Category

Health & Wellness

What is the best way to store dry pet food?

People often ask why we do not carry a huge amount of food, or those gigantic large pound bags. Simply put, freshness! We encourage folks to not buy more food than their pet(s) will consume in a few weeks. This is because from the minute you open the bag of food, the vitamin potential and taste begin to decrease.

How you store it, and what you store it in is very important. Do you buy large plastic bins from the big lot stores? These may not be the best choice as the plastic can leach into the food. Look for FDA approved “food” containers.

Dry food is susceptible to food spoilage that can make your pet sick. Listen to your pet! Sometimes food problems (mold, bacterial and fungal growth) are invisible, but your pet may alert you by refusing to eat it!

In a nutshell:

• Dry food is susceptible to TIME, HEAT, OXYGEN and MOISTURE.

• Whenever possible, keep food in its original bag placed down inside a tightly sealed container.

• Buy fresh food and don’t buy more than your pet will consume in a couple of weeks. Also, don’t pour the remnants of an older bag into the newer bag. This bad habit can transfer bacteria.

• If you do buy those large bags, and use a food container, only pour half of the bag into the container and store the rest in the freezer. Always wash your food container every time you refill it, or buy a new bag because containers can harbor molds and bacteria.

• Ideally, store food in the freezer, refrigerator or a cool, dark place. Preferably not your garage.

 

 

The 5 Reasons So Many Dogs Tear Their ACL

by Dr. James St. Clair. Posted in Joint Health And What You Can Do to Help Prevent It

Why is it that an ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) injury in dogs is the most common orthopedic injury of all veterinary medicine? Did nature not make this ligament strong enough in dogs? Is it simply due to bad breeding, or are there other factors in play here with relation to this injury?

This question comes up a lot in discussions with my clients. They want to know why their dog got this injury, and if there was anything they could have done to prevent it. Here are the 5 most common predisposing factors to ACL injuries in dogs.

  1. Bad Breeding: We’re all familiar with the term “hip dysplasia.” It has been well documented that the 2 most common causes of this disease condition in dogs are bad breeding and over-nutrition at a young age. We will dig into this more in a future post. But how do hip problems lead to ACL injury? It’s simple: overcompensation.
    Over the years, veterinarians have discovered the direct correlation between hip dysplasia and ACL injuries: if a dog blows their right ACL, X-ray the hips and sure enough many times you will see that the left hip is not good. This makes sense, right? If your left hip hurts, you are going to overcompensate and place more weight and stress on your right leg. Over time, this added stress weakens the Cranial Cruciate Ligament in that right knee. All it takes is a certain movement or hyperextension and POW, you blow the right.
  2. Natural Load: Dogs walk with their knees bent at all times, which means that the ACL is always “loaded,” i.e. carrying weight. Humans, on the other hand, walk with our knees straight up and down. This is why in people, we mostly see ACL injuries in athletes who hyperextend the knee, such as football or basketball players.
  3. Excess Weight: It is well documented that approximately 50% of dogs today are clinically overweight, and in most cases obese. Obviously, the more weight on the ligament, the more strain over time.
  4. Weekend Warrior Syndrome: This is what I call the plague of the domestic dog. Most dogs are natural-born athletes, but in western society – due to our lifestyle and work schedules – we don’t give our dogs enough exercise on a regular basis. And then when we do allow them to be dogs and exercise, more often than not, we overdo it. Clearly, lack of exercise means weaker muscle and weaker soft tissue ligament, making them more prone to injury.
    The most common description of an ACL injury I hear from my clients goes something like this: “My dog was chasing a ball, squirrel, other dog, etc. and then I heard a yelp. When my dog came back into the house, it was holding its leg up.
  5. Lack of Recognizing Early Warning Signs: Many times dogs have joint health issues which are underlying and go undiagnosed by both pet owners and veterinarians, mostly due to lack of people’s understanding of what I call the 12 subtle signs of arthritis. Check out the video discussing these 12 signs at www.dogarthritischallenge.com.

What You Can Do to Prevent ACL Injury in Your Dog

In order to give your dog the best chance of avoiding an injury to their ACL, make sure that they maintain a healthy body weight, exercise them on a regular basis and don’t allow them to overdo it without proper conditioning, get a prophaltix X-ray taken of their hips and lumbar spine to ensure good body structure, and lastly, be informed about the early warning signs of arthritis. As with any preventative health measures, you’ll save yourself and your pup a lot of strife by staying ahead of the problem.

Allergies in Dogs & Cats

EXCERPT FROM “THE ROYAL TREATMENT” – by Barbara Royal, DVM, CVA, founder and owner of The Royal Treatment Veterinary Center

ALLERGIC PETS

An itchy pet may not be a medical emergency, but it is often a mental emergency.

Allergies are a big issue in veterinary medicine. Although a sneeze can be an initial sign of allergy, a more common sigh of allergy is itching. Itchy dogs and cats chew at their skin and feet, scratching, licking, irritating, and even ulcerating skin. Itching is distressing for both pets and owners. It’s hard to live or sleep with a per that can’t stop scratching. The irritated pet can really weigh on the mind. Not to mention the extreme discomfort the pet is going through.

Not only are people allergic to animals, but animal are allergic to our world, too. I use the analogy of a cup overfilling when I explain allergies to my clients. As long as the cup isn’t brimming over with allergens and immune problems, the animal won’t show any signs of irritation. However, when the cup runneth over, the itchy signs maketh themselves known.

