The Grain Free Pet Food Fallacy

The grain free pet food craze has stuck in my craw as an integrative veterinary medical practitioner for years, but the final straw for me to post this article was a 5 year old female Labrador Retriever that presented for her well visit a few days ago.  The previous year at 72 pounds, I had listed her as overweight and recommended “portion control, and/or weight loss diet, increased exercise to facilitate weight loss.”  The owner had asked me for dietary recommends at the time and I gave her a few options.

This year, my Lab patient not only failed to lose weight, but presented at a whopping 84 pounds, progressing her body condition from overweight to “morbidly obese.”  The owner was noticeably frustrated, so I asked her which diet she had chosen.  As it turns out, some time after last year’s visit, a friend of her’s convinced her that grains were the root of obesity and most other diseases that occur in dogs, and that her best way to get weight off her dog would be to per her on a grain free dog food.  When the owner saw the pretty wolf on the bag and its fantastic label claims, then even saw that the diet had its own TV commercial airing during prime time, she was sold…and succeeded only in transitioning her dog from a fat dog to an obese dog.

This grain free pet food craze that is pulling pet owners in hook, line and sinker, reminds me of the fat free craze in the early to mid 90’s.  The thought process was that if fat is eliminated from food items, we could eat the things we wanted and stay lean.  Like the grain free pet foods, the opposite actually occurred and people eating fat free foods only found themselves getting fatter and less healthy.

The problem was that in order to take the fat out of cookies, muffins, etc., sugar was added in its place to maintain its taste appeal and consistency.  Sugar, or glucose, is absorbed and utilized much more readily as an energy source than fat, resulting in the intake of a food additive that resulted in a great deal more calories per unit volume than fat.

Like the fat free human foods of the 90’s, grain free pet foods are also commonly loaded up with glucose to make up for the lack of grains.  But the grain free pet foods are even worse, because without the grains, the foods lack adequate amounts of soluble fiber.  Why is dietary soluble fiber important?  There are several reasons!

Soluble fiber unlike simple carbohydrate is not itself absorbed by the gut, but attracts water as it passes through the gastrointestinal tract.  This helps to control hunger by filling the bowel and contributes to regularity by bulking the stool, thereby facilitating bowel health and increasing the basal metabolic rate.  Soluble fiber also reduces the reliance on simple sugars in the diet, offering the pet more stable blood glucose metabolism, reducing obesity, and reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes, pancreatic disease, and other diseases.

Truly, the only thing that is impressive about grain free pet food companies is their marketing departments.  With images of wolves and wildcats and proclaiming that your domestic pet should be fed more like its wild ancestors, the message is hitting to millions of pet owners.  Let us set aside from for one moment that our domestic dogs and cats are different from their wild ancestors physiologically and metabolically (that is a whole other topic for another day), I am quite certain that after killing their prey, a pack of wolves did not add a pound of sugar to their fresh kill.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

Pheromone Treatment For Dogs And Cats? Really?

There’s always something new coming out that is the next great thing to make your pet’s life better. Myths get perpetuated on social media like gospel truth. What’s real and what’s just hype?

Pheromones sure sound sketchy. What are they? A pheromone is a chemical secreted by the body that is emitted and detected by other individuals of the same species. Pheromones are a means of “silent communication” so to speak. They can be used to communicate such messages as danger, food, territory, desire to breed, or calming. They do not have a smell that we can detect, but are detected through nasal passages or organs in the mouth.

Scientists have figured out which chemicals communicate what message in a variety of species. They also created synthetic versions of these chemicals for production. For instance, cats will often rub their face and cheeks against an object (or person!). Why are they doing this? They are applying a pheromone to that surface that “marks” that object or pant leg as “theirs.” Once many objects in a house are claimed, they can relax, knowing they are in their own domain. With dogs, a pheromone has been discovered that nursing mother dogs emit. It has a calming effect on the puppies. Puppies that know mom is there will eat better, sleep better, and eliminate better.

Companies have created these two pheromones (one for cats, one for dogs) for people to use at home to help reduce stress in their pets. So this is all well and good, but…really? I know, it sounds bogus. I was a huge skeptic when I first heard about them. It all sounds so abstract, and as a scientist, I need proof.

