Posts

Transitioning Your Cat to Raw

Cats are obligate carnivores. This is a statement you may have heard once or twice at the Barkery. This means their diets should consist of almost entirely meat. In nature, cats don’t eat grains or carbs of any kind. Many grain-free foods are substituted with starches, which are just as bad but allow pet food companies to market as “grain-free.”

Our furry feline friends evolved from big desert cats which adjusted to staying hydrated from fresh meat of their prey rather than drinking water. Raw food is the best diet you can feed your cat, but many cat owners struggle to make the transition from dry food to raw.

Cats who have eaten nothing but dry foods are often a challenge to switch to fresh food. They are very opinionated and imprint on food at an early age. Cats who already eat other foods (real meat, fruits, vegetables, & cheese) will be much less of a project. It might take days, or even months, but it’s worth the effort! The most important thing to remember with cats is that you CANNOT use the tough love approach. Cats will starve themselves, and some severe conditions can occur if cats don’t eat for an extended period.

This article from Steve’s Real Food will explain best practices for transitioning your cat to raw.

The “Slow and Successful Method”

If you are feeding only dry kibble, introduce canned and reduce the dry. Have specific meal times rather than leaving the food out for them to eat whenever they want. If they are hungry, they are more willing to try something new.

Take some raw food and mix in the regular canned food you know your cat will eat. Test it on your kitty and increase the canned food until they are willing to eat it. Every time you feed, do this, and you will find you can gradually add more raw – though it may take several months. In the meantime offer bits of other kinds of fresh foods they like to eat – bacon, goat milk, salmon, etc. This slow method has proven to be the most successful for cats. However, if you have a cat that needs a little more work, consider the following tricks (in no particular order):

  • Expect it to take awhile. Fully transitioning a cat can take anywhere from a week to a year.
  • Stop leaving the kibble out to eat whenever they want. Have mealtimes, so they can start getting hungry enough to be willing to branch out.
  • Leave raw (or canned as a transition step) out for them all the time to try, but only offer kibble during their specified meal times. If they want a snack, they have to try the raw or canned.
  • Don’t just take away their kibble and play hardball, thinking that once they get hungry enough they will eat. Cats can starve themselves or go into shock that can turn fatal before they dare try something new, so this is not a good idea.
  • Have one meal available as kibble and one as raw, to see if they will be hungry enough without it getting dangerous.
  • Try different proteins to see if they like chicken over beef, etc.
  • Take freeze-dried raw food and hide it around the house, or put it in places the cat is not usually allowed. Cats like to feel that they have pulled one over on you, and they like to hunt.
  • Place the food in their usual feeding spot, or some other place they consider safe or theirs, like their bed or by their cat toys.
  • Take a stopper and (kindly) force a bit of raw meat into their mouth. Sometimes cats will try it once you have jolted their taste buds.
  • Tie a freeze-dried nugget to a cat toy and make them play with it. That gets them to put their mouth to it.
  • Mix in a tiny crumbly bit of freeze-dried product in with their regular kibble – not enough that they’ll notice, but enough that they can’t work around it. Once they have started eating it as a nuisance, slowly increase and make sure they are still eating their food.
  • Warm the food in a container with warm water. Cats like food to be at a warmer temperature, and it releases the smell.
  • Use a flat food dish, or a bowl that takes the span of whiskers into account. Cats don’t like their whiskers touching the side of their bowl.
  • Mix in raw freeze-dried with some goat milk and wet food, as little as the cat needs to still be interested in eating. Slowly decrease the amount of wet food. Often you can have a larger percentage of raw or freeze-dried if you place a small spoonful of unmixed wet food on the edge of the food, the cat will eat what they like and then just keep going in to the mixed food.
  • Offer other types of fresh food and meats to help them recognize they don’t have to eat just kibble. Let them eat other foods off of your plate such as salmon, bacon, chicken, or creamy milk products – you could even try putting a nugget of raw on your plate to trick them into thinking they have pulled one over on you by stealing it.
  • Re-hydrate the freeze-dried with something tasty like tuna juice, or beef or chicken broth.
  • Put some raw food onto their paws. They hate having dirty paws, and will try to lick them clean, and you have successfully gotten them to taste a little and realize it’s yummy!

You will begin to see improvements right away as your cat begins to receive digestive enzymes and a species appropriate diet. Be patient, your efforts will pay off as you extend the life and vitality of your feline companions!

Whisker Stress – Does Your Kitty Have It?

