Holistic Ingredients That Can Improve Pet Health

Holistic Pet Care

When it comes to the health of our pets, we want nothing but the best for our furry friends. We’ve previously discussed superfoods for pets on the Petnet.io blog and the many health benefits that ingredients like turmeric and coconut oil can provide for your cat or dog beyond just their nutritional value. Today we’re highlighting three natural ingredients that can help improve a pet’s health: peppermint, catnip, and cranberries.

Peppermint

Peppermint

Peppermint helps manage peristalsis in pets, meaning it regulates the contractions that help move food along their digestive tracts. Giving your pet a little peppermint can help improve irritable bowel syndrome. When paired with catnip, peppermint can reduce nausea in pets as well, which brings us to number two.

Catnip

Catnip

Your cat may or may not have a euphoric type “high” after getting into some catnip, about 50-percent of cats do not. Either way, catnip improves digestion in both dogs and cats and can be an appetite stimulant if your pet has difficulty eating. You can give your feline friend about a pinch or 1/16 of a teaspoon of dried, crushed catnip in their kibble. Or, you can put some on the ground for them to roll in if they’re attracted enough to catnip on its own.    

Cranberries

Cranberries

Some pets are prone to bladder infections and dietary supplements like cranberries can sometimes improve their bladder function and level of comfort. Cranberries can be particularly helpful in aiding with bladder related illnesses in pets because they help prevent bacteria from forming on the walls of the bladder. While cranberries can help improve your pet’s bladder function, bladder infections are a serious condition and  you should consult with your veterinarian for treatment and a strategy to reduce the chances of a recurring infection.

“We love our four-legged friends and want them to live well. A holistic dietary supplement approach is a natural way to keep your pet’s body functioning as nature intended it to and can be an important part of a long-term pet healthcare strategy.

Of course, you should always check with your veterinarian before using new dietary supplements to treat your pet for any diagnosed or assumed illness or condition.

Tune into our blog next week for three more holistic ingredients that can help your pet stay healthy and happy.

References and Further Reading

Pet MD

The Nest

Healthy Pets

Animal Wellness Magazine

Petnet Testimonial: Nate and Marlyn

One of the first steps to building a dog’s confidence surprisingly starts with consistent meals.

Nate and Marlyn own a rescue dog named Charlie. While Charlie has had issues that needed to be worked on with trainers, a consistent feeding schedule regulated by the SmartFeeder was a crucial factor in helping develop Charlie’s budding confidence.

Nate and Marlyn also use Amazon Alexa’s voice command functions to direct the feeder to dispense food for Charlie. They can be specific with the portions that they want to feed him, giving them control over portion sizes.

Consistent feeding is healthy for pets like Charlie but not always easy for their owners—that’s where the SmartFeeder comes in to help. The SmartFeeder is a tool that helps keeping pets healthy, happy and fed a lot easier for pet owners who may already balance busy lives themselves.

Superfoods for Pets: Fish Oil

Fish oil

Fish oil is a common supplement owners add to their pet’s food, and with good reason. In both cats and dogs, fish oil promotes a healthy heart, strong joints, clear skin and a shiny coat. The supplement contains both EPA and DHA, two omega-3 fatty acids your pet’s body needs to function that also provide plentiful health benefits.

An anti-inflammatory

EPA and DHA come from fish like salmon, albacore tuna, and mackerel. These essential fatty acids are anti-inflammatories that help ease conditions causing inflammation of the heart, joints, kidneys, and skin. Less inflammation means less pain and swelling in your furry friend and a happier, more comfortable life. These fatty acids also lessen inflammation from allergies, reducing itchy skin and dandruff in your cat or dog.

Healthy cognitive and eye development

DHA, in particular, promotes good brain and eye development in puppies, so feeding fish oil to pregnant or nursing dogs can improve the health of their litter.

How to feed fish oil to your pet

You can give your pet fish oil in either a capsule or liquid form. If your pet doesn’t seem to want to eat a capsule (and seems more interested in batting it around his bowl) try puncturing a hole in it and squeezing the oil onto their kibble. The fishy flavor can also help spark your pet’s appetite if they have difficulty eating, and get them more interested in their kibble.

The Petnet team advises you serve one capsule of 1500 mg fish oil for dogs that weigh 20 pounds or more. Smaller pets should receive lower doses. Consult with your veterinarian and decide the right amount to give your specific pet.    

