Heavy Metals in Pet Food

Heavy Metals in Pet Food

Heavy Metals In Pet Food

Minerals are naturally occurring inorganic elements that together make up the “ash” content of food – the material that remains after combustion. Minerals play many vital roles in the body, including involvement in numerous metabolic reactions, maintaining pH balance, functioning of the nervous system, muscle contraction, and providing structure for bones and teeth. Some minerals are nutritionally essential for the health of animals and have well-defined roles in the body. Other minerals are found in trace amounts in foods and body tissues, but do not play a known role in health.

Deficient or excessive intake of all minerals has the potential to negatively impact an animal.1 The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) reports minimum inclusion levels for minerals in dog and cat foods for calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, chloride, magnesium, iron, copper, manganese, zinc, iodine and selenium.2 Additional minerals that may provide benefits, but for which essentiality has not been determined, include cobalt, fluoride, molybdenum, sulfur, arsenic, boron, nickel, rubidium, silicon and vanadium.1 Maximum intake levels have only been set by AAFCO for calcium, phosphorus, iodine and selenium.2

Heavy metals are minerals with a high atomic weight and a density at least five times greater than water.3 They are naturally present in many foods and widely distributed in the environment due to their many uses in industry, agriculture, medicine and technology.3 Arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead and mercury are considered to be particularly important from a public health perspective because of their high degree of toxicity in people.3 The adverse effects of minerals depends on many factors, including the amount consumed, length of exposure, route of exposure, as well as the age, gender, genetics and nutritional status of the exposed animal.1,3 In fact, chromium, arsenic and nickel are suspected to be required in miniscule amounts in the diets of animals even though minimum intake levels have not been established. It is critical to provide nutrients within the optimal range of intake to ensure animal health. A diet devoid of a required mineral fed over a long time period could be as detrimental as a diet that contains excessive levels of the mineral.4

One of the challenges with determining safe upper limits of minerals for dogs and cats is the limited data that is available for these species. However, it is critically important to compare mineral levels in pet foods to the appropriate reference intakes values. A report published by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stated that it is incorrect to make a comparison of the trace mineral levels in pet foods to values set by the Environmental Protection Agency and the World Health Organization for people. Instead, the FDA stated that the suitable reference levels are those published by the National Research Council (NRC) Committee on Minerals and Toxic Substances in Diets and Water for Animals (MTSA Committee) in the Mineral Tolerance of Animals Second Revised Edition, 2005.1 The values reported by the MTSA Committee are based on results from studies in a wide variety of animals, including dogs and cats. Thus, these values are the most relevant available for comparison of the mineral levels found in animal diets.4

The MTSA Committee defines the maximum tolerable level (MTL) of a mineral as “the dietary level that, when fed for a defined period of time, will not impair animal health or performance”.1 The FDA provided recommendations for the appropriate MTL for heavy metals specifically for dogs and cats in the Target Animal Safety Review Memorandum.4 The MTL values are based on the information published by the NRC1 and adjusted if necessary for each mineral depending on the animal species for which the MTL was established. No correction or additional safety factor was applied to an MTL if data was available that was specific for dogs and cats (e.g. cadmium, mercury and lead), or if the tolerance was set based on data from mammalian species known to be particularly sensitive to the mineral (e.g. nickel and arsenic).4 For values based on data from species not known to be particularly sensitive to the heavy metal, the MTL was divided by 10 as a safety factor (e.g. chromium).4 The MTL values for arsenic, mercury, cadmium, chromium, nickel and lead are shown in Table 1.

At Petcurean, we approach the quality and safety of our pet foods with utmost care. As part of our quality assurance program, we test our ingredients prior to receiving them at the plant as well as testing finished products for both nutritionally essential minerals and potentially toxic heavy metals. This paper reviews the maximum tolerable levels of heavy metals (arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury and nickel) in relation to pet food and pet health, and report the results of our systematic testing of these metals in Petcurean foods as determined by an independent laboratory (Table 1).

Table 1. Average heavy metal content in Petcurean dry foods compared to the NRC/FDA maximum tolerable limit

Heavy metal Content in fooda (mean ± SD) NRC / FDA
Maximum Tolerable Limita,1,4
Arsenic (mg/kg) 0.43 ± 0.46 12.5
Cadmium (mg/kg) 0.1 ± 0.06 10
Chromium (mg/kg) 1.38 ± 0.8 10
Lead (mg/kg) 0.18 ± 0.12 10
Mercury (mg/kg) 0.01 ± 0.01 0.27
Nickel (mg/kg) 1.23 ± 0.44 50

Abbreviations: NRC, National Research Council; FDA, Food and Drug Administration; SD, standard deviation
aDry matter basis

Arsenic

Arsenic is generally considered to be a non-essential nutrient for animals, though it may provide benefits in ultra-low concentrations.1 Arsenic is found in over 200 different forms that vary widely in their degree of toxicity.

