Giving your pet human food items like chips, ghee, and noodles will do a lot of harm. Don’t fall in the trap of their puppy eyes. Give them nutritious food.
–by Sonya Kochhar Apicella
It is only recommended to feed good quality balanced nutritious diet to our pooches. The pet parents of our guests come up with the following requests. Say ‘No’ to human food.
Here is a food chart for a Pug who eats one slice of bread in the morning, two rotis (with desi ghee) dipped in milk and he is hand fed along with one boiled egg cut into small pieces. He is then given biscuits in the afternoon and dog food and one roti dipped in milk in the evening. Next a GSD who has his meal chart of five slices of breads soaked in milk in the morning, followed by one boiled egg in the afternoon and in the evening, he eats two bread slices with Maggie noodles, chicken salami and chicken soup. And you thought soupy noodles are only your comfort food. Another GSD eats four cups of dog food with one raw egg. She drinks diluted water with milk mixed as GSD doesn’t drink plain water! Here comes a Cocker Spaniel whose meal chart includes Dog food with roti, boiled egg with rice, cheese, cream and plain biscuits, and Lay’s chips as snacks. Now we know why Lay’s says no one can eat just once. Even our canine buddies love munching on chips (which is a big ‘NO’!’ In the meal chart of a Beagle, her pet parents feed her roti with white butter, vanilla ice-cream with dog food, paneer/cottage cheese, buttermilk, mango and roti or boiled potatoes, three to four times a day. And an Indian mix gets to eat boneless chicken soup with salt and ginger garlic paste, mixed with rice, twice daily. Two mongrels have an elaborate meal chart that includes home cooked paranthas with butter, raw eggs, paneer, milk, chicken. All this is fed twice a day. Spoiling them with he althy treats is okay, but not every day. You’d be doing more harm to your pet and it’ll only have detrimental effects on their health. Instead you can add a extra spoon of love to their food bowl!
(Sonya Kochhar Apicella is director at Canine Elite in New Delhi, a pet service company specialised in day boarding, training, grooming and adoption. For more info, log on to: www.canineelite.com).
The most visible aspect of a pet’s health is the condition of his coat and skin which represents most visible signs of wellbeing and vitality.
The skin is a large, metabolically active organ system that serves to protect the body from injury and infection, aid in temperature control and immunoregulation, and act as a storage reservoir for certain nutrients. The coat also plays an extremely important communication role in the bond between pets and their pet parents. Good nutrition is essential to normal skin health. Dietary factors may play a role in the etiology and therapy of skin disease in three arenas, i.e., nutrient deficiency or imbalance, nutritional supplementation for therapeutic effect and dietary sensitivity. The most common nutrients deficiencies of which affect skin and coat include proteins, essential fatty acids, certain vitamins and minerals.
Causes of nutritional deficiency…
Many factors like heredity, gastrointestinal parasites, ectoparasites, health status, grooming, hormonal disturbances, physical or chemical trauma, sequel to metabolic or functional disorders and nutrition play important role in determination of skin condition in dogs. Feeding of pet dogs in many western countries is managed chiefly through proprietary food which is complete and balanced to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles suggested for dogs. As a result, the occurrence of nutrient deficiencies is rare. However, in India most of the pet parents depend upon homemade food to feed their dogs who are usually restricted to a few components. Thus, nutrient imbalances can occur due to feeding of poorly formulated or improperly stored commercial food, imbalanced homemade diet or as a sequel to metabolic or functional disorders that affect the ability to digest, absorb, or use nutrients. Food allergy or hypersensitivity may also be one of the causes.
Symptoms of nutritional deficiency…
The prevalent nutritional deficiency symptom includes inflammation of skin also known as dermatitis, itching, alopecia, lusterless hair and coat, scaly skin, etc. Although many nutrient deficiencies may be associated with skin disorders, most produce a similar range of clinical signs. In most cases, the skin develops seborrhea, which is characterised by abnormalities in sebum production and/or keratinisation. Typical signs of a nutritional dermatitis include excessive scale, erythema, alopecia or poor hair growth and greasy skin, which may be accompanied by secondary bacterial infection and pruritus. It is generally accepted that signs become evident only after feeding deficient diets for several months.
