San Diego, CA 92130
It's no secret that dogs are extremely newsworthy creatures. Every dog has his day and somewhere out there, there’s a dogged pet reporter jotting down the details. Dirty Dogs rounds up the best dog news that’s fit to print, whether it's word breaking about a pet food recall or the latest gear for walking your dog safely at night. We can answer all your questions about health, behavior, training, etc.
And trust us, if you’ve got a dog, you’ll have a question.
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Why we like Canned Food [+ -]
Higher levels of animal protein than dry food
Retains more nutritional value than dry food
Contains moisture vital to your pet's health
Proper Nutrition is the Foundation of Health
What we feed our dogs and cats each day is the most important decision we can make concerning their health and well-being. With the proper nutritional building blocks, the body can make its own repairs when a health problem arises. Canned foods are a good choice for both dogs and cats. Unlike dry foods, canned foods have higher meat content, contain little or no grain, and are cooked more gently than dry foods. Look for canned foods without by- products or grain fillers.
Higher Levels of Animal Protein are Ideal for Cats and Dogs
"Cats need meat - if they don't get it they won't be healthy. There is no such thing as too much protein for a cat." Dr. Obando, DVM
As carnivores, dogs and cats have higher protein and fat requirements than humans that are best fulfilled by flesh foods - meat, poultry, fish and eggs. They do not thrive on plant proteins from wheat, corn, or soy, which supply an incomplete spectrum of amino acids.
Although grain is less bioavailable than animal proteins, it is used in pet foods because it's less expensive than meat.
Once the moisture is removed, canned food actually has more protein than dry.
Canned Foods Retain More Nutritional Value than Dry Foods
"Canned foods retain their nutritional value better than dry foods. The amount of protein and fat in a food before and after it is canned are virtually unchanged. Neither does the canning process affect most vitamins." Whole Dog Journal 12/04
The canning process eliminates the need for preservatives. Refrigerate contents after opening and use within a few days.
Moisture is Important for Pets (Especially Cats)
Like fresh foods, canned foods have high moisture content, 78% versus 10% for dry food.
"Water is an extremely important nutrient with respect to overall health. It is very important for a cat to ingest water with its food, as the cat does not have a very strong thirst drive. This leads to low-level, chronic dehydration when dry food makes up the bulk of the diet. Canned food more closely approximates the natural diet of a carnivore." Dr. Pierson, DVM.
Helpful With Weight Loss
Carbohydrates are the main cause of obesity in dogs and cats. Because canned food is much lower in carbs than dry food, it can help an animal lose weight.
The high moisture content helps animals feel full faster, and more protein keeps them satisfied longer.
Canned Food and Dental Health
Because it has fewer carbohydrates, canned food is less likely to contribute to dental decay.
"Carnivores that eat dry food grind it in a way that ends up between their teeth. There it ferments into sugar and acid thereby causing dental problems." Dr. Greco, DVM
Easier to Digest
Because the grain in dry food is harder for the body to process, canned food is particularly helpful for puppies, kittens and elderly or recovering animals.
More complete digestion results in less doggy waste and less stool and odor in the litter box.
How to introduce:
Introduce canned food slowly, a little at a time, mixed in with or alongside the regular food. Remember to cut back regular food as canned is added.
Tips on switching to canned
Take away all food the night before and introduce new food to a hungry pet.
For cats, add tuna water, or a pinch of your choice of shaved bonito flakes.
Add the new food a teaspoon at a time to the old food.
Warm up the food by adding a splash of warm water.
A teaspoon of canned pumpkin can be helpful when transitioning foods.
Dog and Cat Nutrition [+ -]
What you feed your pet each day is the single most important decision you can make regarding his or her health and well-being. The daily diet is either building good health with the proper nutrients, or damaging it through nutritional deficiencies and toxic substances. As carnivores, dogs and cats have higher protein and fat requirements than humans that are best fulfilled by flesh foods meat, poultry, fish and eggs. They do not thrive on plant proteins from wheat, corn, or soy, which supply an incomplete spectrum of amino acids. Moreover, raw meats and fats are far more nutritious than cooked ones, retaining all the enzymes, Vitamins, fatty acids, and other essential nutrients that are lost when subjected to heat and processing.
