Grain Free Pet Food and Other Potentially Fatal Fads

When it comes to choosing the best food for your pet, the choices are overwhelming at best. On top of that, it seems that everyone has an opinion. If you ask (or even if you don’t) you are likely to be bombarded by information from your pet store clerk, breeder, trainer, best friend, and various pet food review websites. So how are you to know what the right choice is?

Goldorado Animal Hospital is here to help! We hope that you will consider our stance with a little more weight given our education and history of providing care with your pet’s best interest at heart. 

Learn why we are taking a tough stance against grain free pet food and other fad diets lacking scientific background. 

Where the Grain Free Pet Food Fad Turned

Grain free pet food, all meat diets, and other fad diets featuring “holistic” ingredients are nothing new. The veterinary community has long recognized that these types of pet foods are largely popular due to marketing with little, if any, scientific basis. 

Until recently, though, veterinarians have turned a mostly blind-eye to these types of feeding regimens. While we have found them to be mostly unnecessary, client demands and media pressure have made us relatively silent on the matter. After all, for most pets these diets were harmless, albeit expensive.

That has changed. As of July 12, 2018 the FDA released an alert to veterinarians after recording a significantly increased number of animals diagnosed with a serious heart problem called dilated cardiomyopathy. The pets being diagnosed had one thing in common: they were all dogs eating grain-free or other boutique or exotic diets (kangaroo, bison, etc.) containing peas, lentils, potatoes, or other legume seeds. 

Dilated cardiomyopathy is nothing new. We have historically diagnosed this potentially fatal heart issue, especially in predisposed breeds such as Boxers, Doberman Pinschers, and Great Danes. The FDA alert in 2018, however, noted reports in breeds that we have previously not  had a significant problem in, including Golden Retrievers, Miniature Schnauzers, and Labs.

Perhaps the scariest part of this whole debacle is that no one yet knows for sure what is causing this to happen. The best information that we have is that there is a strong correlation between the diagnosis of dilated cardiomyopathy and pets being fed BEG diets (those made by boutique companies, made with exotic ingredients, and grain-free).

Our Advice

So what is a pet owner to do? It is difficult to know how to proceed. No one wants to put their pets at risk of a serious heart condition, yet there are opinions on all sides. The resounding advice from veterinary nutritionists and the educated veterinary community is to steer clear of these BEG diets, though. 

So where do you even begin?

Stick with feeding trials — When commercial diets are produced, AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) they can be approved as a formulated diet which means that the nutrient profile on paper appears adequate for the type and species they are intended for. Look for diets that have been approved via feeding trials, which means that live animals have been shown to do well on them.

Don’t look to taurine — In cats we have discovered that the amino acid taurine must be supplied through diet in order to maintain healthy heart function. This is why cats don’t do well on vegetarian diets. Some people wishing to continue to feed BEG diets are supplementing taurine. At this time, though, while it appears that some pets suffering from diet-induced taurine deficiencies, this is mostly not true. Taurine supplementation will not always prevent DCM in pets on suspect diets. 

Raw or homemade isn’t better — In the face of this apparent nutritional concern in the pet food industry, many pet parents are tempted to turn to raw or homemade diets for their pets. This is a risky move, however, as the problem has also been identified in pets fed these types of diets. Pets fed homemade diets are also at high risk for other nutritional deficiencies and imbalances as well.

Proceed with caution — If your dog currently eats a BEG diet but doesn’t have any sign of heart trouble, the choice is yours. Because we don’t know exactly where the problem lies, and because it doesn’t appear that every or even most dogs on these diets have a problem it is hard to offer advice on whether it is safe to continue or not. Because dilated cardiomyopathy is a potentially fatal disease and can be difficult to detect in the early stages, it is often best to reconsider your pet’s BEG diet. 

If you are overwhelmed by the choices, please give us a call. We are happy to help guide you. We also recommend using resources provided by board-certified veterinary nutritionists such as the website through Tufts University.

