A Comprehensive Health Care Plan is critical for your Kitten’s fragile, formative months !

15% Savings On Kitten Vaccinations, Exams, Laboratory Tests, Microchipping, Spay/ Neuter Surgery (If done before 6 months of age)

Physical Examinations at regular intervals, are important to detect disease early in the rapidly growing, maturing Puppy.  Remember that a kitten  ages approximately 14 human years in its first 4 months of life!

Intestinal Parasite Testing (Fecal) ensures that your new kitten isn’t bringing home any parasites that can be dangerous to his own health, the health of other pets in the family or contagious to humans!

Feline Leukemia Testing- Is very important for all new kittens (and cats) to a family.  Feline Leukemia and Feline Immunosuppressive Virus are two of the most devastating viral diseases of cats.  They are both incurable and ultimately fatal infections that are contagious to other cats (in the household or in the neighborhood if infected cats go outside).  Diligent testing and subsequent responsible management of infected cats over the years have signficantly reduced the number of animals infected with this disease.  Knowing whether your new kitten potentially has either of these diseases has a huge bearing on how that kitty’s health is managed throughout her life as well!

Vaccinations are vital to protect a kitten against the worst contagious diseases of kittenhood.  Comprehensive kitten vaccinations provide a good base of immunity upon which immunity is built for the remainder of life. Kittens need vaccinations every 3-4 weeks from 6-8 weeks of age (depending on whether mama cat was vaccinated) through 15 weeks of age for a full first year of protection.

    Rhinotracheitis/ Calicivirus/ Distemper are highly contagoius, sometimes fatal, serious diseases of Kittens.  Vaccination and keeping your kitten Out Of Public Places Until Fully Vaccinated are the safest ways to protect him from these devastating diseases.

    Feline Leukemia vaccination will help protect your new kitten from this disastrous disease.  Even if you have no intention of letting yuor new baby cat outside, leukemia vaccinating is a good idea.  Most cats eventually sneak outside.  And it only takes a simple “hiss and spit” fight with an infected cat (even through a screen!) to give your furry kitty a fatal disease!

     Rabies is a fatal disease that can be transferred to humans.  Several cases of feline rabies are detected in Arizona every year.   Even inside cats can be exposed when rabid bats fly into a home or  the cat sneaks outside and plays with a downed bat or gets into a fight with other wildlife.  Wouldn’t you rather feel safe than worry whether your pet could carry a disease easily transmitted and fatal to your human family and friends?

Spaying and Neutering  Prevents unwanted pregnancies leading to unwanted ethanized pets.  It also helps to protect your pet against certain cancers and infections as well as undesirable behaviors such as urine marking, some dominance aggression (not always and more successful if done before the behavior pattern has been established) and roaming in search of a mate (and crossing streets and getting hit by cars…).   Receive a 15% discount off the price of your kitten’s spay or neuter surgery (including all anesthesia, pre-anesthetic lab testing, IV fluids, and monitoring) if the surgery is done before your kitten is 6 months old!

Microchipping for Permanent Identification will help you get your cat  back home if he or she gets lost.  Everyone thinks that his cat won’t get outside, get lost, stolen or hit by a car.  Yet, the Humane Societies are filled with lost cats.  Even “the best trained or most timidcats can sneak out the door, get out a door unwittingly left open by children or guests, or get confused during a move.    If your kitten has a microchip implanted under its skin ( a minor procedure done during an office visit), its chances of being reunited with you are greatly improved!

  Establishing a solid base for Wellness and Preventive Care for your new Kitteny will result in many more healthy years, with fewer crises.  Let us help you get off to the right start with a discount!

Contact Us today or Call 886-1125 for details on your Kitten’s Wellness Protection Plan!

Foods for “Large breed”, “Small Breed”,specific breeds  formulas– are they worth the bother and expense?

lg breed food“Large Breed” Puppy  formulations-Worth the money!  These diets have been developed to help protect large breed dogs against hip dysplsia and osteoarthritis, which usually develop later in life, but get their beginning in puppyhood.  Hip dysplasia is a complex disease that is in part genetic– nothing you can do about that– environmental (don’t hysterically over-exercise young puppies who are rapidly growing), and nutritional.  It’s important to avoid “over nutrition” in young, rapidly growing puppies.  Your large breed puppy will grow to his full genetic potential with good nutrition.  Over feeding will only make him too chunky and provide too many calories, contributing to an ecessively rapid growth rate.  This causes all kinds of debilitating developmental bone diseases and just makes a genetically predisposed hip dysplasia case worse!  Rolly-poly puppies are cute, but they are more likely to develop health issues than pups that are kept lean.  Large Breed puppy foods are designed to have fewer calories to protect against puppyhood obesity and a better mineral balance to support bone growth without contributing to too rapid a bone growth. (**  Do NOT give large breed puppies extra calcium or other minerals– this contributes to abnormal bone growth without allowing proper supportive muscle development. **)

