http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/rss en More Evidence That Dogs Can Be Vegetarians… And Cats Can’t http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2015/august/more-evidence-dogs-can-be-vegetarians-and-cats-cant-33-33138 Nutrition Nuggets is the newest offshoot of petMD's Dog Nutrition Center. Each week Dr. Coates will use her expertise and wisdom to blog about the intricacies of dog nutrition.



More Evidence That Dogs Can Be Vegetarians… And Cats Can’t










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August 28, 2015 / (1) comments


We’ve talked before about whether or not dogs and cats can be vegetarians. My answer has always been “yes” for dogs as long as they eat a food that has been carefully designed to meet all of their nutritional needs, and “no” for cats, since they are true, obligate carnivores and need to eat amino acids that can only be found in animal-based sources of protein.
 
I recently came across some new research that reinforces the idea that vegetarian diets can be a reasonable option for dogs but not for cats. The study looked at the overall amount of protein present and the concentrations of specific amino acids (the building blocks that the body uses to build its own proteins) in 24 over-the-counter and veterinary therapeutic vegetarian/vegan diets for dogs and cats.
 
The scientists used accepted techniques to determine the foods’ crude protein levels and amino acid concentrations and compared these numbers to the minimum requirements put forth in the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) Dog and Cat Food Nutrient Profiles for growth and adult maintenance. To paraphrase their most pertinent results, 23 of the 24 foods met or exceeded the AAFCO minimum for crude (total) protein, and 18 diets contained all amino acids in concentrations that met or exceeded the minimum AAFCO values. BUT:

Five diets (all for cats; 3 dry and 2 canned) provided 1 or more amino acids at concentrations below the AAFCO minimum value. Of these 5 diets, 1 was below the AAFCO minimum requirements in 4 amino acids (leucine, methionine, methionine-cystine, and taurine), 1 was below in 3 amino acids (methionine, methionine-cystine, and taurine), 2 were below in 2 amino acids (lysine and tryptophan), and 1 was below in 1 amino acid (tryptophan). An additional canned diet intended for both dogs and cats exceeded the amino acid minimum values for dogs but was below the minimum values for cats for 3 amino acids (methionine, methionine-cystine, and taurine).


All of the canned diets formulated for cats (2 for cats and 1 for both dogs and cats) were below the AAFCO minimum value for taurine.


Overall, of the diets that contained 1 or more amino acids at concentrations below AAFCO minimum values, the amino acid concentrations ranged from 34% to 98% (median, 82%) of the minimum requirement stated in the AAFCO Dog and Cat Food Nutrient Profile.

 
In short, the dog foods had all the amino acids that this species needs, while six of the diets labeled for cats were deficient.
 
So if you are in the market for a vegetarian/vegan dog food, it looks like you can be fairly confident that what is available on the shelves will give dogs the specific amino acids they need to be healthy. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for cats.
 

Dr. Jennifer Coates
 
 
Reference
Assessment of protein and amino acid concentrations and labeling adequacy of commercial vegetarian diets formulated for dogs and cats. Kanakubo K, Fascetti AJ, Larsen JA. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2015 Aug 15;247(4):385-92. 
 
 
Image: Tibanna79 / Shutterstock
 



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TheOldBroad Cat Food 08/29/2015 02:33pm "canned diet intended for both dogs and cats"

Other than A/D, I wasn't aware there were any foods on the market that were marketed for both dogs and cats.

Although it sounds like it/they would be nutritious, I'm not sure I would be comfortable feeding my kitties something like that. I'll have to talk to my vet about that to see if he's familiar with it/them and what his opinion is. Reply to this comment Report abuse 1

 

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How to Get Dogs to Eat Slower http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2015/august/how-get-dogs-eat-slower-33018 Nutrition Nuggets is the newest offshoot of petMD's Dog Nutrition Center. Each week Dr. Coates will use her expertise and wisdom to blog about the intricacies of dog nutrition.



How to Get Dogs to Eat Slower










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August 14, 2015 / (2) comments


Most dogs love to eat, but problems can arise when dogs wolf down (no pun intended) their food. Fast eaters tend to swallow more air than do slow eaters, which is a risk factor for a potentially fatal condition called gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV), especially in large and giant breeds of dogs. Research in people has also pointed to a link between fast eating and obesity and type 2 diabetes.
 
Determining why a dog is eating so fast is the first step in solving the problem.

Is your dog ravenously hungry? If you are only offering one meal a day, try feeding your dog 2-4 smaller meals spaced throughout the day.


Are your feeding an exceptionally calorie/nutrient dense food, which limits the volume your dog can eat? Some dogs will slow down when their meals consist of a greater amount of a lower calorie/higher fiber diet.


Does your dog feel like it is in competition with other housemates for food? Try feeding your pets in separate rooms.

 
If none of these simple fixes do the trick, consider making an appointment with your veterinarian. A physical exam and some simple lab work (fecal examination, blood tests, urinalysis, and perhaps some abdominal imaging) will rule out most of the diseases that can make dogs perpetually hungry.
 
Once you are convinced that your dog’s fast eating is simply a behavioral quirk, it’s time to change how you manage your dog’s meals. The simplest method of getting your dog to eat more slowly is to scatter his kibble on the kitchen floor, patio, or even in the grass of your yard. Your dog will scamper about picking up and eating a few pieces at a time.
 
If you are worried about the aesthetics (slobber all over the place) or potential health risks (toxic pesticides or cleaning solutions) of making your dog eat off the ground, buy one of the many slow-feeder bowls that are now available. Some just have a few pillars sticking out of the bottom that a dog has to work around, while others are essentially mazes that make dogs use their tongues to pick out only a few kibbles at a time. Or, you can try making your own slow feeder by placing a few large, clean rocks (too large to swallow) or a brick in your dog’s regular food bowl.
 
Some dogs still continue to eat fast even when faced with a slow-feeder bowl (I’ve known a few who figured out they could just tip them over). Food-dispensing toys are another option. Some are like puzzles, making dogs rotate a slotted top or slide doors around to reveal small portions of food. Others roll or wobble, and when they are in the right position a few kibbles will fall out. Others simply make it hard for dogs to reach their meal without a lot of chewing or licking (e.g., a hollow rubber toy stuffed with canned food and frozen).
 
Whichever method you pick, make sure your dog is still able to eat the amount of food necessary to maintain his body weight. You don’t want to frustrate him to the point where he stops eating, just slow him down a bit to keep him safe.
 
 

Dr. Jennifer Coates
 
 
Image: Jaromir Chalabala / Shutterstock
 



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TheOldBroad Floors! 08/14/2015 06:37pm There are treats and food all over my floors. It's not an attempt to keep the kitties from eating quickly, but a hope that they'll keep eating. I have one that turns her nose up at almost anything so it's a challenge to find something she WILL eat.

On the cat side, I'd love to hear some suggestions on finding something my Josie will consistently eat and keep weight on.

By the way, is "slobber" a technical term? :-) Reply to this comment Report abuse 3 Dr. Jennifer Coates 08/17/2015 04:23pm "On the cat side, I'd love to hear some suggestions on finding something my Josie will consistently eat and keep weight on."

Look for a post on that in the not too distant future.

"By the way, is "slobber" a technical term? :-)"

Definitely! ;) Reply to this comment Report abuse 2

 

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The Vegetarian Dog http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2015/july/vegetarian-dog-32921 Nutrition Nuggets is the newest offshoot of petMD's Dog Nutrition Center. Each week Dr. Coates will use her expertise and wisdom to blog about the intricacies of dog nutrition.



The Vegetarian Dog










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July 31, 2015 / (1) comments


My dog used to be a vegetarian… an accidental vegetarian. While I choose not to eat meat, I have no problems feeding it to my dogs. But Apollo has severe inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). He needs to eat a special type of dog food to keep his symptoms under control, and the one that has worked well for him is a vegetarian, hydrolyzed diet. Its protein comes from soybeans, and those proteins were broken down into such tiny pieces that Apollo’s immune system no longer reacted inappropriately to them.
 
Apollo has eaten this diet for years and thrived. I often get questions from veterinary clients as to whether or not dogs can be vegetarians; I use Apollo as evidence for the answer being “yes.”
 
Many people think that dogs are pure carnivores. This misconception is understandable given that wolves are dogs’ closest relatives, and wolves certainly eat meat. But in reality, dogs are quite able to get all the amino acids (the building blocks of protein) they need from plants. They simply transform certain amino acids into others and they’re good to go. The situation is not the same for cats, by the way. Cats are lacking the physiological pathways necessary to make some of these transformations and as a result are true, obligate carnivores.
 
I bring this topic up because I recently changed Apollo’s food. The new formula still has hydrolyzed soy as its first listed protein source, but it also contains hydrolyzed chicken and hydrolyzed chicken liver. I thought switching Apollo to this new food offered the opportunity to run a neat little mini-experiment. Would I notice any change in his well-being now that he was eating meat?
 
