Feeding Your Puppy

Feeding Your Puppy

Bringing home a new puppy is such a fun and exciting time! It is full of puppy licks and cuddles, cute little toys, collar, leash and accessory shopping, and, most likely, a lot of new information.

You’ve extended your family by one new member, so naturally, you want to do what is best for your new addition.

One of the most common conversations we have with new puppy owners is in regards to feeding – What to feed? When to feed? How much to feed? And with all of the information that new puppy owners are receiving, it can sometimes become a bit overwhelming. So, here is a summary about feeding your new puppy! Of course, not every puppy has the same nutritional needs, so it is important to consult your veterinarian if you have any questions or concerns.

 

Goals of Feeding

This may seem like an obvious one, but we’ll go over it anyway – aside from keeping your puppy from going hungry, the goal of feeding should be to maintain a healthy growth rate through providing appropriate nutrition. This will also set your puppy on the right path to proper immune function, which should result in fewer health concerns later in life.

Key Nutritional Requirements

There are 4 key nutritional requirements that you need to provide to your puppy in order to make sure they have the best start in life. Those requirements are:

Protein – Protein is very important for a growing puppy and should make up about 25% of your puppy’s diet, depending on your puppy’s breed and energy level. A dog’s body cannot store proteins, so they need to be a part of their daily intake as proteins provide the essential amino acids that your puppy is not able to synthesize on his own. These amino acids are responsible for things like building and repairing various organs and tissues within the body, creating hormones and enzymes that regulate growth (among other things), providing energy and keeping the immune system functioning properly.

Fat – Fat is also a critical nutrient for your puppy and should make up about 8% of their diet. Not only does fat help your puppy’s meal taste even better, but it also provides their body with essential fatty acids. Essential fatty acids aid in things like brain, retinal and nerve development, and also help keep your puppy’s skin and coat healthy.

Calcium & PhosphorusCalcium supports the skeletal structure and function within your puppy’s body. It also plays key roles in muscle contractions, nerve signals and blood clotting – to name a few. Calcium is one of the more complicated nutritional requirements as there needs to be an appropriate ratio of calcium to phosphorus. Puppy foods should have a ratio somewhere between 1.2:1 and 1.4:1 of calcium to phosphorous. Phosphorus is a mineral that is pivotal in regulating how the body uses and stores energy.

Grains – Grains are also really important to your puppy’s daily nutrition. Aside from the benefit of providing vitamins and minerals, the fiber found in whole grains are essential to the digestive system. They serve as food for the “good” bacteria in the gut, and they also help the body to eliminate toxins. The soluble fiber from grains help to control cholesterol, maintain proper blood glucose levels and increase nutrient absorption.

Keep in mind that too high or too low of intake of any of these key nutritional requirements can be detrimental to your puppy’s growth and development, and could cause future health problems.

Small breed and large breed dogs differ in some nutritional requirements, so be sure to feed an appropriate diet for the breed of your puppy. If you are treat training, it is also important to note that treats should only account for 10% of your puppy’s daily caloric intake so as not to throw these numbers out of whack.

Choosing a Diet

Choosing a brand of food for your puppy can be an overwhelming experience. There are just so many options. Where should new puppy owners begin?

First, let’s start by looking at where to buy puppy food.

There are three types of locations where dog food can be purchased: grocery stores, pet stores and vet clinics. Let’s just avoid grocery store brands altogether, since our goal here is to allow your puppy to have the best start in life. Grocery store brand dog food is basically the bottom of the barrel. It is cheap, yes, but it is cheap for a reason. The quality just isn’t there.

Next up is retail brands, found in pet stores. These are definitely a step up from grocery store brands, and can be appropriate as long as owners know what to look for. However, pet stores carry both high- and low-quality foods, and it can be difficult to determine what is the most appropriate diet for your puppy. Staff at retail stores also tend to be trained to push certain brands of food, rather than basing their recommendations on the quality and benefits of the foods themselves (I know this because I’ve worked at a pet store).