Nutrients for dog’s skin…
Protein: Both hair growth and skin keratinisation create a high demand for protein. About 25-30 percent of a pet’s daily protein requirement is needed for maintenance of skin health. Hair is composed of ~95 percent protein, which is rich in the sulfur-containing amino acids, methionine and cystine. Primary protein deficiencies are most likely to occur when requirements are increased as in young, growing animals and in pregnant or lactating females. Poorly formulated diet leads to protein deficiency which is evident by cutaneous lesions with hyper pigmentation of epidermis, colourless hair, impaired hair growth, delayed wound healing, excessive scaling, hyperkeratosis, flaky skin, and increased hair breakage. Sub-optimal protein intake can decrease hair or wool production and decrease fiber diameter, length and breaking strength. Dietary correction involves supplementation with high quality protein sources, such as meat, eggs and milk.
Essential fatty acids: The palatability of canine food depends on its fat content. Also fat provides energy and essential fatty acids. Linoleic acid is an omega-6 (n-6) fatty acid that has been shown to be a dietary EFA for dogs. An EFA deficiency affects many systems of the body. Because of the high rate of cell turnover in the skin, the integument and hair coat often show the first obvious signs of deficiency. A dry, dull coat is produced, hair easily breaks off and sheds, and skin lesions develop. Over time, the skin becomes pruritic, greasy, and susceptible to infection. Generalised flaky desquamation, coarse, lusterless haircoats or alopecia, and pruritus are among the changes seen with essential fatty acid deficiency. Dogs are unable to synthesise linoleic acid; thus, a dietary source is essential.
Vitamins: Vitamins are the essential dietary components required in very small amount for various physiological and metabolic processes in the body. The vitamin requirements are usually met through properly balanced diet or by provision of micronutrient supplements. However, inadequate and imbalanced diet may lead to predisposition for various deficiency diseases. Deficiency of vitamin A and B-complex predisposes manifestation of a variety of cutaneous lesions.
Vitamin A (retinol and its derivatives) has many physiologic functions and is involved in the regulation of cellular growth and differentiation, essential to maintain the integrity of epithelial tissues. Vitamin A is detrimental; if in excess or deficient shows lesions of hyperkeratinisation and scaling, alopecia, poor hair coat and increased susceptibility to microbial infections hence also known as anti-infectious factor. Cocker Spaniels, Standard Poodles, Akitas, Chow-Chows and Vizslas are more susceptible for vitamin A related skin diseases. The B-complex vitamins are necessary cofactors in numerous metabolic pathways, and so deficiencies affect many body systems, including the skin and hair coat. Deficiencies may occur, nevertheless, after prolonged oral antibiosis, anorexia or when water loss is increased as in polyuric conditions or enteritis. Occasionally, deficiencies of individual B-group vitamins arise as a result of interaction with other dietary
In general, skin lesions associated with deficiencies of B-group vitamins include dry, flaky seborrhea and alopecia. Nonspecific signs of deficiency include weight loss, anorexia, alopecia, and the development of a dry, flaky seborrhea. Biotin deficiency produces a characteristic alopecia around the face and eyes with crusting in severe cases. This condition may occur in the unusual circumstance of feeding large amounts of raw egg whites which contain avidin, a protein that binds biotin and prevents its gastrointestinal absorption. Riboflavin deficiency can cause a dry flaky dermatitis with reddening of the skin and hair loss, also produces cheilosis in addition to seborrhea but will not occur if the diet contains meat or dairy products. Pantothenic acid deficiency can lead to loss of hair pigment and hair. Niacin deficiency is possible only when the diet is low in animal protein and high in corn or other cereals that are a poor source of tryptophan. Vitamin A deficiency results in pellagra (humans) or ‘black tongue’ (dogs) with ulceration of mucous membranes, diarrhoea and emaciation and, occasionally, in a pruritic dermatitis of the hind legs and ventral abdomen. Pyridoxine deficiency may cause a dull, waxy, unkempt coat with fine scales and patchy alopecia but has been reproduced only in experimental studies.
