http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/rss en Helping Dogs Lose Weight - There is a Better Way http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2016/january/helping-dogs-lose-weight-there-better-way-33468 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.



Helping Dogs Lose Weight - There is a Better Way










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January 29, 2016 / (1) comments


The latest results of the National Pet Obesity Awareness Day Survey are depressing. It estimated that

17.6% of US dogs (13.9 million individuals) are obese (a body condition score of 5 out of 5)
35.1 % of US dogs (29.9 million individuals) are overweight (a body condition score of 4 out of 5)

 
In other words, over half of the dogs in the United States are overweight or obese.
 
Owners of overweight dogs often wonder about the best way to help them lose weight and regain their health. A new study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association reveals that combining a “dietary weight loss program” with a “controlled exercise plan” helps dogs lose weight while preventing a loss of lean body mass. In and of itself, these results aren’t that surprising, but the details are quite interesting.
 
Overweight, sedentary dogs were recruited by advertisement in local newspapers, by distribution of pamphlets at the University Hospital for Companion Animals at the University of Copenhagen, and by referral from local veterinary clinics. Dogs eligible for inclusion were medium- to large-breed dogs (body weight, 15 to 55 kg [33 to 121 lb]) and 2 to 13 years of age with a BCS ≥ 6 on a 9-point scale.
 
Following enrollment in the 12-week weight loss program, dogs were assigned to the FD [fitness and diet] group or the DO [diet only] group solely on the basis of owner preference. Dogs in the FD group were exercised 3 times/wk at the university hospital [The general exercise protocol consisted of 30 minutes on the underwater treadmill and 30 minutes on the land-based treadmill], and owners were encouraged to increase each dog's daily activity level at home. Owners of dogs in the DO group were instructed not to change their dog's daily exercise routines during the study period, but that any spontaneous increase in the dog's activity should not be restricted.
 
During the study period, all dogs were fed a commercial low-fat, high-protein, dry diet…. The aim was to achieve a weight loss rate of approximately 1.5%/wk. The dogs were weighed every other week, at which time compliance with the feeding plan was discussed with the owner, and if weight loss was < 1% or > 2%, the dog's daily feeding allowance was adjusted (increased or decreased) by 10%.
 
Here are the results:

Mean weight loss was 13.9% in the fitness and diet group.
Mean weight loss was 12.9% in the diet only group.

 
Not a big difference, right? But the fitness and diet group maintained their lean body mass while it declined in the diet only group. The take home message here is that diet is the key to weight loss in dogs, but exercise combined with diet will help them lose fat rather than muscle, and isn’t that our real goal?
 
 

Dr. Jennifer Coates
 
 
Reference
 
Integration of a physical training program in a weight loss plan for overweight pet dogs. Vitger AD, Stallknecht BM, Nielsen DH, Bjornvad CR. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2016 Jan 15;248(2):174-82.
 



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peterga Overfeeding 01/29/2016 11:48am Most likely probably the most apparent and well-known trigger of [url=https://dog-treatment.net/what-would-be-the-causes-of-obesity-in-dogs/]canine obesity[/url] is overfeeding. The dog owner is not conscious from the wholesome and correct meal portions that ought to become provided to a dog and how often they’re provided. It's so easy to serve up a little extra for the dog and not think it’ll do any harm, but this habit becomes the norm and much more than time will add weight for the dog. Some dog owners also feed their pooch as and as soon as they please, which could exceed the normal two meal every day recommendation. Specific exceptions like obtaining puppies or maybe a pregnant or lactating bitch may require numerous meal portions along with a rise inside the quantity of meals every day. But as a typical rule and unless advised otherwise by your vet, you have to stick with 1 meal inside the morning and 1 meal inside the evening.

Dogs possess a tendency to beg their way into their owner’s hearts. This could lead to owners supplying in towards the soulful eyes and feeding their dog anytime they sulk or beg for meals. Try to not give in unless you are told otherwise for healthcare elements and within the occasion you suspect a problem with diet plan strategy, get in touch together with your vet straight away.
Regards
Peter Reply to this comment Report abuse 1

 

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What’s the Difference Between Adult Dog Food and Puppy Food? http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2016/january/whats-difference-between-adult-dog-food-and-puppy-food Nutrition Nuggets is the newest offshoot of petMD's Dog Nutrition Center. Each week Dr. Coates will use her expertise and wisdom to blog about the intricacies of dog nutrition.



What’s the Difference Between Adult Dog Food and Puppy Food?










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January 15, 2016 / (0) comments


A lot of what you see on a pet food label is marketing. Pictures of handsome dogs or appealing foods and even words like “holistic,” “ancestral,” “instinctual,” or “premium” have no bearing on what’s inside. But there are important differences between foods designed for adult dogs and puppies.
 
Reputable manufacturers produce foods that follow the guidelines put forth by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). The following table compares the AAFCO minimum requirements for a variety of vital nutrients:
 

 
Puppies need to eat more in the way of protein (including higher concentrations of specific amino acids), fat, and certain minerals than do adult dogs. Additionally, many manufacturers provide higher amounts of nutrients that are not regulated by AAFCO in their puppy foods. Good examples are the omega-3 fatty acids that have been shown to promote healthy brain and eye development in young animals.
 
The caloric density of foods designed for adults and puppies can also be very different. Growth and development take a lot of energy, so puppies need to take in more calories than do adult dogs of a similar size.
 
Large breed puppies have an extra consideration. They are at higher than average risk for developmental orthopedic diseases (e.g., hip and elbow dysplasia). Overly rapid growth appears to be an important factor in determining which individuals develop these conditions and which do not. Large breed puppy foods are slightly lower in fat, contain a little less calcium and phosphorus, and have a carefully balanced calcium to phosphorus ratio to help these dogs grow at a healthier rate.
 
When puppies have reached approximately 80% of their expected adult size, they can usually be switched to an adult dog food. This happens at different times for different individuals. Extremely small dogs (e.g., Chihuahuas, Miniature Pinschers, and Toy Poodles) reach this point first, usually at around 9 or 10 months of age. Medium sized dogs should eat puppy food until they are about 12 months old, and large and giant breeds should continue until they are 12-16 months old.
 
Puppies are at risk for nutritional deficiencies if they eat a diet designed for adults. Some adults (particularly athletic individuals or females who are pregnant or lactating) can thrive on the higher concentrations of protein, fat, and other nutrients found in puppy food, but most should be switched to an adult food when the time is right. Not doing so can increase the chances that your dog will become overweight or obese.
 
Talk to your veterinarian if you have any questions about which food is right for your dog.
 
