The Good, Better, and Best Dental Care for Your Pet/ Jenna Harrison
Your pet’s dental health is an important piece of their overall health and wellness. Oral disease can be caused…
The Importance of Dental Health in Dogs and Cats/ Morgan Hunt
February is here and what that entails in the animal world is Dental Health Month! Dental health is so important because poor dental health can have long term negative impacts on the heart, lungs, kidneys, and liver.
Dental disease can impact pets of any age, but some factors can influence risk which includes:
- Poor diet
- Health status
- Home care
- Bacterial flora of the oral cavity
- Halitosis (bad breath)
- Blood-tinged saliva
- Pawing at mouth
Plaque can form and build up on your pet’s teeth as quickly as 24 hours and if dental care/preventatives are not taken to remove plaque then calculus (tartar) buildup occurs within 3-5 days. When calculus starts to build up on your pet’s teeth, it gradually begins to push the gums away from the tooth, giving the calculus an opportunity to spread into your pet’s bloodstream. The bacteria that are built up within the calculus can lead to infection and have serious effects on the major organs mentioned above.
Amazingly enough, diet has a pretty decent impact on your pet’s dental health. There is a myth, kibble is the best for dogs and cats because when they crunch on the hard pieces of kibble, it supposedly helps scrape the calculus away. Think about that. Have you ever watched your pet eat? More often than not, they swallow their kibble whole. Also, go to your dentist and tell them you forgot to brush your teeth, so you had chips to help scrape the calculus away from your teeth. Kibble contains high levels of sugars and carbohydrates which rapidly produce oral bacteria and plaque. Whereas fresh or raw diets can help protect your pet’s teeth and gums simply due to low or lack of starches. In other words, the food will not stick to the teeth like kibble would.
The good news is that dental disease in your pet does not have to occur. While it is common, it’s actually not natural.
Helpful Preventative Care Techniques
- Pay close attention to the diet you are giving your pet
- Introduce brushing at a young age
- Supplements, dental cleaning pads and pet toothpastes include enzymes and pre and probiotics that can help break down plaque.
- Giving your pet toys and/or bones to chew to keep teeth clean
- Professional dental cleanings
Dental cleanings are great but should not have to happen yearly, or even in younger years. Yearly cleanings can have a negative impact on pets because anesthetic gasses used yearly can slowly apply stress on your pet’s organs. Think about the change that needs to happen- diet, toys/bones, brushing, etc.
Holmstrom, Steven E. “Pathogenesis of Periodontal Disease.” Veterinary Dentistry: A Team Approach, 2nd ed., Steven Holmstrom, 2013, pp. 150–153.
Holmstrom, Steven E. “Home-Care Instruction and Products.” Veterinary Dentistry: A Team Approach, 2nd ed., Steven Holmstrom, 2013, pp. 194–213.
Miller, Bonnie R, and John R Lewis. “Veterinary Dentistry.” Clinical Textbooks for Veterinary Technicians, 9th ed., Joanna M. Bassert, 2018, pp. 1222–1229.
Take Your Dog Outside!/ Jenna Harrison
Taking your dog outside should be more than a quick bathroom break. Sharing the great outdoors with your canine companion is vital to having a healthy and happy pet.
The more time you spend outside together, the more opportunities you’ll have for mental stimulation, physical exercise, socialization, and training opportunities.
Fresh Air & Sunlight
Even with bad weather and shorter days, getting outside does wonders to improve your dog’s health.
In most places, outdoor air quality is better than indoor. Our homes are generally full of toxins off-gassing from plastics, carpets, and household cleaners. Fresh air helps minimize your dog’s exposure to this indoor chemical cocktail.
Since we also share much of the same brain chemistry with our dogs, we each use sunlight as a natural antidepressant. As winter days get shorter, our brains produce less serotonin, which can have an adverse effect on our moods. Outdoor sunlight — not filtered through glass — stimulates our retinas, which cue the brain to produce more serotonin, elevating our mood.