Well, there is proof! And it’s not the “my friend’s mom’s friend’s cousin says it works” kind of proof. Well designed, controlled, double blinded clinical studies have demonstrated an efficacy of >80% in 30 minutes for both the dog and cat versions. The original product was Feliway (for cats) and DAP, now called Adaptil, for dogs. They are still considered the “gold standard” by many veterinary behaviorists. Now other companies are coming out with their own versions.

These products come in a plug-in diffuser (think room air freshener) that you can use in your house. Large houses take a few diffusers to cover the space, as one diffuser covers 600-800 square feet. They also come in spray, which you can apply to a bed, carrier, or, for dogs, a bandana you can spray and the dog wears. The spray lasts 24 hours or less, so it’s not an easy long term solution, more for situational needs. They also come in collars the pets wears, and are replaced monthly (as are the diffusers).

I recommend pheromones often. They have no side effects, no odor, and can only help. If it doesn’t help, worst thing that happens is you’re out about $40 depending on the product. Some of my cat owners swear by them for helping inter-cat aggression, or most commonly, urinating outside of the litter box. My dog owners have been pleased when using it for dogs with generalized anxiety, separation anxiety, or situations like thunderstorms and fireworks. These are just a few examples of potential applications.

So while it sounds mystical, the science behind pheromones is sound, and many veterinary behaviorists have been recommending them for years! If you have a cat urinating outside the litterbox, or a dog that can’t cope with you leaving, these alone will not fix the problem. However, when coupled with a positively based approach, can help speed along improvement.

Here’s my article on other effective OTC anxiety treatments for dogs and cats.

Dr. Roger Holistic Vet guest blogger Dr. Karen Louis is a practicing small animal veterinarian.  See more of her articles at her blog at VetChick.com

Phytosphingosine Vital Component In Management Of Skin Disease In Dogs And Cats

Phytosphingosine is naturally occurring lipid compound on the outer layer of the skin of dogs and cats.  It is produced by the break down of wax-like compounds secreted by glands within the deep layers of skin.  This break down occurs via the skin’s natural flora, a population of good bacteria and yeast that are a normal component to normally functioning, healthy skin.  Phytosphingosine subsequently forms a transparent layer that protects the skin against drying, ultraviolet damage, harmful bacteria and yeast, and antigens that may trigger allergy.

Following a major inflammatory episode of the skin that may involve infection, allergic skin disease, parasitic infestation, autoimmune disease, or other diseases of the skin, despite resolution of disease, to varying degrees the skin’s ability to maintain the protective phytosphingosine layer becomes compromised for some time (as long as 3-6 months).   Subsequently,  although treatment for the resolution of skin disease may have proven successful, the canine or feline patient is often prone to relapses of disease for prolonged periods of time.

Thus, the inclusion of phytosphingosine as a natural prevalent ingredient to our canine and feline therapeutic shampoos has proved to be an invaluable, side effect free tool in the treatment of any number of skin diseases.

With few exceptions, phytosphingosine based shampoos are excellent adjunctive topical skin diseases, including (but not limited to):

  • Skin infections that do not involve puncture or deep ulceration of the skin
  • Allergic skin disease
    • Hair loss
    • Itching
    • Redness/irritation
  • Mange
  • Autoimmune disease

Even in the absence of disease of the skin, a phytosphingosine based maintenance, conditioning shampoo helps to maintain a full, shiny, healthy hair coat.

As the largest organ of the body, maintaining healthy skin is essential to maintaining optimal health and quality of life.  Phytosphingosine is a proven natural compound that aids in the maintenance of a healthy skin and hair coat.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

Nature’s Anti-Inflammatory – Omega-3 Fatty Acids For Dogs And Cats

My expertise of course is veterinary medicine, but since we share much of the same mammalian physiology as dogs and cats, as a biochemist and veterinarian I have long ago jumped on the omega-3-fatty bandwagon for my whole family, human and furry alike.  Omega-3-fatty acids are found in high concentration in non-oxidized (more on this below) fish oils.  They can be found in some vegetables but they are known to be only 10% as bioavailable as that found in fish.  Bioavailability  refers to the body’s ability to absorb and assimilate nutrients.  In both human and veterinary medicine, the discovery of the health benefits of dietary omega-3-fatty acids has been hailed as a major advancement in nutritional science for preventative health care and management of disease.

Omega-3-fatty acids are an integral component to the cellular membrane which essentially is the protective barrier between the base unit of biological tissues that comprise the body’s organ systems and the outside environment.  That barriers allows for selective transport of molecules in and out of the cell, while protecting the interior of the cell from free radical injury and invasion of viruses and bacteria.  Thus, omega-3-fatty acids are invaluable in protecting and repairing cells.

