Does the quality of your pet’s food matter to you? It should. Just like what we put into our mouths and stomachs determine our overall health, the same is true of our pets. What we feed them matters. If people tried to live on potato chips, cookies, and cupcakes, our health would be negatively affected in many ways. What our pets digest can also negatively, or positively, impact their health.
Obesity and cancer are two major health concerns in both humans and pets. Therefore, both species need proper nutrition to combat these, and other, health issues. According to the Pet Nutrition Alliance, our pets “need over 30 essential nutrients including protein, essential amino acids, essential fatty acids, and vitamins and minerals.” Even though their needs are the same, dogs and cats have different nutrient requirements.
There are many and varied pet foods on the market. Some are less expensive but also possess the least amount of quality nutrition. Ingredients such as corn and wheat have become less acceptable due to several factors, including that, in the wild, canines and felines don’t eat such products. Coyotes, wolves, bobcats and cougars and carnivores; therefore, our dogs and cats require protein. Reading labels is an important way to know what’s in your pets’ food. For example, is the food comprised of meat or meat by-product? There’s a difference. According to the Association of American Feed Control Officials, meat is “the muscle tissue of the animal, but may include fat, gristle and other tissues normally accompanying the muscle, similar to what is sometimes seen in raw meat sold for human consumption,” and meat by-product is “the non-rendered, clean parts, other than meat, derived from slaughtered mammals. It includes, but is not limited to, lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, livers, blood, bone, partially de-fatted low temperature fatty tissue and stomachs and intestines freed of their contents.”
How do you choose your pet’s food? If you don’t want to read hundreds of labels, or if you want a place to start, there are many online reviewing sites. One such site, PetFoodReviewer.com, started last year and doesn’t contain information on all dog and cat foods, but could be a good resource starting point. DogFoodAdvisor.com and DogFoodGuru.com are two other good sites to research. These sites also provide a listing of recalls. For cat food, check out Reviews.com, We’re All About Cats, and Catological. The American FDA (Food and Drug Administration) also maintains a list of pet food and treat recalls. Check their website to find out about any recalls: https://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/SafetyHealth/RecallsWithdrawals/default.htm.
Nearly all experts tell us to not feed human food/table scraps to our pets. However, some people prefer to make their own pet food at home. Although that’s a subject for another newsletter, with Christmas on the horizon, there may be plenty of leftovers you’re not sure what to do with. The folks at Personal Creations, who shared a post last month, created a guide on using leftovers to create pet treats; in that guide, they also have a list of foods that are good for pets (such as pumpkin and turkey) and foods to avoid giving to pets (mushrooms, turkey skin, and onions). If you didn't see that publication previously, you can find it by clicking here: https://www.personalcreations.com/blog/thanksgiving-pets.
As you shop for your pets and for pet lovers on your Christmas list, look for nutritious foods and treats to keep your beloved animals healthy!
In related news, PetCo recently announced it will stop selling pet food and treats which contain artificial colors, flavors and preservatives. Read more here: http://www.petproductnews.com/News/Petco-Plans-to-Stop-Selling-Food-and-Treats-with-Artificial-Ingredients/
Most of us have experienced cancer in our lives, whether in ourselves, a friend, a family member, or a pet. I’ve lost two dogs to cancer during the past 20 years. The disease came on suddenly in both dogs, and one of them, Sage (our blind springer spaniel) died less than two weeks of the diagnosis.
Experts estimate nearly 12 million dogs and cats are diagnosed with cancer every year. Nearly 50 percent of pet disease-related deaths are due to cancer. According to PetPlan’s Guide to Pet Cancer website, one in four dogs will develop a tumor at some point in their lives,
Cats don’t seem to get cancer as often as dogs, but cats also mask pain and disease well, so it’s often more difficult to detect feline cancer by cat owners. Lumps and bumps are ways to notice potential cancer as well as vomiting and diarrhea. One of the most common cat cancers is lymphoma, which oftentimes shows few symptoms.
A seven-part docu-series is set to begin this week to help pet parents learn and understand more about this deadly disease. Starting Wednesday, April 4, you can watch the free series, which features 30 pet health experts. Ty Bollinger, the founder of The Truth About Cancer, has created this program, The Truth About Pet Cancer. Learn more and watch the documentary trailer here; you can also sign up to receive emails with links to the free seven-part series at this same website: https://thetruthaboutpetcancer.com/.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), nearly half of dogs over 10 years of age will develop cancer. Many different breeds are susceptible to cancer, including Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, basset hounds, boxers, and Boston terriers. Dogs suffer from many of the same cancers as humans, including prostrate, bladder, mouth, lymph nodes, and brain tumors. Some cancers develop in the nose, causing nose bleeds. A cocker spaniel I adopted in 1989 died ten years later, at age 12 ½ from cancer that began in his nasal cavity.
Although there is no sure-way to prevent cancer claiming our pets, there are some things we as pet parents can do to help off-set the chances of the disease. Here are a few ideas:
Cancer is a terrible disease, and though cures still allude scientists, doctors, and veterinarians, we can all do something to lessen this deadly pestilence in ourselves and our pets, that includes greater knowledge through the upcoming docu-series. Sign up here: https://thetruthaboutpetcancer.com/.
Gayle M. Irwin is a writer and public relations professional who volunteers with various animal rescue groups. She enjoys sharing her books and her passion for pets and the environment with others.