Cataracts in Dogs and Cats

Dr. Karen Becker from Healthy Pets by Mercola  explains cataracts, how it develops and how it can be treated.

Cataracts are a clouding of the lens of the eye. The lens is inside a clear capsule, and the cataract clouds up the inside of the capsule. So a cataract isn’t a film over the eye itself. It’s a change inside the clear sack that contains the lens.

Clouding or fogging of the lens can be so minor it doesn’t even interfere with vision. This is called an incipient cataract. An immature cataract clouds a greater portion of the lens and can cause some blurred vision. Over time, the entire lens can cloud up and all vision is lost. This is called a mature cataract.

As a cataract progresses, the pupil, which is the center part of the eye, can go from black to a bluish and even white color. There are also hyper-mature cataracts. These develop over months or years and cause the lens capsule to wrinkle and the lens inside to shrivel. Some hyper-mature cataracts are completely cloudy. Others have clear areas that allow for some vision if the rest of the eye is still functional.

The presence of a cataract doesn’t necessarily mean blindness. Cataracts can progress very slowly over many years or they can come on very quickly, leading to blindness within a few days or weeks.

Both dogs and cats can get cataracts, but they are much more common in dogs.

Feline Cataracts

Cataracts are actually rare in cats, and are usually caused by an eye infectionor injury to the eye. Uveitis is a common feline inflammatory eye condition that is often a suspected underlying cause of cataract formation.

Uveitis is a painful condition that causes kitties to squint, have watery eyes, sensitivity to light, and even spasms of the eyelids. Chronic uveitis is often secondary to major diseases like feline leukemia virus (FeLV), feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), andtoxoplasmosis.

Feline cataracts that are hereditary in nature are extremely rare. Cats can develop diabetic cataracts, but this too is quite uncommon.

How Canine Cataracts Develop

Cataracts in dogs are much more clinically significant than in cats.

Most dogs have inherited cataracts, and they can develop at any age. Cataracts are more prevalent in pure bred dogs than mixed breeds. Some breeds are more prone than others, including the cocker spaniel, poodle, Siberian husky, schnauzer, old English sheepdog, Samoyed, golden retriever, Labrador retriever, Maltese, Boston terrier and Yorkshire terrier.

Diabetes is a primary cause of cataracts in dogs. In fact, 75 percent of diabetic dogs will develop blindness from cataracts within a year of diagnosis. Diabetic cataracts occur very quickly – sometimes literally overnight. Your dog goes to bed with normal eyes, and in the morning his eyes are white.

If your dog did not have cataracts yesterday and today he does, you need to get him to the vet immediately for a diabetes workup.

Another common cause of cataracts in dogs is toxicity from drugs like vaccines,heartworm preventives, and flea/tick medications.

Another underlying eye disease like progressive retinal atrophy, uveitis or glaucoma can also cause cataracts. It’s important your dog’s vet makes sure there’s not an underlying root cause for your pet’s cataracts.

Trauma to a dog’s eye can cause the lens capsule to rupture. In a rupture, the contents of the lens leak out. This can lead to a severe form of uveitis, which can then lead to cataracts. If your dog suffers any kind of injury to the eye, I recommend you get her to the vet as soon as possible. Sometimes you can’t tell right away if there’s damage to the lens capsule, and by the time it’s noticeable it can be too late to save your pet’s eye.

Puppies fed a nutritionally unbalanced milk replacement can develop cataracts due to nutritional deficiencies. Fortunately, this type of cataract often improves as the puppy grows older.

Older dogs will develop cataracts secondary to the aging process, but these are typically small and very slow to develop. They usually don’t cause serious vision problems for senior dogs.

Diagnosis and Treatment

If you suspect your pet has a cataract because you see some clouding of the eye or she’s having vision problems, I recommend a visit to your veterinarian. Even better is an appointment with a veterinary ophthalmologist for a complete eye examination.

If the diagnosis is cataracts, less troublesome ones will be rechecked periodically to see if they’re progressing. Sometimes anti-inflammatory eye drops are prescribed.

If your pet’s vision is affected, her quality of life is compromised, or if the cataracts are progressing rapidly, surgery is sometimes recommended to restore vision.

