Hacking up Hairballs ☆

 

Logo 2One of the most common complaints I hear from cat owners is that their cat is constantly throwing up.  It is so common that  ” hacking up a hairball”  has become a known euphemism.  There are many reasons why some cats vomit on a regular basis.

There are some medical conditions that cause nausea and vomiting.  Kidney disease is one of them.  If the cat is starting to have a decline in kidney function,  one of the signs is anorexia and vomiting.  If these symptoms have been observed for more than a couple of days a veterinary visit is definitely advised.

Another medical cause for frequent vomiting is sometimes cancer.  This is usually accompanied by anorexia, weight loss and lethargy.  If these symptoms are observed for more than a couple of days, this too would warrant a veterinary visit.  These are, of course, extreme accounts and typically not the cat throwing upnorm.

In my experience, the most likely reason for most cats is the diet they are being fed.  Most cat owners feed their cats a dry kibbled diet that is left out in the bowl so the cat can pick on it all day.  Since cats are obligate carnivores, they have no nutritional requirement for carbohydrates.  When cats are fed a diet consisting of a high carbohydrate level, which are also typically high in “filler” ingredients, their bodies reject the food because they do not produce the enzymes necessary to digest that type of product.  Another problem with dry kibbled foods is the lack of moisture in them.  Cats need moisture in their food to help them to properly digest it.  Indoor cats that spend a lot of time grooming also have the tendency to throw up, especially when they are fed too many carbohydrates.  The carbohydrates alkalize the stomach acid which, in turn, helps to create hairballs.  Cats that are fed an all meat diet have stomach acid that is corrosive enough to break down the hair before it gets into the small intestine, thereby, preventing hairballs.

If any cat parent wants to alleviate the problem of their cat constantly throwing up, the simple solution is to change the cat’s diet to, ideally, a raw food diet. 33697_1653600382150_3474380_n If there is a reason a raw food diet is not appropriate, a dehydrated (but rehydrated) or grain free canned food is the next best choice.  By feeding a diet that most closely resembles the food a cat has evolved to eat,  you will eliminate the problem of your cat “hacking up a hairball”!

Until next time my faithful furry follower!

Canine Obesity ☆

Logo 2Obesity rates in humans have reached alarming levels. It is estimated that 64% of U.S adults are overweight or obese. Our canine friends are not far behind. The estimates for dogs are 25-40% and climbing. Lifestyles have been changed with the advances in electronic technology. Time that used to be spent outdoors is now spent indoors in a “virtual” reality. Most dogs are forced to rely on 1 hour or less of vigorous exercise a day. Many spend hours locked in crates while their owners are at work. This lack of exercise for both humans and our furry companions plays a big part in the obesity problem.

Poor diet is another major contributing factor. Poor quality food, weather it is for humans or dogs, is all considered “fast food”.  Many people equate food with love. We all feel good if we can feed something. Petting zoos are successful because people have the “need to feed”.  People that over feed their dogs are, literally, killing their dog’s with kindness. Unless someone points this out to them, most people don’t recognize the problem until serious health issues arise.

Testing can be done to rule out any possible medical reasons for the weight gain such as a thyroid condition. If all medical conditions are ruled out, the most common causes are:10013041_682626011796511_170305295_n

  1. High Carbohydrate Diet-Usually corn based
  2. TREATS-TREATS-TREATS
  3. Lack of Exercise

Lets address these common causes one by one.

1.  Carbohydrates are poorly utilized by the dog. All the extra energy from those carbohydrates is stored as fat. High carbohydrate foods are considered the “fast foods” of the dog food market. A better alternative is a high protein, low carbohydrate, reduced fat diet.  They are available in kibbled, canned, dehydrated or frozen raw formulas. The volume of the dog’s ration should also be reduced. To make the dog feel fuller, vegetables such as green beans and canned pumpkin can be added to make the dog feel satisfied without adding extra calories. Veterinary formulas that are prescribed for overweight dogs are usually low fat, high fiber formulas. They are not recommended for long term use because of the low quality of their ingredients.

