Considering whether or not euthanasia is appropriate for a pet is never easy. However, it can be even more complicated when behavioral considerations are a primary factor in the process. Dr. Christine Calder, a veterinary behaviorist, recently addressed this topic in an article entitled Behavioral Euthanasia: Making the Hard Decision in the May 2022 edition of Downeast Dog News. If you face a decision of this nature, I encourage you to read the article, as Dr. Calder offers very sound advice and potential alternatives.
Chris from Weruva, one of our favorite cat food companies, explains why your cat can be so fussy about what they eat. It’s not about taste. It’s a little bit about the smell. What really matters most to a cat is how the food feels in its mouth and on its tongue. Chris explains in detail on this blog and YouTube video at – https://weruva.com/why-are-cats-so-picky-and-what-can-you-do-about-it/
< Updated 29NOV19 >
< A short link for this page – http://bit.ly/KnowledgeforPetParents >
Our pets do not come with a user manual, and their normal behavior can often be quite different from what we expect or desire. When we chose to live with another species, it is important to understand their normal behaviors as well as abnormal behaviors, if our relationship with them is going to be mutually beneficial.
In 2015, the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) issued their Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines, which state: “More dogs and cats are affected by behavioral problems than any other condition, often resulting in euthanasia, relinquishment of the patient, or chronic suffering.” The report explains that a major reason for behavioral problems is erroneous information about pets and what constitutes normal versus abnormal behavior and appropriate training methods. Misinformation often comes from family, friends, neighbors, rescues/shelters, and even pet care professionals such as veterinarians and trainers. The following resources will provide you with current, and accurate information based on science, so you can better understand your cat or dog, and have a more harmonious relationship with them
Canine Behavior, Dog Training, and Dog to Human Communications
Articles & Blog Posts
Pet Health and Wellness – Your Pet’s Behavioral Health Is As Important As Their Physical Well-Being – A review of the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) 2015 Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines and the importance of attending to our pets emotional and behavioral well-being. – http://bit.ly/WWM_AAHA_Bhx
PODCAST – Pet Behavior, Vets & The AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines with Dr. Dave Cloutier from Veazie Veterinary Clinic – In this podcast from The Woof Meow Show Kate, Don and Dr. Dave Cloutier of the Veazie Veterinary Clinic discuss the American Animal Hospital Associations (AAHA) new guidelines on behavior management for dogs and cats. This groundbreaking document represents the first time that a major veterinary organization has addressed pet behavior. According to the guidelines, “More dogs and cats are affected by behavioral problems than any other condition, often resulting in euthanasia, relinquishment of the patient, or chronic suffering.” The guidelines outline how the continuing promulgation of erroneous information about pet behavior and the ongoing use of aversives to train and manage pets are major causes for behavior problems, and recommend that concepts like dominance and the use aversives are not scientifically sound and are, in fact, counter-productive and harmful to the pets in our care. Every pet care professional needs to be aware of the 2015 American Animal Hospital Association Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines – http://bit.ly/WfMw-AAHA-Guidelines-13MAR16
2015 AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines – You may read the entire document and references at this link, or download a copy as a PDF file. If your veterinarian is not familiar with this document, I recommend you share it with them. – http://bit.ly/AAHABhx2015
How to Choose a Dog Trainer – Don and Kate believe that finding a good dog trainer, even before you get your puppy or dog, is every bit as important as finding the best veterinarian for your pet. In this blog post and podcast, they suggest criteria you can use when looking for a dog trainer. – http://bit.ly/HowToChooseADogTrainer
Do I Need A Dog Trainer or a “Behaviorist” – Don discusses how to determine what type of professional may best be able to help you with your canine challenges.– http://bit.ly/WWM-Trainer-Behaviorist
Reward-Based Training versus Aversives – This blog post discusses how dog training has changed from using aversives to being aversive-free. Dog training should be fun, and that means it is pain-free, force-free, and fear-free, a position supported by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) and the Pet Professional Guild (PPG). Both the AAHA and the PPG have position statements that indicate that aversives must never be used in the training or management of a dog. – http://bit.ly/RewardVSAversive
The Unintended Consequences of Shock Collars (Podcast) – While Don and Kate would never recommend using a shock collar on a dog for any reason, they recognize that not everyone who uses a shock collar on their dog does so understanding the harm it can cause. Sadly, often, the companies that sell and manufacture shock collars do not provide you with all of the information you need to make an informed decision. This podcast addresses the following questions; What is a shock collar?, How are shock collars used?, How does a shock collar change a dog’s behavior?, What makes the use of a shock collar inappropriate?, What do experts say about shock collars?, and what can people concerned about a dogs well-being do to help prevent dogs from getting shocked? We invite you to tune in and learn more about shock collars and their dangers. – http://bit.ly/ShockPodcast
The Unintended Consequences of Shock Collars (Blog Post) – This article provides a detailed analysis of shock collars, how they are used, and why there is always a better choice for both training and management. References to the scientific literature supporting the conclusion of this article are listed. – http://bit.ly/ShockCollars
Dominance: Reality or Myth – Both a podcast and blog post, this article discusses the myth of dominance and explains why it is so detrimental to the human-dog bond. The blog post also cites the scientific articles referenced and provides links to those articles, where available. – http://bit.ly/Dominance-RealityorMyth
Introduction to Canine Communication – This blog post discusses canine body language and contains photographs illustrating common calming signals. – http://bit.ly/CanineComm
