Pet Nutrition and Health – Consider Grooming!

Groomers do more than just trim hair and toenails. The observant groomer can detect changes in skin condition, hair/coat condition, he/she will notice changes in temperament and reactions to stimulus. The groomer naturally is exposed to many different conditions of many animals and with the gained knowledge has an ability to consider and compare conditions.

Starting with hair condition, numerous circumstances can create a lack of luster and sheen that doesn’t appear normal. This can be caused by nutrition, fleas and lice, allergies, parasites, hair cleaning products (shampoo) or even environmental problems. An experienced groomer can often detect the cause of a dry or blotchy skin, based on previous grooming examinations. The groomer may ask if the pet’s diet has been changed or inquire about other possible factors such as age and take these into consideration before recommending possible solutions. Importantly an experienced groomer also knows when a veterinarian’s advice is needed.

Responsible groomers have a close relationship to local veterinarians which they can call upon for advice and help when needed. They also keep records of all pet visits to compare ongoing variations of a pet’s condition and for grooming requirements.

Another important health issue observed by groomers is ears. Dogs have deep canals subject to ticks, parasites and other issues such as wax buildup, dirt and so forth that can cause infections. Cats ears have smaller canals, but are subject to many of the same problems. Ear cleaning compounds are available commercially for pet parents to care for their pet’s ears.

Proper toe nail trimming is necessary and most groomers have had extensive experience with it. Problems can arise from too close trimming (drawing blood), This normally will heal naturally, but infections can evolve so watch closely.

Observing eyes for clarity and excess tearing is important to determine if there are problems or conditions that need attention. Pets can develop cataracts and retinal problems similar to humans.

There are just a few of the observations to which concerned groomers pay attention. Their expertise and abilities combined with experience can prevent many problems and create a happy and healthy environment for you and especially your pets.

Be sure to interview and/or get recommendations before choosing a groomer. Anyone can start a grooming business, but few possess the determination, experience and concern that is required to be a first rate groomer/care giver.

Your pet’s health is as important as your health is to you.

Pet Nutrition: Raw/Fresh Dog and Cat Food Vs Commercial Dry Food

Raw food provides a diet that most closely mimics that a dog or cat may consume in the wild. It has minimal ingredients unlike commercial dry food, which is often comprised of proteins, grain and fruits and vegetables that sound good to us as humans but may not be natural for our pets.

Also, the intense heat used to process commercial pet food destroys or reduces nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. Pet food manufacturers must supplement the food after heat processing to replace those nutrients.

In addition, veterinary surgeon and raw feeding proponent Tom Lonsdale states that food from dry or canned commercial food sticks to teeth and enables bacteria to proliferate, causing “sore gums, bad breath and bacterial poisons that affect the rest of the body”.

However, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) “discourages the feeding to cats and dogs of any animal-source protein that has not first been subjected to a process to eliminate pathogens because of the risk of illness to cats and dogs as well as humans.”

Conversely, all raw/fresh food suppliers must meet federal requirements for food safety standards and some subject their foods to a process called High Pressure Processing (HPP) which eliminates harmful bacteria from raw foods, prior to packaging.

Ease of feeding your pet: raw/fresh pet food vs. dry pet food

The ease of feeding your pet commercial dry dog or cat food is well known. You open the bag or container, place it in the dish and voila, dinner! However, feeding raw/fresh foods from a supplier can be almost as simple.

Megan Trester, Sales Associate for a natural pet food store specializing in raw foods explains, “A 50-pound dog will need 16 ounces of raw food each day, or two 8-ounce patties. For example, they can store an 8-pound bag of raw frozen patties in the freezer and each evening take out two to thaw in the refrigerator for the next day’s meals.”

Raw diets are great for cats as well, since this is what they have evolved to eat. Unfortunately, it can be hard to get a cat to accept a raw food diet. Even though their primordial diet consists of small rodents, birds, lizards, and insects, it’s the hunt and kill that tells their brain to eat it. A plate of raw food doesn’t provide that stimulation.

In addition, cat’s prey is about 100-102 degrees F. When fed raw food, it is often at room temperature. Cats are picky in order to survive. Food that is not freshly killed may have spoiled and will therefore make the cat sick.

Cost: Raw/fresh pet food vs. dry pet food

Finally, there is the cost of feeding your dog or cat a raw/fresh food diet. Dr. Tony Buffington, a professor of veterinary clinical sciences at the Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center said, on a per-calorie basis he estimates raw foods can cost “about 10 times as much as what you can get at a supermarket.”

In addition, Sharon Misik, an actress in California, during an interview regarding feeding her two huskies a raw products diet, said she “easily spends about $250 a month on raw products.” By comparison, two large dogs fed commercial dry food can cost as little as $20 per month (Walmart) or closer to $45 per month for higher grade food available from specialty pet stores.