Surgery to Correct Cataracts

If a veterinary ophthalmologist recommends surgery for your pet, the outcome will be better if you opt for surgery sooner rather than later – preferably before the cataract matures. Mature cataracts are more difficult to manage during surgery than less advanced cataracts.

Surgery to remove cataracts is done under general anesthesia. A small incision is made in the eye, and most often a procedure called phacoemulsification, which is the same technique used on human cataracts, is employed to break down the cataract and remove the cloudy lens.

The lens is removed from the lens capsule, and in most patients the lens can be replaced with an implant. The implant is permanent and can restore almost normal vision to your pet – and in some cases, completely normal vision is achieved.

Successful cataract surgery results in an immediate and profound cure for pets who’ve been suffering from decreased vision.

However, sometimes the lens capsule is loose-fitting or can’t be fragmented completely by emulsification. When this happens, the lens and lens capsule are removed, and in this situation there’s no way to do a lens replacement.

Pets with this issue can still see, believe it or not, after their surgery. They just won’t see as well as those who’ve received a replacement lens.

Animals with the whole lens removed will also end up being far-sighted, which means objects close to them will be blurry. These patients will adjust over time and usually wind up with good functional vision.

Diabetic cats rarely get cataracts, but the opposite is true of diabetic dogs. Most will not only develop cataracts, but will typically go blind between 6 and 12 months after the onset of diabetes. If the diabetes is well-controlled and so is the inflammation associated with the cataract, these dogs are also good candidates for cataract surgery.

Most pets have nearly normal vision after cataract surgery. Not perfect vision, but often darn close.

Unfortunately, dogs tend to have more inflammation after surgery than people do, which can cause some scarring. This scarring can slightly diminish vision. All in all, veterinary cataract surgery has become quite common. Although it’s an expensive procedure, it is now considered routine.

Fortunately, the majority of dogs and cats with cataracts don’t necessarily need the surgery. The presence of a cataract doesn’t automatically mean that your pet must undergo surgery.

Is It Cataracts … or Something Else?

Nuclear sclerosis is a more common eye problem in older pets than cataracts. And it’s easy for pet parents to confuse the two.

Nuclear sclerosis causes the lens fibers to harden and condense over time, causing the eye to take on a bluish or grayish appearance.

Unlike cataracts, this condition doesn’t seriously affect vision and no treatment is necessary. Your dog may act like he needs reading glasses.

In my house, Rosco, who is turning 12, will occasionally miss the treats we throw to him. And sometimes when one lands on the ground, he’ll sniff off to the side of it and then identify it and snap it up.

He has the beginnings of nuclear sclerosis, and I’m not concerned about it. It’s an age-related change.

If you see your pet’s eyes taking on a different color, it’s very important that your vet makes sure it’s nuclear sclerosis and not another more serious eye condition.

The most important thing you can do for a pet with nuclear sclerosis is slow down age-related changes as much as possible.

Preventing Degenerative Eye Disorders in Your Pet

You can also do things to help reduce or prevent cataracts, one of the most important of which is to keep your pet at a normal weight so she doesn’t develop diabetes.

Cataracts are inevitable in diabetic dogs. They are fast-acting and will render your dog blind within a short period of time. Surgery is your only option to restore vision to your pet, and the success of surgery is often dependent on how well you’re able to manage the diabetes.

So it’s simpler, and certainly much kinder and less expensive to keep your dog in good physical shape and at a healthy weight. Diabetes and cataracts are just two of a long list of diseases overweight pets are at risk for.

Also remember not to allow your pet to be over-vaccinated or given other unnecessary medications. Keep all chemicals going into and onto your pet’s body to a bare minimum. As I mentioned earlier, we know some cataracts develop as a result of drug-related systemic toxicosis.

It is also important to provide your pet a diet rich in antioxidants. Those of you who have watched my videos know I’m a big believer that the best source of antioxidants is real food. That means serving your pet a living, raw food diet.

Antioxidants scavenge free radicals and can slow down degenerative changes in your pet’s eyes, including nuclear sclerosis and cataracts. Specifically, vitamins C and E are antioxidants that are thought to slow down the development and progression of cataracts.

