A walk through the food aisle at your local pet supply store is likely to have your head swimming. There are diets for puppies, large breed seniors, small breed puppies, and more. There is cat food, senior cat food, food for cats with sensitive stomachs, and food for cats who live indoors. There are even pet foods geared towards certain breeds.
Likely, you have found a diet that works well for your pet and have stuck with it. But do you need to change your pet food according to age? The answer isn’t always clear cut. Lucky for you (and your animals) our expert veterinarians at Rocklin Ranch Veterinary Hospital are happy to help you select the right food for your pet.
Importance of Pet Nutrition
This well-known phrase – you are what you eat – is actually quite accurate. A balanced diet is the foundation of good health in our pets.
A solid nutritional foundation is important in order to support:
Ideal body weight
Optimal function of the musculoskeletal system
Good endocrine function
Strong cardiovascular system
Normal digestive function
Balanced immune function
A pet with good nutritional care lives, on average, 2½ years longer than their counterparts fed a subpar diet. Your decisions matter tremendously in this area of pet care.
The Need to Change Pet Food According to Age
When choosing which diet to feed your pet, the choices are endless. There is good reason for the variety out there, though. Each pet has different nutritional needs. Just as a human newborn eats a diet that is different from a teenager’s, pets have different requirements as well.
You should choose your pet’s food by taking into account several factors, including caloric needs, health issues, and lifestyle. We often group pet foods into what are called life stages, making it logical that you may want to consider a change in pet food according to age.
Growth – An animal who is growing rapidly has very different needs than one who is maintaining an adult weight. Puppy and kitten foods often are more calorie-dense and protein-rich in order to accommodate a high metabolism. They typically have carefully calculated ratios of important minerals, such as calcium and phosphorus, to promote healthy growth. Needs for this type of food can vary, but most pets should be fed a puppy or kitten diet until around one year of age.
Adult maintenance – If you are feeding a puppy or kitten food, it is important to change pet food according to age as your pet enters maturity. In most cases, they no longer need the calories in a growth diet, and continuing to feed this may promote obesity. A good adult maintenance food provides a well-balanced nutritional profile for an adult pet.
Pregnant/nursing – An animal who is pregnant or nursing young needs lots of extra calories and nutrients to provide for her babies. A diet formulated for this will help the mother and little bundles of joy to thrive.
Senior – Most often diets labeled for senior pets have some changes from an adult maintenance diet. They are typically lower in calories to accommodate a more sedentary lifestyle. They are also usually a bit higher in fiber to promote healthy digestion and may contain additives like glucosamine for joint health (although, typically not in therapeutic concentrations).
Most pets need to change from a puppy or kitten food to an adult maintenance food as they enter adulthood. Thereafter, the waters become a bit more murky.
Not all pets need the changes provided by a senior diet. Some athletic animals may need a higher caloric concentration out of their diet. A good many more pets will need to transition to a pet food designed to address specific medical needs, such as food allergies, kidney disease, or gastrointestinal issues.
It is important to understand the right pet food according to age, and to be sure that your choice is the best one. Please let us know if you need help with this, as we love to talk nutrition with our pet parents!
There is a lot of information out there (especially online) about pet food, and much of it is misleading or incorrect. Your veterinarian is your best source for helping you dive into the world of pet nutrition, and to help you select an appropriate food for your pet.
Just like people, the importance of good nutrition for pets cannot be overstated. You know how great you feel when you make healthy choices with your diet, and our pets are no different. In fact, studies show that the right pet food can not only help your pet feel their best, it can actually lengthen their life! Amazing.
But again, how do you choose the right pet food for your pet? Pet foods must be nutritionally balanced and offer a complete source of a pet’s diet, and there are literally hundreds of options out there. Before you throw up your hands in confusion, here are some things you will want to consider.
Age, Activity, and Breed
Age – Age should always be a consideration when selecting a pet food. Puppies and kittens need extra protein to help their bodies grow and develop properly. Senior pets can benefit from a different ratio of fats, carbohydrates, and protein, since their energy needs begin to decline with age (though not always).
Activity – As mentioned above, some pets have different energy needs based on their lifestyle, and these should be taken into consideration when selecting a pet food.
Breed – Breed should also be a consideration. Large breed dogs have a different nutritional need than toy breeds, and some breeds can benefit from a diet that takes their genetic predispositions into account.
Manage Disease with Diet
All foods should contain these three elements: protein, fat, and carbohydrate. The ratios between these depend upon the overall health of your pet, something we can help you to assess. Some pets benefit from a different protein source if they are susceptible to allergies. Other pets may need a urinary/kidney support diet, or one that helps to manage their diabetes.
