Tag Archives: dog food

Beyond Izzy’s pram (managing dogs through to old age) Part 4 – Food

We’re going higher up the ladder this week to the third rung:  Food & Supplements. 

In many resources, food and supplements are talked about together because food is eaten and most supplements are, too.  I’m going to write about Food now, however, and save Supplements for the next post to keep the length of the post manageable and easier to read.  There’s still a lot I want to cover.

Arthritis management diagram 3rd rung

So in my last post about weight management, I mentioned that sometimes I ask my clients to simply reduce the food they are feeding by up to 1/3 per meal because a diet food is not always needed if the diet is balanced.  That advice was specifically addressing the need to lose weight.

In Part 3, I also included a diagram about body condition.  Dogs of all ages should be fed to body condition; the labels on dog food are a guide and not the Bible.  So, if a dog is gaining weight, then we may cut back on food a bit and help them reach an ideal weight again.  Sometimes, we end up cutting back too much and then we have to feed a little more.

This is where the ladder analogy helps us.  We can go up and down a ladder fairly easily.  And when managing our dog’s health, we have to be prepared to re-visit issues and change approaches accordingly.

Sometimes we go up the ladder and sometimes we go down.

Older dogs generally have a slower metabolism and combined with less physical activity because they are slowing down (with or without arthritis) –  they require less calories.

There are also other considerations for diets when your dog is older. 

For example, if your dog has been diagnosed with kidney disease, then a diet lower in protein is recommended because the kidneys process extra protein for removal in the  urine.  If the kidneys aren’t working well, we need to lessen the pressure on them.  If this is the case, your vet will probably recommend a commercial diet to meet those needs.

Protein is important for muscles – keeping them strong and helping them to repair themselves.  Proteins are a source of energy; they help keep the immune system strong, and have a role in creating enzymes and hormones.  They’re an essential part of the diet.

(When I started making my own dog treats for sale, I remember talking with a Board-certified veterinarian at the Angell Memorial Animal Hospital in Boston.  She was of the view then that all older dogs should have reduced protein diets.  But in the intervening years, more research has shown that this is not the case.  A lesson for all of us.   As we gather more information through study and research, professional advice may change.)

In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), we understand that older animals don’t have the digestive energy that younger dogs do.  Therefore, protein sources should be highly digestible when you are managing an older dog.  This is a main reason why I like the homemade and topper approach to foods.  I use a good quality dry dog food, but I enhance it with many fresh ingredients.

A few sources of good protein toppers are:

  • Eggs (whole) –  I like to hard boil eggs and then slice the over the kibble before adding warm water
  • Cottage cheese
  • Sardines

I also cook my own toppers.

Toppers add palatability (taste) and because the dog’s sense of smell is much better than our own, I think the toppers add appeal through smell, too.

If a dog has an arthritis diagnosis, then “Joint Diet” foods are readily available and companies like Hill’s have undertaken feeding trials to prove their diets are balanced.  As part of the research into the product, the veterinary team observed a reduction in the clinical signs of arthritis with a subsequent reduction in the dosages of anti-inflammatory drugs that were required to manage the dog’s pain and arthritis symptoms.

That said, I have never fed a joint diet because I really dislike the ingredient panel in these highly processed foods.  I’ve always felt that if we are told to keep fresh things in our diet, then the same should go for our dogs. I can still use supplements and other modalities to manage arthritis and inflammatory pain.  I just don’t need to have a ‘complete solution in a bag.’  (This post is getting long – see why I chose to leave Supplements to their own post?)

Because digestion in an older dog is slower, if they have less physical activity such as recovery from a surgery or advancing arthritis, they can also become constipated from time to time.  Drugs like Tramadol are also constipating. (This happens in rest homes with older people, too.  An older person who lives their life in a wheelchair and unable to walk around much and on medication often finds that it is harder to get the bowels moving.)

More fibre combined with good hydration helps keep the bowels doing what they need to do (rid the body of wastes and toxins) and the best addition to food for fibre is steamed pumpkin.  I know that tinned or canned pumpkin is also very popular in the USA as well.

Parents need to watch what they are giving as treats, too.  Treats are food and add calories to the diet – but they also add variety and variety is the spice of life!  If an older dog has lost some teeth over the years, for example, harder treats may need to be avoided in favor of softer ones.  If we are focusing on hydration to help manage constipation, softer texture treats or those that can be soaked in water are a good idea.

