Posts tagged Cat

New Halo Spot’s Stew Dry Formula for Dogs & Cats!

Only Natural Pet Store is happy to introduce Halo Spot’s Stew Dry Formulas!

Finally, a dry food for dogs and cats good enough to be called “Spot’s Stew”. Created for all life stages, Halo blends a unique combination of proteins from meat or fish, eggs and vegetables for pure nutrition and easy digestibility.

  • No rendered meats or meals
  • Nothing artificial
  • No by-products
  • No fillers
  • No chemicals or preservatives

Click Here to View Halo Spot’s Stew Dry Food.

Halo also offers a complete line of pet care products for dogs and cats, all specifically created to achieve and maintain optimal health for your pet. They guarantee all their products will deliver noticeable results, or your money back!

Click Here to Check Out All Halo Products.

. . . and coming soon at Only Natural Pet Store. . . Ziwi Peak!

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Why Switch Foods? (Part 1 & II)

The spice of life is variety, or so they say. If that’s true for people, what about our dogs and cats?

Pet food company advertising would have you believe that feeding one food (theirs!) for your pet’s entire adult life is the way to go. But that concept is all wrong. When you really think about it, it doesn’t even make sense!

For many of us, our pets are our children. So let’s imagine for a moment that you have a child, let’s say a 2-year old boy named Junior (of course!), and let’s imagine taking him to the pediatrician for a check-up. The doctor bustles in, looks Junior over, then plunks a big bag of Yummi-o’s down on the exam table.

“Good news,” he beams. “All the vitamins, minerals and a perfect balance of nutrients that Junior needs are right here in New Complete Yummi-o’s. Now all you have to do is make sure Junior gets three servings every day.” The doctor wags his finger at you as he continues in a serious voice, “Now, since this food is perfectly complete and balanced, you mustn’t feed Junior anything else—no apples or oatmeal or broccoli or peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches—because you might cause a nutrient imbalance!”

Well, this sounds a little weird, but you trust the pediatrician—after all, it’s his name you see on all the gold-embossed university degrees on the exam room wall—so you go ahead and put Junior on an all-Yummi-o’s diet.

Time passes, Junior grows, and by golly, it sure is cheap, easy and convenient to feed him. The next year you bring him in for his checkup, and the doctor is very pleased.

“He looks great,” says the doc. “I see you’ve been keeping him on Yummi-o’s. Terrific! Now, I have more good news for you! Yummi-o’s now comes in Life Stages! You’ll keep him on Yummi-o’s Growth until he starts kindergarten. Then he’ll go on Elementary Yummi-o’s until he hits middle school. Then you give him Adolescent Yummi-o’s until he’s 18, when he can be weaned onto the Adult formula. And it gets even better—you can eat it too! New Improved Yummi-o’s is complete and balanced for adults up to 65 years old.”

Ridiculous? Of course! What rational parent would feed a child only one food for years on end? Even if the food were, in fact, complete and balanced, most of us would consider it unnatural, even cruel to the child. Never give Junior a carrot or a glass of orange juice? No fresh food at all? Preposterous!

Then why does everyone think it’s okay to feed a cat or dog that way?

We would think a pediatrician who recommended a single food diet for a child was bonkers, yet when the veterinarian recommends a single food for our pampered pet, we obey without question. But feeding a dog or cat is not all that different from feeding a child.

It’s way past time to bring a little common sense to bear, and common sense dictates that an animal ought to get a variety of foods.

The veterinary literature is full of cases where nutritional deficiencies (or excesses) were discovered, and in virtually every one, the problem arose (or was discovered) because the animal was kept on one food for a long period of time.

Cats, being strict obligate carnivores, have most often been the unintended victims—taurine, copper, vitamin E and potassium deficiencies have turned up in cats fed certain foods (which were, by the way, “complete and balanced” according to the standards at the time) as their sole diet.

Dogs, whose omnivorous metabolism is more adaptable, haven’t had quite as many problems, though zinc and fatty acid deficiencies have occurred on certain poor quality foods.

The Myth of Complete and Balanced

Wait a minute … aren’t we indeed talking about “complete and balanced” foods? How can a complete and balanced food have deficiencies or excesses of nutrients? Unfortunately, even for the best commercial pet foods, there are several places along the road to the retail store shelf where any food’s nutritional value can go astray.

