Causes and Remedies For Pet Ear Infections

Ear infection definition:

Bacteria and yeast are present naturally, throughout the body, including the ears, part of the balance of life. When environmental or other factors disrupt the balance, they may grow out of control and an ‘infection’ results. Deep-seated infections can take long time to clear.

How it affects pets:

A common symptom is a pet shaking his head and/or scratching excessively at his ears. Otitis (inflammation of the ear canal) is usually accompanied by redness of the ear flaps. Signs may be subtle, such as a very slight tilt of the head, or one ear being held at a different angle than the other. You may notice a pungent, yeasty odor often accompanied by a dark reddish-brown waxy substance.  Some dogs may scratch and shake incessantly, causing damage to the pinna (ear flap).  In severe cases, a hematoma (swelling) can develop.


Certain breeds are pre-disposed to infections and yeast buildup, e.g. Setters, Spaniels and Retrievers, because the longer ear flaps provide an internal ear environment that’s dark, moist – perfect for the growth of yeast and bacteria.

Food (or environmental) allergies may be the cause if both ears are involved. An excess of grain and/or sugar in the diet is a common causes of ear infections in dogs. Sugar feeds the yeast already in the body and causes an overgrowth, which results in the dark, yeasty-smelling buildup inside the ears.

Dogs that spend time in lakes, oceans, and swimming pools can be more prone to ear problems. The ears should be gently dried afterwards, using a soft towel or cotton wool to remove the excess moisture.

What types of foods do holistic vets recommend?

A grain-free diet is almost always helpful in combating chronic yeast infections. Grains contain natural sugars which yeasts can feed upon, and multiply.

A raw or natural, minimally-processed diet can be very helpful.  It provides the natural, whole-food nutrition that the dog’s immune system needs to be strong. Removing toxic chemical preservatives and excessive gluten, by-products and fillers can have a marvelous effect on most of the body, including the condition of the ears.

Consider supplementing the diet with a good probiotic supplement containing acidophilus to help maintain the balance of good bacteria in the dog’s system. Live-culture plain yogurt with lactobacillus and acidophilus can also help, especially if prescribed antibiotics.

Other modalities to consider:

Natural topical treatments can be used routinely, or on an as-needed basis, to gently clean the ears. Apply the product onto a cotton pad and very gently wipe out excess wax and buildup.

Consider Calendula Lotion, Comfrey, and Tea Tree Oil products, as well as those containing Niaouli.  Gentian Violet, Mullein Oil, and Colloidal Silver may also be helpful.

Underweight Pets

The first thing to check with a dog who’s struggling to gain weight, is the feeding amount. Some dogs who struggle to reach or maintain a correct body-weight simply need to have their food intake increased to an amount usually served to puppies or more active dogs. However, if the volume of food is already high (and particularly if stool volume is on the high side as well) it may be necessary to look at what types of food are being offered and swap out some for foods that are more calorie dense. Also consider full fat cottage cheese, plain yogurt or an egg cracked into the meal, a few times each week.

Fat and carbohydrates are especially important for weight gain. Consider supplementing with meat such as lamb, which is especially fatty and calorie-dense. If you feed chicken, include the skin, which is the fattiest part. Some grain-free and low carb diets such as Embark cause a pup to become quite trim (just as with low carb diets for humans) so increasing the grain content slightly or adding a vegetable such as sweet potatoes, can help.

Also, consider a veterinary checkup to be sure no underlying health conditions exist. Unexplained weight loss can be a sign of a medical problem that requires veterinary attention. However in most cases, it’s just a matter of establishing the necessary quantity and the right types of food, for the individual animal. If you feed commercial food, a simple change to another recipe may be all that’s needed to meet your pet’s unique nutritional requirements.