Izzy with pigs ear

Izzy the greyhound with a pigs ear. These help to clean her teeth to some extent (although we brush her teeth every night, too). Treats add variety to the diet and because I source my pigs ears locally, I am more confident in their quality.

Got questions about this post?  Please feel free to post a message or contact me through my practice, The Balanced Dog.

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

Study finds glyphosate in cat and dog food

Got glyphosate?

Your pet’s breakfast might.

glyphosate

A new Cornell study published this month in Environmental Pollution finds that glyphosate, the active herbicidal ingredient in widely used weed killers like Roundup, was present at low levels in a variety of dog and cat foods the researchers purchased at stores. Before you go switching Fido or Fluffy’s favorite brand, however, be aware that the amounts of the herbicide found correspond to levels currently considered safe for humans.

The study grew out of a larger interdisciplinary research project led by Brian Richards, senior research associate in biological and environmental engineering, and supported by the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future’s Academic Venture Fund, which sought to reassess glyphosate mobility and impacts in several contexts: movement from crop fields in surface water, impacts on soils and on animals consuming it in their feed.

Richard’s co-investigators Anthony Hay, associate professor of microbiology, and Kenneth Simpson, professor of small-animal medicine, visited a pet store and a retail outlet, where they selected multiple bags of cat and dog foods from major brands. The 18 feeds were all mixtures of vegetable and meat ingredients, and one product was certified GMO-free. Analyses conducted by postdoctoral researcher and lead author Jiang Zhao in Hay’s lab, and research support specialist Steve Pacenka, found that all of the products contained glyphosate at concentrations ranging from approximately 80 to 2,000 micrograms of glyphosate per kilogram.

Since there is not enough data available to determine what effect – if any – low-dose glyphosate exposure has on domestic animals, the researchers used human acceptable daily intake guidelines to put these findings in context, according to Hay. The researchers estimated that the median dog exposure would amount to only 0.7 percent of the U.S. glyphosate limit set for humans.

“While the levels of glyphosate in pet foods surprised us, if a human ate it every day, their glyphosate exposure would still be well below the limits currently deemed safe,” Hay said.

“Even the most contaminated feed they studied had thousands of times less glyphosate than levels that were shown to have no adverse effects on dogs in the U.S. EPA’s Draft Risk Assessment for glyphosate” said Dan Wixted, a pesticide educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension who was not involved in the study.

While unable to pinpoint the exact product or crops that were the source of the glyphosate, Hay’s team did find a correlation with fiber, suggesting a plant-based origin.

“We know that glyphosate is only certified for spraying on crops, and it does not bio-accumulate in animals, so we would not expect it to come from feed animals that are the main protein sources in some of the products,” Hay said. “Our evidence suggests that it’s coming from plant material.”

One surprising finding of the study: Glyphosate was detected in the one GMO-free product the researchers analyzed at levels higher than those of several other processed feeds. This suggests that keeping feed stocks uncontaminated is a challenge even in the GMO-free market.

What is a pet owner to do with this information?

“Glyphosate is out there in our pets’ food, and while there doesn’t appear to be any immediate risk, there is still uncertainty about the chronic impact of low doses like these,” Hay said. “It’s hard to find a product that doesn’t have glyphosate in it, so we included the exposure assessment to provide some context. The old adage ‘dose determines the poison’ is good to keep in mind: While it’s possible that these animals might respond differently than humans, the numbers are still within a range that would be deemed safe for humans.”

Hay, for his part, has stopped feeding chow found to be high in glyphosate to his own dog, a pug beagle mix, but he hasn’t seen any changes in her health.

“She’s more cat than dog to be honest,” he said. “She sits on the bed and won’t go outside when it rains. But I can now confirm that her laziness has nothing to do with her feed.”

Source:  Cornell Chronicle

Food tales

Yesterday, I led another Cooking for Dogs workshop which is a workshop I designed about four years ago to encourage owners to add fresh ingredients into their dog’s diet.  We also discuss the latest research into dog diets (such as the July 2018 announcement by the US FDA about a possible link between grain-free foods and heart disease) and what makes a ‘good’ ingredient for a recipe – things like choosing meat ingredients and the use of spices such as ginger and turmeric.

Cooking for Dogs - happy dog owners make recipes like doggy meatloaf and chewy chicken strips

Cooking for Dogs – happy dog owners make recipes like doggy meatloaf and chewy chicken strips

I’m a supporter of the hybrid diet – where dogs are fed commercial food, raw food and also homemade food for variety and nutritional support and to mitigate the risks of long-term nutritional deficits.

