Allergies are common in animals and many types of allergies are possible. These include environmental, seasonal/pollen and foods. Many allergies are inhalant as well. It is common for pets to even exhibit both food and other allergies. Food allergies can be managed successfully through dietary changes and we can help you to start eliminating the potential allergens in your pet’s food. Environmental allergies like dust mites or molds can be more difficult to manage. With seasonal allergies, the pet can be allergic to certain tree pollen that is only present in the environment for a few weeks out of the year. Typically when pets have an allergic response to something they react by scratching themselves, chewing/licking their paws and developing ear infections. Commonly, cats exhibit inflammation and hair loss around the eyes and face from food allergies. Some environmental allergies may be out of your control, however others can be managed. Simple practical steps such as keeping the grass cut short, changing air filters, vacuuming regularly, and bathing the pet more frequently to eliminate allergens that may cling to the coat may help significantly. The addition of essential fatty acids such as salmon oil can help with its natural anti-inflammatory response along with prebiotics and probiotics for healthy digestive system.
Zignature Limited Ingredient Diet Grain Free Turkey Formula Dry Dog Food (SMALL BITES)
Zignature Limited Ingredient Diet Grain Free Turkey Formula Dry Dog Food (SMALL BITES)
Zignature is formulated to serve your canine companions needs by delivering the highest quality, well balanced diets. Zignature's limited ingredient formula uses No Potatoes, No Grain, No Chicken, No Eggs, No Glutens, No Tapioca, No Corn & No Soy. Their Single Animal Protein Formulas are extremely palatable which encourages a healthy appetite to provide high-quality protein for strong muscles. Antioxidant from fruits, legumes and vegetables with added vitamins & minerals help to maintain optimum nutrition for all life stages of your canine companion. With Zignature, you can be assured you are giving your canine the best!
Dogs are carnivores by nature and do best on a meat-based diet. Their teeth, their digestive systems and their behavior clearly cofnirm this fact. Zignature delivers a complete and balanced diet to your canine. The first protein in our recipes are derived from meat. Meat is the first ingredient.Zignature believes in exceeding your expectations in pet nutrition with the finest blend of meats, legumes, vegetables, fruits, and oils available.
IngredientsTurkey, Turkey Meal, Peas, Pea Flour, Chickpeas, Sunflower Oil (preserved with Citric Acid), Pea Protein, Flaxseed, Natural Flavors, Dried Beet Pulp Potassium Chloride, Calcium Chloride, Salt, Chorine Chloride, Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Poteinate, Cobalt Proteinate), Vitamins (Vitamin A Acetate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Folic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement), Blueberries, Carrots, Cranberries, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite, Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols.
|Crude Protein||31.0% min|
|Crude Fat||18.0% min|
|Crude Fiber||6.5% max|
|Omega-3 Fatty Acids||1.0% min|
|Omega-6 Fatty Acids||7.0% min|
Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
Deciding what to feed your pet is an important decision but it doesn’t have to be complicated. We are here to help you understand current feeding trends combined with solid recommendations from veterinary professionals. There are some health conditions that can be effectively managed with diet changes. We always recommend that you consult with your veterinarian regarding any pet health concerns.
An unpleasant conversation many pet parents have with their veterinarian can be the topic of impacted anal glands. The anal glands are grape sized glands that are located in the area of the rectal opening. These glands serve the purpose of being able to produce a noxious liquid that lubricates the stool and leaves It with a biological marker that helps others dogs to identify your dog. Why do they lift their tails? The pressure in lifting a tail allows a small amount of the anal liquid to be secreted to make available a bio marker for the greeting dog. However sometimes due to genetics or allergies, the ducts or tissue becomes inflamed and will not properly drain. Potentially anal gland issues can be a secondary response to another underlying concern. Among these may be soft stool, parasites or too compact a stool that doesn’t have enough mass to naturally express/pressure the glands. Diet plays a big role in helping to make a firm stool.