Some pets do experience increased stool volume and a slight slimming down when they first change to a new diet, as a natural part of the detox process – especially when transitioning to a higher fiber diet than before. This usually subsides naturally after a few weeks. If it doesn’t, that may be a sign that a different recipe should be tried.

aafco and pet food regulations

One aspect of pet food that many dog owners find mystifying is regulation. Some pet owners and stores believe that  AAFCO, The Association of American Feed Control Officials is responsible for approving pet foods but in fact this isn’t the case. Here are a few facts and examples of what AAFCO does and does not do, to help clarify the situation.

AAFCO does not regulate feeds or pet products.

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) is responsible for regulating pet foods.  The FDA monitors food branding to make certain that labels are not misleading and that the manufacturer is recorded on the label.  Pet food processing plants may also be inspected by the FDA although many manufacturers will voluntarily recall their products before FDA involvement to limit the bad press that might accompany any deaths or illness from tainted products.

AAFCO is a private corporation, not a government regulatory agency.

AAFCO is a voluntary organization, which is comprised largely of regulatory officials who have responsibility for enforcing their state’s laws and regulations concerning the safety of animal feeds.  This should fall under the auspices of the FDA but according to the FDA “AAFCO is vital to the continued regulation of pet food products because FDA has limited enforcement resources that are focused on human food safety issues.”

AAFCO advisors and committee members include representatives from major feed manufacturers and ingredient suppliers such as Nestle Purina, Hills Pet Nutrition, Nutro Products and Cargill Animal Nutrition.  Despite this, AAFCO claims that its function is to protect the consumer.  Despite its regulations, AAFCO has no means of enforcement, nor do they perform any analytical testing of foods. Regardless, AAFCO’s regulations are adopted by most states and are the standard to which pet and livestock feed manufacturers must adhere.

AAFCO devises pet food and feed labeling guidelines

AAFCO endeavors to protect the consumer through labeling requirements, ingredient requirements and nutritional requirements.  Any dog food manufacturer that wants to make the claim that their food is ‘nutritionally complete’ must meet AAFCO’s nutritional requirements, feeding trial requirements, or produce a food similar to one which has met these requirements.

The nutrient profiles set forth by AAFCO list minimum and maximum levels of intake for protein, fat, vitamin and mineral content of foods.  The level of nutrients is expressed on a ‘dry matter’ basis.  The levels of nutrients listed in the guaranteed analysis on the pet food label are expressed on an ‘as fed’ basis. To convert ‘as fed’ to ‘dry matter’ the consumer must do some calculations. If a dry food has 10% moisture it will have 90% dry matter. If protein matter is listed as 20% on the pet food label, you must divide the 20% protein by the 90% dry matter to calculate the amount of protein on a dry matter basis.

The nutrient profiles were originally based on minimum nutrient requirements established by the National Research Council Committee on Animal Nutrition (NRC) in 1991.  In 1995, AAFCO changed these standards to incorporate ‘new scientific information’ completed by the pet food manufacturers.  One such change was to lower the minimum protein content from 22% to 18% which is noteworthy as protein is the most expensive ingredient on the dog food label.

The source of food nutrients is not regulated by AAFCO.  Protein can be derived from meat or from shoes, from human-grade chickens, or road kill.   As long as it is protein, it meets AAFCO nutritional standards.  Bioavailability and digestibility of nutrients is not a consideration for AAFCO.

AAFCO establishes feed ingredient definitions.

AAFCO regulations state that a pet food manufacturer must provide not only a guaranteed analysis on the food label, but a list of ingredients presented in descending order with the ingredient with the most weight listed first.  This nutrient listing is a common source of confusion to the consumer as protein is further divided into meat meal, meat digest, fat meal, bone meal and animal by-product meal (instead of beef muscle meat, chicken beaks, pig ligaments, blood, intestines, and the infamous 4-D meats – dead, dying, diseased and disabled).  Manufacturers can further confuse the consumer by ‘splitting’ less nutritional such as corn or wheat to move the ingredient down the list.  For example, by dividing corn into corn, corn bran, corn germ meal, corn gluten, corn gluten meal and corn syrup, a manufacturer can produce a food that is perhaps 50% corn and 10% chicken appear to have chicken as the main ingredient by splitting the corn into the above ingredients, effectively moving it down the list of ingredients.

