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WHAT YOUR PETS ARE EATING....

Posted Dec 06 2009 11:00pm
According to a recent statistic, dog and cat owners pay about $12 billion annually in veterinary bills. However, before you think, "Wow, that's a lot of money!," consider that those same dog and cat owners spend $17 billion a year on pet food. And when it comes right down to it, how many of you really know what you're feeding to your dogs and cats or why you're feeding that particular food. This issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats will begin the task of sorting out all the important aspects and considerations of what to feed your pets and why. Many of you will probably be right on target with your choices of dog or cat food but, hopefully, Helpful Buckeye can help you fill in the gaps of uncertainty surrounding your choices of what you're feeding your pets and your reasons for doing so.

The 3 polling questions for last week were pretty popular for our e-mailers. Not very many readers actually voted at the individual question site, but a lot of you sent your responses by e-mail along with other comments. That's OK too. There were 14 responses to the question of traveling with your pet over the holidays. It was evenly split with half of the responses saying yes and the other half saying they'd use a kennel or a friend to take care of their pet. As for pets being ill from anything involving the Holidays, 17 said yes and 6 said no. Helpful Buckeye hopes that all the references we've made concerning the dangers of the "Holidays" for pets will help bring that number down considerably! The 3rd question about how much grooming of your pet you are willing to attempt produced interesting results. Of the 18 responses, 12 replied that they do both the bathing and grooming, while 2 bathed only and 2 groomed only. That left 2 respondents saying, "Leave it to the pros!" Be sure to participate in this week's poll question in the column to the left.

CURRENT NEWS OF INTEREST

1) From the American Veterinary Medical Association, "Two cats (aged 10 and 11 years) from different households in Colorado have tested positive for 2009 H1N1 (Swine Flu) influenza, according to Colorado State University’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. The felines are expected to recover, but their cases serve as a reminder to pet owners to seek veterinary attention for companion animals that appear to be ill." Read the media release from Colorado State University for further information: http://www.news.colostate.edu/Release/4934

On a related note, a dog in China has been diagnosed as having contracted the same H1N1 (Swine Flu) virus. Authorities are awaiting confirming tests on that one.

2) WASHINGTON (UPI) -- The American Red Cross advises families to make some changes in how they interact and eat during holiday gatherings, to prevent the spread of the swine flu virus.

Avoid kissing, handshakes during holidays



Sharon Stanley, chief nurse of the American Red Cross in Washington, says the holidays are about food, family and friends -- but with H1N1 flu still circulating families can take some steps to keep the celebration happy and healthy. Stanley advises to:


  • Avoid the usual kisses and handshakes when greeting friends and family.

  • Wash hands frequently, before preparing food, while cooking and always before eating.

  • Keep plenty of hand soap in the bathroom, preferably in a pump container. Skip pretty hand towels and use disposable hand towels or a roll of paper towels.

  • Consider putting the glasses away and using plastic cups, or provide a way for guests to identify their drinks to avoid drinking out of anyone else's glass.

  • Put serving utensils in every dish, including snacks like nuts, pretzels or potato chips, so people can spoon out their portion instead of reaching in with their hands.


Think about it...everybody likes to spread cheer during the Holidays. Let's try to NOT spread any flu virus!

3) The bad guys seem to capitalize on everything, especially when things aren't going very well. Now, we find out about an e-mail scheme that takes advantage of someone's fear of Swine Flu and plants a troublesome virus on their computer. Be wary of any e-mail that purports to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention! Take just a minute to read this posting about what to watch out for: http://www.dailyfinance.com/2009/12/03/swine-flu-email-conceals-phishing-scam-cdc-isnt-seeking-your/?icid=mainhtmlws-main-wdl7link6http%3A%2F%2Fwww.dailyfinance.com%2F2009%2F12%2F03%2Fswine-flu-email-conceals-phishing-scam-cdc-isnt-seeking-your%2F

4) Again, from the AVMA, "The Food and Drug Administration has issued an alert warning consumers to dispose of pig ears and beef hooves from Pet Carousel because of potential Salmonella contamination. PetSmart recalled two Pet Carousel products in response to the situation." For further details on this recall, read: http://www.avma.org/onlnews/javma/dec09/091215l.asp

Be sure that you don't already have some of these products at home.

