Category

Senior Pets

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.

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.

 

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