Bloat -- what you need to know

Posted by Halifax Veterinary Hospital Blogging Team on Tue, Mar 13, 2018 @ 11:31 AM

dog-owners.jpgWhen you buy a dog, it's a life-long commitment. You have to make sure they are fed properly, taken to the veterinarian many times during their lives, make sure they get walked, etc.

One of the topics we are going to discuss today is bloat or Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV). This is an extremely serious situation and should be considered life-threatening. There are no natural or home remedies for bloat so if your dog is having symptoms related to this disease - which we will be going through below, you need to see your Veterinarian ASAP.

Dogs with bloat can die within several hours so time is of the essence. Even when a dog gets treatment there is still a chance that they may not survive.

With bloat, for a number of different reasons, your dog's stomach can fill up with air and put extra pressure on the other organs in the dog's body. It can also cause the stomach to rotate onto itself and pinch off the blood supply. Once this happens the blood supply is cut off and the stomach begins to die.

The pressure makes it difficult for the dog to breath and it can also compress larger veins in the abdomen which can prevent blood from returning to the heart.

Breeds That GDV Is More Common In

As with a lot of other health issues and diseases, GDV is more common in some breeds than it is in others.

Great Danes have a 4.1 risk ratio
German Shepherds have a 4.1
Golden Retrievers have a 1.2
Mini Poodles have a 0.3

GDV tends to be much more common in larger dogs than smaller dogs, hence the numbers above.

It's a good idea to not only talk to your veterinarian about GDV but also talk to them about your specific breed.

Dogs also over the age of 7, who are male, who are fed less than 1 times a day are also more at risk to get GDV than dogs who are not.

Signs Of Bloat In Dogs

Some of the symptoms you'll want to look for in your dog include:

- Swollen or Protruding Belly
- Non-Productive Vomiting
- Retching
- Abdominal Pain
- Rapid Shallow Breathing

Prevention Of Bloat In Dogs

While getting care for your dog after the fact can keep GDV from coming back later on in the dog's life, most vets agree that having a surgery called gastropexy, while they are young, is the best way to keep dog bloat away entirely. A gastropexy can be done on both male and female dogs and it can be done at the same time as they are being spayed or neutered.

In gastropexy, the dog's stomach will be sutured and attached to the abdominal wall or the diaphragm and this is what will keep the dog's stomach from flipping over on itself.

For most dog lovers and owners, that stat alone is worth getting the gastropexy.

Other Preventative Measures:

- Owners should be aware that they have a dog breed who is more susceptible to GDV.

- Dogs who are more susceptible should be fed 2-3 times a day, rather than 1 time a day.

- Water should always be available, however, it should be limited after the dog is done eating.

- While exercise is great for any dog, dogs that have a higher chance of getting GDV should not exercise vigorously, be too excited or stressed out 1-2 hours before and 1-2 hours after a meal.

According to studies, dogs that have the gastropexy have a small 4.3% chance of getting GDV in the future versus the 54.5% who can get it in the future who have NOT gotten gastropexy.

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Topics: pet resources, pet care, pet behaviour, choosing a vet, pet nutrition, dog care, animal hospital, Halifax vet

Common Anal Gland Issues

Posted by Halifax Veterinary Hospital Blogging Team on Fri, Mar 09, 2018 @ 11:28 AM

3038662-poster-p-1-the-most-statistically-sound-dogs-charted.jpgWhen you own an animal, few topics raise eyebrows as much as the term anal glands, but actually, this is a very important topic!

Anal glands are small pouches that are located between an animals internal and external sphincter muscles. These glands empty through narrow and short ducts inside the anus of the animal. These sacs are lined with modified sebaceous oil and sweat glands - the substance that is secreted from the area can be an oily almost brownish fluid that has a pretty strong odor to it.

Usually when an animal defecates the liquid inside the sac will be expelled, but if this process does not happen on a daily or weekly basis, the material inside will thicken and make it harder for the animal to pass it. If this situation keeps happening over time, the anal gland can become impacted, inflamed, or even infected. If it becomes bad enough, it can even cause a rupture through the skin via an abscess.

While some Veterinarian say that the reason for anal glands is to help create a territorial marker, others state that the anal sac oils actually help lubricate hard stool, which makes passage easier and more comfortable for the animal.

