Getting to Know the Bulldog

115-1-english_bulldogThe next breed we are featuring in our Getting to Know Your Dog Breed series is the lovable English Bulldog. We’ll cover the French Bulldog in a separate post in a few weeks.

Life expectancy: Bulldogs have a short life expectancy of only 8-10 years.

Size: The average Bulldog stands 14 – 15” tall and weighs about 40-50 lbs.

Color: The Bulldog has a short, smooth coat of red, white, fawn or a combination of these colorings.

Origins: The Bulldog is thought to be a mixture of Pug and Mastiff. As their name suggests, these dogs were originally bred and trained to fight bulls or for ‘bull-baiting’. This practice was popular in Great Britain from the 15th century until the Cruelty to Animals Act of 1835 outlawed bull-baiting and the dog was no longer useful as a ferocious fighter.

115-2-english_bulldog
The dogs were also used in the New World to help farmers capture bulls as they would fearlessly grab the bull by the nose until the farmer was able to lasso the animal.

Eventually, the dog evolved into a loving and gentle family pet and although they can no longer perform the duties they were originally bred for (too short, heavy and with a snout that is much too short), they can be a faithful companion and excellent watchdog.

Personality: Despite their bloody past, Bulldogs are known for their endearing lumbering gait and sweet disposition. They are also known for their patience and gentleness with children and so they can make great family pets.

Health Issues: Unfortunately, the Bulldog comes with many health issues. They are members of what is termed the brachycephalic breed class with the signature short head and snout. While this characteristic is sought after by breeders, it makes them susceptible to health issues related to their eyes, ears, nose and breathing. They tend to snore, snort, wheeze and are susceptible to sleep apnea. They are also known for their flatulence.

115-3-english_bulldog
According the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, the Bulldog breed has the highest occurrence of hip dysplasia, so it is imperative to keep their weight controlled. They are voracious eaters, so daily walks and controlled diet are critical to their health.

While they are well-known for their distinctive wrinkly face, those wrinkles can be another source of problems for the dog and must be kept clean and dry to prevent infection.

Fitness/energy level: Bulldogs are low maintenance when it comes to physical activity and would be happy to just sit on the couch all day. Due to their brachycephalic issues, they have limited stamina. They have difficulty in cooling themselves as other dogs do, so overheating from too much exercise or heat should be avoided. Their short and squat physique can also make it a challenge for them to be physically active.

But, given their health issues as noted above, it is imperative that Bulldog owners don’t let them veg out on the couch and get them out for daily exercise to help keep them trim and fit. Remember that Purina study we wrote about in our recent Get Your Dog and Get Moving! post. A thin Bulldog can be expected to live 1-2 years longer than an overweight one. Try short periods of exercise, 15 minutes at a time, instead of long sessions. This type of exercise is more well suited for the English Bulldog.

Native foods for the Bulldog: Some common foods that the Bulldog may have been fed back in the 1500-1800’s include deer, hare, salmon, apples and cherries.

Good foods to feed your Bulldog:

  • Nature’s Variety – Rabbit Formula
  • Orijen – Tundra
  • Canine PowerFood – Only Natural Red Meat Feast

115-4-english_bulldog
Fun facts about the Bulldog:

Bulldogs come in ten different varieties including brindle, white, fawn and piebald!
President Warren G. Harding owned a Bulldog named Oh Boy.
Bulldogs are frequently used as mascots for sporting teams, including the University of Georgia and U.S. Marines.

Sources:

http://www.nationsencyclopedia.com/Europe/United-Kingdom-FLORA-AND-FAUNA.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bulldog

http://dogtime.com/dog-breeds/bulldog#/

https://www.petmd.com/dog/breeds/c_dg_bulldog

http://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/bulldog/

Food Related Pet Allergies Part II

114-1-allergies_2A few weeks ago, we began a two-part series on Food Related Pet Allergies. You can read Part I here. In Part II we want to discuss the most common treatment to aid in the diagnosis of a food allergy called the elimination diet.

