For more information on how we work with shelters around the country, please visit our Freshpet Charitable Donations page here.
For more information on how we work with shelters around the country, please visit our Freshpet Charitable Donations page here.
With so many great questions about pups and kitties from Monday’s Mini-Challenge, Dr. Katy has answered three more below.
If your question was chosen by Dr. Katy, please send us a private message on Facebook to receive your Freshpet goodie!
Freshpet parent Tiffany asks… Dr. Nelson, I have a neutered male cat and understand that urinary tract infections are common. I feed him only Freshpet. Do you have any recommendations as to how I can prevent a future infection?
Actually, urinary tract infections are not as common in male cats as they are in female cats. If your cat has appeared to have a UTI in the past, what you are more than likely seeing are occasional flare-ups of Feline Idiopathic Cystitis, or Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD).
At times of flare-ups, treatment should be instituted by a veterinarian to control symptoms and prevent them from progressing. A variety of therapeutics have been found to be effective, so work with your veterinarian to determine the therapy that is right for your kitty.
But as you pointed out, an important part of treatment of FLUTD is prevention of further episodes. Diet plays a huge role in this. Cats typically do not drink a sufficient amount of water to keep their urine diluted. Therefore, a fresh, moist food is considered ideal as these foods are higher in water content than any kibble alternatives and tend to lead to more diluted urine.
Freshpet parent Aejin asks… What can I do to improve the condition of dog’s teeth?
Just like in people, there is no substitute for brushing your dog’s teeth for prevention of periodontal disease. Studies have shown that a minimum of three times a week is needed to prevent tartar build-up, but daily brushing is required to reverse gingivitis. There are numerous products out there to make the process easier for you and your pet: finger brushes, regular soft-bristled brushes, flavored toothpastes (do NOT use human toothpaste with fluoride), etc. Chew toys vary in effectiveness, and with severe dental disease are not advised, as teeth can be weakened and could potentially break. Bones and other hard toys are discouraged in these situations, as well.
Regular, anesthetized prophylactic cleanings done in your veterinarian’s office are the very best way to get a thorough cleaning of the teeth, and are the only way to clean below the gum line, where the most dangerous bacteria tend to gather. Talk with your veterinarian to learn more about this process, and to have a dental exam done on your pet.
Freshpet parent Rob asks… My cat can only eat food without wheat in it. I feed him Freshpet, but he’s having trouble with hairballs. Is there a supplement I can give him to help with this issue? Something natural, perhaps?
Without having additional information, I can advise only up to a point. Hairballs are often blamed for a variety of actual diseases, and the reason so many hairball remedies are considered “ineffective” is because frequently they’re being used to treat something that is a symptom, rather than addressing the real problem.
In my opinion, it’s a lot easier (and cheaper) to start by giving your kitty a lion cut. Should the hairballs continue or begin to worsen, perhaps resulting in an upset stomach, it is likely time to talk with your veterinarian about instituting a work up to find what is troubling your kitty.
IMPORTANT: Please note that in-person veterinary recommendations are always the most appropriate way to deal with questions about your pet. Dr. Katy’s answers are well-informed, however, it can often be difficult to determine the best course of action without her seeing your pet in-person. As such, we recommend that prior to taking action, please visit your personal veterinarian to determine what’s right for you and your pet.
Just like it’s important for our health and wellness to stay in shape, our dogs and cats can benefit from regular exercise, too. Of course it can be hard to find time to exercise in our busy schedules, let alone do so alongside our pets. Not to mention doing the same exercises over and over can get pretty boring.
So to help both you and your pet get in great shape with a fresh routine, here’s a list of my favorite ways to get moving:
Go for a Run – Instead of going to the gym to run on the treadmill, change things up and bring your fur-friend along! Most local tracks do not allow pets; so take the time to explore different options such as paths through the woods or roads with sidewalks. Not only will you get a chance to take in the fresh air, but you also get to spend more time with your favorite companion.
Go For a Hike – Hiking in a hilly area is a great way to change things up as it works different muscles than walking on a flat surface. The best part? You get to enjoy the beautiful outdoors, soak in the sunshine, and take in some fresh air with you favorite friend! Just be sure to bring along plenty of water for both of you to stay hydrated.