Finally, there are veterinary brands of pet food, found at – you guessed it – your vet clinic. It is these types of food that come the most recommended by your veterinarian because vets and staff at clinics receive regular nutritional training, so we understand how these foods work and why they are superior to other types of foods found at the retail or grocery store level. Veterinary diets are backed by numerous clinical trials and have a higher nutritional density. They typically also come with a 100% money back guarantee, which is always a bonus.

If you are planning to purchase your puppy’s food at your veterinarian’s office, here are a few brands that we recommend:

Purina Veterinary Diet

Essential Care Puppy and Large Breed Puppy, comes in both dry and wet formulas

Hill’s Prescription Diet 

Healthy Advantage Puppy and Large Breed Puppy, comes in both dry and wet formulas

Royal Canin

Canine Development Small, Regular and Large Breed Puppy, and Gastrointestinal Puppy, comes in both dry and wet formulas

 

Feeding & Portion Sizes

When deciding how much to feed your puppy, refer to the guide that is included with the food. Just be sure to keep in mind that this is a guide only, and your puppy’s individual needs may vary. You may need to adjust accordingly if your puppy seems very hungry, or if food is being left behind. A good way to determine if your puppy is getting enough food is to refer to their Body Condition Score (BCS). Check out our blog called Is My Pet Fat? for more details on how to score your pet using this system.

Two terms that you may notice on the feeding guide on your puppy’s bag of food are “optimal growth” and “maximal growth.”

Basically, you should be aiming for optimal growth, which means that your puppy is growing and developing at a slow and steady rate. Maximal growth means that your puppy is growing as fast as possible, which is not recommended. This growth method is usually achieved with over- or free-feeding a high fat diet, which can ultimately damage their health in the long run.

Once you’ve established how much to feed your puppy, you need to decide when you are going to be feeding your puppy. Ideally, meal times should be consistent so that your puppy can get into a good daily routine.

It is best to feed puppies 2-4 smaller meals per day, rather than 1 large meal.

Take the total amount of food they should be getting per day and divide it by the number of meals you are going to feed. Scheduled meal times are much preferred over free-feeding. Free-feeding can lead to higher levels of body fat and can even cause skeletal abnormalities in large breed pups.

What’s Next?

So, you’ve spoken to your veterinarian and picked up a great, nutritionally balanced puppy food that is appropriate for the breed of your new addition. Your pup has been eating well and growing at a steady pace with no health concerns. You are doing a great job so far!

Now, at what age should you transition your puppy to an adult food? 

The answer to this question varies greatly and is dependent on the breed of your puppy. If your puppy is a small breed dog (such as a maltese, shih tzu or yorkie), they mature to an adult dog around 9-12 months. If your puppy is a medium breed dog (such as a boxer, Australian shepherd or husky), they mature to an adult dog around 12 months. If your puppy is a large breed dog (such as a German shepherd, golden retriever or rottweiler), they mature to an adult dog around 12-15 months. And finally, if your puppy is a giant breed dog (such as a great dane or mastiff), they mature to an adult around 18 month-2 years.

When your puppy has reached adulthood, you will notice that they are not growing taller or longer, but beginning to fill out around the middle and put on more muscle mass. This is a good indication that they can be transitioned from their puppy food to an appropriate adult diet. If you aren’t sure of when to transition from a puppy to an adult food, or what kind of food to transition to, consult your veterinarian’s office.

Congratulations! You  have taken the first step towards ensuring your puppy will become a healthy adult dog by becoming well informed about what to feed your puppy!

 

Hopefully this summary has made some sense of all of the information new puppy owners can be bombarded with when it comes to choosing the right puppy food. Just remember that a properly balanced, nutritionally dense food is an investment into your puppy’s future health as an adult dog. It requires some education and consideration to make sure you are doing justice for your new furry family member. Happy feeding! 🙂

Thank you for reading,

Kait.

 

For any additional questions, check out the Pet Food Association of Canada (PFAC) FAQ section, or feel free to contact Snelgrove Vet Services at 905-846-3316.

Cat Grass

Cat Grass

The other week I was watering my houseplants when I noticed the ends of some of the leaves of one of my favourites were all frayed. What the heck? As the days went on, I noticed more and more of the leaves were missing their tips. I had just moved this particular plant, but I couldn’t imagine how a simple change of location could cause this. So, I did some sleuthing. Turns out, the new home I had chosen for my plant was accessible to my cat (a.k.a. The Culprit) and she had been happily nibbling away at her leisure! Needless to say, the plant changed locations again, and my little furball got a stern talking to.

