http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/rss en 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 1

 

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http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2014/december/are-natural-and-organic-just-words-dog-food-label-322-32294#comments nutrition NutritionNuggets Fri, 19 Dec 2014 11:00:00 +0000 32294 at http://www.petmd.com
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 1 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 2 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

 

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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 NutritionNuggets 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 2 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 5 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 1

 

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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
Tips for Feeding Dogs with Megaesophagus http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2014/november/tips-feeding-dogs-megaesophagus-32123 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.



Tips for Feeding Dogs with Megaesophagus
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November 07, 2014 / (4) comments


In the past, a diagnosis of megaesophagus was usually a death sentence. Severe cases of the condition make it virtually impossible for a dog to hold down food and water. In health, the esophagus is a muscular tube that pushes what is swallowed into the stomach. A “megaesophagus” is like a deflated balloon. It passively collects food and water until it can take no more, at which point the dog regurgitates all that he has just swallowed.
 
Megaesophagus can be a symptom of another disease (anatomical abnormalities, neuromuscular disorders, etc.), and in these cases, addressing the primary problem may also result in less regurgitation. Unfortunately though, most cases of megaesophagus are idiopathic, meaning that no underlying cause can be found. When a dog has permanent megaesophagus, whatever the reason, feeding management is the most important part of treatment.
 
The goal of feeding management is to get food and water out of the esophagus and into the stomach as quickly as possible. This is important for several reasons:
 

Dogs obviously need to digest and absorb food and water to survive.


Once food and water is in the stomach, it cannot be regurgitated. (Vomiting is still possible but not likely with megaesophagus.)


Repeated episodes of regurgitation puts dogs at high risk for aspiration pneumonia.

 
As we have gained more experience with megaesophagus, we have been able to develop guidelines that work for many dogs:
 

Feed multiple, small meals throughout the day.


Feed a high quality, calorically dense food to limit the volume necessary to meet the dog’s nutritional needs.


Prevent the dog from having access to food and water outside of monitored feeding times (e.g., on walks or by raiding housemate's bowls).


Feed the dog in an elevated position. Dogs with mild megaesophagus may be able eat from a raised food bowl, ideally either seated or with their front feet on a block of some sort to increase the angle of their esophagus. In most cases, however, dogs with megaesophagus need to eat in a truly vertical position and remain upright for 20-30 minutes after a meal. This is best accomplished by training dogs to use a Bailey chair.


When all else fails, a permanent feeding tube can be inserted into the dog’s stomach through which owners can administer food and water.

 
Exactly what to feed is still a matter of trial and error. Each patient seems to have an ideal food consistency, but this can vary greatly between individuals. Options to try include meatballs of canned or homemade dog food, a thin slurry of food and water, a thicker gruel, and thoroughly soaked kibble. When dogs are unable to keep down enough liquid to meet their needs, they can be supplemented with gelatin squares (often called “Knox blocks”) or subcutaneous fluids.
 
There’s no doubt that taking care of a dog with megaesophagus requires a truly dedicated owner, but if you fall into that category, the disease no longer has to be a death sentence.
 

Dr. Jennifer Coates
 
 
Image: Jaromir Chalabala / Shutterstock
 


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TheOldBroad Breeds 11/14/2014 05:18pm Are there some breeds that are more prone to get this?

Reply to this comment Report abuse Dr. Jennifer Coates 11/15/2014 11:08am Shar Peis, German Shepherds, Great Danes, Greyhounds, Irish Setters, Labrador Retrievers, Miniature Schnauzers, Newfoundlands, Wirehaired Fox Terriers. Reply to this comment Report abuse Purrsngrrs Age 12/01/2014 12:32pm Does age also play role in this disease?? Reply to this comment Report abuse Dr. Jennifer Coates 12/02/2014 03:20pm Idiopathic megaesophagus is most commonly diagnosed in middle aged or older dogs, but other forms of the disease more typically affect younger animals. Reply to this comment Report abuse

 

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http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2014/november/tips-feeding-dogs-megaesophagus-32123#comments NutritionNuggets Fri, 07 Nov 2014 11:00:00 +0000 32123 at http://www.petmd.com
Study Finds 45% of Raw Pet Foods Contaminated with Dangerous Bacteria http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2014/october/study-finds-45-raw-pet-foods-contaminated-dangero-32104 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.



Study Finds 45% of Raw Pet Foods Contaminated with Dangerous Bacteria
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October 24, 2014 / (0) comments


I have recently developed a special interest in the bacterial contaminants in dog food that can be transmitted to people. Why? Because my one year old son has an obsession with our dog’s kibble. The second my back is turned he scoots his cute little butt over to Apollo’s bowl and finds that one (or more) stray kibble that escaped my notice and vacuum.
 
Thankfully, my dog’s food is made by a reputable manufacturer under strict quality control measures (it’s a hypoallergenic diet only available under veterinarian’s orders). That doesn’t completely eliminate the chances that my son could become sick after handling a kibble or two, but I’m confident the risk is quite small.
 
A recently published study shows the same could not be said if I was feeding my dog a commercially prepared raw food. Researchers analyzed dry and semimoist dog and cat food (no canned products were tested), raw dog and cat foods (e.g., those packaged in tubes), exotic animal feeds, chicken jerky products, pig ears, and bully stick-type products looking for Salmonella, Listeria, Escherichia coli O157:H7 enterohemorrhagic E. coli, and Shiga toxin–producing strains of E. coli (STEC). The scientists picked these potential contaminants because of their ability to cause illness and even death in people who handle pet foods.
 
Scientists evaluated 480 samples of dry and semimoist food and found only two incidences of contamination, both in dry cat foods. One was positive for Salmonella and the other for Listeria greyii. This comes to a 0.4% contamination rate. None of the exotic animal feeds were contaminated.
 
On the other hand, of the 196 samples of raw dog and cat food, a total of 88 were found to be contaminated — 65 for Listeria, 15 for Salmonella, and 8 for STEC – a 45% contamination rate. The authors also found that two of 190 chicken jerky products, pig ears, and bully stick-type products were positive for STEC, and one was positive for Listeria — a 1.6% contamination rate.
 
In the past, significant disease outbreaks in people have been linked to contact with dry dog and cat foods (most notably the Diamond Pet Foods Salmonella incident in 2012). It now appears that the greatest risk associated with commercially available foods lies elsewhere. I strongly discourage the practice of feeding raw dog and cat foods, especially if someone in the household has a weak immune system (including young children and the elderly). If you choose to feed raw anyway, follow the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s guidelines to prevent infections associated with the handling these products:
 

Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water (for at least 20 seconds) after handling raw pet food, and after touching surfaces or objects that have come in contact with the raw food. Potential contaminated surfaces include countertops and the inside of refrigerators and microwaves. Potential contaminated objects include kitchen utensils, feeding bowls, and cutting boards.


Thoroughly clean and disinfect all surfaces and objects that come in contact with raw pet food. First wash with hot soapy water and then follow with a disinfectant. A solution of 1 tablespoon bleach to 1 quart (4 cups) water is an effective disinfectant. For a larger supply of the disinfectant solution, add ¼ cup bleach to 1 gallon (16 cups) water. You can also run items through the dishwasher after each use to clean and disinfect them.


Freeze raw meat and poultry products until you are ready to use them, and thaw them in your refrigerator or microwave, not on your countertop or in your sink.


Carefully handle raw and frozen meat and poultry products. Don’t rinse raw meat, poultry, fish, and seafood. Bacteria in the raw juices can splash and spread to other food and surfaces.


Keep raw food separate from other food.


Immediately cover and refrigerate what your pet doesn’t eat, or throw the leftovers out safely.


If you’re using raw ingredients to make your own cooked pet food, be sure to cook all food to a proper internal temperature as measured by a food thermometer. Thorough cooking kills Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, and other harmful foodborne bacteria.


Don’t kiss your pet around its mouth, and don’t let your pet lick your face. This is especially important after your pet has just finished eating raw food.


Thoroughly wash your hands after touching or being licked by your pet. If your pet gives you a “kiss,” be sure to also wash your face.

 

Dr. Jennifer Coates
 
 
Reference
 
Investigation of Listeria, Salmonella, and Toxigenic Escherichia coli in Various Pet Foods. Nemser SM, Doran T, Grabenstein M, McConnell T, McGrath T, Pamboukian R, Smith AC, Achen M, Danzeisen G, Kim S, Liu Y, Robeson S, Rosario G, McWilliams Wilson K, Reimschuessel R. Foodborne Pathog Dis. 2014 Sep;11(9):706-9. 
 
Image: Phil Stev / Shutterstock
 


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Why You Should Not Take Nutritional Advice from a Pet Store http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2014/october/why-you-should-not-take-nutritional-advice-pet-store-3 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.



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October 10, 2014 / (5) comments


I just had a disturbing conversation with a neighbor about his dog Maggie. Maggie is an elderly black lab who is doing surprisingly well despite suffering from diabetes mellitus, lumbosacral stenosis (causing extreme hind end weakness), protein-losing nephropathy (a disorder that causes her to spill protein into her urine), and allergies. She also recently recovered from a nasty bout of diarrhea, which her veterinarian suspects was a result of some changes she made in Maggie’s medication protocol.
 
My neighbor often asks for my opinion about his animals’ health, so I didn’t think anything was out of the ordinary when he stopped me as I walked past his house… until he related the following story.
 
Maggie’s itching had recently worsened. She has never had a full work up for her chronic, intermittent itching, but all signs point to it being a seasonal allergy to something in her environment (e.g., pollen). Each summer her scratching intensifies, improves with standard, symptomatic treatment for allergies, and then fades when the cold weather returns. John told me that her itching in combination with the recent diarrhea is what sent him to the pet supply store for advice. I didn’t have the nerve to ask why he didn’t first reach out to his veterinarian.
 
