diet.

“Whatever food you choose to offer your pet, putting some thought into your decision now can produce big rewards over his or her lifetime and very probably help him or her avoid serious and costly illnesses caused by poor nutrition and feeding practices.”

Rotation

In addition to freshness, variety is important in your companion’s diet. A more diverse diet is far more likely to provide complete nutrition than a “formulated” diet fed over and over again. While all pet foods on the market meet the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) standards for “nutrition” for dogs and cats, that does not mean that any one of them are the ideal food for the life of your companion.

A good meal is a pleasurable experience for you, and the same should be true for your companion. However, even a good meal served over and over can become tiresome. You wouldn’t eat corn flakes at every meal for years at a time, so why ask your companion to eat cereal — the SAME cereal — for every meal, every day, for months or years at a time? It is detrimental to both your health and your companion’s to eat the same thing for months or years at every meal. Consuming the same food repeatedly over long periods of time can contribute to the development of food sensitivities and allergies.

More recently, some veterinarians specializing in feline medicine have stated that inflammatory bowel disease may develop, in part, because of food sensitivities caused by feeding one diet for over a year or two at a time. Feeding cats, who are obligate carnivores, a grain-based diet has also been shown to contribute to the incidence of Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD), also known as Feline Urological Syndrome or FUS. The resulting dehydration over a long period of time puts a great deal of stress on the kidneys and lining of the urinary tract.

We recommend varying your companion’s diet regularly. If feeding a raw diet, you do not need to “transition” from one type of food to the next. Animals eating kibble, however, should be transitioned gradually over a week or two from one to the other. Cats should not eat dry kibble as a main portion of their diet.

Optimizing Freshness and Rotation

While the ideal diet would be a continual rotation of fresh, raw foods, most guardians do not have the time and resources to carefully formulate and make their pet’s food. So if you can’t meet the ideal, just get as close as you can with what you can afford. Here are some ways to increase the freshness of your pet’s diet:

1. Home prepared food can’t be beat for freshness. This is especially valuable for animals with health issues such as allergies or immune disorders. Following a recipe is crucial so that proper vitamin and mineral supplementation is achieved. Particular attention must be paid to the ratio of calcium and phosphorus when preparing pet foods at home.

2. Frozen raw foods generally come either in a formula of raw meat, grains, and fresh vegetables designed to provide complete nutrition, or as pure raw meat designed to be added as a supplement to other types of food.

3. Feeding or supplementing with freeze-dried or dehydrated foods is another way to enhance the freshness and variety in your companion’s diet.

4 If you include dry kibble in the diet, rotate the kibble you use every month or every other month (gradually transition over a week or more). Mix a variety of different high quality canned foods into the diet as a meal or mixed with kibble. If possible, mix raw meat and, for dogs, lightly steamed vegetables and fresh fruits into their food. And YES, you CAN feed your dog or cat healthy people food. If you are cooking a nice meal of pot roast and vegetables for the family, save a portion for your companion — it’s a great way to add variety and fresher food into his or her diet. Always remember, however, that to prevent weight gain you must use proportionately less of the kibble when adding canned, freeze-dried, or dehydrated food, raw meat, or people food.

Keep in mind that the less complicated you make your pet’s diet plan, the more likely you are to stick with it. If it is easiest for you to just reach into the freezer and take out an already prepared and balanced meal, consider stocking up on a frozen raw food formula. If using a pre-mix with raw meat sounds workable, by all means try it. Or try feeding your dog raw turkey necks or chicken necks, backs or wings for breakfast 2-3 times per week. You can buy them at the grocery store. If you can’t manage the raw food, but cooking a little extra at each meal is easy for you, then add a bit of your breakfast or dinner to your pet’s diet. Make it easy and your companion will reap the benefits through a healthier and more interesting diet.

Here is an overview of the different types of foods available to feed your pet:

Frozen Raw Foods

More and more guardians and veterinarians alike are discovering the health benefits of a raw food diet. Many health issues such as chronic allergies and inflammatory bowel disease can completely clear up on a raw food diet. Many other chronic and degenerative diseases may be reduced or prevented by feeding a biologically appropriate raw diet. As interest grows, so does the availability of a wider variety of pre-formulated, frozen diets for dogs and cats.Ruby the Wire-Haired Fox Terrier

Dehydrated Diets

Dehydrating is the oldest form of food preservation. Dehydrated food is made from high quality human grade meat, vegetables, and fruits and it offers all the nutritional benefits of frozen raw food, but is less expensive and easier to handle and prepare. Dehydration suspends the activity of enzymes in the food until the food is re-hydrated. Dehydrated food loses only 3 to 5% of the nutrients in the original ingredients because the temperatures used are much lower than those used for canning or for extruding kibble, where the loss can be as much as 60 to 80%.

Freeze-Dried Diets

Another new trend in pet foods is the availability of freeze-dried or “cold processed” diets. Since heat is the number one enemy of nutrients in food, freeze drying is a far superior way to preserve the nutrition and biological nature of fresh foods. The natural enzymes, amino acids, and probiotics remain intact. The addition of grains is unnecessary in the processing of the food, so those looking for a grain-free diet can include freeze-dried foods in their companion’s rotation.

Freeze-dried food can be fed alone or top dressed on raw or dry food. Freeze dried food is an excellent way to supplement a dry, kibble diet or offer some variety in the rotation of your companion’s diet. It can also be used as a highly nutritious treat, and is an excellent food for puppies and kittens as it can be well re-hydrated and even run through a blender to make it easy for them to eat. Because it is very light weight, it is excellent for camping and traveling. One pound of freeze dried food will typically re-hydrate to the equivalent of about 10-12 5.5 oz. cans of food.

Canned Food & Meats

Canned food is a good option for those needing the convenience of processed foods but who are trying to eliminate grains from their pet’s diet. It is especially important for cats to be on a meat protein based diet with minimal grains as discussed previously. In addition, too much carbohydrate content in your pet’s diet can contribute greatly to the problems of obesity, cardiovascular disease, acidosis, arthritis and immune problems.