The Elimination Diet
In order to determine what food(s) might be at the root of your pet’s allergy (or food reaction, which is non-allergic but physical reaction to certain foods), you begin by making a complete change in their diet. You stop feeding the foods you have been feeding and provide completely different foods.

This is not simply a change in brands, but a change to the proteins and carbohydrates contained in the food. Start by reading your pet’s food label to see what proteins and carbs they are eating. If your current food is chicken based with corn meal, then you stop feeding them anything with chicken or corn. You must also eliminate the proteins and carbs in their treats, so if you feed treats that are beef based then you stop feeding anything containing chicken, corn or beef. You can also utilize Petnet’s pet food rating system to see just how “healthy” your pet’s food rates according to our analysis.

It’s important you carefully monitor anything they put in their mouth, so be sure and also stop feeding things like pig’s ears or kong’s with peanut butter. You must restrict their diet to ingredients their system has not encountered before. That is the key to the elimination diet, anything they eat is “novel” , something they have not been fed before.

114-2-allergies_2
There are many commercially prepared foods for this purpose, but it requires diligence on the owner’s part to know what proteins and carbs are in the food they’ve been eating and carefully reading the labels on their new food to ensure those proteins and carbs are not introduced. You continue with this diet for at least 12 weeks to totally flush their system of the harmful allergens. Make sure you keep them away from table scraps, other pet’s food bowls and watch them carefully outdoors too as many pets can get into garbage or horse/cow dung.

Once their system has been cleansed by this special elimination diet, you can slowly start to add those eliminated ingredients back into their diet to see if their allergic reaction recurs. It usually takes at least a few days for the allergens to react in their system, so be certain to give it time. It’s also critical that you introduce only one new ingredient at a time so that you can isolate and identify the culprit.

Do not to stop the trial once you’ve found one ingredient they react to. There may be several, so continue introducing the ingredients until you’ve reintroduced everything they were formerly eating and identified all potential sources of the allergy. Once completed with the reintroduction process, you will know what foods to eliminate completely from their diet in order to alleviate their allergic reaction.

114-3-allergies_2
Preventing Food Allergies
It certainly would be easier to just prevent food allergies from arising in your pet. Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done. What you can do for them is promote good digestive health in your pet. Feeding a good quality food that contains whole proteins and a limited number of processed filler ingredients like ‘meal’ or chemical sounding things you can’t pronounce, will help keep stomach issues at bay.

It can also be helpful to try a rotation diet to prevent food allergies or food reactions. A rotation diet is one that changes the key protein sources that you feed your pet over time, essentially rotating which proteins they get every few months. This strategy can be effective in two ways. First, it reduces the possibility of a pet’s body developing a food reaction due to feeding the same exact protein for extended periods of time. Second, by changing up a pet’s diet, it helps their digestive system become used to a variety of food choices instead of the same food every day, which can lead to overall better nutrition and a stronger digestive system in general.

Do your best to keep your pet’s food choices simple and straightforward and read the labels so you know exactly what you are feeding your beloved pet.

114-4-allergies_2
Additional Readings:
What every pet owner should know about food allergies
Food Allergies and Food Intolerance
Caring for a Dog with Food Allergies
Food Allergies

Healthy Ingredients: Cranberries

113-1-cranberriesThe next ingredient we’re covering in our ongoing series on Healthy Ingredients for Your Pet is cranberries. They make a nice topping on our oatmeal, and a great side dish at Thanksgiving, but good for our pets? Indeed they are.

What are cranberries?
Cranberries are a group of evergreen dwarf shrubs or trailing vines in the subgenus Oxycoccus of the genus Vaccinium, the same family as blueberries and grouseberries. They are low shrubs or vine with red or pink flowers. The berry starts out green in color and turns red or ‘cranberry’ when it is ripe. It’s quite tart to the taste which overwhelms its natural sweetness.

Why would it be in pet food?
Cranberries are chock full of antioxidants and other nutrients that can help boost your pet’s immune system, improve their brain function and help retain their healthy coats. Cranberries are low in calories and high in fiber, Vitamin C and potassium. They are also rich in polyphenol antioxidants (particularly antioxidants called proanthocyanidins) which fight against the formation of cancer cells in your dog’s body.