Note: Some of my clients have been told that their pet is allergic to meat. I believe it is highly unlikely that a carnivore is allergic to meat. Although I know it can be true, it should be the exception, not the rule. More commonly, the culprit is the chemicals in processed meats or poor-quality meats, or the grains and chemicals in the processed food irritate an animal’s GI tract, making the intestines a poor border protector. An unhealthy GI tract may allow more antigens into the bloodstream. When a food change alleviates allergies, it is more likely because the food improves the health of the GI tract by providing a good protein content, and fewer grains of chemicals. A healthy GI tract makes all the difference in resolving allergies.

Pet Food 101 ~ Part 2

What’s important in pet food

  • Feed a diet as close to the natural diet of that animal as you can – a meat and vegetable diet. Simple food is best.
  • Rotate ingredients and brands frequently.
  • Choose foods made from human edible ingredients – this minimizes poor quality additions + byproducts.
  • Good food is not cheap. Good food = healthy dogs and cats.
  • Keep it safe once you get it home.
  • Exotic meats and ingredients are not needed. Novel proteins are only needed by the truly allergic.
  • Dry food does not clean teeth!

Categories of pet food:

Frozen and Canned foods are the closest thing to the natural diet of dog’s and cat’s bodies.

  • Canned food is COOKED, highly processed, and has a lot of water due to the needs of the canning process.
  • Frozen is minimally processed usually RAW, and usually has higher food value – less water
  • The water content makes a big difference in cost to feed
  • Both are good choices for feeding alone, or for feeding with dry food to improve the carbohydrate level
  • The goal in using these foods is to reduce carbohydrate level — choose foods with no starch or very little starch
  • Nutrient percentages to look for: Protein 9%/Fat 6%.  Frozen: Protein 12%/Fat 6% – look for @ twice as much protein as fat

Dry foods are highly processed, starch-based products, with a very wide range of composition and quality

“Regular” foods usually have about 50% carbohydrate, between 350-400 calories per cup.

Best choices are single protein source foods, with simple starch ingredient lists.

When you rotate, choose foods that have different proteins AND different starches. To do this, you probably will have to use different brands. To rotate brands (proteins/starches) is good, except one side effect is that different brands buy from different sources so possible toxic problems don’t add up so fast.

Meat/protein choices: meat and meat meals – simple is best

NO soy, corn, gluten meal of any kind, better to skip vegetable proteins or at least rotate

Starch choices: NO corn, wheat, NOT MUCH oat, barley, rye all can become problems for digestion and allergy development

Okay Starches: Rice, millet, and various seeds, millet, potato, and often from MANY sources

“Grain Free” dry foods are NOT starch free. They are @ 40% carbohydrate – 400-440 calories per cup. Foods are often higher in calories. This is fine except serving size must be decreased.

Foods that use Peas and Beans as starch:

  • Proteins: Meat and meat meal. Protein is often boosted with protein from legumes or potatoes
  • Starches: Beans and peas of all kinds – these are not complete proteins, not easily digestible
  • If these foods agree with your pet, rotate with other non-bean choices
  • Marketing: low glycemic index. Useful info for humans, not good choice long term for dogs

Foods that use Tapioca as starch:

  • Proteins: Meat and meat meal, mixed or single. Protein boosting sometimes done with potato.
  • Starches: tapioca alone or with other starchy ingredients (jicama).
  • Tapioca has no protein, so it will not cause immune-mediated reactions

Foods that use Sweet Potato, Pumpkin, & Yams as starch:

  • Proteins: Meat and meat meal, mixed or single
  • Starches: Starchy Vegetables

“Dehydrated” and “Freeze-dried” foods are expensive but they are useful for travel or transition.  Some have similar composition to canned or dry foods, some are dry version of raw diets.  They are highly processed and not the same as a fresh or raw food diet.

“Specialty category” foods include special needs and life style foods: these are marketing tools.

Use a food made for all life stages and keep your dog lean.

Many “prescription” foods are made with poor quality ingredients – if you know what dietary needs are, usually they can be met with existing commercial foods that have better quality ingredients.

Many “specific condition” foods (joint formula, better coat, hairball) include low quality ingredients with some supplementation to address the condition.  Usually you can do this much better by using a supplement added to a good quality food.  Often the supplement quantity is not at a therapeutic level, wasted money.

Choose the best food you can afford!

There’s no reason to think that dogs and cats should be cheap to feed, no more than humans.  Pay for good food now, or pay your veterinarian to help you with unnecessary, chronic disease later.

TREATS should promote health and improve the diet –Meat treats are best

  • Use the same standards as you use for dry food.
  • REMEMBER that treats are not a complete diet! IF your pet gets substantial calories from treats he/she will be missing some essential nutrients.
  • Dental treats may be dangerous! Do not buy treats with gluten!

 

KEEP FOOD SAFE

  • Dry food is susceptible to food spoilage that can make your dog very sick or even kill him.
  • Don’t buy more than you can use in a couple of weeks, or store it in the freezer
  • Storage containers harbor molds and bacteria. Scrub yours every time you buy a new bag – or don’t use one
  • Keep food in the bag inside the tightly sealed container,
  • Keep it in a cool, dry place – NOT the garage in the summer!
  • If your dog says there is something wrong with the food – Listen!!
  • Sometimes food problems are invisible, but dogs can tell.
  • Throw it away or return it if you have bought it recently.

 

USE FOOD WISELY

  • KNOW how many calories are in your food: — foods vary, and feeding amounts must be adjusted
  • The feeding chart on the bag may have little relationship to your pet!
  • If your pet is overweight, he needs to take in fewer calories or different calories no matter what the bag says
  • Many dogs on starch based foods put on weight on minuscule amounts of food
  • This may be an indicator that this dog might do better on a meat-based food (and also is an indicator that you might need to check with your vet about thyroid function).

 

ABOUT CATS

For a long and healthy life, cats need to eat almost exclusively wet food.  This is the opposite of what most of us were taught!  And cats don’t necessarily agree!

