Our homes contain a range of environmental toxins that can affect your cat’s respiratory system. Here are the most common culprits, and what you can do to help your kitty breathe easier.
Does your cat sneeze a lot? Have you noticed irritated or runny eyes? Perhaps some coughing? Or worse, has she developed chronic bronchitis or asthma? These symptoms may have several causes, one of which could be a sensitivity to environmental toxins in the home. Such sensitivities can appear in cats of any age. This article looks at the most common culprits when it comes to these toxins, and what you can do to help alleviate your cat’s suffering.
MANMADE CHEMICALS ABOUND
The number of environmental toxins present in our homes has increased steadily since the 1970s. From fire retardants to air fresheners, these chemicals were all originally created to makes our lives easier, safer, or more pleasant. But for some individuals, including our feline companions, they can make life more difficult. Exposure to the chemicals used in fabrics and materials for curtains, rugs, furniture and other household items has resulted in a variety of health problems in both humans and animals. The greater the number, variety, and concentration of manmade chemicals in a household, the greater the chances that your cat (or human family) will suffer from the health effects they can produce.
Although food sensitivities caused by additives in commercial pet foods don’t typically cause respiratory symptoms, they can still contribute to the total chemical burden on your cat’s body. These sensitivities generally cause itchy skin or GI upsets such as vomiting or diarrhea. Switching to a healthier diet is just one more way to help her feel better overall.
HOW TO FIND THE CAUSE OF YOUR CAT’S DISCOMFORT
If your cat develops any of the respiratory symptoms mentioned above, the first step is to take her to the veterinarian for a checkup. Once other health problems, such as an infectious disease, are ruled out, it’s time to start looking at toxins in your home environment, such as the following:
Toxins in the air can also come from the evaporation or “outgassing” of chemicals. Outgassing occurs when chemicals are gradually lost from materials in the home, especially those made from plastics. The result is a weakened product as well as chemicals in the air that you may be unaware of. For example, even if paint looks and feels dry, it can continue to cure or dry further, releasing low levels of toxins. Similarly, commercial floor and furniture waxes contain many compounds that can evaporate and cause sensitivities in your cat.
High levels of dust mites in the home are associated with an increased number and duration of asthma attacks in humans, and difficulties in breathing. Dust mites can affect cats as well.
HEPA FILTERS AND OTHER SOLUTIONS
What can you do to minimize the impact of environmental toxins in your home, and improve your cat’s health? A HEPA filter can be very helpful, especially one with a charcoal pre-filter. The charcoal absorbs certain gases that the main filter can’t. Many people notice that they, as well as their animal companions, breathe more freely and have less eye irritation after buying a HEPA filter. As a bonus, a HEPA can also help reduce the negative effects of dust mites.
In addition to purchasing a HEPA filter, start using more natural products such as household cleaners to help everyone — feline and human — breathe better. It’s true that a natural product may require a little more effort to use than chemical household cleaners. For example, when using a beeswax product rather than a chemical furniture polish, you might need to apply more pressure to get a good shine. You might need two products instead of one to clean carpets or drapes, especially if you are just starting to use more natural products. But your cat’s improved well-being (and your own) is worth it!
If your cat suffers from asthma, do not abandon conventional treatment methods. Cats can suffer uncomfortably or even die from a severe asthma attack. As you introduce more natural products into your house, however, you may notice that her attacks are less severe, and don’t happen as often. In fact, with the guidance of your veterinarian, you might even be able to decrease your cat’s medication.
Because our cats are a lot smaller than we are, and often spend more time in the house than we do, they are more likely to develop health problems in response to the many environmental toxins and chemicals found in our homes. If your cat is exhibiting any persistent respiratory symptoms – sneezing, watery eyes, nasal discharge or coughing — have her checked by the vet, and then look for ways to lower her exposure to household toxins by considering a HEPA filter and adopting a more natural lifestyle.
With a variety of CBD products on the market, it’s important to know the differences in order to choose the right CBD oil for your pet!
Understanding the difference in CBD products is just as important as choosing the right CBD product for your pet. Since these differences can also directly affect price and product benefits, it’s crucial to consider the true meaning of “Full Spectrum”, “Broad Spectrum” and CDB “Isolate” when it comes to a CBD oil for pets:
CBD isolate is 99% pure CBD. It comes in a powder, and is the most popular form for a few reasons, including its inexpensive cost and its lack of smell or taste (if produced correctly). It can also easily be mixed and formulated into a product. However, it’s the least efficacious form of CBD, which means it has the less medicinal benefits when compared to a broad spectrum or full spectrum oil. CBD isolate is void of all the other supporting compounds found in the hemp plant, such as Terpenes, which give the plant its overall medicinal benefits. These other compounds include, minor cannabinoids, such as, CBG or CBC and terpenes. CBD isolate is created by “crashing out” (turning the CBD into a crystal form) the pure CBD from the rest of the hemp compounds.
