Tagged with " diet"

What About Grain – Free Foods for Cats?

Apr 23, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

Cats are carnivores and require meat protein. You don’t see cats grazing in the fields as you do with herbivores (non-meat eaters) such as cattle or horses. In the wild, cats that hunt would eat the entire kill, to get their necessary vitamins and minerals. Cats eating 100% muscle meat only are subject to dietary deficiencies such as Rickets (Vitamin D/Calcium deficiency).

But what about grain free – is this necessary? Pet food companies want to make sure that their foods are nutritionally complete and balanced. Ideally, feeding trials have been performed to ensure that the food is complete and balanced. Adding certain grains can boost proteins, add fiber and necessary vitamins and minerals. In addition, grain- free foods are not carbohydrate-free.

  • “Jack” was on a grain-free food, but it turned out he had a dietary sensitivity to blueberries and sweet potatoes, components of his grain-free food. Once switched off of the grain-free food, his skin and intestinal issues resolved.
  • “Eddie” had urinary problems. Again, grain-free doesn’t mean carbohydrate-free, and it turned out that the carbohydrates in the food he was eating contributed to his urinary blockage problems. Changing his diet has resolved his urinary issues.

So, is grain-free always bad? No. If the food your cat is eating leads to a shiny, soft coat, an alert, comfortable cat of normal body weight, with no abnormal stool, skin or other problems, then the food is fine for your cat. As always, ask your veterinarian about your cat’s diet if you have any questions or concerns.

Dr Dale Rubenstein

Dr. Rubenstein opened the doors of A Cat Clinic, the first all-feline veterinary practice in Montgomery County, in 1986. She earned her BA in Biology from Oberlin College, her MS in Nutritional Biochemistry from the University of Maryland and her DVM from Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine. She became board certified in feline practice, one of only 80 diplomats in the U.S., through the American Board of Veterinary Practices (ABVP) in 1996 and re-certified in 2006.

Dr. Rubenstein is also a member of the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), Maryland Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA), Cornell Feline Health Center, Montgomery County Humane Society Feline Focus Committee, Montgomery County Veterinary Medicine Association, as well as a member of the credentialing committee of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP).

A Cat Clinic, Boyds, MD
14200 Clopper Road,
Boyds, MD 20841

Phone: 301-540-7770
Fax: 301-540-2041
Email: messages@acatclinic.us

Website: http://www.acatclinic.us/
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The Diet That Suddenly Works

Dec 5, 2012 by     4 Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

My last blog was about dieting, but a more serious concern is the diet that suddenly starts producing results without having changed your cat’s dietary routine. Diets don’t suddenly start working on their own and you cannot wish those pounds away (or we all might be “svelte”). Basically we are talking about what we call “unexplained weight loss”.

Unexplained weight loss is exactly that. Weight loss without a good (or known) cause. The list of causes of unexplained weight loss is fairly long, however, we can usually narrow it down with a little detective work.

Cats, by nature, are stoic and they will not tell you that they are sick until they have to, so you need to be a detective at home as well. Very often the only sign of illness is weight loss. Your cat will try to tell you that everything is fine, but the scale will tell you otherwise.

Being a veterinary detective, we start with the obvious- diet. Have you changed how and what you are feeding your cat? If so, did this change result in fewer calories fed?

Is your cat choosing to eat less on his/her own? A decreased appetite is not specific to any particular disease, but is important information. Is your cat having difficulty eating? This could indicate and underlying dental problem (although most cats will continue to eat normally in the face of advanced dental disease).

Is your cat having intestinal upset (vomiting and/or diarrhea)? This will interfere with proper digestion of food.

Is your cat drinking and urinating more than usual? This could indicate (most commonly) diabetes or an underlying kidney infection.

Is your cat eating more and/or stealing food, yet losing weight? This can be consistent with an overactive thyroid gland or diabetes.

Is your cat on a regular deworming program? Has your cat had a recent fecal test? Parasites can cause weight loss, however, unless there is an overwhelming infection, they are unlikely to cause a drastic weight loss.

These observations are very important and should be shared with your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will need to perform a comprehensive examination on your feline friend. Very often a comprehensive examination along with a detailed history will help narrow the list of suspected diseases help develop a plan to uncover the problem.