Does your cat pull her food out of her bowl before she eats it, leaving a mess for you to clean up? Or does she eat only a few mouthfuls from the top of her dish and then beg for more, completely ignoring what’s left? You might think she’s a picky eater, but there’s probably a valid reason why she’s doing this, and it’s not just to make your life difficult. She may have what’s called whisker stress.

What is whisker stress?

Whisker stress, also known as whisker fatigue, is caused when a cat’s whiskers are forced to come in contact with the edges of their food bowl or dish. To really understand this issue, you must first understand your cat’s whiskers.

Whiskers provide cats (and all other mammals) with information about the objects they come into contact with. Many cats’ whiskers are so finely tuned that they can even pick up air movement. They help enhance the cat’s senses, particularly short distance vision. Although whiskers look like a type of hair, they’re actually rich in blood vessels and nerve endings, so they’re extraordinarily sensitive. They help cats navigate their surroundings.

A cat typically has between eight and twelve whiskers on each side of her face, as well as shorter whiskers on her chin, above her eyes, and even on her legs.
Each whisker is essentially set up to transmit information about pressure being applied along its length to its base, which contains the follicle and receptors. The tip of each whisker has proprioceptors, sensory organs that are incredibly sensitive to even the slightest pressure. Cats can use their whiskers to determine how far away an object is, where it’s located, and even its texture.

So what does this have to do with your cat’s eating habits?

Because the proprioceptors in her whiskers are so incredibly sensitive, it can actually be painful for her to eat or drink out of a bowl that’s too narrow to accommodate her whiskers without having them touch the sides. Here are some signs that your cat might be experiencing whisker stress:

  • Using paws to scoop food out of their bowls
  • Eating off only the top of the bowl
  • Leaving food in the bowl, but still hungry
  • Meowing at the bowl, standing or pacing nearby although there is food in it
  • Leaving a mess behind on the floor

In all of these examples, the cat is trying to avoid having to cram her sensitive whiskers into the bowl, something that’s very uncomfortable for her.

What can you do to solve the problem?

Luckily, the fix is relatively simple. Just start feeding and watering your cat from bowls that take the span of her whiskers into account. The bowls should be both wide enough and shallow enough that her whiskers don’t touch the sides, even if she puts her whole head in to get food on the very bottom.

An option we offer at the Barkery is Dr. Catsby’s Bowl for Whisker Relief. The Dr. Catsby bowl provides a wide, shallow eating surface that allows food to fall to the center of the bowl, but still provides enough of an edge to prevent food from being pushed out of the bowl.

The high-quality stainless steel bowl is dishwasher safe and includes a cutaway for easy lifting. It can be easily cleaned and won’t harbor acne-causing bacteria like plastic can. The Dr. Catsby bowl is our store cat’s favorite! If you’re experiencing eating issues with your kitty, give this bowl a try.

Why Does Your Dog Scoot?

Most dog parents are at least mildly horrified when their furry family member scoots across the carpet, an expensive area rug or some other fabric-covered surface.

“Scooting,” as it is lovingly called, signals an itchy or irritated backside. Rarely, the behavior is caused by tapeworms, in which case there are usually other symptoms such as weight loss, poor coat or skin condition, a painful abdomen or diarrhea. Scooting can also signal other problems like a perianal tumor, or irritation caused by diarrhea or a perineal yeast infection, but most often the reason is an anal gland problem.

Your dog is dragging or scooting his bottom across the ground to try and relieve itching or irritation caused by an inflamed, infected or impacted anal gland. In this recent Healthy Pets article, Dr. Becker explains everything you’ve ever wanted to know about your dog’s anal glands, but were afraid to ask.

What Exactly Are Anal Glands?

Your dog’s anal glands or sacs are small and oval shaped, and sit just inside of the rectum on either side of the anus at around the 8:00 and 4:00 o’clock positions. They secrete a remarkably stinky, oily substance. This fluid may function as a territorial marker in the world of canine communication, allowing your dog to leave a personal biochemical mark for other dogs to investigate.

When your dog poops, if the stool is normal consistency, this potent fluid is expelled out of the glands through tiny ducts and onto the feces.

This is an efficient design of nature, but unfortunately, today’s dogs often have loose stools are irregular bowel movements that don’t press against the anal glands during evacuation.

Other contributors to anal glad problems can include obesity where there is insufficient muscle tone and excess fatty tissue, certain skin disorders, and infections. Dr. Becker describes three main causes of anal gland problems: diet, trauma to the glands or the position of the glands.