Contact Us for further information: The Puddle ~ Pet AquaFitness & Nutrition  (630) 883-0700.

Improve Diet, Improve Life – from Beth Taylor

Roadblocks to health

We may promote faster healing, better function, and better overall health if we can encourage clients to address other possible roadblocks to health.

The lifestyle of the client (the owner) and the patient (the pet) often contribute to the presenting problem. I believe we will see the optimal results we wish for only if we integrate extensive education about how exercise, fitness and food affect the function of all systems.

A client who comes to us with an overweight, arthritic dog in a lot of pain may see a dog who feels better with drugs for pain and inflammation and an even happier dog when they begin to use the Assisi Loop – but without lifestyle changes, an anti-inflammatory device or drug competes with an inflammatory diet or sedentary life that promotes inflammation. Accomplishing this educational goal is labor-intensive and ongoing. It’s almost an added counseling segment of the practice – people don’t lose entrenched ideas and points of view in one visit. Ongoing educational support is needed – and many times it’s emotional as well.

One of the biggest roadblocks to health is a dry food diet that is pro-inflammatory and likely to include toxins that are difficult or impossible for the body to process. If we can lighten the load for the body, all systems can work more efficiently.

How best to lighten the dietary load? This is a question worth exploring in order to best serve our clients.

Many clients have no idea what they are feeding their pets. A week of journaling followed by an evaluation consultation is often an eye-opener for clients, and allows us to really show the client how what they do adds up. Do their Milk Bones add up to 300 kcal more per day than their dog needs? Do those table scraps (not all bad) add up to more than half the diet – which means that some nutrients will be deficient? To be effective, we need to develop the knowledge to be able to evaluate. It’s mostly arithmetic and internet research, but analysis  and deep label reading skills are required. It’s not enough to look at the front panel – staff need to be able to evaluate what they read and translate for the client.

For example, if a food contains glucosamine, how much does each serving contain? Probably not a therapeutic dose. If the front panel says “bison and sweet potato” but sweet potato is 14th on the ingredient list, and bison is first but beef meal is second, we need to be able to interpret this for the client. (One clue: it’s not a bison and sweet potato food.) Ongoing education sessions with clients result in clients who are willing to take charge of learning, and pets that feel better.

A short look at the various aspects of commercial and home feeding may provide a place to start in developing effective education tools for clients. At our facility (which specializes in swimming, massage, rehab, and food), clients usually come in confused. For example, they’re feeding a high-carbohydrate, plant-based prescription diet that contributes to inflammation, or they’ve read that grain-free is best, or they believe that a raw diet is the only way to go but their dog isn’t doing well on it, or they listened to the salesperson at the pet store and they’re on food advertised as  “low-glycemic index,” heavy on the beans, and their dog’s gut is rumbling. We need to simplify the issues in pet food, and this is no easy task.

pet storeSimplify!

The giant “pet food” category can be divided into dry foods, canned foods, and frozen foods. In addition, there are smaller categories, freeze-dried or dehydrated versions of frozen foods, and dehydrated diets that fall into one of the other categories.

Meat-Based Fresh Food Diets

For dogs or cats, a species-appropriate diet can be a radical step toward better health. The ancestral diet is a meat-based diet, with moderate fat and protein levels, and very low levels of carbohydrate. An appropriate meat-based diet avoids many of the toxic pitfalls of dry food because it simply doesn’t include the ingredients most likely to be toxic: corn, soy, wheat, rice, barley, oats, or any other carbohydrate sources beyond relatively small amounts of vegetables and fruits. The much lower carbohydrate level promotes normal hormonal function in many ways, interrupting the pro-inflammatory cycle.

A species-appropriate diet is a raw diet. It may be homemade or commercially produced. There are challenges in both approaches.

Homemade diets require careful monitoring. Most programs and recipe “cook” books have not been analyzed and do not meet AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) and/or NRC (National Research Council) standards. A “balance over time” philosophy is popular among raw feeders. Basically, the idea is that meals don’t need to be complete or the same every day as long as a correct balance is achieved over time. This is true, but unfortunately it only works if the basic components are correct. This is seldom the case, in my experience. Common flaws in homemade diets include too much fat, too much bone, and missing mineral components that can’t be addressed without supplementation. Supplements designed to be used for homemade raw diets often do not take into account the adjustments that must be made for lower and high fat content in the diet. To try to make homemade diets safer and easier for clients, Karen Becker and I wrote Dr. Becker’s Real Food for Healthy Dogs and Cats, which includes a framework for rotation, fatty acid guidelines, and two mineral supplement recipes.Real food book

Homemade food is a large time commitment. Commercial fresh food diets offer instant success – almost as easily as pouring kibble from a bag.

Commercial frozen foods abound. Products may or may not meet nutrition standards. Food that claims to be AAFCO-compliant may be a relatively safe choice, but knowledge about requirements and labeling is necessary to determine this. Just because the label makes that statement doesn’t mean that it’s true. Within AAFCO-compliant foods, caloric density may range from 300 to 600 kcal per cup. For those concerned about bacteria, High pressure pasteurized foods (which are sterile) and cooked versions are available. Some frozen products are ground fine enough to be cooked for those animals who need cooked food.

Freeze-dried and dehydrated versions of these foods may be useful for switching dogs with GI problems where adding water to the diet may set off an digestive issues. For switching cats away from dry food, these intensely flavorful foods are a good tool.  They’re are great for travel, they make excellent treats, and  they are an acceptable transition for those (owners or pets) who can’t quite make the leap to fresh food in its more natural, with-water state. However, they also cost much more than the frozen versions.

A raw meat-based diet may not work for all animals. Compromised systems may need diets tweaked for their specific needs, and some animals need their meat-based diet cooked.