2.“Broad Spectrum” CBD Oil
Broad Spectrum CBD oil is the next best option to CBD isolate as it does include some of the other supporting cannabinoids, while still excluding THC and the terpenes. Broad spectrum oil is also known as a “distillate”, which is the CBD oil that’s left after it goes through a distillation process. It’s very similar to how an oil company refines oil into gasoline. Broad spectrum oil is still a commodity of the hemp industry as it can be mass produced using just about any quality of hemp material. One concern with this form is the process of removing the THC from the CBD oil. THC is most often removed using chromatography, and this process employs extremely dangerous chemicals to separate out the cannabinoids. These chemicals can then be refined out of the CBD oil, but because it’s time consuming and sometimes costly, residual solvents may still remain. Understandably, then, it‘s so important to know the source of your CBD oil and be able to track it throughout cultivation, extraction and formulation.
Full spectrum CBD oil is an extract that contains the highest number of compounds found in the original hemp plant, including THC. Full spectrum CBD oil produces the commonly used phrase “Entourage Effect”, which refers to the synergistic relationship of all the compounds in the hemp plant, including cannabinoids and terpenes. Through this synergy, the compounds work together to bring on more therapeutic benefits. Full spectrum CBD oil has the highest medicinal value and is the least processed CBD oil of the three options. A quality full spectrum CBD oil first starts with hemp genetics. Not all hemp is created equal. In fact, there are many levels of quality when it comes to hemp genetics, and better genetics create CBD oil with better efficacy. In addition to genetics, it’s crucial to properly harvest, dry, and cure the hemp, since heat and natural environmental exposure can harm the plant’s compounds if these steps aren’t done right. Finally, the extraction method, whether it’s through carbon dioxide (CO2), alcohol or hydrocarbon, needs to be completed with care and knowledge of the process (including temperature). Interestingly enough, even though a full spectrum CBD oil has less post processing, it is actually more expensive to produce.
When you’re shopping for a CBD product for your pet, you likely want one that’s safe and comes with the most benefits. Understanding the differences between Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum and CBD Isolate will help you make the best decision for your furry best friend.
Diane recommends :
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Dog wheezing is a health issue that you should never brush aside.
While this condition can be triggered by your canine family member simply being exposed to everyday allergens and will disappear just after a few minutes, dog wheezing can also result in potentially life-threatening situations in some cases.
Apart from walking you through the possible factors that could set off wheezing in dogs, this blog post will also give you a rundown of the proper home remedies for dog wheezing you should use when this problem strikes.
Let’s start the discussion by touching on the likely reasons why your dog is wheezing…
WHY IS MY DOG WHEEZING?
Wheezing in dogs occurs when something partially impedes the flow of air in or out of your canine family member’s airway. The source of this blockage could either be in the bronchi—the main tubes of the lungs—or the windpipe.
The high-pitched “wheezing” sound is basically created when the air moving from the lungs to the windpipe brushes against the said blockage during exhalation.
However, it is crucial to take note that there are several possible reasons why this wheezing sound is created, which can be anywhere from mild irritation to an underlying health issue.
Now we’ve got that out of the bag, let’s touch on the causes of dog wheezing that you need to keep in mind…
WHAT CAUSES WHEEZING IN DOGS?
There are eight (8) common causes of dog wheezing, namely genetics, foreign bodies, cardiovascular ailments, allergies, bronchitis, infections and inflammations, as well as kennel cough and collapsed windpipe. We’ll go through each one of these in detail below:
Interestingly, genetics play a key role in dog wheezing. Should either of both of your canine family member’s parents—the biological ones, in this case—be predisposed or have actually suffered from wheezing in dogs due to some underlying condition, then it’s also likely that he will be susceptible to this health issue as well.
If your precious pet is anything like most dogs, chances are he loves to chew on anything that he finds fascinating like toys, sticks, various foodstuffs, plastic lids, and even chunks of wood. It is not uncommon that some of these things may splinter or break into pieces, which can get lodged inside his airway, leading to coughing and wheezing.
Canine cardiovascular illnesses such as mitral valve disease, congestive heart failure, as well as cardiomyopathy, can cause the accumulation of fluid inside the lungs. This fluid can eventually spread out in and around a dog’s airway, which results in wheezing.
Just to emphasize, while this factor is mostly observed among senior dogs, it can also occasionally be noted in younger pooches that are suffering from a heart condition.
Akin to human beings, your canine family member can also be prone to allergy attacks. These can be triggered by dust, mold, certain types of food, pollen, industrial chemicals, as well as cigarette smoke and vapors from vapes, resulting in dog wheezing.
As these allergens make their way inside your dog’s respiratory system, they tend to set off an immune response that causes his airway to constrict, which can make breathing a bit difficult. Moreover, insect bites and stings can also lead to similar consequences.
Bronchitis is a respiratory illness that is characterized by the irritation of the main tubes of the lungs called “bronchi.” As this disease progresses, the lining of the bronchi gets inflamed and eventually swells, hindering the air to freely flow from the windpipe to the lungs and vice versa.
The more pronounced this swelling becomes, the harder it is for the air to move to and fro the lungs and windpipe, causing the high-pitched wheezing sound.
INFECTIONS AND INFLAMMATIONS
When your dog is suffering from an infection and or inflammation affecting the respiratory system, the most prominent immune responses that his body sets off are nasal discharge, bouts of coughing and sneezing, as well as a constricted airway.