For dogs and cats, the FDA reported the MTL to be 12.5 mg/kg on a dry matter (DM) basis.4 In comparison, the MTL for domestic animals set by the MTSA Committee is 30 mg/kg DM.1 The average (± SD) arsenic content in a selection of Petcurean dry kibble foods as tested by an independent laboratory was found to be 0.39 ± 0.41 mg/kg on an as fed basis (0.43 ± 0.46 mg/kg DM or 3.4% of the MTL).

Cadmium

Cadmium is not considered an essential nutrient for animals, though studies in rodents, chickens and livestock have shown increased weight gain with the addition of low levels of cadmium to the diet.1 Absorption of cadmium by the intestines depends on the dose, with higher doses being absorbed more readily. Cadmium seems to increase its own bioavailability by disrupting the intestinal cell barrier. However, with chronic exposure, absorption of cadmium decreases due to the development of protective mechanisms.1

Chronic cadmium consumption in food or water affects almost all major organs, with the kidney and liver being the target organs for most animals.1 The toxicity of cadmium is affected by the nutritional and physiological state of the animal.1 Dogs fed cadmium chloride at concentrations of 1, 3, 10 and 30 mg/kg diet for three months were found to be clinically normal.5 Dogs have been shown to tolerate cadmium at a level of 10 mg/kg DM for eight years with no adverse effects, but 50 mg/kg DM over the same time period resulted in renal atrophy, renal tubule degeneration and diminished renal function.1

The MTL for cadmium for mammalian species was set by the MTSA Committee at 10 mg/kg DM,1 which is the same as the level reported by the FDA for dogs and cats.4 The average (± SD) cadmium content in a selection of Petcurean dry kibble foods as tested by an independent laboratory was found to be 0.09 ± 0.05 mg/kg as fed (0.1 ± 0.06 mg/kg DM or 1% of the MTL).

Chromium

Chromium has been recognized as an essential nutrient since the mid-twentieth century when it was recognized as being essential for glucose metabolism by increasing the effectiveness of insulin.1,6 Chromium deficiency in humans results in glucose intolerance, weight loss and disorders of the nervous system.1

Chromium is abundant in water and soil, though uptake by plants and absorption by animals is low.7 Most forms of chromium are poorly available, except for organically bound chromium which is better absorbed.7 Chromium toxicity is a concern in humans exposed to chromium in occupational and industrial settings.1

Dogs have a chromium requirement estimated to be less than 12 μg/kg body weight per day.6 Diabetic dogs treated with insulin showed no beneficial or harmful effects with supplementation of chromium picolinate at a dosage of 20-60 mg/kg/d.8 In obese and non-obese cats, supplementation with 100 μg/d chromium picolinate for six weeks was found to be safe, but had no effect on glucose tolerance.9 No definitive intake recommendations have been made for dogs or cats due to insufficient evidence.6

The MTL for mammalian species was reported by the NRC to be 100 mg chromium/kg DM from soluble sources such as chromium chloride.1,4 However, none of the species with an MTL were identified as being particularly sensitive to chromium and there was a lack of dog- or cat-specific data.4 Therefore, a safety factor of 10 was applied to the general mammalian MTL, resulting in a value of 10 mg chromium/kg DM for dogs and cats.4 The average (± SD) chromium content in a selection of Petcurean dry kibble foods was found to be 1.24 ± 0.72 mg/kg as fed (1.38 ± 0.8 mg/kg DM or 13.8% of the MTL).

Lead

Lead is a significant environmental pollutant with a high degree of toxicity and is not known to be essential for animals.1 The bioavailability of lead is affected by the chemical form, the level of other dietary constituents, and the age and physiological state of the animal.1 Lead acts as a toxin by interacting with body proteins and changing their function, inhibiting or mimicking the action of calcium, replacing zinc as a cofactor in enzymes, and inducing oxidative stress.

Animals can tolerate considerably higher daily lead exposure when it is consumed in the diet compared to when it is delivered in the water.1 Acute lead poisoning in dogs results in anorexia, salivation, vomiting and diarrhea accompanied by spasmodic colic.10 Death in dogs from acute exposure occurs at doses of 191 mg/kg body weight for lead acetate, 1300 mg/kg body weight for lead oxide and 1366 mg lead/kg body weight for lead sulphate.1 Dogs have been shown to tolerate 10 mg lead/kg diet without any changes in red blood cell production or kidney function.1 In a two year feeding study with dogs, lead at a concentration of 50 mg/kg diet was tolerated without hematological changes, though some changes were observed at dosages of 100 and 500 mg/kg diet.11

The MTL for mammalian species for lead was reported by the NRC to be 10 mg/kg DM,1 which as noted above, has been shown to be tolerated by dogs. The average (± SD) lead content in a selection of Petcurean dry kibble foods was found to be 0.16 ± 0.11 mg/kg as fed (0.18 ± 0.12 mg/kg DM or 1.8 % of the MTL).

