Cedar Pet Clinic Blog

Your Pet's Health Starts with Great Nutrition

It might seem obvious to say that the quality of food you feed your pet has an enormous impact on her health. However, many pet owners feel confused about how to interpret nutrition labels on pet food bags and how to make the best feeding choices. This can cause them to purchase pet food based on convenience rather then what is truly best for the animal’s nutritional needs.

When selecting food for your dog or cat, it’s important to consider his special health needs. This could include issues like chronic joint pain, food allergies, or a sensitive stomach. Another common mistake that pet owners make is feeding a dog or cat the wrong food for his species or age. For example, giving cat food to both a dog and a cat because it’s less expensive or giving a kitten food meant for a geriatric cat. These choices might not seem like a big deal, but they can contribute to poor health for your pet over time.

Your Pet's Health Starts with Great Nutrition

How to Evaluate Pet Food and Make the Best Choice for Your Pet
Although the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is heavily involved in regulating food for humans, it doesn’t get nearly so involved in the production and sale of pet food. That’s why it’s important to look for an endorsement from the American Feed Controls Office (AAFCO) on the label of your pet’s food. This endorsement means that the manufacturer met minimum requirements for nutrition as well as quality, ingredients, and even packaging.

Food for cats should have antioxidants, fat, and fiber while food for dogs should contains vitamins, minerals, fats, carbohydrates, and water. These are minimum AFCO requirements. The agency also recommends that pet owners look for the following:

  • Name of manufacturer and product
  • List of ingredients
  • Statement of nutritional adequacy
  • Statement of net quantity
  • Guaranteed analysis, which should include a percentage for each of the food’s primary ingredients

Another important thing to know is that the above requirements don’t give a complete picture of the pet food. A company besides the one that originally manufactured the pet food can also add ingredients, and they’re not required by law to include the extra ingredients on a list for consumers. We also encourage you to use caution when evaluating marketing tactics of pet food companies. Just because a marketer claims that a pet food is premium or all-natural doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s better than other brands.

Ask for Pet Food Recommendations or Schedule a Nutritional Assessment
If you’re concerned that your pet could need a special diet, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment at Cedar Pet Clinic Lake Elmo. Our veterinarians will evaluate your dog or cat’s health and let you know if she would benefit from a change of diet. We’re also happy to recommend a specific brand or a pet food that meets your dog or cat’s special needs. You don’t have to wait until your pet’s annual check-up to visit us.  We care about your pet almost as much as you do and want to see her as happy and healthy as possible.

Image credit: Pixabay

Change a Pet’s Life Day is January 24

If it were up to you, Change a Pet’s Life Day would take place every day. That’s just how much you love animals. This January 24, you will have the chance to impact many animals’ lives for the better when you participate in this annual event. The awareness campaign hopes to draw attention to the pets waiting in shelters for permanent homes as well as animal welfare in general.

Are You Considering Pet Adoption?
Change a Pet’s Life Day
Most animals end up in shelters through no fault of their own, such as being born to a homeless mother or surrendered when their previous owners moved. They make just as good of pets as those you would get from a private party or pet store. To encourage adoptions on January 24, many animal shelters across the country will reduce or even completely waive the normal fees to adopt. When you adopt from a shelter, you know that the pet has been spayed or neutered, up to date on core vaccines, and has received a thorough exam by a veterinarian.

You can still help pets get adopted even if you can’t bring home a dog, cat, or other animal yourself. Be sure to tell your family, friends, and co-workers about Change a Pet’s Life Day and spread the word on social media as well.

Could You Provide a Foster Home?
Another way you can help if you can’t adopt is to offer temporary foster care to a waiting dog or cat. Pet rescue organizations retrieve adoptable animals from shelters where they would otherwise face euthanasia after a set time. The organizations then need volunteers to take the pets into their homes until they can find them a permanent placement. You would provide plenty of love as well as food and shelter for your foster care placements. The organization may also ask you to help screen people who apply to adopt the animal permanently.