Anxiety in pets can be caused by a number of environmental or emotional factors. Behavioral problems such as barking, whining, destroying things by chewing, urinating in the home and more, may be caused by anxiety. These problems may occur for different reasons (triggers) such as: change in routine, boredom, guests, thunderstorms, separation anxiety, loud noises, etc. It is recommended that behavior modification training, consistent home environment, and exercise be provided to help change your pet’s behavior. Also, look for foods that utilize more whole grains and lower carbohydrates like grain free foods that help sustain energy levels longer and prevent energy spikes. In addition to that, natural and herbal remedies can also help lessen the effects of the “triggers” that create the undesirable behaviors.
Cancer is the leading cause of non-accidental death in canines. Cancer is abnormal growth, and when left unchecked can occur in just about any part of the body and at any age. The medical community is still researching causes of cancer; however, theories have suspected genetic predisposition, environmental factors, and an individual’s immune system. Studies show a carnivore’s cancer cells typically feed on carbohydrates, and cannot readily metabolize fats and proteins. Look for a diet low in carbs and high in protein to help “starve” the growth of cancer cells. Also, many foods such as grain frees and foods that contain high levels of antioxidants such as pumpkin, cranberry, etc are also good for not only helping to starve cancer cells but also helping to fight free radicals, which can ultimately cause cancer.
The gum and teeth condition often provide us with a picture of our pets overall health. Too much plaque and tarter can cause gum erosion creating pockets for bacterial infections. These infections can cause tooth and bone decay, and can lead to more serious health issues. Plaque is made up of a colony of bacteria mixed with saliva, blood cells and other bacterial components. Another common term, tarter (or calculus), occurs when the plaque becomes mineralized. In general, keeping plaque and tarter from forming is your best line of defense. Several natural non-evasive products are available that are effective in preventing plaque build-up, or removing it once established. Also, the introduction of hard bones and treats may help to mechanically chip away tarter while providing natural flossing to your pet’s gums. Brushing your pet’s teeth should become a part of their daily care.
Diabetes is a disease that can occur in multiple ways, but is often seen when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, the pancreas does not produce the right type of insulin, or ultimately when the body’s cells cannot utilize the insulin being created. Insulin is required for the body to efficiently use sugars and carbohydrates. Without insulin, sugar accumulates in the blood and spills into the urine. Sugar can be found in urine only when the level of blood sugar rises to such an extent that it exceeds the capacity of the kidneys to reabsorb it. Sugar in the urine causes pets to pass large amounts of urine and to drink lots of water which can affect the absorption of nutrients. Without insulin, the brain becomes sugar deprived and the animal will be constantly hungry, yet they may lose weight due to improper use of nutrients being provided in the form of food. Studies show that overweight pets are more predisposed to developing diabetes. A natural diet high in protein/low in carbs and high in fiber (from complex carbs) may help prevent wide fluctuations and maintain steady levels of blood glucose levels. Our recommendation is to find the best quality food that is low glycemic, low fat and appeals to your particular pet so they will eat a consistent diet.
Cats in particular are very susceptible to the effects of a poor diet, for example one that is too rich in carbohydrates and low in protein. In fact many cats diabetes and blood sugar can be managed by switching to a high protein/grain free diet.
Grain Free Diets and Dilated Cardiomyopathy
You may have been hearing or reading some concerning information about grain free and limited ingredient diets and an association to a condition in dogs known as Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM). DCM is a disease of the heart muscle and results in an enlarged heart. We want to help you to understand the discussion and timeline of the news regarding this topic.
In June 2018, a nutritionist at Tufts University Veterinary School wrote an article stating there has been an increased incidence of DCM in breeds of dogs not inherently predisposed to DCM. Dogs with this heart condition experience symptoms of weakness, exercise intolerance, and coughing. These clinical signs are not only associated with DCM but other forms of congestive heart disease as well. Testing for DCM involves thorough physical exam, blood chemistry, blood taurine level testing, X-rays, ECG and echocardiograms by cardiologists. If you have concerns and would like precautionary testing, we can arrange that for you.