Canned food is also a great way to supplement kibble for added variety and nutrition. It can also be used to increase the appeal of healthier diets and raw foods for those animals that are “addicted” to their dry kibble and are having a hard time accepting real food. Many dry foods and regular canned foods have flavor enhancers, sweeteners and sodium in them that dogs and cats become accustomed to, causing them to reject real food or healthier canned varieties. Give your companion plenty of time and repeat exposures to healthier foods and they will usually make the transition.

Use as much variety in your companion’s canned food diet as they will accept. Cats especially, can be finicky. Sometimes crushing or sprinkling their favorite treat over the food can help lure them in for a taste, and they will then eat the food.

Do not feed your companion a food that contains ingredients you would not eat yourself. The canned foods sold at Only Natural Pet Store use human grade, whole food ingredients. Organic foods offer the best of the canned options as they do not contain pesticide residues and other toxins that your companion then has to eliminate through her liver and kidneys. This is especially important for animals with a compromised immune system.

Know your Kibble

If you choose to feed kibble as part of your companion’s diet, we hope you will consider the source carefully. Become a label reader — the ingredients are not always what you might think. Many consumers are not aware that the pet food industry is an extension of the human food and agriculture industries. Pet food provides a market for slaughterhouse offal, grains considered “unfit for human consumption,” and similar waste products to be turned into profit. This waste can include intestines, udders, esophagi, and even diseased and cancerous animal parts.

In evaluating a dog or cat food there are a variety of points we look for including the quality of the protein source, the amount of grain by-products, and any artificial ingredients such as preservatives, colors, or flavors among other things. The ingredient listings are regulated by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). The ingredients listed on dog and cat food labels must be listed in order of predominance by weight. When determining the main ingredients in a food it is helpful to look for the source of fat or oil in the food — the ingredients listed before the fat or oil source make up the majority of the food (including the fat or oil), those ingredients listed after the fat or oil are present in much smaller amounts. Generally, a good quality food will list at least one specified whole-meat and/or meat meal such as chicken meal, turkey meal, beef meal, etc. — but avoid any products containing meat meal of an unspecified source or any meals containing by-products. In addition a high quality kibble will list one or more sources of WHOLE, unprocessed grains in the main ingredients.

The term “meal” means that the meat or other animal materials are not used fresh, but have been heated at extremely high temperatures. The fat rises to the top and is skimmed off. The remaining solids are then pressed to remove the residual liquid to create either chicken meal, turkey meal, beef meal, OR “meat meal” “meat and by-product meal,” “poultry meal,” etc. In a lesser quality food, meat and poultry meals, by-product meals, and meat-and-bone meal are common ingredients, which indicates the use of less desirable animal products such as slaughterhouse offal.

One of the main meat sources in the prescription foods sold by many veterinarians is “Chicken by-product meal,” which translates to: chicken feet, chicken entrails and other parts of the chicken unfit for human consumption. While the processing of meats and by-products for pet foods can destroy a great deal of the nutrients in the food, it does not necessarily destroy the hormones used to fatten livestock or increase milk production, or drugs such as antibiotics or the barbiturates used to euthanize animals. This is why foods that use human-grade meat sources are the best choice.

Grain sources must be considered, as well. Along with “meat and bone meals,” grains such as corn and wheat are usually among the first ingredients listed on both dry dog and cat food labels. Most dry foods use grain products for a large portion of the protein content, but not all protein sources are as readily digested and utilized. Cats especially are obligate or “true” carnivores and should derive their protein from meat, not grains. And as with the “meat” sources used in these foods, the grains are frequently not whole grain but the by-products of milling and processing grains for other uses.

When feeding dry kibble, be sure to supplement with a daily multi-vitamin and mineral supplement and essential fatty acids (our favorite is salmon oil), and consider digestive enzymes to help your pet assimilate the most nutrition possible. Top dress with people food such as leftover meats and vegetables, but not carbs like the mashed potatoes. (And don’t forget to reduce the serving of kibble in proportion to the table scraps. Overfeeding is a common problem for many companion animals and compounds their risk for poor health and disease.)

About Puppy & Kitten Food

While most manufacturers of pet food market a particular product for growing animals, we do not think this to be necessarily in your companion’s best interest. If you’ve read this far you have some understanding that a raw diet is the best diet for dogs and cats. The same is true for puppies and kittens. Their dietary needs are fully met by a high-quality diet of all raw food or the best possible combination of fresh foods and processed foods you can provide supplemented with raw or cooked meat and vegetables. Many puppy and kitten foods encourage the over-feeding of young animals which can lead to a host of chronic health issues later in life. Puppies and kittens should not be round and roly-poly as they are often depicted in photos, they should be appropriately trim just like adult dogs and cats. Growing too fast can predispose an animal to joint problems as well.

Prescription Diets

Many veterinarians are recommending prescription diets on a more regular basis. While it is a great way for veterinarians and especially the pet food industry to make more money, it is a very poor way to feed most companion animals. These diets are typically highly processed and contain highly questionable ingredients. The most popular brand of these foods uses grains as a principle protein source and includes “chicken by-product meal,” which translates to: chicken feet, chicken entrails and other parts of the chicken unfit for human consumption. In addition they Denali the Bichonoften contain the preservatives BHA and BHT — common ingredients in floor cleaners and paint products which, according to the manufacturer’s Material Safety Data Sheet, may be harmful if ingested, inhaled or absorbed through skin contact, and is a skin and eye irritant. Would you knowingly feed that to your companion?

These diets may help certain symptoms simply by providing a change, but they do not address the underlying causes. The best diet for any animal is a biologically appropriate diet. For dogs and cats that means fresh raw meat is the ideal. Diet is the foundation of good health. For many health issues in companion animals, a change in diet to real food can make all the difference in the world.

