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4 Common Diseases That Promote Dog Obesity

By Robert Mueller, B. Pharm.

We know that maintaining a healthy weight is one of the keys to us enjoying the best quality of life.  This fact is as true for us as it is for our pets.  However, when our pets are plagued by disease, it often makes it more difficult for us to keep our dogs and cats trim and healthy.

Here are a few common dog illnesses that, despite our best efforts, can cause weight issues in our pets.  (By the way – all of these illnesses can develop in cats too!):

Allergies in Dogs

Allergies themselves don’t cause weight gain – but the medications used to treat allergies may.  Some antihistamines may increase your pets’ appetite, causing them to be hungrier than usual.  If you “free feed” – meaning you leave food out for long periods of time so that your pet can eat at their leisure – you may notice yourself refilling their bowls more frequently than before.

As an aside: I personally DO NOT recommend free feeding your pet.  Many veterinarians and animal nutritionists attribute pet obesity to this common feeding practice.  Even expert dog trainers and canine behaviorists say that free feeding can cause your pet to believe that they are in control of their food, leading to behavioral issues – even food aggression and finicky eating habits.

Cancer in Dogs

The “C” word is something that no pet owner wants to hear from his or her veterinarian. We are finding more and more people are now turning to a BARF (biologically appropriate raw food) diet when their pet is diagnosed with cancer.

Dogs with cancer may experience weight loss. There are two reasons for this: anorexia due to loss of appetite (simply put, your dog does not feel well enough to eat), and cachexia. While the delicious taste of raw meat dog food usually does the trick to get an anorexic dog to eat, cachexia is another issue entirely.

Dogs suffering from cachexia may have a healthy appetite but their body is not able to absorb the nutrients from their food, causing them to lose weight and muscle mass.  This is a situation where feeding a diet rich in live, active enzymes can help with nutrient absorption.  If you’re feeding a cooked, kibble, or canned dog food, it is recommended to include an enzyme supplement to the food. Alternatively, you can opt for a raw dog food diet instead.  Since a raw diet does not undergo the heat process of cooking, all the natural, active enzymes that are naturally found in raw foods are still in good supply.  Enzymes help your dog get the most out of her food, allowing her digestive and immune systems to work at their optimal best so that the body can have the strength to fight off disease.

Cushings Disease in Dogs

Cushings disease is a result of the body’s overproduction of the hormone, cortisol. This condition is common in older dogs and, because of the symptoms of fur loss, weight gain and muscle weakness, it is often times mistaken for the natural process of aging. Eliminating grains and high levels of carbohydrates and opting instead for a high protein, low carb diet can help minimize weight gain in dogs with Cushings.

Diabetes in Dogs

Dogs diagnosed with diabetes can exhibit symptoms of weight gain or weight loss, depending on the type.  In either instance, it’s important to regulate the amount of sugar being consumed and achieve the proper insulin levels in your pet to properly treat the diabetic dog.  Again, dry and canned pet foods that contain high levels of carbohydrates (grains) can cause a sugar imbalance in a diabetic dog.  The reason is that the body converts carbs from the food into sugars, thus causing an imbalance in the body. Like Cushings disease in dogs, dogs with diabetes should stick to a high protein, low carbohydrate diet, such as a raw meat-based diet.

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Robert Mueller, BSc, Pharm. is a registered pharmacist, author of Living Enzymes: The World’s Best Kept Pet Food Secret”, and co-developer of BARF World’s BARF diets patties, nuggets and supplements – the first company to make the Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods (BARF) diet conveniently available to animals everywhere.  To receive more articles like these in your email inbox,click here to sign up for “The Intelligent Pet” weekly e-zine absolutely FREE!

 
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Your Dog Is Fat (And You Don’t Even Know It)

By Robert Mueller, B. Pharm.

Last week we discussed the dangers of pet obesity, and ways that we as pet owners can reduce the risk of dog illness and disease by ensuring our pets maintain a healthy body weight.  Many of you responded by asking, “Well, how do I know if my dog is overweight?”  This is actually a very important question – one that EVERY pet owner should ask themselves, because even one pound of excess body weight on a dog can lead to health problems down the road. If a Chihuahua were to gain just one extra pound, it would equate to twenty (20) lbs. of excess body weight on an adult woman!

