10 pantry items that are poisonous to pets

By Animal Wellness

Do you know what items in your kitchen are poisonous to dogs and cats? Pet toxicology experts identify top 10 toxins commonly found in a pantry.

When you think of your pantry, images of household staples, cooking supplies, snacks and other food items come to mind. In reality, what you may find is a pantry full of potential pet poisons.

In honor of National Poison Prevention Week, March 20-26, the toxicology experts at Pet Poison Helpline reviewed their case data and developed a list of the top 10 potential pet poisons commonly found in your pantry.

“Most people don’t realize that common household foods for human consumption can be toxic to pets, especially if they consume them in large quantities” said Dr. Renee Schmid, a senior veterinary toxicologist at Pet Poison Helpline. “Many pets join the family in the kitchen, and often have access to the pantry. Hidden inside that pantry are a number of items that are either dangerous on their own or contain ingredients that can be toxic to pets.”

Here is Pet Poison Helpline’s Top 10 Pantry of Pet Poisons:

1. Alcohol

Animals are at a high risk for developing alcohol poisoning even with small amounts of alcohol.  Low blood sugar, lethargy and seizures can occur.

2. Chocolate

The darker the chocolate, the higher the amount of methylxanthines, increasing the risk of poisoning. Keep away to avoid vomiting, diarrhea, and agitation.  Large ingestions can result in heart rhythm changes and even seizures.

3. Coffee beans/grounds

Caffeine is a stimulant for everyone – too much can cause tremors and a racing heart. Keep your pet off of the ceiling and out of the hospital.

4. Garlic and onion

Garlic and onion can cause vomiting and diarrhea, as well as anemia and other red blood cell changes depending on the amount ingested due to sulfur containing oxidants.

5. Macadamia nuts

These nuts can cause dogs to have difficulty walking, which can be stressful and dangerous around stairs.  Additional risks include joint pain and pancreatitis.

6. Raisins

Ingesting only a few raisins can result in kidney injury for your furry pet.  Early signs include vomiting and lethargy.

7. Salt

Pets should never be given salt.  Salt is a poison for dogs and can cause vomiting, tremors and seizures.

8. Tea

Small dogs and cats may have too much caffeine from a bag of tea and all pets might have trouble passing the bag with a string.

9. Xylitol/Birch sugar (gum, mints, sugar-free products, protein bars, specialty peanut butters)

Xylitol/birch sugar and dogs are not a good combination.  Beware of seizures from low blood sugar as well as possible liver failure – this is not a sweet treat!

10. Yeast

When mixed into a dough, yeast organisms are busy making alcohol and lots of gas through fermentation. The dough can expand in the stomach, blocking the ability for the dough and gas to pass through.  The alcohol produced may result in alcohol poisoning.

11 ways to manage pain in dogs and cats

By Deana Cappucci, BS, LVT, CCRVN, CCMT, VTS (Physical Rehabilitation) as seen in Animal Wellness Magazine

When it comes to managing pain in dogs and cats, these alternative modalities have a lot to offer. Consider trying one of these options before reaching for the pain meds.

Animals experience pain just like we do. But because dogs and cats are so stoic, most people don’t realize their animals are suffering. In nature, animals that show signs of pain or weakness are targets for prey, so they have adapted to hide their pain in order to survive. Learning how to recognize pain in your dog or cat is the first step, along with getting the problem properly diagnosed by your veterinarian. And there are many ways to manage pain besides medication. This article explores some alternative modalities for pain management in dogs and cats.

Recognizing pain in your companion animal

In dogs and cats, pain presents as a change in behavior or mobility (see sidebar). For instance, a dog experiencing pain from arthritis may not want to perform daily activities, such as going for long walks, or may have a hard time getting in and out of the car. Cats in pain may hesitate or avoid jumping onto higher surfaces, may hide more often, or experience a decreased appetite.

If you notice these signs in your own dog or cat, take him to the veterinarian for a checkup. Pain can arise from many different conditions and it’s important to find out which one is bothering your own animal so he can be properly treated.

Pain management – 11 alternative solutions

Fortunately, there are many ways you and your animal’s healthcare team can help manage pain and extend his quality of life.

1. Physical rehabilitation

Physical therapy is a service often used in human medicine to help patients recover from surgery or restore tissue function after an injury. Likewise, many modalities used in animal physical rehabilitation help reduce pain and inflammation to improve an animal’s comfort.

2. Laser therapy

3. Thermal therapy

Thermal therapies such as heat and cryotherapy are often used to improve circulation or decrease inflammation and swelling. Ice is added after surgical procedures to help reduce pain and swelling, whereas heat can be applied to sore muscles or stiff joints to provide circulation to the tissues and joints.

4. Therapeutic ultrasound

Therapeutic ultrasound uses low energy sound waves to warm up the tissue. It improves flexibility and promotes healing while decreasing pain and inflammation. It’s often used for animals with soft tissue trauma, such as muscle and tendon strains or sprains.

5. Extracorporeal shockwave therapy

This device uses high energy sound waves to stimulate the tissue, causing a physiologic response that leads to endorphin release for pain management, and promotes tissue healing. Animals that benefit from shockwave therapy include those suffering from arthritis, muscle and tendon injuries, or bone fractures that are not healing as expected. There are many different types of shockwave therapy, some of which may require light sedation due to the loud sound and intensity of the shocks.

6. Electrotherapy

Also known as E-Stim or TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation), electrotherapy uses an electrical current that is applied to a painful area to inhibit the sensory response to pain. Electrical stimulation can help in cases involving arthritis, post-surgical recovery, or soft tissue injuries or trauma.

7. Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy

8. Acupuncture

Acupuncture uses small needles inserted into specific points on the body, causing a physiologic response. Acupuncture releases the body’s natural endorphins, which help control pain. It also stimulates nerves, which is beneficial for animals experiencing neurologic dysfunction like IVDD or degenerative myelopathy. Arthritis and soft tissue injuries also benefit from acupuncture.

9. Therapeutic exercise

Therapeutic exercise is used in animal rehabilitation to help strengthen weakened muscles that may be associated with an injury or post-operative recovery. Arthritis causes pain in the joints leading to weakness in the muscles. Therapeutic exercises help improve strength and mobility in arthritic animals, and those recovering from surgery or injury.

10. Hydrotherapy

Hydrotherapy, such as swimming in warm circulating water, or walking on an underwater treadmill, provides buoyancy while reducing pain on injured joints. The warm water causes vasodilation and increases blood flow to the tissue, which helps decrease pain in the muscles and joints. The hydrostatic pressure of the water provides body awareness that is helpful in older dogs, or those suffering from neurologic disease. The resistance of the water also improves strength as the animal swims or walks against the water.

11. Massage

Last but not least, massage and manual therapies alleviate taut muscles and increase circulation to the tissues. Massage brings blood flow to the tissue, providing oxygen and nutrients to the area. It can reduce pain by decreasing muscle spasms and improving the flexibility of joints. Massage can also decrease stress and anxiety, which can exaggerate pain. Most animals – and their humans – would benefit from a massage!

Ask your veterinarian if he or she offers any of these pain-relieving modalities, or seek out a veterinary rehabilitation center in your area. It is important to understand that although these modalities have therapeutic effects for managing pain and discomfort, other medical interventions may be added to your dog or cat’s regimen to provide the best pain relief and improve overall comfort. It is also important to know that not all animals are candidates for every modality, and that a consultation with a trained veterinary professional is necessary to discuss the best options for your own dog or cat.

Support canine health and aging with astaxanthin (wild Salmon)

By Karen Hecht, PhD As seen in Animal Wellness Magazine

As nature’s most powerful antioxidant, astaxanthin benefits canine endurance, aging, vision health and more.

Daily antioxidants are known to support canine health in a variety of beneficial ways. They promote a healthy immune response, support eye health in aging dogs, and contribute to a normal inflammatory response. Antioxidants also help neutralize potentially harmful free radicals.

Free radicals are reactive molecules produced both as by-products of the body’s natural physiology, and as a result of interaction with the environment. Antioxidants produced naturally by the body work together with dietary antioxidants to control and balance the level of free radicals in the body. When this balance is tipped in favor of free radical accumulation, oxidative stress and damage can occur to healthy cells. Oxidative stress can happen anywhere in the body, including in the muscles, eyes, skin, and brain.

Since all antioxidants work somewhat differently, a varied diet containing many is the most beneficial.

Astaxanthin, a natural antioxidant

Astaxanthin can boost a dog’s antioxidant capacity, helping to control oxidative stress. Natural astaxanthin is a targeted mitochondrial ingredient whose antioxidant activity is reported to be higher than that of beta carotene, lutein and vitamin E.

Natural astaxanthin is red in color and belongs to the family of antioxidants called carotenoids, which are most commonly found in fruits and vegetables. However, unlike carotenoids such as the beta-carotene found in carrots, lycopene found in tomatoes, and lutein found in spinach, natural astaxanthin is found in red-colored seafoods like lobster, crab, shrimp and salmon. For dogs and people, the main dietary source of natural astaxanthin is wild salmon. However, salmon is a rare protein in commercial dog food, and a dog would have to consume four filets of wild king salmon daily to get a beneficial amount of astaxanthin.

Natural astaxanthin has some features that make it unique among antioxidants:

  • It is one of nature’s most powerful antioxidants, which means it is very good at quenching free radicals. One study revealed that astaxanthin is 6,000 times stronger than vitamin C, 110 times stronger than vitamin E, and even three to five times stronger than its cousin carotenoids, lutein and beta carotene.
  • Astaxanthin is a fat-soluble antioxidant that can access cell membranes, unlike water-soluble antioxidants. This is important because cell membranes are made of lipids, which are especially sensitive to oxidation. Natural astaxanthin has a unique structure that can span the cell membrane from end to end for better membrane coverage and antioxidant protection.
  • Though it favors all membranes, as much as 50% of all membrane-bound astaxanthin has been found in mitochondrial membranes, the energy-producing parts of the cell that also produce free radicals as a by-product of their metabolic activity. This means that natural astaxanthin is poised at the site of free radical production to help neutralize these unstable molecules before they start a chain reaction that can damage healthy mitochondria and tissue.


Flowers and Plants That Are Safe for Dogs

As seen in PetMD

Some plants and cut flowers can actually be toxic to dogs, causing symptoms such as swelling of the mouth, vomiting, trembling, loss of coordination, seizures, difficulty breathing, or even death. 

But that doesn’t mean you can’t ever decorate your place with indoor plants or accept a gift of flowers from a friend. Before you bring home a nice flower arrangement or new houseplant, you just need to make sure it’s on the list of flowers and plants that are safe for dogs. 