5) An update of a cat food recall from 10 weeks ago has revealed a lack of proper level of thiamine, an essential nutrient for cats. For the rest of the story, go to: http://www.pawnation.com/2009/12/02/cat-food-recall-21-cats-sickened/

This situation was part of the reason for this week's discussion of dog and cat nutrition.

WHAT YOUR PETS ARE EATING....a discussion of dog and cat nutrition

Let's face it...any discussion on nutrition is not likely to attract much interest, whether it's about human nutrition or pet nutrition. Even when I was in veterinary school, it just wasn't a very glamorous topic. There's a lot of general science and chemistry involved in understanding the basics and it can get downright boring at times. However, as with a lot of other things in life, if you don't have a good grasp of basic principles, you won't be able to comprehend the "big picture." And, the "big picture" on this blog is the overall health of your dogs and cats. So, get ready for this cram course on the basics of pet nutrition so that we can then move into the realm of how your pets' diets are related to their health. Some of this information has been adapted from The Merck Veterinary Manual 2008.

Dogs are a very diverse species, with normal body weights ranging from 2-175 lb. The growth rates of puppies are the most rapid during the first 5 months, while that growth rate begins to flatten out after 6 months of age. Overall growth of dogs may be completed by 9-12 months of age in the smaller breeds and not until 18-24 months in the very largest breeds. By contrast, the average body weight of the adult domestic cat usually ranges from 8-12 lb. Full adult growth in cats is usually attained by the 7 month mark. These vast differences in age and weight account for the reason that dogs and cats require specific dietary nutrient concentrations based on their life stage.

The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) publishes dog and cat nutrient profiles for growth, maintenance, and reproduction. These are based in part on the 1974 and 1985 National Research Council (NRC) nutrient requirements for these species. Update NRC requirements have recently been established and will be published soon.

In developed countries, nutritional diseases are rarely seen in dogs and cats especially when they are fed good quality commercial rations or nutritionally balanced homemade diets. However, the important words here are "nutritionally balanced." Dog or cat foods or homemade diets derived from a single food item are going to be grossly inadequate for your pet. As an example, feeding predominantly meat or even an exclusive hamburger and rice diet to dogs can induce calcium deficiency, leading to secondary hypoparathyroidism...a glandular disorder involving the balance between calcium and phosphorus in the body. Another example would be the feeding of an exclusive raw, freshwater fish diet to cats, which can lead to a thiamine deficiency. Feeding too much liver can lead to Vitamin A toxicity in both dogs and cats. Taking this a step further, malnutrition has been seen in dogs and cats that have been fed "natural," "organic," or "vegetarian" diets put together by their owners with the best intentions. because the palatability, digestibility, and safety of these recipes have not been adequately or scientifically tested, it is difficult to characterize all of these homemade diets. Generally most of these homemade necessary microminerals such as copper, zinc, and potassium. Commonly used meat and carbohydrate ingredients contain more phosphorus than calcium. Some homemade diets for cats are not actually deficient in fats or energy but, since they contain a vegetable oil that cats do not find tasty, less of the food will be eaten causing a calorie deficiency. Beyond these concerns, homemade diets are rarely properly balanced for the important microminerals or vitamins.

The other oral consumption consideration is that of water. Clean fresh water should always be available. Multiple water sources will encourage consumption. Healthy animals can effectively self-regulate their water intake when provided ample amounts of water. Dehydration can become a serious consequence in problems involving the gastro-intestinal, respiratory, and urinary systems and fluid replacement needs to be administered.

One of the quantitative measures of food being eaten involves the amount of energy of a diet that is retained within the body. Ah yes, that would be the calorie...that word which determines how hard some people work to keep their weight under control. Dogs and cats require sufficient energy to allow for the optimal use of proteins and to maintain optimal body weight and condition through their periods of growth, maintenance, activity, pregnancy, and lactation. Of the 6 recognized nutrient groups, only protein, fats, and carbohydrates provide energy, whereas vitamins, minerals, and water do not. Recent evidence shows that dogs kept in households require less calories per day compared with dogs held in outdoor kennels. Other factors that determine daily energy needs include activity level, life stage, percent lean body mass, age, and environment. For example, energy requirements increased by almost 71% in Huskies as the outdoor temperature decreases from summer to winter levels. Effects of environmental temperature are not well established in cats.