Dog Feeding Guidelines Are Worthless

As pet owners become increasingly concerned over the weight of their dogs, questions begin to arise regarding calorie levels and whether to feed special, weight-control dog food…and pet food manufacturers have taken notice.  Walk down the aisles of your local pet food store and you’ll see diets touting low, reduced calorie formulas, prescription diets formulated for weight loss, and diets for overweight management.

What I am about to say next may cause an uproar in the veterinarian and breeding communities but it needs to be said: dog feeding guidelines are, for the most part, worthless.  The plain and simple truth is that every dog is different and that there are many variables that need to be considered before deciding on what the proper amount of food to feed your dog is, for instance:

  • Differences in metabolic rate
  • Metabolism efficiency
  • Variations in activity level due to age, condition, or seasons of the year
  • Environmental temperature
  • Environmental humidity
  • The age, sex, breed and size of your dog

However, the most important thing to consider when attempting to achieve dog weight loss is to analyze the quality and source of the calories being consumed by your pet.  For one thing, calories from starches and sugars cause much more weight gain than calories from protein or fat.  Food processing also plays a huge role in weight issues in dogs.  Despite the identical caloric calculation, cooked or extruded foods (i.e. canned and kibble pet foods) differ in their levels of metabolizabled calories.  Those same ingredients, if left in their uncooked, unadulterated, natural state provide better nutrition and better utilized calories for your pet, maintaining optimum weight and health.

To get a better idea of what your dog’s weight should be, take a look at the canine body condition scoring chart below:

If you find that your pet is overweight (or underweight), give my office a call for a complimentary nutritional assessment for your pet: 1-866-272-BARF (2273).  You might want to consider a health consultation with a holistic veterinarian to determine whether there may be an underlying issue that is causing abnormal weight issues in your pet.

Be sure to read next week’s issue of “The Intelligent Pet” as I touch on common pet diseases that can attribute to weight issues in dogs and cats.

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Robert Mueller, BSc, Pharm. is a registered pharmacist, author of Living Enzymes: The World’s Best Kept Pet Food Secret”, and co-developer of BARF World’s BARF diets patties, nuggets and supplements – the first company to make the Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods (BARF) diet conveniently available to animals everywhere.  To receive more articles like these in your email inbox,click here to sign up for “The Intelligent Pet” weekly e-zine absolutely FREE!

 
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Alarming Statistics on Pet Obesity A Serious Cause For Concern

By Robert Mueller, B. Pharm.

Obesity in dogs and cats has become an alarming problem in America and throughout the world.  A 2012 survey conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity revealed that 52.5% of dogs and 58.3% of cats seen by veterinarians across the country are considered overweight or obese.  This ever-increasing health epidemic can lead to serious health disorders, including diabetes and cancer.

The physical effect of carrying excess body weight contributes to a rapid deterioration of joints and often promotes hip, joint, and mobility problems, such as arthritis.  As additional weight puts stress on the already weak joints, your pet will begin to slow down, reducing their amount of daily exercise, which further perpetuates the vicious cycle of obesity.  Excess weight also puts a strain on the circulatory system, which in turn stresses out the heart, leading to pulmonary and cardiovascular disease down the road.

So what is causing all the pet obesity in this country and why do the numbers continue to rise?

The underlying cause of obesity in dogs and cats is a simple imbalance between energy intake (food) and energy expenditure (exercise), which results in an energy surplus (fat) or weight gain. This sounds like an easy problem to resolve, but there are many underlying factors that need to be considered.  Some of these factors include:

  • Hormonal abnormalities
  • Genetic predisposition to dog obesity
  • Activity level and lifestyle
  • External influences (such as food)
  • Diet composition and palatability

While proper breeding practices can help minimize the risk of some of these factors, there are a few things that we as pet owners can do to eliminate some of the risk factors that contribute to obesity in pets.

Diet

Many of today’s pre-packaged, processed, commercial pet foods are loaded with grains, fillers, preservatives, and other inferior quality ingredients.  These formulations contain an overabundance of carbohydrates and low-quality proteins, which are hard for our pets to digest.  Foods such as these do not offer our pets the necessary amount of nutrients needed for optimum health and development.  As a result they are constantly “hungry” and have to eat more of this “junk food” than necessary in order to feel “nutritionally satisfied.”

A much better choice is a raw food diet like the BARF Diet.  One of the advantages of raw diets for dogs and cats, is the high level of nutrition they receive compared to cooked, kibble, or canned pet foods.  A raw fed dog or cat will noticeably consume less raw food than pets fed a dry, canned or moist food diet yet they will utilize a higher percentage of nutrients even with less quantity intake.  This is the food that nature intended for your pet.

