Ready for Single Digits? Prepare with Our Winter Pet Safety Guide

A dog licking its paws in the snowAnimals are highly adaptable, but that doesn’t mean Chihuahuas can handle sub-zero temperatures or that huskies thrive in the desert. Each pet acclimates to environmental changes in different ways, but sometimes, they need our help to survive seasonal extremes. Without a proactive approach to winter pet safety, the animals we love may face deadly hazards.

Mild to Wild

Pets adapt to seasonal shifts in temperature and humidity via their coats, which thicken during the fall. Although a great defense against the cold, wet, and windy weather, thicker coats do not replace the vital need for shelter.

Serious Risks

Exposed animals are at risk for hypothermia and frostbite. Because they react to cold through shivering and depressed breathing, indoor-outdoor pets must have access to weatherproof shelter, unfrozen water, and food to help replace spent calories.

Older and Younger

Pets in good physical health face better odds when it comes to winter pet safety. Puppies or kittens, as well as senior pets, are known to lose body heat more quickly because they have less insulating body fat and muscle mass and a weak shivering response. To compensate, many pet owners add more high-value nutrition during the winter months.

However, your best bet for protection is to simply keep these pets inside and comfortable. Keep them away from cold drafts, wet conditions, and make sure they’re warm at all times. Exposure to bitter cold can decrease a pet’s disease resistance, resulting in new or worsening cases of pneumonia or osteoarthritis.

Speaking of Their Coats…

While their coats are at peak thickness, don’t forget to brush them out. A clean, mat-free, fluffy coat offers superior protection from the elements. Plus, distributing the skin’s natural oils throughout the body can help ward off dry, itchy skin. Insulating sweaters, vests, and jackets are game changers when it comes to keeping up with daily outdoor exercise.

Other Elements of Winter Pet Safety

Depending on your pet’s species, breed, age, and lifestyle, the following winter pet safety tips may come in handy:

  • Shovel out a specific spot for your dog to go to the bathroom during severe weather.
  • Be aware of antifreeze risks. Clean up any leaks or spills immediately, and do not allow your pet to drink from puddles.
  • Cleaning up your pet’s feet after being outside reduces the effects of salt, chemical deicers, ice, and snow pack. Be sure to trim the hairs between the paw pads to minimize ice balls. A pair of booties can make all the difference.
  • Keep your dog on leash. Their sense of smell is impaired by snow, and they can get lost more easily. Microchip your pet and update your contact information if necessary.
  • Do not leave your cat or dog inside your car during the winter.
  • Bang on the hood of your car before turning the key. Cats are known to crawl up next to the engine block to stay warm.
  • Portable heaters and fireplaces can present fire hazards. Supervision is always required.

Please contact us with additional questions or concerns about winter pet safety. Our veterinarians and staff members are always here for you and your pet. Stay warm!

So You Adopted a New Pet…Now What?

A dog with its head out the windowSharing your life with an animal is such a worthwhile experience, but bringing home a new pet is not without its challenges. First and foremost, pet owners must be able to responsibly provide for their new addition in every possible way. But don’t worry – preparing for and meeting the needs of your new pet can be fun!

Before You Roll Out the Welcome Mat

It’s common for animal lovers to convince themselves that love is all they need to care for a new pet. This is undoubtedly important, but without a commonsense approach to living quarters, sustainability, and commitment, even the most loved pet is still at risk of being surrendered. Before making any final decisions, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you allowed to have a pet where you live? If so, is a pet deposit required? Do your living quarters realistically support the needs of a potential pet (backyard space, living with other pets, access to exercise, etc.)?
  • Do you live with others who may have allergies or aversions to certain species or breeds?
  • Do you make enough money to meet the health care needs of a pet?
  • Are you willing to dedicate several hours each week to training and exercising your new pet?
  • Have you considered the needs of other animals you already own?

The Right Match

Choosing the right pet for you is a huge part of the adoption equation. It’s a decision that will impact others for many years and must be one that lasts forever. We’re happy to help you make this life-changing decision.