 

Dr. Jennifer Coates
 



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How to Compare Pet Food Nutrient Profiles: Part 2 http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2016/january/how-compare-pet-food-nutrient-profiles-part-2-333-33383 Nutrition Nuggets is the newest offshoot of petMD's Dog Nutrition Center. Each week Dr. Coates will use her expertise and wisdom to blog about the intricacies of dog nutrition.



How to Compare Pet Food Nutrient Profiles: Part 2










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January 08, 2016 / (2) comments


Last week we talked about how veterinarians typically compare the nutrient profiles of pet foods. It involves a lot of math, conversions, and some estimation… not ideal, to say the least. Today, let’s look at another method. It’s a relatively new approach (at least for me), but is a bit more user-friendly.
 
No matter what type of food you offer, your goal is to provide the number of calories necessary to maintain a healthy body weight. So, let’s say you are switching your 60 pound, neutered dog from a dry to a canned food with the primary purpose of increasing his protein intake. He is currently taking in 1400 calories a day and he is still going to need 1400 calories worth of his new food to maintain his weight despite the fact that the volume and weight of his meals are going to change dramatically.
 
Dr. Justin Shmalberg, Diplomate ACVM, describes how we can compare foods on a per-calorie basis:
 
Step 1 – Add 1.5% to the protein percentage and 1% to the fat percentage from the pet food label
Step 2 – Divide kcal/kg by 10,000 (also on the label)
Step 3 – Divide estimated protein % and fat % by number obtained in Step 2 to get the result in grams/1000 kcal
 
Here’s an example of how it works. Let’s compare the protein percentages of Dry Dog Food A and Canned Dog Food B.
 
Dry Dog Food A
3589 kcal/kg
 




Crude Protein, minimum


24.0%




Crude Fat, minimum


12.0%




Crude Fiber, maximum


4.0%




Moisture, maximum


10.0%




 
Canned Dog Food B
960 kcal/kg
 




Crude Protein, minimum


8.00%




Crude Fat, minimum


3.00%




Crude Fiber, maximum


1.50%




Moisture, maximum


84.00%




 
Using the steps outlined above…
 
Dry Dog Food A
 
Step 1 – 24% + 1.5% = 25.5%
Step 2 – 3589 / 10,000 = 0.3589
Step 3 – 25.5 / 0.3589 = 71 g protein/1000 kcal
 
Canned Dog Food B
 
Step 1 – 8% + 1.5% = 9.5% protein
Step 2 – 950/10,000=0.095
Step 3 – 9.5 / .095 = 100 g protein/1000 kcal
 
Therefore, the canned food in this comparison is significantly higher in protein than is the dry.
 
You’ll still have to calculate the estimated carbohydrate percentage of any pet foods you are interested in since this number does not have to be reported on the label. See last week’s post to learn how to do this. Once you have that information in hand, you can use steps 2 and 3 to compare the carbohydrate percentages of different foods.
 
Handy, eh?
 

Dr. Jennifer Coates
 
 
Resource
Shmalberg, DVM, Diplomate ACVN. Beyond the Guaranteed Analysis, Comparing Pet Foods. Today’s Veterinary Practice. January/February 2013.



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TheOldBroad Protein Intake 01/08/2016 08:31pm Would there be a medical reason to increase a pet's protein intake or would that be primarily for working dogs and expend a great deal of energy? Reply to this comment Report abuse 4 Dr. Jennifer Coates 01/11/2016 05:38pm Primarily the latter, but there are a few health conditions that benefit from a higher than normal protein intake Reply to this comment Report abuse 2

 

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How to Compare Pet Food Nutrient Profiles: Part 1 http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2016/january/how-compare-pet-food-nutrient-profiles-part-1-33377 Nutrition Nuggets is the newest offshoot of petMD's Dog Nutrition Center. Each week Dr. Coates will use her expertise and wisdom to blog about the intricacies of dog nutrition.



How to Compare Pet Food Nutrient Profiles: Part 1










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January 01, 2016 / (1) comments


Is improving your pet’s health and nutrition part of your New Year’s resolution? If so, you’re eventually going to find yourself comparing pet foods. This is not as easy as you might think. Today, let’s review the essentials of how most veterinarians and owners currently compare one food to another.
 
First of all, you want to make sure that any foods you are considering are appropriate for your pet’s life stage and health status. Protein may be your primary interest, but you need to make sure that what you are feeding is nutritionally complete and balanced.
 
Once you have a group of potentially appropriate foods, look at their guaranteed analyses. They should list the minimum crude protein percentage, minimum crude fat percentage, maximum crude fiber percentage, and maximum moisture percentage. Moisture may be omitted if the guaranteed analysis is presented on a dry matter basis (more on this later).
 
A guaranteed analysis will also sometimes include a maximum value for ash. If it is not present, you can estimate that canned food is around 3% while kibble is around 6% ash. Carbohydrate levels do not have to be provided but are easily calculated since once you add up protein, fat, fiber, moisture, and ash, the only thing left is carbohydrate.
 
Here’s an example taken from the label of a canned dog food.
 
Crude Protein (min): 8%
Crude Fat (min): 6%
Crude Fiber (max): 1.5%
Moisture (max): 78%
Ash (estimated): 3%
 
Therefore, this food’s carb content is 100 – (8 + 6 + 1.5 + 78 + 3) = 3.5%. These calculations aren’t going to be exact since we are dealing with minimums and maximums and sometimes an estimate for ash, but it’ll get you into the ballpark.
 
But now we run into a problem. Some pet food manufacturers report their guaranteed analyses on an “as fed” basis. This means just as the product comes out of the bag, can, etc. Other companies use a “dry matter” basis, meaning after water has been removed. You can’t directly compare guaranteed analyses that are reported on an “as fed” and “dry matter” basis.
 
You also can’t directly compare “as fed” guaranteed analyses for foods with very different moisture percentages (e.g., dry versus canned food). To get these products on an equal footing, you’ll need to convert all the guaranteed analyses you are looking at to “dry matter.” Here’s how.
 

Find the percent moisture and subtract that number from 100. This is the percent dry matter for the food.


Divide each nutrient percentage by the percent dry matter for the food and multiply by 100.


The resulting number is the nutrient percentage on a dry matter basis.

 
Confused? Don’t worry, next week we’ll be discussing a whole different way to approach pet food comparison over on Nutrition Nuggets for Cats. Hope to see you there.
 
 

Dr. Jennifer Coates
 



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TheOldBroad Confused 01/08/2016 08:29pm Yes, I'm completely confused.

I've usually had to deal with picky eaters and right now I have a couple that are not food motivated at all.

While I struggle with reading ingredient lists on cat food and lean heavily toward the foods I hope are good for them, I figure if they're healthy, happy and have a glossy coat, I must be doing something right.