This can also be accompanied by the buildup of phlegm in your canine family member’s sinuses and throat, which can hamper the flow of air in his windpipe and lungs, causing dog wheezing sooner or later.
Characterized by persistent bouts of dry coughing, kennel cough is a type of respiratory infection that irritates the lining of a dog’s airway making it difficult for him to breathe. This illness also causes parts of the throat and windpipe to swell, which can lead to dog wheezing.
A collapsed windpipe, also referred to as tracheal collapse, involves the unexpected falling in of cartilage that hold the trachea together. Depending on the severity of the collapse, a dog may experience bouts of coughing that have a distinctive honking sound as well as intermittent wheezing spells.
Next, let’s find out if dog wheezing can be deemed as an emergency situation or not…
IS DOG WHEEZING AN EMERGENCY?
More often than not, dog wheezing is not to be deemed as an emergency situation. This condition can be simply your dog’s body’s response to everyday allergens like dust and pollen, as well as contact with blades of grass and twigs that could give him quite a ticklish sensation.
But the thing is this doesn’t mean that wheezing in dogs should be just shrugged off altogether. Here are the crucial indicators that you need to keep an eye on to determine if this condition is potentially life-threatening for your pet already:
He is visibly having a difficult time inhaling and exhaling
His breathing is really shallow yet at a very fast pace
His heart rate is significantly (and abnormally) high
His gums and tongue have a noticeable bluish or purplish tinge
He breathes with his mouth open with intermittent gagging and coughing
He will exhibit signs of severe anxiety like aimless movement and prolonged whining
Make sure you immediately seek medical attention or provide emergency care for your canine family member as soon as you notice these signs. Paying no heed to the same could lead to extremely serious or even fatal consequences for your animal companion.
Now we’ve got that covered, let’s check out the dog wheezing natural remedies that you need to include in your home pet care kit to deal with this health issue the right way…
DOG WHEEZING HOME REMEDIES
Unlike what a lot of people mistakenly believe, over-the-counter bronchodilators and antibiotics are not just your only options when it comes to properly supporting your canine family member during wheezing in dogs.
The next time your beloved pet goes through this condition, make sure you give him these all-natural dog wheezing home remedies. What’s really interesting is that the following natural remedies can also be used as a preventive measure for this health issue:
BREW UP SOME ELECAMPANE TEA.
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), elecampane—also known as elf wort, elfdock, and horse-heal—contains ample amounts of the organic compound alantolactone, which has been seen to help relax constricted airways in cases of respiratory inflammation.
Moreover, follow up studies on elecampane reveal that alantolactone has a noticeable therapeutic effect to airways that were suppressed or impeded by cigarette smoke exposure.
To use elecampane as a home remedy for dog wheezing, steep a teaspoon of this dried root herb in a cup of hot water for at least ten (10) minutes. Let the mixture cool down completely. You can either give this elecampane tea to your dog straight, one teaspoon at a time twice a day, or add in a couple of teaspoons of the same to his water.
INFUSE YOUR DOG’S WATER WITH A BIT OF ECHINACEA.
Another study published in the NCBI reveals that echinacea is abundant in a starch-like chemical called arabinogalactan, which showed noticeable therapeutic effects when used to deal with upper respiratory tract infections and inflammations.
Arabinogalactan has also been seen to help alleviate the pain and discomfort caused by health issues like otitis media and pharyngotonsillitis that are often set off by infections and inflammations in the upper respiratory tract.
To use echinacea as a home remedy for dog wheezing, steep a teaspoon of dried echinacea flowers in a cup of hot water for at least ten (10) minutes. Stir it gently with a spoon to make sure that all of the bits are really soaked.
Once the mixture has cooled down completely, you can give your dog two (2) teaspoons of echinacea tea straight twice per day. Alternatively, you can also add the same amount of echinacea tea to his water.
KEEP RESPIRATORY INFLAMMATIONS AT BAY WITH LICORICE ROOT.
The NCBI highlights another study where licorice root has been seen to inhibit the accumulation of 11-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase, which staves off the onset of allergic responses, particularly in the respiratory system.
To use licorice root as a home remedy for dog wheezing, steep a teaspoon of it in a cup of hot water for at least fifteen (15) minutes. Let the mixture linger for a few minutes after it has cooled down completely.
You can give your dog two (2) teaspoons of licorice root tea straight twice per day. Alternatively, you can also add the same amount of the same to his water.
Since licorice root is naturally slightly bitter, you can add a bit of honey to this concoction to make the whole thing sweeter and easier for your pet to consume.
MULLEIN LEAVES CAN HOLD BACK RESPIRATORY INFECTIONS.
Another study published in the NCBI stresses that extracts derived from mullein leaves show the ability to “inhibit the growth of bacteria involved in respiratory infections,” which can trigger dog wheezing.
To use mullein leaves as a home remedy for dog wheezing, steep a teaspoon of this herb—you can go for either the fresh or dried variety—in a cup of hot water for at least ten (10) minutes. Let the mixture cool down completely.
You can either give this mullein tea to your dog straight, one teaspoon at a time twice a day, or add in a couple of teaspoons of the same to his water.
