Dementia Symptoms Increasing in Older Dogs

Written by Dr. Karen Shaw Becker and comments by Diane Weinmann

Not many years ago, people with aging dogs focused only on keeping their pets healthy from the neck down, forgetting that such issues as weight control, possible arthritis and major organ support only go so far if their dog’s brain health is overlooked. Including your dog’s brain health in the overall picture is even more important as they get older, especially since more and more reports are emerging that show a “startling” number of older dogs starting to show signs of dementia.

According to veterinarian Melissa Bain, professor of Clinical Animal Behavior at UC Davis, canine cognitive dysfunction, or CCD, usually starts when the animals reach 9 or 10 years of age, and there are five typical signs that point to a dog’s cognitive decline:

  • Loss of house training or other previously acquired knowledge
  • Changes in sleep habits and reversed sleep cycles, e.g. sleeping all day
  • Failure to recognize their owners or other pets in the household
  • Anxiety in the form of excess panting, shivering, moaning and/or nervousness
  • A decrease in purposeful activity

Dog owners should also know about other signs to watch for. Witnessing certain behaviors may help you recognize something is happening with your dog’s cognitive abilities, especially if you’ve never seen them before. Examples that may indicate CCD, otherwise known as geriatric dementia, include:

  • Getting lost in the house
  • Getting stuck behind furniture
  • Becoming overly aggressive

Vetstreet1 notes other signs that indicate something might be wrong; such as noticing your dog staring at walls for long periods of time, repetitive behaviors like walking in a circle or pacing, changes in hearing and vision, and/or vocalizing at inappropriate times. My ancient Boston terrier, Rosco (over 18 years old in this picture), would often get “stuck” in the narrow space between the toilet and the wall and was unable to navigate himself out without assistance, a common sign of CCD in older dogs.

One of my friends has a 14 year old golden retriever who is just beginning to show signs of geriatric dementia.  He normally doesn’t leave her side—no need for a leash but just recently he wondered down the drive way and started walking down the sidewalk seemingly confused.  She called him and asked where he was going.  He seemed to come out of a fog, looked at her and realized he was leaving the yard then came back to her.  This is an example of the type of behavior you can experience when your dog begins geriatric dementia.

What Causes Canine Cognitive Dysfunction?

Helping your companion animals maintain bright, strong brain function throughout their senior years is even more important as you start noticing changes. If changes look as if they’re a mental or behavioral problem, it may actually be physical. Three main signs of age-related changes in dogs that cause gradual impairment stem from three main contributors:

  • Oxidative stress from free radical damage is physiological and impacts your dog’s brain tissue more than any other parts of their body, and can be evidenced both by decreased cognitive function as well as nerve disease, similar to Alzheimer’s disease in humans.
  • The formation of lesions on the brain may include nerve-damaging beta amyloid deposits, proteins that form “senile plaque” buildup that interferes with the transmission of brain signals.
  • Alterations in brain metabolism can diminish due to decreased availability of oxygen and energy, at least in part due to environmental stressors, including your dog’s diet.

Although human and canine brains are significantly different, they have remarkably striking similarities both anatomically and physiologically, and the way the diseases manifest themselves appear “almost identical,” Washington State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital explains further:

“More, dogs’ brains react to dementia treatments exactly as human brains do, making them ideal human dementia testbeds. As with human dementia, causes of CCD are not well known.

But accumulations of sticky proteins called beta-amyloid plaques around neurons, and the breakdown of neurons resulting in so-called neurofibrillary tangles, are considered leading causes. As in humans, both phenomena impact the brain by interrupting nerve impulse transmission.”2

Studies estimate that more than 60 percent of dogs between age 15 and 16 can show at least one symptom of CCD, but according to Bain, one reason more dogs have been showing signs of mental aging in recent years is simply because dogs are living longer due to advances in veterinary medicine.3

 

Danish Study: ‘Support’ Is Key for Dogs With CCD

A Danish study during which 94 dogs 8 years of age were investigated with a CCD questionnaire and observational sleep studies, subsequently published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, notes that vitamin E was investigated as a potential marker of CCD. The researchers reported:

“Four key clinical signs dominated in dogs with CCD: sleeping during the day and restless at night, decreased interaction, disorientation at home, and anxiety … CCD did not influence survival negatively. Small breeds did not show better survival than large breeds and there was no difference between sexes.

