Author Archives: Hadley Rush

Pet health: Dog food terminology

A dog looks at a bowl of food.
According to the FDA’s website, The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) has established rules and regulations that must be followed for animal feed.

They have strict guidelines that pet food manufacturers must follow, requiring that all labels on dog food ingredients follow one of the four product naming rules. Use these guideline when choosing a healthy dog food for your pet:

•The 95% Rule. This rule applies when the “meat” ingredient is listed first in the food’s name. Some examples may include Beef Dog Food, Lamb and Rice, Duck and Potato, etc. The rule states that the product must contain at least 95% of the named meat ingredient on the label, excluding preservatives or water. For example, if the product was named “Duck and Potato”, the product would have to consist of at least 95% duck. This rule mainly applies to wet dog food.

•The 25% or “Dinner” Rule. This rule applies when a descriptive phrase follows the “meat” ingredient. Examples of this include: Lamb Dinner, Beef and Turkey Entree, or Salmon Formula. The product must contain at least 25% of the named meat ingredient but no more than 95% of the ingredient.

•The 3% or “With” Rule. This rule states that any food label that contains “with” in the description must contain no less than 3% of the meat ingredient listed. Common examples include Made with Chicken and Dog Food with Beef.

•The “Flavor” Rule. If the label has the word “flavor” in the same font size and color as the ingredient name, the manufacturer is not required to put a certain amount of the ingredient in the food. In fact, the ingredient can be any form of the meat listed, which can include the actual meat, any by product of the meat, or the broth of the meat.

The key to maintaining the health of your pet, is choosing healthy dog food. Look closely look at the labels and compare brands of food. Not all dog food is created equal.

Food for Thought

The cover of Arden Moore's The Cat Behavior Book.
Oh Behave!
Q & A With Pet Expert Arden Moore

Q. I’m about to adopt a pair of young cats from the local shelter. They are just a year or two old and are littermates. I don’t want my cats to get fat from overeating. Should I just keep a big bowl of kibble available to them all the time or feed them twice a day?

A. Welcome to the Great Feline Food Debate. There are pros and cons to both free feeding and scheduling specific mealtimes. Many cats, whether they live as solo cats or part of a multi-cat household, seem to fare well with free feeding. They eat what they need and stop before becoming obese. Unlike dogs, who tend to bolt down whatever food is put in front of them, cats are more comfortable nibbling 10 to 20 times a day.

In your situation, I would first check with the animal shelter officials as to how these sibling felines were fed. Ask if they ate twice a day or had food available all day long, and inquire whether there were any incidents of one cat bullying or nudging the other from food bowls.

Keep tabs on your new cats’ eating habits and weigh them regularly. If they seem to maintain their weight, then free feeding is a good option. Just be sure to clean the bowls regularly – daily if you feed canned food.

Some cats, however, view free feeding as a 24-hour all-you-can-eat buffet and stuff themselves with kibble until their bellies drag on the floor. They just can’t say no to chow. Consider this startling fact: an extra three pounds on a nine-pound cat is the equivalent of adding a whopping 40 pounds to a 120-pound person. Added weight puts both cats and people at added health risk.

For cases in which one cat eats too much and one eats too little, scheduling specific mealtimes is recommended. This allows you to have better control over your cats’ diets. To prevent the pudgy cat from gobbling up all the food, feed him in a separate room. Then, after a designated time, around 15 minutes or so, pick up the food bowls. Another option is to feed the slender cat an extra meal at night, while the plumper puss spends the night in a room of his own without any food.

Controlled feeding also works best when a medical problem arises, such as diabetes. Cats with this condition need to have their insulin and blood sugar levels monitored on a daily basis. Feeding small amounts a number of times each day can also help a cat who eats too much food at once and may throw up a short time later.

If you find yourself unable to be at home at specific mealtimes for your cats, consider buying a timed self-feeder. These gadgets dispense controlled portions of kibble at designated times. Putting a couple of golf balls in the food dish will also help to slow down a greedy gobbler, as will spreading out the kibble on a tray or shallow dish.

Confounded by your canine? Frustrated by your feline? Relax. Pet expert Arden Moore is here to deliver the real truth about cats, dogs…and you with her column appropriately called, “Oh Behave!”
Author and pet expert Arden Moore sits with her pets.
On a regular basis, Arden will unleash excerpts from her two award-winning books, The Dog Behavior Answer Book (named the top training and behavior book by the Dog Writers Association of America) and The Cat Behavior Answer Book (named the top training and behavior book by the Cat Writers Association). Learn more about Moore, who also hosts a weekly radio show called “Oh Behave!” on Pet Life Radio ( by visiting her Four Legged Life website (

Pet health: Taking care of your dog’s aching bones

A small dog is bundled up for the winter.

