Tag Archives: dog nutrition

5 Common Dog Illnesses that are Impacted by Nutrition

 

A high quality, well-balanced diet is fundamental to your dog’s health, but do you know why? Here are just a few canine health problems seen in dogs that are directly affected by their diet.

1. OBESITY

Obesity is a nationwide epidemic for our dogs, affecting over 50% of American dogs1. Even worse, dogs affected by obesity are more prone to arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancer. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), decreased life expectancy is also linked to obesity in pets, and unfortunately, among all pets that veterinarians ultimately classified as obese, over 90% of dog owners initially thought their pet was in the normal weight range

Pay special attention to the calorie and fat levels of your dog’s food. While they are both important to the diet, an overabundance of either can cause or exacerbate obesity in dogs. Likewise, finding a proper dog diet that limits calories and fats can help trim down an overweight or obese dog and, ultimately, help your dog live a more healthy lifestyle.

Determine your pet’s ideal weight by consulting your veterinarian or by using petMD’s Healthy Weight Calculator.

2. PANCREATITIS

Pancreatitis develops when the pancreas becomes inflamed, causing the flow of digestive enzymes to be released into the abdominal area. If this occurs, the digestive enzymes will begin to break down fat and proteins in the other organs, as well as in the pancreas.

“In dogs, dietary fat is known to be associated with the development of pancreatitis and can stimulate the secretion of a hormone that induces the pancreas to secrete its digestive hormones,” says Jennifer Coates, DVM. Consult your veterinarian to see if your dog’s current dietary fat intake may be increasing his or her risk of pancreatitis. If your dog is already suffering from pancreatitis, Dr. Coates recommends a bland dog diet that is low in fat and easily digestible.

3. BLADDER STONES

All bladder stones are not created equal. They can be composed of different types of minerals and other substances. For example, calcium oxalate bladder stones are primarily composed of calcium while struvites are primarily composed of magnesium and phosphates (phosphorus). Bladder stones may start out small, but over time can grow in number and/or size, causing issues such as urinary accidents, discolored urine, and urination straining.

Speak with a veterinarian if you believe your dog is suffering from bladder stones. They can identify the type of bladder stone and recommend a food to dissolve the stone, or surgery to remove it if it is a type that cannot be dissolved with food, like calcium oxalates. They can also recommend a special diet that can help deter the formation of bladder stones.

Even if your dog isn’t currently suffering from bladder stones, he or she may benefit from a diet that is lower in calcium and phosphorus. Your veterinarian will know what’s best for your dog’s situation.

4. HEART DISEASE

Dogs often have issues with heart disease like we do, especially if their diet isn’t properly balanced. One key factor to heart disease in dogs is their sodium (salt) intake. “Increased sodium in the diet causes increased levels of sodium circulating in the blood,” says Ken Tudor, DVM. “These elevated levels of sodium cause water retention in the blood vessels and elevated blood pressure. As blood pressure increases the diseased heart must continue to enlarge to overcome the increased pressure in order to pump blood from the ventricles.”

Are you feeding your dog table scraps? Is your dog’s current food too high in sodium? Talk to your veterinarian about these things and how your dog may benefit from a healthy diet that is lower in sodium.

5. DIARRHEA

Dogs frequently suffer from bouts of diarrhea, but there are two main types of diarrhea: small bowel and large bowel diarrhea. “Dogs with small bowel diarrhea typically produce large amounts of soft stool but do so just a few times a day,” says Dr. Coates. “When abnormalities are centered in the colon, affected dogs will usually strain to produce small amounts of watery stool frequently throughout the day. This is large bowel diarrhea.”

“For large bowel diarrhea,” says Dr. Coates “a high fiber diet has been shown to be beneficial. Ideally, both soluble fiber (the type colonic bacteria use for food) and insoluble (indigestible) fiber should be included.” For small bowel diarrhea, Dr. Coates recommends a bland, low fat, easily digested diet.