A few key questions addressing sleep-wake cycle, interaction, and signs of confusion and anxiety can be used as a clinical marker of CCD. Special attention should be paid to anxiety in dogs with CCD because it may be especially stressful to both dog and owner. Dogs with CCD seem to have a good chance of living a full lifespan if supported by the veterinarian and the owner.”4

Significantly, most veterinarians are becoming more aware of CCD and asking questions earlier rather than later in the lives of the dogs they treat, but some experts maintain that as many as 80 percent of older dogs have CCD that is both unrecognized and undiagnosed.5

How a Dog’s Diet Influences His or Her Health, Including Cognitive Health

Rather than assuming it’s an age-related cognitive issue, investigating the underlying cause of what appears to be CCD with the help of a professional veterinarian is important, especially if the dog in question is young, such as 5 or 6 years old.

To view the overall picture of your dog’s health, Bain says taking a look at their diet may be a significant key. I couldn’t agree more. She also notes, “There could be anything from hypothyroidism to urinary tract infections to blindness to deafness that all can mimic the signs of canine cognitive dysfunction.”6

These and other physical problems can be addressed to the greatest degree by providing a balanced, fresh food diet that includes “brain food” coming from omega-3 fatty acids, such as krill oil, MCTs coming from coconut oil and plenty of food-based antioxidants (only found in fresh fruits and vegetables), which are crucial for cognitive health.

You may also be surprised to learn that aging dogs require more rather than less protein, but it should come from quality sources and include a variety of living, whole, easily-digestible, moisture-rich fresh meats that are suitable for a carnivore. Animal meat should be the foundation of your healthy dog’s diet throughout his life.

In some cases, a species-appropriate diet for your dog is also about what should be eliminated. Unfortunately, many commercial dog foods are loaded with processed ingredients, such as refined carbohydrates that turn to sugar.

Also, eliminate grains, potatoes and legumes in your aging dog’s diet and pay attention to the amount of fiber your dog consumes, as it’s often just unnecessary filler, displacing crucial meat-based protein your aging dog requires. Additionally, the byproducts of high heat processing, known as advanced glycation end products, or AGEs, negatively impact the aging process and may play into premature cognitive decline.7

Needless to say, exercise and lots of time outside is also important for dogs of any age. It not only keeps their blood pumping, but keeps them limber and enhances detoxification. Additionally, one of the most important aspects of maintaining cognitive health in aging humans is social interaction, but it’s also true for dogs.

Exposure to other humans besides his or her immediate family is helpful, and being around other animals is beneficial for them, as well. Continuing mentally engaging exercises on a daily basis is also important, including fun nose work games and treat release puzzles.

One of the most important things for dog owners to do is work with an integrative or functional medicine veterinarian early on in the disease process. I was able to manage my dog’s age-related dementia very well because I addressed it immediately, as soon as symptoms became noticeable.

Proactive vets have been using nootropic supplements for pets (used to enhance memory and brain health) for years, including specific B vitamins, rhodiola, phosphatidylserine, lion’s mane mushroom and a variety of specific brain-supportive herbs.

 

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Horse Body Condition

Horse Body Condition

As seen in Equus Extra

 

When you see your horse every day, slow, subtle fluctuations in weight can be easy to miss, especially under a winter coat or blanket. That’s why it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your horse’s body condition so you can catch developing changes earlier.

One of the most objective ways to evaluate a horse’s weight, short of walking him onto a scale in a veterinary hospital, is to learn to determine his body condition score (BCS), a method of ranking body fat on a scale from 1 (poor) to 9 (extremely fat) developed in 1983 by Don Henneke, PhD.