Bringing Your New Pet Home

Once all the major factors have been considered, there’s a lot that must happen at home and around your property to ensure your new pet’s safety, comfort, and happiness.

  • Pet proof your space. Take a close look at what your new pet may encounter. Cords, electrical wires, and other entrapment risks should be removed. Cleaning chemicals, certain plants, medications, and personal products must also be stored properly. Be sure to stash all food off tables and counters.
  • Talk with others in your home. If you live with other people, spend time with your roommates or family members (especially kids) discussing how to care for your new pet.
  • Get the right gear. Your new pet will require food, bowls, bedding, toys, and ID tags to wear on a new collar and leash. It’s also important to consider bathroom and crate needs.

The First Vet Visit

Some pets are spayed or neutered before adoption and receive some vaccines and parasite preventives. That being said, it’s vital to get a head start on your new pet’s wellness as early as a few days after bringing them home. During your visit, we can discuss any potential problems, the need for training, and address the importance of microchipping.

It can take a few weeks to a few months for everyone in your home to become accustomed to your new pet. If we can help move the transition along, please contact us.

Congratulations on your new pet!

The Great Escape: The Importance of Microchipping Your Pet

A dog standing near a roadThe thought of a pet escaping the home or yard isn’t something pleasant to consider. However, it’s estimated that one in three pets will go missing at some point in their lives. Even with the best of precautions, a curious cat or canine can easily slip through an open door, gate, or window.

That’s why microchipping your pet is one of the best defenses you have in avoiding a missing pet tragedy. The team at The Bluffs encourages all pet owners to consider this effective and permanent form of identification.

Microchipping Your Pet for Added Peace of Mind

A microchip might sound a bit high tech, but it isn’t an elaborate tracking system. Rather, a microchip is simply a tiny radio frequency transponder no bigger than a grain of rice. Unlike GPS, the transponder does not require a battery but emits a radio frequency signal only when it’s picked up by a specific type of scanner used to read microchips.

Microchips are also covered in a bio-capsule that’s safe and compatible for implantation under the skin. Typically, microchipping occurs during a pet’s spay or neuter surgery. The implantation itself is fast, does not require anesthesia, and is mostly painless – about the equivalent of receiving a vaccine shot.

Once implanted, newer microchips are designed to bond with the surrounding tissues, usually between the shoulder blades or the “scruff” of the neck. After this procedure, your pet will have a unique identification number for life, and you will be given the paperwork to register your pet with a registry that tracks these numbers and manages your contact information.

We also want to stress the importance of maintaining up-to-date information with the registry throughout your pet’s life, since accurate information is essential for reuniting with a missing pet.

While there’s not a 100% guarantee that any pet who goes missing will find his or her way back home, microchips are the safest, most effective choice since they cannot be removed or break off like ID tags.

Preventing an Escape

To prevent a missing pet scare, your friends at The Bluffs recommend:

  • Providing obedience training to canine pets, teaching important commands such as “stay” and “here”
  • Installing pet proof perimeter fencing around the home
  • Keeping your pet on a leash at all times when out on walks or away from the yard
  • Maintaining current photos of your pet should he or she become lost (for missing pet posters and online notices)
  • Putting your pet in a secure room during holiday gatherings or parties, when doors can accidentally be left open
  • Using a secure carrier or crate when traveling with your pet

If you would like more information on the benefits of microchipping, we’re happy to answer your questions.

When Storms and Fireworks Cause Profound Pet Anxiety

A dog on a cream backgroundIf you ask anyone living outside of Minnesota about our seasons, they may mention the one season we’re famous for – an extremely long winter. All kidding aside, we do have a full four seasons with temperature extremes during both the winter and summer. Instead of bitter cold and snow, however, we tend to face high heat and humidity between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

What does all of this mean for your four-legged friend? For starters, pet anxiety is a real possibility because the shift in weather leads to 30-40 thunderstorms in southern Minnesota alone. Loud noises and changes in air pressure can impact pets more intensely than they impact us.