QUERCETIN CAN HELP STABILIZE YOUR DOG’S RESPIRATORY RATE.
According to MDPI, foods rich in quercetin such as dark cherries, unpeeled apples, and blueberries have been seen to help promote stabilized respiratory rates when consumed on a regular basis.
Additional studies note that animals previously often exposed to cigarette smoke have a higher chance of normalizing their respiratory rates as compared to those that did not.
To use quercetin as a home remedy for dog wheezing, integrate foods rich in this antioxidant into your canine family member’s regular diet.
In the next part of our discussion, I’d like to share a natural and high-quality product you can go for if your dog is going through a bout of wheezing…
A HIGH-QUALITY NATURAL PRODUCT YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT
HomeoAnimal’s BRONCHIAL CLEAR is designed to support respiratory capacity and promote better lung health.
Besides being made with natural homeopathic ingredients, my team and I at HomeoAnimal have also ensured that each of the components that make up BRONCHIAL CLEAR are also first-rate to only give your pet the best like you would have also wanted.
To use BRONCHIAL CLEAR to support your canine family member during dog wheezing, you only need to give him a single spray of this product in his mouth once a day. You can also mix it with his water as an alternative application.
Moreover, make sure you stop administering BRONCHIAL CLEAR once the symptoms have disappeared. It is also important to take note that this product is not to be used as a preventive measure.
This brings our walkthrough on the home remedies you can use for dog wheezing to a close.
I hope that you learned a lot from our discussion, especially the part where I emphasized that wheezing in dogs should not be left to chance. Rather it should be given immediate and proper care and attention like having BRONCHIAL CLEAR in your dog home care checklist.
In case you’re looking to learn more about keeping your canine family member happy and healthy using natural means, make sure you sign up for our FREE HEALTH ADVISOR GUIDANCE right now to get the lowdown on the products and treatment options that best fit your animal’s health needs.
Naturally with you and your pet, every step of the way!
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 A 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.
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.
Heart and lung diseases
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.
When your cat yawns, you might get a brief glimpse at what’s going on in their mouth. After taking a peek, cat owners often ask themselves, “Are my cat’s gums normal?”
The eyes might be the window to the soul, but the gums are the window to your cat’s oral health. Cats are masters at hiding illness, so inspecting the gums is a good place to start—if they let you!
If your cat is okay with it, check their gums on a regular basis to detect potential health concerns.
Traits of healthy cat gums
Gums with the following characteristics indicate your kitty is in good health.
Pink color: Healthy cat gums are light pink in color. The ideal shade of pink is one that’s neither too bright nor too pale. Some cats, particularly black and orange ones, naturally have black or spotted gums. This is normal as long as the gums have been black their whole life. Double check with a vet to make sure black is a normal color for your cat’s gums.
Slippery and wet: When you run a finger along your cat’s gums, they should feel slippery and coated in saliva. This is a good indicator that your kitty is well hydrated.
Smooth texture: Healthy cat gums should feel smooth, not bumpy. Some cats develop black or brown spots that look like freckles as they get older. Pigmentation is a normal part of the aging process for some senior kitties so long as the gums still have a smooth texture.
Unhealthy gums and their diseases
Schedule a trip to the vet if you notice any of these abnormal characteristics.
Red or bright pink gums: Redness indicates the presence of gingivitis when it appears around teeth or along the gum line. Gingivitis can progress to periodontal disease, in which case the entire gum line will look either red or bright pink. Gums that suddenly change to these colors could mean your cat is experiencing heat stroke. Heat stroke can quickly turn fatal and requires an immediate trip to the vet.
Gums growing over teeth: Pet parents should be concerned if their cat’s teeth look like they’re sinking below the gum line. This is a clear sign of a dental disease called tooth resorption. Tooth resorption occurs when a tooth slowly deteriorates and gets absorbed back into the jaw bone. It’s a long, painful process that most older cats experience at some point in their life.
Dry or tacky gums: Your cat’s gums shouldn’t feel sticky or dry to the touch. If that’s the case, your cat might be severely dehydrated. This symptom sometimes appears along with the redness associated with heat stroke. Encourage your kitty to drink lots of water right away. If the gum’s moisture doesn’t return to normal, you’ll need to visit an emergency clinic, where vets can rehydrate your cat.
Blue, purple or gray gums: All of these colors are cause for immediate concern. Gums that have paled into a blue, purple or gray hue indicate your cat isn’t getting enough oxygen. This could be due to pneumonia or a blockage in the wind pipe. Don’t wait a second longer—these colors require immediate medical attention!
White or pale pink gums: While blue indicates a lack of oxygen, white or pale pink gums mean your kitty has poor blood circulation. It’s possible their body isn’t producing enough red blood cells, but these colors could also be a warning sign for internal bleeding. Most cats who recently sustained an injury will exhibit white or pale pink gums. Check with your vet for a proper diagnosis.
Bumps, craters or lesions: A bumpy gum texture usually indicates that something’s wrong. Cats develop bumps or lesions on their gums for a variety of reasons. In some cases, the bumps are malignant tumors associated with oral cancer. This is especially true if the bumps are quite painful. Gums that are pockmarked with craters or open sores could mean your kitty has a bacterial infection caused by poor dental hygiene. No matter the cause, anything other than a smooth texture warrants a trip to the vet.
