Friday, December 21, 2012
Friday, December 7, 2012
For apartment-dwelling kids or families who have limited space, traditional pets might not be a great fit. Reptiles, however, typically live in self-contained environments that require a relatively small space commitment. While not all reptiles are ideal choices for kids, there are many that could prove to be perfect for your family. Here are 10 of the most kid-friendly pet reptiles.
- Corn Snakes – As a general rule, snakes require significantly less space and attention than many other types of reptiles, making them ideally suited to live in a tank inside an easily-distracted child’s room. The slender bodies of corn snakes are easy for children to handle, but be warned: they can also be masters of escape if housed improperly or if the lid to their habitat is left unlatched.
- Ball Pythons – For kids that want a snake with a heftier body, the Ball Python might be a good choice. The humidity and temperature of their habitats do need to be carefully monitored, but they’re relatively low-maintenance pets that are typically very tolerant of excessive handling.
- Leopard Geckos – Hardy and tolerant to handling, the leopard gecko’s diet of insects, vegetables and greens is easily acquired and can be handled by an older child without much assistance. The biggest drawback to the leopard gecko is its nocturnal nature, which can cause kids to become less interested when they discover that it sleeps for most of the day and is active at night.
- Bearded Dragons – One of the most popular lizards for children’s pets is the bearded dragon, which can grow up to two feet long in adulthood and subsists on a mixed diet of insects and vegetables. Bearded dragons typically have good personalities and are well-suited to children.
- Fat-Tailed Geckos – Generally quite docile and easy to tame, the fat-tailed gecko is another suitable reptile for children, and their 10 inch average size is easy for smaller hands to accommodate. They are also very tolerant to regular handling. They typically live for 15 to 20 years, so you’re not likely to have to handle the delicate subject of death when your child is still too young to process the concept properly.
- Fire-Bellied Toads – Despite their ominous-sounding name, the fire-bellied toad can be the perfect pet for a frog-loving child. They also can survive comfortably in a smaller environment and are generally less expensive and less difficult to keep up than other types of reptiles.
- King Snakes – Slower-moving than many of their snake relatives, the king snake is small and quite friendly. With proper handling, the king snake is far less likely to bite than other species, and is also much easier for children to hold securely.
- Box Turtles – These turtles have acquired the reputation of being quite easy to care for, which is sometimes true and sometimes not. Their disposition typically depends on the area in which you live and whether or not the box turtle is a naturally-occurring species and if you plan to house it outdoors. If your accommodations are adequate and you provide proper care for your new box turtle, it can live for a very long time. It is very important, however, that you make sure that the turtle you’re purchasing was captive bred; laws governing the sale of these reptiles have caused a huge spike in the capture of wild adults, which is rapidly diminishing the number of these creatures in their natural habitats.
- Crested Geckos – Less finicky about heat than some of their lizard brethren, the crested gecko does require a vertical cage to accommodate his ability to walk vertically across a surface. Though the crested gecko is another nocturnal lizard, their relative ease-of-care makes them one of the better choices for kids.
- Anoles – Though their five to seven year lifespan is significantly shorter than those of many other lizards, the anole is quite small and can change colors from green to brown. Docile after taming, they can tolerate capable handling once they’ve become accustomed to it, though they are easily frightened in some cases.
Posted on December 5, 2012 by admin | in Nannies Read More......
Posted by Terri Oak at 3:39:00 PM
Friday, November 16, 2012
- Set a Good Example – Children learn primarily through mimicry. They watch their parents and other authority figures, and then model their own behavior after their observances; one of the best ways to instill a love of animals is to have that same love yourself and to exhibit it often.
- Research Local Programs – Your local Humane Society chapter or other animal activism organization is likely to have a program or two specifically directed at helping small children understand the proper treatment of animals. A cursory glance at a local message board or search engine results could net dozens of options.
- Take Advantage of Story Time – Most kids love a bedtime story, and there are tons of books on the market written with this very subject in mind. A colorfully illustrated, well-written book about animals and the humans that love them can do wonders for explaining the concept of animal kindness to kids.
- Teach Proper Handling of Small Animals – Helping a child to properly hold and handle a small or newborn animal while emphasizing the importance of being gentle is a great way to teach a hands-on lesson about carefully handling animals and never being too rough.
- Visit a Petting Zoo – Spending an afternoon at the petting zoo can be a fun and informative experience for kids of all ages, but especially for little ones who wouldn’t ordinarily have the opportunity to interact with such an interesting array of animals or have access to professionals that are trained to help kids learn about them.
- Share Interesting Facts – Learning that baby goats are also called “kids” or that butterflies taste with their feet not only entertain children, but also help them to see that animals have their own unique, interesting qualities.
- Help at a Shelter – Taking a trip to your local animal shelter to help walk the dogs, feed the cats or do other fun and interactive chores not only makes a difference in your community, but also in your child. It might be best to stick to a privately run no-kill shelter or to be sure that no animals are scheduled to be euthanized during your visit, however, to avoid a traumatic experience.
- Study Local Wildlife – A trip to a local nature preserve or national park not only provides kids with a day of no-television fun, but can also help them understand the very important concept that wild animals are not pets, but should be treated with the same respect.