Omega-3-fatty acids also block inflammatory biochemical processes that lead to inflammation.  This occurs by diverting inflammatory reactions from resulting in harmful inflammatory compounds and instead producing inert, non-harmful substrates.  The net effect is to reduce inflammation throughout the entire body.  As a result, I commonly say to my clients that omega-3-fatty acids are a good natural adjunctive treatment for any “itis.”

This combination of beneficial aspects for omega-3-fatty acids makes them invaluable treating for:

  • General wellness, tissue repair at the cellular level, and protection from oxidative injury and microorganism invasion
  • Brain health
  • Lower urinary tract disease
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Allergies
  • Gastrointestinal disease
  • Liver and kidney disease
  • Cardiovascular disease

As I stated, any “itis!”

It is important to note that nutritional supplements are not FDA regulated and omega-3-fatty acids are no exception, which is I why earlier in this post I alluded to non-oxidized omega-3-fatty acids.   This means that there is no regulatory agency that is assuring product quality, bioavailability, or and label integrity.

In my next post via the link below, I will discuss the differences in beneficial and bogus omega-3-fatty acids supplements and how choosing bogus product may not only be ineffective, but even harmful to your pet.

The Importance Of Selecting A High Quality Omega-3-Fatty Supplement For Dogs & Cats

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

Cats Meow Only At People, Not To Each Other

Cats are such an extraordinary and unique species.  They are by their nature they are fight or flight based animals that consequently can survive on their own (albeit not ideally) in the wild.  In their wild state, they most commonly choose a solitary and territorial existence.

Yet despite their fight or slight and solitary nature, they so often give and accept abundant affection and thrive in human families, even among other cats and dogs within a household.  While some cats are more talkative than others, many will communicate with their humans by meowing.  Cats will meow for some or all of the following reasons:

To greet people.

To solicit attention.

To ask for food.

To ask to be let in or out.

From mental confusion or cognitive dysfunction brought on by age.

Interestingly, while kittens will meow for Mom’s attention and vice versa, adult cats do not meow at one another.  During times of combativeness toward one another, cats they may hiss or growl and females in heat seeking to attract a mate sometimes make a characteristic yowling sound; but they do not meow at one another.  That particular form of communication seems to be reserved almost exclusively for people.

I am amazed that I just recently learned of this feline phenomenon 15 years into practicing veterinary medicine!  Once I read about it, however, I have repeatedly tested the general observation with my own cats and with cats who board at my practice.  I will often sneak in and observe from around a corner to watch them play and interact with one another and time and again with not a sound heard from them.  Once I walk in and they see me, however, I am greeted by a chorus of meows.

It seems that as cats have evolved across literally thousands of years living among and in close proximity with humans, they’ve gained an instinctual understanding that meowing at humans is an effective way to get our attention and express their wants, needs, and affections.

There are some people who do not particularly care for cats because unlike dogs they may not come when they are called, may be aloof, and as a result leave some with the impression that they do not truly love the pet owner as sincerely and completely as a dog would.  For the people that feel this way, I would point out that while cats may express themselves differently than dogs, they express themselves nonetheless with a language that they reserve almost exclusively just for us.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

 

The Love And Beauty Of A Senior Pet

As a society, we tend to be enamored with puppies and kittens.  To be sure, they are adorable, playful, and fun and bring with them the promise of many years of companionship.  On the other hand, they are often undeniable knuckleheads that can be destructive and a serious danger to themselves, prone to eating things that get stuck in their gut or make them sick, chewing electrical cords, and are for all intents and purposes, clueless.

On the contrary,  senior dogs and cats have a dignity and wisdom about them that is etched in their gray hairs and meaningful and deep expressions.  If we are fortunate to have the privilege to have healthy pets well into their senior years, there is a bond so deep with their humans that expectations are a given and words are often not even necessary to communicate.

While the love of a puppy or kitten is in your face, up close and center, the love of senior dogs and cats is no less unconditional and vibrant, but comes with a confidence that does not require demand nor statement.  Merely being in the same room, exchanging glances, and enjoying one another’s routines set by years of co-existence suffices.