Addie Additude

“Yeah I ate your plants, whatchu gonna do about it?”

It was then that I realized that since moving in August, my cat could now only enjoy her outdoor time contained on our deck and no longer had access to a grassy lawn. It was too dangerous to allow her to roam freely as our backyard went from the size of a postage stamp, to backing onto a coyote-filled ravine. So, she was missing her grass snacks apparently! This peaked my curiosity and I decided to look into cat grass as an alternative for her.

Did you know that cat grass is actually really beneficial?

Medically, cat grass has been reported to speed digestion. This is because it is a great source of insoluble fiber, which adds bulk to stool and helps food pass through the digestive system at a quicker pace. This means that it can be helpful for cats that suffer from digestive issues such as constipation and/or diarrhea. In addition to this, cat grass is an excellent source of folic acid. Folic acid helps the body produce and maintain new cells and is essential for red blood cell formation. All very good things!

Cat grass can also be beneficial for cats when they have a hairball or an upset stomach. When a kitty is having some tummy troubles, they will eat full blades of grass in order to induce vomiting. If they are eating for pleasure, they will chew up the grass and it will not cause regurgitation. So, you shouldn’t expect any grassy-kitty vomit unless your cat is having an issue.

Another positive aspect of cat grass is that it is super easy to grow. This means you can grow it yourself and have it available both inside and outside. This will offer your cat an alternative to munching on potentially chemically treated grass and/or toxic plants that can be found outside such as lilies, ivies and tomato plants. The best types of grass for cats are barley, wheatgrass, oat and rye.

And finally, I learned that it must be some tasty stuff because my little kitty gobbles it up! She smells it, she rubs against it, she eats it. She loves her cat grass!

Happy Addie

And really, who could ever stay mad at this cute little face?

Have you ever had an animal in your household eat your plants? What did you do? Have you tried cat grass or some other alternative? I would love to hear some stories or see some pictures!

Thank you for reading,

Kait.

The Lab Sisters – Dakota and Hailey: A Double Weight Loss Story

Obesity is the most common form of malnutrition in our companion animals in North America. According to the World Small Animal Veterinary Association, 54% of dogs and 58% of cats are significantly overweight or obese. People often do not recognize what a healthy weight should look like on their dog or cat and often think that “pudgy” is cute. Just think, how many cute Pugs, Labs or Beagles do you know that are a “tad” roly poly? As we all know, obesity leads to many long-term health problems, including diabetes, osteoarthritis, cruciate ligament tears and certain cancers.

Even knowing the benefits of a healthy weight, it is often hard for people to stop feeding their pets table food, scraps and dog cookies because “they are loved”, “they look at me with those big eyes”, “they went out for a pee” etc. We give food as freely as head pats these days. Unfortunately we are loving our pets the wrong way.

Lovely Dakota

When they were first seen at Snelgrove Vet Services in March 2018, Dakota and Hailey’s owners were aware that they were a bit of the heavy side and were rightfully concerned. They were particularly concerned about lovely Dakota. They were worried that her hips were bothering her because “when they went for a walk, she would lay down and not want to move”.  After an examination, it was easy to see that her hips and legs were not an issue. Her issue was her extra weight.

Dakota, a spayed female, yellow Labrador Retriever was, at that time, 4 years old. She weighed 45.2 kg (99.44 lbs) and had a Body Condition Score of 4.5/5 (with 1 being extremely underweight and 5 being extremely overweight) which indicated that she was quite heavy indeed.