Frozen foods vary considerably in macronutrient content, and variation concerns me. If a label says that the food is 12% protein and 6% fat, and the calorie content is listed at 600 kcal per cup, something is not right! Fat content is listed as a minimum, and if this food has 600 kcal per cup, there’s a lot more fat than 6%.

Dry Food

Should dogs and cats eat dry food? In my opinion, dry food is at best a compromise. However, issues of cost and convenience make it necessary to help clients find a balance of products that is affordable and workable for their lives.

Dry foods are mostly either “with grain” or “without grain.” This is a confusing distinction, but one that can assume that “grain” is bad and “grain-free” is better.

Foods that include “grains” include a range of starches from wheat and corn through rice, oats, barley, sorghum and so on. They usually have a combination, and they provide about 50% or more of their calories as carbohydrate. Most of these starch ingredients are prone by their nature to contaminants including pesticide residues, GMOs, and mold byproducts like aflatoxins and vomitoxins. Bacterial contamination is common. These contaminants may be present at low levels in purchased food – but some, like aflatoxins and salmonella, can increase post-production, as in the common “pet food storage” container or garbage-can-in-the-garage storage. The home storage dangers exist no matter how good the dry food is.

Digestive issues with grain include the difficulty for dogs and cats in digesting and making use of glutens and other plant proteins in bodies designed to get protein mostly from meat.

Many clients think that “grain-free” means carbohydrate-free, but “grain-free” foods actually contain roughly 40% carbohydrate – something has to hold dry food together.  Pet foods frequently contain vegetable protein isolates that boost the protein content of the food, which reduces the protein coming from meat – and makes the food cheaper to produce.

grainsA common “non-grain” category of carbohydrate in upscale foods is the relatively recent inclusion and promotion of legumes as good food for dogs. From peas and lentils through garbanzos, these “low-glycemic index” ingredients are high-profile persuaders. The inclusion of high-protein legumes always means that there is less meat protein in the food. Long term, I don’t think legumes, which are incomplete proteins, are going to contribute to the health of dogs, though these foods may be acceptable as part of a rotation program.

Rotation of proteins is a practice that many are aware of. What isn’t considered as often is that vegetables have proteins too, so we need to find products that provide actual rotation. Because the products in each brand are closely related, the same starch ingredients are often seen in every product (though the order might be switched around) while the meat changes.  It is probably necessary to go outside a chosen brand to get actual rotation. This is an excellent idea, but few know how to read a label well enough to do this. A frequently updated list/handout is needed to help people make these choices.

Canned Food

Canned foods are usually a better nutrition choice than dry foods. It’s not necessary to add starches to hold them together, so the nutrition profile is often more appropriate. The same evaluation process can be used as is used for frozen foods. In the past, I often recommended that clients begin to improve their pet’s diets with canned food, especially for those people and/or animals who find change difficult. However, it’s very difficult for clients to discern which of the countless canned foods are really better. Now, I often recommend that they use a freeze-dried meat-based food, or a frozen food. High Pressure Pasteurized products provide a sterile food if needed, and many frozen foods can be cooked lightly if necessary. Good canned foods are more expensive than frozen ones, but if it’s difficult for clients to make the conceptual leap to fresh or dehydrated diets, canned food is still a good choice.

We need to provide tools for client that they can understand

Helping clients along as fast as they can go – it’s a tricky endeavor. It would be lovely if we could just hand over written materials and know that people would read, understand, and apply. We all experience the frustration of giving people good information that they immediately forget. It’s my experience that we need to get better at how we present the information. We need to provide simplified presentations that catch the interest of clients. We need to entice them to want to understand more, and we need to spend time with them. If we’re really good, a lot of our clients will be empowered to take charge of the health of their pets in a much more proactive way, and we all win.

The Loop and the Puddle: Expert Interview with Beth Taylor

Nov 19, 2014

Pet care professionals who use the Loop are a passionate and knowledgeable bunch, and Beth Taylor of The Puddle Aquafitness and Nutrition in South Elgin, Illinois is no exception. Beth has been recommending the Loop to the Puddle’s aquafitness clients for a long time, and she also excels in the realm of canine nutrition. Assisi Animal Health was able to ask her about the use of the Loop with her clients. Tune in next week, as well, for a guest blog from Beth about what everyone should know about pet nutrition.

Can you give me a background on what you do at the Puddle?

The Puddle is a facility that integrates most of my interests. I wrote a couple books on food and nutrition, on fresh food diets for dogs and cats, and I’ve been involved in the initial stages of commercial raw diets for dogs, I worked with an animal chiropractor [Carl DeStefano DC] for ten years. I became a licensed massage therapist and completed the massage and rehabilitation program at The Healing Oasis.

My vet was always searching for a retail store to direct her clients to that carried finer-brand foods. Her sister took on the project of opening one and added the bonus services of swimming and massage. I had experienced the positive results of swimming dogs first hand. It was a perfect fit for all of us. I started swimming one of my dogs about ten years ago. He was 11 at the time and he was getting very tippy. Swimming him once a week at a facility like what we’re doing now kept him going until he was almost 17. So I’m a real fan of swimming.

The front of the store is a small food section which is designed to provide rotation in both dry food and frozen food – it’s not a lot of products. We really try to focus on education to remove road blocks to health. We have a drop-in dog wash, and we have the pool. The pool covers everything from teaching puppies to swim to conditioning for geriatrics. We provide pre- and post-surgical services, and we have massage and bodywork for humans and pets. I do a lot of massage in the water.

Oh, wow, you have massage for humans, too? That’s fantastic.

Yes. In order to do the CVMRT program with Dr. Rivera at The Healing Oasis I had to be a certified massage therapist, and that was a very interesting education. Some people will have an appointment for their dogs, and themselves.

