Skin Allergies in Cats: What Every Pet Parent Should Know

If you own a cat, you may already know that your feline can be every bit as sensitive to allergens as humans can. They can react to outside allergens no matter the source, whether they are environmental, parasite-related, or even diet-related.

Most often, their reaction to allergens is itching, sometimes excessively so, and often it’s the only sign your cat will give you alerting you that something is wrong. It should come as no surprise that everything that can cause allergies in humans can also cause allergies in cats.

Common Allergens in Cats

Some of the most common allergens found in cats are:

  • Grass and weed pollens
  • Trees
  • Fabrics
  • Plastics and rubber
  • Dairy
  • Foods
  • Additives
  • Dust and house mites
  • Flea saliva

When a cat encounters one of these allergens, either by ingesting or inhaling it or even just touching it, it can cause an inflammatory response in his immune system. When this happens, your cat may itch in response to the release of chemicals in its body.

In most cases, allergies develop over an extended period of time, after repeated exposures to the allergen. Sometimes the allergens are seasonal, like certain tree pollens.

The exception to this is usually an insect bite, as allergies from an insect bite can develop much faster. Interestingly, allergies are a learned behavior of the immune system, and that learned behavior can be passed down genetically through generations of cats.1

For most felines, allergies tend to develop early on, usually starting anywhere from age 1 to 3.2 Sometimes they can start later, but it’s much rarer. The difficulty with allergies is that once a cat develops one, it’s common to begin to develop more, and the allergic response can become even more severe over time.

Some of the symptoms of allergies that you may notice in your cat are:

  • Hair loss
  • “Twitchy” skin
  • Pulling out hair “tufts”
  • Mutilations and lesions
  • Hot spots
  • Crusty sores

Unfortunately, this is because when your cat gets itchy, they will lick, scratch, and bite at the offending areas, sometimes so much so that they harm themselves.

When your cat displays behaviors like these, it’s called excessive grooming. Your cat will often do this in secret, or when you’re not looking, so it can be difficult to catch on to. Because of these compulsions, cats often wind up developing secondary infections because of the trauma they inflict upon their skin.

For most cats, allergies tend to be seasonal or related to inhalants such as house mites and dust mites. The best course of action is to take your cat to the vet so that they can run some allergy tests, and then begin to remove the things that are suspected to be an issue from your cat’s diet or environment and see if his health improves.

Food Allergies are the third most common allergy in felines.3 Itchy, irritated skin, and hair loss are the most common symptoms of a food allergy in cats, although gastrointestinal symptoms may affect your pet. The most common food allergies are related to the protein and carbohydrates compounds in your cat’s diet. These common allergens include dairy, fish, chicken, and beef.

By process of elimination, you should be able to at least narrow down the source of the allergy. Sometimes allergens can be suppressed with medications for several weeks. That will take care of the problem for a while, at least until the next year rolls around.

However, there are other allergens that are not seasonal, so they never completely disappear despite all your best efforts. In this case, your cat could undergo a variety of treatment options and doctor visits and still never fully resolve the problem.

Thankfully, while you can’t always eliminate all potential allergens from your cat’s life, you can take steps to reduce them significantly. You can also use topical treatments such as anti-itch creams, steroids, and even steroid injections. Shampoos and rinses also sometimes help improve your cat’s skin and coat health, along with other treatment methods such as antihistamines and omega-3 fatty acids.

Ultimately, you know your pet best, and only you can decide whether something is wrong and whether it warrants a visit to the vet. It can be frustrating trying to pinpoint exactly what is causing your cat so much distress, but once you’ve pinned down the culprit and eradicate it, it is well worth it.

Then you get to watch your cat begin to flourish again. His hair will grow back nice and shiny, and he will be purring in bliss, with no itching, biting, or chewing in sight!

References

1 https://www.acttallergy.com/allergy-facts/feline-allergies/

2 http://www.catsexclusive.com/educational-resources/atopy

3 http://www.vet.cornell.edu/fhc/Health_Information/foodallergies.cfm

Why Is My Cat Itching So Much?

Cats by instinct and nature are groomers. They love to clean themselves and lick their fur. However, if you aren’t careful, sometimes these behaviors could become compulsive.

