Archive for August, 2018

Are grain-free pet diets dangerous? 

Wednesday, August 29th, 2018
heart health and pet diets

The FDA has posted an alert about grain free pet diets.

Are grain-free pet diets dangerous? 

The FDA reports a possible link between grain-free diets and heart disease in dogs.

GRAIN-FREE! NO BYPRODUCTS! ORGANIC! HIGH PROTEIN! RAW FOOD! HOME COOKED DIET!

There are a lot of buzz words when it comes to pet foods.  But what does it all mean?  There are a lot of myths and misconceptions out there about what to feed our pets.  Unfortunately, we are discovering that there may be some dangerous consequences to these hyped up food trends.

grains and heart health linked

Possible link between grain free diets and heart disease.

The FDA reports a possible link between grain-free diets and heart disease.

With the sharp uptick in trendy diets has come an alarming new discovery.  There has been an increase in the incidence of Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM), a type of heart disease, in dogs that eat grain-free diets.  While research is ongoing and no conclusions can officially be made, the FDA is concerned enough to have posted an alert about the connection.

Healthy dog heart

 

 

DCM is a heart condition that is typically seen in large and giant breed dogs, such as Great Danes, Boxers, Newfoundlands, Irish Wolfhounds, Saint Bernards and Doberman Pinschers.

 

 

Doberman pinscher

Irish Wolfhound

Great Dane

Boxer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recently, veterinarians are seeing the disease in all types of breeds and are noticing that it may be connected to grain-free diets.  Patients diagnosed with DCM who were on a grain-free diet showed dramatic improvement in their heart health after switching to a different diet.

Researchers think the reasons for this may be complex, but suspect taurine deficiency may be a factor.

Taurine

Taurine is an amino acid that is crucial for heart health.  DCM used to be common in cats until it was discovered to be linked to taurine deficiency.  Now commercial cat food companies ensure that appropriate taurine levels are met in their products.  This highlights the importance of having a high quality and nutritionally balanced diet for pets.

are grains good for pets

What is best for my pet? Do they need grains for heart health?

All this begs the question: What should I feed my pet?

With so many pet foods out there and so many conflicting opinions, what should you feed your pet?  We recommend purchasing a maintenance food from a manufacturer that has a lot of experience producing pet foods.  Companies with a large number of veterinarians, researchers and nutritionists on staff are ideal.  It is also important to pick a manufacturer with extensive quality control measures and rigorous testing protocols.  We are happy to provide names of od quality pet food manufacturers if you call our office.

Please stay tuned for our next blog posts where we will discuss interpretation of pet food labels and debunk pet food buzz words!

It is our pleasure to serve you and your pets. Please do not hesitate to call our offices (708-383-3606) if you have any questions or concerns. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your veterinary healthcare team.

 

Right pawed or left pawed? Which is your pet’s preference?

Monday, August 6th, 2018
right pawed or left pawed?

Pets’ paw preferences.

Is your cat or dog left-handed or right-handed? What can that tell you about his/her behavior and health?

Our handedness is a part of our identity.  For those of you lefties who make up approximately 10% of the population, your handedness can be a point of pride and a source of frustration, having to live in a world designed for right-handed people.  It is suggested that your handedness may even be linked to certain personality traits.  But have you ever thought about whether your furry friends might have a paw preference?  And if so, could there be a link to certain personality traits or health implications?

How do you know if your pet has a paw preference?

no paw preference

Pets might be ambidextrous – no preference at all.

There are a number of tests that can give you a sense of whether your pet may have a paw preference.  It is best to track paw preference over time to determine if there is a strong bias.  Some dogs or cats can be ambidextrous, showing no bias.

For dogs, the first foot placed forward when walking from a standing or sitting position, is often the dominant paw.  Dogs will typically use their dominant paw to remove a blanket from the head, a piece of tape from the nose or to stabilize a toy.

For cats, paw preference can be determined by watching natural behaviors.  They typically use their dominant paw to step in their litter box or step down a flight of stairs.

cat toy

Right pawed when playing with a toy?

The paw used to reach for food in a toy tends to be the dominant paw for cats as well.  For cats, nearly three quarters of cats show a paw preference, with male cats tending to be left-pawed and female cats tending to be right-pawed (Hepper et al. 2018).

What can paw preference tell you about your pet?

Some studies suggest that left-pawed animals display more fear responses, higher stress levels and reactivity than right-pawed animals (Rogers 2010).  Studies also show that left-pawed dogs are  not as successful at completing the Guide Dog Training as their right-pawed counterparts (McGreevy et al. 2012).

dog brain drawing

Brain links to paw preference.

This link is believed to be associated with brain dominance.  Left-pawed animals are thought to have right-brain dominance, since left body motor function is controlled by the right side of the brain.  The right brain is specialized to express intense emotion, including fear and aggression.

Paw preference may also affect health.  Some studies showed a link between paw preference and immunity.  Right-pawed and left-pawed dogs exhibit different patterns of immune response to an immune challenge (Vallortigara et al. 2004).  There are differences in the

 

white blood cell responses and other measures of immune response in right-pawed versus left-pawed dogs.

right or left pawed, what does it mean

What does it all mean?

What does all this mean?

At this point, there is not enough research to really understand the implications of paw preference.  In the grand scheme of things, paw preference should not greatly impact you and your pet.

cat's paws

Right or left, which is preferred by your pet?

However, you may find it interesting to know if you and your pet share a preference for right or left handedness.  Additionally, it may give you more insight into your pet’s fears and phobias.

It is our pleasure to serve you and your pets. Please do not hesitate to call our offices (708-383-3606) if you have any questions or concerns. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your veterinary healthcare team.