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Research Review: A Simple Step for Extending Your Dog’s Life -- Monday May 25th, 2020
A Simple Step for Extending Your Dog’s Life
APRIL 01, 2019
If you do an internet search on “help my dog life longer”, you’ll be treated to quite a bit of dubious to dangerous advice ranging from avoiding “chemicals” to using various supplements to feeding a raw diet . While there is no evidence that any of these strategies are associated with health benefits, much less life extension (and there are potential concerns with each as well), scientific studies have shown us that one of the more effective strategies is also one of the simplest – keep (or get) your dog lean!
A new study recently published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine compared the lifespans of more than 50,000 neutered or spayed adult dogs seen by a large corporate veterinary practice. The dogs included 12 common breeds – American cocker spaniel, beagle, boxer, Chihuahua, dachshund, German shepherd dog, golden retriever, Labrador retriever, pit bull terrier type, Pomeranian, Shih Tzu, and Yorkshire terrier. The dogs were divided into two groups – dogs of normal body condition and overweight dogs – and their lifespan (or expected lifespan based on statistical modeling) was compared between the two groups.
The investigators found that the normal weight dogs of each breed had a lower risk of death over time (and thus a longer lifespan) compared to their overweight counterparts. The difference was most dramatic for the smaller breed dogs like the Yorkie. The estimated increased median lifespan of the normal weight dogs over the overweight dogs ranged from 6 months to 2 years and 6 months, which is quite a bit of extra good-quality time with your best friend!
In the interests of full disclosure, this study had some flaws, particularly the fact that the lifespans of many of the dogs were estimated using statistical means rather than being based on actual recorded lifespans. Additionally, thousands of different veterinarians were responsible for assessing the dogs as normal or overweight without really strict criteria being used to define each category during the entire 20-year period of data collection. On the plus side, this is one of the largest veterinary studies that has ever been published and the statistical analysis was well done.
The results also agree with a number of other studies in dogs and other animals that suggest that being eating fewer calories and remaining lean increases lifespan. One of the best known of these studies in the veterinary world is a more than decade-long study published in 2002. In that study, 48 Labrador retrievers were followed for their entire lives. Those dogs were also divided into two groups – one group was always fed 25% less than their siblings in the other group. This resulted in two groups of dogs – one lean and one mild to moderately overweight. In this study, the lean dogs lived on average 18-24 months longer than their littermates who ate more over their entire lives. Moreover, not only did the lean dogs live longer, they were healthier for longer as well – being lean also postponed the symptoms of many chronic disease processes such as arthritis.
So what is the take home message here? If your dog is lean, keep them that way! Resist the temptation to feed too much food and too many treats. Ask your veterinarian at every visit whether your dog is appropriately lean and learn how to do body condition scoring at home. If you are not sure if your dog is at an appropriate weight or you know he or she is overweight, work with your veterinarian to assess your dog and then develop a weight loss plan to reveal your dog’s lean “inner dog”. Use the knowledge that you are likely extending your dog’s life to keep you motivated during the weight loss period.
Bully Sticks - YUCK -- Monday May 25th, 2020
Dangers of Bully Sticks: Popular Treat Can Carry Bacteria and Add Calories
Do you feed bully sticks (also known as pizzle sticks) to your dog? If you do, you’re like 23% of dog owners in a survey we conducted. And while this study completed several years ago, these treats don’t seem to be any less popular now. But do you know what bully sticks are? A surprising number of owners (almost 50% in our survey) did not. Bully sticks are, in fact, bull or steer penises.
I have always been surprised when talking to clients and even other veterinarians that many have no idea what bully sticks really are. That’s one of the reasons my colleagues and I wanted to conduct a study on these popular treats. Nearly 800 dog owners completed our online survey, and the results emphasize the confusion and misconceptions owners have about pet food and treats. In addition to many not knowing what bully sticks are, 71% of people feeding bully sticks to their dogs said they avoided pet foods containing by-products, with most not being able to correctly identify what by-products really are.