Most often though, compulsive licking, scratching, and chewing occurs with certain breeds, such as the Siamese.

If your cat has never engaged in these behaviors before but is suddenly now licking, scratching, and chewing himself, it may not be so much a compulsion, but a reaction to an unknown underlying feline skin condition.

When cats over-groom themselves, they can end up losing their fur and create issues such as irritation and hotspots, open wounds, scabs, inflammation, and infections.

Unfortunately, until your cat starts showing visible signs like some of the above, it can be difficult to figure out whether your cat is engaging in normal grooming behaviors or excessive ones! Oddly enough, cats like to do their grooming business when no one is looking (we’ll call it top secret grooming), so it’s easy to miss when a behavior is becoming out of control.

Another problem in figuring out why your cat may be itching is because feline skin diseases can mimic each other in many ways and present with similar symptoms. So sometimes just looking and visually inspecting your cat doesn’t give you many answers or help you figure out the underlying cause of their itching. Here’s a quick overview of some of the more noticeable symptoms of itchy kitties.

Common Signs of Itching in Cats

  • Excessive scratching, itching, biting, and chewing, to the degree that causes damage to the skin.
  • Hair loss, often in a symmetrical pattern.
  • Dandruff coupled with a greasy looking skin and coat. These symptoms could indicate miliary dermatitis.
  • Skin lesions and ulcers that can affect various parts of the cat’s body as well as develop inside their mouth.

Unfortunately, once your cat begins to develop visually obvious signs like skin lesions, healing can take quite a long time.

That’s why it’s important to try to catch these signs and symptoms as early on as possible, so you can begin treatment right away and prevent further skin damage in your fur baby.

Skin Conditions that Cause Itching in Cats

Environmental Allergies

A cat that suffers from environmental allergies will often show signs and symptoms early on in his life. For instance, he may experience symptoms at the change of seasons, and then you may notice as time goes on that his symptoms seem to get worse and last longer.

Sometimes your cat can suffer from indoor allergens like dust mites. If this is the case, he can have allergy problems all year long, not just seasonally. Occasionally cats may even be allergic to cleaning products that you use in your home, or litter that contains perfume.

It can be difficult to pin down exactly what’s plaguing your cat, but once you do and remove the allergen, he should recover relatively quickly. 

Food Allergies

When a cat has food allergies, you may notice him start to lose hair around his face and neck, and sometimes other areas as well. Your cat could also suffer from vomiting or diarrhea, and even weight loss.

Foods like dairy, fish, chicken, and beef can all cause allergies in cats – even if they’ve never shown signs of an allergy before. Food allergies can come on suddenly with no rhyme or reason. The only way to nail down a specific food allergy and eliminate the trigger is to put your cat on a special hypoallergenic diet for 8 to 10 weeks.

However, this can be difficult, so your vet may try to rule out any other possible culprits for the itching condition before recommending such a diet. 

Parasites

Flea Bites

Fleas are one of the most common culprits of an itchy kitty, and thankfully are one of the easiest to diagnose.

You can sometimes see the fleas on your cat just with a visual inspection. If you can’t find the tiny insects, sometimes you can see little black granules, called “flea dirt.”

Flea dirt occurs when the flea digests blood and deposits it into your cat’s fur. This dirt can usually be found around your cat’s neck or at the base of his tail and his lower back. It is easiest to look for fleas and flea dirt on your kitty’s stomach, as there is less hair there and they are easier to find. It is a good idea to wait until your cat is sleepy before poking around his belly!

If you don’t see any fleas at all, the most likely scenario is that your cat has eaten the flea. When this is the case, you won’t find any evidence of fleas at all, not even flea dirt.

Even if you can’t find anything in these areas, it doesn’t mean your cat isn’t suffering from fleas. If your cat keeps scratching those areas, you might still want to try a doctor recommended flea medication just to be safe.

It’s also a good idea to treat your home because fleas can be brought into contact with your cat in a variety of ways, even through you.

Skin Parasites

Other common culprits to your cat’s itching problem are skin parasites. Parasites can cause very severe itching. Cats that may have contact with other animals outside or go outside on a regular basis are more susceptible.