Discuss with your veterinarian how fat, fiber, calcium, phosphorus, and other dietary nutrients play an important role in your dog’s health. He or she may even have important new dietary recommendations to consider for your dog’s specific life stage and lifestyle.

Diana Ruth Davidson,  Westside Dog Nanny,             Certified Professional Pet Sitter,                            Certified by American Red Cross in Pet First Aid

Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in Your Home, Doggie Day Care.

Diana@WestsideDogNanny.com
310 919 9372

Dog Nutritional Requirements

Good dog  nutrition is no accident. It takes time and patience to learn what your dog needs to stay healthy, happy and active. It also takes dedication and perseverance to make sure your dog eats what he should, rather than what he wants: dog nutritional requirements.

To make your job a little easier, here are some tips to ensure your pet gets all of his nutritional needs met.

1. Why is good dog nutrition important?

It’s vital that your dog eats a complete and balanced diet. He needs fresh water, protein, carbohydrates, fats, minerals and vitamins. The most important nutrient is water, which makes up 60 percent of a dog’s weight. Proteins, fats and carbohydrates are necessary for energy; minerals are important for nerve conduction, muscle contraction, among other things; and vitamins are important to help your dog process biochemicals.

2. How often should I feed my dog?

Puppies under 3 months of age should be fed at least four times a day. Puppies between 3 and 5 months of age should be given three meals a day. Adult dogs can be fed once or twice a day. Dogs like routine, so establish a feeding schedule and stick to it. A good time to feed him is during the family meals. This will occupy him while the rest of the family is eating.

3. How much should I feed my dog?

The amount your og needs to eat depends on many factors, including: life stage (puppy, adult, pregnant or lactating), lifestyle (active versus the “coach potato”), size and general condition. Select a high quality food, weigh your dog (don’t try to guess) and then read the feeding guidelines provided on the package. Remember, though, that every dog is unique, so you might have to adjust his feeding accordingly. Click here to learn more about Feeding Your Adult Dog.

4. Is it okay to give my dog bones to chew on?

You should only give “bones” that have been designed for dogs to chew on. Bones, especially chicken bones, can splinter and become lodged in a dog’s mouth. If swallowed, they can cause constipation, or even bloody diarrhea (the result of fragments scraping the colon). Round bones can get stuck around the lower jaw and if swallowed, can get stuck in the esophagus.

5. When should I change from puppy to adult food?

Puppy food is different from adult food. It is designed for a rapidly growing pup. In his first year, your puppy will grow very quickly. You can begin to switch to an adult diet when he reaches 80 to 90 percent of his anticipated adult weight. For most dogs, this occurs around 9 months of age. Giant breeds, such as Great Danes, have special needs. They require a more specialized diet until they are 12 to 18 months of age. Learn more about how to adjust to your dog’s nutritional requirements by reading the article When to Change from Puppy Food to Adult Food.

6. How do I change my pet’s diet?

Don’t change his diet all at once. Do it gradually over three days. Begin changing his diet by feeding 1/4 adult food and 3/4 puppy food for a few days. Then add 1/2 adult food and 1/2 puppy food. After a few more days, feed 3/4 adult food and 1/4 puppy food. Then, you can feed straight adult food.

7. Can my dog be a vegetarian?

Believe it or not, yes, your dog can be a vegetarian, as long as his meals are well balanced with protein from other sources. There are a number of commercially available vegetarian foods, but you should first discuss his diet with your veterinarian.

8. Are rawhides bad for my dog?

Many people give rawhides to their pet as a toy and to help their teeth. It is theorized that dogs like rawhides, due to their natural instincts as wild dogs. But pets with a history of vomiting, special dietary needs, diarrhea or allergies may have a bad reaction to rawhide. Talk with your veterinarian about whether to give your dog rawhide or not. For more information, see Rawhide, Cowhide: Are They Good or Bad for Your Pet?

9. Can my dog eat cat food?

Your dog may survive on cat food, but he won’t thrive. Dogs and cats are different species, with their own nutritional requirements. Although a dog will get the necessary nutrients, he will be ingesting excess protein and fats that a cat requires to stay healthy. Over time, this can lead to obesity and other health problems.

