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May 2010

Safe Effective Weight Loss for Cats

HealthyPetNet Cat Vitamins and Food Obesity in cats is very common and can predispose your cat to diabetes, Hepatic Lipidosis and arthritis. Overweight cats are being seen more and more by veterinarians for various disorders. Weight loss foods don't usually work because the ingredients are inferior and substitutes like corn and wheat are used instead of protein, so your cat will be hungry and eat more. This page will help you determine what to do about overweight cats so that your kitty won't have to be encumbered by obesity.

40 percent of cats in the United States are considered to be obese! Only 5 to 10 percent of all cats can be classified as only slightly overweight. In recent years Feline Diabetes Mellitus (diabetes) has become almost a daily diagnosis in animal hospitals all across America. Our cats are at risk for a number of obesity related disorders. Documented research indicates obese cats are far more prone than cats of normal body weight to disease.

Dr. Jane Bicks, the holistic veterinarian who formulates products for Life's Abundance, hasn't made a cat weight-loss food because she isn't convinced that it can be done safely. Instead, here's Dr. Jane's plan for helping a cat lose weight safely without feeling deprived:

1. Weigh your cat, and write the weight down with the date. Put a chart on your fridge with six columns: Date, Weight, Body Score, Food, Treats, and Exercise.

2. Get a measuring cup that shows a full cup (8 ounces), 1/2 cup, 1/3 cup, and 1/4 cup.

3. Then do a "body score": With the cat standing and facing away from you, put your hands on the cat's shoulders, and pull your hands back over the ribs.

If you easily feel ribs, the score is 1, and the cat doesn't need to lose weight.

If you feel up to 1/2 inch of padding on the ribs, the score is 2, and the cat probably should lose weight.

If you don't feel any ribs, the score is 3, and the cat definitely needs to lose weight. Note the score with the date on your fridge chart.

4. For a few days, measure all food and count all treats the cat eats. Record all that information. You may be feeding or treating a lot more than you thought.

5. Use the Life's Abundance food calculator to see how much dry cat food your cat should eat. Let's say your cat is 13 pounds. The calculator says 1/2 to 3/4 cup a day of Life's Abundance Dry Cat Food. An overweight cat is probably eating at least the high end of the range.

6. Start with the total quantity at the high end of the suggested range for your cat, assuming your cat is eating that much now.

Give two-thirds to three-quarters of the quantity of Life's Abundance Premium Health Food for Cats, and substitute Instinctive Choice Premium Canned Cat Food for the remaining food. The water in the canned food will help fill the cat up, and extra water is always good for cats. Here's the comparison:

1 cup of Life's Abundance dry = about 500 calories (3/4 cup = about 375 calories).

1 can of Instinctive Choice canned = about 100 calories.

For this example, let's say the high end of the range is 3/4 cup a day of dry. Instead of giving the whole 3/4 cup of dry food per day, give this combination: 1/2 cup of dry (about 250 calories) + about 1/4 cup of canned (that's a little more than a whole can, roughly 100 calories) = about 350 calories a day.

7. Divide the daily amount into at least four meals. If you don't want to leave canned food out when you're gone, use it in the evening or whenever you're home.

8. Give treats very sparingly, and use healthy, nutritious treats. Life's Abundance Gourmet Cat Treats are best. Don't give "junk food" cat treats that contain corn, wheat, gluten, soy, or sugar. Don't give tuna as it can contain too much mercury.

9. As the diet progresses, continue to record the food and treats daily.

10. To help your cat lose weight faster, spend more time playing with your cat. Get a feather teaser (like a fishing pole with a feather toy on a string). That's a good way to get almost any cat to play. Also record each time your cat plays.

11. Repeat the weighing and body scoring weekly. Those things help you see when the cat is building muscle, which will happen from the extra playing. Building muscle may cause the weight loss to slow down or even seem to reverse for a while, because muscle weighs more than fat. Muscle is much healthier for the cat!

12. As always, if your cat loses energy or shows other signs of illness, consult your vet. If time permits, ask Dr. Jane for ideas on her open conference call about what to ask your vet.

13. As your cat's needs dictate, adjust the quantities slightly up or down, keeping the total amount of food where it needs to be and the calories less than you started with.


Is Your Pet Getting Bigger Even Though You Are Feeding Them The Same Amount?

Pet owners continue to watch their dog and cat's bellies get bigger and can't figure out why. One main concern is lack of exercise. As our pets get older we tend to make them move less, play with them or take them for a walk.