Upon his arrival at the pet store, he was approached by a “very helpful” (his words, not mine) sales associate. John described his concerns at which point the sales associate told him that Maggie had a food allergy and should be eating a “limited ingredient” dog food. John bought the food and started feeding it to Maggie that night.
 
Thankfully, Maggie had a regular monitoring appointment scheduled later in the week. Her veterinarian checked her blood sugar level, which turned out to be dangerously high despite the fact that her diabetic control had been excellent in the past. When I replied that I wasn’t surprised Maggie’s insulin needs were very different after starting a new diet, John looked completely shocked. I proceeded to describe what a delicate balancing act diabetes management is and how a change in virtually anything (diet, exercise, insulin dose or type, health status, etc.) can upset the apple cart. Maggie’s doctor had quickly figured out what was going on and encouraged John to put Maggie back on her previous diet. It took a little while, but the old girl (the dog, not the vet) is now back to what constitutes normal for her.
 
Maggie’s story has a happy ending, but if it didn’t, there would have been plenty of blame to go around. Her veterinarian didn’t do a good enough job educating John on the intricacies of diabetic management. John should never have listened to the advice of someone with little training in canine nutrition. The pet store employee’s misdiagnosis of a food allergy and misunderstanding of her case almost cost a beautiful dog her life.
 
If you are responsible for feeding a dog with diabetes, or any disease for which dietary management plays a crucial role, please talk to your veterinarian before changing foods. Pet owners often complain that vets only recommend diets so they can make money off of selling them. If this is true, you shouldn’t seek dietary advice from a business that makes a much bigger percentage of its profits off pet food sales, you should look for a new vet.
 

Dr. Jennifer Coates
 
Image: Blend Images / Shutterstock


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rodrussell Make new vet holistic 10/10/2014 08:45am You write: "Pet owners often complain that vets only recommend diets so they can make money off of selling them. If this is true, you shouldn’t seek dietary advice from a business that makes a much bigger percentage of its profits off pet food sales, you should look for a new vet." --- Well, that's a big "Duh!" But if nutrition is the question, that "new vet" should be an holistic one, because most conventional vets no nothing about nutrition that has not been drilled into them by vet school programs funded by the same pet food manufacturers that educate the pet store employees. Reply to this comment Report abuse 7 cwaters 10/10/2014 11:30am I have to agree with your comment. When my dog was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, the first thing that I asked her specialist - a vet with many years of training past vet school, was whether or not changing her diet would help her. He said to me and I quote "no, changing her diet really won't do anything for her." Fortunately, I changed it anyway and it helped live almost two years after her initial diagnosis, along with additional treatment. If your vet ever tells you that diet doesn't play a part in a dog's well-being, run the other way! As humans we benefit from a good diet, so why wouldn't dogs??? That way of thinking makes no sense to me whatsoever. Reply to this comment Report abuse 4 KLND 10/10/2014 09:11pm No doubt the vet clinic makes money off the food that I buy there. So does the grocery store where I buy food for myself, and where I would buy the ingredients for a raw, or any home prepared food for my dog, if I prepared his food myself.
Someone is making money from everything that I eat.
My dog is on a prescription diet. Maybe a specially prepared home made meal would work too. I don't know and do not want to rock the boat to find out. He is doing amazing on the scrip diet. No one believes me when I tell them he is 12. Most people guess 9 or 10. A big difference for a 60 lb dog.
I trust his vet, and my dog's health is more important to me than the vet's profit margin on the food.
I look at the incremental cost difference between his current and former food. It's not much.
Why not let the vet clinic make a profit as well as the pet store and grocery store?
(I have no connection whatsoever to the veterinary industry other than I am a pet owner.) Reply to this comment Report abuse 3 Frustrated Dog Feeder 10/12/2014 07:33pm I think you're being a little harsh implying vets have 'no' nutritional knowledge. Little knowledge is more accurate.

But you have to give a little mercy to the vet student: They have a lot on their plates during their training, their primary nutrition textbook (Hand, et. al 2010) is pretty antiquated in it's denial of any forward movement in the science of dog nutrition, and they are beaten with the commercial brand flags all through their education.

Not so sure holistic is the way to go either. A dog fed correctly, to his or her individual needs, should not require the trunk of supplements pushed and sold by holistic vets.

The foods pushed by traditional vets vs. the supplements pushed by holistic vets, at least in my opinion, cancel each other out in the long run.

I think the focus of this article, back to the "only your vet can talk to you about nutrition" is the problem.

Can the writer (of the article) really blame the pet store employee for doing his or her job? It appears the discussion between dog owner and pet store employee was about itchy skin - I saw nothing about the dog's owner mentioning diabetes or other health problems. In the instance of 'diagnosing' itchy skin, the journals are filled with studies showing food insensitivies and other health problems connected to feeding a single food, forever. We're not talking Susie's Personal Web Site here, we're talking vet and other peer reviewed research. Changing foods is usually the logical course of action, even when acting under a veterinarian's direction.

I think rather than making the subject of this article another notch in the "It's impossible for anyone outside the veterinary or pet food industry fields to possibly know (or have the capacity to learn) about dog nutrition, it should have been directed at the dangers of trying to take shortcuts in the treatment of serious medical conditions. That the dog's owner went to a pet store (cheaper) than his vet for food was clearly a move on his part to find a cheaper alternative to a portion of his dog's treatment.

Don't blame a pet store employee because the dog's owner wanted to save some money!
Reply to this comment Report abuse 3 TheOldBroad Advice 10/10/2014 05:10pm When it comes to our pets, it's my belief that the first place to go is the veterinarian. If you feel uncomfortable with the information, get a second opinion.

And when it comes to nutrition, find a veterinary nutritionist.

Luckily, my regular vet takes a great interest in nutrition and has always provided sound advice from which my kitties have benefitted greatly. Reply to this comment Report abuse 1

 

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http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2014/october/why-you-should-not-take-nutritional-advice-pet-store-3#comments NutritionNuggets Fri, 10 Oct 2014 11:00:00 +0000 32083 at http://www.petmd.com
The Role of Diet in Treating Epileptic Dogs http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2014/september/role-diet-treating-epileptic-dogs-32041 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 Role of Diet in Treating Epileptic Dogs
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September 26, 2014 / (1) comments


Diet is an often overlooked component of treating dogs with epilepsy. No, I’m afraid I don’t have any insider information on a miracle food that prevents seizures. The ketogenic diets that help many human epileptics don’t seem to be very effective in dogs, and research has not shown a link to any particular ingredient that when removed, leads to a decrease in seizures. That said, keeping a close eye on an epileptic dog’s diet is still vital for several reasons.
 
Most dogs with moderate to severe epilepsy receive phenobarbital and/or bromide, and changing the diet can alter the activity of these drugs. Research shows that the proportion of protein, fat, carbohydrate, and other nutrients in the diet has an effect on how long phenobarbital remains in the body. Therefore, a change in diet can effectively result in a dog being under or overdosed with phenobarbital even when the amount that is given remains unchanged.
 
A similar situation exists with bromide and the mineral chloride (a component of table salt and other ingredients). When a dog eats more chloride, bromide is excreted at a faster rate from the body, meaning that higher doses of the drug are required. A study looking at the chloride content of commercial dog foods found levels that varied between 0.33% and 1.32% on a dry matter basis. The amount of chloride in dog food does not need to be reported on the label, so if an owner were to switch diets and inadvertently quadruple the amount of chloride a dog was taking in, breakthrough seizures could result.
 
Avoiding variability in an epileptic dog’s diet is extremely important, but that does not mean dietary changes are forbidden. If a dog is diagnosed with epilepsy and eating a poor diet, he should immediately be switched to something better. I prefer high quality diets made by large, reputable manufacturers because they are more likely to be able to consistently source their ingredients. Even so, changes to formulations do occur, so owners should watch the label for anything new. Home cooking is also an excellent choice for epileptic dogs when owners have the time and willingness to work with a veterinary nutritionist.
 
Another instance when changing an epileptic dog’s diet might be a good idea is when symptoms of food allergy are present (usually chronic itching and sometimes GI upset). Food allergies may (and I emphasize the word “may”) play a role in some cases of epilepsy so putting the patient on a hypoallergenic diet and monitoring seizure activity would be worth a try.
 
When dogs who have been receiving anticonvulsant medications for a long period of time must eat something new, owners should watch very closely for changes in seizure frequency and severity as well as for signs of medication overdose (typically sedation and GI effects). If anything out of the ordinary is noted, a veterinarian can check the dog’s blood levels of phenobarbital, bromide, and/or any other anticonvulsant medications he is taking and compare them to previous results.
 

Dr. Jennifer Coates
 
Source
Nutritional management of idiopathic epilepsy in dogs. Larsen JA, Owens TJ, Fascetti AJ. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2014 Sep 1;245(5):504-8.
 
Image: Grisha Bruev / Shutterstock
 
 
Related Articles:
 
Seizures, Epilepsy, Idiopathic or Genetic, in Dogs
Seizures and Convulsions in Dogs
Disorderly Conduct Control: Seizure Disorder Treatment in Pets


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TheOldBroad Sound Advice 09/26/2014 04:59pm I would think this is sound advice for any pet on medication and the diet is changed.

It hadn't occurred to me, so thanks for the subject of something to watch. Reply to this comment Report abuse 4

 

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Dietary Fat is Important for Athletic Dogs http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2014/september/dietary-fat-important-athletic-dogs-31984 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.



Dietary Fat is Important for Athletic Dogs
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September 12, 2014 / (2) comments


I’m sure you’ve heard of the term “carb loading.” It refers to a practice, used primarily by endurance athletes, of increasing the percentage of carbohydrates in the diet a few days before an event. Carbohydrates are stored as glycogen in muscle tissue, and this is a way of increasing the amount of glycogen available to provide energy to muscles, which can help ward off fatigue.
 