Even if you can get past the issue of feeding your dog an uncooked, dried penis of a bull or steer as a treat, there are more potential problems with bully sticks. One is that they may be contaminated with bacteria. We tested 26 bully sticks for bacteria and found that one was contaminated with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a type of staph bacteria that is resistant to certain antibiotics; one was contaminated with Clostridium difficile; and seven were contaminated with Escherichia coli (including one antibiotic-resistant sample). This certainly doesn’t prove that all bully sticks are contaminated but does emphasize the importance of washing your hands after touching these treats, as you should with any raw meat or raw meat diets. People at high risk (very young, elderly, pregnant, or immunocompromised individuals) should avoid all contact with raw animal-based treats and raw meat diets.
Finally, our survey found that 50% of dog owners underestimated the number of calories in bully sticks. Our analysis of these treats showed that they contain between 9-22 calories per inch, which means than an average 6-inch bully stick is nearly 100 calories! Since over half of all dogs in the US are overweight, it’s important for owners to factor in calories from treats and table food, in addition to those coming from dog food. For healthier treat options, check out our post on safe and healthy treats for your pet.
This post provides a summary of our article: Freeman LM, Janecko N, Weese JS. Nutritional and microbial analysis of bully sticks and survey of opinions about pet treats. Canadian Veterinary Journal. 2013; 54: 50-54.
Preventing Lymes Disease -- Thursday March 19th, 2020
Prevent Lyme Disease
Before gardening, camping, hiking, or just playing outdoors, make preventing tick bites part of your plans.
Lyme disease is spread by the bite of an infected tick. In the United States, an estimated 300,000 infections occur each year. If you camp, hike, work, or play in wooded or grassy places, you could be bitten by an infected tick.
People living in or visiting New England, the mid-Atlantic states, and the upper Midwest are at greatest risk. Infected ticks can also be found in neighboring states and in some areas of Northern California, Oregon and Washington. But you and your family can prevent tick bites and reduce your risk of Lyme disease.
Protect Yourself from Tick Bites
Know where to expect ticks. Blacklegged ticks (the ticks that cause Lyme disease) live in moist and humid environments, particularly in and near wooded or grassy areas. You may get a tick on you during outdoor activities around your home or when walking through leaves and bushes. To avoid ticks, walk in the center of trails and avoid walking through tall bushes or other vegetation.
Though Lyme disease cases have been reported in nearly every state, cases are reported from the infected person’s county of residence, not the place where they were infected. More Lyme disease data >
Repel ticks on skin and clothing. Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, or 2-undecanone. EPA’s helpful search tool can help you find the product that best suits your needs. Always follow product instructions. Parents should apply this product to their children, avoiding hands, eyes, and mouth. Use products that contain permethrin on clothing. Treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents with products containing 0.5% permethrin. It remains protective through several washings. Pre-treated clothing is available and may be protective longer.
Perform Daily Tick Checks
Check your body for ticks after being outdoors, even in your own yard. Search your entire body for ticks when you return from an area that may have ticks. Use a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body and remove any tick you find. Take special care to check these parts of your body and your child’s body for ticks:
Check your clothing and pets for ticks because they may carry ticks into the house. Check clothes and pets carefully and remove any ticks that are found. Place clothes into a dryer on high heat to kill ticks.
Remove Attached Ticks Quickly and Correctly
Remove an attached tick with fine-tipped tweezers as soon as you notice it. If a tick is attached to your skin for less than 24 hours, your chance of getting Lyme disease is extremely small; however, other diseases may be transmitted more quickly.
Over the next few weeks, watch for signs or symptoms of Lyme disease such as rash or fever. See a healthcare provider if you have signs or symptoms. For more information, see tick removal.
Be Alert for Fever or Rash
Even if you don’t remember being bitten by a tick, an unexpected summer fever or odd rash may be the first signs of Lyme disease, particularly if you’ve been in tick habitat. See your healthcare provider if you have symptoms.
Prevent Ticks on Animals
Prevent family pets from bringing ticks into the home by limiting their access to tick-infested areas and by using veterinarian-prescribed tick prevention products on your dog.