There is a lot of information out there when it comes to feeding your pets. We hope that you will turn to us when it comes to sorting through all of it. Our education, experience, and compassion should speak for themselves. 

Avoid Standing Water, Prevent Canine Leptospirosis

Who knew puddles and ponds could be so dangerous to a frolicking, curious, and thirsty dog? A sloppy drink from standing water may not always get your pooch in trouble, but unknown water sources can absolutely be contaminated with dangerous bacteria called leptospira. Known for causing canine leptospirosis, a bacterial infection, people can also become sick from this zoonotic illness.

In other words,  a quick slurp from a suspiciously still body of water probably isn’t worth the risk.

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Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew: Non-Anesthetic Pet Dentistry

Anesthesia is a scary event for many of us. Many pet owners recognize how important professional dental care is for their furry friend, but get a little antsy about the risk (and cost) involved with full anesthesia.

As opportunities arise for pets to receive dental care in other ways, such as a tooth scaling at the groomer or a non-anesthetic dental service facility, it is no wonder that people are jumping on board. But is it really the best choice? Goldorado Animal Hospital hopes that some more context about non-anesthetic pet dentistry will help you to decide how to best proceed with your pet’s care.

Pros and Cons of Non-Anesthetic Pet Dentistry

It is not hard to understand why anesthesia-free dentals are tempting for pet owners. Anesthesia always carries with it some risk, and the monitoring, equipment, training, and time it takes can add expense.

As an AAHA Accredited veterinary hospital we can assure you that we take anesthesia very seriously. Following the more current guidelines and safest practices our staff ensures that your pet’s anesthetic experience is as risk-free as feasibly possible. This is important, because we stand behind the belief that anesthesia is essential for the best dental care.

There are a few reasons that we need to anesthetize your pet in order to provide a thorough oral examination and dental cleaning:

  • Even the most docile pet doesn’t open wide and say “ahhh”, meaning that we cannot fully evaluate every surface of every tooth effectively in an awake animal.
  • 60% of your pet’s teeth, and potential periodontal disease, are under the gumline. We need to take radiographs and probe carefully in order to evaluate the health of each tooth.
  • If we find a problem that requires extraction or other surgical treatment, we can often address it right then and there without the need for another procedure.

This means that anesthesia-free dental cleanings are often incomplete and can create a false sense of security when it comes to oral health.

Potentially Dangerous Territory

Besides being overall a subpar method of dental care, there are some dangerous aspects of non-anesthetic pet dentistry. Consider the following:

  • Most pets will need to be physically restrained in some manner in order to accomplish the task. This can be dangerous for the pet as well as the person performing the cleaning.
  • Because the status of the tooth roots and surrounding bone cannot be assessed, serious and painful issues may go unrecognized. This leads to unnecessary discomfort as well as potential progression of the problem.
  • Some of the instruments utilized in a dental cleaning are quite sharp. Sudden or unexpected movements by the patient can result in injury.
  • Because pets are not intubated during a non-anesthetic dental cleaning, water and other debris can potentially be aspirated.
  • Because anesthesia is regarded as standard of care by organizations such as the American Animal Hospital Association and the American Veterinary Dental College, you can assume that those performing anesthesia-free pet dental care are either lay people or people who do not subscribe to the most current recommendations. Is this who you wish to entrust your pet’s care with?

Anesthesia-free pet dental cleanings may sound appealing, however the old adage that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is stands. Our staff takes your pet’s care to heart, and there is a reason that we insist on anesthetic for all dental exams and cleanings. Give us a call today so that we can formulate a dental care plan for your pet that we all can agree on.

Pet Dental Care – Is it Really Necessary?

Pet dental care is a cornerstone of pet health

Did you know that the less-than-pleasant doggie or kitty breath you’ve come to know and love isn’t normal? By far, dental disease is the most common cause of bad breath in pets, and according to the American Veterinary Dental Association, up to 80% of dogs and cats develop some form of the disease by the age of three.