And who knew there would be a post on New Year's Day?!? Reply to this comment Report abuse 2

 

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Canned Dog Food – Expensive But Worth It? http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2015/december/canned-dog-food-%E2%80%93-expensive-but-worth-it-33367 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.



Canned Dog Food – Expensive But Worth It?










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December 18, 2015 / (2) comments


Most owners feed their dogs dry food. The benefits of kibble are hard to overlook.
 
Convenience — Dry food can be left out in a bowl for long periods of time without becoming rancid or contaminated with bacteria. Owners can even load up an automatic feeder and more or less forget about it for days at a time. Canned food should be discarded if it hasn’t been eaten in a couple of hours and opened cans need to be covered and refrigerated before being used in the next meal.
 
Cost — Canned dog food is more expensive than dry… and I mean WAY more expensive. Take a look at this comparison. I used a major pet food manufacturer’s high quality, chicken-based dry and canned products available through a large pet supplier and pretended I was feeding a 60# dog the average of the amount range recommended on the label.
 
This dog should eat 3.8 cans per day. The food is being offered at $23.90 per case (12 cans). The cost of feeding this dog canned food is ($23.90/12) x 3.8 = $7.57/day.
In comparison, the manufacturer recommends that a 60 pound dog eat approximately 3 ½ cups or 358 grams of dry food per day. A 30 pound (13607.8 gram) bag of this food is available for $39.99. The cost of feeding this dog dry food is $39.99/(13607.8 g/358g) = $1.05/day.
 
In this case, you would end up spending more than seven times as much feeding your dog canned versus dry food.
 
Don’t get me wrong. Canned food is a superior choice is certain cases:
 

Canned diets do not have to contain preservatives since the canning process makes them unnecessary. If your dog has a dietary sensitivity to the preservatives commonly used to make dry dog food, canned diets are an excellent way to avoid them. Canned dog foods also do not typically contain artificial flavors or colors, so the same reasoning could apply, although manufacturers are now making more dry diets with only natural flavors and colors.


Dry foods must contain relatively high carbohydrate levels, otherwise the kibble will not hold together. If you are looking for a very low carbohydrate (and therefore high protein and/or high fat) diet for your dog, canned is the way to go.


The biggest difference between canned and dry foods is their water content. In general, dry foods are made up of around 10% water while canned diets are typically in the range of 68-78% water. This high water content can be helpful when managing certain health conditions, like obesity (it helps dogs feel full on fewer calories), kidney disease, bladder stones, and dental/oral diseases.


Many dogs simply prefer the taste of canned food. If keeping your dog’s weight up at a healthy level is difficult on a dry diet, the solution may be as simple as switching to canned.

 
But let’s say your dog seems to be doing well on a dry food. Is it worth the expense of switching to canned as some people recommend? Unfortunately there simply isn’t any definitive evidence either way. If the added expense and inconvenience is simply not a concern for you, why not give it a try and see if you notice any changes in your dog’s wellbeing… and please report back to us here!
 
 

Dr. Jennifer Coates
 



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TheOldBroad 'Fridge 12/21/2015 05:43pm Don't know about dogs, but I have yet to meet a cat that will eat canned food that has been in the 'fridge - even if it's warmed a bit before serving.

Will most dogs eat canned food if it's "leftover" from the previous meal? Reply to this comment Report abuse 4 Dr. Jennifer Coates 12/22/2015 07:15pm Yes, most dogs will eat "leftovers." Just another way cats and dogs are different! Reply to this comment Report abuse 3

 

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Large Breed Dogs — Diet Can Help With Loose Stools http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2015/december/large-breed-dogs-diet-can-help-loose-stools-33336 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.



Large Breed Dogs — Diet Can Help With Loose Stools










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December 04, 2015 / (3) comments


I recently ran across a paper presented at the 2015 American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) conference that might explain a couple of cases I had a while back where I couldn’t pinpoint the reason for the dogs having loose stools.
 
The first dog was a female, spayed Great Dane—around three years old if I remember correctly—and her name was Zoe. Her owner had brought her in for routine preventative care but happened to mention that for as long as he could remember, her stools had been on the loose side despite multiple diet changes. I pulled out my handy dandy fecal scoring chart, and we determined Zoe’s stools were generally in the range of 3.5 to 4 out of 5.
 
I did my exam and nothing seemed out of the ordinary. She was eating a well-regarded food that was appropriate for her. I examined a few fecal samples under the microscope over the next couple of weeks and didn’t find any evidence of parasites or unusual bacteria. Still, I prescribed a broad-spectrum dewormer since some parasites can be hard to find on fecal exams… all to no avail. At this point, the owner stopped the diagnostic process saying he really wasn’t all that worried about Zoe and would follow up if anything changed for the worse.
 
I probably wouldn’t remember Zoe if it weren’t for the fact that I had a nearly identical case just a week or so later. This time, the owner let me go a little further in the diagnostic process, but I could still find nothing wrong. I put this second dog, a Mastiff, on a highly digestible diet and his stools firmed up, but as soon as he went back to a “normal” dog food, his loose stools returned.
 
Turns out that this problem is not all that unusual for large breed dogs. According to the ACVIM paper:
It seems that the production of soft stools in LB [large breed]-dogs might be explained by both anatomic and physiologic differences, influencing the water absorption process and/or colonic fermentation. LB-dogs present a highly developed large intestine. These characteristics, associated with a longer LITT [large intestinal transit time], suggest a greater fermentative activity in LB-dogs. This hypothesis is confirmed by the more important production of lactic acid and SCFA [short-chain fatty acids] in the feces of LB-dogs. All together, these elements could be a possible cause of their poor fecal quality observed. This effect would be reinforced by the fact that strong intestinal permeability and reduced sodium absorption have been clearly shown in LB-dogs.
 
The author states that when it comes to picking a diet to improve fecal consistency in large breed dogs, the goal “is to avoid any ingredient that could increase the level of fermentable undigested residues and… exacerbate colonic fermentation.” In general, this means picking a food that has the following characteristics:

It is not too high in protein but is made from quality protein sources.
It contains a limited amount of wheat. Corn and rice are better carbohydrates in these cases.
It contains non-fermentable fiber (e.g., cellulose). Fermentable fiber (e.g., beet pulp and fructo-oligosaccharides) should be avoided.

 
 

Dr. Jennifer Coates
 
 
Reference
Dog Digestive Sensitivity According to Size: A summary of 16-year research. ACVIM 2015. Mickaël P. Weber, PhD. Aimargues, France.



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TheOldBroad Zoe 12/04/2015 06:21pm Is Zoe still a patient? If so, do you remember if this was tried with her?

