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How to choose pet food based on what your cat and dog need

Let’s start from the basics of the dog and cat’s biology to understand what should be in the pet food. However, before we do that, here’s a quick story. A customer asked for a great pet food that we explained was discontinued due to lack of demand despite educating new owners.

Her response was “they don’t have an older pet.”

When pets are younger, it seems that you can feed them pretty much anything. 

They may seem resilient and we expect they will not encounter any major health issues.

However, years down the road when they are not just pets but integral members of the family, it can be a shock that they develop bowel disease, diabetes, kidney disease or pancreatitis to name a few. We often forget that what we feed them or put in their bodies chemically can cause these issues. Note that we are not saying that food is the only factor that can cause or mitigate diseases. Other factors such as genetics, activity level, immunization and environment can have an impact on your pet’s life.

What dogs and cats need from pet food

Dogs and cats are carnivores. Cats being obligate carnivores while dogs are adapted to carbohydrates.  Cats have no salivary amylase for carbohydrate pre-digestion while dogs have little salivary amylase. All this means is that they should be eating primarily meat. Physiologically, the teeth of dogs and cats are meant for chewing/ tearing meat & grinding bones."<yoastmark

In addition, they have shorter digestive tracts, as they don’t need to break plant matter, which takes a longer time. The stomach pH of dogs and cats are also more acidic to help them digest meat and bones better.

Now that we’ve established that base line, the second issue is not all proteins are created equal. For example, your pet’s food could have 40% protein but a portion could be provided by soy, peas or meat by-product. Meat by-product could include animal hide and hooves. Although you have a high protein content (called biologic value (BV)), these are not easily digestible forms of protein for cats and dogs.

Soy has been used as an inexpensive way of adding protein (BV of 67%) to pet foods. However, it is not a species-appropriate pet food, which means dogs and cats won’t naturally seek this out as food. Using soy also ignores that it can cause food sensitivities, potential hormonal issues, and interfere with thyroid function. However, don’t congratulate yourself yet if your pet food does not have soy or peas in it.

Proteins are only important because of the 22 amino acids that both dogs and cats need to be healthy.  Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. Dogs can produce 12 of these amino acids on their own while cats can only make 11. The remaining amino acids that pets need to get from pet food are:

 

The best/ common sources of all these amino acids tend to be meat, animal organs and in some cases fish

The best/ common sources of all these amino acids tend to be meat, animal organs and in some cases fish

In terms of plant protein, Soy is a good source of Lysine and Tryptophan.

Note that as your dog gets older, their requirement for proteins go up even in animals with kidney disease. A study by Dr. Delmar Finco, showed that “mortality was actually higher in the low protein group”1 for dogs with renal disease where “there were no adverse effects of the high protein diet.”2

Next in terms of need is Fats, which is rich in energy and provides the essential fatty acids (omega 3 and omega 6s).

Omega-3 fatty acids tend to have an anti-inflammatory benefit and common sources tend to be flaxseed oils and fish/krill oils. We’d suggest the krill oils are better as they have the antioxidant Astaxanthin but you could rotate between these sources.

Vitamins and minerals in our pet’s food

These are essential for life.There are 2 types of Vitamins:

  • Fat soluble Vitamins – (Vitamin A,D, E and K) – they can accumulate in the body and become toxic.
  • Water soluble Vitamins – (Vitamin C and the B vitamins i.e. thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, biotin, folic acid, cobalamin) – they are not stored in the body and can be eliminated through pee.

You’ve probably seen some of these on the dry pet food bags. However, we will write another blog to cover synthetic vitamins vs. natural vitamins later. It is important to note that vitamins are sensitive to light, heat and oxidation so pre-packaged vitamin mixes must be handled carefully.

To simplify Fat Soluble vitamins, here’s a nifty table

Good Sources Key function
Vitamin A Liver, fish, eggs Vision, skin and hair
Vitamin D Sunshine, oily fish (tuna) and liver Bone growth
Vitamin E Cold pressed vegetable oils, liver Antioxidant
Vitamin K Intestinal bacteria in pets can produce this but not in sufficient quantities. Liver, meat, kelp, egg yolk Blood clotting and normal blood functions

For the Water soluble vitamins, Vitamin C is not required as dogs and cats can make their own. However, Vitamin C has been considered to prevent hip dysplasia and urinary tract infections. Common sources include citrus fruits.

The B vitamins, play a wide role in nerve function, skin, hair, growth, cell energy and formation of blood cells. Good sources of these vitamins tend to be found in organ meats, tripe and from yeast as well as wheat germ.

Minerals are the inorganic component of the diet, which are necessary for bones, blood, skin and other important functions. When you analyze pet foods, it is referred to as ‘ash’ which is what is left over after the food is burnt. Here is a quick list without going into too much detail about what each is for: Calcium, Phosphorous, Magnesium, Chloride, Sodium, Potassium, Iron, Zinc, Manganese, Copper, Iodine and Selenium.

Common sources include animal bone, meat, fish, eggs and for some minerals, you can find them in green vegetables e.g. broccoli and spinach.

Wait! Don’t go to the store and pick up the bag of pet food with the highest ‘ash’ content just yet.

Water for optimal health

Your pet also requires water/moisture. It is a major part of the animal’s body and can be obtained primarily by either drinking or eating. It is important to always have fresh water available for our pets and this component is one that it is important to have the right amount. As cats are desert animals, they tend to get most of their moisture from their food. Dogs and cats may not be drinking enough if they are on a dry food. That will put more stress on their organs as they age.

