****Does your dog chew at his tail or feet?
Does your cat have a dry, dull coat (or even bald patches) and always seems to be itchy? Are you constantly at the vet for ear infections or digestive issues? Food allergies or insensitivities may be to blame! While grain allergies are the most common seen in dogs, they can, and often do, develop allergies to specific proteins in their diets.
Dogs and cats are not born with allergies to specific proteins; they are developed over time by feeding the same ingredients over and over. If a dog is given chicken every day of his life, for example, over time his body may become less equipped to break down those proteins. The body begins to mistakenly identify chicken as a harmful ingredient, and creates defensive antibodies to fight against the food. This is what causes the symptoms that many of us have become familiar with.
How can you prevent these allergies from developing? The best way is through a rotational diet, much like our own. Each day, we eat a different assortment of foods than the day before. This helps us to receive a wide variety of nutrients, and of course, prevents boredom from eating the same thing over and over. Dogs and cats also benefit from a varied diet, and switching foods can prove to save a lot of money on veterinary care over the course of a dog’s life.
Many pet parents are afraid to switch their pet’s food for fear that it will cause diarrhea, vomiting and other gastrointestinal issues. They think that finding one good food and sticking to it will keep their pet healthy and happy for life. This is what many food companies want you to think as well, as it keeps your pet food dollars coming in their direction for 10-15 years. In reality, however, the minor G.I. issues that may form from switching foods are nothing compared to the major issues that may happen if the dog or cat becomes intolerant to their diet.
It is recommended by progressive vets that your pet’s food be switched a few times per year. If you have a sensitive dog or cat, you may need a few weeks to gradually transition your pup onto the new food. If you feed a rotational diet, such as Taste of the Wild, Fromm or Acana, you can stick to the same brand for a longer period of time, but you want to be sure to switch up the protein. This will not only help to prevent allergies, but will make mealtime more interesting.
If you have a dog with an allergy to chicken, for example, and you find a salmon-based food that they do well on, your instinct may to be stick to this food. In reality, though, you should already be planning the next protein to switch to. Lamb used to be the go-to hypoallergenic food, as chicken and beef are more commonly used in dog food. After feeding lamb for a long time,
however, it is just as likely for a dog to develop a lamb allergy!
In extreme allergy cases, a “novel” protein might be necessary. Novel proteins are ingredients that your dog or cat’s body is not familiar with. Chicken, beef, turkey, and lamb are meats used most often in pet food. Novel proteins for pets eating these ingredients would include venison, rabbit, duck, kangaroo or ostrich. Because the pet’s body has never been exposed to these ingredients, they are unlikely to solicit a negative response from the body. It is important to also use a novel carbohydrate when trying to fully eliminate allergic reactions. If a cat was eating a chicken and rice based food, a novel food for them might be duck and potato.
So remember: a diet with a wide variety of proteins makes for a happy and HEALTHY pet, and can prevent dietary insensitivities down the road!
**** What flea treatment is best for your dog or cat?
Once-a-month spot-on treatments(From JUNE to NOVEMBER)
Products like Advantage Multi or Revolution are liquid medications that are applied on the skin between the pet's shoulder blades [so they can't lick them off], and are very, very effective.
How effective? "They're effective enough to negate the need for environmental treatments like powdering the environment or using flea shampoo, which is an important advantage.
And that clinched it: After all, who wants to spread flea powder all over the same carpet your kids play on?
Benefits of spot-on treatments
• Spot-on treatments kill fleas and flea eggs, plus other parasites. Advantage kills adult fleas before they can lay eggs, and it prevents eggs from being shed.
Revolution kills the adult fleas and prevents eggs from hatching.
This approach should keep most Canadian cats and dogs blissfully itch free all year round.
****Ear scratching or head shaking
Your pet can't tell you that his ear is itchy, but he'll let you know by shaking his head or scratching at his ears. Then it's up to you and your veterinarian to figure out the cause and what to do about it.
What's behind that annoying tickle in your pet's ear? Some common causes could include bacterial or yeast infections, ear mites, food or inhalant allergies, other skin diseases, and foreign objects (such as polyps, tumors, hair, or plant material) in your pet's ear canal.
What You Can Do at Home
You can't diagnose the problem, but you can make your pet more comfortable. Start with a gentle ear cleaning, using a cotton ball and an ear cleanser formulated for pets. Do not use hydrogen peroxide to clean your pet's ears.