If you are the owner of a canine athlete, you might be tempted to give carb loading a try in an attempt to improve your dog’s performance. Don’t. Dogs and people have very different muscle physiology. Research published in 1998 puts it this way:
 
Canine metabolism is unique. Mammalian muscle fibers have been classified into types I, IIa and IIb based on their metabolism. Type I fibers contain less ATPase activity compared with type II fibers. Types I and IIa are characterized by oxidative metabolism, whereas type IIb fibers are characterized by anaerobic glycolytic metabolism. Canine muscle contains mainly oxidative fibers…. Relative to metabolic body size, dogs also metabolize free fatty acids at twice the rate observed in humans. Dog muscle is, therefore, more adapted to use fat than human muscle and conclusions derived from human experiments may not be valid in dogs.

 
In dogs, carbohydrates stored as glycogen do play a role in short bursts of exertion — say, hat needed to chase a squirrel up a tree — but exercise that lasts for more than a few minutes relies primarily on fatty acids as fuel. Therefore, owners need to pay particular attention to how much fat their canine athletes consume.
 
Most commercially available dog foods designed for adult maintenance have dietary fat levels in the teens. Those designed for weight loss tend to be in the neighborhood of 10 percent fat or even lower for prescription weight loss foods. In comparison, diets designed for extremely active dogs may contain around 25 percent fat. (All percentages are reported on a dry matter basis.)
 
Increasing the fat content of a dog’s diet should be done gradually and at least a month before optimal performance is desired. It takes time for the necessary changes in physiology to occur, and sudden dietary changes, especially those that involve increased levels of fat, put dogs at risk for gastrointestinal distress and pancreatitis, which is a potentially life threatening condition.
 
Before putting your dog on a high fat diet, you need to take an honest look at his or her activity level. The vast majority of pets are not athletes. If your dog, like mine, is the occasional weekend warrior or trots by your side during your morning jog, a “regular” dog food is fine. A lot of exercise is needed before a dog even comes close to depleting his or her stores of free fatty acids. In fact, I suspect that most dogs would perform better eating a diet with normal amounts of fat in comparison to having to lug around the extra weight that would likely result from being switched to a high fat food.
 

Dr. Jennifer Coates
 
Image: Shev / Shutterstock
 


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TheOldBroad Fatty Dog Food 09/12/2014 06:21pm If someone is tempted to try increasing the fat content of their dog's diet, it would make sense to first determine at what point the dog comes close to depleting the stores of free fatty acids.

How would one tell if a dog is close to that point? Reply to this comment Report abuse 4 Dr. Jennifer Coates 09/15/2014 02:11pm I don't think there is a practical way to do so. Reply to this comment Report abuse 1

 

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Using Omega 3 Fatty Acids Effectively and Safely http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2014/august/using-omega-3-fatty-acids-effectively-and-safely-31972 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.



Using Omega 3 Fatty Acids Effectively and Safely
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August 29, 2014 / (2) comments


Omega 3 Fatty Acids are very popular nutritional supplements for dogs. They are advertised to help with skin conditions, allergies, kidney function, lymphoma, heart disease, cognitive function, arthritis, and more. Research is spotty but supports their use in some cases. As a result, many veterinarians recommend and owners use omega 3 fatty acids to treat or prevent disease, but do you really know what omega 3 fatty acids are and how to use them safely and effectively?
 
Fatty acids are molecules consisting of a chain of carbon atoms with an oxygen double bonded and a hydroxyl group (an oxygen and hydrogen atom) single bonded at one end. Omega 3 fatty acids are “polyunsaturated,” meaning that they have multiple double bonds throughout their carbon chain and their first double bond is located between carbon atoms number three and four when counting from the end of the chain away from the hydroxyl group.
 
Sorry about all the chemistry, but I bring it up for a couple of important reasons. Firstly, all those double bonds make omega 3 fatty acids somewhat unstable and prime candidates for oxidation, which leads to rancidity. Also, dogs cannot make their own omega 3 fatty acids because they are physiologically unable to put a double bond between carbons 3 and 4. This is why dogs have a dietary need for omega 3 fatty acids like eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
 
Vegetable oils including flaxseed oil, canola oil, walnut oil, and soybean oil can provide dogs with another omega 3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is a precursor to EPA and DHA. However, dogs are not very good at transforming ALA into either EPA or DHA. Therefore, it is much more efficient to provide dogs with EPA and DHA directly. Good sources include cold water fish oils (e.g., salmon oil) and certain types of algal oil.
 
Commercially available omega 3 fatty acid supplements can have very different EPA and DHA concentrations. Also, the dose of omega 3 fatty acid need to optimally treat various health conditions in dogs is really not known with any degree of certainty, which makes figuring out how much to give difficult if not impossible. Several studies seem to indicate that around 22-40 mg/kg /day of EPA can have beneficial effects, but keep in mind that most fish oil supplements contain both DHA and EPA so the total dose of omega 3 fatty acids is higher. Omega 3 fatty acids are quite safe, but when given in extremely large doses can lead to gastrointestinal upset, problems with the blood clotting system, and immune dysfunction.
 
When purchasing an omega 3 fatty acid supplement, choose one made from a reputable manufacturer that provides the following information either on the product label or on their website:
 

How much EPA and DHA does the supplement contain?
How do they purify their products to remove contaminants like mercury?
How is the product preserved to prevent rancidity?

 
High quality omega 3 fatty acid supplements appear to have multiple health benefits. Ask your veterinarian if one is right for your dog.
 

Dr. Jennifer Coates
 
Source:
Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Disease: Choosing the Right Product. Cecilia Villaverde. Presented at the American Veterinary Medical Convention, Denver, CO, July 28, 2014.
 
Image: belozu / Shutterstock
 


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commonsense Email about thisconfusing 08/31/2014 10:58am I received an email link to this article, with the lead-in title..."Omega 3 Supplements Not Good for All Dogs", yet the article does not specify any dogs that should not receive them, or how we can tell.
Can you elaborate, please? Reply to this comment Report abuse 14 TheOldBroad Which Cases? 08/31/2014 08:45pm "Research is spotty but supports their use in some cases."

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New Recommendations for Feeding Dogs with Pancreatitis http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2014/august/new-recommendations-feeding-dogs-pancreatitis-31941 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.



New Recommendations for Feeding Dogs with Pancreatitis
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August 15, 2014 / (16) comments


Our understanding regarding how best to feed (or not feed) dogs with pancreatitis has undergone significant changes over the last few years. Back when I was in veterinary school in the 1990s, we learned that dogs with pancreatitis should be fasted for 24-48 hours. This protocol was based on a reasonable assumption — food passing through the intestinal tract would stimulate the pancreas to secrete digestive enzymes, thereby increasing pancreatic inflammation.
 
But now, research in people and dogs is revealing the harmful effects that prolonged fasting can have on the structure and function of the gastrointestinal tract, including its important role in the immune system. The cells that line the intestinal tract depend on absorbing energy and nutrients that pass by after a meal. When a dog does not eat, the lining of the intestinal tract changes: the villi (fingerlike projections that increase the intestine’s absorptive surface) shrink, local immune tissue is reduced, the intestinal wall becomes “leaky,” promoting the absorption of bacteria and toxins, and inflammation increases, both within the digestive tract and systemically. Also, there is some evidence that when the pancreas is inflamed it does not secrete digestive enzymes in response to the presence of food in the same way that a healthy pancreas does, which casts even more doubt on the practice of prolonged fasting.
 
We don’t have studies in dogs that directly answer the question of when and how to best start feeding dogs with pancreatitis, but many veterinarians are switching to an “as soon as possible” mind set. We should still not be feeding dogs that are actively vomiting (there’s no point if they can’t keep it down), but the effective antiemetic medications that are now available (e.g., maropitant) often allow us to get control of a dog’s vomiting within 24 hours of hospitalization. It is at this time that food should be reintroduced.
 
In dogs, dietary fat is known to be associated with the development of pancreatitis and can stimulate the secretion of a hormone that induces the pancreas to secrete its digestive hormones. Therefore, low fat foods are recommended. Refeeding should always begin slowly. A common recommendation is to start with one-quarter of the dog’s resting energy requirement divided into four meals throughout the day. In other words, the dog would get four meals consisting of about 1/16 of what it would normally eat spread over 24 hours. As long as the dog continues to improve, the amount of food offered could increase by one-quarter every day so that at the end of four days, the patient is taking in his or her full resting energy requirement.
 
Because we want dogs with pancreatitis to benefit from as much nutrition as possible even when taking in small amounts of food, a highly digestible diet is preferred. Foods should be low in fiber and made from high-quality ingredients. Several pet food manufacturers make low fat, highly digestible diets for dogs. Most veterinarians carry at least one food like this in their clinics to feed to hospitalized patients and to send home with dogs as they continue to recover. A short-term alternative is to feed a mixture of boiled white meat chicken and white rice, but if a home cooked diet is needed for more than just a few days, a veterinary nutritionist should design a nutritionally complete diet that will meet all of the dog’s needs.
 

Dr. Jennifer Coates
 
Image: Michelle D. Milliman / Shutterstock
 


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TheOldBroad Makes Sense 08/15/2014 05:06pm This all makes sense.

Does the intestinal tract of humans, cats and other mammals react the same way with the digestive enzymes? Reply to this comment Report abuse 13 klynnway@aol.com 08/16/2014 11:23am I would like to know when and how to supplement the low/fat, lowfiber, highly digestble diet with pancreatic enzymes and which ones (plant/protein/other) are best for pancreatitis at this time?
Thank you, this was very helpdul for my old girl (13.5 y.o)!
Reply to this comment Report abuse 14 Dr. Jennifer Coates 08/17/2014 10:25pm Most dogs with pancreatitis do not go on to develop pancreatic exocrine insufficiency, which is the disease that requires supplementation with pancreatic enzymes. Reply to this comment Report abuse 9 klynnway@aol.com 08/17/2014 10:29pm Thank you do much for responding to me. I am much relieved!