While this problem is less common in cats, it still is an issue. In dogs this issue becomes even more prevalent - around 12% of dogs will face the issue with their anal glands at least one time in their life.

Dogs who are overweight also experience this issue more than dogs who are not. Some breeds or certain dogs may be born with narrow anal ducts.

Age and Breed Considerations

Anal gland issues are more common in dogs, yes, but they are even more common in smaller breeds of dogs including toy poodles, teacup terriers, bichon frise's, cocker spaniels, beagles and even Chihuahuas. When it comes to anal glad issues and sexes - both female and male dogs can be affected.

Why Their Diet Matters

While a diet change won't resolve all of the issues your dog might be having right off the bat, it's still a good place to start. Make sure that your dog has a diet that is rich in fiber which will help prevent issues in the future.

Expressing The Glands By Hand

While you can express the glands by hand, most vets will tell you that this should NOT be done to a normal dog with no history of issues with their anal glands. Instead, if you are worried if your dog has anal gland problems or you find that they are experiencing issues when defecating; it's a good idea to talk to your veterinarian to see if there is a true issue or not. If the anal glands need to be expressed, your veterinarian can do this process for you or even teach you how to do it for your own dogs.

Recognizing A True Problem

Some of the more common symptoms, become very obvious almost right away because these "acts" may not be something your dog did before and suddenly does now. The symptoms or signs of something possibly being wrong include; scooting their bottom across the floor, trying to lick the anal region or displaying discomfort in the area of the glands.

Impaction and infection are two of the most common worries when it comes to issues with anal glands, but if you ignore the problem as time goes on, this can eventually turn into an even bigger problem such as cancer. If you find that your animal is suffering from issues with their anal glands, see your veterinarian immediately.

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Topics: pet resources, pet care, pet nutrition, Halifax vet

Could Your Pet Be Over or Underweight? Find out Today and Save Him/Her from Potential Health

Posted by Halifax Veterinary Hospital Blogging Team on Tue, Jan 24, 2017 @ 06:09 AM

111209_26_toe_cat_tb.jpgDogs generally have the reputation for eating anything. You may have found that you have to restrict the amount of 'table scraps' you share as your pet is getting a little too bulky. There are also many 'weight control' dog foods on the market to target overweight pets. Having to help your pet gain weight is not a common problem. Even though uncommon, it is a problem many pet owners face and it can be a result of serious health issues for your pet.

Underweight Pets Could Face Serious Health Issues- Discover How to Help Your Pet Gain Weight

If you are concerned your pet does not have a healthy weight, you should take him or her to the Veterinarian for a checkup. Different breeds have different body structures and it may just be a breed characteristic. Make sure more weight is necessary. If there is a health issue that is causing low weight, your Veterinarian will be able to work with you to help them gain more pounds.

Helping Your Underweight Pet Gain Pounds

There are some steps you can take once you've determined there are no underlying health issues with your pet. Knowing it is just their appetite that is causing low weight try some of these ideas to increase their interest in eating:

  • Putting something special on top of your pet's food will increase their desire to eat an entire serving. Adding wet food into the dry mix, add a few drops of salmon oil or any special food you know your pet likes often results in licking the bowl clean.
  • Puppy food is generally made with higher calories to help a puppy grow. Even if your dog is not considered a puppy any longer, you can still feed them this type of food to give them more calories. You won't need to increase the amount you feed as they will be gaining more from a puppy blend food.
  • Feed more often. If you generally feed your pet twice a day try increasing to three times a day. Getting a little more food each day will help them get more calories and increase their weight.

Health Concerns with Underweight Pets

There are a lot of reasons for a pet to be underweight. The best ways to understand your pet’s weight concerns are having your Veterinarian perform a checkup to look for possible causes. Some pets lose weight due to anxiety, some have picked up a parasite, and others suffer from one of many animal-related diseases. Knowing the reason behind the weight issue will help you treat it more successfully.

Some of the animal diseases that will result in low weight are diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, and inflammatory bowel disease. Other issues that will result in low weight can be due to dental problems. If your pet has bad teeth or gums, it may be uncomfortable for them to chew or swallow food. Stress, depression, and anxiety also play a huge part in your pet's appetite just as they would in yours.