There are lots of great fish oil supplement brands to choose from for your pet, like Nordic Naturals. If you’ve already realized the benefits of fish oil for humans and happen to take supplements yourself, you can give the same kind to Fluffy or Sparky – so long as you give them the right amount. Depending on the dosage, larger dogs can be given a capsule or two of fish oil meant for humans. For smaller dogs and cats, squeeze a little oil from a capsule and take the rest yourself.

Pets

Whenever you introduce a new ingredient to your pet’s diet, start slowly. It’s best to try a little of the supplement and work your way up to a higher dosage after observing how your pet reacts to the oil. There is no toxicity in fish oil, but if you give your pet more than they can easily absorb, they may get diarrhea or other unpleasant side effects. You want your pet to reap the benefits of fish oil without upsetting their tummy.

If you’re looking for an excellent kibble featuring our spotlighted ingredient, we recommend you try 1st Choice Nutrition All Breeds Sensitive Skin & Coat: Lamb, Fish & Brown Rice. Petnet takes great care to review recipes we think are uber healthy for your pet and share our findings. Take a peek at out our detailed breakdown of the recipe. You deserve to know what’s in your pet’s food, and we care about your pet.

Superfoods for Pets: Pumpkin

Pumpkin for Pets

Rich in fiber and beta-carotene, pumpkins are an excellent people food for pets. These gourds are simply bursting with vital nutrients like potassium and iron, which give your pet’s diet a healthy boost. They’re also low fat, so pumpkins are filling while keeping your pet’s waistline trim.  

A good source of fiber

The fiber in pumpkins makes them good for your pet’s digestion, aiding with unpleasant scenarios no owner wants to encounter like diarrhea and constipation. If Bitsy or Spot is suffering from a little indigestion, a small spoonful of pumpkin can aid in getting their digestive system back on track. Fiber is good for your pet’s gastrointestinal health too and can help lessen Fluffy’s hairballs (score!).   

Plain canned pumpkin is easy to feed your pet and packs a nutritional punch. When you’re picking out a can at the grocery store, be wary of pumpkin pie puree, a spiced mix with lots of added sugars you don’t want to feed your four-legged friend.   

No jack-o-lanterns, please

Also, we love Halloween, but please don’t feed your pet any jack-o-lantern. While they’re festive, these decorative pumpkins can grow mold and bacteria that can be extremely harmful to your pet. Raw pumpkin isn’t safe for pets either. Just stick to a can of pure, organic pumpkin – it’ll make your life easier!

If you do want you to get into the spirit of Halloween with your best bud, check out our recipe for making Halloween Pumpkin Kitty treats. We promise they’ll make you the cat’s meow.

Pumpkin

At this point, you’re probably convinced to start sneaking pumpkin into Sparky’s kibble. The Petnet Team recommends giving one-half of a teaspoon to a full teaspoon of pumpkin puree to adult cats, and one to two teaspoons for dogs.

Be careful when adding pumpkin to your pet’s kibble. Adding too much of this miracle food can sometimes create digestive issues instead of fixing them. Talk to your veterinarian about a proper amount of pumpkin puree that will be suitable for your pet.

How to Connect your SmartFeeder to Wi-Fi

Connecting your Petnet SmartFeeder to WiFi at home is simple. For your convenience, we created this video outlining the easy steps it takes to connect the SmartFeeder to WiFi, in case you run into trouble.

Below is a written description of how to connect your SmartFeeder to WiF, in case you’re more of a reader than a listener.   

Before we can connect to WiFi, there are three important things to consider.

Connect Smart Feeder to WiFI

1. WiFi

You need to have WiFi set up in your home

2. Phone placement

Where you place your phone during WiFi setup is important. You’ll need to place it over the sensor on the left side of the bowl, not on the right side where the lights will start flashing (this comes later).

3. Bowl lights 

You’ll need to read the lights on the SmartFeeder bowl to help you understand when a WiFi connection has been successfully made.

Now, let’s break it down.

Remove the SmartFeeder bowl from the base.

Remove from base

  • Place the SmartFeeder bowl in front of you, and power it on.
  • Remove the metal tray from the SmartFeeder bowl

Remove tray

Make sure your phone is connected to WiFi

Phone connected to WiFi

  • You’ll need to be connected to a 2.4GHz network, not 5GHz. This is important because 2.4GHz provides coverage over a further distance than 5GHz.
  • If you’re not sure how to connect to your 2.4GHz network, or you’re unsure of where it’s located, your WiFi service provider can help you locate and connect to it.  

Make sure your phone doesn’t have any privacy settings on

No privacy settings

  • Remove any screen protectors, and turn your brightness all the way up.