The FDA center of veterinary medicine has been investigating this claim. The most recent FDA report, published on September 2020, has yet to come up with any firm evidence linking specific diets to DCM. The FDA is pursuing leads in affected dogs consuming diets containing legumes in significant portions. Legumes are peas, beans, lentils, chickpeas, etc. Diets with potatoes and sweet potatoes are also under investigation. Reports are focused on formulations (high concentrations/ratios) and not just the ingredients themselves.
Certain breeds of dogs are inherently predisposed to DCM. Giant breeds (Great Danes, Newfoundland, St. Bernard, etc.), Dobermans, and Boxers to name a few. Certain smaller breeds (English Setters, Cocker Spaniels, Golden Retriever) are also affected and, in some cases, are known to be reversed by taurine/carnitine supplements. If your dog is predisposed and is on a grain free diet or a limited ingredient diet, don’t panic. Simply changing to a traditional diet, that may contain healthy grains, may be a simple solution for what has been speculated by some.
You may have your dog on a grain free or limited ingredient diet for good reasons. Allergy symptoms in your pet have a variety of causes and we know food allergies are commonly implicated. You might suspect your dog is experiencing a food allergy by some form of digestive distress, itching or skin and ear infections. In these cases, it is very individualized when selecting an appropriate hypoallergenic food. You will need to experiment or do a trial elimination diet to find what food choice is best suited for your dog.
We continue to recommend feeding a variety of diets if your dog doesn’t show signs of food allergies or other intolerances. Rotating foods/diets will allow your dog to experience the benefits of various ingredients while providing a lifetime of balance in essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Choose a food manufacturer that meets AAFCO standards and is known for quality well sourced ingredients and produced in a quality- controlled manufacturing facility.
A maintenance diet does not have to be grain-free or contain “novel” ingredients. A quality maintenance food of more traditional ingredients may very well suit the needs of your dog and may be more economical for you also. (Fromm Gold, 4-Star, Best Breed, Nutrisource.)
The recent FDA report states “different dogs have different nutritional needs based on a number of factors, so nutritional advice is not one-size-fits-all.” The FDA recommends consulting your veterinarian for personalized advice about what to feed your dog. It’s important to note that in the FDA report affected dogs included those that have eaten grain-free and but also those eating grain containing foods. Some were on vegetarian or vegan formulations also. All forms of these diets: kibble, canned, raw and home-cooked were represented in the report. This explains why we do not think these cases can be explained simply by whether they contain legumes or not, nor by brand or manufacturer. To put this issue into proper context, the American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that there are 77 million pet dogs in the United States. As of September 2020, the FDA reports that between January 1, 2014 and July 31, 2020, 1100 case reports of diagnosed dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs.
If you are concerned about the diet you are currently feeding your dog, the FDA recommends “consulting with your veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist to discuss the best and safest diet for you dog.”
We opened the Village Pet Market in 2008 in response to the need for more wholesome choices in pet foods. The discovery of the toxin melamine in many prominently manufactured pet foods really upended the whole pet food industry. The limited choices in good quality maintenance foods and the high cost of “prescription diets” motivated us to help our clients find better choices at an affordable cost. At the time there were very limited options beyond Purina Dog Chow, Kibbles and Bits and Gravy Train unless you traveled to a specialty pet store. Most of these inferior diets included unsourced and unregulated ingredients from China, whole grain corn and starches, with unnamed animal protein sources, propylene glycol and other artificial ingredients. Many of our clients whose pets suffered from skin and digestive allergies found relief by switching to brands such as Fromm, Best Breed, Wellness and Zignature. Their pets were improving without the expense of prescription diets and medications. Now, years later, the pet food industry has exploded! The major name brands are trying to keep up with consumer demand for quality diets. We continue to use a common-sense approach for what we think will be the best for our pets and what to recommend for your pets as well. We rely on our own observations, research and reporting. We have stayed informed on the topic of nutritional- mediated dilated cardiomyopathy (NM DCM) by current reports, consulting a local veterinary cardiologist and contacts in the veterinary field. Presently, it is still very unclear as to the cause of dietary related DCM. Given the fact that we don’t yet understand the relation between diet and this disease it may be prudent to reconsider your dog’s diet until we know more. With the many choices in pet foods that are now available, switching to a food that is high in protein (cooked at low temperatures), inclusive of quality grains and a smaller ratio of legumes may be a precautionary measure. If you personally feel your dog is fine and wish to continue your present feeding program just be mindful of any of the signs of DCM or heart issue described earlier.