Whatever the health of your pet, you can be sure that we can assess them, and then work with you to select a diet that will help manage any health problems.
A Word About Raw Food for Your Pet
Raw diets have become popular in recent years. The common thought is that, since pets descended from wild animals, feeding them a raw diet is healthier and more “natural” than a commercially prepared diet. Unfortunately, the marketing wheel has spun this one to a pet’s disadvantage.
Veterinarians are concerned with raw diets, since it’s very hard to determine if there is the right ratio of nutrients, or even if all the necessary nutrients for good health are found at all in a raw diet. Adding to that, pathogenic bacteria that can easily make their way from a raw diet into your kitchen, your pet, and even your family, and it’s clear that raw diets are risky.
Cooking for your pet holds some of the same concerns. Without very specific knowledge and follow through, it’s tough for the home cook to deliver pet meals that are consistently nutritionally balanced and complete.
Treat Them Well
In addition to a nutritionally complete and balanced diet, make sure that whatever treats you are feeding enhance, rather than detract from, your pet’s health. Many treats on the market today are truly nothing but junk food for your pet. Ask us how to select a nutrient-rich treat for your pet, and make sure that your pet’s calorie intake is balanced when you treat them.
If all the above information still seems overwhelming, don’t despair. Rocklin Ranch Veterinary Hospital is here to help you navigate the world of pet food and nutrition, and we are excited to help your pet on the path to feeling great with the right diet. Call us today for a consultation on selecting the right food for your pet.
Treats make life a little sweeter for our four-legged friends, but too many calories and unhealthy ingredients can put a damper on their enjoyment. Here at Rocklin Ranch, we believe snacks should be both tasty and nutritious, which is why we’ve come up with a list of our favorite healthy pet treats!
Fresh and Simple
Raw fruits are naturally sweet and can make the perfect snack (in small amounts). While you should avoid grapes, raisins, and most citrus fruits, your pet can enjoy the following (peeled, cored, and de-seeded):
Likewise, many pets will enthusiastically eat lightly steamed or roasted vegetables (without salt or butter):
As the days heat up, pets can benefit from a cool treat. Any of the aforementioned fruits or vegetables can be frozen or pureed and poured into ice cube trays, popsicle molds, or single-serve yogurt cups. Dollops of thicker purees or cubed chicken or beef can be frozen on parchment-lined cookie sheets.
Healthy Pet Treats Galore
Offering your sweet pet a homemade snack can be quite satisfying, and the best part of preparing your own healthy pet treats is that you don’t have to be an amazing cook! The following recipes are easy to prepare and contain 5 ingredients or less:
Make sure all ingredients are safe for pets. Avoid chocolate, grapes/raisins, macadamia nuts, and the artificial sweetener Xylitol, as all of these are potential pet toxins. In regards to pets on prescription or restricted diets, you can even bake the canned food and make treats for them.
The Golden Rule
Over half of all U.S. pets are overweight or obese, making it more important than ever to consider the calorie content and portion sizes of our pets’ meals and treats. As a general rule, treats (even healthy ones) should not compose more than 10% of your pet’s daily diet.
Offering healthy snacks (in small amounts) that contain fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean meats and dairy products can add valuable nutrition while also keeping calories low to avoid weight gain.
As busy veterinary professionals, dedicated to constantly improving our skills, we take our jobs seriously. It is an honor and privilege to care for our community’s pets, and we strive everyday to make a difference in the lives of our furry patients. The best part? We have fun doing it!
We are committed to the highest level of veterinary professionalism. However, in order to maximize our efforts, the value of balance must be recognized. To truly work well together (and deliver the best possible care), we design opportunities to balance the serious nature of our workplace with a little folly, like our monthly Dress Up Day. And now, you get to play along with us!
Serious, Not Grim
Our veterinary hospital can be an exciting, and sometimes exhilarating, place to be. Many of the pets who come in to see us are happy about it. This, of course, makes us feel like our jobs are worthwhile. Just because our patients are happy doesn’t necessarily make our workplace a silly environment. On the contrary; we work even harder to ensure a pet’s wellness.
Feel at Ease
There is hard evidence that supports the value in an environment that allows an individual to feel at ease. In other words, happy staff members are great employees.
Because we want every professional here to feel at home, we created a monthly Dress Up Day to encourage a feeling of shared purpose and engagement among our staff.
Quirks and Personalities
To successfully build morale, we decided to pay close attention to the unique quirks and personalities of our staff members. Similar to having a “theme day” at summer camp, Dress Up Days offer wonderful opportunities to just be ourselves at work. Far from mandatory, these special days give people a chance to have a little fun, get creative, and feel more productive.