How Can I Tell When My Dog Is Anxious or Fearful? Most behavioral issues with dogs are rooted in anxiety. It is essential for anyone working with dogs to have a thorough understanding of the signs of anxiety. This blog post list resources that will help you to understand better what a dog is trying to tell you.– http://bit.ly/DogsSignsofFear
Helping Your Dog Thrive – Brambell’s Five Freedoms – The following articles were originally published in Downeast Dog News in January of 2018 through May 2018. These articles discuss how one can use the five freedoms to help ensure their dog has a long, fun-filled life. I examine the role of nutrition, basic husbandry, veterinary care, training, behavior, and the management of a dog, as they all play a role in the quality of its life. Anyone that shares their life with a dog, as well as all pet care professionals, will benefit from understanding Brambell’s Five Freedoms. – http://bit.ly/Brambell-1thru5-PDF
Pet Behavior as an Essential Component to Holistic Wellness – This post from Don’s blog is a handout from his presentation Pet Behavior as an Essential Component to Holistic Wellness given on Saturday, October 29, 2016, as part of Green Acres Kennel Shop’s fundraiser for The Green Gem Holistic Healing Oasis. It discusses the importance of addressing behavior as well as the reason for behavior problems becoming a more common issue for pets. – http://bit.ly/PetBhxWellness
Understanding, Identifying, and Coping with Canine Stress – Stress is a major contributor to behavior problems. This post from Don’s blog looks at both good stress (eustress) and bad stress (distress), discusses their physiological effects on the body, and reviews what animals do when afraid. Common causes of stress are reviewed, along with how you can identify stress and reduce it. How stress can escalate and go from an acute event to a chronic condition is reviewed. Any dog exhibiting behavioral issues is under stress, as are most dogs in a shelter or rescue environment. That is not typically due to any fault of the shelter; it is just the nature of being homeless and uncertain. – http://bit.ly/Canine-Stress
Does My Dogs Breed Matter? – This post is was first published in Downeast Dog News as a three-part series in July, August, and September of 2017. It discusses the seven breed groups currently defined by the American Kennel Club (AKC) and examines behavioral traits in these groups and why they matter. – http://bit.ly/DoesDogBreedMatter
A Rescue Dogs Perspective – Written from the perspective of Don’s rescue dog Muppy, this article first appeared in the January 2016 issue of Downeast Dog News and on Don’s blog. It discusses training from Muppy’s point of view and why sometimes delaying starting a training class can be in a dog’s best interest. – http://bit.ly/Rescue-Muppy
Dangerous Dogs! – What Shelters, Rescues, Prospective Adopters, and Owners Need to Know – This article was originally published in Downeast
Dog News in May and June of 2017. It addresses how the law defines dangerous dogs. – http://bit.ly/Dangerous-Dogs
What’s Shocking about Shock – What Science Tells Us About the Use of Shock in Dog Training – Barks from the Guild July 2019 – In this article from the July 2019 issue of Barks from the Guild, Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC) and Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA), Don Hanson review the many peer-reviewed scientific studies that have reported that shock collars cause undue stress to dogs and often have a negative impact on their health and well-being. Hanson reviews the professional organizations and legal jurisdictions that believe shock collars should never be used. He then looks at these questions and what scientific research tells us; 1) Does the electric shock from a shock collar cause pain?, 2) Is training a dog with an aversive such as a shock collar more efficient than using positive reinforcement training and food?, 3) Is the use of aversives necessary to train behaviors such as snake avoidance?, and 4) Does using a shock collar save dogs’ lives? – http://bit.ly/ShockBARK-JUL2019
Podcast – What’s Shocking About Shock – What Science Tells Us About the Use of Shock in Dog Training – In this podcast from July 27th, 2019, Don and Kate discuss the article What’s Shocking about Shock – What Science Tells Us About the Use of Shock in Dog Training published in the July 2019 issue of Barks from the Guild. – http://bit.ly/WfMw-WhatShock-27JUL19
Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Selected My First Dog
The following are a series of articles I have written where I acknowledge some of the mistakes I have made during my journey with dogs. Mistakes are learning opportunities, and I share this material with the hope that others can learn from my experience and save their pets from suffering from human error and ego.
Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Selected My First Dog – Link Page – http://bit.ly/ThingsIWishIHadKnown
Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Started Training Dogs – Gus, the Dominance Myth, An Alpha Roll, and a Damaged Relationship – WWM-SEP2018 – http://bit.ly/Things-Gus-Dominance
Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Selected My First Dog – Aversives are Unnecessary and Counter-Productive When Training A Dog – Part 1 – WWM-JAN2019 – http://bit.ly/Things-Aversives-1
Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Selected My First Dog – Aversives are Unnecessary and Counter-Productive When Training A Dog – Part 2 – WWM-FEB2019 – http://bit.ly/Things-Aversives-2
Things I Wish I Had Known… The Importance of What I Feed My Pets – – WWM-MAR2019 – http://bit.ly/Things-Nutrition-1
Dog Sense: How the New Science of Dog Behavior Can Make You A Better Friend to Your Pet, John Bradshaw, Basic Books, 2011, 2012 – Dr. John Bradshaw is an animal behaviorist and if you look at recent scientific papers on dog or cat behavior, you will often find Bradshaw listed as one of the authors. In Dog Sense, Bradshaw summarizes the latest research for dog lovers like you and me. Topics he covers include; how the dog evolved, the fallacy of the dominance construct, how the dog’s role in society is changing and how that has led to higher expectations for non-dog like behavior and how these changes might affect the dog’s future. He addresses breeding issues and how the dog fancy’s focus on appearance rather than temperament and health may threaten the existence of many breeds. He also talks about how dogs learn and how research has demonstrated the many advantages of positive reinforcement/reward-based training over the old training model based on force and intimidation.
