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Latest health and behavior news and advice from the veterinarians at Tufts University.

News & Views December 2017 Issue

Can You Remember What Your Dog Had for Lunch Yesterday?

Why it might be important to know every single thing your pet eats.

Dogs eating ice cream

Both Franklin and Rosie say ice cream is part of a complete and balanced diet. (Donít worry ó they each got only a few licks.)

Hmm, let’s see…two small pieces of American cheese so he wouldn’t feel left out when his “sister” Rosie got her bladder-tightening pill wrapped in cheese, another two small pieces when she got her second pill later in the day (I forget the brand of cheese just now), a dental chew (not sure which — my wife buys them), I-don’t-know-how-many 5-calorie tiny Milk Bone biscuits that he demands when we take our walks or which I dispense because he has come back to me when I called, the licks of ice cream he managed to squeeze in before I pulled him away from the cup someone left outside the ice cream shop…

When I first learned that veterinary nutritionists have a hard time learning from people exactly what their dogs eat, I thought that was ridiculous because dogs eat their kibble (Purina something-or-other, in my dogs’ case) and maybe a little treat here or there. But when I started to really think about it, I realized that even I, who write about dogs for a living, would have a hard time recalling every single thing my enthusiastic eater Franklin consumes in a day if a doctor needed to know.

And they do sometimes need to know. There are instances in which a medical condition very much either is worsened by what a dog eats or restricts what a dog should be eating. And if the veterinarian can’t pinpoint with any specificity the foods in a dog’s diet (ingredients can change even from flavor to flavor within a given brand), she may miss important clues for more healthful eating that could significantly ratchet down a disease’s effects. For more on how to keep a careful record of your dog’s food intake if the need arises.

Another thing I’m not good at remembering (because I knew you were wondering) is when the dogs are due for their vaccine shots. Those reminder postcards come in the mail, and then they go in that “important” corner of the kitchen counter — the limbo of my paper world — so I won’t forget to make the appointment. Well, new vaccine recs have just come out — a good reason to pay better attention to those postcards and, as the article starting on page 1 suggests, have some frank discussions with the dogs’ doctor. The new guidelines make owner participation in vaccine scheduling significantly more front and center.†

Happy tails to you,

Lawrence Lindner

Executive Editor

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