Unfortunately, skin parasites such as mites can be difficult to diagnose. If you do find that mites are the problem, your cat will most likely need a topical parasiticide. Sometimes they may also need to be dipped in a lime sulfur solution. If you want to try to prevent your cat from picking up skin parasites, it’s best to keep your cat indoors and away from strange animals.

Insect Bites

Sometimes your cat may itch because he has been bitten or stung by an insect. Wasps and bees can cause pain and swelling, whereas flies and mosquitoes can cause massive irritation and itching.

More often than not, you’ll notice bites along the ears or the bridge of nose because insects tend to gravitate towards hairless areas.

Ear Mites

Ear mites can cause inflammation, especially in younger cats. However, they aren’t just relegated to the ears. Ear mites can move around and even spread to your cat’s neck and head or tail and backside. Ear mites are highly contagious to other animals.1

Ringworm

Ringworm is a relatively common condition, and it can cause some pretty intense itching. Ringworm is a fungal infection, causing problems, not with just your cat’s skin, but his hair and nails too. With ringworm, you may notice lesions on your cat’s skin. They may look like little bald areas that are red in the center, with flaky skin. Typically, you’ll find these lesions around your cat’s head and ears, or near his tail.

Ringworm is quite contagious, so if you suspect it, make sure you lock your cat up in a kennel away from other pets and wash your hands thoroughly.

Skin Disorders

Dry Skin

Dry skin has numerous causes ranging from environmental irritants, a cheap diet, to changes in the season. However, if your cat’s itchiness also presents with flaking, there could be a more serious underlying problem, and you should have your vet look into it.

Sun Damage

Sun damage is just as easy to develop in cats as it is in humans – especially when it comes to the white or light colored breeds, and cats that have white or light colored ears and noses.

Ears are particularly sensitive, but noses and eyelids are affected as well. Outdoor cats have a bigger risk of sunburn and skin damage than indoor cats, but all can be affected.

Feline Acne

Feline acne, although not as common as some of the other skin conditions can still make your cat itchy. This is a condition where your cat can develop blackheads, usually on their chin, that then progresses and turns itchy and red. When this happens, they can develop into pimples, then to abscesses that can rupture and become itchy and crusty. You also must be careful because your cat could develop a bacterial infection as a secondary condition.

Bacterial Skin Infection

This is fairly uncommon, but sometimes it happens. It can also coincide with a yeast overgrowth that can contribute to the misery of your itchy feline. Every time your cat experiences severe trauma to the skin from excessive scratching, he can be prone to infection. These infections are typically secondary to some other underlying cause.

Systemic Disorders

Feline Eosinophilic Granuloma Complex

This is a disorder where your cat produces an excessive number of a particular type of white blood cells called eosinophils.2 Three different types of conditions can result from this overproduction of eosinophils.

  • Eosinophilic Plaque
  • Eosinophilic Granuloma
  • Indolent ulcer

With each of these conditions, you may notice either round or oval-shaped ulcerated sores, raised sores, masses, or lumpy sores. These wounds are typically found on the abdomen or thighs, or their face or inside their mouth. Indolent ulcers can cause abscessed lesions along the upper lip as well.

Pemphigus Foliaceus

This condition causes your cat to itch his feet. It’s an autoimmune skin disorder and can present as crusty, scaly looking skin, mild ulcerations, pustules, and you may notice overgrowth and cracking on their footpads.3 Itchy and painful indeed!

Cowpox Virus

This is another rare phenomenon. It typically manifests in cats that like to hunt small rats. Cowpox Virus develops when the rat bites the cat.4 The virus enters the skin through the bite, and after a few days, you may notice little-ulcerated nodules pop up. These can be itchy and painful!

Miscellaneous Disorders and Diseases

Boredom and Anxiety

Sometimes cats will engage in compulsive licking, scratching, and chewing behaviors when he is bored, anxious, or suffering from a mental disorder. This seems to be more prevalent with indoor kitties, possibly because they get less exercise and interaction with the outside world.

Environmental changes, such as moving into a new home, or welcoming a new family member (whether four-legged or two) into the home can also be a cause for compulsive behaviors in your feline. It’s important for cats to feel loved and safe and comfy, and to receive plenty of exercise and stimulation each day to keep them from being bored and anxious.