Dog Smart: Evidence-based Training with The Science Dog, Linda P. Case, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2018 – If You Love Dogs or Work with Those Who Love Dogs, You Need to Read This Book! The science of canine behavior and dog training is continually evolving. As such, every year, I like to select a new book to recommend to my students, my staff, area veterinarians, and my colleagues that I feel will be the most beneficial to them and their dogs. For 2018 I have chosen Dog Smart: Evidence-based Training with The Science Dog by Linda P. Case. Case’s book addresses several issues which anyone with a dog, or anyone working with a dog, needs to be aware of and must understand. These are dominance, dog breeds, the importance of puppy socialization, and the unnecessary use of aversives for the training of dogs. Her book is packed with the latest science on dogs and offers excellent advice on the best and most humane ways to train them. You can read my full review at http://bit.ly/BkRvw-Case-DogSmart
What Shamu Taught Me About Life, Love and Marriage: Lessons for People from Animals and Their Trainers, Amy Sutherland, Random House, 2008 – While not a traditional dog training book, this is a book where you can not only learn a great deal about training your dog, but it can also help you have a more harmonious relationship with those around you. The author notes, “The central lesson I learned from exotic animal trainers is that I should reward behavior I like and ignore behavior I don’t,” the same thing we will tell you when teaching you how to train your dog. If your goal is to live in harmony with all the living things around you, read this book.
Cat Sense: How the New Feline Science Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet, John Bradshaw, Basic Books, 2013 – I first read John Bradshaw’s two previous books on cats; The True Nature of the Cat and The Behaviour of the Domestic Cat back in 2003. Cats, and specifically cat behavior is still under-researched compared to dogs, but Cat Sense nicely sums up what we do know. Bradshaw also discusses how the cat and society are changing and suggests what that means for the cats’ future. Bradshaw has posed some important questions and concerns about neutering and breeding which merit further discussion and action.
On Talking Terms With Dogs: Calming Signals, Turid Rugaas, Dogwise Publishing, 2006 – This book and its author, Turid Rugaas, have influenced my understanding of dogs more than any other book or seminar. While this book is few in pages, it is rich in information depicted in great photos. This gentle, kind, woman is incredibly knowledgeable about canine behavior and ethology. She has taught many how to live in harmony with our dogs by helping us to understand better what they are trying to tell us, and in turn, she has taught us a better way to express ourselves to our dogs.
Full of photographs illustrating each point, On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals focuses on how dogs use specific body language to cutoff aggression and other perceived threats. Dogs use these calming signals to tell one another, and us, when they are feeling anxious and stressed and when their intentions are benign. If you have more than one dog, or if your dog frequently plays with others, or if you are a frequent visitor to the dog park, you need to be familiar with calming signals. This book will help you learn ‘dog language,’ for which you will be rewarded with a much better understanding of your pet and its behavior.
A Kids’ Comprehensive Guide to Speaking Dog!, Niki Tudge, Doggone Safe, 2017. A Kids’ Comprehensive Guide to Speaking Dog! is written to be used as an interactive resource and uses cartoons and photographs to illustrate body language dogs use to signal when they are happy, afraid, and angry. By teaching children and adults how to read and respond to these signs, the book helps keep people and dogs safe. The world is full of children and dogs, and we must teach them how to interact safely. A Kids’ Comprehensive Guide to Speaking Dog! combined with a parent or teacher does just that.
For the Love of A Dog Understanding Emotion in You and Your Best Friend, Patricia B. McConnell, Ph.D., Ballantine Books, 2005, 2006 – This book explores the emotional connection we make with our furry, four-footed canine companions. She also discusses how revolutionary it is to view animals as having a vibrant emotional life. Kudos to McConnell for being one of the few scientists with the courage to admit what almost everyone has known all along; animals experience joy and fear and everything in between. We do not know what it is they are feeling, but it is obvious they have a rich emotional life; in some cases, very joyous and others quite sad.
After reading For the Love of A Dog, you will have a better understanding of the science behind emotions and why our dogs and we get along so well. McConnell has also included an excellent section on canine body language, one of my favorite subjects, and one that is not emphasized enough in classes for pet professionals and dog owners. If you take your dog to the dog park, you MUST know this stuff.
The Other End of the Leash – Why We Do What We Do Around Dogs, by Patricia B. McConnell, is an information-packed, immensely readable book. In it, you will learn how to have an improved relationship with your dog through better communication. As a scientist who has studied both primate and canine communication systems, Dr. McConnell has a keen understanding of where the communication between humans and dogs often breaks down, creating frustration and stress for both species. For example, she explains how simple innate greeting patterns of both species can cause conflict. We know that when two people meet, the polite thing to do is to make direct eye contact and walk straight toward one another, smiling. However, as Dr. McConnell notes: “The oh-so-polite primate approach is appallingly rude in canine society. You might as well urinate on a dog’s head.” Direct eye contact and a direct approach are very confrontational to a dog.
