Should You Add Anything To Your Dog’s Food?

Many people think it’s great to add fresh fruit and vegetables to their dog’s diet. They think that fresh foods will give their dog something that a processed food won’t. Some people even think that fresh foods are the only way to add “life force” to the diet.

While we won’t debate the issue of life force, adding foods to an already complete and balanced diet can cause some problems. Any additions to an already complete and balanced diet are likely to throw the finely-tuned balance of nutrients way off. For example, if you give your dog cottage cheese, milk or ice cream, the additional calcium could create a zinc deficiency and you will probably see flaking skin, and, possibly, other problems, too.

Fresh fruits and vegetables contain plenty of water. Cooked vegetables contain even more water. Believe it or not, adding extra water to the diet dilutes the nutrients your dog is getting from his food.

Since fruits and vegetables also contain carbohydrates, you’re diluting the prepared diet with those, too. Because you have added calories to the diet, you are diluting the amount of protein your dog is getting, as your dog will want to eat less of his dog food.

The additions you make to the food may also result in the undersupplying of different vitamins. While there is a margin of error included in the formulation of the dog food, how close to the wire are you getting?

What about adding rice? Rice is just water and starch – carbohydrate. Now you’re diluting the dog food with water and carbohydrates. The more you add, the more you dilute, and the less the dog gets of the balanced diet.

How about celery? Although it’s one of my favorite snacks, celery is worthless to the dog. It contains plenty of water, and is mostly fiber. The fiber takes up space in the stomach, so your dog will eat less of the food (and therefore the nutrients) he needs.

Some people like to cook beans for their dog. Well, as you may imagine, beans can cause gas in dogs. It’s not a balanced addition, and will dilute the vitamins, minerals and fatty acids in the rest of the diet.

Are fresher foods more natural and better for your dog? There’s some debate about this, but no hard evidence. Commercially-made dog foods are the result of years of nutritional research, all with the goal of providing your dog with all of the nutrients he needs to live a long, healthy life. Various analyses show that the commercial food your dog eats will provide all of those nutrients. Most manufacturers also perform standard feeding tests to make sure that their food works well in real dogs, not just in the laboratory.

Dog food manufacturers have worked hard to balance the diet using many of the same ingredients you’d add to the diet. There’s really no need to add anything else.

More on Dogs and Spongiform Encephalopathy

In April, 1997, an 11-year-old Labrador Retriever from Norway died following central nervous system symptoms such as the lack of muscle coordination and seizures. A post mortem examination revealed that the brain had a spongiform appearance. Samples of the dog’s brain were sent to Britain for further study. Since 95% of Norway’s pet food comes from Britain, it’s quite possible that the dog ate food made before the ban on ruminant parts in pet food, and contracted the disease that way, possibly becoming the first known case in a dog.

Meanwhile, the British government has revealed that its scientists found dogs were susceptible to spongiform encephalopathy. Government veterinarians were studying hound ataxia in 1991. In the study of the brains of 444 hunting hounds, the scientists found the hounds could be infected with spongiform encephalopathy.

Pancreatitis: Digestion Gone

Debbie Eldredge, DVM

The pancreas is a small organ located between the stomach and the intestines, right next to the liver – obviously in the hotbed of digestive activity! The pancreas has two main functions: It provides insulin to handle glucose metabolism, and special enzymes to help digest food.

These digestive enzymes are what we are concerned with here. Since these are powerful enzymes, they’re  normally carefully packaged and controlled. With pancreatitis, you get inflammation of the pancreas with the potential for the leakage of these enzymes into inappropriate tissues. This could be secondary to an abscess or cancer, but most commonly is simple inflammation or irritation of the pancreas.

Severe – what is classified as necrotic – pancreatitis has a great deal of pain associated with it. It can lead to death due to the massive tissue destruction and side effects of that. Secondary cardiac (heart), renal (kidney) or bleeding problems can result. Recurrent, but milder cases may develop scarring that can interfere with insulin production leading to diabetes mellitus, cause a shortage of digestive enzymes requiring lifetime replacement therapy, or create liver problems due to the close proximity of the bile duct.

The signs we most often see in our dogs are fairly general. They usually vomit, have a painful, “tight” abdomen, can be depressed and may have a fever.

If the case is severe, the first signs noticed may be weakness or collapse. Radiographs (X-rays) sometimes show a “ground glass” appearance where the pancreas is normally located, and sometimes intestines are pushed out of place by the inflammation.