I can honestly say that after a couple of months of eating his new, non-vegetarian diet, the only change I’ve noticed is that Apollo seems to enjoy his meals more. The old food had almost no smell and was an unappealing beige color. I used to joke that it looked like Styrofoam and probably tasted like it, too. The new food looks and smells like “regular” dog food. While that might not sound all that appealing to you, Apollo certainly seems to appreciate the change. He now cleans his bowl in one sitting, which he almost never did in the past.
 
I’m glad that Apollo finds his new food more palatable than the old, but health-wise, everything has remained the same. His inflammatory bowel disease is under control, and he is the same healthy and happy boy that he has been ever since his IBD was identified and treated. I’ve noticed no changes for the worse or for the better.
 
Now, an experiment involving one individual is hardly conclusive. Some vegetarian dogs might enjoy improved health if they began to eat a meat-based diet, and some might even do worse. But Apollo’s case does show that we can take into account other considerations (concurrent disease, owner ethics, expense, etc.) when deciding if (or how much) animal-based or plant-based protein a dog eats.
 
 

Dr. Jennifer Coates
 
 
Image: Javier Brosch / Shutterstock
 



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TheOldBroad Apollo 07/31/2015 05:09pm Sounds like Apollo's quality of life got better! Reply to this comment Report abuse 3

 

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Are You Feeding Your Dog the Right Amount? http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2015/july/are-you-feeding-your-dog-right-amount-32905 Nutrition Nuggets is the newest offshoot of petMD's Dog Nutrition Center. Each week Dr. Coates will use her expertise and wisdom to blog about the intricacies of dog nutrition.



Are You Feeding Your Dog the Right Amount?










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July 17, 2015 / (0) comments


One of the best ways to keep dogs healthy is to feed them the right amount of food. Too little and a dog can suffer from nutritional deficiencies. Too much eventually results in obesity and all of the health problems related to that condition including:
 

Musculoskeletal problems like osteoarthritis, cruciate ligament ruptures, and intervertebral disk disease

Congestive heart failure

Cushing’s disease

Skin disorders

Some types of cancer

 
Unfortunately, there is no easy way to figure out exactly how much individual dogs should be eating. Determining the correct size for meals depends on the type of food dogs are fed, how many times a day they eat, their size, their metabolic rate, the amount of exercise they get, and more.
 
To start the process, take a look at the feeding guide on your dog food’s label. They are usually presented as a table that looks something like this:
 

 
Unless stated otherwise, these amounts are the total that is recommended for your dog over a 24 hour period. Most adult dogs should eat two meals a day (puppies often require three or more feedings), so you’ll need to divide the amount in the table by the number of meals you are offering.
 
Combine this information with your knowledge of your dog’s lifestyle to come up with the initial amount of food you are going to offer your dog. If I had a relatively inactive 35 pound Corgi who had a tendency to gain weight, I might start with 2 cups of food per day. On the other hand, if my dog was a hyper 35 pound Border Collie, I would feed a little more.
 
Next, use a scale or body condition scoring system to fine-tune the amount you are offering. Check your dog every 2-4 weeks and keep a diary of your results. If your dog is inappropriately gaining or losing weight/body fat, adjust your portion sizes appropriately. In general, dogs who are at a healthy weight:
 

Have an “hourglass” figure when looked down upon from above. The abdomen should be narrower than the chest and hips.

Are “tucked up” when looked at from the side. This means that a dog’s chest is closer to the ground than his belly when he is standing.

Have ribs that are not readily visible but are easily felt with only light pressure.

 
Every time you change dog foods you will have to go through this entire process again.
 
Talk to your veterinarian if you have any questions about your dog’s health or diet. The doctor can help you determine exactly how much your dog should be eating based on the specifics of the case.
 
 

Dr. Jennifer Coates
 
 
Image: Budimir Jevtic / Shutterstock
 



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The Truth About Food Allergies in Dogs http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2015/july/truth-about-food-allergies-dogs-32888 Nutrition Nuggets is the newest offshoot of petMD's Dog Nutrition Center. Each week Dr. Coates will use her expertise and wisdom to blog about the intricacies of dog nutrition.



The Truth About Food Allergies in Dogs










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July 03, 2015 / (0) comments


Allergies are a common problem for dogs. Typical symptoms include itchiness resulting in excess scratching, biting, or licking, and sometimes chronic or recurrent skin/ear infections. While dogs most frequently suffer from allergies to environmental triggers like pollen, molds, and dust mites, or to flea bites, allergic reactions to food are also possible.
 
Diagnosing canine food allergies is not easy. It typically requires that a dog eat ABSOLUTELY NOTHING other than a food containing protein and carbohydrate sources to which he has never been exposed before, or a diet that has been processed in such a way as to make it hypoallergenic. A food trial needs to continue for at least eight weeks before its success or failure can be evaluated. This is easier said than done!
 
I think the difficulty we have in definitively diagnosing food allergies in dogs is at least partially responsible for some of the myths that have developed around the condition. Let’s look at a few and the truth behind them.
 
Dogs are typically allergic to corn, wheat, soy, and other plant-based ingredients.
 
In a study of 278 cases of food allergy in dogs where the problem ingredient was clearly identified, beef was far and away the biggest culprit (95 cases). Dairy was number two at 55 cases. Wheat came in third with 42 cases. Soy and corn were actually minimal offenders, coming in at 13 and 7 cases, respectively.
 
In fact, protein sources are more often to blame than grains. Beef, dairy, chicken, egg, lamb, soy, pork, and fish were responsible for 231 of the food allergies, while wheat, corn, and rice combined for only 54. (Some dogs were allergic to more than one ingredient, which is why these numbers total more than 278.)
 
I’ve changed my dog’s diet several times and he’s still itchy, so he can’t have a food allergy.
 
Dogs are allergic to particular ingredients, not to brands or types of food. So, if your dog is allergic to chicken and each of the foods you have tried contains chicken, he will still be itchy. Look very closely at the ingredient list; it will usually contain multiple protein and carbohydrate sources. It is not unusual for a food that is labeled “lamb and rice,” for example, to contain chicken or other potential allergens as well.
 
It is difficult to correctly guess what your dog might be allergic to, which is why veterinarians reach for foods with novel ingredients like venison and potato (your dog’s dietary history is important for picking out the right one), or specially processed, hypoallergenic foods.
 
I haven’t changed my dog’s diet. It’s hard to believe that he would be developing a food allergy now.
 
Dogs can develop food allergies at any time in their life and with any dietary history.
 
If my dog is food allergic, why doesn’t he have diarrhea?
 
Some, but not all, dogs with food allergies have concurrent gastrointestinal signs like vomiting or diarrhea. If your dog has chronic gastrointestinal problems in addition to non-seasonal itchiness, a food allergy will be at the top of the list of potential problems, but it can’t be ruled out just because his GI tract seems to be functioning normally.
 
If you think that your dog could have a food allergy, talk to your veterinarian. He or she can help you find the right food to keep your dog’s symptoms at bay while still providing the balanced nutrition that is essential to good health.
 
 

Dr. Jennifer Coates
 
 
Image: Robert Neumann / Shutterstock
 



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Confusion Around Diets for Healthy Skin and Coat http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2015/june/confusion-around-diets-healthy-skin-and-coat-32836 Nutrition Nuggets is the newest offshoot of petMD's Dog Nutrition Center. Each week Dr. Coates will use her expertise and wisdom to blog about the intricacies of dog nutrition.



Confusion Around Diets for Healthy Skin and Coat










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June 19, 2015 / (1) comments


Owners often look to a dog’s diet as the cause and/or solution to skin and coat problems. While this approach is sometimes valid, pet food manufacturers tend to overemphasize this link. A recent study evaluated the “marketing terms, ingredients, and nutrient profiles of OTC [over-the-counter] diets marketed for skin and coat health of dogs to gain a better understanding of common marketing strategies and identify patterns of ingredients and nutrient concentrations.”
 
Eleven brands consisting of 15 dry and 9 canned diets marketed for skin and coat health were included in the study. The authors found:
 
Although all 24 diets had the term skin, coat, or other descriptors of skin and coat appearance in the diet name, a variety of other marketing terms were also included on the diet packaging and websites.


  (Click image to enlarge)
 
The researchers also looked at the number and type of ingredients included in the diets, since over-the-counter limited diets or novel ingredient diets (e.g., lamb, kangaroo) are often marketed for the management of food allergies in dogs. They found:
 
Median number of unique major ingredients in each diet was 5.5 (range, 3 to 8), with a median of 2 animal-based ingredients (range, 0 to 5) and 3 plant-based ingredients (range, 1 to 5). Median total number of unique ingredients in each diet was 38 (range, 28 to 68). The most common animal-based ingredients were fish (n = 11), egg (7), and chicken (6), with smaller numbers of other animal-based ingredients (venison [4], dairy [3], animal digest [2], duck [2], lamb [2], turkey [2], beef [1], and pork [1]). The most common plant-based ingredients were rice (n = 17), potato (12), oat (11), pea (10), and barley (9), with smaller numbers of other plant-based ingredients (sorghum [4], soy [4], millet [3], corn [2], quinoa [2], sweet potato [2], canola [1], lentil [1], tapioca [1], and wheat [1]).
 