Dr. McConnell also emphasizes how dogs communicate visually, while humans are a very verbal species. The picture she paints of the frustrated chimp, jumping up and down, waving their hands, and screeching repeatedly is only a slight exaggeration of the frustrated human, saying, “sit, sit, sit, ahh please sit” while displaying countless bits of body language. Primates, including humans, “…have a tendency to repeat notes when we’re excited, to use loud noises to impress others, and to thrash around whatever is in our paw if we’re frustrated. This behavior has no small effect on our interactions with dogs, who, in spite of some barks and growls, mostly communicate visually, get quiet rather than noisy to impress others, and are too busy standing on their paws to do much else with them.” With these fundamental differences, it’s amazing we can communicate with our dogs at all.
The Power of Positive Dog Training, Pat Miller, Howell Book House, 2001. I have been reading Pat Miller’s articles in the Whole Dog Journal for years and have loved everything she has written. She is a skilled and compassionate dog trainer who knows how to communicate with dog owners through her writing. This book is a superb “basic dog book” for anyone with a dog, and I highly recommend it.
Dogs, Cats, and Scapegoats – https://vimeo.com/230807934
Malignant Behavior: The Cesar Millan Effect (from Dogs, Cats, and Scapegoats ) – http://bit.ly/Vid-CMEffect
Show Down with Holly in Slow Motion – A dissection of canine body language – http://bit.ly/dodoDW-Holly
Green Acres Kennel Shop website – https://www.greenacreskennel.com/
Don’s Blog – (Words-Woofs-Meows.com) – http://bit.ly/Words-Woofs-Meows
The Woof Meow Show on Libsyn Podcast page – http://bit.ly/WfMw-Libsyn
Maine Pet Care Professionals We Recommend – http://bit.ly/MEPetPros
Pet Professional Guild (PPG) – http://www.petprofessionalguild.com/
Dog Training Educational Resources for The Pet Owner – A vast collection of articles helpful to pet owners from the world’s premier organization for pet care professionals and pet owners. – http://www.petprofessionalguild.com/Training-Resources-for-Pet-Owners
The Shock-Free Coalition – https://www.shockfree.org/
Doggone Safe – Committed to education about safe human-canine interactions to prevent dog bites that can ultimately lead to serious and life-altering ramifications for both people and their pets. – https://www.doggonesafe.com/
I Speak Dog.org – Is an excellent resource for learning to understand your dog by better understanding how they communicate with other dogs as well as with you. You cannot effectively teach your dog if you do not speak their language. – http://www.ispeakdog.org/
©29NOV19, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
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Below you will find another great poster from our friends at Mighty Dog Graphics.
This poster also offers sound advice when taking your cat to the boarding facility, or anytime you transport your cat. Please do not assume that you will NEVER need to transport your cat anywhere. It will happen. Click on the image to download it as a poster.
Articles on Don’s Blog
Cat Behavior – Make Your Life Easier – Get Your Cat to Love Their Carrier – http://bit.ly/Cats-Carriers
This April 18th post from the blog of Mikel Maria Delgado, cats and squirrels and other important things…, discusses a study which examines the connection between stress and the incidence of feline idiopathic cystitis (FIC) in cats. Signs of this disorder include straining to urinate, urinating outside the litter box, or blood in the urine. The study indicated that the five top factors related to FIC were:
- being male,
- having a litter box with non-clumping litter,
- living with other cats,
- living in an apartment (versus a house),
- and not having an elevated vantage point for use (such as a cat condo or vertical space).
To read Delgado’s post, go to http://catsandsquirrels.com/stress-and-your-cats-health/
To read an abstract of the study, go to http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1098612X17734067
To download a PDF of the entire study, go to http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1098612X17734067
In her blog post of January 25th, 2018, Dr. Karen Becker discusses cats’ ears including how the right ear may heat up when under psychological stress.
For more information on your cat’s ears, go to – https://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2018/01/25/9-cat-ear-facts.aspx?utm_source=petsnl&utm_medium=email&utm_content=art1&utm_campaign=20180125Z1&et_cid=DM181371&et_rid=193846069
In this blog post from August 15th, 2017, veterinarian Dr. Karen Becker notes: “Declawing of cats is still legal in the U.S., and sadly, it’s still somewhat common, It’s important to understand that declawing is not nail removal, it’s the permanent amputation of bones in each of your cat’s toes, A recent study concluded that declawed cats have more pain and behavior issues than non-declawed cats, The study’s authors hope their results will encourage veterinarians to reconsider declawing cats, and There are many alternatives to declawing your cat, starting with providing appropriate scratching surfaces and training kitty to use them.” [Emphasis added]
To read the entire post, just click on the link – http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2017/08/15/declawing-de-toeing-cats.aspx?
I believe that providing our pets with species-appropriate nutrition is one of the most important things we can do to help our pets live a long life, but also a high-quality, vital life. Sadly, due to lack of knowledge, misinformation spread by big pet food companies, or choosing our convenience over our pet’s health this does not always happen.
My wife and I have been eager students of pet nutrition long before we even knew we would enjoy careers in the pet care services industry. We had a dog with severe medical issues that were related to his diet ( FMI – http://bit.ly/Gus-Nutrition ) which caused us to devour everything we could learn from books, seminars, articles, people and more. We focused mostly on dogs at first then expanded to cats. When our newest cat, Boomer, developed nutritionally related health issues at a young age, we started looking for even more information on cats and nutrition. Like most things dog and cat, there is often less available about our feline friends.