Large Breed Adult and Senior formulas- Worth the money!  Look for the foods that supplement their formulas with extra omega 3 fatty acids, namely “EPA”, or fish oils.  These are a great idea!  Omega 3 fatty acids derived from fish (not flax seed– dogs can’t metabolize the omega 3s in flax seed oil into a useful product for their dog bodies) are excellent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant supplements– terrific for larger dogs’ joints.  Extra omega 3s Are WORTH Paying for.  Another supplement being offered is Glucosamine and Chondroitin in Large breed dog foods.  Unfortunately, glucosamine and chondroitin are poorly absorbed molecules, unless they are specially processed as in the premium brands (Dasuquin and Cosequin ™ for example).  Providing this high quality glucosamine/ condroitin complex in a serving of dog food would be cost prohibitive for the company to make and even the most affluent dog owners to buy.  So, there simply is not enough glucosamine and chondroitin in dog food to be effective.  If you are paying extra for dog food for the Glucosamine/ Chondroitin supplement, STOP!  It’s NOT Worth Paying for.

“Small  Breed” diets Huge Gimmick!  They are designed to appeal to pet owners, playing on their sympathies that their tiny lap dog needs his food specially processed.  Often, the only thing different between a brand’s regular formula and their “Small breed” formulation is the smaller size of the kibble.  The smaller kibbles are easier for the tiny dogs to eat because they don’t have to chew them.  But, this is actually BAD for their teeth!  Chewing exercise is one of the best things to keep dog teeth in good shape!   Royal Canin ™ is a notable exception to this rule.  They make their small breed foods a little larger than other brands and actually add plaque retardant enzymes to many of their smaller breed formulas because they adress the special health needs of small breeds– namely little dogs’ huge propensity for dental disease (regardless of the foods that they eat). So, if you feel inclined to buy “Small Breed” food for your small breed dog to help him eat, don’t do it!  Choose the regular dog size food instead.  (Some dogs, because of their unique dentition have difficulty chewing, so consult your vet if your dog seems to “choke” on his food often)

rc yorkie foodrc cocker food


rc siamese foodBreed specific dog and cat foods- Worth considering!   These formulas target specific health conerns of those breeds.  Royal Canin(tm) is probably the most notable manufacturer.    Most of their rationale is scientifically based and very reasonable.  For example,  their Bulldog formula is designed in a special shape to make it easier for bulldogs to pick up because of their unique jaw structure.  Supplemented fatty acids support their allergy and infection prone skin and arthritits-prone joints.  The formula is even specially designed to reduce flatulence!  Who hasn’t been run out of a room by dog toots?!
Breed specific cat foods are also available:  Siamese food has high protein content to help maintain their preferred lean body  condition and added prebiotics to assist their notoriously sensitive digestive systems.  Persian food has prebiotics for their sensitive GI tracts, hairball remedy to help with that 231 miles of fur, and specially shaped kibble to encourage chewing since these cats are prone to dental disease.  For pets with health concerns common to their breeds, these foods are WORTH the money for otherwise healthy adults!

Vet’s Perspective (my opinion):
  Large Breed puppy formula is a MUST for large breed puppies.  Continue with Large Breed formula for appropriate life stages, barring medical reasons to change.
Small breed foods, with the exception of Royal Canin brand foods are largely not helpful to your dogs dental health.  There is no need to buy special here.  Make your small breed dog chew his food!
Breed specific foods, at least from the Royal Canin line, are based on solid scientific and nutritional research to proactively protect those breeds from diseases common to the breed.  If you prefer prevention of disease over treatment, these can be a very nice diet option!

List of Royal Canin Breed Specific Dog Diets – there might one just for your dog!


Find the Product that fits YOUR dog’s needs!     (this is really a cool tool!)


List of Royal Canine Breed Diets for CATS



Find the Product that meets Your Cat’s Needs!

PrescriptionFood displayMy vet is always pushing the food he sells as being better for my pet than the food I’m feeding.   But, I think he’s just trying to make a buck selling me that over priced food!.

Not true.

