Choosing how to feed our pets can be a difficult decision to make. We want to choose the food that is best for them, since we will be feeding it to them every day for every meal. But what if we choose to not choose? A new philosophy of feeding pets is here – combination feeding.
What is it? Feeding a variety; including a multitude of ingredients and types of food as well as different nutrient balances.
How is it different? The most common way to feed pets is to feed one food, or a few formulas from the same brand. Most pet owners also only feed one type of food (kibble only/raw only) or maybe two (kibble and cans).
What is it beneficial for? Weight management, digestive health, preventing sensitivities, hydration, overall health, budget.
The benefit for weight management comes down to metabolic flexibility. By feeding a variety of foods with different nutrient balances, digestive and metabolic processes need to be very active and very adaptable, allowing the body to switch between different fuel sources (protein, fat, carbs) efficiently, resulting in less energy deposition (fat deposition). It is still important not to over-feed. Total calories should not exceed maintenance requirements and daily calorie intake should not differ when feeding different foods. Feed to the ideal body condition and pay close attention to any changes in body condition or muscle condition.
As previously mentioned, varying the nutrient balance of meals results in active and flexible digestive processes (enzyme activity). This not only ensures pets get the most out of their food by absorbing as many nutrients as possible, it also limits the amount of undigested nutrients that end up in the large intestine. Undigested fat, protein and starch is detrimental to the microbial population in the gut. Feeding different formulas also provides a variable balance of fibre. there are many species of beneficial microorganisms in the gut, the balance of which is unknown. It is beneficial to provide a variety of prebiotic fibre sources to ensure all beneficial bacteria are supported.
Adverse food reactions could be related to over-exposure to certain proteins along with damage to the gut. Feeding the same protein source every single day means the body is exposed to that same protein every day. Some damage to the gut lining is inevitable, whether it be from infection, environmental irritants or poor-quality food. Damaged areas of the gut lining can allow large particles of undigested nutrients to pass through when they are not supposed to, eventually leading to a reaction from the immune system. The first benefit to combination feeding is limiting gut damage. By including raw or raw alternative foods, we decrease the amount of processed food we are feeding. On top of this, we are not constantly feeding the same exact ingredients, and this limits the chance of over-exposure to the immune system.
The average dog must consume approximately 1oz of water per lb of body weight to remain hydrated, and the average cat requires about 0.8 oz of water per lb of body weight. These requirements increase in warmer temperatures or with higher activity. If animals are consuming a primarily dry diet, it is very easy for them to become dehydrated by not drinking enough. Hydration is essential for every process in the body. Incorporating moist foods into the diet is an easy way to hydrate pets. Canned food, rehydrated freeze dried/dehydrated, wet toppers or raw food are all very hydrating and palatable.
There are so many ingredients used in pet foods and many philosophies surrounding the feeding of pets. Grain free, grain friendly, novel proteins, raw diets, low carb … it seems impossible to navigate; how do we know which foods to choose and philosophies to follow? The great thing is that we do not have to choose just one. Every ingredient has nutritional value and every type of food has benefits. We can offer our pets the benefits of everything by feeding many different formulas. Sometimes, ingredients have potential downsides for certain pets. It may not be clear which ingredients are not tolerated as well by our pets until much later in life. We may only see a negative impact when an ingredient is fed every day for many years and by feeding a variety of ingredients, any potential negative effects would be diluted immensely.
We all want to purchase the absolute best food for our pets that we can afford. Sometimes though, our budget changes. Unexpected expenses come up, holidays strain the budget, lifestyles change. When budgets change and a less expensive formula is needed, or maybe there is more money available to be spent, it is much easier to transition diets when our pets are already flexible.
Combination feeding allows us to see which types of diets our pets do best on so we can more specifically tailor their feeding plan for their individual needs. It also allows them to obtain the benefits of different types of foods and ingredients and offers them a variety of flavours to enjoy.
There are many ways to start combination feeding. Different formulas can be rotated on a monthly, weekly or daily basis, different types of food can be mixed together in various combinations, or more simply, nutritious food toppers can be added to your pet’s current diet.