10. What is in dog food anyway?

Dog food contains a variety of agricultural ingredients, such as meat, poultry, seafood and feed grain byproducts. (Byproducts are parts of an animal or plant not used for human consumption. They still must meet federal standards for safety and nutrition.) Vitamins and minerals are added to complete nutritional needs. Preservatives are added to keep dog food fresh during shipping and while on the shelf, and color is added to make the food look more attractive. The coloring and preservatives are the same used in food for people and have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In addition, the Association of American Feed Control Officials publishes regulations for nutritional adequacy of “complete and balanced” pet food. Your pet’s food should conform to minimal AAFCO standards. Read the label.

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in Your Home, Doggie Day Care.

Diana@WestsideDogNanny.com
310 919 9372

Dog Nutrition

 Commonly Asked Questions About Dog Nutrition

Good nutrition is no accident. It takes time and patience to learn what your dog needs to stay healthy, happy and active. It also takes dedication and perseverance to make sure your dog eats what he should, rather than what he wants.

To make your job a little easier, here are some tips to ensure your pet gets all of his nutritional needs met.

1. Why is good nutrition important?

It’s vital that your dog eats a complete and balanced diet. He needs fresh water, protein, carbohydrates, fats, minerals and vitamins. The most important nutrient is water, which makes up 60 percent of a dog’s weight. Proteins, fats and carbohydrates are necessary for energy; minerals are important for nerve conduction, muscle contraction, among other things; and vitamins are important to help your dog process biochemicals.

2. How often should I feed my dog?

Puppies under 3 months of age should be fed at least four times a day. Puppies between 3 and 5 months of age should be given three meals a day. Adult dogs can be fed once or twice a day. Dogs like routine, so establish a feeding schedule and stick to it. A good time to feed him is during the family meals. This will occupy him while the rest of the family is eating.

3. How much should I feed my dog?

The amount your og needs to eat depends on many factors, including: life stage (puppy, adult, pregnant or lactating), lifestyle (active versus the “coach potato”), size and general condition. Select a high quality food, weigh your dog (don’t try to guess) and then read the feeding guidelines provided on the package. Remember, though, that every dog is unique, so you might have to adjust his feeding accordingly. Click here to learn more about Feeding Your Adult Dog.

4. Is it okay to give my dog bones to chew on?

You should only give “bones” that have been designed for dogs to chew on. Bones, especially chicken bones, can splinter and become lodged in a dog’s mouth. If swallowed, they can cause constipation, or even bloody diarrhea (the result of fragments scraping the colon). Round bones can get stuck around the lower jaw and if swallowed, can get stuck in the esophagus.

5. When should I change from puppy to adult food?

Puppy food is different from adult food. It is designed for a rapidly growing pup. In his first year, your puppy will grow very quickly. You can begin to switch to an adult diet when he reaches 80 to 90 percent of his anticipated adult weight. For most dogs, this occurs around 9 months of age. Giant breeds, such as Great Danes, have special needs. They require a more specialized diet until they are 12 to 18 months of age. Learn more about how to adjust to your dog’s nutritional requirements by reading the article When to Change from Puppy Food to Adult Food.

6. How do I change my pet’s diet?

Don’t change his diet all at once. Do it gradually over three days. Begin changing his diet by feeding 1/4 adult food and 3/4 puppy food for a few days. Then add 1/2 adult food and 1/2 puppy food. After a few more days, feed 3/4 adult food and 1/4 puppy food. Then, you can feed straight adult food.

7. Can my dog be a vegetarian?

Believe it or not, yes, your dog can be a vegetarian, as long as his meals are well balanced with protein from other sources. There are a number of commercially available vegetarian foods, but you should first discuss his diet with your veterinarian.

8. Are rawhides bad for my dog?

Many people give rawhides to their pet as a toy and to help their teeth. It is theorized that dogs like rawhides, due to their natural instincts as wild dogs. But pets with a history of vomiting, special dietary needs, diarrhea or allergies may have a bad reaction to rawhide. Talk with your veterinarian about whether to give your dog rawhide or not. For more information, see Rawhide, Cowhide: Are They Good or Bad for Your Pet?

