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Puzzled about your pets? Viewer questions revealed!!

Every so often, we seem to get a plethora of questions submitted by viewers. As you might have seen on the show, we try to get you the answers you are looking for. So, without further ado, here's our most recent crop of questions!!

1) Should you avoid certain colors in your pets' foods?

Dapple dachshund puppy eating kibble from big pink bowl
Our pets don't need bright colors in their food!

This is a great question and goes back to the anecdotal evidence, along with some scientific backing, that certain food colorings (dyes) seem to create levels of hyperactivity in human children. Many people also have concerns about artificial colors having the potential to cause cancer. While the debate continues to rage about the carcinogenicity of these foods and whether or not that might affect our pets, here's the bottom line...our dogs and cats are not tempted by the color of their kibble. The reds and oranges we see are strictly for OUR benefit (the owner), not the pet's!

So, best advice here: avoid inexpensive, generic or grocery store brands of foods. These are the ones most likely to contain the dyes that are concerning. Ask your veterinarian about a recommendation for a higher quality diet that fits with the needs of the pet and your own beliefs and needs! You can learn more detailed information about artificial ingredients in our pet foods by visiting the SkeptVet here.

2) What's the deal with pig ear treats for dogs?

In 2019, three separate recalls have been issued for specific lots of pig ear treats for dogs. The underlying issue is that these treats seem to be contaminated with Salmonella bacteria and more than 140 human cases from 35 states have been treated.

Most commonly, these treats are bought in “bulk bins”, where various lots of pig ear treats are mixed and likely contaminated through mixing of product.

Chihuahua mix dog in front seat of car
Are you talking to me?

It’s also important to note that while dogs seem to love these treats, many owners are not aware of the additional calories that can be added to our pet’s daily intake by pig ears. A typical pig ear can have about 130 kcal or more per treat! For a 20 lb dog, that’s about 1/4 of the total calories they need for the entire day!!

BEST ADVICE: avoid pig ear treats, especially from bulk bins! Ask your veterinarian about better options for both an appropriate treat and/or effective chew toy. You can learn more about the on-going recall by visiting the Centers for Disease Control Website.

3) Why does my dog eat poop?

Watching our beloved pet run up and greedily start munching on a pile of dog or cat feces is enough to make all of us turn away in disgust. To think that your sweet pet, who licks you in the face, is enthusiastically devouring poop is just far too uncomfortable to comprehend!!

Coprophagy, or eating of feces, is a common behavior in many animals and in some, like rabbits, it is actually needed to make sure that they obtain complete nutrition. This is a learned behavior (from litter mates or siblings in the household), but it can also indicate a digestive imbalance, such as lack of pancreatic enzymes, parasites, or even a deficient diet. For the VAST majority of our pets, this is truly a behavior issue and not related to any dietary deficiencies.

To prevent this behavior, owners can limit their pet’s access to other feces. So, daily yard clean up, keeping your dog on a short leash, and limiting access to litter boxes may suffice.

BEST ADVICE: talk to your veterinarian about training tips to keep your pet from eating poop or possibly consider a diet change/medical diagnostic work up. There's a great write up on coprophagy in dogs here.

4. Dogs are omnivores, so what are cats?

Two mackeral tabby kittens being held in hands
Georgie and Julia need meat in their vegetarians here!

Lots of marketing material is created in an attempt to highlight the fact that our pets are carnivories . . . that is, they belong to the mammalian order, Carnivora, and therefore only eat meat! Sadly, these marketing gimmicks are missing some important information.

Our canine buddies are actually omnivores. They can subsist on a wide variety of diets, including meat, but also through scavenging. Cats, however, are obligate carnivores, meaning that their diets must include meat. Cats are unable to synthesize arachidonic acid (an essential fatty acid) from plant sources, cannot create vitamin A from beta carotene, and required taurine, an amino acid only found in animal sources.

BEST ADVICE: Ask your veterinary team about what diet is optimal for your feline friend.

Our team here at #PetPalsTV is more than happy to field questions you have about your pets. While we aren't veterinarians, we can find some detailed answers for you about your unique furry, feathered, or even scaly friend! Let us know what has you puzzled about your pets!


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