A Balanced Diet for Your Cat

Unsure of what to look for in a cat food? Here are the main ingredients to look for. From Pet 360. 

The foods you give to your cat will have a huge impact on his health, his life, and on his ability to learn and thrive. Not all cat foods are created equal, so it is important to know what to look for to ensure that you are providing the best cat food your money can buy. Here are five important things to look for in your cat’s pre-packaged foods.

Protein

Cats are obligate carnivores, which means that their bodies have evolved to process meat, meat … and more meat. Cats will eat some greenery on their own for fiber and vitamin/mineral content, but they don’t need to have veggies or carbohydrates on a daily basis. Choose cat foods that are made entirely of protein products and make sure that your cat gets a healthy serving of protein each day. Fish, chicken, turkey, egg, and beef are the best sources for protein, with foods containing muscle meat containing the highest protein content. But don’t try to substitute animal proteins for non-animal proteins. Cats require meat to survive, and forcing a cat to eat a vegetable or grain based diet will have a severe affect on its health.

Water

While you may need to limit the amount of food your cat gets to protect against weight issues, the amount of water you make available to your cat should never be limited. Cats need to have a source of clean water at all times. While they may not lap it up by the bowl-full as dogs tend to do, they will become very ill very quickly if they are left without water. Feeding your cat high-quality foods with good moisture content (around 78 percent) is a great way to satisfy your cat’s dietary water needs, but there should always be a dependable source for fresh water — and it should not be the open toilet.

Try filling a large bowl with water to ensure that your cat will not run low, leave a faucet on slow drip, or invest in a water fountain designed for cats. If you are feeding your cat a combination of wet and dry foods, or only dry foods, you can add a little water to the dry food to make it a moist food.

Taurine

The amino acid taurine is an essential part of your cat’s diet. Your cat’s health and very life depend on getting taurine on a daily basis. One of the first symptoms of taurine deficiency is in vision. A deficiency in taurine can lead to decreased night vision, loss of vision, blindness, and even death due to heart failure in cats. The easiest source for taurine is meat, and most cat food manufacturers add taurine to the ingredients of their packaged foods, including dry cat foods. Make sure to read the labels on the cat food packages before you buy to make sure that you are choosing one with sufficiently high levels of taurine. If you are in doubt, and your doubt seems to be verified by vision problems in your cat, talk to your veterinarian to find out if your cat requires taurine supplements in his diet.

Dry vs. Wet

You may find some division in the cat community over which is the best cat food: dry or wet. Some people will argue strenuously that wet is the only way, and some will firmly insist that dry cat food is the best. Still others observe that their cats enjoy both wet foods and crunchy foods and will strive for a healthy balance in feeding some of both. Wet food is higher in meat proteins and low in carbohydrates – best for carnivores. Wet food has a short life once the food has been served (that is, you cannot leave it out for the day, it will go bad). Many dry cat foods have a long shelf life after opening, making it a practical choice, but they are also high in carbohydrate fillers. If dry food is all that your cat is getting, there may be an increased risk for urinary tract blockages and other illnesses.

Fillers

We’re not referring to the guy at the pastry shop whose job it is to fill the pies. We refer here to the fillers (AKA by-products) that are used to add weight and substance to prepackaged cat foods. Fillers can be beneficial when the recipe is well thought out and the ingredients are added in sensible proportions. In fact even human foods often have fillers. The fillers used in pet foods can be anything from corn and other grains to feathers, weeds, cellulose and straw. The best cat foods are low in by-products and carbs and high in protein rich sources.

To make the most informed choice for the best cat food, consult your veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist. Even if you can’t give your cat the best cat food that money can buy, you can still give him the best that you can buy.

The Cat: The True Carnivore

The #1 ingredient for every cat’s diet is meat. Ask any veterinarian or any Barkery employee. Modern Cat Magazine weighs in.

The first and most crucial ingredient in maintaining your cat’s well-being is, of course, her diet. To that end, you must give her the best food you can, in the correct quantities. Too much and she’ll suffer from obesity, a major problem with cats today. Too little, and she could develop malnutrition leading to illness or disease. The same goes for food quality; feed her a poor quality food and she will suffer, and fail to reach the age she could if fed properly.

Feed a high quality, meat-based food. Cats are true carnivores and as such, do not fare well with the substantial amounts of carbohydrates, which can, over time, contribute to the development of diabetes, kidney problems, or both. You may wish to consider feeding a balanced raw diet, available at many good pet stores today. If you decide to make your own, speak to your veterinarian first, to ensure you include all the essential ingredients.