9. Can my dog eat cat food?

Your dog may survive on cat food, but he won’t thrive. Dogs and cats are different species, with their own nutritional requirements. Although a dog will get the necessary nutrients, he will be ingesting excess protein and fats that a cat requires to stay healthy. Over time, this can lead to obesity and other health problems.

10. What is in dog food anyway?

Dog food contains a variety of agricultural ingredients, such as meat, poultry, seafood and feed grain byproducts. (Byproducts are parts of an animal or plant not used for human consumption. They still must meet federal standards for safety and nutrition.) Vitamins and minerals are added to complete nutritional needs. Preservatives are added to keep dog food fresh during shipping and while on the shelf, and color is added to make the food look more attractive. The coloring and preservatives are the same used in food for people and have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In addition, the Association of American Feed Control Officials publishes regulations for nutritional adequacy of “complete and balanced” pet food. Your pet’s food should conform to minimal AAFCO standards. Read the label.

11. Why can’t I feed my dog table scraps?

Most table scraps are too fatty for your dog’s digestive system. They can cause vomiting, diarrhea or, over a period of time, obesity and other health conditions. Furthermore, chicken bones, or bones from rabbit or fish can splinter and become lodged in his esophagus or digestive system. For more information, see Why Table Scraps Are Bad for Pets.

12. Isn’t my pet bored eating the same food?

Probably not. Your dog has fewer taste buds than you do, so he doesn’t have the range of tastes that a person does. A dog’s greatest sense of taste is sugar, which is why many dogs have a “sweet tooth.” He is attracted to a combination of taste and odor.

13. What tests are done to make sure the food is safe for my pet?

Pet food companies use standardized animal feeding trials designed by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). Animals are fed and monitored for 6 months to ensure that the food provides the right balance of nutrients. A product using this test will have language similar to the following on the label –”Animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate that Shep’s Food for Dogs provides complete and balanced nutrition for all life stages.”

14. Which pet food company or brand is the best?

That’s a hard question to answer. In general, there are a number of prominent manufacturers of high quality food. They include Iams (Eukanuba), Hill’s (Science Diets), Nature’s Recipe products, Nutra Max, Purina and Waltham. The key is to know the protein and fat levels, moisture content, fillers, added vitamins and types of ingredients your particular dog requires. Your dog’s age, medical condition and other factors (whether she is pregnant, for instance) also need to be taken into account. Work with your veterinarian to decide what pet food is best for your dog.

15. Should I buy expensive name-brand food over store-brand or generic?

In general, the pricier name brands are better, and they usually cannot be purchased in a supermarket. To buy them, you need to go to a pet store. Supermarkets stock what sells the most rather than the healthiest pet food. It’s up to the dog owner to know what brands are the best.

16. Canned or dry, does it matter?

Dry dog food has greater “caloric density” than canned food. Simply put, there is less water in a cup of dry food as compared to a canned diet. Bigger dogs (over 30 pounds) should be fed semi-moist or dry food. They can consume less while getting enough nutrients, and it is more cost effective for you. For very large dogs, feeding only canned food is not recommended since it will be difficult for him to eat enough canned food each day to meet his requirements. There are other differences between canned and dry, which you can learn inFeeding Your Adult Dog.

17. Does my dog need vitamins and supplements?

According to most feeding studies of healthy dogs, dogs that eat an appropriate balanced diet do not need supplements. If you feel your dog needs supplements, talk to your veterinarian first. Feeding too many supplements to your dog can be dangerous.

18. What are prescription diets, and why would my pet need them?

Prescription diets are specially formulated diets to help in the treatment and care of pets with certain ailments or diseases (such as allergies, heart disease or diabetes). Some of these diets are only intended as a temporary change in food and others are recommended for the duration of the pet’s life. These diets should only be given under the instructions of your veterinarian.