113-2-cranberriesCranberries are known in humans to help reduce the severity and inflammation of urinary tract infections and are often prescribed as a preventative measure for humans. As of yet, there is not conclusive research to show a similar impact with pets, but if your pet does have frequent UTIs or kidney or bladder issues, a few dried, or better yet, raw, cranberries tossed in their food certainly can’t hurt them. (Note: cranberries are NOT a treatment for UTIs. If you suspect your pet has a UTI, get them to their vet for proper medication.)

Are there any risks to feeding your pet cranberries?
Any food eaten in excess can be harmful, so make sure you give these to your pet in moderation. Otherwise, they may experience some stomach upset or even diarrhea. You should also avoid cranberry products with added sugars like sweetened cranberry juice or dried/sweetened cranberries.

Be mindful that raisins are very toxic to dogs, so make sure you’re not giving them any berry treats mixed with raisins.

113-3-cranberriesCranberry Factoids:
Contrary to popular belief, cranberries do not grow in water. They are grown on sandy bogs or marshes. Cranberries have small pockets where air seeps in, allowing them to float which is why some bogs are flooded when the fruit is ready for harvesting.

One cup of raw cranberries contains about 50 calories.

Cranberries are one of the three fruits native to America that are still commercially grown today.

Pet foods that contain Cranberries:
Acana, Heritage Sport & Agility
pawTree, Real Chicken & Potato
Orijen, Fit & Trim

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cranberry

http://www.akc.org/content/health/articles/can-dogs-eat-cranberries/

https://ultimatehomelife.com/can-dogs-eat-cranberries/

https://www.petmd.com/dog/nutrition/healthy-foods-checklist-cranberry-dogs

Ate Too Much Over the Holidays? Get Your Dog and Get Moving!

112-1-fitnessThe holiday are over and if you are like most people, you overate. Who could resist all those holiday parties, the tasty treats and fancy drinks? And if you have a dog, you probably overfed them too with snacks from the table and if you didn’t, your guests did.

We all did it and we all regret the extra pounds. But, the New Year is for New Year’s resolutions, so let’s make one right now to get out and exercise and to take our dog with us.

Many people start their new year with a resolution like this, but by February, they are back on the sofa. So, start small, aim for a 15 minute walk every day with your dog. Depending on your breed of dog, a 15 minute walk barely skims the surface of their energy level. Even small dogs benefit from that 15 minutes but can do lots more, so build up over time to 30 or even 60+ minutes a day. You will both feel better as a result.

112-2-fitness
If your dog is older or has orthopedic issues, break up the walk into two or even three walks. You will find that the resulting weight loss reduces stress on their limbs and their orthopedic issues improve.

If you like to run or bike, even better. Most dogs would love to be your running or biking companion. Keep in mind that both activities require some training of the dog to ensure they stay on one side of you, don’t bolt after other runners or bikers and generally keep pace with you, i.e. no smelling the roses or stopping at fire hydrants while you’re biking.

112-3-fitness
There’s been a lot of  research and reports this decade about the importance of exercise for human health and longevity. Less has been written about the benefits of exercise for your dog, but it is just as important for them as it is for you.

One study, conducted a few years ago by Purina found that similar to humans, dogs benefit greatly from a healthy weight and exercise. Specifically, the study noted that thin dogs outlive their overweight littermates by 10-15%. That’s a pretty significant increase, which could mean 1-2 or more years of life for the dog.  To put it into context, a similar percentage gain in a human lifespan would mean around 10 extra years of living!

Your dog also benefits from the mental stimulation required of regular exercise. It excites their brain to be out in the world, experiencing new things and working their body. This stimulation increases their brain function and as with humans, can help reduce stress and boredom, helps them to retain memories longer (good for training) and strengthens your bond with your pet.

In addition, you might not realize it, but a dog would also benefit from a strength training program. You want them to stay strong and vibrant into their senior years, and that walk around the block once a week and a quick game of fetch in the yard, just doesn’t cut it. Strength training helps keep their muscles strong and supportive of their internal organs and bones and reduces the risk of injury and illness.