We Want to Share Dress Up Day with You
Dress Up Days are so satisfying, we want to share them with our clients. If you come into Rocklin Ranch Veterinary Hospital wearing a costume reflecting our theme, we’ll give you $5 off your pet’s service.
We’ve already enjoyed “Nerd Day”, but here’s a little sample of what you might see us wearing toward the end of every month this year:
Johnny Cash Day
Crazy Sock Day
Hawaiian Shirt Day
Favorite Band T-Shirt Day
Celebrity Look-Alike Day
For more fun, games, and savings, check on our coupons and promotions page, or feel free to call us anytime. We hope to see you on our next Dress Up Day!
When it’s cold, wet, and possibly slippery outside, it’s hard to muster any enthusiasm for daily jaunts around the block. It might not make that much difference to some dog owners, but reducing or restricting outside exercise can negatively affect a pup’s state of mind – and silhouette. Pet weight gain is common during the colder months, but now that spring has sprung, it’s time to address those love handles.
Setting an Example
Even when a pet is looking forward to a walk or run around the neighborhood, if it’s yucky outside, their needs quickly get the short end of the stick. A common sentiment among many dog owners is that if the weather is terrible, Fido can wait until tomorrow. But it’s not always the owners who decide not to dodge the raindrops. Oftentimes, dogs are just as easily swayed to stay on the couch or bed.
If you were to compare how much exercise your dog gets during the summer versus the winter, you’d probably see they get more time outside when the weather is warm, dry, and sunny. So how should dog owners combat the winter blues?
Stay committed to the routine. Keeping your dog on their schedule is critical to seasonal success. Meals must be at the same time every day, and top notch nutrition must remain on point.
Teach them it’s okay. If a dog learns that inclement weather is “bad,” they won’t ever want to go out in it. Sure, you might have muddy feet to contend with, but encouraging your dog to go out in all kinds of weather builds a resilient, easygoing pet.
Find the time. We’re all more tired during the winter, but giving in to seasonal malaise is a sure-fire way to trigger or contribute to pet weight gain. Plus, more physical exertion creates a happier, calmer pet.
Design a daily tail-wagging workout that’s sure to please your pup, such as extra special visits to new parks, trails, or walkways.
Keep them going strong every day with healthy treats and praise (remember, this is a bonding opportunity, too!).
Register for obedience training, and encourage new tricks or commands.
Create an agility course in your backyard or basement with jumps, tunnels, and balance beams.
Play hide-and-seek together (you hide treats or toys, they spend time searching).
Encourage the use of food puzzles at mealtimes to keep the mind going strong.
Find other pet owners and schedule visits to the park together or playdates.
If your pet can handle the stairs, encourage them to run up and down flights to retrieve toys.
Minimize Pet Weight Gain
Because of the harmful effects of even a few extra pounds, it’s critical to keep your pet at their optimal weight. Obesity, arthritis, diabetes, and breathing problems are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to pet weight gain.
As many pet owners in California may know, leptospirosis has become a problem over the past few years, with outbreaks occurring more frequently in the Western states. With spring in the air, we tend to see an uptick in cases of leptospirosis, giardia, and other illnesses that become problematic with increased temperatures and more rain. It’s also important to note that in areas where rodents are common, which is true of most places, we must be extra vigilant about leptospirosis.
Is Leptospirosis Caused by Wildlife?
Approximately 75% of emerging infectious diseases are considered zoonotic, meaning they can be transmitted between humans and animals. This increase in zoonoses is partially caused by our continuing globalization, as well as human population increase in areas where wildlife thrive. Wildlife in city centers will often adapt, therefore increasing exposure to people and pets. This is particularly true for coyotes, foxes, raccoons, and rodents.
Leptospirosis is caused by a spiral shaped bacteria called leptospira, which is spread through rodents and susceptible wildlife who become infected. However, it’s not relegated to wildlife alone; our dogs are also at great risk of developing leptospirosis and then potentially infecting us.
The bacteria thrive in humid, wet regions. Because they can also spread through dogs, any area exposed to infected urine (soil, shared water bowls, puddles, drain ditches, etc.) can become a breeding ground for an outbreak. In recent years, leptospirosis has been seen in areas frequented by dogs and rodents, such as parks, kennels, and daycares. Because rodents are reservoirs of the disease and rats and mice thrive in urban areas (especially in areas where citrus trees are grown), they can quickly proliferate, spreading the illness to dogs.
What is My Pet’s Risk?
