October is Black Cat Awareness Month

October is a fun time of year for tjose of us who love Halloween but there are negative aspects to this spooky time of year.

For some reason, many people are still superstitious and think black cats are bad omens. Black cats are often overlooked at shelters because of this. It’s silly. I’ve had black cats for 2 decades and can say that they are nothing but wonderful.

Ezmerelda is a total blessing.

If you are looking for a new feline companion, go to your local shelter and rescue a black kitty.

Happy Halloween and Black Cat Awareness Month!

Ezmerelda vs. Paparazzi

We’ve been telling everyone that Ezmerelda hates our phones. She often will knock them right out of our hands, sit on them or put her hand on it, with a disapproving look. Today, I got proof…she did not appreciate it. It’s pretty cute though…she loves freshly bleached surfaces. And don’t worry, the counter top was dry.

The Dreaded F.L.U.T.D.

Day after day, I talk to customers who have cats that are prone to U.T.I.s or crystals in the urine…aside from conversations about cats who won’t eat, this is the most common problem in cats these days. So what do we do about it?

I’m pretty sure, if you’ve ever talked to me about cat nutrition or read this blog, you know what I’m going to say…don’t feed kibble. I realize that I’m like a broken record when it comes to kibble but that’s because, well, I’m right. Cats need moisture from their food, plain and simple. That is how their body works and we keep attempting to change that, and failing. I also realize that there are cats who won’t give up the kibble and that some cat parents can’t afford all wet food. Believe me, I get it. So, what’s a person to do? I’ll give you some tips.

First, feed a little bit of wet food every day. A little extra moisture can go a long way in keeping your kitty hydrated. Second, feed a high quality, high meat, low to no-carb food. That goes for kibble and wet. Cats don’t need veggies or fruits, the PH levels of plant matter is the opposite of what the feline body requires (which can lead to crystals). Third, make sure the litter box is clean, all the time. I clean my litter boxes twice a day, because it only takes a one bacteria to get into the body to cause a UTI…especially in female cats. So make it a habit. Scoop in the morning and at night and change out the litter, entirely, once a month. Forth, try to get your cat to drink more fluids. You can use tuna juice, low sodium meat broth or any meaty juice.

Remember, your cat may drink but the way they drink is not adequate enough to make up for the lack of moisture in their food. Get creative and email me with questions or tricks you’ve learned.

Are Grain-Free Diets REALLY Causing Heart Problems in Dogs?

The quick answer is no, grain-free diets are not the cause of taurine deficiencies in Golden Retrievers or any other dog…kibble is.

I just read this supposed “study” on how diets high in legumes and potatoes can cause taurine deficiencies in dogs and cats and that part is very true. Both, dogs and cats are carnivores, therefore, their bodies are designed to eat meat, therefore, their bodies are designed to get the necessary amino acids, such as taurine, from their food. Dogs can produce their own taurine, however, if their food is not providing a substantial amount of meats that can help their body produce taurine, then yes, they will have some problems.

The biggest problem with all pet food is that we cook it to death and feed it to our carnivores who are designed to eat and get all they need from RAW meat. We have been causing kidney disease, diabetes and hyperthyroid disease in our cats for years due to feeding our feline friends biologically inappropriate diets containing lots of plant matter and very little, very overcooked meat biscuits. Now dogs, who can normally produce their own taurine, are suddenly not able to. That sort of evolution doesn’t happen over night or even in a few years since grain-free food has been a big thing. It evolves over a long period of time, say about 100 years, since we started feeding kibble?

None of this surprises me, in the least and just because “many of the dog is were eating a grain-free diet” during this study, doesn’t mean that that is the problem. If you want to keep your dog healthy, supplement (at least) with raw bones, chicken or turkey necks and other raw and freeze-dried raw treats and feed a high quality kibble with meat as the first 5 ingredients.

 

 

There’s Flaxseed in This Cat Food, So it Must Be Good…It’s Not.

To clarify, it’s not bad either. The truth is that putting flaxseed anything in cat food is useless and a waste of money.

Unlike humans and even dogs, to a certain extent, cats are obligate carnivores. Of course, that means that their bodies are designed to get everything they need to be healthy, from meat. All the essential fatty acids, nutrients, vitamins, etc. they need, have to come from meat, of some kind. The reason that our feline companions end up with things like kidney failure and hyperthyroidism so often is because we treat their bodies like they aren’t obligate carnivores…but I digress. That’s another topic for a different post.

Flaxseed is a plant and although it does have some omega 3’s, which are good for humans and sort of beneficial to dogs, cats can’t metabolize flaxseed…at all. They don’t get any essential fatty acids and they don’t get any soluble fiber from it. It comes out of their body, essentially the same form as when it went in.