Concentrations of nutrients associated with skin and coat condition also differed widely.

 
While this is not the most comprehensive paper I’ve ever read with regards to shortcomings of over-the-counter diets that claim to improve the health of dogs (they can’t legally claim to cure, treat, or prevent disease without being regulated like drugs), it does do a good job of reinforcing the old adage "buyer beware."
 
If your dog suffers from a disorder of the skin or coat and switching to a couple of different foods hasn’t helped, please make an appointment as soon a spossible with your veterinarian.
 
 

Dr. Jennifer Coates
 
 
Reference
Evaluation of marketing claims, ingredients, and nutrient profiles of over-the-counter diets marketed for skin and coat health of dogs. Johnson LN, Heinze CR, Linder DE, Freeman LM. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2015 Jun 15;246(12):1334-8. 
 
 
Image: David Baileys / Shutterstock
 



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TheOldBroad To The Doctor! 06/19/2015 05:19pm "If your dog suffers from a disorder of the skin or coat and switching to a couple of different foods hasn’t helped, please make an appointment as soon a spossible with your veterinarian."

It would be my opinion that if Fido has a skin or coat problem, don't try fixing it yourself. Take Fido to the doctor first! Reply to this comment Report abuse 6

 

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What to Feed Your Dog for Healthy Skin http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2015/june/what-feed-your-dog-healthy-skin-32814 Nutrition Nuggets is the newest offshoot of petMD's Dog Nutrition Center. Each week Dr. Coates will use her expertise and wisdom to blog about the intricacies of dog nutrition.



What to Feed Your Dog for Healthy Skin










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June 05, 2015 / (0) comments


One of the first things that people notice about dogs is the condition of their skin and coat. This isn’t too surprising since the exterior of a dog is out there for all the world to see and touch. Some skin conditions require medical intervention to resolve, but if you simply want to maximize that glow of good health, diet can play a significant role in maintaining the look you want for your dog.
 
When picking out a dog food with an eye towards skin and coat health, I primarily look at two nutrients:
 
Protein
 
Research has shown that around 25-30% of the protein a dog take in goes towards maintenance of the skin and coat. This may seem excessive until you take into consideration that skin is the largest organ in a dog’s body and 95% of fur is protein. A poor coat is one of the first symptoms that develops when a dog isn’t taking in enough high quality protein.
 
Foods designed to maximize the health of a dog’s coat and skin should contain at least 21% protein on a dry matter basis. That is 15% more protein than the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) minimum for adult dogs. Next, look at the ingredient list. An animal-based protein (e.g., chicken, lamb, or egg) should be first since the amino acid profile of these ingredients better match a dog’s needs than do plant-based sources of protein (although dogs can thrive on carefully formulated vegetarian diets if necessary).
 
Fat
 
Fats, particularly essential fatty acids (EFAs), are also vital for maintaining healthy coat and skin in dogs. A diet that supplies enough fat and the correct balance of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids can

moisturize the skin from the inside out,
reduce inflammation, and
improve the skin’s ability to block the entry of allergens and irritants from the environment.

 
When picking out a food to improve a dog’s coat and skin, look for options that provide around 10-20% fat on a dry matter basis (this is well above the 5% AAFCO minimum for adult dogs). Information about essential fatty acids does not have to be provided on dog food labels, but some manufacturers are doing so. Coldwater fish (e.g., salmon) and to a lesser extent flaxseed and their oils add essential fatty acids to the diet of dogs, so finding them on a food’s ingredient list is a good indication that these important nutrients are included.
 
After ensuring that a food contains the amount and type of protein and fat needed to maintain a dog’s coat and skin, a quick check for the vitamins and minerals that are also essential is in order. Vitamin E, Vitamin A, zinc, selenium, copper, iodine, and manganese are all needed to control inflammation and/or maintain and grow new skin cells and fur.
 
After a month or two of eating a food that meets all these benchmarks, dogs should have noticeably healthier skin, better coat quality, and the glow that is a sign of overall well-being. 
 
 

Dr. Jennifer Coates
 
 
Image: alison1414 / Shutterstock
 



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http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2015/june/what-feed-your-dog-healthy-skin-32814#comments NutritionNuggets Fri, 05 Jun 2015 11:00:00 +0000 32814 at http://www.petmd.com
What is the Best Food for a Dog with a Sensitive Stomach? http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2015/may/what-best-food-dog-sensitive-stomach-32763 Nutrition Nuggets is the newest offshoot of petMD's Dog Nutrition Center. Each week Dr. Coates will use her expertise and wisdom to blog about the intricacies of dog nutrition.



What is the Best Food for a Dog with a Sensitive Stomach?










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May 22, 2015 / (1) comments


Does your dog sometimes skip meals or occasionally vomit and have diarrhea for no apparent reason? Does everything return to normal with little in the way of treatment only for the symptoms to return at a later date? If so, your dog probably has a sensitive stomach.
 
Of course, “sensitive stomach” is not an official diagnosis. I think that most of these dogs actually have an undiagnosed disease (e.g., inflammatory bowel disease) or food intolerance/allergy that disrupts the normal function of the gastrointestinal tract. Conditions like these require complex diagnostic procedures to diagnose, however. Many owners are happy to forgo these tests and a definitive diagnosis so long as they can find a food that will reduce the frequency and severity of their dog’s symptoms.
 
The first step should always be to have a veterinarian perform a health history, physical, and fecal examination on your dog. These procedures are inexpensive, non-invasive, and go a long ways towards ensuring that you are not overlooking the fact that your dog is suffering from a condition that requires non-dietary treatment.
 
Once your veterinarian has said that your dog appears to be healthy except for intermittent GI signs, the next step is to determine if a change in diet will have the desired effect. My favorite “go to” food for cases like these is a hydrolyzed, hypoallergenic diet. Several manufacturers produce this type of food, but they are all quite similar:

They are highly digestible.
The primary protein source has been broken down into tiny fragments to prevent the dog’s immune system from recognizing them as potential allergens.
Ingredients that are responsible for most adverse food reactions are not included. Routine and vigorous testing confirms that cross-contamination has not occurred during the manufacturing process.
They contain supplements that promote a healthy GI tract.
They are available by prescription only.

 
Feed one of these foods and nothing else but water for a month or two. If all your dog’s GI troubles disappear you can now safely say that “something” about your dog’s previous diet was to blame for his symptoms.
 
You now have a choice to make. You can try to find another food that your dog’s GI system will tolerate or continue to feed the hydrolyzed diet. Many owners balk at this second alternative due to expense (hydrolyzed diets are pricey) and ingredient lists that read like something out of a chemistry experiment. But when nothing else will control a dog’s symptoms, the long-term feeding of a hydrolyzed diet is a reasonable option. My boxer has eaten one exclusively for over four years due to severe inflammatory bowel disease and is thriving.
 
If you do want to try feeding your dog something different, I recommend either a novel protein diet (e.g., duck and potato or venison and pea) or a highly digestible diet. Some varieties are only available through veterinarians and benefit from tighter quality-control measures than do over-the-counter foods. Try a prescription food first and if it works, look for a similar over-the-counter product to switch to next. If at any time your dog’s clinical signs return, go back to the last food that held them at bay. Feed only that until your dog is healthy again before trying something different.
 
If your dog’s symptoms are more than just mild and intermittent or if a change in diet doesn’t help, make sure to talk to your veterinarian. 
 

Dr. Jennifer Coates
 
 
Image: vdovin_vn / Shutterstock
 



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TheOldBroad Log Book 05/22/2015 05:38pm I keep a log of what my critters have eaten that day and any GI problems. For instance, if Fluffy ate Fancy Feast Seafood and vomited sometime later, I'd have a note in my log book about the seafood and the vomiting.

My Owen loves all kinds of fish and seafood. Unfortunately, it bounces right back up. It only took a couple of days to figure that out because the vomiting was almost immediate. Plus, the couple of times he's managed to get into Josie's food (trying anything to get her to eat and seafood seems to be the answer), there are piles of vomit everywhere.

Yes, I go through a lot of paper towels. Reply to this comment Report abuse 6

 

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Sugar-Free Can be Deadly for Dogs http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2015/may/sugar-free-can-be-deadly-dogs-32731 Nutrition Nuggets is the newest offshoot of petMD's Dog Nutrition Center. Each week Dr. Coates will use her expertise and wisdom to blog about the intricacies of dog nutrition.



Sugar-Free Can be Deadly for Dogs










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May 06, 2015 / (1) comments


I’m not sure if it’s the time of year (the pre-bathing suit months?), but lately I’ve been hearing about an unusual number of cases of xylitol poisoning in dogs. Whatever is going on, it seems that a review of the danger that xylitol poses to our canine friends is in order.
 
Xylitol is a sugar substitute. It tastes sweet, but its chemical make-up means that it contains fewer calories than do sugar, corn syrup, and other traditional sweeteners. It also cannot be used as an energy source by oral bacteria, meaning it is less likely to promote the formation of cavities. Not surprisingly, these characteristics have led to xylitol being included in a long list of sugar-free products like gum, candy, baked goods, toothpaste, mouthwash, mints, and nutritional supplements.
 