Any unvaccinated animal is at risk for this disease that attacks the kidneys and liver. In fact, leptospirosis has been seen in many livestock and in household dogs. In very rare cases, cats can also become infected.
Dogs who spend time in natural areas and those who are exposed to parks and other places frequented by dogs are at greater risk.
Prevention and the Leptospirosis Vaccine
There are some steps you can take to help protect your pet from leptospirosis:
California has long led the way in the fight to legalize medical and recreational marijuana use, and other states are following suit. Proponents of the drug are understandably pleased by its growing acceptance in American culture, but the impact it’s had on our pets is far from positive.
At Rocklin Ranch Veterinary Hospital, the health and safety of your furry friends is our top priority. Pot and pets don’t mix, and it’s important for pet owners to be aware of the dangers of marijuana toxicity in dogs and cats.
Pot and Pets
Marijuana users attain the desired effects thanks to a compound in marijuana called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Because pets’ bodies are much smaller than ours, ingesting even a small amount of marijuana or marijuana-based products can cause a significant adverse reaction.
Marijuana consumption in pets should be considered a pet poisoning emergency. Give us a call or bring your pet in to see us immediately if your pet has been exposed to marijuana, or they are exhibiting any of the following signs of marijuana toxicity:
Glassy eyes/dilated pupils
Stumbling/loss of coordination
Urine incompetence/urine “dribbling”
Loss of appetite
Excitement or agitation (in about 25% of pets)
An Edible Fear
Ingestion of marijuana is the most common way pets are exposed to the drug. Marijuana-based edible items, such as butter, brownies, cookies, and candy, are of particular concern, as pets (especially dogs) are drawn to people food. Because many of these pot edibles contain other substances that can be poisonous to pets, such as chocolate, Xylitol, and nuts, they can present a double-whammy of toxicity.
If you are concerned that your pet may have come into contact with marijuana, please let us know right away. Helping your pet is our only concern. Withholding this important information can put your pet at risk by prolonging treatment, and it may create additional expense for you as we’d continue to perform testing in order to properly diagnose your pet.
When it comes to pets, marijuana and marijuana edibles should be treated like any potentially toxic substance and stored out of reach. Never leave remnants in an open trash container or compost bin where pets may come across it, and make sure any coats, bags, or purses of guests who enter your home are in a closet or on a hook. Marijuana smoking should also be done in a separate room from pets, in order to minimize their contact with secondhand smoke.
A healthy mouth is truly a healthy body for both pets and people. We (hopefully) brush our teeth every day and visit the dentist regularly for cleanings and checkups, but studies show that our pets aren’t getting the same treatment. According to the American Veterinary Dental College, most dogs and cats have some form of periodontal (gum) disease by the time they reach age three. Periodontal disease has been linked to a number of health challenges, including pain, tooth loss, and heart disease.
Preventing and treating gum disease is as crucial to your pet’s overall well-being as proper nutrition and exercise, and can even add years to their life. Your team at Rocklin Ranch Veterinary Hospital is committed to pet oral health, and we are here to help you get started on this important component of pet care.
What to Watch out For
Pets are wired to hide signs of pain or illness, making it easy to miss the symptoms of poor oral health. Give us a call right away if you notice any of these signs of periodontal disease:
A dedicated home and professional care routine is essential when it comes to improving and enhancing pet oral health. Follow our tips to give your pet’s pearly whites the attention and care they deserve:
Daily Brushing – Brushing your pet’s teeth every day is the single best way to keep your pet’s mouth in good shape. Use a pet friendly toothbrush and toothpaste (never use human toothpaste, as certain ingredients can be toxic to pets), and aim for a total of two minutes per day, brushing in a gentle, circular motion. Please don’t hesitate to ask your veterinarian for help if you are experiencing difficulties with pet tooth brushing.
Home inspection – Once per week, lift your pet’s lips and take a look inside the mouth for any irregularities. Note the condition of the teeth, gums, and soft tissues. This will help you get to know your pet’s mouth better and will alert you to any signs of trouble early on.
Proper diet – Providing your furry friend with the highest quality diet possible is key in proper pet oral health. Talk with your veterinarian about the right food for your pet and whether or not your pet could benefit from a prescription dental diet.
Dental products – Dental-specific chews or softened rawhides and the use of certain oral rinses can aid in keeping your pet’s teeth clean. Check the Veterinary Oral Health Council website for a list of products that are clinically shown to improve pet oral health.
By keeping up with your pet’s regular wellness exams and committing to good home care, there’s no reason why you can’t keep your pet’s mouth healthy for years to come. Please give us a call with your questions or to schedule an appointment for your pet.
