Tag: pet food

Ensuring Quality Meat In Your Dog Food!

Finding Quality Meat that is Safe and Good for Dogs

The perfect cure for depression and one of the best stress busters are pets, and dogs are arguably the most perfect pets for people with these health problems. That is just one of the many reasons why some people adopt dogs, and how canines help people more than we help them. Considering the aforementioned, it is our responsibility to do our best in taking care of our companions, and that starts with a good diet. For a dog a good diet means quality meat!

Dogs love meat and dogs need meat. As pet parents we must ensure that it is of good quality and sourced from reputable places. There are different quality meats used in different brands of commercial dog food diets. For example, some fish have higher mercury levels than others and certain protein sources can be over or undercooked before they’re used in the formula. It’s essential for dog owners to familiarize themselves with the way meat is processed before it’s turned into dry kibble or put into a can, and other aspects of the process to ensure only good quality meats come our dogs’ way.

If you are confused what to feed your dog, you can ditch the packaged dog food and cook for them yourself. It’s the only way to exactly know what you are feeding it. Or you can check out these tips from Top Dog Tips – the perfect resource in the form of infographic on quality meat in dog food for more information and tips on feeding your dog:

Cost of Owning A Pet – Managing Pet Expenses

How much do you spend on your pet each year? It’s not uncommon to be surprised by the number. Many pet owners underestimate the lifetime cost of these expenses. Depending on the pet variety and breed, expenses can range from $21,000 to $45,000 over a ten year period. Thats a lot of money! It’s enough that budgeting, proper care, and financial planning should be an important part of pet ownership! Need help getting your head around some things you can do to get a leg on expenses before they get on top of you?

Managing Pet Expenses

  • Invest in preventative care. When you first get your pet don’t skip out on those initial healthcare costs. If you’ve adopted your pet from a shelter, there is a good chance some of this has already been done. Ask your shelter about your new pets medical history. Have they been spayed/neutered? What about early life vaccinations and booster shots? If you’re buying from a breeder or pet shop these steps should be your first priority to starting your pet off on the right track! An unexpected litter can quickly send those pet costs skyrocketing, as can issues with heart worms, Parvo, etc.
  • Keep your pet healthy. We know that cheaper pet food seems like a great way to save a few bucks each week, but it may lead to higher vet bills later. Invest in your pets health by ensuring they are getting the key nutrients they need. Ask your vet and do your research so you’re buying the appropriate food. Don’t underestimate the benefit of keeping your pet active too! Obesity can lead to later life issues so regular walks and play sessions are great for their physical and mental health!
  • Insurance or a savings account. If you don’t feel like springing for Pet Insurance then at least start a savings account for unexpected emergencies. Be sure to contribute to it monthly. Just think of it this way – if you need it, it’s there, and if you don’t you can spend it on something else. It’s better to be prepared!
  • Budget and shop smart. Keep an eye out for sales and consider ordering your pet supplies online. Places like Petco offer a discount if you sign-up for repeat delivery. Buying in bulk can be helpful but not if your pets food or other items are going to go stale or otherwise deteriorate over time. You can also treat your pet and cut back on costs by making your own pet treats and toys! Pinterest is a great tool for all sorts of inspiration!

Got any of your own tips for how you keep pet costs down without sacrificing your pets quality of life and health? Share them with us!

 

photo credit: kdee64 Brandy (2001-2017) via photopin (license)

Gut Bacteria – Keeping Your Pet In Balance!

Do you know what “gut bacteria” is and how important of a role it plays in your pet’s health? Recent studies on the topic have pointed to the conclusion that maintaining a healthy level of good gut bacteria is a key factor for good overall health in both humans and their pets! So, what is gut bacteria and what does it do? What happens without it? What can you do to help your pet maintain the right levels? Let us teach you!

Bacteria? Good? Yup!

While stomach acid helps break down the foods you eat, thousands of tiny little microbes do the real work! These helpful little buggers neutralize toxins, kill off bad bacteria and yeasts that try to overgrow, and assist in vitamin absorption!

 “The gut is the largest immune organ in the body,” says Susan G. Wynn, DVM, a veterinary nutritionist in Atlanta

Low Population?

