First Aid Awareness Is Not Always Emergent
While we’re getting further along in the month of Pet First Aid Awareness I want to take a detour from just sharing stories of first aid issues to discussing an often overlooked form of preventing first aid issues.
Our dogs and cats can have emergencies from cuts, punctures, swallowed or ingested poison in which we find ourselves dealing. Sometimes however, they have a daily exposure to something that might cause many first aid issues down the road. Problems such as itchy dry skin, ear infections, bad teeth and overall well-being can commonly be attributed to what we give our pets every single day – food!
Food As a Form of First Aid Prevention
We wouldn’t think of food as a form of first aid prevention but it definitely is. If your pet is allergic to wheat yet wheat is an ingredient in their food, you could unknowingly be the cause of their itchy dry skin and ear infections. While month after month you apply the special cleanser you have to get from your vet and the antibiotics, it might be worth a look at the root cause of the need for the first aid constantly being applied.
I had this issue with my dog’s skin and feat. My first Boxer Tank, always had a dry dull coat and terribly itchy feet. I went to the vet and for $80 per month I got steroids, feat wipes and was told to use a common antihistamine. Well, that all worked until I would run out of the meds and we were back at square 1. I was only masking the issue – I wasn’t aware of what it was and what was causing it. Turns out, thanks to talking with other pet owners, the not-so-cheap pet food I was buying had wheat as the second ingredient. Since pet food ingredients are listen by weight, that 30lb bag was a good percentage of wheat! A friend suggested going wheat-free. He pointed out that my dog’s teeth and certainly their digestive system were not designed to eat wheat. I figured a switch in food wouldn’t hurt right?
RIGHT! Within two weeks of going wheat free – my pup’s coat was shiny, his feet weren’t a bother and I wasn’t tossing $80 away on meds that masked his issues. It was eye opening and the beginning of my journey exploring just what exactly is in our pets’ food.
Pet food manufacturing has become a massive marketplace, the choices are definitely overwhelming. I encourage pet owners to step back and think about what they are feeding their furry friends. While the choices and costs can often seem endless, we lose sight that if we go with a cheaper lower quality food now to help fit better into our monthly budget – what are we paying for later in veterinary bills or worse – what suffering are our pets enduring slowly while we save some up front money?
A documentary has recently been released that follows two veterinarians and their discovery about the commercial dog food industry. Its’s called Pet Fooled (you can view it on Netflix). I encourage everyone to do their own research. As your pet’s guardian, it is your job to decide which are the best nutrients for your cat or dog.
What Do I Feed?
You asked. . . OK not really, I did but you know you wanted to. I feed what has been labeled a “species appropriate diet”. Dogs for example are so close in genetic composition to their wolf relatives that they have been reclassified as being in the same genetic family. I know, how the heck is a Pug related to a wolf? The Pug is simply wearing a mask, his insides and genetic composition are practically the same as a wolf, certainly his nutritional needs. While his phenotype is worlds different – what he looks like – I can assure you his acidic belly contents are designed to digest the same food as his wolf brother.
Have you opened your cat’s mouth lately? They have a serious set of sharp chompers. Those teeth are designed to tear and rip meat, not crunch kibble.
So I feed a raw diet – I know scary to some but I again will encourage – maybe now I am begging you to at least look into what you are feeding. What options exist for optimum health or better – what are your pets physically designed to actually eat? I have evolved to be able to eat fast food burger meals but that does not mean they are good for me!
Raw Dog Food Community
Kitty companions – I PROMISE to find a raw cat feeding community to recommend but for now I have one for the pups. Our friends from That Mutt have started a raw dog food community. For those interested or wanting assistance navigating this seemingly complicated way of feeding, please check out the info here.
There are honestly hundreds of resources available and this can all seem overwhelming. The best advice is collect your information and ultimately you get to decide what makes the most sense for your furry companions and your lifestyle.
I took my time in trying different foods. I started with dehydrated and then moved to commercial raw. Now that I am feeding 4 mouths and literally 3lbs of raw meat a day, I now make my own and source my meat from a company that trucks it to me from 400 + miles away. Its the best quality for the best price, I made that decision for me and my 4-legged family. I could no longer afford commercial raw but I knew I wanted to feed a species appropriate diet.
Pet First Aid Starts with Pet Awareness
Before we apply any aid to our companion animals we really need to know what to be aware of so that we know when to act. Be aware of their surroundings, their physical state, what they are fed and things like their weight. Do you think your dog or cat has put on a little weight but can’t tell? Call your vet and ask what your pet’s weight was when they were last in and then weigh them by holding them on your scale at home. Subtract your total weight to get theirs or pop into your vet to get them weighed. Just documenting your pets weight, normal heart rate, breathing rate and temperature can be an excellent gauge when things aren’t quite right.
To learn how to collect some of this information, learn pet first aid – loving your pet is great but loving them and knowing how to provide essential care for them is the best!
Don’t forget to watch the documentary and check out the raw dog food community. Be aware of their well-being so you can be the first to notice and act when things just aren’t right. I’ll share more in a bit about what specific foods to avoid that can cause illness to our pets but for now, go take a look at the food you are feeding that could be having an ill effect.