- Watch Kid-Friendly Television Programming – While you might want to skip the program chronicling the antelopes’ encounter with a hungry lion, there are plenty of kid-centric animal documentary shows that can provide strong talking points and valuable information.
- Get a Pet – After you’re certain that your child understands the basic treatment of animals, introducing a pet into your home is a great way to keep their education going. Even if you live in a small space or urban environment that isn’t conducive to traditional pets, a small hamster or a goldfish can still help give your child a sense of responsibility.
Posted by Terri Oak at 8:47:00 PM
Thursday, November 8, 2012
Saturday, September 22, 2012
- I could walk barefoot around the yard without dodging “land mines”
- My house could be carpeted instead of tiled and laminated
- All flat surfaces, clothing, furniture, and cars, would be hair-free
- When the doorbell rings, my home wouldn’t sound like a kennel, plus I could get to the door without wading through all the fuzzy bodies who beat me there.
- I could sit on the couch or lay on the bed any way I wanted , without having to take into consideration how much space several fur bodies need to get comfortable.
- I would have enough money, and no guilt, to go on a real vacation.
- I would not be on a first name basis with my veterinarian, or the folks at the pet food store.
- The most used words in my vocabulary would not be “out”, “sit”, “down”, “come”, “no”, “stay” or “leave it”.
- My house would not be cordoned off into zones with baby gates and barriers.
- I would not talk “baby talk”, such as “Where are mommy’s babies?”, “what good puppies want a chewie?”, or “Who wants a yummy?”
- My house would not look like a day care center, with toys everywhere.
- My pockets would not contain things like dog treats, poop bags or extra leashes.
- I would not have to spell out words like b-a-l-l, c-o-o-k-i-e, b-y-e-b-y-e, or w-a-l-k.
- I would not have as many leaves inside my house as outside.
- I would not look strangely at people who think having ONE dog ties them down too much.
- I’d look forward to spring and rain instead of dreading “mud” season.
- I would not have to answer the question “Why do you have so many pets?” from people who will never know the joy of being loved unconditionally by the closest thing to an angel they will ever encounter.
Posted by Terri Oak at 2:26:00 PM
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Posted by Terri Oak at 8:15:00 PM
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
by Maria Goodavage
Five? 10? 20? 100? You can't tell a hoarder by the number of dogs -- or can you?
You love your dog, so you get another to keep her company. And then you find a stray and you have to take him home. Then you see this irresistible dog who needs a place to bunk down, so naturally he becomes part of your household. Another dog comes into your life, and you can’t say no. You love them all, and give them a good home, so occasionally people just dump a dog on you.
Your canine brood grows. It gets a little crowded, but you’re okay. You know you have more dogs than most people, but you can handle it, and the dogs need you. At some point, you might get strange looks. Then someone may refer to you by the "H" word: Hoarder.
Wait! What? You can’t be a hoarder. You love your pets, and you don’t have hundreds, or even dozens, or all that many compared to those stories you read. But some people still look at you askance, as if they’re saying, "There goes that crazy dog lady!" And you might start wondering just where the line is drawn between hoarding and just having a larger-than-normal number of pets. Is it a certain state of mind coupled with certain actions, or is there a magic number? Are you defined as not a hoarder at X number of dogs, but once you pass that, you tip the scales into lightweight hoarding?
Of course, there is no simple equation. It’s about much more than numbers. There are many theories about what makes someone a dog hoarder (here's a good article about pet hoarding/collecting), but there’s no clearly defined number cutoff. If someone with X dogs cares for his dogs but isn’t keeping them in ideal conditions, how does the law differentiate between him and someone with X+1 (or more) dogs who are given the best care the owner knows how to give?
I started thinking about this question when I read about two Pennsylvania brothers who pleaded guilty to animal cruelty after nearly 200 dogs, mostly Chihuahuas, were discovered in their house. Like most other hoarders, they truly loved the animals and thought they were doing what was best for them. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, it was hard for the brothers to enter the guilty plea. They said they “treated the dogs like our boys and girls.”
What set these men apart from many hoarders was the condition of the dogs in general. Unlike what’s found in many hoarding cases, most of the dogs were in decent shape. “Veterinarians who checked the Chihuahuas -- plus two other dogs that were also removed from the residence -- found no serious health issues, only minor eye, teeth and skin problems, and officials say they apparently came from a loving home,” the article said.
Yes, authorities found the bodies of 30 dogs in the freezer, but they’d died of natural causes. (Not being able to part with the bodies of deceased pets is another of the characteristics of many hoarders.) Unlike the case of Rosie, the severely deformed Chihuahua we’ve been writing about since her rescue from a hoarder in June, there were apparently no calamitous deformities from inbreeding issues in this household.
The brothers' situation is a classic hoarding case, perhaps minus the decent physical conditions of the dogs. But where did they stop becoming simply super-caring dog lovers taking in their share of dogs to becoming hoarders? Again, before I get accused of oversimplifying things, I realize that hoarding/collecting animals is a very complex psychological issue; it’s anything but clear-cut.
At one point, fellow author and Dogster writer Julia Szabo had five large dogs living in her small NYC apartment. She’s down to four, but it seems people still talk.