Another excellent supplement you can add to your pet’s food in pill or raw food form is bilberries. Bilberries are rich sources of flavonoids and have antioxidant properties. Taken with vitamin E, they are known to be protective to the eye tissue in humans, and have proven to halt lens clouding in nearly all people with early stage cataracts, which is very promising.

You can also talk with your holistic vet about supplementing your dog’s diet with beta-carotene or astaxanthin.

Dogs and cats can also benefit from supplemental glutathione and alpha-lipoic acid, which are also antioxidants and have been shown to dramatically reduce the risk of developing cataracts and nuclear sclerosis.

There are also nutraceutical eye drops and Chinese herbs that have shown good success in reducing how quickly lens degeneration occurs. Those products can be prescribed by your holistic vet based on your pet’s specific eye changes.

Most importantly, if you see changes occurring in your pet’s eyes, have your dog or cat evaluated by your veterinarian to make sure you’re doing all you can to prevent further degeneration, and to slow or even stop the progression of an existing condition like cataracts or nuclear sclerosis.

Cold Weather Pet Safety Tips

This article from the ASPCA gives great information on keep your pet safe during the cold winter months.

Brrrr—it’s cold outside!  The following guidelines will help you protect your companion animals when the mercury dips.

  1. Keep your cat inside. Outdoors, felines can freeze, become lost or be stolen, injured or killed. Cats who are allowed to stray are exposed to infectious diseases, including rabies, from other cats, dogs and wildlife.
  2. During the winter, outdoor cats sometimes sleep under the hoods of cars. When the motor is started, the cat can be injured or killed by the fan belt. If there are outdoor cats in your area, bang loudly on the car hood before starting the engine to give the cat a chance to escape.
  3. Never let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm, dogs can easily become lost. Make sure your dog always wears ID tags.
  4. Thoroughly wipe off your dog’s legs and stomach when he comes in out of the sleet, snow or ice. He can ingest salt, antifreeze or other potentially dangerous chemicals while licking his paws, and his paw pads may also bleed from snow or encrusted ice.
  5. Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth. When you bathe your dog in the colder months, be sure to completely dry him before taking him out for a walk. Own a short-haired breed? Consider getting him a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly. For many dogs, this is regulation winter wear.
  6. Never leave your dog or cat alone in a car during cold weather. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death.
  7. Puppies do not tolerate the cold as well as adult dogs, and may be difficult to housebreak during the winter. If your puppy appears to be sensitive to the weather, you may opt to paper-train him inside. If your dog is sensitive to the cold due to age, illness or breed type, take him outdoors only to relieve himself.
  8. Does your dog spend a lot of time engaged in outdoor activities? Increase his supply of food, particularly protein, to keep him, and his fur, in tip-top shape.
  9. Like coolant, antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle, and consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol. Visit the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center more information.
  10. Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts. A cozy dog or cat bed with a warm blanket or pillow is perfect.

Winterize Your Cat!

Time to winterize your cat! Yes that’s cat, not car.

Cats are way more self-sufficient than your Toyota or Taurus. This article from Pet 360 gives excellent tips for your cat to make it through the colder months easily.

They instinctively respond to seasonal change, even without reminders to turn the clocks back, signaling the end of Daylight Saving Time. They know the shadows are different, and the brilliant blue sky stays overhead a shorter time before dissolving into smoky gray. No need for retail sales on boots and winter coats: even as the leaves tumble by, cats’ coats are thickening in anticipation of chilly days ahead.

And cats meticulously keep those coats in shape: just as they cool themselves by washing and slicking down their fur in summer, felines regulate their body temps in winter by fluffing up their coats with daily grooming. The unseen tiny barbs on their tongues—that’s why it feels so rough when they wash YOU—pull out the old fur while keeping the new growth lofty for maximum warmth.

Hairball Alert

All that extra grooming means a hairball alert—yucky for your home, not good for Tiger. To reduce the amount of fur your cat takes in, help him groom with a daily brushing. Some excellent grooming tools make a quick job of it, some even adding a massaging feel for your feline. If your cat resists, keep it casual, just a few swipes that gradually become a few more, reminding him that you’re helping so he can finish faster and get back to doing more interesting things like napping on your handmade quilt.  Offering a touch of hairball ointment on your fingertip a few times a week will also help keep things ‘moving on through,’ as the cat passes the fur he ingests.