While the senior dog may not be able to swim, catch the Frisbee, or run like he used to, nor the senior cat climb, jump, or chase the laser pointer like he used to; they snuggle more patiently and willingly than they ever have and know you more deep and profound way than they ever have.

Senior pets require more care and special needs with regard to their health, but that is what we signed up for when we made the commitment to taking on a precious life to spend part of our life’s journey with us.  For them, there is no question that they will stick with us whether we are physically able, disabled, rich, poor, or homeless; we owe them no less.

So while puppies and kittens are cute and fun, today, my tribute is to the wonderful senior pets of the world.  May we all be so lucky to keep our pets well into their senior years to enjoy the privilege of the inner beauty of the senior pet.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

Treatment For Flaky Skin And/Or Dull Hair Coat In Dogs And Cats

Flaky skin is not representative of healthy skin. Thus, if you are observing flakes on the coat of your dog or cat that means something is inherently amiss with the health of the skin and hair coat. However, there is not one single cause for the presence of flaky canine and feline skin, and determining the cause of flakes is paramount to finding a solution to treat them.

Dry Flakes

When the flakes are observed on the skin and hair coats of dogs and cats are dry to the touch, feeling like the character of fish food flakes, this typically indicates simple dry skin. Flakes of this kind often are not accompanied by significant hair loss, foul odor, and/or redness or irritation. This presentation is fairly easy to treat with a combination of omega-3-fatty acids derived from fish oils taken orally, and weekly to biweekly baths with a moisturizing shampoo fortified with oatmeal and essential fatty acids. This approach comprehensively, directly conditions and nourishes the skin and hair coat.

Oily FlakesWhen the flakes have an oily feel to them, this typically means that a skin disease process is at work that is more complicated than simple dry skin, known as seborrheic dermatitis. Seborrheic dermatitis occurs when the rate of skin cell turnover becomes excessive due to inflammation. This is also often accompanied by overactive sebaceous glands (glands that secrete conditioning, water proofing oils for the skin), hence the typical oily texture of flakes, skin and hair coat in patients that suffer from seborrheic dermatitis. In addition to flakes and oiliness, the skin is often itchy, inflamed, and there is often a general foul odor to the pet.

The most common inflammatory influence with regard to seborrheic dermatitis is skin allergy. Thus, in addition to direct anti-seborrheic topical management of the skin and hair coat (more on that below); a comprehensive skin allergy management regimen is also imperative. From a supplemental point of view, omega-3-fatty acids derived from fish oils are still important, but for more reasons than just directly conditioning the skin and hair coat. By their nature, omega-3-fatty acids are naturally anti-inflammatory, diverting inflammatory biochemical pathways to inert, non-reactive pathways

An allergic pet should also be fed a hypoallergenic diet. Diets should be free of grassy grains (wheat, corn, barley, and oats) and contain a novel protein source, that is, a protein source the dog or cat has never before consumed. This covers the patient for possible food allergy, as food allergy sensitivities build over time from prolonged, repeated consumption of a protein, most commonly, an animal source protein. For most dogs and cats, that rules out chicken and beef, as these are the most common protein sources found in commercial pet food diets. Good novel protein sources include: rabbit, venison, and duck, as well as an array of less common sources.

Hydrolyzed protein diets are also very effective, since they take away the necessity to find novel protein sources. Hydrolyzed diets cut large chain proteins into smaller, maximally absorbable chains that are unlikely to lead to allergic reactions that erupt in the skin.

For a carbohydrate source for patients with seborrheic dermatitis, I like rice, technically a grain, but unlikely to cause adverse reaction in the gut. Potato is also a good carbohydrate source that also contains other important nutrients such as potassium.  

Last but not least, from a topical point of view, a pet that suffers from chronic seborrheic dermatitis, should at least in the short term, be regularly bathed with a veterinary grade, anti-seborrheic shampoo. Such a shampoo should have benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid as its two active medical ingredients, while also having aloe, essential fatty acids, and other naturally conditioning agents in it. Your veterinarian can recommend effective anti-seborrheic shampoo products. I typically advise bathing with such a shampoo three times weekly until the flakes, oiliness, and odor are under control, and then bathe the pet as needed.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

Can Fleas Be Controlled Naturally In Dogs & Cats?

The direct answer to this question is yes. However, I will state plainly and unequivocally it is not brewer’s yeast or garlic. Naturally minded pet owners need to stop living in denial about brewer’s yeast and garlic as legitimate flea preventive agents: FACE FACTS, THEY DO NOT WORK. The actual answer will be quite surprising to most naturally and holistically minded pet owners. But first, a little background is in order.