Minerals:The most common minerals responsible for skin and coat health include copper, zinc, manganese, iodine and selenium. Zinc plays a critical role in regulating many aspects of cellular metabolism, a number of which are concerned with the maintenance of a healthy coat and skin. Zinc is a component of a number of metalloenzymes that are necessary for normal lipid, protein, and nucleic acid metabolism. A supply of dietary zinc is needed for the maintenance of epidermal integrity, biosynthesis of fatty acids, metabolism of vitamin A, and maintenance of immunological function. Because rapidly reproducing tissues have a high demand for this mineral, signs of deficiency are seen in the skin and hair coat. Skin lesions are usually seen on the face, over pressure points, and on the footpads. Affected areas are characterised by hair loss, redness, inflammation, crusting, and pruritus. In the adult, signs of zinc deficiency are confined mainly to the skin, but these may be accompanied by growth and other abnormalities in young animals. Cutaneous signs are characterised by focal areas of erythema, alopecia, crust and scale, which develop symmetrically around the extremities, mucocutaneous junctions and pressure points of the limbs.
Absorption of zinc can be inhibited by excessive levels of dietary calcium, iron and copper, which compete with zinc for intestinal absorption sites. Dietary phytate, which is found in cereal-based diets, chelates zinc, and high levels may also hinder intestinal zinc absorption. Most cases of zinc-responsive dermatosis in dogs were associated with the feeding of poor quality, cereal-or soy-based dry food, whose effects may have been exacerbated in some animals with a simultaneous inherent defect of zinc absorption. While naturally-occurring deficiencies of copper, iodine, manganese, and selenium are not common, it is important to recognise the importance of these essential nutrients when formulating diets designed to promote skin health and optimal hair coat for companion animals. Copper is needed in the skin for the conversion of the amino acid tyrosine to melanin. As a result, one of the signs of deficiency of this mineral is depigmentation of the hair coat. Although frank deficiencies are rare, interactions with other minerals in the diet can affect copper status. Iodine is required by the body for the synthesis of the hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) by the thyroid gland. Diets that are deficient in iodine cause a number of symptoms, including the development of skin lesions and a poor hair coat. Manganese is another mineral needed as a cofactor in several enzyme systems that catalyze cellular metabolic reactions which regulate nutrient metabolism. Because a deficiency affects cellular growth and lipid metabolism, signs will be observed in the metabolically active integument. Selenium is an essential component of the enzyme glutathione peroxidase, and like vitamin E, functions to protect cell membranes from oxidative damage. For this reason, selenium is important for the production of normal skin lipids which in turn protects skin.
Feed a balanced diet
Skin and coat condition can be used as an indicator of canine health. Many physical, chemical and biological factors can influence the health and well being of the skin. Cost, availability and religion taboo abide most of the pet parents to feed nutritional unbalanced homemade foods or leftovers to their dogs which leads to nutrient imbalances and predisposes the animal to nutrition related dermatosis and other related skin diseases. Hence properly balanced food should be fed to our beloved companions for their nutritional health.
(Dr KB Kore is technical sales manager at AB Vista South Asia, (Pune), a UK-based multinational firm for animal feed supplements; Dr SS Patil is assistant professor at Junagad Veterinary College (Gujarat); Dr PP Mirajkar is livestock development officer in the Government of Maharashtra; and Dr AV Patil is key account manager at Adisseo (Mumbai).
As pet parents and pet pals, mostly the first timers, people often are ignorant of some very basic facts about their pet’s physiology, psychology and behaviour as well as their very natural species/breed inherited instincts. Here are various commonly uncommon facts related to the feeding habits.
Here are the common dietary anomalies and their detrimental effects on our pet’s health and well being.
Milk: The most common dietary constituent or food which is otherwise taken as a very healthy and complete food accompaniment by most pet parents is milk. It is a clinically proven fact that most of the dogs, say about 88 percent of them, are lactose intolerant as their gastrointestinal (GI) tract lacks the enzyme which is responsible for its breakdown to simpler digestible molecules. In fact, milk on the other hand, is the best source of most common infections, mainly gastric and enteric ones, which can very commonly cause acidosis and gastritis accompanied by enteritis or common diarrhoea as the bare minimum.
