In this day and age one can hardly turn on the television or open a magazine or newspaper without being reminded about the obesity epidemic confronting Americans. As humans’ waistlines have been expanding, so have their companion animals. What is behind the “broadening” of our furry friends?
A recent cover article in Business Week magazine detailed the rapid expansion of the pet industry and declared that the pampering of our pets has gotten out of hand. While we don’t agree that taking better care of our best friends equates to over-pampering, their may be some truth here. Treats used to be reserved for training purposes and special occasions – once a day at most. Now there are so many treats on the market for dogs and cats it’s hard to resist not trying each new and tastier-than-ever-before variety. Dogs are exceptional at plying their two-legged friends into reaching for the treat jar, and even those aloof cats have learned how to “beg” for treats. What’s more, many pet guardians use treats to assuage their guilt of leaving their friends home alone all day.
Another challenge in the battle of the bulge is the disconnect between perception and reality experienced by many people regarding their own weight and their companion’s weight as well. According to a 2006 study by Pfizer Animal Health, 47 percent of veterinarians felt their canine patients were obese, while only 17 percent of dog owners agreed. A study by the National Consumers League found the same to be true of the way humans perceive their own weight: 12% of those interviewed considered themselves obese, while actual body mass index calculations showed that 34% of the participants were actually obese.
It’s time to listen to your veterinarian and take a good, honest look at your four legged friend. See our archived article about “Weight Management for Dogs and Cats” for further information about evaluating your companion’s waistline.
Reduce the number of treats and increase the play and quality time. 15 minutes of chase the fuzzy, feathery toy around the house is a great way to connect with your kitty and give him some exercise. Some favorites: Kitty Lure Chaser and Catnip Pounce and Play. For fetch crazy dogs there is nothing like the Chuck It, or for Frisbee lovers: Orbee-Tuff Zoom Flyer or the Flying Squirrel. For smaller dogs, try a Babble Ball or Extra Small Squeaker Balls for indoor games.
Feed better food and less of it. Most cats do not digest grains well, so a grain-free food is best. Many dogs can handle some grain in their diet, as long as the PROTEIN source is of animal origin. See “What You Need to Know About Your Pet’s Food” and “Evaluating Canned and Dry Food” for more information. Feeding 2 or 3 meals is much better for your dog or cat’s health than leaving food out free-choice – both for their weight and for their long-term health. In addition, digestive enzymes help your dog or cat get the most from the food they eat.
Good, healthy food and exercise are the simplest and best solutions for both you and your companion in avoiding the obesity epidemic.
No one is ever prepared for the diagnosis of cancer in their best friend. 50% of us, however, are likely to hear it at some time in our companion’s life. We receive many questions at Only Natural Pet Store about the best way to treat cancer and the answer, unfortunately, is just not that simple. Due to the complicated nature of most cancers and their treatment, we highly recommend a consultation with a holistically trained veterinarian. Through the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association Referral List you can look for qualified veterinarians in your area. If there are no holistic veterinarians near you, many will do phone consultations. We make an effort to provide some general recommendations for cancer care through the articles and question/answers about cancer in our Holistic Healthcare Library. These contain information about diet and supplements that can be helpful: Cancer Information.
In general, diet is the place to start. Holistic veterinarians will frequently recommend a diet that is low-carbohydrate, moderate protein, and moderate to high fat for cancer patients. Cancer cells utilize glucose from carbohydrates as fuel, so a low carbohydrate diet can be helpful in fighting cancer. Many cancer cells cannot utilize fat as an energy source, and fat in the diet can help combat weight loss as well.
When a home-prepared diet is just not possible, try ready made (frozen) raw food, freeze dried or dehydrated diets, or a very high-quality canned food without grains:
Frozen Raw Food
High Quality Canned Foods for Dogs – Choose grain-free or low grain varieties, add fresh vegetables when possible
.High Quality Canned Foods for Cats – Choose grain-free varieties. Adding finely ground fresh vegetables or freshly juiced vegetables such as dark leafy greens, broccoli, and carrots can be beneficial. These contain natural antioxidants as well as providing enzymes to help break down the food.
Often an Immune Support Complex, Antioxidants and possibly a Cleansing/Detoxifying Herbal Formula will be recommended. For more information on these supplements and other steps to take in treating cancer, please read our article about Cancer Prevention and Care.
Urinary Tract Infections are the number one reason cats are taken to the veterinarian and the fourth most common reason for dogs to visit the vet. Urinary Tract Infections (UTI’s) are easier to treat if caught in the early stages. UTI’s can be caused by bacteria, viruses, urinary crystals and even stress. It is important to know the symptoms and have your companion checked by a veterinarian if you see them, or use a home kit such as the PetCheckup Home Health Kit to check for other indications of infection.
Symptoms of Urinary Tract Infection:
• Frequent urination
• Straining or difficulty urinating
• Blood in the urine
• Foul smelling urine
• Urination in inappropriate places
• Tender lower abdomen (in the area of the bladder)
The best course of action is, of course, prevention; which means a top quality diet and plenty of water, along with minimizing stress. A meat based diet with little or no grain helps maintain a more acidic urine pH, which goes a long way to preventing UTI’s. Please see our article about Lower Urinary Tract Problems for more information. Also, for the latest information about the connection between ash & magnesium and urinary tract issues, check out Ash, Magnesium and FLUTD.
Itching and scratching is one of the top ten reasons dogs and cats visit the veterinarian. The most common causes of itching include allergies, parasites, and skin infections. It is important to investigate itchy skin and frequent scratching right away. Allowing the problem to persist can lead to worse problems down the road including hot spots, staph and other skin infections.
The first step in determining the cause of the itch is to look for fleas – or rather look for signs of fleas since you often won’t see the critters themselves unless there are many of them on the animal. Fleas are great at hiding in long fur. To test for fleas use a fine-tooth flea comb on the area between your animal’s hips – just above the tail. On long haired animals you many need to use a brush first to smooth the fur so you can get the comb through easily. Comb for 5 to 10 strokes to remove a bit of loose hair, then press the hair and any dirt between two damp white paper towels. If you see any rust colored or red spots appear, that is a sign of fleas. If your animal has fleas, the faster you act the easier it will be to deal with. See our article about A Natural Approach to Flea Control for more information. Check out Only Natural Pet’s Flea Control Kits for solutions.
If you have ruled out fleas, and there are no signs of a skin infection such as patches of missing fur or raised red areas, then consider allergies as a possibility. Dogs and cats can have food, airborne, and contact allergies. Getting allergies under control does not need to be complicated - often switching to a high quality allergy formula food and adding digestive enzymes and essential fatty acids to the diet will do the trick. For more information about treating allergies see Alleviating Your Pet’s Itchy Skin in our newletter archives. Only Natural Pet’s Allergy Kits can help simplify treatment.