Hypoallergenic Dog Food Monday 13 November 2017 @ 00:00

JordyIn August, our sponsored pet of the month was Jordy, a playful, super-active and loving young pup who loves nothing more than a sloppy kiss and a big old cuddle every once in a while. If you want a chance to meet Jordy, you can look for him through his page on Hunter Animal Rescue’s website, because he’s still searching for his forever home!

Jordy’s one special requirement is that he needs a family who will pay attention to what he’s eating, as he needs to avoid eating anything he could be allergic to. In return for this little bit of extra care, he’ll be more than happy to give you all the love and fun you could possibly want!

Jordy is the reason that our last blog post was all about caring for dogs with food allergies. Around 10% of all dogs suffering from allergies are living with some type of food allergy. However, it’s also possible for dogs to suffer from food intolerances, which are different to food allergies. Food allergies are the cause of around 20% of all scratching and itching in dogs. We also covered hypoallergenic dog food to a certain extent in the last post, but today we’d like to talk about it in more detail so that you have all the information you need on the subject!

What is hypoallergenic dog food?

With food allergies becoming an increasingly big deal for people and pets alike, it’s easy to feel a little lost when you find yourself staring at stacks of food, all of which claim to be grain-free or hypoallergenic or any number of other things. A dog with an allergy doesn’t necessarily need you to splash out on some overpriced “organic” meal, and while some will benefit from grain-free foods others will feel no difference between the two.

Jordy

What your dog will need is an elimination diet. This is why the only actual hypoallergenic dog food is either a diet with hydrolyzed protein or an elimination diet. Ingredients from your previous dog food must be avoided in an elimination diet. This is why, as healthy as grain-free dog food with venison meat may sound, it may be of no use if it’s also full of corn, dairy, beef, chicken, eggs or soy.

Try taking the ingredient label from your old pet food into your local pet store and identifying any foods which don’t have any of the same ingredients. Keep in mind that colouring and flavour additives should also be avoided if possible. The best way to find the right food for your dog is to take them to the vet. Your veterinarian might be able to come up with a diet plan specific to your dog or find you the prescription diet right for your dog.

Most Common Allergens

As a general rule, dog foods will be marketed as hypoallergenic if they’ve been formulated to avoid the more common allergens for your pet. Pet food producers such as Drs. Foster and Smith explain that although dogs aren’t naturally allergic to the majority of these items, some of the most common food allergens for canines include…

  • JordyBeef
  • Chicken
  • Fish
  • Wheat
  • Yeast
  • Soy
  • Corn
  • Lamb
  • Dairy

These have become the most common allergens as they’re the ingredients used most often in dog foods. As a result, our dogs are exposed to them more often than they would be naturally.

Making Your Own Dog Food

As fiddly as it might sound, making your own dog food from the very basics is easily the best way to make sure your dog doesn’t end up eating things they’re allergic to. Try looking at some healthy dog food recipes such as those shared on Rover.com, and tips and hacks like the ones shared on Pinterest. There’s a great big community out there of other people who have started making their own dog food. Go out and find them, and they’ll be able to help you on your way!

Perks of Switching to Hypoallergenic Dog Food

There are loads of benefits you might find when you make the switch from regular dog food to hypoallergenic and homemade types. At the end of the day, your dog won’t be the only one who gets the benefit of a healthier diet: your wallet might also start looking much healthier. While saving your pup from the unpleasantness of an allergic reaction is the main goal here, it’s not the only benefit you’ll get to experience.

Dog and family

A carefully planned diet of homemade or hypoallergenic dog food could also reduce your dog’s likelihood of suffering from a number of other health issues, including anal gland blockages, periodontal disease, obesity and arthritis. Further problems you could avoid can include difficulties in digestion, some kidney ailments and heart disease.

Dogs are happy, fluffy, eating machines. They love food and need plenty of nutrients to be healthy. It’s not surprising, then, that the vast majority of illnesses that tend to affect our dogs come as a result of their diets. With veterinarian appointments costing as much as they do, improving your dog’s diet and therefore their health will be the best move for both of you in the long run.

Cat

In conclusion…

  • Food that doesn’t contain the same ingredients as most other dog foods is known as hypoallergenic dog food (though the best hypoallergenic food for your dog can be found through an elimination diet).
  • This is not a solution for all allergies. Only around 1 in 10 dog allergies can be treated through the use of hypoallergenic dog foods.
  • If you think your dog may have an allergy, talk to your vet. Seek professional advice before attempting an elimination diet.
  • These foods are a good way to help your dog if they’re suffering from food-related allergies. They are not, however, the only tool available to you.

All dogs deserve to get the best food possible for a content, healthy life.

