What is Taurine?
Taurine is an essential amino acid that is important in the metabolism of fats and is linked to healthy heart function in both cats and dogs. In feline diets taurine is supplemented however canine diets do not require supplementation. In most cases taurine levels were not an issue until the introduction of exotic protein sourced grain free diets. Taurine is found commonly in chicken and beef and not in things commonly found in boutique foods such as pork, potatoes and legumes and many more.
What is DCM?
Dilated Cardiomyopathy is a heart disease that affects the dogs heart muscle. Simply put the weakening of the heart muscle leads to an enlarged heart, this dilation of the chambers of the heart lead to increased effort being required to pass blood through the heart. This can lead to leakage and results in a buildup of fluids in fluids in the chest and abdomen. This is congestive heart failure. It is often not reversible.
What are the symptoms of DCM?
When a cat or dog presents with any heart disease the symptoms can vary and can come and go. The most common symptoms are a cough, lethargy, difficulty breathing and even collapse. If you notice any of these symptoms you should always consult your veterinarian for further work up. This may include checking of taurine levels in the blood however this is not always low in dogs that have presented for DCM on boutique dog foods.
What should I look for to prevent this problem?
First and foremost check your diets AAFCO statement. If it does not read "This diet has been tested to meet the need of _________ (life stage)...." you should ask the company if they have tested any of their diets. If the statement reads "This food has been formulated to meet the needs of _______" this means that simply put the food has not been put through any actual testing, it was simply formulated to meet the maximum and minimum numbers of a select few items such as protien, fat, moisture as outlined by AAFCO. Anyone can start a pet food company, many times there is little to no veterinary involvement leading to a product that is not nutritionally sound and results in problems we are now encountering with these exotic grain free diets.
What do I need to do if feeding a diet like this?
If changing foods is not an option you need to begin Taurine supplementation. Taurine is needed at a dose of 50 mg per kilogram per day. If you need help calculating this please contact us via email, Facebook or phone. Changing foods would be our first recommendation and we will happily help you pick out an alternative food.
Why do you recommend the diets you do?
Simply put we stand behind diet companies that complete research. The 3 main companies that we support are Hills, Purina, and Royal Canin. These companies have put millions back into nutritional research and in turn have gained our trust. When looking at these diets the AAFCO statement most often reads " Purina DH dental health has been tested to meet the needs of adult dogs" for example. Sometimes their statements will read "formulated to meet the needs" but only if the formula is very similar to another product that has already been tested. How do we know this? We asked and through complete transparency they have told us this. This is true often for pet store varieties of the above mentioned companies product. Unfortunately companies like Acana, Blue Buffalo, Kirkland do not have massive research centers dedicated to the furthering of pet nutrition and health.
Where do I go if I have more questions?
Talk to your veterinary team. We are trained to have your pets best interest in mind and take additional education yearly often in nutrition. We have access to your pets medical history as well. Every pet is unique and so are their nutritional needs, speak to your veterinary team today. Often pet store staff may make recommendations but keep in mind the training they have? Ask them what their credentials are to make a recommendation for your pet, some have additional training, some do not. Keep this in mind when getting information for your pets nutritional needs. When in doubt ask more questions of the people selling the food and the company selling the food. We have a great guide of questions to ask a pet food company available to anyone who is further interested. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get a copy of the questionnaire.
Corn along with some other plant based ingredients are "filler" that shouldn't be included in a pet's diet because it is poorly digested and can cause allergies.
The Facts - Corn is an excellent source of many nutrients
- "Fillers" may be defined as ingredients with little or no nutritional value. Based on this description corn is not a filler
-Corn provides a good source of carbohydrates, protein and essential fatty acids for dogs and cats
-Corn is found in many forms, all of which can contribute to nutritious diets. Corn gluten meal contains 60-70% protein and is an excellent souce of essential fatty acids. Whole corn or corn meal provides highly digestible carbohydrates as an energy source.
-Corn is a good source of Linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid required by both dogs and cats.
-It also contains an abundant amounts of antioxidants, such as vitamin E and beta-carotene.
The Facts - Corn gluten meal is highly digestible
-Corn gluten meal is easy to digest, making its nutrients readily available to your pet.
-Corn gluten meal contains many essential amino acids, so when it is properly combined with other protein sources, it can contribute to highly digestible and nutritious diets.
The Facts - Corn is not a common allergen
-Dogs and cats can develop allergies to any protein. It is estimated that only 10% of allergic skin conditions are caused by food, they are more often suspected to be caused by the environment.