A study from the Norwich Medical School found that dog walkers were more physically active. Even on the coldest, wettest, and darkest days, they spent more time outside than non-dog owners did on long, sunny, and warm summer days.
Regular activity burns calories and is an excellent way to keep the pounds off — for you and your pet. Daily walks with your dog are effective and fun ways to combat a sedentary lifestyle and boost overall health. Research from Michigan State University shows that people who owned and walked their dogs were 34 percent more likely to meet federal benchmarks on physical activity.
As our dogs age, immobility becomes a health problem. Your dog’s joints need to move to stay lubricated and healthy. Walking, running, or playing outside is the perfect opportunity to keep your dog mobile.
Regular outings also help your dog regulate her digestive system. Most dogs like to stay on a consistent bathroom schedule. Giving your dog routine trips outside to relieve herself can prevent constipation and bladder infections.
Like humans, dogs do not like to be bored. They are curious explorers. Getting outside with your dog is the perfect constructive release for his pent-up energy.
Walking and playing outside allows him to channel his interest in a positive direction and helps build trust and confidence in you and their surrounding environment.
Regular outings can also reduce behavioral problems like barking, digging, chewing, and excessive licking.
Getting outside to explore new trails, meet new people and dogs, and sniff new smells is excellent mental stimulation for your dog.
Another benefit to sharing that outside time with your dog is the mental hygiene it provides to the human. A study by the University of Liverpool revealed that dog owners are motivated to take their dogs on walks because it makes them feel happy, not because of other health and social benefits.
Walking with dogs meets the emotional needs of both owner and dog alike.
We are typically the focus of our dog’s life. All activity — food, rest, walking, playing — is controlled by us. What better to strengthen the bond with our pets than actively engaging with them in outdoor fun?
Going on walks is also a great time to alternate exploration with training. You can work on commands such as “heel,” “sit,” and “stay.” One of our favorites is teaching a release command like “OK” or “break.” This teaches your dog that he is under control on the leash until you say “break.” Then he is free to go explore and sniff the environment.
Your dog is the perfect outdoor buddy. Always willing to go with you, rain or shine.
Engaging in active play with your dog will help you both stay healthy and mentally fit. Plus, it may just be the best way to express to your dog, “I love you.”
If you have questions about leashes, harnesses, collars, or our favorite dog toys, please chat with us at the shop. We’re passionate about helping you, and your pup get outside!
1. Yu-Tzu Wu, Robert Luben, Andy Jones. Dog ownership supports the maintenance of physical activity during poor weather in older English adults: cross-sectional results from the EPIC Norfolk cohort. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, July 2017 DOI: 10.1136/jech-2017-208987
2. Mathew J. Reeves, Ann P. Rafferty, Corinne E. Miller, Sarah K. Lyon-Callo. The Impact of Dog Walking on Leisure-Time Physical Activity: Results From a Population-Based Survey of Michigan Adults. Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 2011; 8 (3): 436-444 [abstract
3. Carri Westgarth, Robert Christley, Garry Marvin, Elizabeth Perkins. I Walk My Dog Because It Makes Me Happy: A Qualitative Study to Understand Why Dogs Motivate Walking and Improved Health. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2017; 14 (8): 936 DOI: 10.3390/ijerph14080936
The Perks of Pumpkin for Pets/ Nicole R. Cammack
Pumpkin is a commonly recommended supplement for dogs and cats for everything from loose stool to constipation to an occasional bowl topper or a regular supplement. But what is it about pumpkin that makes it so great for your pet? Let’s find out what makes this sweet treat a favorite among vets and nutritionists!
Reasons You Should Consider Adding Pumpkin to Your Dog’s Diet
#1 RICH IN FIBER
Pumpkin is rich in dietary fiber – both soluble and insoluble.
- Soluble fiber helps with weight management, lowering fat absorption, stabilizing glucose levels, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, and feeding healthy gut bacteria.
- Insoluble fiber assists in preventing constipation and lowers the risk of diverticular disease.