In conclusion, while raw foods may provide a balanced meal nutritionally for your dog or cat and be almost as easy to feed as commercial dry foods, you must evaluate for yourself if the cost is worth the difference in nutrition and feeding ease. It may come down to what food your pet enjoys and whether they have special digestive issues that may be corrected by a raw food diet.

Pet Nutritional Tips

Why supplement pet foods?

Any human nutritionists will tell you that a balanced diet for people should include foods from all basic food groups in order to maintain health and well-being. Unfortunately many people may still be deficient in key nutrients and research shows that supplementation is appropriate to meet the needs of most individuals.

Animal nutrition is very similar. Many commercial pet foods contain preservatives, artificial colors, carbohydrates, dyes, salt and animal by-products and may not provide the healthy diet your pet requires. More and more vets are recommending additional vitamins and minerals for dogs and cats of all ages. When used in conjunction with a healthy diet these supplements help maintain optimal health and meet nutritional requirements.

Nutritional deficiencies

Each pet has its own nutritional requirements that may not be met by commercial pet foods due to factors such as stress, obesity, illness, injury and air pollution. These types of factors leave the body deficient of vital nutrients and antioxidants. Pets need vitamins and nutrients in correct ratios for an optimal quality of life and to reduce the risk of many conditions and diseases.

When should I consider a supplement for my pet?

If you are concerned about a specific ailment, the best person for advice is your local vet. Your vet will be able to advise you on the underlying condition and appropriate treatment. Some of the most common issues that may be present to your beloved pet are as follows:

* joint pain March

* skin conditions

* dull or problem coats

* bad breath

* digestive complaints

* stress

* diarrhoea & dehydration

* obesity

* problems associated with old age

Supplements are available to help your pet overcome these issues. It is important to ensure that you choose the right product that will help with your pets specific issue that they are facing.

What should I look for in a supplement for my pet?

There is a vast array of vitamins and supplements available for pets and it can be confusing. When looking to select a vitamin or supplement do some research on the different products that are available and ensure they always contain the following benefits:

* a reputable company with a history in animal health

* clear product labelling

* scientific research which supports the claims made

Check with your vet if there are any specific problems that your pet is having. This way the exact supplements that are needed to accommodate your pets health will be provided to you.

Pet Nutrition and Health – Continuous Learning!

When people moved from rural areas to more populated centers for job accessibility, cultural and entertainment purposes, the age old way of feeding a pet table scraps and allowing a free running pet to scrounge for food, changed. The concentration of people meant pets and people existed in a more confined environment. Individuals did less and less growing of their own food and more and more processed foods were purchased.

The resulting change of humans purchasing processed foods created the processed pet food industry to begin flourishing in the 50’s and 60’s. Somewhere I read an estimate that over 90% of all the food pets consumed is preprocessed. This accounts for a large portion of the $40 Billion pet owners spend on these furry friends yearly.

Recently the nutritional health of pets became of grave concern when the pet food recalls surfaced. The importance of quality and integrity in pet foods was on every pet owner’s mind. The pet food industry attempted to correct all the problems as fast as they could, but a lot of doubt still exists and increased nutrition education is paramount in the pet owner’s mind.

We would all like to have pet food products that are “natural” and “organic”, but must realize the major manufacturers are more inclined to cater to the “Bottom Line” which requires volume more than their dedication to nutritional quality which by government standards has only to meet the bare minimums. The words “natural” and “organic” are hard to verify in any product.

An important bit of information about pet foods is: The label does not tell the whole story. Consider this…the first listed ingredient is supposed to be of the greatest quantity, but since the ingredients are listed by weight what is the moisture content of the first item when processed into this food? Grains and meat can be 10%, 20%, 40% or? Additional items can be 5%…what is the true amount within.

What are meat bi-products? Are they the bone scrapings, cartilage, tallow and/or some unthinkable items? Why are preservatives used? Is it because such large production creates distribution problems and the pet food sacks can be in a hot warehouse or semi-trailer (parked in the hot sun) for extended periods of time (think 6 months or even a year) before being delivered or sold. Consider the processing, overheating and chemical processing destroys much that is necessary for proper nutrition.

Quality and integrity of pet foods cannot be totally determined by reading the label, it requires investigation and education found by comparing ingredients (particularly quality), asking and questioning experts in the field, veterinarians (except those well versed in nutrition) are not always the most reliable source of information.

There are good sources of information and products on the internet. Most sellers of commercial pet foods (veterinarians and store sales personnel) are coached by the manufacturers or distributors of these mass produced products. Read and read some more, then use that information to provide the best nutrition for your pet(s).