Maintaining a Healthy Weight

One of the most commonly asked questions in our veterinary practice is “how much should I feed my companion?” The answer is always the same — only you can determine that through time and experience. Every pet has a different metabolism, lifestyle and caloric need. Indoor cats will usually expend less energy than cats with access to the outdoors. A 50 lb. not-so-active Basset probably needs less than a hard working 50 lb. Australian Shepherd. Feeding guidelines on food labels are just that: guidelines. You have to watch your pet carefully and adjust their portion size appropriately.

If you have a hard time seeing the weight of your companion until he or she is “fat,” use a scale a couple times a month. Stand on a bathroom scale to determine your own weight, (you can do this when no one is looking — your pet won’t tell anyone), then pick up your pet and calculate their weight by subtracting yours. (Obviously this is easier with small dogs and cats). You should be able to feel your dog’s ribs, and they should not have a lot of “cushion.” Their abdomen should be hourglass shaped – they should have a waist. If their stomach protrudes on either side and they “waddle” when they walk, it’s time for a diet. Another sign of an overweight dog is extra fat around the base of the tail.

Overweight pets are at increased risk of developing orthopedic problems, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, respiratory disease, liver disease. Obesity also can affect an animal’s mental health and they can become lethargic and less enthusiastic about life. So keep this in mind when you reach for the treat jar for the tenth time and adjust dinner accordingly.

Consider Supplements

Nothing can replace a wholesome well-balanced diet when it comes to promoting good health for your pet. Proper supplementation however, can make a great diet even healthier. In addition, common problems such as arthritis and “aging changes” such as poor coat and decreased activity don’t always improve when diet alone is improved. By identifying specific problems and providing additional nutritional support through supplementation, many such conditions can be helped.

The articles and information in Only Natural Pet’s Holistic Healthcare Library are presented for informational purposes only and are not intended as an endorsement of any product. The information is not intended to be a substitute for visits to your local veterinarian. Instead, the content offers the reader information and opinions written by our staff, guest authors, and/or veterinarians concerning animal health issues and animal care products.

(Reprinted with permission from OnlyNaturalPet.com)

Only Natural Pet Store

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Busting the Top 20 Most Common Myths About Pet Behavior and Care (Article)

By Only Natural Pet

We hear many misperceptions about pet food and pet care from our customers at Only Natural Pet Store. We would like to debunk a selection of these myths that we hear most often so that we can separate fact from fiction for our readers. Here are the top 20:

1. The best foods are those the veterinarian sells.

While many pet guardians have been under the impression that the big brand foods by their veterinarian are premium, top of the line foods, one look at the ingredients by an educated eye will reveal the truth. Most of the formulas from these large, heavily marketed manufacturers derive far more protein from grain or grain by-product sources such as corn gluten meal and brewer’s rice than from meat sources.

Moreover, these so-called “premium” foods contain ingredients such as “chicken by-product meal” which consists of the leftovers in meat processing that are unfit for human consumption including head, necks, feet, undeveloped eggs, and intestines — basically everything BUT clean meat. It is a cheap, low quality source of protein — and far less digestible protein than clean chicken meal. Truthfully, if it is unfit for human consumption, then it is unfit for our companions as well. Although the formulas may contain a few specialized ingredients to position them as a special diet for health conditions such as joint support, urinary tract health, etc., a better way to treat these conditions is with a truly healthy food and one or more daily supplements.

Meat, and specifically a named meat meal (i.e. chicken meal, lamb meal, etc) should be listed before any grains in a pet food. Dogs and cats are carnivores — they are designed to derive protein from meat sources, not grain. The high grain content of many pet foods is one of the main contributors to the growing obesity problem and increase in allergies in dogs and cats — they just do not do well on such high-carbohydrate foods. (This does not mean that all grains are bad for dogs and cats. See myth #7)

2. Dry food cleans a dog’s or cat’s teeth.

This one you might even hear from some veterinarians, but it is most definitely not true.  Actually, if one wanted to stretch Hallie the Beagle Mixthings a bit, kibble might clean the very tips of the teeth, but that’s about it.  Take a look in your companion’s mouth. Dogs and cats have very pointed teeth; even their molars are sharp edged, not flat. These are teeth that were designed to bite, tear and chew raw meat. When a dog or cat eats kibble they either swallow it whole or, when they manage to bite down on a kibble or two, it will shatter.  Kibble does not scrape down onto the lower parts of the teeth or near the gums, which is where dental problems start. In fact, kibble can contribute to dental problems when small bits lodge between the teeth and promote bacterial growth.

Dental care for dogs and cats is vitally important as poor dental health can lead to other chronic disease conditions. Healthy teeth start with a healthy diet of course, and with regular brushing. Raw meat and bones are a terrific way to promote healthy teeth and gums as they require the dog or cat to gnaw and chew in a way that the sinews of the meat and hard bone will scrape teeth and massage gums. The longer they gnaw and chew the cleaner the teeth become, so big chunks of meat or meaty bones like chicken or turkey necks are ideal. The size of the meat or meaty bone should be appropriate for the size of the animal; for example cats can chew chicken necks, but not turkey necks.

If raw meat and bones are a bit more than you bargained for in caring for Fido’s or Max’s teeth, then brushing is a must. Jaw exercise and gum massage are important components of dental care, Some cats like to chew, too.

3. Dogs and cats should be fed a food appropriate to their life stage — puppies need puppy food, kittens need kitten food and senior pets need senior diets.

Stage of life diets were really created as a marketing tool. The more bags of food a particular manufacturer could come up with, the more shelf space they could command.  While it is true that puppies and kittens need more food for their size than adult animals, they do not necessarily need a specially formulated puppy or kitten food.