Visit your local Global Pet Foods store and speak to the educated staff about how to start introducing combination feeding to your pet.
Scratching is natural and cats have a strong instinctual motivation to engage in this behaviour. It is impossible to prevent.
Why do cats need to scratch?
Scratching serves a few purposes, the most basic of which is to maintain a cat’s claws. Another benefit of scratching is the full body stretch it provides to felines.
Cats are territorial and primarily more solitary than social, so they use scratching to mark their territory. Marking helps them feel confident in their environment and reduces stress.
Scratching is beneficial for a cat’s well-being, and we should never try to hinder this behaviour, but since our cats live in our homes, this behaviour can become destructive. It is very important for us to provide a desirable and appropriate place for our cats to scratch, so that they do not decide to scratch our furniture.
There are a variety of surfaces available that are appealing to cats. Sisal rope, corrugated cardboard, carpet or wood are all appropriate surfaces. Cats may have different preferences or choose different surfaces at different times. Giving them multiple options limits the chance they will choose your couch.
Scratchers should be located close to where your cat likes to rest. Rest areas are where cats need to feel the most comfortable and where they tend to mark their territory the most, since resting is a vulnerable state.
Now, let’s get even more scientific about scratching.
Cats leave behind pheromones as they scratch.
Pheromones are natural, chemical signals that act as a form of communication between animals of the same species. Territorial pheromones send messages that reassure cats they are in a safe, familiar place, or indicate “this is mine” and act as a sign to other cats that there is a cat living in the territory. These reassurances relieve stress for cats. These pheromones are released from a few spots on the body including their face and between their toes (released when scratching).
When cats scratch, they leave a visual sign of their territory (scratch marks) as well as the pheromone message. The visual and pheromone messages encourage cats to continue revisiting the same scratching area. This becomes problematic when the favourite scratching area is a piece of your furniture, but these messages can be used to teach cats where to scratch as well.
FELISCRATCH by FELIWAY® is a product that contains territory pheromones and is applied to a scratching post to draw cats to scratch there instead of on furniture. FELISCRATCH also contains catnip as an attractant and is blue in colour to imitate the visual signal of scratch marks.
Appropriate scratching surfaces in the right location, along with FELISCRATCH by FELIWAY®, can help reduce destructive scratching, or prevent it all together, while also improving the well-being of your cat.
Visit your local Global Pet Foods to learn more about scratching, and find all the products you need for your cat.
Also visit FELIWAY® online to learn more about FELISCRATCH and other pheromone products that can help your cat.
Dogs are thought to be the very first animal ever domesticated by humans, and the only large carnivore to ever be domesticated. The first undisputable evidence of domesticated dogs dates back over 14, 000 years – this evidence being a dog buried with humans. There is some other evidence that may suggest domestication as far back as 36, 000 years ago.
Interestingly, a key event of human evolution dates back to a time just prior to evidence of early dog domestication – the disappearance of the Neanderthal species. Neanderthals were thriving in Europe before homo sapiens ever arrived there, but somehow, homo sapiens managed to outcompete their evolutionary cousins, resulting in their extinction, around 40,000 years ago. It is the theory of Pat Shipman, PhD, that cooperation with canines allowed homo sapiens to be much more successful than Neanderthals during climate change, a time of extreme vulnerability. Early humans shared similar social structures and cooperative hunting strategies with canines, allowing the two species to coexists in a mutually respectful relationship, eventually leading to emotional bonds.
Dogs and humans have been evolving side by side for thousands of years. We not only see this through archaeological evidence, but through gene analysis as well. A study in 2014 identified that both species underwent similar changes in genes associated with digestion and metabolism as well as in brain processes, like transport of serotonin. It has also been seen through scientific study that levels of oxytocin, sometimes referred to as the “love hormone,” increase in both dogs and humans when they engage in physical contact, just as it does when interacting with individuals of their own species.