Because pumpkin contains both soluble and insoluble fiber, it can essentially help to normalize your pet’s stool, whether it’s too loose or too firm. It’s a win-win situation!
As a preventative, pumpkin is an excellent source of prebiotics that feed the good gut bacteria- probiotics. This is a wonderful addition for any pet with a sensitive stomach as it can aid in the digestive process. Also, since roughly 80% of your pet’s immune system resides in their gut, a happy belly can mean a healthier pet!
#2 ESSENTIAL VITAMINS
Pets need food that allows them to consume all their vitamins and minerals. Pumpkin is packed with essential vitamins and minerals:
- Vitamin A and Zinc help strengthen your pet’s immune health, promote clearer skin and a healthier coat, and improve overall eye health.
- Vitamin D helps to grow and maintain strong bones by regulating and balancing the retention of calcium and phosphorus. It also works to reduce inflammation.
- Potassium is vital to pet health! It assists in the functioning of the heart, nerves, and muscles by aiding in transferring energy from the nutrients.
Not only is pumpkin a great source of vitamins and minerals your pet needs, but it also assists with the absorption of these nutrients to improve many functions of their body.
#3 ADDED MOISTURE
Kibble-fed pets often live in a mild state of dehydration, as the body pulls moisture from itself to digest the dry food. Therefore, adding moisture to your pet’s kibble is essential. Adding moisture-rich pumpkin can help to keep your pet well hydrated. Added moisture is crucial for not only the digestive process but also…
- Weight control – Pumpkin is high in moisture and fiber, which helps your pet feel full. As a result, your pet is less likely to overeat and will be satisfied longer!
- Hairballs– Lack of moisture can lead to more frequent hairballs. An addition of pumpkin to your pet’s kibble will keep them well-hydrated, which means fewer hairballs for them and less clean-up for you.
- Low in glycemic index– Glycemic index is a measurement of the blood glucose response to carbohydrates. Low GI foods (such as pumpkin) contain carbs that are digested slowly, so energy is sustained for an extended period of time.
Pumpkin is super versatile for your furry friends. You can include it as a treat, bowl topper, or toy filler. Pumpkin is worth the hype! With the holidays right around the corner, include your pet in the holiday festivities and try incorporating more pumpkin into your pet’s diet!
Choosing a Shampoo: Options Tailored for Your Dog’s Coat/ Jenna Harrison
Which One is Best for Your Pet?
Your dog’s skin and coat condition are excellent indicators of overall health. A healthy coat is a shiny, smooth coat without coarse or brittle hair. And healthy skin should be supple, not flaky or greasy.
While nutrition influences the health of your pet’s skin and coat from the inside, regular grooming and bathing do wonders to keep your dog’s skin and coat vibrant and healthy.
We believe that bathing your dog should be included in your overall grooming process. Bathing promotes skin exfoliation, removes loose hair, prevents matting, and lets you check for external parasites like fleas and ticks.
Perhaps most importantly, bath time is another opportunity to bond with your dog. Warm water, soothing shampoo, and soft and repeated touching allow you and your dog to strengthen your connection to each other.
Before we take a look at shampoos, let’s talk about your dog’s skin.
Canine skin is not like human skin
A dog’s skin is thinner and more sensitive than human skin. The epidermis (the outer layer of skin) is our body’s shield against the environment. We are protected from disease, ultraviolet light, and injury by it. This “shield” is 10-15 cells thick in humans. In dogs, it’s only 3-5 cells thick.
Hair that grows out of the skin is also different between the two species. Human hair grows as a single hair and continues to grow. A dog’s hair grows in bundles and stops growing at a certain length, as determined by the dog’s genetics. Once the hair stops growing, it dies and is shed.
These differences are why you can’t use human shampoos on your dog. In most cases, the pH is too acidic for your dog’s skin and will cause irritation and rashes.
How do you pick the right shampoo?
Like shampoos for human hair, there are many choices when picking the right shampoo for your pup.