Dogs and people both taste the sweetness of xylitol, but the species react very differently to it once it heads further down the gastrointestinal tract. People slowly absorb xylitol into the blood stream, while in dogs the process occurs at a MUCH faster rate. A dog’s body reacts to this influx of xylitol by secreting large amounts of insulin, which can quickly (often in less than 30 minutes) cause blood sugar levels to drop to potentially fatal levels. Symptoms of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar level) include:

lethargy
weakness
dullness or confusion
seizures

 
A dog who survives the initial effects of xylitol is still at risk. The chemical can damage the liver to such an extent that over the course of a few days, the dog may go into liver failure. Symptoms of acute liver failure typically involve a combination of the following:

loss of appetite
vomiting
diarrhea
abdominal pain
confusion
yellowing of the skin and mucous membranes

 
Some dogs also develop a condition called disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) that causes blood clots to form in dangerous places while paradoxically also leading to abnormal bleeding and bruising. Veterinarians sometimes say that DIC should actually stand for “death is coming,” which gives you an idea of its severity.
 
Treatment for xylitol poisoning involves inducing vomiting if the exposure has occurred within the last couple of hours and normalizing and supporting blood sugar levels until the risk of hypoglycemia passes. We don’t really know if hepatoprotectants like s-adenosylmethionine (SAM-e) are helpful in preventing the development of liver failure in dogs exposed to xylitol, but it doesn’t hurt to give it a try. Dogs should be monitored for the development of liver failure for at least three days after xylitol exposure and appropriate therapy initiated if necessary.
 
It doesn’t take much xylitol to cause problems in dogs. The equivalent of one or two pieces of sugar-free gum can be enough. Never give a food to a dog unless you are 100% sure that it does not contain xylitol. Dogs who may have gotten into xylitol should get to the veterinary clinic ASAP along with information regarding exactly what and how much they may have eaten.
 
If the signs of hypoglycemia develop before you can get to the vet’s office, dribble a small amount of a dissolved sugar solution, Karo syrup, or honey into the dog’s mouth, as long as you can do so safely.
 
 

Dr. Jennifer Coates
 
 
Image: Composite: TashaNatasha and phoelix / Shutterstock
 



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TheOldBroad Frequency 05/08/2015 06:00pm I would guess that unless someone is an avid animal person, they don't know that xylitol is toxic. I would further surmise that some people share sugar-free "treats" with their pets, thinking it's better for them than sugared treats. Maybe some even switch to sugar-free as part of a reducing diet for Fido. Reply to this comment Report abuse 5

 

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Jerky Treat Update – Some Good News and Some Bad http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2015/april/jerky-treat-update-some-good-news-and-some-bad-32681 Nutrition Nuggets is the newest offshoot of petMD's Dog Nutrition Center. Each week Dr. Coates will use her expertise and wisdom to blog about the intricacies of dog nutrition.



Jerky Treat Update – Some Good News and Some Bad










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April 24, 2015 / (6) comments


We’ve been following the tragic saga of illnesses associated with pets eating jerky treats primarily made in China for years now. In February, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued their latest [albeit quite late] update on the situation saying:
 
As of September 30, 2014, the FDA has received approximately 5,000 complaints of illness associated with consumption of chicken, duck, or sweet potato jerky treats, most of which involve products imported from China. The reports involve more than 5,800 dogs, 25 cats, three people, and include more than 1,000 canine deaths.
 
These numbers include approximately 270 complaints received since the FDA’s last update in May 2014. This is a significant decrease from the previous period (October 2013 to May 2014), in which the FDA had received 1,800 complaints.

 
I’m glad to see that big decrease in reported illnesses. Perhaps owners are finally becoming more aware of the risks associated with these products. Several major pet retailers have also taken jerky treats made in China off of their shelves, but Chinese-made jerky treats are not to blame for all reported illnesses.
 
As the VIN News Network recently reported:
 
Dr. Urs Giger, director of the Metabolic Genetics Screening Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, said his laboratory has diagnosed recent cases of acquired Fanconi disease in dogs that ate treats that ostensibly were not made in China or with ingredients from China.
 
Whether American-made treats are less suspect than or equally suspect as Chinese-made treats is impossible to say, Giger said, because labels tend to tell an incomplete story.
 
“When you’re looking at pet jerky-treat products, and I’ve checked shelves at stores, the label does not necessarily say where it came from,” Giger said. “It (identifies) the company but not where it was manufactured or where (all) the ingredients came from.”
 
As a review, most pets who have eaten suspect jerky treats develop gastrointestinal problems like vomiting, loss of appetite, and diarrhea, which may contain blood. In other cases, the kidneys are damaged, resulting in increased thirst and urination. A percentage of these dogs have Fanconi syndrome, which causes the kidneys to “leak” glucose, sodium, potassium, phosphorus, amino acids, and other substances into the urine.
 
What is surprising is the rapidity with which some pets have developed symptoms, sometimes within just an hour or so of ingesting a single jerky treat. Many pets have recovered with appropriate veterinary care, but the FDA numbers reveal a death rate of around 17% for affected dogs.
 
Even though the numbers of pets becoming sick after eating jerky treats appears to be declining, I still recommend that owners avoid feeding these products, no matter where their labels say they come from. Pick another type of commercially prepared treat or offer something from the kitchen. Most dogs and cats would love a small piece of cooked, lean meat or fish (no bones or skin). As long as you limit treats of any sort to less than 10% of a pet’s total intake, their diet will remain nutritionally balanced.
 
 

Dr. Jennifer Coates
 
 
Related
 
Why Are You Still Buying Jerky Treats? 
 
Fanconi Syndrome in Dogs
 
Image: Composite image: Javier Brosch and BW Folsom / Shutterstock
 



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butchholland chicken skin 04/24/2015 12:50pm Hello, I have always cut up the chicken skin and fed to cats when I give them chicken, You said not too. Is there a reason not to do this.
Thanks Reply to this comment Report abuse 6 annroc2004 04/25/2015 09:40am
"Chicken skins are fine"!!! Reply to this comment Report abuse 4 Dr. Jennifer Coates 04/25/2015 06:02pm The "no skins" comment was directed more towards dog owners in that chicken skin is relatively high in fat and would therefore predispose some individuals to pancreatitis. The same link has not been demonstrated in cats. Reply to this comment Report abuse 4 commonsense Update?? 04/24/2015 01:12pm How is an update from February, an "update"? My email led me to believe there was something new released from the FDA. "FDA Releases Statement on Jerky Treats ! ". Even the VIN news is from a month ago. Reply to this comment Report abuse 4 commonsense 04/24/2015 01:14pm The lead-in also says..."The FDA has released a new statement on the ongoing jerky treat crisis. " Reply to this comment Report abuse 5 priyat Good about Jerky 05/19/2015 03:50am The Chicken Jerky Dog Meaty Treats are all Natural, without any Preservatives. These easy to digest chips will be loved by your dog for its delicious taste and by you because it contains high protein and low fat content. Reply to this comment Report abuse 3

 

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Feeding Dogs with Intervertebral Disc Disease http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2015/april/feeding-dogs-intervertebral-disc-disease-32645 Nutrition Nuggets is the newest offshoot of petMD's Dog Nutrition Center. Each week Dr. Coates will use her expertise and wisdom to blog about the intricacies of dog nutrition.



Feeding Dogs with Intervertebral Disc Disease










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April 10, 2015 / (1) comments


Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) is the scourge of our “low rider” canine friends, especially Dachshunds. Those long backs and short legs are caused by chondrodystrophy (atypical cartilage development), a condition that also affects the discs of cartilage that lie between the spine’s vertebrae. Stress causes these abnormal discs to bulge or rupture, which puts pressure on the spinal cord, resulting in pain, weakness, and/or paralysis.
 
The best way to treat IVDD depends on how severely affected a dog is. Mild to moderate cases (e.g., those with pain and weakness only) will often recover with pain relievers and cage rest followed by a slow return to normal activity.
 
On the other hand, when a dog’s neurologic function is severely compromised, surgery to relieve pressure on the damaged spinal cord is often necessary. Some dogs fully recover after surgery while others may still have difficulty walking or even remain paralyzed. Unfortunately, chondrodystrophic dogs often have more than one episode of IVDD throughout their lives.
 
IVDD is a heartbreaking condition. The front end of a severely affected dog is essentially normal, but behind the site of the injury, the dog may not be able to feel, move, or urinate and defecate on its own. While there is nothing an owner can do to treat the underlying chondrodystrophy that leads to IVDD, a couple of recent studies show that paying close attention to what and how much a dog eats goes a long way towards reducing the frequency and severity of these dogs’ back problems.
 
A paper looking primarily at the effect of body conformation on the likelihood that a dog would develop symptoms associated with IVDD also found a higher risk in overweight dogs, probably because extra body weight increases the stress on intervertebral discs. The authors concluded that dogs at risk for IVDD should be maintained at a “healthy, lean” body condition score of 4-5 out of 9. Take a look at this chart to see what a BCS of 4 or 5 out of 9 looks like.
 
