Dr. Karen Becker, a proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian, interviews Kohl Harrington, director of the new documentary Pet Fooled about commercial pet food, pet food recalls and deliberate deception campaigns that are common in the industry.
You may have heard that dog owners tend to have happier and healthier lives than people without pets. Unfortunately, we’re not all able to have pets; but we may have a great alternative for you! It turns out, dog owners and dog walkers enjoy many of the same health benefits. Walking dogs can help you live a longer, more successful life (and make you big money too).
Being around dogs gives you a great mental boost
Had a bad day? Just think, you can walk in the door to see a dog’s sweet face and pick up their leash to melt the day away. Here’s why a wagging tail is so good for your mood: seeing a dog lowers the stress hormone cortisol—even after just a short period of time. Couple that with the physical health benefits, and you have a recipe for a happy, healthy life.
Walking improves your physical health
Walking helps you build strong bones and muscles, improve your balance and coordination, maintain a healthy weight, and manage health conditions like high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. So what makes walking even better? A cute dog, of course.
Being outside improves your well-being
Do you love nature almost as much as you love dogs? Not only does walking dogs give you an excuse to hit the trail, but it can also improve your well-being (and give you tons of great Instagram photos).
It gives you time to take care of yourself
Have you ever regretted not exercising? We’ve been there. On the other hand, have you ever regretting exercising? Unless you went overboard on the squat rack, probably not. Simply put, walking dogs allows you to easily put your health front and center in your life. If your not sure where to walk, have search on Visorando for some routes to suit you.
Bonus: regular walking helps dogs live longer too
52.5% of U.S. dogs are overweight or obese. Not surprisingly, regular walks help dogs maintain a healthy weight. And it has tons other health benefits too, including improving digestion and reducing unwanted behaviors like chewing, digging, or scratching. And our favorite: regular walks could help build a dog’s confidence and trust by exposing them to other humans and animals around them. So the next time you take your favorite dog client for a walk, know that you’re giving them some of the best parts of their day and helping them live longer.
Become a Dog Walker on Rover
If you love getting outside and meeting cute dogs, Rover—the nation’s largest community of dog walkers—could be great a great fit for you. See if you qualify to become a dog walker on Rover today, and start making $1,000 or more per month. (Curious about what you can charge? Here are rates of top dog walkers in Austin and top dog walkers in Miami.) Being a Rover dog walker allows you to stay healthy, get moving, and get paid—all while doing something you love.
Have you noticed that your dog is not able to jump into the car or onto the couch? Does he have difficulty with stairs or does not want to finish a walk? Has your cat stopped grooming, especially her back end? Are her nails long and overgrown? All of these symptoms could mean that your pet is experiencing the discomfort of joint disorder. Joint disorder is the #1 chronic condition affecting up to 25% of dogs and 20% of cats. Yet research shows that less than 1 in 7 dogs with joint disease actually receive care. The good news is that there are easy and effective treatment options available, if you do your homework.
When the Healthy Joint Becomes Unhealthy
In healthy conditions, the natural joint building blocks, cartilage and synovial fluid, reduce friction and act as a shock absorber. The body makes these joint building blocks normally by producing glycosaminoglycans, or GAGs. These GAGs consist of glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate and hyaluronic acid. Injury, repeated stress, excess weight, poor diet, and genetic predisposition can contribute to unhealthy joints. In the unhealthy joint, production of these joint building blocks is impaired. The animal’s body is unable to keep up with demand for building blocks, resulting in irritation, inflammation, pain, and decreased mobility.
Pet guardians have many options to treat unhealthy joints in their dogs and cats, but they fall primarily into two different categories. There are pharmaceutical or drug options and there are natural alternatives. Drug options include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which block the production of prostaglandins associated with pain and inflammation; COX-2 inhibitors, which target specific prostaglandins, and Aspirin/Ascriptin(R), which reduces pain. These drugs are very good at blocking pain and decreasing inflammation. They do not, however, add to the body’s joint lubricants or biochemical process. Work closely with your veterinarian when considering NSAIDs, cats do not metabolize aspirin like dogs and can be toxic, over the counter human products, such as Tylenol(R) cause destruction of red blood cells and should never be given to cats or dogs. Because of the often unacceptable side effects of NSAIDs, there has been a market shift toward natural alternatives.
Natural treatments, used alone or with a drug option, has benefits your pet will feel and you will see. The natural process supplies the body with the joint building blocks- glucosamine, chondroitin and hyaluronic acid. This is what the pet’s body would provide in a healthy situation. Complete natural alternatives also provide select ingredients such as herbs to increase circulation, decrease inflammation and slow oxidative damage allowing the body to repair and rebuild the affected joint. You should notice your pet moving more easily, completing walks, jumping up on the bed or into the car and being more vibrant and happy overall.
Key Active Ingredients in Natural Treatment Alternatives
Joint Building Blocks: Glucosamine and Mucopolysaccharides (Glucosamine, Chondroitin Sulfate, Hyaluronic Acid)
Anti-inflammatory: Yucca, Devil’s Claw, Black Cohosh, Cayenne, MSM
Anti-oxidant: Turmeric, Ginger, Alfalfa, Vitamin C
Circulatory stimulant: Nettle, Celery Seed, Ginger
Non-complete vs. Complete Formulas
If a dog or cat with unhealthy joints receives no treatment, recovery is not likely due to continuing pain, swelling and the body’s inability to produce enough of the joint building blocks. This will lead to a less comfortable and less active life for the pet.
If a dog or cat with unhealthy joints receives an incomplete formula, containing only glucosamine and/or chondroitin sulfate or less than effective amounts of ingredients, repair of the joint may be enabled but many pets will see slow and only partial recovery.
If a dog or cat with unhealthy joints receives a complete formula that combines the joint building blocks with ingredients to decrease inflammation, increase circulation, remove free radicals and enhance absorption, optimal and accelerated recovery will result.
About the Author: Rebecca Rose, President of In Clover, Inc. Ms. Rose is a biochemist and the developer of animal health products. She is the author of three patents on the composition and method for treating joint disorder in vertebrates. In Clover is the maker of Connectin(R), a clinically-tested joint supplement for dog and cats.
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 diseases, 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
Make 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As 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.
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 the 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.
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.
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
When 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.
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:
Mars Inc. — Mars Petcare creates 41 brands in total, including four billion-dollar brands…
Banfield (vet clinics)
Other leading brands include:
Nestle — Purina’s significant brands and product lines include…
Merrick Pet Care
Purina Cat Chow
Purina Dog Chow
Purina Pro Plan
Purina Veterinary Diets
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.