Taurine, for example, an amino acid vital to a cat’s health, cannot be made in the cat’s body, and must therefore be in her food. Though this important nutrient is present in meat, most owners who feed a raw diet add taurine supplements, as well as vitamin/mineral supplements, to ensure good health.

 

Pooches on the Patio Photo Gallery

A special thanks to all who joined us for Pooches at the Patio at Julian! Enjoy photos from the special event by Katie Breit. Click any image to enlarge.

Halloween Safety Tips for Pets

Expert tips from  Pet 360 for Halloween fun with your four legged friend!

Halloween can be a festive and fun time for children and families. But for pets? Let’s face it, it can be a downright nightmare. Forgo the stress and dangers this year by following these 10 easy safety tips:

1. Trick-or-treat candies are not for pets. All forms of chocolate — especially baking or dark chocolate — can be dangerous, even lethal, for dogs and cats. Symptoms of chocolate poisoning may include vomiting, diarrhea, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, and seizures. Halloween candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can also be poisonous to dogs. Even small amounts of xylitol can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar and subsequent loss of coordination and seizures. And while xylitol toxicity in cats has yet to be established, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

2. Don’t leave pets out in the yard on Halloween. Surprisingly, vicious pranksters have been known to tease, injure, steal, and even kill pets on Halloween night. Inexcusable? Yes! But preventable nonetheless.

3. Keep pets confined and away from the door. Not only will your door be constantly opening and closing on Halloween, but strangers will be dressed in unusual costumes and yelling loudly for their candy. This, of course, is scary for our furry friends. Dogs are especially territorial and may become anxious and growl at innocent trick-or-treaters. Putting your dog or cat in a secure room away from the front door will also prevent them from darting outside into the night … a night when no one wants to be searching for a lost loved one.

4. Keep your outdoor cats inside several days before and several days after Halloween. Black cats are especially at risk from pranks or other cruelty-related incidents. In fact, many shelters do not adopt out black cats during the month of October as a safety precaution.

5. Keep Halloween plants such as pumpkins and corn out of reach. Although they are relatively nontoxic, such plants can induce gastrointestinal upset should your pets ingest them in large quantities. Intestinal blockage can even occur if large pieces are swallowed. And speaking of pumpkins …

6. Don’t keep lit pumpkins around pets. Should they get too close, they run the risk of burning themselves or knocking it over and causing a fire.

7. Keep wires and electric light cords out of reach. If chewed, your pet could cut himself or herself on shards of glass or plastic, or receive a possibly life-threatening electrical shock.

8. Don’t dress your pet in a costume unless you know they’ll love it. If you do decide that Fido or Kitty needs a costume, make sure it isn’t annoying or unsafe. It should not constrict movement, hearing, or the ability to breathe or bark and meow.

9. Try on pet costumes before the big night. If they seem distressed, allergic, or show abnormal behavior, consider letting them go in their “birthday suit”. Festive bandanas usually work for party poopers, too.

10. IDs, please! If your dog or cat should escape and become lost, having the proper identification will increase the chances that they will be returned. Just make sure the information is up-to-date, even if your pet does have one of those fancy-schmancy embedded microchips.

The Barkery Wins Best Groomer and Best Retail in the Pitch’s Best of KC!

We’re thrilled and honored to have won not one, but two Best Of awards from the readers of The Pitch!

Our story started with a beloved Saint Bernard named Aspen, who had ongoing health issues that couldn’t be solved by a simple trip to the vet. 11 years later, Brookside Barkery and Bath continues to focus on educating and helping our customers care for healthy dogs and cats with our mission:  “Better Health through Better Nutrition,” and our goals are to provide the most up-to-date holistic health information to our patrons with the best customer service possible. As the pioneering all-natural pet food store and bathing facility in the area, we’re dedicated to being the leader in customer service, pet care knowledge and quality products.

Our driving passion is helping owners provide only the best for their animal companion. To help fulfill that mission, we offer the largest selection of natural pet food in Kansas City, and our bathing and grooming services are like none in the metro – maybe even the country!

Thank you again to all of our customers and pet lovers for voting for the Barkery as their favorite groomer and retail pet store – Stop in and see us again soon!