-Corn does not appear on the list of most common food allergies in dogs and cats.
-The most common food allergies in dogs are beef, dairy, wheat, followed by lamb, egg, chicken and soy.
-The most common food allergies in cats are beef, dairy and fish.
The Facts - Corn is a high quality ingredient
-The quality of corn in pet foods can vary greatly
-There are five grades of corn quality according to the USDA; grades 1 and 2 are traditionally used in human food products.
-For example; Purina's standard for corn is grade 1 or 2
Nutrients vs. Ingredients
Remember it is not always about the ingredient it is about the nutrients that ingredient has to offer. Corn has a great amount of nutrient value and can be a great addition if a good grade has been used. Corn is valuable when paired with other nutrient dense ingredients.
Here are some frequently asked questions about pets and pot.
What methods are pets able to become intoxicated?
The most common method of intoxication seen in clinic is ingestion. However pets can become "high" from inhalation of second hand smoke. Ingestion can be everything from a single joint to scarfing down laced food products or oils in your home.
How does marijuana affect pets?
First off the drug enters the body via inhalation or ingestion and it binds with a specific neuro receptor in the brain, this alters normal neurotransmitter function. THC interacts with neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine, dopamin, serotonin and acetylcholine. After absorption THC may be stored in fatty tissues as it is very lipid soluble. This means it can be stored in the liver, brain, and kidneys before finally being eliminated from the body. THC is mostly metabolized in the liver (65-90%) and excreted via feces and the kidneys acccount for 10-35% of elimination. In order for effects to no longer be seen they need to excrete the drug via these two organ systems.
How much is too much?
Though this drug is said to have a high safety margin in people, not all pets or even people follow a simple and predictable pattern of intoxication. A small amount may effect the largest dog, however his sibling a small breed dog with similar exposure may show no symptoms or signs. Luckily, Marijuana intoxication is seldom fatal. THC values range a great deal depending on the product you are indulging in. Medical grade high THC ingestion is considered the most serious, and until recent introductions of such products into the market THC fatalities were extremely rare. In closing there is no magic number where we can say a pet will require hospitalization, it is on a case by case basis dependent on your pets symptoms.
What are the signs of marijuana intoxication?
Most of the symptoms of intoxication are what we call neurological. Pets loose their balance and coordination. The list of symptoms is long and includes hyperactivity, disorientation, vocalization, lethargy, drop in heart rate and/or body temperature and respiratory depression. Thankfully these are often short lived but can make your pet quite uncomfortable and even put their lives at risk in the case or respiratory depression.
How is marijuana injestion diagnosed?
The first thing to know about a appropriate diagnosis is to be honest with your veterinary team. If you think your pet may have gotten into your "stash", tell us. We are not here to judge or call any authorities. We can use urine drug screening tests but the results are quite unreliable making a physical examination and an accurate history the best tools in diagnosing THC intoxication.
How do you treat THC intoxication in pets?
The first thing we often do in the case of any toxin if ingested recently enough is to get it out of the system by inducing vomiting and giving a stomach protectant and something to prevent further absorption. This only works if you have caught the pet in the act of shortly thereafter. In the case of many pets the ingestion has happened and the symptoms have already begun to present themselves meaning we have missed our window of prophylactic treatment and we move to activated charcoal to prevent further absorption and supportive care. Supportive care includes a variety of medications and care to manage heart rate, control anxiety, prevent dehydration, and maintain organ function. Each and every pet is different and will have a different response to the drug and in turn require different levels of care.
How many cases of THC toxicity are there on average?
Personally here at AMCS we see an average of 1 every few months. These are often after hours calls making the visit more expensive unfortunately. The pet poison helpline has reported a 200% increase in marijuana toxicity cases and we can also appreciate a spike in them as well.
Enter this years photo calendar contest here:
1. "The FDA-approved drugs in this class are Bravecto, Credelio, Nexgard and Simparica. These products are approved for the treatment and prevention of flea infestations, and the treatment and control of tick infestations" - In clinic we use and will continue to offer Bravecto and Simparica and in the past have offered Nexgard, all without complication.
2. "Veterinarians should use their specialized training to review their patients’ medical histories and determine, in consultation with pet owners, whether a product in the isoxazoline class is appropriate for the pet" - Every pet is different and requires different considerations when using any medication, an increased awareness of this side effect is the goal of the FDA in order to better protect pets.