Login to the Petnet app

Connect to Petnet app

  • Enter your password
  • Press “continue”
  • Turn to SmartFeeder bowl on

Turn on bowl

  • On your phone, press “connect”

Lay your phone down on the left side of the SmartFeeder bowl

Lay down phone

  • Don’t lay your phone down on the flashing red lights on the right side of the bowl.

Flashing red lights

  • Your phone will be flashing white into the sensor on the left side of the bowl

Phone flashing white

  • The red lights on the right side will eventually slow down or stop.
  • Once your phone stops flashing, green lights will flash on the right side of the bowl to confirm a connection is made.  

If you do not get the green light, make sure these steps were completed:

Green light

  • 2.4GHz network confirmed
  • Phone brightness turned up
  • Phone placed on left corner of bowl
  • Green lights blinking successfully

If you’re still having issues connecting your SmartFeeder bowl to your WiFi router, it may be an issue with WiFi. Most likely, you’ve connected to a 5GHz network instead of a 2.4GHz. Don’t worry, we’ve included some quick troubleshooting tips below to roll through with.

1. Check that your network name and password (case-sensitive) are correct.

2. Look at your Wi-Fi settings and make sure it’s operating on a 2.4 gHz network.

3. Check to see if you have any firewalls activated.

4. Look for your DHCP settings on your router. Check that the TCP 31314 port is open.

Still having trouble connecting your SmartFeeder to your router? Please contact our Customer Support Team at support@petnet.io or at (855) 738-4650.

How Does Your Pet’s Food Stack Up?

If you’ve ever scratched your head over all the ingredients present in the unending varieties of pet food, feeling unsure of what’s good or bad for your pet, scratch no more! With Petnet’s pet food rating system, we do the hard work for you.

The rating system uses six crucial criteria to produce a rating out of 100, with lower ratings denoting an unhealthier food and higher ratings denoting a healthier food.

For instance, Dom the Frenchie was absolutely convinced that his go-to pet food, “Chateaux du Chien,” was the best dog food on the planet. It had lamb from New Zealand, salmon from Scotland, Kobe beef from Japan, golden maize from Argentina, and crisp lettuce from Yuma…

chateauxduchien

But he found out that “Chateaux du Chien” had only a 27 out of 100 Petnet rating. Oops. Sorry, Dom. Turns out, all of those fancy ingredients weren’t really in his food. Instead, there were things like “Kobe beef flavor” instead of the real thing.

Hopefully, your pet’s food won’t be like Dom’s. But if it is, no worries. That’s what the rating system is for, to make it easier for pet owners to make better feeding decisions for their pets.

The following is a score breakdown of these 6 crucial criteria, which are rated on a scale of 0 to 100, 0 being in low quantity and 100 in high quantity.

1. High quality protein.

Protein is probably the most important aspect we assess in a pet food. We look for recognized, whole protein sources like salmon or beef, instead of by-products, vegetable-based proteins, and vague protein sources like “poultry.”

2. Species-appropriate macronutrients.

Dogs and especially cats thrive on a diet low in carbohydrates and high in proteins and fats. We assess how much a pet food corresponds to this specific diet.

3. Fruits and vegetables.

Fruits and veggies are the best source of vitamins and minerals. Pet foods packed with fruits and vegetables are greatly beneficial to a pet’s health.

4. Healthy oils and spices.

We want healthy oils and spices in our pets’ diets, since they are great for the pet’s skin and coat and aid in digestion and other important functions.

5. No artificial ingredients and fillers.

Artificial ingredients are not appropriate in our pet’s diets and in some cases can pose long-term risks. Filler ingredients like corn, soy, or gluten are also not appropriate for them.

6. No added sweeteners.

Added sweeteners are often used to mask the taste of lower quality food and offer no nutritional benefit to our pets.

The amount and quality of protein present in a pet food ultimately have a big impact on the final score, but each of these 6 criteria contribute to the Petnet food score, which we created to provide you with a clear idea of how pet foods stack up.

6 Things Your Dog Can’t Eat

Things dogs can't eat

You’re settling into your favorite seat at the dinner table, armed with a fork and knife, preparing to devour a plate of filet mignon and mashed potatoes. Then you feel it. Nudging at your side with his wet nose is your four-legged friend, begging for a scrap of food, pleading with his puppy dog eyes. Before you start feeding Sparky bites of your meal, stop and evaluate the ingredients you’re giving him. You’ll have to learn to hold back from spoiling your best bud, because if you’re not careful, just a little nibble from your plate can be extremely toxic for your pup. Here are six foods that are dangerous for dogs to eat, some of which are common household items you probably have in your pantry.