It’s been a month or so now of food-themed interactions with clients and colleagues.  For example, during my visit to Kindness Ranch, I was given a tour.  They make their own ‘sow chow’ of fresh ingredients for their pigs because they found that commercial pig food is designed to fatten up the pigs for slaughter.  (Whereas the pigs at the Ranch have been rescued and will live out their lives naturally.)

Look at the colors in the bowl – fresh foods like watermelon!  What pig wouldn’t want to chow down on food that that was this fresh?

And I’ve had a few interactions with clients this week which were also food related.  For example, the well-meaning owner of a Labrador puppy.  I had to tell her that I felt her dog was overweight and that she needed to reduce the amount of food being fed daily (adjusted also for treats used in training).

She was worried because the bag of her commercial puppy food recommended that she feed even more.  I explained that we should feed our dogs according to body condition and that many commercial foods often overstate the feeding rates for their foods.  After all, if owners feed more food, then they have to buy more food.  (I’m sure there are some dogs that may need the recommended feeding volumes – but these would be the exception and not the rule from my experience.)

And then there was the dog that had been losing weight and urinating in the house.  I strongly advised that the dog be taken to the vet for a health check and the results were in – a pancreatic problem brought on by feeding raw.  In this case, I suspect that the raw food mix being fed to this dog was way too high in fat and also contained consistently too much liver instead of a mixture of other organ meats such as heart and kidney.  Regardless, the dog was not thriving on its diet and, worse, was being hurt by it.  A change in diet to a commercial kibble has seen a return to health and no more urinating in the house which is a positive for both dog and owner.

Every dog is different when it comes to diet.  There is no one right or wrong answer, but there are tools and techniques we can use to match them to a diet that works.

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

A tale of 2 dog foods

Clients of my practice know that I feed a hybrid diet, that is a diet that is part commercial dog food (dry food – ‘kibble’ as well as dehydrated raw food), raw (real meat) and homemade food using both real meat, vegetables, eggs and fruit.

We are preparing for our third annual fundraiser and I received a small bag of a dry food – readily available in supermarkets – as a donation for the rescue.  I set it aside in my office and, one evening, I heard the rustling of paper…

Izzy had helped herself to the donated food.  It seemed she found it quite tasty.

So, I decided the donated food could be hers and I would replace the bag with another one.  In the meantime, I let her have one small handful with one of her meals over the next few days.

And she did something she had never done before… during the night she was chewing on her feet.  Really chewing.  For the first night, I dismissed it as a one-off irritation.  By the fourth night, I knew something was up.

It was the dog food, of course!

The supermarket dog food has gone into the organics bin to be recycled.  I’ll make a donation to the fundraiser in lieu of another bag of that food!

Thought you might like to compare labels…

This is Izzy’s current ‘normal’ food:

Salmon Meal, Potatoes, Tapioca, Fish Meal, Chicken Fat, Peas, Blueberries, Cranberries, Papayas, Mangos, Apples, Basil, Oregano, Rosemary, Thyme, Sunflower Seeds, Chamomile, Peppermint, Camelia, Natural Flavor, Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin (Vitamin B3), Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Vitamin A Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid (Vitamin B9), Sodium Chloride, Taurine, Choline Chloride, Magnesium Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Calcium Carbonate, Copper Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Cobalt Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Green Tea Extract, Rosemary Extract and Spearmint Extract

and this was the supermarket food:

Lamb (source of glucosamine), brewers rice, whole grain corn, whole grain wheat, poultry by-product meal (source of glucosamine), corn gluten meal, soybean meal, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols, calcium phosphate, glycerine, animal digest, calcium carbonate, potassium chloride, salt, caramel color, Vitamin E supplement, choline chloride, zinc sulfate, L-Lysine monohydrochloride, ferrous sulfate, sulfur, manganese sulfate, niacin, Vitamin A supplement, calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, copper sulfate, riboflavin supplement, Vitamin B-12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, garlic oil, folic acid, Vitamin D-3 supplement, calcium iodate, biotin, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of Vitamin K activity, sodium selenite.

Notice the differences?

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

Breed-specific dog foods

Back in January, I posted a blog about Prescription diets – what’s the truth?

In this post, I’m again going into the controversial world of commercial dog food and sharing some information on breed-specific dog foods.

The two labels most associated with breed-specific foods are Eukanuba and Royal Canin, although there are others.

 

In the November 2016 issue of Your Dog (published by the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University), veterinary nutritionist Cailin Heinze provided opinion about such foods.