Flowers That Are Safe for Dogs

Some safe flowers for dogs include:

  • Alstroemeria
  • Asters
  • Gerber Daisies
  • Orchid
  • Roses
  • Snapdragon
  • Statice
  • Sunflowers

Houseplants That Are Safe for Dogs

Here a few plants that are safe for dogs:

Ferns:

  • Boston Fern

Herbs:

  • Basil
  • Cilantro
  • Dill
  • Lemon Balm
  • Rosemary
  • Sage

Perennials:

  • African Violet
  • Aluminum Plant (aka Watermelon plant)
  • Bamboo
  • Friendship Plant
  • Spider Ivy (aka Spider Plant)
  • Swedish Ivy

Succulents:

  • Blue Echeveria (aka Wax Rosette, Painted Lady)
  • Christmas Cactus
  • Haworthia
  • Hens and Chickens

Palms:

  • Areca Palm
  • Dwarf Date Palm
  • Dwarf Palm (aka Good Luck Palm, Bamboo Palm, Parlor Palm)
  • Lady Palm

Why Do Dogs Eat Plants and Flowers?

Pets are curious, so it’s not unlikely that they would try to munch on plants or flowers that you bring into the home.

“Exposure of dogs and cats to household plants occurs commonly, especially with younger animals that tend to be very inquisitive. Some plants are extremely toxic to our pets,” says Dr. David Dorman, DVM and professor of Toxicology at North Carolina State University of Veterinary Medicine. 

Dr. Dorman says, “It’s important to remember that your pet cannot distinguish between safe-to-eat plants and those that are dangerous. The key to preventing poisonings in your pets is to prevent exposure.” Thus, don’t bring poisonous plants into the home with cats and dogs, period.

What to Do If You Suspect That Your Dog Ate a Toxic Plant or Flower 

Plants that are considered dangerous for dogs can cause a range of symptoms—some much more serious than others. 

If you’re concerned that your pet has ingested a poisonous plant or flower, or they’re showing symptoms of poisoning, contact your veterinarian, or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435, or the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661 immediately. 

Before you add eco-friendly décor to your home, do your research to keep your pets safe.

Which Flowers and Plants Are Safe for Cats?

Reviewed on March 19, 2020, by Dr. Jennifer Grota, DVM as seen in PetMD

Did you know that certain plants and flowers can actually be dangerous for your cat? 

“While any plant material can cause mild stomach upset, some plants are much more dangerous,” says Tina Wismer, medical director at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.

It’s also important for cat parents to know that some plants and flowers that are relatively safe for dogs can be deadly for cats. “Members of the Lilium (true lilies) or Hemerocallis (day lilies) can cause kidney failure in cats, but only mild stomach upset in dogs,” says Wismer.

If you’re considering an eco-conscious revamp of your home décor, check this list to find out which flowers and houseplants are safe for cats.

Flowers That Are Safe for Cats 

Avoid bringing dangerous flowers into your home with this list of safe flowers for cats:

  • Alstroemeria
  • Asters
  • Freesia
  • Gerber Daisies
  • Liatris
  • Lisianthus
  • Orchid
  • Roses
  • Snapdragon
  • Statice
  • Sunflowers
  • Wax Flower (Madagascar Jasmine)

Air-Purifying Plants That Are Safe for Cats

Houseplants cleanse the air we breathe from toxins found in many household products—formaldehyde, benzene, and carbon monoxide, just to name a few. 

Here are some air-purifying plants that are also safe for cats:

  • Areca Palm
  • Bamboo
  • Basil
  • Boston Fern
  • Cilantro
  • Dill
  • Dwarf Date Palm
  • Friendship Plant
  • Hens and Chicks
  • Lady Palm
  • Lemon Balm
  • Old Man Cactus
  • Painted Lady
  • Reed Palm
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Shrimp Cactus
  • Spider Plant (Spider Ivy)
  • Venus Flytrap
  • Zebra Haworthia

Even Safe Plants Can Pose Dangers to Cats

Wismer suggests that you keep these plants and flowers out of reach of curious cats even though they are considered safe, because there are other dangers to watch out for. 

Most cut flowers come with a powdered flower food to keep them fresh, and this can be toxic to cats. Even the vases could pose a problem. “Cats especially like to drink from vases, so make sure the cat cannot overturn heavy vases and hurt themselves,” Wismer adds. “Breakable vases can also be a hazard for your pets…and you, when you have to pick up the pieces.”

Karen Lawrence, director of The CFA Foundation and manager of the Feline Historical Museum, suggests using hanging planters as a way to keep plants out of the reach of your pets.

What to Do If Your Cat Eats a Plant That Might Be Poisonous

If your cat nibbled on a flower or plant, and you are unsure whether it may be toxic, call your emergency vet, or the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661, or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435.

You should call even if you just suspect that your cat might have eaten part of a plant or flower. 

By: Cheryl Lock

7 fun things to do with your dog this summer

By Jennifer Hinders as seen in Animal Wellness Magazine

 If you’re looking for something to do with your dog this summer, and aren’t sure what to do as the pandemic winds down, check out this list of seven fun and simple ideas.

Even as the pandemic seems to be winding down in some places, it remains important to follow existing restrictions as long as they’re in place. So if you’re looking for some fun things to do with your dog this summer, and aren’t sure what’s available to you, check out this list of seven fun and simple ideas.

1. Enjoy a long walk

You and your dog need regular exercise. Taking a long walk is a great way for you both to stay fit. Fortunately, you can still enjoy walks with your dogs and stay within COVID rules. Be sure to bring along your mask in case you encounter other people.

For a dog, going for a walk is more than just a potty break – it also provides  mental stimulation and socialization. And it’s a great way for the two of you to bond and enjoy the outdoors together this summer.