Few things are sadder than when a once-spunky pup starts slowing down and stops jumping up to join you on the couch or bed. Hip dysplasia and arthritis are commonly found in older dogs, especially larger dogs.

Winter months do little to help dog health care or stiff joints to feel any better, as cold air zaps energy and robs us of outdoor playtime and exercise.

According to Texas A&M Veterinary Medicine, some dogs develop hip dysplasia before one year old. Some dogs even undergo surgeries and hip replacements. However, many dogs can see improvement with conservative therapy including joint supplements, pain medication, and rehabilitation, including aqua therapy like swimming and walking on underwater treadmills.

For winter arthritis management, keep these tips in mind:
• Continue walking your dog even in the winter. Drs. Fosters and Smith recommend “moderate exercise that strengthens the gluteal muscles, such as running and swimming.”

• Provide a heated bed that can offer soothing comfort.

• Look into joint supplements. Texas A&M recommends Adequan and Cosequin.

• Talk to your veterinarian about pain medication. According to Drs. Fosters and Smith, Rimadyl, Metacam, EtoGesic, Deramaxx, and Previcox are effective pain killers that assist with inflammation.

• Consider holistic treatments like acupuncture. Many pet insurance companies now cover this type of treatment.

Trained dogs are safe dogs during the holidays

Posted by: H.R.
For Pets Best Insurance
An untrained puppy gets into mischief.

When cooking for the holidays, the smells of turkey and pie will surely appeal to your pets’ nose just as it does your own. Sometimes the tantalizing draw is too much, and even well-mannered dogs sneak a snack when everyone’s back is turned. This could be dangerous to pet health if he grabs the wrong food, or races to clean off the floor after food has been inadvertently dropped.

Fatty foods like turkey skin and nuts, and toxic foods like chocolate and Xylitol, are very dangerous to a dog health care. Because the Holidays often see more pets taken to the veterinarian’s office with digestive upset, which can potentially become a serious pet health condition, it’s the perfect time to take extra precautions. Start with finding the best pet insurance and proper training.

“If your dog has already eaten the hors d’oeuvre tray and has a cheese-eating grin spread across his muzzle, it’s too late for a reprimand,” says dog trainer Dawn Sylvia-Stasiewicz. “Far more effective than a reprimand is to catch him in the act and use the ‘off’ cue, which tells him drop the contraband or back away, and then redirect him to what you want (including a reward),” said Sylvia-Stasiewicz, trainer for Bo Obama, the First Family’s Portuguese Water Dog.

In her book, The Love That Dog Training Program, Sylvia-Stasiewicz and co-author Larry Kay go into detail about teaching your dog the “off” command using positive reinforcement. Start today—you may save a potential trip to the vet.

First, teach your dog that he must sit before he is rewarded, given attention, a treat, or fed.

“It should become your dog’s verbal language of asking please,’ said Sylvia-Stasiewicz.

Then, show your dog one of his favorite treats, and teach him to wait for your queue before he takes it. When he learns “take it,” start teaching “off” by interrupting his lunge for the treat loudly and sharply with the word.

“When your dog backs off and looks at you (often with some puzzlement or concern), then say ‘good, take it’ in a happy voice,” said Sylvia-Stasiewicz. “Repeat this lesson until your dog becomes fluent with both ‘off’ and ‘take it.'”

Part of positive reinforcement is showing your dog that it’s fun to do what you ask. Whenever you give the “off” command, trade what he wanted for something he can have, like a safe treat or a filled Kong toy. With trades, your dog is always rewarded for obeying you, and everyone is happy.

Teach these commands for a safe, happy dinner, and you won’t need to use that dog insurance—just one more thing to be thankful for this year.

Keep pets safe this holiday season

A festive dog prepares for the holidays

There is nothing better than a present wrapped in beautiful wrapping paper with a big ribbon on top. Whether you are giving or receiving presents, be sure that you keep pet’s safety in mind. Beautifully wrapped presents may be exciting to humans, but they can be dangerous to pet health.

Ribbon, string, and yarn are all potential dangers to pets. Cats are more prone to play with string and ribbon, but all pets could ingest these items. Ingesting ribbon and string can cause intestinal blockages, which will often need to be removed surgically.

Refrain from placing wrapped food where your pet can access it. Chewing on wrapping paper or food packaging can also lead to intestinal blockages.

If you are giving your pet treats or toys this holiday season, it is best to wait to display these items or your pet will most likely get into their gifts early. Be sure to remove any packaging or tags before giving them their gift.

Other items to keep out of your pet’s reach include batteries and perfumes or colognes, which contain alcohols that are toxic to pets.

Close the doors to rooms where presents are to help keep pets from getting into them. Pet safety gates can also be used to block off rooms. Pet gates can also be used to restrict their access to the Christmas tree and keep them away from presents.

For more information about pet health and safety, or to learn more about pet insurance, visit

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