In most cases an internal organ screen (blood and urine test) will be necessary. These screening tests give your veterinarian a lot of information – almost like an internal examination.

In some cases radiographs (x-rays) are needed. One of the causes of unexplained weight loss in seemingly healthy cats includes tumors in the chest. The chest is one area that cannot be palpated (or felt) during the examination because it is protected by the rib cage. Chest tumors can grow to a substantial size before causing obvious outward symptoms. An x-ray is necessary to check for chest tumors.

Once the screening test results are in hand, your veterinarian can either start treatment or discuss what additional testing (if any) is necessary. In most cases, if you have screened the blood, urine and stool and have normal x-rays and have still not found the cause of the weight loss, the next step is an abdominal ultrasound.

Ultrasound is a safe and painless way to evaluate internal organs in more detail. While x-rays show us the shape and position of the internal organs, an ultrasound can give us details of the internal parts of the organs. In cases of unexplained weight loss, we are especially concerned about the intestinal tract (one area where blood tests can’t accurately evaluate). The ultrasound can detect changes in the intestines and other organs and help pinpoint problems. While ultrasound will not always give you an exact diagnosis (a biopsy may be needed for this), it will provide a great deal of information and can help direct treatment, provide a prognosis (an idea of what to expect in the future) and other options to obtain a specific diagnosis.

Sometimes it is hard for cat owners to decide how far to go with testing. If you are unsure if you want to pursue an ultrasound and/or biopsy you need to discuss this with your veterinarian. Ultimately, the decision is yours. Our role as veterinarians is to help you make educated decisions about health care for your cats. Make a list of your questions and your concerns to review in your discussion. The most common question I get is “what will we do differently based on the results?” It isn’t possible to discuss treatments for every possible outcome of the testing, but it’s important to know that the results will be helpful.

So please watch your cat’s weight and be a veterinary detective at home. If your cat experiences unexplained weight loss, gather information and make an appointment with your veterinarian. It is much better for you and your cat if we can detect and treat a disease earlier than if we wait for your cat to show signs of illness. Unsure if your cat’s weight has changed? Most bathroom scales are not accurate enough to detect small changes in weight for cats. Either purchase an infant scale to use at home or call your veterinarian to see if you can bring your cat in to be weighed.

Dr Diana Lafer

Dr. Diana Lafer founded Cats Limited in 1995. She earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from Wesleyan University and her veterinary degree from Cornell University. Dr. Lafer has a cat (Sparky), and a dog (Lucy). She enjoys spending time with her daughters, horseback riding, skiing, hiking, participating in triathlons, and volunteering for the Lakeville Pony Club.

Cats Limited Hospital
1260 New Britain Avenue
West Hartford, CT 06110

Phone: (860) 561-9885
Email: cats@catslimited.com

Website: http://www.catslimited.com/
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To Feed or Not To Feed – Canned Food – That is the Question!

Apr 9, 2012 by     7 Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

Part 1: A Hefty Debate

Last year, a study including 450,000 cats was released called “State of Pet Health 2011 Report”. In that study, obesity ranked in the top three diagnoses for cats. The study also found that the incidence of diabetes in cats over the last five years has increased by 16% – not surprisingly, the two are related. They are both related to diet, as are several other medical issues we see in cats. This makes a cat’s diet one of the most important parts of good preventive health.

Over the past few decades, with increasing vigor, veterinarians and animal nutritionists have been debating the merits of dry foods (kibble) versus canned foods. One downside to feeding dry foods is that even though all commercially available diets are formulated to meet certain nutritional standards, dry food is quite the opposite of what cats naturally need. (Click here for more on feline obesity and diet from Dr. Lund.) The best way to encourage weight loss in a cat is to minimize the dry food and feed most calories as canned foods. Two recent studies were released this year demonstrated that the addition of water to similar diets resulted in weight reduction and increased activity1, 2

The bottom line: Canned food is more like a cat’s natural diet in consistency, nutritional content and caloric density. Canned food will help your cat lose weight and keep it off. And most cats just plain like canned foods better!

Part 2: The Tooth of the Matter

In the past, many veterinarians made the recommendation to switch from feeding canned diets to feeding dry kibble for the sake of cats’ dental health; a canned-food-only diet was the prime suspect for the poor dental hygiene seen in the majority of cats. In 2011, in the “State of Pet Health 2011 Report”, the number of cats with dental disease surpassed the number of healthy cats seen after age 3 (over 50% of cats!), making it the most common feline disease.