So why do cat food companies put it in almost all cat food? I don’t know. I asked every cat food maker I talked to, at SuperZoo, and they all gave me the omega 3 or fiber argument. I told them they were wrong and wasting money by using it, but chances are we’ll see it in cat food until it’s “super food” status fades into obscurity and is replaced by the next.

The point is that if you see flaxseed in cat food, don’t use that as a reason to buy it. Look for digestible protein, fat and low, low, low carbohydrates and vegetables.

What Do You Know About Diarrhea?

I had a customer ask me this question the other night…so I’ll tell you what I know about diarrhea. Diarrhea is the bowels way of flushing out things that are either not useful or things that are invasive to the digestive tract, such as way more Mexican food than we needed to eat or parasites/bacteria that we’ve consumed and have caused havoc inside the digestive tract. Dogs and cats can easily have these problems as well, but they are unable to tell us what may have been the problem. If only they could say “ugh, I’m never eating that again!”, but they can’t, so off to the vet we go!

Once we are at the vet, we test them for bacteria and parasites in the poop, maybe do an x-ray or ultrasound to see if anything is inflamed, get some antibiotics or antiparasitics (if the tests are positive, which they usually aren’t) and are sent home. Awesome! Everything should be back to normal in a day or two. So, what if the diarrhea doesn’t go away? We just spend a pretty penny at the vet’s office and our pet tested negative for everything, so now what?

When people come to me with this question, I start by asking several questions of my own before giving any answers or devising a plan of attack.

  1. How long has your dog/cat had diarrhea?
  2. What do you feed your pet?
  3. Has your pet eaten anything new lately?
  4. (And this one is REALLY important) How much food do you feed your pet each day?

If the diarrhea has only been going on a couple of days and the pet has tested negative for anything dangerous, I will suggest the bland diet for a few days and that should help. The bland diet for dogs, for those of you who just asked what it is, is boiled chicken breast, brown rice and canned pumpkin. Mix up enough for about 4 feedings, I use a casserole dish, and scoop it out as needed. * If your pet is allergic to chicken, use ground turkey…if your pet can’t have turkey, use frozen tilapia fillets. The bland diet for cats is a little tricky, but you can try plain chicken baby food mixed with a small amount of pumpkin, add some warm water to make it smell more appealing. Pair that with some Optigest and that should do the trick. **Let me know if the cat won’t eat it and I can give you more suggestions.

If your animal has had diarrhea for more than a few days, has tested negative for everything, has done well with the bland diet but is back to having diarrhea once you’ve started feeding them their normal food, I’ll definitely suggest a diet change. We tend to feed our pets the same food, every day, for their entire lives and that can lead to a food intolerance (NOT THE SAME AS A FOOD ALLERGY). When this happens, the body can no longer absorb nutrients properly from this food source and treats it more as an invader, causing inflammation and tummy upset, basically shooting it out of the body as useless trash. So, if your dog has been eating nothing but chicken and rice his whole life, let’s try lamb and peas or something other than the main protein and carb he’s been eating. If we have an intolerance, the elimination diet will usually do the trick. Once your pet is pooping normally, give him a VERY small piece of chicken, or whatever it is we think he can’t tolerate, and see what happens. The digestive tract of a dog or cat is only about 12-14 hours long, so you’ll know pretty quick if that food was the problem…but let’s hope for just gas, rather than another bout of diarrhea.

Okay, so what if you’ve done the elimination diet, had the tests, etc. and it’s gotten better here and there but there is still some diarrhea…what could be causing the problem? Maybe you’ve been leaving your pet at grandma and grandpa’s house, while you were working and didn’t know that grandpa was giving your pup extra snacks…like, A LOT of extra snacks. Maybe he’s giving your dog a lot of extra snacks with chicken or artificial crap in them? If you have any sort of pet sitting, daycare or dog walker activities happening, ask for the details regarding treats or whether the dog is eating plants or anything else you don’t but should know about.

Now…you come to me, telling me that you’ve already tried all of these things and nothing is helping your poor pet. You casually mention that you’re animal is actually at a healthy weight…meaning, despite the ongoing diarrhea for weeks or months, your pet isn’t losing weight. This is a HUGE clue! My next question is “how much food do you feed your pet?”.
The reason for this question is because, 1. a dog or cat with chronic, long-term diarrhea should be super thin from lack of nutrients and 2. when the body gets WAY more food than it needs, it has to get rid of the excess fats and that can cause diarrhea.