"While most people say nice things about how kind I am to rescue, and how healthy and happy and well-socialized my dogs are, etc., a few (mostly anonymously, online) have accused me of being a hoarder," Julia wrote me. "These lovely folks call themselves 'true animal lovers,' and such. To which I say, if y'all were such true animal lovers, maybe you'd have ONE dog each, so I wouldn't have to have four or five?"
Her dogs are all rescues, and generally sleep in her bed –- yes, the non-kingsize bed you see above. If Julia lived in a big country home, no one would ever consider her a hoarder. But that fact that she’s a single gal living in a small one-bedroom apartment in New York City with four big pooches tips the scales for some people.
If you saw her apartment, you would shake your head at those who hurl around the H word so easily. It is neat. It is lovely. Yes, it may have more doggy doodads than the average NYC apartment, but it's definitely not the abode of a hoarder. My one-dog, one-child house should be so well organized.
Years ago I knew a woman in my San Francisco neighborhood. She had somehow accumulated about 10 dogs through her rescue efforts and failed foster attempts. Her yard was kind of stinky, and in her house you were lucky not to trip on Kongs and tennis balls and rawhide bones. But it wasn’t unhealthy, just slightly cluttered with dog toys –- and dogs. Her landlord (yes, she was a renter) was getting pretty balky about all those critters, and she was way over the city’s dog limit. I remember clearly when she told me she was going to move to Montana to live on a few acres she was buying with her partner. “We can keep the dogs, but no more of them. I’m not a hoarder, at least I don’t think so, but I was beginning to worry.” Read More......
Posted by Terri Oak at 3:12:00 PM
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Posted by Terri Oak at 9:15:00 AM
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
When parents begin their nanny search one of the things they should take into consideration is if they have or plan to have a family pet. Whether it is due to allergies or a fear that they’ll have to care for the family pet, for some nannies working in a home with a pet is simply out of the question.
If you’re considering hiring a nanny and have a family pet, you’ll want to be sure to find a nanny that’s comfortable around animals and willing to provide any necessary pet care. To attract a pet friendly nanny, follow these five rules:
Rule #1. Give full disclosure. Be upfront about having a pet and being an animal loving family. Whether creating your profile online or when working with an agency, be sure to include information about your pet in your family’s description. Even if you don’t expect your nanny to provide any care for your family pet, if she has a severe allergy to dogs or cats and you have one it could be an employment deal breaker.
Rule #2. Advertise for a pet loving nanny. When you describe your ideal nanny candidate, include a nanny that enjoys being around animals. When you do, you’ll naturally attract nannies who enjoy being around pets.
Rule #3. Be clear about the pet responsibilities your nanny would have. If you expect your nanny to walk or feed the family dog, communicate that from the get go. If part of her job would be taking the pet to routine vet visits, be sure to discuss it upfront. While opening the screen door to let a dog out may not be a big deal to you, to a nanny who has an allergy to dogs or a general dislike of them it’s not going to be something she wants to do.
Rule #4. Be willing to hire a dog walker or pet care provider and make that clear in your family profile. Dogs with lots of energy and young children with equal amounts of energy don’t always mix. If a nanny candidate is aware you’re willing to outsource the pet duties, a pet may be a non-issue. If you love a nanny who doesn’t really love dogs, hiring a dog walker or taking the dog to doggie daycare may be your only chance of securing her.
Rule #5. Compensate your nanny if she agrees to take on any pet duties. When discussing compensation be sure to include what you’re offering to take care of the family pet in addition to her nanny salary. Showing your nanny that you appreciate her going above and beyond the call of duty will go a long way in helping her to feel valued and respected.
If you’ve hired a nanny and then decide you want to get a family pet, it’s important to discuss the idea with your nanny first. If you decide you’d like to get a puppy, for example, the reality is that your nanny is going to be spending the majority of time with the puppy, unless you make alternative arrangements. If she’s not willing to train the puppy with you and give the puppy the care it needs, getting a new pet will be problematic.
While there are many nannies that love working in homes with pets, there are some that do not. If you have or are planning on getting a family pet, being upfront about it will ensure that the nannies you meet would enjoy working in a home where a pet was a valued member of the family.
by Maureen Denard
Find a Nanny.net Read More......
Posted by Terri Oak at 7:04:00 AM
Thursday, May 24, 2012
Why dogs chewPuppies, like infants and toddlers, explore their world by putting objects in their mouths. And, like babies, they teethe for about 6 months, which usually creates some discomfort. Chewing not only facilitates teething, but also makes sore gums feel better.
Adult dogs may engage in destructive chewing for any number of reasons. In order to deal with the behavior, you must first determine why your dog is chewing—and remember, he's not doing it to spite you. Possible reasons for destructive chewing include:
Manage the situationTake responsibility for your own belongings. If you don't want it in your dog's mouth, don't make it available. Keep clothing, shoes, books, trash, eyeglasses, and remote control devices out of your dog's reach.
Give your dog toys that are clearly distinguishable from household goods. Don't confuse him by offering shoes and socks as toys and then expecting him to distinguish between his shoe and yours.