Such a Display

Thunderstorms have the potential to mesmerize – or terrorize – pets and people alike. The sheer display of power can trigger a sense of awe, but for those with noise sensitivities, storms are a formidable foe. Not only can they be stressful for the animal in your care, but pet anxiety can toss everyone into a real tailspin.

Know the Score

Before a storm’s telltale first rumble, an anxious pet may start to pace, hide, whine, cling to specific people, or even try to bolt. Thundershirts are effective antidotes to stressful situations, as they’re often compared to swaddling a baby. Sure, if a pet doesn’t enjoy wearing vests, sweaters, or any type of clothing, it may be a challenge. However, over time, this drug-free option may be a great solution for pet anxiety.

Shelter From the Storm

Pet anxiety can also be triggered by fireworks, loud music, and the unpredictability of surrounding strangers. It’s not always easy to zero-in on a pet’s behaviors, but you can also try the following to soothe frayed nerves:

  • Desensitize your pet by playing recordings of thunderstorms and rain during the off-season. When a storm does ultimately roll in, he or she may not get as upset.
  • Do not reward negative behaviors triggered by stress (this will only perpetuate them). Instead, model calm behavior and reward your pet when he or she follows suit.
  • If you’re out in a storm, make sure your pet is attached to you via leash. A general rule is to keep your pet close to you during the length of the storm.
  • Establish crate training before the summer. This will allow your pet the option to hunker down during thunderstorms or the Fourth of July, bolstering his or her sense of security. Just make sure your pet is not confined inside the crate or kennel, and replenish any water or treats as needed.
  • Reduce pet anxiety during a storm or fireworks display by placing your pet in a small room with few or no windows. Turn on some white noise, TV, or music to distract and calm your pet.
  • If you pet is willing, try to play with him or her during the storm to create a new positive association. Of course, if your pet is too upset, simply be there and offer snuggles, strokes, and scratches.

Calming Pet Anxiety

It may be in your pet’s best interest to have a medication prescribed for anxiety. There are also other products including herbal therapies that we’re happy to discuss with you prior to the biggest season for thunderstorms, fireworks, crowds, and parties. If we can help ease your pet’s suffering, we encourage you to contact us.

On Pins and Needles: The Wonderful World of Veterinary Acupuncture

A dog being given acupunctureModern veterinary medicine is amazing. Animals are living longer than ever before, and sick pets have an incredible number of options for their treatment and care. Organ transplants, immunotherapy for cancer, and advanced orthopedic surgeries are a reality.

At The Bluffs Pet Clinic, it is important to us to bring options to our pet patients. We accomplish this through alternative and complementary treatment modalities like veterinary acupuncture. Keep reading to learn how this type of therapy is helping our veterinary patients.

Acupuncture 101

While it may look like sticking needles haphazardly into an unsuspecting patient, acupuncture is an ancient and intricate technique.

One of the four branches of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM), acupuncture has been around for thousands of years. Veterinary acupuncture utilizes the insertion of special needles into the body at very specific locations in order to stimulate strategic points. Acupuncture points are located along the channels that Qi, or energy, is thought to move through within  the body.

Acupuncture aims to correct energy flow imbalances and disharmony that are created due to disease and weakness.

A certified acupuncture clinician, such as our own Dr. Cook, uses their knowledge of acupuncture and other TCVM principles to augment more traditional treatments for pets in need.

Helping Pets Through Veterinary Acupuncture

Acupuncture can be used for a great many purposes in veterinary medicine. Any disease or condition that we can diagnose can be benefited from veterinary acupuncture.

Some of the more common applications include:

  • Management of orthopedic disease
  • Treatment of nerve injuries and diseases
  • Pain relief
  • Treatment of gastrointestinal disturbances
  • Management of seizure disorders
  • Support of healthy organ function
  • Treatment of respiratory problems
  • Augmentation of immune function
  • Treatment of inflammation

Acupuncture is typically well tolerated by our pet patients and offers very few side effects. Adverse reactions are uncommon when the treatments are performed by a professional.