So how about Carbohydrates in pet food for dogs and cats?

Technically, it is not an essential nutrient for dogs and cats as they make their own glucose from amino acids. So why is it added to many brands of dry pet food?  Aside from being a cheap source of energy, it is used as a binder to get those little kibble shapes and also provide some fiber.cat-teeth and mouth not adapted for carbohydrate

Let’s create a rule – if you are to going to feed any carbs for dogs and cats, it should be minimal.

Is that all that pets require?

Usually at this point, other analysis on pet food that we see stop. Look at the back of most dry pet foods and you will see that they are likely missing the next 2 components:  guaranteed probiotics and enzymes.

  1. Enzymes – these are typically made by your pet’s body (pancreas) or can be found in pet food. Enzymes help digest and use food efficiently and are responsible for a countless number of functions related to the immune system. Without the help of enzymes, your pet will have problems digesting proteins (protease), carbs (amylase), and fats (lipase). When your pet’s body is depleted of enzymes, there is no going back. Note that like most of the other necessary building blocks, enzymes are destroyed by heat.
  2. Probiotics – these are the helpful, beneficial bacteria in your pet’s intestines that ensure good health and digestion. Two sources of probiotics are:
    1. your pet’s food (if it is not subjected to heat) and
    2. within your pet’s intestines.

In our next blog, we’ll try to put this all together as a benchmark.

To use a poor metaphor, the fuel you put in your car matters when it is new to ensure longevity. This metaphor breaks down on several fronts when it is applied to our dogs and cats.

They are complex beings and the fuel they consume matters enormously in building the necessary structure for a healthy life as well as maintenance.

The above information should set up the prologue for the next three blogs on choosing pet foods:

  • Beyond Grain Free; Is kibble sufficient for your pet’s health?
  • How to choose raw pet food? Can you get all these basic goodies from raw food?
  • The V-word. Is Veganism for cats and dogs?

 

Moonlight Dog Cafe is a downtown Vancouver pet store carrying a huge variety of quality raw & wholesome pet food, treats & natural products for cats & dogs. We conduct all pet research and it is not meant to be a substitute for talking with your holistic vet.

1, 2 Delmar R. Finco, DVM, Ph.D., “Effects of Dietary Protein Intake on Renal Functions” 1992

Pet Insurance or bank cash instead for your pet’s health?

We’ve been meaning to do an article on pet insurance for a while but a conversation with a customer recently spurred us to get on with it. They had a pet insurance monthly premium of over $100. Then their dog got sick and they got reimbursed 80% of expenses after paying the deductible, which is a fixed amount you pay before you can get reimbursed. However, soon after, the monthly premium for the pet went up by 30%. Usually, the standard excuse used is that vet prices in the area are changing necessitating changes in the prices of pet insurance instead of telling you that your claims caused your insurance to jump. However subsequently, the dog got sick again and the cost of their pet insurance jumped by another 23%, but this time, instead of getting reimbursed for 80%, they’d be only reimbursed for 10% of expenses.

What does this mean in simple math and in the case of a Minor Accident or Illness costing $3000?

Beginning of Insurance: Middle of Insurance (30% increase): Insurance (23% increase) and covered at 10% of costs:
Premiums and Reimburse rate $1200 premium per year paid by dog owner.  $1560 premium per year paid by dog owner.   $1920 premium per year paid by dog owner. 
Example of a Minor Accident/ Illness cost $3000 $3000 $3000
Co-insurance (% not covered by insurance.) 80% reimbursed for treatment costs.

20% not covered by insurance = You pay

-$600

80% reimbursed for treatment costs.

20% not covered by insurance = You pay

-$600

10% reimbursed for treatment costs.

90% not covered by insurance = You pay

-$2700

Subtotal $2,400 $2,400 $300
Deductible (the fixed amount you pay yearly in addition to Co-insurance) You pay additional

-$200

You pay additional

-$200

You pay additional

-$200

Total Reimbursement by Insurance company $2,200 $2,200 $100
What you pay out of pocket this year (Yearly Premium + Co-insurance + Deductible) 1200+600+200 = $2,000 1560+600+200 = $2,360 1920+2700+200 = $4,870
Better off/ (Worse off) compared to paying for $3000 by yourself BETTER OFF by $1,000 BETTER OFF by $640 WORSE OFF by $1,870
Live model for Pet First Aid. Should you get pet insurance for accidents/illness

Live model for Pet First Aid. Should you get pet insurance for accidents/illness?

Now this little exercise shows that as long as the treatment costs are high and co-insurance and deductibles are low, pet insurance may be a really good idea.

So should you get Pet Insurance?

Some people would wonder why you’d pay more than what most people pay for their BC MSP healthcare per month for their pet? Firstly, we are lucky in Canada to have healthcare subsidized by the government making it cheaper than if it was private healthcare. We’ll tell you why we got pet insurance. We would spend what we have and more if anything happened to our dog. Thus, we feel we are limiting our liability. The answer to “should you get pet insurance” is, it depends. We know that answer sucks but we think it really depends on balancing the following factors:

  • Type of pet and breed
  • Age of dog/cat, 
  • Propensity for illness/ injury e.g. hip dysplasia,
  • Cost of the insurance,
  • Likelihood that you will deposit funds into a doggy/kitty account, and
  • Likelihood of the insurance company to process claims promptly without denying them/ increasing co-insurance or deductibles after claims.
  • Likelihood that you will spend all you have to care for your pet

To be sure we are on the same page, we have to define pet insurance as just in case your pet has accidents (external force) or falls ill; routine checks and vet’s consultation fees are typically not covered.