Mercury

Mercury is not considered an essential element for animals.1 There are several forms of mercury in the environment, with organic and inorganic forms of mercury differing greatly in their potential to become toxic. Inorganic mercury is usually strongly bound and is less available for absorption by animals.1 However, bacteria can convert inorganic mercury to organic mercury (methylmercury), which can then enter the food chain. Methylmercury is more toxic than inorganic forms because its bioavailability is significantly greater.1 Animals accumulate organic mercury faster than they can eliminate it, so animals higher up in the food chain generally consume higher concentrations of mercury.1 Fish products are the primary dietary source of methylmercury, with long-lived predatory fish, such as swordfish and tuna, containing the highest levels.

Cats are more sensitive to methylmercury than most other animal species.4 The FDA reports an MTL of 0.267 mg/kg DM for organic mercury in non-reproducing cats. For reproducing cats, the MTL was calculated to be 0.067 mg/kg DM.4 The average (± SD) mercury content in a selection of Petcurean dry kibble foods was found to be 0.01 ± 0.01 mg/kg as fed (0.01 ± 0.02 mg/kg DM or 3.7% of the MTL).

Nickel

Nickel is generally not recognized as an essential mineral for animals, though it is essential for other forms of life such as bacteria and plants.1 Because most dog and cat foods contain some plant ingredients, they will contain varying amounts of nickel.1 It is estimated that less than 10% of ingested nickel is absorbed, and the small amount that is absorbed is excreted in the urine.1

Consuming high amounts of nickel (100 mg/kg diet) for extended time periods is needed in order to observe nickel toxicosis in animals.1 Nickel toxicity is generally not considered a concern for domestic animals, except for a few localized areas where industry has increased environmental nickel levels.1 Nickel toxicity symptoms are generally displayed as gastrointestinal irritation.6

The MTSA Committee set an MTL for nickel of 50 mg/kg DM based on data from sensitive species.1 However, dogs have been shown to tolerate diets containing 1,000 mg nickel sulphate per kg DM for two years without signs of adverse effects. The average (± SD) nickel content in a selection of Petcurean dry kibble foods was found to be 1.11 ± 0.40mg/kg as fed (1.23 ± 0.44 mg/kg DM or 2.5% of the MTL).

Summary

Nutrition is a balancing act to ensure adequate intake of all essential nutrients while preventing excesses. It can be just as detrimental to consume a diet with inadequate concentrations of a nutrient as it can be to have high intake levels. Minerals, including heavy metals, are naturally occurring elements in all foods – the key is controlling the levels in finished products to ensure correct amounts are present. The National Research Council and United States Food and Drug Administration have published recommendations for the maximum tolerable levels of many minerals, including heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury and nickel. The results of testing Petcurean dog and cat foods at an independent laboratory for heavy metals show that the average levels are well below the MTL for each metal, providing support for our goal of putting pets first in every decision we make.

This blog was originally published on October 12, 2017. Last revised November 2021.

 

References:

1. National Research Council. Committee on Minerals and Toxic Substances. Mineral Tolerance of Animals. 2nd ed. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press; 2005.
2. Association of American Feed Control Officials. 2017 Official Publication. Oxford, IN: Association of American Food Control Officials Inc.; 2017.
3. Tchounwou PB, Yedjou CG, Patlolla AK, Sutton DJ. Heavy Metals Toxicity and the Environment. EXS. 2012;101:133-164.
4. Food and Drug Administration. Target animal safety review memorandum. 2011; https://www.fda.gov/downloads/aboutfda/centersoffices/officeoffoods/cvm/cvmfoiaelectronicreadingroom/ucm274327.pdf. Accessed November 6, 2017.
5. Loeser E, Lorke D. Semichronic oral toxicity of cadmium. 2. Studies on dogs. Toxicology. 1977;7(2):225-232.
6. National Research Council. Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press; 2006.
7. Hand MS, Thatcher CD, Remillard RL, Roudebush P, Novotny BJ, eds. Small Animal Clinical Nutrition. 5th ed. Topeka, KS: Mark Morris Institute; 2010.
8. Schachter S, Nelson RW, Kirk CA. Oral chromium picolinate and control of glycemia in insulin-treated diabetic dogs. J. Vet. Intern. Med. 2001;15(4):379-384.
9. Cohn LA, Dodam JR, McCaw DL, Tate DJ. Effects of chromium supplementation on glucose tolerance in obese and nonobese cats. Am. J. Vet. Res. 1999;60(11):1360-1363.
10. Prescott CW. Clinical findings in dogs and cats with lead poisoning. Aust. Vet. J. 1983;60(9):270-271.
11. Azar A, Trochimowicz HJ, Maxfield ME, eds. Review of lead studies in animals carried out at Haskell Laboratory: Two year feeding study and response to hemorrhage study. Luxembourg: Commission of the European Communities; 1973. Barth D, Berlin A, Engel R, Recht P, Smeets J, eds.
April 17, 2022 — Pet Pantry
Warning Signs That Your Dog Has Food Sensitivities

Warning Signs That Your Dog Has Food Sensitivities

Food Sensitivities on Pets

Did you know that your dog may have been experiencing food sensitivities without you realizing it? With food intolerances in dogs seemingly on the rise, it is as important as ever for pet owners to be aware of the warning signs so they can find solutions for improving their pet’s dietary health.