Toxins occur in the form of chemical preservatives, rejected animal byproducts, tainted or unwanted cereal leftovers and non-nutritive fillers. These toxins tax the immune system and must be filtered out through your pet's organs of elimination. The better the quality of a food's raw ingredients, and the more minimal the processing, the better the health of the dogs and cat that eat them.
Our Diet Hierarchy (worst to best)
1. Grocery Store Foods - least cost ingredients, highly processed no real meat, just animal by-products, grain fractions, artificial preservatives. Also found in feed and warehouse stores.
2."Premium" diets - higher meat content and definitely better quality than grocery store foods, but still highly processed with animal by-products, artificial preservatives, grain fractions, fillers and flavor enhancers. Examples: Honest Kitchen, Sojos, Ziwi Peak
3. All-Natural "Premium" Diets - higher meat content and no animal by-products. Only natural preservatives (Vitamins C and E, rosemary extract), and no artificial ingredients. May include some ingredients not found in human foods, like corn gluten meal, cellulose (wood fiber), or animal digests. Meats are sometimes USDA approved. Examples: Honest Kitchen, Sojos, Ziwi Peak
4. Human - Quality All-Natural Diets - least processed state-of-the-art pet foods with exclusively USDA approved ingredients, nutrient rich fruits and vegetables, antioxidants, probiotics, and lots of extra supplements. Cooked slowly with lower heat to preserved nutrients. Examples:
5. Unprocessed Raw Food Diets - closest to the "evolutionary diet" – USDA meats, vegetables, ground bones and small amounts of other ingredients. Feed as a sole diet or mix with other foods. Can be home-prepared (as us for recipes), frozen, or freeze-dried. Examples: Stella & Chewy's, Primal
Does Your Dog Have Itchy Skin? [+ -]
Does your dog scratch and bite at himself, creating bare patches where hair doesn't grow? Is the skin red and irritated, often with rashes or little bumps? What about dry, flaky skin and excessive shedding? Skin problems are the most common complaint of dog owners, affecting about one in three animals at some time in their lives. Although there are many root causes, nutrition plays a key role.
Some dogs develop sensitivities to ingredients in the food they eat, setting up an inflammatory response. Other dogs may be missing important fats and other vital nutrients that keep skin healthy. Making some changes in the diet and adding some key supplements can do wonders for problem skin.
1. Try a different diet. A dog's exposure to the same ingredients day after day can create food allergies, which is why many experts now advise rotating between foods with different meat and grain sources to prevent sensitivities from occurring. Common allergens are high gluten grains like corn and wheat, or even certain meats. Lamb, once considered "hypoallergenic", is really no more beneficial for skin problems than other proteins. A hidden cause of dog allergies may be storage mites (related to dust mites) that attack stored grains. Levels of mite feces are higher in "pet quality" grain sources, so stick to foods that use grains fit for human consumption.
Foods designed to relieve skin problems typically have a single meat source and either a single grain source or only low gluten grains. Try Wellness Fish & Sweet Potato or similar simple food. Raw food diets, especially those with low grain content, can be very helpful. Stella & Chewy's, Primal have grain-free frozen diets in a variety of meats. Home preparing your dog's food is an option that gives you total control over ingredients, and you can experiment to find the combinations that best relieve your dog's symptoms.
2. Use Digestive Enzymes. This is the supplement that we swear by for itchy dogs. These enzymes are necessary for the breakdown and assimilation of nutrients in the gut that can prevent allergy symptoms. Although present in raw food, enzymes are destroyed by heat and processing. Adding digestive enzymes with every meal can bring about a dramatic improvement, often within ten days. We recommend Enzymes Plus, with important trace minerals and Vitamin C.
3. Add Essential Fatty Acids. EFA's are another key nutrient for skin and coat health. Not all fats are high in the important EFA's, which include linoleic acid, linolenic acid, and Omega 3's, and 6's. Some of the most concentrated sources are lecithin, flax oil, hemp oil, fish oils, borage oil, currant oil, and evening primrose oil. Besides calming itchiness, EFA's correct dry skin, flakiness, and excessive shedding, to beautify and nourish the coat. Our favorite skin and coat supplements are Flax USA.