First of all, veterinarians make very little on the food they sell-  a few bucks a bag, is all- barely enough to pay the staff to inventory it and stack it.  Food takes up a lot ofHills_Logo_RGB space, is an inventory nightmare and produces very little profit!  So, there has to be something else motivating your vet to recommend specific food– your pet’s best nutritional health.

 There is no one better than your vet to make dietary and nutritional recommendations for Your Pet.  Your vet knows your pet better than anyone (except you!). The kid in the pet store making pet food recommendations doesn’t know anything about your pet’s health. They are educated by the pet food companies to emphasize whatever aspect of that food the company thinks will appeal to human purchasing sympathies.  They are educated by the store management to “push” certain foods that are over-stocked in the store’s inventory.  They are brainwashed by pet food companies to sell you food, regardless of the nutritional needs of Your pet.

Besides, why Ever, would you more readily believe the advice of a store employee, who has no formal education in animal nutrition, over the advice of your own calorie control rcveterianrian?  A significant part of your veterinarian’s education was devoted to animal nutrition, how nutrients are tied to metabolic functions, right down to the cellular and molecular level, and the natural feeding habits of animals.  Vets have all your pet’s nutritional needs in one place– their brain.

When a pet has special nutritional needs because of disease (liver failure, kidney disease, diabetes, etc) or nutritional deficits (Zinc-responsive dermatoses, hypothyroidism, etc) or obesity- the most common nutritional disease- your veterinarians recommendations are key to improving the health of your pet!

It’s true that presciption pet foods and veterinary lines of pet foods are more expensive than many over-the-counter foods.  But, they are usually made by companies that Purina Veterinary Diets logo 200 x 87put a lot of money into pet nutrition research and into the quality control of the manufacturing of their foods.  There are far fewer food recalls from the Veterinary food companies than pet foods sold in the grocery store!  Furthermore, your pet probably has a special need prompting your vet to make the diet recommendation.  Your vet likely feels that your pet’s condition or over-all health can be improved by eating the special diet.  That food is just as much as part of the treatment for your pet’s condition as any pill they could give you!  And, if feeding the special diet improves your pet’s quality or length of life, reduces the number of pills you have to buy and the number of vet visits you have to make, isn’t the extra expense of the food worthwhile?  A bag of prevention… is worth numerous trips tot he vet!

Momma cat and kitten sleepingTry to remember that your vet is not trying to make money off you by recommending a diet change.  Realize that they have sifted through all the gimmicks and fads for you, so the recommendations they make are not based on the latest pet food craze (like “vegetarian” and “grain-free”- when did berries become any more “natural” for dogs and cats?).  Their recommendations are based on their thorough knowledge of animal nutrition and its intimate links with your pet’s particular wellness needs.



I’ve heard Corn is bad for pets.  Is this true?

Less expensive pet foods often contain a lot of corn, used largely as a carbohydrate source, because it is cheap.

Dry foods have more corn /grain than canned foods as these grain products are used to give the food it’s crunchy texture.


 Corn is not a very natural food for dogs, who are omnivores, and certainly not for cats, who are carnivores.

Vets have recommended dry food over wet food for decades to improve pet’s dental health (because we don’t let our pets chew on bones because we don’t like having to perform emergency surgery to remove the bones from obstructing their intestines).

The result: more high carb foods have been fed to our pets over the decades.

There has been a huge  rise in diabetes in dogs and cats, largely attributed to the high carbohydrate content of commercially available pet foods.  So there came a great movement away from corn and grains, in general, being deemed the evil contributors to the rise in pet illness (diabetes,and obesity).  Furthermore, as we learned more about food allergies in pets, as in people, we discovered pets develop allergies to their food ingredients:  proteins from any source, whether meat, dairy, grain, fish, or soy.  So, another strike against corn and grains.

  I believe that we feed our dogs and, especially our cats, way too many carbohydrates in general.  That is one of the reasons that I don’t recommend feeding less expensive grocery store foods.  The less expensive it is, the more likely it is to be heavy on carbohydrates, light on protein.  However, some carbohydrates are improtant for metabolism, brain function, athletic energy, etc.  The “bad” thing is the amount of carbs.  So, buy Premium over grocery-store brands that use corn and grain judiciously, as a highly digestible energy and protein source.

 BUT Beware :  A lot of the “grain-free” foods just replace the corn, wheat and barley with high glycemic value carbohydrates such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and carrots in their formulations!  Food ingredients with high glycemic value, as any human diabetic knows, are quickly converted into sugar by the body.  This is even worse than corn and other high fiber, low glycemic grains!