The best part about veterinary acupuncture is that it complements traditional veterinary medicine so well. There is no need to rely on only Western medicine to treat a pet for osteoarthritis. Acupuncture can offer another means of relief that may be even more effective when combined with things like medications, supplements, and physical therapy.

We know how important it is to our pet owners to provide the very best care for their four-legged family members. At The Bluffs Pet Clinic, we are committed to opening doors to our animal patients wherever we can. If you would like to learn more about how acupuncture can help your pet, call us today. We are happy to answer all your questions and get started with a treatment plan, personalized for your best friend.

Yes or No: The Pet Insurance Question

A woman holding a curly-haired dogWe all want to do the very best we can to provide health and happiness for our pets. They’re members of the family, after all! And we’re fortunate that in this day and age, we all have access to the very best in advanced medical care for our pets, from puppy or kitten-hood to adulthood and into their senior years. But this advanced care doesn’t come without cost. And with average annual pet care costs topping $1800, taking great care of our pets can put a significant financial strain on many families.

That’s where pet insurance comes in. Just as human health insurance is designed to offset our own health care costs, pet insurance can ease the financial burden of unexpected injury or major illness in our pets. But is it worth it? Here, The Bluffs Pet Clinic lays out the basics so that you can begin to weigh the costs and benefits for your situation.

Pet Insurance 101

Pet insurance is usually designed to help pet owners meet the costs of unplanned injury or illnesses. Some pet insurance plans also cover wellness care, such as dental cleanings, exams, and vaccinations. However, those plans are typically more expensive on a monthly basis.

Unlike human health insurance, most pet insurance companies expect you to pay for veterinary services up front and then submit bills to them for reimbursement.

Leg Work

Selecting a pet insurance company is an individual choice, and so it’s important to do some preliminary research and make a selection based on your needs. Many of our team members have purchased pet insurance for their own pet companions, so if you have questions, give us a call.

When researching, consider comparing the following points:

  • Monthly premiums/ costs
  • Deductible amounts
  • Waiting periods
  • Exclusions
  • Lifetime limits
  • Payout maximums per incident
  • Add on costs
  • Pre-existing conditions
  • Age limits

After you’ve looked at these points, call your top three companies and talk to them. Customer service is key, so make sure you like the service provided and that all your questions are answered. Lastly, looking at online reviews from other consumers can be enlightening.

Peace of Mind

Perhaps the biggest benefit of pet insurance is the peace of mind it can afford you. If your pet is critically injured and needs to be hospitalized, or is diagnosed with a major illness such as cancer, pet insurance can allow you to focus on what’s most important – your pet’s care – instead of how you will pay for treatment.

If you have other specific questions about pet insurance, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Don’t Poison Your Pet With Mouse Poison This Summer…..Or Anytime

An older golden retriever laying on a tile floorIt’s summer, and whether you’re at home, the cabin or a resort, mouse and rat poisons are a lethal threat to your pets. Many people believe that it is ok to use as long as it is put out of reach of pets, but here’s why that’s a danger.

People using poison often place it up high (where it can fall off) or in an inconspicuous corner. The problem is, rodents hoard poison and will move it to a favorite spot—like inside an old shoe, or somewhere undisturbed. Either way, your pet can find it and ingest it.

Fortunately, there are ways to kill rodents without risking your pet’s life.The best thing you can do at home or your cabin is to never use poison; use a mouse trap instead. There are many styles available now to suit your needs. BUT, you never know what neighbors or resort owners use for rodent control.

If you’ve got a pet roaming or if you are in a cabin you don’t own, be vigilant and take these precautions:
1. If traveling, get the name, phone number and hours of a vet clinic near your destination. Add it to your phone before you hit the road.

2. When renting a cabin, first ask the owners if they use rodent poison. If they do—consider staying elsewhere, or ask them to remove it before you arrive. (Even then, there’s a chance that poison may be in the vicinity of your pet.)