Professional Advice

Your pet is family and you want to make sure you approach weight gain correctly. Veterinarians are the experts on your pet's health and provide professional advice to help your pet live a quality life. We encourage you to take a free weight assessment to ensure your pet is at the correct weight. This is an important precaution to ensure your pet has a long and healthy life.


Topics: cat care, dog care, choosing a vet, pet nutrition, best vet, Halifax vet

How to say I love you without food

Posted by Melanie Taljaard on Mon, Nov 17, 2014 @ 07:42 AM

The common way pet owners reward their pets is by providing them with their favorite treats. Food-based rewards are a way owners say “I love you” to their furry friend. It is important to know food is not the only way to reward or show love to your pets. In fact, too much pet food and treats can lead to obesity, which can shorten your pet’s life. Instead, reward and show love through other favorite objects and means you know pleases your loving pet.

Ways to Say I Love You to Your Pet without Food and Treats Praising Your Puppy

Favorite Toy: If the pet has a favorite toy it loves playing with, take it out and play with it. It shows the pet love and provides a reward. It also helps the pet get some good exercise that is always much needed to help keep your pal happy and well behaved. Sometimes a lack of attention can cause a pet to act out in ways it thinks are right to get the attention it desires. 

Going for Walks or Runs: Pets love going for walks and runs. They prevents obesity and says I love you in a healthy way.  If you think your pet would not enjoy a good walk or run just because it is a cat or bunny, you are wrong. Dogs are not the only ones that love going outside for some much needed fresh air and quality time with their pet owner. Cats and bunnies love taking adventurous small walks and runs too. All you need is a good harness and leash and a safe area to do the activities in together. 

Quality Snuggle Time: All pets whether furry, scaly, or feathery love spending quality snuggle time with their owner. Snuggle time allows the pet to receive affection such as snuggles, pets on the head, body rubs to help with relaxation and provides love in a rewarding way that brings comfort instead of obesity. 

Playtime: Taking your pet to its favorite spot too play such as the beach, doggy park, backyard, pond, or wherever it is that makes your pet happy can say I love you in a rewarding way. It also provides bonding time for you and the pet. If your pet is small such as a bunny or guinea pig, maybe these pets enjoy playing in a fenced in area outside for some fresh air. If your pet is a hamster maybe, its favorite way to play is in its hamster ball or wheel. If the pet is feathery, maybe allowing it to sit outside the cage in its favorite area with some of its favorite toys is away you could provide a reward and love without the use of treats. 

Car Rides: Sometimes the best way to provide a reward and say I love you to your loving pet is by taking it for car rides. Many dogs and cats find this to be a real treat. In fact, some fuzzy bunny pets do too. Most of the time, a car ride is desired by a pet as a reward just so it can spend quality time with you. 

I Love You without Food and Treats Provides Health to Your Pet

Remember, treats and special pet foods once in awhile is a healthy reward that can say I love you, but all the time just creates obesity and this is not a proper way to show your pets love. There are other beneficial ways to reward and say I love you to your pet that are healthy for it and for you such as the ones just discussed. 

Further questions, we'd love to chat.

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Topics: Halifax vet, animal hospital, pet behaviour, pet nutrition

Don’t weight for summer

Posted by Kyle Long on Tue, Apr 22, 2014 @ 09:30 AM

Written by Dr. Eamon Draper.

DogPets need to watch their weight just like people. Unfortunately there is an increasing trend for obesity in our pets. The National Pet Obesity Survey in 2012 revealed that 52.5% of dogs and 58.3% of cats examined by veterinarians were overweight or obese. This survey was reported from veterinarians in the U.S. and it is likely that the figures are actually worse for the general population as weight is often not considered a major health risk by many owners.

“In this survey, approximately 45 percent of cat and dog owners assessed their pet as having a normal body weight when the veterinarian assessed the pet to be overweight,” said Dr. Joe Bartges, from the University of Tennessee’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

These pets are vulnerable to serious health conditions such as osteoarthritis, insulin resistance and Type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure, heart and respiratory disease, cranial cruciate ligament injury, kidney disease, many forms of cancer, and a decreased life expectancy (up to 2.5 years).

Like all of us we should consider weight control to be an important part of our pet’s life and our lives. Now that the weather is improving it will get easier to get out and exercise. Avoiding the treats and table scraps is also vital.

You can find more information in pet obesity online by clicking here.