Remember to dry your pet's ears if they get wet, and put cotton in his ears before baths. Why? Moisture in the ears can lead to ear inflammation and infection.
When to Call the Veterinarian
Some causes of ear shaking respond to regular ear cleaning. However, some cases may require professional diagnosis and treatment. If the scratching and shaking persist for more than a few days or seem to worsen after an ear cleaning, seek veterinary help. You should also call the doctor if you notice discharge in the ears, if they're red and swollen, if they smell or if they feel warm to the touch.
What Your Veterinarian Will Do...
Most ear problems are easy to identify. The veterinarian may first check your pet's ears with an otoscope for signs of inflammation and infection, ear mites, polyps, or foreign objects. The veterinarian also may swab the ears to check for mites, bacteria, or yeast under a microscope. If the doctor suspects allergies, or other skin diseases, he or she may run blood tests, or refer your pet to a veterinary dermatologist.
Once the problem is identified, treatment is usually a snap. Your veterinarian will administer an injection, provide ear drops, topical and/or oral antibiotics, or a steroid injection if itching is severe.
If the cause is allergies, your veterinarian may prescribe antihistamines or steroids for you to administer at home. Food allergies require a hypoallergenic diet.
Although most causes of ear scratching arent serious, your pet will appreciate a prompt diagnosis and treatment and the ensuing relief from this annoying symptom.
**** Paw Care Tips For Dog
Your dog’s feet sure are made for walking, but did you know they are also made for protecting? Pads provide extra cushioning to help protect bones and joints from shock, provide insulation against extreme weather, aid walking on rough ground and help protect tissue deep within the paw. With all that work to do, it’s no wonder your pooch’s paws often take a bit of a beating. Keep a spring in your pet’s step with our top 10 paw care tips:
- Pamper With Pedicures: Your dog's nails should just about touch the ground when she walks. If her nails are clicking or getting snagged on the floor, it's time for a pedicure. Ask your veterinarian or a groomer for advice about what types of nail trimmers are best for your dog and how to use them properly.
- Snip and Trim: Trim paw hair regularly to avoid painful matting. Simply comb hair out, especially from between the toes, and trim even with the pads.
- Clean In Between: Foreign objects can become lodged in your dog’s pads. Check regularly between toes for foxtails, pebbles, small bits of broken glass and other debris. These pesky items can usually be removed with a pair of tweezers.
- Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize: A dog’s pads can become cracked and dry. Ask your veterinarian for a good pad moisturizer and use as directed. Avoid human hand moisturizer, as this can soften the pads and lead to injury.
- Deep Paw Massage: Similar to giving a human hand massage, a paw massage will relax your dog and promote better circulation. Start by rubbing between the pads on the bottom of the paw, and then rub between each toe. Your dog will be forever grateful for the extra TLC!
- Slow and Steady: If you’re about to begin a new exercise program with your dog, start off slow. Paws may become sensitive, chaffed or cracked, particularly when starting your dog out on hikes and runs.
- Apply First Aid: It's not unusual for dogs to suffer cuts or other wounds from accidentally stepping on glass, debris or other objects. Wounds that are smaller than a half inch in diameter can be cleaned with an antibacterial wash and wrapped with a light bandage. For deeper paw cuts, see the vet for treatment.
- Summertime Sores: Imagine stepping barefoot onto hot pavement. Ouch! It is important to remember your dog’s paws feel heat extremes, too. To prevent burns and blisters, avoid walking your dog on hot pavement or sand. Signs include blisters, loose flaps of skin and red, ulcerated patches. For minor burns, apply antibacterial wash and cover the paw with a loose bandage. For serious burns, visit your vet immediately.
- Wintertime Blues: Winter is hard on everyone’s skin, even your dog’s! Bitter cold can cause chapping and cracking. Rock salt and chemical ice melters can cause sores, infection and blistering. Toxic chemicals can also be ingested by your dog when he licks his paws. After outdoor walks, wash your dog’s paws in warm water to rinse away salt and chemicals. You may wish to apply Vaseline, a great salt barrier, to the foot pads before each walk—or make sure your dog wears doggie booties.
- Practice Prevention: To reduce the risk of injury, keep your home and yard clear of pointy bits and pieces. Be conscious to avoid hazards such as broken glass and other debris when walking your dog. And keep this simple tip in mind—if you wouldn’t like to walk on it barefoot, neither will your dog!
**** Humane Society of Canada