3. Inspect the cabin when you arrive. Check shelves and inconspicuous places for small boxes of poison such as D-Con, or little nuggets that resemble cat food or are brightly colored. Google “mouse poison photos” to see examples of the many types of poison to watch for. Check outside around the foundation of the cabin as well.
Often times we are completely unaware that our pet has eaten mouse poison. That’s why it’s important to recognize the symptoms before it’s too late.

Here’s where it gets dicey. There are a variety of poisons that kill in a number of ways. That means, symptoms of poisoning vary, depending on the poison. Here’s a list of symptoms to watch out for. Symptoms vary, of course, with the poison.

• Lethargy
• Difficulty breathing
• Pale gums
• Coughing (especially of blood)
• Vomiting (especially with blood)
• Bloody nose
• Swelling or bruising of the skin
• Collapse
• Bleeding from the gums
• Not eating
• Weakness
• Decreased or increased thirst/urination
• Bad breath
• Tremors
• Anxiety
• Walking “drunk”
• Tremoring
• Seizuring
• Coma
• Drooling

If you see any of these symptoms, contact your vet immediately. If caught early, there are antidotes for some poisons. Call The Bluffs Pet Clinic should you have more questions or see any of the above symptoms in your pet.

Dr. Cook is a 1997 graduate of the Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine and purchased The Bluffs Pet Clinic in 2001. She is certified in Veterinary Acupuncture and well versed in the use of Chinese Herbs.  In her spare time she can be found playing ball with her Golden Retrievers.

Protecting Your Pal From Common Tick Diseases in Pets

A forceps holding a tickWhat’s small, has eight legs, and feeds off the blood of humans and animals?

You got it, ticks. These tiny parasites are not only gross, but they can also spread disease to both people and pets. Thanks to an increase in the geographical distribution of ticks throughout the country, tick diseases in pets are being diagnosed with greater frequency in recent years.

Tick-borne illnesses in pets can cause big problems, and may even be life-threatening in some cases, making knowledge of these illnesses an important part of responsible pet ownership.

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is the most well-known of the tick diseases in pets, and is transmitted by the Brown Deer Tick. The tick must be attached to the host for more than 48 hours in order to pass along the Lyme disease bacteria, and symptoms (if any) tend to pop up about 2-5 months after the tick bite.

Signs your pet may have Lyme disease include fever, joint pain/swelling, limping, lameness, swollen lymph nodes, and lethargy. Lyme disease is notoriously difficult to detect, and can cause recurring health problems. Your veterinarian can help you to determine if your pet is a good candidate for the Lyme disease vaccine.

Other Tick Diseases in Pets

  • Rocky Mountain spotted fever – Unlike its name, Rocky Mountain spotted fever is not limited to the western United States. The disease, which is carried by the American Dog Tick, Rocky Mountain Wood Tick, and Brown Deer Tick, has been found throughout North, South, and Central America. Symptoms include fever, swollen lymph nodes, joint pain, and loss of appetite.
  • Ehrlichiosis – The Brown Dog Tick is the most common carrier of ehrlichiosis, which can cause fever, respiratory distress, swollen lymph nodes, weight loss, and bleeding disorders.
  • Babesiosis – The signs of babesiosis infection include fever, dark urine, weakness, depression, swollen lymph nodes, and sudden collapse.
  • Anaplasmosis – Fever, joint pain, lethargy, and loss of appetite may accompany an anaplasmosis infection.

Year-Round Protection

It can be tempting to skip your pet’s monthly parasite preventive during the colder months, but any lapse in protection puts your pet at risk. Ticks can be brought into Minnesota at any time of the year via tourism, and a few unseasonably warm days may be all that’s needed to bring hibernating tick nymphs out of hiding. It’s also important to note that Lyme disease-carrying ticks remain active as long as the temperature is above freezing.

In addition to a monthly parasite prevention protocol, be sure to check your pet for ticks each time they come in from outside. If you find a tick, remove it by grasping the head with a pair of tweezers and pulling straight out, being careful not to squeeze. Drown the tick in rubbing alcohol or flush it down the toilet to dispose of it.