112-4-fitness
We will write more about types of strength training activities you can undertake with your dog, but for now, you can start with simple hill training or maybe a weighted vest.

Let your dog inspire you to make this resolution and stick to it, you will both benefit. As a matter of fact, it’s good for the whole family, so get everyone off the sofa and out the door.

“If it wasn’t for dogs, some people would never go for a walk.”
-Source Unknown

Getting to Know Your Persian Cat

111-1-persian
We continue with our Getting to Know Your Breed series and move from dogs to CATS. As we noted in our introduction to this series, there are over 50 recognized cat breeds in the US. And the Cat Fancier’s Association recognizes the Persian cat as the 2nd most popular breed. Persian’s are a long-haired cat breed with a distinctive flat or “doll” face.

Life expectancy: Persian’s live a relatively long life ranging from 12 – 17 years.

Size: They are medium-sized ranging from 7 – 12 lbs.

Color: Persians can be found in a variety of colors and types from pure white, to silver to caramel or multi-colored. Their long flowing hair and fluffy tail is their most distinctive characteristic.

Origins: The Persian hails from Persia (Iran) with their earliest recordings when they made their way to Italy from Iran in the 1600’s. They found their way to Britain in mid-1800’s and to the United States in early 1900’s. Ancient hieroglyphics contain renderings of cats with distinct similarities to the Persian, so they’ve probably been around a lot longer!

111-3-persian
Personality: Persians are gently and serene cats who thrive in a calm, quiet setting. Households with lots of activity, kids, dogs, etc. is probably not the best environment for them. They have a sweet and loving personality and like nothing more than to curl up in your lap for some well-deserved petting. They are also sedate and dignified cat, so don’t take offense if they enjoy their own company more than yours.

Health Issues: The Persian’s flat face make it more susceptible to breathing problems or dental issues related to their teeth alignment. Long-haired breeds overheat easily, so it’s important to keep them indoors and in air-conditioned comfort.

There are several known hereditary issues that may be of concern, including polycystic kidney disease (PKD), progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), bladder stones, cystitis (bladder infections), and liver shunts.

111-2-persian
Your best safeguard against these health issues is to get your Persian from a reputable breeder, keep them at a healthy weight and see your veterinarian regularly.

Grooming: Persian’s fur requires daily brushing and regular bathing in order to keep its fluffy fullness and luster. Neglect their fur and it can quickly become matted and is then susceptible to mites and other unwanted parasites. If you want a low maintenance pet, a Perisan is not for you. They were bred to look pretty sitting on a pillow next to Pharaoh’s throne, not chasing mice.

Their facial structure may also lead to excessive tearing which may stain their fur and also requires regular grooming.

Finally, Persian’s shed, and they shed a lot, so be ready with the vacuum.

Native foods for the Persian Cat: Native proteins found in Persia and Mesopotamia would include wild pigs, mongoose and cows and fauna such as apples, figs and pomegranates.

Good Foods to Feed a Persian Cat:Based on the Persians origin, here are a few foods that contain some of the key ingredients that the original Persians would have likely eaten. This list is not meant to be exhaustive, but rather provide ‘food for thought’.

Acanatm Regionals – Appalachian Ranch
Primaltm Feline Beef & Salmon

Fun Facts About Persian Cats:

Queen Victoria was the proud owner of two Blue Persian cats and Marilyn Monroe owned a white Persian cat named Mitsou.

Persian cats were held in such high regard and estimated value that they were smuggled along with jewels and spices out of Persia and considered contraband.

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persian_cat

http://www.vetstreet.com/cats/persian

http://cattime.com/cat-breeds/persian-cats

http://www.cfa.org/Breeds/BreedsKthruR/Persian.aspx

Healthy Ingredients for Your Pet: Kale

110-0-cover
In our ongoing series on Healthy Ingredients for Your Pet, Kale was a natural ingredient to focus on. Kale has been likened to a ‘superfood’ for humans as it provides a long list of benefits to your health. Your pet can reap these benefits too!