We decided to compare four pet insurance companies and choose the “most popular/ regular” plan to give you an idea of what they cost and cover:

Dog: Cleo (actually a cat’s name),

Type: Staffordshire Bull Terrier (she eats like one at least)

Age: 4 years (she thinks she’s a spring chicken)

Here are the comparables including exclusion info. We put the CONS first because most of what we’d want covered are more important than ‘nice’ little riders we don’t necessarily need. Note that most of the information for insurance is in their policy wording and not everyone reads them before signing up. We tried to accurately capture them below based on our read:

 moonlightdog-logo President’s Choice PC Insurance BCAA Pet Insurance Trupanion Pet Insurance Petsecure Pet Insurance
Premiums and deductible $70.06 monthly on the Choice Plan. Deductible based on dog’s age is $200. $50.79 monthly on the Intermediate Plan. Deductible based on dog’s age is $200.  $127.19 monthly on the most popular Plan. Deductible is $200 per condition. $63.50 monthly on the most popular Plan. Deductible based on dog’s age is $300.
Coverage by insurance 80% coverage 80% coverage 90% coverage excluding examination fees and taxes. 80% coverage
What’s covered “All accidents, all illnesses” Accidents, illnesses Accidents, illnesses Accidents, illnesses
Accident Coverage Up to $2,500 per accident Up to $2,500 accident and illness coverage combined annually! Limit renews each year 90% of expenses, No limit.

Since no sales taxes are covered, it may work out to about 80% of expenses.

Up to $2,500 per accident
Illness Coverage Up to $2,500 per illness, per year Up to $2,500 per illness, per year
Alternative therapy coverage $350 per year $350 per year Additional alternative therapy costs $16.47 premium per month. $350 per year
Main Cons-

 

  • The Limit per accident or illness may not be sufficient for common injuries e.g. a back injury, torn ligaments (CCL) may cost over $5,000 including tests
  • The Annual Limit is very small and may not be sufficient for common injuries e.g. a back injury, torn ligaments (CCL) may cost over $5,000 including tests
  • High monthly premium price
  • The Limit per accident or illness may not be sufficient for common injuries e.g. a back injury, torn ligaments (CCL) may cost over $5,000 including tests
 

 

 

  • Pre-existing conditions are excluded and are vague enough to include anything that with or without a confirmed diagnosis shows for your pet e.g. if your pet is itching a bit at 4 months for any reason and that is included in the vet’s notes, your pet may be excluded for allergies if that develops in the future. Cancer may fall under these conditions.
  • Pre-existing conditions are excluded and are vague enough to include anything that with or without a confirmed diagnosis shows for your pet e.g. if your pet is itching a bit at 4 months for any reason and that is included in the vet’s notes, your pet may be excluded for allergies if that develops in the future. Cancer may fall under these conditions.
  • Pre-existing conditions are excluded where there are signs or evidence of their potential manifestation existed within the 18 months prior to the Policy Enrollment Date and even if there are no medical records about potential signs incl. CCL, see policy sample Section 9 IV for more examples.
  • Pre-existing conditions are excluded and are vague enough to include anything that with or without a confirmed diagnosis shows for your pet e.g. if your pet is itching a bit at 4 months for any reason and that is included in the vet’s notes, your pet may be excluded for allergies if that develops in the future. Cancer may fall under these conditions.
  • Excludes expenses for cats showing clinical signs of FIP, FIV or FELV prior to the policy inception or during the waiting period
  • Excludes expenses for cats showing clinical signs of FIP, FIV or FELV prior to the policy inception or during the waiting period
  • N/A
  • Excludes expenses for cats showing signs of FIP, FIV or FELV prior to the policy inception or during the waiting period
  • Deductible rises as pet ages (which defeats the purpose of most of us getting insurance) i.e.  for a dog

o  0- 5 years is $100 annual,

o  5- 7 years is $200 annual,

o  7-10 years is $400 annual and

o  over 10 years is $500 annual

  • Deductible rises as pet ages (which defeats the purpose of most of us getting insurance) i.e. for a dog

o  Up to 5 years is $100 annual,

o  5- 7 years is $200 annual,

o  7-10 years is $400 annual and

o  over 10 years is $500 annual

  • Not stated clearly in their documents but from personal experience as well as others we know using Trupanion, we’ve had rates and deductibles “coincidentally” change when claims increased
  • Deductible rises as pet ages (which defeats the purpose of most of us getting insurance) i.e. for a dog