Problem #1: Your Dog’s Diet

The grains in commercial pet food are allergenic and inflammatory, and the first thing you should do to reduce recurrent anal gland issues is eliminate all grains from the diet. It’s a good idea to eliminate anything containing corn, potato, oatmeal, wheat, rice or soy.

Dr. Becker also recommends switching to a novel protein for your dog. For example, if your dog has been eating only beef and chicken, make a transition to bison or rabbit. A constant diet of 1-2 proteins can trigger a food sensitivity, meaning an allergic inflammatory response. Unaddressed food intolerances are a common cause of chronic anal sac issues.

If your dog’s poop is frequently unformed, soft, or watery, her anal glands aren’t getting the firm pressure they need to empty. Feeding a balanced, species-appropriate diet will address this issue, as well as adding probiotics, fiber, and digestive enzymes by creating consistently firm stools.

Problem #2: Trauma to Your Dog’s Anal Glands

Many injuries to dog’s anal glands are caused by well-meaning but misguided groomers, veterinarians, and pet owners. Although not a routine service at the Barkery, many groomers are in the habit of expressing the anal glands of every dog they groom as part of “included services,” along with cleaning ears and trimming nails.

However, routine expression of healthy anal glands is pointless, unpleasant and potentially harmful. So if you take your pet to a groomer, make sure to mention that no anal gland expression is necessary. Over time, regular expression of these little sacs can interfere with their ability to function on their own.

Many veterinarians immediately express the anal glands if the owner mentions their dog scoots now and then. This approach doesn’t identify or address the cause of the problem, only the symptom. It’s important to identify the root of the cause, rather than repetitively treating the symptom by manually expressing the glands.

The anal sacs are delicate little organs that can easily be injured through squeezing and pinching, and trauma causes tissue damage and inflammation, leading to swelling. Swollen glands can obstruct the exit duct through which the fluid is expressed. If blocked secretions build up and thicken in the glands, it can lead to impaction and anal gland infection.

Problem #3: Poorly Positioned Glands

Certain dogs have anal sacs that are located very deep inside their rectums. As stool collects in the colon, the pressure should cause the glands to empty. But if a dog’s anal glands aren’t adjacent to where the greatest amount of pressure builds in her large intestine, they won’t express properly.

This is a situation that may require surgery to correct because the location of the glands is genetically dictated.

Impactions, Infections, Abscesses and Tumors

When a dog’s anal sacs malfunction, it is most commonly a problem of impaction. This occurs when the oily substance builds up in the glands and thickens, and isn’t expressed, resulting in enlargement and irritation of the glands. Gland infections are usually bacterial in nature and cause irritation and inflammation. As the infection progresses, pus accumulates within the anal gland.

An anal gland abscess is the result of an unaddressed anal gland infection. The abscess will continue to grow in size until it eventually ruptures. For these extreme cases, Dr. Becker recommends infusing the anal glands with ozonated olive oil or silver sulfadiazine (diluted with colloidal silver).

Anal gland tumors, classified as adenocarcinomas, are usually malignant. Occasionally anal gland tumors cause elevations in blood calcium levels, which can result in significant organ damage, including kidney damage.

Getting to the Root of the Scooting

If your pet is having anal gland issues, your vet should work to determine the cause of the problem rather than just treating it symptomatically by manually expressing the glands.

It’s important to try to re-establish the tone and health of malfunctioning glands using a combination of dietary adjustments, homeopathic remedies and natural GI anti-inflammatories. Sometimes manually infusing the glands with natural lubricants or herbal preparations can help return them to normal function.

The goal should be to resolve the underlying cause and return your pet’s anal glands to self-sufficiency. If your pet doesn’t have anal gland issues already, we recommend telling your vet to leave the glands completely alone to avoid future problems down the road.

The Benefits of Coconut Oil

People everywhere are discovering the wonders that coconut oil can create. From hair and skincare to digestive and immune health, coconut oil’s popularity is continuing to grow. You may be wondering – if coconut oil is good for me, is it just as good for my pet? Holistic Veterinarian Dr. Karen Becker explains the benefits coconut oil can have for your animal.

The Benefits of Coconut Oil for Dogs

Coconut oil is a concentrated source of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which may have positive effects on your pet’s cognitive function. This oil is also a rich source of lauric acid, which is a powerful antimicrobial agent. Coconut oil has antifungal and antibacterial properties as well.