A high-quality, varied diet is the best option for most youngsters. For puppies this can include dry kibble, canned, freeze dried, dehydrated, and raw food. For kittens, kibble is not recommended to be a large portion of the diet (nor for adult cats) as it can contribute to dehydration, urinary tract issues and less than optimal health over time.  Cats are obligate carnivores, which means they are designed by nature to eat meat and very little carbohydrates. The newer higher meat content grain-free foods may be a good option if kibble is to be fed to kittens, but canned, freeze-dried, dehydrated and raw are better choices. Puppies, especially large breeds, can be at risk of growing too fast and experiencing joint problems, so overfeeding a high-protein food can be detrimental.

Feeding younger animals more frequent meals, 3 times per day, is helpful while they are in their biggest growth phase. After three or four months of age, two meals per day should be sufficient for most animals. Puppies and kittens should be kept slim, just like adult animals. The pictures shown in many puppy or kitten food advertisements of round, roly-poly fur-balls are misleading. It is just as unhealthy for younger animals to be overweight as it is for adults. If you choose to feed a puppy or kitten food for the first few months, keep an eye on your little companion’s waistline and don’t let them get round.  Transition to adult foods by three to six months of age.

Senior animals tend to slow down as they age, just as we humans do. While their calorie requirements may shrink, their need for the healthiest food you can provide is never greater than in the senior years. As animals age they require excellent nutrition to keep their immune system as strong as possible and their joints in good working order.  Continue to feed a high-quality varied diet right into your companions final years, just feed a little less of it. Again, watch their waistline.  Older dogs and cats are the most susceptible to the many health issues that obesity can give rise to including diabetes, arthritis, urinary tract problems and a shortened life span.

4. People food is bad for dogs and cats.

This is another one you may have heard in the past from your veterinarian. Most holistically trained veterinarians, however, encourage the practice of feeding people food to pets. Healthy leftovers are an excellent supplement to your companion’s regular fare.   There are only two rules with people food for pets: 1) It must be healthy for them: meat, steamed or finely chopped veggies and fruits, baked sweet potato, rice, oatmeal; you get the picture — no junk food. 2) If you give them some of what you are eating, remember to feed less of their own food so they do not put on extra pounds. And skip the onions, grapes and raisins — those can be detrimental for dogs and cats.

Even beyond leftovers, home-cooking is becoming quite a new trend among dog and cat lovers. Homemade food has never been easier as a matter of fact. There are a number of pre-mixes available to which all you need to add is meat. The premix contains vegetables, vitamins and minerals to make the meal complete. Sojos has varieties with and without grains as well as an organic blend.  Honest Kitchen offers Preference, a grain-free blend.  Dr. Harvey’s makes a premix for home cooked food that contains organic grains with an amazing blend of herbs. You don’t have to cook every meal for your companion to benefit from fresher food — even the occasional homemade dinner is a wonderful healthy treat!

5. Only complete and balanced meals should be fed to cats and dogs.

Pet food companies have a pretty big interest in perpetuating this myth. Is every meal you eat complete and balanced? How about every meal you feed your kids? Even the most health-conscious among us do not worry about meeting the proper balance of nutrients at every meal. We know that over the course of the day or week our diet will be fairly complete, so we don’t worry about eating exactly what the food pyramid recommends on a daily basis. Many of us take vitamins and supplements to fill in any gaps Little Girlfriendbecause even eating a very healthy diet of whole foods may not provide all the vitamins and minerals our body needs to stay healthy in this day and age.

Variety is the key to a healthy diet for humans, for dogs and for cats. If you are feeding at least 50 – 60% commercially prepared foods that are designed to be “complete”, then you are well on your way to providing a majority of the “balance” of nutrients. Adding canned meats, raw or cooked meats, people food, fresh vegetables or other “incomplete” foods to your companion’s meals can boost the overall nutrition of the diet as long as it is not overdone. Providing a daily multi-vitamin adds extra insurance. One caveat here: meat is higher in phosphorus and lower in calcium. When adding more than 15 – 20% extra meat to your companion’s diet on a regular basis, keep the calcium and phosphorus ratio balanced over time by including raw bones or adding a calcium source.

6. Feeding raw food is dangerous due to the risk of Salmonella and E. Coli.

The digestive tracts of dogs and cats are very different than those of humans. The human digestive tract is approximately 25 to 28 feet long with a stomach acidity between 1.5 and 2.5. Dogs and cats have a much shorter digestive system at an average of 10 to 13 feet for dogs (shorter for cats) with an acidity of less than 1. Raw food moves through the dog or cat’s system in less than half the time it would through a human’s system, and the high acidity kills most bacteria such as salmonella. Even if the food was contaminated, it likely would not enter the animal’s bloodstream. Commercially prepared raw food manufacturers take measures to control against the presence of unwanted organisms such as salmonella and e. coli, so for those concerned the frozen raw diets are a good option.

If you eat meat, then you are aware of the precautions to take when handling raw meat. The same precautions apply to raw pet food as to raw meat destined to be cooked for human consumption: wash bowls, utensils and your hands after feeding and handling the meat. Keep the meat frozen until two to four days before feeding, and thaw in the refrigerator. Don’t leave the food down for your pet for more than 30 – 40 minutes, after this time throw any leftovers away. With a bit of common sense, raw food is no more difficult or dangerous to feed than any other pet food.

Some folks like to argue that the wild relatives of dogs and cats have shorter life spans than our companion animals and blame this shortened life on consumption of raw food. While it may be true that wild dogs and cats (or their close relatives) are less long-lived than our pets, it is not due to their diet. Animals living in the wild are at far more risk from predators, competition for food and the harsh elements than they are from eating raw meat. Our companions are living longer lives due to their comfortable living conditions with regular meals provided, no hunting required, and no stress other than whether or not they’ll get caught on their favorite sofa.

7. Dogs and cats should not eat grains.

This particular “myth” can be true for some animals, especially cats. Again we must look at the teeth and digestive tract for clues here. Humans and herbivores have flat molars that can move back and forth to grind grasses and grains into fine particles. We produce the enzyme amylase in our saliva which begins to break down carbohydrates, even before they reach the stomach where the job is finished. Dogs and cats do not produce amylase in their saliva. Their teeth have sharp edges and do not move from side to side; they cannot “grind” anything in their mouth.

