Category Archives: Ask the Vet

The Many Dangers of Dog Obesity

By: Dr. Eddy Collins, DVM

Obesity is widespread and is considered the number one disease in dogs. In the US, over 25% of dogs are categorized as obese, while at least 50% are considered overweight. By any definition, that is considered an epidemic.

Excessive Wear and Tear

A dog that weighs more than 20% over its ideal weight is considered obese, but even lesser amounts of extra weight can have a big impact on overall health. All that extra weight causes their bodies to have to work much harder than it should to do just about anything. There is more strain on the joints and back when getting up and down, using stairs, and definitely when running and jumping. There is also a more constant strain on the heart and lungs, which makes it much harder for them to remain active. This extra body mass, made up mainly of fat, means the liver is also overly stressed. All of this greatly impacts their overall quality of life.

To make matters worse, overweight and obese dogs are much more likely to develop some very serious diseases and are known to have much shorter life spans than dogs maintained at an ideal weight. Obesity frequently leads to diabetes, heart and lung disease, arthritis along with other bone and joint diseases, skin and coat conditions, and all types of cancers. What’s even sadder, is that it is almost always preventable.

Dog Food Math

There are several factors that can contribute to a dog becoming overweight or obese. Just like with people, it is simple math that determines how much your dog weighs. The number of calories eaten minus the number of calories burned, during a certain period of time, will determine how much weight gain or loss occurs during that period. If your dog is gaining weight, they are consuming more calories than they are burning. It’s as simple as that.

While how much your dog is allowed to eat explains one component of their overall weight, one of the biggest contributors to obesity is the kind of food they eat. The average carbohydrate content of a commercial dog food is more than 50%. This is mainly due to the use of cheaper ingredients in these foods in order to keep the cost of manufacturing down and their profit margins up. This extreme imbalance in nutrition contributes to a long list of problems, obesity being the most common.

A dog’s body wasn’t designed to eat high levels of carbohydrates anytime, but especially not on a daily basis. Because of this, diets high in carbohydrates are a major contributor to canine diseases including obesity and diabetes, and your dog is eating this at every meal. This is similar to a person eating every meal at a fast food restaurant. We all know where that will get us.

Another common contributor to obesity is commercial dog treats. These are typically very high in calories, not to mention many other potentially harmful ingredients. Many owners give their dogs treats out of love, but giving too many on a regular basis, actually causes them harm. There are many natural treat alternatives that are low in calories and don’t contain the harmful additions. You can replace commercial treats with green beans, carrots, celery, and even small pieces of chicken.

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Finding Solutions

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The other side of this simple math equation, is insufficient exercise. Proper exercise is an important part of overall health, both physical and mental, and contributes greatly to your dog's overall condition and behavior. It is also a great way to spend quality time with your dog. Exercise in an obese or overweight dog must be handled very carefully to ensure their bodies can handle this extra activity and to avoid causing other more serious issues.

Many times the solution is as simple as changing foods from a high carbohydrate commercial diet to a high protein, high fiber homemade dog food. Not only is this a great way to help your dog lose weight, but it is also a much healthier diet for many other reasons. This combined with adjusting the amount of exercise that your dog is getting, may be all that is needed to gradually get your dog back to their proper weight. Also, don’t forget to replace the high calorie treats with more natural alternatives.

There are some medical conditions that can lead to your dog becoming overweight or obese and also make it very difficult for them to lose weight. Thyroid disease in dogs results in an underactive thyroid gland. The thyroid is responsible for metabolism. When it's not functioning properly, your dog is not able to burn calories the way they should and thus gains weight. They may also show signs of lethargy along with skin and hair problems. This is a condition that can be easily diagnosed and corrected by your veterinarian, but like everything else related to your dog, it is best addressed as early as possible.