Kymythy Schultze’s first book Natural Nutrition for Dogs and Cats has long been the book I recommend for clients that want to prepare a homemade diet for their pets. I like that it is short, simple, and easy to understand while at the same time being complete. When I heard about Kymythy’s latest book, Natural Nutrition for Cats: The Path to Purrfect Health I immediately added it to my “To Read” pile. As has happened more than once, I am kicking myself for not putting this book on the top of the pile sooner.
By reading Natural Nutrition for Cats: The Path to Purrfect Health, you will learn the how and why of feeding your cat for optimal health. Additionally, you will also learn about the relationship between veterinary schools, the veterinary community as a whole, and the big businesses that represent the vast majority of the pet food industry. The latter makes this book a “must read” for dog people in addition to cat lovers.
One of the things that I like best about Kymythy and her books is that they are based on common sense, something that seems to be disappearing from our world. For example, early on in the book, she states “A good diet for your cat is one that provides the correct nutrients, in the proper forms, that it needs to be healthy and happy. Plus, the regimen has to please you, too. If you’re uncomfortable with a particular way of feeding or if you don’t understand it, you probably shouldn’t be doing it. How you feed your cat must fit into your personal comfort zone and be good for your cat as well.” Kymythy’s book provides the reader with expert advice on feeding a cat, but Kymythy recognizes that not everyone will have the resources to feed as she does and she makes that clear. She provides the reader with the information that they need, seldom provided by pet food companies or veterinarians, so that you can make an educated decision that will be in the best interests of both you and your cat. As she notes “The main goal here is to get some real food into your feline friend!”
Kymythy’s recommendations certainly have merit. We recently interviewed her on The Woof Meow Show ( FMI – http://blog.greenacreskennel.com/2017/07/31/podcast-pet-nutrition-with-kymythy-schultze-author-of-natural-nutrition-for-cats-the-path-to-purrfect-health/ ) where she told us that her most recent cat to cross the Rainbow Bridge lived to be thirty-two years old and that most of her cats lived into their mid-twenties. Kate and I were speechless for a few moments and those that know us, know that is a rarity. Kymythy obviously is on to something!
In Chapter 1, Kymythy starts by defining good health. She discusses the many health issues found in cat’s today (“Problems with skin, coat, parasites, teeth, weight, odor, digestion, kidney, thyroid, pancreas, diabetes, urinary, respiratory, and immune systems are not normal. They’re not signs of good health!”) which are all too often accepted as “normal” because they are becoming more and more prevalent. Then she discusses why what we feed our pets plays such a significant role in their health. Central to that theme is the importance of eating and feeding real food instead of processed products; “As both humans and felines have strayed from eating fresh foods, both our species have suffered a huge increase in obesity, diabetes, allergies, cancer, behavior problems, general ill health, and more.”
The book also discusses the anatomy and physiology of the cat and how that determines what food is biologically appropriate for them as a species. The cat is an obligatory carnivore which means that they MUST eat meat. Many of our cats who spend time outdoors routinely hunt, kill and consume what they have killed – preparing their meals just as nature intended. Mice and birds are a more natural source of nutrition for our cats than processed kibble which can be as much as 60% carbohydrates, something that the cat has no need for in their diet; “Even the National Research Council’s Subcommittee on Cat Nutrition states that “. . . no known dietary carbohydrate requirement exists for the cat . . .” Obesity is a major problem for both dogs and cats, and we all know the link between carbohydrates and obesity in humans. Pets are no different.
The cats need for water from the food that they eat is also addressed, something that cats do not get in sufficient quantities from dry food and treats. We also discussed this on The Woof Meow Show with Kymythy where she noted: “If your cat is going to a water bowl frequently it is likely they are not getting enough water in their food and may be dehydrated.” The cats instinctual need for water in their food is yet another example of why feeding fresh meat, or a quality canned food, at least as a supplement, is a better choice than only feeding your cat dry food.
In Chapter 4, Kymythy addresses pet kibble, cans, and the major pet food manufacturers. She discusses how pet food regulations are developed and how these regulations are, in her opinion, lacking. In reference to those that establish the regulations she states “The authors actually say, “Few nutritional requirements are known for the adult cat for maintenance or for pregnancy and lactation.” Kymythy then discusses how these commercial kibbles are tested, in a feeding trial where “Quality of life and longevity aren’t part of the test, and even a year-long feeding trial may not expose imbalances that take longer to affect a cat.”
If you are interested in pet food regulations and the scary underbelly of the pet food industry I would encourage you to watch the documentary Pet Fooled: A Look Inside A Questionable Industry ( FMI – http://www.petfooled.com/ ).
Kymythy addresses what is in the bag in chapter six, explaining why “veterinarian recommended” on the bag is not as helpful as many assume. She reviews common ingredients used in cat food and tells you what to look for and more importantly what to avoid. As Kymythy states “One might think it reasonable to assume that the premium price of this brand of food and the fact that it’s sold through veterinarians would assure us of better-quality protein. But I suppose the lesson is: Don’t assume!”
The concept of feeding our pets something that is not cooked is hard for some, especially veterinarians, to understand. In Chapter 7 Kymythy explains how cooking food for our pets, especially at high temperatures and pressures, can be detrimental. She states: “Research at the National Cancer Institute and John Hopkins University in the U.S. and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in London, and other studies— including those conducted by experts in Japan and Europe— show that cooking meat with high temperatures creates chemicals that aren’t present when it’s raw. Seventeen different carcinogenic (cancer-causing) compounds develop that collectively are called heterocyclic amines (HCAs). These HCAs interfere with the body’s genetic structure and are proven to cause cancer in animals. They’re specifically linked to cancer of the stomach, pancreas, colon, heart, and breast. The substances are even found in nursing youngsters, so we know they travel through breast milk.” She also cites a study by Dr. Paul Kouchakoff that examined the effect of cooked and raw food on the immune system; “After much research, he concluded that raw food was viewed by the immune system as “friendly,” and cooked food was viewed as dangerous.” Lastly, Kymythy discusses the 10-year study by Dr. Francis Pottenger that demonstrated that cats fed an entirely raw-food diet were vastly healthier than those fed a cooked diet.