Supervise your dog until he learns the house rules. Keep him with you on his leash in the house so he can't make a mistake out of your sight. Confine him when you're unable to keep an eye on him. Choose a "safe place" that's dog-proof, and provide fresh water and "safe" toys. If your dog is crate trained, you may also place him in his crate for short periods of time.
Give your dog plenty of people-time. Your dog won't know how to behave if you don't teach him alternatives to inappropriate behavior, and he can't learn these when he's in the yard by himself.
Give your dog plenty of physical and mental exercise. If your dog is bored, he'll find something to do to amuse himself and you probably won't like the choices he makes. On the other hand, a tired dog is a good dog, so make sure he gets lots of physical and mental activity. The amount of exercise should be based on his age, health, and breed characteristics.
If you catch your dog chewing on something he shouldn't, interrupt the behavior with a loud noise. Offer him an acceptable chew toy instead, and praise him lavishly when he takes the toy in his mouth.
Build a toy obsession in your dog. Use his toys to feed him. At mealtimes, fill a Kong-type toy with his kibble.
If your puppy is teething, try freezing a wet washcloth for him to chew on. The cold cloth will sooth his gums. Supervise your puppy so he doesn't chew up and swallow any pieces of the washcloth.
Make items unpleasant to your dog. Furniture and other items can be coated with a taste deterrent (such as Bitter Apple®) to make them unappealing.
Caution! Supervise your dog when you first try one of these deterrents. Some dogs will chew an object even if it's coated with a taste deterrent. Also be aware that you must reapply some of these deterrents to maintain their effectiveness.
Offer your dog a treat in exchange for the item in his mouth. As your dog catches on to this idea, you can add the command "Give" as his cue to release the object in exchange for the yummy treat.
Don't chase your dog if he grabs an object and runs. If you chase him, you are only giving your dog what he wants. Being chased by his human is fun! Instead call him to you or offer him a treat.
Have realistic expectations. At some point your dog will inevitably chew up something you value; this is often part of the transition to a new home. Your dog needs time to learn the house rules and you need to remember to take precautions and keep things out of his reach.
What not to doNever discipline or punish your dog after the fact. If you discover a chewed item even minutes after he's chewed it, you're too late.
Animals associate punishment with what they're doing at the time they're being corrected. Your dog can't reason that, "I tore up those shoes an hour ago and that's why I'm being scolded now." Some people believe this is what a dog is thinking because he runs and hides or because he "looks guilty."
In reality, "guilty looks" are actually canine submissive postures that dogs show when they're threatened. When you're angry and upset, your dog feels threatened by your tone of voice, body postures, and/or facial expressions, so he may hide or show submissive postures. Punishment after the fact will not only fail to eliminate the undesirable behavior, but could provoke other undesirable behaviors as well.
There is a really great site called Dogstruction.com that has wonderful and humorous pictures of dogs and the damage they have inflicted. Think your dog is bad? Check out some of these!
Posted by Terri Oak at 11:43:00 PM
Saturday, May 19, 2012
To get some dogs to switch to a
raw food diet will challenge your creativity. But you know you
need to persevere because it’s for the good of your dog.
Fortunately, there are some tips out there that will help you
help your dog adjust to this new and healthier diet.
Here are 7 tips from Maggie Rhines' “Going Rawr! Dog Lover's Compendium” to help you encourage your pick eater onto raw food:
1. Adjust your feeding schedule.
Some dogs are more open to trying new food when they are on a set feeding schedule. Other than being used to being fed and eating at a certain time, you are also certain that they are hungry by the time you give them food.
Another way to improve your dog’s reception of raw food is to schedule his feeding after a vigorous routine activity – say after his morning walk or a jog around the block. A good run will help him work up an appetite.
2. Regulate how much food your dog is getting.
If your problem is getting your dog to finish his serving of food, you may want to re-examine how much food you are actually giving him. It may be too much for him to consume.
One way to help your dog finish his food and finish it quickly is to set a certain amount of time for him to eat. Say you only give him 20 minutes to finish his food. After that, take away his food bowl. That way, he’ll be encouraged to eat his food and to finish it quickly.
Another reason why you want to do this is because with a raw food diet, you don’t want to leave food lying around. This will allow bacteria to grow on your dog’s food, which could cause stomach upset when your dog consumes the contaminated food.
3. Lay off on the treats
If your dog is often disinterested in his food, it could be time to examine what food your dog is getting outside of his meals. Does he get to eat when he comes to you while you are preparing his food? What about when the family sits down for dinner, does he get a bite as well?
Treats are meant to be rewards for good behavior and should not be something you routinely give your pet every time. That will turn treats into snacks, which will only spoil your dog’s appetite during meal time. So if your dog seems full during meal times, check if unscheduled snacking could be to blame.
4. Variety is the spice of life
When feeding your dog raw food, variety is key to keeping him interested. If you are feeding him the same kind of food all the time, it won’t be a surprise if there comes a time when he’s just not that interested in the same old thing.
Planning a varied meal doesn’t have to be complicated. You can rotate his meals every 3 days. Serve different kinds of meat or different kinds of fruits and vegetables to keep him excited during meal times.