Green vegetables: Feeding raw vegetables specially tomatoes and other salads to your pets may lead to severe and premature/untimely osteoarthritis, and ataxia which is generally irreversible and responds very poorly to corrective measures.
Fruits: Grapes, raisins, apples and other citrus fruits have their own list of damages like kidney failure, cyanide poisoning, severe acidosis, ulcers, tooth decay, etc.
Sweets: Most pampered pawfect-pals are being fed very unusual foods like chocolates and candies, cookies & sugary treats. Candies generally contain Xylitol which is an artificial sweetener and is a potent agent to cause liver dysfunction and damage. Chocolates cause gastric upsets, irregular heart rhythms, and convulsions of neurogenic order.
Fermented dough: Fermented dough preparations cause excessive gas production, its accumulation and hence rupture of the GI tract. Being mono-gastric carnivores, bloat or tympanitis is inevitably fatal in dogs.
Raw eggs: Raw eggs contain a Biotin inhibiting factor which antagonises the absorption or synthesis and assimilation of vitamin B1 from any dietary source or within the body itself, causing visible deficiency syndrome.
Meat and bones: Feeding of raw meat, natural animal bones, and fish can cause fatal food pipe and intestinal obstructions, acidosis, pancreatitis, food poisoning and multiple internal worm infestations which in turn give rise to numerous secondary complications.
Salt: Addition of salt even in the quantities appropriate for humans can be fatal to dogs, least, causing excessive thirst, urination and sodium poisoning.
Human medicines: Human medicines like Acetaminophen, Ibrufen, Diclofenac, etc can even cause death of your pet.
A little care and lots of love with a tinge of extra caution regarding the above can definitely enhance the beauty of the extra long relationship shared with your valuable and most loving pet for the more happy times to come.
(Dr RD Mishra is senior veterinary officer and he runs Pet Care & Kennels at Ajmer, Rajasthan)
As pet parents, we all must have melted at the soulful eyes your pooch displays while you are eating. But table scraps can be harmful to your pooch. Here’s a checklist on what to do.
Can we feed our dogs table scraps?Dr. Sunita Patel
“Table scraps do not constitute a balanced meal for dogs. Some dogs cannot handle the spiceseither. It’s best to give dogs food which is meant for them and not us,” told Dr Sunita Patel. “Only certain foods like rotis, rice, eggs, some vegetables, fruits like papaya, chikoos, watermelon, ripe mangoes (without kernel) and apples (without seeds),” she added.
While, Dr Manvir Singh opined, “Food should provide balanced and complete nutrition to meet dog’s nutritional requirements at that life stage. Many food items are safe and healthy like well-cooked lean meat or fresh fruits but not to forget to reduce same amount from your pooch’s diet to make it balanced.”
“Picking food from your plate and feeding it to your dog is not the healthiest way to feed your pet. While this may have been a common practice in the past, dogs today eat a properly balanced diet and adding any amounts of table scraps will upset that balance of nutrition and digestion and can lead to problems. Bad manner or begging can be a result,” said Dr Makarand Chavan.
Which foods are harmful for pooches?
Some of the harmful foods include dark chocolates, onion, grapes & raisins, items containing caffeine, alcohol, xylitol (non-calorie sweetener), raw eggs, small size bones and fish with spines. “Some of them may be ‘toxic’ and some may be ‘dangerous’ while some may cause allergy or disturb digestion,” told Dr Manvir.
Dark chocolate: “Dark chocolate may be toxic as it is made from processed seed of theobroma cacao which contain theobromine and caffeine. If ingested in more quantity, it may lead to various complications,” said Dr Manvir.
Onion: “Onion contains thiosulphate which is toxic to dogs and cats. It may cause haemolytic anaemia in which red blood cells (RBCs) get destroyed. So, we should avoid onion containing food stuffs like pizza, tomato sauce, Chinese food, etc,” told Dr Manvir.
Grapes & raisins: Dr Manvir explained, “If grapes & raisins are eaten in large quantity, they may cause acute renal failure”.
