Weight Management

If your dog is overweight, an easy way to help shed those extra kilos is to feed a light or weight management food.

One in three dogs is considered obese. This can lead to many health issues, including heart and respiratory problems, diabetes and arthritis.

Weight control foods have restricted amounts of calories and fat, whilst still maintaining the right amounts of protein, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and fibre. Weight management foods ensure that your dog receives the right amount of nutrients, whilst losing weight.

Reducing portion size is not the only consideration for effective and sustained weight loss. In fact, your dog could feel hungrier and potentially eat more. Weight control foods are specifically designed to feed the same amount, with fewer calories per bite.

Skin and Coat

Many issues relating to coat and skin can be fixed by diet. Dogs have intolerance to various food, which can cause skin irritation and result in extreme scratching. Many dogs have a low tolerance to gluten and lactose. Foods that contain a good balance of the following can help with food related skin allergies:

  • Vitamin A – this fat soluble vitamin promotes the growth of healthy hair and skin.
  • Vitamin E – a natural antioxidant that will protect skin from damage.
  • B vitamins such as biotin – will help the body promote growth of new skin cells, and keep hair soft and supple.
  • Zinc and copper – these minerals are essential for healthy skin and hair, and deficiencies of either will cause hair loss and itchy and inflamed skin.
  • Omega 3 and 6 – support skin elasticity and a glossy coat.

Sensitive Digestion

Some dogs have sensitive stomachs. They are either genetically pre-disposed to it, or have a high level of anxiety, which causes stomach and digestive issues. Breeds such as Staffordshire Terriers, Boston Terriers, Boxer, German Shepherd, Basenji, Wheaten Terriers, Shar Pei, Rottweiler, Greyhound and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels seem particularly prone to stomach disorder and digestive issues.

Stomach issues often cause dehydration in your dog, which brings the risk of kidney and liver diseases. If left untreated it can compound into “dog IBS”, better known as Inflammatory Bowel Disorder (IBD).

There are simple ways you can change a dogs diet, to help with dietary sensitivity.

Using a food specially formulated for digestive health can help. These foods often contain:

  • Low fat to improve digestive function
  • Antioxidants to protect the delicate lining of the intestinal system
  • High quality, easily absorbed ingredients to ensure that all the nutrients they need are being absorbed
  • High quality, fermentable fibre, to ensure gentle digestion
  • Novel proteins such as duck or venison to reduce the likelihood of intolerances

Joint Health

It is an awful thing to watch your dog suffer from limited mobility and joint pain. There are things we can do to help alleviate any discomfort, inclusive of exercise and nutrition.

Nutrition is one of the key factors in dealing with joint pain and arthritis. Inflammation around the joint occurs when cartilage that is designed to protect it wears down – many ingredients can help ease this process and reduce the pain.

Look for a food that contains:

  • Fatty acids such as those found in fish oils. With anti-inflammatory properties, omegas 3 and 6 can reduce the pain and swelling.
  • Glucosamine – found in the shells of shellfish as well as animal bones, glucosamine has been found to help to repair the damaged cartilage.
  • Chondroitin – found in shark and fish cartilage, chondroitin can slow the degradation of the joint, as well as providing the building blocks to help repair the damage.

Many dogs are more susceptible to hip and joints problems, in particular giant or large sized breeds. Specially formulated large breed foods can help prevent the onset of these problems. Breeds to look out for are:

  • Great Danes
  • Mastiffs
  • German Shepherds
  • Labradors and Golden Retrievers
  • Rottweilers and Dobermans.

Smaller dogs often suffer from Luxating Patella. It is a fairly serious health issue in dogs, often causing them pain and discomfort. Although larger dogs like Labradors are also prone, it is primarily a smaller dog issue. This is a genetic disorder, causing the knee cap to “pop” off the knee. This condition can be helped with protein and omegas, just as for other joint problems. Dogs prone to this disorder are:

  • Mini & Toy Poodles,
  • Maltese,
  • Jack Russell Terriers,
  • Yorkshire Terriers,
  • Pomeranians,
  • Pekingese,
  • Australian Terrier & Australian Silky Terrier,
  • Chihuahuas,
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniels,
  • Papillons,
  • Boston Terriers

Bloat

In the United States, 33% of dogs die from a disorder commonly known as “bloat”, technically known as gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV). In the USA it is the second biggest cause of dog death. In Australia that figure is much lower. No one is really sure why this is so, but vet scientists believe this is due to the fact that Australians tend to give their dogs more raw food and bones.

Bloat occurs when something goes wrong during digestion of food. Something causes gases to build up in the stomach so fast that the stomach blows up like a balloon, stretching the organ so much that normal circulation of blood to and from the heart is cutoff. The stretching itself and the lack of blood to the stomach’s cells can cause cell death, or necrosis. What makes it even worse and more immediately serious is when the stomach actually “twists and turns” (known as volvulus) at the top near the esophagus and at the bottom of the stomach at the pyloric valve. Gas is trapped and can’t escape from either end. The gas pressure builds as it becomes trapped within the stomach. The stomach grows so large it cuts off circulation and irreversible damage is done to the cells. The dog goes into shock and then cardiac arrest. This can happen within several hours after the start of bloat. If you suspect your dog is experiencing this condition, you must rush to the vet. THIS IS A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

The incidence of bloat is more common in large and giant breed dogs but it can happen to any dog, in particular dogs with what is often referred to as a deep chest. This means the length of the chest from backbone to sternum is long and the width of the chest is narrower. It also has a higher incidence in older dogs and underweight dogs.