Dogs are considered omnivores of sorts; they can eat and digest grains and vegetables IF they have been somewhat pre-digested as they would be in an herbivore’s stomach or intestines. Therefore cooked grains are an acceptable source of carbohydrates for most dogs; note that they are an acceptable carbohydrate source, NOT an acceptable source of protein. Cats on the other hand are obligate carnivores. They do not digest grains well and become far more easily dehydrated eating dry foods high in carbohydrates. Cats in the wild tend to derive all their moisture from their prey; they rarely drink water. Many holistic veterinarians believe the growing prevalence of obesity and diabetes and many other chronic diseases can be at least partially blamed on diets too high in carbohydrates for cats.

Grains should be whole or whole ground grains such as rice, oats, barley, millet, etc. Wheat is a common allergen, so is avoided in the top quality pet foods as is corn. Wheat and corn are also less digestible for dogs. Grain by-products such as corn gluten meal, brewers rice, cereal fines and others are less expensive and less nutritious options than whole grains. Any time a food with grains is fed to a dog or cat digestive enzymes should be added to the food. This helps improve digestion and enhance utilization of the nutrients in the food. Digestive enzymes are one of the two most important supplements you can provide for your companion, along with essential fatty acids (fish oil).

8. Ash Content is an important guideline in choosing a cat food.

Concern about ash content in pet foods came about as veterinarians and cat guardians were looking for the cause of Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD — formerly known as FUS). In the 70’s & 80’s veterinarians thought ash was a factor in causing crystals in the urine. There are, however, a variety of causes and ash is no longer considered a factor in causing FLUTD. Further research has shown that the main problem was the formulation of commercial pet foods: most pet foods were creating a more alkaline urine (higher pH) which lead to an increase in struvite crystals. Most dry kibble diets are formulated with a high vegetable and grain content which creates a more alkaline urine. An all meat diet such as a cat would eat in nature creates a more acidic urine.

A high protein diet is the best way to maintain a low urinary pH naturally. Cats eating canned diets have fewer problems with FLUTD than those eating primarily dry kibble diets. This could be due both to the higher meat content of canned diets as well as the higher moisture content. Increased hydration also prevents crystal formation. A raw food diet is ideal for maintaining a lower urinary pH and providing proper hydration. Focusing on low-ash foods will not solve FLUTD problems, but a healthier diet and proper hydration will.

A more effective means of preventing FLUTD than stressing about the amount of ash in your companion’s food is focusing on stress reduction. Stress is an often overlooked contributing factor to FLUTD. (Lack of exercise is another.) When your companion is stressed their immune system is compromised. Furthermore, when you are stressed, your companion is far more likely to be stressed.

Flower Essences are another excellent stress reduction and emotional support tool. Cats are especially responsive to flower essences and can benefit greatly from their use. There is a flower essence designed for every emotional state, so look through the large selection and choose the one or two remedies that best match your companion’s issues.  Dosing can be as simple as adding a few drops to the water or massaging them into the ears or paws.

9. Changing formulas or brands of pet foods is hard on a dog or cat’s digestion.Ringo the Dachshund, Beagle Mix

A healthy dog or cat can eat a different food at each meal without issue, provided they are high-quality foods. Holistically minded guardians and veterinarians know that variety is important for several reasons. The most important of these is to avoid the development of sensitivities to any particular food or protein type. When the same food is fed for many months or years at a time, an animal can develop an allergy or sensitivity to that food or a specific ingredient in the food. Many holistic veterinarians believe that feeding the same food for many years is a contributing factor to the development of inflammatory bowel disease.

Variety provides a wider range of nutrition for your companion as well. While foods may be formulated to meet AAFCO standards, that does not mean that every food that meets those standards meets the needs of every dog or cat. As a matter of fact, there are many foods on the market that meet AAFCO standards that many cats and dogs cannot tolerate due to the grains and grain by-products used as protein sources. A more diverse diet is more likely to meet the nutritional needs of your companion over time. Besides all that, would YOU want to eat the same meal day in and day out for months at a time? Even if there was a “people kibble” that was formulated to meet all your nutritional needs, would you really enjoy that? And remember, every meal does not need to be perfectly balanced as long as the diet is balanced over the course of a week or so.

Whenever feeding a diet of cooked or processed food, digestive enzymes are essential, and will help your companion transition from one type of food to another with ease. Digestive enzymes help animals maintain a healthy digestive tract and get the most nutrition from their food. Essential fatty acids from fish oil provide the omega 3 fatty acids missing from most processed pet foods that nourish the skin, coat and digestive tract. Probiotics are important for animals on medication or those experiencing digestive upsets. For animals in need of increased digestive support due to chronic digestive issues, Only Natural Pet GI Support provides herbs and nutrients to soothe and heal the lining of the digestive tract.

10. Spaying or neutering an animal will cause it to gain weight.

Sorry, but that one just doesn’t hold up. Spaying and neutering may alter hormone levels, but it does NOT cause obesity. The causes of obesity in our companions are overfeeding, feeding high carbohydrate diets to less active animals, and not enough exercise. Spaying and neutering our companion animals is a responsibility not to be taken lightly. Spayed and neutered animals live longer, are protected from a variety of health problems and are much less prone to behavioral problems than intact dogs and cats. Thousands of unwanted animals are killed every day in shelters across America. These are preventable deaths, and the best means of prevention is the spaying and neutering of our companion animals.

The myth about weight gain in spayed and neutered animals may stem from the fact that most cats and dogs are spayed or neutered around 6 months of age, which is the time when their greatest growth period slows dramatically. Many guardians continue to feed the same amount of high-energy food they were feeding during their companion’s growth phase, and this leads to weight gain. Feed a high-quality diet appropriate to your companion’s activity level and watch their waste line. Weigh your animal periodically if you cannot judge their condition through visual evaluation and feeling their ribs.