19. What is the best way to store dog food?

Dog food should be stored in a cool, dry place, preferably off the ground. It is helpful to pour dry dog food from the bag into a large, clean, plastic container with an airtight lid. Canned dog food can be kept in a cupboard with other canned foods.

20. I have a fat and skinny dog. How should I feed them?

The larger dog may be eating his own food and that of his skinny comrade. Feed them in separate rooms to allow the smaller dog time to eat his meal.

21. What healthy treats can I give my pet?

Vegetables make good treats for dogs. They are healthy and he can digest them. There are healthy doggie treats available in pet food stores as well. Talk to your veterinarian to find out what treats are best for your dog.

22. Should my dog eat raw meat?

This is a controversial topic. Some people claim that dogs need raw meat because they are natural hunters and have survived on mice, birds, etc. for thousands of years. Others worry about the bacteria and parasites present in raw meat. A little raw meat is probably all right, as long as it is not the primary part of the diet. It should be high quality beef, chicken or turkey. It might be best to avoid raw pork.

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in your home, Doggie Day Care.

Diana@WestsideDogNanny.com
310 919 9372

Basic Dog Nutrition

Help ensure a long, healthy life with appropriate diets.

Good nutrition is important to keep the human body healthy, and the same goes for dogs. Without a good diet, your dog is prone to a number of health issues, some of which can be serious.
The key to choosing the right dog food is to educate yourself first on what your dog needs. Start by looking at his age. The dietary requirements of a puppy are different from those of a senior dog.You know you need to give your dog a quality food, but how do you choose from the many brands and types available at pet supply stores? The sheer volume of options can be daunting.
Young puppies need more protein than full-grown dogs, so you should start your young dog off with a food made especially for puppies. When your dog reaches 6 months of age, you can start switching him to a diet for adult dogs. Senior dogs need less calories than they did when they were young, so a senior diet might be in order for your older dog.
When it comes to choosing the brand, you should feed your dog the best food you can afford. That means spending money on a premium brand if you can. The highest quality brands are sold in pet supply stores, and list a meat protein source—such as beef, chicken or lamb—as the first ingredient on the label. Dogs are meat eaters and do best on a diet that is meat-based.
Some dog owners take the meat-based concept even further by feeding their dogs grain-free dog food. These foods list a meat source as the first ingredient and contain vegetables, but no cereal grains (vegetables take the place of grains as a binding agent). For dog owners concerned about food allergies in their dogs, a unique protein diet can be a particularly good choice.
Several years ago, several dog food companies purchased many of their main ingredients from China. Though this can reduce the price of the food, many pet owners are not comfortable with these brands. Particularly after the 2007 pet food recall, where thousands of pets died from renal failure after consuming pet food contaminated with toxic wheat gluten that originated in China. The solution for many dog owners has been to stick with diets that are strictly U.S.-sourced and made, although foods from Canada, New Zealand and Europe are increasingly in popularity.
Once you choose a brand that fits both your criteria and your wallet, the next decision is dry vs. wet. Dry food is less expensive than wet and more convenient. Most dogs prefer wet food, however, and wet can be the best choice for picky eaters. Some dog owners opt to give a combination of dry and wet to help save money while also making meals more enjoyable for their dogs.
Before you choose a dog food for your canine companion, it’s always a good idea to discuss your options with your dog’s veterinarian. Your vet can help you pick the best diet to suit your dog’s individual needs.

About the Author: Audrey Pavia is an award-winning freelance writer and author of “The Labrador Retriever Handbook.” She is a former staff editor of Dog Fancy, Dog World and The AKC Gazette magazines.

Dog Nutrition is Very Different from Cat Nutrition

 

Our wonderful life-supporting planet is home to a remarkably diverse and complex spectrum of living organisms. And although all living things do share some common traits and similar biochemical pathways and cellular functions, there are many notable differences that make each creature stand out from the crowd. So even with the thread of sameness joining all the planet’s life forms, diversity and difference makes us take note of each creature’s uniqueness. Maybe that’s why the cat is America’s favorite housepet … cats are different!