When horses develop fat, they tend to store it in distinct places just under the skin where it can be easily seen and felt. And they lay fat in certain parts of the body in a particular order—first over the heart and the ribs, then over the rump and back, forward to the withers, and last over the neck. As a result, the specific location of stored fat can tell you how overweight the horse is.

If your horse has a “weight problem” —whether he needs to lose or gain—his feed ration will obviously be central to the solution. An overweight horse needs to consume fewer calories and/or exercise more. But simply cutting back on your horse’s regular feed is not a good idea if it means you’ll be shortchanging his nutrition. Instead, consider switching to a lower-calorie feed meant for easy keepers. Ration balancer products can help ensure  your horse gets all of the vitamins and minerals he needs if you need to  reduce or eliminate his concentrates.

So what’s your horse’s body condition score?

score: 1 (Poor) • Extreme emaciation. • Spinous processes, ribs, tailhead, and hooks and pins are prominent. • Bone structure of withers, shoulder and neck is easily noticeable. • No fatty tissue can be felt.

score: 2 (Very thin) • Emaciated. • Thin layer of fat over base of spinous processes. • Transverse0 processes of lumbar vertebrae feel rounded. • Spinous processes, ribs, tailhead, and hooks and pins are prominent. • Withers, shoulders and neck structures are faintly discernible.

score: 3 (thin) • Fat about halfway up spinous processes; transverse processes cannot be felt. • Thin fat layer over ribs. • Spinous processes and ribs are easily discernible. • Tailhead prominent, but individual vertebrae cannot be visually identified. • Hook bones appear rounded but not easily discernible. • Pin bones not distinguishable. • Withers, shoulders and neck  are accentuated.

score: 4  (Moderately thin) • Ridge along back. • Faint outline of ribs discernible. • Tailhead prominence depends on conformation; fat can be felt around it. • Hook bones not discernible. • Withers, shoulders and neck are not obviously thin.

score: 5 (Moderate) • Back is level. • Ribs cannot be visually distinguished but can be easily felt. • Fat around tailhead beginning    to feel spongy. • Withers appear rounded over    spinous processes. • Shoulders and neck blend     smoothly into body.

score: 6  (Moderate to fleshy) • May have slight crease down back. • Fat over ribs feels soft and spongy. • Fat around tailhead feels soft. • Fat beginning to be deposited along sides of the withers, behind the shoulders and along the sides of the neck.

score: 7 (Fleshy) • May have crease down back. • Individual ribs can be felt, with noticeable filling between ribs with fat. • Fat around tailhead is soft. • Fat deposited along withers, behind shoulders, along neck

score: 8 (Fat) • Crease down back. • Difficult to feel ribs. • Fat around tailhead very soft. • Area along withers filled with fat. • Area behind shoulder filled in. • Noticeable thickening of neck. • Fat deposited along inner buttocks.

score: 9  (extremely fat) • Obvious crease down back. • Patchy fat appearing over ribs. • Bulging fat around tailhead, along withers, behind shoulders and along neck. • Fat along inner buttocks may rub together. • Flank filled in flush.

Dogs with Compulsive Disorders

By Dr. Karen Becker

Dogs with compulsive disorders are relatively common, and unfortunately, this is due in large part to modern-day lifestyles. As much as we love our four-legged family members and try to provide for all their needs, most of us aren’t in a position to allow them to live according to their true canine natures. If they could make their own choices, our dogs would be extremely active, spending lots and lots of time outdoors.

Canine Compulsive Disorder

Canine compulsive disorder (CCD), also called compulsive behavior disorder, is similar to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in humans. People with OCD perform repetitive activities (e.g., washing their hands over and over) and can’t seem to control the behavior.

Compulsive behavior disorder in dogs is also characterized by the repetitive performance of behaviors that serve no purpose. These behaviors include tail chasing or spinning, excessive licking or self-mutilation, flank sucking, chasing lights or shadows, fly snapping and chasing after or pouncing on invisible prey.