We separate dog shampoos into nine main categories:
- General Purpose Shampoo
- Coat Conditioner
- Conditioning Shampoo
- Puppy Shampoo
- Hypo-Allergenic Shampoo
- Oatmeal Shampoo
- Medicated Shampoo
- Probiotic Shampoo
- Deodorizing Shampoo
Let’s take a closer look at each type of shampoo.
General Purpose Shampoo
These are less expensive “maintenance” shampoos that gently clean your dog if she has no allergies or skin conditions. Our favorite general-purpose shampoos include Kenic Kalaya Emu Oil Shampoo.
Conditioners are used after shampooing to detangle and condition your dog’s coat. Most coat conditioners contain silicones that bond to the hair’s surface, creating a protective envelope. This temporarily creates a smooth surface, even after the conditioner is rinsed out. We recommend EarthBath Oatmeal and Aloe Conditioner.
A conditioning shampoo is the ultimate two-in-one product if you want to gently clean and condition simultaneously. We haven’t found these two-in-ones to be as effective as a dedicated conditioner, but they are perfect for maintenance bathing. We like Skout’s Honor 2-in-1 Shampoo + Conditioner.
While your adult dog’s skin is sensitive, a young puppy’s skin is even more so. We recommend using only a washcloth and warm water to clean your puppy until she is three months old. She can be introduced to bathtime at that age, using a shampoo specially formulated for a pup’s soft fur and delicate skin. Quality puppy shampoos use all-natural ingredients and should be tear-free to reduce irritation. Our recommended puppy shampoos are EarthBath Puppy and Skout’s Honor Happy Puppy Shampoo.
Hypo-allergenic shampoos are for dogs with extra sensitive skin or those prone to scratching. These shampoos are typically free of the fragrances, dyes, and coloring that can cause allergic reactions. Our top hypo-allergenic shampoos are Kenic Emu Oil Shampoo and EarthBath Hypoallergenic.
Oatmeal shampoos are designed for dogs who suffer from occasional hot spots or seasonally dry, flaky, and itchy skin. These shampoos are made with a finely ground mixture of oatmeal that acts as a mild exfoliant when lathered into the coat, loosening dead skin cells and temporarily relieving itching. Our top-selling oatmeal shampoo is EarthBath Oatmeal and Aloe.
Medicated shampoos target specific skin and coat conditions such as hot spots, fungal and bacterial infections, and parasites like fleas and ticks. Often, these conditions require medical treatment in addition to specialized shampoo. Our best-sellers are Kenic Tea Tree Shampoo and EarthBath Hot Spot Relief Shampoo.
Often referred to as “good bacteria,” probiotics are live bacteria that help resolve many skin-related issues in your dog. We frequently recommend probiotic shampoos to relieve itchy skin, dry hair, hot spots, and seasonal allergies. Our favorite probiotic shampoo is Skout’s Honor Probiotic Honeysuckle Pet Shampoo + Conditioner.
This type of specialty shampoo works on the molecular level to break down odors at the source instead of masking them with fragrance. We’ve found it’s a wise investment to always keep a bottle on hand. You never know when Fido will get in an argument with a skunk or decide to roll around on a fresh pile of feces or dead animals. Our most effective deodorizing shampoos are EarthBath Deodorizing shampoo.
Picking the Right Shampoo for Your Dog
Your dog’s skin and coat are windows into her health. Using a high-quality dog shampoo keeps her coat clean, moisturized, and healthy.
Regular bathing — once a month is fine for most dogs — prevents matting and removes dead hair and skin. Bathtime is also the perfect opportunity to look for scabs, hot spots, bald spots, or parasites.
Please feel free to call us at (203) 271-0111 or stop in the store and let us help you pick the shampoo or conditioner that’s best for your dog.
