Dog and Cat Food Allergies. What’s the Culprit?

What is a Cat or Dog Food Allergy?

A food allergy is an adverse immunological response to a specific ingredient in your pet’s food. Tell tale symptoms usually include patches of reddened itchy skin – particularly around the belly and groin area, under the armpits, smelly ears and skin and in a percentage of cases, bowel irritations.

Food allergies can develop at any time and can affect pets of all ages and breeds, even if your pet has eaten the same foods for years without any adverse reactions.

How is a Food Allergy Diagnosed?

There is a test available that can differentiate between a food sensitivity and a food allergy in dogs and cats. The only other way to find out whether your dog is reacting to an ingredient in their food is to conduct a food elimination trial.

People often assume that the offending allergen (allergy causing ingredient) has to be a grain such as corn or wheat but this isn’t always true. It can also be it a reaction to a specific protein found in meats such as chicken or beef.

Will Switching Pet Food Brands Help?

No. Simply switching from one pet food brand to another won’t work as they often share common ingredients. For example – if your pet becomes allergic to the specific protein found in chicken then any food brands containing chicken must be avoided.

Also – labels on commercially prepared foods can be confusing. Products could contain offending allergens which may not be clearly indicated on the product packaging.

How Does a Food elimination Trial Work?

A food elimination diet involve feeding your pet food which contains only ONE meat protein and a single carbohydrate source which your pet has not been previously exposed to.

Less common meat proteins found in commercially prepared pet foods include Duck, Fish, Rabbit and sometimes Lamb. Similarly, the carbohydrate should also be new to your pet’s diet and could include carbs like peas, brown rice or potato. Of course all artificial preservatives, colourings and flavourings must also be avoided during a food elimination trial.

This means strictly – no commercial treats or flavoured medications such as heartworm or worming chews are to be given during the trial period.

You can prepare your pet’s own special diet at home using select ingredients or buy a commercial diet which is specifically formulated for this purpose.

How long Does a Food Trial Last?

Food trials are generally run over an 8 – 12 week period during which time all other potential allergens must be avoided.

If your pet’s symptoms settle down over the course of the food trial then it’s most likely that it is a specific allergen in her food which is causing the adverse symptoms.

After the symptoms have settled you can try to slowly add ONE additional ingredient to the diet at a time and observe whether your pet reacts to it. If the symptoms reappear then it’s clear that this is an offending allergen. If not, we can assume it’s safe to be included in the diet.

This process is then repeated if you wish to test the tolerance of other meat proteins and grains. But remember – introduce just ONE of these at a time.

Can Cats get Food Allergies?

Yes cats can also develop food allergies with skin lesions most commonly appearing on their face although other parts of the body can also be affected.

What Should I do if I Think my Pet has a Food Allergy?

The first thing to do is have your pet examined by your vet to rule out possible other causes of your pet’s symptoms. It’s always important to avoid jumping to conclusions about any symptoms your pet may have as many conditions can share similar observable clinical signs.

Arthritis in Pets. Some of the Options Available

Arthritis and Quality of Life. Yes, Your Pet can have Both.

We all know arthritis is a debilitating and painful disease and it’s likely at least one person amongst your circle of friends or relatives suffers from this condition.

We also know that animals are not immune from this disease.

There are different types of arthritis that occur in both people and animals however the most common form is usually Osteoarthritis which is also the most common cause of lameness in dogs.

It is caused by the deterioration of joint cartilage, the smooth tissue which lines the bones allowing them to move freely.

Any damage to this cartilage leads to increased friction between the bones and inflammation within the affected joints causing pain with every movement.

Without intervention of some kind, the erosion of the cartilage continues until the situation arises where bone is literally rubbing on bone.Ouch! In addition new bony growths can form within the joints which interfere with joint movement causing additional pain and restriction of movement.

Little wonder pets with arthritis are reluctant to move about or play. Every step causes them pain.

Help is Available

The aim of any Osteoarthritis treatment is to eliminate the uderlying cause such as in the case of a joint injury or abnormality – often through surgery, improve joint function, reduce pain and inflammation and slow down any further destructive processes.

Treatment can also include both drug and physical therapy.

In the initial stages of the disease good quality nutritional supplements such as Omega 3 Fatty Acid and Glucosamine – Chondroitin supplements can help reduce inflammation and maintain lubrication of the joints but once the disease has progessed, supplements alone will no longer be effective in managing the pain or joint integrity. A more intensive treatment program is needed.

Other treatment options (depending on the cause of the problem) may include Stem Vet injection, Cartrophen injections, Medications, Laser Therapy, Stem Cell Therapy, Physical therapy or a combination of these.

In any case. Osteoarthritis need not mean your pet needs to endure unecessary pain or have reduced quality of life. We have been able to help many patients – young and old manage the pain of creaky joints and aching bones and become more like their former selves.

Arthritis treatments have come along way over the last few years so see your vet to discuss the ones most suitable for your four legged friend.

How to Estimate Your Horse’s Weight

Determining Horse Body Weight

Horse weight measureWhile scales are certainly the most accurate way to measure your horse’s body weight, we know that’s not always possible.

But because there is a need for determining a horse’s weight for the purpose of medications, feeding and so on, researchers have come up with a formula to estimate your horse’s weight using some simple body measurements.

Girth Weigh Tapes

Some of you may already be using weigh tapes which are available through most feed stores. With these you simply place the tape around the girth of the horse and read off the corresponding weight estimate from the relevant point on the tape.

While this method works reasonable well, it does however not take into account the length of the horse. The weight of a horse with a long body length for example may be underestimated using this approach.

A Better Formula

The formula researchers have come up with takes both girth circumference and body length into account and to apply this formula, all you need to use is a normal measuring tape.

To measure the girth – place the tape measure over your horse’s back just behind the withers and loop it round just behind the point of the elbow and back up to the top. The tape should be firm but not tight.

Record the length in centimetres.

To measure your horse’s length – place the tape at the point of the shoulder and take it along the side and up to most protruding end of the body – just under the tail. The tape should form a firm straight line from point to point.

Measure this distance in centimetres

Now that you ahve these two meausrements, just place them in the simple formula:

 (Girth cm) x (Girth cm) x (Body length cm) = Weight (kg)

Let’s say your girth measurement is 158cm and the length is 196cm, using this formula, the maths would be:

 158 x 158 x 196  = 408kg

Do keep in mind – this method still only gives you an estimated weight but it is still better than a guess.

So, next time you need to worm or medicate your horse use this simple formula to make sure you’re giving the correct dose for your horse’s weight.

Ref: the “Determining Body Weight and Ideal Condition”