CRITTER CHATTER: “Tis the Season to be Jolly and Joyous”

The Halloween costumes are put away along with all the candy (unfortunately), and I am already loosening my belt in anticipation of a Thanksgiving Day feast. So it seems only logical to begin to prepare for a safe and sane December holiday season with your pets.

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Don’t let urine burn spots on your lawn burn you up!

Many of us work hard to keep a nice healthy lawn, and it can be really frustrating when letting our pets enjoy the yard can result in burned spots. If you have dogs, especially large female dogs, then you probably have had to deal with yellow or dead spots in your lawn that are created by their urine. It’s worse with female dogs, because they typically have stronger urine than males, and they tend to like to squat in the same spots, though yellow spots often occur with male dogs, too. (Life note: male dogs just lift a leg wherever they are at the moment, but the ladies try to remain a bit more organized in their elimination rituals.)

Your dog’s urine is highly acidic and can kill the grass it comes in contact with. This is similar to burning a lawn with too much fertilizer. One way to combat urine burn is to train your dog to do his business in one area of the yard that has been designated as his personal bathroom. It’s a good idea to segregate the bathroom spot with river pebbles, sand or even artificial turf. This way, you can clean it up easily, and the dog comes to know that that enclosed area is his potty. This can help when you travel and have to use small designated dog toileting spaces at rest areas. Since you’ve trained the dog not to pee in the house you may find that teaching him or her to potty in a specific area isjust another step along those same lines.

You can also take advantage of  products like Lawn Saver®, which is produced by 21st Century, that help to counteract the effects of dog urine on lawns. Lawn Saver helps you maintain a nice green lawn where your dogs live and play by reducing those ugly yellow spots caused by pet urine.

 

Making Sense of Pet Supplement Warning Labels

Ever stood in the isle of your favorite pet product store holding a bottle of pet supplements and scratching your head over the warnings on the back? Sometimes it can be hard to understand what pet supplement warnings mean, especially when some of  caution statements seem to create more questions than they answer. A couple of examples might include, “Do not feed to cattle or other ruminants,” or “This product should not be given to animals intended for human consumption.”

The second one always gets people worrying if the contents are safe for their pet. This is actually a statement required by the FDA for products intended to be fed to pets. You may remember the BSE (Mad Cow) scare in recent years. BSE is the reason for this caution statement. What these statements mean is that the product contained within is not to be used on any animal that is ultimately going to be rendered for human consumption. This includes cattle, pigs, buffalo, sheep, goats, deer, elk, etc. The FDA definition of a ruminant animal is that it is any member of the order of animals that has a stomach with four chambers. If manufacturers of these types of pet products do not list this statement on their bottles, they could actually be in violation of the FDA regulation. It really depends on the specific ingredient contained as to whether such statements are required or not.

When in doubt it makes sense to spend a bit of time on the Internet researching a product and the warning label on it before you make your purchase.

 

Your Dog’s Skin and Coat

The Essentials of a Dog’s Healthy Coat
What a dog looks like on the outside is likely an indication of what is going on in the inside. If a dog’s coat is matted, dull or has an unkempt appearance, chances are that the animal needs more essential fatty acids (EFAs) in its diet, according to a study appearing in the June 1 issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA). The study indicates that EFAs such as omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids play a critical role in the health of a dog’s skin and coat and also contribute to the animal’s overall good health.

Pet owners are cautioned, however, that more is not necessarily better for healthy dogs. Only dogs with skin and coat problems that have been diagnosed by a veterinarian should receive essential fatty acid supplements like linseed oil or sunflower oil. “Pet foods are manufactured to maintain the health of healthy pets and already contain adequate essential fatty acids,” says Dr. John Bauer, a professor of clinical nutrition at Texas A&M University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and one of the study’s authors. But some pets may need more EFAs in their diet from time to time.

Reputable commercial dog foods typically contain enough nutrients, including essential fatty acids, to maintain healthy skin and a shiny coat, says Floridaveterinarian Dawn Logas, DVM, a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Dermatology. In contrast, dogs on low-quality commercial dog foods or improperly balanced homemade diets—for instance, a dog that eats mostly chicken—may not get enough nutrients to keep a healthy skin and coat.

“The best example is how a dog with dry, maybe scaly skin would benefit from having some additional oil containing EFAs added to its diet,” Dr. Bauer says. “Pet owners should not self-medicate. A veterinarian should recommend an appropriate amount of oil to be added to the diet.” The body cannot make essential fatty acids, so they must be added through diet. Dr. Bauer and his colleagues fed dogs with skin and coat problems dry pet food mixed with higher amounts of linseed or sunflower oil and noticed improvements in about 28 days. The most noticeable improvements were seen at about seven weeks. “At seven weeks, you could look at the dog and say, ‘I can readily see how his coat has improved,'” Dr. Bauer said.

The AVMA and its more than 75,000 member veterinarians are engaged in a wide variety of activities dedicated to advancing the science and art of animal, human and public health. Visit the AVMA Web site at www.avma.org for more information.

 

Making Sense of Pet Vitamin Warning Labels

Have you ever noticed the various warning labels on pet supplements, but really didn’t understand what they mean? Some of these caution statements or warnings seem to create more questions than they answer. Let’s address a couple of them for you now.

“Do not feed to cattle or other ruminants” or “This product should not be given to animals intended for human consumption.”
This one always gets people going. This is actually a statement required by the FDA for products intended to be fed to pets. You may remember the BSE (Mad Cow) scare in recent years. BSE is the reason for this caution statement. What these statements mean is that the product contained within is not to be used on any animal that is ultimately going to be rendered for human consumption. This includes cattle, pigs, buffalo, sheep, goats, deer, elk, etc. The FDA definition of a ruminant animal is that it is any member of the order of animals that has a stomach with four chambers. If manufacturers of these types of pet products do not list this statement on their bottles, they could actually be in violation of the FDA regulation. It really depends on the specific ingredient contained as to whether the statement is required or not. Are there other examples you’ve come across that don’t seem to make sense to you? Let us know and we’ll try to address them for you.