2. Do a summer photoshoot

Find the perfect location to take pics, while being sure to follow any social distancing rules. Bring lots of treats to motivate your buddy to keep posing, as well as some water in case he gets thirsty. Try one of these locations as a backdrop – just make sure beforehand that they’re dog-friendly, and follow the regulations:

Beach — Water, sand and sun make beautiful settings for a photoshoot. Choose a time of day that gives you the best sunlight without too much shade. Mornings and evenings are great, and won’t be too hot for your dog. Allow your pooch to romp in the surf or run along the beach for awesome action shots.

Favorite park — Parks provide plenty of natural beauty in dog photos. Every season offers a unique backdrop. In the summer, colorful flower beds make a great setting – just don’t let your dog trample the gardens!

Field or wooded area – If safe and permitted, allow your dog to run around in a field or wooded area while you take photos (watch out for ticks, though). For different effects, choose different times of the day to take your pictures.

Backyard – Sometimes, the best place to take photos is in your own backyard. Give your dog a new toy to play with while you take pics of him, or throw a ball for him to get some action shots.

 3. Engage your dog in interactive play

Playing with your dog reinforces communication, strengthens your bond, and improves obedience. Try a variety of toys to see which one he likes best. Once you find his favorite, try to make it even more fun by moving it around or throwing it for your dog to chase. Some of the best-loved dog toys are often those that have been around for years like balls, Frisbees or rope pulls.

4. Practice basic commands

Giving your dog a training refresher doesn’t have to be work! In fact, it’s a fun way to hang out together. It keeps your mentally sharp and physically challenged. Revisit the basic commands you’ve taught your dog — or teach him some new tricks such as high five, or jump through a hoop. When you teach your dog new tricks, it not only improves his health, but boosts your confidence as a dog parent.

5. Go swimming together

Whether you have a pool in your backyard or just bought a kiddie pool, your dog will love splashing and cooling off in the water with you this summer. Afterwards, don’t be surprised if your dog runs around the yard or rolls around in the grass. Called the ”zoomies,” this familiar behavior occurs when a dog gets a rush of energy after a bath or swimming. It’s thought this activity could be a release of nervous energy — or it could be that your dog just feels good after his time in the water!

6. Create an agility course in your backyard

backyard agility course doesn’t need to be expensive or elaborate. Use items you have around the house such as two laundry baskets to hold a broom handle for jumping over, a children’s playground slide or cloth tunnel. Agility courses provide many benefits for your dog such as mental stimulation, exercise, better obedience, and an improved relationship with you. They also give your dog a full-body workout since he will need to jump, climb, crawl, and run through the various obstacles. Once your dog has learned the course, challenge him by changing out the obstacles or move the course to a different part of your yard. This is guaranteed to be fun for both of you!

Having fun with your dog this summer doesn’t have to stop because of the ongoing pandemic, and these ideas are just the beginning. Get creative and try new activities with your dog!

Helping Your Overweight Dog

By Joanne Keenan as seen in dogs Naturally Magazine

Have you ever searched online for the best dog food to help your overweight dog with weight loss? You’ll find the who’s who of commercial dog foods. But will the food help your dog lose weight?

Probably not. What you’ll find is that the ingredients don’t differ much from the standard dog processed diet. Some are labelled low-fat … but (just like the human weight-loss industry) … they use extra carbs to replace fat. 

Dog Food For Overweight Dogs

Your first stop for a diet for overweight dogs might be the pet store or your vet’s office. You’ll find a wide range of weight-loss, grain-free, and reduced-fat options, with questionable ingredients. Here are some of the ingredients used in weight-loss diets as fillers. And they also lack nutrients.

Powdered Cellulose 
This is non-digestible plant fiber, often from wood pulp. It’s essentially sawdust … woody fiber without any nutritional value. Cellulose dilutes the number of calories in each serving. It also gives your dog the feeling of fullness. But you’ll notice the volume of poop also increases.

Beet Pulp
This is a high fiber by-product of the sugar beet industry. It’s considered an inexpensive filler. Some reports say it has health benefits. Still, its vitamins and minerals get removed for other purposes. All that remains is fiber that passes through your dog like any other fiber, despite its origin in a root vegetable.

Brewers Rice 
This is the small grain fragments left over after whole grains of rice are milled. It’s an inexpensive grain filler without any nutritional value. It will bulk up your dog’s poop and make him feel fuller.

Chicken By-Product Meal 
This is a dry rendered product known as slaughterhouse waste. This is what remains from slaughtered chicken. It’s usually anything but meat and includes feathers, fat, feet and beaks.

Soy Flour, Soy Grits, Soybean Mill Run
Soy is problematic for several reasons. Soy is a low-cost alternative to meat protein but can be highly allergenic. Most soy is also genetically modified and harvested using toxic glyphosate as a desiccant. Soy grits are left after the extraction and removal of oil and soy meat. Soybean Mill Run is the hulls after the soy meat is removed.

So … when there’s soy in a dog food, it artificially increases the protein content without adding meat. These soybean by-products are also inferior sources of amino acids. They are an unusable protein that your dog can’t digest. 

You’ll also find grain-free foods that contain different legumes (also used as a low-cost source of protein), instead of grains. These are just as starchy as grains and should be avoided for your overweight dog.

Many ingredients in manufactured, weight-loss dog foods include grains, legumes and low-quality proteins. And you should also be aware of ingredient splitting. That’s when the same ingredient gets divided into sub-types and listed separately on the label. But added together, they’d usually be the largest ingredient (by weight). 

Weight Control Dog Food Labels

Here are the top ingredients listed on a few random labels.