Create Tick-safe Zones in Your Yard
Modify your landscaping to create “Tick-Safe Zones.” It’s pretty simple. Keep patios, play areas, and playground equipment away from shrubs, bushes, and other vegetation. Regularly remove leaves, clear tall grasses and brush around your home, and place wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas to keep ticks away from recreational areas (and away from you).
It’s Official: Dog Owners Live Longer, Healthier Lives -- Friday February 7th, 2020
n case you need another reason to snuggle your pup: According to a new study of more than 3.4 million people, owning a dog is linked to a longer life. The research, published in Scientific Reports, is the latest in a growing body of research suggesting that canine companions may be good for human health—especially for people who live alone.
To study the link between dogs and longevity, researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden reviewed national registry records of Swedish men and women, ages 40 to 80. They focused on 3.4 million people who had no history of cardiovascular disease in 2001, and followed their health records—as well as whether they registered as a dog owner—for about 12 years. Dog ownership registries are mandatory in Sweden, and every visit to a hospital is recorded in a national database.
They found that dog owners had a lower risk of death due to cardiovascular disease than people who did not report owning a dog, as well as a lower risk of death from other causes. That was true even after adjusting for factors such as smoking, body mass index and socioeconomic status.
The protective effect was especially prominent for people living alone, who have been found to have a higher risk for early death than those who live with other people. People who lived alone with a dog had a 33% reduced risk of death, and an 11% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, than people who lived alone without a dog.
The study—with a sample size hundreds of times larger than any other studies on this topic—was not designed to show a cause-and-effect relationship between dog ownership and reduced risk of death or cardiovascular disease, or to determine why these factors may be related. It’s possible that people who choose to own dogs may simply be more active and in better health to begin with, say the authors.
But it’s also possible—and very likely, says senior author Tove Fall, a veterinarian and associate professor of epidemiology—that taking care of a dog prompts people to stay active and live a healthier lifestyle. “I have met numerous owners that are convinced that their pet has been instrumental for them, often in terms of social support,” says Fall. “As a dog owner, I also notice that the people I meet during walks are often other dog owners, especially in bad weather.”
Another possible explanation, she adds, could be a dog’s effect on its owner’s microbiome. Other studies have suggested that growing up with a dog in the house can decrease allergies and asthma in children, and Fall says that pets may provide immune-boosting benefits for adults as well. Studies have also suggested that dog owners have lower reactivity to stress and faster recovery of blood pressure following stressful events.
The study authors were also surprised to find that people who owned dogs that were originally bred for hunting—like terriers, retrievers and scent hounds—were the most protected from heart disease and death. Because these dogs typically need more exercise than other breeds, their owners may be more likely to meet physical activity guidelines, they say.
Fall says the study’s results can be generalized to the entire Swedish population, and likely to other European countries with similar living standards and culture regarding dog ownership. They also probably apply to the United States, she says.
Scientists can’t say that getting a dog will definitely help a person live longer, but Fall believes it’s not a bad idea. “I think that a pet brings a lot of joy and companionship into a house, so if a person has the capacity to take care of it, they certainly should,” she says. “There are numerous studies showing that dog owners get more physical activity, which could help to prolong a healthy life.”
Source : Time Magazine
Caring for Your Pup's Paws in the Winter -- Sunday January 19th, 2020
~~Caring for Your Pup’s Paws in the Winter
Winter can be a tough time for a dog’s paws. Prevent weather-related paw pad injuries by following some basic tips and the use of products designed for paw protection.
Preventing Paw Pad Injuries
Caring for Your Pup's Paws in the Winter
One of the biggest threats to healthy paw pads is the salt used to melt ice on driveways, roads and sidewalks. Prolonged contact can lead to chemical burns on dog paws. If your dog is limping by end of a walk, deicing products may be hurting his feet. Try to keep your dog off the salty sidewalk (think grass or snow) whenever possible.
Another threat from deicers is ingestion. Dogs may lick their paws or your boots and ingest deicing salts. To prevent your dog from ingesting deicing salts, keep a shallow bowl of warm water and a cloth near the entryway to your home so that you can wipe your boots and your dog’s paws when coming back inside.