Pain

Sometimes cats will lick, chew, and bite because they are feeling pain in a particular area. If you notice your cat seems to be doing this in the same spot over and over, it could be pain related.

Cancer

Unfortunately, with long-term and excessive skin damage, you increase your cat’s risk of developing skin cancer. Also, sometimes your cat may itch excessively due to a tumor that is developing that may be related to another type of cancer. It’s important to examine every bump or lump that you find, and confirm it’s nothing serious.

Treatments for an Itchy Cat

Depending on the condition and what is causing the itching, your vet may offer several treatment options. If your cat is suffering from fleas, your vet may prescribe an oral flea medication.

If it is a food allergen that is suspect, your vet may recommend a special diet to try to rule out the offending food.

Sometimes topicals can be used (such as creams), but if your cat is licking all the time, they can lick the medicine right off and render it useless.

Things like fatty acid supplements, antihistamines, sprays, and baths can sometimes be helpful as well but aren’t a guarantee. More often than not you may still need to resort to antibiotics and steroids, or other recommended treatments.

If you choose to use steroids like corticosteroids, the only drawback is that they can have side effects. Thankfully, cats tend to respond much better to steroids than humans do, but even still, they can be dangerous and lose their effectiveness over time if not administered and monitored properly.

References

1 https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/ear-mites-otodectes-in-cats-and-dogs

2 https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/feline-eosinophilic-granuloma-complex-in-cats

3 http://www.skinvetclinic.com/pemphigusfoliaceus.html

4 http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1098612X13489212?journalCode=jfma

What Causes Hair Loss in Cats?

You know you have a healthy cat when they have a shiny, soft, thick coat. However, when you start to notice that your cat seems to be losing a substantial amount of fur, this can be worrisome, especially if their hair loss is coupled with excessive scratching.

While it is normal for your cat to shed some of his fur (like in the summer when he begins to shed his winter coat), if he is losing a lot of hair or losing his hair in clumps, it may be cause for alarm. If you also notice other feline skin issues like sores and inflammation, then something is definitely off, and you know there must be a more serious reason for your cat’s hair loss.

So, what causes hair loss in cats? There are several potential causes, but here is a short list of the most common.

Allergies

Skin allergies, or allergic dermatitis, in cats, are the biggest cause when it comes to hair loss. On top of hair loss in cats, you may also notice hotspots and patchy skin that looks irritated or inflamed.

Unfortunately, it can be hard to narrow down the source of the allergen. Allergens can be environmental or food-based, and sometimes it takes a process of elimination to figure out which your cat suffers from. The most common feline food allergies are to the protein or carbohydrate content of their food.1 If a food allergy is suspected, an elimination diet should be started to find the culprit. Once you do pinpoint the allergen and remove it, your cat’s woes should clear right up, and his hair should grow back in as normal.

Psychogenic Alopecia

This is a fancy name for compulsive grooming. Compulsive grooming is a mental disorder where your cat will groom himself excessively – biting, chewing, and licking so much that he pulls out his hair and even create sores, irritation, and infection.2

Notoedric Mange

This is the result of a parasite, and you may notice hair loss on your cat’s face and upper body, especially around the neck, eyelids, and ears.3 This parasite is the second most common pest to plague cats.

Eosinophilic Granuloma

Vets do not currently know the exact cause of this condition, but your cat will develop lesions and lose the hair on the backs of his legs.4 It is thought that this condition is related to allergies somehow, but no one knows for sure.

Demodectic Mange

Demodectic Mange is a common cause of itching and hair loss in cats, caused by mites burrowing under the skin.5 These bugs can cause quite a bit of itching but are so tiny; they are invisible to the naked eye.

Ringworm

Ringworm is a fungus and will manifest on your cat as hair loss in little circular patterns. Because this fungus infects the shaft of the hair, sometimes it’s necessary to shave your cat after treatment to make sure the fungus is completely removed.

Fleas

A very common condition found in cats is something called flea-based alopecia, where the cat is very sensitive to flea saliva. The result is hair loss in a patchy pattern, coupled with… you guessed it… itching.6

Cushing’s Disease

This disease is rare in felines, but when your cat has it, he will lose hair on both sides of his body.7 Your cat also may present with other symptoms such as lethargy and increased thirst and appetite. You may also find that your kitty doesn’t enjoy a good petting the way he used to because his skin is too sensitive.