Exercise is vital for your companion’s physical and mental health. 10 to 15 minutes of “chase the feathers” or “catch the mouse” twice a day can go a long way toward keeping your kitty happy and healthy. Play time encourages bonding and will ease the guilt you may feel from being away all day. Exercise is a bit easier for dog guardians since they can snap on the leash and go for a brisk walk. Some dogs may need more than a walk; they may need a vigorous game of fetch.

11. Dogs and cats need vaccination boosters annually.

Vaccinations do not need “boosting.” Studies have shown that a single vaccination for parvovirus, distemper and panleukopenia results in long-term protection from disease — from 7 years to a lifetime of protection. Simple blood tests can determine if your companion’s antibody levels for parvovirus and distemper remain high enough to resist infection. Even the American Veterinary Medical Association has changed it’s recommendations to suggest vaccinating very 3 years (for adult animals) rather than annually. Yet, many veterinarians continue to send yearly reminders to their clients urging vaccination boosters. Next time your veterinarian suggests a booster shot, request the blood test first (called a serum antibody titer).

Research which vaccinations are truly necessary in your area and for your companion’s lifestyle. A dog that does not go to doggy daycare, stay in a kennel or go to dog shows does not need a vaccine for kennel cough (bordatella). Other vaccines that may be unnecessary include lyme disease, corona virus, canine hepatitis, leptospirosis, parainfluenza, FeLV, FIP, ringworm, and rota virus infection. Contact holistic veterinarians in your area or pet associations to learn which vaccinations are absolutely necessary in your region of the country.

While preliminary studies show that rabies vaccines can provide protection for 7 years or longer, all states require the vaccine be administered at least every 3 years with some states still requiring annual vaccinations. A group of dedicated veterinarians and concerned guardians have created the Rabies Vaccine Challenge Fund and Study to complete the research necessary to change these regulations. We strongly encourage you to support this study and help change the laws that are forcing over-vaccination.

Homeopathic Nosodes are an alternative some guardians are using when choosing to limit vaccines. They can safely be used before three months of age if an animal is at risk or is exposed to disease. Many guardians use these homeopathic medicines to help protect their companions against Parvovirus, Distemper, Kennel Cough, Panleukopenia and FIP. Some nosodes seem to work more effectively than others. Homeopathic nosodes are not vaccinations. They do not produce titers against these diseases like a vaccination. They do seem to offer some protection by reducing the severity of illness if the animal is exposed, even if they don’t prevent it.

12. One year for a dog or cat’s age is equal to 7 human years.

Well, if that were true, a one year old dog or cat would be equivalent to a 7 year old human. However, both dogs and cats can reproduce at the age of 1 year, but humans do not reach sexual maturity until almost twice that age. Determining your companion’s age is a bit more complicated than straight multiplication. A simplified but a bit more accurate calculation is generally to compare a 1 year old dog or cat to a teenager of approximately 15 years, and a 2 year old dog or cat to human of about 24 years old. For each of your companion’s years after that add 4 years.

Dog ages are even more complicated due to the size differences between breeds; a 7 lb. Yorkshire Terrier ages more slowly than a 150 lb. Mastiff. Here is a helpful graph showing approximate dog years versus human years, followed by a chart showing approximate cat years versus human years.

Dog and Human Year Graph

Cat and Human Year Chart

The chart for cats shows the approximate age that cats are considered seniors as 7. Dogs are considered senior somewhere between 7 and 9 years old, depending on size. This delineation varies by individual, of course, but it is a good marker for when to consider extra support for your companion’s aging immune system, digestive system and joints. Most holistic veterinarians will recommend a transition from regular multivitamin supplements to a senior formula or the addition of an antioxidant formula around this age, as well as preventative supplementation for joint support.

As our companions age, their digestive systems become less efficient and they produce less of the enzymes necessary for proper digestion and assimilation of nutrients. While all animals on a processed or cooked diet should receive digestive enzymes with their food, this becomes even more important as your pet reaches her senior years.

13. A wagging tail is the sign of a happy, friendly dog.

Not always! Canine body language is a study unto itself, but some basics are very helpful to know when approached by a dog you are not familiar with. Check out the rest of the dog’s posture; walking stiffly with the head and tail raised high and wagging slightly or twitching can be an aggressive stance; be especially cautious if the dogs hackles are raised. If the dog’s head and front legs are lowered in a play-bow style, then she is being friendly.

Recent studies have also shown that dogs wag their tails asymmetrically depending on how they are feeling about the person approaching. Wagging more strongly to the right indicates positive feelings and curiosity, wagging more to the left indicates negative feelings or apprehension. Anxious dogs are frequently more likely to show aggression. Help your furry friend relax with new friends by supporting her emotional well-being.

14. Nervous or skittish dogs and cats were abused when they were young.

While abuse as a puppy or kitten can lead to nervous or anxious behavior later in life, it does not always. Furthermore, countless companion animals that have been in loving, caring homes since shortly after birth have anxiety problems. Making broad assumptions about the cause of a skittish animal’s behavior can be quite misleading. The importance of socialization before the age of six months should not be discounted, but even well-socialized individuals can still suffer from anxiety.

If you hesitate to adopt a dog or cat from a shelter for fear of coming home with a nervous pet, keep in mind that most animals will respond beautifully to lots of love and the security of a dependable guardian. Dogs and cats thrive on routine, and given a month or two to acclimate will typically ease into their forever home and relax.

15. A hot dry nose means your companion is ill.

Your dog or cat’s nose will not tell you whether they are ill or have a fever — you’ll need a thermometer for that, (the rectal kind). Normal dog and cat temperatures can range from 100.5 to 102.5. So, how do you know if your dog or cat is under the weather? Through changes in appetite and behavior for Daisy the Beagle, Coonhound Mixthe most part. While a single episode of stomach upset resulting in a day of poor appetite, vomiting or diarrhea is not usually cause for concern, repeated episodes can be a sign of serious illness. If your companion becomes more withdrawn and lethargic, a trip to the vet is due.

