Are Grain-Free Diets Healthy for Dogs?

Are Grain-Free Diets Healthy for Dogs?

Choosing the right pet food can be one of the most difficult choices you make for your dog. Over the last several years, grain-free pet foods gained popularity through clever marketing, but grain-free dog food might actually be making our dogs sick.

The Troubling Reality of Grain-Free Dog Food

As grain-free pet foods became increasingly popular, veterinarians noticed that they were diagnosing more dogs with a heart condition called dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) which is characterized by stretching, thinning, and weakening of the heart muscle. DCM hinders the heart’s ability to pump blood. Although some breeds have a genetic predisposition to developing DCM, veterinarians were diagnosing the condition frequently in dogs with no predisposition. Veterinarians began to wonder what was causing the rise in DCM diagnoses.

The FDA Investigates Grain-Free Dog Food

The FDA opened up an investigation in response to the increasing DCM diagnoses.
After collecting reports from veterinarians and pet owners, the FDA found that 90% of dogs diagnosed with DCM were eating grain-free pet food and 93% were on a grain-free diet that contained peas, lentils, or other legumes as one of the top ingredients.
The FDA looked at the foods the pets were eating and tested them for minerals, amino acids, and metals and found no surprises or abnormalities.

So, Is Grain-Free Bad for Dogs?

Although there seems to be a pretty strong link between grain-free diets and DCM, more research is needed to understand exactly how grain-free diets are affecting dogs’ hearts. However, it seems that legumes (frequently used as a replacement for grains) might be blocking dogs’ ability to use the amino acid, taurine.
When taken off the grain-free diet and given a taurine supplement, dogs diagnosed with DCM can improve. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for all dogs, as some continue to worsen even after their diets are changed and supplemented.

Are Grains Harmful to Dogs?

Although the findings regarding grain-free diets are so far inconclusive, there is no evidence that diets containing some grains, like rice or corn, are harmful to dogs. So, there’s truly no reason – other than flashy marketing – to choose a grain-free diet for your pet.
When choosing a proper diet for your pet, the best place to start is with your veterinarian. They can recommend a healthy diet based on your pet’s species, breed, size, age, and condition. As a result, you can feel confident every time you fill your pet’s bowl that they’ll be receiving the healthy blend of proteins, vitamins, minerals, and fats that they need to achieve optimal wellness.

Arthritis Relief for Pets: How to Manage Arthritis in Cats and Dogs

Arthritis Relief for Pets: How to Manage Arthritis in Cats and Dogs

With increasingly effective veterinary care, our pets are living longer than ever. This is great news for pet parents, but as a result, many pets are suffering from more age-related diseases. One of the most common ailments in older cats and dogs is arthritis which causes pain and limits a pet’s mobility. Although arthritis is a chronic condition, meaning it can’t be cured, there are plenty of options for managing the disease’s progression and its symptoms.

7 Ways to Manage Arthritis in Cats and Dogs

1. Pain Medications

The most common and effective pain management tools are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications formulated specifically for dogs and cats. (Remember that human pain medications are toxic for pets!)

2. Nutritional Supplements

A long list of nutritional supplements has also been shown to be beneficial in slowing the progression of arthritis and/or mitigating its symptoms. Ask your veterinarian about:

3. Weight Control

Managing a pet’s weight to prevent extra wear and tear on joints is essential to preventing and managing arthritis. Talk with your veterinarian about whether a special or prescription pet diet could help your pet.

4. Exercise

When it comes to exercise, you don’t want to overdo it with an older pet. But it’s still important to get some gentle physical activity every day.

5. Physical Therapy Treatment Modalities

Physical therapy and its vast selection of treatment modalities are some of the best ways to help your pet with arthritis. Pets can enjoy the amazing health benefits of treatments and therapies like:

6. Surgery

Depending on a pet’s condition, joint replacement surgery might be the most-effective treatment option.

7. Stem Cell Therapy

Stem cell therapy is a promising new arthritis treatment. Injected with stem cells, a pet’s joints can regenerate new cartilage, repairing arthritic joints.

Easy-to-Administer Supplements and Medications for Dogs and Cats

Once you have a solid plan for managing your pet’s arthritis pain, our experts at VetMedics Compounding Pharmacy can help you get the high-quality medications and supplements your pet needs in an easy-to-administer form. Whether your pet will benefit from medications, vitamins, and nutrients formulated into chewy treats, a liquid, a topical, or another form, our compounding pharmacy is fully equipped to get your pet fast relief without any of the fuss or difficulty of administering basic pet meds. To learn more, contact our Ronkonkoma pet pharmacy today!

Recognizing and Managing Hypothyroidism in Your Pet

Recognizing and Managing Hypothyroidism in Your Pet

Like humans, cats and dogs have a butterfly-shaped thyroid gland that produces the hormones responsible for regulating metabolism, the system that converts food into energy. Functioning normally, the thyroid gland releases regulated amounts of various hormones. Any imbalances can lead to a variety of symptoms including changes in behavior, energy, appetite, weight, and appearance.

What Is Hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland produces too little hormone, causing health problems.

Signs and Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

Decreased hormone levels slow the metabolism’s rate, which can result in symptoms including:
Symptoms vary from pet to pet. If you notice any changes in behavior, appetite, energy, or appearance, we recommend scheduling an appointment with your veterinarian, as these kinds of changes can signify health problems.

How Is Hypothyroidism Diagnosed?

During a veterinary visit, your pet’s veterinarian might suspect a thyroid problem based on your pet’s appearance and the symptoms you describe. Hypothyroidism can be confirmed with a simple diagnostic blood panel that measures and compares the levels of various hormones present in your pet’s bloodstream.

Hypothyroidism Risk Factors and Causes

While cats are rarely diagnosed with hypothyroidism, the condition is fairly common in medium and large-breed dogs. Certain breeds are at a higher risk of developing hypothyroidism such as:
Pets sometimes develop hypothyroidism for no discernible reason. Other times, the condition can be caused by lymphocytic thyroiditis (an immune problem), cancer, or a malformed thyroid gland which would be present at birth.

Hypothyroidism Treatment: Managing Hypothyroidism in Pets

Hypothyroidism cannot be cured, but for most dogs, hypothyroidism is relatively easy to treat and manage with hormone replacement medication that’s administered one or two times each day. Initially, your veterinarian will prescribe your dog a hormone therapy dose based on the hormone levels found in his or her blood panels.
After the initial diagnosis, you will likely be asked to schedule a follow-up appointment, as well. At this time, your veterinarian will talk with you about symptoms, weigh your pet, and run new blood tests to adjust your pet’s dose and medication schedule. Throughout your pet’s life, medication adjustments will be an ongoing process.
To learn more about thyroid replacement medications for dogs and cats or to learn how our VetMedics Compounding Pharmacy can simplify your pet’s hormone replacement therapy, we welcome you to contact us today.