Karen Reply to this comment Report abuse 10 Dr. Jennifer Coates 08/17/2014 10:26pm Not exactly, but very similarly in a big picture sort of way. Reply to this comment Report abuse 9 klynnway@aol.com diet and pancreatitis 08/17/2014 10:39pm Hi again,


Do you have a feeling on the fiber content of the dog food? I have read lower than than 4% and lower than 12% fat for pancreatitris - or is that epi?
Are there any restictions on protein types or starches?

Thanks so much!!

Karen Reply to this comment Report abuse 15 Dr. Jennifer Coates 08/18/2014 11:54am One of the commonly used foods for acute pancreatitis in dogs has a fiber content of around 2% and fat content of around 8.5%. This is definitely one of those cases that what works for one dog may not work for another. Also, if a dog has only had one episode of pancreatitis, many veterinarians will not recommend long term feeding of a low fat diet but try to transition them back to a "normal" (but usually not high fat) food. Reply to this comment Report abuse 13 Brittany1 08/21/2014 08:13pm Thank you. We have a 12 year old Bichon who just spent 2 days at the Vet. IV ,pain meds etc. she was released to us on antibiotics and Tramadol. She's been home 10 days and it's a day by day is she ok, is she going to eat. Tramadol wipes her out. She was on metacam and we were wondering if we could use it. We have Purina IM as her food. She seems to be ok and then she seems to be lethargic. She eats very little but eats. Small bits. She is drinking water. She is 13 but just does not seem well. We are done with antibiotics. She seems to be on a roller coaster. We are a little worried. Has any one else had this with the first diagnosis of pancreatitis?
Reply to this comment Report abuse 11 Dr. Jennifer Coates 08/22/2014 11:05am It can take a while to fully recover from a severe bout of pancreatitis, so your Bichon may just need some more time. Ask your veterinarian whether he or she thinks cutting back or discontinuing the tramadol is appropriate as this medication can affect appetite and energy levels. Reply to this comment Report abuse 8 Dr. Jennifer Coates 08/18/2014 11:55am Re. types of proteins and starches - highly digestible is the rule of thumb. Chicken and rice are typical. Reply to this comment Report abuse 10 Famostily Pancreatitis scare 09/01/2014 10:07pm Our dog is an eleven year old English Pointer. He has been reluctantly diagnosed with pancreatitis because although nothing in his bloodwork or internal scans indicate pancreatitis, all of his symptoms seem to point to that. He has been hospitalized for a couple of days now and it's been really scary. My husband read a bunch of stuff on the internet that scared him about our dog's chance of survival, but the doctor just said his treatment will take time. Is there anyone out there that has been through this with their dog and can give us some hope?
Also, at what point is it safe for us to take him out of the hospital and start caring for him at home?
Thank you. Reply to this comment Report abuse 5 Dr. Jennifer Coates 09/02/2014 09:44pm Many dogs with severe pancreatitis dosurvive with appropriate treatment. When it is safe to take him home mostly depends on his ability to keep down food, water, and medications orally. Your veterinarian is in the best position to make this call. Reply to this comment Report abuse 6 Famostily 09/06/2014 01:18pm Thank you. Augie is not throwing up so we brought him home, but he is in so much discomfort he still will not eat very much. When he does try to eat, he eats very little and then pays for it with severe nausea. So our other concern is that he'll associate his nausea with food.
We just got a new combination of nausea meds we tried this morning, but so far it does not seem to be improving his appetite. This article really raises my level of concern about his not eating, (which was already high because of his weight loss). The vet says usually the cases she sees are acute cases that get better in a few days, but Augie's condition has been ongoing for two weeks, and was only diagnosed because of his symptoms and not his bloodwork or internal pictures. Is this more common than she thinks? Reply to this comment Report abuse 6 Dr. Jennifer Coates 09/08/2014 03:44pm It does sound like Augie's case is somewhat unusual. Unfortunately, it's impossible for me to comment directly on what would be best for him since I don't have the ability to examine him and his records. A second opinion never hurts. Ask your veterinarian whether she thinks a visit to a specialist is reasonable at this point. Reply to this comment Report abuse 4 ChristinaLee Pancreatitis or? 09/29/2014 05:11pm I have a 9yr old dachshund that suddenly developed diarrhea in Feb. I did the initial bland diet/ she was put on anti diarrheal and nausea etc../ there was only one vomiting episode. She was always underweight / very thin / she was always in a fish based high quality (instinct or castor & Pollux) never a cheap food. She also got steamed carrots/broccoli/ squash / cauliflower/ for dinner and was getting 1/4 tsp of coconut oil for her skin. And half tsp of pure pumpkin. She never had any health issue until this. Her appetite was always good even when sick. We did blood work and she came back just on edge of pancreatitis (one vet said) the other just said pancreatitis. Her vitamin b12 level was very very very low. We did ultrasound /nothing shown. We could not firm up her poop. Eventually vet said Royak Canin hydrolyzed /hypoallergenic kibble. A soy based protein. And 1/4 tsp Metamucil ea meal. After a while she was regaining weight and her coat looks great. We also did weekly then tapering down vit b12 injections. Her poop firmed up. She started putting on a little to much weight so we tried the same food only moderate calorie. This is interesting because vet wanted HIGH fiber w her and Not high protein and novel protein and LOW fat. I started giving her steamed sweet potato also 1 tbsp per meal. The moderate calorie had more fiber than the reg formula. I've since weaned her off the Metamucil and I would like to get her off this food as I don't think it's the best quality but can't argue it helped her. She looks great. She did not have the typical pancreatits symptoms and the fiber helps her (Metamucil works both ways I guess !). I would love to have another opinion on this as she doesn't fall into a for sure category. I recently started searching for an under 23% protein/ fat below 15% novel protein food. Per her vets directions but what is confusing is the guaranteed Analysis of the RC prescription food was protein min 21.5 fat min 10.5fiber max is 3.1. Brewers rice and hydrolyzed soy protein were first 2 ingredients.
I would like her on a reg food again- the vet isn't to sure though -
I dint understand if possibly she was very underweight that could have done this? Or??
I can provide her blood work details if this isn't enough.
Reply to this comment Report abuse 1 Dr. Jennifer Coates 09/30/2014 03:34pm I can't make specific recommendations regarding your dog's case but in general if a dog with chronic GI problems is doing well on a particular diet that provides complete and balanced nutrition, I don't recommend making a change. The food your dog is currently eating could be helping control her pancreatitis as well as any other concurrent conditions (e.g., food allergy/intolerance, inflammatory bowel disease) that she might also be suffering from. While the ingredient list might not be what your are looking for and the guaranteed analysis not quite "textbook" for pancreatitis, I don't think you can argue with it's success. Reply to this comment Report abuse

 

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Dry Food and Dental Disease in Dogs http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2014/august/dry-food-and-dental-disease-dogs-31920 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.



Dry Food and Dental Disease in Dogs
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Daily tooth brushing and professional dental cleanings on an as-needed basis are the best ways to prevent the formation of periodontal disease in dogs, but diet can play an important role. This is especially true when daily tooth brushing is not possible, either because of a dog’s temperament or an owner’s inability to brush regularly.
 
I commonly hear owners say that one of the reasons that they feed their dogs dry food versus canned food is that they think kibble will help keep their dog’s teeth clean. Scientifically speaking, the effects of “regular” dry food (i.e., diets not specifically designed to promote oral health) appear to be somewhat mixed.
 
Studies from the 1930s, '40s, and '60s showed that dogs who ate dry food had better oral health than did those who ate canned. On the other hand, a large study from 1996 looked at 1,350 client owned dogs in North America and found “few apparent differences” between dogs that ate dry food only versus “other than dry food only” eaters with regards to their levels of dental tartar, gingivitis, and periodontal bone loss.
 
This 1996 study held sway when I completed veterinary school 15 years ago, but more recent research adds an interesting twist to the debate. A study published in 2007 looked at the effects of the size of the kibble in 40 beagles and found that increasing the kibble size by 50% resulted in a 42% decrease in the accumulation of dental tartar. Also, several recent studies have shown that adding a daily dental chew to the diets of dogs fed “regular” dry dog food results in better oral hygiene than does the dry food alone.
 
Many food manufacturers make special dental diets as well, but if these are not an appropriate option for your dog it is good to know that “regular” dry food in the form of large kibbles and/or a daily dental chew can help keep your dog’s mouth healthier than it would be otherwise. The Veterinary Oral Health Council’s website is a good place to find foods, chews, and other products that have been undergone testing to ensure they truly do help to reduce the build-up of dental plaque and/or tartar.
 
But keep in mind that no food — dry, canned, homemade, prescription, or over the counter — will eliminate the need for regular dental evaluations and cleanings performed by a veterinarian. After all, we brush our teeth twice a day and still see our dentists twice a year … or at least we should.
 

Dr. Jennifer Coates
 
References
 
Correlation of diet, other chewing activities and periodontal disease in North American client-owned dogs. Harvey CE, Shofer FS, Laster L. J Vet Dent. 1996 Sep;13(3):101-5
 
Effect of pellet food size and polyphosphates in preventing calculus accumulation in dogs. Hennet P, Servet E, Soulard Y, Biourge V. J Vet Dent. 2007 Dec;24(4):236-9.
 
Effectiveness of a vegetable dental chew on periodontal disease parameters in toy breed dogs. Clarke DE, Kelman M, Perkins N. J Vet Dent. 2011 Winter;28(4):230-5.
 
Oral health benefits of a daily dental chew in dogs. Quest BW. J Vet Dent. 2013 Summer;30(2):84-7.
 