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Caring for Dogs with Food Allergies Tuesday 31 October 2017 @ 07:54

JordyBack in August, we got the chance to sponsor Jordy, a loving, fun and super-active young Vizla X (Kelpie/Bully) who loves a hug and a big sloppy kiss every now and then. Jordy’s favourite pastimes include running, fetching and taking long walks on the beach, but he’s happy to take part in any sort of game (even frisbee). He isn’t even all that high-maintenance in terms of attention - as much as he loves snuggling with his humans in warm or comfy places, he’s still relaxed and happy enough in his own company.

Jordy’s one special requirement is that he needs a family who will pay attention to what he’s eating because he needs to avoid eating anything he could be allergic to. In return for this little bit of extra care, he’ll be more than happy to give you all the love and fun you could possibly want!

Somehow, Jordy still hasn’t found his forever home. This is a shame as every dog deserves to find the family that will love them, but it’s also good news for you as it means there’s still a chance for you to get to know Jordy yourself! For more information, head on over to his page on HAR’s website! And for more information on caring for pups with food allergies, continue reading below…

How common are food allergies in dogs?

Around 10% of all dogs suffering from allergies are living with some type of food allergy. However, it’s also possible for dogs to suffer from food intolerances, which are different to food allergies. Food allergies are the cause of around 20% of all scratching and itching in dogs.

Jordy

Food allergy or intolerance?

It’s important that you know the difference between a food allergy and a food intolerance. Food allergies are a type of true allergy, showing all of the external skin problems and itching found in other feline and canine allergies. Food intolerances, on the other hand, are primarily internal issues which can cause vomiting or diarrhoea, and won’t cause a typical allergic reaction.

Your pet’s food intolerance could be similar to you getting an upset stomach when you eat fried or spicy foods. It’s not going to kill them, but it will make them very uncomfortable. The good news here is that both allergies and food intolerances can be improved if you feed your pet a diet free from the offending foodstuffs.

Try to isolate the problem

If your pet appears to be exhibiting symptoms, the first thing you’ll need to do is work with your vet to check that these symptoms really are as a result of a food allergy. If this appears to be the case, your veterinarian will probably recommend an elimination diet, that is, feeding your dog foods with a different grain (carbohydrate source) and meat (protein source) to what your dog had been eating previously.

Tricolor Short Coat Dog Running

What symptoms should I be looking out for?

A lot of symptoms which may seem completely random could actually be signs your dog has a food allergy. Other symptoms of food allergies can closely mimic those that a human will experience. Your dog’s symptoms might include…

  • Chronic ear inflammation
  • Paw biting
  • Obsessive licking
  • Hives
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Itchy rear end
  • Nausea
  • Skin rash
  • Poor coat quality
  • Itchiness

What causes food allergies and intolerances?

It can take months or years of happy munching before your dog becomes allergic to a certain food. However, once the allergy is there, it’s there and he will almost definitely have a strong negative reaction to the food. Allergic reactions in dogs are most often tied to the protein source (meat) in their food.

Food types: The most common causes of food intolerance and allergies in dogs are milk products, wheat and beef.

Age: Food intolerance and allergies can occur at any age.

Breed: There are certain dog breeds which appear to be more prone to developing food intolerance and allergies. These breeds include cocker spaniels, Irish setters and West Highland White terriers.

Damage as a cause: Food allergies and intolerance may occur as a result of damage to the digestive system caused by infection, certain medications, surgery and inflammation.

Cat face palm

Does an allergy to a specific dog food suggest there’s something wrong with that product’s quality?

Short answer: no.

Long answer: Allergies occur as a result of your pet’s immune system, as opposed to issues with the product it is consuming. If your dog develops an allergy to a specific ingredient, they’ll most likely experience the same unpleasant reaction to any product containing that ingredient.

Family dog

What is the best food for dogs with allergies?

Common anti-allergy foods that may be recommended will feature novel protein sources. Combinations might include venison and potato, or kangaroo and oatmeal. With any luck, this should prevent your pet’s immune response from continuing to be triggered.

It’s important that you work with your veterinarian to determine which food is best for your dog with an allergy. Along with novel protein, hydrolyzed diets which are only available by prescription are generally better than those which are bought in your average pet store, as the later will often contain a certain amount of common allergens whether or not they’re mentioned on the label.

Eliminating different ingredients from your dog’s diet at random without talking to your vet first can also be a pretty bad idea. This can easily lead to nutritional imbalances without making the underlying issue any clearer.

For a simple explanation of how you might identify whether or not your dog has a food allergy, check out this great WikiHow article: 3 Ways to Determine if Your Dog Has Food Allergies. We’ve also written a couple of blog posts on pet foods. Check out our posts, Should You Trust Your Pet’s Food Label? and Species-Specific Diets: Fundamentals of Feeding Your Feline for more information.

