Mountainview Small Animal Hospital Blog

PET NUTRITION–Let’s talk about FOOD!

dog with bowl
Hello again everyone! Let’s talk about FOOD!
Nutrition is a topic that is close to my heart, and anyone who has seen me for an exam, will have noticed that I ask many questions regarding their pet’s diet. Most people have heard the famous saying “You are what you eat” and in many ways this statement is true. One of the most common problems that we see pets for is ear and skin infections. Very often, the cause of these infections is an allergy. Typically, pets can be allergic to food, environmental exposures, and parasites. How food plays a role, is that if a pet has an allergy to something they are eating, the body will cause inflammation, which then leads to overgrowth of yeast and bacteria. This occurs most frequently in the ears, between the toes, and armpits, leading to ear infections, licking and chewing of the paws, or skin rashes.

The reason for my food obsession is because it’s one of the main things we have control over. We have minimal control over the environment around us, and fleas, in particular, are an easy fix with monthly flea control. (that topic will be covered at a later date) There are many components of food that can be the causative agent. The most common, is the protein source, soon followed by the carbohydrate. Unfortunately, the massive rush towards “Grain Free” foods has led to a huge increase in allergies to potato and peas. Honestly, unless you are feeding a food that has a history of being very poor quality, even if it’s a food I don’t particularly like, if your pet does not have a history of allergy issues I’m not going to recommend a major change. The old saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” does in fact, apply to this topic.

Also, just like in people, certain foods tend to increase insulin resistance, general inflammation, and weight gain. Pets have similar responses to food and in some instances, certain diseases can be partially or even completely managed with diet changes.

When I do recommend a change, there are certain brands that I tend to favor, but again, it is a case by case basis. Also, food isn’t the only thing that’s important. You can buy the best food in the world, but still have problems because the treats haven’t been addressed too. Food counts as anything that crosses your pet’s lips and this sometimes includes unplanned items outside, off the kitchen table, or presents from the baby’s high chair. In general, I recommend avoiding any edible chews like Rawhides, pig ears, dental sticks, greenies, and of course, no jerky treats of any kind. Ideally, I would recommend no treats, but if this isn’t an option, we can discuss during the exam what will work for your particular pet’s lifestyle. I do recommend Nylabones of the right size and shape for your pet, and if there is no known venison allergy, Antlers are great chewing alternatives. The most important thing to remember is to get the right size for your pet. I recommend at least 2 times the length of the pet’s muzzle, and 50% of the diameter of the muzzle to decrease the risk of biting off pieces, choking or swallowing the bones.

So please, when you come see me at Mountainview, bear with my numerous food questions because I feel that it warrants attention, and could be involved with whatever symptoms your pet may be showing that elicited the office visit.

When it comes to food, I can talk forever, so I figure I’ve blogged enough on this. Any particular questions, you know where to find me. Thanks again for reading.

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The staff has always been professional and courteous. Our dog gets excited when we pull up to the building. He can’t wait to get in the office.
— Robert C.