DOG FOOD And NUTRITION

Puppy Diets Need More Protein and Fat

Because puppies go through a remarkable growth spurt that can last as long as two years, their nutrition can make a life-long difference in their health. Consider this: A growing pup needs about twice as many calories per pound of body weight as an adult dog, according to the National Research Council of the National Academies. During this time, theyre building strong bones and muscles, and need extra energy and nutrients.

Your Dog is Not Hungry; Shes Bored

In its latest Weight Management Guidelines for Dogs (and Cats), the American Animal Hospital Association has a chart entitled Issues Impeding/Preventing Weight Loss. Topping the list in that chart is that the pet looks hungry or is begging. The same table lists pet owner guilt as an impediment to weight loss. Since up to 59 percent of dogs are overweight (making excess weight the most common nutritional disorder in veterinary practices), theres a good chance…

Concerns Over Soy in Dog Foods Cause Worry

Digestive disorders, immune system breakdowns, thyroid dysfunction, cognitive decline, reproductive problems, cancer, heart disease. These are just some of the problems soy is said to cause for dogs. Internet message boards are rife with discussion about the downsides of soy as an ingredient in dog food, and even some veterinarians have said that soy causes serious allergic reactions, reduces the digestibility of protein, results in gassiness and diarrhea, interferes with the absorption of minerals like…

The Calories in Your Dogs Treats

As the nations people go, so go our dogs. By some estimates, at least 40 percent of the pet dogs in the U.S. are overweight, which puts an extra burden on their joints and backs and predisposes them to hormone-related diseases like diabetes. Its not all about transferring our own sedentary, non calorie-burning lifestyles to our dogs. Some of it is that dog food simply tastes much better than it used to.

On the Advisability of Table Scraps

As long as your dog does not have kidney disease or some other illness that necessitates strict control on nutrients such as sodium or protein, his nutritional world wont come to an end if you occasionally let him have table scraps as treats. But dinner as you have come to enjoy it might. It takes no time at all to inadvertently train a dog to come to the table and drool while he looks beseechingly…

Helping the Dog Who Wont Eat Enough

Medical problems that can cause a dog to eat too little include everything from tooth or gum pain to kidney disease, heart disease, intestinal disease, certain cancers, and parasites. The nutrition treatment depends on the diagnosis. Tooth pain, for instance, might be solved with a root canal or a tooth extraction, and the dog can go back to her usual diet. Something progressive like kidney disease, on the other hand, is going to necessitate a more involved approach.

High Cholesterol and High Triglycerides in Dogs

So much of what heart disease is about for people concerns the arteries becoming clogged with gunk because of a diet thats high in saturated fat and cholesterol. The unhealthful diet translates to high amounts of cholesterol in the blood (and sometimes triglycerides), and this means arteries filling with plaques and narrowing over time until one of them becomes too narrow to allow blood to flow, resulting in a heart attack. The process leading up to the heart attack is called atherosclerosis.

A disease actually caused by a spike in dietary fat

One illness that does not cause elevations in blood fats but, rather, can be caused by eating too much fat is pancreatitis. Thats a disease in which pancreatic enzymes meant to break down nutrients like fats and carbohydrates spin out of control and actually start digesting the cells of the pancreas itself. Symptoms range from loss of appetite and unremitting episodes of vomiting and diarrhea to fever and acute pain around the abdomen. These may be complicated by dehydration, jaundice, kidney problems, and, in rare cases, the death of pancreatic cells that can prove fatal for the animal. Eating a lot of fat, say, from table scraps at holiday time is one of the most common causes of pancreatitis in dogs. Its not known if its the total amount of fat or the drastic change in the diet that increases the risk, but its definitely best to avoid quick changes in diet, especially when the changes include adding a high amount of fat.

Big Dog, Little Dog

Dogs on the small side are thought to be the ones who tend to have adverse reactions to leptospirosis vaccinations, but at Tufts, says clinician Mary Labato, DVM, DACVIM, we recommend lepto vaccination for all dogs, not just medium and large dogs. In fact, she says, 50 percent of dogs treated for leptospirosis at Tufts weigh less than 25 pounds. And a Michigan study reported that while almost 25 percent of more than 1,200 dogs examined had tested positive for lepto bacteria, terrier and toy breeds in that group tested positive about 30 percent of the time. That was a higher percentage than large breed and hunting dogs, Dr. Labato says.

How Worried Should You Be About Foodborne Illness?

Every so often, media reports of potential problems with pet foods prompt dog owners to worry about the safety of their pets food and go scrambling for more information, typically on the Internet. Generally speaking, just how concerned should you be?

Diet for Dogs with Heart Disease

As the heart disease becomes more severe, you will want to speak with your dogs veterinarian about dropping to 80 milligrams of sodium per 100 calories of food, or even 50. Over-the-counter options are not as plentiful at that level, but they are certainly out there. You dont have to start cooking up the dogs meals at your stove.

Hidden Sodium

While its not difficult to find a dog food thats moderate, or low, in salt, what dog owners often dont realize is that there can be a lot of sodium hidden in people foods routinely given to pets, especially to administer the heart disease medications meant to ameliorate the effects of the disease. Among those high-sodium foods: cheese, deli meats, peanut butter, and even bread, Dr. Linder says. If you want to use peanut butter, she advises, make sure to get a no-salt-added brand. Table scraps are often high in sodium, too - everything from ketchup to potato and rice mixes to soups. Even licking the bowl can add a lot of sodium to a dogs diet.