Volunteer at Your Local Animal Shelter
Change a Pet’s Life Day takes the hard work of many volunteers to make it a success. One thing you can do is volunteer at a shelter participating in the event. Animal shelters often need help with processing adoption paperwork, bringing pets to meet their new families, and advertising for the event.

Do Something New for Your Own Pet This Year
If you already have one or more pets, January is the perfect time to start a new routine together. Take a new route when walking, sign your dog up for an obedience class, or vow to play with your cat more to keep boredom away on these cold winter days. The new year is also a great time to establish a preventive healthcare routine for your cat or dog at Cedar Pet Clinic Lake Elmo if you haven’t already.

Image credit: Urilux | iStock / Getty Images Plus

It's National Train Your Dog Month

Did you know that January is officially National Train Your Dog Month? Started by the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) in 2010 and now in its ninth year, the awareness campaign hopes to bring attention to the importance of everyday manners. After all, dogs and humans are two very different species. It’s not realistic to expect them to live in harmony without investing time and resources in dog training. For 2018, APDT has chosen a theme of “Make Training Part of Everyday Life with Your Dog.”

The Benefits of Training Your Dog as Early in Life as Possible

Many first-time dog owners are surprised to learn that they can start training a puppy as early as seven weeks of age. Because your puppy has a lot to learn about life and living with a human family, we recommend enrolling him in a puppy obedience class if possible. Your puppy will learn how to interact with other animals and people as well as become accustomed to a range of different environments.

National Train Your Dog Month

Proper socialization as a puppy is critical to the psychological well-being of your adult dog. A training class also teaches skills to you as a dog owner, including how to handle housebreaking and common puppy behaviors such as excessive chewing. Your puppy will learn such things as acting politely when a guest arrives at your home, coming when you call her, and not pulling on the leash during walks. Even if you adopt an older dog or don’t get the chance to enroll your puppy in obedience classes, it’s never too late to start.

Use Real Life Scenarios to Train Your Dog
While training classes offer your dog an excellent advantage, he still needs training in everyday situations to learn how to behave well consistently. APDT recommends using these opportunities for dog training:

  • Car rides: Even a short car trip is a chance to teach your dog what you expect. For example, he should come when you call him to the car and sit during the ride. If you go to a drive-thru at a restaurant or bank or somewhere that you plan to take your dog in with you, it provides a great opportunity for socialization as well.

  • Take your dog to stores that allow dogs: Some types of stores and restaurants, especially pet stores and outdoor cafes, allow customers to bring their dogs. This is a good time for your dog to practice sitting nicely while someone pets her, walking indoors on a leash, and staying in the car while you load the items you purchased.

  • Delivery personnel: Your dog is going to have to get used to the mailman, the UPS delivery driver, and the meter reader. When one of these people approaches your house, command your dog to sit and be quiet. Be sure to reward any cooperation you get with extra attention or an occasional treat.

  • Cooking dinner, relaxing, or entertaining guests: You don’t want your dog to jump up on you when you’re cooking at the stove or trying to watch TV in peace. It’s even worse when your dog won’t leave guests alone. Train your dog to remain quiet during these times or to play independently.

Of course, you may not know how to teach these skills when you and your dog first learn them in obedience class. It’s okay not to do it perfectly, but you must practice the skills repeatedly or your dog won’t learn them. Please don’t hesitate to contact Cedar Pet Clinic Lake Elmo if you have additional questions about your dog’s behavior or health.

Image credit: onetouchspark| iStock / Getty Images Plus

After-Hours Emergencies

After Hours Veterinary Care
1014 Dale Street North
St. Paul, MN 55117
(Inside Como Park Animal Hospital just north of downtown St. Paul)
24-hour care for multiple species
651-487-1941

Animal Emergency & Referral Center of MN
1163 Helmo Avenue N
Oakdale, MN 55128
651-501-3766

 

Animal Emergency & Referral Center of MN
1542 7th St. W.
St. Paul, MN 55012
(located 2 blocks east of 35E)
651-293-1800