This extraordinary four-legged feline has, for all of recorded time, evoked wonder and surprise, superstition and affection, damnation, and deification. From pharaohs to philosophers to paupers, the companionship of and affection for cats has been a result of the cat’s unique ability to make us humans gaze in awe and admiration.

Eons of special environmental circumstances have forced the cat to evolve some interesting and individualized biochemical activities. Let’s take a peek at how unique the cat is inside, in that mysterious universe of liver and kidneys and glands and fluids where a million chemical reactions are going about their biological business in silent obscurity. And to make our little peek at the inner workings of the cat more interesting, let’s contrast a few of the cat’s biological activities to those of our next most favorite companion the dog.

In so many obvious ways, cats look, act, react, and respond differently than dogs. You never see a cat happily wag its tail; a dog’s reflexes are quick, a cat’s reflexes are incredible; dogs are doers, cats are watchers. These differences are easily noted by simple observation. Now let’s explore some of the unseen microscopic world of the cat — the invisible world of metabolism and chemistry that is just as real as those traits we can see with our eyes.

To begin with we must get a good grip on two terms … carnivore and omnivore. The cat is considered by scientists to be a strict carnivore and the dog is considered to be an omnivore. Both species are in the Class Mammalia and the Order Carnivora, but here’s the difference: The cat cannot sustain its life unless it consumes meat in some form. Dogs, however, are able to survive on plant material alone; they do not have to consume meat. But always keep in mind that dogs do best and by nature are primarily meat-eaters. Just because by definition they are omnivores (can digest and utilize plant and animal food sources) does not mean that plant material alone makes a good source of nutrition for the dog. Far too many dogs have been undernourished by those cheap grain-based dog foods. And grain-based cat foods are even worse!

So a good way to think of it is that cats are carnivores, dogs are omnivores, but they both have evolved as hunters of other animals in keeping with their nature as meat-eaters.

There are numerous chemical substances that are required for a cat to remain alive. These substances, some very complex chemical molecules and some very basic and simple, must be provided along the internal chemical reaction pathways at all times. Like other living plants and animals, the cat can manufacture most of its own required substances within its own body’s chemical factory. For example, Vitamin C is a requirement for life sustaining processes for us Mammalia, and dogs and cats make plenty of their own within their body’s chemical factory — the liver. We humans don’t make enough within our body chemical factory … so to keep ourselves alive we have to find some Vitamin C already made (preformed) somewhere in our environment, gather or capture it, then eat it. Without the Vitamin C, we’d die.

Dogs and cats don’t have to worry about gathering, capturing, and eating other preformed Vitamin C. They don’t care where their next grapefruit will come from because they make all the Vitamin C they need inside their own personal chemical factory.

On the other hand, there are numerous nutrients and chemicals that cats need that they can only acquire if they eat animal-derived tissues. That is, they need to prey on other living creatures that do make the essential chemicals that cats don’t! Out of necessity, the cat has evolved ways to hunt down, capture and eat this prey in order to “borrow” the prey’s nutrients.

Outlined below are just a few of the unseen, but still very real biochemical differences between cats and dogs. Look these over and you will be even more convinced that cats are different!

VITAMIN A

Also called retinol, this vitamin is required at the cellular level by both cats and dogs.

Cats – Process little or no enzymes that will break down the plant-produced carotenoids. Must eat preformed active Vitamin A (that is, Vitamin A that already has been converted from carotenoids to its active form by some other creature such as a mouse or rabbit). Here’s a good example of why cats are called strict carnivores … they need to eat some other animal in order to “borrow” its active Vitamin A!

Dogs – Have enzymes in the lining of the intestine that can break down plant carotenoids and convert these into active Vitamin A.

NIACIN

An essential B vitamin (essential means must be eaten, can’t be made inside the body’s chemical factory.)

Cats – Can obtain Niacin only by eating the preformed vitamin. Cannot convert Tryptophan to niacin.