Image: Erkki Alvenmod / Shutterstock
 


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TheOldBroad Dry vs. Wet 08/04/2014 05:43pm "increasing the kibble size by 50% resulted in a 42% decrease in the accumulation of dental tartar."

Do you think it's because the dogs were forced to chew prior to swallowing? Was any rationale offered for the decrease of tartar? Reply to this comment Report abuse 6 Dr. Jennifer Coates 08/05/2014 08:45pm I do think the larger kibble forced dogs to chew more thereby physically removing more plaque. Reply to this comment Report abuse 4

 

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http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2014/august/dry-food-and-dental-disease-dogs-31920#comments NutritionNuggets Fri, 01 Aug 2014 11:00:00 +0000 31920 at http://www.petmd.com
Feeding Dogs with Congestive Heart Failure http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/vheuer/2014/july/feeding-dogs-congestive-heart-failure-31875 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 Congestive Heart Failure
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I recently came across an estimate for the prevalence of heart disease in older dogs that shocked me — thirty percent. My first reaction was “that can’t be right,” but the more I thought about all those elderly, small dogs with mitral valve dysplasia and large breeds with dilated cardiomyopathy, the more I came to think that 30% might not be all that far off the mark.
 
Given enough time, many dogs with heart disease will go on to develop congestive heart failure (CHF), an end-stage condition characterized by a heart that is unable pump blood efficiently enough to meet the needs of the body. Blood essentially “backs up” within the circulatory system causing fluid to leak out of the vessels and a whole host of other problems.
 
The details of treatment for CHF depend on the primary type of heart disease involved and how advanced the condition is, but diet is always important. Dogs with CHF tend to lose weight. Specifically, they can undergo a process called cardiac cachexia during which both muscle and fat stores are depleted. Cardiac cachexia usually has several causes, including poor appetite, poor absorption of food, increased energy output, and the effects of the medications that many dogs with CHF take.
 
Therefore, the first thing I look for in a diet designed to help a dog with congestive heart failure is yumminess (officially called palatability). If a dog doesn’t relish eating the food, he or she is unlikely to eat enough to stave of cardiac cachexia. Next, I look for digestible, high quality ingredients. Since nutrient absorption can be a problem, we want to make sure that what is present in the food has a decent chance of making it through the intestinal wall.
 
Homemade diets are extremely palatable and allow owners to have complete control over what ingredients they contain. For owners who are willing to cook for their dogs, I strongly encourage a consultation with a veterinary nutritionist who can put together a recipe specifically designed to meet the special nutritional needs of dogs with cardiac cachexia. In general, diets for dogs with CHF have:
 

restricted sodium levels to limit fluid retention
added taurine and L-carnitine, amino acids that in some cases may help support heart function
added B-vitamins and magnesium to counteract the losses that typically occur when dogs are treated for CHF
potassium levels may be higher or lower than normal, depending on a dog’s particular needs

 
If a homemade food is not a reasonable option, I then recommend a high quality canned food that has at least some of the attributes mentioned above. Prescription diets are available that can work well, so long as a dog will eat them (they tend to be rather bland). A dog’s veterinarian can make a specific recommendation based on the particulars of the case. I prefer canned varieties since they often incorporate higher quality ingredients and taste better in comparison to dry, but if a dog prefers dry to canned (or homemade), I won’t argue.
 
After all, it’s almost always better for dogs with congestive heart failure to eat more of a not-exactly-perfect food than less of precisely-what-the-doctor-ordered.
 

Dr. Jennifer Coates
 
Image: dezi / Shutterstock
 


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TheOldBroad CHF 07/18/2014 05:59pm Congestive Heart Failure is scary for any critter. Balancing CHR with a pet needing fluids for kidney failure is a real challenge.

I confess that it never occurred to me to ask about my kitty's diet when she had both. She was eating well so it didn't cross my mind.

This might be a dog blog post, but it sure opened my eyes. Hopefully I'll never need the information, but if I do, it's tucked away in my memory.

P.S. "Yumminess" If it's not a word, it should be! Reply to this comment Report abuse 19 rodrussell Raw meats & vegies 4 CHF! 07/19/2014 06:38pm The average percentage for CHF in our breed is close to 90% for dogs aged over 10 years (if they live that long). Our breed suffers from mitral valve regurgitation (MVD), with over 50% having MVD by age 5 years.

We have been feeding homemade diets consisting of fresh raw muscle and organ meats and vegetables, with the occasional grain, for nearly 20 years. The recipes are well supplemented with products such as those from Standard Process, as well as the "usual suspects" -- CoQ10, Vitamins C and E, and fish oils.

Our diets have been reviewed and tweaked by our holistic vet, as we have no confidence in the independence and/or objectivity of most veterinary nutritionists. I have yet to meet one who did not think corn-based kibble was better than fresh raw meat for protein. It just confirms "where they're coming from", if you get my drift. Reply to this comment Report abuse 17

 

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http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/vheuer/2014/july/feeding-dogs-congestive-heart-failure-31875#comments NutritionNuggets Fri, 18 Jul 2014 11:00:00 +0000 31875 at http://www.petmd.com
Feeding the Dog that Vomits Every Day http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2014/june/feeding-dog-vomits-every-day-31825 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 the Dog that Vomits Every Day
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July 04, 2014 / (1) comments


We spend a lot of time on Nutrition Nuggets talking about what (and what not) to feed our dogs. When dogs have bilious vomiting syndrome, however, when meals occur is even more important than what the meals consist of.
 
The classic symptom of bilious vomiting syndrome is vomiting on an empty stomach. This usually occurs first thing in the morning since most dogs don’t eat throughout the night. Because the dog’s stomach is empty, all that comes up is fluid, mucus, and often some bile, which tinges everything an orangey-brown color. Dogs with bilious vomiting syndrome are normal in all other respects … no diarrhea, weight loss, poor appetite, etc.
 
We don’t know exactly why some dogs develop bilious vomiting syndrome. The most commonly cited theory is that something is amiss with the normal “housekeeping” contractions of the gastrointestinal tract that should occur in between meals. As a result, fluid within the first part of the intestinal tract (the duodenum) moves backwards into the stomach resulting in irritation of the stomach’s lining and vomiting. This explanation has resulted in some veterinarians calling the condition reflux gastritis.
 
Whatever the underlying cause, most dogs with bilious vomiting syndrome respond very well to a simple form of treatment — feeding them their normal food right before bedtime and again first thing in the morning (yes, I mean even before you get a cup of coffee). I do not recommend changing the dog’s food at the same time as the feeding schedule is being modified. As a veterinarian, I prefer to change one thing at a time whenever possible so I can better assess what is working and what is not.
 
If feeding the dog late in the evening and early in the morning doesn’t improve matters, I’ll generally recommend a health work up that consists of blood work, a urinalysis, a fecal examination, and abdominal X-rays to make sure that the dog is truly as healthy as he or she appears to be. In some cases, additional laboratory testing, an abdominal ultrasound, and/or scoping of the GI tract may be in order.
 
When a dog that is suspected of having bilious vomiting syndrome doesn’t get better with more frequent feedings alone and other causes of chronic vomiting have been ruled out, medications can be added to the treatment plan. Some dogs respond to drugs that reduce gastric acidity (e.g., famotidine or omeprazole) while others do better with metoclopramide, a medication that increases the frequency of contractions within the small intestines, or maropitant, a broad spectrum anti-vomiting drug.
 
Even when dogs with bilious vomiting syndrome are treated with medications, they should continue to eat a late evening and early morning meal. If this is inconvenient, an automatic feeder is a worthwhile investment.
 

Dr. Jennifer Coates
 
Image: violetblue / Shutterstock
 


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TheOldBroad Barfing 07/11/2014 04:54pm Funny, while reading this, my first thought was "famotidine."

To make a parallel, think about how we feel when we haven't eating anything for awhile. Our tummy is empty and all those gastric juices usually make us feel queasy. Surely the same goes for dogs! Reply to this comment Report abuse 16

 

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Why Your Dog's Health Depends on Life Stage Diets http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2014/june/why-your-dogs-health-depends-life-stage-diets-31820 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.



Why Your Dog's Health Depends on Life Stage Diets
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June 20, 2014 / (2) comments


One of the most important breakthroughs in canine nutrition came when veterinary nutritionists recognized the different nutritional needs that dogs have as they mature. This may seem fairly self-evident now, but dog owners and veterinarians used to have more of "a dog is a dog is a dog" mentality when it came to feeding our canine friends.
 
What are a Dog’s Life Stages, and What Foods are Available to Meet Them?
 
The first life stage is puppy. During this period a dog food rated for “growth” is needed because it is specifically designed for puppies and kittens according to the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials, which sets standards for pet foods in the United States). These foods have higher levels of protein, fat, calcium, phosphorous, sodium, and chloride, in comparison to adult dog foods, to support a young dog’s rapid growth, metabolism, and development.
 
Most veterinarians recommend that puppies eat dog foods rated for growth until they are around twelve months of age, but talk to your vet to determine what is best in your dog’s individual situation. Once a puppy has reached about 90 percent of its adult size, its growth rate slows and it can be switched to a dog food rated for "adult maintenance."
 
Large breed dogs are at high risk for developmental orthopedic diseases (e.g., hip dysplasia), and feeding a food that maintains a relatively slow and steady growth rate can help prevent these potentially devastating conditions. In comparison to "regular" puppy formulations, large breed puppy foods have lower energy content and fat, slightly lower levels of calcium and phosphorous, and a very carefully balanced calcium:phosphorous ratio to maintain a healthy rate of growth. Don’t worry; dogs fed a large breed puppy food when they are growing still end up at their expected size, it just takes them a little longer to get there.
 
"Adult maintenance" dog foods are the appropriate choice for most adult dogs. Exceptions to the adult foods for adult dogs rule do exist, however. If your dog is pregnant or nursing or has other lifestyle or health conditions that change his or her nutritional needs, consult with your veterinarian.
 