At our clinics, we have a weight machine that you are free to use as you please. We encourage you to come in on a monthly basis and record your pet’s weight. There is always front desk staff available that look forward to helping you when you get here!

Never been to any of our three clinics before? Why not take a tour of one of our clinics and see what we have to offer. We can’t wait to meet you!

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Topics: veterinary hospital, dog care, cat care, vet halifax, pet nutrition

Caring for your pet rabbit

Posted by Halifax Veterinary Hospital Blogging Team on Mon, Mar 24, 2014 @ 09:41 AM

shutterstock 43440154If you have just purchased, or are considering purchasing a pet rabbit, it is very important that you take the time to understand how to properly care for your new pet. While rabbits can be just as much fun as having a dog or a cat as a pet, they do require different care. Below is a look at the basic information you should know about rabbit care, in order to keep your new pet happy and healthy.

Select a Proper Cage

It is important that you select the proper cage for your rabbit. You should look for a cage that is at least five times the size of your rabbit and one that allows you rabbit to comfortably stand on its hind legs. This will give your pet rabbit plenty of room to stretch out and get the amount of exercise needed during the day. Make sure to stay away from wire-bottom cages. The wire bottoms can add pressure to your rabbit’s foot and cause sores. As well, your rabbit could get one of their feet stuck in the wire and cause injuries.

Your Rabbit Needs Exercise

While your rabbit can stay inside it’s cage for most of the day (like when you’re at work for example), the more time your rabbit spends out of their cage, the better. It’s best to have your rabbit out of it’s cage whenever possible, especially when you are home. Ideally, we like to see a “bunny-safe room,” where your rabbit can roam freely and safely. Although this is not possible for many, the best alternative is letting your rabbit roam while you’re home to supervise. You do want to make sure that your rabbit doesn’t have access to chewing on any electrical outlets, carpet, dangerous household plants and especially household cleaners or toxins.

Regular Check-Ups

Just like any other pet, your rabbit needs to have regular check-ups with a professional veterinarian. For proper rabbit care, your rabbit should have a check-up at least once a year and anytime you think that your rabbit may be ill. Please note that not all veterinarians have experience working with pet rabbits. You should be sure to find a veterinarian who has several years of experience specializing rabbit care. Typically, veterinarians that state they have experience working with exotic animals will work with rabbits. However, it is always best to ask them specifically if they provide health care service for rabbits.

A Balanced Diet

Your rabbit should also be provided with a well-balanced diet. Although a popular food for rabbits is pellets, truth be told, your rabbit does not need to eat pellets at all. Pellets can cause obesity and other serious health conditions including gastrointestinal tract upset. A healthy diet for your rabbit should consist of primarily hay, but can include vegetables, especially anything dark green and leafy. You should stay away from fruits though, because much like pellets, they can upset the gastrointestinal tract. As well, stay away from foods like potatoes, beets, corn and peas and of course, no chocolate or candy. Another important part of your healthy rabbits diet is water. You should make sure your rabbit has access to water at all times.

Prevent Chewing

Rabbits have teeth that are constantly growing and they need to chew on hard surfaces regularly to keep their teeth keep trimmed. Make sure you keep electrical wires and dangerous goods out of reach of your rabbit when they are roaming around. Have rabbit toys and chewables like untreated cardboard for your rabbit to enjoy. This will lower the risk of your pet searching for unsafe chewing materials.

These tips will help you provide proper rabbit care to your new pet. It is best to gather all the supplies you need, such as a cage, rabbit food and chew toys, prior to purchasing your new pet.  This will make the transition home easier for both you and your rabbit. You should also have a veterinarian in place before you purchase a pet rabbit, so you have a place to turn to if you have any questions about caring for your rabbit. 

Would you like to learn more about exotic pet care from us? Click below.

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Topics: Halifax vet, pet nutrition, exotic pet care

February is Dental Health Month!

Posted by Kyle Long on Wed, Feb 05, 2014 @ 04:36 PM

We are firm believers in proactive care for your pets. Taking the time to be proactive with your pet’s care is key to helping them live healthy and fruitful lives. We want nothing more than to help you make sure your pet gets the best care and best treatments available when something goes wrong. This includes dental care.

pet dental monthIt is very common for pet owners to not take dental care into consideration when thinking about their pet’s overall health. Dental disease and periodontal disease affects approximately 85 per cent of dogs and cats over the age of one. If you’re not taking the time to recognize the signs and symptoms of dental disease, or taking your pet for regular dental checkups, your pet may be at risk.