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HERE ARE SOME OF THE COMMON WARNING SIGNS THAT YOUR DOG MAY BE STRUGGLING WITH ELEMENTS OF THEIR DIET:

  • Excessive paw licking or chewing, with paws often turning red as a result
  • Chronic or recurrent ear infections
  • Fur loss
  • Itching and rashes, especially around the dog’s face, feet, ears, forelegs, or armpits
  • Vomiting and diarrhea (which can develop over time, when feeding the same food, therefore should be closely monitored)

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If your dog is experiencing any of the above symptoms, it could be a sign that they have a food intolerance. Switching their food may be an option. GO!  SOLUTIONS SENSITIVITIES™ LIMITED INGREDIENT recipes are one option for dogs with food sensitivities and specific dietary needs. The recipes are carefully prepared using a single source of animal protein with all the nutrients your dog requires and as few ingredients as possible.

Knowing the warning signs is the first step towards understanding whether your dog is suffering from a food-related intolerance. Careful consideration of the food you feed your dog can help prevent unwanted food intolerances that can disrupt their digestive system.

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AUTHOR

Blog Author - Jennifer Adolphe

DR. JENNIFER ADOLPHE

PhD (Companion Animal Nutrition)

Dr. Jennifer Adolphe has a PhD in companion animal nutrition from the University of Saskatchewan. She previously completed a master’s degree in human nutrition and is the recipient of more than 20 awards and scholarships for her academic work. Wow!

 

April 05, 2022 — Pet Pantry
Cat Food Allergies and Intolerances

Cat Food Allergies and Intolerances

An adverse food reaction (AFR) is a catchall phrase that can be used to describe an inappropriate response to an ingredient found in a food, often a protein. In cats we see food intolerances and food allergies, with food allergies resulting in more severe symptoms. True cat food allergies involve an immune system response where the body attacks the offending agent (food) and sets off a storm of physical events.

Adverse food reactions can show up at any age, although the majority of cases first appear earlier in life. Many cats with diagnosed food allergies also have concurrent inhalant or contact allergies (e.g. flea bite allergies).

Symptoms

In cats, the symptoms of adverse food reactions are similar to those of environmental allergies and may include one or more of the following:

  • Itchy skin
  • Chronic or recurrent ear infections
  • Hair loss
  • Excessive scratching
  • Hot spots
  • Re-occurring skin infections (these many respond to antibiotics but return after they are discontinued)
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Vomiting and diarrhea are more indicative of a food intolerance while skin issues appear to only be seen in true food allergy cases in cats. If left untreated, a food intolerance in cats can progress to a food allergy and potentially to the development of irritable bowel disease.

Read More: Warning signs that your pet has food sensitivities

Diagnosis

Diagnosing an adverse food reaction can be challenging. Blood and skin-patch testing are available for a number of ingredients found in pet food, however these tests are for cat food allergies, not intolerances. Although the testing may show which ingredients do not produce a reaction, allergy testing can provide false positives, or an incorrect result.

The “gold standard” to diagnose an adverse food reaction is a food elimination-challenge trial. This trial consists of feeding a novel protein source, one that the cat has not eaten before, for at least 6-8 weeks.

GO! SENSITIVITIES Limited Ingredient Duck Recipe is an example of a diet that could be used in a food elimination trial as it includes all the nutrients that cats require with as few ingredients as possible. Regardless of the diet used, it must be the only thing the cat eats for the 6-8 weeks. This means no treats; absolutely nothing but the special food and water. When the 6-8 weeks is up, the ingredient that was thought to create a reaction would be re-introduced. If there is then an adverse reaction, an adverse food reaction diagnosis would be confirmed.

For many people, the “challenge” part of the food trial is not completed because once they find a food that works, there is a tendency to stick to that food. However, without the challenge, a diagnosis of adverse food reaction cannot be as definitive.

Finding out whether your cat is experiencing an adverse food reaction can be tricky, but taking the time and putting in the effort to find out can certainly help your cat lead a healthier and more comfortable life.

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March 27, 2022 — Pet Pantry
Novel Proteins in Cat Food

Novel Proteins in Cat Food

Proteins & Allergies

Protein is the component in food that is the primary cause for dietary intolerance. If your cat suffers from any of the below symptoms, they may be suffering from a food sensitivity to one of the typical types of protein used in cat food (think chicken, beef, etc.). Changing to novel proteins in cat food can help this. To help identify if your cat is experiencing food sensitivity issues, look for the following signs:

  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Loose stools
  • Itchy rashes
  • Chronic ear infections

Read More: Cat Food Allergies and Intolerances

What are Novel Proteins?