She concludes Chapter 7 stating “It’s ironic, really, how all these years later, many cat lovers are actually still repeating this research by feeding cooked petfood products to their cats. And not surprisingly, many are seeing the same ill-health effects that Dr. Pottenger saw in his cooked-food cats. These people certainly don’t intend to hurt their animal friends, it’s just that the cooked-product companies are very large, powerful, and convincing in their marketing. So who’s to blame for our cats’ health problems?”
In Chapter 8 Kymythy discusses responsibility and the fact that as our cat’s guardians, we are ultimately responsible for their health. She also discusses, as she did on The Woof Meow Show, many of her concerns about the pet food industry and the overly close relationship they have with veterinarians, especially veterinary schools. Kymythy notes in the book: “…when I was studying animal nutrition at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine a few years ago, only a couple of my professors weren’t paid employees of petfood companies.” Like Kymythy, I find this corporate bias in our educational system very alarming.
In our interview with Kymythy, she also talked about how little time was spent in her nutrition classes at Cornell learning about real food; whole unprocessed, food in its natural form. However, when one considers that most of these “nutrition classes” are taught by a pet food company employee and that those companies do not use real food in their product, I guess one should not be surprised, although I would hope everyone would be disappointed.
In Natural Nutrition for Cats: The Path to Purrfect Health Kymythy also discusses the brilliant marketing strategies used by big pet food companies. What she says is so important I am quoting her below.
The biggest petfood companies hire brilliant marketers to sell their products. After all, what could be better than having experts (veterinarians) endorse your product? How did this come about? Well, one of the parent companies that’s become very involved with vets also makes toothpaste. Do you remember the old advertisement that boasted eight out of ten dentists recommend a particular brand? It was a brilliant campaign and put this firm at the top of toothpaste sales.
At the time, the company also had a very small petfood division they were about to sell, but an executive came forward with a great idea: If they could use the same tactic with this branch as they had with their toothpaste, they’d be equally successful. So they used the pharmaceutical industry’s practice of spending tons of money to woo doctors. In fact, a retired sales executive from the petfood company commented on why this marketing strategy works so well: “It’s just like taking drugs: You go to the doctor, and he prescribes something for you, and you don’t much question what the doctor says. It’s the same with animals.”
They know that the trust cat guardians have in vets is so strong that they’ll feed what they’re told without question. So the manufacturer spends a great deal of money enforcing that connection. In fact, other than universities, this company is the country’s largest employer of vets! They fund research and nutrition courses and professorships at veterinary colleges and offer a formal nutrition-certification program for technicians. They’ve also written a widely used textbook on animal nutrition that’s given free of charge to veterinary students, who also receive stipends and get products at zero or almost-zero charge.
This relationship doesn’t end after graduation. The corporation sends veterinarians to seminars on how to better sell their products, provides sales-goal-oriented promotions, gives them lots of promotional tools, and offers big discounts so that vets make more money on product sales.
Although not discussed in Kymythy’s book, as it is a recent development, a major pet food company is now purchasing veterinary clinics adding, even more, bias and pressure for the veterinarian, who will now be an employee of that company, to exclusively promote the company’s products. This direct financial relationship affects not only pet food but also vaccines. ( FMI – http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2017/06/25/pets-over-vaccination.aspx )
In Chapter 9, Kymythy discusses how she decided to feed her cats by making her food at home, instead of relying on any commercial product. As she points out, while some call feeding pets real food a fad, commercial pet food is a relatively new idea. For hundreds of years, people with dogs and cats fed their pet’s real food that they prepared themselves. Some in the veterinary community will argue that there is no proof that feeding a pet a raw diet or homemade diet is safe. Kymythy states: ”There’s no proof that feeding your cats a processed pet food is better for them than a properly prepared meal of fresh, species-appropriate food. And anyone who says cats are living longer today because of those processed products also has no proof. Certainly, a cat may live longer today if it’s not outside being hit by a car or attacked by another predator. But the cats of my grandmother’s day were frequently living well into their late 20s without benefit of processed products. Feeding real food is really just the longest used way of feeding cats.” The fact that no studies exist to support that feeding processed foods provides optimal nutrition are also made by veterinarians Dr. Karen Becker and Dr. Barbara Royal in the documentary Pet Fooled: A Look Inside A Questionable Industry. ( FMI – http://www.petfooled.com/ )
Kymythy concludes the book by discussing how you can start making food for your cat. “The C.A.T. diet— CatAppropriate and Tasty! It’s a simple combination of raw meat (muscle and organ), bone, and a few supplements (or “supps” as we call them at my house). The ingredients provide every known nutrient, and the meal is easy to prepare.” She discusses shopping for supplies, preparing the food and how to transition your cat to their new diet.