Weight Watcher

During the winter, your cat may also slow down, and you may figure he doesn’t need to eat as much (like humans, animals can put on pounds in winter if they’re less active)! Before cutting serving size, chat with your vet. A growing kitten needs fuel to grow, but adult cats may benefit from cutting a few calories when the snow falls.  And your cat may be invigorated by the brisker air. Chateau Cat’s own consult-cats Starli and Shamrock celebrated fall’s arrival with a new routine of galloping furiously around through the rooms, up over furniture, under tables, at a pace that would challenge a racehorse. They take a timeout at a window, watching squirrels scurrying, or geese flying by, before another marathon round that preps them for a much-deserved nap.

Fireplace Safety

Got a fireplace? Your cat’s safety is a primary concern. Fireplace screens or doors are crucial, and when there’s no fire, keep the flue closed so an inquisitive tabby doesn’t decide to explore this strange enclosed space.

During autumn and winter, a cat will always find the warmest spot in any room, whether a stray sunbeam or the direct path of a radiator, so follow his lead and  you’ll both weather the frosty months in cozy fashion, filled with daydreams of spring!

Hot Spots: Explained.

This article from Pet 360 explains the seemingly neverending problem that many dogs have: Hot spots. 

Hot spots are one of those less then desirable skin irritations seen in pets. Often, you’ll here your vet refer to them as moist eczema, but you … well, you can call them hot spots. They occur when your dog itches, scratches or licks him or herself excessively, eventually forming a wet scab on the fur. But what do you with a hot spot?

Hot spots (also known as summer sores or moist eczema) can seemingly appear spontaneously anywhere on a dog’s body; the surrounding area can rapidly deteriorate too. This moist, raw skin disorder has a variety of causes but the most consistent factor is bacteria.

Anything that irritates or breaks the skin can create the environment for bacterial contamination if the surface of the skin has but only a little a bit of moisture on it. Such incidences of moisture can be such seemingly innocuous things such as as a recent bath, swim, stroll in the rain, or playtime in wet craze. Even a slightly oozing sore can provide enough moisture and/or nutrient for a bacterial infection to take hold.

Although there are various types of “hot spot”-causing bacteria, most respond to oral and topical antibiotics. For some reason, cats rarely acquire hot spots.

How To Treat a Hot Spot

  • Trim the area around the hot spot with animal clippers. If the area is too big, shave it. Exposing it to air will dry out the moisture and help speed healing.
  • Clean the area with a mild water-based astringent or antiseptic spray, or specialized shampoo, and pat dry.
  • Apply hydrocortisone spray or hydrocortisone cream (with a veterinarian’s prescription) to stop the itching and help promote healing.
  • Prevent your dog from biting, licking or scratching the hot spot affected area. Placing an Elizabethan collar (plastic cone) around your dog’s neck, for example, can be an excellent tool to keep him/her from biting and licking at it.
  • Keep an eye on the area to make sure it continues to heal and doesn’t worsen or spread. Hot spots often require a visit to the vet, who will likely prescribe topical medication usually in the form of a Gentamicin/Betamethasone spray, and possibly oral antibiotics. The vet may also give your dog a cortisone injection to jump start the healing process.

A Typical Hot Spot… and How To Treat It

Hot spots often spread under the cover of the fur so that by the time you notice them they are well established and spreading. The fur is shaved over the moist eczema to facilitate application of medication as well as to allow drying.

The area surrounding the hot spot lesion should be shaved. That tiny black spot at the top of the hot spot is an area where the skin has actually died and may be where a tick was attached. Why one tick will trigger moist eczema and others won’t is still a mystery. If every tick bite caused this much reaction, the magnitude of skin problems in dogs would be staggering!

Daily cleaning of the hot spot, even every two hours for the first day or two, will speed up the healing. Also, any topical anti-bacterial ointment will arrest the growth of the bacteria. These skin lesions can take a week to finally dry and look like they are going to heal. Once they are no longer oozing, simply keeping the hot spot area clean will be all that’s needed. The fur begins to grow back (sometimes a different color!) within two weeks.