What is Kale?
Kale is a hardy, leafy vegetable and a member of the Brassica oleracea family (including cabbage, rutabagas, turnips, broccoli, and cauliflower). Kale may have green or purple leaves and comes in several leaf varieties including Cavolo nero (dinosaur kale, black cabbage), curly (Scots kale), plain and leaf and spear (hybrid of curly and plain).

Why is Kale in pet food?
Kale offers a long list of benefits to human health that translate to your pet. Cooked kale can be fed directly to your pet in small amounts and it can also be found in many commercially available pet foods. Specifically, kale offers the following health benefits:
Antioxidants: contains carotenoids and flavonoids which provide protections against cancer.

  • Vitamins: packed with additional anti-oxidants such as vitamins E, K, C and beta-carotene which offer a wide range of benefits.
  • Minerals: packed with additional nutrients from Potassium, Calcium, Iron, Copper and Magnesium that are good for bone health and heart health.
  • Omega-3: anti-inflammatories which boost your immune system to fight off infections of all kinds.
  • Phytochemicals: Shown to reduce cancer risk and slow cancer growth.
  • Lutein: may be something you’ve never heard of, but it promotes eye health.
  • Low in calories: always good for your pet to watch their weight.
  • High in fiber: helps keep the digestive track moving.

All of these positive benefits are why more pet food companies are adding kale to their recipes. We offer a few examples of foods containing kale that you might try below.
110-2-dog
Are there any risks to feeding your pet Kale?
One potential issue is created by the oxalates found in kale. They clock the absorption of calcium, so be sure your pet has other sources of that important mineral. And given its high fiber content, gas might be potential issue.

If you do feed kale directly to your pet, be sure and wash it thoroughly to remove any pesticides and you should cook the kale lightly. Raw Kale (and other cruciferous vegetables) can cause thyroid issues in some cases, but cooked kale is fine.

Interesting facts about Kale:
Some varieties of kale can reach a height of six or seven feet tall.
Kale contains only 33 calories per cup and more than 3 grams of protein and more vitamin C than an orange!

Pet foods that contain Kale:
Primal Canine Chicken Freeze Dried (dog)
Party Animal Cocolicious Salmon & Pork (dog)
Wellness Core Grain-Free Ocean (dog)
Nutram T24 Grain Free Salmon & Trout (cat)

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kale

https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-4408/Top-10-Health-Benefits-of-Eating-Kale.html

http://smartdogowners.com/kale/

http://slimdoggy.com/is-the-latest-superfood-kale-good-for-dogs/

http://animalwellnessmagazine.com/kale-super-food-for-pets/

https://ultimatehomelife.com/can-dogs-eat-kale-or-is-kale-for-dogs-bad/

Getting to Know the German Shepherd

105-1-gsdThe next entry in our “Getting to Know Your Breed Series” is the breed that has gone up and down on the AKC Most Popular Dog Breed list over the years, but recently has settled in at the #2 spot – the German Shepherd Dog (GSD).

Life expectancy
: GSDs have a fairly short life expectancy of 9-12 years

Size: Height: 24-26 inches (male), 22-24 inches (female); Weight: 65-90 pounds (male), 50-70 pounds (female)

Color: GSDs are typically tan with a black saddle and/or ‘mask’. They can be seen in all black, white or liver colors although the only accepted ‘breed standard’ is the tan/black or all black.

Origins: Germany. Max von Stephanitz, an ex-cavalry captain and former student of the Berlin Veterinary College is recognized as the founder of today’s current German Shepherd Dog (GSD). He specifically bred the dog to be a working dog, specifically, to herd sheep.

Personality: GSD are known to be protective of their families. This is one of the reasons they are used so often as guard dogs. They are also quite intelligent and confident which makes them good working dogs for the police, and the military. GSD’s make good family dogs and while they are good with children, they can be somewhat standoffish and wary of strangers. Owners of GSDs must be prepared to work with the dog to ensure their better natures shine through.

Health Issues: Unfortunately, there has been a lot of inbreeding in the GSD lineage which has resulted in a number of frequent health related issues. Of most concern is hip and elbow dysplasia which is found in almost 20% of registered GSDs.