If you are looking for grain- free food, look for diets that get the necessary carbs into their foods with lower-glycemic sources such as peas and berries (even peas have a pretty high gycemic index, balanced only by their high protein content) which is at least better for protecting our pets against the diabetes epidemic.

Another reason humans choose to feed grain- free foods is because they believe that it is more “natural” for the pet.  After all, how many pets would eat corn in the wild?  Well, cats wouldn’t.  But a dog would if it was in the intestines of its prey dinner (cats don’t usually eat the intestines of their prey).  But then, they would also eat the other grains, seed, berries and grasses present, too.  But, potatoes and sweet potatoes  are not a usual food item for most prey animals, so these are certainly even less “natural”!   (How many wild dogs and cats go rooting for potatoes?)

Here’s a List of  “Red zone- High Glycemic Index foods”  Are these in your pet’s food?  Located toward the top of the list, indicating high volume in the overall mix?   

The other big reason for the grain-free craze is our new understanding of food allergies in pets.  Certainly, some  pets can  develop allergies to corn, wheat and other grains.  But, many more pets develop allergies to beef, chicken, soy and  dairy products than to vegetable sources!  So, there is nothing magically hypoallergenic about grain-free or corn-free food, unless that happens to be the (unlikely) ingredient that your pet is allergic to!  You can certainly try a grain free diet to see if your pet’s allergies improve.   If they do improve, great!  If not, you have not ruled out other food allergies.  

Vet’s Perspective (my opinion):
 If you want to see if your pet responds to a grain- free diet, go ahead and try it.  Just realize that there is nothing sacred about the over-all nutritional value in grain free diets.  I have seen  many pets suffer from the number one nutritional disease– obesity– on grain-free diets as on any other food. (Because there is no control on the number of calories that go into pet diets, so many of these “nautral and grain-free” foods are unreasonably high in calories.   So, don’t get taken in by the advertising or the teenager at the pet food store.

There is nothing “dirty” or “bad” about grains and corn in pet food diets as long as they are not used excessively!

“Myth of Fact” :Corn is a poorly digested “filler” that causes allergies

“Myth or Fact: Pet foods should be grain-free
An interesting perspective on grain -free foods…

cat eating foodDo they really help?  Are they worth the extra expense?
Usually Yes and Yes.  Sometimes, maybe not so  much…

There are pet foods advertising that they prevent hairballs, prevent or retard dental disease, protect against sensitive skin conditions, protect against obesity, treat sensitive digestive tracts and various combinations of the above!  Let’s explore which of these is really worthwhile.

Hairball preventive/ protective foods
are usually helpful.  However, they don’t work equally well for all cats.  And, the secret ingredient is nothing tricky:  psyllium.  The stuff Metamucil (r) is made of!  This digestible fiber helps with hairballs by gumming the GI contents together, promoting a more rapid transit time.  So fur gets stuck in the food digesta and processed out of the stomach faster– before it can cause vomiting, and out into the litterbox faster and smoother.  Any diet can be made into “Hairball formula” at home by sprinkling a small amount of unflavored generic Metamucil on your cat’s food.  But, that’s one more thing to do in the morning.  For the convenience, if your cat has hairballs, it MAY be worth the price.

Dental diets
have revolutionized the level of are that owners can give their pet’s teeth! Studies have shown that Dental Diets can reduce the amount of tartar or pets’ teeth by 80%!  And, since diet and dental care are probably the #1 and #2 Best Things that you can do for your pet’s overall health, Dental Diets usually take care of both!  Grocery store brands of dental diets are OK, but Premium brand dental diets are better *.  These diets usually have larger kibbles, forcing dogs and cats to actually chew their food– not just swallow whole!.   Some have enzymes to help break down accumulated tartar, and calcium binders to lower the calcium content in the saliva (which causes the hardened “calculus” that forms on animals’ teeth).  Dental diets are especially helpful for pets showing a tendency toward dental disease or those who won’t allow their owners to rush their teeth.  When these diets help reduce the numbers of times that a pet has to undergo anesthetic professional cleanings, that saves them from the procedure and you the expense.  That’s WORTH the expense, in my book!

“Sensitive skin”
formulas can be helpful to pets with inhaled allergies or contact allergies because they help improve the skin’s natural immune barrier.  This has recently become a focus of interest into why some animals (and humans) have more skin allergies than others!  The Sensitive Skin  diets can sometimes be helpful in pets with food allergies as well IF the pet is allergic to an ingredient that is NOT included in the diet. Beware: over-the-counter diets that claim to be for sensitive skin are NOT the same as a truly “Hypoallergenic diet” that may be recommended by a veterinarian.  However, a 3 month trial with a sensitive skin food– with nothing else passing the pet’s lips– will tell you how much it can help your pet.