Take a Morning Walk – Instead of waiting until after work to exercise, try taking a walk in the morning with your fur-kid. If you’re not a morning person, allow some of your pet’s natural energy to rub off on you and keep you motivated throughout the rest of the day.
Go For a Bike Ride – We know you’re thinking that your pals cannot pedal, but they don’t need to as long as you can! Get on a bike and go for a slow ride and bring your pooch along. While you do the biking, he or she can run alongside you. We’ve found that one of the easiest ways to do this is by hooking the leash around your wrist so you can still use both hands to control the bike. If you’re an expert roller skater or skateboarder, try this with your pal, too!
Doga – Dog yoga, or “doga,” can help de-stress you and your pup. This practice incorporates massaging, stretching, relaxing, and of course, some good bonding. You can even try “catoga” if your feline is willing. Ask around in your area because there might be group classes offered.
Fetch Races – Does your fur-friend love to play fetch? Well you should too! Instead of standing still while he or she chases the ball, try to make it a race. Not only will your pup enjoy this game even more, the short sprints will help you burn more fat and improve your agility.
Abs with Fur-Friends – Ever thrown a ball back and forth with a friend while doing crunches? Instead of a medicine ball, try a tennis ball. Throw the ball at the top of your crunch for your pup to chase down and return to you. Then repeat. For a more advanced exercise, see how many crunches you can do while your pup is chasing the ball. Cats can get in on the fun as well. Instead of throwing a ball, hold a small flashlight in one or both hands while you perform your sit-ups. Each time you reach the top, shine the lights on the wall in front of you and move your arms back and forth, always keeping your abs flexed. Your kitty will get exercise chasing the lights while you work on your six-pack.
Lift Weights – Tie your playful friend’s favorite toy so that it hangs from your dumbbell. As you move the dumbbell up and down, your pet will jump, working his or her leg muscles while you tone your arms. Try it while doing different exercises like bicep curls and shoulder presses, and for a full body workout, incorporate squats or lunges.
Play Tug-of-War – If your pup is feeling playful, grab a rope and work on your arm definition with a gentle game of tug-of-war. You can either attach the rope to their harness so they can pull with their body and run, or let them grab the rope with their teeth. Be careful not to pull too hard. Remember to always have control over your dog as playing this game may bring out the predator in him.
Swimming – Take your pal for a swim! While you do your daily laps in the pool, let your dog join you. If your pup isn’t the best swimmer, you can purchase floatation devices made especially for dogs from most pet stores to ensure their safety.
I hope you and your pets enjoy trying these exercises and activities! Don’t forget to speak with your doctor and your pet’s vet before starting any new exercise programs.
This week’s blog is contributed by Dr. Katy Nelson, a practicing veterinarian for more than eleven years and host of “The Pet Show with Dr. Katy” on Washington DC’s News Channel 8. You can check out her blog and watch previous episodes at www.wjla.com/blogs/the-pet-show, or become her fan at www.facebook.com/ThePetShow.tv.
Hi, everyone! I’m a huge fan of Freshpet, but I don’t think anyone is a bigger fan than my dog Papi! He spins in circles every morning and every evening when I pull it out of the refrigerator to feed to him. This food is not only extremely high quality and well-balanced, as evidenced by Papi’s healthy body and coat, but given Papi’s twice daily reaction, it’s also absolutely delicious! So, when Freshpet approached me to answer some questions for their Facebook fans, of course I agreed. Here are the first 5 questions I received, I hope you’ll send yours in, too.
Question 1: Dr. Katy, I have a black cat that looks like she has dandruff – how do I get rid of it and is it something I should worry about? - Freshpet fan Diane D.
Dr. Katy: This is a great question, and unfortunately it’s quite a common occurrence in our kitties. Cats can have dandruff (flaking of dead skin cells), and it’s often due to either a nutritional problem or to improper self-grooming. If your kitty is eating a dry kibble diet alone, it may be she is not getting enough essential fatty acids in her diet to maintain proper skin health. A diet like Freshpet Roasted Meals for Cats, which is rich in protein and fatty acids, can help to keep her skin flake-free and her coat shiny and healthy. Some cats that have dandruff are overweight and unable to groom themselves properly, so the dead skin cells clump together in the areas they cannot reach during regular grooming (usually along the midline of their back). If this is the reason for your kitty having dandruff, consult with your veterinarian on an effective way to elicit weight loss in your cat. Obesity predisposes our pets to serious health issues, including diabetes, arthritis and even cancer, so starting a healthy weight loss program can not only decrease the dandruff problem, but possibly increase your kitty’s lifespan as well.
