Most pet owners immediately associate fiber with healthy poop. However, fiber does much more for your pet than that. Fiber plays a significant role in the absorption of nutrients in their diet and can benefit their overall health in many ways.
Your pet’s dental health is an important piece of their overall health and wellness. Oral disease can be caused…
When your pet is diagnosed with a heart dysfunction or heart disease, you want to take immediate action to support your pet’s health and well-being. In addition to specific recommendations from your veterinarian, here are some tips to help keep your dog or cat’s heart healthy — without modifying their main diet.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Your pet’s weight plays an important role in heart health. One of the main contributors to heart problems is obesity. Being overweight adds unnecessary stress to your pet’s joints, muscles, internal organs, but also to the heart itself.
Help your pet maintain a healthy weight by giving him the right amount of food for his size, breed, age, and reproductive status.
In combination with a proper diet, daily exercise is vital. Walks, runs, and active playtime improve the strength and endurance of the heart’s ability to circulate blood, but also burn excess calories that can lead to obesity.
If your pet has been diagnosed with heart disease, please consult your veterinarian before starting any exercise program with your pet. Certain heart conditions dictate no exercise while others allow for lower-intensity exercise sessions that include monitoring duration, intensity, and external temperature.
Feed the Beneficial Treats
When searching for heart-healthy treats, look for single-ingredient, nutritionally dense, minimally processed products. These types of treats are typically lower in sodium and other unhealthy preservatives that may aggravate a heart condition. My favorites are freeze-dried hearts, any fish treat (since fish is high in omega 3’s), or any treat containing no or low-salt additives.
Supplements can be an important part of your pet’s heart health plan. Although supplements should never replace a well-balanced diet, they can provide a nutritional boost that can help reduce the risk of heart disease, reduce inflammation, improve circulation, manage weight and improve overall well-being.
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.
Grooming is an essential part of your pet’s life. There are a couple of factors that play a role in how often to groom your pet. Skin health, coat type, (long, short, medium, curly, wavy, thick, etc.), activity level, health, and breed should all be considered. What happens if we groom our pets too frequently? Grooming too frequently can result in damage to the hair follicles, dry irritated skin, and can also lead to bacterial and/or fungal infections as well.
If you haven’t heard of organotherapy, you’re not alone. This ancient therapy is defined as the practice of using whole animal tissues to support or promote the healthy functioning of a body’s internal organs.¹ It is also known as glandular therapy, cell therapy or tissue therapy.
Why Organotherapy Works
Organ meat is high in a plethora of vitamins and minerals that may offer benefits for your pet. The cells within a particular organ or tissue contain the amino acids, nutrients, lipids, and glandular secretions (insulin, enzymes, and nucleic acids) needed to benefit that same organ within your pet. In other words, organotherapy may benefit your pet’s body on a cellular level by stimulating the function of that organ. For example, feed your pet liver (which contains amino acids and vitamins) to improve liver health.¹
Where to Find Organ Nutrients
Organ and tissue are plentiful in commercially prepared fresh and minimally processed diets where they have not been heat treated and therefore have the most bioavailable nutrients. Most of these diets contain at least 80% meat, organ, and bone, so they are rich in the essential nutrients, omega fatty acids, amino acids, vitamins and minerals that may support healthy organ function. Feeding organs doesn’t have to be complicated or difficult to incorporate into a healthy pet’s diet. For example, many commercially prepared options such as Instinct include amino acid levels like taurine as part of the guaranteed analysis. These can even be added to kibble diets as a fresh topper.
Some dietary supplements, like taurine, are derived directly from beef and pork heart. Digestive enzymes–primarily used to improve pancreatic function–are commonly sourced from pork pancreas.
Freeze-dried organ treats also offer an excellent source of nutrition for your pet’s organ health, particularly single-ingredient options.² Freeze-dried liver, heart, lung and kidney make extremely healthy treats. Liver is perhaps the most popular as it’s frequently used and recommended by dog trainers due to its rich flavor and palatability. Liver is also considered one of the highest value rewards you can offer your pet. Freeze-dried treats are perfect for both cats and dogs.
Heart: Taurine, carnitine, CoQ10
Lung: Iron, Vitamins A, D, E and B12
Kidney: Vitamin A, B, and iron
Liver*: Vitamin A, glycogen, potassium, copper, B vitamins, and vitamin D, K and E
Pancreas: digestive enzymes, manganese, insulin and glucagon
Spleen: Vitamins D, K, A, E, plus iron and zinc.
Brain: DHA and EPA, other omega-3 fatty acids
*It’s important to note that liver should be fed in moderation. Excessive amounts can induce vitamin A toxicity.³
Every pet is different and has unique nutritional needs. Supplementing with organ meat for various reasons should be considered on an individual basis. Stop in to speak with us about what options may be best suited for your pet.