February is Dental Health Month, and we want to stress the importance of proper dental care. There are many at-home things you can do to help prevent the turmoil your pet would have to suffer through with the onset of dental disease.

Selecting the proper dog foods and treats with a focus on dental health are a good place to start. Following a proper diet and brushing your pet’s teeth daily also has great benefits. Although this may be a bit too intrusive of an option for some pet owners, there are alternatives. There are products available as chewable treats, or water additives. However, there is no better alternative to brushing and having regular dental checkups with your pet’s veterinarian. 

We have put together a download to help familiarize you with the signs of dental disease, and the four stages. As well, you’ll learn what dental disease looks like with diagrams as well as detailed explanations. 

Interested in learning more? Click below to download the FREE dental download.

Click here to download the "Dental Disease" PDF

Topics: veterinary hospital, animal hospital, dog care, cat care, vet halifax, pet nutrition

Meeting Your Pet's Nutrition Needs

Posted by Melanie Taljaard on Fri, Jan 03, 2014 @ 07:52 AM

Perform a basic internet search about nutrition advice for your pet and you'll uncover pages upon pages of varying information regarding the specifics. But two common details are sure to emerge:

  • Proper nutrition is key to ensuring your pets long term health and outlook on life.
  • A long, healthy life achieved through excellent nutrition ultimately saves money on healthcare for your pet.
pet nutrition

The aforementioned are equally true for humans. Prevention is the best medicine; the best preventative cures begin with excellent nutrition.

Generally speaking, nutrition advice for most pets (as with humans) entails the consumption of a balanced diet. But what does that really mean? Even with humans, nutritional needs are different for each gender and change over the course of your life. This is also the case for pets.

Your pet's size, weight, breed, and age group determine what constitutes the ideal nutritional spectrum your pet should have access to. Lifestyle factors also come into play, whether you and your pet are relatively active or fairly sedentary with spurts of daily activity.

Doctor's Orders

Your doctor is best equipped to provide you with spot-on nutrition advice based upon your blood work. Similarly, a vet can give you the same info about your pet. A nutrition assessment conducted by a vet can also isolate possible food allergies before they manifest. Knowing precisely what your pet

  • can and cannot have,
  • what he/she needs,
  • and how often they should have it amounts to providing your beloved family member with the best possible life conditions. Would you do any less for your parent, spouse, child, or sibling?

Dog care professionals credit a number of basic care points for extending a pet's life including:

  • Dental care
  • Healthy weight/proper nutrition
  • Exercise
  • Routine checkups and vaccinations

The same is echoed on, a website providing platforms for interaction between pet owners, experts, and vets.

Rich In Health

Cost of care is the number one reason some pet owners cite when defending their decision not to provide their pets any/all necessary care. “I just don't have the funds.” However, caring for sick pets is far more expensive than any other scenario.

Getting the right nutrition advice and getting your pet on track to total body-mind health actually saves money down the line. Through the right nutrition, you can help your pet access the landscape of true freedom, strength, happiness, and longevity.

Did you know we offer a free nutrition assessment for your pet?

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Topics: animal hospital, dog care, pet nutrition

Confused About Pet Food? You're Not Alone. Maybe This Will Help.

Posted by Melanie Taljaard on Thu, Sep 12, 2013 @ 03:43 PM

pet food 

Article Written by Dr. Rainer from our Spryfield Animal Hospital.  Read her full bio here 

For anyone who has a pet, especially if that pet is a dog or a cat, the glut of available diets and (mis)information out there can make it almost impossible to know what you should be feeding your furry companion to ensure she lives a long, happy, and healthy life. I wish I could tell you that there's a simple answer, but the truth is that this is an extremely complex issue with no “one size fits all” solution. What I will try to do in this article is guide you step-wise through the process of choosing the right diet for your pet, hopefully dispelling several myths along the way.