Raw eggs: “As raw eggs contain enzyme inhibitor ‘Avidin’ which may interface with the Biotin. This can cause skin problems, if raw eggs have been fed for long,” said Dr Manvir.
Alcohol and Xytilon: Dr Manvir told, “Alcohol intoxication may commonly cause vomiting, loss of coordination and stupor as dogs are more sensitive than us. While, Xylitol a common non calorie sweetener used for various baked diet products. Ingestion in large amount may drop in blood glucose level (hypoglycaemia) which may cause nausea, disorientation seizures or it may be fatal if not treated in time.” Dr Sunita Patel added, “ Candies and gums contain sweetener Xylitol which causes liver failure in dogs.”
Small bones: “Small bones or fish with spines may pose threat to life of your pet as they may get stuck in oesophagus of your pet and lead to choking or its splinter may puncture any vital artery/vein in that area,” said Dr Manvir.
Macadamia nuts: Dr Sunita Patel explained “Macadamia nuts cause tremors and hyperthermia. Apple seeds cause cyanide poisoning.” In this, Dr Makarand added, “Macadamia nuts contain a high level of phosphorus and, along with other types of nuts, can cause bladder stones in dogs. If a dog ingests macadamia nuts, they can develop a tremor of the skeletal muscles as well as weakness or paralysis of the hind legs. All such dogs will face a hard time rising, get distressed quite often, they pant a lot and even some of them may have swollen legs which give them pain when touched or manipulated.”
Raw meat: “Raw meat and raw fish can lead to tooth fracture and food poisoning and acutegastritis. Fat trimmings and bones can splinter and get caught in or perforate a dog’s digestive system, pancreatitis and obstruction in gastrointestinal tract (GIT) and sometimes can lead to death. Even hard bones, like knuckle bones, are dangerous for a dog,” told Dr Makarand.
Mushrooms: “Mushrooms are also toxic to dogs and certain types such as Amanita phalloides can even be fatal to dogs if ingested. Symptoms of mushroom toxicity include abdominal pain, drooling, liver damage, kidney damage, vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions, coma and death,” explained Dr Makarand.
Other miscellaneous items: Dr Sunita Patel told, “Garlic causes anaemia in dogs. Coffee and tea (caffeine) cause vomiting, diarrhoea, abnormal heart rhythms, seizures. Avocado can cause vomiting and diarrhoea in dogs.” Dr Makarand added, “Tomatoes can lead to GIT irritation, ataxia and weakness and urinary calculi. Peaches and plums can cause inflammation in small intestine and abdominal obstruction. Milk can cause indigestion and lead to diarrhoea. Yeast dough can be responsible for gas accumulation (bloat) in dog’s intestine and stomach which can even cause rupture.”
What are the symptoms of these problems?
Various signs and symptoms may be shown by affected dog which are being listed below by Dr Manvir; however, this is not exhaustive list:
- Internal bleeding
- Skin problems
- Abnormal breathing
- Renal failure
- Nervous signs like seizures, tremors, etc
- Cardiac signs like abnormal blood pressure, cardiac arrest.
What leads to obesity in dogs?“Obesity is because of lack of enough exercise and overfeeding – mostly table scraps, treats, imbalance in the protein-carbohydrate ratio. Obesity can lead to diabetes and its related problems, arthritis,” told Dr Sunita Patel.
“In my practice, I often encountered with obese dogs. After digging deep, I found that pet parents are feeding them table scrapes which were containing high fat and carbohydrates. Dogs were very finicky in taking pet food but they relish table foods. Pet parents were educated about balanced and complete nutrition and its affect on
health and longevity of dog. After following strict diet regime combined with exercise, obese dog returned to their shape,” told Dr Manvir.
Four basic preventive measures
According to Dr Makarand Chavan, there are four basic preventive measures.
No junk food: Never feed junk foods such as fries, potato chips, leftover pizza or candies. Only provide your dog completely balanced commercial pet food. You can consult your vet to choose correct food and feeding pattern for your pet according to his breed, weight, age and overall health.
Moderation is the key: If your dog is given healthy human food, you should carefully maintain his daily calorie requirement and reduce his own food so that he will not put on weight. Balance his diet since your dog would still need his regular food.