Degenerative myelopathy, a progressive disease of the canine spinal cord is seen with enough regularity in the GSD to assume a predisposition. The same is true of Von Willebrand disease, a bleeding disorder.

Other health issues include chronic ear infections. Due to the shape, size and openness of GSD’s ears, they are frequently afflicted with ear infections.
105-2-gsd
Fitness/energy level: GSD are high to medium energy and require daily mental and physical exercise. Because of their working background and purposeful nature, GSDs like to have a ‘job’. This trait makes them excellent for police, search & rescue and of course herding work. A family pet may transfer that trait to herding the children or develop bad habits of herding cyclists or runners. It’s best for their owners to give them plenty of mental stimulation in the form of treat games or even nose work competitions or agility work.

Native foods for the German Shepherd Dog: Native foods for GSDs found in Germany would have been wild boar or pheasants, fish such as salmon or carp, fruits such as apples and lemons and tubers such as sweet potatoes and turnips.

Good Foods to Feed: Based on the GSD’s origin, here are a few foods that contain some of the key ingredients that the original GSDs would have likely eaten. This list is not meant to be exhaustive, but rather provide ‘food for thought’.

  • Fromm Four Star Grain-Free Game Bird Recipe
  • Addiction Turkey with Cranberries and Apples
  • Wild Calling™ Rocky Mountain Medley Elk, Whitefish Meal & Turkey Meal Recipe
  • 105-3-gsd
    Fun Facts About the GSD: Probably the most famous GSD is Rin Tin Tin who was the star in over 27 movies. The original Rin Tin Tin was rescued from a German battlefield during World War I by an American soldier. When the soldier returned home with “Rinty” he found work in silent films.

    GSDs were the first dogs used as seeing eye dogs. Mrs. Harrison Eustis founded “The Seeing Eye” in 1929 to aid soldiers returning from the war with eye injuries and blindness.

    2017 was the first time a GSD won the Westminster Dog Show since 1987 and 1987 was the only other time a GSD won the prestigious show.

    Watch for the next post in our series: Bulldog.
    See our previous post about Labrador Retrievers.

    Sources:
    Amazing Facts About German Shepherds http://www.akc.org/content/entertainment/articles/amazing-facts-about-german-shepherd/
    AKC: German Shepherd Dog http://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/german-shepherd-dog/
    Wikipedia: German Shepherd https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_Shepherd
    German Shepherd Dog Club of America https://gsdca.org/german-shepherd-dogs/health-a-genetics
    German Shepherd Temperament: What’s Good About ‘Em, What’s Bad About ‘Em http://www.yourpurebredpuppy.com/reviews/germanshepherds.html
    Wikipedia: Germany https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Germany

Food Related Pet Allergies Part I

111-1-boy_cat
Food allergies are the third most common type of allergies seen in our pets, following airborne toxins and atopy (flea bites). Food allergies can be quite troublesome, difficult to diagnosis and may cause severe discomfort for your pet.

What causes food allergies? The simple explanation is that an allergic reaction to a certain food occurs when your pet’s immune system identifies a substance found in the food as harmful to them, something to be fought off and expelled, rather than something healthy or beneficial. Their body develops antibodies to fight off the ‘invader’ and this reaction can result the symptoms we normally equate with a food allergy – itchy skin, diarrhea, etc. If you want a more detailed and technical description of the what’s going on inside your pet’s body and immune system, here’s a good explanation from Modern Dog.

Allergies are typically genetic, but may also be environmental in nature. Since they are genetic, there are some breeds more prone to these allergies than others, specifically German Shepherds, Retrievers, Boxers, Cocker Spaniels and Dalmatians to name a few.

Currently, there is some innovative research going on to better understand (and maybe prevent) the development of these allergies. One school of thought is that they might be related to the use of antibiotics in a puppy or kitten. This early use may impact the development of the immune system and then impact immune related reactions later in life. It will be interesting to watch this research and any findings that may help our pets.