Only you can help your dog avoid the most common canine disease and all of its related problems by feeding them a proper diet, one that is best suited for how their bodies naturally work. Combine this with regularly monitoring their weight and making any necessary adjustments to food and exercise. Not only will you help them live a longer, healthier, and happier lifestyle, you just might find that some of these ideas work for you as well.
Dr. Eddy Collins, DVM

Coco's Canine Cuisine

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Dog Food Economics and Marketing

By: Dr. Eddy Collins, DVM

Why are there so many different brands of dog foods on the market? The answer is simple, economics. This is an extremely profitable business. This is also the same answer to the majority of questions asked about the foods themselves. Why is it that so many commercial dog foods have such a high carbohydrate content, when dogs are primarily carnivores? It is simply because meat is more expensive than the foods that are being used. Regularly feeding high carbohydrate foods to dogs is similar to people eating junk or fast food at every meal. We all know where that leads.

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Dog Food Economics

Dog foods have huge profit margins and there are currently almost 200 different brands on the market. However, 80% of that market is controlled by only 5, very well-known companies. Colgate-Palmolive makes Hill’s Science Diet, and Procter & Gamble are the makers of Iams and Eukanuba. Mars is the maker of Pedigree, Nutro, and Royal Canin, while Del Monte Foods produces Kibbles and Bits, Gravy Train, and Nature’s Recipe. Last, but not least, is Nestle who makes Beneful, Mighty Dog, and Alpo.

You’ll notice that these companies are very easily recognized names from the human food industry. That’s not a coincidence. Commercial dog foods began, and still thrive today, because they heavily use the by-products of human food production. These companies had a waste product and saw a way to turn their left overs into a huge profit. Today, over 6 million tons of dog food is sold in the U.S. every year.

You’ll also see that these huge corporations are technically competing against themselves. Why? Economics. They can produce, and market, many different products, with different labels, widely varying claims, and at a wide range of prices. Unfortunately, the food inside the packaging is remarkably similar. Many times the actual manufacturing process is carried out by entirely different companies from the ones that own and market the individual brands.

Dog Food Marketing

If you have a great product, but no one really knows about it, you probably won't be very successful. On the other hand, you can have a very mediocre product, but market it well and be extremely successful.

Pet food is a more than $20 billion industry. $1 billion of that is annually spent on marketing.

One reason that pet food manufacturers spend so much on marketing is that most people are not interested in taking the considerable amount of time that it takes to fully understand what their dog should be eating and what's actually in their dog's food. Instead many people base their choice of food on what’s easiest and what is most appealing to them.

The marketing concepts used to market dog foods are so successful that the same ideas are applied in many different industries other than dog food. When a product is marketed to, and bought by, someone other than the consumer, there is actually a term used to describe the techniques used. That term is “Dog Food Marketing”.

So naturally, all of the marketing strategies target the dog owner. The reason this is important is because when evaluating a food, every decision that you are considering should be made from the viewpoint of your dog. This is even more important considering the fact that commercial diets are designed to be fed every day, which means that whatever is in the food, is going into your dog on a very regular, unvarying basis.

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Marketing Strategies and Gimmicks

Compare the images on the outside packaging of dog foods, to the actual contents or the list of ingredients, and you’ll see they are rarely representative.

Like many other types of products on the market, dog food is sold with gimmicks and marketing language that helps to make it a hugely profitable business. All of the language that is used, is targeting the purchaser, not the consumer.

Any dog food can be labeled as “Premium”, “Super Premium”, “Ultra Premium”, “Gourmet”, or “Holistic”. They don’t have to contain any different or higher quality ingredients than any other food, and they don’t have to meet any higher nutritional or manufacturing standards. Companies will also use terms like “Nature” or “Natural” in the actual name of a food, without any type of qualification. These are just a few examples of how misleading dog food marketing can be.

As we’ve seen from the history of pet food contamination, recent pet food recalls, and from the results of recent studies in early 2015, choosing a premium brand and paying premium prices doesn’t ensure that it’s a safe or good nutritional choice for your dog.