AAFCO establishes guidelines for feeding trials.

In addition to establishing pet food labeling regulations and ingredient definitions, AAFCO formulates protocols for feeding trials. AAFCO states that a minimum of eight healthy dogs are required for one trial and that the trial must last a minimum of 26 weeks where only one formulation of food is tested and is the sole source of nutrition (except for water).  A quarter of the dogs may be removed from the study for ‘non-nutritional reasons’ and data from the dogs removed from the trial does not need to be provided in the results (although dogs who die during the test do require a necropsy and the findings are to be recorded).

An AAFCO feeding trial takes place in a testing facility / test kennel. Food consumption may be measure and recorded. Test subjects’ bodyweights, as well as hemoglobin, packed cell volume, serum alkaline phosphatase and serum albumin are measured.  If these are all within normal ranges (although the dog may lost 15% of his body weight during the study), and six dogs have survived for six months on the food, the formulation will be determined as nutritionally complete.

Feeding trials are not commonly performed due to expense, so AAFCO allows pet food manufacturers to claim their food as nutritionally complete if one of the following requirements is met:

  • The food meets the nutrient requirements of the nutrient profile
  • The food is similar to a food that a product that does

Many holistic vets, pet owners and smaller manufacturers do not place a priority on AAFCO standards because their nutritional profiles are different from those established by the NRC (National Research Council) and do not reflect the newest research on the nutritional needs of pets. Many pet owners and smaller pet product companies are dubious of AAFCO because it is partly made up of major manufacturers within the industry who have a large influence on how the regulations for their own industry are established, and in determining the feed ingredient definitions that allow by-products, 4-D meats (dead, diseased, decaying and disabled) and other non edible ingredients to be used in pet food.

Most consumers want to feed their dog a product that is not only nutritionally balanced and complete, but does not contain substances which are potentially harmful for their dogs.  The labels on dog food with their complicated, scientific jargon and seemingly sound nutritional claims can fool even the most intelligent people into believing that the product behind the label is conscientiously prepared and rigorously regulated through governmental control.  The reality is the fox is watching the henhouse:  a $12 billion henhouse.  Consumers spend $12 billion on commercial pet foods each and every year and we have to question just what exactly do they get in return?

Dog Spoiler Alert!!