If your cat seems off, their gums are the first place to look. A change in color, texture or moisture can speak volumes about your kitty’s health. While unhealthy gums can indicate a problem, pet parents shouldn’t jump to conclusions about what their cats may or may not be experiencing. Abnormal gum characteristics are your cue to visit a vet clinic where the experts can accurately determine the proper next steps.
Urinary incontinence in dogs, means your dog has the inability to retain urine in his bladder … in other words, bladder leaks.
The urinary system is quite elegant. Urine is produced by the kidneys and fed through the ureters to the bladder. A sphincter (circular muscle) keeps the passage to outside closed until it’s voluntarily opened during urination. At that point, urine flows through the urethra to whatever object your dog decides to gift with his or her scent.
When the sphincter doesn’t stay fully tightened, involuntary leakage occurs. If the bladder is too full, urine can overflow into the urethra and escape. This often happens while your dog is resting or sleeping, or when she gets up from lying down.
Dribbling urine can also be a behavior issue if it happens when your dog is frightened or being submissive.
Signs Of Incontinence In Dogs
I probably don’t need to tell you how you’ll know your dog is incontinent. It’s usually pretty obvious!
The most common sign of urinary incontinence in dogs is wet spots wherever your dog sleeps.
You might also notice …
Dampness around the hindquarters and thighs
Dribbling urine as she walks
Irritated skin or redness from the dripping (urine is caustic and can burn)
Licking the vulva or penis more than usual
Dribbling urine when she is excited, frightened, submissive, or stressed
What Causes Incontinence In Dogs
There are many potential causes and contributors to incontinence, including:
Low estrogen (the most common cause in spayed female dogs).
Masses, cysts, or polyps impeding the sphincter muscle.
What this adds up to is the need for adequate testing to pin down an accurate diagnosis.
Breeds Prone to Incontinence
Research shows that females are more prone to urinary incontinence in dogs than males. Two UK studies found that urinary incontinence affects 3% of females overall, but more than 15% in high risk breeds. These include …
Prevalence in males is less than 1%, with breeds affected including …
Irish Red Setter
Spay/Neuter Increases Incontinence
Urinary incontinence in dogs is more likely in spayed females, especially if they’re spayed early. One study of 492 female dogs concluded that …
“Neutering itself and early-age neutering (<6 months) are major risk factors for early-onset urinary incontinence.”
Another study found that size was a factor in spayed females developing USMI (urinary sphincter incompetence). For every month neuter was delayed in the dogs’ first year, the risk of USMI was reduced in dogs weighing over 25 kg. The risk did not change for dogs under 15 kg.
So, if you decide to spay your dog of 50 lbs or more, it’s best to defer the procedure as long as you can.
Your vet will do (at least) a thorough physical exam, standard blood tests and urinalysis.
If these tests don’t point to an answer, your vet may do more specialized blood tests, urine culture, radiographs, ultrasound, or other types of scans.
If leaks started when your dog was very young, and the vet suspects an anatomical abnormality like ectopic ureter (see below), she may do a dye “urography” that traces the course of the ureter.
You want to determine the cause of your dog’s incontinence so you can treat it appropriately. For example …
An older spayed female dog is most likely to have estrogen-responsive incontinence from spaying. But you don’t want to waste time and money treating that when the real problem may be something else that requires very different therapies.
Ectopic ureters or other anatomical issues may be corrected with surgery.
Incontinent dogs are more likely to develop urinary tract infections. That’s because the presence of urine in the urethra can provide a route for bacteria to climb up to the bladder and set up housekeeping.
The same applies to hormonal issues that can be treated appropriately.
Waterproof dog beds and washable pee pads make clean-up easy and convenient. If your dog sleeps on the bed, at the very least get a waterproof mattress pad, and perhaps a flannel or comfy waterproof flat sheet to put over the covers. Temporary use of doggy diapers may also reduce the emotional toll on the human family.
Conventional Treatments For Incontinence
There are several conventional approaches to treating incontinence problems.
Phenylpropanolamine (Proin®, Propalin®)
This drug releases chemicals that strengthen the bladder sphincter muscles. It’s not a cure … so if your dog stops taking it, she’ll go back to leaking urine.
Side effects in the manufacturer’s clinical trials included …
High blood pressure
Lack of appetite
Proteinuria (protein in the urine)
Restlessness or difficulty sleeping
Irritability or anxiety
Some more serious side effects can occur, usually at higher dosages. These include cardiac issues, tremors and difficulty urinating.
At low doses the risk of side effects is minimal, so some holistic vets may use this drug along with other alternative therapies.
Estrogen (Estriol/Incurin, DES)
This synthetic estrogen drug is often used for females with spay incontinence. It comes with quite a list of side effects. Studies show adverse effects like …
Aggression (leading to euthanasia in some cases)
Hyperpigmentation and lichenification of vulva (black skin spots and thickened skin)
Those are quite unpleasant side effects. But this drug also has some even more serious risks. It may cause cancer and bone marrow toxicity. There are good non-pharmaceutical substitutes.