5. Make it fun
Just like with little kids, sometimes dogs need a little stimulation to encourage them to try and to eat new food. You can experiment with various activities and different kinds of toys that dispense food. Or you can take his food (for example, raw meaty bones or whole carcasses) and dangle it a bit in front of him. That could work to get his attention to try the new food.
6. Maybe he’s not feeling well
When you’ve tried different methods and your dog is still not eating, it could be a sign that your dog is not feeling well. If his lack of appetite is accompanied by a general lack of interest in any activity, you would do well to have him checked by a vet.
7. Do the slow switch method
Some dogs just need more time to adjust to raw food diet especially after being so used to a different type of food for a long time. To facilitate his adjustment, you might want to consider doing the slow switch method. What you do is you mix his old diet with the new diet, gradually increasing the proportion of the new diet, until such time when you are feeding him just raw food. This will allow him to acquire a taste for raw food at a less stressful pace.
Introducing the raw food diet to your dog isn’t always as easy as just giving him raw meaty bones to munch on. There are a lot of things to consider, especially if your dog is the sensitive/picky eater type.
A good resource to check out though would be Maggie Rhines’ “Going Rawr! Dog Lover's Compendium”. If you have a dog or a puppy that you want to raise on a raw food diet, her expert tips and guidance will go a long way in helping you make the transition as easy and as pleasant as possible for both you and your pet!
Posted by Terri Oak at 11:18:00 AM
Friday, April 20, 2012
NannyPro.com sent me a great article on kids and pets, so I thought I would share it.
10 Ways Kids Show Love to Pets
One of the most iconic images of childhood nostalgia is that of a child and their faithful pets. Whether the pets in their household are traditional, or are those of a more exotic variety, kids show their devotion to their animal friends in a variety of ways; here are ten of the most common.
- Taking Them Everywhere – While this behavior sometimes wears off along with the novelty of pet ownership, many children want to take their pets with them wherever they go. From being faithfully tailed by the family pooch to carrying a turtle in their pocket, kids show their love with a reluctance to be separated from them.
- Trying to Care For Them – Younger children may find it difficult to complete pet related chores without help, and older ones may need to be reminded from time to time, but kids who love their pets want to be sure that their happy, healthy and well taken care of.
- Sharing Their Beds – Even against the edicts of a parent, kids often let pets of the four-legged mammal variety hop onto the bed when no one is looking. Sharing is one of the ways that kids show that they care for people and pets alike.
- Lots of Affection – Younger kids may need reminders to be gentle with pets when showing their love, but kids of all ages shower a beloved pet with plenty of physical affection and a lot of extra cuddling.
- Sharing Their Secrets – When kids need a sympathetic ear to listen to their innermost thoughts and secrets, turning to a trusted and well-loved pet is often their first choice. The absence of judgment and commentary makes it an appealing outlet for kids, and sometimes even the adults in the family, too.
- Teaching Them Tricks – Teaching a pet to perform tricks or training them to behave requires patience and an investment of time. Kids are notoriously short on patience, but will often work for hours with a pet despite that fact.
- Playing Games – The repetition of playing fetch for an extended period of time does little to satisfy the modern child’s need for constant stimulation, yet they can do it with gusto simply because they love spending time with their pet.
- Giving Out Snacks and Treats – Getting a child to remember the regular feeding schedule can be tricky, but they never hesitate to dole out treats or even to share their food if no one is looking.
- Trusting Them – Despite the knowledge that pets can bite or scratch, kids who love their pets trust them without reservation, never considering the idea that their furry friend could hurt them. This complete lack of fear is one of the more subtle ways that children show their love for a pet.
- Defending Them From Angry Adults – When the dog chews up a shoe or the cat knocks over a lamp, it can cause even the most calm of parents to fly into a rage. This sort of behavior can also be met with vows to find the pet a new home that are made in the heat of the moment, which can send a devoted child into defense-attorney mode. In order to avoid losing a much-loved member of the family, they will valiantly defend the animal’s actions.
Posted by Terri Oak at 8:57:00 PM
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Common Myths About Pet Food and Nutrition
by Jean Hofve, DVM, Veterinary Advisor to Only Natural Pet
We hear many misperceptions about pet food and nutrition from our customers here at Only Natural Pet Store. Here are some of the myths that we hear most often to help you separate fact from fiction:
1. The best foods are those the veterinarian sells such as Royal Canin, Purina Veterinary and Science Diet.
While many pet guardians have been under the impression that these brands and others sold by their veterinarian are premium, top of the line foods, one look at the ingredients by an educated eye will reveal the truth. Most of the formulas from these large, heavily marketed manufacturers derive far more protein from grain or grain by-product sources such as corn gluten meal and brewer’s rice than from meat sources.
These so-called “premium” foods contain ingredients such as chicken by-product meal, which consists of the leftovers in meat processing that are unfit for human consumption including head, necks, feet, undeveloped eggs, and intestines – basically everything BUT clean meat. It is a cheap, low quality source of protein – and far less digestible protein than clean chicken meal. These ingredients indicate poor quality food, and are the same ingredients you'll find in the discount brands at your grocery store!