New owners may be tempted to scoop up adorable puppies when they bark, give in to whining, or delay training until the puppy grows older. But giving a puppy free rein, rewarding inappropriate behavior, and allowing a puppy to have his way, rather than doing what you want and need him to do, can lead to spoiling and behavior problems down the road. An adult dog’s behavior is rooted in puppyhood. Sincere but unknowing owners may inadvertently encourage behaviors that result in an ill-behaved, “spoiled” adult dog.
7 Clues That Your Dog May Be Becoming Spoiled
Your Puppy:
• Refuses to eat his or her kibble, wants to play games with food
• Pushes, knocks into you, or otherwise invades your personal space
• Takes everything he wants without asking
• Uses your furniture as his own jungle gym
• Barks or whines to get picked up, petted, played with, walked, or fed
• Obeys only when he sees treats
• Yanks you down the street or refuses to follow on walks
The Following is Taken From: Mistakes Made Early can Reap Behavior Problems Down the Road, By: Lynn M. Hayner
Sophia Yin, D.V.M., M.S., of Davis, Calif., veterinarian, applied animal behaviorist, and author of Perfect Puppy in 7 Days: How to start your Puppy Off Right (Cattle Dog Publishing, 2011).
What exactly is a spoiled dog?
“A spoiled dog takes (things) without asking, pushes his owners around, and demands attention” Yin says. “Such behavior can be downright obnoxious, and even for those owners willing to tolerate the behavior, the end result is the same: Spoiling a puppy often results in an unhappy, stressed, anxious dog, or who is a picky eater.”
To avoid spoiling your puppy, start training both in structured classes and at home as soon as possible. “Many owners seem to think they should ‘let a puppy be a puppy’ and wait on training. “But whether owners are intentionally or unintentionally training a puppy, a puppy is learning how to act every minute of the day; the owners might as well be intentional and aware about what they are teaching them.”
Picky Eaters
Adding enhancers to your dog’s food such as table scraps, and people food because you feel there not eating it as well or as fast as you would like them to is usually a big mistake. (Let your dog determine his own eating habits). Like people all dogs are different. Once starting this it may be very hard to stop. So it would be best not to start enhancing their food at all.
When, you first pick up your puppy best thing to do is to determine what food he currently has been on from the breeder. Then determine the quality of the product by analyzing the ingredient label of the food. (Some breeders will use lower quality commercial foods to keep their costs down when feeding a litter of puppies). After selecting a quality food that fits your dogs size and breed, try getting samples from your local feed store to make sure your dog will eat it before buying a bag. Once you know your dog will eat a certain food, continue feeding that type of food without changing. A dog can go many years on the same food without changing as long as it’s a good quality. Dogs don’t need a constant variety of foods like humans do. It’s better to use a variety of high quality treats then to change foods on a regular basis.
*Good quality dog foods WILL NOT contain corn, soy, wheat, or by-products*
Focus on the positive
Rather than teaching a new pup what to do, many owners wait for him to slip up and then react. For example, rather than proactively teaching puppies to chew on appropriate toys or trade objects for food, owners chase or yell at a puppy for picking up prohibited object.
Along with over focusing on correcting “bad” behavior, Yin explains that most owners spend 80% of their time inadvertently rewarding the pup’s unwanted behavior, and then spend the rest of their time punishing those very behaviors they had been accidentally rewarding.
For instance, an owner may pet a puppy that nudges his arm or pokes him with his nose for attention. The same pup will be confused when the owner yells at him for jumping on him for attention. To the pup, the jumping behavior is simply an excited extension of the same pushy physical behavior the owner previously rewarded.
Yin recommends owners focus on training a simple command, such as sit, rather than waiting to correct a jumpy or pushy pup. “Even reacting to the puppy’s jumping may inadvertently encourage him, because he was demanding attention and got it even if the attention was negative,” says Katherine Albro Houpt, VMD, Ph.D., of the Animal Behavior Consultants of Northern Michigan in Gaylord, MIch. She recommends that owners discourage jumping by backing away, turning away, and ignoring puppies that jump.
Timing is everything
Another common mistake involves timing, especially not responding quickly enough. “The window for shaping specific behavior is the time it takes for a pencil to drop from your hand to the floor, which is about half a second,” Houpt says. “Trying to correct a puppy outside of that time period can lead to a fearful, confused dog.”
Mistimed owner actions may also lead to an inadvertent reward for unwanted behavior. For instance, while many owners realize they shouldn’t take a crying puppy out of his crate or he will certainly learn to cry again. If owners let the pup out simply as he takes a breath or break from crying but when he’s still in a whining mindset, they accidentally reward the crying. Owners should wait until the pup is calm and quiet before responding. “Even more importantly, owners should help the pup learn to love the crate by giving him food and special toys in it,” Yin says.
No Freebies
Puppies need to learn that they have to work for everything and that nothing in life is free. For example, a pup can learn to ask permission with a Sit before going outside. “Similarly, food shouldn’t be free. If the owner is giving the dog his meal for free instead of using the pieces of kibble as rewards, he’s wasting his reinforcers.
Although food rewards can help shape a puppy’s behavior owners shouldn’t overdo high-calorie treats. Think of a treat as a flash of flavor. By varying when they reward, and by how much, owners can get a much improved response. Puppies can typically be weaned from treat rewards for a specific behavior in just a few sessions, but many owners continue using the same number of treats and fail to expect more from the pup with each session. Throughout the dog’s life, the ultimate reward will be affection, praise, and time spent with his owner. “A puppy who isn’t weaned from treat rewards may grow up only behaving when he sees treats, “Yin cautions.
Socialization Missteps
All puppies benefit from socialization, the process of getting them comfortable around and unafraid of people, other animals, sights, and sounds. Owners can make mistakes, however, by either overprotecting and/or pushing a puppy into interactions.
“A pup hiding under a chair at puppy class will likely come out on his accord, “Houpt explains. “Owners may inadvertently contribute to the pup’s fearfulness by forcing him to interact.” In many cases, cautious or shy puppies benefit from “watch me” exercises. Puppies need something else to do when feeling unsure or scared in new situations, Houpt says.
A puppy typically joins his human family curious and yet unsure about his environment. Owners who teach positive behavior such as Sits, Downs, Watch-mes, and loose-leash walking can ease the puppy’s transition and set the stage for a well-behaved adult dog.
“Rewarding appropriate behavior when you see it, such as the puppy sitting calmly next to you,” Yin says. “While designated teaching periods are beneficial, remember that every interaction is a training session; take advantage of each of them.”