Thyroid Disease

Just like people, cats experience thyroid issues too, such as hypothyroidism. Unfortunately, hypothyroidism can also be a culprit for hair loss in cats. With hypothyroidism, hair can become very brittle and dull and fall out when you pet or brush your cat.

Feline Endocrine Alopecia

This is a condition where your cat loses hair on his inner legs, abdomen, and genital area. It is thought to be related to hormone levels. However, whatever it is related to, the condition is rare.

As you can see, though we can’t always know what causes hair loss in cats, there are a variety of possible conditions to look at.

Some of them can be more severe than others, so if you do notice that your cat appears to be grooming himself more than usual, or that his hair seems to be disappearing in clumps or patches or odd places, it’s much better to be safe than sorry.

Take your cat in to see a vet and let them help you figure out the source of the problem and get his skin and coat looking better in no time!

References:

1 http://www.vet.cornell.edu/fhc/Health_Information/foodallergies.cfm

2 https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/cat-behavior-problems-compulsive-disorders-in-cats

http://www.aavp.org/wiki/arthropods/arachnids/astigmata/notoedres-cati/

4  https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/feline-eosinophilic-granuloma-complex-in-cats

5 https://www.banfield.com/pet-healthcare/additional-resources/article-library/conditions-illnesses/demodectic-mange-overview

6 http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/vmth/small_animal/dermatology/factsheets.cfm

7 http://www.petmd.com/cat/conditions/endocrine/c_ct_Hyperadrenocorticism?page=show

10 Facts About Pet Food That Will Surprise You

Choosing a good pet food that is nutritious and healthy for your fur baby can be challenging to say the least. There are so many commercial pet foods that are (for want of a better term), nothing but dry kibble – lacking all of the essential nutrients your fur kid needs.

However, there are some pet food manufacturers that do value the health of your pet, and strive to create feed that is healthy and nutritious. It just becomes a matter of learning how to sift the wheat from the chaff, so to speak.

With that said, here are 10 surprising facts about commercial pet food that just might surprise you. Take them to heart, and keep them in mind when choosing the best pet food for your four-legged companion.

Not All Pet Foods Are Created Equal

In fact, some may be seriously subpar. There are certain pet foods that are manufactured from what is known as 4D meat. Worse, this practice is perfectly legal. 4D meat comes from diseased and disabled animals who are dying or have died. Sound yummy?

Yeah, doesn’t sound too appetizing to us either. You wouldn’t eat meat like this, so don’t feed it to your pet. Instead, make sure that the pet food you are buying is “fit for human consumption.”

Consider Feeding Your Pet “Fresh” Food

Or at least feed them fresh food part of the time. Unfortunately, whether you’re buying canned food or dry kibble, the process that makes them stable enough to sit on a shelf for months on end is so extreme that most of the time any natural nutrients that may have been present get eradicated.

This means that manufacturers are forced to add things back in, like synthetic minerals and vitamins and even artificial flavors, just to entice your pet to eat it.

Read the Ingredients. Really!

We bet you only thought you’d have to read ingredients for your own food. Unfortunately, no. Read the ingredients in your pet food of choice, and see how it measures up. Ideally you want the first ingredients to be proteins, not grains and starches.

In fact, you might consider going grain-free entirely. Often grains are corn or cornmeal based, which is highly fattening and offers very little nutritional value.

Sometimes veggies like garbanzo beans and peas may be added in as starches, and those are acceptable. Just make sure they aren’t the first ingredient listed.

Avoid “Meat Meal”

Yes, you want the first ingredients to be protein, but you don’t want that protein to be meat meal. Meat meal is basically an animal by-product, and you probably don’t want to know what goes into its production. Suffice to say, avoid, avoid, avoid.

Added Preservatives Are Unhealthy

Unfortunately, they are necessary for most commercial pet food brands, so that the food can store for indeterminate periods of time. There are some natural preservatives, but they increase production costs, which make them largely undesirable to pet food manufacturers.