CCD shouldn’t be confused with similar repetitive behaviors some healthy, well-balanced dogs perform. For example, herding dogs and other working breeds evolved to do jobs that require the same behavior over and over again. Many retrievers will fetch the ball from sunrise to sunset; other dogs spin in happy circles when they’re excited.

There are also dogs who fixate on smaller animals such as lizards or birds, or inanimate objects like rocks or golf balls. Bored dogs also tend to develop habits that might seem compulsive, such as running along the fence in the front or backyard, or gently licking and chewing a particular paw.

As with humans with OCD, the favored behavior of dogs with CCD can take them over to the point that it interferes with normal daily activities like mealtime and playing. It can also be difficult to interrupt the compulsive behavior once the dog begins performing it.

Research Compares CCD in Dogs and OCD in People

Two of the most common repetitive behaviors in dogs are obsessive licking which results in acral lick dermatitis (ALD), also known as a lick granuloma, and tail chasing. A 2012 Finnish study suggests that dogs exhibiting indicators like tail chasing, air biting (fly snapping), obsessive pacing, trance-like freezing, or licking or biting their own flanks do indeed have a disorder similar to OCD in humans.1 A number of features of tail-chasing dogs are similar to obsessive-compulsive humans, including:

  • People with OCD and tail-chasing dogs begin acting out their behaviors at a young age
  • Both are inclined to engage in more than one compulsive activity
  • Nutritional supplements (vitamins and minerals) are beneficial in reducing the behaviors in both people and dogs
  • OCD is linked to childhood trauma and stress; tail chasing is seen more often in dogs who were separated too early from their mothers
  • Certain people with OCD are on the shy, inhibited side, and this tendency is also seen in tail-chasing dogs

In addition to these similarities, a team of researchers including veterinary behaviorist Dr. Nicholas Dodman, professor emeritus at Tufts University and the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, performed MRI scans on a group of Doberman Pinschers (a breed predisposed to repetitive behaviors), half with acral licking and half without.2

“When we scanned the Dobermans with acral licking, we found they had sophisticated, minute details in the brain that are also found in humans suffering from OCD,” Dodman told veterinary journal dvm360. “The changes were, if not identical, compellingly similar.”3

The Doberman study also revealed a genetic component to CCD. “We … found a gene called CDH2, otherwise known as neural cadherin (NCAD), expressed most significantly in dogs with the compulsive problem,” explains Dodman. Following Dodman’s study, psychiatrists in South Africa discovered that the same deformation of CDH2 was found in humans with OCD.4

Important Considerations for Dogs With Compulsive Behaviors

If you suspect your dog is developing a compulsive disorder, I strongly encourage you to take her to your veterinarian for a wellness exam to ensure the source of the repetitive behavior is indeed behavioral and not an underlying physical condition that needs to be identified and addressed.

The sooner strange behavior stemming from CCD (and diseases causing behaviors that mimic CCD) is addressed, the sooner you can intervene and help. For example, there are lots of reasons dogs lick certain areas of their bodies, many of which can involve allergies and/or skin disorders. It’s important to rule out a problem that actually started in the body rather than CCD, which starts in the head. Other steps you can take to help a dog with CCD:

  • Feed a nutritionally balanced, species-appropriate diet that provides everything your dog needs and nothing she doesn’t (e.g., dyes, preservatives, artificial flavors, synthetic nutrients).
  • Ensure she’s getting daily (and sometimes twice a day, depending on the dog), consistent, rigorous exercise that promotes good muscle tone and body weight, and provides for a strong and resilient musculoskeletal system and organ systems. Exercise releases “feel good” hormones dogs benefit from on a daily basis.
  • Find a hobby or “job” she really enjoys (my personal favorite is K9 nose work).
  • Limit exposure to EMFs in your home by turning off the wireless router at night and providing a grounding pad.
  • Ensure your dog’s immune system is balanced and optimally functional and titer test, in lieu of potentially over-vaccinating.