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5 Things You Must Do to Find Your Lost Pet Thursday 28 September 2017 @ 08:38

Adorable dog with adult and boys We hear stories all the time from devastated families who have lost their pet and have no idea how to go about searching for them. To try and help you guys out, we’ve put together a list of five of the most important things you need to do when searching for your missing animal companion.

1. Postpone Any Unnecessary Commitments

Some things - like doctor’s appointments, funerals or graduations - can’t simply be cancelled or postponed whenever necessary. However, some things can. Laundry day, day trips and coffee dates are not as important as the life of your puppy, cat or feathered friend. If you have young kids to look after or older kids to cart to and from school, see if a friend or family member can do this for you for now.

If at all possible, it’d be very helpful to take a bit of time off work to search for your missing animal. If you have a big event that you have any chance of postponing - a wedding, a family holiday - this can wait as well. You need to give yourself as much free, flexible time as possible to look for your missing pet.

Cat with kittens 2. Start Spreading the News

To give your furry friend the best possible chance of being found, you need to get the fact that they’ve gone missing out there. Try making up posters and fliers with your contact information, information about rewards (if you can afford one) and a picture of your pet. Try to give a good, clear description of your animal so that he can be easily recognized, but do make a point of keeping one identifying characteristic a secret so that you can check if anyone claiming to have your animal is telling the truth.

With your posters ready, it’s time to spread them. Try putting them up all around the area in which they went missing. Information and fliers can be posted in town halls, animal shelters, mailbox clusters, vet offices, grocery stores - anywhere your poster can be seen by lots of people who might have relevant information. If you’ve recently moved house, you may also want to post fliers around the area you used to live, as many pets have an uncanny ability to reappear in the neighbourhoods they used to inhabit.

Tricolor Short Coat Dog Running3. Get Out There

As important as it is to have all of these extra eyes on the lookout for your missing pet, it’s also absolutely vital that you get outside yourself and call your missing animal by name. After all, your pet knows and trusts you, not all of these other strangers. It’s also a good idea to get friends and relatives - especially those who are familiar with your animal - to go out and search, canvas the community and talk to people.

Don’t try to predict where your pet will and won’t be: you don’t know, and you can’t know. All you can do is search, and the best time of day to do this is nighttime and dawn. These are the times your animal is most likely to be out and exploring because there are fewer people out and about. The reduced number of people also means it’s the time when your pet is most likely to hear you, and you’re most likely to hear your pet.

If you’re searching from your car, drive slowly while calling. Keep all of your windows rolled down and the radio turned off. Stop your car and turn off the engine every now and then to make listening easier.

Jordy4. Set up a Home from Home

If you’re keeping yourself busy searching for your missing pet, there’s a pretty high chance your house will be empty while you do this. So what happens if your missing pet decides to return while you’re out of the house?

A good way to deal with this conundrum is by setting up a home from home where your pet can stay until you return. Try placing a large cardboard box (big enough for your animal to hide in) upside down in your yard. Cut a hole in the side big enough for your animal to climb through, and cover its floor with your pet’s favourite bedding and toys.

Make sure the base of this box is weighed down enough that it won’t blow away so that this can be a safe place where your pet can wait for you. Place some water, food and a litter tray (if relevant) nearby. Not only will these creature comforts make this den a nice place to hide when your pet returns, but the scent of your animal’s toys, bedding and food may well attract them and help them find their own way home.

Ginger cat5. Register Your Pet with Lost Pet Finders

Finding your missing pet is quite literally our job. When you register your lost pet with us, you’re automatically opting in for our many free services. Once you’ve completed this registration, you’re also given an obligation-free quote which will show you how much it would cost to issue a Pet Alert in your area, which you can adjust to your liking.

The final price of your pet alert will vary depending on where you live, how large an area you wish to cover and how many people are available in the area for us to contact. If you opt into our paid services, you’ll also get the free bonus boost on your Facebook Pet Alert.

For more information on what to do if you’ve lost your pet, check out our top ten pet-finding tips, as well as our information on microchips and rewards.

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Should You Trust Your Pet’s Food Label? Tuesday 19 September 2017 @ 10:39

Lost Dog

Guest Blog by Zara Lewis

If you have a pet in your home, we’re sure that your days are filled with joy and the incredible amount of happiness this little one provides on a daily basis. If that’s true, you should always give your best to keep your pet healthy in the first place, which largely depends on the food it’s eating. If you want to know how to read the label properly and pick the right food for your beloved pet, just stay with us and keep on reading!

What does a label tell you?