If you want to learn how you can make healthy, nutritious meals for your cat or if you just want to find out more about cat nutrition and the good and bad of the pet food industry, I highly recommend Natural Nutrition for Cats: The Path to Purrfect Health by Kymythy Schultze
Articles on Don’s Blog (http://www.words-woofs-meows.com)
Pet Nutrition – What Should I Feed My Pet? – http://blog.greenacreskennel.com/2017/06/04/pet-nutrition-what-should-i-feed-my-pet/
What do you feed your dog? – http://blog.greenacreskennel.com/2016/05/31/pet-nutrition-what-do-you-feed-your-dog/
Pet Nutrition: Some Myths and Facts – Part 1 – My story with Gus – http://blog.greenacreskennel.com/2017/04/03/pet-nutrition-some-myths-and-facts-part-1-my-story-with-gus/
Pet Nutrition: Some Myths and Facts – Part 2 – In the Spring 2017 issue of Maine DOG Magazine, Coming here soon! –
Pet Nutrition: Some Myths and Facts – Part 3 – Look for this article in the Fall 2017 issue of Maine DOG Magazine, Coming here soon! –
Pet Nutrition – Should I Feed My Pet A Raw Diet? – http://blog.greenacreskennel.com/2016/09/11/pet-nutrition-should-i-feed-my-pet-a-raw-diet/
Video – The Science and Dogma of Pet Nutrition with Dr. Richard Patton – A video of animal nutritionist, Dr. Richard Patton’s presentation, The Science and Dogma of Pet Nutrition, presented by Green Acres Kennel Shop in Bangor, ME on April 28th, 2016. – http://blog.greenacreskennel.com/2016/09/10/pet-nutrition-the-science-and-dogma-of-pet-nutrition-with-dr-richard-patton/
Reflections on 20 Years as a Pet Care Professional – Changes in Pet Food and Nutrition – part 1 – http://blog.greenacreskennel.com/2015/11/23/reflections-on-20-years-as-a-pet-care-professional-changes-in-pet-food-and-nutrition-part-1/
Reflections on 20 Years as a Pet Care Professional – Pet Food and Nutrition – part 2 – http://blog.greenacreskennel.com/2015/12/15/reflections-on-20-years-as-a-pet-care-professional-pet-food-and-nutrition-part-2/
Book Review – Ruined by Excess, Perfected by Lack – The paradox of pet nutrition by Richard Patton – http://blog.greenacreskennel.com/2016/03/16/book-review-ruined-by-excess-perfected-by-lack-the-paradox-of-pet-nutrition-by-richard-patton/
Nutrition – Which Brand of Pet Food is the Best? – Part 1 – http://blog.greenacreskennel.com/2014/06/01/nutrition-which-brand-of-pet-food-is-the-best-part-1/
Nutrition – Which Brand of Pet Food is the Best? – Part 2 – http://blog.greenacreskennel.com/2014/07/01/nutrition-which-brand-of-pet-food-is-the-best-part-2/
Nutrition – Which Brand of Pet Food is the Best? – Part 3 – http://blog.greenacreskennel.com/2014/08/01/nutrition-which-brand-of-pet-food-is-the-best-part-3/
Nutrition – Why Rotating Diets Makes Sense – http://blog.greenacreskennel.com/2012/05/04/nutrition-why-rotating-diets-makes-sense/
Nutrition – Determining True Pet Food Costs – http://blog.greenacreskennel.com/2008/11/08/nutrition-determining-true-pet-food-costs/
Pet Nutrition – How Much Fat Is In Your Pet’s Food? – http://blog.greenacreskennel.com/2014/10/12/pet-nutrition-how-much-fat-is-in-your-pets-food/
Pet Nutrition – New Zealand dog diet study a wake-up call for dog nutrition – http://blog.greenacreskennel.com/2017/05/19/pet-nutrition-new-zealand-dog-diet-study-a-wake-up-call-for-dog-nutrition/
Pet Nutrition –Vital Essentials® Pet Food – http://blog.greenacreskennel.com/2016/08/14/pet-nutrition-vital-essentials-pet-food/
Shared Blog Post – FDA on a Witch Hunt Against Commercial Pet Food? A Little Spritz of This Makes Pet Food Far Safer – http://blog.greenacreskennel.com/2016/11/28/shared-blog-post-fda-on-a-witch-hunt-against-commercial-pet-food-a-little-spritz-of-this-makes-pet-food-far-safer/
Pet Nutrition – From Dr. Karen Becker – A Vegetarian or Vegan Diet Is Not Healthy For Your Dog or Cat – http://blog.greenacreskennel.com/2015/09/27/pet-nutrition-from-dr-karen-becker-a-vegetarian-or-vegan-diet-is-not-healthy-for-your-dog-or-cat/
Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show (http://www.woofmeowshow.com)
Podcast – Pet Nutrition with Kymythy Schultze Author of Natural Nutrition for Cats: The Path to Purrfect Health – http://blog.greenacreskennel.com/2017/07/31/podcast-pet-nutrition-with-kymythy-schultze-author-of-natural-nutrition-for-cats-the-path-to-purrfect-health/
What do you feed your pets? – http://blog.greenacreskennel.com/2017/04/22/podcast-encore-what-do-you-feed-your-pets/
Podcast – Pet Nutrition with Dr. Richard Patton – http://blog.greenacreskennel.com/2016/04/03/podcast-pet-nutrition-with-dr-richard-patton/
Podcast – Pet Fooled – A Look Inside A Questionable Industry with Kohl Harrington – http://blog.greenacreskennel.com/2017/05/06/podcast-pet-fooled-a-look-inside-a-questionable-industry-with-kohl-harrington/
Beginnings – Getting Your Dog and Cat Started on a Raw Diet by Melinda Miller and Honoring Your Cat’s Natural Diet by Terri Grow < Click here for a free download >
Feline Nutrition: Nutrition for the Optimum Health and Longevity of your Cat – Lynn Curtis
Natural Nutrition for Cats: The Path to Purr-fect Health – Kymythy Schultze
Natural Nutrition for Dogs and Cats – The Ultimate Diet – Kymythy Schultze
Ruined by Excess, Perfected by Lack – Dr. Richard Patton
See Spot Live Longer – Steve Brown and Beth Taylor
The Truth About Pet Foods – Dr. Randy Wysong
Unlocking the Canine Ancestral Diet – Steve Brown
©31JUL17, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
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In a post on May 4th, 2017, veterinarian Dr. Karen Becker discusses some very interesting differences between cats and cats.