Every day in practice, I speak with clients who are unsure about whether their pet is eating a “good” food and who are overwhelmed by the options and marketing claims that exist in the world of animal nutrition. Truth be told, it is not just our clients who are confused. Many veterinarians find it difficult to sift through all the questionable information out there, and they cannot possibly stay abreast of all the new products and developments that emerge on a seemingly daily basis. But here's what we can do: we can arm you with the knowledge and skills to make an educated decision that works for your own animal. So here goes:

Step One: Choose a Reputable Pet Food Manufacturer

This is probably both the most important and the most time-consuming step. In order to see past all the marketing and determine if a pet food is genuinely of good quality, you can contact the company (contact information is required to be printed on the bag) and ask some key questions. Here are some of the most important ones: Do you have a full-time board-certified veterinary nutritionist or PhD nutritionist on staff? Ask for a name and whether he/she can be reached for consultation. Who formulates your diets and what are their credentials? Which of your diets are tested using AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) feeding trials? These feeding trials are the best available measure of pet food quality, but many manufacturers do not test their foods in this way, opting instead to formulate their diets by computer to meet minimum nutritional requirements. For a full list of questions to ask a pet food company, refer to this blog post

Step Two: Choose a Food Appropriate for Your Pet's Life Stage

This is simple. AAFCO sets out nutritional profiles that meet the needs of dogs and cats at two distinct life stages: growth and reproduction (most commonly puppy/kitten foods) and adult maintenance. Some foods are labelled as “all life stages,” meaning it meets both nutritional profiles, but beware – if a food meets the requirements for growth and you're feeding it to your adult cat, chances are you will end up with an obese pet. Make sure to read the information on the bag (or online) closely, especially the Nutritional Adequacy Statement, which can be found near the ingredient list. This will tell you whether the food has been through feeding trials, and which life stage requirements it actually meets (e.g. a food may be marketed as an “adult” food, but if it actually meets the minimums for all life stages, then once again you may be looking at problems with weight management, among other things). 

Step Three: Understand the Ingredient List and Let Go of Nutritional Myths

This is difficult for a lot of people. Every day, I have pet owners tell me they feed a very good food because meat is the first ingredient and there are no “by-products”. There seems to be a nearly-universal belief that “by-product” means hair, beaks, hooves, feathers, and generally whatever is swept off a slaughterhouse floor. In fact, here is AAFCO's definition of Chicken By-Product Meal: “consists of the ground, rendered, clean parts of the carcass of slaughtered chicken, such as necks, feet, undeveloped eggs and intestines, exclusive of feathers, except in such amounts as might occur unavoidable in good processing practice.” These are some of the most nutritious parts of the bird; the problem is that they are not considered appetizing by our own Western palates. Many people think the only edible part of an animal is its muscle, but remember – animals in the wild will eat everything off the bones of their prey. So foods that list animal by-products as a primary ingredient are often actually nutritionally superior to those that claim to have only fresh meat. Another major problem with label-reading is that ingredients are listed in order of weight, including water. What this means is that fresh meat and vegetables will be listed higher than similar amounts of dry ingredients, while they contribute much less nutritional value to the food. Just try to remember that animals require nutrients, not ingredients, and try not to fall prey to manufacturers who add ingredients solely to make the diets more attractive to us as consumers.

Step Four: Outsmart the Marketers

By arming yourself with nutritional facts, you can more easily sift through all the false claims and hype that surround the products in our super-saturated pet food market. The current “grain-free” craze is causing many veterinarians to pull out their hair in frustration; in fact, I think many of us simply sigh with resignation and opt out of the conversation when pet owners proudly announce that they are feeding a “very good” grain-free diet to their pet. The truth is that grains (such as rice, wheat, corn, barley, etc.) contribute many valuable nutrients including vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids in a highly-digestible form. When manufacturers remove grains from a diet, they replace them with other carbohydrates – potato, tapioca, or other starch-containing foods – that are nutritionally inferior and serve only to facilitate the process of extrusion by which dry kibble is made. So unless your dog has an allergy to a specific grain, then there is no reason to eliminate grain from his diet. As an aside, the most common food allergies in dogs are actually protein sources, including beef, dairy, and chicken. Once you understand the actual ingredients and their nutritional value, you can start analyzing the multitude of marketing terms you will find on a food bag. The only one of these terms that has any meaning is “natural” - the guideline for the use of this word is that the product should not contain any chemically synthesized ingredients (with the exception of some synthesized vitamins and minerals which should have a disclaimer on the label). Terms such as “holistic,” “gourmet,” and “human grade” have no legal meaning and are simply used by marketers to trick you into buying their foods. 