o  Up to 5 years is $100 annual,

o  5-10 years is $300 annual

o  and over 10 years is $500 annual

  • Not stated clearly in their initial quotes but they can increase your co-insurance by 10% increments to a maximum of 50% if your pet falls into “risk management” category, which is a pet with ongoing claims.
  • Not stated clearly in their initial quotes but they can increase your co-insurance by 10% increments to a maximum of 50% if your pet falls into “risk management” category, which is a pet with ongoing claims.
  • N/A
  • Not stated clearly in their initial quotes but they can increase your co-insurance by 10% increments to a maximum of 50% if your pet falls into “risk management” category, which is a pet with ongoing claims.
  • Don’t cover dental expenses except those directly related to accident under this plan.
  • Don’t cover dental expenses under this plan
  • N/A
  • N/A
  • Any change in your coverage means you have to state any pre-existing medical conditions as of your new policy – meaning if your pet developed a condition recently, it would not be covered under the new plan although it was under the old plan.
  • Any change in your coverage means you have to state any pre-existing medical conditions as of your new policy – meaning if your pet developed a condition recently, it would not be covered under the new plan although it was under the old plan.
  • N/A
  • Any change in your coverage means you have to state any pre-existing medical conditions as of your new policy – meaning if your pet developed a condition recently, it would not be covered under the new plan although it was under the old plan.
Pros
  • They pay for lost pet advertising (up to $300)
  • If you are hospitalized for at least two days, they may pay for boarding for your dog. ($25 per day up to $500)
  • If you have to cancel or cut a holiday short because your pet suffered an “Accident or illness” they will pay for any travel and accommodation expense you can’t recover (up to $1000)
  • They pay for lost pet advertising (up to $250)
  • If you are hospitalized for at least two days, they may pay for boarding for your dog. ($25 per day up to $500)
  • If you have to cancel or cut a holiday short because your pet suffered an “Accident or illness” they will pay for any travel and accommodation expense you can’t recover (up to $500)
  • Cover congenital & hereditary conditions as long as they were not pre-existing before coverage started (Remember, as per their policy it states that the conditions cannot exist 18 months prior to the Policy Enrollment Date.)
  • Hip dysplasia coverage is included in Trupanion’s core policy.
  • Cover hospital stays, while herbal treatment is at an additional monthly premium to the pet owner
  • Cover dental illnesses & injuries
  • Clear that your dog’s age, breed, gender, spay/neuter status and vet costs can change cost of insurance
  • Can pay your veterinarian directly so you don’t have to pay out of pocket.
  • Pretty quick turnaround on claims in our experience.
  • You can adjust your deductible and premiums.
  • They pay for lost pet advertising (up to $1000 per accident)
  • If you are hospitalized, they may pay for boarding for your dog. (up to $1000 per accident)
  • If you have to cancel or cut a holiday short because your pet suffered an “Accident or illness” they will pay for any travel and accommodation expense (up to $1000 per accident)
  • Cover the cost of any Treatment for the teeth and gums for preventive care or as a result of an eligible dental Illness ($300 per year)

 

 

More info- Policy papers and sample PC Insurance Policy Paper BCAA Policy Paper  Trupanion Policy Paper Pet Secure Policy Paper
Ratings from a website called petinsurancereview

Note that they make money by having people get quotes through their website. (trust the reviews with a grain of salt. Talk to other pet owners you may know)

Average Rating
3.7 out of 10

Pet Insurance Review

N/A
Customer Ratings
60 days 1 year Lifetime
Rating 9.0 9.4 9.2
Count 31 792 4398

Pet Insurance Review

Customer Ratings
60 days 1 year Lifetime
Rating 1.0 3.4 5.9
Count 1 16 115

Pet Insurance Review

JUST IN CASE you are tempted by their Basic Plan because of the lower premiums, here are the Main Cons that you should consider Basic plan called ACCIDENT PLAN

  • It won’t cover illnesses developed by drinking contaminated/ stagnant water, which is a common accident that most dogs get into.
  • They don’t state clearly upfront in your quote that joint/arthritis issues are not covered.
  • Do not cover any consequential damage as a result of any accident e.g. if your pet develops liver damage due to poisoning, future treatments of that liver damage will not be covered.
  • Vague on not paying for accidents due to your pet’s known behavioural problem.
Basic plan called COMPACT PLAN

  • It won’t cover illnesses developed by drinking contaminated/ stagnant water, which is a common accident that most dogs get into.
  • They don’t state clearly upfront in your quote that joint/arthritis issues are not covered.
  • They also do not cover soft tissue or muscle inflammation.
  • Do not cover any consequential damage as a result of any accident e.g. if your pet develops liver damage due to poisoning, future treatments of that liver damage will not be covered.
  • Vague on not paying for accidents due to your pet’s known behavioural problem.
Basic plan

  • The deductible is $1000  per condition during the pet’s lifetime

 

** The language for BCAA, Petsecure and PC were almost identical for large portions of their policy document, which makes sense as they are ALL underwritten by Western Financial Insurance Company. Since the policy wording is pretty identical for these three companies, the best decision would be to choose the company that has the highest accident/ illness limit, covers more issues, has the lowest deductible and best track record of processing claims positively. Trupanion is underwritten by Omega General Insurance Company (Canada).

Do we have pet insurance?

We have pet insurance for Shinji and we did consider the option of banking that cash into an account for Shinji (which we also have and currently use for his food, travel/daycare, and supplies).

Pet first aid bandaging

Pet first aid bandaging. Should you bank cash for your pet’s health or have pet insurance?

There have been times that we have considered taking him off insurance because the deductible or the premium has risen. However, we’ve opted to stay with the insurance as he ages. We are glad we have because routine surgeries can cost at least $1500 excluding tests. Even minor issues like taking out lumps to ensure they are not cancerous are expenses that a lot of pet owners will have to make a decision about. In our estimation, even when you have a bank account for your pet’s healthcare, you’d have to pick and choose what would be considered serious enough to warrant a vet visit.  Whatever your decision, we’d advise that you start early as soon as you get your pet. This will ensure that for bank accounts, you will grow decent savings by the time anything unfortunate may happen and in the case of insurance, it will ensure that you are covered for a wider range of issues, which may then not be considered pre-existing. For adoptions, make sure to get the whole health history as this may impact the pre-existing clause in all insurance companies.