3. “working with Canadian manufacturers of drugs belonging to the isoxazoline class to include new labelling information that neurological adverse events have been reported in animals receiving this class of drug." - These drugs have been used for a number of years already, the goal of the FDA is the improve labeling to include this noted adverse effect.
4. "The FDA considers products in the isoxazoline class to be safe and effective for dogs and cats but is providing this information so that pet owners and veterinarians can take it into consideration when choosing flea and tick products for their pets." - The bottom line here is that the FDA still considers these products safe for use in pets and therefore are simply changing labeling vs. removing product from the market.
For more information visit https://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/ResourcesforYou/AnimalHealthLiteracy/ucm620940.htm
Ever wonder why exactly we use anesthesia for dental cleanings? Well here we are today to share some great information. With all the hype surrounding anesthesia free dentals we need everyone to understand that some pets are not good candidates and that anesthesia is important for a complete and thorough cleaning for your pets teeth. Here are 5 reasons we believe that
1. Plaque lives below the gumline
Sub gingival plaque is a real threat to your pets oral health. A majority of the tooth lies below the gum-line and this is the plaque that will break down tissues further progress dental disease. Plaque by definition is a film of bacteria and sugars. Plaque is the main cause of dental disease. Cleaning pets teeth includes cleaning both above and below the gum-line. Unfortunately anesthesia free dentals only attack the plaque above the gum-line leaving much room for improvement. This means that every anesthesia free dental is leaving plaque behind unfortunately.
2. Training is key
Dentistry is best left to the professionals. Would you rather have someone cleaning your pets teeth that has hundreds of hours of training and experience of just 4 hours of class time to be able to be certified to clean your pets teeth free of anesthesia. I expect my dentist to be trained, expect the same from your pets care providers.
3. Polish to keep plaque away
Anesthesia free dentals include a scaling with a rough instrument removing large and small debris from the surface of the tooth. Even the most experienced teeth cleaning technicians and doctors will polish to remove the rough surface in order to prevent further build up quicker that what would have been a potential before the procedure. To date there has been no polishing included in anesthesia free procedures because pets wont tolerate it.
4. X ray vision isn't standard
Unfortunately pets can't tell us when it hurts so we have to use diagnostic tools such as oral radio-graphs to get to the root of any dental troubles. When practicing anesthesia free dentals problems can be easily missed by even the most experienced anesthesia free dental provider. This is why we complete full mouth radio-graphs with all of our dental procedures.
5. Comfort is key
Your pet needs to be comfortable and anesthesia can help with that. Anesthesia free dentals require your pet to lay on their back with a stranger for an extended period of time. Some pets may be okay with this but many are not. Dentals completed in clinic are much more suited for the masses as pets are completely anesthetised for the entire procedure following your pets intial exam and sedation.
These are just a few of the reasons we do not support anesthetic free dentals. Ever wonder what we do for your pet when they stay with us for a dental? Stay tuned for a day in the life posts.
This biscuit recipe is courtesy of a great website we often frequent for information.
Remember, these are treats, so give them sparingly.
Brenda adds: Next time, I am going to try finely ground rolled oats in place of the flour. I am sure that lots of other changes could be made, and these would still work. For example you could replace the carrot with apple or pear.
In our line of work we often see pets that are quite sick and possibly are having palliative care provided to them. With this type of care comes stress. We see it everyday, someone comes in because fluffy has stopped eating yet again and the owner looks just drained with the whole experience sitting heavily on their shoulders. Do you do more tests, do you change foods, do you need to come in and see us or not these are all questions I've had to answer and its hard to do and hard to watch knowing the level of stress it can cause.
So how do you cope? Here are some simple strategies to help you truly enjoy your pet instead of spending your time worrying.
1. Let go of guilt
If it is guilt over not being able to give a medication at an exact time because of work or maybe you can't make it to the clinic because of a already hectic schedule. Know that you are not alone. Everyone misses a dose of medication here and there, and everyone has had to prioritize life sometimes. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
2. Let go of perfection
Many of us when we hear our pet has a fatal disease want nothing more than to go to the ends of the earth for them and get every therapy possible. Sometimes that is not realistic though. Ether it is financial constraints, limited resources in your area or even your capability of your pet to endure the therapy, all of the above can make us feel like a failure, don't give up, YOU ARE NOT ALONE
3. Get organized
Sometimes having a few systems in place can bring you back to feeling more in control of what is happening to your pet. A few things we recommend is spreadsheets of what medications your pet is on and when, what treatments, are you having to monitor for things like bowel movements or urine production? Daytimers are also great for the reason you can write down a blurb each day about how your pet was doing as well as list things like medications given and much more, bringing something like this to an appointment is so valuable. An even more visible way is a white board with all your medications and treatments given marked down to ensure they are getting done, this is great when you have help with such things to prevent double dosing ect.