Another study revealed that a lower body condition score was associated with faster recovery after back surgery (hemilaminectomy). Recovery was defined as the ability to walk without assistance. The dogs included in the project were “7.62 times more likely to have recovered at the initial 3 to 4 week follow-up if they had a BCS of six or less.” The authors concluded that “as weight increased, the time to recovery post hemilaminectomy surgery, also increased.”
 
I recommend that Dachshunds and other chondrodystrophic dogs (e.g., Beagles, Pekingese, Corgis, and Shih-tsus) eat a diet that is moderate in fat and carbohydrates and relatively high in protein. These characteristics help promote muscle mass while not putting dogs at undue risk for obesity.
 
Of course, the amount a dog eats also needs to be closely monitored and adjusted to reach or maintain a body condition score of 4-5 out of 9. Nutritional supplements that can help maintain cartilage health (e.g., glucosamine, chondroitin, green-lipped mussels) are also worth considering.
 

Dr. Jennifer Coates
 
 
Resources
 
How long and low can you go? Effect of conformation on the risk of thoracolumbar intervertebral disc extrusion in domestic dogs. Packer RM, Hendricks A, Volk HA, et al. PLoS ONE 8:e69650, 2013.
 
Does body condition score increase recovery time in dogs treated with hemilaminectomy for acute onset disc rupture? Williams CC, Barone G. JVIM. 26:690-822, 2012.
 
 
Image: WilleeCole Photography / Shutterstock
 
 
Related
 
Slipped Disc, Bad Back, and Muscle Spasms in Dogs
 
Intervertebral Disk Disease... In An Eel
 
Intervertebral Disc Disease and its aftermath: Sophie Sue's success story
 
 



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TheOldBroad Weight 04/10/2015 04:41pm Being overweight is the first thing that crossed my mind in the first two paragraphs.

I'm curious if the "length" of dogs like this is something that has been bred into them. If so, wouldn't it make sense for breeders to go for the shorter model? Reply to this comment Report abuse 5

 

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http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2015/april/feeding-dogs-intervertebral-disc-disease-32645#comments nutrition NutritionNuggets weight management Fri, 10 Apr 2015 11:00:00 +0000 32645 at http://www.petmd.com
The Special Nutritional Needs of Puppies http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2015/march/special-nutritional-needs-puppies-32591 Nutrition Nuggets is the newest offshoot of petMD's Dog Nutrition Center. Each week Dr. Coates will use her expertise and wisdom to blog about the intricacies of dog nutrition.



The Special Nutritional Needs of Puppies










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March 27, 2015 / (1) comments


Puppies are not simply smaller, younger versions of dogs, in the same way that human babies are not miniature adults. Growth and development is hard work, and special nutrition is required to fuel it.
 
Also, young animals are especially sensitive to the effects of dietary deficiencies, toxins, and poor quality ingredients, so owners should pay very close attention to what food they feed during a dog’s first year of life.
 
What are the special nutritional needs of puppies? First, let’s take a look at calories — the gas in the tank, so to speak. Puppies should eat a more calorie-dense food than would be appropriate for a typical adult dog.
 
A high quality puppy food might have 445 kcal/per cup while an adult food in the same line could have 375 kcal/per cup. That might not seem like such a big disparity, but the extra calories are very important in the long term.
 
And the differences don’t just stop with calories. Take a look at some of the American Association of Feed Control Officers (AAFCO) minimum nutrient requirement for puppies and adult dogs:
 

 
You can see that puppies need more of many important amino acids and minerals (and more protein and fat in general) than do adult dogs. Puppies are at risk for nutritional deficiencies if they eat foods designed for adults. Nutrients not regulated by AAFCO are also important.
 
For example, quality diets contain high levels of certain types of omega 3 fatty acids to promote healthy skin, a glossy coat, and optimize brain and eye development.
 
Owners of large breed puppies have an additional concern to deal with when picking out a food: developmental orthopedic diseases.
 
An abnormally rapid growth rate is a major risk factor for hip dysplasia and similar conditions.
 
Diets designed for large breed puppies should have a lower fat content and therefore a lower caloric density than those meant for small and medium-sized puppies.
 
Eating a food with too much calcium and phosphorus and a high calcium to phosphorus ratio also increases the odds that a large breed puppy will be afflicted by a developmental orthopedic disease. Therefore, responsible manufacturers carefully balance the amount of calcium and phosphorus in foods designed for these pets.
 
Whether your puppy is going to grow to be the size of a chihuahua, a mastiff, or somewhere in between, make sure to pick a food that provides perfectly balanced nutrition for this unique time of life, and that it is made from the wholesome, natural ingredients necessary to a lifetime of good health and well-being.
 
 

Dr. Jennifer Coates
 
 
Image: Fotyma / Shutterstock
 
 
Related
 
Your Puppy Has Hip Dysplasia; Now What?
 
The 'Other' Dysplasia in Large Breed Dogs — Elbow Dysplasia
 
Feeding the Large and Giant Breed Puppy
 



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TheOldBroad Makes Sense 03/27/2015 06:30pm That all makes perfect sense. Nutritional needs would obviously be different when in a "growing-up" stage, just like nutritional needs would be different for a pregnant female. Reply to this comment Report abuse 5

 

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Dogs Don’t Want Carbs http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2015/march/dogs-dont-want-carbs-32542 Nutrition Nuggets is the newest offshoot of petMD's Dog Nutrition Center. Each week Dr. Coates will use her expertise and wisdom to blog about the intricacies of dog nutrition.



Dogs Don’t Want Carbs










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March 06, 2015 / (2) comments


What would dogs eat if they could choose for themselves?
 
That is the question that a recent study tried to answer — at least with regards to the relative concentrations of protein, fat, and carbohydrate in dry, canned, and “home” prepared foods.
 
Scientists ran three experiments using adult Papillons, Miniature Schnauzers, Cocker Spaniels, Labrador Retrievers, and Saint Bernards (female and male, neutered and intact).
 
Experiment 1 — the dogs were offered dry foods with variable protein, carbohydrate, and fat levels.
 
Experiment 2 — the dogs were offered commercially available wet foods with variable protein, carbohydrate, and fat levels.
 
Experiment 3 — the dogs were offered wet foods with a standard protein level but variable carbohydrate and fat levels. The foods were made from blended, skinless chicken breast, lard, wheat flour, vitamins, and minerals.
 
In experiment one, the researchers found that the composition of the dry food limited the dogs’ ability to eat what they wanted. To form kibble, dry food requires a relatively high percentage of starch. In essence, the dogs were forced to eat more carbohydrate than they wanted.
 
When eating wet food, the dogs were better able to select their preferred ratios. To quote:
 
Dogs in the wet diet treatments composed a diet that had similar protein concentration to those in the dry diet treatment (all dogs fell within the band spanning 25–35% total energy as protein), but was considerably lower in carbohydrate and higher in fat than dogs in the dry diet treatments. This pattern, taken together with the fact that dogs in the dry diet treatment selected intake points that were close to the minimum carbohydrate concentration available to them, suggests that the dry diets are appreciably higher in carbohydrate than the target diet composition. Indeed, even dogs on wet foods appear to have minimized the proportional carbohydrate content of their diet. Overall, these data suggest that the preferred diet composition of the dogs has low carbohydrate:fat balance, with between 25% and 35% of energy contributed by protein.

 
Experiment three confirmed the nutrient ratios that were revealed in experiment two, while eliminating the chance that the dogs were eating more of one wet food than the other because of differences in palatability.
 
Taken together, these results suggest that the target diet of dogs in our study consists of approximately 30% of energy from protein, 63% of energy from fat, and 7% of energy from carbohydrate.

 
Despite this research, I’m not convinced that a diet consisting of 30% energy from protein, 63% energy from fat, and 7% energy from carbohydrate is right for most pet dogs.
 
These preferences evolved when canine ancestors were extremely active hunters in a feast-or-famine environment. Today’s canine couch potatoes who never miss a meal could get quite fat on this type of diet if their portions aren’t strictly controlled (weight gain was a problem in the study we’ve been talking about). Also, switching to a high fat diet may result in pancreatitis if the transition isn’t done gradually.
 
That said, I do think it makes sense for owners to look for dog foods that get approximately 30% of their energy from protein and are as high in fat and low in carbohydrates as their dog’s lifestyle can support.
 
 

Dr. Jennifer Coates
 
 
Image: bitt24 / Shutterstock
 



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dogaware Low carbs or high fat? 03/06/2015 01:28pm I don't understand why this study's conclusions are all focused on carbs, when the amount of fat could be equally or even more responsible for the dogs' choices. High fat = high palatability, making it more likely that the dogs are choosing high-fat diets rather than low-carb diets.

I'm not a believer in feeding high-carb diets, but wanted to point out that the conclusions drawn are not supported by the study itself. Not the first time I've felt that way.