*Disclaimer- Note that this is not an exhaustive exercise. Let us know if we missed any info or misprinted.

What are you currently doing for you pet? Let us know if you have pet insurance, why you chose that pet insurance and if the company has lived up to expectation, what your gripes are with their claims process and premiums.

Flea prevention

As the weather warms up, lots of pet owners are rushing to buy various flea, tick and mosquito treatments for their pets. However, natural flea prevention is essential year round. Think of fleas as opportunistic ninjas of the pest world jumping between heat sources meaning that although it may be freezing outside, they may remain as eggs all around your warmed up house till your pet passes by.  Adult fleas will die within about five days at -1°C. Eggs on the other hand can remain at low temperatures for a while. If you already have an infestation, there are tons of resources on cleaning your home and your pet. This blog is about ensuring your pet is naturally protected year round from fleas.

So why not use the chemical spot-on treatments?

Well simple, because the US Environmental Protection Agency, which normally has no jurisdiction on pet medication has jurisdiction for chemical spot-on products as they are considered PESTICIDES. As such, this will be rubbed on your couch and indoor environment, absorbed through your pet’s skin and we’d personally rather avoid it since they typically say “considered safe” until you read the potential side effects. If the label says keep away from your children then we’d rather not put it in our dog or cat’s system.

Here are some of the side effects:

Symptoms can range from allergies, vomiting, diarrhea, depression, ataxia (uncoordinated movements) to muscle tremors and death, which tends to happen more often in smaller dogs. 

Flea medication slogan from Frontline says "Killing is Easy: Just Apply Yourself." We do not recommend this as natural flea prevention method.

Flea medication slogan from Frontline website http://www.frontline.com/Pages/How.aspx… No pun intended!

The active ingredients for these pesticides include Cyphenothrin (brand: Sentry’s Pro XFC) and Permethrin (brand: K-9 Advantix and some Sergeant’s products). In addition, the inert ingredients are also said to contribute to toxicity according to the EPA. How about Advantage (imidacloprid and pyriproxyfen) and Frontline (fipronil)? Imidacloprid has been known to cause vomiting, salivation as well as affect your pet’s brain and nervous system. As a side note, scientists are investigating its link to the death of honey bees. Pyriproxyfen has potential adverse liver effects long term. Fipronil on the other hand is a neurotoxin and carcinogen and can also result in organ damage.

Most of these pesticides are meant to kill fleas but if you have a pet allergic to flea bites, you’d might still get that reaction as the fleas are only killed after biting your pet for some medications. Same with Lyme disease as the tick will have to bite your pet to be killed. Not much of preventative in these cases. Frontline and Advantage are contact killers.

However, if you do use chemical spot-on treatments, talk to your vet about the lowest possible dose and frequency that may still benefit your pet. As Dr. Becker says, “No matter what combination of pest repellent systems you use, including chemical agents, your pet can still attract pests and parasites. In fact, even animals loaded with chemicals to the point of toxicosis can still, for example, acquire heartworm.” Also ensure that you do not use dog medications on cats!

Natural Flea prevention tips

The tips we provide include daily things you can do to ensure your pet is healthy:

cat_animal_pet

Natural flea prevention will ensure your cat or dog is comfortable and healthy.

  1. Keep your pet healthy as fleas are attracted to unhealthy animals first. This includes feeding a high quality bioavailable (preferably species-appropriate/ raw) food and exercising your pet. B vitamins are important for a healthy nervous system and raw meat is one natural source. Vitamin B are water-soluble and generally your pet can easily obtain these from raw meats, organs and vegetables. Brewer’s yeast is also another source but we do not recommend it as allergic dogs like Shinji will react to it. Vitamin B can also be found in fish, however if you feed your pet large amounts of raw fish or primarily a vegetarian diet, you are at risk of thiamin and niacin deficiency.
  2. Wash your pets frequently (drowns fleas if they are on your pet). We’d suggest once every two weeks for healthy animals to more frequently for allergic animals. Kitty may not be happy with you but this is a great way for also lessening allergens on your dog or cat. Our vet has pointed out that although oatmeal shampoos are often recommended as soothing for the skin, they do not work well for dogs with allergies to grain or yeast overgrowth. These feed the yeast.
    • Herbal Shampoos such as Cloud Halo or Black Sheep Organics, which is a local shampoo are some we’d highly recommend at Moonlight Dog Cafe. OregaPet’s Bed and Body Spray is another topical treatment for fleas. Note that some of these have or are essential oils and should NOT be used on cats as they are toxic when ingested.
  3. Alternatively, we carry flea and tick herbal repellents that are topical or as collars that can be worn by both dogs and cats. These contain geranium oil in a proprietary blend that at worst may cause a skin reaction.
  4. Talk to your holistic vet about adding fresh ground/chopped/minced garlic to your dog’s food. Garlic is a powerful antibiotic, antioxidant, anti-viral, anti-fungal and the list goes on. The concern about garlic poisoning is due to the thiosulphate in it, which is lower than what is in onions. Cats, however, are more sensitive to thiosulphate than dogs. Please talk to your holistic vet about dosing right if you want to do this at all for your dog. At the right dose, garlic is beneficial to your dog. We’d recommend grating fresh garlic and letting it sit for about 10 min before feeding as it forms an enzyme called allicin, which is great for repelling pests and active for about an hour before becoming unstable. In addition, allicin is also shown to inhibit cancer formation.
  5. Do not over-vaccinate your pets. More vaccines are not better. There are downsides to overvaccination. For more information see Dr Shultz (expert in vaccinations recommendations) http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2011/10/27/new-canine-vaccination-guidelines.aspx
  6. FOOD GRADE Diatomaceous earth can be spread over your pet to dry out the fleas from outside in if you have and can also be put into the food to expel pests. In case, you are worried about silicosis, wear a mask. Spreading diatomaceous earth over your carpets and vacuuming is an effective way to get rid of fleas.
  7. Lastly, to ensure your pets do not have heartworm or any tick diseases, ask your vet for SNAP 4Dx tests annually to check for these diseases.
Moonlight Dog Cafe is downtown Vancouver’s best pet store for a huge variety of healthy pet food and natural pet products including quality raw pet food. Follow us on facebook for more dog and cat health and training tips. Visit our website at www.moonlightdogcafe.com for online shopping