Dogster provides a list of reasons why coconut oil benefits your dogs, which include:

  1. Coconut oil improves overall skin health, and clears up skin conditions such as eczema, flea allergies, contact dermatitis, and itchy skin.
  2. Coconut oil helps moisturize the driest skin and makes a dog’s coat gleam with health, whether you add it to her diet, shampoo, or both!
  3. Applied topically to the skin, coconut oil promotes the healing of cuts, wounds, hot spots, bites, and stings.
  4. The antibacterial and antifungal properties of coconut oil help reduce doggy odor and doggy breath.
  5. It helps prevent yeast infections, particularly candida.
  6. Dogs suffering from kennel cough may recover faster with coconut oil.
  7. It improves nutrient absorption and digestion (but may case loose stools, so moderation is crucial).
  8. It can help reduce your dog’s risk of diabetes by regulating your pet’s insulin levels. It may also moderate thyroid function and keep infections and heart disease at bay.
  9. Coconut oil promotes motility in arthritic dogs and those with joint issues.
  10. It can benefit brain health and may be helpful for senior dogs whose minds are starting to become “cloudy.”

Dr. Karen Becker recommends feeding one-quarter teaspoon for of 100% organic, cold-pressed, human-grade coconut oil for every 10 pounds of body weight twice daily for dogs (and cats). This can be added at meal time. It can also be applied topically for animals with flaky and itchy skin.

Raw Diets for Dogs: Are They Better?

The idea of feeding raw food to your pet tends to divide us into two groups – either it makes sense to you to feed a biologically appropriate diet, or it may strike you as completely unsanitary and borderline barbaric.

Regardless of your point of view, raw is the fastest growing sector of the pet food market. If you were to feed a raw diet to your pet, the first change observed would be improved stools. This is due to its superior digestibility. Raw food is also extremely palatable and pets tend to like it. In addition, feeding raw has the following benefits:

  • No preservatives
  • No wheat, gluten, or fillers
  • Clean teeth
  • Fresh breath
  • Shiny and healthy coats
  • Less shedding
  • Fewer allergy symptoms
  • Firm, hard stools
  • 70% less poop

These are only a few of the benefits feeding raw can give you. Pet owners have been taught for many years that kibble is an acceptable diet for dogs, but processing kibble takes away many nutrients your dog actually needs.

The vast majority of pet food is cooked, primarily by the method of extrusion. This process produces a kibble and depends on a food containing 25 to 45 percent starch. Though digestible, this starch is of low nutritional utility for a carnivore. This Dogs Naturally article answers a few questions pet owners may have about the nutritional differences between kibble and raw.

Processing Away the Nutrients

Aside from excess carbohydrate (starch), there is the matter of what happens to an ingredient once it’s been cooked. Heat addition of any kind initiates the process of protein denaturation. It alters the nutrients and not necessarily for the better. Extreme heat destroys harmful bacteria, but today it is possible to assemble ingredients with a very low risk of pathogenic bacterial contamination.

The advantage of raw food is more than avoiding the diminished digestibility due to cooking. There are subtle but critical additional benefits. Natural enzymes and numerous beneficial bacteria are found in raw pet foods, undamaged by any heat application.

The Freeze-Dried Raw Option

A valid subheading of raw food is freeze-dried raw food. The freeze drying process removes moisture from the food without the damage of heat application. This process is widely appreciated as the most effective method of food preservation, because it allows a longer shelf life and least nutrient damage.

If you’re thinking about feeding raw, consider these advantages:

  1. Nutrient digestibility is superior to products that have been heated by extrusion (kibble) or boiling (canned).
  2. Natural enzyme activity is preserved, and vitamins remain undamaged.
  3. Friendly bacteria are allowed to thrive.

Understandably, raw food may not be an affordable option for a pet owner with more than one large dog. And compared to frozen, kibble is convenient and economical on a day to day basis. However, dry kibble simply isn’t the best nutrition for your pet. To the extent your budget permits, consider including raw or freeze-dried food in your pet’s diet. Your pet’s vitality will be louder and longer, and he’ll be happier and healthier.

Remember, feeding your dog a nutritious diet is the best health insurance money can buy. Ask a Barkery nutrition specialist about the RAW difference today.

Cannabis For Your Dog: How It Can Help

There’s a popular medicinal herb you can give your dog these days, and it’s called cannabis. Dog owners are using it to help their pets with a wide range of ailments, from anxiety to cancer.

Are dogs going to pot? Not exactly. The cannabis dogs are taking his hemp, not marijuana. Dogs Naturally explains the differences between marijuana and hemp, and how CBD can help your pet.

Marijuana Vs Hemp

Marijuana and hemp both come from the plant Cannabis sativa (though marijuana also comes from another member of the Cannabis family, Cannabis indica).