Novel proteins are proteins your cat has not eaten before, which greatly reduces the chance of an adverse reaction. In recent years, pet food companies have sourced an amazing array of novel meat proteins such as:

  • Duck
  • Turkey
  • Venison
  • Bison
  • Kangaroo
  • Rabbit
  • Quail
  • Ostrich

How Can Novel Proteins in Cat Food Help?

The introduction of a single source, novel animal protein diet, such as GO! SOLUTIONS™ SENSITIVITIES Limited Ingredient Duck Recipe, may help to alleviate your cat’s symptoms. Lamb used to be considered a novel protein source, but in the past twenty years or so it has become a common pet food ingredient. However, lamb may work for cats who have not been previously exposed to it.

Many pet owners confuse protein with meat, when in reality protein comes from plant-based ingredients as well. When different plant proteins are used in combination, they can be an excellent source of the essential amino acids cats require. Trying different sources of protein can help to determine whether your cat is reacting to meat proteins or those in the plant-based ingredients in his food.

After introducing a novel protein to your cat, allow enough time for him to adjust to it so you can see if the new protein is helping alleviate the symptoms.

Six or eight weeks is a good time span to be able to judge whether the new food agrees with your cat.

In some cases, your cat may also be reacting to an environmental allergen, and this can complicate the process to narrow down the cause of the problem.

Elimination Diets

For more complex issues, an elimination diet can help to try and figure out exactly what the sensitivity is. 

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March 21, 2022 — Pet Pantry
What is the Best Way to Transition Pets to New Foods?

What is the Best Way to Transition Pets to New Foods?

It’s important to slowly transition your pet to a new food so their system has a chance to adapt to the change. The transition period should be at minimum, ten days and could take upwards of two weeks, depending on your pet’s sensitivity to change:

  • Day 1 & 2: Feed 80% of your pet’s old food with 20% of the new food
  • Day 3 & 4: Feed 60% of your pet’s old food with 40% of the new food
  • Day 5 & 6: Feed 40% of your pet’s old food with 60% of the new food
  • Day 7, 8 & 9: Feed 20% of your pet’s old food with 80% of the new food
  • Day 10 & Forever: Feed 100% new food

If your pet experiences any kind of digestive upset during this time, try slowing down the process to let his/her digestive tract adjust to the new food. Some vomiting and/or diarrhea can be normal when introducing new foods as the digestive process and the naturally occurring bacteria your pet’s body requires is a complex and delicate system. If you experience any vomiting and/or diarrhea, be sure to reduce the amount of new food the next time you feed and overall, slow the whole transition period down even more.

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March 13, 2022 — Pet Pantry
Pancreatitis in Cats

Pancreatitis in Cats

Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas. Your cat’s pancreas serves two main functions: it produces enzymes to help digest food and it secretes insulin to help regulate blood sugar levels. When the pancreas is inflamed, these two main jobs are inhibited and the enzymes that are supposed to be digesting food actually start to attack the pancreas and can cause significant harm.

How serious is pancreatitis in cats?

This disease is very serious and can be life threatening. It can also cause lifelong complications due to subsequent disease. In fact, pancreatitis often runs concurrently with other diseases such as diabetes, hepatic lipidosis, and inflammatory bowel disease in cats. In some cats, recurrent bouts of pancreatitis may also occur (i.e., chronic pancreatitis).

How can I tell if my cat has pancreatitis?

Pancreatitis can be difficult to diagnose in cats as symptoms are often mild and easy to miss. The most common symptoms are lack of appetite and lethargy; in more severe cases vomiting and diarrhea may occur. If any of these symptoms appear, you should take a trip to the vet. Unfortunately, the cause of pancreatitis in cats is largely unknown which means that prevention is difficult to pinpoint.

What can I do?

Finding a diet for your cat with pancreatitis may require some trial and error. At this time, an ideal dietary option for cats with pancreatitis has not been determined.

Unlike in dogs where a reduced-fat diet is recommended, high fat foods are not usually implicated in causing pancreatitis in cats.

But, if your cat has been diagnosed with pancreatitis, there are a few different options that can be considered.

For cats with pancreatitis and concurrent diabetes, a reduced-carbohydrate diet may be recommended to help manage blood glucose levels. Although an ideal level of carbohydrates has not been definitively determined, we have several lower carbohydrate recipe options available. Our GO! CARNIVORE recipes for cats, particularly our GO! CARNIVORE Chicken, Turkey + Duck Recipe for cats, are lower carbohydrate options.

In frequent cases, inflammatory bowel disease is present or suspected alongside pancreatitis. In these cases, a novel or hydrolyzed protein recipe may be beneficial. This is because dietary allergens may play a role in both inflammatory bowel disease and pancreatitis. Our GO! SENSITIVITIES line for cats features recipes with single-source novel proteins such as duck.