Surgery To Correct Anatomical Abnormalities
If your dog’s incontinence is caused by an anatomical abnormality, your vet may recommend surgery.
The most likely kind of abnormality is ectopic ureter. It’s fairly rare, with reported incidence of less than 0.1%.
The ureters transport urine from the kidneys to the bladder. Ectopic ureter means that one or both ureters by-pass the bladder and connect to the urethra, uterus or vagina. This can cause continual dripping of urine.
This problem is usually seen in 3 to 6 month old dogs, and females are 8 times more prone than males.
High risk breeds for this problem are …
Miniature and Toy Poodle
Wire-haired Fox Terrier
West Highland White Terrier
This condition may be corrected with surgery to redirect the ureter into the bladder.
A less invasive method is cystoscopic-guided laser ablation. It’s done under anesthesia and involves inserting a ureteral catheter into the ectopic ureter. A laser then “ablates” (removes) the wall of the ureter. This effectively moves the opening from the urethra to the bladder. One study showed a 47% success rate for this procedure.
Natural Treatments For Incontinence
These are some of my favorite alternative approaches for urinary incontinence In dogs.
Chiropractic, Acupuncture, And Osteopathy
These hands-on treatments are excellent choices that can be very successful in resolving incontinence. They’re especially effective if urinary incontinence in dogs is due to physical issues like spine misalignment, muscle spasms, or nerve injury or impairment.
Read how to find a practitioner under the “Find A Holistic Vet” section below. You may also be able to find a local veterinary rehab facility that offers these modalities.
Herbs And Nutraceuticals
These are some effective options, depending on the cause of your dog’s incontinence.
Wild Yam extract has estrogenic and anti-spasmodic effects, but may require fairly high doses (100 mg per 25 lbs. body weight). It’s often included in herbal blends with Rehmannia, licorice, red clover, cranberry, and other herbs. Follow package directions for products intended for dogs. If using a human product, the dose is based on a 150 lb person, so reduce the dose proportionally for your dog’s weight.
Soy isoflavones are the best natural substitute for estrogen, but be sure you choose an organic product, since most soy in the U.S. is GMO (genetically engineered). Vetriscience Vetri-Bladder chews are a good choice; give 1 chew per 30 lbs. body weight once a day. The same dose applies to their canine Bladder Strength tablet, which also contains supportive herbs.
Estroven® contains Rheum raponiticum extract. he dose is based on a 150-lb person, so reduce the dose proportionally for your dog’s weight. It may work by itself or need to be combined with estrogenic herbs. Estrogenic herbs include soy, Mexican wild yam, black cohosh, dong quai, red clover. It’s best to ask a holistic vet or herbalist for help using these herbs.
Herbs that are good for urinary tract infections (if that’s the cause of your dog’s leakage) include cranberry, ginger, turmeric, olive leaf, and uva ursi. Cranberry prevents E. coli bacteria from attaching to the bladder wall; olive leaf has antibiotic properties; uva ursi is antiseptic and anti-inflammatory; turmeric and ginger are great antioxidant and anti-inflammatory herbs. They are available in a wide variety of combinations, usually with other natural antioxidants.
Anti-arthritic herbs, such as turmeric, ginger, Boswellia, yucca, and barberry, have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Antioxidants work best in combination; many such products are available, but my favorite (which I take myself!) is Boswellia Complex by Standard Process. A small or medium size dog can take 1/2 tablet twice a day; for large and giant breeds, give a whole tablet twice a day. CBD also relieves pain and may be a good adjunct.
Chinese herbs are very useful; but it’s important to work with a veterinarian trained and experienced in Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine. These herbs are powerful, and appropriate formulas must be individualized for your dog.
Glandular support. Here again, Standard Process shines. Symplex F is excellent as a replacement for hormones missing due to spaying. Symplex M is for neutered male dogs. Both products also support the thyroid, adrenal, and pituitary glands. Both synergize well with Vasculin, which contains a multitude of herbs and vitamins that support healthy blood vessel and nerve function.
Protein and collagen are both important for any muscle, including the bladder sphincter. The bladder itself is also a muscular organ. Protein is also a natural urinary acidifier. Bone broth and a higher protein diet may be helpful.
A good homeopath can work virtual miracles. There are many remedies indicated for urinary incontinence in dogs, but it’s important to work with a qualified homeopathic veterinarian. The choice of remedy and potency must be highly individualized for not only incontinence, but also for the dog’s personality, environment, history, and many other factors.
The next two approaches are newer and less common, but worth exploring with your holistic vet. Studies show promising results with these therapies.
Botulinum Toxin Injections
Research has found that injections of Clostridium botulinum toxin into the bladder wall (50-100 botulinum toxin units per animal in 10 injections) successfully prevented recurrence of incontinence in dogs for up to 5 months.
Researchers are currently experimenting with implants that provide electric stimulation to the nerves in dogs with a spinal cord injury. While it’s not likely to be coming to your local veterinary clinic, veterinary teaching hospitals may incorporate it in the not-too-distant future.
