Monday, October 9, 2017

Be Wary of Pet Toxins

There are many different substances, foods and liquids that are poisonous to your pet. Things that we as humans take to help us can actually hurt or even kill our animals. Therefore, it is important to recognize the hazards that lurk in your house to keep your pet safe.

Chocolate is the number one poison animals ingest. Dark and baking chocolate are the most dangerous, but milk chocolate can be dangerous if eaten in large amounts. Xylitol, a sweetener found in sugarless chewing gum and candy, as well as certain medications, causes a rapid blood sugar drop and liver failure in dogs (cats are exempt from this danger). Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDS, such as ibuprofen (found in Advil, Motrin and other pain relievers) can cause stomach ulcers and kidney failure in animals because they are not easily metabolized by them. Over-the-counter cough, cold and allergy medications, especially ones with acetaminophen, pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine, are extremely toxic. Mouse and rat poison can cause internal bleeding or brain swelling, even in small amounts. Grapes and raisins, while harmless to humans, can cause kidney damage in dogs. ADD/ADHD prescriptions, such as Adderall, can cause tremors, seizures, cardiac issues and death in pets. And finally, oxygen absorbers found in food packets, which contain iron, can cause iron poisoning. Silica gel packs found in such items as new shoes, are rarely a concern.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Dog Breath can be More than Just a Nuisance

One of the most common 'complaints' dog owners have about their four legged friends is their breath. While it may seem a part of a dog's overall nature, there is a certain degree of odor that should come from their mouth. There are many different underlying causes of extreme bad breath in dogs that may seem like nothing more than a nuisance, but can actually be warning signs to much more serious problems if not addressed promptly. Examining your dog's mouth on a regular basis can prevent these issues from escalating quickly and causing serious consequences later on.

Checking your dog's gums is the most important ant area to examine. Gums should be pink, not any shade of red, white, yellow or blue. Don't panic if your dog has dark pigment spots on their gums and tongue---that's normal. Red and swollen gums are a sign of periodontal disease, a serious condition that should be looked for regularly and, if seen, addressed by your veterinarian immediately. Your pet's gums will recede and their teeth will loosen and fall out without proper treatment. Catching the condition early and taking immediate action is the key to preventing this.

Teeth are the most important part of dog's mouth. They eat, chew, etc. with them and they should be in top shape to maintain your dog's overall happiness. When checking teeth, they should not be broken or cracked. Take your dog to the veterinarian right away if you think they have a cracked tooth. The veterinarian will take x-rays to determine the severity of the damage. If it seems absolutely necessary, the vet may choose to pull the tooth, restore it or refer your dog to a veterinary dental specialist. Dogs accumulate tartar buildup just as we do, but at different rates depending on the individual dog. A professional cleaning by your veterinarian can resolve the issue. They can also tell you how often your dog's teeth need to be cleaned, whether it be every six months or even a few years between cleanings. A dog's characteristics are a factor into tartar buildup rate, but there are methods to control some of the factors that affect tartar buildup. Pet's who eat dry food accumulate less tartar than those who eat moist or canned food. Brushing your dog's teeth at home can also make a difference. You can give your pet special treats and chew toys for cleaning their teeth and controlling tartar if you aren't up to brushing their teeth every night before bed. Ask your veterinarian for specific products.

When it comes to dog breath, it shouldn't be so foul that it makes you leave the room. Foul odor in the mouth can indicate dental disease. Excessive drooling and lumps in the mouth are also warning signs. Tell your veterinarian promptly if you see any of these signs.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Demystifying pet food: Facts and Fiction of the Pet Food Industry

There are many differing opinions on the topic of pet food. Grain-free and raw diets are buzzwords on the lips of pet owners today looking for healthier alternatives to their pet food. But are these types of food really what they sound like? All 'healthy' foods are not the same as they like to project themselves as. With a wide array of choices it's easy to be scammed. What it comes down to is extensive research, along with the knowledge of what to look for and what to avoid.

It's important to identify the real manufacturer of the pet food. To be considered 'high quality', the company will:
  • Make the food in its own facility, employing a board-certified veterinary nutritionalist.
  • Have an American Feed Control Officials (or AAFCO) feeding trial statement.
  • Practice strict quality control measures as well as conduct and publish research on animal nutrition.Look for the words, 'Manufactured By', rather than 'Distributed By' or 'Manufactured For'. These foods are co-packed, made by several different manufacturers and labeled by the end company who sells it. Mass manufacturing, on the other hand, is where one company manufactures the food for many labels.
One big problem for veterinary professionals is guaranteeing that the label ingredients are actually present in the food. 20-52 foods tested for their ingredients showed discrepancies between labeled ingredients and what was in the actual diet. This can pose a problem for owners trying to avoid food allergens in their pets. Allergy trials point toward therapeutic limited-ingredient diets or supervised home-cooked diets are a better choice than over the counter diets with claims of limited ingredients that aren't lived up to.

Grain-free does not mean hypoallergenic. There is no set AAFCO definition of grain-free, so the definition can vary by manufacturer. Raw food is also a new trend, the rationale being 'that's what animals eat in nature'. Most raw diet reports lack long term, high quality study results.

The only thing you as an owner can do is your homework. There are many foods out there that look legitimate, but can easily fool the unsuspecting. Follow these guidelines and your pets will thank you for it at dinner time.