Most dogs today aren’t nearly as physically active as they’re designed to be. It can be a challenge to tire out a big or high-energy pet, especially a working or sporting breed. If your dog is performing compulsive behaviors, try increasing her exercise. Some suggestions:

Walking or hiking Jogging
Swimming Obedience or nose work events
Playing fetch or tug-of-war Flyball
Biking with a special dog bike leash Agility or other canine sports

I also recommend helping your dog stay mentally stimulated with chews and treat-release toys. In my experience, there are very few extremely healthy, physically active dogs with intractable compulsive disorders, so I can’t overstate the importance of helping your dog be as healthy and active as possible.

Additional Recommendations

Dogs with compulsive disorders tend to be more anxious and high strung than other dogs. An anxious nature may be inherited, but studies suggest environment also plays a role in triggering the expression of a compulsive behavior. Dr. Dodman makes the point that environmental enrichment by itself probably won’t resolve a compulsive disorder, but a stress-free, enriched environment can prevent CCD in the first place and make relapse less likely after a dog has been successfully treated.5

Veterinarians often treat dogs with CCD with drugs that block opioid receptors, but needless to say, I’m not in favor of jumping immediately to pharmaceuticals to treat this condition. They are sometimes appropriate in extreme, intractable cases (for example, a dog headed for the shelter) or when an animal is causing harm to himself.

They can also be beneficial as an interim measure to interrupt the cycle of behavior at the same time other less harmful remedies are being attempted. But my general recommendation is to try behavior modification along with a wide variety of natural remedies first, since every drug has side effects.

In a recent post in the Whole Dog Journal, professional trainer Mardi Richmond discusses additional treatment strategies such as avoiding known triggers, interrupting and redirecting the compulsive behavior, teaching an alternative response, and creating a structured daily routine (to reduce stress).

It’s also important not to try to prevent a dog from performing a repetitive behavior with physical restraint, because it typically causes more anxiety, not less.

 

5 Weird Things Cats Love

By Dr. Wailani Sung comments by Diane Weinmann

Everyone has behavioral quirks, and sometimes it appears that our cats have them, too. Do you find it unusual that you buy expensive cat toys and your cat would rather play with a simple hair tie?

 

Cats may be mysterious creatures, but there’s usually a reason behind their behaviors or an explanation for their interests. If you’re curious as to why your cat likes the weird things he does, then keep reading for insight on the motivation behind your cat’s fascination.

 

Drinking From Your Water Cup or the Faucet Instead of Their Fountain

 

So, you purchase an expensive cat water fountain and your cat likes to drink out of your glass or from the faucet. Why does he do that?

 

Your cat may not realize that your glass of water is your glass of water. He just may find it convenient that there is a vessel that contains water when he is thirsty, so he drinks from it. Cats in the wild will drink whenever they are thirsty and find a water source; they do not specifically look around for bowls of water.

 

Another perspective may be that your cat watches you drink, and she wants to drink what you are drinking. If it is good enough for you, it is good enough for her.

 

Some cats may prefer to drink from the faucet when you are busy washing dishes or brushing your teeth due to their fascination by water that suddenly appears.

 

Or, your cat may just have a taste preference for running water compared to water that has been sitting in a cat bowl all day, which leads to bacteria formation. Plus, food particles may fall in and change the taste of the water.

 

This is the reason why your cat’s water bowl should be changed several times a day and washed with soap and water at least daily.

 

Pushing Things Off Tables and Watching Them Break

 

Do you have a cat that just lives to knock things off your shelf? It is so frustrating to provide your cat with plenty of toys, only to have her knocking items off of counters and breaking things on a daily basis. Why do cats feel the need to do this?

 

Well, every time your cat pushes an item until it drops, it reacts in a different manner. It may just be fun for him to watch the items bounce around in different directions each time they fall or watch them shatter to multiple pieces.