1.  Xylitol

Xylitol is an artificial sweetener often found in gum, candy, baked goods, toothpaste and some brands of peanut butter. This sweetener can cause a huge surge in insulin, making your dog’s blood sugar drop below the healthy limit, and sometimes leading to liver failure. Always check the listed ingredients on food products before sharing them with your dog – especially if they contain xylitol. 

2. Grapes and raisins

While grapes are a great, wholesome human snack, they can be toxic for dogs. Oddly enough, not all grapes have the same lethal effect, but some can cause kidney failure in dogs. The reason behind this is still a mystery to scientists – we’re still not sure how to differentiate which grapes will be safe for dogs from the ones that won’t be. To be safe, don’t feed your dog grapes, it’s best not to push it. That goes for raisins too.

3. Avocados

We all know guac is extra, extra toxic for dogs that is. All jokes aside, inside the seeds, leaves, and fruit of the avocado plant is persin – a toxin harmless to humans but deadly for dogs. The pit of the avocado contains the most persin, making it the most dangerous part of the fruit for your dog. The pit can be a huge choking hazard for your furry friend as well. It’s best to keep your dog away from avocados altogether. You can still have a fiesta with your best pal, just save the guacamole for yourself.        

4. Raw meat

While you may have heard of the trend of people feeding their dogs a raw meat diet, The Petnet Team strongly discourages you from doing this, and so would a majority of veterinarians. Raw meat contains bacteria that can cause food poisoning. Cooking meat kills off this bacteria, so if you feel like throwing some chicken on the barbecue, feel free to share a bite with your doggo – just make sure it’s cooked first.

5. Dairy

Dogs, like people, can be lactose-intolerant. Milk and other dairy products can cause indigestion in your dog, and sometimes severe itchiness if they have a particularly bad allergic reaction. While it may be tempting to offer your dog a lick from your ice cream cone, it’s better to spoil him in other ways, like with more belly rubs.

6. Chocolate

At the top of our list of bad foods for dogs is one you’ve probably heard of: chocolate. While we humans love indulging in a little cocoa-goodness every now and then, the theobromine present in chocolate makes it toxic for our doggos. Theobromine comes from the cacao plant and is present in all kinds of chocolate, with even higher concentrations in dark chocolate (it’s the best kind, we know). If your dog gets into your chocolate stash, it may cause vomiting, diarrhea and many other unpleasant symptoms. Opt for a dog treat instead.  

While we do our best to keep our pets safe, sometimes Buddy gets into the trash or digs into some leftovers that he shouldn’t. If an accident happens and your dog ingests something potentially harmful to his health, we urge you to call for emergency help right away or consult with your veterinarian. If your regular vet is unavailable, find the nearest 24-hour emergency animal clinic to get your pet the proper care.

Superfoods for Pets: Sweet Potato

Sweet potatoWith their syrupy taste and immense nutritional value, sweet potatoes are nature’s wholesome, delicious candy. These orange-fleshed root vegetables top the charts for healthy people foods that boost your pet’s diet. They’re chock-full of vitamins and minerals, making them an excellent natural energy source.

Strong muscles, bones, and eyesight

Sweet potatoes are a potent antioxidant brimming with beta-carotene, the strong colored pigment giving these orange beauties their distinct color. Beta-carotene converts to Vitamin A in dogs, promoting good muscle tone, clear eyesight, and healthy bones. This starchy plant also has a high concentration of dietary fiber to boost your pet’s digestive health.  

Cats have a harder time digesting

Before you rush to add a healthy dose of sweet potato to your pet’s bowl, you should know this superfood may not be the perfect supplement for all furry-friends. While most dogs will react well to an addition of sweet potato in their kibble, cats may find it difficult to digest. Unfortunately, our feline companions have difficulty stomaching most vegetables containing proteins and carbohydrates. A small slice of dehydrated, boiled or baked sweet potato can be an occasional treat for your kitten, but you don’t want to push it.    

Still, they’re great for dogs

The good news is sweet potatoes are still a great add-in for your pup’s diet! They’re low in fat, so they’ll fill your dog up quickly without adding on the pooch pounds. Steaming or boiling sweet potatoes helps to retain their nutritional value rather than cooking them on a stove.

If you’re ready to try giving your dog sweet potato, The Petnet Team recommends you begin by adding a teaspoon or tablespoon to your dog’s regular food. You’ll want to monitor how they react afterward. For some dogs, a sudden increase in fiber can create gastrointestinal issues.