Green Lipped Mussel Oil
Safe-Sea is a sustainable and healthy combination of New Zealand Green Lipped Mussel Oil and Ahiflower.
Support Your Dog’s Overall Health
Finally, as with all chronic health problems, it’s important to keep your dog as healthy overall as you can.
Secure your stash! In many states, there is one other important consideration: THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana, is highly toxic to dogs. One of the adverse effects of THC is incontinence. THC intoxication is increasingly seen in veterinary emergency clinics. Keep those edibles locked securely away from pets and kids!
When veterinarians talk about a cat’s weight, it’s usually focused on feline obesity.
While obesity is a prominent health issue among cats, many cats are also struggling with being underweight. And similar to losing weight, gaining weight gain can also be a tricky issue for cats. It’s not just about changing food portions.
First, you’ll need to find out why your cat is losing weight. Then you can determine a plan of action that includes a diet that will safely help your cat return to a healthy weight.
Once you and your veterinarian have a plan for treating the underlying disease, you can get to the hard work of weight gain. Your veterinarian will likely have specific suggestions for your cat based on their age and medical needs.
A diet that is customized to your cat’s specific medical condition is likely to result in the best outcome. Your vet will also identify your cat’s ideal weight, and can do regular weigh-ins to make sure that your plan is effective and that your cat does not exceed his/her ideal weight.
For sick cats, returning to a healthy weight is about more than just calories. Diets for specific conditions are customized to have the right macronutrients and micronutrients to provide weight gain while addressing the unique disease-related concerns.
What to Feed a Cat to Help Them Gain Weight
If your cat’s medical problem is under control—parasites are treated or painful teeth are pulled—correcting the calorie deficit may be the only treatment necessary.
Here’s what your veterinarian will look for in a healthy cat food for weight gain.
Find a Type of Food That Fits Your Cat’s Preferences
The most important first step is to find a food that your cat enjoys eating but that doesn’t cause stomach upset. You want a food that fits their dietary requirements but is also highly palatable so they will want to eat it.
It’s not unusual for a cat to have a strong preference for a specific flavor, type (canned/dry) or even texture of food. The same goes for a cat being repulsed by one or more of these factors.
Navigating your cat’s preferences is the first, and most important, step of getting your cat to eat well.
Make Sure the Food Fits Their Nutritional Needs
Cats are obligate carnivores. This means that cats need to get the essential nutrients for their health from animal products.
The natural prey for cats, such as small rodents, are estimated to contain around 55% protein, 45% fat and 1–2% carbohydrate on a dry matter basis.
Although the macronutrient breakdown of prey is only 1-2% carbohydrate, most cats can use up to 40% of their diet in the form of carbohydrates as a good source of energy.
In general, dry food contains more carbohydrates than wet food.
Cat Food Options for Weight Gain
Good quality kitten food is an excellent choice for weight gain in healthy cats. And most cats enjoy eating kitten food.
A calm cat is a happy cat, and happy cats are more likely to have a good appetite.
Cats are solitary hunters and solitary eaters. That means that they prefer to eat their meals without being bothered.
When your cat has been unwell, it’s normal to want to hover over them. But your cat will likely eat better if you give them some space.
Talk to Your Vet About Appetite-Stimulating Medicine
There are a few medicines available from your veterinarian that can help stimulate your cat’s appetite.
An hour or so after talking the medicine, your cat will feel the urge to eat. You can even ask if your vet can get the medicine in a transdermal form (patch or gel for the skin or gums), so that you can avoid having to give a pill.
A change in a dog’s eating habits, either up or down, is a clue that something is not right with your dog. When a dog refuses to eat out of the blue, he is telling you that he doesn’t feel well, either physically, mentally, or emotionally. There are many things that affect a dog’s appetite, such as dental disease, undiagnosed pain, stress and anxiety, upset stomach, infectious disease such as worms or influenza, or cognitive dysfunction.
In humans, we know that taste decreases with age, and humans on cancer treatment say that nothing tastes good. The same may be true for our canine companions. When your dog doesn’t eat, it is important to visit your veterinarian to figure out what isn’t right, and fix it. If it is going to take some time to resolve the underlying issue, then an appetite stimulant may be indicated to support your dog on the road to recovery.
When Can Appetite Stimulants Help My Dog?
Appetite stimulants are indicated when a dog refuses to eat long enough that it impacts his health, consistently does not consume enough calories to support a healthy weight, is on a medication (such as chemotherapy) that decreases appetite, is recovering from an illness and needs appetite support, or to help a dog eat a new diet. Dogs with kidney disease, for example, can have underactive appetites that lead to weight loss, or may not want to eat their therapeutic kidney diet. An appetite stimulant can help in this case to get the dog the nutritional support that he needs. There are several options that your veterinarian can suggest, including pharmaceutical, natural, and holistic options.
Ways to Stimulate Your Dog’s Appetite
For a sick, debilitated, or geriatric dog who is picky about eating, one of the easiest (and cheapest) options to try is tempting him to eat rotisserie chicken. We all know how good rotisserie chicken smells in the grocery store when we walk by—and it smells even better to dogs. Even the pickiest eater will often gobble up his food if you doctor it up with a little white meat from a rotisserie chicken. Do not give dogs the bones or skin from a rotisserie chicken, and if they are instructed to eat a low-fat diet, only feed the white meat portions. Other easy strategies to try to increase appetite include hand-feeding and microwaving the food to warm it up.