Regardless of the reason, loose stools certainly cannot be healthy, can they? Reply to this comment Report abuse 3 Dr. Jennifer Coates 12/07/2015 04:43pm Zoe's owner tried many foods on his own but decided not to pursue any of the veterinary prescribed options. He moved so unfortunately I don't have any follow up on her case. Reply to this comment Report abuse 3 tyhmm large breed puppies ? 12/19/2015 06:23am And the best food for large breed puppies ?
What makes the puppy food different from other types of dog food?
The puppy food contains nutritive ingredients that help you pup grow into a healthy mature dog. The best food for puppies usually contains around 30 % proteins, enriched with a lot of minerals and vitamins which can be crucial for the process of growing of your little friend. Feeding your pup with adult dog food is not a very good idea, as the adult dog food doesn’t have so much protein and the puppy might not develop properly.
Why is the breed important when choosing the best food for puppies?
You can read more here : http://bestfoodsfordog.com/what-is-the-best-food-for-large-breed-puppies/ Reply to this comment Report abuse 1

 

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A Guide for Using Diet to Treat Vomiting in Dogs http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2015/november/guide-using-diet-treat-vomiting-dogs-33290 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.



A Guide for Using Diet to Treat Vomiting in Dogs










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November 20, 2015 / (1) comments


Spend enough time around dogs and you’re bound to notice that they vomit rather frequently. An occasional “upchuck” is simply part of being a dog. Their indiscriminate appetites often lead them astray, with predictable results.
Owners do not need to rush to the veterinarian every time a dog vomits. Many cases can be successfully treated at home with dietary therapy. Knowing what and when to feed is the key to success.
When a dog has just started vomiting, you need to get a feel for just how sick he or she might be. If any of the following apply to your dog, call your veterinarian immediately:

Your dog is very young, very old, or has another health condition that could compromise his or her ability to withstand even a mild episode of vomiting
Your dog is in pain or is quite depressed/lethargic
Fresh (red) or partially digested (coffee ground-like) blood is visible in the vomit


Your dog is trying to vomit but nothing is coming up
Profuse diarrhea is also present
Your dog has projectile vomiting
The vomit is bright green in color (some types of rodent poisons are dyed green to help with their identification)

 
But if your dog is a healthy adult who doesn’t seem too disturbed by the fact that he or she has vomited a few times, attempting home treatment with this five step plan is a reasonable option.

Keep fresh water available at all times but do not try to force your dog to drink or offer any unusual liquids (broth, Pedialyte, Gatorade, etc.).
Do not feed your dog for 12 to 24 hours.
Once your dog has not vomited for at least 6 hours, you can offer a small meal. A bland, easily digestible food such as cooked white rice mixed with boiled white meat chicken (no bones or skin) is ideal, but you can also use a small portion of your dog’s regular diet.
If your dog does not eat, pick up the meal and try again a few hours later.
If your dog’s condition fails to improve over the course of 24 to 48 hours or worsens at any point, call your veterinarian.

 
Some dogs suffer from chronic, intermittent vomiting. In other words, they vomit a couple of times a week or so but otherwise seem quite normal (no significant weight loss, diarrhea, etc.). In these cases, owners have two options:

If your dog vomits only on an empty stomach (e.g., first thing in the morning before being fed), he or she may have bilious vomiting syndrome. Try offering more frequent, smaller meals.
Some dogs develop an intolerance or allergy to ingredients used in many dog foods. Switching to a hypoallergenic dog food can help. Keep in mind that over-the-counter foods that claim to be hypoallergenic may contain traces of the ingredients that trigger your dog’s symptoms. Veterinarian-prescribed options are typically held to stricter quality control measures. Home-cooked diets made from recipes designed by veterinary nutritionists are another option.

 
When vomiting fails to respond to at-home treatment, it becomes important to diagnose the underlying cause. Make an appointment with your veterinarian if your dog’s condition does not improve with dietary modification.
 
Dr. Jennifer Coates
 



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TheOldBroad Not Feeding 12/04/2015 06:17pm That sounds very much like the advice for cats that vomit. It worries me a bit, though, because not eating can really cause some health problems. Do dogs have the same problem? Reply to this comment Report abuse 1

 

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Dog Foods Aren’t Equal – Even Though They Appear to Be http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2015/november/dog-foods-arent-equal-even-they-appear-be-33272 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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November 06, 2015 / (2) comments


Regular readers of this blog know that my dog Apollo has severe inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). As is suggested by its name, the condition is associated with abnormal inflammation within the gastrointestinal tract.
 
In health, the gut is protected from all that passes through by multiple defense mechanisms (mucus barriers, channels that selectively admit only certain substances, etc.). When these defenses malfunction, antigens (things that stimulate the immune system) are absorbed by the lining of the intestines. The body responds with inflammation, which increases the “leakiness” of the intestinal wall, resulting in more inflammation.
 
Some combination of immune dysfunction, stress, genetics, and antigenic stimulation (e.g., food allergies, bacterial overgrowth, metabolic disease, food intolerance, parasites, etc.) is involved in IBD. Often a pet’s symptoms are mild and/or intermittent to begin with but progress with time.
 
The first step in treating IBD is to find a diet that does not contain the antigens (or contains as few as possible) that trigger gut inflammation in that individual. If dietary modifications do not adequately control a pet’s symptoms, medications that suppress the immune system will be necessary.
 
Which brings me back to Apollo. For years, his IBD has been well controlled as long as he only eats a commercially prepared, hydrolyzed diet. Through hydrolyzation, proteins are broken down into such tiny fragments that they evade detection by the immune system. This particular food contains hydrolyzed soy, a simple carbohydrate source, some vegetable oils for fat, and a long list of vitamins and minerals.
 
The problem is, Apollo really doesn’t like it, and I find the ingredient list a little scary (it reads more like a high school chemistry experiment than a recipe).
 
But hydrolyzed diets are becoming increasingly popular because they have proven to be effective in managing a variety of diet-responsive diseases. As a result, the number of formulations owners and veterinarians can pick from is increasing.
 
A few months ago, I switched Apollo to a new hydrolyzed diet made by the same company as the one he’s always eaten, but this food also contains hydrolyzed chicken and hydrolyzed chicken liver. In theory, Apollo shouldn’t react to these new protein sources since they are hydrolyzed, but boy did he ever! Within just a week or so, he was vomiting, had diarrhea, and wasn’t eating. I switched him back to his old food and he quickly returned to normal.
 
Not to be discouraged, last week I tried Apollo on yet another hydrolyzed food. This one scared me a bit too, but not for the same reasons that made me wary of his original diet. This ingredient list looked too “normal” to be truly hypoallergenic. Hydrolyzed salmon is the first ingredient, and further down the list you’ll find things like potatoes, peas, pumpkin, fish oil, blueberries, and cranberries. This diet couldn’t possibly work, could it?
 