Several factors can affect your pet’s level of the good bacteria. The balance is frequently upset by consuming things they shouldn’t and/or picking up parasites from things they eat. Taking antibiotics can also upset the flora & fauna of their bellies. Be sure to talk to your vet about gut bacteria levels if your pet is prescribed an antibiotic. Some signs of an improper balance include vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation – though your pet can have moderately low levels for an extended period of time that will affect them in other ways like malnutrition, or low immunity.

Growing & Maintaining Your Pet’s Gut Bacteria

Maintaining your pet’s gut bacteria is the best option! You can do this by ensuring they aren’t eating a lot of human foods (especially processed ones!) and aren’t given the opportunity to consume things in the wild that may have parasites. If you’re laughing at the latter option there though, talk to your vet about temporarily introducing a probiotic specifically for your pet and breed. Probiotics can be given in the form of pills, powders, or a liquid that can be added to food. They work two ways – lowering the pH of the gut creating a healthier environment for good bacteria to flourish, and by replenishing said bacteria!
photo credit: ynaka29 Happy Laika on Bed at Taconic, Kimpton Hotel via photopin (license)

Hairball Prevention – Because No One Wants To Clean Them Up!

Don’t be caught off-guard by an unwanted hairball being coughed up around your house this shedding season! Hairballs are likely just as unpleasant for your cat to hack up as they are for you to find. Hairball prevention day is just around the corner (April 24). Do you both a favor and prevent them before they form!

Hairball Prevention 101

  • Brush, Brush, and Brush – Cats tend to do a pretty good job of grooming themselves. We don’t think much about brushing them. While they’re shedding though a good daily brushing is a must! The more of that fur you remove with a brush, the less they ingest to hack up later! Once you’ve given them a good brushing, wipe them down with a moist cloth to pick up any extra loose fur! Heck, we’ve even used a lint roller before!
  • Medicines & Supplements – If you think your cat may already have a hairball brewing, pick up an over-the-counter “medicine” to help them pass it. These medicines are often mild laxatives and can help hair pass through your cat’s system normally. Adding extra fiber to your pet’s diet, through food or supplement, is a great preventative change you can make too!
  • Add some Olive Oil – Mix a small amount of olive oil in your cat’s food! The oil helps to lubricate their digestive system naturally. Consumption of it can also make their coat shiny! This is a short-term treatment though. Feed olive oil in moderation over short periods of time.

Hairball issues can be normal while shedding, but they shouldn’t be a regular occurrence. If you cat continually suffers from issues associated with vomiting, see your vet. There may be a more serious issue at play. Left untreated and attended too hairballs can form intestinal blockages that are very dangerous for a kitty!

photo credit: vanaddie Cats, 2003 via photopin (license)

Diet Changes For Your Pet? Read This First!

For most people feeding your dog is simply a matter of grabbing the dry kibble, putting some water in the bowl and hope that your pup loves it.

There is, however, a new movement of feeding dogs a raw diet or supplementing their diets with fresh fruit, vegetables, and meat. Of course, dogs evolved from wolves, and therefore they enjoy a diet high in protein, specifically meat based products.

For many of us, knowing what human food to feed a dog can be a challenge. A diet that’s high in fat, sugar, and fillers is bad for dogs – and us, so why should we feed them unhealthy food? Luckily Pet Gear Lab has produced a super handy chart which you can download, print out and stick on your fridge. It lists all the common foods which you can freely feed your pup and those which you should feed moderately, or avoid altogether. It’s handy for kids, elderly parents or even a pet nanny to refer to when they feel like giving your pets tit bits.

This is what it looks like:

Head on over to Pet Gear Lab to grab the download and let us know how you’re getting on with introducing human food into your dog’s diet!

Diabetes and Your Pet – Know the Dangers!

Did you know that diabetes isn’t just a threat to humans? Thousands of pet are diagnosed every year. November is Diabetes Pet Awareness month so read on to find out about your pet’s risk factors and what to do!

Diabetes Risk Factors

Weight is likely the largest factor for both pets and humans. An overweight pet is far more likely to develop diabetes as they age than a fit pet is. A great incentive to measure your pets daily food and limit treats. Animals that eat a high carbohydrate diet are also at greater risk. Did you know that dogs don’t actually need carbohydrates? Yet most pet foods are primarily composed of corn or wheat. When buying pet food choose the option with the highest protein & fat content, and lowest carb content.

Two other genetic risk factors show that female dogs and male cats both have higher rates of diabetes than their opposites.

