Grain Free Diets and Heart Disease

Recently articles have surfaced indicating that dogs on grain free diets may have an increased risk of heart disease. The following article was written by a Lisa M. Freeman, DVM, PhD, DACVN who is a pet nutritionalist at Tufts University. She has dedicated her life to pet nutrition and has a Petfoodology blog. The article is extremely well written and shares the concerns we as veterinarians have had for a number of years when it comes to pet foods. The marketing companies for pet foods have caused people to make nutritional decisions based on fads not science. If you have been feeding a grain free diet or a “boutique diet” or a raw and/or home cooked diet, I would highly recommend you read this article. We as veterinarians want to see your pets live a long and healthy life and nutrition is the foundation.

A broken heart: Risk of heart disease in boutique or grain-free diets …vetnutrition.tufts.edu/…/a-broken-heart-risk-of-heart-disease-in-boutique-or-grain-fre…

I am not going to add anything to her amazing article. It is extremely well written and explains in detail the important facts verses fads that are ever present in our pet food industry. She talks about what you should do to make certain your pet is not going to be affected by these nutritional fads and marketing schemes. She even has a pet food quiz you can take to determine how knowledgeable you are about your pets nutrition. I got 10 of the 12 questions correct. Take the quiz and let me know your score! For the health of your furry friends please take this information seriously. Have a Happy Halloween and remember to keep your candy away from your pets. CHOCOLATE IS POISONOUS to pets.

Fall Concerns for our Friendly Canines

As the weather changes we start to think about football and tailgates, bonfires and s’mores, but we also need to remember with the changes in weather our dogs may need a little extra attention too.

During the fall many families like to spend extra time walking in the woods always excited that the flying insects are diminishing. Yet the creepy crawling ticks are still present and need to be planned for. The deer tick have an active cycle in the fall. As you are crunching through those piles of leaves be aware of what is “questing” for its host.  We have great flea and tick products for our dogs that should be used until we have snow on the ground. Scientists have shown that ticks will continue to “quest” for a host even at freezing temperatures. I have removed deer ticks on dogs close to Christmas since there was no snow on the ground. We have no protection against these ticks for ourselves so it is crucial that you keep them out of your environment and off your pets.

Hunting dogs and dogs that get the opportunity to run through the tall grasses do have to be concerned about ticks but also about eye foreign bodies. Dogs and cats both have a 3rd eyelid that helps protect the eye. This elevated eyelid can easily get grass seeds or stickers underneath it. This can cause severe squinting, drainage, redness, and if left unattended corneal ulcers. These photos show the foxtail seed under the 3rd eyelid prior to removal with the corneal ulcer it created. The green stain indicates how much damage has been done to the cornea. Once removed, the ulcer can heal but it is important to have the eye checked quickly to reduce scarring.

As we start to pack away all the boats and campers for storage over the winter, never forget how dangerous our rat poisons are for our dogs. Since they are a grain base the dogs find them extremely palatable. All baits are harmful so do not be fooled by the labels. The new products are actually more deadly than D-con. With D-con at least we could do a lab test and quickly discover the dogs needed Vitamin K to help the clotting factors. The newest poisons cause edema (fluid leaking) within the spaces of the brain and severe seizures are seen. We have very little ability to control the symptoms and therefore many pets have died. Please make these baits unaccessible to animals.  Please seek immediate help if you have an animal that has consumed these baits. The symptoms do not occur immediately. The poisons have a delayed response but the response is dangerous and deadly so get help quickly.

Antifreeze seems to be another source of poison during the fall that can harm pets. Companies are starting to use the less desirable products that are not sweet and tasteful to the pets. This has reduced our poisoning cases caused by antifreeze. It is important to get help quickly with this exposure since once in the pets body we can see damage to the kidneys within 4 hours.

When purchasing ice melt look for the products that are not harmful to the pets feet. When pets are outside, these ice melt products stick to their paws and fur. We need to make certain the ice melt will not hurt their pads or their mouth or gut if they lick their pads.