So far so good.
 
At first, the food gave Apollo WICKED gas. We’re talking “call the fire department the house is about to explode”-type gas, but that is fading (thankfully). His stools are formed, we’ve seen no vomiting, and Apollo absolutely loves the food’s taste – so much so that he’s starting to annoy us with his requests for extra meals throughout the day.
 
I can’t yet say that this diet will work for Apollo in the long run, but if nothing else, this experience has reminded me that reading labels only gets you so far. What’s most important is how an individual pet responds to a particular food.
 
 

Dr. Jennifer Coates
 



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TheOldBroad Quality of Life 11/06/2015 05:53pm Sounds like it might be a Quality of Life issue for your Apollo. If he's happy, eating well and healthy, it must be OK - even if the ingredient list is scary. Reply to this comment Report abuse 7 KLND Hydrolyzed and produce 11/28/2015 11:18am My dog seems to have issues similar to Apollo's and has been eating a scary ingredient list hydrolyzed protein kibble and canned food for years. I supplement his diet with SP enteric support, and fresh fruit and vegetables. This combo works will, with few flare ups. Here in drought stricken CA, we try hard to not waste any water. One night when I was too lazy to pour the water from steamed vegetables on outside plants, I poured the water in my dog's empty food bowl. What a treat! Now he begs for "vegetable water" . Reply to this comment Report abuse 3

 

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Sick Dogs Need to Eat Sooner Rather than Later http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2015/october/sick-dogs-need-eat-sooner-rather-later-33261 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 23, 2015 / (1) comments


I recently wrote a post over on Daily Vet about sickness behaviors in animals. These are “a classic array of behavioral and physiological signs associated with illness, including loss of appetite and reduced feed intake, reduced activity, and attempts to withdraw from social contact.” The gist of the article was that sick animals act in this way because it helps them recover from illness, and we should support these behaviors rather than try to override them.
 
While sickness behaviors are generally beneficial, like most things in life, if taken too far they can be detrimental. This is especially true when it comes to a dog’s unwillingness to eat.
 
I don’t worry when a sick dog doesn’t feel like eating for a couple of days. If the gastrointestinal tract is involved in the dog’s illness a few days “off” can give it a chance to recuperate. Even if the GI tract isn’t the source of the problem, a few days without food will generally not do much in the way of harm.
 
But new research presented at the 2015 American Academy of Veterinary Nutrition meeting shows that taken too far, a lack of adequate nutrition is certainly detrimental to a sick dog’s welfare.
 
Scientists evaluated 490 dogs who were hospitalized for a day or more at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital of the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona. They looked at many parameters, including body weight, body condition score, muscle condition score, laboratory data, diagnostic tests, reason for hospitalization, length of hospitalization, resting energy requirement, food intake, clinical signs, nutritional intervention, severity of disease, and outcome (discharged, died, or euthanized).
 
Dogs had a better chance of being discharged alive when they ate (or were fed) enough to meet their resting energy requirements. Other factors that improved outcomes were a higher initial body condition score and nutritional intervention. Worse outcomes were seen in dogs who were not eating on their own when they arrived at the hospital and/or were hospitalized for long period of times. A previous study by the same authors showed that length of hospitalization, age, body condition score, and vomiting at admission were all associated with a reduction in a dog’s body condition score during hospitalization.
 
For veterinarians, this research brings home the importance of calculating a dog’s resting energy requirement, updating it regularly (it changes with weight gain/loss), monitoring how much food a dog is taking in, and instituting appropriate interventions (e.g., anti-nausea medications and/or a feeding tube) in a timely manner.
 
For owners, the take home message is even simpler: If your dog is not eating well, don’t wait more than a few days to seek veterinary care (sooner if symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, or discomfort are also present). The faster treatment is started the better the chances of a successful outcome for your dog.
 
 

Dr. Jennifer Coates
 
 
References
 
Using Behavior to Assess Animal Welfare Module. National Veterinary Accreditation Program. USDA.
 
Nutrition related risk factors for malnutrition and negative outcome in hospitalized dogs. Molina, J. et al. 15th Annual AAVN Clinical Nutrition and Research Symposium Proceedings. 2015.



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TheOldBroad Good Advice 10/23/2015 06:02pm That sounds like good advice for humans and pets alike.

I know from experience that if you don't eat for a couple of days, you tend to lose your appetite. Of course, not eating at all (especially when recuperating) causes all sorts of problems. Reply to this comment Report abuse 9

 

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What is Magnesium and Why is It Important? http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2015/october/what-magnesium-and-why-it-important-33238 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 09, 2015 / (2) comments


Magnesium… You see it listed on dog food ingredient labels and it’s often reported on a patient’s blood work, but what does it do in the body? I confess that I had only the sketchiest of ideas; so I did some research. Here’s what I found.
 
Magnesium is classified as an essential macromineral. The word “essential” in nutritional circles simply means that the body cannot manufacture it (or manufacture enough of it) to meet the body’s needs. Therefore, it must be included in the diet in sufficient amounts to avoid deficiencies. Macrominerals—calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride, and sulfur—are minerals (inorganic nutrients) that the body requires in relatively larger amounts than it does microminerals (e.g., iron, zinc, copper, manganese, iodine, and selenium).
 
According to Medline Plus:
Magnesium is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. It helps to maintain normal nerve and muscle function, supports a healthy immune system, keeps the heart beat steady, and helps bones remain strong. It also helps regulate blood glucose levels and aid in the production of energy and protein. 
 
Hypermagnesemia (too much magnesium in the body) is not a common problem for dogs, unless they are suffering from chronic kidney failure. If a dog ingests too much magnesium, healthy kidneys are extremely efficient at excreting the excess.
 
On the other hand, hypomagnesemia (too little magnesium in the body) is seen quite frequently in sick dogs. One study found that 33.6% of critically ill dogs and cats suffered from hypomagnesemia, which tends to develop when a dog has one of the following conditions:

Chronic diarrhea
Starvation
Pancreatic disease
Some types of liver disease
Diabetes mellitus
Treatment with insulin
Hyperthyroidism
Hyperparathyroidism
Acute kidney failure
Chronic heart failure
Sepsis (an overwhelming bacterial infection)
Hypothermia
Severe trauma
Iatrogenic (the use of some types of IV fluids, diuretics, other drugs, etc.)