“Sensitive Stomach” formulas
work great for some pets with chronic diarrhea or vomiting, especially if they have food intolerances.  These diets also improve gastrointestinal health by supplementing fatty acids, probiotics (healthy gut bacteria) and prebiotics (nutrients to promote rapid growth of probiotics).  Just about any pet can benefit from these supplements.  And, sometimes, it’s just a matter of trying a diet for a couple of months (again, with nothing else passing the pet’s lips) to see how much it can help.  Definitely WORTH the extra expense if the diet cures the vomiting or diarrhea issues!

“Inactive”, “Lite”, “Redued calorie”
are all labels that invite human consumers to purchase pet foods for their obese pets.  Unfortunately, there is nothing necessarily low calorie about these foods, according to a 2010 study by Tufts University *. There are few regulations on when pet foods have to list calorie density (the amount of calories pe rserving) on their packaging.  And, with such variety on the recommended serving sizes for pets, it’s very hard to know how to begin helping an overweight pet lose the extra pounds.  You sure Can’t Rely on the Package claims to give you any guidance.  Your best recommendations will come from your vet.  If you can find out how many calories your dog or cat food has, your vet can calculate how much you need to feed to help an overweight pet lose extra pounds.  Beware: these diets are often misleading in their labeling!

Vet’s Perspective (my opinion):
Hairball formulas work for most cats- some still need additional treatments.  They are worth buying for the sake of convenience, if you don’t want to supplement the food yourself (but then, again, you will still have to buy the psyllium to add…)
Dental diets
made by the Premium food companies (Royal Canin(tm) and Science Diet ™ ) are terrific for pet’s prone to dental disease! If your pet has no health issues requiring a special diet, these diets are great nutrition and great dental care in one package!
Sensitive skin diets
are always worth a try, but check with your vet first.  If your pets has sensitive skin issues, there is probably an underlying disorder that your vet can help with to maximize your diet success.
Sensitive stomach formulas
are good for almost all pets and certainly worth a try for pets with chronic diarrhea or vomiting issues.  Again, though, consult your vet as there are often serious underlying reasons for chronic vomiting and diarrhea that may need to be dealt with as well.
“Low calorie” diets
usually are not what they are “cracked up” to be.  If you really want to help your pet lose weight, consult with your vet about the calorie content of your pet’s regular food.  Your vet can help you figure how much of your pet’s regular  food to feed to help your pet lose weight.  If the food you feed is extra high in calories, your vet can recommend a lower calorie food!


Laser Treatment DogA lot of people are interested in the concept of a drug-free, pain-free, surgery-free alternative to pain management in their pets, but intelligent, discerning pet owners often ask me: “But How Does It Work?”

  • Laser Therapy uses “cold” laser light of low intensity to stimulate tissues to heal. Healing occurs by a number of physiologic mechanisms.
  • Laser light dilates blood vessels in the area of application. Dilated blood vessels can carry de-oxygenated blood away and bring in freshly oxygenated blood faster. The departing blood will also carry away deleterious by-products of injury and bring in fresh cellular nutrients, allowing cells to rejuvenate faster.
  • Lymphatic vessels are also dilated, allowing edema-forming lymph fluid to escape injured tissues, reducing swelling. This reduces pain.
  • Laser light desensitizes local nerves so that they cannot fire as quickly, thereby sending fewer pain signals to the brain.
  • Healing tissue fibers called collagen align themselves in a more linear, uniform, “normal” direction when exposed to laser light, reducing scarring and improving the tissue strength of newly healed wounds faster.
  • Bacterial growth (and probably viral reproduction) are inhibited by exposure to laser light, making laser treatment helpful in treating non-healing wounds, contaminated wounds and burns.
  • Laser light stimulates the “battery pack” of cells, called mitochondria. The mitochondria can then produce more ATP, which helps cells do more work. Cells can then get rid of biologic waste products more quickly and efficiently. They can heal and turn over depleted by-products faster. They can also reproduce faster, resulting in faster healing.