I'd actually prefer to feed more protein and less fat. Protein is good for almost everything, with no downside for almost all dogs, while fat adds calories that can lead to weight gain or decreased nutrition (if quantities are limited to prohibit weight gain). 63% of calories from fat is VERY high, equivalent to what sled dogs are fed. Reply to this comment Report abuse 9 TheOldBroad Diet 03/06/2015 05:42pm I wonder how cat poop would have fared in this study. Reply to this comment Report abuse 10

 

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All Fiber is Not the Same http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2015/february/all-fiber-not-same-32501 Nutrition Nuggets is the newest offshoot of petMD's Dog Nutrition Center. Each week Dr. Coates will use her expertise and wisdom to blog about the intricacies of dog nutrition.



All Fiber is Not the Same










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February 13, 2015 / (2) comments


Dietary fiber can be used to treat a variety of health conditions in dogs including obesity, anal gland impactions, diarrhea, and constipation. But all fiber is not the same, and adding the wrong type to the diet can actually make some problems worse rather than better.
 
Fiber can be divided into two major subcategories:
 
1. Insoluble Fiber
 
Cellulose, hemicelluloses, and lignins are examples of insoluble fiber. They are not digested and pass through the gut essentially unchanged. Insoluble fiber can help dogs lose or maintain body weight by increasing the volume of food they can eat without adding much in the way of calories. Insoluble fiber also adds bulk to the feces, which can stimulate movement within the gastrointestinal tract, making it helpful in some cases of canine constipation. Additionally, this increased bulk puts more pressure on the anal glands during defecation, which encourages them to release their contents in a normal manner, reducing the risk of impaction.
 
2. Soluble Fiber
 
Chicory, inulin, fructooligosacharides, pectins, psyllium, plant gums, oats, barley, beet pulp, and some types of fruits and legumes all contain soluble dietary fiber. The canine digestive tract doesn’t have much of a direct effect on soluble dietary fiber, but  the bacteria that live in the large intestine break it down into short chain fatty acids that are a very important energy source for the cells that line the large intestine. Some types of soluble fiber are also considered prebiotics — substances that increase the prevalence of “good” bacteria within the digestive tract. These characteristics make the presence of appropriate amounts of soluble dietary fiber in the diet very important to the overall health of the large intestine and to the part of the immune system that resides there.
 
Therefore, it’s not too surprising that soluble fiber can be used to treat some types of large bowel diarrhea. In addition to promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria and healthy colonic cells, soluble fiber also absorbs water, which can help make stools more formed and easier for a dog to control. The symptoms of large bowel diarrhea include:

having to “go” frequently but producing only a small amount of stool at any one time
straining
the presence of mucus or fresh blood in the stool

 
On the other hand, dogs with small bowel diarrhea tend to produce very large amounts of loose stool but do so only a few times a day. These cases tend to respond best to a low-fiber, highly-digestible diet.
 
Healthy dogs should eat high quality foods that contain both soluble and insoluble fiber to gain the benefits of both. If you think your dog’s stools and elimination behavior could use some improvement, try a different food that includes at least one soluble and one insoluble fiber source that I mentioned above in its ingredient list. Supplements that contain a combination of insoluble and soluble fiber are also available and can be used to good effect, particularly when making a wholesale dietary change isn’t advisable.
 
Talk to your veterinarian if you have any questions about the role that fiber should play in your dog’s diet.
 
 

Dr. Jennifer Coates
 
 
Image: Composite / Shutterstock
 



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TheOldBroad Fiber 02/17/2015 06:01pm Does sweet potato fall in there anywhere? How about pumpkin? Reply to this comment Report abuse 7 Dr. Jennifer Coates 02/18/2015 02:00pm Sweet potato and pumpkin are both good sources of soluble and insoluble fiber. Reply to this comment Report abuse 11

 

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Manage Your Dog's Hyperthyroidism at Home With This Simple Change http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2015/january/manage-your-dogs-hyperthyroidism-home-simple-change-32-32452 Nutrition Nuggets is the newest offshoot of petMD's Dog Nutrition Center. Each week Dr. Coates will use her expertise and wisdom to blog about the intricacies of dog nutrition.



Manage Your Dog's Hyperthyroidism at Home With This Simple Change










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January 30, 2015 / (2) comments


Hyperthyroidism, a very common condition in cats, is exceedingly rare in dogs. Off the top of my head, I can only remember diagnosing one dog with hyperthyroidism in the course of my career (other than those dogs who were on supplements for hypothyroidism and needed a reduction in dose).
 
My patient had the classic symptoms of hyperthyroidism: weight loss in the face of an excellent, bordering on ravenous, appetite and increased thirst and urination. Unfortunately, identifying the cause was quite simple. I could easily palpate a large mass on the underside of her neck.
 
A biopsy confirmed what I suspected; cancer of the thyroid gland.
 
Until recently, I had thought that cancer of the thyroid gland was essentially the only disease that could cause elevated thyroid hormone levels in dogs, but it turns out that diet can be to blame also. A couple of newly published papers reveal that eating certain types of foods and/or treats puts dogs at risk for dietary hyperthyroidism, which can also be called thyrotoxicosis.
 
The first study looked at twelve dogs who ate raw meat diets or were fed fresh or dried gullets and had elevated levels of thyroid hormone in their bloodstream.
 
Half of the dogs had clinical signs such as “weight loss, aggressiveness, tachycardia [an abnormally rapid heartbeat], panting, and restlessness,” while the other half were symptom-free. After changing the diet, the eight dogs that were reevaluated all had normal thyroid hormone levels and any symptoms that were present resolved.
 
In the next study, researchers identified fourteen dogs who had high thyroid hormone levels while eating commercially available dog foods or treats.
 
“All 14 dogs were being fed all-meat or meat-based varieties of commercially available dog foods or treats at the time of diagnosis… All samples or descriptions of the suspect foods or treats provided by clients were of a similar” type and included air dried dog foods, jerky treats or strips, and thawed, raw dog food. After four weeks off of these foods or treats, the dogs’ thyroid hormone levels were all back to normal and any symptoms they had were gone.
 
The suspected cause in all these cases was the inclusion of thyroid tissue in the food or treats being fed to the dogs. A similar problem has been identified in people. Ground beef that inadvertently contained thyroid tissue has led to cases of so-called “hamburger thyrotoxicosis.”
 
This is a sort of good-news bad-news scenario for owners.
 
The good news: If your dog develops symptoms and laboratory findings consistent with hyperthyroidism, cancer is no longer the “only” possible diagnosis.
 
The bad news: We all have to be a little bit more careful about what we choose to feed our dogs.
 

Dr. Jennifer Coates
 
 
References
 
Dietary hyperthyroidism in dogs. Köhler B, Stengel C, Neiger R. J Small Anim Pract. 2012 Mar;53(3):182-4. 
 
Exogenous thyrotoxicosis in dogs attributable to consumption of all-meat commercial dog food or treats containing excessive thyroid hormone: 14 cases (2008-2013). Broome MR, Peterson ME, Kemppainen RJ, Parker VJ, Richter KP. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2015 Jan 1;246(1):105-11.
 
 
Image: arosoft / Shutterstock
 



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TheOldBroad I-131 01/30/2015 04:48pm If the hyperthyroidism isn't caused by food and it's truly a thyroid issue, can dogs be treated at Camp Iodine like cats? Reply to this comment Report abuse 10 Dr. Jennifer Coates 01/31/2015 10:52am I131 treatment is rarely used in dogs since the cause of non-diet related hyperthyroidism is almost always a malignant cancer. Reply to this comment Report abuse 8

 

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What To Do When a Dog Stops Eating http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2015/january/what-do-when-dog-stops-eating-32401 Nutrition Nuggets is the newest offshoot of petMD's Dog Nutrition Center. Each week Dr. Coates will use her expertise and wisdom to blog about the intricacies of dog nutrition.



What To Do When a Dog Stops Eating










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January 16, 2015 / (2) comments


Most dogs love to eat, which is why a meal that has been left untouched immediately raises concerns. An almost endless list of problems can cause dogs to go off their food — some are trivial but others are potentially life-threatening.
 
Determining whether immediate action or watchful waiting is the appropriate response can prevent canine suffering and unnecessary veterinary expenses. When your dog stops eating, follow these five steps.
 
1. Think about the last few days
 
Hindsight often really is 20:20. Now that you know something is up with your dog, think over the last few days. Did something occur that could be responsible for your dog’s lack of appetite, for example a change in diet or a “mysteriously” overturned trash can? Has your dog’s appetite been somewhat reduced recently? Have you noticed any other symptoms (e.g., lethargy or loose stools) that may be related to what’s going on?
 
Make note of when your dog’s first symptom developed. When dogs are going to get better on their own, improvement will usually be noted within 24-48 hours, but you need to know when that clock started ticking. If skipping breakfast is honestly the first sign of trouble and your dog seems to feel fine otherwise, waiting a day or two to call the vet is perfectly reasonable. If, however, a loss of appetite is just the latest in a series of symptoms that have developed over the course of a few days (or longer), the “wait and see” train has already left the station.
 