Ultrasound is especially useful for differentiating pancreatic cysts, abacuses or cancers. Laboratory results can be very helpful or simply confusing! We expect to see some renal factors elevated due to the dehydration, and increased potassium due to the vomiting. Ideally, we get increases in some of the pancreatic enzymes, such as lipase and amylase. Unfortunately, every veterinarian has had cases with perfectly normal levels of pancreatic enzymes despite a very sick dog.

Pancreatitis cases tend to be over-weight females. (Another reason for weight loss perhaps?) Most of the dogs are middle-aged, and Miniature Schnauzers seem to be frequent sufferers of this malady. While abscesses or cancer can cause pancreatitis, the most common cause seems to be eating some special or extra-fatty foods. We all know of “garbage hounds” who raid the trash frequently and seem to live quite healthily on rancid fat scraps. But I’ve also seen dogs who were given one special hot dog for their birthday and quickly developed pancreatitis.

Treatment for pancreatitis can range from minimal to extensive depending on the degree of damage. All pancreatitis cases have to go NPO (nothing per os, or nothing by mouth). This means the pets must be maintained on intravenous fluids to keep them hydrated. Protein loss from fluid leakage into the abdomen may even require some plasma.

Antibiotics don’t “cure” anything here, but do help prevent infection starting up in the irritated tissues. Antiemetics (drugs to control vomiting) can help keep Fido much more comfortable. Any drugs that might irritate the pancreas have to be avoided. This is no time to be stingy on pain medications however – pancreatitis is considered to be extremely painful.

Due to the many medications that are necessary, the need for intravenous fluids and frequent monitoring, owners of dogs with pancreatitis should plan on having their dog stay at least a few days stay in the hospital. If eating and drinking is started up too soon, it can set the dog back to the beginning – or worse. Stays can range from 3 to 5 days to 10 days or more for severe or complicated cases.

Eventually your dog will be given water and, if all goes well, he can progress to easily digestible carbohydrates such as rice or pasta. Fatty foods and foods high in protein are the last to be added as these are strong pancreatic stimulants. Most pets eventually do get back to their regular diets, but any dogs with recurring bouts – or even one severe bout – may have to remain on special therapeutic diets.

Pancreatitis is another one of those disease that it’s much better to simply read about than to have to live through. So keep those fatty scraps and treats away from Spot!

A Treatment for Coprophagia

Well, Anna Lee, you don’t have to wish any longer! Eight In One Pet Products has come out
with a treatment for coprophagia.

The product is a pill that you give to your poop-eating dog.The pill changes the taste of the dog’s own feces, making them less tasty.

The treatment, which has a patent pending, was independently tested. Those tests indicated a 95% to 98% cure rate.

The product, called Deter™, contains a brewers yeast base and the three active ingredients Thiamine Hydrochloride, Capsicum Oleoresin and Natural Fermented Vegetable Extract. It’s flavored so that dogs will enjoy taking the pill.  As soon as stool-eating is noticed, give your dog one tablet per 10 lbs. body weight per day for two weeks. To prevent further incidents, feed one tablet daily as a maintenance program.

According to the inventor of Deter, nutritionist Dr. Martin Glinsky, 20% to 30% of dogs eat their feces. “It’s not that harmful, but it’s really not that great, either,” Glinsky says. “There are lots of theories, but no one knows for sure why dogs eat their own stools.”

We wanted to know if Deter would stop dogs from snacking out of the cat box. According to Glinsky, tests have been inconclusive. While Deter is safe to give to cats, it won’t stop every dog from eating cat poop.

Since cat poops are a doggy delicacy here at Good Dog!  we tried it out. We found that when we used Deter, the dogs didn’t eat cat poops. When we stopped giving the cats Deter, the dogs would resume their snacking. So, in our test, it worked. You’ll have to try it in your own house to see if it solves the problem for you.

You can find Deter at your local pet store or veterinary clinic. If they don’t have it, they can order it through their favorite pet products distributor.

Ross Becker

More on Dogs and Spongiform Encephalopathy

In April, 1997, an 11-year-old Labrador Retriever from Norway died following central nervous system symptoms such as the lack of muscle coordination and seizures. A post mortem examination revealed that the brain had a spongiform appearance. Samples of the dog’s brain were sent to Britain for further study. Since 95% of Norway’s pet food comes from Britain, it’s quite possible that the dog ate food made before the ban on ruminant parts in pet food, and contracted the disease that way, possibly becoming the first known case in a dog.

Meanwhile, the British government has revealed that its scientists found dogs were susceptible to spongiform encephalopathy. Government veterinarians were studying hound ataxia in 1991. In the study of the brains of 444 hunting hounds, the scientists found the hounds could be infected with spongiform encephalopathy.