Meat, and specifically a named meat meal (i.e., chicken meal, lamb meal, etc.) should be listed before any grains in a pet food. Dogs and cats are designed by nature to eat protein from meat sources, not grain. The high grain content of many pet foods is one of the main contributors to the growing obesity problem and increase in allergies in dogs and cats, as most pets do not do well on such high-carbohydrate foods. (This does not mean that all grains are bad for dogs and cats – see myth #7) For more information on selecting a truly premium food for your companion, see our articles, "Quick Guide to Natural Pet Foods," and "What You Need to Know About Your Pet's Food."
This one you might even hear from some veterinarians, but it is most definitely not true. Actually, if you wanted to stretch things a bit, kibble might clean the very tips of your pet's teeth, but that's about it. Dogs and cats have very pointed teeth; even their molars are sharp edged, not flat. These are teeth that were designed to bite, tear and chew raw meat. When a dog or cat eats kibble they either swallow it whole or, when they manage to bite down on a kibble or two, it will shatter. Kibble does not scrape down onto the lower parts of the teeth or near the gums, which is where dental problems start. In fact, kibble can contribute to dental problems when small bits lodge between the teeth and promote bacterial growth. Just as with humans, food debris that contains carbohydrates gets broken down into sugar, which dental bacteria feed upon.
Dental care for dogs and cats is vitally important as poor dental health can lead to other chronic disease conditions. Healthy teeth start with a healthy diet of course, and with regular brushing. Please see our article, "Dental Healthcare for Your Companion," for detailed information on caring for your four-legged friend's teeth.
Raw meat and bones are a terrific way to promote healthy teeth and gums as they require the dog or cat to gnaw and chew in a way that the sinews of the meat and hard bone will scrape teeth and massage gums. The longer they gnaw and chew the cleaner the teeth become, so big chunks of meat or meaty bones like chicken or turkey necks are ideal. The size of the meat or meaty bone should be appropriate for the size of the animal. For example cats can chew chicken necks, but not turkey necks.
If raw meat and bones are a bit more than you bargained for in caring for Fido's or Max's teeth, then brushing is a must. In addition to regular brushing, supplements such as PetzLife Oral Care Gel or Spray, Proden PlaqueOff or Wysong Dentatreat can assist in discouraging the bacteria that cause plaque buildup on teeth. Jaw exercise and gum massage are important components of dental care, so try Complete Natural Nutrition Terrabones or Zukes Z-Ridge Chew Bones for a healthy, non-raw chew for dogs. Some cats like to chew, too. Catnip-filled toys such as the Castor & Pollux Curious Cat Toys or the Fishy Fun Cat Chewing Toy are enticing to many kitties.
Stage of life diets were really created as a marketing tool. The more formulas of food a particular manufacturer could develop, the more shelf space they could command. While it is true that puppies and kittens need more food for their size than adult animals, they do not necessarily need a specially formulated puppy or kitten food. A high-quality, varied diet is the best option for most young pets. For puppies this can include dry food, canned, freeze-dried, dehydrated, and raw food. For kittens, kibble is not recommended to be a large portion of the diet (nor for adult cats) as it can contribute to dehydration, urinary tract issues and less than optimal health over time. Cats are obligate carnivores, which means they are designed by nature to eat meat and very little carbohydrates. The newer higher meat content grain-free foods may be a good option if kibble is to be fed to kittens, but canned, freeze-dried, dehydrated and raw are better choices. Puppies, especially large breeds, can be at risk of growing too fast and experiencing joint problems - so overfeeding a high-protein food can be detrimental.
Some holistic manufacturers do have puppy, kitten and/or senior formulas, but these are created with the same care and attention to detail that goes into their regular formulas, and often include holistic ingredients like probiotics and enzymes that are helpful for pets at various life stages. In particular, holistic pet foods for senior cats and for senior dogs may contain more natural digestible fiber and/or herbs that promote healthy aging, unlike many conventional senior formulas that often reduce protein, boost the cheap carbohydrates, and add cheap indigestible fiber to their "special" senior line.
Feeding younger animals more frequent meals - 3 times per day, is helpful while they are in their biggest growth phase. After three or four months of age, two meals per day should be sufficient for most animals. Puppies and kittens should be kept slim, just like adult animals. The pictures shown in many puppy or kitten food advertisements of round, roly-poly fur-balls are misleading. It is just as unhealthy for younger animals to be overweight as it is for adults. If you choose to feed a puppy or kitten food for the first few months, keep an eye on your little companion's waistline and don't let them get round. Transition to adult foods by three to six months of age.
Senior animals tend to slow down as they age, just as we humans do. While their calorie requirements may shrink, their need for the healthiest food you can provide is never greater than in the senior years. As animals age they require excellent nutrition to keep their immune system as strong as possible and their joints in good working order. Continue to feed a high quality, varied diet right into your companions final years, just feed a little less of it. Again, watch their waistline. Older dogs and cats are the most susceptible to the many health issues that obesity can contribute to including diabetes, arthritis, urinary tract problems and a shortened life span.
