Are dried, raw and dehydrated treats safe and good for my dog / Bully sticks, pizzles, rabbit ears, pigs ears, rawhide treats, liver treats, fish skins for puppies / Nutrition advice for dog owners / How to choose dog treats safely? / Dangers of raw and dehydrated dog chews / Fanconi syndrome in dogs / Perfect cocker spaniel (C) dog blog, cocker spaniel advice, health tips, grooming tips, puppy training, diet, questions / Natalia Ashton

Faconi’s syndrome: the tricky aftermath of dog treats

Have you heard of Fanconi’s syndrome? If you ever thought of feeding your dog any dehydrated treats or chews, you need to keep reading.

Faconi syndrome is a defect that alters the ability of the kidneys to absorb and retain certain nutrients, electrolytes and water. It can be a hereditary disease that would only affect certain breeds such as Basenji.

However, over the past decade (it was first reported in 2007), the acquired form of the syndrome caused serious problems in many dogs, particularly toy, small and medium-sized ones.

The dogs would start urinating more than usual. They’d loose weight, appetite and become lethargic. About 60% had digestive symptoms, 30% showed signs associated with kidney function, and the remaining 10% developed tremors, convulsions and skin irritation. Some dogs were affected much more than others.

Upon examination, all these dogs had one thing in common. All of them regularly ate jerky treats or chews.

At first, the unsafe treats thought to be from China, but later on it was established that the country of manufacturing did not matter, and the reports on acquired Fanconi’s syndrome came from all over the world including the US, Canada, UK, Australia, Germany, Switzerland, Japan and Singapore.

Additionally, the treats were made from various ingredients – not just the chicken as it was originally thought – and included poultry, beef, glycerine and vegetable base (dried sweet potato chews and certain dental chews).

The root case of the illness is yet to be established, so please think of all the uncertainties and potential problems if you choose to give your dog any chew- and jerky-type treats.

The symptoms are not very easy to spot and if a dog develops them and is taken to the vets, the other causes need to be ruled out first, and the Fanconi’s test may take up to 2 weeks. This means that unless the dog is diagnosed fast, he may not always make it or will be left with chronic kidney problems.

Even thought these cases are rare, a few minutes of chewing bliss aren’t worth the risk. So it’s a good idea to consider a safer and healthier options including dog’s main food, fresh chopped carrots, cucumbers or apples, or even making your own treats at home.

Anal glands health, issues, risks and potential problems in English cocker spaniel and how to prevent them (C) Perfect cocker spaniel, dog blog, canine nutritionist, all about English cocker spaniels, puppy tips, guide, grooming - copyrighted image

Things about anal glands every cocker spaniel parent must know

I think it took me longer to compose a title of this post than to write the actual story. Because no matter how hard I tried, it’s impossible to prettify the subject or make it spam-proof.

But hey, the perks of being a dog mum are always supplemented with conversations about poops and, as you can see, anal glands.

The little glands should be familiar to all cocker spaniel parents because cockers are one of the breeds that may experience problems in the area.

I’ll start with the latest study that looked into the non-cancerous anal sac disorders (ASD) in dogs. According to the results, cocker spaniels were among the affected dogs.

The study considered several parameters including weight and diet, and it seemed that at least some of the dogs needed to either lose weight or change food as a part of their treatment.

Which, to me, means that one of the ways to prevent issues is yet again helping your dog maintain slim physic and feeding him a complete and balanced diet. It can be easily achieved by keeping an eye on your spaniel’s weight, quality of food, portion sizes, amount of treats and activity levels. You know the drill…

Feeding meals that provide correct amount of fibre is one of the simplest ways to maintain healthy anal glands. This is when you should think of commercial complete formulas containing healthy grains instead of choosing grain-free options or experimenting with various types of diets.

You also need to remember to never ever express anal sacs as a part of routine grooming! Nature can do it for you as long as your dog’s diet is balanced.

Unless medically required, squeezing the glands against their will can only lead to injuries, traumas, inflammation and the need to manually express the sacs over and over again. Squeeze them once – and you will have to do it over and over again, first – every few months and then having to pay regular, often monthly, visits to the nurse clinic or a grooming salon.

I often hear dog parents say that they need to express the glands because of the fishy smell. However it is vital to remember that the odour is not always a sign of a physical problem (i.e. impacted glands), but a natural involuntary response to stress or fear. Re-assessing the situation, checking if your dog is happy and content, avoiding stressful events and helping your pooch if he suffers from reactivity or nervousness would eliminate any need to give the glands a squeeze.

And when your spaniel turns nine, you will also need to keep an eye on any odd symptoms that may suddenly appear under the tail and overall because some English cockers carry a specific gene that puts them at risk of anal sac carcinoma. It is important to ask your vet for regular checks and take your cocker to the clinic if he starts to drink or urinate extensively, develops a tiny odd mass or thicker skin under his tail at 4 or 8 o’clock mark, you see blood in stool or bleeding near your dog’s anus, he seems constipated or starts to scoot on his bum. Some dogs may also lose appetite, vomit and become lethargic. The outcomes of the treatment will depend on the stage when the cancer was caught.