Is ‘Holistic’ Pet Food Safer?/ Nicole R. Cammack
The word holistic started gaining traction in the late 1960’s and has been increasing in popularity ever since. The word has many different meanings to many different people. For most, the word brings about thoughts of wholesome, healthy, natural, fresh, etc. It’s evolved to invoke an emotional response to pet owners. As such, we’re conditioned to think holistic represents at least some level of quality, purity, or healthfulness of a pet food product bearing the term. It gives us a sense of confidence and trust in the product. But what is special about pet food packaging that proudly claims the product is holistic? Are there any guarantees?
Let’s start by looking up the word in the Meriam Websters dictionary. It lists two definitions of the word holistic:
Characterized by comprehension of the parts of something as intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole.
Characterized by the treatment of the whole person, taking into account mental and social factors, rather than just the symptoms of a disease.
Given these definitions, it’s obvious that the pet food industry has warped consumers’ perception of what holistic means. Neither of these definitions really apply to pet food, or guarantee its quality. In fact, it seems that the consumers perception of what this means is entirely different.
Pet Food Definition of Holistic
A little secret in the pet food industry is that the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) defines various terms for pet food. This can mean that the definition of a word in the dictionary can be very different than the AAFCO definition. Examples include terms like natural and organic – the AAFCO definition of these terms is very specific and not at all what the average person would expect.
Even more surprising is that in the pet food industry terms like ‘holistic’, ‘biologically appropriate’ and ‘super-premium’ have no definition and are there just to catch your eye. In other words, these terms plastered all over pet food, treat and supplement packaging tells a story to the consumer that might be purely fictional. This is known as “puffery” – or in other words subjective, rather than objective views. This practice is not exclusive to the pet industry, as it is common in many industries. Puffery serves to “puff up” an exaggerated image of what is being described.
The term holistic doesn’t have a definition in regard to pet food, supplements, or treats. It’s just marketing. Because the term holistic is not regulated it offers no guarantees on the quality and sourcing of the ingredients or the nutritional value or digestibility of the product. Knowing this, it is frustrating to walk the aisles of a pet food store or visit pet food company websites only to see the term used to describe their brand and quality of products. Further, a simple google search of “best holistic pet foods” will reveal various ‘Top Pet Food’ lists claiming benefits and ranking of holistic products, some even with holistic in the name. Sadly most, if not all, of these lists do not use meaningful or tangible nutritional benchmarks to rank pet foods. Instead, they are ranking foods based largely on marketing hype.
These facts do not necessarily mean that foods claiming to be ‘holistic’ are bad. It just means that you may have to do some homework to determine the quality and nutritional adequacy of the product.
So, What Gives?
Any company can use the term holistic on their packaging and describe their product without having to meet any standards whatsoever. So, what should you know when choosing your pet’s food? When evaluating or choosing your pet’s food it’s important to review the ingredient panel and guaranteed analysis. Unfortunately, this simply isn’t good enough. One of the best ways to evaluate your pet food is to reach out to the company and ask some direct questions to determine how they validate their nutritional adequacy, product safety and how transparent they are. Learn more about what questions to ask here.
Facts, fear, sales, CBD & COVID-19/ Nicole R. Cammack
News Flash: The study in question is NOT peer-reviewed. It’s also strictly theoretical, meaning it may (likely) not work, or even be dangerous.
I could probably go on forever questioning why the media (and even some “reputable” associations) continue to share non-peer reviewed, non-verified information, but I won’t. We know a great headline catches clicks and shares. And before you go on and say this has absolutely nothing to do with pets, or pet food – it does! This is just parallel example about how bad science is used to propagate either a false sense of security, fear – and sell a product. I’m also not “anti” CBD, but that isn’t the point. There are several applications where it is useful for pets and people, but in this instance there simply an overabundance of bad information swirling around CBD preventing and/or treating COVID-19 that makes for a great example for my point: why it is so important to dive deeper into everything.
I hope that those who read this see it as an opportunity to learn how to challenge information and data. So often we look for someone to just give us “the answer” and it is just not that simple. Determining what is right for you and your pet in your unique situation will take some work. Take this article as an example of how to learn about how to do that work, vet your sources and arrive at an educated conclusion.