The cannabis plant has over 60 chemicals called cannabinoids. The two main types of cannabinoids are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). CBDs are therapeutic cannabinoids, whiles THC is the cannabinoid that makes you high.

Marijuana’s THC content is usually between 10-15%, but hemp must have a THC content of 0.3% or less. At this level, cannabis has no intoxicating effect for people or dogs. Hemp is higher in CBD, the substance that provides therapeutic effects.

How CBD Works

Humans and other mammals have specific cannabinoid receptor sites. These sites are primarily in the brain and central nervous system, and in the peripheral organs, especially immune cells. They make up what’s called the endocannabinoid system.

Studies show that many cannabinoids have anti-inflammatory effects, and can help with pain, tumors, seizures, muscle spasms, skin conditions, appetite stimulation, aggression, anxiety and neurological disorders.

How CBD Hemp Can Help Your Dog

CBD hemp can help with both chronic and acute disease. Among chronic conditions, it can help with:

  • arthritis
  • compromised immune systems
  • stress responses
  • aggression
  • digestive issues

There are also studies underway into CBD’s effects on Type 1 diabetes, organ diseases and cancer.

Veterinarians are also finding CBD hemp can be useful in treating acute ailments like:

  • strains and sprains
  • torn ligaments
  • bone breaks

CBD can even help during post operative care to reduce swelling, pain and stiffness.

If your dog is taking conventional drugs for any of these conditions, CBD hemp pay make it possible to lower doses of the drugs to achieve therapeutic effects. Since conventional medicines do have side effects, this is a useful benefit of CBD.

How Quickly Does It Work?

As with any herbal medicine, for most ailments you may not see an immediate effect. You’ll need to be patient. Your dog may feel some pain relief in a few hours, but other symptoms like inflammation may take a few days to show improvement. CBD is most beneficial when given on a consistent basis.

Safety

Because of the low THC, CBD hemp won’t make your dog high. The most common side effect of CBD is that your dog may get a little drowsy – about the same as if you gave him a Benadryl.

On rare occasions, side effects have included excessive itchiness or mild vomiting, but these sensitivities are few and far between. If your dog reacts with these symptoms, you should stop giving him cannabis.

Case Examples

Australian holistic veterinarian Dr. Edward Bassingthwaighte says he’s been amazed at the success he’s had treating dogs with cannabis. Here are a couple of cases he’s referred to:

  • One is a senior Staffy who had a fast-growing tumor about 6cm in diameter in her mammary gland. Chest x-rays showed there might be mestatasis. Dr. Bassingthwaighte treated her with CBD oil and some other herbal medicines. The tumor shrank away to nothing over three months, and she’s still going strong six months later with no recurrence. She’d had multiple tumors surgically removed over the years, but it was the CBD oil that really helped her.
  • The other case is a little old Jack Russell with a severe heart murmur and painful arthritis. He received a whole plant extract containing CBD and in this cause also some THC, diluted in 10ml of cold pressed hemp seed oil. After a month of this medicine, he was much happier and more active, wanting to go for long walks, and his heart murmur was much less severe. Dr. Bassingthwaighte says, “I simply can’t explain the improved heart murmur. They normally don’t get better.”

Dr. Bassingthwaighte suggests working with your holistic vet if you think cannabis would help your dog. It’s a power medicine, so at least let the vet know how you’re using it.

Where Can You Get CBD?

The Barkery sells the best quality CBD products in multiple forms for both humans and dogs. CBD comes in the form of tinctures, capsules, or treats. If you’re looking to start taking advantage of the many therapeutic benefits of CBD, talk with a Barkery nutritionist today about what is best for your best friend.

For more on CBD benefits, visit 10 Things You Didn’t Know About CBD for Dogs.

3 Reasons to Give Your Dog Hemp

Why We Think You Should Give Your Dog Hemp

Hemp is one of the oldest and most versatile plants, dating back to the 28th century BC. Today, hemp is used in foods and textiles, but in the pet world, we’re most interested in hemp seed and the oil it produces.

You may be thinking, “Hemp is a variety of cannabis, I’m not giving that to my dog!” If you are, try and open your mind to the many health promoting properties that nearly every dog could use.