If you have further questions about tick diseases in pets, or need to make an appointment for your furry friend, don’t hesitate to contact your partners in pet care at The Bluffs Pet Clinic.

Thanks to an increase in the geographical distribution of ticks throughout the country, tick diseases in pets are being diagnosed with greater frequency in recent years.

A Gentle Approach to Pet Care: Announcing Our Fear Free Certification

A white and brown dog licking a human's hand

Recently, The Bluffs Pet Clinic acquired our Fear Free certification, and we’re both excited and proud to tell you more about what this means for our clinic and how it helps your pet!

For many pet owners, something about taking your pet to the vet (especially the family cat) that evokes trepidation. You may have lucked out with the most friendly, fearless dog or cat around, but for many pets, the sites, smells, and overall bustle of an office visit can be overwhelming.

Thankfully, the veterinary community has taken notice of this and endeavored to adapt and overcome the many obstacles of the traditional clinic environment and create and atmosphere that pets respond to and enjoy, ultimately making your pet’s visit more enjoyable and productive. 

What is a Fear Free Certification?

Based on the findings of veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker, the Fear Free program responds to the emotional wellbeing of pet patients. Studies from Bayer Veterinary Healthcare in 2014 found that 37 percent of dog owners and 58 percent of cat owners reported their pets were afraid of going to the vet.

What’s alarming about these statistics is that for many pet owners, their pets do not receive preventive care, which is necessary to maintain good health. In some cases, this may also mean a disease or other condition goes untreated.

For these reasons, Fear Free was developed as an educational initiative for pet owners and veterinarians to encourage a calmer, more relaxing, and ultimately successful experience with veterinary visits.

Drawing on the knowledge and expertise of veterinarians and animal behaviorists, the Fear Free Program teaches the following skills:

  • Gentle handling techniques
  • Recognizing subtle cues of anxiety and stress
  • Creating positive association with examinations
  • Creating a calm environment

The Advantages of a Fear Free Practice

For us, our commitment to a Fear Free practice goes far beyond the required coursework. It’s our goal to partner with all pet owners to identify stressors that prevent their pets from having a positive experience and work toward creating a successful one.

Some of our low-stress, comforting techniques include:

  • Quiet areas
  • Pheromone use, which can calm cats and dogs
  • Gentle restraint (when needed)
  • Soothing, calm exam rooms
  • Toys, treats, and plenty of attention to encourage positive association

Along with our Fear Free certification, we’re also a Cat Friendly Practice!

Is Your Pet Anxious?

We know it’s tough to witness a beloved pet in distress. However, annual and follow-up care is critical to your pet’s health, quality of life, and longevity. There are many ways we can help you prepare for your next visit with us. At-home behavior modifications and reward-based training can do wonders!

If you’d like to learn more about our Fear Free certification and our approach to holistic veterinary care, we welcome your call! Emotional wellness matters, and we’re here to make you and your sweet pet as comfortable as possible.

Solving Your Pet Food Dilemma

Did you know that genetics, nutrition and care are the three factors that most impact your pet’s longevity? This and upcoming blogs will discuss those factors in detail. Today’s blog addresses nutrition.

A dog laying on the ground with ears up

Ever feel overwhelmed when you go to your grocer or pet store to buy food for Fido? It’s no wonder. Pet food brands and types have mushroomed as more people become pet owners. In fact, research shows that US pet ownership has grown by nine million in the past decade. Some 67 million households now include a pet. So it’s no surprise that more and more businesses want a piece of the pet-food pie. The question is, which foods are fad, and which foods are legitimate, and how do you know what to buy for your pet? Here are thoughts on how to best choose the right food for your pet.

 Just like we are what we eat, our pets are also what they eat.  Feed them a high quality pet food! If you are looking for a high quality commercial pet food, look for those that have passed the AAFCO feeding trials (Association of American Feed Control Officials).