FDA Oversight & COVID-19
As a background to the entire discussion it is important to realize that an “era of speed to market” is upon us. The FDA has allowed some alternative testing methods while also accelerating the process for drug and vaccine development. While the FDA is still overseeing these processes, they are reviewing studies and data more efficiently given the current pandemic. Having said that, the FDA has also acknowledged that many companies are trying to take advantage of people’s fears by offering up solutions like X, Y and Z – and if you see CBD companies using this “study” to gain attention it is proof of just that. In fact, the FDA has been aggressively sending warning and cease/desist letters to companies making these claims because they are in clear violation of the Food Drug & Cosmetic Act. You can see a lot of those warning letters for CBD companies here: FDA Issues CBD Warning Letters.
This isn’t the first time companies have taken advantage of a crisis, or preyed upon people’s fears and vulnerabilities. Manufacturers of colloidal silver products have also recently received warning letters for claims that it prevents and/or treats COVID-19. We can only wait for irresponsible CBD companies to make unsubstantiated claims coming off the heels of this “study”. One would hope that this prompts CBD manufacturers and marketing agencies to be responsible and transparent with their products.
Understanding Peer-Review vs. Non-Peer-Reviewed
The public largely doesn’t realize that research journals, some great and some not so great, are pre-publishing papers without peer-review. This is simply to share current research and information freely with other researchers for the sake of collaboration. Typically, a lot of this information is not as easily accessible to the public because many of these papers are somewhat gated through journal memberships, and/or with a pay-per-article download/view. Research manuscripts go through vetting processes which doesn’t eliminate, but at least filters out a lot of “bad science” before it makes its way out to the public and media outlets. This current “open access” of information is a great thing for the scientific community – however it is NOT a great thing to be circulating potentially harmful and incomplete information to the general public who generally does not understand if this information is verified, factual or theoretical – they simply see “study” and think, it MUST be true because it’s “science”. Unfortunately humans make mistakes, manipulate data and come to flawed conclusions – either by error, omission and/or on purpose. Hence the need for peer-review.
Not Applicable to “The Real World”
The reality is that much of the information out there regarding Covid-19 prevention and treatment is inapplicable to the real world as they are preliminary experiments that were conducted in a controlled environment, on small scales and with measured variables – and many have not had peer-review. This will obviously change over time, but this is the current reality and the reason why so many people are working on this all over the world at warp speed. Am I Covid-19 or infectious disease expert? No. But I do know how research works and what the value of scaling research, test-retest repeatability and of course the value in peer-review and critical analysis– and much of the information out there has little to none of it.
The CBD/COVID-19 Study:
So, to finally summarize this COVID-19/CBD “study”; researchers acknowledge that SARS-CoV2 is transmitted through respiratory droplets, with potential for aerosol and contact spread. The virus uses receptor-mediated entry into the human host via angiotensin-converting enzyme II (ACE2) that is expressed in lung tissue, as well as oral and nasal mucosa, kidney, testes, and the gastrointestinal tract.
Having said that, the researchers hypothesize (educated guess) that a theoretical path for combating, or decreasing susceptibility, of this virus could be modulation of ACE2 levels in these gateway tissues. The researchers have potentially identified 13 high CBD-C containing C. sativa varieties of the hemp plant that have the potential to modulate ACE2 gene expression and ACE2 protein levels. Further, their initial data suggest that some C. sativa extract down-regulate serine protease TMPRSS2, another critical protein required for SARS-CoV2 entry into host cells. They theorize that these substances could be used as an active ingredient in a mouthwash-type product to reduce the incidence of viral entry via the oral mucosa.
It’s also important to note that all of the authors are employed by one or more start-up companies engaged in medical cannabis and disease research. While not always the case, this could lead to bias in the results. Again, this further highlighting the need for peer-review.
STUDY CONCLUSION: The authors recognize that their hypothesis needs further large-scale validation as a potential AJUNCT therapy (not mainline treatment) for COVID-19.