  • Weight Glucose Management: Water, pork liver, whole grain corn, chicken, cracked pearled barley, powdered cellulose, chicken liver flavor …
  • Weight Reduction: Whole grain corn, corn gluten meal, chicken by-product meal, powdered cellulose, soybean meal, soybean mill run, chicken liver flavor, dried beet pulp, pork liver flavor … 
  • Grain-free, Reduced Fat: Chicken meal, field peas, lentils, potato, tapioca …
  • Reduced Fat, Grain-free: Deboned cod, turkey meal, salmon meal, lentils, yellow peas …
  • Reduced Fat: Chicken, rice, whole grain corn, poultry by-product meal, corn germ meal …

With the exception of pork liver, deboned cod and chicken, the above ingredients offer little to no nutritional value. Those that aren’t stripped-down grains or fillers are carbohydrates your dog doesn’t need.

How Carbohydrates Cause Overweight Dogs

Processed diets are high in carbs and unhealthy fats, and low in protein …. and that leads to weight gain. 

According to animal nutritionist Dr Richard S Patton PhD, dogs in the wild ate a diet that was 4% carbohydrate. They’d get some carbs from wild berries or the stomach contents of their prey. Yet today’s processed food often has 40% carbohydrates or more. 

Most dogs need about 25–30 calories per pound per day to maintain a healthy weight. So, a 30-pound dog needs about 800 calories a day. And a lot of the calories in kibble are from carbs. So, if you reduce the kibble and feed a whole food, meat-based diet, you can feed your dog the same amount of calories … but he’ll get healthier foods and better nutrition. And it’ll be easier to control his weight.

Is My Dog Overweight?

So … how can you tell if your dog is overweight? The easiest way to tell is to see if you can feel his ribs. Holistic vet Dr Edward Bassingthwaighte offers this guideline: make a loose fist and run your other hand over your knuckles. That’s what your dog’s ribs should feel like. There shouldn’t be a layer of fat preventing you from feeling the ridges of his ribs. And he should have a defined waist that you can see from above and from the side. You should be able to see where your dog’s chest stops and his stomach area begins. 

What To Feed Your Overweight Dog

Here are the most effective foods to help your dog lose weight.

Raw Diet
whole food, raw meat diet is the best option for your dog. You can buy pre-made frozen raw food. Most should be complete and balanced, and some will contain fruits and vegetables. Higher quality foods won’t have added synthetic vitamins and minerals. Instead, the nutritients come from the ingredients. 

Or you can follow recipes to prepare raw food meals yourself. Here are some tips to help your overweight dog …

  • Stick to lean meats including turkey, chicken and beef
  • Feed a balanced raw diet that includes muscle meat, organs and bones plus fruit, vegetables, eggs and fish. Otherwise, your dog will lack essential nutrients. 
  • Use fruits and vegetables from your dog’s meals to create healthy treats. You can freeze broccoli, green beans or carrots or small pieces of meat. 
  • Give raw meaty bones as treats or as an occasional meal replacement. Bones will keep your dog occupied for hours and satisfy his need for food. Give your dog knuckle bones, lamb femurs or pork or beef neck bones. They are healthier choices than commercial chews.
  • Include omega-3 fatty acids to balance the omega-6 fats found in most dog food
  • Include probiotics to balance the gut microbiome and help digestion and the immune system

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Low In Starch
Whether you feed your dog raw or home-cooked, leave out the starchy foods. Dogs have no nutritional requirement for starch to survive. A diet of protein and fat supplemented by some low-carb fruit and vegetables meets your dog’s energy needs. 

A low-carb or low-starch diet includes raw meat or gently cooked meals without any carbohydrates in starch or grain form. Avoid legumes as well. These add starch to the diet … and plant-based protein doesn’t nourish your dog like the animal protein he needs.  You can include low-carb vegetables (steamed or pureed for digestibility) like leafy greens (spinach, kale, dandelion greens), mushrooms, broccoli, zucchini, cauliflower or asparagus.

Freeze-Dried Raw Diet
Most freeze-dried diets have the same ingredients as pre-made raw frozen diets … muscle meat, organs and ground bones. Some will include fruits and vegetables. Like raw foods, the better options don’t have added synthetic vitamins and minerals. 

Freeze-dried dog foods aren’t heated during the manufacturing process. Frozen food goes into large machines that lower the atmospheric pressure around the food. This removes moisture from the food. So, freeze-dried dog food isn’t cooked at all. But it’s very low in moisture, which gives it a long shelf life and makes it easy to store and serve.

What Can I Do If My Dog Is Overweight?

Besides feeding your dog a raw, home-cooked or freeze-dried diet with minimal carbs, here are some other things you can do to help your overweight dog lose weight. 

1. Feed the Right Amount
The guideline for whole food, raw meat-based or home cooked diets is 2 to 3% of your dog’s ideal body weight at maturity. If your dog isn’t an active breed, feed on the low side; higher if he’s an active dog. If your dog is overweight, feed him based on what his healthy weight should be … not his actual weight. Start at 2% … then you can increase or decrease depending on whether he loses or gains weight.

If you do feed kibble, keep in mind that the recommended feeding amounts are usually too high. If your dog gains weight, cut back his portions. 

2. Reduce Feedings … or Food Portions
You may have to experiment with this for your overweight dog. Some dogs will lose weight with just one meal a day. This mimics what would happen in nature, when dogs would only eat when they found food. And it gives your dog’s digestive system a healthy break between meals. 

But you might need a different approach if your dog seems ravenously hungry all the time. Your dog might lose weight more easily if you split his daily food amounts into 2 or 3 feedings a day. If he doesn’t finish his food in 15 minutes, remove it for later. Don’t keep topping up the bowl. Of course, make sure your dog has water available all day.