If there were one thing you wish all your clients could know, what would it be?

You’re in charge of your animal’s health. Not anyone else. I see so many people just accepting what they’re told with no critical thinking, never asking questions, not doing their own research. They’re afraid to make waves. Their health suffers, and the health of their animal suffers because they’re not willing or not brave enough to speak up, or they have accepted the idea that someone else knows better than they do how to take care of themselves or their animals.

What kind of issues do you most often treat?

Pain and decreased function. That can be young dogs and old dogs, for many reasons. Almost everybody we see thinks that pain is inevitable and that lack of function is just the way it’s supposed to be. They don’t realize that their own bodies and their dogs’ bodies are not defective. What’s wrong is the diet we provide and how we’re living our lives. We need to be active, and we need to eat real food. And if we do those things, a lot of the problems we have will just fall away. For whatever’s left, we have good tools.

Do you have a hard time getting people to understand that pain doesn’t have to exist?

Yes. People don’t notice pain in their animals, don’t see it, don’t recognize it, and don’t realize that what their animals eat and how they live has anything to do with the pain that they feel. They think, “Well, I’ve got wear and tear in my knee, I’ve got arthritis in my knee, and therefore it’s going to hurt. Same for the dog.”

I’ve seen people with their third dog with the same problems finally getting it. “Yes, if I help my dog live an active life, if I feed him good food, sure we’ll have aging issues, but they won’t be anything like if I weren’t being proactive.” They start to get the picture, but it’s often a slow process.

What has been your experience with the use of the Loop in your practice?

Nothing but good. My main challenge has been explaining it to people. ‘Okay, people. I’m telling you, this will reduce pain and improve healing – all you have to do is sit down with your dog three or four times a day.’ And they sometimes say, ‘Well, that’s too hard. I’ll just give him this drug.’ It’s a constant education process.

I know how well it works because I got the unit while I was in school and I used it myself. My friend and I were there together, and she had just bashed herself into the side of a door. She had a giant bruise coming down her arm. We put the Loop on the bottom of her arm, and then we forgot about it – until the next day when the bottom of her arm looked beautiful, and the top of her arm looked terrible. The bruise was mostly gone on the bottom of her arm.

I have a 14-year-old Golden who uses it regularly. He’s a lot more mobile with it than without it. He swims every week and gets massage every week, but still, the Assisi on that hip joint is really helping him out.

Anything that can be put into the hands of clients that makes them proactive members of the team is going to make a treatment program more effective. Laser is great, but you’ve got to go [to the vet’s office] and do it. You can send people home with the Loop and they’ll have something they can do at home that moves things along a lot further and faster.

I had one client with a German Shepherd with all the typical problems – bad guts, bad skin, very painful in the hips. About six years old, and looked like an 11-year-old. She bought a Loop, used it for a week like I’d told her to, maybe twice a day, and she brought it back and said, ‘It doesn’t work.’ I said, ‘Tell me about it.’ She said, ‘Well, he WAS up and running around a lot more about four hours after we did it, but then he felt bad again!’

Okay – so what you’re telling me is, it worked. And you saw immediate results. ‘Well, yes, but he’s on non-steroidal anti-inflammatories and steroids and he’ll be fine.’ So I’m still working on her!

If we can figure out a way to get over that hump – you know, ‘What if you didn’t have to use those drugs, or if they could be reduced? Those drugs are going to harm your dog.’ People look at me blankly. It seems hard for them to even consider – “But my veterinarian prescribed the drugs.”

I find it’s the same in nutrition education. It can take a long time for concepts to sink in.

You say that some of your clients are hesitant to try the Loop – do you think that’s because it’s not a conventional treatment in pill form?

Yes, and I think it’s the perception that once you’re broken, you can’t get fixed. My mom has arthritis in her hands, and I know of at least five activities she can do sitting in a chair that would make it better, but she doesn’t do them. Many of us are like that. Bucking the trend of how people think about their bodies and their lives is quite a challenge. It’s global, we’re not just talking about Pulsed Signal Magnetic Therapy (tPEMF). You have to question authority and be willing to live your life differently. In this case, it means taking the time to sit down with your animal a few times a day and push a button. Seems doable.

Beth serves as the Puddle’s nutrition advisor, bodywork director and swim coach. She has been intensively involved in health, training, and wellness for animals and people all her adult life. In 1994, Beth began teaching dog training and producing education seminars on dog training and nutrition. Researching fresh food diets for dogs led to her work with Steve’s Real Food for Pets as regional manager and veterinary consultant. She taught retailers and veterinarians how to use fresh food diets and provided support for them nationwide. This work led to the writing and publication of See Spot Live Longer with Steve Brown.

Beth has worked in the practice of Carl DeStefano, DC, assisting him in his chiropractic work, and assisting the practice of Dena Jersild, DVM. Beth has produced seminars with Karen Becker, DVM on health topics, and co-wrote the very popular Dr. Becker’s Real Food for Healthy Dogs and Cats, now in its 4th printing.

Beth’s extensive education in bodywork modalities for animals includes Acupressure, Tui na, jin shin jyutsu, Triggerpoint Myotherapy, Cranio-sacral Therapy, several Myofascial techniques, Reiki, and Qigong. She is certified in Acupressure through the AAMT and has completed all coursework at Tallgrass Animal Institute. Beth is certified in Spring Forest Qi Gong I and II, EFT level I and II, Reiki I and II, and is a Licensed Massage Therapist. She is also certified in massage and rehabilitation by the Healing Oasis in Sturdevant, WI. Beth is a graduate of La Paw Spa’s Aquatic Training Program Level One & Two and is certified in Canine CPR and First Aid. She is also a member of the Association of Canine Water Therapy (ACWT) and the International Association of Animal Massage and Bodywork (IAAMB).