This information is provided for educational purposes only, and should not be taken as medical advice. Always consult a qualified veterinarian for treatment options for your pet. We recommend consulting a board certified veterinary nutritionist for disease-specific nutrition information.
- Cameron, T. “Glandular Therapy.” Foundation for Alternative and Integrative Medicine. Integrative Veterinary Care Journal. 2012.
- Gaylord, L. Raditic, D. “Glandular therapies for pets.” Integrative Veterinary Care. August 6, 2022 https://ivcjournal.com/glandular-therapies-for-pets/
- Cho DY, Frey RA, Guffy MM, Leipold HW. Hypervitaminosis A in the dog. Am J Vet Res. 1975;36(11):1597-1603.
Joint health is an important concern for pet owners, as joint problems can cause pain and decreased mobility in cats and dogs. Thankfully, there are a number of joint supplements that are designed to help improve joint health and reduce pain. These supplements typically contain one or more of the following ingredients: glucosamine sulfate, glucosamine HCl, chondroitin, MSM, and hyaluronic acid.
Let’s take a closer look at these ingredients and how they can benefit your pet’s joint health.
Glucosamine sulfate & Glucosamine HCl
Both glucosamine sulfate & glucosamine HCl are forms of glucosamine, a naturally-occurring substance found in the cartilage and other connective tissues of both cats and dogs. Glucosamine helps to protect and strengthen the cartilage, which helps to prevent joint damage and reduce pain. It can also help to reduce inflammation in the joints.
Glucosamine may take weeks or even months to start working, so it’s important to be patient when adding them to your pet’s diet.
Chondroitin is another natural substance found in the cartilage of cats and dogs. It works in conjunction with glucosamine to protect and strengthen the cartilage and can also help reduce inflammation.
If your pet is taking other medications or supplements, it is essential to let your veterinarian know since chondroitin may interact with them.
MSM is another naturally-occurring sulfur compound that helps reduce inflammation and joint pain. It also helps to improve joint flexibility and reduce stiffness and inflammation. MSM can also help rebuild cartilage and minimize further joint damage.
MSM supplementation does have potential side effects with higher doses. These can include nausea and dizziness. Please follow dosage instructions carefully.
Hyaluronic Acid (HA)
Hyaluronic acid is found in the joint fluid of both cats and dogs. It is a major component of joint fluid and helps to lubricate and cushion the joints. As pets age, the levels of HA in their bodies decrease, leading to joint pain and inflammation. Giving your dog or cat HA supplements can help replenish the natural lubricant in their joints and improve joint health.
Like glucosamine, hyaluronic acid can take several weeks before your pet may experience benefits.
All of these ingredients are effective at improving joint health in cats and dogs. They help to protect the cartilage and reduce inflammation and pain while also helping to improve joint flexibility and reduce stiffness. As a result, your pets can enjoy better mobility and less pain.
If you notice signs of joint stiffness or decreased mobility, stop in to speak with one of our experts to determine the best supplements for their needs.
Many pet owners don’t even realize their pets are overweight. A few extra pounds might not sound like a big deal, but it is.
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!
*This article is for informational purposes only. It is not meant to provide medical advice or replace the advice of a qualified veterinarian.
Pet Parents are spending a great deal of time and money to ensure they are serving the healthiest foods to their pets. However, when it comes time to select a bowl or feeder, most Pet Parents report that they choose the cheapest bowl or one that matches the décor of their home. However, did you ever consider if your pet’s food bowl is actually safe? Have you checked to see where your food bowl was manufactured or what materials it is made of? Can you trust the labels on the package that sometimes provide this information? Think about it…these food bowls are in constant contact with your dog’s mouth and tongue multiple times each day.
Let’s start out with the country where your pet’s food bowl is being manufactured. Why should this matter? Because you want to be sure that it is in a country that follows “GMP” or Good Manufacturing Processes. The most important assurance of GMP is to provide quality control and safety. Simply put, the manufacturing people are properly trained; working in a properly cared for facility; following a standardized process; producing consistent products, and guided by procedures that guarantee quality and safety. Pet products made in the United States are most likely to be manufactured within these guidelines whereas those manufactured in China are least likely. Pet Parents should especially be concerned about pet bowls, feeders, and lick mats made in China because there are no guarantees that the materials or manufacturing process are safe and free of harmful toxins. Of course, it is more expensive to manufacture under GMP because of the additional time and cost involved in the manufacturing process.