As the winter months come to a close, we look ahead to the coming spring. Uh-oh. It’s that dreaded time when the shorts and swimsuits come out, and many of us will be back out the gym, aspiring for that bikini body and working on our fitness goals.
Along with your own exercise plans, you may also begin to wonder about your couch potato cat or pup. Should they be getting more exercise? What’s enough? What’s too much?
While your gerbil may not need to do pushups and your cat doesn’t need to jog 5 miles a day, every pet is built to move their bodies. When exercise is neglected, health and behavior can be affected negatively.
It may be easy to assume that pet exercise always centers on our dog companions, but what about other animals? Indoor kitties require a lot of help in the way of exercise and enrichment, so allocating 30 minutes to playing with your cat each day is imperative. Even small mammals and exotics, like hamsters, guinea pigs, and birds, need toys and opportunities to move and practice their innate physical behaviors.
With dogs, there’s no denying that breed definitely influences how much exercise a pet will need. High-energy breeds that require more exercise and play each day include:
Jack russell terrier
It’s important to note that many small dogs, like terriers, need exercise – sometimes more than what we assume. Similarly, dogs who need less, like basset hounds, may need some prompting to get the necessary amount of exercise each day to stay healthy.
Exercise Needs Change With Age
The amount and quality of exercise changes with age. Also with age comes secondary conditions like arthritis or hip dysplasia. Even with orthopedic issues or other health challenges, your pet should still receive appropriate forms of daily exercise. This may include a gentle walk, swimming in a warm pool, or basic exercises focused on mobility and muscle strength.
Even in elderly pets, the risk of behavioral problems and obesity points to the need for daily exercise and enrichment. A great way to think outside the box (or the bowl) is to switch your pet to a challenging puzzle or game that dispenses meals, as well as soft chew toys designed for added engagement.
How Much Exercise Does a Pet Really Need?
Ultimately, this question cannot be answered by one or two factors alone. In fact, each pet is unique and requires different levels and forms of exercise to be at their behavioral and physical best. A good rule of thumb is to allow your pet to guide their own exercise needs by observing their reaction to different forms of exercise. A good 20-30 minutes of walking or playtime can go a long way!
For your cat and small pet friends, the use of wheels, climbing accessories, hiding places, and other great additions can make for exceptional indoor recreation.
When considering the smallest of foes (namely those itchy parasites like fleas) there’s good reason why they’re so mighty. They can proliferate and cause an infestation in the home that affects both us and our pets. For anyone who’s ever dealt with an infestation, avoiding a repeat episode is a must.
Although small, many parasites can cause a serious impact on the health of our furry friends. Fleas, ticks, and other parasites aren’t just a seasonal affair; they continue to thrive throughout the winter months. To learn more about why your-round parasite prevention is vital to your pet’s health, the team at Rocklin Ranch Veterinary Hospital is here to explain.
No Vacays for Itchies
For many people, the idea that fleas and ticks go dormant once the summer is over is a misconception. Even in places that experience cold weather and snow, many of these parasites are able to thrive; it only takes a few days with temperatures over 50 degrees for parasites to survive.
Even when temperatures are unusually cold, these insects can make their way inside our homes. Many fleas will continue to thrive and reproduce indoors, no matter what time of year. In fact, a single parasite can produce 4,000 eggs in its lifetime. Unfortunately, it takes only a few fleas hitchhiking their way into your home to cause an infestation that can be costly and time-consuming.
Wildlife can also harbor fleas and ticks and are much more adapted to urban environments these days. This makes coming into contact with the illnesses and parasites they carry much more likely.
More Than Annoying: Vector-Borne Disease
Like many parasites, fleas and ticks carry diseases that can be transmitted between animals and humans (zoonotic illnesses). Examples include:
Cat scratch disease
Rocky Mountain spotted fever
Steps to Year-Round Parasite Prevention
Given the zoonotic risk, as well as the troublesome impact of infestation, your easiest and best approach to combating these creepy crawlies is through prevention.
If your pet is not currently on a flea and tick preventive, be sure to schedule an appointment. We can help determine the right parasite control for your four-legged friend.
Maintain good grooming habits, such as daily brushing, bathing, and professional grooming, which can help identify the presence of fleas or ticks.
Keep your pet on their routine preventive. Do not lapse or skip a month.
Check your pet’s skin after coming in from the outdoors, especially after visiting a park or natural area.
Discourage wildlife from your yard and home by keeping trash bins in the garage and cutting back weeds and tall grasses.
Would you like to learn more about flea and tick preventives or have other questions about parasite prevention? Please call the team at Rocklin Ranch for more information. We’re your first line of defense in the fight against these parasitic foes!