Exercise

Regular exercise is the second part of keeping your pet in shape.  Once you begin feeding a raw diet, you will notice an appreciable difference in the energy level of your pet.  The BARF (biologically appropriate raw food) diet, being high in protein and low in carbohydrates, promotes a trim, toned body and gives your pet the energy required for increased exercise and activity.   “My dog acts like a puppy again,” is something we often hear from our ecstatic clients.  Like, Claudia Hetzer from San Diego, California:

“Our dog, Captain, a 85-pound lab retriever, was eight when we switched him to the BARF World diet.  Already after the first few weeks, he seemed invigorated, more energetic and his joint stiffness (arthritis) improved markedly.  Now he chases the ball around like a puppy, his coat looks wonderful, he barely sheds and is overall a happier and healthier dog.  We will never feed him anything else.”

A natural, raw diet and regular exercise will help prevent obesity and extend the life of your pet.  These two simple health recommendations – a wholesome and nutritious diet, and daily exercise, are the same suggestions that we as humans hear from medical and nutritional experts on a regular basis.

Take care of yourself and take care of your pet.  You will be amazed at how well you and your pet look and feel when you both eat properly and take a walk every day.

 
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Are Eggs Good For Dogs?

By Robert Mueller, B. Pharm.

dog-eggsMay is National Egg Month (remember the “incredible edible egg”?) so it seems to be the perfect time to highlight the benefits of raw eggs for dogs.  Pet owners new to feeding dogs raw meat based diets will often ask about whether raw eggs are good for dogs too.  The answer is YES!  Eggshells, in particular, are a great source of calcium for dogs and cats.  Calcium, as you know, is needed for normal growth, strong bones, teeth, and claws, as well as for optimum muscle contraction.
Normally, using raw meaty bones as a calcium source is the most common and natural way to provide this vital nutrient to your dog or cat.  Raw bones can usually be fed whole; though for those pets that have damaged, fragile teeth (or no teeth at all) or for people who are not comfortable feeding whole bones to their pet, there is the option to grind up the raw bones before feeding them to your raw fed dog.  Unfortunately, most pet owners will quickly find that it is very difficult to get a hold of the equipment needed to grind hard bones, like beef, pork, or lamb.  In these cases, pet owners making their own homemade dog food often resort to using Bone Meal to supply calcium to their dog or cat.  I personally DON’T recommend using bone meal, as it is an inferior ingredient derived from the animal rendering process.

Eggshells however, present a healthy, balanced calcium source, mainly due to some trace amounts of other minerals contained in the shells.  There is a combination of 27 different mineral micro-elements in eggshell and, interestingly enough, the composition of eggshell is very similar to those found in bones and teeth.

The advantages of using eggshells as a calcium supplement for dogs include:

  1. Eggshells provide one of Nature’s best natural sources of calcium
  2. Powdered eggshells are easy to digest and are adequately absorbed by the digestive system
  3. Using powdered eggshells in combination with magnesium and vitamin D3 (like cod liver oil) improves bone mineral density.

A great way to powder the shells is to use a coffee grinder.  This works much better than a food processor or blender.  Using a variety of eggshells sourced from chickens, ducks, or geese is also very beneficial for your pet.

One thing to consider, when supplementing your dog or cat’s diet with calcium, is to ensure that the calcium and phosphorus levels in your pet’s diet are correct.  The calcium/phosphorus balance is extremely important!  Each nutrient must be in perfect balanced in order to prevent skeletal issues in your pet.  A ratio of 1.5 parts calcium to 1 part phosphorus is appropriate for most dogs.

Another great thing about eggs is that they are highly digestible to dogs.  In fact, animal nutritionists will use eggs as the baseline for the digestibility of other protein sources, such as muscle meats, organ meats, dairy, fish, soy, and grains.  (You may not be surprised to know that one of the LEAST digestible protein sources – which is commonly found in dry kibble and canned pet foods – is corn).

So rejoice! Eggs are good for your dog – and even more so when fed raw.

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Robert Mueller, BSc, Pharm. is a registered pharmacist, author of Living Enzymes: The World’s Best Kept Pet Food Secret”, and co-developer of BARF World’s BARF diets patties, nuggets and supplements – the first company to make the Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods (BARF) diet conveniently available to animals everywhere.  To receive more articles like these in your email inbox, click here to sign up for “The Intelligent Pet” weekly e-zine absolutely FREE!

 
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