1. The standards by which the food is made aren’t perfect. Pet nutrition is an evolving science, and we don’t yet know all there is to know about it (if we ever will!). Veterinarians have seen many examples of how the particular nutritional needs of a species become known—mainly by stumbling on cases where they aren’t being met.

2. The exact quantities of individual nutrients in a given ingredient may not be known, or may be inaccurately assessed. A shipment of barley might be presumed to have a certain nutritional composition based on analyses of previous batches, but depending on the weather where it was grown, the soil conditions, and the type of fertilizer used, the exact amounts of each nutrient may vary. The same applies to animal-based ingredients.

3. Ingredient quality may be inconsistent or unknown. A vitamin-mineral premix purchased from an outside supplier and added to the food may guarantee minimum levels of each item, but if the quality control on that product was poor, the finished pet food will merely compound the error. Many vitamins and minerals are normally “overdosed” in pet food to make up for loss of those nutrients during processing, transport and storage. Some of these may present a health risk. For instance, iodine excess in cat foods is suspected of contributing to the skyrocketing incidence of hyperthyroidism in older cats; and a zinc overdose in a commercial dog food sickened author Ann Martin’s dogs and started her on a quest through the maze of pet food manufacturing and regulation, detailed in her stunning book Food Pets Die For in 1997.

4. Processing alters many nutrients. The heat used in various stages of pet food manufacturing can alter many ingredients, some for the better and some for worse. Carbohydrates are made much more digestible by cooking, but proteins can be denatured, vitamins can be destroyed, and fats can be damaged by heat. In general, pet food manufacturers are aware of changes that occur in their products during processing, and compensate for heat-sensitive ingredients by adding supplements, such as extra vitamins, but alterations in proteins and fats are not generally accounted for.

5. The pet food manufacturer itself can make mistakes. It’s obvious from feed reports from around the country that virtually every manufacturer—no matter how good, bad or indifferent its reputation—at one time or another fails one or more tests for protein, calcium, magnesium or other nutrients.

6. Increased risk of toxic effects. As many people unfortunately discovered in last year’s recalls, feeding the same food, from the same manufacturer, who continually buys from the same suppliers, can lead to health problems for your animal companion. While some of the recalled foods had such huge amounts of melamine that even one serving was deadly, feeding a variety of foods could have “diluted” the effect of the toxin and caused less harm for thousands of pets.

Next time, we’ll talk about how periodically switching foods can prevent food allergies and finicky eating behavior.

Why Switch Food Part II…

In this post, we’ll continue our discussion about the reasons for periodically switching your pet’s food.

Let’s consider all the different kinds of pet food on the market. When I started veterinary school, there were basically two kinds of pet food: adult, and puppy or kitten (growth/lactation); “light” foods were just coming into the market, although there were no rules at the time about calories or fat content, so the claim was a little questionable.

But looking at dog food today, we find all-life-stages food, baby dog food, puppy food, adult food, mature food, aging food, senior food, food for sensitive stomachs, food for itchy skin, food for small, medium, large, and giant breed dogs, food for Yorkies and Dachshunds and Poodles and Bulldogs and Shih Tzus and Boxers and Retrievers, vegetarian food, high performance food, reduced calorie food, light food, and an array of veterinary diets for dogs with heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease, arthritis, digestive problems, cancer, diabetes, bladder stones, dandruff, and dirty teeth.

Cats, being more or less the same general size and shape, have been spared some of this, but recently a spate of new foods for indoor, outdoor, and specific breeds of cats has arrived on the market. And there are designer diets for hairball hurlers, happy bladders, and tartared teeth. And, of course, most of the veterinary diets available for dogs have a feline counterpart.

However, the standards for pet food nutrient levels remain the same today as they were when they were set in 1989 (for dogs) and 1991 (for cats). There is one chart for adult maintenance, and one chart for growth/lactation. (Food intended to treat disease must provide documentation to FDA that it actually works as advertised, but the research is done by the company making the food-–and the claim.) New standards for dog and cat nutrition were just recently published by the National Research Council, but it will likely take several years before they are reviewed and accepted by AAFCO. Until that happens, pet food manufacturers don’t have to abide by them.

Is There Really a Difference?