Also, it’s worth noting that some preservatives are also used as pesticides, and some are even known to cause health risks, yet they are still used. Even if the preservative agent is illegal in other countries, it could still be legal here in the good old US of A.

Raw Food, Shmaw Food

There’s a belief that is being passed around that raw foods are bad for your pet and you shouldn’t feed them such nonsense. We call baloney.

Obviously, pet food manufacturers have a vested interest in making people believe kibble and canned food is better than raw or real food. It doesn’t make it true.

Just like we can thrive on a raw food diet, animals can as well. So even if you feed your pet commercial food a few times a week, then mix it up with fresh food the other days of the week, you could potentially offset nutritional deficiencies.

Protein Extenders = Bad

Protein extenders are used to save on costs. For instance, blood meal is considered a “protein extender.” However, it is essentially indigestible for your furry friend. What is blood meal, you might ask? It is blood that has been dried and powdered, and then used in various brands of pet food. The other problem with blood meal is that it has the potential to pass along mad cow disease to dogs.

Buyer Beware of Heavy Metals

Metals such as lead, mercury, and cadmium have been found in commercial pet foods. Obviously, this is not desirable, nor healthy. 

Nutrient Poison

Another fun factoid: because the manufacturing process depletes nutrients, pet food manufacturers will add back in synthetic nutrients. Sometimes this can be overkill, and even toxic to your animal, such as too much vitamin A or vitamin D.

To Meat or Not to Meat…

Because too much meat can mess with a manufacturers machines, most dry kibbles are made up of about 50% of the good stuff. If it’s the good stuff. See point number 1.

Remember to research your options, and choose your pet food wisely.

Your Dog’s Kibble Isn’t Enough: The Truth About Commercial Pet Food

When it comes to your fur baby, (and obviously, the key word here is “baby”), you want to feed them as healthy a diet as possible. For most pet owners, their dog is like a member of the family, and you certainly wouldn’t feed other members of your family only unhealthy foods or an unbalanced diet.

Therefore, why would you sacrifice quality and nutrition when it comes to your four-legged friend? Unfortunately, most commercial dog food does just that… sacrifices quality and balanced nutrition, at the expense of you and your dog.

A healthy diet equals a healthy (and long) life. In a day and age where 40% of dogs have packed on more pounds than is optimal, and 46% of dogs today die from diseases like cancer, you should want to give your pet the best chance possible at a long and healthy life. Heart, liver, and kidney disease is on the rise, and it all boils down to being mindful of just what you are feeding your pet.

Much like humans, what you put into your dog is what comes out. If you feed them a poor diet every day, it can manifest itself into various illnesses and ailments. Not the goal when you go to pick up that bag of dog food, right?

So, let’s talk about a few truths when it comes to commercial dog food, so you can see how so many of them miss the mark when it comes to nourishing your furry little cuddle buddy.

Complete and Balanced is a Best Guess

Just because something says it, doesn’t make it true. While it would be nice to believe that one single brand of dog food can meet all the nutritional needs of your dog, the reality is that is most likely not the case.

There is no single brand of dog food that will meet all of your dog’s nutrient needs all the time. Therefore, food rotation and supplementation is encouraged. Which leads us to truth number two.

It’s Healthier to Mix It Up

It’s perfectly fine to mix your dog’s food up. As a matter of fact, it’s important to mix it up for your dog, to ensure that the diet they are being fed truly is “balanced and complete.”

If you think about it, would you like to eat the same thing day in and day out? Probably not. So, if you wouldn’t, why would your dog?

They need variety too, and the message that switching their feed could give them a bellyache, while potentially true in the short-run, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. An upset stomach can actually be a sign that your dog has nutritional deficiency somewhere, and needs a wider variety of food.

Just like people, when your dog is not nutritionally sound, his gut will not work optimally. Once your dog gets the complete nutrition he needs, and his gut heals and begins to work the way it’s designed to do, then he can eat different foods on a regular basis with no issues, just the way we as people do.

Dry Dog Food or Canned?

Dry dog food (also called kibble) can be quite dehydrating. It has been linked to bloat as well as other health problems in both dogs and cats. Dry dog food is exposed to extreme heat during the production phase. Extreme heat causes a loss of potency in the nutritional value, in some cases destroying up to 75% of nutrients and vitamins.