The 3-Step Plan to Natural Flea Control [+ -]
“Human Grade” vs. “Pet Grade” Ingredients in Your Pet’s Food [+ -]
New Puppy Checklist [+ -]
Congratulations on your new puppy or adopted dog. He will need a few things for his new life in your household.
Collar and Leash - Adjustable collars are best for growing puppies who change size rapidly. A 6-foot nylon or leather leash is the standard for obedience class. A retractable leash allows your pup room to explore but still maintains some control. Small dogs often prefer a harness.
ID tags - Engraved metal or plastic tags with your pup's contact information can be mailed directly to your home. Instant tags or "shrinky-dink" tags can be written on directly. Some are reflective for extra visibility at night.
Crate or Kennel - For housebreaking, traveling, or training, these pet homes give your dog a feeling of security and a quiet retreat when he needs a nap. Foldable wire crates are best for inside the house, and divider panels let you make the space smaller to prevent your dog from soiling. Molded plastic kennels are required for airplane travel and are safest for riding in the car. Soft crates of tent material and built-in poles are nifty and convenient. A washable fleece crate mat makes your pup's new home cozy and warm.
Stain and Odor Remover - The item most often forgotten until your puppy has an accident on the carpet. Eliminates odors and stains with enzymes, and insures your puppy won't be drawn back to the same spot by the odor.
Nail Trimmer and Septic Powder - Start trimming your dog's nails weekly when he's young to get him used to it. Have septic powder on hand to stop any bleeding if you nip the blood vessel that runs through nail-- just dip the end of the nail into the bottle.
Brush and Comb - Good grooming tools last a lifetime. Many styles for different coat types.
Shampoo - Choose a gentle formula that won't strip the coat's natural oils.
Food and Water Bowls - Stainless steel or ceramic are best, with a stand or non-skid rubber to avoid sliding or getting kicked over. Never use plastic, which can off-gas toxins, harbor bacteria, and give your dog acne from scraping his chin against the bottom of the bowl. Elevated bowls help tall dogs digest their food better.
A Variety of Chews and Toys - Puppies have an urgent desire to chew, and it's important to keep them interested and busy. A good variety will save your shoes and your sanity. Bring out a few at a time from the toy box to prevent boredom. We like ball toys, rope toys, and rubber toys for hard chewers, plush toys, squeak toys, and smoked beef bones. Go for lots of digestible chews such as bully sticks, ears and hooves. Compressed rawhide is safe, but beware ordinary thin cheap rawhide chews. Hunks can break off and get caught internally, and formaldehyde and other chemicals are often used in bleaching and tanning.
Raw Bones to Chew - the best chew and the best nutrition for any puppy! Dogs that start raw bones when they are young have the cleanest teeth, freshest breath, and are the happiest! If your dog has never had raw bones, give one under supervision to make sure he doesn't try to swallow it whole. A loose stool the first time is common. Your dog will soon adapt, especially if you regulate the frequency.
Raw Meaty Bones for Dogs (and even Cats) [+ -]
Raw, meaty bones can improve the health and well-being of your dog or cat! Many holistic veterinarians, including Ian Billinghurst, author of the popular books, Give Your Dog A Bone and The BARF Diet, advise feeding uncooked bony parts of chicken (such as necks, wings, and backs), turkey necks, beef knuckles, marrow bones, and lamb ribs as a significant part of your dog's diet. These meaty parts provide good nutrition, teeth cleaning, psychological well-being, and full body exercise. If you've ever watched a dog (or a wolf or lion, for that matter) tear the meat from a bone, you'll see every muscle in the body working as the animal braces his prize with his paws while pulling the meat away with his teeth. Cats will tackle smaller bones such as chicken necks, whole quail, or game hen pieces with gusto. Anitra Frazier, author of The New Natural Cat, advises giving a whole neck in the bathtub to watch your cat stalk it before eating. Our little carnivores instinctively know how to crush, rip, and chew bones!
Raw Bones Are Not Dangerous
We have been told so often that bones can splinter and cause internal damage that it is hard embrace the fact that bones are safe when given raw. Cooking a bone can cause it to become brittle and splinter, but raw bones are pliable and resilient, breaking off without sharp edges. Poultry bones are soft enough to be completely chewed up and digested. Harder bones, such as beef, lamb, or buffalo are considered recreational bones and are mainly for chewing, not eating. They have marrow, gristle, and connective tissue that contribute valuable nutrients and roughage.