2. Ask other people in the dog’s life if they’ve noticed anything
 
Unless you are the only person looking after your dog, ask his or her other caretakers whether they’ve noticed anything unusual over the last few days. Perhaps your spouse pulled the dog out from under a bush with something “icky” in his (the dog’s!) mouth on a recent nightly walk, or your neighbor’s dog who routinely comes over to play is ill.
 
3. Examine the dog
 
Perform a “quick and dirty” physical exam on your dog. Gently push on his or her belly. It should be soft and your dog should not react in pain. Look for evidence of diarrhea in the fur around the rectum or vomit around the mouth. A dog’s gums should be pink (unless they are pigmented) and moist. Dry or pale mucous membranes can be a symptom of dehydration and/or other serious conditions. If you find anything worrisome on your physical exam, call your veterinarian immediately.
 
4. Inspect the food
 
Whether you feed a commercially prepared or homemade diet, something might be wrong with the food itself. This is especially true if you just fed the first meal out of a new batch of food, or if the bag, can, etc. has been open for quite awhile. Look at and smell the food. If anything appears “off,” try feeding your dog again from a different lot of food. I don’t recommend making a wholesale diet change at this point, since it will be difficult to determine if a dog is not eating because he or she does not like the new food or is continuing not to feel well.
 
5. When in doubt, talk to your veterinarian
 
It’s always better to err on the side of caution. Problems caught early are easier (and cheaper!) to resolve.
 
 

Dr. Jennifer Coates
 
 
Image: Muh / Shutterstock
 



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KLND #6, a change in meds 01/16/2015 08:23pm Much to his vet's surprise, my dog doesn't tolerate ketaconazole. It wasn't until I said "He's lost 10 lbs (15% of his body weight) in two weeks." did the vet stop giving me advice on how to feed a fussy eater and change to fluconazole. Reply to this comment Report abuse 8 Bai C #7 teeth/gums not healthy 01/29/2015 09:44pm Or, if it's normal, just wait for him to eat again. My dog has gone a good week or so without eating. Up to ten days, really. He's 17 and has no known medical problems. He just has never eaten much, and been fussy with his food (not with treats and anything he's found on the floor, of course). Okay, when he was 13-14 he had a benign tumor, but that's it aside from his gums rotting a little. That's to be expected of an elderly dog, though.

Which brings me to #7: if he's 5 or older and you don't brush his teeth, or 15 or over and his gums are starting to rot. If this happens, and you feed him crunchy/hard kibble he will find it uncomfortable and stop. Try mixing in more wet food. Reply to this comment Report abuse 7

 

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How to Feed Older Dogs http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2015/january/how-feed-older-dogs-32373 Nutrition Nuggets is the newest offshoot of petMD's Dog Nutrition Center. Each week Dr. Coates will use her expertise and wisdom to blog about the intricacies of dog nutrition.



How to Feed Older Dogs










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January 02, 2015 / (0) comments


Nothing beats a good, old dog. The relationship between canine senior citizens and their owners is exceptionally deep and multifaceted. Good nutrition can help keep this relationship going strong for as long as possible.
 
Definitive guidelines regarding what constitutes the best diet for older dogs do not exist. Owners and veterinarians need to work as a team to assess every dog’s individual nutritional needs and make appropriate dietary choices.
 
The first step is to screen the dog for disease. Nutritional management plays a role in the treatment of many illnesses that are commonly diagnosed in older dogs (e.g., chronic kidney disease, diabetes mellitus, some types of cancer, and heart disease). If a dog has a nutritionally responsive disease, he or she should eat whatever diet is recommended for dogs with that condition. Considerations based on age take a back seat in these cases.
 
Owners have a lot more leeway when feeding healthy, older dogs. Senior dog foods occupy a lot of shelf space in stores, but they can be quite different from one another. Picking the right product is very important. For example, most senior dog foods are somewhat lower in fat than are traditional, adult foods. Because most older dogs require fewer calories than they once did, reducing the fat content of their diet can help prevent obesity. A lower fat food is perfectly appropriate if your older dog does, in fact, have a tendency to gain weight. On the other hand, if you have a skinny old dog who struggles to maintain his weight, a low fat dog food will make the problem worse rather than better.
 
Older dogs can also have trouble maintaining their lean body (muscle) mass, and some senior dog foods contain less protein than those designed for young adults. I assume this choice is based on the misguided assumption that lower protein levels will protect an older dog’s kidneys from damage. In fact, many dogs actually need a little more protein in their diet as they age if they are to maintain a healthy lean body mass. Avoiding excess protein is important if a dog is in kidney failure, but research has shown that feeding reduced protein foods to older dogs “just in case” is a mistake.
 
Look for the following characteristics in diets designed for older dogs:

High quality ingredients to maximize digestibility and nutrient absorption and reduce the formation of potentially damaging metabolic byproducts
Antioxidants (e.g. vitamins E and C) to promote immune function
Fish oils or other sources of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids to maintain brain, skin, and joint health

 
Because of the variability in senior dog foods, there is no guarantee that the first one you try will be the right one for your dog. If after a month or so on one diet you are not pleased with your dog’s response, try another… and another… and another, or ask your veterinarian for help picking out the right food for your dog.
 

Dr. Jennifer Coates
 
Image: sisqopote / Shutterstock
 



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Are 'Natural' and 'Organic' Just Words on a Dog Food Label? http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2014/december/are-natural-and-organic-just-words-dog-food-label-322-32294 Nutrition Nuggets is the newest offshoot of petMD's Dog Nutrition Center. Each week Dr. Coates will use her expertise and wisdom to blog about the intricacies of dog nutrition.



Are 'Natural' and 'Organic' Just Words on a Dog Food Label?










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December 19, 2014 / (1) comments


Take a close look at the front of a few dog food labels the next time you are at the pet supply store. Do you know what’s behind the phraseology that you see there? In some cases, what is written is defined by a regulatory body, but other terms are essentially meaningless. Read on to learn which words and phrases you should look for and which are pure marketing hype.
 
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) has established rules about how the front of a dog food label can reference ingredients. For example:

Chicken for Dogs — the product must contain at least 95% chicken, not including water used for processing.
Chicken Dinner for Dogs — the term “dinner,” or similar words like “entrée” or “formula,” can only be applied to products that contain 25% or more of the ingredient in question.
Dog Food with Chicken — the word “with” implies that at least 3% of the food is made from that ingredient.
Chicken Flavoring — “flavoring” indicates that specific tests were able to pick up the presence of the ingredient, but no particular percentage is mandated.

 
Other terms that have specific definitions include:
 
Natural
 
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) defines “natural” as being derived “solely from plant, animal or mined sources, either in its unprocessed state or having been subjected to physical processing, heat processing, rendering, purification extraction, hydrolysis, enzymolysis or fermentation, but not having been produced by or subject to a chemically synthetic process and not containing any additives or processing aids that are chemically synthetic except in amounts as might occur unavoidably in good manufacturing practices.”
 
Organic
 
Agricultural products labeled as organic are produced in accordance with the provisions of the Organic Foods Production Act and the regulations of the National Organic Program as outlined by the USDA. The term indicates that an agricultural product has been produced through approved methods that integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not be used.1
 
Human Grade
 
Human food safety and sanitation standards are described in regulations adopted by the FDA. Description of a product as human-grade indicates compliance with these standards. For a manufactured pet food, both the ingredients and final product processing must comply with the standards. Thus, unless a pet food manufacturing facility complies with human food safety standards, once ingredients enter the facility they are no longer human-grade and it would not be appropriate to describe the finished pet food or ingredients as human-grade.1
 
Many of the other terms that you’ll find on dog food labels are really just hype. Simplify your dog food shopping experience and ignore any references to a food being holistic, ancestral, instinctual, premium, super-premium, or containing no fillers.
 

Dr. Jennifer Coates
 
References
 
1. Awareness and evaluation of natural pet food products in the United States. Carter RA, Bauer JE, Kersey JH, Buff PR. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2014 Dec 1;245(11):1241-8. 
 
Image: StepanPopov / Shutterstock
 



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TheOldBroad Flavoring 12/19/2014 04:49pm If there's an AAFFO display, I'm guessing that even those foods that have flavoring still have to meet nutritional standards, it's just that may not really have chicken in the food. Reply to this comment Report abuse 6

 

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How You Feed Your Dog Is As Important As What You Feed http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2014/december/how-you-feed-your-dog-important-what-you-feed-32247 Nutrition Nuggets is the newest offshoot of petMD's Dog Nutrition Center. Each week Dr. Coates will use her expertise and wisdom to blog about the intricacies of dog nutrition.



How You Feed Your Dog Is As Important As What You Feed










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December 05, 2014 / (3) comments


Let’s say you’ve already figured out what type of food you’re going to feed your dog. I hate to break it to you, but your work’s not quite done. There are three more aspects of feeding dogs that require your attention.
 