By these mechanisms, Laser Therapy provides us, at Cimarron Animal Hospital, another weapon against pain, either as a drug-free option or with standard treatments to enhance comfort beyond the ability of drugs alone. Laser therapy has been very helpful in treating our patients with:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Post Surgical Pain
  • Rattlesnake Bite (where pain, swelling, infection and subsequent tissue necrosis are all significant factors in recovery)

Wounds can be encouraged to heal faster, stronger, with less infection and less pain:

  • Non-healing wounds
  • Dog fight wounds
  • Anal sac abscesses
  • Cat fight abscesses
  • Burns
  • Ear infections

If your pet has any of these conditions and you would like to offer him another form of relief and a faster road to recovery, Call Us to schedule your consultation to find out how laser therapy can help maximize your furry family-member’s quality of life. Visit our contact us page to setup an appointment.

Dog eating carrot Are you really buying what you think?

Natural: There is no government issued definition for “Natural” on food products.  The  FDA claims:
[FDA] has not objected to the use of the term on food labels provided it is used in a manner that is truthful and not misleading and the product does not contain added color, artificial flavors or synthetic substances. Use of the term “natural” is not permitted in a product’s ingredient list, with the exception of the phrase “natural flavorings.”
AAFCO (American Association of Feed Control Officials) defines the word “natural”, when used to describe a pet food as: “A feed or ingredient derived solely from plant, animal or mined sources, either in its unprocessed state or having been subjected to physical processing, heat processing, rendering, purification extraction, hydrolysis, enzymolysis or fermentation, but not having been produced by or subject to a chemically synthetic process and not containing any additives or processing aids that are chemically synthetic except in amounts as might occur unavoidably in good manufacturing practices.”
This is certainly a “cleaner” way of eating.  I think most human doctors and veterinarians will agree that eating more natural food is better than eating all the chemically processed food that is so prevalent in both the human and animal markets today.

Organic: Foods must contain at least 95% (by weight) organic ingredients to have the USDA Organic seal.  To qualify as organic, an ingredient must be raised is strict accordance with the USDA regulations in order to …”foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not be used.” ( http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/nop ).  That is certainly a very worthy cause that should be supported as much as possible in the name of preserving our biosphere and planetary quality of life.
Note that pet foods can carry the label “Natural”  without the USDA Organic Seal if only 70% of the ingredients are organically manufactured/ raised.
Many pet foods are made with “Organic ingredients”, meaning that there are ingredients in the diet that comply with the USDA definition.  Not all ingredients are necessarily in compliance.

.Holistic: The term “Holistic” has no legal definition as a nutritional quality.  The term “holistic” means “in consideration of the whole”   The HOPE of dog foods labeled as “holistic” is that they would be made of natural ingredients of human-grade quality without byproducts or fillers, made without chemicals or sewage sludge fertilizers and be easily digested. for maximal nutrtional uptake with every ingredient complimenting all others to provide a nutritional balance for the whole body. However, since any food or product can be labeled “Holistic”., buyer beware.  Read your ingredient list.  There may be fillers; there may be chemical additives; there may be ingredients that pets don’t synthesize into useful nutrients (flax seed)!  Don’t forget the calorie count– an “oft forgot” nutritional consideration (a lot of diets are very high in calorie, contributing to obesity in our pets).  Who is creating the diet you are interested in?  Are animal nutritionists involved?

While we all agree that Natural is better than processed and organic is better for our biome and bodies than artificially produced, does it mean that the food so labeled is actually nutritionally balanced for your pet?    Maybe not.
The companies that produce “Natural” and “Organic” and “Holistic” foods are often not engaged in active research into pet nutrition.  And, since there are so few regulations as to the optimal nutritional requirements for a complete cat or dog diet, they can put however much of pretty much anything they want to result in whatever number of calories, carbohydrates, proteins and fats that they want.  I don’t want to discourage people away from these more natural diets as long as they are working out for an individual patient.  However, if the pet starts to have nutritional concerns (such as obesity due to very high calorie density of these foods) it doesn’t matter how “Natural” or “Organic” a food is, it isn’t healthy!

If you like the idea of Natural or Organic and you can afford it, by all means, try it!  Read the ingredients list! Don’t get sucked into TV advertising!  (If a company has a lot of money for advertising, they might not be putting it into careful manufacture of the food or research into improving (or into cleaning their manufacturig plants so as to avoid food contamination?)  If your pet has problems on that formula, as with any diet, it’s OK to give up that ideal in exchange for improving your pet’s over-all health.  As with any diet formulation, no one diet is perfect for every pet.  Ask your vet for suggestions.

Here is an interesting article from the American Animal Hospital Association: Read Here

dog_hip_arthritis_640Glucosamine and Chondroitin are commonly given to people and pets for treatment of arthritis/ osteoarthritis.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin are building blocks of cartilage and joint fluid.