Is it just me, or is something wrong with this picture? How much different are these foods really from each other—given that they all have to meet the same nutritional standards? For instance, if you look at the ingredient statements on the labels of regular versus large breed foods, they look pretty similar. In any case, the exact nutritional requirements of hundreds of breeds (and infinite combinations of breeds), every imaginable lifestyle, and each animal’s individual metabolism simply cannot be accurately known, at least not with current technology.

Moreover, even an individual animal’s needs fluctuate, depending on the season, activity level, normal variations in hormone levels and organ functions, infections, parasites like fleas, illness, and a host of other factors. A dog who spends a lot of time outdoors in Colorado may need a higher calorie/higher fat food in the winter to cope with the cold, but unless she is extremely active in warmer weather, such a food may put on the pounds if fed year-round. It does make sense to try to match the food to your animal’s particular needs as those needs vary, although whether you can really do this based solely on a manufacturer’s claims for its food is unlikely.

The Allergy Factor

Another pitfall of feeding a single food is the potential for your animal to develop an intolerance or allergy to one or more ingredients. A dietary intolerance is a reaction to something in the food, rather than the food itself.

The list of suspects is a long one and includes flavoring agents, coloring agents, emulsifiers, humectants, stabilizers, thickeners, texturizers, and dozens more. Different manufacturers use different additives, so changing foods periodically may avoid constant exposure to certain ingredients that could become a problem for your animal.

True food allergies are thought to be uncommon (though more common in cats than dogs), but many practitioners and veterinary nutritionists are coming to the conclusion that most, if not all, cases of inflammatory bowel disease are linked to food.

It usually takes months to years of exposure to a food to develop an allergy. Allergies are usually to proteins, which are found in animal products, of course, but also in to some extent in the cereal grains commonly used in pet food. Corn meal (also known as ground yellow corn) contains 9 percent protein, soybean flour contains 37 percent protein, and wheat contains 10 percent protein. Corn and wheat are very common allergens in pets.

Switching foods every three or four months, from chicken-and-corn, to lamb-and-rice or turkey-and-barley or duck-and-green peas or rattlesnake-and-quinoa may help prevent your animal companion from becoming food-allergic in the first place. (But remember to carefully check the ingredient list on the package-–a food legitimately labeled “emu-and-amaranth” could actually consist mainly of corn and chicken.)

A Matter of Taste

The last big reason to change foods periodically is to prevent finicky eating habits and enable the gut to handle challenges without catastrophic consequences.

Pet food makers are masters at making the food irresistibly tasty. Consequently, an animal fed a single food may become “addicted” to it. I once got a call from a woman whose cat would not only eat just one flavor of cat food, but it had to have been canned at a particular factory! Cans of the same flavor with a different code stamp were rejected by the cat. She was frantically searching from coast to coast to find more cans from that factory—which had since closed down.

Some foods are produced on a “least cost” basis, and the ingredients may change significantly from batch to batch. “Fixed formula” foods always use the same ingredients. Depending on ingredient quality, such a food may be a better pick. But even fixed formula foods that use the same ingredients all the time may still periodically alter certain characteristics, such as size of the kibble, or flavoring components.

When you buy a new bag of the same food, it could be just different enough from the usual fare that your furry friend will turn up her nose at it. Or you might run out of her favorite food and not be able to get over to the gourmet pet store right away—she’ll just have to eat something from the grocery store for a few days. If you board her, she may get fed whatever the kennel is using (errors can be made, even if you supply your own food).

It’s best to have your animal companion develop more “cosmopolitan” tastes, and be willing to eat whatever you give her. (For some dogs in some situations, training to accept food only from you can and should be done, but that’s an issue beyond the scope of this blog.)

Next time, we’ll get to the nuts and bolts of how to make the switch. The first word of caution: too radical or too abrupt a switch could cause your pet stress and tummy upset. On the bright side, it could keep your local carpet cleaning company busy!

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Taking Care of the Liver

The liver is one of the most important organs in the body. It is a crucial part of the digestive system, as well as playing a role in the immune system. Most blood from the intestinal tract is routed through the liver for detoxification. The liver can operate effectively with only 20% of its cells working, so it has a large reserve capacity. Without the liver, the body is doomed within days. But the good news is that, with proper support, the liver can completely regenerate itself after injury or disease. These traits make the liver truly remarkable; and mean that even serious liver disease is survivable and has a much better prognosis than similar damage to other organs.