 
Hypomagnesemia is often accompanied by other mineral deficiencies, particularly low calcium and potassium levels. The clinical signs associated with these conditions include:

Poor appetite and digestive function
Weakness
Muscle twitches/tremors
Confusion
Abnormally strong reflexes
Seizures
Abnormal heart rhythms
Coma

 
Keep in mind that a dog without any of these symptoms can still have hypomagnesemia. Blood tests for magnesium levels tend to be quite reliable in dogs, although some individuals with normal blood levels (especially low-normal levels) might be whole body magnesium-deficient.
 
Treatment is simple and involves some form of supplementation—intravenous infusions when a dog’s condition is critical, oral when it is less so. Commercially available dog foods contain enough magnesium for healthy dogs, but if your dog is sick with one of the conditions listed above, magnesium supplementation might be a good idea to prevent or treat hypomagnesemia. The only time that I would worry about giving a dog a magnesium supplement is when he or she is at risk for chronic kidney failure.
 
Talk to your veterinarian if you think your dog needs a magnesium supplement.
 
 
Dr. Jennifer Coates
 
 
Reference
 
Hypocalcemia and hypomagnesemia. Dhupa N, Proulx J. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract. 1998 May;28(3):587-608.
 



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TheOldBroad Mg 10/09/2015 06:20pm I confess that I've not paid a lot of attention to Mg on full bloodwork. Sounds like I need to do that because this post seems to lend itself to kitties, too. Is that right? Reply to this comment Report abuse 12 Dr. Jennifer Coates 10/12/2015 10:35am You are right... more or less the same for kitties. Reply to this comment Report abuse 11

 

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Another Danger of Homemade Dog Food http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2015/september/another-danger-homemade-dog-food-33222 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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September 25, 2015 / (9) comments


I’ve always thought I walk a reasonable line when it comes to homemade dog food. For most owners, myself included, the convenience of having a reputable company design and manufacture a diet that meets all of my dog’s nutritional needs simply can’t be beat. But for those owners who are willing to go the extra mile for their pets, home cooked meals made according to recipes designed by veterinary nutritionists can be a nutritious and delicious option.
 
I’ve just run across an article that is making me question this line of thought, however.
 
Fifty-nine owners and their dogs who were prescribed homemade diets by the Clinical Nutrition Service, Teaching Veterinary Hospital of the College of Agrarian and Veterinarian Sciences, São Paulo State University were included in the study. The dogs were thoroughly evaluated and then...
…a nutritionally complete and balanced homemade diet was prescribed. The ingredients used in the recipes included cooked rice, potato, beef, chicken, bovine or chicken liver, carrots, green beans, fish oil supplements, salt, soyabean oil, dicalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate and dried yeast, as well as commercially available vitamin, mineral and amino acid supplements to fulfil minor nutrient requirements. Not all ingredients were used in all diets…
 
All owners received a written recipe that included the daily amounts of each one of the prescribed ingredients. The veterinary nutritionist carefully explained to owners the importance of following the recipe, the reasons for not changing the type or amount of each ingredient, the nutritional importance of each ingredient used, and details on how to prepare and feed the diet.

What could possibly go wrong?
 
Well… the scientists surveyed the owners about their experiences with the homemade diets. Some did not end up feeding the prescribed diets, but for the 46 who completed the study:

30.4% admitted they had changed the recipe.


40% did not adequately control the amount of provided ingredients.


73.9% did not use the recommended amounts of soyabean oil and salt.


28.3% did not use the vitamin, mineral, or amino acid supplements.

 
I find this last point the most shocking. Almost 30% of these owners who received in depth explanations as to the importance of following their recipes did not use their vitamin, mineral, or amino acid supplements AT ALL! Given enough time, these dogs could develop serious nutritional deficiencies.
So before you consider feeding your dog a homemade diet, have a heart-to-heart with yourself and honestly answer these two questions:

Are you willing to take on the extra effort and expense needed to prepare your dog’s food from a recipe designed specifically to meet his or her particular needs (age, health status, etc.)?


Will you follow that recipe and not make any changes to it unless you first consult with your dog’s nutritionist?

 
 

Dr. Jennifer Coates
 
 
Reference
 
Evaluation of the owner's perception in the use of homemade diets for the nutritional management of dogs. Oliveira MC, Brunetto MA, da Silva FL, Jeremias JT, Tortola L, Gomes MO, Carciofi AC. J Nutr Sci. 2014 Sep 25;3:e23.
 
 
Image: Thinkstock
 
 
Related
 
Balanced Homemade Meals – I Sound Like a Broken Record
 
Why Your Homemade Dog Food is Not Good Enough



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TheOldBroad Reasons 09/25/2015 08:31pm I'd love to hear the reasons that people didn't follow the recommended diet/recipe. Did Fido not like the original recipe? Did they thihk they were doing Fido a favor by adding more of what he/she likes?

I confess to being downright shocked that almost 30% didn't give the necessary supplements. I wonder why they didn't. Reply to this comment Report abuse 15 wkmtca 10/09/2015 05:21pm well i can tell you one reason may have been what they were told to add to the diet. no freaked dog needs soybean oil. in fact, soybeans is one of the things a lot of dogs are allergic to. right there it tells me that this diet is not something i would be feeding my dogs. Reply to this comment Report abuse 20 razmatazmania How do I find out 10/09/2015 03:39pm How do I figure out what I should use to make our 12 year old female English Bull dog food. She has wheat glutton allergies. We have narrowed it down to that because every time we feed her food commercially made foods with grains she breaks out. SO we changed up her food but added canned Alpo dog food not thinking about it and she was breaking out again. Reading the can..wheat glutton... argggggg. and now she gets just dry no grain food. I would like to make her food at home with all the pet food being recalled. Also..can it also be something I can feed our female English Cocker and male Pom.. We will be waiting to hear from you soon. Reply to this comment Report abuse 10 Dr. Jennifer Coates 10/09/2015 04:34pm Your best option would be to get in touch with a veterinary nutritionist (check out petdiets.com and balanceit.com) who can design one or more diets to meet your dogs' specific needs. Good luck! Reply to this comment Report abuse 8 wkmtca 10/09/2015 05:18pm i have fed my dogs raw for 14 yrs. i started due to the wheat/soy/corn allergies my one dog had. now i basically grind up a couple whole chickens (minus skin..too much fat in commercial birds) with the liver/etc and i throw in a handfull of frozen green beans to help keep the meat/bones go thru the grinder and freeze that for the week. i have 4, 12 pound dogs and 2 5 -6 pound chicken i buy at aldi' lasts me a week. there are lots of grain free kibbles out there if you must feed kibble..just go to a pet smart or some place like that (stay away from grocery store kibble and any of the fake prescription diets at the vets) and look at the better grain free food. fromm is one, blue buffalo (had some bad press but i think they are trying harder now). just look at the bag and make sure it says grain free. Reply to this comment Report abuse 12 Dr. Patrick Mahaney Misleading title 10/10/2015 12:52pm Great article, but the title is very misleading.
If an owner happens to stray from the recipe or not include the vitamin/amino acid mix, it doesn't necessarily mean that the home prepared diet is "dangerous" or will lead to nutritional deficiencies/excesses.
I'd rather have my dog or my patients eat a home prepared diet that is made with human-grade, whole-food ingredients just like I eat that isn't perfectly "nutritionally complete and balanced" than the feed-grade, processed options available commercially that can have chemical preservatives (some of which are carcinogenic), higher allowable levels of mold-based toxins, and ingredients that don't exist in nature.
Dr. Patrick Mahaney (your fellow PetMD The Daily Vet writer).
www.PatrickMahaney.com Reply to this comment Report abuse 18 Dr. Jennifer Coates 10/12/2015 10:41am Homemade diets are a great option for some, especially dedicated owners, but I think this study shows just how hard it is for most people to consistently (or even inconsistently!) follow a recipe designed with their pet's best interests at heart. Reply to this comment Report abuse 8 rodrussell Follow the money 10/18/2015 11:14pm It should be obvious that counting on pet owners to concoct a well-balanced home-prepared diet is difficult. And, it is obvious that if they won't follow the recipe carefully, they shouldn't be preparing their pets' food at all. But whenever I read articles by these "veterinary nutritionists", they always are slamming the raw diets and home-made diets in general. Never does this category of vets question the nutritional value of commercial kibble. Such veterinary journal articles cannot be found. It is almost as if, perhaps, their veterinary education had been financed by kibble manufacturers, or that their research has been funded by these kibble manufacturers.

