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The food and treats you feed your pet are essential to their health, vitality and longevity. We also know the decision on what to feed and treat grows more difficult each day. There are literally thousands of brands available to the pet food consumer nowadays. Unfortunately, the majority of the marketing of some products is geared towards our human interests (vega, blueberries, organic, etc.) rather than what may actually be best for your pet.
We hope to help clear up some confusion and make your decision on what to feed easier. AAFCO or the Association of American Feed Control Officials goal is to provide a mechanism for developing and implementing uniform and equitable laws, regulations, standards and enforcement policies for regulating the manufacture, distribution and sale of animal feeds; resulting in safe, effective, and useful feeds. The Association thereby promotes new ideas and innovative procedures and urges their adoption by member agencies, for uniformity. Without getting too into bureaucratic mumbo jumbo, there are different terms pet foods will label their foods relating to AAFCO. Any diet we recommend needs to have gone through AAFCO feeding trials. Any food stating it meets AAFCO standards has not gone through a feeding trial which is more involved and more expensive for the manufacturer. What does this mean? Passing a feed trial means that the food you feed your pet actually has the nutrients it contains, but most importantly, they are bio available to your pet. Foods labeled “meets AAFCO standards” may contain the nutrients listed, but as we all learned from the Chinese melamine fiasco, we know the “guaranteed analysis” can be improved by including toxic ingredients. We also do not know that your pet is actually able to absorb the listed nutrients.
We recommend feeding foods from the reputable manufacturers, for us that means they also make prescription diets. Their diets as a whole have much more scientific, veterinary research behind them to prove they are health diets. The brands we recommend are Iams, Eukanuba, Purina and Royal Canin. Be wary of recommendations for diets at pet stores, many of the lesser quality diets pay commissions to employees who recommend their foods.
Coppell Veterinary Hospital, being a medical facility carries only prescription diets for our patients. Some common conditions that a prescription diets are used: kidney disease, liver disease, heart disease, diabetes, bladder stones, gastrointestinal disorders, and allergies. Food is medicine!
Another misconception we have all heard for years is that “people” food is bad for dogs and cats. This stems from the days when people fed their pets the left over scraps of their own food rather than commercial feed. Doing this did not provide a balanced diet, in addition, can lead to obesity and other health problems. You need to realize that dogs and cats do eat “people” food, just look at the ingredients on their bag or can of food. The ingredients, at least the ones you can pronounce, are typically a protein source (chicken, fish, etc.) and some form of carbohydrate (corn, rice, etc.). For those of us who want to be able to pronounce the ingredients in our pet’s food and control the quality of the ingredients, we recommend home cooking. This trend became more popular after the infamous pet food recall of recent years. To do this properly, we consult with a group of veterinary nutritionists to develop specific diets for your pet’s individual needs. They manufacture a supplement to balance out the meal. For those of you who love to cook, we endorse this approach whole heartedly, in fact Josie, Angie Best, RVT’s dog who is in the clinic daily has been on home cooked meals starting in the Fall of 2008 and it has made dramatic, positive changes for her.
Prescription diets are fed to pets with certain medical conditions. The disease processes they help are varied and many, as you read earlier. These diets only work if your pet will eat them. That is why we carry four different veterinary brands. Chances are that if your pet does not like the flavor or texture of one brand, they will like another. Beware of imitators! Many inferior brands now offer over the counter “prescription” like diets and may be appealing due to their lower cost. Remember, you usually get what you pay for and in almost all cases, they do not provide the same therapy as the real prescription diets. We can also have a veterinary nutritionist create home cooked diet recipes for your dog or cat’s medical condition.
Raw diets or BARF diets have become popular in recent years for dogs and cats. The theory being that in the wild, they eat their food raw. While this may be true, we need to remember that in the wild, dogs and cats do not live as long as their domestic counterparts. They also typically do not come in contact with small children to pass the parasites and disease they’ve contracted from their raw meals. The other factor to consider is that in the wild, these raw meals are typically fresh kills, and have not been in a slaughterhouse, thus exposed to thousands of animals. That’s how we get the E. Coli outbreaks from undercooked meat. Again, if you do not want to feed a commercial dog or cat food, you may COOK for your pets a veterinary nutritionist formulated diet and supplement.
For years, veterinary professionals have been telling their clients to feed their cat dry food because it was better for their teeth. Clients have also delighted in this because some of the canned foods our there are stinky and can cost more. What research has come to show in recent years is that cats do not chew their dry food very much. There may be a rare individual that does or you may hear an occasional crunch as they eat, but in general, mostly swallow their food whole. If your cat has ever vomited up their food, you know this to be true. This is does not apply for dental diets as their kibble is so LARGE, they have no choice to chew it. Most importantly though, is that if your cat lives long enough, their kidney’s are usually the organ to wear out. To help slow this progression, increased water intake is very helpful. Therefore, we recommend feeding canned food. It can be hard to introduce an adult cat that has eaten dry food their entire life to canned food, but it is definitely worth the effort. You can also leave a bowl of dry out to snack on.
Cats tend to care much more about the texture of their food than dogs. This is why we recommend, starting at a young age, to feed your cat different styles of canned (gravy, minced, solid) formulations as well as a dry diet. As we mentioned earlier, one of the first and best things we can do for some disease processes is feed a prescription diet. If your cat has been eating different textured foods over the years, the transition will be much easier, therefore, extending their life.
Remember, we are always happy to discuss your pet’s unique nutritional needs.
Cats are obligate carnivores, which means they need to eat meat. Dogs and humans can survive on vegetarian based diets, cats cannot. You may be ethically or mentally opposed to consuming other animals, your cat’s survival and health depends on them doing so. Please do not inflict your views onto them.
Everybody likes to give their dog or cats treats for special occasions, when they greet us at homecoming or if they did their “potty” jobs. What kind and how many treats you feed your pet plays a big part in their health. Too many treats or the wrong kind can lead to obesity and other health problems.
Dr. Stearman does not recommend any “animal body part” treats. Examples are: raw hide, hooves, or pig ears, tails, snouts, etc. Our canine friends tend to love these treats but they pose many risks to them and us. Rawhides are bad for a few reasons. Sometimes your dog may tear off too large a piece to swallow and they become lodged in the esophagus or any point further down the digestive tract. They also have been known to harbor salmonella which can sicken your dog but can also be passed to humans. This is especially of concern if your dog comes in contact with small children. All of them can lead to gastrointestinal illness which is not good for them and often times leads to a visit with us. Hooves, besides the above mentioned problems also tend to be too hard for some dogs to chew and teeth can be fractured leading to abscess and possible extraction. Ouch!
If you want to treat your pet, we recommend feeding treats from the manufacturers we mentioned above. You may also place some of their dry food in a plastic container, rattle it around and offer to your pet. They usually are just as excited about that as any other treat. Avoid brightly colored, jerky/bacon like or any other treat molded to resemble human food. They tend to be high in fat and salt besides unnatural funky colors. Also, avoid all treats made in China as they continue to be recalled for melamine contamination.
504 S Denton Tap RD
Coppell, TX 75019
Monday - Thursday
8:00 AM - 12:00 PM
2:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Closed Friday, Saturday and Sunday
For after hours Emergency Care Call 817-410-2273
Animal Emergency Hospital of North Texas