Obesity in Dogs and Cats
Obesity is the single most common pet nutrition problem. Unfortunately, obesity predisposes pets to develop arthritis, diabetes, pancreatitis, and skin problems.
Some dogs are predisposed to becoming obese because they have genes associated with obesity: Labrador Retrievers, Cocker Spaniels, Cairn Terriers, West Highland White Terriers, and Scottish Terriers. Cats may also have breed dispositions to obesity; however, at this time, there are no definitive lists for specific breeds affected.
Visit our Weight Loss section to view tips on helping your pet lose weight. We recommend low calorie treats including Greenies Lite Dental Chews (for dogs) or Feline Greenies Smart Bites. If your veterinarian puts your pet on a diet, we recommend Wellness CORE Reduced Fat Dry Dog Food or Now Grain Free Senior Recipe Dry Cat Food.
Food Allergies in Dogs and Cats
Many pets have a food allergy. Dogs and cats become allergic to foods if their immune systems mistakenly recognize the food as harmful, causing them to overreact to it. Overreaction can manifest as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or malaise. With dog food allergies, you will often get pruritus (itching) and inflammation of the legs and ears, progressing to chronic skin and ear infections. With cat food allergies, you will often get pruritus of the head and neck. These cats scratch themselves and develop eye infections when their nails accidentally scratch their eyeballs as they rub their heads.
Almost always, food allergies are caused by proteins, and these allergenic proteins are not destroyed by freezing, cooking, or digestion. Proteins from meat, corn, wheat, soy, potatoes, beets, and yeast commonly cause problems. In addition, a dog allergy or a cat allergy can come from chemicals, dyes, preservatives, and even to fruits and vegetables, including tomatoes.
The tendency to be allergic is often inherited and scientists believe that these pets have a genetic defect in the gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT). The GALT is the part of the immune system that controls materials that enter the body through the intestines.
One way to limit your pet's allergic symptoms is to feed a limited ingredient diet—only 1-2 proteins and 1-2 carbohydrates at a time. Other pets benefit from hydrolyzed commercial diets that have proteins broken into such small pieces that they no longer trigger GALT cells to react. Hydrolyzed commercial diets are prescription foods available through your veterinarian. Another way to help allergic pets is to feed only high-quality, human-grade foods with no fillers. Many pets allergic to corn in cheaper pet food tolerate it easily in a high-quality organic pet food.
We recommend that all pets with allergies receive Omega 3 fatty acid supplements because these fatty acids decrease inflammation throughout the body. Excellent sources of Omega 3 fatty acids are Be Well for Dogs, Be Well for Cats, NaturVet Salmon Oil Gel Caps for Healthy Skin, and Nordic Naturals Omega-3 Pet for dogs.