Dogs and humans have influenced the evolutionary path of one another and shaped the social world both species live in today. The similarities in gene patterns and hormone activity is not seen with wild wolves, only domesticated dogs that have been our evolutionary partners.
We may not know exactly when, or exactly how, dogs came to be human’s best friend, but we sure are grateful they did.
Omega oils are a popular supplement for both people and pets. Most of us are aware of some of the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, but the extent of the support they offer is much greater than what is typically known. Omega-3 fatty acids offer a variety of benefits to the body including:
Omega-3 fats are a family of essential fatty acids; there are 3 main types that are necessary for health and must come from the diet, as they cannot be synthesized within the body. These three fatty acids are ALA, EPA and DHA. EPA and DHA are the active forms of omega-3.
Because ALA is not converted very well to EPA and DHA, dogs and cats should be supplemented with a marine source of omega-3 fatty acids for the greatest impact. Oils with the highest concentration of omega-3 come from sources that are further down the food chain. Algae oil, krill oil and oil from small fish, such as herring or anchovy, have higher concentrations of omega-3 than larger fish, like salmon.
When choosing an omega-3 supplement, it is important to ensure you choose a product that is fresh and pure. Guaranteed quality oils and third-party lab testing are sure-fire indicators of a superior product.
Baie Run Pet Products Inc. creates canine and feline marine sourced omega-3 supplements that are human grade – 100% fit for human consumption – and each batch is tested for purity at a third-party lab – every test result is available for viewing online.
Learn more about Baie Run Pet Products Inc. here.
Visit your local Global Pet Foods to find the ideal omega-3 supplement for your pet.
Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) is a broad term that refers to a variety of urinary tract complications. These include urinary tract infections, struvite and calcium oxalate crystals, urethral obstructions and inflammation in the urinary system.
One of the most common forms of FLUTD is urinary stones, more specifically struvite crystals (magnesium ammonium phosphate crystals). These crystals form most easily when the urine is concentrated and of alkaline pH. There are a few things we can do as cat owners to prevent the formation of these crystals, but the most important is to promote acidity of the urine.
Lower Urine pH
Feline urine is naturally slightly acidic, but the diet can alter this pH to be more alkaline, therefore increasing the risk of crystal formation. The most effective way to maintain acidic urine is a diet with a high meat content and limited carbohydrate content. Ingredients to note that help maintain proper urinary health are DL-Methionine and sodium bisulfate, which lower urine pH to a more natural level.
It is important to prevent excess intake of magnesium and phosphorous, as these are the minerals that form struvite crystals. However, this is secondary to maintaining acidic pH; studies have shown that crystals can form even when these minerals are low if urinary pH is too high.
Sufficient moisture consumption is extremely important for preventing crystal formation. Moisture consumption through food is the most effective way to improve hydration, since cats are notoriously bad drinkers. Incorporating canned food, raw food or rehydrated freeze-dried food to the diet is an excellent strategy for adding moisture. When it comes to drinking water, cats tend to prefer water sources that are slightly acidic; providing more appealing drinking water may encourage higher rates of consumption. Remember that moisture requirements increase as temperatures increase, so it is especially important to encourage consumption during warmer weather.
There are many diets on the market that can effectively support urinary health. Choose a diet that is high in protein, with significant protein coming from meat, and low in carbohydrates. Look for DL-methionine and sodium bisulfate in the ingredient list and always incorporate moisture into meals.
Controlling the source of drinking water is not quite as easy. Tap water is typically alkaline and contains unknown mineral levels. Bottled distilled water contains no minerals but it may also be alkaline. Cat Water is bottled, distilled water that has no minerals and is also pH balanced to be slightly acidic. This water source is ideal for maintaining natural urine pH and encouraging water consumption. When feeding a complete and balanced diet to your cat, they are consuming all the essential minerals they need, and it is not necessary for these minerals to be in their drinking water.
Cat Water is a feature product this month at Global Pet Foods. Visit your local store to find out more!