The Study in Context and the Media:
Unfortunately, we didn’t see the media articles explain the mouthwash as an adjunct treatment. Leaving the general public, the potential to assume that smoking or using other various marijuana and/or hemp products could help prevent and/or treat COVID-19. The sad thing is that people will read headlines at face value and think that smoking a sativa strain of the hemp plant may provide some protection or therapy against COVID-19. Worse, it may influence some to try using this for their pets. Regardless, we know that smoking is actually increases risk-factors for COVID-19 complications and other respiratory diseases. This just highlights the medias frenzy to distribute click-worthy information, without verification and obviously without regard for human (or animal) health or safety. If only the media visited preprints.org they would have found a highlight at the top that says “This version is not peer-reviewed” which is an indicator that it should not have been widely distributed.
In conclusion, it’s important to always vet the source of any information relating to health and nutrition. Find the original source of the information, in this case it happened to be a non-peer-reviewed theoretical paper which needs validation of said theory. While it may provide hope as an adjunct therapy for some, only a series of carefully designed scientific experiments, trials and validation methods will tell. Take that for what it is worth.
Nicci is the owner of award-winning NorthPoint Pets & Company, in Connecticut. She is also the Founder & CEO of Undogmatic Inc. Her undergraduate and graduate education includes biology, chemistry, business, and nutrition. She has worked in the pharmaceutical industry on multiple R&D projects and has had the privilege to learn from leading international figures in the human and pet health industry. She regularly lectures at national conferences, including federal, state, and municipal K9 events. Her current research involves identifying pathogenic risk factors and transmission among raw fed pets through a comprehensive worldwide survey.
Is My Dog ‘Too Old’ for a Raw Diet?/ Nicole Cammack and Jenna Harrison
Senior dog owners often dismiss the idea of raw feeding because the animal is ‘too old.’ While nutrition is never one-size-fits-all, it’s also never “too late” to switch foods or supplement with fresh food. If your dog has reached their golden years, improving their diet can be one of the most powerful changes you can make to maximize their health span.
Common Misconceptions Surrounding Raw Food for Senior Pets:
Misconception #1: A raw diet is too high in protein and/or fat for a senior dog.
This idea comes from the notion that raw meat is exceptionally high in protein and fat content, and that a senior dog’s liver and kidneys cannot process too much of these.
- The first misnomer here is that protein and fat are harmful to a senior pet. It’s important to note that protein and fat are actually the most easily digested macronutrients available to the body so long as they are in a minimally processed form. So while it is safe to assume that raw diets offer higher fat and protein than a kibble or canned diet, quality animal-based sources can offer greater digestibility and bioavailability (nutrient absorption) than any cooked, ultra-processed food options.
- The second misnomer is that raw fat and protein put extra stress on the organs – the liver and kidney specifically. Instead, it’s important to understand that the body has to work harder to break down fat and protein that have been processed, or heated multiple times to make kibble or canned food. Furthermore, kibble diets in particular tend to be very high in carbohydrates. In other words, the body works much harder to digest a food that is highly processed than one that is minimally processed.
- The last (and likely the most important) misnomer is that high protein is bad for the kidneys. This is false, and instead it is high phosphorus that can be damaging for stressed kidneys. This is why it is so important for pet food companies to analyze their final product to ensure that nutrients – such as phosphorus – are not too high!
Learn more about nutrient value in your pet’s food here.
Misconception #2: Changing your pet’s diet in old age won’t make a difference.
Diet and nutrition play a vital role in your pet’s health span, regardless of age. New research even shows that the food fed to a puppy can greatly impact the dog’s life in later years. Likewise, what you feed your senior pet can impact their quality of life, often delaying or minimizing age-related changes in mobility, digestive and immune health, and cognitive wellbeing. At NPP, some of the best, most miraculous success stories we hear come from customers who have improved their senior pet’s diet!
Misconception #3: An entire diet overhaul is required to have any noticeable effect on health.