So as un-pretty as the subject is, knowing about it can potentially save your dog’s life. Definitely a little lesson worth learning, right?

English cocker spaniel puppy eating dog food (C) Perfect cocker spaniel / English cocker spaniel blog, book, puppy tips, advice, grooming tips, nutrition, canine nutritionist / Natalia Ashton

Does less poop really mean better health?

Today I wanted to have a quick chat about a study that recently came out from the university of Illinois because I found it, how should I put it… disappointing? Especially when it was reviewed to reach a wider audience – you and me, in other words.

The study that included beagles fed with fresh food was run by a few people with PhDs, which to any layman would most definitely look like a sure sign of quality and confidence. The beagles got some fresh food made with a few ingredients and naturally produced less poop compared to a group fed kibble.

The scientists then concluded that fresh diet is better for dogs, but did it in a way that could easily mislead any normal non-science’y dog parent and, as a result, potentially put their dog’s health at risk.

Granted, I don’t have a PhD, but I do know nutrition. That is why I need to explain a few study statements and my concerns.

First of all, “producing less excrements” isn’t really a new thing. It’s just another trend that was mimicked on countries like Japan where high urban population and clear lack of space meant that dogs foods had to be adjusted to result in less poops. It had nothing to do with dog’s health, but obvious need for yet another space-saving know-how.

Secondly, the diets included “two fresh diets made using only USDA-certified human-grade ingredients” The ingredients were listed yet it wasn’t clear who created the diet, whether or not it was nutritionally balanced or how it would affect the dog long-term (the feeding regime only took 4 weeks, which isn’t enough to see any abnormalities or deficiencies should they happen, especially in healthy dogs previously fed a balanced complete diet)

The researches tested the dogs before the trial and after the trial and noted that blood test results did not change. Which means that the dogs were good to go on their original food.

The worrying part is that I can easily picture a health-conscious pup parent cooking up a feast using the list of ingredients mentioned in the study review thinking that it’s the best thing for his dog because “a guy with PhD said so”. And if one can’t trust google, one can surely trust a guy with PhD, right?

Also “human grade” fresh food doesn’t actually mean that kibble would not be made with “human grade” ingredients. In fact, there are strict rules to ensure that our dogs don’t end up eating road kill or any animal that died of natural causes or old age. The dogs would eat the same cows and chickens as their human family, but different, less palatable (in human view) parts of them (think hearts and organ meats, not hooves or feathers).

Then the study went into a human diet (really?) to say that people would be more satisfied with fresh food than processed food and as a result, would lose weight and be healthier.

The only problem is that processed human food is not the same as a good quality kibble. Ask any board-certified nutritionist – and they will confirm this. Letting people assume that kibble is nothing more than a dog version of a human junk from a famous food chain is not just wrong, it is harmful.

Now… the trendy microbiota…. because they simply had to mention gut bacteria as some of the levels changed. Not for better, not for worse. They just changed. But the study folksĀ assumed it would be better because their previous studies said so. Which is so not PhD…

But if we do talk about microbiome and good bacteria, we need to jump straight to the beginning of this study and the rice and broccoli vs “horrible” kibble and carbs comparison.

Yes, kibble often results in more poop. But is it really a bad thing? Nope. Not. At. All. A good quality complete and balance kibble will contain good quality carbohydrates and fibre that will add bulk to the faeces. But it is vital to remember that besides the bulk, good carbs and fibre can play an important role in keeping your dogs healthy…

How?

Well, the fibre itself will work like a brush to rid the gut from toxins and bacteria.

The soluble fibre will feed the good bacteria.

The good bacteria will take care of your dog’s digestive health, immunity, vitamin levels, reduce risk of allergies and possibly cancers.

The insoluble fibre will also look after the anal glands.

And carbohydrates and fibre will supply vitamins and minerals that your dog may not always get from other foods.

Plus, good carbs will keep the dog fuller for longer and may help him maintain healthy weight or even loose some.

On the other hand, an unbalanced fresh diet may cause deficiencies and affect digestive health due to lack of fibre. The reduction of carbohydrates and fibre also means that they are either replaced with another form of bulking ingredients that dogs may not always be able to digest so well or without side-effects (think bloating). Alternatively, less fibre and carbohydrates often mean higher fat content, which can increase the risk of weight gain, pancreatitis and any disease caused by excess weight.

And upon checking on some foods used in the study as “better alternatives” I noticed ingredients such as garlic (think, Heinz bodies and risk of fatal haemolytic anaemia), potatoes (nightshades and risk of arthritis, plus potential link to DCM), spinach (think oxalates and risk of kidney stones), and pea fibres (potential bloating and increased risk of DCM) to name a few.

It absolutely pains me to say negative things about a study because I really love science and this is a bit like a car crush…

 

Image credit: cocker spaniel puppy by Switlana Synonenko via 123rf.com