Remember the cooler temperatures and shorter days make exercise more challenging so you must consider dietary adjustments to prevent weight gain during the fall and winter. Many pets gain weight during these cooler shorter days and they never seem to get back to their optimum weight. I am excited to report the poles for the Winterset Dog Park fence went up this week. This will be a great addition to our community when completed. Having a facility where your dog can be set free to explore and play will greatly help our pets maintain an active and healthy lifestyle. Happy Fall!

10th Anniversary of Hemmingway Joining WVC Staff!

Hard to believe that it has been 10 years since I showed up at Winterset Veterinary Center’s (WVC)  doorstep with my siblings. We had been born under a porch and discovered as we started exploring our surroundings more. We were captured and placed into a tub and left on the doorstep on an August morning with a note. Obviously, we were making all sorts of noise being all cooped up in that tub.  We heard voices and suddenly we had to blink and squint since it got very bright.  We started being lifted from the tub by some amazing people. Come to find out those are the same people that work at WVC and care for all sorts of critters. It was decided that we should all get fixed which was not something I was even concerned about since I loved all the special attention and great meals we were receiving.  At that time, it was discovered that I had a deformed sternum. This gave the staff a concern for adopting me out with my siblings since this could have other complications in the future.  They then decided to keep me as a clinic cat and named me Hemmingway. I recently discovered I got my name because of my extra toes on all 4 feet.  Ernest Hemingway was the first person to discover cats with extra toes and they call this congenital condition a polydactyl. If one parent has extra toes then 40-50% of the kittens will have extra toes if mated with a cat that has a normal number of toes. This condition is usually harmless. I do not believe that any of my siblings had extra toes. I was the special one and still am today.

Hello, I’m Hemmingway!

In those 10 years I have gotten to meet lots of people. I have been in the Bridge Festival Parade wearing my “Come with me Kitty” harness and leash.  I loved being out and exploring but the parade moved way too fast for me to keep up, so I was carried or rode the trailer a lot of the time. I did not enjoy the cannons or guns that were being shot off during the parade.

I also have visited the Winterset Middle School a few times as a way to promote Pet Health Week. Dr. Lonna would visit with the kids about the care of pets and importance of pet selection prior to bringing home just any pet that looks adorable. We all look adorable when we are little. The problem seems to come up when life events occur and people have not thought through the length of time that we will be needing a home.  We seem to live longer these years because of the preventative care and improved nutrition available.

I spend most of my days wandering around the clinic greeting customers and their furry friends as I desire. I do ask to go outside if the weather is perfect and you may see me at the door or in the bushes as you approach the building. I have learned to be cautious before showing myself to some of the pets that visit WVC since some are not crazy about me. Cannot understand why since I love everyone.

I would say that the best part of my day comes when the sun shines through the window and I can lounge around letting it warm me on those cool winter days.  As you can see from the photos that I do get a heavy mane and coat in the winter months. Of course as summer rolls in all that hair has to be brushed and combed out which seems to be another reason that people decide they can no longer keep a pet because of the hair and matts that develop.  It is so important that pet owners really research the daily care required for their furry friends so that they are prepared for all the grooming needs and/or shedding issues that may present themselves over the 15-20 years of our lives.

I have been extremely lucky to live here at WVC. My life started under a porch with little shelter from the storms and scarce food sources. I now have my own food bowl and litter box.  Constant protection from the elements and my only job is to allow the staff to demonstrate how to care for my coat and/or how to administer a pill. I hate that last demonstration the most.  I usually get a treat after so I have learned to be tolerant.

They point me out when discussing weight concerns of our feline friends since they are always let people know they should not let their cat get to be as “FLUFFY” as me. Obviously that is a nice way of saying, “ I am fat.” I like to always have food in my bowl and even if they offer the lower calorie stuff, I stay fluffy. They have tried to restrict my food but my response to having an empty bowl is to turn my attention to the smorgasbord of bags that are always available on the shelves within the clinic. Never a shortage of food in this building. I am a lucky boy to have all of these servants watching over me daily and making certain that I get all the TLC that I need to be an exceptional clinic cat. Make sure you become my Facebook Friend at Hemmingway Winterset. I love making friends.

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