As is the case with adding any new food to your dog’s diet, you’ll want to consult with your veterinarian first. Sweet potatoes can give your dog an energy boost, but you’ll want to double-check with your vet before feeding them to Fido, especially if your pet has a pre-existing health condition. Have a chat about your particular pup’s health, and determine if adding sweet potato to their diet is the right move to suit their unique needs.

Portion Control with Dom Woof

Dom the Frenchie fell into a food coma last week. Reason?

Bad portion control.

dom

Dom loves food like we humans do, but he has a little problem with self-control. Is your dog the same? Here’s what we can do to keep our dogs’ health on track.

1. Exercise them.

Assess how much exercise your dog needs. For example, Dom weighs 15 pounds. As a Frenchie, his exercise needs are low, but his risk of weight gain is high, so he needs to walk or exercise an equivalent of 1.5 miles per day.

dom-exercise

2. Control treats.

Dom loves treats just as much as any other dog, but too many treats is a slippery slope to a chubby dog.

domlovestreats

So what’s the remedy? Treat bags! Prepare treat bags filled with a set number of healthy treats, such as blueberries and sweet potato strips. Allow your dog only one of these treat bags per day.

Treat bags can be a preventive measure against accidental overindulgence, especially if you have family, friends, or children who would want to feed your dog.

3. Think before the table scraps.

Before you set your dog loose on the table scraps, be sure to assess how many treats you had fed your dog that day. If you fed Fido the entire bag of treats, maybe you shouldn’t let him eat table scraps today. It’s a constant game of give and take.

4. Control portion sizes.

Trying not to underfeed or overfeed your pet can be a bit challenging if you don’t know your dog’s recommended serving size.

Suggested measures of pet portion sizes are everywhere on the internet, but this is where the Petnet SmartFeeder can come in. The SmartFeeder calculates the adequate portion size from your dog’s age, weight, and activity level.

Take Dom, for example: he’s four months old, 15 pounds, and pretty lazy. For him, the SmartFeeder recommends a serving size of 1/2 cup.

Input your dog’s information into the SmartFeeder app, and voilà! Your dog’s all set for a healthy road to happiness. (Well, Dom’s not too happy about his serving size, though… but it’s all for the best.)

The SmartFeeder doesn’t just stop at portion sizes, though. You can schedule feeding times on the app, so your dog can have consistent meals. All the while, you won’t have to stress out about feeding your dog on time all the time. It’s a win-win!

Superfoods for Pets: Coconut Oil

Coconut Oil for Pets

Coconut oil is essentially a cure-all, magic potion for both pets and humans alike. In addition to being a nutritious alternative to using palm or vegetable oil in the kitchen, coconut oil helps to improve digestion, moisturize hair and skin, and heal cuts and burns.

This incredible, nourishing superfood has numerous benefits for your pet’s health as well, helping to improve their nutrient absorption, diminish bad breath and kill parasites in their furry bodies.

An energy boost

Most of the oils found in coconuts are made up of healthy fats known as medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs). MCFAs are more easily turned into fuel than other fats because they only undergo a 3-step process to be converted into useful energy, while other fats go through 26. A speedy digestive process means MCFAs are turned quickly into fuel instead of stored as fat in the body.

The MCFAs in coconut oil are advantageous for dogs in particular because they help balance their thyroid. Coconut oil can play a part in managing our four-legged friend’s weight and gives them an added boost of energy.

Healthy skin and coat

Coconut oil promotes healthy skin for pets as it does for humans. Applying the oil topically can aid in clearing up our pet’s eczema, flea allergies, bites, and stings. It also can rejuvenate pet’s dry or cracked pads and elbows.

It also promotes a healthy coat in both dogs and cats, contributing to a glossy mane and making your trips to the groomer less frequent.

Overall benefits to your pet’s body

This elixir is an antibiotic and helps control both the healthy and harmful bacteria found in pet’s gastrointestinal tract. Coconut oil is an excellent absorber of other nutrients in the gut as well. Coconut oil helps build strong bones and encourages healthy brain and nerve functioning.

You should always consult with a veterinarian before adding a new ingredient to your pet’s diet, especially if they have a pre-existing health condition.

We recommend mixing in about one teaspoon of coconut oil per 10 pounds of your pet’s total body weight in their kibble each day. Begin by using one-quarter of this amount, to slowly familiarize your pet’s digestive system with coconut oil.

Gradually give your pet more oil until they reach the recommended dosage. To fully absorb all of the benefits of coconut oil, you can apply some to your pet’s skin as well.