4. Table scraps and other "people food" are bad for dogs and cats.
This is another one you may have heard in the past from your veterinarian. Most holistically trained veterinarians, however, encourage the practice of feeding "people food" to pets. Healthy leftovers are an excellent supplement to your companion's regular fare. There are only two rules with people food for pets: 1) It must be healthy for them - meat, steamed or finely chopped veggies and fruits, baked sweet potato, rice, oatmeal; you get the picture - no junk food; and 2) If you give them some of what you are eating, remember to feed less of their own food so that they do not put on extra pounds. And skip the onions, grapes and raisins - those can be toxic to dogs and cats.
Even beyond leftovers, home-cooking is becoming popular among dog and cat lovers. Homemade food has never been easier to create. There are a number of pre-mixes available to which all you need to add is meat and an appropriate oil for healthy fat content. The pre-mix contains vegetables, vitamins and minerals, and sometimes grains to make the meal complete. Sojos has varieties with and without grains as well as an organic blend. Honest Kitchen offers Preference, a grain-free blend. Dr. Harvey's makes pre-mixes for home cooked food that contains organic grains with an amazing blend of herbs, and also a grain-free pre-mix. You don't have to cook every meal for your companion to benefit from fresher food - even the occasional homemade dinner is a wonderful healthy treat!
5. Only complete and balanced meals should be fed to cats and dogs.
Pet food companies have a pretty big interest in perpetuating this myth. Is every meal you eat complete and balanced? How about every meal you feed your kids? Even the most health-conscious among us do not worry about meeting the proper balance of nutrients at every meal. We know that over the course of the day or week our diet will be fairly complete, so we don't worry about eating exactly what the food pyramid recommends on a daily basis. Many of us take vitamins and supplements to fill in any gaps because even eating a very healthy diet of whole foods may not provide all the vitamins and minerals our body needs to stay healthy in this day and age.
Variety is the key to a healthy diet for humans, for dogs and for cats. If you are feeding at least 50-60% commercially prepared foods that are designed to be "complete," then you are well on your way to providing a majority of the "balance" of nutrients. Adding canned meats, raw or cooked meats, people food, fresh vegetables or other "incomplete" foods to your companion's meals can boost the overall nutrition of the diet as long as it is not overdone. Providing a daily multi-vitamin adds extra insurance. One caveat here - meat is higher in phosphorus and lower in calcium. When adding more than 15 - 20% extra meat to your companion's diet on a regular basis, keep the calcium and phosphorus ratio balanced over time by including raw bones or adding a calcium source. Wysong Call of the Wild is a supplement designed to balance raw, cooked or canned meats and can make a varied diet simple.
6. Feeding raw food is dangerous due to the risk of Salmonella and E. Coli.
The digestive tracts of dogs and cats are very different than those of humans. The human digestive tract is approximately 25 to 28 feet long with a stomach acidity between 1.5 and 2.5. Dogs and cats have a much shorter digestive system at an average of 10 to 13 feet for dogs (shorter for cats) with an acidity of less than 1. Raw food moves through the dog or cat's system in less than half the time it would through a human's system, and the high acidity kills most bacteria such as salmonella. Even if the food was contaminated, it is likely that the microbes would not enter the animal's bloodstream. Commercially prepared raw food manufacturers take measures to control against the presence of unwanted organisms such as salmonella and e. coli, so if you're concerned about contamination, frozen raw diets are a good option.
If you eat meat, then you are aware of the precautions to take when handling raw meat. The same precautions apply to raw pet food as to raw meat destined to be cooked for human consumption: wash bowls, utensils and your hands after feeding and handling the meat. Keep the meat frozen until two to four days before feeding, and thaw in the refrigerator. Don't leave the food down for your pet for more than 30-40 minutes, and throw any leftovers away after this time. If you use common sense, feeding raw food is no more difficult or dangerous to feed than any other pet food, and the health benefits of a raw diet can be amazing.
For more information see "All About Raw Food" in our article archives.
7. Dogs and cats should not eat grains.
This particular "myth" can be true for some animals - especially cats. Again we must look at the teeth and digestive tract for clues here. Humans and herbivores have flat molars that can move back and forth to grind grasses and grains into fine particles. We produce the enzyme amylase in our saliva which begins to break down carbohydrates - even before they reach the stomach where the job is finished. Dogs and cats do not produce amylase in their saliva. Their teeth have sharp edges and do not move from side to side - they cannot "grind" anything in their mouths.
Dogs are considered omnivores of sorts - they can eat and digest grains and vegetables IF they have been somewhat pre-digested as they would be in an herbivore's stomach or intestines. Therefore cooked grains are an acceptable source of carbohydrates for most dogs - note that they are an acceptable carbohydrate source, NOT an acceptable source of protein. Cats on the other hand are obligate carnivores. They do not digest grains well and become far more easily dehydrated eating dry foods high in carbohydrates. Cats in the wild tend to derive all their moisture from their prey - they rarely drink water. Many holistic veterinarians believe the growing prevalence of obesity and diabetes and many other chronic diseases can be at least partially blamed on diets too high in carbohydrates for cats.
Grains should be whole or whole ground grains such as rice, oats, barley, millet, etc. Wheat and corn are common allergens, so they are typically avoided in the top quality natural pet foods. Wheat and corn are also less digestible for dogs. Grain by-products such as corn gluten meal, brewers rice, cereal fines and others are less expensive and less nutritious options than whole grains. Any time a food with grains is fed to a dog or cat, digestive enzymes should be added to the food. This helps improve digestion and your pet's absorption of the nutrients in the food. Digestive enzymes are one of the two most important supplements you can provide for your companion, along with essential fatty acids (especially fish oil).