That kind of "following the money" tends to distort the common sense of otherwise presumably knowledgeable and well educated vets. For instance, I have read of "veterinary nutritionists" make such nonsensical statements like: "Some owners are concerned about using diets that contain any vegetable-based proteins, such as soybean or corn. These are NOT added as fillers and contain important nutrients. There is no reason why 'grain free' foods are better for either dogs or cats." And like: "... often by-product is as good, maybe even a better source of over-all nutrition ... better off eating by-product than chicken breast." And: "My preferred method of feeding presently is kibble."

When I read this nonsense, and then observe that all of their "research" is aimed at steering pet owners away from raw or home-made diets and towards the junk food called kibble, I realize that these "veterinary nutritionists" probably are not in favor of pets getting their protein from fresh meats because they would be afraid of offending their sugar daddy funding sources from the junk food manufacturers. The bottom line is that advice from "veterinary nutritionists" should be taken with a giant grain of salt.
Reply to this comment Report abuse 11 Elmos Kitchen Interesting study but... 10/19/2015 07:29am Interesting study but I have to agree with Dr Patrick Mahaney that the article title is misleading.
I tailor home-prepared diets for dogs and all my clients are perfectly capable of following my recipes. Perhaps owners were not given an adequate support period to get into the new feeding routine?
It's unfortunate because studies and articles like these create mistrust in a feeding method that can actually be extremely useful to some dogs (when done correct)

Kristina Johansen
(about me: http://elmoskitchen.com/dog-dietary-advisers/) Reply to this comment Report abuse 9

 

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September 11, 2015 / (1) comments


I’ve started thinking about weight loss in a slightly different way than I did in the past. I used to put dogs on a diet, get the weight off of them (sometimes), and then worry about how to keep it off later. Now I think of weight loss and weight maintenance as essentially the same thing. My goal is to find a diet that a dog can eat for the foreseeable future that will first get the weight off and then keep it off. Here’s why.
 
Weight gain is a sign that something is out of kilter with a dog’s energy balance; too much food, too many treats, the wrong type of food, and/or too little exercise are the culprits.
 
In a perfect world, I would be able to prescribe a change in the type/amount of food, the elimination of treats, and increased exercise, my recommendations would be followed, and the dog would lose an appropriate amount of weight. But let’s be honest. People have an incredibly hard time doing this even when their own wellbeing is at stake. To ask them to make radical adjustments in their dog’s (and therefore their own) lifestyle is simply too much. But there is an easier way.
 
First, forget about exercise. Don’t get me wrong, exercise is great and can really help dogs get and stay slim. I just don’t think many owners can maintain significant increases in the amount of exercise they provide their dogs for the long term. I look at any increase in exercise as a bonus. If it happens, great, but don’t plan on it.
 
Second, keep giving treats. This is a habit that many owners find virtually impossible to break, and if it makes them and their dogs happy, who am I to say that it should be broken at all? My goal is to get the caloric intake from treats to less than 10% of the dog’s total calories for the day. We can usually do this with some simple modifications—breaking dog biscuits in half, switching to a lower calorie treat (mini carrots are great), etc.
 
Now on to weight loss/maintenance diets. You need to find one that works for both you and your dog. Remember, you may be feeding this diet for many years to come. The three top characteristics to consider are:

Price
Ease of acquisition
Nutrition

 
Price and ease of acquisition are relatively straightforward. Only consider foods that won’t break your budget and that you can get relatively easily (some can be shipped directly to you). Ask yourself, “Am I going to be able to feed this food for the next five years or longer?”
 
From a nutritional standpoint, look for foods have the following characteristics:

Somewhere on the label you see a statement along the lines of “Brand A adult dog food provides complete and balanced nutrition for maintenance of adult dogs.” Some weight loss diets are only meant for short term feeding and don’t have statements like these on their labels.


It contains enough protein. A minimum of 30% on a dry matter basis is good. (Check the guaranteed analysis). Adequate protein levels will help dogs maintain muscle mass while they are losing weight in the form of fat.


It is designed for weight loss/maintenance. Studies have shown that dramatically reducing the amount of “regular” dog food you offer will result in weight loss… but also in nutritional deficiencies. The American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) has guidelines that a food has to adhere to if the manufacturer wants to use words like “Light,” “Low Calorie,” “Reduced Calories,” “Low Fat,” etc.

 
The bonus from looking at weight loss and maintenance in this new way? When your dog reaches its target weight, you should be able to start giving him or her a little more food. What a great reward after a successful diet!
 
 

Dr. Jennifer Coates
 
 
Image: Thinkstock
 



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TheOldBroad Lifestyle 09/11/2015 06:31pm "To ask them to make radical adjustments in their dog’s (and therefore their own) lifestyle is simply too much."

I try very hard to follow the doctor's recommendations, especially when my pet is ill. Most difficult was the twice a day sub-q fluids for multiple cats. I had to get up at least 30 minutes earlier than usual to get it accomplished.