9 Human Foods to Never Feed a Cat

It may seem like second nature to feed an adult cat milk – but it’s never a good idea. Here are some other foods to avoid feeding your feline from Modern Cat Magazine.

1. Chocolate
Chocolate contains Theobromine, which is toxic to cats, even in small amounts, as well as caffeine, another no-no.

2. Onion

Onions contain N-propyl disulphide which causes anemia and, thereby, jaundice (yellow discolouration in lips and eyelids, as well as skin in light-skinned cats). A toxic dose for the average cat would be a couple slices, so watch those onions!

3. Uncooked potatoes & tomatoes
Both these plants come from the deadly nightshade family. Eaten raw, they are likely to cause cats gastrointestinal distress. Cooked tomatoes and potatoes, however, have no toxic effects. (Eating green potatoes, cooked or not, can cause cardiac issues, hallucinations and paralysis, but as they are bitter this is not likely to be an issue.)

4. Milk & milk products
As kittens, cats can drink cow’s milk, but as they grow up cats become intolerant to lactose, a sugar found in cow’s milk, and can no longer digest dairy products. Even a few laps of milk or a tidbit of cheese can cause gastrointestinal pain and diarrhea in adult cats. Lactose-free milk or live culture yogurt, however, can be given at any age.

5. Yeast dough
The ingestion of yeast dough can cause severe abdominal pain, intestinal rupture, and even alcohol poisoning as the dough rises and expands and the yeast ferments.

6. Grapes & raisins
Grapes and raisins may cause kidney failure, vomiting, and diarrhea in cats.

7. Caffeine & alcohol
This one may seem obvious, and chances are these beverages would never end up in a cat dish, but if a curious cat were to lap the dregs out of a coffee cup or get into an open saucepan of penne vodka sauce, the consequences would likely be fatal as there is no cure for caffeine or alcohol poisoning in cats. Three tablespoons of 40 percent liquor is enough to prove deadly.

8. Garlic & chives
Like onions, garlic and chives can also cause anemia and gastrointestinal problems in cats. In small amounts, chives are sometimes included in commercial cat food. While this may not be enough to cause problems, don’t let your cat mistake your window box of chives for a planter of cat grass.

9. Xylitol
Xylitol is an artificial sweetener found in candy, gum, and even some toothpastes. Xylitol will produce seizures in cats soon after ingestion and liver failure a day or so after, so keep your gum out of kitty’s grasp.

Hypoallergenic Dogs?

Is there such a thing? According to American Kennel Club’s Lisa Peterson, there are a handful of breeds that are safe for allergy sufferers. She shares everything you need to know in this article from Modern Dog Magazine.

While no dog is 100 percent hypoallergenic, there are many breeds with consistent and predictable coats that the AKC suggests for allergy sufferers. These breeds have non-shedding coats, which produce less dander. It’s actually the skin dander attached to pet hair that causes most pet allergies in humans.

Top things allergy sufferers can do around the home to reduce symptoms, regardless of breed they have:

Try and vacuum daily, as well as mop hard floors and dust with a damp cloth. This will help prevent you from stirring up settled allergens. It also helps to frequently wash your dog’s bed. Make the bedroom a dog-free area to limit the amount of exposure the allergy sufferer has to the dog.

Reconsider fabrics. Certain fabrics in the home may be more or less likely to hold pet hair and dander. For example, wood or tile floors and leather or vinyl furniture will be easier to clean and less likely to hold onto hair and allergens than carpeting and upholstered furniture. Also try and avoid fabric curtains.

Frequent bathing does not help make your dog less allergy inducing.dogs-safe

If you have a shedding breed, a bath tends to loosen hair and promote shedding. For the single-coated dogs that are better for allergy sufferers, a daily brush and even a wipe with a damp cloth will help to remove allergens from the coat that the dog may have brought in from outside, such a pollen, molds, and dust. The best tactic would be to have someone in the family who is not allergic do the grooming. Grooming your dog frequently can really help ease reactions.

From the happy-go-lucky Bichon Frise to the ancient and rare Xoloitzcuintli, the American Kennel Club recognizes these 11 breeds as hypoallergenic.

1. Xoloitzcuintli (pronounced SHOW-low-eats-QUEENT-lee) 2. Bedlington Terrier 3. Schnauzer (all sizes) 4. Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier 5. Kerry Blue Terrier 6. Poodles (all sizes) 7. Portuguese Water Dog 8. Maltese 9. Bichon Frise 10. Chinese Crested 11. Irish Water Spaniel