For more information please see our article, "Is Grain Free Food Right for Your Companion."
8. Ash Content is an important guideline in choosing a cat food.
Concern about ash content in pet foods came about as veterinarians and cat guardians were looking for the cause of Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD - formerly known as FUS). In the 70’s & 80’s veterinarians thought ash was a factor in causing crystals in the urine. There are, however, a variety of causes and ash is no longer considered a factor in causing FLUTD. Further research has shown that the main problem was the formulation of commercial pet foods: most pet foods were creating a more alkaline urine (higher pH) which lead to an increase in struvite crystals. Most dry kibble diets are formulated with a high vegetable and grain content which creates a more alkaline urine. An all meat diet such as a cat would eat in nature creates a more acidic urine.
A high protein diet is the best way to maintain a low urinary pH naturally. Cats eating canned diets have fewer problems with FLUTD than those eating primarily dry kibble diets. This could be due both to the higher meat content of canned diets as well as the higher moisture content. Increased hydration also prevents crystal formation. A raw food diet is ideal for maintaining a lower urinary pH and providing proper hydration. Focusing on low-ash foods will not solve FLUTD problems, but a healthier diet and proper hydration will.
A more effective means of preventing FLUTD than stressing about the amount of ash in your companion's food is focusing on stress reduction. Stress is an often overlooked contributing factor to FLUTD. Lack of exercise is another. When your companion is stressed their immune system is compromised. Furthermore, when you are stressed, your companion is far more likely to be stressed. A great way to ease the stress for both of you and create a deeper bond is through meditation. Pet Healing Meditations and Visualization CDs are an excellent tool for improving health for both you and your four legged friend. It may sound a bit "new age," however scientific studies at major universities have demonstrated the power of meditation and healing with visualization.
Flower Essences are another excellent stress reduction and emotional support tool. Cats are especially responsive to flower essences and can benefit greatly from their use. There is a flower essence designed for every emotional state, so look through the large selection and choose the one or two remedies that best match your companion's issues. Dosing can be as simple as adding a few drops to the water or massaging them onto your pet's ears or paws.
Please see the following articles in our Holistic Healthcare Database for more information: "Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease," "Ash, Magnesium and FLUTD," "Flower Essences and How They Work," and "Treating Mild Anxiety."
9. Changing formulas or brands of pet foods is hard on a dog or cat’s digestion.
A healthy dog or cat can eat a different food at each meal without issue - provided they are high-quality foods. Holistically minded guardians and veterinarians know that variety is important for several reasons. The most important of these is to avoid the development of sensitivities to any particular food or protein type. When the same food is fed for many months or years at a time, an animal can develop an allergy or sensitivity to that food or a specific ingredient in the food. Many holistic veterinarians believe that feeding the same food for many years is a contributing factor to the development of inflammatory bowel disease.
Variety provides a wider range of nutrition for your companion as well. While foods may be formulated to meet AAFCO standards, that does not mean that every food that meets those standards meets the needs of every dog or cat. As a matter of fact, there are many foods on the market that meet AAFCO standards that many cats and dogs cannot tolerate due to the grains and grain by-products used as protein sources. A more diverse diet is more likely to meet the nutritional needs of your companion over time. Besides all that - would YOU want to eat the same meal day in and day out for months at a time? Even if there was a "people kibble" that was formulated to meet all your nutritional needs - would you really enjoy that? And remember - every meal does not need to be perfectly balanced as long as the diet is balanced over the course of a week or so.
Whenever feeding a diet of cooked or processed food, digestive enzymes are essential, and will help your companion transition from one type of food to another with ease. Digestive enzymes help animals maintain a healthy digestive tract and get the most nutrition from their food. Essential fatty acids from fish oil provide the omega 3 fatty acids missing from most processed pet foods that nourish the skin, coat and digestive tract. Our Daily Essentials Kit is an easy and economical way to enhance a high-quality, varied diet and provide your companion with everything they need for great digestion and a healthy, glossy coat. Probiotics are important for animals on medication or those experiencing digestive upsets. For animals in need of increased support due to chronic digestive issues, Only Natural Pet GI Support provides herbs and nutrients to soothe and heal the lining of the digestive tract.
10. It is fine for dogs and cats to eat each other's food.
While there are a few canned formulas available that meet the needs of both species, most foods are designed specifically for cats or dogs. Cats require a higher percentage of protein and fat than most dogs and they have specific requirements for additional taurine. Dogs that eat too much cat food are at risk of weight gain and even pancreatitis. Cats that eat dog food are at risk of weight gain when the food is high in carbohydrates, as well as more likely to develop deficiencies in important amino acids like Taurine.
If Fido and Fluffy insist on sharing, try a food formulated to meet both their needs such as Nature's Variety Instinct Canned Diets - the pictures on the cans are different, but the contents are the same. Or try an all-meat variety like Wysong's Au Jus or Evanger's Game Meats to supplement their individual meals.Read More......
Posted by Terri Oak at 6:57:00 PM