There is no hard and fast rule as to when to make the switch to a "mature adult" food, but many veterinarians recommend that small dogs make the change at eight years of age, medium-sized dogs at around seven years, large breeds at six years, and giant breeds at about five years of age. The differences between an adult and senior food within the same product line are oftentimes not very great but are important. They may contain lower levels of fat to help prevent obesity, increased levels of anti-oxidants, or moderate levels of protein aimed at maintaining muscle mass while not overworking the kidneys. Mature foods should contain decreased levels of phosphorus for kidney health.
 
Feeding a diet that is appropriate for a dog’s life stage — that is made from superior ingredients and that provides balanced nutrition — can go a long way towards keeping him strong and healthy. Consult your veterinarian for the best food to feed your dog at each stage of his life
 

Dr. Jennifer Coates
 
Image: Eric Isselee / via Shutterstock
 


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DiAnPe Dog's diet 06/20/2014 09:07am I am also very concerned with the ingredients in the pet food that I buy. I never buy grocery store food. I look for sources of protein and I stay away from foods that contain artificial coloring or flavoring and by-products (you never know what those by-products are.) Reply to this comment Report abuse 17 TheOldBroad Common Sense 06/20/2014 06:36pm When one sees it in writing, it's just common sense.

And consulting your veterinarian about a specific pet makes the most sense because I understand that there are some breeds that don't reach full maturity until well after being one year old. Reply to this comment Report abuse 16

 

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FDA Issues Another Update on Jerky Pet Treats http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2014/june/fda-issues-another-update-jerky-pet-treats-31750 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.



FDA Issues Another Update on Jerky Pet Treats
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June 06, 2014 / (13) comments


We’ve been following the saga of pet illnesses associated with jerky treats made in China for years now, and I have to say that the latest U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) update is the most concerning yet. It states, in part:
 

As of May 1, 2014, we have received in total more than 4,800 complaints of illness in pets that ate chicken, duck, or sweet potato jerky treats, nearly all of which are imported from China. The reports involve more than 5,600 dogs, 24 cats, three people, and include more than 1,000 canine deaths. The breakdown of symptoms associated with the cases is similar to that of earlier reports: approximately 60 percent of the cases report gastrointestinal/liver disease, 30 percent kidney or urinary disease, with the remaining 10 percent of complaints including various other signs such as neurologic, dermatologic, and immunologic symptoms. About 15 percent of the kidney or urinary cases also tested positive for Fanconi syndrome, a rare kidney disease that has been associated with this investigation.

 
According to NBC News:
 
The humans who consumed the treats included two toddlers who ingested them accidentally and an adult who may have been snacking on the questionable products….
 
One of the children was diagnosed with a salmonella infection, which can be spread by touching contaminated pet food and treats. The other child developed gastrointestinal illness and fever that mirrored the symptoms of dogs in the house that also ate the treats. The adult reported nausea and headache, said Siobhan DeLancey, an FDA spokeswoman.

 
Unfortunately, we don’t seem any closer in determining the cause(s) of all of these illnesses and deaths. The FDA has had the opportunity to perform necropsies (the animal equivalent of autopsies) on 26 dogs who were thought to have died as a result of exposure to jerky treats. Thirteen of these dogs died of unrelated health problems, including “widespread cancer, Cushing’s disease, mushroom toxicity, abscess, or internal bleeding secondary to trauma.” However, eleven dogs had “indications of kidney disease and two involved gastrointestinal disease” that could have been be associated with eating jerky treats.
 
You may have also heard that laboratory testing recently revealed the presence of the drug amantadine in some suspect jerky treats. Amantadine is an antiviral drug that also has pain relieving properties. It has been safely used for years in many species, including dogs, so I doubt that it has had anything to do with these illnesses, but its presence in pet treats raises further questions about the quality control measures employed by Chinese manufacturers.
 
Within days of the FDA’s most recent announcement, two major pet retailers announced that over the course of the next few months, they would join others and stop selling jerky treats made in China. This is good news, as a surprising percentage of pet owners are still unaware of the illnesses and deaths that have been linked to these products. For the sake of all our dogs, cats, and toddlers, please spread the word.
 

Dr. Jennifer Coates
 
Image: Africa Studio / Shutterstock
 


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suebee720@gmail.com It's about time! 06/06/2014 09:08am I can't believe it has taken this long for them to remove these products from their shelves. The FDA should make it mandatory! I'm sure they would if it were human lives being affected. I just don't use any jerky treats anymore because you really don't know where the ingredients come from even though they are made in the USA. Reply to this comment Report abuse 26 lcridesherown My Auzzie Had Seizures 06/06/2014 09:58am My Auzzie suffered Seizures that were so bad we had to put her down this past week . She was only 3 yrs old. There was nothing in her blood nor were there any signs on her brain scan to show why she had seizures so it had to be the jerky treats. She was the only one of my 4 kids that got them because my other kids don't do well on chicken. What am I supposed to think? I wish I could sue the dam company! My poor furbaby! Reply to this comment Report abuse 27 bellaboo112111 06/08/2014 09:27am So sorry about your baby.
I am a co founder of Animal Parents Against Pet Treats Made in China and a victim of Nestle Purina's Waggin Train chicken jerky. My Bella died 11/21/11 after consuming the jerky. I am a plaintiff in the class action lawsuit against Nestle Purina that has been settled on 5/30/14.
We are looking for new victims such as yourself to have your jerky tested no matter what brand it is. If by chance you have any of your jerky left and vet records please contact me and I can direct you as to where to send it to for testing. Please remember you do not need proof that it was the jerky, it just needs to be suspect.
Again, I am so sorry that you have to go through this. Reply to this comment Report abuse 20 lcridesherown 06/10/2014 04:20pm Did you get my replay? I wasn't too sure on how to do this at first when I received your email so I thought ZI would check and see if you got my reply. Reply to this comment Report abuse 19 lcridesherown 06/10/2014 04:23pm P.S> I would love to be added to the suit agains the jerky company that did this to my furbaby.!
Reply to this comment Report abuse 19 lcridesherown 06/12/2014 11:35pm Still waiting to her from you :) Reply to this comment Report abuse 16 LovemyCami 06/22/2014 09:13pm My Bichon Frise just LOVED those chicken jerky strips that I finally realized were from China!! I stopped giving her those about 2 years ago and kept looking for a good replacement. Around January 4014 I found a jerky brand from [i]Pure Ocean Botanicals/The Sakura Tree [/i]from Petaluma, Calif (made in USA), also a month later found a brand from [i]AmericanPetFoodCompany[/i] from Williamsburg, KY--they're called "dog gone chicken wraps". Cami LOVES both of these treats. I hope to God these are safe, good ones. Cami's liver enzyme count has gone up during the last few months...as of last Thursday's blood re-check it was at 404. Her Vet wants to do another round of Amoxicillan 100MG for a month before her annual dental cleaning. I'm extremely concerned about Cami at this point!!! Reply to this comment Report abuse 15 TheOldBroad FDA 06/16/2014 06:37pm What fascinates me is why anyone is still purchasing jerky treats. We wouldn't have to wait for the FDA to ban them if no one bought them. If sales were zero, I have no doubt that the stores wouldn't carry them any more. Reply to this comment Report abuse 19 angelamclean Thank You 06/16/2014 09:45pm Thank you so much for writing about this. Personally, I haven't heard about these recalls. Thank you so much for writing about these issues and illnesses. I have two dogs, and I can't imagine them becoming sick because of treats. It is amazing to me that this many cases have been reported and nothing major has been thus far. I have less and less faith in manufactured dog food. Reply to this comment Report abuse 18 Tariq Hossenbux Buy North American! 06/26/2014 12:03am Buy American or Canadian products. There is too much at risk with our pets. Even chinese people are worried about their standards. Industrial wastewater is used to irrigate crops sometimes, and it's possible that sewage is used to fertilize crops. Your pet's body is small and may not be able to handle the toxins in there. Reply to this comment Report abuse 14 inquisite2014 Recall of Jerky Treats. 06/30/2014 05:21pm Can anyone give out the information necessary to test the treats or what needs to be done. My dog has serious liver disease contracting withing the last month or two and has eaten Trader Joes Chicken recipe jerky sticks. Thank you. Reply to this comment Report abuse 14 Dr. Jennifer Coates 06/30/2014 09:49pm The following page has the information you need (towards the bottom).

http://www.fda.gov/animalveterinary/safetyhealth/productsafetyinformation/ucm295445.htm#Testing_of_Jerky_Pet_Treat_Products Reply to this comment Report abuse 14 danalynng 07/10/2014 06:42pm Can anyone recommend a treat their dog likes that is not a natural treat? Katie does not like the all natural treats. Any suggestions? Thanks. Reply to this comment Report abuse 13

 

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http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2014/june/fda-issues-another-update-jerky-pet-treats-31750#comments NutritionNuggets Fri, 06 Jun 2014 11:00:00 +0000 31750 at http://www.petmd.com
Feeding Dogs with High Blood Fat http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2014/may/feeding-dogs-hyperlipidemia-31721 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 High Blood Fat
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May 23, 2014 / (1) comments


Dogs with hyperlipidemia, also called lipemia, have higher than normal amounts of triglycerides and/or cholesterol in their blood stream. When triglycerides are elevated, a sample of the dog’s blood can look a bit like a strawberry smoothie (sorry for the food reference), while the serum, the liquid part of blood that remains after all the cells have been removed, will have a distinctly milky appearance.
 
Hyperlipidemia can have several causes, the most common of which is a normal physiological response that occurs after a dog has eaten a meal containing moderate to high levels of fat. Blood lipid levels generally fall back into the normal range 6-12 hours after eating. Therefore, the first thing a veterinarian will do when faced with a dog with hyperlipidemia is to repeat the testing on a sample of blood that was unquestionably taken after a 12 hour fast.
 