Ingredient Panel Definitions

Included is a list of ingredients that we need to understand in order to make the best and most informed choices possible for your pets. 


Ground Whole
Ground Yellow
Whole Grain

AAFCO: The entire ear of corn ground, without husks, with no greater   portion of cob than occurs in the ear corn in its natural state.

Ground Yellow- Same as ground corn, except that the corn used is   yellow in color.


Most corn is genetically modified, also making it undesirable. Because   corn lacks or is low in critical essential amino acids such as lysine,   methionine, arginine and taurine, it is not a good source of protein.   Processed corn is a common culprit in food allergies. Dogs with sensitivity   to corn may gnaw at their paws or scratch excessively at themselves. Skin   infections, hot spots, and even hair loss may develop.



Corn Gluten

AAFCO: The dried residue from corn after the removal of the larger   part of the starch and germ, and the separation of the bran by the process   employed in the wet milling manufacture of corn starch or syrup, or by   enzymatic treatment of the endosperm.


An inexpensive by-product of human food processing which contains   some protein but serves mainly to bind food together.  It is not a harmful ingredient but should   not rank high in the ingredient list of quality product.



Soybean Meal

AAFCO: The product obtained by grinding the flakes which remain after   the removal of most of the oil from soybeans by solvent or mechanical   extraction process.


A poor quality protein filler used to boost the protein content of   low quality pet foods.  Has a biologic   value of less than 50% of chicken meal.



Ground Whole

May also appear as “Wheat Middlings”

AAFCO: Coarse and fine particles of wheat bran and fine particles of   wheat shorts, wheat germ, wheat flour and offal from the “tail of the mill”


An inexpensive byproduct of human food processing, commonly referred   to as ‘floor sweepings’. An inexpensive filler with no real nutritional   value.



Soybean Mill

AAFCO” Composed of soybean hulls and such bean meats that adhere to   the hulls which results from normal milling operations in the production of   dehulled soybean meal.


An inexpensive byproduct of human food processing, commonly referred   to as ‘floor sweepings’.  An   inexpensive filler with no real nutritional value.



Poultry Byproduct Meal

AAFCO: Consist of the ground, rendered, clean parts of the carcasses   of slaughtered poultry, such as necks, feet, undeveloped eggs, and   intestines, exclusive of feathers except in such amounts as might occur   unavoidably in good processing practices.