Benefits of pumpkin

Thanksgiving is around the corner and there is a lot to be thankful for especially when you have loving non-judgmental pets. We also love the pumpkin and turkey that goes with Thanksgiving.
Thankfully, pumpkin is not just a good decoration or for pies but also provides natural benefits for our pets.

For free pumpkin-carving stencils of dogs see Better Homes and Gardens for more ideas http://www.bhg.com/halloween/pumpkin-carving/

Benefits of pumpkin for pet health are numerous. http://www.bhg.com/halloween/pumpkin-carving/

As you may know pureed organic pumpkin (raw or cooked and not sweetened or spiced) is great for both cats’ and dogs’ digestive health. Pureed pumpkin is the fiber wonder for both diarrhea and constipation. For cat owners, pureed pumpkin is also recommended in aiding cats pass furballs through the backdoor and into the litter box. 1 tablespoon per 10 lb of body weight is usually recommended as part of their meal to make them regular or in case you need help firming up their stool after a bout of diarrhea.

The benefits of pumpkin also extend to the seeds. Ground raw organic pumpkin seeds are rich in minerals such as phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron and especially zinc. It is anti-microbial, anti-fungal, antioxidant support (may prevent cancer) and also a great dewormer. An amino acid called cucurbitin in pumpkin seeds eliminates tapeworms and other intestinal parasites. Did we also mention that they may be good for skin and coat, as well as urinary tract health but not as bioavailable as other sources we could recommend for those purposes. We’d recommend a 1/4 teaspoon per 10 lb of body weight for ground organic pumpkin seeds sprinkled on your pet’s food. Alternatively, for dogs, you can feed them the raw seeds as treats if they are not fussy eaters.

How to store pumpkin

Since pureed pumpkin does not keep for more than a week in the fridge, we’ve taken to freezing them in ice cube trays and popping them out as needed for meals. In case, the dog or cat gets into your turkey dinner and is not feeling well, we have in stock at Moonlight Dog Cafe, the 15 oz Nummy Tum-Tum – Organic Canned Pure Pumpkin as well as 3P Naturals’ 100% raw ground pumpkin. Add a pumpkin seed boost to your pet’s health to show them how thankful we are to have them!

What is Resource Guarding in dogs?

We’ve run into a few instances of resource guarding in the store where a dog picks up a toy or treat, another dog approaches and it degenerates into a fight. Not as depicted in the photo .

Cute Puppy guarding his toys.

Cute dog resource guarding his toys.

Resource guarding is a natural instinct for dogs and most animals. You’ve probably come across this in parks when a ball or a human with treats become the resource that dogs guard or at home when feeding a dog can either mean immediate danger to all humans or other dogs in the house.

  • Let’s take a typical scenario where the dog chewing the resource indicates through growling or some other signaling behaviour that the interrupter (other dog/ human) should back off. The best scenarios would be if the dog chewing the resource deescalates by either ignoring the interruption or dropping the resource for the interrupter to pick up or alternatively, the interrupter could also calmly walk away and then there is no confrontation. When the interrupter keeps barging in despite the warnings, it can result in a confrontation; interrupter is acting inappropriately. In other cases, the dog guarding the resource could be guilty of aggression if it escalates without giving any signaling indication (hair raised, growling etc) or waiting for an appropriate response from the interrupter.

Continue Reading…

Your Pet’s stool as an indicator of pet health

We’d like to share a sometimes messy, stinky but important issue today: poop. As pet parents we sometimes become obsessive about how our pet’s stool looks or feels and for good reason; this is one of the quickest indications of our pet’s health.

Want to know what healthy dog poop looks like and what to avoid, here are some examples on Dr. Karen Becker’s website.

Here’s to a healthy happy poop!

Updated January 2016

What to do when your dog or cat has diarrhea

Here are our recommendations if your dog has diarrhea. Remember that diarrhea can occur for a vast number of reasons in pets. The most common issue we hear from customers is due to giardia.

