Survey shows gap in knowledge about pet diets

Many pet owners are in the dark when it comes to nutritional pet foodAccording to a recent survey, approximately 60 percent of pet owners do not know how to select the most nutritional food to optimize their pet’s needs.

The research, commissioned by pet retailer PETCO, revealed that 79 percent of people with pets believe their pet’s nutrition to be important or critical.

However, 57 percent of respondents did not know how to evaluate the nutritional value of pet food by reading the label, 59 percent could not identify nutritious ingredients and 61 percent could not differentiate between basic, premium, natural and organic pet foods.

After receiving the results to this survey, PETCO began a nutrition education program which will provide detailed training to experts in each store. One company official hopes that the program will disseminate the message to consumers concerned with pet health as well.

Rick Rockhill, vice president of merchandise for PETCO revealed one tip, and advised dog and cat owners not to rely on diets typically deemed healthy for humans such as low-fat, unprocessed foods. "Dogs and cats actually get most of their energy from fat and have an easier time digesting foods that have been correctly processed."

HousePet Magazine further warns that dogs and cats are susceptible to bacteria in meat such as salmonella, campylobacter, E. coli and Listeria.

DiCaprio Speaks on Responsibility for Animals

DiCaprio recognizes the responsibility humans must take for wildlifeOscar-winner Leonardo DiCaprio teamed up with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) for Animal Action Week to promote the importance of guarding biodiversity in ecosystems and to value the bonds between people and animals.

During Animal Action Week, IFAW engages teachers and children around the world in topics which concern the responsibilities humans have for animals. This year’s theme, Under One Sky, seeks to explain how everyday activities can impact both the environment and the creatures that dwell within.

DiCaprio, and IFAW Honorary Board Member emphasized, "Animals, like people, need a home that provides food, water, shelter and space. It’s our responsibility to protect animals and our planet’s vital ecosystems if we want to leave a better world for future generations."

As part of the program, the organization asks families to sign a pledge to take care of the animals with which they interact.

IFAW has now been operating for more than 16 years and has educated children in 18 countries about the importance of respecting and actively protecting animal life.

The U.S. Humane Society estimates that 39 percent of households own at least one dog and 34 percent house at least one cat.

Veterinarian hits the road to provide care

One vet has decided to take her business on the roadRecognizing the importance of pet health to many families, one veterinarian from Locust Grove, Oklahoma is traveling directly to animals in need of care in communities without access to other licensed vets.

The traveling vet, Dr Carolynne Cash, recently purchased a mobile veterinary clinic after conceiving of the idea at an industry conference last February, the Pryor Daily Times reports. Though the impetus to take her practice on the road was to serve communities without a veterinarian, Cash points out that her clinic is also ideal for families with multiple pets who struggle with car trips to the vet office.

Her refurbished and fully stocked mobile clinic allows her to vaccinate, spay, neuter and provide dental care for cats, dogs and smaller animals. Cash typically drives into communities like Adair and Fort Gibson and sets up her clinic in a community center or fire department.

The doctor also offers treatment in homes and backyards to animals whose owners leave the pets alone during the day. She told the news source, "It’s real convenient for people who are working."

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, the average veterinary expenditure per household in 2006 was $366.

Scientists wish to explore benefits of pet therapy

Pets may help some patients form needed bondsThe National Institutes of Health (NIH) is accepting proposals for studies which investigate how interactions between humans and animals affect typical development and health.

The National Insititue of Child Health and Human Development, a sector of the NIH, has teamed up with the Waltham Center for pet Nutrition in England to study whether some animals can have recognizable effects on a child’s psychological welfare.

The request for research proposals was encouraged by doctors who treat Alzheimer’s and autism who have noticed that patients often respond to their pets or service dogs in ways that they cannot relate to humans.

Dr Melissa Nishawala, clinical director of the autism-spectrum service at the Child Study Center, described how an 11-year-old boy with autism, Milo, reacted to pet therapy after a service dog moved in with the boy’s family. "I noticed a prominent and noticeable change. He started to give me narrative in a way he never did." She added that he mostly spoke about the new dog.

While pets work wonders to miraculously improve our health, the North American Pet Health Insurance Association says that veterinary pet insurance can be used to protect pet health and ensure the financial stability of the pet’s family.

Mixed Breed Pedigree

Jack L. Stephens, DVM – Oct 06, 2009

If you’re adopting a mixed breed dog you might wonder what breeds are involved. After adoption you’re often asked about what breeds produced your dog. People are always asking, “What kind of dog is that?” Often, when you adopt a dog, no one knows the background or what breeds produced your dog. Now there is a way to determine what breeds made up your mixed breed dog.

There is a test called the Wisdom Panel and is available at your veterinarian. Your veterinarian can take a small blood sample and send it off to a special laboratory where they can determine what breeds are in your pet’s pedigree.

We adopted a pet from a shelter in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and thought it must be a pug cross. My wife had the test done and we were way off. JP (Jefferson Parrish) was actually a mix of Miniature Poodle and Shih Tzu.

For us, it does not change how we feel about JP or JP’s role in the household, but it certainly satisfied our curiosity. In some cases, knowing the breeds that make up your pet can be important for your veterinarian to help predict and watch for certain medical conditions more prone to certain breeds.

So if you’re curious about your mixed mutt, you now have a way of finding out the specific breed mix. It could satisfy your curiosity and possibly help to keep your pet healthy

Jack L. Stephens DVM

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