Scientists have for some time observed that plants that grow in soil laden with species bacteria called Saccharopolyspora spinosa were conspicuously devoid of insect pests. Further research determined that the reason behind the insecticidal properties of the soil was due to a secretory molecule within the bacteria called spinosad. Specifically, while posing little toxicity risk to mammalian species, spinosad is highly toxic to an adult insect’s nervous system, with contact leading to rapid and high mortality rates in many species of insects, most notably, fleas.

Pharmaceutical Eli Lilly has been able to isolate and mass produce spinosad in two of their animal health division’s marquis products for dogs and cats: monthly oral flea preventive Comfortis, and monthly oral heartworm and flea preventive, Trifexis. A spinosad derivative called spinatorem is available for cats, administered as a monthly topical flea preventive.  In either form, isolated and mass produced by a pharmaceutical, spinosad is still by in large considered to be a natural isolate and insecticide, to the extent that a garden may still be legally identified as “organic” if spinosad is applied for insect control.

This is where so many naturally minded pet owners are quite surprised at my answer when they ask me if there are any natural or holistic flea prevention/control options available. They expect me to tell them that brewer’s yeast, garlic, cedar sprays, ultrasonic emitters, and other natural modalities that are popular internet pet forum talking points but do not actually work for prevention of fleas, are the answer; when the only currently proven natural flea prevention solution comes from a multibillion dollar a year pharmaceutical company.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

Naturally Reducing The Impact Of & Maintaining Cardiac Function In Dogs In Cats With Heart Disease

Natural Treatment For Heart Disease In Dogs And CatsWith few exceptions, regardless of the many different presentations of chronic heart disease in dogs and cats, whether primarily or secondarily, there are metabolic and structural abnormalities at the level of the heart muscle. These abnormalities lead to electrical conduction anomalies, deficiencies in the strength and timeliness of heart contractions, and compromise the ability of the heart chambers to adequately fill with blood. The net result of this is a heart that is grossly inefficient and fails to circulate adequate amounts of blood to oxygenate and nourish the body.

Our medical technology in treatment of heart disease has effectively retained quality of life and significant longevity for canine and feline patients with chronic heart disease. Just in my 12 plus year career alone, the advances in medical management of heart disease has progressed by leaps and bounds. However, the supplemental side of nutrient therapy to aid in the treatment of heart disease has progressed painstakingly slowly. What’s more, heart healthy supplements have for too long been ignored as a means to effectively prevent or stave off heart disease in dogs and cats.

L-Carnitine

L-Carnitine is an amino acid that is not considered an essential amino acid, as a normal body can produced all it needs by the liver utilizing the amino acids lysine and methionine, in combination with Vitamin C, B1, and B6. Carnitine is required for transporting long chain fatty acids into the mitochondria of cells, tiny cellular structures that are consider the powerhouse of the cell. Once transported into the mitochondria, the fatty acids are converted into the ultimate chemical energy source of the body, known as adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Mitochondria are abundant in the cells of all organs that have a large energy requirement, including the heart.

Although the normal pet is able to manufacture all of the L-Carnitine it needs under normal circumstances, it may not under different circumstances, where there may be an inherited deficiency in manufacturing this amino acid. It has actually been long theorized that this is the mechanism behind a specific kind of heart failure called dilative cardiomyopathy.

There is also credible evidence that even in chronic heart disease patients that manufacture adequate levels of L-Carnitine, that providing additional L-Carnitine has shown considerable benefit in management of progression and severity of disease. Thus, L-Carnitine should be an integral supplement taken by all patients afflicted with any stage of chronic heart disease. What’s more, for all breeds where dilative cardiomyopathy is seen more commonly – Cocker Spaniels, Great Danes, Doberman Pinschers, and all giant breed dogs – these dogs should be started on a regular regimen of L-Carnitine early on.

Coenzyme Q10

Coenzyme Q10 is also present in the mitochondria of the cells. It is involved in the conversion of oxygen into energy for the cell. It is especially important for the cells of organs that have high oxygen requirements, such as the heart and brain. Given its affinity for oxygen and other oxidizing compounds, Coenzyme Q10 is also a very potent anti-oxidant that protects tissues and organs from oxidizing chemicals and metabolites. All of this considered, it should come as no surprise that research suggests that Coenzyme Q10 is an invaluable supplement for management of heart muscle damage and debilitation.