3. Don’t Free Feed

Some dog owners free-feed. This is the practice of keeping the bowl full for your dog to eat at will. But you have no way of knowing how much he’s eating through the day, so it’s a bad idea for an overweight dog. 

4. Feed Nutritious Food
Feed more protein and veggies, with no simple carbs … and only healthy fats. Supplement your dog’s existing food with add-ins like veggies, fruit, eggs, sardines. You can include non-starchy veggies like broccoli, green beans, celery, or asparagus. Include low-sugar blueberries, raspberries, blackberries or cranberries. 

Is The Green Bean Diet Good For Dog Weight Loss?

This is a popular diet, but it’s not the best idea. Many vets recommend swapping a portion of your dog’s food for green beans. The problem is your dog is only getting limited nutrition from the beans, so you could be creating a nutrient deficiency. You can feed them as treats instead. 

5. Add Foods with Healthy Fiber
Fiber gives your dog a feeling of fullness without the calories. But that doesn’t mean you need to give him cellulose or other fillers found in processed dog foods. Instead, give him healthy fiber. There are 2 types and your dog can have both. 

Soluble fiber dissolves in water. It travels into the colon where fermentation by beneficial bacteria creates short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that support your dog’s immune system. Soluble fiber can also help improve blood sugar levels to lower diabetes and obesity risk. Your dog can get soluble fiber from foods like fruit, mushrooms and seaweed. 

Insoluble fiber is fiber that doesn’t get digested as it travels through the digestive system. It attracts water to the stool and bulks up food to help it pass through the colon. Your dog can have insoluble fiber found in plants and vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and green beans. 

RELATED: Read about the best sources of fiber for dogs ..

6. Increase Daily Exercise
Dogs can be victims of their owners’ sedentary lifestyles. Depending on age and health, most dogs need 30 minutes to 2 hours of physical activity every day. Even a walk around the neighborhood to sniff out the surroundings engages and benefits your dog physically and mentally.

7. Keep Track Of Treats
Your dog can easily gain weight by eating too many treats. It’s great to use treats for training or to reward your dog “just because” … but keep track of the treats for an overweight dog. You may need to remove some food from his meals. And try to use healthy treats like freeze dried or dehydrated meats or veggies, instead of cookies or other starchy treats.

The Dangers Of Having An Overweight Dog

In 2018, the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention estimated that 56% of dogs in the US were overweight or obese. Dog obesity is just as dangerous as obesity in humans. It reduces the lifespan and quality of life of your dog. 

Here are some health issues that affect overweight dogs. 

  • Orthopedic disease
  • Ligament rupture
  • Tracheal collapse
  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Urinary issues
  • Heart disease
  • Joint issues
  • Pancreatitis
  • Heart and lung diseases
  • Cancer
  • Skin problems

What Causes Dogs To Be Overweight?

There are several physiological reasons for weight gain:

  • Aging – older dogs are less active and need less food, but owners continue to feed them the same amount from their younger days
  • Breed – some breeds are prone to gain weight
  • Neutering or spaying can lower your dog’s metabolism
  • Lack of exercise

But the prime reason for overweight dogs is … overfeeding. One person controls what goes into the food bowl and that’s you. So it’s your responsibility to prevent weight gain by managing what your dog eats. It’s all too easy to feed dogs too much because it makes owners happy to see their dogs happy … when they’re eating. 

But you can have a happy … and healthy dog … by feeding a diet with minimal carbs and starches and lots of fresh whole foods. And reward your dog with love, attention and exercise … not food.

Cat Allergies?

As Seen in PetMD

That sneezing, wheezing, congested, itchy eye, must-escape-this-room-because-I-can’t-breathe-around-this-cat feeling can ruin even the best of days—especially if you are a cat lover.  

But now, you might be able to avoid the allergies altogether, instead of avoiding the furry feline.

You read that right. There have been some very promising scientific breakthroughs that can help alleviate the symptoms of cat allergies altogether. Breathing comfortably without red, itchy eyes could become the norm for allergy sufferers.

And we aren’t talking about allergy shots or desensitization therapy, either.

These new treatments for cat allergies aren’t for you—they’re actually administered to your cat. The goal is to help make them less likely to incite an inflammatory process in you.

Here’s everything you need to know about the potential new cat allergy treatments.

Am I Allergic to Cat Hair?

To help you understand how these new treatments would work, let me quickly break down cat allergies.

If you are amongst the 1 in 5 people worldwide who suffer a range of allergic symptoms when you’re near a cat—or even near someone who has a cat—your allergies are actually NOT caused by the animal’s fur.

This is why a short-haired cat likely invokes the same allergic response as a long-haired Persian cat.

The culprit behind your sneezing and wheezing and puffy eyes is a protein in a cat’s saliva and sebaceous glands (hair follicle glands that produce sebum, an oily secretion that waterproofs their coat and maintains skin health). That glycoprotein is called “Fel d1.”

When cats groom themselves, some hairs break loose and become airborne. The offending protein in the saliva—that Fel d1 allergen—is carried on the hairs, so they become distribution vehicles for the potent allergen that’s causing your inflammatory response.

Recent Studies for Cat Allergy Cures

For the first time ever, science is offering hope to cat-allergy sufferers everywhere. In just a few years, your options may extend beyond HEPA filters, asthma inhalers, allergy medications and avoidance.

Two studies have discovered different ways to tackle the problem at its root. The idea is to neutralize the feline allergen itself instead of trying to minimize a person’s allergic response.