Watch out for toxic foodstuffs: Avoid foods that have been found to be poisonous to animals.
Emergency assistance: Be sure to call your vet immediately if you suspect your dog may have ingested something toxic.
Definite ‘NO’ items
“Chocolates are a definite NO. Raisins, grapes, onions, garlic, coffee, tea, alcohol, salt, avocado, macadamia nuts, apple seeds, candies and gums also,” explained Dr Sunita Patel
(With inputs from Dr Sunita Patel, Veterinary Surgeon, All India Animal Welfare Association and President, Pet Practitioners Association of Mumbai; Dr Manvir Singh, MVSc (IVRI) and Veterinary Nutritionist, College of Veterinary Sciences, Pantnagar, Uttarakhand and Dr Makarand Chavan, BVSc &AH, MVSc, Dogs and Cats Veterinary Clinic, Mumbai).
Do you ‘give in’ to the ‘soulful looks’?
Does your dog melt your heart for table scrap? That was the question we put to our friends in Bengaluru and here’s what they have to say.
“Snicker, my Golden Retriever, is mostly a placid happy-go-lucky guy… till his mealtimes.Then he becomes James Bond and Chulbul Pandey rolled into one. First comes the James Bond… he’ll stare up at you like he’s a spy…charmingly checking out the table, scooping out the yummies on display. Then he’ll dart look at you, like he actually doesn’t care. But when you start serving yourself, he’ll become debonair and the sexy Bond will come up. He’ll put his face on your lap and snuggle closer. He’ll stare into your eyes…or you must say, into your soul. But if you ignore that also, Chulbul Pandey will put his Dabangg paw on you. He will first paw gently, and then the claws will slowly come out and dig in. And he’ll let out a small sigh before drooling…so to answer your question – yes he does melt my heart for table scraps.”
“Two lives wait for me eagerly at home – Ishaan & Fifo. Ishaan is a Shih Tzu and Fifo is a Maltese. They love my wife’s cooking and love to chew her shoes too. Whenever we sit on the table to eat something, wherever they are and whatever they are busy doing, they will run to the table and start harassing us with their continuous pawing and jumping up on the table and even barking, just to let us know that the kings of the jungle are here and need to be given an offering of whatever we are eating. Their quirks amuse me day in and day out.”
–Ashit and Priyanka
“Maxim, our five-year-old Poodle, loves to follow me around, especially in the kitchen.Sometimes, I can just not ignore her pleading eyes and heartbreaking whimpers when he begs for some table scraps. Some of her favourites are bread, ice cream and cheese.”
“The most mesmerising thing about Misty is her eyes – when she sits at your feet and looks at you, no one can do anything but gaze into her most beautiful eyes. She loves eating- not what you give her but what she wants. And so many times she just ignores the food in her bowl to come and sit at your feet, while we are at the dining table, to look at me so expectantly that in spite of myself, I find me feeding her scraps off the table even though I know I am spoiling her silly. In just the four years she has been with me she has changed all my resolutions about rearing so much that I don’t know whether her behaviour is what it is because of me or mine is what it is because of her!”
“We have a Golden Retriever named Tanny. In her earlier years, she often used to wait for table scrap. So, in order to stop this habit of hers, we had tried various tricks and out of which the following three worked: i) Give her food at the same time when we eat our meal or earlier to that. ii) Strictly say NO (a couple of times), which she understands and moves away from the table. And iii) We ignore her by not looking at her and then she would simply sit closer to the table without drooling for the food.”
Something as simple as salt can become a matter of great concern for your beloved pet. Salt is nothing but sodium and chloride, but there are innumerable myths surrounding salt in dog’s diet. So, grab your cup of coffee and embark on this enlightening journey.Dr. Sunita Patel
Why salt is important?
“Sodium chloride is required to main tain blood pressure, blood volume, transmission of nerve impulses and maintain the acid base balance in the body. Sodium aids in the transfer of nutrients to cells and removal of waste products. While, chloride is required for production of hydrochloric acid for digestion of protein in stomach,” said Dr Sunita Patel. Dr Gautam Anand told, “The excretion of sodium and chloride is a rather slow process in dogs, they need very limited amount of salt in the daily diet.”