Acupuncture, while it cannot cure a condition, is known to reduce pain, inflammation, and nausea. Dogs with decreased appetites due to medical conditions such a diabetes, kidney or liver failure, inflammation of the pancreas, or hormonal conditions, such as Addison’s disease, are known to benefit and have an increase in appetite after acupuncture sessions.
When natural options stop working, it is time for pharmaceutical intervention. Mirtazapine is a common drug that is prescribed to dogs who have a decreased appetite due to other conditions that make them feel queasy, such as kidney disease or cancer, or medications such as chemotherapy. Mirtazapine acts on the central nervous system and increases serotonin levels, so it is important that it is not given to dogs who are on SSRIs (selective seratonin reuptake inhibitors).
Meclizine can help with appetite in some dogs. Meclizine is an antihistamine that is known to reduce nausea due to vertigo. If your dog is not eating due to nausea, there are several other medications available, such as maropitant, a common drug available through your local veterinarian.
Ghrelin Receptor Agonist
There is a new medication on the market for dogs that mimics the effect of ghrelin, which is the hormone that makes a dog or a person feel hungry. The medication binds to ghrelin receptors and signals the brain to cause the dog to feel hungry.
Finally, for those of you living in states where it is legal, CBD (cannabidiol) products manufactured for pets are exploding onto the veterinary scene. The benefits include reduction of pain and increase in appetite. It is important to note that CBD from hemp is not THC, and marijuana is toxic to pets. Ask your veterinarian for product recommendations.
It is important to note that these suggestions do not replace medical advice. If your dog is not eating and you have not seen your veterinarian, you should make an appointment to rule out serious underlying health issues that are causing your dog not to eat.
An old study from the 1970s identified 12 positions that 60 intact male and 53 intact female adult beagles used to pee:
Stand: Standing normally
Lean: The body is leaning forward and the hind legs are extended to the back.
Flex: The hind legs are partially flexed so the rear end is slightly lowered. The hind feet usually remain under the body (no straddle).
Squat: The hind legs are straddled and sharply bent to bring the hind end close to the ground. The back is kept straight.
Handstand: Both hind feet are lifted off the ground. They may be unsupported or placed against a vertical surface.
Arch: The hind legs are usually spread and bent to bring the hind end close to the ground. The back is rounded, and the tail is lifted away from the ground.
Raise: One hind leg is bent and raised off the ground but the leg is kept relatively low.
Elevate: One hind leg is bent and raised off the ground. The foot and leg is held high.
Lean-Raise: A combination of the Lean and Raise postures.
Flex-Raise: A combination of the Flex and Raise postures.
Squat-Raise: A combination of the Squat and Raise postures.
Arch-Raise: A combination of the Arch and Raise postures.
The researchers found that females squatted most of the time but that the squat-raise was also quite popular. Females used most of the other positions too, albeit on a limited basis. Male dogs, on the other hand, had a more restricted repertoire. All of them demonstrated the elevate posture and some used the raised position, but the squat-raise and lean-raise only occurred rarely and the other positions weren’t noted at all. Keep in mind, however, that all the male dogs in this study were mature and intact.
What Does a Dog’s Peeing Position Mean?
Now that all the positions that a dog is likely to take to urinate have been identified, the question “Why?” has to be asked. What does it mean when a dog picks a particular posture at a particular time?
It’s important to remember that urination serves two purposes for dogs—elimination and marking. Both male and female dogs scent mark, but the behavior is more pervasive in males. Dogs who are marking preferentially urinate on vertical surfaces. If they urinate high up on that surface, the urine can flow downward covering a greater area, which leaves a stronger message to anyone who subsequently passes by. Peeing up high may even make a dog seem bigger than he actually is. This is probably why the elevate posture is so popular among males.
Interestingly, leg-raising is a behavior that only develops in male dogs as they mature. The authors of the study on beagles note that the lean posture, which deposits urine directly on the ground, “is typically used by male puppies and juveniles.”
But what about females? That’s where the handstand posture comes in. There’s no better way for a female dog to urinate at least as high as and maybe even higher than a similarly sized male can.
Research supports this hypothesis in female dogs. A paper published in 2004 looked at the urinary behaviors of six spayed and six intact female Jack Russell Terriers while they were being walked close to and further away from their “home area.” The scientists found that when away from their home area, these dogs were more likely to urinate frequently and aim their urine at objects in comparison to when they were walked close to home. The authors concluded “urination in female dogs does not function solely in elimination, but that it also has a significant role in scent marking…”
So, when dogs take a position that results in their urine hitting an object above the ground’s surface, chances are they are doing so to maximize the value of the scent they are leaving behind.
It’s important to note how many peeing positions are perfectly normal for both male and female dogs. Which ones they use depends on many factors including the dog’s location, age, sex, and possibly their reproductive status. The only time to be concerned is when a dog that usually pees in one position switches to another. This could be a sign of pain or another medical problem that needs to be addressed.