For example, a dog may start to limp (due to being overweight) so you don't want to take them out for a walk to damage their leg. In this case, they really do need to be on a reduced calorie diet to get the weight off and then when their leg starts to feel better you can start walking them again....which is good for the pet owner too! On the cat side, you may say well he or she is just getting older and wants to lay around. Instead, get some interactive toys and have your cat play with them. Even if you keep danging a toy in front of their face, they will swat at it and that counts as movement!!

What many people do forget is those unforgotten calories, the guilty pleasures that you just give out freely during the day or when leaving the house drop handfuls of treats on the floor for your baby. Did you know that a pet owner can overfeed their pet by 25% daily just by handing out treats? You don't even realize it because it seems to innocent and your baby is so happy when you give it to them.

So if Fido or Fluffy are putting on the pounds and you can't figure out why just take a look at the "daily extras" you give them. Make sure you are giving a dog or cat treat that isn't full of empty calories and give them a treat that has a nutritional value instead of just garbage.


Science Diet Introduces Small & Toy Breed Dog Food

I'm on an email list from the AKC (American Kennel Club) and they recently sent out an email introducing Hills Science Diet Small & Toy Breed Dog Food with the title "Does your dog's foods truly fit his needs?" Of course I had to take a look at the website to see what Hill's was saying the small and toy breed dogs really need and this is what they state:

Hill's® Science Diet® Adult Small & Toy Breed dog food provides precisely balanced nutrition to meet your small breed dog's special needs. It contains high levels of antioxidants to help build a healthy immune system with ideal levels of vital fatty acids to promote healthy skin, coat, ears and eyes. It also contains high quality proteins and calcium to promote strong muscles and bones.

That sounds pretty good, doesn't it? Then, I took a look at the ingredient list and it made me shake my head that they can even give the description above. Apparently, a small or toy breed dog doesn't need any sort of good nutrition according to this ingredient label:

Whole Grain Corn, Chicken By-Product Meal, Soybean Meal, Pork Fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols and citric acid), Flaxseed, Chicken Liver Flavor, Dried Egg Product, Dried Carrots, Dried Spinach,Dried Grape Pomace, Dried Tomato Pomace, Dried Citrus Pulp, Soybean Oil, Vitamin E Supplement, Iodized Salt, Oat Fiber, Choline Chloride, vitamins (L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement), Potassium Chloride, Taurine, minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), L-Carnitine, preserved with Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid, Alpha-Lipoic Acid, Beta-Carotene, Rosemary Extract.

Whole Grain Corn - Corn is generally used as inexpensive sources of protein. Corn products are also a cause of many allergies in dogs and cats, have little nutritional value and are very difficult for animals to digest.

Chicken By-Product Meal - AAFCO: Consists of the dry, ground, rendered, clean parts of the carcass of slaughtered chicken, such as necks, feet, undeveloped eggs, and intestines -- exclusive of feathers except in such amounts as might occur unavoidably in good processing practices. Chicken byproducts are much less expensive and less digestible than the chicken muscle meat.The ingredients of each batch can vary drastically in ingredients (heads, feet, bones etc.) as well as quality, thus the nutritional value is also not consistent. Don't forget that byproducts consist of any parts of the animal OTHER than meat. If there is any use for any part of the animal that brings more profit than selling it as "byproduct", rest assured it will appear in such a product rather than in the "byproduct" dumpster.

Soybean Meal - AAFCO: The product obtained by grinding the flakes which remain after removal of most of the oil from soybeans by a solvent or mechanical extraction process. A poor quality protein filler used to boost the protein content of low quality pet foods. Has a biologic value lof ess than 50% of chicken meal.

Pork Fat - It's also called lard. While it adds taste to a dog food, it's not what you would call a high quality fat. It's also an inexpensive way to cure constipation. Hmmmm? 

Grape Pomace - AAFCO: The mixture of grape skins, pulp, and crushed seeds. An inexpensive byproduct left over from pressing grapes for juice or wine. The product contributes some fiber but otherwise has little to no nutritional value. Grapes have also shown to contain a substance that is toxic to dogs, so they should not be fed at all.

Citrus Pulp - Citrus Pulp is the dried residue of peel, pulp and seeds of oranges, grapefruit and other citrus fruit. This inexpensive byproduct is mainly used as a bulk carbohydrate concentrate in cattle feed but also added as a source of fiber in dog food. Since the peel and some twigs and leaves are also included, there is a possibility of residues from pesticides and synthetic fertilizers.

Apparently the description writer never read or understood the ingredient label when developing the information about how "good" the food was. It's ashame that foods can be marked with special wording to make an unsuspecting parent think they are doing the best for their furbaby.