If your cat has been diagnosed with pancreatitis, it can be a challenge to find a recipe that works best. We recommend working with your veterinarian to find the best option for your furry friend.

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March 06, 2022 — Pet Pantry
How To Create A Puppy Schdule

How To Create A Puppy Schdule

Life can be pretty chaotic at times – work schedules, family commitments and community activities can keep us on the run. Adding a new puppy to the mix can be both a joy and a challenge, but with a little forethought and planning the transition of your new addition to the household can go smoothly and with little disruption.

It’s a good idea to plan a routine for your new puppy prior to bringing them home so that they will feel secure and settle in more quickly. You can arrange the puppy’s schedule around your own lifestyle, to some extent, so don’t feel that this is an overwhelming task and leave it until the last minute (or even worse, until after you have actually brought your new puppy home).

THINGS TO CONSIDER

The requirements of a young puppy are greater than that of an older puppy or adult, so your planning needs to focus initially on the age of your new family member. Feeding, exercise, basic obedience and playtime all factor in to successfully raising any dog, but these factors and others are especially important in the case of puppies.

ESTABLISH A FEEDING ROUTINE

Young puppies need to be fed three or four times a day. You can establish a feeding schedule that fits in with your household routine, but it is best to try to stretch the meals out through the day and evening, so your puppy has an opportunity to digest his meal and obtain maximum benefit from his food. It’s a good idea to avoid feeding him just before bed, however, as he may need to go out to potty in the middle of the night. If you live on your own and work outside the home, you might find a puppy feeding schedule a bit of a challenge. However, there are many reputable people who offer dog walking services who might be able to help you with this aspect.

Puppies require high quality nourishment like the GO! SOLUTIONS CARNIVORE Grain Free Chicken, Turkey + Duck Puppy Recipe in order to grow up healthy, strong and mentally alert. This recipe comes in little kibble sizes with DHA and EPA to promote brain and eye development as well as premium proteins as the building blocks of life.

CRATE TRAINING

Crate training can be a life – and sanity – saver when you have a young puppy in the house. Although your puppy may protest initially, there are ways to make him happy and comfortable in a crate. As part of your feeding routine, you can feed him in his crate. Ensure that there is a comfortable bed or blanket in the crate and, in addition to feeding him there, shut him in with a toy stuffed with goodies. Dogs actually feel safe in their crates and come to consider them as their dens. Introducing them to the crate with thought and planning will make them happily accept being crated.

Begin crate training as soon as you bring your puppy home – it will give him safe haven and offer you a secure place to put him if you have to leave him unattended in the house. It will also assist with potty training, as most dogs are very clean animals and will avoid soiling any place that they are confined to.

POTTY TRAINING

This, obviously, is an integral part of having a happy puppy and a happy home. Young puppies, depending on their activity level, may need to eliminate every couple of hours. If they have been playing hard and drinking lots of water the frequency of elimination will be more.

With young puppies it is best to establish a routine that sees them put out to potty first thing in the morning, after each meal and last thing before bed. Many puppies will sleep right through the night if they are comfortable. Again, crate training can be a huge help with this process until your puppy is reliably house-trained.

PLAY TIME AND EXERCISE

All dogs need play time and exercise to keep them happy and healthy. This time spent with your puppy also helps to build a strong, loving bond between you - the key to any successful canine-human relationship.

Although there are no strict rules about when and where to exercise your puppy, it’s a good idea to get him out and about once his vaccinations are complete. This helps with socialization and confidence building and will assist in making him a good canine citizen.
Plan to share some form of exercise or play with your puppy at least once a day, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be at the same time. The important thing is to allow him to burn off some energy, have some fun and interact with you and the world at large.

OBEDIENCE TRAINING

Again, there can be some flexibility with this, but it is a good idea to start basic obedience training as soon as you bring your puppy home. Teaching simple commands such as sit, stay and a recall help to build that all-important bond as well as imprinting some basic manners and gentle discipline – both important factors in having a well-adjusted dog that is a pleasure to have in your life.
Simple obedience commands can be worked on any time, anywhere but it’s a good idea to start with the basics in an environment where your puppy will not be distracted.

FINALLY…

Many folks think that their lifestyle isn’t compatible with dog ownership. But our canine friends are very flexible and, with good planning on your part, can adapt to anything within reason. As long as you are willing to put the time and effort in to raising your puppy well and responsibly little else will matter.


AUTHOR

Shirley

SHIRLEY CULPIN

Dog Owner, Sitter + Trainer

Shirley has been involved with the purebred dog world for 45 years. Her Irish Setters have won many Best in Show awards, top obedience accolades, and advanced agility titles. She remains active in dog volunteer work and with her dog sitting service.

February 27, 2022 — Pet Pantry
Tips For The First Time Kitten Owners

Tips For The First Time Kitten Owners

Kittens are tiny, adorable, and playful. They have been known to soften the toughest of men, and melt ice cold hearts. If you have fallen in love with one of these magical creatures be comforted in knowing that they can be a wonderful addition to your family if you prepare yourself, and your home, for their arrival.