MYTH:  The cheaper products in the grocery/ drug/ vitamin stores are just as good as the expensive stuff my vet recommended at half the price.

While some supplements for pets and people are the same, and it may be  OK to purchase the less expensive brands (double check with your vet to make sure that the human product is, in fact, equivalent), Glucosamine and Chondroitin products are not all created equal.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin are both very large molecules that are not readily absorbed by the intestinal tract.  The result is, that not much of the supplement gets into the bloodstream to get to the joints.  Special manufacturing processes can make these molecules more absorbable.  Naturally, that special processing costs money, making the “good quality”, readily absorbed, products more expensive to purchase.  So, the less expensive the product, likely the less well it is absorbed.  That means, more of that cheaper Glucosamine/ Chondroitin supplement will end up eliminated in the feces, rather than helping your pet’s stiff joints.

Even the best Glucosamine/ Chondroitin product is not very well absorbed, so dogs need to take large doses to be worthwhile at all.  15- 20 mg/ lb is recommended.  Human products often require treating your pet with many tablets a day to get even an adequate dose.  The premium veterinary products are going to be high potency, minimizing the number of tablets you have to give.  (As an added bonus, the veterinary products come in yummy flavored treats that pets usually love!)

nutramax logo

Most veterinarians agree that the “gold standard” brand of Glucosamine/ Chondroitin supplements are made by the      Nutramax ® company.  They have been the ground-breakers in the special manufacturing process needed to make your pet’s                    supplements maximally absorbed.

With careful spending on everyone’s mind, it’s tempting to buy the cheapest products.  But, in this case, the cheaper product could just mean that more of your dollars are ending up in the backyard.

There has been a dramatic increase in cats diagnosed with Diabetes Mellitus in recent years.  Popular veterinary medical belief attributes this epidemic in diabetes to two factors:

1)  The massive over-dose of carbohydrates that we feed our cats in the form of commercial foods and

2) The subsequent increase in feline obesity.

      Cats are carnivores.  Their teeth are designed to tear meat, not grind grain.  Their gastrointestinal tracts don’t supply a lot of sugar- digesting enzymes.  They have more fat digesting enzymes.  Their pancreatic insulin-sereting cells can’t keep up with metabolizing excessive carbohydrate/ sugar loads.

All these facts tell us that cats should eat a high protein, low carb diet.  In fact, science has now demonstrated what cats have known for millennia:  mice are the perfect cat food! Protein, fat and carbs all in the right proportion!  Yumm!  Since we humans don’t want the fuss and mess of feeding our cats live mice (and most cats wouldn’t eat pre-killed mice), we are forced to try to feed them a suitable artificial diet.  So, we have devised prepared dry and canned foods full of carbohydrates (because they are a cheap source of calories and provide a good binder for dry foods).  These foods are easy to eat quickly and are often provided all day long, “free choice”.

Furthermore, more of our cats are kept in safe indoor environments which limit their activity and  encourage boredom eating, contributing to obesity.   Cats tend to store fat intra-abdominally.  This fat is the most hormonally active fat, being the biggest contributor to insulin resistance.

The result is, that our domestication and interest in economizing on their food sources has put them at risk for a debilitating and problematic disease– Diabetes.

 To protect your cat from Diabetes

Preventing Diabetes in cats is much easier than treating.  Treatment involves strict adherence to a special diet, usually twice daily insulin injections that have to be given without fail, every day at the same time, tying you to your home and cat rather inflexibly.  Diabetes in cats tends to be complicated by other coexistant metabolic diseases such as pancreatitis, cholangiohepatitis and inflammatory bowel disease.  Most of these patients end up on numerous medications to balance all these conditions to maintain a kitty’s active lifestyle.  It’s an overwhelming condition, requiring the most dedicated of owners for proper care.  If you are like most cat owners who like cats because they usually DON’T require a lot of our care, except petting, feeding and litter box cleaning, you just don’t want to go down the Diabetic Road with your kitty.

Prevent Obesity.  Regardless of the food you provide, feeding limited quantities in 2-3 meals daily will help keep your cat trim and will protect him from diabetes.  Vigorous exercise, whether in a safe, enclosed outdoor arena (because most of us find vet trips to repair injuries from predators and cars quite inconvenient and entirely unconducive to a long kitty lifespan) or through several exhausting (for the cat, not you!) play period indoors will help keep your cat more mentally alert as well as fight the creeping calories.