Symptoms of diabetes in pets

    • Weightloss
    • Vomiting and Dehydration
  • Excessive drinking & urination
  • Loss of Appetite

Pretty generic symptoms that are applicable to lots of different issues. If these are combined with any of the risk factors we already listed, be sure to ask your vet.

Living with a diabetic pet

Unfortunately once diabetes has been diagnosed, daily insulin injections become part of the routine. Your vet should be able to direct you on how to give the daily shot and store the insulin. It may be necessary for you to track your pet’s glucose levels throughout the day to help better understand when they rise and fall so you can adjust their insulin dosage accordingly. Sometimes you only need to do so until you’ve established a routine, while some pets may always need this service. Dietary changes will need to be made too. Since each animal is different your vet will need to direct you on these. Frequently you will need to feed your pet more often, but in smaller quantities.

Be sure to share your pets specialty needs with your pet nanny, pet sitter, or any other person who may care for them in your absence.

 

Struggling? See if you can find a diabetic pet support group nearby or online to help support you and your pet!

Food Labels and Your Pet’s Needs

Food labels can be confusing – whether they’re for you or your pet! Do you know what your pet is eating?  Keep your pets fit, healthy, and trim by understanding those sometimes tricky labels!

Know Your Pet Food Labels!

  • Know the right quantity – Different pet food has different nutritional values. Talk to your vet and be sure you know what your pet needs for their breed and size, then follow the serving sizes accordingly!
  • Real vs “Flavored” – Know the difference between brands that contains real meat, vs meat flavor. Wording on the bag will let you know approximately how much meat it actually contains, thanks to AFFCO regulations. Food that contains 100% meat is easy to determine – it will say so! Wording gets a little foggier though as that percentage drops. If it drops to around 25% it will often be advertised as “Chicken Dinner” or “Beef entree”. Around 3% will be described as “contains” or “with”, and none at all will say “flavored”.
  • Know how to read the ingredients –  Lots of people don’t know that the order ingredients are listed in (this goes for people food too!) is important!  Ingredient lists are designed to start with the largest quantity, by weight, with the first item listed being the main ingredient and the last item listed being the smallest. The first three ingredients should be the top sources of protein. Most ingredients that come after “salt”, make up less than 1% of the food.
  • Dry vs Wet – Most adult pets eat a dry kibble, but you should know that there is a greater difference between dry and wet food than just the texture! This handy infographic will help you understand:

You are what you eat, and that goes for your pets too! Make smart choices and know your pets unique needs.

Gardening For Your Pet – Grow Your Own Treats!

As March creeps closer one can’t help but feel Spring fever take hold and the pull to do a little gardening! Whether you live in the city or out in the sticks there is a gardening style to suit both you and your pet! Each pet has their own personality so try a few options from your grocery store to find out their preferences and then get busy planting!

Gardening for your Pet

The Urban Gardner: Here you may be restrained to window or balcony boxes and indoor planters. That doesn’t mean you can’t grow pet-friendly treats and snacks! Catnip is a given. It’s easy to cultivate, pretty and green, and drives kitties crazy! Bunnies also like to give it a nibble. Lemongrass and any variety of mint are also favorites for cats, rabbits, and even some dogs! Trays of wheat grass are an attractive multi-pet friendly option for indoor gardening and can be found at most pet supply shops!

Gardening for your pets!

The Backyard Gardener: If you’ve got a little space like a fenced in courtyard or a full backyard garden your options expand a lot! Many of the indoor varieties listed above are also great options for outdoor gardening. Lavender is a lovely fragrant plant that some dogs enjoy chewing. Other common vegetable garden plants dogs enjoy include spinach, pumpkins, green beans, melons, carrots, blueberries, and even sweet potatoes!  Cats often love to nibble thyme and it’s a great culinary herb for cooking! Try broccoli and zucchini as well (just don’t place a cucumber behind them)! Got a bunny hopping around? Plant a nice patch of parsley and kale – two rabbit favorites!

Some precautions: If your pet is going to be playing in your potted or outdoor plants, make sure that the plant leaves and soil are free from pesticides or fertilizers Be sure to always do your research before you introduce your pet to vegetation. Lots of house and garden plants can be poisonous!

photo credit: SIMBA !!! You Promised !! via photopin (license)

Nutrition for Your Pet – Do You Know What They Need?