To Read more, click on the bold subject above... There are lots of useful tips on this article for your new kitten.

February 16, 2022 — Pet Pantry
Dietary Fiber in Pet Food

Dietary Fiber in Pet Food

Dietary fiber is the non-digestible portion of a food that contributes to digestive health and stool quality. Dietary fiber in pet food can have various beneficial effects on your pet, depending on their needs.

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Types of Fiber

There are two different types of fiber, soluble and insoluble.

Soluble fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like substance. Some examples of foods rich in soluble fiber include oats, barley, peas, psyllium, apples, and carrots. Soluble fibers are often fermentable which means that bacteria in the gut can use it as a source of energy. This helps to promote healthy gut immune function by supporting the growth of good bacteria (probiotics).

Insoluble fiber helps with the movement of material through the digestive system to help promote regularity. Insoluble fiber can also aid in the prevention of hairballs in cats. Excellent sources of insoluble fiber include whole wheat flour, wheat bran, potatoes, and nuts.

The Benefits of Fiber

Weight Loss

Although not digestible, fiber has many benefits in pet food. For weight loss diets, increased fiber can help promote satiety and decrease caloric density. Fiber is ‘bulky’, so it may help pets feel fuller for longer, making them less likely to beg for more food. Weight loss diets that include higher levels of fiber allow for the same volume to be fed compared to a regular diet, but fewer calories help to promote weight loss.

Some grains, such as barley and oats, contain a special type of soluble fiber called beta-glucan, which has been shown in numerous human studies to fight heart disease and diabetes. Beta-glucan may also be beneficial for pets to control blood glucose and prevent obesity.1

Digestive Aid

Both soluble and insoluble fiber are used in the treatment of digestive disorders such as constipation and diarrhea. Both the amount and type of fiber can affect the outcome. For example, for constipation, some pets respond to a reduced fiber diet while others respond better to increased fiber. Because each animal (and their gastrointestinal microbes) may react differently, trial and error is often necessary to determine the fiber needs of each individual pet. Trying diets with different fiber levels and fiber sources may be necessary to find the one that works best.

Reference

  1. de Godoy MR, Kerr KR, Fahey GC, Jr. Alternative dietary fiber sources in companion animal nutrition. Nutrients. 2013;5(8):3099-3117.

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February 09, 2022 — Pet Pantry
Vitamins are Essential in Pet Food

Vitamins are Essential in Pet Food

Vitamin supplementation is used in kibble and wet pet foods to ensure it contains all the nutrients required to sustain life. Without vitamin supplementation, a food may not meet the nutrient requirements of a pet.

Why are vitamins in pet food important?

Vitamins are essential nutrients that perform numerous different roles in the body. They are involved in everything from assisting with energy metabolism to fighting disease to supporting the production of red blood cells.

Your pet would not have healthy skin and a shiny coat without adequate intake of essential vitamins!

When formulating a recipe, it is important to ensure the food contains adequate amounts of vitamins, and also that they are not supplied in excess. There are two categories of vitamins: fat-soluble and water-soluble. The fat-soluble vitamins include vitamins A, D, E, and K. These are absorbed along with fats in the diet and can be stored in the body’s fatty tissues. Therefore, it is important not to oversupply fat soluble vitamins as levels can build up in the body tissues and lead to toxicity. The water-soluble vitamins include the B vitamins and vitamin C. These are not stored in the body and whatever is not used by the pet is excreted.

How are vitamins incorporated into pet food?

Vitamin supplements are usually added to pet food using a “premix”. Vitamin premixes are a mixture of all essential vitamins. Using a premix allows the vitamins to be mixed twice – once when the premix is made and again when the premix is added the food. Using small quantities of a premix helps to ensure vitamins are distributed evenly throughout the food, which helps ensure nutritional adequacy and safety of the recipes.

While the goal is to use nutrient-rich ingredients to minimize the need for supplementation, nutrition and food science tells that optimal nutrition cannot always be achieved by natural food sources alone, making supplementation of pet food necessary.

What purpose does each vitamin serve in my pet’s food?

Here is a list of the essential vitamins and their functions:

Fat-Soluble Vitamins

  • Vitamin A (vitamin A supplement, beta-carotene): essential for skin, coat, muscle, and nerve function. Beta-carotene is an antioxidant that plays an important role in vision and immunity. Dogs can convert beta-carotene to vitamin A, whereas cats cannot.
  • Vitamin D (vitamin D3 supplement): plays a vital role in bone health as it is essential for the metabolism of calcium and phosphorus. Unlike humans, pets are unable to produce sufficient vitamin D with sunlight exposure.
  • Vitamin E (vitamin E supplement): provides antioxidant and immune system support. Vitamin E works synergistically with selenium.
  • Vitamin K: found in leafy green vegetables, vitamin K plays an essential role in blood clotting.