The reality of feline dental disease is that genetics has a large part to play in your cat’s oral health, just as it does in humans. While canned food really does not help eliminate plaque and tartar, neither do many of the commercially available dry foods, either! Most of the commercially available dry diets have kibbles that are small enough that cats will gulp them down whole. More recent research has shown that in order for a dry food to help with dental care, a larger-sized kibble, typical in special diets designed specifically for oral health, is required3. Larger kibbles allow for more tooth penetration and “scraping” of the tooth. Some of these special diets also have anti-plaque additives that help. Some diets advertise anti-calculus agents, too, but these do not seem to help. Once the plaque has hardened, it seems a professional dental cleaning is the best way to get the teeth clean again.

If you try out a dental diet, you will notice that your cats are significantly noisier when they eat – suddenly, you will be able to hear the crispy crunching sound of food being chewed, when before, the only dinnertime sound was the tink-tink-tink of kibbles being pushed around in the bowl.

The bottom line: Canned food is not your cat’s oral enemy, and not just any dry food will help keep their teeth healthy. A combination of special dental-focused diets and annual oral exams by your veterinarian are the best team for cats’ teeth.

Part 3: Litter-ally a Matter of Concentration

If you consider the cat’s natural diet, a rodent is about 70-78% water. Dry food contains about 10% water. Cats are descended from desert animals, so their instinct is to take in water from their prey versus looking for water sources. While a cat will noticeably drink more water when feeding a dry food versus a canned food, they never drink enough to compensate for the lack of moisture in their food, and will exist in a perpetual state of mild dehydration. In fact, their water intake is about ½ that of a cat that eats canned food, even if you have a cat fountain, give your kitty a “princess cup”, put ice in the water bowl, or let your cat drink from the faucet.

Mild dehydration, while not life threatening on its own, does mean that cats produce less urine than if they are well-hydrated, and that urine is more concentrated. Overly concentrated urine has been linked to urinary issues such as bladder stones or urinary crystals. Urine concentration is a measurement of how much “stuff” is in the bladder. The more “stuff” there is floating around in there, the more likely it is to stick together. The more it sticks together, the bigger it gets, until it starts to irritate the lining of the bladder as it sloshes around. Blood may or may not be visible in the urine. This irritation makes urinating an unpleasant event and may cause your cat to choose to eliminate somewhere other than the litterbox. (More information about litterbox issues from Dr. Colleran.) If the “stuff” gets too big, it may even cause a blockage in the urethra, which can become an emergency very quickly.

The bottom line: More water is better for your cat’s urinary health, and the best place to get it is from a canned diet.

1. Cameron KM, Morris PJ, Hackett RM, Speakman JR. The effects of increasing water content to reduce the energy density of the diet on body mass changes following caloric restriction in domestic cats. J Anim Physiol Anim Nutr (Berl). Jun 2011;95(3):399-408.
2. Wei A, Fascetti AJ, Villaverde C, Wong RK, Ramsey JJ. Effect of water content in a canned food on voluntary food intake and body weight in cats. Am J Vet Res. Jul 2011;72(7):918-923.
3. Clarke, DE, et al. Effect of Kibble Size, Shape and Additives on Plaque in Cats. J. Vet. Dent. Summer 2010; 27(2): 84-89

Dr Steven Bailey

Dr. Steven J. Bailey founded Exclusively Cats Veterinary Hospital in 1992. He obtained his Bachelor of Science and Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Michigan State University in June of 1986. After graduation, Dr. Bailey practiced emergency medicine for 8 years prior to establishing Exclusively Cats. Dr. Bailey is one of two veterinarians in the state of Michigan and the only veterinarian in Southeastern Michigan that has been board certified by the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners as a Feline Specialist (ABVP). His special interests include complicated medical/surgical cases as well as critical care, advanced dentistry, and behavioral medicine. Dr. Bailey is an active member of the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), he is a current council member of the Southeastern Michigan Veterinary Medical Association (SEMVMA). He is also an Associate Editor of the Feline Internal Medicine Board on the Veterinary Information Network (VIN), invited member of VMG #18 (The only feline exclusive Veterinary Management Group) and MOM’s group (Macomb/Oakland Management Group). In his free time, Dr. Bailey is an avid kayaker (some may even call him “obsessed”) and an instructor in both canoe and kayaking sports. He also enjoys running and spending time with his family. Dr. Bailey and his wife Liz have 2 adult children, Christopher and Kayla, 3 cats, Tic Tic, Sapphire and Lacey, and one dog, Charlotte.