If hyperlipidemia persists despite fasting, my next step is to rule out other diseases that can cause fat levels in the blood to rise. Diabetes mellitus, Cushing’s disease, pancreatitis, hypothyroidism, and a type of kidney disease that causes protein to be lost into the urine are the most common primary diseases that can result in hyperlipidemia. Adequately controlling the primary problem in these cases will usually take care of the hyperlipidemia as well.
 
Retesting a fasted serum sample and a thorough health work-up to rule out other diseases will eliminate most cases of hyperlipidemia … unless the dog in question in a schnauzer. This breed is predisposed to a condition called idiopathic hyperlipidemia. “Idiopathic” simply means that we’re not sure of the cause, though in this case an inherited deficiency in lipoprotein lipase, an enzyme needed for normal lipid metabolism, is suspected. Other breeds can also be affected by idiopathic hyperlipidemia, but it is seen at a much lower rate.
 
Some dogs with hyperlipidemia have no clinical signs while others become quite sick. Symptoms of hyperlipidemia can include:
 

loss of appetite
vomiting
diarrhea
abdominal pain
eye disorders
skin problems
abnormal behavior
seizures

 
Dogs with hyperlipidemia are at higher than average risk for a very serious form of pancreatitis, so fat levels in the blood should be reduced even if the dog is currently asymptomatic.
 
Dietary changes are at the center of treating idiopathic hyperlipidemia. Mild cases may respond to over the counter low fat dog foods, but more significantly affected individuals will benefit from eating one of the very fat restricted diets that are available by prescription only. Since fat plays an important role in palatability, getting dogs to eat these foods can be challenging. When this is a problem, feeding the dog a home-prepared diet based on a recipe formulated by a veterinary nutritionist will usually do the trick.
 
If dietary changes alone aren’t sufficient, omega-3 fatty acid supplements, niacin (a type of B-vitamin), or chitin (a fiber supplement that comes from shellfish) are worth a try. Some veterinarians will also prescribe gemfibrozil, a drug that can reduce the body’s production of tryglicerides and other fats, but clinical experience with the medication is very limited.
 

Dr. Jennifer Coates
 
Image: Jaromir Chalabala / Shutterstock
 


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TheOldBroad Fat! 05/30/2014 04:59pm A sudden intake of fat can certainly cause problems in cats so I assume it's probably the same for dogs.

I know a kitty that got into a bowl of hamburger grease. (The owner had put it in a container and set it in the sink to solidify before throwing it out.) The cat had a real feast until lipidosis set in. Poor kitty even had grease on his whiskers and didn't feel well enough to clean them off. The cat almost died.

The human is very, very careful about grease now.

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http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2014/may/feeding-dogs-hyperlipidemia-31721#comments NutritionNuggets Fri, 23 May 2014 11:00:00 +0000 31721 at http://www.petmd.com
“How Much” is As Important As “What” Your Dog Eats http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2014/may/how-much-important-what-your-dog-eats-31651 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 Much” is As Important As “What” Your Dog Eats
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May 09, 2014 / (1) comments


Nutritional deficiencies were common back when dogs were fed table scraps supplemented by whatever they could scrounge. All that changed with the advent of commercially prepared, complete and balanced dog foods. Now, nutritional excess is enemy number one … specifically, an excess of calories.
 
Determining just how much food dogs should be eating is not simple, however. Calculations must take into account their size, metabolic rate, the amount of exercise they typically get, the environment they live in, and, of course, the caloric content of all the foods they eat. Mathematical formulas can only give you a ballpark figure, which is why the feeding guides on pet food labels are limited in their helpfulness.
 
(Note: Click the charts to see the larger image.)
 
They are typically presented as charts that look something like this for a dry food:
 

 
… or this for a canned food:
 

 
These recommendations are far from precise and are only a starting point. I generally recommend that owners begin by feeding on the low end of the range given for their pet’s weight, for these two reasons:
 

Pet food manufacturers have an economic interest in encouraging us to overfeed our dogs.
Most dogs could stand to lose a few pounds.

 
Feed the amount you’ve selected for 2-4 weeks and then start monitoring which way your dog’s weight is moving. If you have ready access to a scale, regular “weigh-ins” are the simplest way to determine if you need to feed a little more, a little less, or if you’re right on target. If this is not practical, then aim to keep your dog at his or her ideal body condition. Most breeds should:
 

have an “hourglass” figure when looked down upon from above. The abdomen should be narrower than the chest and hips (you can click here to see a body condition chart)
be “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

 
Reassess your dog’s weight and/or body condition frequently throughout the year as his or her caloric needs fluctuate and, of course, whenever you start feeding a different food. Adjust how much you offer based on your findings. Catching weight gain early allows us to easily address it with just small changes in the amount of food we offer.
 

Dr. Jennifer Coates
 
Image: Javier Brosch / Shutterstock
 


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TheOldBroad How Much 05/09/2014 05:14pm I confess that it bothers me a little when I see or hear something about "cut down the amount Fido gets" because Fido might still be really hungry.

I know how it feels and it's not pleasant. However, with humans, we understand why we're hungry. When a critter is hungry and doesn't know why, the guilt creeps in. Reply to this comment Report abuse 32

 

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http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2014/may/how-much-important-what-your-dog-eats-31651#comments NutritionNuggets Fri, 09 May 2014 11:00:00 +0000 31651 at http://www.petmd.com
Are Life Stage Dog Foods Credible? http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2014/april/debate-over-all-life-stage-dog-foods-31604 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 Life Stage Dog Foods Credible?
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April 25, 2014 / (2) comments


Recently, a reader posted a comment in response to an old post about life stage feeding. In part it said:
 

Life stage feeding is nothing but clever marketing. A quality food formulated for "all life stages" (in other words — a food which adheres to the more stringent "growth" nutrient profile set forth by AAFCO) is sufficient in most cases.

 
For those of you who are unaware of the minutiae of pet food labeling, manufacturers have to meet a set of standards published by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) to be allowed to print statements like the following on their labels:
 
Animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate that Brand A adult dog food provides complete and balanced nutrition for maintenance of adult dogs.

 
Dog foods can be placed into one of three categories — adult maintenance, growth and reproduction, or all life stages.
 
Now, to get back to the aforementioned comment. The standards for growth and reproduction are not “more stringent” than are those for adult maintenance, inferring that the latter are somehow inferior. In fact, it could be said that the adult maintenance standards are more stringent in that for many nutrients, minimums and maximums are dictated while only minimums growth and reproduction foods only have to adhere to a set of minimums. All life stages foods have to meet both sets of parameters, which isn’t as hard as it might sound when you actually take a look at the table.
 
This is what it looks like, courtesy of the Merck Veterinary Manual.
 

(Click image for larger view)
 
At the beginning of the comment, the writer specifically brings up the topic of protein. In fact, I agree that with regards to this nutrient, feeding a growth and reproduction or all life stages food to a healthy, adult dog would be just fine. High-quality adult maintenance, growth and reproduction, and all life stages foods will all have more than the 22% minimum protein put forth by AAFCO for growth and reproduction.
 
AAFCO standards are simply a floor beneath which pet foods cannot fall if they are to carry a “complete and balanced” statement on their labels. Highly regarded manufacturers go much further, fine-tuning their diets to optimize nutrition for specific populations.
 
For example, the AAFCO minimum for a food’s calcium to phosphorous ratio is 1:1 with a maximum of 2:1 added for adult maintenance and all life stages foods. Research has shown that to help avoid developmental orthopedic diseases like hip dysplasia, the ideal ratio is 1:1 to 1.3:1 for large breed puppies. Large breed puppy foods are formulated to meet this more restrictive ratio, even though AAFCO has nothing to say on the matter at all.
 
This is one instance when life stage feeding is far more than “clever marketing.”
 

Dr. Jennifer Coates
 
 
Image: WilleeCole Photography / Shutterstock
 


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TheOldBroad Large Breed Puppies 04/25/2014 06:23pm "Large breed puppy foods are formulated to meet this more restrictive ratio"

I surmise from this sentence that for optimal health, one should feed according to not only life stages, but the type of dog.

Nutrition is a very complicated subject! Reply to this comment Report abuse 30 Tariq Hossenbux Life Stages 05/02/2014 08:11pm If you are using a super premium quality food I don't think you have anything to worry about with using an all life stages food. They are so packed with nutrition that it would be hard for the dog to be nutrient deficient, and thoroughly tested by their manufacturers. When it comes to large breed and small breed stuff people in the industry have even told me openly that it is just marketing. Reply to this comment Report abuse 23

 

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http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2014/april/debate-over-all-life-stage-dog-foods-31604#comments NutritionNuggets Fri, 25 Apr 2014 11:00:00 +0000 31604 at http://www.petmd.com
Nutrition's Role in Treating Kidney Disease in Dogs http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2014/april/nutritions-role-treating-canine-kidney-disease-31564 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.



Nutrition's Role in Treating Kidney Disease in Dogs
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April 11, 2014 / (8) comments


Chronic kidney disease (also known as renal disease) is an irreversible and progressive loss of kidney function that ultimately results in illness and death. It is most common in older pets, but can occur at any age. Even though the disease is progressive, appropriate treatment helps many dogs live comfortably for several months to years.
 
In the past, even with medical treatment that consisted of controlling high blood pressure, the loss of protein through the urine, and hyperparathyroidism (resulting in an imbalance of calcium and phosphorus), dogs were likely to die shortly after diagnosis. However, numerous studies now show that feeding these patients a therapeutic renal diet is the most successful tool in managing chronic kidney disease in dogs. Kidney diets help to reduce the progression of the disease and prolong survival times.
 