Unlike fish oil, hemp seed oil contains the perfect ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3, the essential fatty acids that your dog can’t produce and needs in his diet. A good balance of these Omega oils is critical to your dog’s health, because they work synergistically in the body. Hemp seeds are high in an essential Omega-6 fatty acid called gamma linolenic acid (GLA). There are some really good reasons to boost the GLA in your dog’s diet:

1. It Fights Cancer

Researchers at the American Cancer Society say there’s evidence that people with cancer, diabetes, and skin allergies don’t make enough GLA, and these issues are incredibly common in dogs too. While GLA is considered a conditionally essential fatty acid (which means most dogs can make enough of it, mist of the time), there are plenty of circumstances (hard exercise or stress) where dogs can’t make enough GLA and supplementing becomes important. And, because the GLA is perfectly balanced with Omega-3 fats, hemp seed oil will help reduce inflammation in your dog and strengthen the immune system.

2. It Reduces Joint Pain

Researchers in The Journal of Arthritis and Rheumatology found that the GLA found in hemp seeds reduced arthritis symptoms by 25% compared to a placebo at 4%. Once again, this is because the balance of fatty acids helps to reduce inflammation naturally.

3. It Improves Skin and Coat

Hemp seed has long been used in cosmetic products and soaps because the oil can penetrate the inner layers of the skin and promote healthy cellular growth. The fatty acid balance also plays an important role in reducing inflammation associated with common skin issues, including atopic dermatitis, pruritic skin disease and granulomas.

How Hemp Seed Oil Works

Your dog has substances in his body called prostaglandins. These are line hormones that circulate around the body, helping smooth muscle contractions, control inflammation, regulate body temperature, and other vital functions. The GLA that’s abundant in hemp seed is a building block for prostaglandins. Researchers are currently looking at GLA supplementation as an important component to proper hormone and health development.

A Word of Caution!

Before you start adding hemp oil to your dog’s meals, there are a couple of things you should first know:

  1. Hemp seed oil is a polyunsaturated fat, which means the oil is unstable. If you cook your dog’s food, you won’t want to add hemp seed oil to the food while cooking as this can cause the oil to become rancid and cause health issues.
  2. If your dog is eating a poultry-based diet, adding hemp seed oil may cause an imbalance in his diet. This is because chicken is already quite high in polyunsaturated fats and linoleic acid. According to Steve Brown, author of Unlocking the Canine Ancestral Diet, flaxseed oil is a better choice for chicken-based diets. But if your dog is eating a diet rich in beef and other ruminants, hemp seed oil is a great way to balance the diet.

How Much to Give

Now you may be wondering how much hemp seed oil to add to your dog’s red-meat diet for an added health boost. Steve Brown recommends adding a teaspoon for every 1 to 1 1/4 pounds of food.

Cannabis sativa actually means “useful hemp” in Latin. Try adding some to your dog’s diet and see for yourself why this ancient superfood is making such a huge comeback.

For more on hemp oil, visit our friends at Dogs Naturally Magazine, or ask a Brookside Barkery & Bath associate on your next visit in!

The Secret to a Happier, Healthier, Longer-Lived Pet

We Are What We Eat: Good Food Is the Foundation for Good Health

Dr. Susan Klein, a veterinarian based in Colorado, spent several years in a conventional veterinary practice after graduating from Colorado State University. She now runs Alpine Meadows Animal Clinic, an integrative practice in the Vail Valley.

Dr. Klein’s passion for nutrition started about 15 years ago with a patient who had severe, chronic gastrointestinal (GI) problems. Her patient’s condition prompted her to begin investigating commercial pet food, since she had received no useful nutrition training in vet school.

One of Dr. Klein’s first adventures in nutrition was learning just how important a species-appropriate, real food diet is. She quickly learned that this is the foundation of good health.

If You’re Upgrading Your Pet’s Diet, the Change Should Be Gradual

For an animal that is sensitive (GI tracts, skin, or other sensitivities), switching the diet to raw will take some time. Starting with a grain-free and potato-free kibble is the first step before adding in some cooked foods that are easy to digest. Gradually work toward less cooking of the food, understanding that a pet who is in an extreme state of sympathetic nervous system stimulation may have a difficult time with a raw diet.

It’s important to understand that if you or your pet can’t seem to tolerate a diet of fresh, whole foods, there’s a problem in the body. The answers as to “why” can be found in nutrigenomics, but it’s a fairly new concept and interested veterinarians are trying to learn it on the fly.

Most Treatment Protocols Should Start With a Food Change

In her practice, Dr. Klein has to learn which patients need to make dietary changes in baby steps, and which can make faster transitions. She usually begins a patient’s treatment protocol with a food change. Many veterinarians, especially conventional practitioners, never address the diet at all.