Another common cause of sore paws during the cold winter months are the ice balls which form between the pads and toes of hairy-footed dog. To reduce the risk of ice balls, keep inter-pad hair trimmed neatly and short during the winter months. Not only can hairy feet contribute to the development of ice balls on the feet, paw hair can retain a lot of those nasty deicing salts. If your dog has hairy feet, trim them throughout the winter.
Dogs left in the cold for long periods of times are also at risk for frostbite on paws and hypothermia. It is not advised that dogs spend hours in the cold. In winter, frequent short walks are better for your dog than a single long walk
Bag Balm, a product available at nearly every pharmacy, applied in a thin layer daily or every other day should help keep your dog’s paws from cracking and bleeding. Keeping a humidifier in the house should also prevent dry, itchy skin for both you and your pet.
Products For Protecting Dog Paws
The best protection for your dog’s paws and pads are dog booties. Just as wearing boots in the winter protects your pads, dog booties will prevent injury to your dog’s feet. Dog boots can protect your dog’s paws from salt, ice balls, and cutting his pads on sharp items that may be hidden under the snow or sharp ice. Proper sizing of dog booties is especially important in ensuring that the booties are comfortable for your dog to wear and maximize paw protection.
Dog booties may look silly, but really are the ultimate protection for your dog. Human snowsuits look silly also, but are they not the best for keeping sledding kids warm? Just as your kid may not want to wear a snowsuit, your dog may not initially like wearing booties. With a little time and patience, you can train your dog to love wearing his dog boots!
Nail-Trimming for beginners -- Sunday January 19th, 2020
~~Nail-trimming for beginners
Dog nails that are light
When you trim your dog’s nails, the first thing to do is check to see where the quick inside the nail ends. If your dog has light-colored nails, you can see the soft, pink tissue in the center called the quick.
The quick includes a blood vessel and nerve and is easier to see on light dog nails. Hold your dog’s paw up to the light. The quick is visible through the nail and looks like a nail-within-a-nail. You must avoid cutting into the quick as it will bleed and causes your dog pain.
Dog nails that are dark
Learning how to clip dog nails that are dark is a little different from learning to trim light dog nails. The first thing you’ll notice is that you will not see the blood and nerve that makes up the quick through the nail.
To view the quick of the nail, gently lift your dog’s paw and look at the center of the unclipped nail head-on. If the nail has a small dark circle at the center, it indicates the beginning of the quick of the nail. Do not clip any nail that has a circle in the center as you’ll be clipping into the quick.
If you do not see the center-circle, snip off the smallest edge of the nail at 45 degrees. Check again to see if there is an exposed center-circle. Once you see the dark circle in the middle of the nail, you have clipped far enough. You must not cut into the quick as it will cause your dog pain and bleed.
What to do if you cut the quick
If you cut a nail too short and it begins to bleed, apply pressure to the tip of the nail to stop the bleeding, or dip the nail in the cornstarch or styptic powder. If the nail has bled, keep your dog calm and quiet so that the nail isn’t further damaged or injured with walking or running. The only other thing you’ll need is lots of treats!
Toxic Foods for Dogs -- Monday November 4th, 2019
Chocolate and Caffeine
Grapes and Raisins
FDA Investigating Potential Link Between Diet and Heart Disease in Dogs -- Tuesday September 17th, 2019
~~Report Updated July 2, 2019
On June 27, 2019, the FDA published its third status report regarding a potential connection between grain-free diets and a type of heart disease in dogs known as dilated cardiomyopathy… or DCM.
The Dog Food Advisor initially alerted readers about this issue on July 12, 2018, the day it was first announced by the FDA… and continues to update this report on an ongoing basis.
Link to Grain-Free Dog Food
The FDA has still not discovered why certain dog foods may be associated with the development of DCM. In fact, the Agency now believes the connection between diet and DCM is a complex scientific issue involving multiple factors.
Results of the study remain inconclusive… and there have been no recalls.
The FDA writes…
“Therefore, we do not think these cases can be explained simply by whether or not they contain grains, or by brand or manufacturer.