(A BCS is a subjective measurement used to determine the body type of a patient based on several different visual/palpable parameters. Is there a definite “tuck-in at the waist? Does the belly droop or is it tucked up? Are the ribs easily seen? Are the ribs felt but not seen? Are ribs not felt at all? Etc. Regardless of the chart used, the ideal BCS for healthy animal is usually half of the upper number on the chart – I.e 2.5 or 3 out of 5 would be ideal in Dakota’s case)

Dakota Wedgewood 1

Labrador retrievers are well known for being the “vacuum cleaners” of the canine world. Most will keep eating until they are physically sick to their stomachs. There have been numerous cases of Labs eating ENTIRE Thanksgiving turkeys and then eating a whole pie for dessert, when left unattended. People often laugh about their overzealous appetites but most people don’t realize that there is actually a genetic reason for them to be like this. Labs carry a gene deletion on their POMC gene which causes them to be genetically prone to weight gain because their brains do not receive the signal that their stomach is full after eating a meal. This then leads to a dog that is extremely food motivated, perpetually hungry and as a result, owners usually feed way too much food and offer way too many treats. An increase in body weight, and body fat is inevitable.

(There is actually a good side to this gene deletion, believe it or not. Labs, as a result, are extremely easy to train when using food as a reward. It has been proven that Labrador retrievers in the service dog sector have an 86% occurrence of this defective gene which makes them so successful throughout their training. Food = success.)

Back in early 2018, Dakota and her sister Hailey were eating a popular GRAIN-FREE pet food from a pet store. Their mom thought she was doing the best for them, and why wouldn’t she? There are so many marketing campaigns about dogs being “true carnivores” and not needing grains in their diets etc. Even pet store employees recommend these foods as grains are thought of as fillers and allergy-triggers. In truth, most dogs benefit from grains and these grain-free diets are thought to cause other health issues not being discussed here. Grain-free foods are higher in protein and by necessity are therefore higher in fat than diets that have a good ratio of protein, carbohydrates and fat. This trend towards GRAIN-FREE diets, is leading our pets toward obesity faster than ever before.

Dakota Wedgewood 2

Dakota was eating a high fat food and being a lab, she loved to eat endless amounts of other food and treats. Her mom and dad readily admit that they gave both dogs “heaping scoops of dog food”, sweet potato treats, cheese, gourmet dog treats and pigs ears regularly. Upon further questioning, mom and dad realized that, since they left at different times for work, they were each giving cookies to say goodbye to the girls every morning and each giving cookies when they came home at night. Too many calories were going in and not enough calories were being burned off.

Extra calories add up over time as we all know. And we all know that exercise helps to burn off some of the excess calories but often we just don’t feel like exercising, especially if we’ve had a long day, a hard day or the weather is crummy. Dogs aren’t any different, but it’s up to us to feed them correctly and exercise them properly. They can’t feed themselves in our houses, they can’t portion control their food/treats, and they can’t take themselves for long, brisk walks/runs. That’s up to the humans in their lives to do that for them.

Dakota Wedgewood 3

And Dakota’s mom and dad did JUST that. After speaking with our staff over several months, they absolutely rose to the occasion with our complimentary Project Slim Down counselling and weigh-ins. We had them transition to a weight loss food (with grains), measure their food every time and completely reduce treats to 1/day.

Our regular weigh-ins started showing wonderful progress. By October 2018, Dakota was down to 41.4 kg (91.8 lbs) and by November, she was down to 39.8 kg (87.5 lbs). In January 2019, she was down to 37.7 kg (82.9 lbs) and by March she was 35.5 kg – a FULL 10 kg less than she was a year earlier. She was then able to go for long walks again without stopping!!!

She didn’t stop there. By June of this year, she had reached 34.5 kg (75.9 lbs) and by our last recorded weight this summer, she was down to 33.2 kg (73 lbs).

Dakota Wedgewood after

Dakota has been an absolute success story for our clinic. Her owners have done such an amazing job with recognizing the issue with her weight, being totally on board with helping her lose the weight and being completely committed to changing her life for the better.

But we can’t forget about sweet Hailey!

Hailey

Hailey, their other spayed female, yellow Labrador retriever, is year younger than her sister and is a smaller dog all around, but even she was heavy at 34.5 kg (75.9 lbs) in early 2018 with a BSC of 4/5.