Canned food is a tad bit more “fresh”, and less heat is used to create it, increasing its nutritional value. However, there’s still nothing that beats real (fresh) food for your pet.

Whether it’s cooked or raw, dehydrated, freeze-dried, or frozen… these forms offer much higher nutrition options for your fuzzy pal, and should be weighed carefully against the kibble brands you choose if you want to feed your pet the healthiest diet available.

Filling Your Dog Up With Corn

If you read the ingredients on the back of the food bag, you’ll find that the first one is most often corn, or some derivative of corn. This is because it’s a cheap filler, and lowers the costs of production.

Dog’s bodies are not designed to properly process corn by-products. Corn has even been identified as a possible allergen for dogs. When the main ingredient in your dogs food is corn or a corn by-product, you are feeding your pet a food that will not be easily digested or absorbed in their gut.

You will typically find corn used as a filler in the cheaper, low cost dog foods. To ensure that your dog is receiving wholesome nutrition, and not being filled up with corn at every meal, be sure to do your research and check the label for nutrition information! Your furry four-legged family member will not receive complete, balanced nutrition on food with grain filler as the main ingredient!

Dog Food “Good”, People Food “Bad”- Not!

Obviously, there are some foods that a dog cannot and should not eat. Things like grapes, raisins, onions, macadamia nuts, and garlic to name a few. Also, never give your dog any foods with Xylitol (it can be deadly), and stay away from allowing them chocolate as well. Other than those few no no’s, for the most part dogs can eat the same foods as humans do and be all the healthier for it.

Think of it like this… feeding your dog some commercial dog foods is similar to feeding your dog granola bars every day. Since we already know eating only processed food on a daily basis is not healthy for you, it stands to reason that a “processed food only” equivalent is also not healthy for your dog.

As more research is conducted on the proper diet for dogs, we are learning that a processed food only diet is no longer enough. Processed foods make for a longer shelf life and ease of feeding and convenience, but lack the complete proper nutrition necessary. We now understand that dog’s need whole food nutrition for optimal health and wellness!

Animal By-Product… What is It?

If you tend to feed your dog the cheaper brands, you can bet the cheaper the brand, the cheaper the ingredients will be. Corn and cornmeal will usually be the very first ingredient listed with “animal by-product” as the protein source. This kind of dog food is lacks proper, complete nutrition and can potentially lead to of health problems and diseases.

Keep in mind that the final rendered product that comes out of these many manufacturers of pet food is supposed to be labeled properly, and list its dominant animal source. However, it is hard to identify the main animal source when several different meats are used. As a result, food often gets labeled with terms like “meat by-product” or “animal by-product” as well as “animal fat”. Pretty ambiguous, right? It doesn’t tell you much.

Another unfortunate problem with this practice is that the meat sources can be contaminated. When companies chose to use ingredients such as “meat by-product” or “animal by-product”, these mix of animal species could have been on unknown drugs or antibiotics that can potentially be passed through the food to your pet!

Frankly, some commercial grade dog food is made of material that is considered “unfit for human consumption” … yet somehow it is deemed okay to feed to your dog. It is important to be aware of what you are feeding your dog!

What You Can – and Should Be Doing

This information may be startling, to say the least, but this is not to scare you away from feeding your furry four-legged friend his pet food! What you should take away from all of this information is how necessary it is to take the time to do research on what the best option is for your pet.

This is why you should always check the labels and ingredients of the dog food that you choose to buy, and try to find the brands that truly value animal life. They are out there, you just have to look for them. You also will probably pay a little more for them, but the health of your dog is worth it.

Do your due diligence! Research different dog food brands to compare what they have to offer. Select one that has high quality standards and creates their food recipes based on research and the help of nutritionists. Try to find brands of dog food that have wholesome nutrition and natural ingredients. Take the time to find options that are grain free and do not use any fillers. This can be time consuming, but well worth it for your fur friend’s health!

There are pet food companies that truly want to help you nourish your dog so that you can equip them to live a long and healthy life. Stay far away from the subpar cheaper brands that rely on fillers and by-product to keep costs low. Strive to make the health of your pet top priority and purchase the highest quality food that you can reasonably afford.