– See more at: http://www.assisianimalhealth.com/blog/2014/11/loop-and-puddle-expert-interview-beth-taylor/#sthash.unOywAdn.hYkKOm54.dpuf

Slip-proof your floors ~ prevent injury to your dog

A slip or fall for an elderly or unstable dog could be a life-altering event. Even youngsters can injure themselves on slippery uncarpeted surfaces.

Many people who live with dogs prefer uncarpeted floors because they are easier to keep clean – but they can be dangerous. We talk to a lot of people who really haven’t considered the consequences of an unstable dog falling on the stairs or spinning out in the hallway – young or old.

When their rear ends begin to get weak, dogs start having trouble on stairs, but if they have good footing they can often continue to go up and down stairs.

Dogs are sometimes segregated from the rest of the family in an attempt to protect them, in an area where they will not fall – but where they are lonely and sad.

Area rugs can be too short, heavy, and expensive. In some cases, they too can slip without an effective non-skid backing. Runners by the foot aren’t all that expensive but they curl up and look very used after one winter season. Rubber backed entry mats work well, but they are heavy and not easy to clean (and they get very, very dirty).

Our absolute favorite non-slip device for elderly dogs, dogs recovering from surgery, or dogs with injuries – YOGA MATS! We first saw yoga mats used for this purpose at a veterinary rehab clinic where they had been in place for well over a year with no signs of wear.

We tried them here at The Puddle and they’re perfect!  You can purchase a 100 foot roll at http://www.yogaaccessories.com/Yoga-Mat-Rolls_c_1280.html. They are very light, and easy to cut: we bought the thick version and really like the cushiony feel. We have the 2-foot width, but there is also a 3-foot width. Dogs are now much steadier on our cement floor, especially in the pool area, and are obviously more comfortable.

100 feet sounds like a lot until you really take a look at the space that needs to be made safe for your dog. Multiple regular size mats may be used, but we did not find such good prices for the short lengths — and there would then be seams to trip over.

 

Cats Need Wet Food!

The natural diet of cats is meat. Cats are carnivores, designed to thrive on a wide variety of small prey animals, eaten fresh and whole. Their natural diet is high in water and protein, with a moderate amount of fat, and a very low percentage of carbohydrate. Cats have no dietary need for carbohydrate

Dry foods do not promote health in cats. Dry cat food is has a lot of carbohydrate, between 35 and 50% – a very big difference from the diet their bodies are designed for. “Diet” and “Lite” foods have even higher amounts. Dry food is convenient to feed, and relatively inexpensive, but it’s the opposite of the natural diet of cats.

Cats need to get water from their food. They are descended from feline desert dwellers. They are adapted to obtain most of their water from their prey, which contains more than 75% water. Even their tongues are not well adapted to drink water. Dry food contains almost no water. Cats who eat dry food consume only half the water they need, compared to those that eat wet food, and live in a state of chronic dehydration.

The common health problems of cats are related to diet. There is increasing evidence that many of the health problems seen in cats are the result of diets inappropriate for a feline. Dry, grain based foods fed to a meat eater, over time, result in both chronic and life threatening diseases, including these:

Bladder problems: Cystitis, bladder irritation and bladder/kidney stone formation are strongly connected to dehydration. If the body is well hydrated, these problems are minimized.

Dental disease: Dry food has a high sugar (carbohydrate content, which has been shown to cause dental decay. Cat food is designed to shatter when eaten, and there is no abrasive tooth-cleaning benefit. Cats who eat dry food often have severe dental disease.

Diabetes: The high level of carbohydrate in dry cat food contributes directly to the development of diabetes in cats. Blood sugar levels rise when cats eat dry food. When this is an ongoing event, insulin-producing cells “down-regulate”, which leads to diabetes.

Obesity: Because cats are designed for a high-protein, moderate fat, low-carbohydrate diet, it is not surprising that obesity is often seen in cats. Diet cat foods have even more carbohydrate than regular ones, and less fat, so they depart even further from the natural diet of cats, making it harder for them to lose weight.

Kidney disease: Kidney disease is the most common cause of death for cats. The kidneys require an abundant supply of water to do their job. Without water to process the byproducts of the digestion process, the kidneys are overloaded, become damaged over time and unable to do their job.

The solution is simple: Cats need to eat a diet that is high in protein and water, with a moderate amount of fat, and almost no carbohydrate, Most of the health problems discussed here are either radically improved or eliminated by eating a diet that meets the needs of a carnivore – one that closely resembles the nutritional balance provided by a mouse.

To prevent disease, feed your cat a meat-based diet complete with water!

Skin Problems

When all systems in the body are humming along in balance, immune substances produced by the body protect the skin, eyes, ears, and digestive system. Your dog and cat feel good. In a healthy animal (dog, cat, or human) normal inhabitants of the skin coexist in harmony, each doing their jobs and living their lives in a symbiotic relationship.

If an animal’s immune system is under more stress than it can manage, this symbiotic relationship is upset. Skin problems – hot spots, rashes, yeast overgrowth, and bacterial infections – are often the first symptom seen. Medical interventions include antihistamines, antibiotics, and steroids. All of these medications modify and suppress the immune system. Our goal should be to help the immune system work properly, not to suppress it.

Chemical intervention may be needed. However, with good nutrition, bathing when needed, and proper exercise, many animals regain their health and thrive without medication.

“Allergic” Skin Problems. The Staphylococcus bacteria that normally inhabit the skin usually cause skin infections. They are one sign that there’s not enough of the immunoglobin IgA protect the skin. The underlying cause of an IgA deficiency on the skin is often over utilization of IgA in the gut. Because things are not well balanced in animal’s gastrointestinal tract, the IgA is needed more there, and there’s not enough to protect the skin. After this has gone on for a while, production of IgA is disrupted.