You might be familiar with the nutrition pyramid to maintain an active and healthy body, but do you know what the most important elements of your pet’s diet should be? Don’t just assume the pet food you buy is complete because it says so on the bag or can! Take your pets nutrition into your own hands by familiarizing yourself with their individual essential needs.

Top Pet Nutrition Needs

  • Dogs: Did you know dogs create their own Vitamin C? That doesn’t mean there still aren’t lots of other vitamins and minerals they need! Calcium, Iron, and Magnesium are three important ones. These can be found in fish, milk, and grains. Scientifically dogs are omnivores like us!  This means their nutritional needs are similar to ours. Their body’s require large amounts of proteins, fats, and fatty acids like omega-6 too. Poultry can be a great source of protein, fat, and omega-6 for dogs. If you prefer to take a vegetarian route just ensure that there is plenty of protein, amino acids, and vitamin B in their diet!
  • Cats: Cat nutritional needs have been greatly misanalyzed in the past.  Taurine is an essential nutrient for cats that was originally left out of commercially produced cat food until a deficiency in it led to a lot of pet deaths. While cats largely have the same nutritional needs as dogs, their systems have a harder time metabolizing plant base sourced nutrients. It’s important that cats receive their nutrition from fish, poultry, or other meats. Taurine is found in adequate quantities in a meat based diet.

  • Rabbits: Contrary to popular belief, a healthy rabbit diet isn’t composed of carrots! Where protein is primary for carnivores and omnivores, fiber is number one for herbivores! Feeding rabbit pellets alone is not recommended for a long and healthy life. An essential source of fiber for rabbits is timothy hay and should be provided in unlimited quantities at all times. 2-4 cups of fresh greens & veggies like kale, carrot tops (not carrots, too much sugar!), broccoli, or spinach per day should provide them with all their essential nutrients. Just remember not to rely on rabbit pellets as the primary source of nutrition – a healthy rabbit must have it’s food source fresh and varied!

Be sure to ask your vet if your pet has any further specific nutritional needs based on their breed, age, or existing conditions!

photo credit: Total tininess via photopin (license)

Skincare For Your Pet This Winter

With all that cuddly fur it’s easy to forget that some pets need skincare too! Just when our pets think they can take a break from summer scratching, winter comes in with a whole different kind of itchiness! Dry skin doesn’t just affect humans. Some types of pets or specific pet breeds who are already prone to skin disorders suffer endlessly during the winter months. Don’t just leave your pet to scratching though! Check out these skincare tips and give your pet some relief!

Winter Skincare Tips For Your Pet!

  • Don’t stop brushing! – Just because the shedding season is over doesn’t mean that you can put the brush up! Brushing your pet helps to keep the fur free from matting and dandruff and helps allow your pets skin to breath easier. Your first step in pet skincare is to get in the habit of regular brushings!
  • Think before you bathe! – Because baths can be drying, it’s best to avoid bathing your pet unless you actually need to. Fortunately, since summer has gone, you should be able to set aside the flea and tick shampoos in favor of gentler options. There are many pet skincare lines out there and you can get as fancy as you want. We suggest you look for something sodium-laureth sulfate free (SLS free, or “sulfate free”) with skin conditioners.
  • Feed them healthy fats! – Just like with humans, good skincare starts from the inside out! Make sure that year round (especially if you have an older pet) they are getting plenty of healthy fats in their diet. Look for pet foods rich in omega-3 and omega-6, or consider supplementing your pet’s diet with a little canned fish.

Skincare for your pet!

  • Rinse their feet! – If you’re taking your pet out for walks in the winter time, consider rinsing their paws when you get back home. Salt and de-icers can become irritants and encourage your pet to lick/chew on the bottoms of their feet – in addition to allowing them to ingest potentially harmful chemicals. Got a dog walker or pet nanny? Be sure ask them to do foot rinses/wipings!
  • Deal with excessive scratching – If you notice your pet scratching or chewing on themselves more than usual. Nix it quickly and find the source of the problem. A little itchy dry skin can turn into a trip to the vet your pet gives themselves sores. Try putting an article of pet clothing on their body to shield their skin. If they already have inflamed looking spots, consider dabbing with some non-antibacterial, original Neosporin. For many pets this is same (even if licked) but check with your vet first if you have concerns!

Be sure to always let your pet nanny know if your pet is suffering

 

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