“… the FDA has received reports about 560 dogs diagnosed with DCM suspected to be linked to diet. Tens of millions of dogs have been eating dog food without developing DCM.”
DCM is a disease of a dog’s heart muscle that results in weakened contractions and poor pumping ability…
Which can lead to an enlarged heart and congestive heart failure.
Although the root cause of DCM remains unknown…
And even though initially the condition appeared to be more common in certain breeds…
The FDA has received reports of DCM in a wide range of breeds, including many not genetically prone to the disease.
Link to Diet?
Since announcing its investigation in July 2018…
FDA researchers have observed that most of these DCM cases were associated with animals eating dry dog foods.
Dogs eating raw, semi-moist, and wet diets were also affected.
Researchers found that over 90 percent of the reported recipes were grain-free. And yet some dogs consumed diets that contained grain, too.
Brands named most frequently in these reports are depicted in the graphic. Could the presence of these brands simply be related to their exceptional popularity?
Click here for a more detailed account of all DCM cases reported to the FDA as of April 30, 2019.
FDA Chart of Most Frequently Reported Brands in DCM Cases
The FDA offers the following observation…
Even though it’s not clear exactly what it is about these diets that may be connected to DCM in dogs, there are a number of possible causes.
Taurine deficiency is a well-documented, potential cause of some cases of DCM. Yet it’s not likely to be the only cause.
According to Dr. Lisa Freeman, a veterinary nutritionist at Tufts University, “most dogs being diagnosed with DCM do not have low taurine levels”.
It’s not reasonable to assume a taurine deficiency is the definitive cause of DCM.
A Common Thread
According to the FDA, researchers have uncovered one dietary feature common to a large number of DCM cases…
“Some reports… indicate that the pets were not eating any other foods for several months to years prior to exhibiting signs of DCM.
8 Things You Can Do Right Now
Until the FDA completes its study and releases its final report…
The Dog Food Advisor believes it makes sense to apply science and logic to all your feeding decisions.
So, consider these practical tips…
The Bottom Line
Final results are still not conclusive.
And there’s no way to know how long the FDA’s investigation will take. Yet the Agency is hopeful that as more data becomes known, its scientists will gain a better understanding of the possible connection between diet and DCM.
Until we know the answer…
And don’t be frightened by all the well-meaning yet misguided advice you’ll surely encounter on the Internet.
Or the faulty counsel offered by too many uninformed professionals.
Base Your Feeding Decisions
For the safety and well-being of your pet, the process of choosing dog food must always include…
In any case…
The Dog Food Advisor has never favored any recipe just because it’s grain free.
Nor should you.
Our ratings are heavily weighted in favor of our estimate of each recipe’s apparent meat content.
Ratings are automatically reduced anytime we find excessive amounts plant-based protein “boosters” (like peas, legumes or non-meat protein concentrates) too close to the top of any ingredients list.
Many of the very best dog foods on the market are grain free…
And they’re made by some of the most respected companies in the USA and Canada.
We’re confident the industry will quickly adapt its recipes to any decisive conclusions reached by the FDA’s future findings.
And of course, we’ll make any relevant adjustments to our content as needed to reflect these scientific findings (once they become available).
In the meantime…
Our Very Best Advice
Since there’s no such thing as a perfect dog food…
And because built-in flaws tend to be magnified when the same food is fed endlessly… day after day for a lifetime.
You may wish to consider diet rotation when feeding your pet.
Keep in mind…
We can update you the moment the FDA releases its findings.
Get free dog food recall alerts sent to you by email. Subscribe to The Dog Food Advisor’s emergency recall notification system.
All About Dog Food -- Tuesday September 17th, 2019
Do you know what you are feeding your beloved dog? Do you want to know?
A website called The Dog Food Advisor is doing that for you everyday. Have questions about your dog food and star rating it was rewarded? Follow this page and keep up to date on dog food recalls to protect your pet from dog food related illness
The Dog Food Advisor is a public service website designed to help you make a more informed decision when buying dog food. You can find their webpage here : www.dogfoodadvisor.com/