If your pet is healthy, it’s a bit easier to find the right food. If your pet has a food allergy, however, beware of over –the-counter foods boasting they’re a “novel ingredient” diet.  Testing has shown that about 10% of the time, companies substitute another “meat” for the “novel ingredients”, and your pet may be allergic to that.   Your better manufacturing companies will prepare novel ingredient diets at a separate facility or take strict measures to avoid cross contamination of other ingredients.

In commercial foods, unfortunately the cheaper they are, the more likely they contain lower-quality ingredients.  However, you don’t have to buy the most expensive food, either. Stick to major food manufacturers, rather than store-labeled foods or foods with celebrity names.

What to Read on the Label

Check the label to see if it says “Manufactured by” or “Manufactured for”. If the label says manufactured by, that company is vested in high-quality testing and is more likely to have a veterinary nutritionist on staff.  Such companies test both the raw ingredients and the finished product.

If the label says “manufactured for, that company is less likely to have a veterinary nutritionist on board. Equally important, testing is generally less thorough. They often don’t test both the raw ingredients and prepared food. Testing is vital. In particular, it helps prevent recalls due to a bacterial contamination—unfortunately, an increasingly frequent reason for recalls.

You can check for recalls a company has had by visiting the FDA website.  Once you have researched a food you think will be good, enlist the help of your veterinarian to help you evaluate your choice.  Their in-depth knowledge of your pet’s health combined with their background in nutrition ensure you’ll make the right choice.

The Right Foods for Pet Diseases and Conditions

If your pet has a disease such as kidney, liver, urinary or a gastrointestinal disease, a prescription diet may be healthier for them.  Prescription Diets, available from your veterinarian, are especially good and have been researched and tested extensively in both the raw ingredient and cooked stages.

These foods are developed to address the specific nutritional needs of a pet with a serious disease.  Pets that are fed these diets have been shown to live longer than pets who are fed a commercial diet.

I know, you say, “but these diets have corn in them!” This is true, many of these diets do have grains, but grains are not necessarily a bad thing. It depends on the pet. These prescription diets are tried and true; they have been researched and tested multiple times on many dogs and cats to ensure they do what they are prescribed to do.

This is especially important if you have a male cat with urinary crystal problems. There are commercial foods labeled to help prevent urinary problems. But if your cat has ever had a urinary obstruction, go with prescription food!

Believe me, I too, have tried numerous other commercial diets for my own cats to address this problem.  All I can say, is “Don’t do it. Your pet’s life is too important to risk a life-threatening urinary obstruction!” I feed my cat a prescription diet to help prevent urinary obstructions.  Though the ingredients are not on my preferred list, these diets do prevent a crisis.

The most important factors in your pet’s diet are

  1. The food has been formulated by veterinary nutritionists to ensure it is a complete and balanced diet for your pet
  2. The food meets your pet’s needs
  3. The ingredients are tested extensively for contamination

Home-made Pet Food

What about homemade diets? Preparing a homemade diet for your pet is expensive and a lot of work. Yet, many people want to provide homemade diets for their pets.  Please know that this does not mean feeding them table scraps or whatever you are having for breakfast or supper. This means using high quality human food ingredients in a diet formulated by a veterinary nutritionist to ensure the diet meets the pet’s nutritional needs.  If your pet has no known health concerns then you can visit for home-made diet recipes formulated by a veterinary nutritionist.  The recipes as written will provide a nutritionally complete diet for your pet so no changes should be made for optimum health.

Our pets do not have the same nutritional needs as we do.  Diets that do not meet all the pet’s nutritional needs put your pets at risk for diseases. Such diseases can affect their brain, eyes, heart, joints, kidneys, liver, skin and digestive track. So, proper nutrition is vital. Contact us if you would like discuss nutrition recommendations for your pet or if you are interested in learning more about home-made diets.

Dr. Cook is a 1997 graduate of the Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine and purchased The Bluffs Pet Clinic in 2001. She is certified in Veterinary Acupuncture and well versed in the use of Chinese Herbs.  In her spare time she can be found playing ball with her Golden Retrievers.