2. Treat Limits – Many people over-treat their dogs. Instead of being rewarded for DOING something, dogs are treated for just BEING. It becomes a routine for people to treat the dog at certain times throughout the day. The dog becomes conditioned to receive the treats and will harass the owner or stare at the area the treats are kept.  Fortunately,10553629_814681225230313_9064284868694633905_n dogs can be conditioned into and out of anything. The hard part is changing the owner.  One large wheat based biscuit contains 500 calories. One small wheat based biscuit is equivalent to 1 hamburger for 20lb dog. That is a meals worth of calories. Eventually it is going to catch up! The treats don’t have to be eliminated completely, but can be limited in quantity and changed to a treat that is better for the dog. Carbohydrate based treats such as biscuits should be substituted with meat based treats or real meat. Freeze dried chicken breast is an easy, low calorie, treat.  Real meat can be cut into small cubes and frozen individually on a cookie sheet. They can be kept in a bag in the freezer to be used at any time. Frozen vegetables such as green beans, peas or broccoli make great low calorie treats as well. Fresh or frozen asparagus spears are a great chew stick for little dogs. They love them and they are good for them.

3. Exercise – This is by far the hardest part of the weight loss equation. People either don’t have time to exercise the dog, are not physically able to exercise the dog or plain just don’t WANT to exercise the dog. Unfortunately, diet change can only work to a point. If the dog needs to lose a large amount of weight, diet change alone is not going to achieve the goal. Exercise is not only good for the dog physically, but mentally as well. Dogs in their natural state walk 10-12 HOURS a day. Domesticated dogs are lucky if they get 45 minutes! Many of unwanted canine behaviors can also be alleviated with regular exercise. Dogs must be conditioned into an exercise program. Start with 10-15 minutes twice a day for an obese dog and add 5 minutes to each walk every other day. For those owners that cannot walk their dogs outside, a treadmill is a great tool also. A trainer can come to their home and train the dog to the treadmill in one session. Aqua-Therapy clinics are also available. Underwater treadmills offer low-strain exercise in a controlled environment. They usually also offer swim tanks. This alternative is excellent for the severely obese dog that has to lose weight quickly, such as in anticipation of surgery or for a dog that is unable to exercise due to arthritis or other orthopedic problems.

Most dogs that need to lose weight will not be able to exercise enough on their own to make a difference. The dog let out in the backyard is not going to move around without prompting from the owner. As we say, “If you see a fat dog, the owner is not getting enough exercise!”

1380678_10151885508123904_1123069790_nBy taking the steps needed for your dog to lose the weight he needs to, you will be helping him to lead a healthier, much longer life!

Until next time my faithful furry followers!

 

 

 

Why does my dog itch? ☆

Logo 2One of the most common problems that I hear about on a daily basis from dog owners is that their dog is constantly itching.  Some only itch one spot, some itch all over their bodies.  They rub their faces on the rugs, the furniture, even on each other! There are many reasons why a dog starts itching, but I’ll address the most common reasons I see.

Obviously the first reason is a flea problem.  Even when the fleas are taken care of, if the dog is particularly sensitive, it may take some soothing baths before the irritation is healed.  There are good shampoos on the market that utilize oatmeal, tea tree oil or kava kava for their healing properties.  They are detergent free so are not harmful to already irritated skin.   If fleas have been ruled out, there are some diet related reasons that dogs itch.1925343_503636896413161_1333009994_n

Some dogs have developed an intolerance to an ingredient in their diet.  If you are feeding the same food for a long period of time, this might be the cause of your dog’s itching.  If you are feeding a diet that is high in carbohydrates you might inadvertently be contributing to a Candida overgrowth.  There is a natural balance of yeast (candida) and beneficial bacteria in a healthy intestinal tract.  When there is an imbalance created by stress, poor nutrition, or use of medications, the yeast will overpopulate.  The yeast then migrate to different parts of the body and cause symptoms such as itching, hair loss, re-current ear infections and a stinky coat. The use of probiotics, change of diet to a lower carbohydrate level, and vitamin supplementation will usually clear the excess yeast from the system and keep it from returning in the future.

Another medical condition that should also be ruled out is a thyroid condition.  If your dog’s thyroid is not producing the correct amount of hormones due to thyroid damage, genetic abnormality or vaccinosis, some of the symptoms are hair loss, itching, elephantitis of the skin and a foul odor. This can be determined by your veterinarian.