 

One time, my cat was mad at my husband, so he wound his way through very fragile breakable items on a sofa table that belonged to me to go to a very expensive one of a kind object that belonged to my husband and swiped it onto the floor!  LOL

 

Getting Into Boxes and Jumping Out of Them

 

Why are some cats obsessed with boxes? They are creatures of comfort, and sometimes being in a box with side support is comfortable. Other times, being in a box makes some cats feel safe and secure, like they are protected from all sides.

 

Boxes are also fun to hide in, spring out and surprise people and other pets in the household. I think the cats are secretly amused by the look of surprise or terror on our faces or the reactions from their housemates when they catch us unaware. Just like some people like to pull pranks, this is their way of pranking us.

 

Paper bags from the grocery store were great entertainment for Diane’s cat Milo.  She always had to be careful when picking them up off the floor because they frequently contained the cat!

 

Stalking Inanimate Electrical Cords

 

My cat is fascinated by electrical cords. Every night as we sit and watch television, I see him make the rounds around the living room. He bats at the tags attached to the cords. Then he grabs the cords and tries to bite it.

 

You would think that by now he would be bored with the game. Why would he keep doing it?

 

A reason may be that he might have learned that playing with the cord was a good way of getting my attention. Playing with the cord may also be fun because it moves in different and unexpected ways, which piques his interest.

 

By now I know his MO (modus operandi). So, I now pre-emptively get his attention and distract him with a cat feather wand, or we play a game of fetch to take his mind of off hunting the cord.

 

Having Their Butt Scratched

 

Have you ever had a cat walk up to you, turn around, and present their tail end? The area just above the tail that we would call the “butt” is an area that a cat cannot use its paws to scratch, and sometimes using your tongue to scratch does not do the trick.

 

Some cats have learned to back up against a dangling hand if they want a good scratch. Cats might indicate their enjoyment by purring, twitching their tails, raising their butts and sometimes arching up against your hand or foot.

 

What we see as quirky cat behaviors are normal cat behaviors that they need to express or those that are inadvertently reinforced. So relax and enjoy your cat’s unique personality!

 

Is Your Guinea Pig’s Diet Providing the Right Nutrients?

By Dr. Sandra Mitchell

 

Feeding your pets seems like such a simple process: buy a bag of food and feed it to your pet, right? But in reality, it is a lot more complicated than that.

 

Guinea pigs have some very specific dietary needs, and these may differ from their dietary “wants.” Add this to the fact that some guinea pig foods favor taste appeal over good nutrition, which makes it difficult for pet parents to know if their pets are getting the nutrition they need to thrive.

 

All of that being said, feeding a guinea pig doesn’t have to be hard; however, it isn’t quite as easy as picking up a bag of guinea pig food and pouring some into the bowl, either.

 

Let’s take some of the mystery out of making sure your companion is getting everything necessary for good health!

 

The “Natural” Guinea Pig Diet

 

Understanding what guinea pigs used to eat in the wild is the cornerstone of figuring out what their diet should be today.

 

Guinea pigs are designed to be herbivores, which means their biology has been adapted over the years to strictly digest plant materials and fibers. As natives of the Andes of South America, wild guinea pigs ate primarily forage—grasses and plant materials that are low in nutrition and high in fiber. 

 

When we domesticated the guinea pig, we also adjusted their diet to include nutrient-rich foods, such as yogurt drops, dried nuts and fruits, commercial guinea pig pellets and sweet and sugary treats.

 

Their bodies have not adapted quickly to these changes in diet, so the foods we often offer them—although well-loved by the guinea pig with a sweet tooth—are likely to cause disease.

 

Additionally, guinea pig teeth continue to grow throughout their lives, and if they are not properly worn, it can cause massive (and even fatal) health problems.

 

What Should a Guinea Pig Eat?

 

In reality, guinea pig diets are pretty simple. In fact, if I had to pick one item for a guinea pig to eat, it would be hay—lots and lots of hay!