Dr Heinze re-iterated the common theme about the lack of rules for marketing.  “It’s a free for all.”

Although these pet foods must meet the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) standard, ‘tweaking’ recipes to make them slightly more suitable for a particular breed isn’t a big change to make.

The article points out that there are no feeding trials to support the claims made for breed-specific dog foods and that the breed-specific formulations are not therapeutic diets.

You will need to buy access to read the article in its entirety (follow the link above), and I won’t break copyright by printing too much of the article in this blog.

It is heartening to see a veterinary nutritionist making these comments.  Too often, criticism of commercial dog foods is discounted because the writers are not veterinarians.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Label reading

There is a lot of information on the web about reading the food ingredient label on your dog’s food.  Some of the advice I agree with, some of it is purely marketing.

But I have a much simpler test for you.  If you feed a commercially prepared food (whether raw, cooked or processed), take a look at the label.

What is the country of origin?

Here’s the label on the commercial kibble that I am currently feeding Izzy (she is on a diet of home-cooked mixed with this food).  It is made in New Zealand (where we live).

pet food label

Where is yours made?

Country of origin labeling can offer an insight into quality, particularly in terms of things like food safety, security of the supply chain, and length of time the product has been on the shelf.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

And the Oscar goes to…

On 22 February 2015, Hollywood celebrities will gather for the 87th annual Academy Awards.   Only a few talented individuals will walk away with the top prize.

But, like last year, those who do not win  in the top 5 Oscar categories (Best Director, Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Best Supporting Actor) will still be given a gift – a donation of 10,000 meals to the animal rescue of their choice.  The donation is made possible by Ellen DeGeneres and her dog food company, Halo, Purely for Pets in partnership with Freekibble.com.

Oscars meal donation

The donations are part of a PR campaign called Everyone Wins at the Oscars® which is organized by a Los Angeles marketing firm specializing in product placement.  (The Academy Awards has no affiliation with these gifts – called ‘swag bags.’).

The bag contains many high-end gifts, a value of US$125,000!

Source:  News.com.au

 

 

A food dispenser for homeless dogs

It’s been estimated that almost 150,000 stray dogs and cats make the city of Istanbul, Turkey their home.  Now a company named Pugedon has designed a vending machine “A Smart Recycling Box” that dispenses dog food when an empty plastic bottle is inserted.

The machine also has a water dish so people can empty out remaining water for the animals to drink.

The idea is to support recycling and to help care for strays.  Probably the most important aspect of the machine is that it raises awareness of homeless animals.

Here’s the company’s promotional video on how the machine works.

I love you to bits: kibbles and bits and bits and bits…

I was thinking today about how dog nutrition has changed over the years.  Today, there are more dog foods than ever before.  There are organic products and even products that aim to attain the values of the raw food diet – but offering a more prepared formulation for busy dog owners.

So now I’m going to show my age and also the power of a good jingle.  I still remember this commercial from the 1980s for Kibbles and Bits.  This was one of the first commercial dog foods to offer a hard kibble combined with softer texture pieces.  But it’s the jingle I remember and I’ve found it for you here on YouTube.  Enjoy it.

And now my friends will understand when I tell Daisy that I love her to bits…kibbles and bits and bits and bits!

PETNet – new pet food incident tracking system

This week the US Food & Drug Administration and the Partnership for Food Protection launched a new web-based system to enable real-time information sharing about pet food incidents.

‘Incidents’ are those occasions that appear to be related to defects in pet foods or illnesses brought on because of the consumption of pet foods.  The concept is that federal, state and local authorities that are responsible for regulation of the pet food industry and the tracking of outbreaks of disease in companion animals will register information on the voluntary system.  If they suspect a trend or suspicious connection with pet foods, they’ll register their information on the PETNet system.

In 2007, there was the huge recall of pet foods contaminated with melamine and when the events were debriefed, it showed that veterinarians were picking up on a trend but had no readily available platform to share their concerns.  Regulatory authorities were slow to react.  Through the internet, email systems and professional networks, veterinarians were able to get the word out that there was a problem with pet foods, but not in as quickly as they would have if there was a platform such as PETNet.

The Partnership for Food Protection was established in 2008 by the FDA bringing together federal, state, local, territorial and tribal representatives with expertise in food, feed, epidemiology, laboratory, animal health, environment and public health.

This is a list of PETNet project members.

Source:  US Food & Drug Administration media statement, 1 August 2011