Water-Soluble Vitamins

  • Thiamine (thiamin mononitrate): also known as vitamin B1, thiamine is essential for the brain and other organs.
  • Riboflavin:  also known as vitamin B2, riboflavin is essential for the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and protein to produce energy.
  • Niacin: also known as vitamin B3, niacin is involved in producing energy from carbohydrate, protein, and fat metabolism.
  • Pantothenic acid (d-calcium pantothenate): also known as vitamin B5, pantothenic acid is essential for making blood cells, and helps convert carbohydrates, fats, and proteins into energy.
  • Pyridoxine (pyridoxine hydrochloride): also known as vitamin B6, pyridoxine helps maintain the health of nerves, skin, and red blood cells. It also plays an important role in regulating blood glucose.
  • Biotin: also known as vitamin B7, biotin is essential for carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism. It also plays a role in supporting healthy skin, coat, and nails.
  • Folate (folic acid): also known as vitamin B9, folate plays a critical role in the production of new cells and DNA synthesis. It is also involved in the immune system and production of red and white blood cells.
  • Cobalamin (vitamin B12 supplement): also known as vitamin B12, cobalamin is essential for a healthy nervous system, brain function, formation and growth of blood cells, and intestinal health.
  • Vitamin C (L-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate): necessary for the growth, development and repair of body tissues. It is also involved in the formation of collagen and acts as an antioxidant in the body.
  • Choline (choline chloride): choline is not a true vitamin, but is an essential nutrient involved in functions that overlap with other B vitamins. Choline plays a role in fat metabolism and is also essential for building and maintaining cell structure and healthy skin.

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February 01, 2022 — Pet Pantry
Feeding Your Dog Kibble And Wet Food: How Much and How Often?

Feeding Your Dog Kibble And Wet Food: How Much and How Often?

When it comes to knowing how much kibble and wet food to feed our dogs, it can take a bit of trial and error. One of the most frequent questions we get asked is "how much do I feed my dog?" With all the different considerations of weight, activity level, age, and environment, that can be difficult to answer. However, we've compiled some of our top tips to help you decide how much to feed your canine companion.

CHECK YOUR DOG'S BODY CONDITION 

A good starting point is to figure out your dog's current body condition. A body score chart can easily do this to visibly check and see if your dog is average, overweight or underweight This chart will help you determine if your dog needs to gain, lose, or maintain their weight. Next, weigh your dog and record the number so that you can easily track if their weight changes.

If you feed your dog primarily dry food, check the package for the daily feeding guidelines for their weight, age, and activity level. If you wish to provide your loyal companion with a combination of dry and wet food, you should also check to see how much wet food would be required on a daily basis, because you will need to consider all of those calories. Remember, wet food is not as calorically dense as kibble simply because of the moisture levels.

Tip: The feeding guidelines on your dog's food package are listed for their weight and are reported in daily amounts. Once you have found the daily recommended quantities for your dog for each type of food, it's simple math to determine how much of each to feed!

HERE'S AN EXAMPLE:

Let's say you have a 30 lb reasonably active adult dog. You want to feed him a combination of GO! SOLUTIONS SKIN + COAT CARE Chicken Recipe With Grains dry food and GO! SOLUTIONS SKIN + COAT CARE Shredded Chicken Recipe With Grains wet food.

  • If you want to feed 50% kibble, 50% wet, use the feeding guidelines for each and provide half as much daily. In this example, you would feed ¾ cup of dry and 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 cartons of wet per day.

  • If you want to feed 75% kibble, 25% wet, use the feeding guidelines for each and calculate how much 75% would be for providing dry and 25% of the feeding guidelines for the wet food.

  • Adjust these amounts over time to achieve ideal body weight. In addition, we recommend weighing your pet's food for better accuracy.

Treats can add extra pounds to your dog if you aren't careful, so these should never add up to more than 10% of your dog's daily caloric intake.

Remember, paying attention to the feeding guidelines will give you a good idea of where to start. Once you see how these amounts affect your dog's body condition, you can easily adjust up or down to what works best. In the end, ensuring your dog has the proper amount of nutritional intake each day will be an ongoing balancing act. Like people, their weight and body condition will fluctuate with activity level, climate, and age. 

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AUTHOR

Val-Blog

VAL CULPIN

Customer Care Representative

Val has been with the Petcurean team since 2005 and in the dog game since 1978, when she got her first Golden Retriever. She’s been active as a breeder, conformation exhibitor, obedience exhibitor, agility and flyball enthusiast, just to name a few.

January 23, 2022 — Pet Pantry
Primal's Ultimate Guide To Digestive Support

Primal's Ultimate Guide To Digestive Support

 It’s estimated that approximately 14% of all veterinary visits are related to some sort of gastrointestinal distress. A healthy gut and a happy digestive system can absorb more nutrients into your pet’s body, meaning more energy and more of the macronutrients and micronutrients they need to live their best and happiest life!

May 22, 2020 — Pet Pantry