 

Did you know that hay comes in different flavors and varieties? And, each of these different types of hay has a different nutrient profile. By balancing out differing types of hay, it is possible to create a balanced diet for a guinea pig as well as provide some interesting variety of tastes.

 

A few types of hay that you can offer to your guinea pig include timothy (e.g., Oxbow western timothy hay), orchard grass (e.g., Oxbow western timothy and orchard hay or Oxbow orchard grass hay), barley hay, bromegrass, bluegrass, oats (e.g., Oxbow oat hay), wheat and fescue. In general, the only hay I routinely recommend avoiding for most animals is alfalfa. It is quite high in calcium and can cause stones in some animals.

 

It is quite possible for guinea pigs to eat a well-balanced and complete diet alone through a variety of hays. Hay also has the additional advantage of being a food that the guinea pig intestinal tract is designed to process—and it even helps keep the teeth worn down in a proper fashion.

 

If you purchase a sun-dried hay, there is the added benefit that it may contain more vitamin D as well.

 

Fresh Vegetables in a Guinea Pig’s Diet

 

Guinea pigs benefit tremendously from fresh vegetables. Notice I’m not saying fresh fruit, which is high in sugar, and we already know that most pigs have a sweet tooth.

 

I recommend about a cup of vegetables per guinea pig per day. If you haven’t been feeding any, you might need to start slowly and work up because we certainly don’t want to cause an upset tummy with a diet change—but a cup a day is a good goal.

 

You can also use vegetables to provide vitamin C and other nutrients that are not found in high amounts in hay to help round out your guinea pig’s diet while also continuing to help grind those teeth down.

 

Some of the best vegetables for guinea pigs include green or red peppers, parsley, romaine lettuce (not iceberg, which is not very nutrient-rich), cantaloupe, dandelion greens, corn husks and silk, cilantro and carrots. Be creative and try different varieties to see what your pig likes the best! But with nutrition, the more variety, the merrier.

 

Just make sure to discuss the introduction of new foods and portions sizes with your veterinarian beforehand.

 

Vitamin C Is an Essential Part of a Guinea Pig’s Diet

 

Guinea pigs have a unique metabolism that does not allow them to create their own vitamin C; they rely on what they eat to provide them enough this essential vitamin—which is about 10-30 mg/kg/day.

 

There are a number of vitamin C supplements on the market, but I prefer to supplement it the natural way—through their diet. Some fresh veggies that are rich in vitamin C include beet greens, alfalfa sprouts, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, swiss chard, dill and parsley—just to name a few.

 

If you do feel the need to add supplements to your guinea pig’s diet, it is best to talk to your veterinarian to find the best option for your guinea pig.

 

I don’t recommend adding the vitamin C to their water because some pigs do not like the taste and will avoid drinking it, which causes them to become dehydrated. Offering some vitamin C drops or children’s tablets may be the best alternative in that instance, but you should talk to your veterinarian to find the best option and dosage for your guinea pig.

 

Don’t Forget About Fresh Water

 

Guinea pigs need lots and lots of fresh water. Some will drink best from a sipper bottle—like the Kaytee chew-proof small animal water bottle—while others simply plug up the sipper with hay and do better from a bowl—like the Ethical Pet stoneware crock cat dish. No matter the vessel you choose, fresh water should be readily available 24 hours a day.

 

Commercial Guinea Pig Pellet Food

 

In reality, guinea pig pellets are not a necessary or required part of their regular diet. In fact, guinea pigs that overeat pellets can develop obesity as well as dental disease, so the amounts should be restricted.

 

Additionally, guinea pig pellets are often made from alfalfa, which is often too high in calcium and may cause bladder stones.

 

If you choose to feed your guinea pig pellets, limiting the amount to 1 tablespoon per day might help to round out the diet without causing harm. You will want a timothy-based pellet with no added fruits or nuts that is formulated with a stabilized vitamin C. However, pellet food is not needed if you are careful to round out the remainder of the diet.