The liver is also one of the few organs with key differences between dogs and cats. The dog’s liver is very similar to that of humans and other mammals. However, a cat’s liver contains fewer metabolic enzymes and has a diminished ability to handle toxins. The development of liver disease is also due to different causes between dogs and cats. In dogs, liver failure is commonly due to congenital problems, traumatic injury, infections, or other disease. Cats, on the other hand, can develop liver disease not only from infection or trauma, but also from seemingly minor stresses, such as not eating enough for whatever reason.

Keeping the Liver Healthy.
Preventing liver disease is a whole lot easier than curing it. A high-quality diet, including at least some wet food for both dogs and cats, is the first and most basic step. Additionally, there are herbal and nutritional supplements that can support and strengthen the liver so that it can handle damage and disease more efficiently. Supportive supplements with specific benefits for the liver include:

Probiotics to balance the digestive system
Only Natural Pet Probiotic Blend
Animal Essentials Plant Enzymes
Pet Naturals Digest Support for Cats and Dogs

Antioxidants to prevent and reduce inflammation
Only Natural Pet Whole Food Antioxidant Blend
Vetri-Science Antiox

Omega-3 fatty acids, such as those found in fish oil, also have strong anti-inflammatory properties.
Only Natural Pet Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil
 

Co-Enzyme Q10 to enhance cellular metabolism and prevent the formation of damaging oxygen free radicals. It is best absorbed in an oil formulation, such as:
Vetri-Science CoQsol

General support for liver health and nose-to-tail wellness. If you want keep things simple and give just one terrific supplement to your pet, these products contain milk thistle, taurine, antioxidants, digestive enzymes, and Omega-3 fatty acids, along with important vitamins and minerals:

Only Natural Pet Super Daily Canine Senior
Only Natural Pet Super Daily Feline Senior
 

Supplementing your pet’s diet with a portion of cooked organic calves’ or chicken liver once or twice a week will provide all the ingredients needed to keep the liver in good repair. It’s important to buy it fresh and organic because the liver is the body’s main detoxifying organ, and there may be stored toxins in non-organic that could harm your pet.

If Your Pet is Sick.
In dogs with liver disease, a precise diagnosis is important. This usually involves blood tests, and possibly also ultrasound or even biopsy of the liver. Different causes need different treatment. For example, in a puppy with a liver shunt (an abnormal blood vessel that bypasses the important detoxification processes of the liver), a high protein diet—which is normally fine for the liver—could be deadly. Cats have a less diverse potential problem list, mostly involving either inflammation or hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease). Signs are similar, and treatment in cats nearly always comes down to: “feed the liver,” although specific treatment with antibiotics or anti-inflammatory drugs may be needed, depending on the cause of the problem. Unfortunately, feeding an animal with liver disease both crucial and difficult, since these pets tend to not want to eat at all. Force-feeding or even surgical placement of a feeding tube may be necessary components of treatment. Just mix the supplements with a little blenderized canned food, and force-feed the mixture by syringe or via tube. Here are a few tips to make this process easier:

  • Mix up the whole day’s worth of food in the morning, with all the supplements in it.
  • Set aside a portion for the first feeding, and put the remainder in the refrigerator.
  • For subsequent feedings, take out the appropriate portion, mix a little hot water in to warm and soften it, and you’re ready to go.

The herb milk thistle is an important healer for the liver in times of stress or disease. It protects the liver from toxins and helps it regenerate.
The active ingredient of milk thistle, “silymarin,” reaches high levels in the bile and liver tissue. It can be used in the treatment of hepatic lipidosis, chronic hepatitis (generalized liver inflammation), cholangitis (inflammation of the bile ducts), and pericholangitis (inflammation of the tissue around the bile ducts). It may be useful in preventing or treating some liver problems, as well as gallstones, by thinning the bile.
It is very safe. You can give up to 250 mg of milk thistle daily for every 10 pounds of your pet’s body weight. It is most effective when given in smaller portions throughout the day than in one big dose. Two of our favorite milk thistle products are:

Super Milk Thistle X
Only Natural Pet Liv-Herb Herbal Formula

Omega-3 fatty acids can be given at higher doses for a sick animal. Give 2 or 3 times the normally recommended amount; up to 3,000 mg per day for a large dog.