No number of supplements or probiotics will be effective if the diet is not also addressed. Supplements are not bad, but should be used for specific reasons. Feeding your furry companion, a diet that creates disease in his body and then trying to fix the problem with supplements is not a good approach.

How Pet Food Creates Disease

Dr. Klein explains to us how commercial pet food can create diseases. From a nutrigenomics perspective, everything in the body runs on a protein-based metabolism. This means it’s very important that the body is taking in proteins it can recognize and use in an efficient manner.

Dr. Klein tells mentions that commercial pet food is sourced from ingredients unfit for human consumption, including remains of dead, dying, diseased, and disabled animals. The process involved in making the average dry pet food involves heating ingredients at high temperatures, which causes the core nutrients to be destroyed. They are then added back in synthetically, and they are foreign to pets’ bodies.

The food is then dried, pressed into cute shapes, and placed in bags with shelf lives up to two years. From a nutritional perspective, there is nothing living in that food anymore, but we’re putting it into living bodies. If we want to transcribe for healthy genes, we have to have healthy, live proteins.

Pet food contains a number of byproducts as a result of the manufacturing process. The most significant is advanced glycation end products (AGEs). Simply put, this means there’s way too much sugar in the food that is coating the proteins in the in the food in such a way that the body doesn’t recognize it as a food source. It also coats the tissues of the body such that the immune system doesn’t recognize them, and we start down the path of autoimmune disease and cancer.

Pet Parents Must Continue to Push for Change

The veterinary profession is the only healthcare profession that advocates feeding entirely processed foods versus fresh foods. Veterinarians are also the only healthcare profession with practitioners that tell clients fresh food could be risky and harmful to animal companions.

Because this information is difficult to replicate in a research setting, it is unlikely it will be taught in vet school, because where would the funding come from? This is why pet parents should be the ones to push for change. If it’s good for human’s, why isn’t it good for pets?

Good Food Is Good Medicine! Pass It On!

The bad news is that most people rely 100 percent on what their veterinarian tells them. When it comes to nutrition, misinformation about processed pet food will be perpetuated. In addition, there’s a lot of money being made by the processed pet food industry.

For the foreseeable future, it looks as though information about the importance of a nutritionally balanced, species-appropriate diet will have to continue to travel by word of mouth from people who have experienced the tremendous healing of fresh, whole food.

Click here to watch Dr. Becker and Dr. Klein’s full discussion on nutrigenomics.

Brookside Barkery

9 Puppy Tips to Help You Stay Sane

March 23 is National Puppy Day! Puppy love is a wonderful thing, however, as well all know, plenty of stress comes along with the responsibility of a new four-legged friend in the house. Puppies require a lot of attention, training, and socialization to become confident, balanced dogs. Here are some puppy tips to help you navigate the first few months of pet parenthood.