Humans lose a great amount of salt by sweating. For those of you who didn’t know, dogs sweat from their paws and nose. Dr Prabhjot said, “Since dogs don’t sweat as much as we humans do, their salt intake should also be limited.”
Problems related to high salt and low salt diet
We all know that excess of everything is bad, but there can also be a problem if the required intake amount is not met.
Problems related to high salt intake: “While, high sodium or hypernatremia causes increased thirst, confusion, disorientation, seizures and coma. It can also result in vomiting, diarrhoea and water loss through urine,” told Dr Sunita Patel. “Excessive intake of either of these two minerals is filtered through kidneys and released into urine. Seizures, blindness, dehydration, loss of appetite and sometimes death are some of the signs of sodium chloride toxicity in dogs. Always ensure your dog has access to clean drinking water,” told Dr Makarand Chavan.
Problems related to low salt intake: A low sodium diet may also cause a lot of problems. “Low sodium or hyponatremia causes lethargy, weakness, seizures and coma,” explained Dr Sunita Patel. “Difficulties in maintaining water balance, fatigue, dry and flaky skin, hair loss and exhaustion are some of the effects of a low sodium diet,” said Dr Gautam.
Dr Makarand Chavan told, “Prolonged diarrohea or severe vomiting could be major reasons of such deficiency and it is advisable to consult a veterinarian before the condition gets serious.”
What about home-cooked food? Is it balanced? “Home-cooked food is difficult to balance the protein, carbohydrate and fats required by body and needs supplementation with vitamins and minerals,” told
Dr Sunita Patel. “Their intake should be a balance of animal protein and fat, carbohydrates. Home meals must contain a balance of cooked meat without bones (70 percent) with carbohydrates like rice or wheat with certain vegetables like carrots, beans, pumpkin, bottle gourd (30 percent) – all cooked together,” she added.
“Home-cooked food can provide good nutrition, if rightly formulated by qualified veterinary nutritionist,” told Dr Manvir. There are a lot of dogs who are given home cooked food. In such cases it becomes the pet parent’s responsibility to see that the dog is getting appropriate nutrition. It is important you consult the vet for a proper diet chart and preparation of the same.
“The market is full of health supplements. If your pet eats only home-cooked food, then it is advisable that you give these supplements that would cater to their daily requirement of minerals and vitamins,”
added Dr Prabhjot.
“Most of the responsible pet parents offer commercial pet food to their pets. They should ensure what they are feeding to their pets should meet the requirements of the pet. It can be ensured by seeing the label of nutrient composition at packet and consulting your veterinary nutritionist/veterinarian,” told Dr Manvir Singh.
On Dog Food
“Pet food has come into the market after a lot of research. It is a totally balanced meal,” said Dr Sunita Patel.
Foods that are a strict ‘NO – NO’
Cheese, bacon, ham, chips and sausages are some foods that have an excess amount of sodium. Thus you must always refrain from giving these to your pet. In case your pooch has some kidney, liver or heart disease there are chances that your vet may recommend a low sodium diet. This is done to decrease blood pressure and avoid accumulation of excess body fluids.
PS – Don’t fall prey to those soulful eyes, table scarps should go in the dustbin and not into your pet’s tummy. Be careful of what you make your pet eat. It’s your responsibility.
On human food
“Salty foods upset the electrolyte balance and table scraps are not advised,” explained Dr Sunita Pate
Importance of salt: It helps in maintaining the balance between intra and extracellular fluids of body. It also helps in transferring nutrients to cells and removal of wastes. Na and Cl play important role in regulating blood pressure.
How much salt is required in dog’s diet? Almost all foods contain NaCl and it is integral part of commercial pet foods also. The minimum daily requirement of sodium (Na) for dogs is rather lower than Chloride (Cl) and not particularly challenging to meet. AAFCO dog nutrient profiles which might be viewed as somewhat representative of Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA), list a recommended Na content of 0.2 percent on dry matter basis for both growth and maintenance OR 0.86 gm per 1000 kcal ME (Metabolisable Energy) for growth and 0.17 gm per 1000 Kcal ME for adult maintenance.