Yeasts are also natural inhabitants of the skin, but when the proper balance is disturbed, they can multiply rapidly and cause skin and ear problems. You’ll know your dog has yeast by the characteristic corn chip (some think cheese popcorn) smell. Yeast causes intense itching and can grow in localized areas (causing a creamy white accumulation between toes), in the ears, or can affect the whole body. An overgrowth of yeast is a signal that your animal’s immune system is not functioning well.

These conditions cause a variety of symptoms. Fur may feel “sticky”, there may be lots of flakes on the skin, or red spots with little white heads, which often have black areas around them. You may see red, inflamed skin covering large areas of the body, and your animal may be “itchy” Your dog might lick her legs, chew her pads, and there may be inflamed spots between toes, in armpits and inner legs.

“Hot Spots.” are an inappropriate immune response, and in some ways a mystery to medicine. They seem to appear in an instant and can spread at an alarming rate. These oozing sores are extremely painful and can easily become infected.

Keep Skin Clean. If the immune system is highly reactive, environmental substances (ragweed, grass, pollen, mold) animals pick up just by walking outside can provide enough irritating substances to cause a reaction.

Allergic animals aren’t the only ones with skin problems

Elderly animals and those in poor health often exude an unpleasant fragrance. Their bodies are getting rid of toxins that should be removed to help support the detoxification process in the aging system.

If we humans have a rash, scab, infection, or injury to our skin, we don’t have much question about what to do – we keep it clean! The same is true for dogs and cats. Our animals will feel better, smell better, and heal faster if their skin is kept clean. However, in the case of cats, they may not be happier: bathing is not usually on their list of favorite activities.

Why don’t we wash our animals more often? Because we have been told not to, or because it’s one more thing to add to our busy lives.  We may have read that we’ll disturb the balance of our animal’s skin if we wash them too much, and their skin will get dried out. Healthy animals may not need frequent bathing: each animal is different. Bathe them when they need it.

Animals with skin problems do well with weekly baths. However, at the height of the “allergy” season, many dogs require baths daily or every other day.

Between baths, rinsing problem areas that are not infected can be extremely soothing. Localized inflamed areas may be washed without washing the whole animal, and this may help to stretch the interval between baths. For example, if your dog has irritated and inflamed feet, you can devise a simple system to immerse one foot at a time in a bowl of soapy water, and then rinse them the same way – in just a few minutes.

Tips on choosing shampoos: From the wide variety of commercial pet shampoos available, choose as you do for yourself, trying to avoid toxic ingredients.

Avoid shampoos that include oatmeal. Oatmeal has a great reputation as a soothing ingredient, but animals that have a problem with grain are likely to have problems with oatmeal shampoos. Grain-based shampoos may also provide a carbohydrate food source for unwanted yeast and bacteria on the skin.

“Health” shampoos including essential oils should be used only with extreme caution. Do not use them on cats. Consult with someone knowledgeable about oils if you’re interested in this approach. Always test shampoo first on a very small area!

Critical points for successful and pleasant bath time: Wash thoroughly! Use comfortably warm water, not too hot. On very hot days, many dogs enjoy cool water, which can also reduce inflammation and irritation. Wet your dog completely and use highly diluted shampoo to help spread it all over the dog, Dogs with water-repellent coats (Labradors, Portuguese Water Dogs) are hard to get wet at all: diluted shampoo makes the job easier.

Be gentle! Keep soap out of eyes and ears. Irritated skin is delicate and easily injured. Animals will be worried that you are going to cause them pain — do your best to avoid that. Hot spots in particular are exquisitely painful.

Rinse, and rinse, and rinse! Soap left on skin is very irritating.

Dry the skin completely! This might be difficult, depending on your animal’s coat, but it’s extremely important.  Bacteria love to grow in warm, damp setting.   Breeds with heavy coats may develop bacterial problems just from staying wet. “Hot spots” can develop in damp areas very quickly in a dog prone to them.

Some dog’s coats air-dry very nicely while others require work. Human hair dryers are not appropriate unless used with a “NO HEAT” setting! Allow some distance between the dryer and the animal. Trim back his/her coat around any affected areas to allow air to get to the skin and to help these areas dry faster. Stay away from “hot spots” with the dryer!

Some animals benefit from a close cut during the summer. This makes keeping an eye on skin much easier!

Prevention: do a body scan. Every day when you’re just sitting together, talking about life, look your animal friend over thoroughly. You can see, feel, and smell when it’s time for a bath. Take the time to do it when it’s needed: skin conditions can flare out of control rapidly.

Look closely for little black specks in your dog’s coat. This may be “flea dirt”, and though you may see no fleas, there might be some. It takes only one flea to trigger a very nasty skin problem in a sensitive dog. Get veterinary assistance when needed!

Feed Real Food. Good nutrition includes whole food antioxidants and ample fresh, non-oxidized essential fatty acids.  These components are critical for healing. Without the support of good nutrition, acute episodes may become chronic and possibly life-threatening conditions.

Fresh food provides the best nutrients and helps to proved healthy conditions in the digestive tract, so that the immune system is strong. Without good digestion, an animal cannot be healthy. Good food is the foundation for good health

© Steve Brown and Beth Taylor

See Spot Live Longer

Help Your Senior Dog Live Better

We’d all like to keep our animal buddies around forever.  A good diet and appropriate mental and physical exercise can help your dog elders live better and longer!

Our dogs have many of the same needs we do. To be at their best, dogs need real, fresh food, in the balance that’s best for their individual needs, just like we do. For dogs, real food in its natural balance means meat and vegetables.