An allergy may also disguise itself as the more common food intolerance since some of the symptoms may be similar (vomiting, diarrhea). Think of it like a human who can’t eat spicy or greasy foods, it’s not an allergy, it’s just their digestive system staging a revolt because it has difficulty processing that particular food.

Food intolerances can develop slowly if a pet is fed the same foods every day for long time periods. Unfortunately, this is exactly what many pet parents do– they choose a pet food and stick with it for years. Some experts, like Dr. Karen Becker, recommend switching up the pet’s food, and specifically, the primary protein sources in the foods, frequently. At a minimum, consider changing foods (focusing on the protein sources) every few months. This can help reduce the risk of your pet developing food intolerances to common pet food ingredients.

111-2-dog_itching
Both cats and dogs exhibit some of the same symptoms to a food allergy:

  • Itchy skin affecting primarily on the face, neck and limbs. Possibly leading to skin lesions or even hair loss or ‘hot spots’.
  • Chronic ear infections and scratching of the ears.
  • Vomiting, possibly even food avoidance.
  • Diarrhea or frequent bowel movements.
  • If you suspect your pet has a food related issue, your first stop should always be at your veterinarian’s office. Your pet’s issue may be food related (about 10% of all pet allergies are food related) or it could be caused by external (fleas) or internal parasites, yeast or bacterial infections or even sarcoptic mange.

    Unfortunately, there is no definitive test to diagnose food allergies for your pet. Diagnosis is normally done through trial and error. Your vet will first test for and reject other potential causes of your pet’s symptoms. After other potential causes have been ruled out, the most commonly accepted approach to identify the culprit food is the “elimination diet”. Simply put, this diet eliminates each potential irritant to your pet one at a time until the culprit is identified.

    We will cover the specifics of the elimination diet as well has ongoing treatment and prognosis for food allergies in our next post: Food Related Pet Allergies Part 2.

    Additional Readings:
    What every pet owner should know about food allergies
    Food Allergies and Food Intolerance
    Caring for a Dog with Food Allergies
    Food Allergies

Holiday Gift Ideas for Your Pet

109-1_dom
It’s hard to believe the holidays are upon us again. In the whirlwind to prepare for the festivities, it’s easy to forget a gift for your pets. We’re here to help you make up for that temporary memory lapse by offering up some fun and innovative gifts ideas for your furry friends.

  • Mental exercise toys: Our pets need mental exercise as well as physical exercise, just like we do. It keeps them active and helps alleviate boredom, which can lead to mischief and destruction (keep that Christmas tree safe!) Many of these types of toys are “treat toys” and are good for both cats or dogs. Further, they don’t require much from the human other than to fill the toy with food and then sit back and watch the wheels in your pet’s brain go round and round as they try to figure out how to get the food out of the treat.
  • Cozy blanket: All of us love to snuggle up in a nice warm and furry blanket when the weather turns chilly, why should our pets be any different? Not only are they great for keeping warm, they are also easier to throw in the wash for cleaning rather than a big bulky bed.
  • 109-2_cozy_cat

  • Weather protection: Our dogs need their daily walks no matter what the weather is. Taking them around the block in pouring rain or snow requires extra work to get them dried off and cleaned up when you get back to the house. It’s hard to thoroughly dry a dog and it’s not good for their coat or their skin to be left damp. A raincoat or other weather protection can really help keep them warm and reduce that dampness. Consider protection for their paws too if you live in an area where they salt the roads in icy conditions.
  • New cat tree/maze: While cats typically don’t get outdoors much, raincoats or booties aren’t necessary, but every cat would appreciate a new cat tree for climbing or scratching. It might help spare your curtains from damage too!
  • Doggie day camp: If you’ve got an active pup, it’s tough to keep them cooped up in the winter. How about splurging on a visit or two to a doggie day camp in your area? These facilities are great for providing safe, supervised playtime for your pups, which is good for their socialization and mental attitude.
  • 109-3-dog_toy

  • New collar with name tag: When was the last time your dog got a new name tag or collar? You may not notice it, but those engraved tags wear down over time to the point that you can’t read the name or phone number of your dog. That’s tragic if your dog gets lost and whoever finds them can’t read your phone number! But, putting aside the safety issue, it’s always fun to splurge on a new collar and name tag. They make many fun colors and prints nowadays for both dogs and cats.
  • Petnet Feeder: Every pet who loves to eat (and which ones don’t) would appreciate a Petnet Feeder for Christmas. While you are out celebrating at the company Christmas party, you can rest assured that Fido or Sparkles is getting fed on time and is fed the proper amount…and isn’t that the best gift you can give him?
  • We bet your pets would be happy to find any of these under the tree!