The parts used can be obtained from any slaughtered fowl, so there is   no control over the quality and consistency of individual batches.  Poultry byproducts are much less expensive   and less digestible than chicken meat.    The ingredients of each batch can vary drastically in ingredients   (heads, feed, bones, organs etc.) as well as quality, thus the nutritional   value is also not consistent.  Don’t   forget that byproducts consist of any parts of the animal OTHER than   meat.  If there is any use for any part   of the animal that brings more profit than selling it as “byproduct”, rest   assured it will appear in such product rather than in the “byproduct”   dumpster.




Meat & Bone

AAFCO:  The rendered product   from mammal tissues, with or without bone, exclusive of any added blood,   hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents except   in such amounts as may occur unavoidably in good processing practices.


The animal parts used can be obtained from any source, so there is no   control over quality or contamination.    Any kind of animal can be included: “4-D animals” (dead, diseased,   disabled, or dying prior to slaughter), goats, pigs, horses, rats, misc. road   kill, animals euthanized at shelters and so on.  It can also include pus, cancerous tissue,   and decomposed (spoiled) tissue.



Peanut Hulls

AAFCO: The outer hull of the peanut shell.


No nutritional value whatsoever, and are used exclusively as a cheap   filler ingredient.  Possibility of   pesticide residues being present.




Chicken Byproduct Meal

AAFCO: Consists of the dry, ground, rendered clean parts of the   carcass of slaughtered chicken, such as necks, feet, undeveloped eggs, and   intestines – exclusive of feathers except in such amounts as might occur   unavoidably in good processing practices.


Chicken byproducts are much less expensive and less digestible than   the chicken muscle meat.  The   ingredients of each batch can vary drastically in ingredients (heads, feet,   bones etc.) as well as quality, thus the nutritional value is also not   consistent.  Don’t forget that   byproducts consist of any parts of the animal OTHER than meat.  If there is any use for any part of the   animal that brings more profit than selling it as ‘byproduct’, rest assured   it will appear in such a product rather than in the ‘byproduct’ dumpster.



Propylene Glycol

A colorless viscous hygroscopic liquid, CH3CHOHCH2OH, used in   antifreeze solutions, in hydraulic fluids, and as a solvent.


Used as a humectants in semi-moist kibble to keep it from drying   out.  May be toxic if consumed in large   amounts, and should definitely not be an ingredient in a food an animal will   eat daily for weeks, months or even years of its life.  IN countries of the European Union,   propylene glycol is not cleared as a general-purpose food grade product or   direct food additive.





Butylated Hydroxysanisole- a white, waxy phenolic antioxidant,   C11H1602, used to preserve fats and oils, especially in foods.

Banned from human use in many countries but still permitted in the   US.  Possible human carcinogen   apparently carcinogenic in animal experiments.  The oxidative characteristics and/or   metabolites of BHA and BHT may contribute to carcinogenicity or   tumorigenicity





Butylated Hydroxytoluene- a crystalline phenolic antioxidant,   C15H240, used to preserve fats and oils, especially in foods.


Banned from human use in many countries but still permitted in the   US.  Possible human carcinogen,   apparently carcinogenic in animal experiments.  The oxidative characteristics and/or   metabolites of BHA and BHT may contribute to carcinogenicity or   tumorigenicity.



Blue 2 (artificial color)


An artificial color obtained by heating indigo (or indigo paste) in   the presence of sulfuric acid.  The   color additive is isolated and subjected to purification procedures.  The indigo (or indigo paste) used is   manufactured by the fusion of N-phenylglycine (prepared from aniline and   formaldehyde) in a molten mixture of sodamide and sodium and potassium   hydroxides under ammonia pressure.  The   indigo is isolated and subjected to purification procedures prior to sulfonation.


The largest study suggested, but did not prove, that this dye caused   brain tumors in male mice.  The FDA   concluded that there is “reasonable certainty of no harm”, but personally I’d   rather avoid this ingredient and err on the side of caution.