Do dogs need “senior” food? All too frequently, we are advised to feed our dogs “Senior” food, often for dogs starting as young as 6 years old. There is no “life stage” formula food for humans: why would it be good for dogs? It’s not. It’s the result of some old “science” that’s still hanging around.

Veterinarians started recommending senior food years ago, when research seemed to show that dogs (and humans) with kidney problems would do better on a reduced protein diet. So, the reasoning went, we could avoid kidney failure by feeding a reduced protein diet as dogs aged.

This has not proved to be true for dogs or humans, and research done by big pet food companies agrees.(1-4) “Senior” foods are higher in grain than “adult” foods, which will cause increased insulin and inflammatory chemicals to be made. They are designed to be lower in fat and protein, with increased fiber. Older dogs need better protein and more protein. (5) In our opinion, “senior” and “light” diets are detrimental to the health of older dogs.

If Sparky could talk, he’d tell you it’s true. When we met Sparky, he was nine, a stout Brittany Spaniel who was not feeling very well. His family switched from “senior” dry food to a fresh frozen diet as an experiment, to see if a lower carbohydrate diet would help him lose weight. In four months, he lost about 10 pounds—as well as losing these health issues: flaky coat, itchy skin, frequent bladder infections, multiple aches and pains, and most of the tartar on his teeth. He has plenty of energy these days, and no longer qualifies as an old dog.

A species appropriate diet, based on meat and vegetables, provides the protein, fat, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants needed to keep the immune system and the brain working well. Good fats keep inflammation in check and hormone systems functioning properly.

In a 14-year study that compared two groups of Labradors (one group free-fed and the other kept lean), lean dogs lived two years longer. The muscle wasting associated with old age was delayed by two years compared to the group allowed to become overweight. In addition, the lean dogs did not develop arthritis until many years after the overweight dogs, who began to show arthritic changes at 2 years of age. (6) Even if your dog has not been kept lean, you may see most of these benefits when you help your dog shed those extra pounds with a meat and vegetable-based diet.  It’s never too late!

Those with achy and overweight dogs will be amazed to see the difference in how their dogs feel and act when they are fed meat and vegetable based diets. Often dogs who are quite tottery are transformed by a change of diet. Dogs with common chronic medical conditions need the supervision of a veterinarian who is skilled with fresh food diets to supervise and fine-tune a fresh food diet.  Almost all chronic conditions (diabetes, arthritis, Irritable Bowel Disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome, liver and kidney problems, dental disease) will improve on a home-prepared diet designed to support the specific issue.

Good food helps to keep dogs lean, but dogs also need exercise. If our older animals are not fit, the best diet in the world won’t keep them with us. At your veterinary wellness check, find out what level of activity your veterinarian thinks is suitable for your animals to start with, and work up from there. Many conditions we have discounted as “just old age” diminish or disappear with good exercise. Digestion improves, elimination becomes more regular, animals are less achy and their brains work better. Getting more oxygen circulating builds lungs and heart, improves overall muscle tone and general health immensely. Brisk walking is a great start, but dogs need to get moving enough to get out of breath as well. For smaller dogs, this is easy to accomplish. Very out of shape dogs get winded pretty quickly, but as their fitness increases those with big dogs need to find ways to get them really moving (which will require increased fitness for the human).

Dogs often fade away from simple boredom. With an improved diet, dogs are likely to feel more like being active, but they need mental stimulation as well.

• Include your dog in family activities, and play with him. 

• Small games like “catch the popcorn” and “find the treat” take very little human effort, and provide fun and mental stimulation.

• Modify activities your old guy is no longer able to do so he can do them. For example, throw the ball so it lands closer to you and make sure he sees it before letting him go for it. Help him in and out of the car.

• Many dogs have self-appointed tasks: encourage them to keep at their jobs! Being needed keeps a dog happy.

• Learning something new keeps dogs happy, too. It’s a mutually beneficial activity—both human and animal brains get a workout, and your connection to your dog gets even better.

Supplements or food?  Supplements abound for older dogs and cats. They may prove to be of great benefit, but more to the point is good food and good exercise. Studies have shown supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin to be of use in joint issues – but the need for these supplements is minimized when an animal eats real food and gets enough exercise to make use of the food.

If you do use supplements, look for those made with whole foods. We consider a wide range of oils (fish oil, cod liver oil, salmon oil, krill oil, sardines) to be necessary in a good diet: and we consider them food, part of the diet, not an isolated ingredient.
Read See Spot Live Longer for more information on commercial diets and adding real food to your dog’s diet.  If your dog has a specific condition, we suggest that you consult with a veterinarian who is experienced with fresh food diets to fine-tune the diet to your dog’s needs.

Let’s keep them as long as we can! Get them moving, feed them well, engage their brains: you’ll see a dog who is more interested in life, a dog who feels much better. We’ve spent a long time perfecting our relationships with our old dogs, we want them around for as long as they can stay.

1 Newburg LH, Curtis AC. Production of renal injury in the white rat by the protein of the diet. Arch Int Med. 1928; 42:801-21.

2 Brenner BM, Meyer TW, Hostetter TH. New England J. of Medicine. 1982; 307:652.

3 Finco DR. Proc the Waltham/OSU Symposium on Nephrology and Urology, Columbus, OH. Oct. 1992, p. 39.

4 Kronfeld DS. Aust. Vet. J. 1994; 71:328.

5 Churchill J, Polzin D, Osborne C, Tet. al. Proceedings ACVM. 1997:675.

6 Kealy, R.D., Lawler, D.F., et al. 2002. Effects of diet restriction on life span and age-related changes in dogs. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 220(May 1): 1315-1320.

© Steve Brown and Beth Taylor  See Spot Live Longer

 

 

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