Step Five: Involve Your Veterinarian

Every animal is different, so even though your cat may do well on one particular food, your neighbour's cat may react poorly to it and need to try something else. If you have done your homework, there will probably be several foods you have found that could meet your pet's needs, so try them until you find one that both you and your pet like (just remember to transition to new foods slowly, over five-to-seven days in order to minimize gastrointestinal upset). If, however, your pet has any health issues you should speak with your veterinarian before choosing a food; she may need a prescription diet to meet her specific nutritional needs. In the case of an overweight or obese pet, a veterinarian can design a weight-loss plan using a variety of different veterinary-exclusive or commercially-available diets. Another reason to speak with your veterinarian is if you are considering feeding a home-made diet. These diets can be healthy and balanced, but it takes work and dedication to ensure you are doing it right. Your vet can direct you to resources that will help you formulate complete diets for your pet, and he can also recommend supplements that will fill in any nutritional gaps. Finally, if you are considering feeding a raw diet, know that very few veterinarians recommend raw food, and for good reason. There is no evidence that the nutrition your dog receives from a raw diet is at all superior to a cooked diet, but there is plenty of evidence to suggest health risks to both the animal and his human family. Also, almost all raw diets, whether home-made or commercially-available, are deficient in essential nutrients, and animals fed these diets are often clinically malnourished.

Perhaps now you can understand why your veterinarian may not have a good answer ready for you when you ask if you are feeding “a good food.” You may find that your vet consistently recommends foods available through the clinic; the reason for this is usually that we are comfortable with the diets we sell, and we can guarantee that Step One has been done for you and can more easily advise you on the rest. That does not mean that veterinary diets are right for every pet, so use the information in this article and make good, informed decisions. Just remember that price does not necessarily equal quality, and the best way to judge the food you have chosen is to look at your pet: if she has a soft, shiny coat, a good body condition (not too fat or too thin), good energy, and is having no digestive problems, you have probably found a good diet for her. All that work was worth it!

Did you know we offer free nutrition assessments?  Click here to schedule yours

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Topics: animal hospital, dog care, cat care, pet nutrition

Why Get A Diet Recommendation From Your Veterinarian

Posted by Melanie Taljaard on Thu, Sep 05, 2013 @ 02:58 PM

Choosing a food for your pet can be a intimidating task. Standing in the pet food aisle looking at bags and cans can be confusing for anyone. “Which brand is best?”, “Are the formulations all the same?” , “Should chicken be the first ingredient?” , “Should I feed grain free?” , “What about corn?”.  The questions are endless but fortunately for pet owners there is help available. Contacting your veterinarian for a nutritional consultation can be the first step towards a long and healthy life for your pet.

pet vet diet

A good, well-balanced diet matched to a pet’s unique needs, based on age, size, and health status can play an important role in preventive health. Poor nutrition can be associated with poor skin and coat, chronic gastrointestinal issues, urinary tract disease, and many other conditions. While adequate nutrition enables an animal to survive, the ideal is to have our pets thrive. Optimal nutrition enables an animal to reach its full potential by maintaining a luxurious skin and coat, strong muscles, bones, and joints, and improving the animal’s day to day performance. Nutrition is one of the most important considerations for an animal’s survival and lifelong health, as well as disease prevention and management. 

Your pet's nutritional consultation will include being individually evaluated for nutritional risk factors as determined by age, activity level, lifestyle, body weight and condition, medical history, underlying health conditions, current medications and diet. Also taken into consideration will be food preferences, eating habits and treats.

Typically, veterinarians have more confidence in certain pet foods including those:

  • Made by companies with a long history of quality and research and strong ties to veterinary science
  • Made using consistently sourced ingredients, rather than just a consistent recipe, in manufacturing plants owned by the company itself
  • Developed by veterinary nutritionists on staff or as advisors
  • Put through actual feeding trials rather than just being “formulated to meet” as per AAFCO standards 

So why not call your veterinarian today and ask for a nutritional assessment to determine if your pet is eating the best possible food to keep him healthy and active for years to come!

Did you know we offer free pet nutrition advice?

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Topics: veterinary hospital, animal hospital, pet nutrition