  • Feed a “Kitty Atkins” diet.  High protein and low carb diets are the best for cats.  These are not readily available over the counter yet, so ask your veterinarian for a recommendation.  Special concerns are whether your kitty has renal disease or other medical conditions that may preclude this kind of diet.  But, most healthy adult cats will benefit from a higher protein diet than most over the counter diets.
  • Feed more wet food (than we have in the past).  Wet food, by its nature, usually has lower carbohydrates than dry food.  But still feed a high quality brand.  There are even canned “kitty atkins” formulations available through your vet.  Some over-the-counter foods are better than others.  “Fancy Feast”, by Purina, actually has one of the lowest carbohydrate contents on the market.

Vet’s Perspective (my opinion):
In my practice, I emphasize weight control.  I recommend Royal Canintm Neutered Male formula, specifically designed to be lower in calories from carbs and higher in protein than over-the-counter foods (it is also urinary tract protetcive) for my overweight middle aged cats–male and female.   (** Obese Middle-aged Male Orange Tabby cats are 30% more likely to get diabetes than any other cat!**)  For cats that stay overweight, I offer clients an annual Fructosamine test as part of their wellness testing.  This test reflects the average blood glucose level over the last 3 weeks.  It can be an early indicator of diabetes.

Signs of Diabetes to watch for:

 * Decreased social interaction with humans or other pets

* Decreased grooming, rough coat.

* Increased, sometimes ravenous appetite

* Increased water drinking or water-seeking behavior (drinking out of water glasses, the sink, shower).

* Weight loss, especially in the face of ravenous appetite.


One of the saddest things that we see in our veterinary clinic on a weekly basis is the old pet who hasn’t been brought in to the vet, usually in years,  to be euthananized because it is “too sick” to be fixed any more.  Many of these pets are emaciated, dehydrated, no longer walking, some have bed sores from laying on hard surfaces for most of the day and night or soiled by their own eliminations.  The saddest cases are these– the ones that we know have been debilitated for a long time, yet their owners didn’t seek veterinary help.

Some of those owners couldn’t afford veterinary care.  Some just thought they couldn’t, but never even called.  Some of those owners were too busy with their human lives and didn’t notice until the pet finally collapsed, unable to move.  Some owners just didn’t want to spend the money, feeling the pet wasn’t worth the investment because “she was already so old”.  (Why invest a lot of money in a pet that is just going to die in a year or two of something else?)  But, most of the people who come in to us in these situations either didn’t recognize the signs of illness (usually in the case of cats), or figured that their pet had something incurable and so what was the sense coming to the vet?

There are so many things that we can do to mprove the lives of senior pets today!  Medical advances over the last decade have given us new understandings of the types of diseases of aging pets and their metabolic processes.  We have cool new medications that help us give heart failure patients 2 or more years of good quality life!  With modern prescription diets and nutritional supplements, we are able to give years to cats in renal failure– cats that 10 years ago would have been debilitated and needing euthanasia in 6 months! 

Newer diagnostic modalities and advances in the old stand-bys are the key to letting us treat these diseases of old age by letting us identify them earlier on.  Early detection is critical to successfully treating medical conditions of old age.  All the best medication in the world can’t fix a sick pet past a certain point.  And, sure, a lot of these diseases are incurable and progressive.  But, we have a choice in whether we want to let the disease progress rapidly, “naturally”, shortening the pet’s life and diminishing her quality of life, or choosing to proactively protect the health that remains, slowing the progression of the disease and enhancing the pet’s quality of life to the end.

There is always an end.  But, each pet parent has to decide how they will help their pet get there.

We encourage everyone with older pets to take the brave plunge.  Take your older pet in to your vet at least once yearly (twice is really better as the aging body changes so rapidly).  Let your vet collect blood and urine samples to screen for the common diseases of old age.  If something is uncovered, talk to your vet about treatment options that fit within your budget and lifestyle.

Caring for a pet through his senior years is a responsibility and a promise that we all comit to when we adopt an animal.  Your veterinarian and their staff understand that responsibility can be financially, phycially, or emotinally unmanageable for some pet owners.  If that’s the case, that’s OK, too.  Be honest with your veterinary staff about your abilities so they can help you give your pet the best quality life you can.  And, be honest to your pet.  When you can no longer help him have a good quality animal life- having fun, eating, able to get around to care for necessary functions– it’s time to let him go.  Consider euthanasia before he is suffering.

After a lifetime of unconditional love, despite our forcing them to live within our human social constraints, in the artificial environments that we put them in (apartments, forced cohabitation with other animals they despise, eating on weird schedules, doing silly tricks) our pets desesrve that from us.