 

Guinea pigs do best on a wide variety of foods, including multiple types of grass hays, several different vegetables (preferably that contain vitamin C) and lots of fresh water. So, head out to the grocery store and see what special vegetable treat your piggy can enjoy for dinner tonight!

 

Let’s talk Animal Communications!! Come out to meet me and hear all about how to talk with your pets!

YOU ARE INVITED TO THE FRIENDS OF THE STRONGSVILLE LIBRARY ANNUAL MEETING AUTHOR EVENT

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Diane Weinmann has been involved with animals all her life.  She is an Animal Communicator, Healing Touch for Animal’s practitioner and Reiki Master.  Diane uses interspecies telepathic communication to help our companion animals have a “voice”.  Hearing their cries for help, she was drawn to provide comfort in the form of energy healing (Reiki, TTouch, Healing Touch for Animals).  She also uses sound and vibrational healing (tuning  forks) and color techniques in her healing practice. Diane is able to bring balance into your pet’s energy systems.   In addition to animal communication, Diane uses Bach Flower essences and essential oils as a holistic method to facilitate emotional healing or to evoke a change in behavior. Please visit her web site at www.theloveofanimals.com for more information on her animal communication and healing methods.  Diane is the award winning author of “A Tail of Hope’s Faith” which can be purchased at Balboa Press Bookstore, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  A Tail of Hope’s Faith won two awards for Best Non Fiction New Age and Best in the Animal/Pet category by the Beverly Hills International Book Awards for 2015. Diane has also written for Animal Wellness and Dog’s Naturally magazines.

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4 Health Care Considerations for Flat-Faced Dogs

By Jennifer Coates, DVM as seen in PetMD

Flat-faced dogs, like the French Bulldog, Pug, Boston Terrier and English Bulldog, are among some of the most easily recognizable dog breeds. Many of the most famous dogs on social media fall into these breeds.

 

While flat-faced dogs are undeniably cute, the physical attributes that make them so unique are what cause them to require special care considerations.

 

So before taking the leap and adding a flat-faced dog to your family, it is important to do some research into brachycephalic dog breeds to learn about the specific health issues and care requirements they have.

 

Health Considerations With Flat-Faced Dogs

 

Flat-faced dogs come with some unique health considerations. Not every individual will suffer from all of these conditions, but owners of brachycephalic dog breeds should be observant for their potential symptoms.

 

  • Respiratory Issues Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome, also known as brachycephalic syndrome, is the name for the respiratory distress dogs with flat faces can experience. These dogs often have small nostrils, an elongated soft palate, extra tissue in the larynx and a narrower-than-average windpipe, all of which can lead to breathing difficulties.

 

Symptoms of brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome include:

o    Difficulty breathing/wheezing

o    Excessive snoring, panting, coughing or gagging

o    Heat and/or exercise intolerance

o    Discoloration of the gums or tongue due to lack of blood oxygenation

o    Difficulty sleeping (especially when dogs lie on their sides)

o    Difficulty swallowing

 

  • Eye Problems – Since flat-faced dogs tend to have shallow eye sockets, their eyes protrude further than other breeds. This makes their eyes vulnerable to dryness, injury, infection and proptosis (displacement from the socket). Facial skin folds may also result in fur rubbing on the eye’s surface.

 

  • Dental Issues – Because of their relatively small jaw structure, dental problems, like overcrowded and overlapping teeth and an underbite, are common in brachycephalic dogs.

 

 

Caring for Flat-Faced Breeds

 

Awareness of the conditions that can afflict flat-faced dogs is important because there are things you can do to make their lives easier. For example, keeping these dogs slim is vital to their overall health. Monitor their diet and weight closely.

 

Exercise is also essential, but you need to take special precautions to prevent overheating and/or a worsening of breathing problems. Avoid walking or playing with your dog when it’s particularly hot or humid outside, and always watch for signs that it’s time to take a break.