I had a customer once, whose cat was having chronic diarrhea for a long time. They tried everything they and the vet could think of. One time, while ringing them out for their pet food, I asked how much the cat ate each day. They said they fed one cup of dry food as well as a 5.5oz can of wet food to a 10 pound cat, each day. Holy cow! That was about 300 extra calories per day…of course the cat was always pooping! There was no where else for that extra fat and protein to go. They cut back the food to the recommended feeding, which was 1/8 cup dry food and one 5.5oz can of wet food and the cat was pooping normally in a day or two.

Another customer, the other day, said that she was told by her vet to feed her 6-month-old St. Bernard puppy 6 cups of food a day. Not 6 cups of Puppy Chow, specifically, but 6 cups in general. So, when the customer put the puppy on a high protein, low carbohydrate food, she continued to feed 2 cups, 3 times a day. She couldn’t figure out why the puppy was gaining the weight he needed to, but was leaving mud puddles all over the yard. Of course, this advice was given after all the aforementioned steps were taken to make sure the dog was healthy, but I have a feeling that too much food was the problem. I’m still waiting on confirmation on this one but I’ll update the post when I find out.

The moral of the story here, is that when it comes to pet diarrhea, we need to think “outside the box” as they say. We don’t always need to change the diet and we don’t always need to assume the animal “can’t have chicken”, because sometimes it can be other things. If our pet will eat everything we give them, let’s make sure we are giving what they need.

I really didn’t think finding a picture for this post was necessary or possible without being super gross.

Brief Hiatus

Okay, now that I’ve settled into my new job, along with a relatively structured home life, I can continue to do this blogging thang!

I’m back in the pet food biz and feel much more “at home”. I really do love helping other pet owners solve problems and LOVE seeing the results.

Bugsy and Ezmerelda are eating half raw meat now, with a can of BFF, split between them. So far, so good. Bugsy had a growth spurt and now is reaching for the stars…because “look how tall I am!”

I promise to write new posts more often. Until next time!

Hunt, Eat, Groom, Sleep on Mom’s Face

Having kittens can be challenging…for Gideon. Bugsy is very active, rambunctious and can be onry, especially when he’s told “no”. He has discovered new “prey” (cables) behind the giant screen TV, which is super dangerous and Gideon has had a hellofa time trying to keep Bugsy out of it. He tried yelling…that didn’t work but it was super loud. He tried redirecting, sort of, but Bugsy needs the distraction to be WAY more interesting prey than the one he was just fixated on. He’s also, very much a “hand’s on” kind if kitty. He likes to play with us, or near us. He often will play with, whatever it is he’s found, by putting it near my foot and batting at it while reaching around my foot. . When I’m home, I have pretty good luck redirecting him by scooping him up, grabbing a toy and relocating to the other room. He likes to drape over me, when I’m laying on the bed, to give himself the best vantage point to catch Da Bird.

For me, Bugsy is a lot like Spike was at his age, so I totally got this. Poor Gideon is struggling a bit more.

I got several text messages today, saying that we needed to get a squirt bottle for Bugsy, to teach him what he’s not allowed to do…”to curb his disobedience”. I said “you get that he’s a tiny murderer with no sense of right and wrong, right?” Cats only think 4 things, several times a day: I need to kill that. I need to eat that. I need to clean myself. I need a nap. That’s all.

What we need to do to protect Bugsy from himself, as well as protect the entertainment components, is to make it uninteresting for him. We’re working on how best to do that, but in the mean time, I went to At Your Service today and the cat guy showed me some super fun toys to try. He also said to tell Gideon to “redirect the kitten and just go with the kitten energy”, ha ha ha! I told him “that’s what I keep saying!”

I understand where Gideon is coming from. I don’t want Bugsy to get hurt or destroy anything either, but I know from experience that negative reinforcement doesn’t work. Again, cats don’t understand WHY you’re spraying them because they have no concept of right or wrong. All they know is that you sprayed them…MAYBE if you manage to spray him EVERY SINGLE TIME he goes to the TV cables, he’ll understand that when he tries to go behind the TV, he gets sprayed and he won’t want to get sprayed anymore, but that would require spraying him every time…which is impossible, since we aren’t home all the time. He’ll still go behind there when we aren’t home, which will nullify the times we sprayed him before. It won’t work.

Bugsy is my little man, and I don’t experience any of the frustration that Gideon does. If I don’t want him into something, I take him away from it with something more fun. He’s a very determined, little hunter and eventually Daddy will understand how best to truly redirect him…and wear him out.

Until then, we’ll be getting some new toys and extra peacock feathers.