A very athletic, extremely active dog, or a working dog will require more quality calories in a typical day than a couch potato. However, foods that claim to be specifically for athletic dogs or for a certain breed are all purely marketing. There are only two nutritional standards for dog foods, one for adults and one for dogs that are growing, pregnant, or lactating. Any other claims are simply marketing.

Dog foods that claim to contain “human grade” ingredients don’t actually have to contain them. They only have to be produced in a plant that is approved to process human food. This is very convenient in the case of some of these major corporations, as this usually occurs at night after human food production has ended.

True dog food marketing is not geared toward animals. The reality is that dogs don’t care what color or shape their food is, they can’t evaluate it for its healthiness, and they definitely can’t go out and purchase it. They don’t really get to decide what they eat or don’t eat. They have you for that.

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How to Make Healthy Dog Food and Increase Your Dog’s Life Span

Your dog is at your mercy when it comes down to the choices you make for his/her lifestyle and diet. In fact, many of the choices you make could influence just how long your dog will remain by your side. Healthy dog food can make all the difference. And you can learn how to make healthy dog food.

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Did you know that the oldest known dog anywhere in the world was a Blue Heeler (Australian Cattle Dog) named Bluey, who lived for 29 years and 160 days? There was also a Labrador named Bella in the UK who lived a healthy, happy life for more than 28 years.

Yet the average life span of a dog domesticity is around 10-11 years. It should make you wonder why this is so. It should also make you wonder whether it’s possible to increase your dog’s lifespan beyond the average expectancy.

There are a few good tips available for increasing your dog’s potential lifespan. These include healthy dog food, regular physical exercise, and mental stimulation in the form of playing games or solving challenges. Many vets will also recommend having a dog neutered or spayed, as this can also reduce the risk of testicular cancer in male dogs and uterine cancer in female dogs.

Obese and overweight dogs also face an increased risk of premature death, as the extra stress on joints and the immune system can cause other health risks. Dogs should be kept within a healthy weight range with good muscle tone for improved life expectancy.

However, many vets may recommend dog owners should include vitamin supplements in a dog’s diet to help improve a dog’s health and potentially increase lifespan. What this tactic fails to recognize is that with healthy dog food and a nutritious diet, supplements shouldn’t be required.

It also implies that the commercial dog food most people feed their pets is sufficiently lacking in the right vitamins, mineral and nutrients to supply their dog with the healthy diet they deserve.

You can discover how to make healthy dog food with the help of Coco’s Canine Cuisine. Coco’s is a human grade food mix and all you do is choose the protein to add.

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Why are So Many People Changing to Home Made Dog Food?

By Dr. Eddy Collins, DVM

Who cooks for their dog?

More and more conscientious dog owners are spending time in their kitchens doing just that. They will also usually have an interested, furry helper by their side. This trend is growing rapidly due to the many health benefits of homemade dog food.
There are a wide variety of dog food recipes available on the internet. There are even dog food cookbooks to teach you how to make dog food. People are living longer and adopting healthier lifestyles for themselves. It’s only natural that these same ideas are translating into healthier lifestyles for dogs.
Yes, it’s easy to feed a scoop or two of dry food. There are actually ways to make cooking for your dog almost as easy and much healthier.

The Benefits of Changing to Homemade Dog Food Are Priceless

There are many benefits to transitioning to homemade, healthy dog food. One of the big benefits comes from knowing and controlling what goes into your dog’s food. An even bigger benefit, may be knowing what isn’t in it.
High quality, commercial dog foods contain everything your dog needs. They also contain many things that are not needed and that are actuallyunhealthy.

Cooking for your dog can eliminate harmful preservatives, chemicals, dyes, and additives from their diet. These are unnecessary additions that are detrimental to the health of both dogs and their humans. You and your dog will also avoid the unpleasant surprise of a pet food recall.