Other than diarrhea, if your dog or cat is acting normally and is healthy, here’s what we suggest:

  1. Give your pet’s stomach a rest from the normal food it eats for a few hours.
  2. You could give either bone broth, kefir, pureed whole pumpkin preferably organic (including skin and seeds) to help ease upset stomach while keeping your pet hydrated. These are bland diets without fat to ensure that your pet’s diarrhea does not get worse. (often people use rice and ground beef as a combination but it can lead to gasiness as rice ferments)
  3. Alternatively, you could use slippery elm to stop diarrhea. About ¼ tsp of powder for every 10 lbs mixed in bland food or water. It is fine to withhold food for up to 12 hrs for a dog with diarrhea but always ensure your dog has water.
  4. When your dog’s stool is back to normal, go back to your normal feeding. (If diarrhea persists for more than 3 days consult your vet!)

What to do when there is constipation

This depends on the type of food your dog or cat is eating. Does it not have enough fiber or too much bone content?

Here’s what we suggest you can add to your food:

  1. Add more sources of fiber such as pumpkin or veggies.
  2. Alternatively, you could use slippery elm to help with the constipation.
  3. Lastly, coconut oil or fish oil can sometimes be used to grease the tubes.

Do kibbles clean your pet’s teeth?

Do you wonder whether kibbles are great for cleaning teeth? This is a common question we get from our customers. The myth is that the kibbles will keep your pet’s teeth clean and as such pet parents may not need to brush.

Kibbles may scrape some of the tartar off.  In the blog post, “The downside of not taking good care of your cat or dog’s teeth”, we said the following and still stand behind it: Kibbles are not effective at cleaning teeth. Not sure that crackers or chips are effective for cleaning humans teeth! Don’t believe us? Ask your dentist whether these will work in cleaning your teeth… no brushing allowed.

Typically, the most important place to clean is between the gum line and teeth where periodontal disease occurs. Kibble will not be effective at doing that! In addition, kibbles include a higher percentage of carbohydrates, which feed the bacteria in the mouth that lead to dental disease.

What happened to the teeth of dogs put on kibble from raw?

Luckily, a vet set out a small study to test, whether kibble or raw food was better for dental health. In the picture below courtesy of his study, could you guess which diet the dog is on? The same dog was put on a raw food diet and a kibble diet. The bottom picture shows the effect on a kibble diet. 

dog teeth

Picture above shows dog’s teeth on raw and the same dog fed kibble below. Dog’s Naturally.

For more on the study, check out Dog Naturally’s article.

Updated:

So why does the American Veterinary Dental College have an approved dry food and chew list for teeth care?

The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC), which is an entity of the American Veterinary Dental College awards a Seal of Acceptance to products, which effectively control plaque and tartar in dogs and cats. These include the oral diets and chews or milk bones that are known on the market.

The protocols put in place basically have any company seeking the VOHC Seal independently go through the following process and submit their findings to the VOHC for approval. Compare two groups of dogs of similar age, etc (a control group of dogs on a commercial kibble) and the other group on the oral diet and see if there is any efficacy in retarding plaque and tartar. Their teeth are all cleaned to ensure a base starting point. The “15%/20% standard, meaning 15% in any one trial and 20% as the mean of the two required trials is the minimum required difference from the control group.”

As the focus is on scaling of teeth, ingredients are not a priority for the VOHC. Issues regarding product safety are to be brought to the VOHC attention but are not really within VOHC purview. Looking at a sampling of some of the ingredients in these foods or oral diets e.g. whole grain corn, chicken by-product, wheat flour or soybean are typically high in the list. We would not feed our pets this for the reason that even if it is marginally effective at scraping the teeth, these are not nutritious ingredients we’d like to feed our pets on an ongoing basis!

Moonlight Dog Cafe is downtown Vancouver’s best pet store for a huge variety of healthy pet food and natural pet products including quality raw pet food. Follow us on facebook for more dog and cat health and training tips. Visit our website at www.moonlightdogcafe.com for online shopping

Foods that doggy parents should avoid and in some cases limit! Although this is a good quick chart to use to pinpoint dangerous foods, we would clarify that the following don’t cause the issues as described:

  • Avocado does not affect dogs and cats adversely as described due to persin. Avocado pits though could cause blockage if swallowed. For definitive info, check out Dr. Jean Dodd’s blog on the misconception. 
  • We love using garlic in our dog’s food. Garlic is very beneficial in small doses. The issue has always been one of dosage for dogs. Too much and the chart is right, it can cause the issues described.

The World's most dangerous foods for dogs

 

What is Kennel Cough?

We just heard that some of the downtown Vancouver dogs recently got Kennel Cough and thought it would be helpful to share some information on how to treat Kennel Cough.

Kennel Cough is essentially the human equivalent of a chest cold. It can resolve itself without treatment although the hacking cough can sound terrible. Some dogs may sneeze or have a discharge.

There are various causes of kennel cough with the most common being the Bordetella bacteria. Although your dog may be vaccinated for Bordetella, it may still get kennel cough since there is a wide variety of bacteria and virus that can cause it. Most dogs that get the kennel cough may already be fighting a viral infection.

So why do most dog daycares require Bordetella before they take your dog? To limit their liability. That still does not prevent your dog from getting kennel cough.

Should I get the Bordetella vaccine for my dog?

We generally prefer less drug intervention if it can be avoided especially in this case where you are not guaranteeing protection for your dog by getting the vaccine.  Bordetella is not one of the Core Vaccines, we’ve talked about in the past and in addition, there may be side effects. An active infection may not be helped by getting the vaccine.

How to treat Kennel Cough?

The first thing to do if your dog is showing signs of hacking cough is to isolate your dog since it is highly contagious.