Red 40 (artificial color)

The most widely used food dye.    While this one is one of the most-tested food dyes, the key mouse   tests were flawed and inconclusive.  An   FDA review committee acknowledged problems, but said evidence of harm was not   “consistent” or “substantial.”  Like   other dyes, Red 40 is used mainly in junk foods.  Personally I’d rather avoid this ingredient   and err on the side of caution.
Yellow 5 (artificial color)  

The second most widely used coloring can cause mild allergic   reactions.

Yellow 6 (artificial color) Industry-sponsored animal tests indicated that this dye, the third   most widely used, causes tumors of the adrenal gland and kidney.  In addition, small amounts of several   carcinogens contaminate Yellow 6.     However, the FDA reviewed those data and found reasons to conclude   that Yellow 6 does not pose a significant cancer risk to humans.  Yellow 6 may also cause occasional allergic   reactions.  Another ingredient I would   rather avoid and err on the side of caution rather than risking my pet’s   health.

Who Owns Who…
Huge food manufacturers use pet food companies as a cheap and profitable way of utilizing the byproducts from human food manufacturing plants.  Below is a list of some of the more well known companies and the pet foods they manufacture.

Nestle: Purina,Alpo, Fancy Feast, Friskees, Mighty Dog
Heinz: Kibbles & Bits, Natures Recipe, Gravy Train, 9 Lives, and Amore
Colgate-Palmolive:  Hills Science Diet
Mars: Kal Kan, Meal Time, Sheba, Waltmans
Proctor & Gamble: Iams, Eukanuba, Natura

Oral Health For Your Dog


Periodontal disease is the most common disease of the oral cavity in dogs. Every dog is affected during its life to some degree. Curiously, compared with other diseases it’s often neglected, although it can be treated or even prevented with care. In oral hygiene, the benefit of any therapeutic intervention is of short duration if it isn’t prolonged with daily care by the owner. The aim of this care is to fight dental plaque. While brushing is accepted as the most effective means of protection, there are alternatives -both physical and chemical -to help control plaque.

What causes this disease?

The cause of periodontal disease is dental plaque defined as a natural bacterial film, or biofilm that develops on the surface of the teeth. This can lead to inflammation, gingivitis, and eventual tooth decay and tooth loss which is just the start of future problems. Several things contribute to plaque buildup and eventually periodontal disease. Dogs less than 18 lbs suffer more than any other dog due to jaw structure and the number of teeth. Age also plays a major role in plaque buildup. A study has shown that 80% of dogs older than 6 years of age show moderate to severe plaque buildup.

How can we prevent this problem?

                Let’s first remember that dogs in the wild have a variety of chewing mediums from bones, sticks, antlers and heavy meats. In addition to this, dogs in the wild consume different digestive enzymes from their food sources that help keep their teeth clean, which is why we have this problem with domesticated dogs; not having the same opportunity as a wild dog. As pet owners, we have to figure out how to mimic this situation in our home environment.

What can we do?

                Brushing is the gold standard in terms of controlling plaque buildup and gingivitis. As we all know, brushing is not an easy task for owners to accomplish. Brushing can be complimented with the use of active chemical substances of which chlorhexidine is still the most affective. This can be found in dental rinses. Products that contain enzymes, probyotics, and minerals seem to be affective not only in keeping plaque at bay but in plaque removal as well.

Does food help with oral hygiene?

After selling food for over 20 years, I do feel that some but not all foods do help prevent the buildup of plaque and tarter. The active ingredients against plaque buildup can be incorporated into the kibble or chewing bar and are released into the saliva during chewing. Kibble size can also play an important role. On the other hand, soft, canned, or small kibbled foods would not help the function of the teeth and chewing action. In addition to a loss of chewing, a soft food can provoke a reduction in the flow of saliva which then reduces the enzyme secretions. A multi-center study of 1350 dogs concluded that dogs that had a number of things to chew on had less calcium or tarter buildup when compared to dogs that had fewer or nothing to chew on. They also found that dogs that were given dental chews or chewing bars and bones showed a significant reduction in plaque buildup.