Hot Spots, Moist Eczema, and Summer Sores

Here are a few more things you might not have known about hot spots, moist eczema and summer sores. They really do seem much more prevalent in the summer months. They can cause severe itching and self-trauma because the infection goes into the deep layers of the skin. This is why hot spots may take two weeks to finally look like they are going to heal. On occasion if a dog has extensive and deep areas of moist eczema, oral antibiotics and antihistamines may need to be prescribed and large areas of skin will be shaved.

Keep your dog well groomed, especially in hot seasons. Any dog that has matted, dirty hair coat is at greater risk of developing hot spots. Many owners will have their long or thick-furred dog shaved closely in the summer. You can do this yourself — carefully, of course — by using animal clippers, especially around the ears and where there is thick fur that doesn’t dry quickly. This really does help prevent the thick coat from covering any dampness on the surface of the skin. If the fur is allowed to accumulate too much moisture, the wet skin underneath can become the perfect breeding ground for bacterial growth and hot spots.

And though they mostly occur in the summertime, hot spots can develop at any time. If your dog develop a skin lesion, call your veterinarian immediately. Do not delay! You may run the risk that your dog’s condition deteriorates quickly.

Treatment consisted of topical peroxide every two hours and systemic antibiotics to combat the deep skin infection, as well as a single, short acting corticosteroid to stop the inflammatory reaction. Oral antibiotics and topical medication are typically continued for at least a week; two weeks of the hot spot treatment is even better for the dog.

Many types of dermatological problems are avoided if your dog is on a well-balanced diet. In some cases, adding dietary supplements such omega fatty acids can help avoid repeated issues of hot spots and other skin afflictions. If your dog (or cat) seems to lack a healthy coat and/or skin, consider upgrading the diet to a meat-based ingredient formula. The first ingredient listed in on the pet food label should be a meat such as chicken, lamb, poultry, beef or fish; if it is corn…pass it up!

Start the New Year Right with Resolutions for Your Pet

While you’re busy making resolutions for yourself on New Year’s Eve, remember to keep your four legged pal in mind, too! 

  • Pets Need a Healthy Diet, too: Measure your pet’s food every time you feed them to make sure they have the right amount of calories and nutrients. Not sure how much is enough? Check with your veterinarian.
  • Puppies Don’t Eat the Same Food as Senior Dogs: Choosing a diet for your pet’s life stage is a great way to keep them in great health. Puppy food is specially formulated for growing pups. The same goes for kittens!
  • Get Outside: Pets are social animals, and they need exercise! Think up some new outdoor activities you can both enjoy, or a new dog park to try. This will benefit you both!
  • New Toys, More Playtime: All pets love playtime, try out some new toys from the Barkery that will get their paws and minds going.
  • Keep the Vet on Your Mind: Yearly veterinarian examinations are necessary to make sure your pet is in the best shape. Don’t toss those reminder cards out!
  • Get Grooming: Brushing your pet removes excess fur from the coat and helps distribute oils from the skin to the fur, keeping the coat shiny and healthy. And of course, the Barkery has you covered when it comes to the best grooming in town!
  • Pick up that Toothbrush: Your pet’s oral hygiene is very important as it can point to more serious diseases. This is another service your pet can benefit from at our store.
  • New Trick, Better Mind: Teaching your dog new tricks keeps their mind active and healthy. It also makes for great party entertainment!
  • Update Your Pet’s ID: Update your pet’s microchip or pet health record since a lot can change in a year.
  • Foster a Pet: Many animal shelters and rescues need loving homes to provide safe and temporary living arrangements for pets. It’s the perfect way to test the waters of pet ownership without the lifelong commitment, and maybe, your home will become theirs.

Whatever your New Year’s Resolutions might be this year, we wish you and your pet a new year full of joy, happiness and lots of playtime. We look forward to seeing you soon at the Barkery!

Buy American this Holiday at the Barkery

Have you heard of the Made in America Movement?

The Barkery is proud to carry several American-made items for your pets – and help to continue the growth of American jobs. By making sure there are at least a few American-made items on your holiday gift list, you’ll put a smile on the face of your and your friends pets, and somewhere out there, you’ll also contribute to the smiles on the faces of a few hard-working Americans who made that gift for you.