That's enough nutritional information for any of you to absorb in one sitting. In the next part of this discussion on pet nutrition, Helpful Buckeye will cover the 5 remaining nutrient groups: proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. Stay tuned....


PRODUCT OF THE WEEK

This isn't a "product," per se, as in, you can go out and buy one for $20. Rather, this is a cat-friendly house built in Japan for the owners of 16 cats and 5 dogs. Enjoy looking through these photos of blissful cats relaxing in their unique abode: http://www.moderncat.net/2009/11/29/another-amazing-cat-friendly-house-design-from-japan/

GENERAL INTEREST

1) Well, it was too good to be true. Cody, the chocolate Labrador, has been booted out of his "job" at the BP gas station/convenience store in Florida. The powers that be in the state health department felt his presence was in violation of food sanitation requirements. For the rest of the story, go to: http://www.pawnation.com/2009/12/04/gas-station-dog-kicked-out-by-state/

2) Pet owners always like to take pictures of their dogs and cats, particularly during the "Holidays." Here are 5 good tips for getting that special photo: http://www.pawnation.com/2009/12/01/how-to-photograph-your-pet/
3) A Wyoming family had a recent surprise...18 puppies were delivered by their dog, Ariel. The pups are doing well and all have been spoken for. See Ariel and the pups at: http://content.usatoday.com/communities/pawprintpost/post/2009/11/puppies-total-18-set-record-for-breed/1?loc=interstitialskip

4) A really interesting story appeared in the USA Today this week about the rare hairless breed of cat known as a Sphynx and how they are serving so well as therapy animals for humans. The affection these cats show to humans and the contact they crave make them ideally suited for this type of therapy. Enjoy this feel good story: http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2009-12-02-sphynx02_ST_N.htm

5) The USA Today also ran a story of the unfortunate encounter of a family cat with a Tiger Lily. Read about the danger of the lily family and cats: http://www.usatoday.com/life/lifestyle/pets/2009-12-02-pettalklily02_ST_N.htm

The ASPCA has a really thorough index of plants that can be poisonous to pets, including their pictures. You might want to consider keeping this site as a favorite on your computer for future reference: http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/poison-control/plants/

A previous issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats covered many different plants that are poisonous to cats and dogs and suggested that pet owners should keep a copy of that list handy for future reference: http://questionsondogsandcats.blogspot.com/2009/06/common-poisons-and-your-pets.html This site should also be kept on your list of favorites.


SPORTS NEWS

With today's ignominious defeat at the hands of the Oakland Raiders, the Pittsburgh Steelers have been officially declared DOA. It would appear that a change in coaching might be in order.

The Ohio State Buckeyes found out they would be playing Oregon in the Rose Bowl on New Years' Day. For those of you who don't follow west coast football, Oregon is the team that crushed USC earlier in the year, giving them one of their worst defeats in recent years. This will be a tough game for the Buckeyes.

PERSONAL STUFF

Desperado and Helpful Buckeye started off the Holiday movie viewing season this past week by watching an "oldie" (Holiday Inn) and a more recent flick (Deck The Halls). In past years, we have tried to watch 2-3 Holiday movies each week of December...we suggest you try it and invite some of your good friends to join you. This week, we have White Christmas, Elf, and Love Actually on schedule. Bring on the popcorn and joviality!

A blizzard warning is posted for most of northern Arizona for Monday and Tuesday. We'll most likely get in excess of 2 ft. of snow by Tuesday morning.

Winston Churchill (1874-1965) British Statesman, Soldier, and Author said: "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." Desperado and Helpful Buckeye will take advantage of the deep snows to enjoy our movies....

~~The goal of this blog is to provide general information and advice to help you be a better pet owner and to have a more rewarding relationship with your pet. This blog does not intend to replace the professional one-on-one care your pet receives from a practicing veterinarian. When in doubt about your pet's health, always visit a veterinarian.~~


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