Problems related to low/high sodium intake: Problems related to low salt intake are extremely rare because all foods contain sodium chloride (salt). It may occur in case of severe diarrhoea and vomition that may lead to excess loss of Na and Cl from the body. Symptoms may include dehydration, disorientation and stupor. In case of your pet is suffering from certain ailments related to kidneys, liver and heart, you must take advice from a veterinarian who can recommend decreasing sodium intake for the pet. This will help decrease the pet’s high blood pressure or accumulation of excessive body fluid.
If salt or salty food is ingested in large quantity and sufficient drinking water is not available to dog, then salt toxicity may occur. Symptoms of salt toxicity are dehydration, vomition, seizures, blindness, loss of appetite, thriftiness and death if not treated. Generally extra salt (NaCl) is extracted from body through urine.
(With inputs from Dr Sunita Patel, Veterinary Surgeon, All India Animal Welfare Association and President, Pet Practitioners Association of Mumbai; Dr Gautam Anand, Dr Anand’s Pets Clinics, New Delhi; Dr Prabhjot, Triguna Dog Clinics, New Delhi; Dr Manvir Singh, MVSc(IVRI) and Veterinary Nutritionist, College of Veterinary Sciences, Pantnagar, Uttarakhand and Dr Makarand Chavan, BVSc &AH, MVSc, Dogs and Cats Veterinary Clinic, Mumbai).
Role of proteins: Proteins perform numerous functions in the body, encompassing roles as diverse as structural components of practically all body tissues, enzymes for digestion of food and metabolic reactions, homeostatic hormones and transport proteins, and immunoglobulins and other components of the immune system. Body proteins are constantly being turned over, requiring a supply of amino acid building blocks.
Proteins: Dogs and cats are able to synthesise 12 of the 22 different amino acids found in proteins, but only as long as sufficient nitrogen is present in the diet. These are the so-called non-essential or dispensable amino acids. The other 10 amino acids – the essential or indispensable – must be supplied in the diet and include arginine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine. Cats require an eleventh amino acid, namely taurine.
Dietary protein and amino acid requirements vary according to life stage and lifestyle, as well as factors such as disease, environmental temperature and stress. The ability of a food to meet these requirements depends upon how digestible the protein is and how well its amino acid profile meets the amino acid needs of body tissues. The latter represents the biological value or quality of a protein.
Protein dietary requirements: National Research Council 2006 recommends that adult dogs should be fed a diet containing at least 25 g protein per 1000 kcal. This requirement increases to 50 g/1000 kcal in female dogs during pregnancy and lactation and 56g/1000 kcal in puppies. Protein requirements are also higher in working and racing dogs, reflecting the demands of increased muscle turnover and protein synthesis.
Protein supplied in excess of requirements is simply converted to energy and stored or utilised as such. There are no recommended maximum protein intakes for dogs.
Myth busted: Anecdotally there are claims that raw meat (high protein) diets are linked with aggression in dogs. This has led to speculation that a high protein level in dog food causes aggression. Brain biochemistry indicates that certain amino acids are linked with production of ‘calming’ hormones; hence there is a leap of faith suggesting that certain diets are calming and others have the opposite effect. Likewise there has been speculation that high protein diets cause kidney disease, especially in cats. This has partly come about because low protein diets are used to treat the symptoms of kidney disease.
Dogs are semi-carnivores, cats are carnivores; this means that they evolved to eat diets rich in protein. For example, the maternal milk of dogs is much higher in protein than human or cow’s milk.
Scientific studies have shown that there is no link between high protein diets and aggression in dogs. Our resident dogs at our Pet Centres in Waltham and Verden, Germany are continuously looked after and monitored with respect to their health, happiness and behaviour. Over many years of feeding foods containing a range of protein levels, we have never experienced any indication of a relationship between dietary protein and aggression.
Similarly, several scientific studies have shown that there is no link between high protein diets and risk of kidney disease in healthy cats and dogs.
The independent international nutrition guidelines for dogs (NRC) are based on the latest science and they have not specified a limit to upper levels of protein for dogs.
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