16. Eating grass is a sign that a dog or cat has an upset stomach.

Well, maybe, but not usually. While it is true that dogs and cats will sometimes seek out and chew grass to ease an upset tummy, a perfectly healthy animal is just as likely to graze on fresh green grass. There are a wide variety of theories about why some companions like to nibble on grasses, no one has a definitive answer. Some feel it may be a craving for fresh food containing live enzymes. Others think this behavior may result from a craving for the tripe, or digestive tract contents, that dogs and cats would enjoy when consuming prey in the wild.

Whatever the reason, there is no need to deny your furry friend’s craving as long as they are grazing on clean, untreated pastures. If you do not know if the lawn or park grass has been treated with chemical pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers, then find a better source for their daily greens.

17. It is fine for dogs and cats to eat each other’s food.

While there are a few canned formulas available that meet the needs of both species, most foods are designed specifically for cats or dogs.  Cats require a higher percentage of protein and fat than most dogs and they have specific requirements for additional taurine. Dogs that eat too much cat food are at risk of weight gain and even pancreatitis. Cats that eat dog food are at risk of weight gain when the food is high in carbohydrates, as well as deficiencies of important amino acids.

18. Animals lick their wounds to promote healing.

Dogs and cats will lick any area that irritates them — whether it be a wound, bug bite or itchy spot. Some animals will tend to lick more than others, and this does not promote healing. A wound or hot-spot that is over-licked can heal more slowly or become infected. It is best to discourage your companion from fussing over it’s sore spot. Bandaging the area will be enough to discourage some animals, but not all. Try Herbal Ointment to soothe irritation and speed healing. While Elizabethan collars (known as e-collars) can look like a torture device to sympathetic guardians, sometimes it is necessary for proper healing of wounds or sutures.

19. Only male dogs “hump” other dogs or lift their legs to urinate.

Male dogs will exhibit these behaviors more consistently than others, but even female dogs will lift their legs and urinate to mark territory or hump another dog to establish dominance. Some dogs can become downright obnoxious about it and may begin humping it’s human companions or even pillows or furniture. Others are so determined to be top-dog they are continually marking and posturing for dominance. Overly-assertive behaviors can be quelled through proper training and behavior modification techniques.

20. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

You didn’t really believe that one, did you? Dogs are trainable at any age and even cats can be trained with the right combination of patience, practice and the proper motivation. Proper motivation, of course, comes in the form of irresistible treats!

The articles and information in Only Natural Pet’s Holistic Healthcare Library are presented for informational purposes only and are not intended as an endorsement of any product. The information is not intended to be a substitute for visits to your local veterinarian. Instead, the content offers the reader information and opinions written by our staff, guest authors, and/or veterinarians concerning animal health issues and animal care products.

(Reprinted with permission from OnlyNaturalPet.com)

Only Natural Pet Store

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13 Seriously Crazy Pet Laws That You Can’t Believe Are Real (Infographic)

For pet lovers, there’s nothing more important than keeping animals safe and secure. But, most people don’t know the extent that some governments actually go to protect their pets, not to mention other wildlife. It’s always wise to learn how to properly care for your animal from the pros, but you may also need to check out these crazy laws to ensure you keep things legal.

Common Pet Laws

Now, there are plenty of pet laws that are by-the-book, very important rules put in place to protect animals and to help safeguard the rights of pet owners. These are valuable pieces of legislation. They often govern things like how many pets a home can have as well as the proper living conditions for animals. These laws are very serious and should be followed by every pet owner.

Wacky Pet Legislation

Sometimes, laws get a little out of hand. Carrington College found 13 existing U.S. laws that will surely have you scratching your head and wondering exactly why anyone would go through the trouble to put them in place. These are real laws — you can’t make these up! And they cover just about every type of animal in all types of circumstances. From llamas to camels, there are plenty of pretty interesting rules you need to follow as a pet owner in certain corners of the country. In this infographic below, take a closer look at some of the strangest pet laws currently on the books throughout the U.S.

Crazy Pet Laws Infographic

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What To Do If Your Dog Eats Your Stash Of Chocolate (Article)

By Cecilia Casillas @ ColourPetStudio

Chocolate is a common treat that most humans adore. Unfortunately for our pet dogs, this simple and yummy treat can be dangerous and life No Chocolatethreatening for our four-legged best friend. Why is this you ask? Commonly chocolate contains two major chemical ingredients which can cause your dog’s heart to race and their nervous system to be on high alert. Theobromine and caffeine, when consumed in high amounts by your pet, can cause their organs to go into overdrive resulting in organ failure.

This generally starts with the kidneys failing first. This is why it’s very important to keep your chocolate stash away from your pet dog at all times. But what happens when they happen to get into your stash? This quick guide will give you some of the things you need to do when you suspect your pet has consumed chocolate. But first what are the symptoms of chocolate poisoning?

Chocolate Poisoning In Dogs: What Are The Signs

Generally chocolate poisoning in your dog will begin between 6-12 hours after they’ve ingested it. It can last anywhere up to 72 hours. The most common and noticeable signs include:

Seizures
Elevated heart rate
Tremors
Diarrhoea
Restlessness
Vomiting
Increased urination
Collapsing
In severe cases death

What To Do If Your Pet Finds Your Chocolate Stash: Stay Calm And Don’t Panic

When you suspect that your pet has eaten chocolate, it’s important to stay as calm as possible and don’t panic. In a situation such as this, panicking can cause your pet’s heart to race more as they notice your stress. Calming yourself and staying focused can really help your pet greatly.