It is worth noting that just because a food bowl is manufactured in the U.S., it doesn’t mean that the materials were also sourced in the U.S. The cost of quality materials can compel manufacturers to find cheaper materials sourced from other countries and have them imported. So, you have to look at both where your pet’s food bowl is manufactured as well as where the material is sourced from.
Petfood Bowl Materials and Factors to Consider
The next factor to consider is the material of your pet’s food bowl. Typically, pet food bowls and feeders are made of either stainless steel, plastic or silicone but not all of these materials are created equal. Let’s consider each of them:
- Most Pet Parents automatically think that stainless steel food bowls are a ‘safe choice’ because they associate it with medical tools used in the health and dental fields. However, these are not the sterilized tools used in the biomedical field which mandates a different manufacturing process. Instead, all stainless steel requires the use of ‘cutting fluids’ which shape metal and are extremely difficult to get off of the surface. Cutting fluids are highly toxic and continue to leach out over time. There is a variety of cutting fluids and their safety is probably dependent on where the food bowl is made. In order to reduce the chance of leaching, caustic cleaners and high temperatures (repeated dishwashing) must be used.
- Most Pet Parents are confused about how to think of plastics. The single most important factor to consider is whether the plastic is recycled or not. Recycled plastics are extremely problematic because of raw material contamination. Recycled plastics can come from either used consumer products or used industrial products. Post-consumer recyclates are improperly cleaned and can cause cross-contamination. (China was previously the biggest importer of plastic waste which created landfills and destroyed communities making them uninhabitable.) Likewise, some post-industrial recyclates can contain industrial chemicals and cleaners which can be carcinogenic. Unfortunately, except for some industrial recyclates, there is no way to trace their source to assess their toxic composition. As such, many of these recycled plastics represent potentially serious health hazards to your pet.
- Silicone is a relatively new but popular material because it can easily be made into any shape and is fairly durable. However, because it is a more expensive material, many silicone products contain chemical fillers to reduce material costs—especially those made it China. These unknown chemical fillers could cause adverse side effects on your pet’s health. Additionally, silicone products cannot be recycled and end up in landfills because they are in their final form—not particularly friendly to the wellbeing of our planet. Finally, since silicone is a young material, there are few studies on the safety and long term health effects especially with daily use and contact with the material. Use care and caution in assessing the quality of your silicone feeders.
Why should we care?
The reason we should care about the food bowl we choose for our pets is the dramatic incident of cancer. I want to be forthright in saying there is no mandatory reporting to a universal database that allows the scientific tracking of this disease. However, the Animal Cancer Foundation has recently provided estimates that roughly 6 million new cancer diagnoses are made in both dogs and cats each year in the United States (out of a 65 million dog and 32 million cat population).
Always check labels and ask questions
What can Pet Parents do to check on the quality and safety of their pet’s feeding devices? First, check the label to see the country where it is made, where the material was sourced and the type of material used. Beware of products that do not state where it is manufactured as well as those that say ‘globally sourced materials’—there is no way to ascertain if it is a safe or reliable feeder. Also, if it says, “Designed and tested in the U.S.”, dig deeper to find out where it was manufactured and where the materials were sourced—this statement has nothing to do with the quality or safety of the feeder. Also, as a last resort, contact the manufacturer and ask them to provide this information! You have the right as a Pet Parent to work around the ‘disinformation’ to ensure the health and wellbeing of your pet.
So, the next time you are purchasing a pet food bowl or feeder, invest the same time and money you would in choosing their food. It is the one item in the household that your pet interacts with multiple times each day. And now you can rest assured that you are truly serving them a safe and healthy meal.
About the Author: Carol Smeja, Ph.D
Carol Smeja’s career has focused in the area of psychology and sociology which led to her earning a Ph.D. She applied these roots in understanding the psychological and social dynamics of eating while working in marketing/research with the U.S. and global food companies and improving health & diet with U.S. government agencies. More recently, she has applied her extensive research and diagnostic training in understanding the eating behaviors of our dogs & cats by studying the natural and instinctive behaviors of their ancestral roots. She has conducted comprehensive ancestral reviews and integrated information from wildlife specialists and professional research/observational programs. She volunteers at zoos to continue to gain knowledge on our pet’s dietary needs and feeding habits in addition to improving conservation efforts. Lecturing at both professional events and pet organizations, Carol seeks to educate Pet Parents on the importance of how you feed your pet to improve their health & wellbeing. She is also the co-creator of the Original Mine Pet Platter. Made with an innovative and sustainable material naturally sourced from plant life that is safe and non-toxic. 100% designed, sourced, and manufactured in the USA, the mine Pet Platter is food and dishwasher-safe, BPA-free, eco-friendly and recyclable. The Mine Pet Platter is safe for pets and the planet.
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