Another cause of itching in dogs is vaccinosis caused by over vaccination.  This is an auto immune disease that develops when the immune system over reacts to the stimulation caused by too many vaccines administered at the same time.  Proper vaccination schedules based on new research are now available.

itchy dogEven though your dog’s itching can be caused by many different reasons, the first step to better health is to provide the dog with the best possible diet to promote healing.  When you feed your dog a species appropriate diet, you will be providing everything he needs to get healthy and remain that way for years to come.

Until next time, my faithful furry followers!

 

 

Litter Woes…… Why Cats get Loose Stool ☆

Logo 2There’s nothing worse than walking into a room and getting the distinct stench of your cat’s litter box. Immediately you know that something is seriously amiss.  When a cat has diarrhea, everyone in the house knows it.  Finding out the reason is the hardest part.   Cat in litter boxCats get loose stool for a variety of reasons.  One of the reasons is a change in their diet.  If you are using a commercial dry or canned cat food and have not changed the brand, perhaps the manufacturer changed the ingredients in the food.  Cats are very sensitive to these changes and sometimes require a period of adjustment to the new formula.  Diets and treats that contain too many carbohydrates or fillers can also have this effect.   Many inexpensive foods use flavor enhancers to make the food more palatable to the cat.  These types of ingredients are sometimes poorly utilized by the cat’s body and can cause loose stool.

Is your cat a hunter?  Even though a mouse is the best meal for a cat, it can harbor parasites that can transfer to your cat when he is enjoying his prize.   These parasites can also be the cause of loose stool.  Providing your vet with a stool sample can rule out this potential threat.  Cats have the ability to manifest physical symptoms while under stress.  Many people don’t think that their cats can be stressed out, after all, how much does he really need to do?  Eat, sleep, & poop?  The type of stress that effect cats are:  Changes in the environment.  Did you add a new animal or human to the household?  Did you buy a new couch?  Did you change where the litter box is located? Or even change the type or brand of litter?  Is there hostility in the house from domestic situations?  All these and more are considered stressors to the average cat.

Frequent travelling is another factor.  Is your cat left under the care of a pet sitter frequently?  Do you travel with your cat?  Cats are very reluctant to change. They like things to stay status quo.  These are just some of the cat with stinky boxexamples of the kind of stressors that might have an effect on your cat’s bowel habits.  Stress also causes inflammation.  Irritable bowel syndrome is a condition that develops when constant inflammation is present.  In order to reduce the inflammation the stressors have to be eliminated.  The diet has to be addressed to eliminate any aspects that will contribute to the inflammation as well.

In my experience, cats that are fed a raw food diet rarely have digestive issues.  Supplements like slippery elm or marshmallow root help soothe the lining of the intestinal tract to help it heal.  Probiotics are also very beneficial.  They help to repopulate the micro flora in the intestines so the cat can process its food more efficiently.   By addressing all aspects of your cats lifestyle and making changes where needed can help to eliminate the horrible experience of your cat’s intestinal distress.

Until next time my Furry Followers!

 

Should I set up a consultation with Amy? ☆

Logo 2If you have any questions or concerns about your pet’s diet.  If your pet had been diagnosed with a medical condition and you don’t know what the best diet is for him.  The hardest part of researching anything is sifting through all that information and deciphering what is fact and what is opinion.

Many people offer their advice with good intentions, but unfortunately, most of the information they are passing on is not based on facts.  I have spent most of my career attending lectures and conferences given by the experts in each field.  By doing this, I have amassed a wealth of knowledge in nutrition and wellness for dogs and cats.  I have also had the opportunity to gather a lot of anecdotal evidence on many different medical conditions and treatments. If you would like to finally know what you should really be doing for the health of your furry friend it is time to set up a consultation.Amy

No matter what your schedule, we have a few different consultation options for you. All consultations provide:   A 1 hour one on one personal review of your pets current diet, treats, lifestyle and medical records. Diet and/or supplement recommendations customized to your pet based on evaluation of all information you provide. You will also receive any updated research information corresponding to your pets wellness needs. Even if your pet does not have a current medical condition, this consultation will help you make the best decisions for your pet to keep him as healthy as possible.   In Store Consultations: $40.00   Can’t make it to the store? We offer consultations in your home. Within 10 miles $55.00. Within 20 miles $75.00

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