Assess What Chocolate They’ve Eaten

Some chocolates are more toxic than others so it’s important to take note of the type of chocolate they’ve eaten. This can help the vet to work out a plan of treatment when treating your pet. Dark chocolate or the ones with a higher amount of cocoa powder are the ones that are more dangerous to your pet. As a guide:

Milk chocolate that’s eaten in abundance of 0.5 ounces per pound of your pet’s body weight can be dangerous.
Ingestion of baker’s chocolate is dangerous at any amount and your pet should see a vet immediately.

Take Note Of How Much Was EatenChocolate Bad for Dogs

The amount of chocolate that was eaten also needs to be recorded if you can. The more the dog has eaten, the higher the severity of poisoning will be. However, this does depend on your dog’s size as well. If you have a larger pet dog and they’ve eaten a couple of squares, you only need to monitor your pet for a while. Some larger dogs can overcome eating a few smaller pieces of chocolate so it’s not necessary to take them to the vet.

Call A Veterinarian

A vet should be called when your pet has eaten a large portion of chocolate. Your vet will be able to give you advice on what to do and any treatment options they may be able to perform to help limit the effects of the poisoning. Sometimes your vet may induce vomiting to help remove any chocolate that’s been recently eaten. Your vet may also give your pet activated charcoal to help reduce the dog’s ability to absorb the toxins. Pets that have a medical condition or are elderly should be seen by a vet immediately when you suspect they’ve eaten chocolate.

Conclusion

While chocolate may be a great treat for human, unfortunately for a furry friend, it can cause major problems when ingested. The best way to keep your pet away from eating chocolate is by placing it in a high, enclosed cupboard out of reach. By doing this you’ll reduce the risk of your pet getting sick while still saving your chocolate stash.


About the author: Born in Mexico, a country of vivid beauty and colorful people, Cecilia Casillas brings the passion of her country of birth into her current artistic work with pets. Cecilia has painted since childhood, and studied with Mexican painter Paul Achar and Chilean painter Carlos Arias. In 2014, she came to Melbourne to continue refining her artistic skills, and finishing her bachelor’s degree. Founding Colour Pet Studio in 2014 has allowed her to share her pet painting skills with people from all over the world. She now brings pet owners joy through her painting.

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The Rising Problem of Dog Obesity (Article)

By Joe Thomas @ VetSure

As man’s best friend, dogs should be loved, praised and treated to a good life. But at what point does pampering turn to serious harm? According to the Pet Foods Manufacturers Association, nearly half of all dogs seen by vets are overweight. Far from being cute and cuddly, obesity in pets causes much the same problems as it does in humans, shortening their life span by around two years and causing a myriad of physical and medical problems.

The Problem

Obesity is much easier to prevent than it is to cure, so it’s important that all pet owners are aware of the causes of dog obesity and how best to avoid them. The main factor is overfeeding. This can be the result of too many treats from the owner or simply a lack of awareness of the calorie count in dog food. A small dog that weighs 22 pounds (10 kg) or less, for example, requires around 392 calories a day. An average tin of wet dog food contains 350 calories. One of those, plus a doggy treat or two, and your dog has had more than enough food for the day.

It’s the giving of treats, however, that hits dogs the hardest and also, how we misuse these treats, too. Rewarding your dog is to be encouraged in pet owners, for dogs need to understand when they’re behaving well and to know that it is beneficial to them (and others) to do so.

The best way to do this is with specially produced dog treats that improve health at the same time as reward. These ensure there is nothing toxic in the food and that fat levels are kept low. When dogs are treated to food from the table or off-cuts of last night’s roast it is easy to forget how fatty and calorific these things are. One roast potato, for instance, is 137 calories. Whilst that’s just 5% of a human’s daily calorie intake — a slight amount — it is 35% of a small dog’s. That’s over a third of all their food for the day. (See infographic below.)

The Effects

The consequences of overfeeding your dog are quite dire. As with humans, obesity in dogs can lead to serious health problems that are not only going to cost you a lot in terms of vet bills but will also lead to premature death. A few of these conditions are orthopedic disease, diabetes, cardio-respiratory disease, urinary disorders and anaesthetic complications, not to mention the discomfort and lack of energy that will impede your dog’s happiness.

A study that monitored the food intake and lifespans of two groups of Labradors found that those who were given a 25% restricted diet lived significantly longer (13 years to 11.2) than those who had more food and the onset of chronic diseases was delayed and less severe.

The Study

Denial plays quite a big part in dog obesity and it’s an issue that needs to be addressed. Dog owners fail to see the danger of a few extra pounds or think that they are spoiling their dog by giving it extra food or fatty meats, when in reality they are simply substituting their time and love with treats.

A study of the human-animal relationship in normal and obese dogs found that often obese dogs were “over humanized” by their owners, where the natural characteristics of the dog, such as being sources of work, protection and exercise, were ignored in favor of gaining a human-like companion. Such dogs are given lots of treats, allowed to sleep in the bed with the owner and are talked to regularly. Such an attitude goes against the natural disposition of the dog and damages its quality of life, producing overweight and under-exercised dogs.

The Solutions

Combating obesity requires regulation and control. Research how many calories your dog needs based on weight and breed and source wholesome, healthy food that will satisfy all of your dog’s nutritional requirements. It’s also important to establish set meal-times, for this will teach your dog when to expect food and when not to, as well as stabilizing their metabolism and digestive system. Low-fat treats should be used only to reward for good responses and practices.

As well as a good diet, dogs must be exercised regularly. On average, your dog will need lots of 30-minute exercises in one day but, again, this will vary depending on the size and breed of your dog. Different breeds have different requirements, too. Pointers, for example, need open fields to gallop around and hunt out wildlife, whilst a Labrador will depend much more on you to throw balls and play with him.

It’s also important to be aware that Labradors and Golden Retrievers are notoriously prone to gaining weight. Adjust your dog’s lifestyle according to what its breed requires and you will find that its weight will balance out and its energy will be long-lasting, making a very happy dog and a highly valuable pet.

Human Food for Dogs: A Translation

Source of infographic: VetSure.com

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