Carnitine, an amino acid, is extremely important for cats with hepatic lipidosis, but is helpful for all dogs and cats, especially those who eat a lot of high-carbohydrate dry food. Give 250-500 mg/day for a cat. Carnitine is also important for heart muscle function in both dogs and cats. Our highest potency products are:

Vetri-Science Cardio-Strength



Vitaline L-Carnitine

A pet with liver disease needs professional care from your veterinarian, but you can greatly help the healing process with the right supplements, and of course plenty of TLC!

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Grieving the Loss of a Companion

By Dave Goff

A couple of months ago my household lost one of our cherished members. Sable was the sweetest cat I have ever known. Death of a dog or cat She truly wanted nothing more than love, some good food, a good brushing and more love. Unfortunately, she also had some congenital issues that suddenly and dramatically came to a head. One day she was demanding to be brushed, two days later we were sitting with her in a quiet room at our vets’ office and watching the light fade away.

As I said, it has been a few months. I am just now able to really speak about this without my chest and throat clenching up and my brain shifting into neutral for minutes on end. My wife and I have been working to make sure that we work through our grief in positive ways and to remember Sable in the best ways we can.

For us, losing Sable was one of the hardest things we have ever gone through, so I thought I would write a bit about strategies that might help when coping with the loss of a family companion.

  1. First and foremost, allow yourself to grieve. Sure, you will still have to find a way to get through the day-to-day grind, but you need to have a bit of time to yourself when you can allow yourself to fully let go and grieve in whatever way is best for you. In the car, bathroom breaks, going on walks at lunch, time with close friends, etc…

  2. Everyone grieves differently. Don’t be upset with yourself and feel that you are being overly dramatic, or conversely, overly cold about your loss. At the same time, allow others some space to feel the grief in the way that they need to. How you express grief is likely to be as unique as you are.

  3. Talk about your pet. Tell stories to others and remember all the good things. Try to think of the funniest quirk or habit that would always make you smile. It is important to make sure that your strongest memories aren’t the ones from just before their passing, but the wide array of memories throughout your lives together.

  4. Not everyone will understand. It is wonderful to be able to talk and share memories of your pet, but sometimes there will be people who just don’t understand. Just acknowledge that these people see pets differently than you do and be aware of it. I would suggest not talking to those people about your loss. It would have upset me terribly if anybody had said “what’s the big deal? It’s just a cat.” That moment probably isn’t the best moment to discuss differing value systems.

  5. Do something symbolic. We got a sturdy plant and we mixed Sable’s ashes in with its soil. We also donated some newer toys of hers to a shelter, and picked up some extra food to go with it. If you are an artist or writer, it might help to express your memories in that way, with poetry or a painting.

  6. Get another pet. You can never replace a family member. Each and every one of our pets is unique and special and no dog or cat will ever be the same as the one we lost, but there are definitely good reasons to consider a new family member. Sometimes a new pet will help fill in those deafening silences and hollow days, not to diminish your grief, but just to avoid being overwhelmed by it. Also, there a lot of animals that need someone to love and care for them and if you are reading this, I think I can assume you would be a good candidate.

  7. Take care of yourself. Proper nutrition, sunlight and exercise are crucial when dealing with grief. Studies have shown a link between malnutrition and depression, so why would you want to make a bad situation worse? Walking a new puppy is a great way to get exercise…

  8. If you have children, talk to them. It is best to be honest and realistic with children. This will probably be the first time a child has to deal with the death of a loved one and it is essential that it be as positive as possible. Avoid euphemisms, like “put to sleep” or “went away.” Children can take things like this very literally. Imagine a child fearing going to bed after hearing that “Sparky was put to sleep” and then never came back again. As hard as it is, it is really best to confront the subject head on and use words like “died” and “dead.”

  9. Remember that your other pets may grieve too, or even just pick up on the emotions in the household. During this time it is important to be aware of how animals might express their emotions and look at ways to help them as well. Personally, I think a round of flower essences like Bach’s Rescue Remedy or Grieving Flower Essences for everybody can be a great idea.

  10. Lastly, do not obsess on assigning blame. Even if someone was directly at fault, remember that you need time to grieve and it won’t help to focus excessively on feelings of guilt or anger. Don’t let time that should be spent remembering your best friend turn into a huge negative experience full of fighting and blame.

Grief when you lose someone you love is a reality and nothing will take away the pain of that loss, but hopefully some of these strategies can help you deal with the pain in positive ways.

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