Dogs – Obtain Niacin in two ways. One is by converting a dietary amino acid call Tryptophan into Niacin, and the other way is by eating preformed Niacin.

ARGININE

A building block for proteins, it is an amino acid. Arginine is vital to many of the animal’s internal chemical factory’s functions. No Arginine and the entire factory goes on strike!

Cats – Are extremely sensitive to even a single meal deficient in Arginine and are unable to make their own Arginine within their chemical factory. Cats need lots of protein, and Arginine is involved in aiding the elimination of the protein waste products so the wastes don’t pollute the whole factory!

Dogs – Are not very sensitive to low levels of Arginine in their diets and produce enzymes internally that can aid production of Arginine.

TAURINE

An amino acid that is not built into proteins, but is distributed throughout most body tissues. Taurine is important for healthy functioning of the heart, retina, bile fluid and certain aspects of reproduction.

Cats – Must eat preformed Taurine. And since it is not found in plant tissues, cats must consume meat to obtain Taurine. Therefore, Taurine is essential in the diets of cats. Here again, meat has to be supplied to the factory so the Taurine can be extracted for its many uses.

Dogs – Make their own in their internal chemical factory.

FELININE

It is a compound made from a sulfur amino acid (SAA) called Cysteine.

Cats – Have a much higher requirement for SAA than other Mammalia and are the only creatures to manufacture the Felinine chemical. Felinine’s role in the overall function of the chemical factory is unknown, but like most factories whose wastes generate offensive odors, any Felinine present in the male cat’s urine alerts the neighbors that the factory is up and runnin’!

Dogs – Don’t know and don’t care what this stuff is.

DIETARY PROTEIN

Cats – If fed a perfectly balanced and 100-percent digestible protein in a diet, the cat will use 20 percent of that protein for growth metabolism and 12 percent for maintenance. Here’s any easy way to say it … cats need more protein in their diets than dogs do.

Dogs – If fed a perfectly balanced and 100-percent digestible protein in a diet, the dog will use 12 percent of that protein for growth metabolism and only 4 percent of that protein for maintenance. Here’s an easy way to say this … dogs need less protein in their diets than cats.

ARACHIDONIC ACID

An essential fatty acid that plays a vital role in fat utilization and energy production.

Cats – Cannot make their own Arachidonic Acid even in the presence of adequate linoleic acid. The reason cats can’t make Arachidonic Acid from linoleic acid is because the cat’s chemical factory (liver) contains no delta-6-desaturase enzyme to convert linoleic to Arachidonic. Tell your cat owning friends about this one. Tell ‘em about the cat’s lack of liver delta-6-desaturase enzyme and they’ll think you’ve got a Ph.D. in biochemistry!

Dogs – Can make their own Arachidonic Acid if they consume enough linoleic acid by eating proper fats. Therefore, we can say that Arachidonic Acid is not an essential fatty acid for dogs.

FASTING AND STARVATION

Cats – Do not mobilize fat reserves for energy very efficiently and, in fact, break down non-fatty body tissues for energy. This upsets the internal chemical factory and can lead to a very dangerous feline disorder called hepatic lipidosis. Never put a fat cat on a starvation diet, it might just put the entire factory out of business.

Dogs – Can tolerate prolonged fasts and utilize fat reserves for energy.

So, there you have an insight into some of the invisible goings-on in our friend the cat. It should be obvious that a high quality, meat-based diet is imperative to a cat’s wellness. There are no vegetarian diets for cats! And feeding your cat a homemade concoction of meat may be a disaster. Often, the best recourse is to find a good quality meat-based diet for your feline.

The next time you admire a cat’s unique personality and behavior, and watch the way they egocentrically carry themselves for anyone to see, remember … hidden beneath that furry skin is another unique and vast universe. There is a veritable chemical cosmos inside your cat that’s just as wondrous and magnificent as the cosmos above. You can’t see it, but it’s there, silently following the rules of nature to sustain our unique and valued feline friends. And it’s that complex chemical cosmos, working it’s fantastic magic, that prompts us cat lovers to say, truly … cats are different!

