Thursday, May 30, 2013

In Defence of Prescription Diets

Allow me to preface this with a disclaimer. Fresh, real foods (whether raw or cooked) will always be more healthful for humans and animals than processed food. However, kibble is still the most common type of dog food, and the most viable option for most owners.

When discussing nutrition with dog owners (in fact there’s hardly an appointment where I don’t ask “What’s he on for food right now?”), I encounter a varied range of knowledge. Sometimes people have picked up something from mainstream media, the internet, or other dog owners. Usually they are adamant about what should or shouldn’t be (by-products, grains, chicken) in their dog’s food, yet very few can tell me why.

There are many great brands of kibble available at the pet stores these days, certainly more options than twenty years ago. I remember when Hund-N-Flocken (one of the original “holistic” foods, from Solid Gold) first appeared in Metro Vancouver, there were, like, two places you could buy it (I know this because I had my parents drove me across town to buy it). 

We don’t stock any over the counter foods in the clinic, but do carry some prescription diets, and I have found many uses for them. Usually I will recommend a Medi-Cal/Royal Canin Veterinary diet, and sometimes a Hills or Purina diet.
Believe it or not, many people still buy dog food at the grocery store. There are some people who are simply not going to go to a pet store to buy a higher end brand of dog food. In this case, feeding a maintenance Royal Canin Veterinary puppy or adult food is a huge improvement. If I can start their small breed dog on Dental, all the better for preventative medicine.

For some dogs, the urinary health foods are a lifesaver. Owners may have difficulty preventing bladder stones with anything other than a prescription diet, or a very strict homemade diet. The very best food on the market may not be the very best food for your dog, if he needs surgery to remove bladder stones.

I have seen other dogs who have ongoing gastrointestinal upset, and a prescription “GI” diet is the best medicine I can prescribe. This is particularly true for puppies, especially those with a history of giardia, parvo or another intestinal cell-damaging disease. Owners often tell me they have tried every puppy food or they’ve switched their puppy to a “better” food, only to have unsatisfactory results (try housebreaking a puppy with chronic diarrhea-yikes!). I now tell them to try GI Puppy for one bag, and consider a slow switch to the diet of their choice once we have the gastrointestinal tract functioning normally.

What I love about nutrition is that it can be tailored to the individual, with the goal of providing optimal health. So please keep an open mind about what food might be best for your dog.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Quick and Easy Dinner

Tonight I got home after a lengthy (3 day) delay after my New Orleans conference. By dinner time, we had been up since 3am, and had 2/3 of our dogs home from dog sitters, and had no food thawed. Luckily, I brought home some samples from The Honest Kitchen, that I picked up at the exhibit hall. Jake got to sample Verve Thrive and Keen, and Tiki had Love Embark and Force (yes I am a bad raw feeder and sometimes break the traditional taboos like "don't mix proteins" and "don't feed grains"). I added my sample packs to their bowls, heated up some water in the kettle, mixed according to package directions, and 5 minutes later (during which time Granger went back to the couch and Jake stood and sang) the dogs dove into their dinners. The food looked quite green to me (as in high veggie content) and I haven't looked deep into nutritional analysis or cost effectiveness. So far, I like it, and I'm hoping it can become my new camping/road trip dog food.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

En-route to Nawlins

I'm on my way to New Orleans for a veterinary acupuncture conference for the weekend. Eric and I decided to make a mini-vacation out of it. The lectures I'm planning to attend include feline acupuncture, rehabilitation, and food therapy. On Sunday morning we're going on a cemetery tour, and then I have an afternoon lab with Steve Marsden, which I'm really looking forward to. I'm also on a mission to find a herbal substitute for the medication that Scamp is on. The conference has lots of great vendors and natural products available that I'm planning to peruse.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Falling for Jake Milner

Once, I was playing with Jake, before he was truly “mine”, and as our eyes met, I was transported back 14 years...

People often ask how you can work around animals in need and not “take all of them home”? I have never been a “take all of them home” type. I’m not sure if it arose out of self-preservation, or if I was always particular about which animals to get attached to. Very rarely do I connect on an inner level such that I feel compelled to take anyone home, even with animals that I care a great deal for. In fact, I like to joke that I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve felt that connection to a dog at a shelter...and two of them are still living with me! Of the rest of the handful, one was a dog named Jake. My 14 year old self fell hard for him. He was everything I wanted and needed. Sadly, I was not able to save him, and he haunts me to this day.

Fourteen years later, I made eye contact with Jake Milner and he looked up me with those liquid brown eyes. I remembered my first Jake’s kind brown eyes, one of the only things I can remember both in my mind and in the few photos I have of him. I stopped and stared into this new Jake’s eyes, drawing in a breath as it dawned on me. “Come back to me?” I whispered. And Jake smiled and wagged his tail.

Physiotherapy for Scamp and Ashley

Friday morning before work, I went to my first physiotherapy session to heal my separated shoulder (acromioclavicular injury). I've got several exercises to do as homework, and a follow up visit next week.

Later that morning, I had a visit from Scamp, a foster pup from West Coast Rottweiler Rescue. Scamp has some hindlimb issues, as well as partial urinary incontinence, stemming from a hit-by-car injury. Together with his foster mum, I came up with a physio program to help Scamp. I also did an acupuncture treatment to help with his bladder.

Scamp's exercises include backwards walking, standing with his front feet elevated, weaving through a figure 8, moving between a sit and stand, lifting one back leg at a time, so that he is balancing on the other legs, and taking leash walks on sand. The goal is to increase Scamp's muscle mass in his back legs, and also to help his nervous system learn where his legs are and how to move them properly.

Scamp has a wonderful personality, and will make a great dog for some lucky person. I am very glad to help him on his journey!