Raw Bones Are Nature's Toothbrushes
Dogs raised on raw bones have clean, white teeth that never need scaling, while those raised on commercial food alone frequently develop tartar, gum disease, infected mouths, and bad breath. Despite food companies' claim to the contrary, dry kibble does not clean teeth! Raw bones act like floss in the mouth, polishing and scraping away tartar as the animal crunches and gnaws. In addition, raw meat creates a somewhat acidic oral environment to retard plaque formation and freshen your pet'sbreath.
Raw Bones Provide the Perfect Mineral Balance
A prey animal's bones contain minerals in the proper balance for a carnivore's growth and development. For eons, Nature's plan was that wild canines and felines obtain needed calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and other minerals from consuming the bones of their prey, and that is still the preferred source. Bones contain the proper mineral balance, eliminating concern about over supplementing any single mineral. If your dog consumes more bones than he needs, the excess is excreted in the stool. Don't be surprised by some chalky, crumbly stools -- this is normal.
The Nutritional Value of Raw Bones
Besides contributing calcium and other minerals, raw bony parts provide essential fatty acids (poultry is higher than beef or lamb), fat-soluble vitamins, blood-forming factors found in the marrow, including iron and copper, cartilage and collagen (arthritis preventing), proteins and valuable amino acids, especially lysine. Meaty bones can constitute an entire meal, keeping in mind that vegetables and other foods should be consumed at other times.
Ground Poultry Bones for Reluctant Animals
Some dogs and cats are not enthusiastic about bones, or have poor teeth and don't like to chew. For these animals, finely ground or hacked-up chicken backs, necks, or wings are a good substitute. Although they don't clean the teeth as well, they provide the same nutritional value, and can result in a gradual transition to larger pieces.
Variety and Rotation [+ -]
Did you know that rotating the foods that your pets eat is one of the best things that you can do for their health and well being? Contrary to popularly held beliefs, keeping your pet on one food for his or her lifetime can cause more harm than good. Here are some of the "how's and whys" of offering your pet a variety of healthful mealtime options.
Just like people, cats and dogs get bored with the same food day in and day out. Imagine if you had to eat the same kind of cereal for months, or even years- you'd get bored, too! Another important reason to switch foods is that it helps prevent allergies from developing. Cats and dogs that eat the same food for an extended period of time often develop allergies to one or more of the ingredients in their food. Varying their diet prevents the body from being overexposed to potential allergens. Pets also develop a stronger, tougher stomach and digestive system by being exposed to many different kinds of foods- a great way of eliminating stomach upsets. Finally, by varying the protein sources and brands that you feed, you are providing your pet with a wider spectrum of vital nutrients like trace minerals and vitamins that keep your pets their healthiest!
Kinds of Foods
There are four basic types of food that that you can offer your cat or dog:
Dry: Cost effective, convenient to feed, easy to store
Canned: Nutrient dense, palatable, and high in moisture, helps overweight pets shed excess weight
Frozen Raw: Closest to the ancestral diet, healthiest option, cleans teeth, offers natural enzymes
Freeze-Dried: Lightweight and great for travel, works great as a treat, less mess than raw
How to Switch?
Don't be intimidated- switching your pet's food can be an easy and positive experience. Puppies and kittens are the easiest to transition, as their digestive systems are more adaptable. To start your puppy or kitten off right, introduce lots of different kinds, flavors, and textures of food at an early age. Older pets, especially those who have been on the same food for an extended period of time, may need a little more time to adjust to their new food. Make a gradual switch to a new food by starting with 10-20% new food and increasing the amount over the course of four to seven days. Digestive aids such as our own Good Digestion or probiotics like acidophilus can help aid in the digestion of new foods, as well. After a few months of switching gradually, your pet's digestive system will toughen up and you will be able to decrease or even eliminate the transition period altogether.