Not sure how to read a pet food label?Click Here




Are All Omega-3s Created Equal?

There seems to be a lot of confusion out there as to the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids. This article will break down the major sources of omega-3’s and give you the information you need to make educated choices.

First, there are three main types of omega-3 fatty acids: DHA, EPA and ALA. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid) are found in fish and ALA (alpha-linolenic acid ) is found in plants like flaxseed. When you choose an omega-3 source, we suggest that you select a healthy balance of all fatty acids, but make sure you are getting enough EPA and DHA, as these fatty acids are responsible for the majority of the health benefits of omega-3’s.

This is important to remember: if a food or supplement states it is high in omega-3, it does not necessarily mean it is high in EPA and DHA. For example, although flaxseed oil is six times richer than most fish oils in omega-3’s, flaxseed oil contains mainly ALA, not DHA and EPA. Unfortunately, our bodies can only convert ALA into DHA and EPA in very small amounts. Scientific studies have revealed that fatty acids from fish or fish oil, but not flaxseed oil, benefited patients with cardiovascular disease and ADHD.

The best sources of EPA and DHA are fatty fish and fish oil. Cold water fish (like salmon, herring and sardines) are high in omega-3 and serve as good sources of proteins. Unfortunately, our waterways and oceans are polluted and the fish that live in them are increasingly contaminated with methyl mercury, PCBs, arsenic, DDT and other heavy metals. If you choose to get omega-3’s from eating fish, then do your homework. Be sure that you’re buying from a sustainable, deep-water fishery. Check the Environmental Defense Fund’s web site for current ocean fish recommendations and the Environmental Protection Agency’s web site for information on fresh water fish.

Fish oil supplements are also very good sources of EPA and DHA. They are easy to take, pack a powerful punch of omega 3’s and they are highly effective. Although there are very good products available, the drawback is figuring out which fish oil supplement to choose for your family. Because the majority of fish in our oceans are contaminated, it stands to reason that oil from the fish are subject to the same contaminants. The good news is that high-quality fish oil is processed several times to concentrate and purify the oil so that it is safe and effective. So if you are looking for a fish oil supplement, ask if the oil is tested for quality, purity and concentration by an independent third party, such as the IFOS (International Fish Oil Standards). And don't hesitate to ask if the results of those tests are published for everyone to see.

References:

Duda MK, O'Shea KM, Tintinu A, Xu W, Khairallah RJ, Barrows BR, Chess DJ, Azimzadeh AM, Harris WS, Sharov VG, Sabbah HN, Stanley WC. Fish oil, but not flaxseed oil, decreases inflammation and prevents pressure overload-induced cardiac dysfunction. Cardiovasc Res. 2009 Feb 1; 81(2):319-27.

Wang C, Harris WS, Chung M, Lichtenstein AH, Balk EM, Kupelnick B, Jordan HS, Lau J. n-3 Fatty acids from fish or fish-oil supplements, but not alpha-linolenic acid, benefit cardiovascular disease outcomes in primary- and secondary-prevention studies: a systematic review. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Jul; 84(1):5-17.

Young GS, Conquer JA, Thomas R. Effect of randomized supplementation with high dose olive, flax or fish oil on serum phospholipid fatty acid levels in adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Reprod Nutr Dev. 2005 Sep-Oct; 45(5):549-58.

Tomasallo C, Anderson H, Haughwout M, Imm P, Knobeloch L.
Mortality among frequent consumers of Great Lakes sport fish. Environ Res. 2009 Oct 5. [Epub ahead of print]

Environmental Defense Fund: www.edg.org

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: www.epa.gov

Learn more about Pharmaceutical Grade Fish Oil


As The Weather Heats Up Your House Turns Into A Hairball - How To Deal With Seasonal Shedding

Hairball Animals shed to replace old dead hair and remove the winter coats they‘ve accumulated for cold-weather adaptation. Just like humans, animals overheat and sweat in warmer weather, so keeping their fur year-round is unreasonable.

An unhealthy coat can have negative effects on pet owners - often in the form of allergies. Although most people think pet hair is the culprit of allergies in humans, it is actually the dander, or skin flakes. Keeping your pet’s coat and skin in optimum health is important to prevent future skin conditions, infections- and allergies for both you and your pet.

Health Issues

Depending on their breed, pets shed differently. For instance, a poodle sheds less than a pug and long-haired cats and dogs but shed more than short-haired breeds.

Some owners feel as if they are constantly vacuuming the floors, while others rarely have to. For cats and dogs alike, not only is shedding an annoyance, it can also be detrimental to their health.