Making pet dental care a priority is one of the most proactive things you can do for your pet’s long-term health, and Goldorado Animal Hospital is here to get you started!

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Drumroll, Please! Presenting Goldorado Animal Hospital’s Top 5 Pet Health Blogs of 2018

Whether you’re busy preparing for a big end-of-year bash or planning a quiet evening at home, you’ll probably spend some time reflecting on the past year and setting a few new goals for the future. Here at Goldorado Animal Hospital, we’re so grateful for the productive and successful year we’ve had, and we can’t wait to see what lies ahead in 2019.

With our blog, we always strive to cover a wide array of meaningful topics, such as dental care, dog training, pet loss, and parasite prevention. Whether you’re new to our website or a long-time reader, we invite you to enjoy our picks for the top 5 blogs of 2018!

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Tips and Tricks: Helping Your Pet Take Medication

Helping your pet take medication can be trickyWhen it comes to administering medication, there is no more formidable foe than your pet. And since a spoonful of sugar is not the way to help the medicine go down, at least for pets, giving pets their medication easily can seem like a daunting task.

Since you never know when your pet might need medication, it’s a good idea to learn some basics about helping your pet take medication safely and effectively. With a few tips and tricks from Goldorado Animal Hospital, you can forego all the acrobatics and ease your pet into the task. Read the rest of this entry »

Rabbits Need Dentistry, Too!

rabbit needing dentistryBy Dr. Susan Garlinghouse

Most pet owners are aware that dogs and cats need dental care during their lifetime, but did you know that dental disease is amongst the most common problems in rabbits as well? Yes, rabbits need dentistry, too!

Rabbits are different from most other pet species, in that their teeth grow continuously throughout their entire life.  This is an adaptation due to the high fiber diet they eat in the wild, requiring more chewing and resulting in increased wear.  This constant growth is true not only for the front incisors, but the molars and ‘cheek teeth’ as well. Read the rest of this entry »

Kitten and Puppy Wellness Plans: Your Pet’s First Steps in Veterinary Care

Adopting a fur baby into your family is an exciting time. The joy of watching your sweet puppy or kitten get the zoomies around their new home… the adorable stop-drop-and-nap in the middle of anything… the snuggles. But with parenthood – even pet parenthood – comes the responsibility for the health and well-being of your little one.

The team at Goldorado Animal Hospital understands that the first year of pet parenthood can be an expensive time. Setting your puppy or kitten up for a lifetime of health and happiness takes an initial investment in their veterinary care. And while this investment will pay off in spades as your pet lives its best life under your care, we want quality veterinary care to be accessible to all the pets of Cameron Park; which is why we have created our kitten and puppy wellness plans. Read the rest of this entry »

Pet Insurance: Protecting Your Pet and Your Pocketbook

pet insuranceAccording to a 2017 article in Canine Journal, the #1 reason reason pet owners buy pet insurance is that they, “Want to make decisions about my pet’s health care without worrying about whether or not I could afford the procedure.”

With the average annual cost of veterinary care topping $1800, planning ahead for your pet’s veterinary care makes solid sense. Yet, only 2% of American pets are covered in the U.S. – compared to over 50% of pets in Europe. So why the disparity?

Your team at Goldorado Animal Hospital believes that overall awareness of the benefits of pet insurance may be a primary reason why so few pets are covered; meaning we want to make sure that, when it comes to pet insurance, you have the resources to make an informed decision.

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What’s Happening? How to Recognize a Pet Emergency

That gagging sound you hear in the hall or the odd way your pet is suddenly holding their paw…there are times in a pet owner’s life when the unexpected occurs. Even when we do our best to protect them, our animal friends still have a way of getting into trouble.

Unfortunately, almost all pets will experience some type of pet emergency at some point in their lives. There are false alarms, however, like the time you went overboard when your pet had that single bout of diarrhea. The problem is how to stay alert and proactive while also remaining calm and informed. That’s why the team at Goldorado Animal Hospital wants to help take the mystery out of pet emergencies.

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