Several nutrients are important in the dietary management of chronic kidney disease:
 
1) Phosphorus – a mineral that is consumed in the diet and needed for all living cells in the body. It is present mostly in the bones and teeth, less so in soft tissues and extracellular fluids. It is excreted from the body through the urine. Studies show that restriction of phosphorus in dogs with Stage 3 (out of 4) kidney disease increases survival time.
2) Protein – Two schools of thought have duked it out with regards this nutrient.
Reduced protein diets result in less nitrogenous waste that needs to be excreted by the kidneys and lower phosphorus levels (because protein contributes to increased phosphorus levels).
Increased or normal levels of good quality protein help to maintain lean body mass (and maintain strength, coordination and good immunity) and have no adverse effects on life expectancy as long as phosphorus intake is restricted. Current recommendations are to provide adequate, good quality protein and reduced phosphorus levels.
3) Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids – essential fatty acids that are not made in the body and need to be present in the diet. In particular, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are omega-3 fatty acids that help reduce inflammation and reduce glomerular hypertension (glomeruli are part of the kidneys), consequently improving kidney function. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are most abundant in fish oil.
4) Antioxidants – substances that help neutralize free radicals. If not dealt with, free radicals can cause significant cellular injury and produce more free radicals. Renal diets that have both omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants combined are better at slowing the progression of chronic kidney disease than either one alone.
5) Fermentable Fiber – adding this type of fiber to the diet promotes the excretion of nitrogen in the feces and allows dogs to consume adequate amounts of protein. Renal diets that are supplemented with fiber from beet pulp, fructooligosaccharide, and gum arabic help increase the number of intestinal bacteria, which draws urea (a nitrogen-containing waste product) into the feces.
 
Multiple studies show that in dogs with Stage 3 kidney disease, renal diets are superior to regular maintenance diets in slowing the progression of chronic kidney disease and prolong survival time. In one study, 70 percent of dogs on a renal diet survived three times longer than did dogs who ate a maintenance diet.
 
Dogs should only be switched to a renal diet once any dehydration, nausea and vomiting has been corrected. If a dog feels sick when offered a new food, he may associate the new food with the illness and develop an aversion to it. A veterinarian familiar with the details of a dog’s case is in the best position to recommend a particular food and how best to make the transition to it.
 

Dr. Jennifer Coates
 
References:

Sanderson, S.L. Nutritional Management of Renal Disease: An Evidence-Based Approach. Today’s Veterinary Practice. 2014, Jan/Feb. 
Vaden, S.L. Can We Halt Progression of Renal Disease? Presented at the British Small Animal Veterinary Congress, Raleigh, N.C. 2007.

 
Image: Thinkstock
 


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TheOldBroad Sub-Q LRS 04/11/2014 05:35pm Would dogs with kidney disease benefit from sub-q LRS like cats do? Reply to this comment Report abuse 23 Dr. Jennifer Coates 04/13/2014 10:38pm Sub-Q fluids are an important part of treating both canine and feline chronic kidney disease. Reply to this comment Report abuse 21 Tasmyn Puppy with Parvovirus 04/30/2014 04:17pm Hi recently our 5 month old puppy had Parvovirus and fortunately pushed through. I would like to find out if the kidneys can be affected due to the virus being in the digestive tract. If so would this diet help with any after effects. Reply to this comment Report abuse 12 Dr. Jennifer Coates 05/01/2014 02:56pm Most dogs recover from parvovirus without longterm damage to any of their organs. It is possible that the kidneys could be adversely affected, for instance if the dog's blood pressure became very low at any point, but as long as blood work and a urinalysis is normal, there would be no benefit to feeding a "kidney" diet anyway. Reply to this comment Report abuse 14 14023581 Prevention 05/04/2014 03:41pm Are there any other ways except nutrition that could help to prevent chronic kidney disease? Just for interest, could a person replace a dogs kidney to prevent further infection? Reply to this comment Report abuse 13 Dr. Jennifer Coates 05/05/2014 03:30pm It's hard to say since there are so many potential variables at play (genetics, kidney trauma, etc.). At specific times there are things that can be done to protect the kidneys, for example maintaining adequate blood pressure with IV fluid therapy during anesthetic events, but those are relatively rare.

Kidney transplants are possible, but still fairly experimental in dogs. Reply to this comment Report abuse 12 GloryBe Kidney Disease dog food 06/16/2014 03:58pm Three weeks ago my 9 year old female lab got into Advil. She was hospitalized for two nights. Other than drinking and peeing a lot more she seems perfectly fine. Her creatin levels are at 2.4. I have seen the posts about diet and am very confused. I have always fed her (68 lb. labrador) high-quality dry dog food but I can't tell if I need to switch supplemented with no-salt green beans from the grocery store. Is there a commercial food out on the market that you could recommend? I don't think I am up for cooking her meals - just trying to be realistic. Is wet better than dry so that she gets more moisture? I have tried evaluating/comparing phosphorous levels but am having a hard time understanding as each company seems to report it differently. Also, are there any supplements, homeopathic remedies that would help support her? Reply to this comment Report abuse 10 Dr. Jennifer Coates 06/16/2014 04:35pm I can't make specific recommendations since I'm not familiar with the details of your dog's case. Your vet is in the best position to do this. Did he or she recommend a prescription diet? If so, go with this, at least in the short term. In general, all other things being equal, canned diets are best for dogs with questionable kidney function. Reply to this comment Report abuse 10

 

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http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2014/april/nutritions-role-treating-canine-kidney-disease-31564#comments NutritionNuggets Fri, 11 Apr 2014 11:00:00 +0000 31564 at http://www.petmd.com
Feeding the Critically Sick, Injured, or Recovering Dog http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2014/march/feeding-critically-sick-or-injured-dog-31477 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 the Critically Sick, Injured, or Recovering Dog
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March 28, 2014 / (3) comments


We all know that good medicine helps to bring a return of good health, but good nutrition is just as important.
 
Dogs who are fighting their way through a critical illness, have had extensive surgery, or have sustained a major injury need calories and nutrients to recover optimally. When nutritional needs are not met, dogs enter into a negative energy state and begin to lose lean body mass in the form of protein from muscle tissue. This is because sick animals cannot make the adaptive responses necessary to utilize fat for energy like healthy animals do. This negative energy balance can also result in digestive tract dysfunction, organ dysfunction, poor immunity, poor wound healing, and possibly death.
 
Critical care diets have been developed to deliver the nutrients that recovering animals need. They are:
 

highly palatable (tasty)
highly digestible (little waste produced)
nutritionally dense (a little goes a long way)
have added electrolytes (e.g., potassium) for replacement of losses

 
Critical care diets have increased calories, protein, and fat, and reduced carbohydrate levels as compared to maintenance diets. They are meant to be fed during states of illness and recovery and not for long term feeding. However, in the severely ill dog, or when there is an “end-of-life” situation, continued feeding of a critical care diet may help deal with appetite loss and ward off a quicker decline that comes with inadequate nutrition.
 
Enteral feeding (through the digestive tract) is the best way for dogs to receive their nutrition. If the patient will eat, oral feeding is the way to go. Appetite stimulants and anti-nausea medications can help improve the appetite. If the dog will not eat and the digestive tract is healthy, a feeding tube should be placed. Long term feeding is possible through a feeding tube. In rare cases, severe digestive tract dysfunction may necessitate parenteral feeding. This means the dog will receive a sterile mixture of basic nutrients through a central intravenous line directly into the bloodstream.
 
Two types of critical care diets can be used for enteral feeding:
 
1) Liquid or modular diets

Made up of small molecules (e.g., small peptides, medium and long chain fatty acids, mono/di/tri-saccharides)
Easier to use with small-diameter feeding tubes
May cause diarrhea
More expensive

 
2) Blended foods

More palatable
Less expensive
Less likely to cause diarrhea
Must be thinned with water and blended well to reduce the risk of clogging the feeding tube

 
Many manufacturers make critical care diets. Veterinarians tend to have a favorite brand, usually one that they have had success with in the past, but if that product isn’t working for a particular individual other brands should be given a try.
 
Veterinary nutrition has seen many advances in recent years. Critical care diets are a great help when it comes to providing optimal nutrition for recovering pets.
 

Dr. Jennifer Coates
 
Reference
Freeman, L.M. (2012) Critical Care Nutrition. Presented at the 64th Convention of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, Montreal QB, Canada.
 
Image: Thinkstock
 


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TheOldBroad Critical Care Diets 03/28/2014 04:47pm I'm a firm believer that when there is no cure, the critter should eat whatever it would like. I know that critical care diets cannot be fed in lieu of a maintenance diet, but if any meal might be a "last meal," they should have anything they want.

What little experience I've had with stomach tubes makes me think they're pretty nifty. I once baby-sat a cat that had a stomach tube during chemo treatments and it was quite simple and the cat was happy as a clam.

Do you think it would make a difference if the animal was high-energy and could possibly dislodge the cap on the tube? (Of course, the high-energy part would probably be unlikely since the critter must be pretty sick to have a stomach tube.) Reply to this comment Report abuse 20 Dr. Jennifer Coates 04/08/2014 11:22am I've always been able to bandage feeding tubes in such a way that even when the patients are feeling better and their activity levels increase, the tubes stay put... most of the time, at least. Reply to this comment Report abuse 20 CatNurse Care of feeding tubes 04/21/2014 12:11pm Hello, I am a CVT who works with people all time that have pets with feeding tubes. I recently published a book entitled The Feel Better Book for Cats & Dogs - Nursing Care for All Life Stages. Included in the book is a chapter (written with the help of a veterinary internal medicine specialist and her technician) devoted to in home care of feeding tubes and detailed instruction on feeding. The entire book has been reviewed for content by multiple veterinarians and contains info on other aspects of nursing care including feeding, medicating, good hygiene, encouraging water consumption and giving SC fluids, first aid, senior care, end of life decisions and very importantly - when to seek veterinary care. Thank you for letting me pass this information on to you and your readers. Also, I love the topics you write about! Reply to this comment Report abuse 15

 

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