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Puppies


The term "Limited Ingredient Diet" is becoming more and more prevalent in the pet food universe these days, but what does that term really mean?

Simply stated, Limited Ingredient Diets are pet food formulas that focus on core nutrition rather than "bells and whistles."  These recipes were originally developed by companies like Natura and Natural Balance to help to address a few common problems that sensitive pets encounter when eating "prepared" foods, but are now mainstream dry, wet, and raw options that work well for a wide range of dogs and cats.

The hallmark of a "LID" diet is a very short ingredient panel, often with a single source (or type) of meat protein and a single source of carbohydrate.  While these recipes are very simple, it is important to note that they are carefully formluated and tested to make sure that they supply all of the daily nutritional requirements required for canines or felines, respectively.

So how do these diets help your pet?  Some dogs or cats have digestive sensitivities leading to loose stools or chronic gas when they eat foods that don't agree with them.  A simpler formula can be easier to digest, so cutting the label down to essential ingredients can reduce the chance of digestive issues occurring or lessen their severity.

This same logic applies to pets that have chronic food-related allergies, which can manifest in visible skin conditions like open "hot spot" sores, excessive eye goop, or chronic ear infections.  The classic way of addressing an allergy to a food ingredient is to feed an "elimination diet," or one that removes non-essential things from daily consumption that may cause the immune system to overreact.  Limited ingredient formulas perform this role perfectly, as they immediately reduce the variety of what is being consumed, including sources of potential allergens.

On a side note, pets with normal immune or digestive systems can do just fine on limited ingredient foods, too!  This is especially helpful in households in which one pet has an allergy or senstivity and another doesn't.  Everyone can still eat the same food, which helps simplify mealtimes through easy preparation and reduction of food bandit behaviors (i.e. - I like your food better than mine!).

If you suspect your pet might benefit from a limited ingredient diet, visit us at one of our stores or give us a call (in Eagle, ID at 208-939-8119 or in Meridian, ID at 208-392-1049).  We love to chat with you about our selection of awesome pet foods with simple recipes and can help you compare them to your pet's current diet.  We also have free samples of many formulas available that your pet can try out, too!

Comments | Posted in Pet Nutrition By Del Peterson

Coconut

While the benefits of fish oils and Omega-3 fatty acids have been long established for dogs and cats, more people are becoming increasingly familiar with the numerous health benefits offered by a unique group of fats found in coconut oil.

Coconut oil is packed with antioxidants like Vitamin E and is one of only a few vegetable sources of saturated medium chain fatty acids, which can benefit pets when used either as an internal health supplement (when used alone or rotated with fish oils) or a topical aid applied directly to the skin, paws, ears, nose or mouth.

Coconut oil contains about 64% medium chain fatty acids (or MCFA's), the most abundant of which is lauric acid. The other well-known natural source of lauric acid is breast milk, which is effective in nourishing and building the immune system by protecting infants against illnesses and infection. Pet parents who add coconut oil to their dog or cat's diet have reported a notable increase in overall skin and coat quality, and a reduction in "doggy" smell. There is also evidence that MCFA's support immune system, circulatory system, and metabolic (thyroid/weight maintenance) health when ingested.  Importantly, medium chain saturated fatty acids derived from coconut oil are easily broken down for energy production, are linked with decreased cholesterol levels, and do not lead to a greater risk of heart disease like saturated animal fats.

Most pets love the taste of coconut oil, so giving it to them as a dietary supplement is usually quite easy!  Just spoon some onto their meal or let them lick it off your fingers.  Recommended dosing starts at 1 teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight or 1 tablespoon per 30 pounds of body weight daily. Start slowly (about a quarter of the recommended amount) and increase gradually to avoid diarrhea or greasy stools while the body adjusts to the oil.

When used as a topical aid, coconut oil can help soothe and heal hotspots, dry skin, and cracked paws or noses.  Beyond its moisturizing benefits, the MCFA's in coconut oil have antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and antiparasitic properties that can help speed wound healing and prevent infection.  Use your fingers to massage the oil into the skin or a dropper to apply to the ears, mouth sores, or even onto your pet's toothbrush!

Not all coconut oils are created equal. Virgin coconut oil is an excellent source of medium chain fatty acids that provide the health benefits described above.  Our favorite at Northwest Pets is CocoTherapy Organic Virgin Coconut Oil sourced from the Philippines. Virgin oil retains most of the nutrients found in fresh coconut, is not hydrogenated, and is very stable under room temperature storage.

By the way, Dr. Oz and a number of human physicians are catching on to the benefits of coconut oil for people, too.  You just might want to start sharing some with your pets!

Comments | Posted in Pet Nutrition By Del Peterson
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