Even though everyone says ‘when in doubt, read the label’, the truth is that pet food labels can be a bit tricky to decipher – especially you’ve recently got a pet. These contain a huge amount of information you need to pay extra attention to. You should also know that the Australian Standard for manufacturing and marketing of pet food (AS 5812 – ‘The Standard’) is what you should rely on since it provides detailed guidelines for pet food labelling in Australia. The words ‘pet food only’ have to be on the packaging, as well as an illustration of the head or the whole body of the animal species it’s intended for. There should also be a nutrition information panel, a nutritional adequacy statement, ingredients list, directions for use, date labelling, general consumer information, product branding, the name and the address of the company responsible for the product, weights and measures, a badge of honour, and the barcoding information marked on the packaging.

How to read the pet food label properly?

Dry Dog FoodIf you want to ensure that your pet gets the right diet, you should definitely read the label carefully in order to identify the ingredients and decide whether they’re appropriate for your pet or not. Pet food names should be informative and accurate so that they describe the food and its flavour in the best possible way. The feeding guide is also here to help you out so that you can decide what’s most appropriate for your pet. However, you should bear in mind that each pet is different, with its individual characteristics like life stage, metabolism, and lifestyle in general. This means that it may require more or less food than recommended, due to those characteristics.

 

Know what your pet is eating

Dog ChewsThe quality of your pet’s food is essential for its health, so read the label attentively because the picture and words on the front don’t necessarily tell the whole story. You should know that whichever ingredient is listed first, it’s actually the main component of the food – so if you’re looking for meat-based food, make sure that it’s listed first. Also, you should look for specifically named meat, like ‘beef’, ‘lamb’, or ‘chicken’. If the ingredients are vaguely named, like ‘meat’ or ‘meat meal’, be sure to stay away from them. You should also skip animal derivatives and by-products in pet’s food. More and more people are turning to natural, additive-free food for their pets, which is always a good idea as it improves their health. Besides that, pet owners often switch to home-cooked meals or canned wet foods when their puppies or kittens start teething, but that’s actually a wrong approach. Many experts claim that dry pet food is still the best choice since their teeth will fall out much faster and therefore the whole process will be more stress-free for your pet. In my experience, dry dog food is the best option, simply because it speeds up the teething process. It helped my dog get over it in no time.

As you can see, there are many things you need to pay attention to when picking proper food for your pet. After all, only a healthy pet is a pet that will live a happy and long life, which is the only thing that counts, right?

 

Zara Lewis is a regular contributor at Highstylife.com and a full-time animal lover. Passionate about creating a better world for the generations to come, she is a mum of two, raising them inseparably from their furry family members.

Zara on Facebook & Twitter

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Another part of your pet-finding toolbox: Lost Pet Facial Recognition Tuesday 12 September 2017 @ 13:23

Dog RunningSo your pet has gone missing. You’ve posted about it on Facebook, handed out flyers and sent out a Pet Alert through Lost Pet Finders. What else can you do to get some peace of mind while your furry friend is out exploring?

Well, you can check out our Top Ten Pet-Finding Tips, but you could also consider looking into lost pet facial recognition apps like PiP or Finding Rover to speed up your pet’s return. These are apps, available to Android and iPhone users, which use facial recognition technology to reunite families with their missing pets.

Are apps like this reliable?

Cat PawBecause your pet is an individual, they won’t be as perfectly predictable or “reliable” as a number or a string of code. This basically means that no app (or other pet-finding service - not even ours!) can be 100% guaranteed to reunite you with Mr Fluffy. That said, the facial recognition technologies used by these apps are bringing us that step closer to revolutionising the pet-reuniting process.

The process is fairly simple, and works something like an automated version of our own system. When Mr Fluffy is found, her finder uploads a photo to an app like PiP, which is then analysed and compared with photos of pets who are registered on the app as missing. If her owner has also uploaded a photo and added her unique identifying features to the app’s database, the system will recognise that the two photos match and inform the people involved.

How does it work?

Uploading a photo for use on these apps is fairly simple, and this photo is then scanned and remembered in case they ever go
missing again. Taking a photo with Finding Rover, for example, is done in three easy steps:

Dog MirrorOne: Take a forward-facing photo of your pet, filling the frame with its whole head. The Finding Rover app has its own camera, while others will allow you to upload pre-existing photos of your pet.

Two: Aid facial recognition by marking your pet’s eyes and nose in the photo. This is generally done using different symbols for the different features.

Three: Wait for the facial recognition app to scan your pet’s unique features and add them to its system. Simple!

There are loads of great methods out there for finding lost pets, but sadly none of them are 100% reliable. Tags and collars can easily fall off, and even microchips malfunction sometimes. We’re excited to see new methods emerging, especially ones with a community focus like our own. Whether or not you decide to try out these apps along with your Pet Alert, you can rest assured that there is a strong network of people out there, all of whom are working to reunite you with your missing friend.

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