As a side note and for our cat loving friends, taurine deficiency is not overlooked. Taurine is a dietary essential amino acid for cats and has been linked to the feline version of DCM. Since 1987 the pet food industry has supplemented all forms of cat foods and virtually eliminated the disease in cats eating a reputable commercial diet. We caution those pet parents on home prepared diets or inferior cat foods regarding taurine deficiency.
If you have further questions, please ask, we’d love to continue the discussion! Dr. Wagner is available by appointment for those that would like to have any additional testing done. If you have any concerns that your pet is showing signs of DCM or any heart related illness, please call asap and schedule an appointment. Other food related questions can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org
Ear infections are common in dogs. Bacteria, yeast and accumulation of wax or hair are some of the more common causes. Ear infections are uncomfortable for pets and often have an offensive odor and discharge. Also note that ear infections may be an underlying sign of an animal with a food or other type of allergy. Regular ear cleaning at home with a natural product may help reduce the likelihood of infections and will help support the healing process when dealing with an ear infection once it occurs. After proper treatment the next line of defense is to address the diet. Some foods are high in sugars that will help to feed the bad bacteria or yeast within the ears. A switch to a better quality hypoallergenic diet will make a huge improvement. Sometimes these diets are also best when paired with supplements that help to support the overall immune system and health of the pet.
Excessive tearing creates the perfect condition for bacteria and yeast to grow in the warm and moist areas around the eyes. It is seen in dogs with lighter coats however it can be present in any dog or cat. Sometimes staining appears during a puppy’s teething stage or as they mature and their tear ducts do not form properly. Excessive tearing may be caused by diet, allergens in the air, irritants such as eyelashes rubbing the eyes, genetic problems with tears ducts, or trauma to the eye itself. A proper diet improves the overall health of the animal and avoids the use of any artificial chemicals or dyes. Secondly, supporting an animal’s immune system with either the use of probiotics or natural herbs will help bolster the pet’s natural immune system. Additional steps such as good hygiene and keeping the eye area dry will help to avoid the perfect growing environment for the bacteria and yeast.
Fleas can infest even the healthiest dogs and cats. Watch your pet for some common signs of flea trouble: excessive scratching and biting the skin especially around the tail and lower back, signs of flea dirt and raw patches. Fleas are most commonly seen in summer and fall. There are several natural treatments that are alternatives to conventional flea products and chemical insecticides. Starting with a healthy diet to support a healthy immune system, along with a quality topical repellant such as neem oil and diatomaceous earth, are possible options for natural flea control. Don’t forget that you also need to address your home and yard as well. Proper vacuuming and bathing of pets, etc. can help eliminate and avoid fleas all together. Quality natural products can add to your arsenal of flea defense especially in our pets that are sensitive to the chemical alternatives.
Don’t underestimate the seriousness of flea infestation and the impact it can have on your pet’s health.
As more pet owners learn about healthier foods, many are switching to more nutritious brands. However, a pet’s digestive track may have grown accustomed to a certain formula and its protein and fat levels. Their good gut flora or “good beneficial bacteria” may not be able to support a new formula, protein, or fat level change too quickly. When transitioning to grain free foods with higher protein and fat levels, the change in diet alone can be enough to sometimes elicit diarrhea and gas as a short term result of the transition. It is recommended to always do a gradual 7 to 10 day transition period. If that is not possible or the pets have issues with the transition, look for products such as probiotics and digestive enzymes which help breakdown proteins. Adding a spoonful of pumpkin will add fiber to the stool. Both of these may be very beneficial during a time of transition. Also remember that a transition from a lower quality food can mean changes in the amount of food that is fed. Higher protein foods usually mean higher calories and feeding less kibble is necessary.