4. Ask for Help
Let people you live with help, being organized makes it easier to share the duties around taking care of your sick pet. If you don't have help consider hiring a dog sitter to let out your pet if they need more frequent potty breaks or medicaions than you can manage because of other obligations. Sometimes you can even hire a technician or assistant from your vet clinic to help with things around the house with your pet like giving subcutaneous fluids for our kidney patients to avoid unnecesary trips to the clinic for simple procedures. Worried about how to do something like pill your pet? Ask your veterinary team to teach you, they can teach you to do everything from administer injectable medications to pilling an uncooperative cat.
5. Take care of You!
We see it every day, pet parents are sacrificing their own health and well being because they are so focused on their pet. We understand the need for additional care but remember if you end up ill or unwell in any way no one will be there to help your pet. Self sacrifice often leads to mistakes being made on their own health care or their pets health care.
6. ENJOY YOUR PET
Don't get wrapped up in the illness, remember the little things they like to do and participate in and share special moments with them every day. Don't forget that play time and snuggle time is important part of daily care. Relaxing with your pet leads back to taking care of you too, it has been proven that petting and enjoying your pet lowers heart rate and blood pressure and gives you an overall good feeling.
We hope this blog helps even one person cope with their pets disease process and remember forgive yourself, let perfection go and most importantly ENJOY YOUR PET.
Every pet food bag has an ingredient list that goes in descending order and there is alot of hype around what ingredients are in food but what about what nutrients are in your dog food?
1. Tricky labeling.
Often you need to watch for ways companies will up the weight of an ingredient by including it whole, therefor showing it higher in the ingredient list itself. For example whole chicken will weigh more that chicken meal often because of water weight. But what is chicken meal? According to AAFCO chicken meal is chicken dehydrated that can not include things like feathers, entrails, feet and heads, this results in a lighter product but not devoid of nutrients unlike whole chicken. But does this mean that the initial weight of the chicken if compared "apples to apples: wouldn't have been the same?
2. Selection based on nutritional value
Since often the only feedback you get on nutritional values are the min and max values in the guaranteed analysis I often suggest contacting your food company or searching their literature for a few tidbits of further information. Have they gone so far as to offer not just a range of what nutrients will be in a bag but instead offer exact values? This bodes well for a company for a number of reasons it shows that they have spent time researching the diets as well as that they are producing a consistent product with every batch that will sit well with your beloved pet.
No one ingredient or ingredient list is the recipe for perfection for every dog. As with us balance and moderation are the keys to successful management of nutrition. If your pet is getting too much protein it can negatively effect organs, if it is getting too much fat your pet may becomes overweight. Balance is hard to come by and is often done with some trial and error in trying different balanced food options for your pet to keep them happy healthy and satiated after every meal.
4. Fairy Dust
The ingredients that we look to for some valuable nutrients should not fall in the last ingredients on your food bag. If a diet claims to use cranberries for urinary health it should be in the early to mid section of your label to truly offer value. Often things like cranberries and blueberries are snuck in at the very end of the list unfortunately meaning you truly aren't going to get the benefits from such a small quantity, and that it may not indeed be enough to substantiate the claim on label. Again as about that nutrient list from your company, how many grams of cranberries is there actually in each meal?
Want to learn more? Check out AAFCO's website and learn about what all that fancy wording on your label actually means https://www.aafco.org/Consumers
Ever hear of fixing a medical issue with use of a toy? With the use of a simple ball and continued play at prime times of development a complex dental problem resulting in narrowly erupting adult teeth can be reduced or even completely eliminated. Ball therapy is encouraged by dental specialists world wide and is just one of the many tidbits we have picked up from our staffs many hours of continuing education this year alone. Ball therapy requires a plastic ball fitted to your puppies mouth by your veterinarian and is an incredibly simple process. This is just one more reason to ensure your puppy gets regular examinations every 30 days until 4 months old and then again at 6 months of age to discuss spay neuter planning and monitoring of teeth eruption and normal development. Have questions about your puppies teeth or anything else in this article? Comment below or call us today!
Animal Medical Centre South
59 East 3rd Ave
Available 24/7 for emergencies.