Hailey Wedgewood before

By October 2018, with the new weight loss food, the measured amounts of food and treats, Hailey had also dropped a lot of weight and she weighed in at 33 kg (72 lbs). Hailey’s weight wasn’t as big of a concern to us as her older sister’s, but her mom and dad knew she could be slimmer. They persevered and as of March 2019, they got her down to a fantastic weight of 29.6 kg (65.1 lbs) which she has maintained since then.

Hailey Wedgewood after

We couldn’t be prouder of our yellow Lab sisters and their owners. They have done a fantastic job helping these girls to live a healthier, more active life. Congrats to all of them!!

Dakota and Hailey Wedgewood puppies Aug 13-19

October is RVT Month!

rvt-month-header

During the month of October, we want to take a moment to thank our amazing RVT’s for all of their hard work and dedication to animal health. This is not only within the veterinary industry itself, but also within our very own clinics across the country!

What is an RVT?

An RVT, or Registered Veterinary Technician, is part of the support staff within a veterinary hospital. It sounds simple enough, but a tech actually has one of the most challenging roles within a practice. They work alongside a veterinarian and are responsible for performing diagnostic procedures on patients such as blood collections and taking x-rays; they are responsible for administering treatments, whether is it orally, rectally or through intravenous; they are responsible for monitoring patients throughout surgery, into recovery and even following up after they’ve gone home. Honestly, the list could go on for pages – basically, they do it all! (And all with a smile on their faces, even if they’ve had to change their scrubs twice today after getting peed and/or pooped on!)

An RVT is also highly educated within the animal health field, and they are constantly learning. In fact, they are required to fulfill a certain amount of “continuing education” credits in order to keep their status as a registered technician, so they are always bringing new things to the table in an effort to provide better care for their patients.

So, the next time your pet goes to “the back,” guess who they are going to see…

You’re right, it is one of our amazing, talented, dedicated, compassionate RVTs!

A big thank you to all of the wonderful RVTs out there. We couldn’t do it without you!

Weight Loss Success Story – Phoenix

Phoenix is a 5 year old, neutered male Doberman Pinscher who we had noticed to be a little on the heavy side in 2017. This good-natured boy LOVED to eat his food, apples and any other treats offered to him but this unfortunately left him being quite overweight by mid June 2018. He was recommended to start on our PROJECT SLIMDOWN by our staff that month. His weight that month was 55 kg (121 lbs) and we stressed the importance of a slow weight-loss to his loving owners. They knew we worried that he might hurt his ligaments in his knees and was at an increased risk for other complications from being overweight.

As everyone knows, change is always difficult, but Pheonix’s owners rose to the occasion. They initially tried to keep him on his canned and dry weight loss food they purchased from the pet store, but it quickly became obvious that he wasn’t losing enough weight by December 2018.

(As a sidenote:

Bags/cans of pet food often have feeding guides on the back of the bag/can to allow people to have a rough idea of how much food their pet should be eating daily. This guide however, is just that – a guide. Each pet is different, depending on activity level and their specific nutrient requirements. It is often not mentioned on these bags/cans of food that a pet should be fed a LEVEL, MEASURED amount (instead of simply eyeballing a scoop) and that the measured amount needs to be based on the pet’s IDEAL weight, not their current weight if a weight-loss program is being implemented. For example, a good ballpark weight should be made by a veterinary team member for a weigh-loss goal and then THAT weight should be followed on the back of the bag/can. Also, keeping in mind that once this measured feeding of dry/canned food has been established, any additional treats, human table scraps etc., will be above and beyond the needs of the pet and will derail any weight-loss program.)

Phoenix started on our Purina Veterinary Diet food, Overweight Management (OM) in December 2018 and his owner’s gradually switched him over to this from his pet store variety. They also cut out his whole apple-a-day snack and reduced any canned food that they had been feeding him. His weight loss results were amazing and continue to this day. From his heaviest weight at 55 kg, he is now an AMAZING 43.5 kg (95.7 lbs) and his owners report that he has so much more energy and loves to run again at the park like he did when he was a puppy.

We are SO proud of Phoenix and his family and are so happy to share his story with you. His before and after pictures of his weight-loss journey are a testament to how successful he has been and shows just how much livelier and happy he has become.

If you have an overweight pet and would like us to help your pet lose some weight, please don’t hesitate to contact our clinic. This weight-loss program is complimentary and is a win/win scenario for you and your beloved pet.