Question 2: I think my dog was not weaned correctly – she does not chew, just gulps and it’s gone. I’d like her to have a bone, but after the ‘knobs’ are gone, I get nervous and take it from her. Any suggestions? - Freshpet fan Margaret J.
Dr. Katy: I would theorize that this behavior is more dependent on the personality of each dog versus whether they were weaned properly. You can take multiple dogs from the same litter, all weaned the same way, and some of them will sit patiently and chew while others will swallow a bone whole and go on about their business. All that being said, I think you’re doing the right thing by taking away the bones after she chews the knobs down. That’s a much safer option than having her swallow a bone and that may get stuck in her GI tract. You can also explore other options than bones for her to chew on –knotted rope toys or Kongs are more durable than an actual bone and can provide longer term chewing fun.
Question 3: My little dog is on a flea pill and eats Freshpet food. Even though she does not have any fleas, she still chews herself. Why is she doing this, and is there anything I can do to solve the problem? -Freshpet fan Ron A.
Dr. Katy: Itching is not always associated with external parasites, but it certainly can be, so it’s good to hear you are diligently using your flea and tick preventative year-round. Dogs can scratch themselves for any number of reasons – dry skin, allergies (to fleas, to inhaled allergens, to a certain type of food, or even to something that she’s in contact with), boredom, or even metabolic problems (like thyroid or adrenal disease) can be the culprit. Whatever it is due to, though, this is a sign that your pup may be having a real issue. I recommend having her examined by your veterinarian to see if you can figure out why she’s so itchy, and if there is something you can do to help her feel better.
Question 4: My senior cat is diabetic and has what we believe to be senility. He’s thin and has brittle skin which is a struggle on its own. But his yowling at night is getting out of hand. We’ve left on night lights, keep him in his own bedroom to prevent him from getting lost/confused in the rest of the house, but we aren’t sure what else to do. Do you have any suggestions? -Freshpet fan Lisa F.
Dr. Katy: It is so difficult when our senior pets get to this point in their lives. Both dogs and cats do suffer from senility issues as they age, and it can manifest in many different ways – from crying and getting lost like your kitty, to urinating in various spots, or even becoming fearful or aggressive. Keeping her safe is the priority, and it sounds like you are already taking steps to do that. I would encourage you to discuss this with your veterinarian thoroughly. Consider taking notes as to when this happens, or even a video of it happening, so your doctor can have all the facts and know how to best address this. If there are heavy swings in your cat’s glucose regulation, if he has a thyroid or kidney issue in addition to his diabetes, or if he is in pain due to an arthritic condition, there may be a medical way to improve this. If this is “just” senility, then your best bet will be to continue what you’re doing by keeping him safe and trying to decrease his anxiety during these times. Good luck with him, I know how difficult this is as I went through this about a year ago with my own 15-year-old dog suffering from kidney disease. It can be very frustrating, and certainly heartbreaking to watch our pets in this state.
Question 5: I think my one-year-old shih Tzu suffers from acid reflux. What can I do to address this issue and which food is best for her? – Freshpet fan Ana D.
Dr. Katy: Many of the symptoms of acid reflux in our pups are also signs of other issues, so first and foremost, it is important that you get your pooch checked out by your vet. What is it she’s doing that makes you think this? Is she regurgitating food or vomiting after eating? Is she swallowing more frequently than normal? Does she seem to be in pain when she eats? All of these can be signs of acid reflux in dogs, but they can also be signs of other issues that are more serious. There is pharmaceutical help for reflux, if that is truly what is going on with your pup, and a highly digestible moist diet such as Freshpet Slice & Serve Rolls can help as well. However, I recommend you have her thoroughly examined and diagnostics run if she is experiencing any of the above-mentioned signs. As in people, reflux can be a painful disease and lead to further problems down the line if left untreated.
If you have a question for Dr. Katy about your furball’s health and wellbeing, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Your question could be featured in our next “Ask Dr. Katy” blog.