Check out these American-made dog treats you can find in our shop now (or order online!):

Bocce Bakery – New York, NY

Peetwoods Pet Biscuit Co. – Shawnee Mission, KS

Tucker’s Treats – Wisconsin & Illinois 

Be sure to ask about our other American-made items when you’re in – and find the perfect gift for every pup on your list!

Poisonous Pet Holiday Items

The holidays are stressful enough without having to worry about a potentially poisoned pet. Below is a list of holiday-related decorations, plants and food items that the veterinarians at Pet Poison Helpline recommend keeping away from pets.

Holiday Ornaments:

When decorating for the season, consider your pets. Holiday decorations such as snow globes or bubble lights may contain poisonous chemicals. If your pet chews on them the liquid inside could be could be dangerous to their health. Methylene chloride, the chemical in bubble lights, can result in depression, aspiration pneumonia and irritation to the eyes, skin and gastrointestinal tract.

Tinsel:

If you own a cat, forgo the tinsel. What looks like a shiny toy to your cat can prove deadly if ingested. Tinsel does not pose a poisoning risk but can cause severe damage to a cat’s intestinal tract if swallowed. Ultimately, cats run the risk of severe injury to, or rupture of their intestines and treatment involves expensive abdominal surgery.

Plants:

Though they have a bad rap, poinsettia plants are only mildly toxic. Far more worrisome are holiday bouquets containing lilies, holly or mistletoe.“Lilies, including tiger, Asiatic, stargazer, Easter and day lilies, are the most dangerous plants for cats,” said Dr. Ahna Brutlag, assistant director of Pet Poison Helpline. “The ingestion of one to two leaves or flower petals is enough to cause sudden kidney failure in cats.” Other yuletide pants such as holly berries and mistletoe can also be toxic to pets and can cause gastrointestinal upset and even heart arrhythmias if ingested.

Alcohol:

Because alcohol is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream, it affects pets quickly. Ingestion of alcohol can cause dangerous drops in blood sugar, blood pressure and body temperature. Intoxicated animals can experience seizures and respiratory failure. Additionally, foods such as desserts containing alcohol and unbaked dough that contains yeast should be kept away from pets as they may result in alcohol toxicity, vomiting, disorientation and stomach bloat.

Holiday Foods:

With the holiday season comes a delightful variety of baked goods, chocolate confections and other rich, fattening foods. However, it is not wise (and in some cases is quite dangerous) to share these treats with your pets. Keep your pet on his or her regular diet over the holidays and do not let family and friends sneak in treats. Foods that can present problems:

  • Foods containing grapes, raisins and currants (such as fruitcakes) can result in kidney failure in dogs.
  • Chocolate and cocoa contain theobromine, a chemical highly toxic to dogs and cats. Ingestion in small amounts can cause vomiting and diarrhea but large amounts can cause seizures and heart arrhythmias.
  • Many sugarless gums and candies contain xylitol, a sweetener which is toxic to dogs. It causes a life-threatening drop in blood sugar and liver failure.
  • Leftover, fatty meat scraps can produce severe inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis) leading to abdominal pain, vomiting and bloody diarrhea.

Imported Snow Globes:

Recently, imported snow globes were found to contain antifreeze (ethylene glycol.) As little as one teaspoon of antifreeze when ingested by a cat or a tablespoon or two for a dog (depending on their size), can be fatal. Signs of early poisoning include acting drunk or uncoordinated, excessive thirst, and lethargy. While signs may seem to improve after eight to twelve hours, internal damage is actually worsening, and crystals develop in the kidneys resulting in acute kidney failure. Immediate treatment with an antidote is vital.

Liquid Potpourri:

Filling your house with the smell of nutmeg or pine for the holidays may seem inviting—but if you’re partial to heating your scented oils in a simmer pot, know that they can cause serious harm to your cat; even a few licks can result in severe chemical burns in the mouth, fever, difficulty breathing, and tremors. Dogs aren’t as sensitive, but it’s still better to be safe than sorry—so scent your home with a non-toxic candle kept safely out of kitty’s reach.