 

Phoenix Fonseca before July 18-19

Before his weight loss

Phoenix Fonseca before 2 July 18-19

Before his weight loss

Phoenix Fonseca after July 18-19

After his weight loss

Phoenix Fonseca 2 July 16-19

After his weight loss

Phoenix Fonseca 1 July 16-29

After his weight loss

Recent Declaw Bans happening in Canada

Since the early 1990’s people have been questioning whether it is ethically correct to be declawing cats just for the ease of living with them. Many cat owners in the past would choose to declaw their cats at the time of spaying or neutering as per the recommendations of their veterinarians. Younger cats tend to heal quicker than their older counter-parts. Declawing was performed to prevent cats from scratching on furniture or the people they live with. Especially kids. The problem with this was two-fold. As a veterinary profession, we were led to believe that fewer pets would be surrendered to shelters because their owners would enjoy them more by not having to be stressed by inappropriate behaviours and secondly, we were performing these procedures prior to even knowing whether a specific cat would even behave in that manner.

What we do know, declawing is the equivalent to amputating all of your fingers at the first joints.  The word implies that it is only the nail that is permanently removed but in actuality it’s the whole first section of bone. Studies over the years have been inconclusive as to whether certain behaviours occur because cats have been declawed. (Inappropriate urination, increase in biting behaviour)

In recent years, many provinces have banned the procedure altogether. Nova Scotia, British Columbia and PEI, all have a ban currently in place, with Newfoundland/Labrador will as of January 2019.

So where do we stand here in Ontario? Some of us still feel declawing has it’s place. People that are immuno-compromised may under a doctor’s recommendation choose to declaw their cat(s) to protect the health of themselves or a child.

So, what do we do instead? Trimming your cat’s nails from an early age is a simple way of making sure the sharp, pointy claws won’t even cause an impact. Nail caps can be applied to cats that persist to scratch. Providing and teaching your cat the appropriate places to scratch.

Pheromones can be applied to help entice cats to scratch in appropriate area(s) and to avoid others (Feliway and/or Feliscratch). Scratching posts with catnip rubbed on them many times helps entice them to use the area.

If you have any questions, as always, feel free to contact us at 905-846-3316

 

 

Echinococcus Multilocularis: What is it and why we should worry?

Echinococcus Multilocularis: What is it and why we should worry?

What is Echinococcus Multilocularis?

Echinococcus multiocularis is an emerging tapeworm here in Ontario. Echinococcus is found across the globe and is especially prevalent in the northern latitudes of Europe, Asia, and North America. Prior to 2012, Echinococcus multilocularis had never been seen in wildlife nor in domestic animals in southern Ontario. Since that time, it has established itself here. It is also now firmly established in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. Although the risk is extremely low people need to be made aware of it.

antique antique globe antique shop antique store

Why Should We Be Worried?

Echinococcus multiocularis is a small tapeworm that can cause big problems in humans. People who are infected with this tapeworm do not typically show signs for 5 to 15 years due to their incubation period. It then typically presents itself as a cyst on the lungs or liver, but cysts can develop anywhere. Once the cyst is large enough to cause compression on other parts of the body, that’s when we typically find out we have it.

people in front of macbook pro

Now that we know our wildlife here in Ontario can be infected, we have to think about the possibility of our canine and feline friends being exposed to it, as well as ourselves.

How Can We Protect Ourselves?

Echinococcus multiocularis is typically found in foxes, coyotes, and dogs. Larval stages can be transmitted to people through ingestion of food, water or fecal material contaminated with tapeworm eggs. Follow these easy steps to protect yourself and your loved ones from a potential infection:

  • Do not allow dogs to eat rodents or other wild animals.
  • Avoid contact with foxes, coyotes, stray dogs and other wild animals.
  • Do not encourage wild animals to come close to your home and do not keep them as pets.
  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water after handling dogs or cats, and before handling food.
  • Teach children the importance of washing hands to prevent infection.
  • Deworm your dog regularly.
  • Inform your veterinarian if you notice white rice-type looking segments on your dog’s feces or anus.