Important Action: Transition to a new food over 10 days. 3 days of ¾ old food and ¼ new food. 4 days of ½ old food and ½ new food. 3 days of ¼ old food and ¾ new food.
Sometimes, even when pet owners provide the best nutrition, the unexpected happens. Improper diets, transitioning too quickly onto another diet, new treats, viruses, parasites, and even stress and other outside influences such as eating something they shouldn’t, can cause diarrhea. Chronic diarrhea can also be a symptom of more serious ailments and owners must monitor their pets and should consult with their veterinarian if the symptoms persist. There are times when the use of a limited ingredient diet or the addition of fiber in the form of pumpkin, for example, can help to create a more compact stool. If these do not work, there are several supplements such as probiotics or digestive enzymes that can be added to the diets. These can be used to establish proper gut flora that helps aid in breaking down the food, which can diminish the gas and diarrhea. Also consider a temporary change to a bland diet such as cooked chicken and rice for a few days to help remedy mild diarrhea. When transitioning to a higher protein diet from a high carbohydrate diet remember to adjust amount of kibble since typically less kibble is required with higher protein food. Overfeeding can result in gas issues.
Gluten is a protein composite, but not one that is found in meat or eggs. Gluten is found in wheat, rye, barley, corn and soy. Some pets have a difficult time digesting these grains with glutens and intolerances that often result in the following symptoms: dry skin, hair loss, and skin and ear infections. In addition, some pet owners themselves may have gluten intolerance such as celiac disease and need to be careful when handling certain pet foods. It is not always easy to identify every gluten source, however, looking for formulas that are more meat based or foods that avoid the use of the top gluten culprits, will help keep gluten sensitive pet parents and pets heading in the right direction.
Grain Free diets were created to simulate the diets that dogs and cats naturally ate in the wild, otherwise known as the “prey model diet”. In the wild, dogs and cats ate higher levels of meats and few carbohydrates. Their diets consisted mostly of meat and plant matter (that is partially digested from their prey), and the addition of bones for sources of calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium. By design, dogs and cats have a very short and highly acidic digestive tract that can break down meat more efficiently than carbohydrates. But, not all grain free diets are created equal. Grain free diets that contain higher levels of meat (always the first ingredient) and lower in carbohydrates better mirror “the prey model” diet. There have been many benefits with the introduction of the grain free diets: better allergy management, weight loss, fewer preventable diseases such as obesity and diabetes, better muscle mass, stronger immune systems, increased palatability and better options for picky eaters. Dr. Wagner recommends a grain free diet especially for our cat friends.
A hot spot is a localized area of inflamed and infected skin. These common skin lesions are usually caused (and made worse) by biting, licking, or scratching. Also known as “Summer Sores” (because they are more common in a hot humid environment) they can appear anywhere on a dogs body and the area can rapidly spread. Dogs that are prone to allergies also tend to get hot spots more commonly than non-allergic dogs. Better quality diets lead to better health and skin and coat condition. With allergic dogs and cats, finding what can trigger the food allergy or intolerance and then eliminating it by using novel proteins or eliminating grains may help. In additional, natural topical remedies may promote faster healing and soothing of the skin.
Joint pain in dogs and cats may be caused by a number of issues including congenital defects, injuries, abnormal joint development, infections, autoimmune –related diseases, repeated stress, excess weight, age and poor diet. The body naturally protects itself with joint building blocks such as glucosamine and chondroitin. These building blocks are naturally produced in healthy joints but when the joints and damaged they sometimes don’t create enough naturally for the body to properly repair itself. Utilizing select herbs can help to work in several ways such as: increasing circulation to the joints and muscles by decreasing inflammation or by giving the body adequate amounts of supplementation to help allow the body to repair the affected joints. Ingredients such as yucca, black cohosh, cayenne, MSM, turmeric, ginger, devil’s claw, alfalfa, vitamin C, nettle, and celery seed have proven to be helpful.