Pet MD

 

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in your home, Doggie Day Care.

Diana@WestsideDogNanny.com
310 919 9372

 

 

 

 

 

Veterinary Stories of Dog Nutrition Studies

I spent last week in Seattle, WA at the 2013 American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Forum. My professional organization, the American Academy of Veterinary Nutrition, held its 13th Clinical Nutrition and Research Symposium in conjunction with the forum. The symposium features oral and poster abstract presentations of recent or soon to be published studies. I would like to spend the next three blogs filling you in on some of the interesting research findings featured at that symposium.

Glycemic Index and Diabetic Dogs

As many of you know, the Glycemic Index (GI) of carbohydrates is a ranking system for sugar containing foods based on the speed and quantity that glucose is absorbed from the gut and the intensity of the insulin response to the elevated glucose. Foods with a low glycemic index number (Glycemic Index Chart)elevate blood sugar and insulin levels more slowly. Low glycemic index foods are helpful in regulating insulin requirements for human diabetics. These foods also reduce abdominal fat without total body fat loss and reduce the risk of cardiac complications for human diabetics.

A new study in dogs evaluated the effects of a diet with a high glycemic carbohydrate, white rice (GI=70), and a diet with a low glycemic carbohydrate, peas (GI=40). The absolute calorie counts, protein, fat and carbohydrate amounts were identical. The dogs were fed to maintain their present obese weight. The researchers found that dogs fed the pea diet had a reduced insulin response and reduced abdominal fat despite maintaining overall body fat. These dogs also showed smaller increases in the heart wall thickness ratio than the rice fed dogs.

Increased heart wall ratios correlate with heart disease risk and are part of “the metabolic syndrome” associated with abdominal fat in humans. More studies to confirm these findings may spark more interest in the Glycemic Index of pet food.

Dog Milk Replacers

This was a particularly disturbing presentation. Researchers evaluated 15 milk replacers, many well-known, compared to collected bitches’ milk. The dietary requirements of the bitches were controlled so that contents of the milk were not influenced by diet and supplementation. None of the milk replacers were a nutritional match for “mom’s milk.”

Calorie counts varied despite identical feeding instructions and some contained levels of lactose that would cause diarrhea in newborns; 14 of the 15 had DHA levels below that of bitch milk.

Over half of the products had a key amino acid, arginine deficiency, and 1/3 had a calcium-phosphorus ratio well below bitch milk and below accepted nutritional standards.

The study did not identify specific brands and problems so I cannot make any recommendations. Suffice it to say, orphaned dogs on milk replacers will be behind the nutritional eight ball and will need to be weaned to a liquefied or blenderized balanced puppy formula as quickly as possible.

Taurine Deficiency Cardiomyopathy in a Dog

Cat owners are well aware of the cardiac consequences of taurine deficiency in cats. Because the taurine requirement is lower in dogs, they typically can easily meet this requirement with the meat protein in dog food and seldom develop this condition as a result of diet.

This was a case study poster presentation about an English Bulldog that presented to the Ohio State Veterinary School teaching hospital in heart failure. The dog was diagnosed with the same dilated cardiomyopathy found in taurine deficient cats.

As it turns out, this dog had severe allergies and the owners were feeding a diet exclusively composed of lentils, brown rice, and potatoes using an online recipe to control the dog’s skin problem. The owners supplemented with a daily multi-vitamin/multi-mineral capsule and calcium citrate tablet, so they felt that the diet was nutritionally adequate. Non-animal sources of protein are extremely deficient in taurine and this dog’s blood taurine level was 2nmol/ml versus a normal of 60-120nmol/ml (don’t worry about the meaning of the units).

Happily, the dog was put on a taurine supplement and a complete hypoallergenic, limited ingredient dog food that controlled his allergies. On the balanced diet and supplements, the heart changes reversed and the dog was tapered off taurine supplementation.

My now stale but important message: Always get professional assistance and/or proof of nutritional content (all 42-44 essentials) when feeding your pets homemade diets.

Dr. Ken Tudor