  1. Bring your puppy to the vet as soon as possible for an exam. Regardless of where you acquired the puppy, you should make immediate arrangements for a vet exam. If you can, bring a stool sample to go ahead and test for internal parasites. It’s important to research the type of veterinary practice you would like your dog to visit. Ideally, your dog will have a lifelong relationship with the vet that you choose, so be sure that your vet’s perspective aligns accordingly. Ask your vet for their protocol on vaccinations, diets, and training. Find a vet that is inviting, friendly, and respects your concerns regarding your dog’s health.
  2. Crate/kennel train your puppy from the start. To new dog owners, crate training can seem cruel and lonely for your dog. However, when used properly, crates can be seen as a safe haven for dogs, and is a great place to retreat when situations are overwhelming or when your pup needs to relax and reenergize. Prior to bringing your puppy home, set up a size-appropriate crate with a soft pad and a few cozy toys. You and your dog both will be grateful to have this space available.
  3. Co-sleep with your puppy for the first few nights. Even if you don’t plan on having your dog sleep in your bedroom, consider making the first few nights an exception. The transition to a new home can be stressful, especially if your pup was just separated from his litter mates. Putting the crate next to your bed for the first few nights allows you to comfort him if he’s whimpering and will give a sense of security having you nearby. Once you have established trust, transition your puppy to the new designated space.
  4. Establish a routine. Just like humans, dogs tend to thrive on a schedule. Dogs build trust and understanding by learning to expect what is happening next. It’s a good idea to establish a little consistency as far as feeding schedules, potty schedules, walks, and bed time. Soon you will notice your puppy develop his own routine and fall into more predictable patterns, which is mutually beneficial.
  5. Create a puppy perimeter. A new space can be overwhelming for a small puppy. Before bringing him home, decide where you’d like him to spend his time so that he has the freedom to explore without the risk of getting hurt or getting into something he shouldn’t. Set up his kennel (unless you plan on sharing a bedroom with him long term), a soft bed, food and water, and toys in this space. Ensure you block off any potential escape points with baby gates or doors.
  6. Be a hands-on owner. Getting your puppy used to being handled is one of the best things you can do for him. A puppy that is used to being touched is much more likely to be comfortable being handled by the vet, groomer, children and adults once he grows up. Make it a habit of touching his paws, mouth, and tail gently so that he’s not caught off guard. It is also helpful to touch him while he eats to avoid food aggression.
  7. Nip bad habits in the butt. It’s undeniably sweet to cuddle on the couch with your 12 pound puppy, but will you feel the same when he’s tipping the scales at 100 pounds? If you don’t anticipate your dog carrying puppy behavior through adulthood, don’t let the behavior become a habit in the first place. Establishing guidelines and being consistent is much more difficult for the pet owner, but it is completely worth it down the road. Decide in the beginning what your plan is concerning dogs on the furniture, where the puppy sits in the car, how food is handled, and which areas are off limits.
  8. Socialize your puppy. Introduce your puppy to everything. You want your dog to feel comfortable around different looking people, other dogs, other animals, places, and noises. It is best to have yummy treats on hand for rewarding your puppy for remaining calm and comfortable in various situations. If your dog hesitates in a particular situation, let him make a step of sniff forward, and reward that by tossing a treat in front of him. Socialization goes a long way in making your dog fee confident and well balanced all around.
  9. Most importantly, feed your puppy a healthy diet. Educate yourself on the type of diet you want to feed your puppy before you make the decision to bring him home. Raw diets are undeniably the most natural and biologically appropriate diet for your pup, but may not be the most realistic depending on the dog owner’s lifestyle and income. Feeding a whole, balanced, nutritional diet will save you money and stress down the road. It’s important to remember that your dog’s diet should be rotated consistently to maintain good gut health. Different life stages will also affect the appropriateness of your dog’s diet.

5 Benefits of Feeding a Raw Diet

When you believe that fresh is best, that belief makes it into every meal – including your pet’s! As a pet owner, it is your responsibility to make sure that your pet’s needs are being met, including a healthy diet. The quality of your pet’s diet will have a direct impact on his general health and wellbeing, and can seriously impact your dog’s lifespan in general.

What is a Raw Diet?

A raw food diet for your pet is exactly what it sounds like – a diet made up of fresh, raw foods. While there are different ways to create a raw food diet for dogs, the most popular and beneficial options consist of mostly raw meat and bones, fortified with some fruits and vegetables or supplements to ensure nutritional balance.

Dogs are carnivorous animals, which means their bodies are adapted to gaining nutrition from animal-based protein. This mean that meat should be the primary focus in a dog’s diet.

The Benefits of Raw Diets

  1. Improved Nutrition – Raw diets are not cooked, so the original nutritional integrity of the raw ingredients is preserved. Synthetic vitamin and mineral supplements added to commercial dog and cat food are not necessary since the diet is fresh and never cooked.
  2. Healthy/Regular Digestion – Both dogs and cats have short digestive tracts which limits their ability to digest fibrous plant foods. Sine raw food is largely meat based, it requires less energy for your pet to digest, which in turn makes the digestive system work more smoothly and regulary – and results in fewer, firmer stools.
  3. Cleaner Teeth – The process of chewing raw meats and raw bones provide dental benefits by helping to scrape the plaque off the surface of your pet’s teeth. The chewing process also massages your dog’s gums, increasing circulation.
  4. Shinier Coat – A diet that consists of fresh, natural foods will give your dog the nutrients it needs and help to maintain healthy skin and a shiny coat. Raw food diets include essential fatty acids which are key to optimal skin and coat health.
  5. Relief from Food Allergies/Sensitivities – The more dogs are exposed to potential, unnatural allergens such as corn, wheat, and soy, the more likely they are to develop a reaction. Raw food diets are typically grain-free which reduces the risk for allergic reactions.

In the end, it is completely up to you what to feed your pet. Because your pet’s diet has a direct impact on his well-being, it is important to choose a diet that provides for his nutritional needs in a healthy, wholesome way.

There has never been a better time to start feeding raw, or simply substituting a raw meal here and there. Huge savings are available this month at The Barkery on OC RAW DOG frozen/raw dog food. Stop in and ask a Barkery Associate how feeding a raw diet can benefit your furry friend.

 

Read more on raw diets here.