Taurine

Taurine is an essential amino acid that has particularly high concentrations in the eyes and heart. It is considered essential to heart health, as deficiencies of it are directly linked to a dilative cardiomyopathy in cats and dogs. However, Taurine deficiency is not necessarily a dietary deficiency, but it could be an inherited abnormality in a dog’s or cat’s ability to absorb and assimilate the nutrient from the diet.

In most cases, dogs and cats fed animal meat based diets will satisfy their Taurine needs. With regard to cats, I have not actually seen a case of dilative cardiomyopathy in a cat fed a feline labelled diet, or home prepared diet heavy in meats. I have, however, seen many cases of heart disease in dogs fed canine diets with adequate crude protein requirements, or home prepared diets heavy in meats.

As such, like Coenzyme Q10 and L-Carnitine, Taurine should also be an integral component to management of chronic heart disease in dogs and cats. Also like L-Carnitine and Coenzyme Q10 in dog breeds known to be predisposed to dilative cardiomyopathy, they should be started and maintained on supplementation from a young age.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

Dog Or Cat Fart A Lot? Something May Be Wrong.

Even under the best of circumstances, it is unrealistic to think that dogs and catsDog And Cat Farts, Excessive Gas will live free of flatulence. An occasional stinky toot here and there is normal. However, a constant, unrelentingly, gassy pet is not normal, and it usually indicative of an underlying gastrointestinal problem.

Excessive gas most commonly occurs as the result of a food allergy. Food allergy means that there is a dietary sensitivity to one or more ingested proteins in the diet that lead to inflammation of the lining of the gut, subsequent malabsorption, and fermentation of unabsorbed food in the hind gut. Gas is a byproduct of fermentation.

Food allergy is most commonly linked to animal meat protein, the most common of which are beef and chicken. Some pets may also react to large proteins that are present in grass grains, such as wheat, barley, and corn.

Thus, the first step in addressing an excessively gassy pet is to engage in a hypoallergenic food trial. Hypoallergenic diets must have the following qualities.

1.) They must present a novel animal protein source, that is, a protein source that the pet has never been fed before. The body gets sensitized to allergenic proteins over time from repeated ingestion of it, hence the need to present the pet with a completely new protein source. Good choices include venison, rabbit, and duck.

2.) They must be grain and preservative free.

3.) They must be species appropriate nutrient balanced.

The easiest method to accomplish this is to purchase a prescription hypoallergenic diet from your veterinarian that meets these criteria. Another way to accomplish this is home feed with fresh ingredients, if time and schedule permit the commitment. For both species you will want to use fresh meat sources for home prepared diets. Your pet may benefit from raw feeding, but if you go this route, be certain to use companies that specialize in providing raw meat for pets that have good reviews. This will minimize the potential for raw meat bacterial food poisoning. My favorite raw meat sources for pets are those that ship the meat frozen, the customer receives the product still frozen, to then be thawed out and fed on an as needed basis.

You should provide good complex carbohydrate, fiber, and antioxidant sources from fresh vegetables. Green beans, cooked spinach and sliced carrots are good options to feed. If your pet is not crazy about veggies, you can make them more palatable by pureeing them into paste. Under normal circumstances, I am a fan of feeding broccoli, but given its tendency to ferment in the hind gut, it would be best to avoid broccoli for the gassy pet. I advise feeding dogs 50% meat, 50% vegetables, whereas cats should be fed 100% meat, or 80% meat, 20% vegetables (some cats benefit from some fiber in the diet).

Whether you choose to feed prescription veterinary diet or home prepared, you should feed the hypoallergenic diet exclusively for 8 weeks. If the gas problem resolves, then you have your solution: continue to feed it exclusively for life. If the gas continues unabated or is still excessive to some degree, then try adding probiotics and digestive enzymes to the diet. Probiotics provide “good” bacteria essential for normal digestion, whereas digestive enzymes aid in the breaking down of nutrients into optimally absorbable forms to maximize digestive absorption. Both supplement types will help to increase digestion and reduce gas.

If none of the above helps, then the dog or cat may have a condition that is more severe than produced from simple food allergy and malabsorption. These difficult cases should be seen by a veterinarian, as something more serious like inflammatory bowel disease chronic parasites may be present.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.