Bloat is one reason why so many grain free diets now exist for dogs. However it would be unfair to say it is grained diets that make bloat occur. Despite research efforts, there is no conclusive evidence as to why it occurs, just best guesses by experts.  What we do know, is that dogs with balanced diets are less prone to the condition.  This is why it is important to feed your dog a high quality diet that includes some bones and raw foods.

A few examples of what scientists believe to be contributing factors to the causes of bloat are listed below:

  1. Large meals eaten at one time. They recommend serving your dog two smaller meals a day, rather than just one big one.
  2. Rigorous exercise done either right before a meal or right after one. You should wait one hour before feeding after exercise and one hour after eating before you let your dog run around.
  3. Dry food given that is high in grain, which causes fermentation during digestion, which causes gas. Dry food should have meat; meat meal and bone meal listed within the first few ingredients, not grain. In other words, dry food should have more meat than grain in its ingredients. [Some texts claim this is not true, but most do agree with it.]
  4. If only dry food is given, some people moisten it with water if it is a high-end dog food. However, with lesser quality foods, less meat-based dog food, the ones that are mostly grains, it is better to NOT wet the food, since water mixed with grain will start fermentation, a process that has by-products of gas. But if the food is mostly meat, it’s OK, and can actually help with digestion. Mix dry food with canned food if possible.
  5. Gulping large amounts of water at one time during meals. Keep water within the dog’s reach at all times, except during meals.
  6. Be careful of snacks and biscuits that are high in carbohydrates. Grains are carbohydrates.
  7. Avoid dog food high in citric acid used as a preservative and also food that is high in fat.

Signs and Symptoms

Know your dog. Most of the symptoms are behavioral, at least in the very beginning, so your dog will start to act differently. The abdomen is stretched to many times its normal size due to an increase in gas. It will blow up like a balloon and is one of the first most obvious signs. In some cases, this part of the bloat event can’t be seen. But, usually you can see the distended abdomen, which will also feel very hard to the touch, like a ball that has been pumped up with too much air.

This event causes severe abdominal pain. So, you may see that your dog is acting uncomfortable, pacing the floor, not being about to find a comfortable position to lie down or may make sounds like he is in pain.

The biggest, most obvious symptom is that the dog appears to be nauseated. The dog will unsuccessfully attempt to vomit and will retch and gag, but nothing come up, or very little, if any. They will also attempt to have a bowel movement, assume the position, but again, nothing comes out. Excessive drooling is also a common symptom.

It is better to be safe then sorry, as you only have a few hours to get treatment, so if you see any of the above, please take your dog to the vet ASAP.

Bloat is most common in the following dogs, but please note it can happen to any dog:

  • Great Dane
  • Rottweiler
  • Staffordshire Terrier
  • German Shepherd
  • Bernese Mountain Dog
  • Boxer
  • Greyhound
  • Golden Retriever
  • Labrador
  • Standard Poodle
  • Doberman
  • Irish Wolfhound
  • Irish Setter
  • St Bernard
  • Weimaraner
  • Alaskan Malamute
  • Akita
  • Afghan
  • Kuvasz
  • Newfoundland
  • Basset Hound

Benefits of Premium Nutrition Tins

Wet food from premium brands offer just as much nutritional content as dry foods – no longer the ‘junk food’ of the past, for many dogs, they are the favourable alternative.

  1. With the increased water content, wet food ensures your dog stays adequately hydrated. This is particularly beneficial to older dogs or those suffering with urinary tract infections.
  2. Wet food often has a higher protein content, and fewer carbohydrates, than dry food. This means it is packed with essential nutrients and supports their muscles and bones. Premium nutrition food contain everything your pet needs, with no wastage and nothing missed out.
  3. They also have fewer preservatives, since they don’t have to stay fresh when opened at room temperature.
  4. Wet food smells and tastes stronger, so for older animals with a decreased sense of smell and taste, it may encourage them to eat. This is also true for those truly stubborn picky eaters, or if you just want to treat your dog to something good.
  5. Wet food is good for dogs with health problems such as misaligned jaws, which make chewing more difficult, or for those with a sore mouth or gums.
  6. There is a popular belief that wet food is bad for your pets teeth – however, when compared to regular dry food, there is very little difference. Only specifically designed oral care dry foods are clinically proven to improve dental health.

So try out some Royal Canin, Advance or Hill’s Science Diet as a starting point, and watch your dog flourish. For holistic options, try Holistic Select cans.

Benefits of Premium Nutrition Kibble

Gone are the days of poor quality dog food. The premium brand kibbled food today is scientifically researched and carefully formulated to provide all of their nutritional needs. There are many benefits to feeding your dog a good quality dry food:

  1. They are guaranteed to get all of the nutrients they need, so no added supplements are necessary. Formulating your own meals can be difficult, and trace minerals are often missed out. A complete kibble will supply them with everything they need, without any wastage.
  2. Kibble is good for their oral health, particularly dental specific formulas. The abrasive feel of the kibble cleans tartar from their teeth, and some will have specially added enzymes to break it down even further.
  3. Feeding dry food is much cheaper than feeding an equivalent wet or tinned food, and still contains all the nutrients, vitamins and minerals they need.
  4. Kibble is easy to store, lasts a long time and doesn’t take up a lot of space. It is also easier to transport on holiday and boarding. Premium kibble use natural preservatives such as Vitamin E, so there is no danger to your pet’s health.

Some premium quality foods include Royal Canin, Advance and Hill’s Science Diet. They all come in formulas suited for specific age and size of dogs, and are carefully balanced to provide them everything they need. For holistic options that are still optimum quality, try Holistic Select, Earthborn Holistic or Canidae. Ziwipeak offers a super premium, raw based holistic food.