Monthly Archives: February 2015

The Cost of Having an Overweigh Dog

We are along ways away from, National Pet Obesity Awareness Day, which lands in October, however pet obesity is a serious problem we face as pet parents. It is such a problem that Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) created a day to help raise awareness of both the seriousness of and pervasiveness of pet obesity. Now it may seem strange poOverweight Rottisting this in February, but it is to help bring awareness if your dog is overweight that you can help bring him to a healthy weight before October! Not many people realize the financial strain it can cost owners with overweight pets also, but obese dogs are much more susceptible to chronic health issues versus a healthy weight dog.

The Financial Costs of Having an Overweight Pet
In 2009, researchers at the Michigan State veterinary hospital conducted a study to determine the annual treatment costs associated with common canine diseases and disorders.

If a much shorter and lower quality life for your dog is not reason enough to change the way you feed and exercise your pet, perhaps the realization of how costly it can be to have an overweight dog will be the impetus to change your behavior.

Annual Veterinary Treatment Costs, Canine Diseases
Disorder/Disease Average Cost
Heart disease $1,912
Hypertension $1,700
Osteoarthritis $1,656
Cancer $2,447
Diabetes $1,108
Pancreatitis $1,422
Obesity + ruptured ACL $2,367
Chronic kidney disease $1,823

According to APOP, the primary risks of overweight pets include:

  • Heart and Respiratory Disease
  • High Blood Pressure (hypertension)
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Many Forms of Cancer
  • Insulin Resistance and Type 2 Diabetes
  • Cranial Cruciate Ligament Injury (ACL)
  • Kidney Disease
  • Decreased life expectancy (up to 2.5 years)

Treating anyone of these disorders can be significantly costly, but because these are just an estimated average costs a dog’s total treatment over a lifetime could easily exceed $10,000 depending on the disease and age at diagnosis. Even worse yet, an overweight dog could develop multiple diseases due to their weight problem. In fact, virtually all of the conditions listed above are more likely to occur in overweight dogs than in properly weighing dogs.

Rebecca Bone-icon

Is there a Thing as too Many Treats?

Giving treats to your dog is a great way to show extra love or a little reward. The special yummies can be anything from a biscuit from a dog bakery, homemade cookies, grocery brand treats, or morsels of table scraps. With so many options, we tend to go over board with indulging our dogs. However with moderation you can be sure you are choosing the right kind of treats for your dog.

Advantages of treats
Every dog deserves an extra treat occationally, and treats can be a good thinDog Bones in Jarg too! There are many different kinds of treats, some promote improved dental hygiene, others may contain added nutrients.  Knowing your dogs favorite treat can also provide great motivation during training, or encouraging good behaviour.

When you are rewarding your dog with these yummy morsels, you feel good, and he will feel good because hes pleasing you. This goes along way towards strengthening the bond and trust between you and your dog.

When good treats go bad
Unfortunately too much of a good thing can be bad. And many of the treats and cookies dogs love the most are very high in fats and sugars. This can be a hidden cause of weight gain, as it is easy to lose track of how many treats you offer over the course of a day. 40% of all pets in the United States are obese, and only 17% of pet owners realize their pet is over weight. This puts nearly half of all pets in the US at a higher risk of heart problems and diabetes. One way to monitor your dogs treat intake, is to watch the monitor the amount of calories in his favourite treat.

Depending on his level of activity, a 20-pound dog may burn only 700 calories a day. If one large dog biscuit contains 100 calories, just 2 or 3 of these added to his regular daily diet will push him into overindulgence. Keep track of calories in the treats and subtract these from your dog’s total daily diet to prevent overindulgence. If your dog is overweight, save treats for very special occasions only or choose low-calorie treats.

Many of us share a portion of our meal or snack with our dog. If you’re lounging on the couch eating popcorn, usually it goes, one for me one for you. Soon it’s hard to resist those pleading brown eyes looking up at you, and know there’s a monster who begs constantly. Table scraps tend to be high in fat and sugar and can upset your dog’s digestion. Many people who have ‘picky dogs’ have spoiled their dog by consistently feeding table scraps after dinner, soon kibble is no longer appealing and health problems ensue.

Healthy Alternatives
You don’t want to deprive your dog but how do you choose the proper treats for him? Choose treats made for dogs, it is best to eliminate all sorts of table scraps as they cause more harm then good. Another great idea is substituting dog treats with fresh veggies such as carrots, green beans or broccoli. Fresh Chihuahua and Cookieveggies are low in calories and high in fiber , however, some table foods can be harmful or toxic to dogs.