HypoPet AG Vaccine Study

Scientists at a pharmaceutical company in Switzerland have announced the development of a conjugate vaccine called HypoCat (hypoallergenic cat) that binds to and neutralizes the major cat allergen, Fel d1.

According to the studies recently performed, cats who received the HypoCat vaccine according to the protocol did indeed have lower levels of Fel d1 in the blood.

Although it is somewhat more subjective, the allergic humans involved in the study did show less allergic symptoms around the vaccinated cat compared to unvaccinated cats.

Due to the encouraging results, the Swiss company is moving ahead with registration studies and discussions to bring the vaccine to market in the US and Europe.

HypoPet is hoping to have their HypoCat vaccine on the market in 2022, and they also have a HypoDog vaccine in the pipeline too.

Purina Institute Cat Allergen Diet Study

The Swiss scientists aren’t the only ones to bring a cat de-allergenator to market: Purina Pro Plan LiveClear cat foods.

Purina has taken a different approach to tackling the Fel d1 protein. They are working to neutralize the allergen through a cat’s diet.

The company recently published a study explaining how an egg product ingredient can be introduced to a cat’s diet to help neutralize the major cat allergen, Fel d1.

The concept is similar to the vaccine, with the goal being to decrease levels of active Fel d1 found in cat saliva.

While Purina’s study did not yet incorporate humans’ allergic response rates, an encouraging 86% of cats saw at least a 30% reduction from the baseline Fel d1 levels.

What This Means for Pet Parents With Cat Allergies

The reality is that many people go through extreme efforts to “manage” allergies to keep their beloved feline in their home. While a number of those people are successful, a number are forced to re-home a cat if someone new to the household has an intolerable allergy.

These two studies and potential new products offer a glimpse of hope for cat-allergy sufferers.

As this research is still ongoing, I would anticipate the efficacy of this product only to improve.

Fighting the problem at the source, instead of alleviating the symptoms—it’s so brilliant, and yet so simple. It’s one of those times that I find myself wondering, “Why didn’t I think of that?”

By: Laci Schaible, DVM

How To Manage Dog Skin Conditions

By: Dr Edward Bassingthwaighte As seen in Dogs Naturally Magazine

Skin is often one of the first places your dog will show signs of chronic disease. So it’s always important to pay attention to your dog’s skin health before problems appear.

Dog skin conditions are an indicator of your dog’s deeper health. Often they are the first sign of immune disease. Early signs of skin conditions can be subtle at first. And, left untreated, they can progress.

Symptoms of Dog Skin Conditions

Clinical symptoms of skin disease include:

  • A dull coat without a healthy shine
  • Flaky skin with a small amount of dandruff
  • A musty odor
  • Hair loss
  • Dry itchy skin

These signs can progress to:

  • Redness
  • Discolored skin
  • Itching
  • Thickening of the skin
  • Yeast infections
  • Bacterial infections
  • Hot spots
  • Tumors

Unfortunately, itchy dogs are very common. Chronic skin complaints are one of the most pervasive (and hard to treat) health problems in dogs.

Common Dog Skin Conditions

Although skin conditions in dogs can appear in various forms, the underlying cause is always the same. Chronic ear infections, chewed feet, hot spots and other skin complaints are always the tip of the iceberg. They all stem from a deeper problem with your dog’s immune system, or toxins in his body. Often, it’s both.

Here are some ways skin conditions show up in your dog:

  • Bacterial infection
  • Yeast infection
  • Fungal infection
  • Allergic reaction
  • Environmental allergens
  • Atopic dermatitis 
  • Allergic dermatitis 
  • Flea bites or flea allergy 
  • Food allergies and reactions

Even though dog skin conditions may seem superficial, they run much deeper. This means you’ll need to treat the inside of your dog to see changes on his outside.

Here are my top 10 natural steps to reverse your dog’s skin conditions from the inside out …

Home Remedies For Dog Skin Infections

#1 Switch Your Dog To Raw

This is the first step for any health issue. Change your dog from processed pet food to a whole food, raw meat diet. It’s healthier and it eliminates food intolerances from commercial diets. Dogs with severe gut problems may need to have home-cooked food, but it’s rare. You should also add plenty of vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, leafy greens, and zucchini to help filter toxins.

Avoid starchy carbohydrates as much as possible … they can aggravate skin conditions. This means no foods ike rice, grains, potatoes, or legumes. And never feed any foods with preservatives, colorings or other chemicals.

#2 Use Herbs To Detoxify Your Dog

This will help clear toxins from his gut, liver, lymphatics and kidneys. Here is the best way to detoxify and support your dog’s gut and immune system:

Buy the following dried organic herbs for your dog:

  • Calendula
  • Chamomile
  • Parsley
  • Burdock
  • Nettle
  • Dandelion

Mix all the herbs together in equal parts in a large jar. Every night, put two tablespoons of the herbs in 1 cup of boiling water, cover the cup and let them steep overnight. Strain the fluid and mix it into your dog’s meals.

RELATED: Learn more about herbs for common dog skin problems …

#3 Detoxify The Liver

Milk thistle is the go-to herb for cleaning out the liver. If you’re using a human product, assume the dose is for a 150 pound person and give your dog an amount based on his body weight. For extra strength, you can add glutathione to the milk thistle (again, adjusting the dose if it’s a human product).

Don’t use milk thistle long-term. It’s best given for only 2 to 4 weeks at a time and then take a break, and repeat every month or two.