Fresh ingredients have a higher nutritional value and their nutrients are more readily absorbed. You can also offer a variety of meals to help to eliminate dietary boredom. It’s very rewarding to see your dog enjoying something you made especially for them. The added benefit is knowing you’re also providing them with what’s best for their health.
There are a growing number of health issues that are linked to feeding commercial dog foods. In addition to the problems caused by artificial additives, there are nutrient imbalances as well. Dogs are predominantly carnivores, but commercial diets contain high amounts of carbohydrates. This is a very unnatural ratio for a dog, and can lead to many related problems.
High levels of carbohydrates can cause yeast overgrowth, leading to skin and ear odor and irritation. This imbalance is also a contributing factor in many common allergic conditions. Excessive levels of carbohydrates contribute to dental problems, including bad breath, caused by tartar buildup. The extremely high rate of canine diabetes is attributable to this as well. Also, many digestive issues are linked to this lack of natural balance in canine diets. A simple diet change can help avoid and alleviate many of these diseases.

A Worthwhile Challenge
Anything worthwhile is not without challenges, and learning how to make dog food is no exception. You can find many dog food recipes online and there are dog food cookbooks available. The problem is finding recipes from reliable sources that provide a well-balanced diet. They’re out there, but the search is a challenge. Many of them don’t contain nutritional information about the diet. This makes it difficult to determine if it’s a well-balanced diet for your dog.

Also, due to the nutritional requirements, many of these recipes contain a large number of ingredients. This can put a strain on your shopping list. Typically, the larger number of ingredients makes the process more expensive, labor intensive, and time consuming. Some of these recipes also call for specialized kitchen appliances such as a meat grinder.
There’s also the commitment of time it takes to prepare your dog’s food. We all lead busy lives and sometimes it’s challenging to find time to cook for ourselves. While these challenges can make the task more difficult, there are options to simplify the process. You will be saving much more than the time you spend in the long run.

Easy Options for Changing to Home made Dog Food

Keeping the process as simple as possible will make the job much easier. To do this you will want to find proven recipes with the fewest number of ingredients. Also, look for recipes that use ingredients commonly found in your kitchen. You don’t want to have to go searching for hard to find items. These are not necessary or desirable for a well-balanced dog food diet. Using hard to find ingredients can also make it difficult to produce a consistent result.
Maybe most importantly, look for recipes that can be easily prepared in your kitchen. There is no need for special equipment. You can use exactly what you use to cook for the rest of your family. This will cut down on your cost as well as shopping and preparation time.

Using a homemade dog food base, such as Coco’s Canine Cuisine, is a convenient option. This is by far the easiest way to make quality homemade dog food. It also meets all of the requirements for producing a well balanced healthy dog food.
The base consists of a balanced combination of fresh, high-quality ingredients. You add your choice of meat and cook. To provide variety, you can use different meats from batch to batch. The result is a complete, well-balanced diet that only takes 25 minutes to prepare.

Coco’s is extremely quick and easy to make, saving you both time and energy. It provides a consistent, nutritious, and well-balanced diet for your dog. It contains no preservatives or additives of any type that could be harmful to your dog. It’s made with fresh, high quality, ‘human-grade’ ingredients. It takes the guesswork out of providing everything your dog requires for proper nutrition. You can also give your dog variety, while maintaining the correct nutritional consistency in their diet.
Making The Transition

Your dog will be very excited to try their new food. When changing your dog’s diet, do it gradually to reduce the chances of GI upset. Over the course of 5 days, slowly increase the new food while decreasing the old. Any leftover kibble can be mixed with the cooked food until it’s finished. This should allow for a smooth and healthy transition.

Set aside a regular time each week to cook for your dog. You can do it at the same time you’re cooking for your family. With a little planning and preparation, your transition can go just as smoothly. Know that you’re providing the best nutrition and a healthier, longer life for your dog. That should make it much easier. In the process, you just might discover some changes you want to make for yourself. See more about Coco’s homemade dog food.