We like using oregano oil as it has anti-fungal, antibacterial and anti-viral properties. You could use it in either of the following ways:

  1. Add two to three drops of oregano oil to 1 teaspoon of coconut oil to increase the treatment from both oils as well as to make the oregano oil taste less harsh for your dog.
  2. Add two to three drops of oregano oil to raw honey as this will also dilute the oregano oil and soothe your dog’s throat.
  3. Grate a bit of fresh garlic clove and add to your dog’s food.

We’ve had doggy customers who’ve recovered in about two weeks using this treatment.

Alternatively, we’ve got another homeopathic remedy in store that will cure your dog.

If your dog is still not recovering after three weeks, it is time to see a vet!

For more info, read on to find suggestions on natural remedies for Kennel Cough and whether it is necessary to treat it with medical intervention.

dog with cold

Mercola: 9 Safe remedies to treat Kennel Cough

Hope this helps in furthering your research for the well being of your pups!
http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2010/09/09/9-natural-remedies-for-kennel-cough.aspx

 

Moonlight Dog Cafe is downtown Vancouver’s best pet store for a huge variety of healthy pet food and natural pet products including quality raw pet food. Follow us on facebook for more dog and cat health and training tips. Visit our website at www.moonlightdogcafe.com for online shopping

What is Heartworm Disease?

It’s getting to that time for heartworm prevention for your dog. Heartworm is a disease that results in primarily heart and lung failure mostly in dogs as cats are not natural hosts for the worms (i.e. most worms do not develop into adults in cats). These worms are transmitted when an infected mosquito bites a dog.

Heartworm disease occurs in these conditions

However, in order for the larvae to develop (Stage L-1 to L-3) in the mosquito, the temperature must not go below 14 C for at least two weeks. If at any point the temperature drops, the process is halted. Full development cannot occur if the temperature is not above 18 C for at least two weeks. So could be a cumulative of 1 month at those temperatures for development.

At stage L-4, the larvae are under the dog’s skin and take about 3 to 4 months to develop into L-5 and travel in the dog’s bloodstream to the heart and lungs. It then takes another 6 months to reach adult maturity as heartworms (L6).

Do we have heartworm in Canada?

 Yes. Heartworm occurs in warmer regions, where summer temperatures are high enough for the worm larvae to survive inside the carrier mosquitoes. The high-risk areas in Canada are southern Ontario, southern Quebec, Manitoba, and the Okanagan in British Columbia. Heartworm is also found in most states in the US. (Source: Alberta Veterinary Medical Association).
mosquitoes_Culex-mosquito-white-background

Heartworm prevention includes getting rid of standing pools of water to prevent mosquito breeding.

Do you need to stay on a monthly drug regiment?

NO! A good analogy, I’ve heard is that staying on a monthly heartworm drug regimen is the same as applying sunscreen at night especially in the context of most Canadian dogs. From the information on larvae development, you can deduce that providing your dog with a heartworm medication every month is counterproductive. According to research conducted and also the article below from holistic vet, Dr Dobias, you are not purchasing more protection for your pet. He suggests reducing your heartworm medication to once every 3 to 4 months. Other holistic vets recommend at six to eight week intervals if you have to use these at all.

What are the side effects of Heartworm medication?

FDA study in 2004 showed adverse reactions ranging from depression, vomiting, limpness, licking lips, shaking, diarrhea, liver lesions, anaphylaxis, convulsions to severe cases of death. In some cases, the dogs were not protected at all and reported heartworm infections despite using the preventatives. Heartworm preventatives active ingredients evaluated included ivermectin, moxidectin and (selamectin). How does this compare to the heartworm drugs you currently use? Well Heartgard has ivermectin, Proheart6 has moxidectin and Revolution uses selamectin.
Newer medication on the market include Trifexis, Nexgard, Bravecto and Simparica, which are new chewable combination pills that are meant for heartworm prevention and flea protection. The side effects included vomiting, kidney failure in some cases and for Simparica, seizures and a dog being studied had to be euthanized.
Research each product to see the list of adverse reactions before making the informed decision of whether to have your pet on this or not.

Why is all this detail NOT provided by the American Heartworm Society?

Not sure but likely because all their sponsors are pharmaceuticals who manufacture heartworm medications. Seems to be a fair amount of conflict of interest here.

What should you do for Heartworm prevention?

Note that heartworm medications are insecticides that kill only the larvae and not the heartworm. The treatment for heartworm is different. We prefer using the following natural approaches to prevent heartworm disease:

  1. Use blood testing (DNA testing is more effective according to Dr. Dobias) to screen for any presence of heartworm before using heartworm preventatives at least once a year.
  2. Talk to your holistic vet about homeopathic treatments or heartworm medications which do not include unnecessary dewormers.
    • If you’d like to use heartworm medications, Dr. Dobias suggests every 3 to 4 months in hot temperatures. Other vets suggest about 6 to 8 weeks if the conditions are right.
    • You could also consider using the lowest effective dose according another holistic vet.
  3. Look into natural herbal repellent collars or herbal spot on treatments that have Geranium Oil or citronella. These are also effective flea and tick repellents. Note that essential oils can be toxic to cats if ingested. Just because it is natural does not mean it should be dabbed on your animal. At Moonlight Dog Cafe, we’ve got several options of the herbal repellent collars and natural spot-on treatments formulated by a holistic vet for your pet’s safety.