#4 Detox The Kidneys

Every month or two, you can make a tea to detox the kidneys following the same directions as above, but using these herbs …

#5 Detoxify The Lymphatic System

Regular exercise is great for this, as is massage and bodywork. You can also make an herbal tea to detoxify and support the lymphatic system with:

  • Plantain
  • Red clover
  • Cleavers
  • Fenugreek

#6 Use Homeopathy

This will address the deep distortions of your dog’s vital force. Homeopathy is the best way to address the deep down causes of dog skin conditions. Working with a homeopath is easy and can be done by phone. You can find a homeopathic vet at theavh.org.

RELATED: Learn more about homeopathy for dogs …

#7 Repair The Gut

Since most of the immune system lives in your dog’s gut, you need to address his gut health. The best way to do this is to feed your dog high-quality probiotics daily for several months. The probiotics will balance the bacteria in the gut and restore the health of the immune system. A high fiber diet will also help provide prebiotics, which are like soil for the probiotics to grow on.

DNM RECOMMENDS: Four Leaf Rover offers Protect, an everyday soil-based probiotic with prebiotics and antioxidants, plus humic and fulvic acid to help remove toxins from the body. Buy Protect now >>

#8 Support The Immune System

Medicinal mushroom blends do a fantastic job of supporting the immune system. There are several good products for pets.

Make sure the mushrooms are organic and made from whole mushrooms. Many mushroom products are made from mycelium, which is only part of the mushroom. Mycelium is grown on grain which means it’s higher in starch and lower in important beta glucans medicinal properties than whole mushrooms. Follow the instructions on the packaging. You can also use human products and again, adjust the human dose for your dog’s weight

Vitamin C is also very helpful for healthy immune function. But don’t buy ascorbic acid … find a natural form of vitamin C from camu camu or acerola instead.

#9 Avoid Environmental Toxins

While you detoxify your dog, you’ll want to make sure you’re not adding new toxins. If you do, his skin condition will continue. Go through your home and remove as many chemicals and artificial fragrances as you can. These are very toxic to your dog.

#10 Reduce Stress

Last, but not least, reduce any stress in the humans and dogs in the household. Emotional stress is a big trigger for skin conditions. Take time out as a family to relax, meditate and exercise. If there is major stress going on, get help to process and move through it. If your dog has stress, anxiety or trauma, think about training or bodywork. It will all help!

RELATED: Get some easy DIY recipes for dog skin problems …

Just being aware of your dog’s health and body condition and providing ongoing care will prevent any of these issues from becoming bigger problems.

Allergic to Dog Saliva?

As seen in PetMD

Allergies occur when your immune system overreacts to seemingly harmless substances in the environment. People can be allergic to a wide range of things, but some of the more common allergens come from dogs and cats, including their dander.

But is saliva on that list? If your skin ever started itching or you developed a rash after getting licked by a dog, you might wonder if you could be allergic to dog saliva.

Can People Be Allergic to Dog Saliva?

The simple answer is yes, you can be allergic to a dog’s saliva.

In the United States, it is estimated that up to 30% of the population is allergic to dogs and cats.

Many people believe that if you are allergic to pets, it’s the fur that’s the problem. But contrary to popular belief, dog hair is not the culprit. Instead, your body’s allergic responses are directed toward proteins found in a dog’s dander (skin flakes), urine, blood, and saliva.

Dog saliva has multiple protein profiles that may trigger your immune system. In fact, a dog’s saliva has more protein types than their skin, so it can potentially cause more allergies than dander.

If you’re allergic to the proteins in a dog’s saliva and the dog licks you, your immune system will activate and attack the proteins in the saliva just as if they were a virus or bacteria on the skin. This can result in a rash or hives, and your skin can become itchy, red, and/or swollen.

In addition, if your pet licks their fur or your furniture, carpet, clothes, and other items, it leaves salivary proteins that can dry and be dispersed through the air. If you’re allergic to dog saliva and inhale airborne proteins, it can cause watery eyes, sneezing, and/or coughing. In severe cases, this can lead to an asthmatic attack.

That means you do not have to be directly exposed to dog saliva to have an allergic reaction. Interestingly, 90% of households in the United States have detectable levels of dog/cat allergens, which means salivary proteins are carried around by people and on inanimate objects. As a result, people who do not have pets can still be at risk for a reaction through inadvertent exposure.

Can You Be Allergic to Just Certain Dogs’ Saliva?

Yes. Dogs can have different protein profiles, so you can be allergic to saliva from other people’s dogs even if you are not allergic to your own dog’s saliva. Also, you may have become desensitized to allergens in your dog’s saliva over time, which is why you do not react to it.

Dog breed, size, age, and gender do not play a role in determining whether a person will be allergic to the saliva or not. Even two dogs of the same breed will have different protein profiles in their saliva. A person may react to one of the dogs and not the other.

There are some breeds that produce more saliva, like the Saint Bernard, and you would think this would cause more problems for a person with allergies. However, if you do not have a sensitivity to the proteins found in the Saint Bernard’s saliva, there will not be a reaction.  

How Do You Know If You’re Allergic to Dog Saliva?

If you think you may have a sensitivity to dog saliva, ask your doctor. They may order a skin-prick test or intradermal skin test. With these tests, a dog salivary/dander protein extract is introduced under the surface of your skin, and the area is monitored over time for signs of redness, inflammation, and swelling.

Another type of test can be performed on your blood that measures the level of immune response to different allergens (including dog saliva).

References

Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

National Institute of Health (NIH). Pet Allergens.

Chan SK, Leung DYM. Dog and Cat Allergies: Current State of Diagnostic Approaches and Challenges. Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Research. 2018;10(2):97.

Polovic N, Wadén K, Binnmyr J, et al. Dog saliva – an important source of dog allergens. Allergy. 2013;68(5):585-592.