                Besides offering a good nutritional balance, dry kibble can also play an important role in preventing medical problems. Food with added values pertaining to oral hygiene, along with chewing bars and water additives that contain chlorhexidine seem to help tremendously. In addition to these helpful tips, encouraging your dogs to chew on several chewing products from bones to toys also seems to help with plaque buildup and gingivitis.

Your dog thanks you for reading this.

If you have any further questions on this topic or any other topics presented in my blog, call Ken at 715-421-4112

Poisonous Foods To Avoid With Your Dog

Dog owners should not always assume that human grade foods are safe for our pets.

  1. Onions, chives, and garlic.  Even a small amount of onions are not good.
  2. Macadamia nuts can cause problems with walking, muscle weakness or tremors, or paralysis in the hind legs, also may cause pain or swollen legs.
  3.  Chocolate or cocoa products could cause excessive urination, heavy drinking, and an increased and irregular heart rate.  As little as 20 oz. of milk chocolate or 2 oz. of baking chocolate can affect the dog.
  4. Raisins or grapes can lead to kidney failure no matter how many they may eat.
  5. Tomatoes can cause heart arrhythmia or tremors.
  6. Yeast dough can cause excessive gas and intestinal expansion.
  7. Avocados.  All parts of an avocado is unhealthy for a dog.
  8. Pear pits, peaches, apricots, and apple core pits can cause cyanide poisoning.
  9. Products sweetened with xylitol can cause liver failure, and low blood sugar.
  10.  Moldy or spoiled foods.
  11. Alcohol
  12. Coffee grounds, beans, and teas
  13. Cooked poultry bones
  14. Rich, fatty or spicy foods, can cause pancreas or intestinal irritation.

Feeding Our Pets Proper Nutrition

We all know the old saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover”.  Nothing could be truer in deciding on the foods we feed our pets.  We must turn the bag over and read the ingredient panel.  Just like when we are shopping for our children, or ourselves, it is important to read the labels on the food we buy, the same is true for our pets.  It is never safe to assume that because the packaging shows big pieces of meat on the bag, that there is real meat of that quality in the food.

Our foods contain real meat like chicken, lamb, beef, salmon, duck, and bison.  They also contain whole grains like barley and oatmeal, and they have real vegetables.  Now, just as importantly, let’s talk about what they do not contain.  They do not contain corn, wheat, soybean, whole grain sorghum, (these sound like cow feed to me).  Our foods do not have any by-products, meat and bone meal, sugar, sorbital, or artificial colors.  They also do not contain any chemical preservatives such as BHA, BHT, or ethoxyquin.

Unfortunately, most commercial brand pet foods contain some if not all of the ingredients on the second list.  Many of these ingredients are known allergens to our pets and can cause many different reactions.  Some of the more common reactions are:

  • Licking and biting of legs and paws
  • Red and inflamed skin
  • Excessive shedding
  • Dry skin
  • Occasional vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Sores that won’t heal
  • Behavior problems

Pet foods have a rating system that was developed to give some insight into the foods quality.  All foods, regardless of cost, start with a score of 100.  Points are then added or subtracted based on what is in or not in the ingredient panel.  Based on the score they are then given a letter grade just like the kids get at school.  Many commercial brands such as Purnina, Pedigree, Science Diet, Ekanuba and Iams have scores ranging from 17-74 points and letter grades of D or F.  Brands such as Diamond Naturals, Nutri Source, Professional, and Taste of the Wild have ratings of  89 to 112 points and letter grades of A or B.

It is apparent from these scores that the commercial brand dog foods do not rate so well.  Understandably this is hard to believe because we trust that the advertising portrays truth and they are names that we have always trusted.  Unfortunately it is not always true.

The number one thing we can do for our pets is to read the label.  You are the only one who can keep your pet healthy, happy, and problem free.  Your pet depends on you completely for his health and well-being.  If you have any further questions, please feel free to call us at 715-421-4112.