Tyler joined our family on March 20th, 1996, about six months after we purchased Green Acres. His previous guardian was looking to place him in a new home, and we thought he would make a welcome addition to our family. We are not sure how old he was when he came to live with us but suspect that he was at least four. Tyler suddenly developed cancer in August of 2003, and while we kept him comfortable for as long as we could, we decided it was time to help him across the Rainbow Bridge on August 26th.
I have always tested as being “very allergic” to cats, so our initial plan was for Tyler to live in the store, where he could greet clients and serve as the official “mouse patrol.” Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your perspective, this did not last long. We quickly learned that Tyler was part retriever and lived by the motto, “If it is edible, eat it now, in mass quantities.” He had no compunction about ripping into the largest, most expensive bag of dog food for a little midnight snack. When this became an every night occurrence, we decided it was not economically viable to have Tyler “protect the food from mice.” As a result, he moved into the house with us; allergies be damned.
At the time, there were five adults in the house (Paula, me, Paula’s mom and my mom and dad) and three dogs (Shed, Gus, and Queen). While Paula and her mom had lived with cats before, it was a first for my parents and me. The three of us did not consider ourselves “cat people.” In fact, I would even go so far as to say that my father disliked cats. Tyler did his best to change that and started with the most unlikely subject, my dad.
Dad’s time with us in Maine was difficult. He was in the hospital and nursing home frequently. To my initial amazement, the pet he almost always asked about was Tyler. I still remember asking the nurses at EMMC if we could bring Tyler in to visit, and how happy dad was to see him. He snuggled up on the bed next to him, and the two of them were content as “two bugs in a rug.” I have no idea how Tyler converted dad, but I am very grateful for it. They were good buddies.
We quickly learned that if we wanted to sleep peacefully, we needed to close and latch our bedroom door. Tyler was banned from the bedroom because of my allergies and his desire to try and sleep on our heads. However, early every morning he would come knocking on the door, wanting breakfast. If the door were not latched, he would eventually get it to open, hop on the bed, and start head butting one of us to let us know he was ready for breakfast.
Tyler still liked visiting in the store, and we would occasionally allow him to do so, under supervision. We noticed how well Tyler did with the dogs, and for a couple of years, he would assist Kate and me with dog training classes. I can still remember the time Tyler sauntered through a room full of dogs, not the least bit threatened. There was a huge Great Dane, and he just sat in front of him, gave him “the look,” much like a General inspecting the troops, and then went on his way.
After my father and Paula’s mom had passed in the fall of 1996, Tyler spent lots of time with my mom. He was a great companion for her and gave mom someone to spend time with when Paula and I were working in the store. When Tyler was not on her lap, he was nearby, watching her.
Almost a year after Tyler joined the family, an 8-week old Golden Retriever puppy named Tikken entered the equation. I do not know exactly how their relationship developed, but it was evident Tikken, and Tyler were fast friends. Whether sharing the love seat in the living room, playing or, enjoying a full body massage, they were frequent companions. I will never forget the time I came up to the house from the kennel and found Tyler lying on the couch as Tikken used her front paws to gently bat at his entire body. As strange as it may sound, they were both enjoying this activity. Up until the end, Tikken was around to give her friend kisses, to play, and to clean him as necessary. Tyler got along well with most dogs and enjoyed spending time with them, usually just relaxing.
Tyler was big on relaxing and felt comfortable enough in our home, co-populated with as many as five dogs, to rest anywhere. The arm of a love seat, the floor, boxes, and bags all made excellent spots for chilling out.
As previously stated, when we moved to Maine I was not a “cat person. I had never felt a connection with a cat the same way that I had with dogs. Somewhere during the past couple of years, I am not sure exactly when that changed, and I realize now that I am a cat person. I enjoy their company, their antics, and the joy they bring.
Over the past several months, Tyler and I developed a ritual. Often, when I was working late at night, he would come down to my office, rub up against my legs once, and then settle down on Tikken’s bed, right behind my desk chair. He might just lie there watching me or drift off into a catnap. Often I would find myself watching him. During his naps, I got to witness first hand how cats dream and the strange noises they can make in their sleep. I guess one of the factors in my discovering I am a cat person was when I found myself missing Tyler’s company on the nights he chose not to join me in the office. My office is a sadder place without his presence.
Tyler Hanson passed into a peaceful sleep on Tuesday, August 26th. I know in my heart he has rejoined my father, Shed, and Crystal and is patiently awaiting the day when we will all be reunited. Tyler, thanks for brightening up our home and helping to teach me about the wonder of cats.
©20MAR17, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
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