Exclusively Cats Veterinary Hospital

6650 Highland Road

Waterford, MI 48327

Phone: 248-666-5287

Fax ‎206-333-1135

ecvh@exclusivelycats.com

Website: http://www.exclusivelycats.com

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From Fat to Fit – Get Your Cat’s Sexy Back!

Jul 15, 2011 by     1 Comment     Posted under: Tips & Advice

Franklin was an adorable kitten when he came into my office for his first checkup. Before long, though, his obsession with food had resulted in a young cat who weighed nearly two times what he should. Franklin’s owners knew there was a problem and switched from leaving regular food out all day to a diet food and cutting back on portions. Problem was that Franklin was very unhappy with this new state of affairs, and his constant meowing and begging for food was disrupting the household.

When I next saw Franklin, this two year old, gorgeous black and white cat could barely jump and weighed in at 22 pounds, which was a far cry from his ideal weight of 10 pounds. His owners were desperate. They were literally feeding him a quarter of a cup of diet dry food a day, and he was ravenously hungry and both cat and family were miserable and looking for help. Franklin was gobbling up his food and anything else that came his way—bread, iceberg lettuce, potato chips and Oreo cookies all went down the hatch. He was dangerously overweight but felt like he was starving!

And Franklin is by no means a rarity. Statistics show that nearly 75% of all cats in the United States are overweight, and a sizeable chunk of those cats are obese. This dramatically impacts their health and overall wellness, and just like with people, the extra pounds can contribute to blood sugar problems, lack of mobility and heart disease.

Most of us grew up hearing that cats need dry food for their teeth and that canned food is a “junk food” with little nutritional value. But reality is very different. Cats are what are called obligatory carnivores, which means they need to eat meat to survive. Dry foods are loaded with carbohydrates, which is how they achieve that dry cereal consistency. Dogs have digestive systems that process carbohydrates quite efficiently, and like so many things in pet care, dogs came first to the table. Cat foods originated as spin offs from dog foods, and even though cat physiology is very different than that of the dog, dry cat foods quickly caught on and became the accepted cat food choice.

Fast forward to 2007. Nutritional studies that focused strictly on the cat identified one key reason for cat obesity. Because cats are pure carnivores, they have difficulty digesting carbohydrates, which has led researchers to speculate that the extra carbs may enhance fat accumulation and drive blood sugar levels up. Canned cat food is cereal-free, so all those carbohydrates get bypassed. Another advantage of canned food is that it is much lighter in calories than an equivalent amount of dry food.

One other piece of the puzzle that researchers looked at was what makes a cat feel full. Protein levels in food seems to affect satiety, so the higher amounts of protein in canned food leave cats feeling content and not deprived. The actual volume of food in the stomach also factors in, so this is why tiny amounts of dry food, which tend to have much less protein density than canned food, will not help your cat feel full.

So we converted Franklin into a canned food junkie, and gave him lots of it—two tuna fish sized cans each day. Because you can never have your cake and eat it too when dieting, we eased him entirely off his dry food. He is down to 11 pounds and counting, and he has become as active as he should be. And most importantly, he is happy and doesn’t have a clue that he is eating fewer calories!

Dr Cathy Lund

Cathy Lund, DVM, owns and operates City Kitty Veterinary Care for Cats, a cat practice located in Providence, RI. She is also the board president and founder of the Companion Animal Foundation, a statewide, veterinary-based nonprofit organization that helps low-income pet owners afford essential veterinary care. She lives in Providence, and serves on several architectural and preservation commissions in the city, and is on the board of directors of WRNI, RI’s own NPR station. But her favorite activity is to promote the countless virtues of the “purr-fect” pet, the cat!

City Kitty
18 Imperial Pl # 1B
Providence, RI 02903-4642

Phone: (401) 831-6369
Email: email@city-kitty.com

Website: http://www.city-kitty.com/
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