When it comes to the holidays, the best thing a pet owner can do is get educated on common household toxins and pet-proof your home accordingly. If you think your pet has been poisoned, contact your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline at 1-800-213-6680 with any questions or concerns.

 

Feed me! But not too much! Five things to do to determine how much to feed your dog.

From The Whole Dog Journal.

  1. Use the “recommended feeding amounts” on the label of your dog’s food as a starting point, not a fixed rule.

Calorie calculations and recommended amounts to feed are always an estimate, as the caloric needs of individual dogs can vary significantly based on activity level, metabolism, and other factors. The only way to know for sure how much food or how many calories your dog needs is to carefully monitor and keep track of the amount you feed her, watch her weight closely, and adjust the amount you feed as needed to keep her at, or help her reach, her ideal weight.

 

  1. Use a measuring cup or scale.

If you measure the amount of food you feed in cups, be sure to use a measuring cup, not just any cup, which might hold more or less than the regulation 8 fluid ounces. Better yet, get a small kitchen or postal scale and measure the food by weight, which is more accurate. This is especially useful for those of us feeding small dogs; even a few kibbles’ difference – which you can’t really appreciate when they are in even a measuring cup – can make a big difference in the weight of a small dog.

 

  1. Do a little math (it won’t kill you, we promise).

If you feed a homemade diet and calculate the amount to feed as a percentage of your dog’s body weight, remember that small dogs eat a larger percentage of their weight than larger dogs do. The amount of fat in the diet will significantly affect the number of calories provided; it’s best to feed only lean meats (no more than 10 percent fat) to most pet (non-athlete) dogs. Dogs fed grains and other starchy carbs will usually eat more food by weight than those fed primarily meat and animal products (which are higher in fat).

 

  1. Add up the extras (and consider eliminating most of them).

If your dog is any fatter than lean, he’s getting too many calories. Those of us who feed dry dog food (a nutritionally very dense food) may object when our veterinarian says, “Feed him less!” – especially when it seems we are feeding him practically nothing at all. But don’t forget to take into account the calories your dog gets from treats, chews, leftovers, and supplements (particularly oils, which provide 40 calories per teaspoon).

 

Many treats do not show calories on the label, so if you’re concerned, contact the company to find out. Some examples: Greenies have 25 to a whopping 272 calories each (depending on size), while Milk Bone dog biscuits range from 10 to 225 calories. Bully sticks may have about 29 calories per inch, while rawhide may have 80 calories per ounce!

 

If you find you have to feed much less than the amount of food recommended on the label to keep your dog at her proper weight, the odds are she’s getting significant calories from these other sources, which may be limiting the nutrients that she needs. (If that’s not the case, consider asking your vet whether it might be worth testing your dog for hypothyroidism.)

 

  1. Add real food if you want – but the right foods.

When adding “human” foods to a commercial diet, you can generally give as many non-starchy vegetables as you want, including carrots, broccoli, zucchini and other summer squashes, green beans, and all kinds of leafy greens. These foods are low in calories but provide valuable antioxidants and phytonutrients, and may help your dog feel fuller. Remember that vegetables must be either cooked or pureed in order to be digestible by dogs, but there’s no harm in giving whole, raw veggies as a treat, such as carrot sticks, green beans, or zucchini slices.

 

Other good choices for added foods without a lot of added calories include skinless chicken breast, low-fat or nonfat yogurt and cottage cheese, and sardines packed in water, not oil. Canned pumpkin and sweet potato in small amounts can be good for digestive health.

 

Remember, studies have shown that thin dogs live significantly longer, and their health and mobility stays good later in life. If you really love your dog, keep her lean!

20% Off Weruva cans continues through December 14th!

Stock up and save 20% off on Weruva now!

From Weruva: “Our formulas are produced in a human food facility using many of the ingredients and processes that are used in products made for people. Our base proteins of chicken, beef and fish include only top quality muscle meat, such as white breast chicken, whole tuna loins and select cuts of beef. Then we add fresh vegetables and other unique items such as grilled skipjack, tilapia and red bigeye tuna, as well as calamari and shirasu. Our ingredients maintain a natural look and recognizable texture which allows the pet owner to see and understand the ingredients…so what you see is what you get!”

Click here to check out Weruva products in our online store!