Urinary tract issues vary tremendously. They can be caused by age, ingesting toxins, cancer, genetic predisposition, parasites, stress, stones and trauma just to name a few. Symptoms include: drinking excess water, frequent urination, straining to urinate, urinating in inappropriate locations, incontinence, whimpering during urination, blood in the urine or excessive strong odor of the urine. Commonly the terms “stones and crystals” are often associated with bladder infections. The range of treatments in addressing the wide variety of stones and crystals is so varied that they could not be adequately covered in this brief paragraph. As with many health concerns it is best to consult your veterinarian to rule out serious medical conditions. Generally, when dealing with stones, adding moisture to the diet will help flush the bladder. Also other natural products like cranberry can keep the bacteria from being able to establish an infection of the bladder. The addition of probiotics into the diet also can keep the bad bacteria in check by not allowing the possibility of bacterial infections. To add moisture to the diets, look for foods that have to be reconstitute with water(freeze dried), frozen raw complete diets or any can diet that will naturally introduce moisture into the diet. Avoid fish based diets in cats and choose proteins such as chicken, beef, turkey, rabbit and lamb.
Pet water fountains and/or placing multiple bowls of fresh water around the house is recommended as well.
An easy way to determine if your dog or cat is overweight is by feeling and looking. You should be able to feel the ribs, spine and pelvic bones and the front of the chest should not look round when viewed from the side. Excess weight carries great risk to your pets, and can lead to many health related problems including: diabetes, increased risk of cancer, damage to joints, bones, and ligaments, decreased stamina, heat intolerance and the reduction of the quality and length of life. A healthy solution for your overweight pets should include regular exercise and a natural healthy food that is higher in quality proteins and lower in carbohydrates and fat. It is important to determine the correct feeding portions based on your pets “ideal” body weight and activity level. Remember that if the dog weighs 70lbs but should ideally weigh 50lbs, feed your pet as if he or she is a 50lbs dog, and not currently at the 70lbs weight. Also, feeding two or more times daily verses once will allow a pet’s metabolism to be at its peak burning rate all day. Don’t forget to make sure to select healthy treats or limit/ eliminate treats. Other suggestions include: adding fiber like pumpkin to the diet as a substitution for a portion of the kibble. This makes the pets feel “full” while eliminating some of the calories from the kibble. Products such as slow feeder bowls or Busy Buddy toys can be helpful for pets that eat too quickly.
It is estimated that canine liver disease is among the top 5 causes of canine death. The liver provides many important roles including: blood detoxification, bile production to aid in digestion and waste removal for the body. Many things can cause liver damage such as: genetics, ingested toxins, auto-immune diseases, or bacterial infections. The pancreas is a glandular organ that is responsible for secreting enzymes that are needed to break down and digest food. When pets have bouts with “Pancreatitis” it simply means that the enzymes are released internally to the pancreas and they begin to digest the pancreas itself which causes pain and inflammation in the pet’s abdomen. Pancreatitis tends to be more commonly seen in middle-age to older dogs and dogs that are overweight and inactive. Symptoms may include frothy green vomit, pain when touching abdomen and positioning the bodies in the “prayer position” front legs down rear end up (this helps relieve pain). Common triggers: “dumpster diving” or ingesting high fatty foods, genetic predisposition (i.e. King Charles Spaniels), the overuse of steroids, ingesting of toxins, trauma to the pancreas or diseases such as diabetes that all can lead to pancreatitis. With liver disease and pancreatitis, after proper medical care, it is recommended to slowly introduce these dogs back to good quality proteins in moderate proportions accompanied with higher carbohydrates and lower fats.
Puppies are different from adult dogs and will vary from breed to breed. There are several products that assist in the successful raising of a healthy and well adjusted new pup. (Note: a normal 2 lb to 20 lb adult dog is considered a puppy until roughly one year of age verses a large breed or giant breed dog that is considered a puppy until roughly two years.) All puppies should be feed at least 3 times daily. Large breeds may do better with 4 to 5 small meals per day. Large breeds will do best with modest portions throughout the day to maintain good growth but not excessive growth. For large breed puppies, limiting the amounts of calcium and phosphorus may help ensure that they do not grow too big or too quickly and have joint issues later in life.
