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A Guide to Pet Nutrition

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Did You Know?

Foods to avoid giving your pet include:

•Apricots
•Broccoli
•"By-products" or "meal"
•Chocolate
•Corn
•Grapes
•Peaches
•Potato peelings (or green potatoes)
•Raisins
•Tea & Coffee (water is best)
•Tobacco products
•Tomato leaves and stems
•Yeast products

    In 2007, several million bags of pet food were recalled in the United States due to contamination. Though some of the recalls were done by the manufacturers voluntarily to "be safe," some of the recalled food was found to have contaminated vegetable proteins. Several pets unfortunately died, and even more were hospitalized.

    After millions of horrified pet owners were told by major pet food manufacturers that it was safe to feed their food once again, many pet owners were left with many unanswered questions including "what am I really putting in my dog's bowl every day?"

    Learn to read pet food labels.  Look over the ingredients to see what is in the bag you intend to feed your pet. You should see quality ingredients listed first. The higher the item on the list, the more prevalent it is in the food, (i.e. the first ingredient is the largest ingredient while the last few ingredients on the list may only be in trace amounts). The first few items on the list should include meats, vegetables and some whole grains.

    Select the right type of food for your pet's stage in life. Puppy formulas are necessary for the growing pooch, while adult formula is for the mature dog. If a puppy is fed a food meant for an adult dog, they will not be eating the right amount of nutrients to sustain the rapid growth of the small dog's body. Senior formula foods are meant to provide proper nutrition to older dogs whose needs are different than puppies and adult dogs.

    Switch your dog's food to a new brand slowly. Unlike humans who can eat a variety of different foods in one day, dogs can become ill when their regular pet food is replaced with a new brand of food. To switch your dog to a new food you should plan on continuing their current food and gradually add in the new food while decreasing the old.

    Satisfy the carnivore in your dog. Dogs by nature are carnivores and depend on the protein found in meats such as chicken, beef, fish, and poultry to maintain protein levels. Proteins in the body replace dead tissue and repair injured tissue.

    While whole grains are also healthy in smaller doses, they should not be in the top 4 or 5 ingredient spaces. Instead, meats such as chicken and fish or chicken and beef, or lamb and beef, should be the forerunners on the ingredient list.

    Take it easy on the treats. While you can be feeding Fido the healthiest pet food available, feeding lots of treats and human (food such as table scraps) will void the good you have done by selecting a balanced food. Our dogs rely on us to feed them properly. Many of us feel guilty if we don't share our table scraps with man's best friend when in the end we are only doing them harm.

    While the government and large pet food manufacturing companies are working to prevent future recalls, pet owners should strive to continue to feed their pets the healthiest food available to them.

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    Testimonial

    Don't take a good vet for granted, that's what I say. I currently live in another state and have taken my 10 year old dog to numerous vets over the years (California, Colorado, Vegas, and then some). Never have I ever received the attention and care I've gotten w/Dr. Hines. Within the past 3 months alone, my dog went to 3 different vets for a horrible and painful skin problem that broke out all over her body.

    The first vet: I spent more time ponying up the $175 for the visit than the Dr. spent actually looking at my dog. He performed a woods lamp exam for ringworm. Even without Google or a veterinary degree, I could tell it wasn't ringworm. Thanks for taking my money.
    Second vet: "Here's some spray, now here's your bill. Bring her back in two weeks so I can charge you another visit." No tests, nothing.
    Between the two, I felt like I got nowhere. No definitive answer on why this affected my dog and the medication given wasn't even for a diagnosed condition. Just some general topical spray. I could have bought it at Petsmart and saved myself the time and money.
    Recently, on a visit to Idaho, I planned ahead to bring my dog to the Rupert Animal Clinic. I asked the same questions, had the same concerns and now have different results. Dr. Hines gave me options on what route to take, ran appropriate tests and communicated with me every step of the way (even calling me personally when test results came in). My primary concern was cancer. Our dog is like our child- we'll pay the money if we can keep her healthy and safe. In the future, I've resolved to bring my dog to Rupert Animal Clinic on our annual trip for all of her exams. I know she won't be treated as a little cash cow to exploit an owner's love for pets.

    Sung L.
    Rupert, ID

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