    Happy Holidays from everyone at Petnet.

    109-4-fro

Getting to Know the Labrador Retriever

102-labradors

Our first entry in our Getting to Know Your Breed Series is the dog breed recognized as the most popular dog breed for the last 26 years in the U.S, Canada and England – the Labrador Retriever.

Life expectancy: Labs are big dogs and their average lifespan is between 11-12.5 years. Adjutant, the oldest known Lab, lived to be 27 years old!

Size: Females generally range from 55-70 lbs and males range from 65-80 lbs. They typically stand between 21-24 inches at the withers.

Color: The standard color for Labrador’s is black, chocolate or yellow (ranging from an almost white to fox red). And it’s possible to get puppies of all three colors in the same litter.

Origins: Labradors were first identified in Newfoundland, Canada and first recognized as a breed by the American Kennel Club in 1917. The forbearer of today’s modern Labrador was the St. John’s Dog, a smaller mixed breed combining Portuguese, English and Irish working dogs. They were used by fisherman to pull in fishing nets. Today’s Labrador is utilized as a hunting dog to retrieve ducks and other fowl in the field or in water.

Personality: Labradors are friendly, easy going, fun loving dogs. They are water dogs and love to swim or play in mud puddles. They are great family dogs because of their gentle nature and eagerness to please. They are gentle with children and make excellent running or hiking partners. Because of their intelligence and keen senses, Labs are also widely used as service and search and rescue dogs.

102-dog_running

Health Issues: Due to their active and exuberant nature, Labradors can be prone to orthopedic injuries which may lead to torn ligaments or arthritis. In addition, Labradors are prone to hip, shoulder and elbow dysplasia, a degeneration of those joints that may require surgery and physical therapy. Labradors also tend to overeat, or eat whatever is put in front of them and they can pack on the pounds. Owners should be careful to keep their Labs at a healthy weight to guard against weight related health issues like diabetes.

Fitness/energy level: Labs are sporting dogs and their energy level is high. Daily exercise of 30-60 minutes is best to keep their energy level and appetite under control. Being a retriever, they love to play fetch, but be aware that a 10-minute game of fetch in the backyard will not put a dent in their energy level. Labs are also very smart, so games that test their mental attention, like nose work or hide and seek also help keep them even keeled.

Native foods for the Labrador Retriever: An example of the Labrador’s native foods would have been moose, salmon and maybe some cloudberries, apples and squash. Many of these foods can be found in commercially available dog foods with possibly a few substitutions, like elk for moose and blueberries for the ‘cloudberries’ although they sound heavenly, don’t they?

Good Foods to Feed a Labrador Retriever:
Based on the Labrador’s origin, here are a few foods that contain some of the key ingredients that the original Labs would have likely eaten. This list is not meant to be exhaustive, but rather provide ‘food for thought’.

  • Wild Calling™ Rocky Mountain Medley Duck, Salmon Meal & Lamb Meal Recipe
  • Instinct™ Original Original Real Rabbit
  • Instinct™ Original Original Real Salmon

102_Lounging Lab

Fun Fact About Labrador Retrievers:
Not only are Labs the most widely used guide dogs for the blind (70%), the first dog to detect diabetic episodes was a Lab named Armstrong. He was trained in 2003 to smell the chemical changes that happen when hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) occurs in the body.

Watch for the next post in our series: Getting to Know Your German Shepherd.

Sources:
Wikipedia – Labrador Retriever
American Kennel Club
The Labrador Retriever Club
Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) a centralized canine health database sponsored by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA).
Canine Inherited Disease Database, University of Prince Edwards Island
Newfoundland & Labrador