Friday, February 15, 2013

Good Eats for Our Friends with Four Feets! by Dr. Mary Gardner

About two years ago, I was facing adrenal cancer with my Doberman Neo. I stopped being a veterinarian and instead turned into a frantic mom! One thing I wanted to make sure of, was that he was getting the proper nutrition to help him with his fight.

I turned to Jodi Ziskin, a Pet Nutrition Specialist who came to my home and we formulated a diet specific for his needs, disease and one that I could do easily. I really enjoyed preparing his meals as it gave me a ‘purpose’ when I felt so helpless.

I spoke with Jodi recently and asked her some common questions that I receive:

Do pet’s nutritional needs change as they age?

Nutritional needs do not really change for pets over the course of their lives, however senior pets require less calories, so smaller portions are recommended. In addition, just like humans, as pets age they produce less digestive acids that breakdown food. Adding digestive enzymes and a probiotic are wonderful for pets of all ages, but in my opinion, are a must for seniors.

Are there specific diets we should feed for certain diseases?

From a holistic perspective, the most important thing is to feed a diet made from whole food – real meat and vegetables. No by-products or rendered ingredients, no inflammatory foods like corn, wheat or soy. This is important for any pet, but especially ones suffering from disease. For example, for cats with kidney disease, it’s not about the amount of protein; it’s about the quality. Although cats cannot digest grains, adding some grain-like foods including quinoa (which is actually a seed, not a grain) or millet (which is a grass not a grain) can help slow the digestion of proteins so the kidneys do not get overwhelmed. For pets with diabetes, replacing high sugar vegetables like carrots and peas with vegetables that have a low glycemic load like kale and pumpkin is very important. Preparing homemade food is a great way to address specific dietary needs.

Is it difficult to make home cooked meals for pets?

Not at all. And it can take less time than driving to the pet food store and back! It is important to understand the species appropriate needs of your pet. Having the right balance of protein, vegetables, fats, minerals and vitamins is absolutely necessary. Many people are surprised how much money they actually save making homemade food. There are also a number of pre-mixes on the market. All you have to do is add meat and omega 3 oils and the work is done.

What species do you seem to help more?

There seems to be a 50/50 mix of dogs and cats. Every now and then a bird or rabbit gets thrown into the mix.

Jodi works with Lap of Love (via phone or in home consultation) to help families home cook (or find healthy alternative diets) for their geriatric or terminally ill pets. More information can be found at under the ‘Nutrition’ tab.

Posted by:
Vet Mary Gardner
Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice and Euthanasia

Broward, Miami Dade, Palm Beach Counties including North Miami, Aventura, Hollywood, Davie, Cooper City, Coral Springs, Weston, Davie, Ft. Lauderdale, Plantation, Pembroke Pines, Tamarac, Wilton Manors, Lighthouse Point, Pompano Beach, Deerfield Beach, Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Boynton Beach, Palm Beach, and Jupiter. 

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