A raw diet reflects what our pets ancestors ate in the wild for thousands of years. A balanced raw diet will match a pet’s biological need and allows their digestive tract to perform as nature intended it to do. Some of the benefits of raw diets include: shinier coats, healthier skin, fresher breath/cleaner teeth, improved digestion, reduced allergy symptoms, decreased shedding, increased stamina and firmer smaller stools. Raw diets offer higher levels of digestive enzymes. With the convenience and safety of freeze dried and dehydrated raw food, we recommend this form and stock regularly in the store. This form of food decreases the risk for pet owners to be exposed to bacteria such as e.coli and provides convenience when traveling or boarding your pet at kennels. Frozen raw foods are available and can be an option for those that are interested in pursuing a raw diet, especially beneficial for those pets with health problems or special dietary needs.
As pets age, just like humans, their bodies can go through many changes. Some of the more common changes are: painful or arthritic joints, slower digestive tracts and weight gain. As pets live longer lives, an increase in their dietary protein levels help maintain long lean muscles and help prevent muscle wasting which can cause further joint issues. There is no specific definition of “senior” and can vary considerably based on the breed and size. Larger breeds may require a joint supplement while smaller, inactive dogs could benefit from more exercise, decreased calories and increased fiber. Looking for foods and supplements that address your pet’s specific needs as a senior is important. As always, begin by focusing on their nutrition. Find a good quality diet and encourage regular exercise. Once you have established a good quality diet (some even have high levels of naturally occurring glucosamine and chondroitin) you can look for supplementation that can be given as treats or added to the food.
Skin and coat problems come in a variety of forms and may cause your pet to experience itchy, red, irritated skin that can result in hair loss, hot spots, dull, flaky or greasy coats. These problems can be caused by medical conditions, environmental irritations, nutritional deficiencies, parasites, allergies or poor grooming. You can help improve the skin and coat condition by feeding your dog a meat based food with high quality ingredients. Wheat, corn and soy are common allergens and should be eliminated from the diet. Supplements and oils that provide balanced Omega 3’s and Omega 6’s, as well as herbs that support the coat and immune system are another helpful solution.
Nearly all pets will at some point experience vomiting, gas, diarrhea, loose stool, fatigue, appetite loss, nausea, stomach distension due to a host of reasons. Commonly we see these with a quick transition onto a new diet or introducing a pet into a stressful situation. Other factors such as pollutants, bacteria or viruses can also cause stomach issues. The best way to deal with many of these conditions is to consistently feed a quality diet, possibly containing probiotics(beneficial “friendly” bacteria) these occur naturally in your pet’s intestine and help aid in digestion. Additionally, look for foods or supplements that contain “’prebiotics” which are food sources for friendly bacteria. By nourishing the good bacteria, you help reduce the potential for the harmful bacteria in the gut flora to take hold and cause havoc. There are several products on the market which can help directly with occasional gas and diarrhea and work very effectively. Digestive enzymes and pumpkin can be added to the diet to help bulk up the stool or eliminate gas all together. As always, if your pet experiences any condition that is not resolving, seek the advice of your veterinarian.
A pet with an ideal weight has ribs that you can feel and slightly see, but are not protruding. A pet that is too thin has ribs and spinal bones very palpable, both easy to see and feel. If a pet is underweight for too long, they may have less energy and lead to other health issues. The underweight condition could have different causes such as feeding quantities, inadequate fresh water, the quality of the pet food or more serious issues such as parasites, malabsorption issues, metabolism issues or possible other chronic disease or ailments. Pet owners should monitor their pets and consult with their veterinarian in order to rule out serious medical conditions. Feeding a more palatable food that is higher in protein and fat may help to increase the weight and muscle mass while slowly adding more calories. Feeding your adult pet at least two times a day helps to balance their intake and will help to aid digestion and absorption from their intestines.