While dogs often transition easily from dry food to canned or raw foods, it can be trickier for cats to switch if they are used to a dry only diet. (For more information on why canned food is so critical for cats, please see our "What's in Your Pet's Bowl?" and "Urinary Problems in Cats" handouts.) Some tips for making a smooth transition:
Try many different flavors and textures of canned food
Offer twice daily feeding and remove dry food when the wet is offered. Try dipping kibbles into the canned food to get your cat used to the taste and smell of canned
Put some delicious toppings on the canned food like Bonito flakes, salmon oil, or chicken bits
Be patient! It takes some cats weeks or even months, but they will come around eventually
To introduce raw to your cat, try mixing it into a favorite canned food, or ask one of our nutrition experts to recommend an extra palatable raw food. The crunchiness of freeze-dried food can be a great way to get fussy cats used to raw, as well. You can also add some warm (not hot) water to bring the raw to room temperature. Dogs usually take to raw food very quickly- just be sure to phase it in gradually
Fresh Food Diets
A diet of fresh, unprocessed meats, organs, bones, and vegetable matter is closest to the evolutionary diet of our pets' wild canine and feline ancestors. Trying out different types of diets with our own animals over the years, we have since it is so much more nutrient dense than cooked foods.
By introducing your pet to the various kinds of foods available, you are helping to make sure that he or she is getting the most nutritious and well-rounded diet possible for a longer, happier life!
What’s in Your Pet’s Bowl? [+ -]
Our Thoughts about Pet Food
What we feed our dogs and cats each day is the most important decision we can make concerning their health and well-being. With the proper nutritional building blocks, the body can make its own repairs when a health problem arises. Eating a high quality diet is the best health insurance our pets can have. We discovered that a mostly fresh food diet yields outstanding results, with beautiful coats, clear eyes, sweet breath, great teeth, calm dispositions, and dogs and cats that are rarely sick. Fresh diets can be served raw (their preferred state), or lightly cooked, if bacteria is a concern. In our retail stores, we carry fresh frozen diets for dogs and cats made from chicken, turkey, beef, buffalo, lamb, salmon, ostrich, and rabbit.
Real Food for Pets. We also have recipes and directions for home-prepared diets available at our stores and on our website. Freeze-dried foods are made from fresh raw foods that have had the water removed, but still retain most of the fragile enzymes, vitamins, and other heat-sensitive nutrients that are so important to good health. Freeze-dried foods need no refrigeration and can be served dry or reconstituted. They are also a good introduction for finicky cats and dogs who prefer their texture and mouth feel to that of raw food. Dehydrated whole foods such as N-R-G are made from lightly cooked and raw fresh ingredients that have been dried at low temperatures to preserve their goodness. N-R-G can be refreshed with warm water to provide a moist and tasty meal. It comes in three varieties: free-range chicken, beef, and buffalo.
A Word about Canned Food and Cats
Canned foods are a good choice for both dogs and cats. They have a higher meat content, contain little or no grain, and are cooked more gently than dry foods. Kibble is processed twice, once in the vat where the ingredients are cooked down to a thick slurry, and again in the extruder where the nuggets are shot through nozzles with hot steam under tremendous pressure. Like fresh foods, canned foods have a high moisture content, 78% versus 10% for kibble.
This extra moisture is especially important to cats. Originally desert animals, cats are inefficient drinkers, designed by nature to derive moisture from their juicy prey. The constant state of mild dehydration of exclusively dry-fed cats is a prime cause for the rampant urinary and kidney problems in feline populations. A diet that is 50-75% moist food, whether fresh or canned, will bring more fluids to the kidneys and head off these problems. Check labels carefully, and look for canned foods without by-products or grain fillers.
Kibble – The 50% Rule
Dry pet food is an invention of convenience that has come a long way since its inception 50 years ago as a way to feed pets on inexpensive grain and very little actual meat. As carnivores, dogs and cats are far healthier eating more meat and fewer carbohydrates.
Some very conscientious pet food companies now make high meat kibble using human quality ingredients – fresh (not rendered) chicken, turkey, lamb, fish, dairy products, eggs, fruits, and vegetables. These ground-breaking products are preserved naturally with Vitamin C and E, and contain no by-products or fillers. With the highest quality kibble making up 50% or less of the total diet, and fresh foods, canned foods, and bones making up the rest, dogs and cats tend to be pretty healthy!