I find it so frustrating - as I'm sure you do - that people would do it for another human, but not for an animal. Reply to this comment Report abuse 12

 

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http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2015/september/new-way-look-weight-loss-dogs-33212#comments NutritionNuggets Fri, 11 Sep 2015 11:00:00 +0000 33212 at http://www.petmd.com
More Evidence That Dogs Can Be Vegetarians… And Cats Can’t http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2015/august/more-evidence-dogs-can-be-vegetarians-and-cats-cant-33-33138 Nutrition Nuggets is the newest offshoot of petMD's Dog Nutrition Center. Each week Dr. Coates will use her expertise and wisdom to blog about the intricacies of dog nutrition.



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










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August 28, 2015 / (6) comments


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

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


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


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

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

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



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

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

Although it sounds like it/they would be nutritious, I'm not sure I would be comfortable feeding my kitties something like that. I'll have to talk to my vet about that to see if he's familiar with it/them and what his opinion is. Reply to this comment Report abuse 11 Connor No Scientific Proof 09/11/2015 02:06pm This article did NOT show any scientific proof that dogs are herbivores. And listing a bunch of synthetic vitamins on a can of commercial pet food is NOT proof of a nutritionally balanced diet. Any living thing eating processed, denatured "food" day in and day out cannot thrive.

Dogs are carnivores; not herbivores. They do not have an enzyme to break down and digest cellulose. They do not have amalyse in their saliva to break down starches/Carbs. Dogs have a short digestive system that is typical of a carnivore. They have sharp, pointy teeth to rip and tear flesh off a prey animal. They do not have flat molars or a jaw that moves side to side to grind plant matter into a pulp.

Pushing vegan diets packed with artificial nutrients on people's dogs is just another example of irresponsible health care in the allopathic veterinary community. Reply to this comment Report abuse 17 dogaware 75% is acceptable?? 09/11/2015 02:40pm I'm sorry, but if 25% (6 of 24) of these foods don't meed minimum requirements (which are truly minimal) for amino acids, how does this leave me "fairly confident that what is available on the shelves will give dogs the specific amino acids they need to be healthy?" And although taurine, which is only available from animal sources, is still not included in AAFCO standards, studies* have found it to be conditionally essential for at least some dogs, who could be seriously harmed by too little taurine in these diets.

* Taurine deficiency in dogs with dilated cardiomyopathy 12 cases (1997-2001). Fascetti AJ, Reed JR, Rogers QR, Backus RC. 8, s.l. : J Am Vet Med Assoc, 2003, Vol. 223. 1137-41.
http://www.petfoodindustry.com/articles/48-taurine
https://books.google.com/books?id=NmziBQAAQBAJ&pg=PA983&lpg=PA983&dq=taurine+dogs+conditionally+essential&source=bl&ots=MYWFrtW5fe&sig=xiBUStepjTyGotqyQuqKztkyz-I&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CEYQ6AEwBmoVChMI1ty83snvxwIVA5qICh18fgax#v=onepage&q=taurine%20dogs%20conditionally%20essential&f=false Reply to this comment Report abuse 11 Dr. Jennifer Coates 09/11/2015 04:53pm The foods that failed to meet the minimum requirements were for cats. The canine diets all "passed." Reply to this comment Report abuse 8 dogaware 09/11/2015 05:20pm Sorry, I misunderstood about the amino acid findings, though my question about taurine remains. Too little taurine, even in diets that contain meat, can cause dilated cardiomyopathy in some dogs. A vegan diet would not contain taurine, and a vegetarian diet would likely not have enough unless it were added separately. Reply to this comment Report abuse 8 wkmtca wrong 09/11/2015 03:37pm dogs are NOT vegetarians..they are carnivores. anyone who would fed a dog a crap diet of all or mostly veggies should NOT be allowed near a dog. try a raw diet and feed them what they should be eating. Reply to this comment Report abuse 13

 

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



How to Get Dogs to Eat Slower










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August 14, 2015 / (2) comments


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

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


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


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

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

Dr. Jennifer Coates
 
 
Image: Jaromir Chalabala / Shutterstock
 



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

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

By the way, is "slobber" a technical term? :-) Reply to this comment Report abuse 7 Dr. Jennifer Coates 08/17/2015 04:23pm "On the cat side, I'd love to hear some suggestions on finding something my Josie will consistently eat and keep weight on."

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

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

Definitely! ;) Reply to this comment Report abuse 8

 

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



The Vegetarian Dog










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July 31, 2015 / (1) comments


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

Dr. Jennifer Coates
 
 
Image: Javier Brosch / Shutterstock
 



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TheOldBroad Apollo 07/31/2015 05:09pm Sounds like Apollo's quality of life got better! Reply to this comment Report abuse 9

 

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



Are You Feeding Your Dog the Right Amount?










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July 17, 2015 / (0) comments


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

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

Congestive heart failure

Cushing’s disease

Skin disorders

Some types of cancer

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. Jennifer Coates
 
 
Image: Budimir Jevtic / Shutterstock
 



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



The Truth About Food Allergies in Dogs










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July 03, 2015 / (0) comments


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

Dr. Jennifer Coates
 
 
Image: Robert Neumann / Shutterstock
 



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



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June 19, 2015 / (1) comments


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


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

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

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



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

It would be my opinion that if Fido has a skin or coat problem, don't try fixing it yourself. Take Fido to the doctor first! Reply to this comment Report abuse 12

 

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http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2015/june/confusion-around-diets-healthy-skin-and-coat-32836#comments nutrients nutrition NutritionNuggets skin and coat Fri, 19 Jun 2015 11:00:00 +0000 32836 at http://www.petmd.com
What to Feed Your Dog for Healthy Skin http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2015/june/what-feed-your-dog-healthy-skin-32814 Nutrition Nuggets is the newest offshoot of petMD's Dog Nutrition Center. Each week Dr. Coates will use her expertise and wisdom to blog about the intricacies of dog nutrition.



What to Feed Your Dog for Healthy Skin










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June 05, 2015 / (0) comments


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

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

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

Dr. Jennifer Coates
 
 
Image: alison1414 / Shutterstock
 



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What is the Best Food for a Dog with a Sensitive Stomach? http://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2015/may/what-best-food-dog-sensitive-stomach-32763 Nutrition Nuggets is the newest offshoot of petMD's Dog Nutrition Center. Each week Dr. Coates will use her expertise and wisdom to blog about the intricacies of dog nutrition.



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










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May 22, 2015 / (1) comments


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

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

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

Dr. Jennifer Coates
 
 
Image: vdovin_vn / Shutterstock
 



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

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

Yes, I go through a lot of paper towels. Reply to this comment Report abuse 10

 

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