Animals can develop an unhealthy coat and skin from poor grooming techniques. Shedding in cats can cause hairballs, which can lead into digestive issues, coughing and vomiting. While dogs do not develop hairballs, they can develop matted hair on their bodies, making their coat a sanctuary for fleas and ticks and causing skin rashes from flea bites.

To reduce hairballs and matted hair, brush your pet daily, the more frequently you brush your animal and remove dead and loose hair, the less hair and skin is left in your home.

To help avoid furballs in cats by maintaining healthy digestion try: Furball Dr. ™ To soothe discomfort from flea bites try: FleaDerm

Environmental Factors

Changes in the skin and coat primarily occur due to fluctuations in the amount of daylight and temperature. The length of daylight hours is believed to have a greater impact on the shedding cycle than temperature, which is why all pets shed during particular times of the year. Pets can shed due to their environment,depending on whether you keep your pet indoors or outdoors.

An outdoor pet will keep their fur all year round until the summer and then you will start to see some shedding. It is important to know that even artificial lighting can affect your pet’s shedding, especially if your pet stays primarily indoors. If you own an indoor pet, they can shed daily. This is sometimes determined by the lighting in your home as well as air conditioning levels. Be aware that when your indoor pet goes outside for a walk this spring, they are use to indoor temperatures- so having a thicker coat due to the air conditioning may not be conducive for extended outdoor periods.

To encourage healthy, clear skin and coats in cats try: Clean-Cat Shampoo with Chamomile™ To promote healthy skin in dogs try: Manage Mites Shampoo

Good Nutrition

Your pet’s diet is another key element when it comes to healthy skin and glossy coat. Pets need an assortment of nutrients, including omega fatty acids, minerals, vitamins and protein. Feeding your animal a high quality food can make all the difference. You may even want to add vegetables to your pet’s food like, carrots, celery and broccoli.

Proper hydration is also necessary while your animal is shedding. A dehydrated animal is prone to dry skin, which causes itching, flaking and excessive shedding. You may also wish to give your pet extra oils for their skin such as adding a capful of olive oil to their food dish; this will help promote moisturized skin and possibly reduce shedding.

To promote healthy skin, glossy coat and maintain strength of the hair shaft and follicle try: Skin and Coat Tonic

Your pet’s overall health is important, and their skin and coat is no exception. If your pet seems to be shedding more than expected, seek advice from your veterinarian.


P&G To Acquire Natura Products (Innova, Evo, Karma, California Natural, Healthwise)

I just read an article from The Cincinnati Biz Journals stating that in June Proctor & Gamble will be purchasing Natura Pet Foods. This is a sad day for many as we know Proctor and Gambles track record.

This will be interesting to watch as it progresses. These foods will most likely be taken out of many "Specialty" Pet Stores as owners learn of this purchase and now put in the Big Box stores. I just hope that P&G upholds manufacturing processes but somehow I feel it's all downhill for those brands now. Many of you will think back to all the pet food recalls of P&G pet foods during the 2007 Menu Foods recall the included their Iams and Eukanuba brands.

To stay up to date with any Pet Food Recalls you can go to the FDA Pet Food Product Recall List


Nutro In The News Again! Toxic Levels Of Vitamin D Found In Cat Food

Toxic Levels of Vitamin D found in Nutro Cat Food. Nutro seems to continue to make the news and here is yet another breaking article -http://www.pfpsa.org/news.html 

Another very disturbing part is the article also mentions ProPlan Beef and Barley from March 22, 2010. This is the part that made me want to throw up. As many people know we lost both our dog and cat in 2003 and they were both eating ProPlan. This was before the pet food recalls but our vet stated that they had the same stomach issue and was mostly likely from what we were feeding. At that point we searched for a new food and found Life's Abundance and have never looked back.

I am just sick to think about these poor animals and will update you as more information becomes available.

Journalist Lisa McCormick confirmed with the FDA that Nutro Pet Food was under investigation (by the FDA) yet no recall has been issued.  The website www.ConsumerAffairs.comhas over 500 complaints in the last 2 years regarding Nutro http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2009/04/nutro_foia.html

****Please note - there has not be an issued recall from the FDA.

Nutro did make the news last year - http://health4uandpets.typepad.com/healthproducts/2009/10/ugh-another-nutro-recall-this-time-its-puppy-food.html and http://health4uandpets.typepad.com/healthproducts/2009/05/nutro-products-announces-voluntary-recall-of-limited-range-of-dry-cat-food-products.html