A recent study from the University of Helsinki found that when dogs fed a kibble diet had just 20% of their kibble replaced with fresh, minimally processed food, occurrences of atopic dermatitis (environmental skin allergies) and inflammatory bowel disease significantly decreased. This observation was linked by the body’s methylation process – how efficiently it removes toxins from the body.
The truth is that subtle changes – like increasing moisture with bone broth, supplementing with antioxidant-rich produce, or replacing 20% of a kibble diet with fresh food – can yield noticeable differences in joint mobility, skin and coat health, gut flora, and even cognitive function at any age.
Is it Safe to Feed Your Dog a Raw Meaty Bone?/ Michelle Yaglowski
The topic of feeding meaty bones tends to drum up some controversy. Is it safe to feed your pet a raw meaty bone? Is it even beneficial to your pet? How do you know which bones are safe to feed? Let’s address some of these questions.
Raw meaty bones (RMBs) are safe to feed as long as they meet certain safety parameters:
- Meaty bones should be purchased from a reliable source with safe handling practices in place and that regularly tests their products for harmful pathogens. Use only RMBs sold specifically for pet consumption. In the U.S., a zero-tolerance policy for raw pet food products ensures that the product has not tested positive for pathogens such as E. Coli or Salmonella. In other words, you should not give your pets RMBs from a grocery store.
- Choose the appropriate size/type of bone for your pet. Small RMB’s like chicken necks are perfect for small dogs and cats, whereas turkey and duck necks are better suited for medium to large dogs. As a general rule, it is appropriate to feed a bone the size of your dog’s head. Most dogs, when fed an appropriate size bone, will chew the bone well before swallowing. However, if your dog is a “gulper” or is likely to try and swallow large things without chewing, a RMB may not be an ideal choice for your dog. If you have questions, our staff can help you decide which bones may be appropriate for your dog.
- As with all toys and chews, always monitor your dog when feeding bones. Although dogs usually know what to do with a bone, it is important to ensure they are not going to swallow it whole.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’S)
I give my dog marrow bones. Is that the same thing?
No. Marrow bones are known as ‘recreational bones’ because your pet should not be able to chew and consume the bone itself, but rather the tiny bits of fat, tissue, and cartilage left on the bone, as well as the inner bone marrow. ‘Raw meaty bones’ generally refer to bones that have more ‘meat’ on them and less bone, such as turkey and duck necks.
Do they eat the whole thing, bone and all?
Yes. Since RMBs are mostly thin bone, tissue, and cartilage, they are easy for your pet to break up, chew and swallow.
Do I let it thaw?
No. It is not necessary to thaw your raw bones before feeding. However, some dogs and most cats prefer to have their bone thawed to soften the frozen tissue prior to feeding. If you must thaw the bone, leave it in the fridge for a couple of hours, or submerge it in cool water inside a plastic baggie to thaw it faster.
Should I cook it?
No. Never feed a cooked bone. Cooked bones can splinter, which can cause intestinal obstructions and perforations (not good!).
Which types of bones are safe to feed?
Do not feed weight-bearing bones of heavy animals. What does this mean? When you think of a large animal such as a cow, weight-bearing bones are those that allow the animal to stand properly, which can be too hard on your dog’s teeth.
Why should I offer my dog raw meaty bones?
Bones are an excellent addition to our pet’s diet, and here’s why:
- They’re an excellent source of calcium, phosphorus, and glucosamine.
- They can help with firmer stool.
- They can help maintain cleaner teeth and better oral health.
- They offer mental and physical enrichment for an overall happier (and less bored) pet.
How often should I feed my dog raw meaty bones?
Bones should be fed intermittently as a compliment to your pet’s regular diet. Feeding frequency will depend on your pet’s size, age, and activity level. While they can occasionally be fed in place of a meal, they should not be fed every day.
10am – 7pm
10am – 6pm
10am – 7pm
9am – 6pm
9am – 5pm
10am – 4pm
DIY Dog Wash closes one hour prior to store close.
Subscribe to get weekly tips, seasonal advice, and be the first to know about events, new products, sales, and more.