How Much to Feed Your Dog
 
Determining how much food to feed your dog is like trying to hit a moving target. Amounts will vary with growth, reproductive status (e.g., decreasing after spay/neuter), exercise levels, health status, and even with something as basic as ambient temperature. I recommend that you use the pet food label’s directions as a starting point and then make adjustments based on your dog’s body condition.
 
Your goal should be to feed your dog the amount of food that keeps him or her slightly on the skinny side of normal. Research has shown that thin dogs live longer and experience fewer health problems than do dogs who are overweight or even at a “normal” body condition. It can be difficult for owners to accurately assess their dog’s body condition so there is no shame in asking your veterinarian for help in this regard.
 
How Often to Feed Your Dog
 
Most healthy adult dogs do best when they are fed twice a day (roughly twelve hours apart). Puppies need to eat two to five times a day depending on their age and breed. In general, the younger and smaller the puppy is the shorter the time between feedings must be to avoid potentially dangerous low blood sugar levels. As puppies mature, you can gradually decrease the number of feedings aiming for the adult’s schedule of twice daily by 12-18 months of age.
 
Method of Feeding
 
Owners can pick from three different feeding methods, or a combination thereof:
 

Free Choice – an essentially unlimited amount of food is available at all times
Time Limited – the dog has a certain amount of time in which to eat after which the food bowl is picked up
Amount Limited – owners determine the size of each meal

 
Most dogs do best with amount limited feeding, with a touch of time limited thrown in for good measure. By controlling the amount your dog eats, you have the best chance of meeting the “slightly skinny” benchmark that is associated with optimal health and longevity. By keeping an eye on how long it normally takes your dog to finish his or her meals, you can identify health problems that adversely affect appetite in their earliest stages when treatment is at its most effective and least expensive.
 
If your dog normally grazes throughout the day, you don’t have to pick up the bowl between meals. Just watch how much is food normally left before the subsequent feeding. If it begins to increase, this is a sign that the dog’s appetite is decreasing.
 
You’ve spent a lot of time, effort, and money to pick the right food for your dog; don’t mess that all up by feeding the wrong way.
 

Dr. Jennifer Coates
 
Image: dogboxstudio / Shutterstock
 



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TheOldBroad Dogs vs. Cats 12/05/2014 04:43pm Guess I'd have a really hard time feeding a dog. (Luckily cats usually just graze and eat a little at a time.)

I'd have a really hard time saying No if they looked hungry and gave me "the look."

"keeping an eye on how long it normally takes your dog to finish his or her meals"

Serious question, when one gets a "new" dog (assuming an adult), about how long do you think it takes to determine the amount of time the critter usually takes to eat a meal? How many meals would you suggest the human monitor to see how long it takes for Fido to clean his plate? Reply to this comment Report abuse 8 Jim Dandy 12/06/2014 01:31am A constant supply of dry kibble has always been available to all of my dogs. They have gotten enough "treats" and "goodies" as reward and variety feeding that they have used the kibble as a source to hold them over until the next "treat". That may be a little while or more than a day. The kibble is there when they get hungry enough to eat it but they don't hog it all down and want more because they hold out for the "good stuff". By leaving a constant supply of food for sustenance and controlling the "good stuff" it's not too hard to monitor and control their eating habits. I've never had a dog who would get fat on kibble nor completely ignore kibble when hungry. I've never had a "fat" dog, nor one who was underweight. They have a way of eating just enough when not tempted with that was too good to pass up, but they will easily eat until they're sick if given enough food that's just "too good". Regular exercise is important too, (for me and the dogs). They need to work off what they eat and will soon develop a routine that's right for them and their lifestyle. Constantly available kibble with no goodies should keep most dogs at a good weight with little intervention, they won't starve themselves and most probably won't overeat dry food unless they're bored.
Disclaimer: This is what I've learned through personal experience, I've had dogs in my life since I was a little kid and have been personally responsible for the well being of 4 healthy dogs in the past ≈40 years. (The previous three lived to be about 14 - 15 years old and my current canine companion just celebrated his 3rd birthday anniversary). Reply to this comment Report abuse 10 Dr. Jennifer Coates 12/08/2014 02:58pm I would let a dog settle in to his or her new home for a week or two and then monitor how long a "normal" meal lasts for a few days in a row. Reply to this comment Report abuse 6

 

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http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2014/december/how-you-feed-your-dog-important-what-you-feed-32247#comments balanced diet nutrition NutritionNuggets weight management Fri, 05 Dec 2014 11:00:00 +0000 32247 at http://www.petmd.com
Is Grain-Free Really Better for Dogs? http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2014/november/grain-free-really-better-dogs-32132 Nutrition Nuggets is the newest offshoot of petMD's Dog Nutrition Center. Each week Dr. Coates will use her expertise and wisdom to blog about the intricacies of dog nutrition.



Is Grain-Free Really Better for Dogs?










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November 21, 2014 / (3) comments


Doesn’t it seem like “grain-free” dog diets are taking over the pet food aisle? I’m surprised at just how omnipresent they’ve become. While there is nothing inherently bad about grain-free dog food, I worry that owners are being led to believe that grain-free foods are necessary for dogs. This is simply not the case.
 
Let me first say that there are times when a particular individual will benefit from a grain-free diet. For example, a dog who is allergic to wheat should obviously not be fed a food containing that type of grain. The question I want to look at, however, is, “Are there any benefits from going grain free for healthy dogs?” I believe the answer is “no” and that the popularity of grain-free diets is based on a couple of basic misunderstandings.
 
First of all, “grain free” is not the same as “carbohydrate free.” Starch, a type of carbohydrate, is essential to the formation of dog food kibble. Therefore, if you are feeding dry dog food, it has to contain a certain amount of carbohydrates. A quick look at the ingredient list will reveal the presence of potato, sweet potato, tapioca, or other carbohydrate sources. The phrase “grain-free” is not a substitute for “carbohydrate-free” or even “high-protein,” which is what most owners who buy these products seem to be looking for.
 
Contrary to what you might have heard, dogs do have all the digestive enzymes needed to break down, absorb, and utilize nutrients from grains. I’ve heard proponents of grain-free diets argue that dog saliva does not contain the enzyme amylase, which is needed to break down carbohydrates from grains. While it is true that dogs don’t make salivary amylase, their pancreas does make the enzyme, and since dogs tend to swallow large chunks of food without chewing, the need for salivary amylase is questionable. The lining of the dog’s small intestine also produces brush border enzymes that are responsible for much of the carbohydrate digestion.
 
Don’t get me wrong. Even though dogs digest carbohydrates quite well and grains are a healthy source of carbohydrates for most dogs, pet food manufacturer can overdo it. Carbohydrates are cheaper than animal-based sources of protein, so the financial lure of maximizing the former while minimizing the latter is hard for some companies to resist. If what you’re looking for is a low-carb, high protein dog food, you need to be looking at the guaranteed analysis on the back of the bag rather than the marketing hype on the front.
 
A food’s carbohydrate percentage does not have to be included in the guaranteed analysis, but it’s quite easy to estimate. Add up the percentages for crude protein, crude fat, crude fiber, moisture, and ash and subtract the result from 100%. The result is a ballpark figure for the food’s carbohydrate percentage. If a number for ash is not provided, use 6% as an estimate for dry food and 3% for canned.
 
If you want to compare dry and canned foods, you’ll probably need to do a bit more math because most companies report their guaranteed analysis on an as fed rather than dry matter basis.
 

Find the percent moisture and subtract that number from 100. This is the percent dry matter for the food.
Divide your carbohydrate percentage by the percent dry matter and multiply by 100.
The resulting number is the carbohydrate percentage on a dry matter basis.

 
Analyzing a food’s guaranteed analysis is not as simple as buying into the buzz around grain-free, but the work will let you make an informed decision about what to feed your dog.
 

Dr. Jennifer Coates
 
 
Image: Jaromir Chalabala / Shutterstock
 



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TheOldBroad Substitutions 11/21/2014 04:51pm I"m thinking that maybe "grain free" might be something like the human "Sugar free" because I believe that to keep the taste pleasurable, the amount of fat is increased in "Sugar free" items.
Reply to this comment Report abuse 7 GSDMama Carbohydrate Analysis 11/22/2014 09:27am What is the ideal carbohydrate percentage that we should be looking for during the analysis? I would love to know the percentages for a moderately active mature adult, an active adult, and a highly active/working adult dog. Also, are there different carbohydrate goals in males vs. females? I'm not 100% sure if ideal body fat percentages and resting metabolism differ in females vs. males like it does in humans. Thank you in advance for further clarification! Reply to this comment Report abuse 10 Dr. Jennifer Coates 11/24/2014 02:55pm Dogs don't have a specific need for carbohydrates so it's difficult to recommend a particular number to look for. The information that comes closest to what you are looking for is found in the National Research Council's recommended allowances for dogs. Take a look at this post:

http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/jcoates/2013/sept/recommended-daily-allowances-for-nutrition-cat-dog-foods-30907 Reply to this comment Report abuse 6

 

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http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2014/november/grain-free-really-better-dogs-32132#comments NutritionNuggets Fri, 21 Nov 2014 11:00:00 +0000 32132 at http://www.petmd.com