Make sure your dog eats his nutritionally balanced food before filling up on treats. And always have fresh water available for your dog.

With the vast array of dog treats available, do your best to make wise choices. Check ingredients and fat content. If your dog is healthy and eating a balanced diet, an occasional healthful treat will enrich his life.
But keep in mind, try to keep treats to under 10 percent of his diet.


Understanding Dog Food Labels

The food we consume is regulated by nutritional experts and closely monitored for quality, but knowing what goes in to our dogs food should not be such a mystery. A general rule of thumb I have adopted into my own lifestyle, is if I cannot pronounce it I am not eating it and I have applied this to my animal’s health too. Dog food labels can be confusing and misleading, what may look like a “wholesome” or “natural” dog food is really just full of chemicals and fillers. Bellow I have compared two dog food labels, the first one; Acana which is good baseline dog food. And beneful, a grocery brand dog food. Notice how the ingredient list in Acana is full of things we recognize and can pronounce. Where as in Beneful, it contains weird chemicals, and chicken by-product meal.

8725136_f520                                                                                            Acana

Listed Ingredients

Pet Food companies are required by law to list all the ingredients by order of predominance and also to list vitamins and minerals by their chemical name. This can result in multiple different ingredients you have never seen or heard of before. For example, ferrous sulfate might sound harmful, when really it is just a source of iron. However there are definitely ingredients that you should avoid in your pet food, such as, Propylene Glycol. Which is a preservative to help semi-moist food stay hydrated, however if consumed on a daily bases it is toxic.

One important thing to note is the first two ingredients listed. Normally it is a meat by product or whole meat then another source of protein, such as peas or potatoes. The crude protein listed in the guaranteed analysis might be 27%, however it is not straight meat protein. Because a fiber source is the second item on the list. It highly likely that the majority of the crude protein is coming from pea protein versus meat. If you take a look at the two ingredient lists above, Acana and Beneful shows this exactly. Acana’s first few ingredients are a meat source. So we know that the majority of the protein is coming from meat. Where a Beneful has ground corn-meal, chicken by product meal, then corn again.

Guaranteed Analysis

This is where we learn what the percent values in your dogs food are. Depending on your dogs age, and health this will dictate what you are looking. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) has set out recommended minimums and sometimes maximum levels of nutrients. An very important factor to remember when comparing two different labels is that not all dog food kibbles have the same moisture levels. Meaning if you are trying to compare the two different foods you have to make everything equal. So we use a simple formula to find the actual true percentages of fat and protein in the kibble.

So lets use Benful as the example.
100% Dry matter – 14% Moisture = 86% Actual Dry Matter
27% Protein / 86% Actual Dry Matter = 31% True Protein
12% Fat / 86% Actual Dry Matter = 13% True Fat

Then Acana.
100% Dry Matter – 10% Moisture = 90% Actual Dry Matter
33% Protein / 90% Actual Dry Matter = 36% True Protein
18% Fat / 90% Actual Dry Matter = 20% True Fat

The nutritional Adequacy Statement is one of the more important statements too when looking at the labels it can impact your pet’s health if claims are made that it is nutritionally complete when the prodcut is not able to meet any of the requirements set out by the AAFCO. Think of the AACFO as the FDA for pet food. Look for statements like,

“…. is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO (Dog/Cat) Food Nutrient Profiles.”
“Animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate that …. provides complete and balanced nutrition.”

 Feeding Directions

At minimum, some where on the label should include wording such as “feed ___ cups per ___ pounds of body weight daily.” The feeding directions should be taken as rough guidelines, a place to start. Breed, temperament, environment, and many other factors can influence food intake. Dog food brands attempt to cover almost all scenarios by setting the directions for the most demanding of situation. The best suggestion is to offer the recommended amount at first, and then to increase or cut back as needed to maintain body weight in adults.

Understanding the requirements of a pet food label helps to ensure that your dog’s nutritional needs are being met. The best advice I can give you is to monitor your dogs activity levels, and adjust the amount of food at feeding time. Or switch the food to something that offers higher or lower fat content depending on the situation. Our pets rely on us to provide them the best care and nutrition we can offer. Understanding the basics to dog food labels is just a small thing we can do in being a better pet parent.

Rebecca  Bone-icon