The Canadian pet food industry is vast, dry dog food alone amounting to more than $700 million in revenue per year. Canadian households view their pets as part of the family, and it would be assumed that such a large, important industry would hold the same values and be tightly regulated. However, this is unfortunately not the case.
Canadian Pet Food Regulations
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) will inspect imported ingredients and imported products for disease contamination only, to prevent animal diseases being introduced to Canadian livestock. Pet food that is manufactured here in Canada is not inspected.
Other countries have imposed much more comprehensive regulations.
United States Pet Food Regulations
The FDA mandates that pet food be safe to consume.
European Union Pet Food Regulations
Even more impressive are the regulations that the European Union (EU) have put in place. The EU has imposed regulations that encompass ingredients and ingredient sourcing, and manufacturing facilities’ hygiene, equipment and environmental impacts.
Why You Should Purchase Canadian Pet Foods
Supporting Canadian manufacturing should be a priority for all Canadian shoppers and choosing brands with high standards sets the bar for all Canadian manufacturers. There are many Canadian pet food brands that go above and beyond to uphold high manufacturing standards. By becoming aware of the different manufacturing policies and making a point to only purchase from brands with strict protocols, the industry is pushed towards putting in place strict regulations. Consumer awareness is the key to regulation development.
What to Look For
Research the brands you are interested in or contact their offices to ask about their protocols. The staff at your local Global Pet Foods are very familiar with many brands so are also a great source of information.
Look for brands that:
Nature’s Harvest is a brand that is made in a Canadian facility that is certified compliant with European Union standards. Click below to learn more about the Nature’s Harvest story and products.
Allergies are on the rise, and we see them more this time of year, not just for us but for our pets too. Incidents of dermatitis in our pets is increasing and our first instinct is to assume a food sensitivity. While food sensitivities are certainly becoming more common, we can’t forget about environmental sensitivities. It is important to note that environmental allergens not only affect the exterior of the body (skin, feet, ears) but also the digestive tract. Environmental pollutants and allergens are inhaled and inevitably swallowed; the gastrointestinal lining responds to these allergens just as the exterior skin does. It is possible that an environmental allergy will contribute to, or present as, a digestive sensitivity along with digestive responses.
We can’t control what is in the environment, unfortunately, so we have to do our best to manage the irritation our pets are dealing with this time of year.
Environmental allergens get trapped in our pets’ fur and cause constant irritation. It is important to clean these particulates away by bathing regularly with gentle, hypoallergenic shampoo. In between baths, good daily practice is to wipe the areas on our pets that are most exposed and that they are most likely to lick (licking will result in allergens being ingested). The ground contains the most concentrated irritants; this is where they all end up as they fall from the air. Rinsing or wiping our pets’ feet when they come in from outside can significantly reduce their exposure to these irritants and limited their ingestion. Bare bellies are also at high risk of irritation and should be wiped each day to prevent licking and hot spots.
When animals are dealing with allergies, it is very important to support the immune system, and all essential body functions. When the immune system is active, the body is under physiological stress and nutritional requirements may increase in these instances. Ensuring we are providing quality proteins and fats in sufficient quantities along with bioavailable vitamins and minerals is particularly important for supporting the health of the whole body.
When we think about what makes strong bones, we intuitively think calcium. So, this makes us think that growing large breed dogs need more calcium than growing small breeds, because they must put together considerably bigger bones. However, it is in fact the opposite. Large breed puppies require lower levels of calcium per the same number of calories.
It is true that large breed puppies have a lot of growing to do, and a lot of bone mass to build, much more so than small breeds. It is unrealistic to think that large breeds should do more growing, in the same amount of time; it takes much longer for large breeds to grow to their adult size. Issues arise when the growth process happens too rapidly. Rapid bone growth can be caused in two main ways: excess energy intake and excess calcium intake.
Large breed puppies can end up consuming too much energy if they are over fed or fed a diet that is very calorically dense (high fat). Body condition for growing puppies should be maintained at ideal condition (5) or slightly leaner than ideal (4). *See body scoring chart below.
Excess dietary calcium can result in rapid, uneven bone mineralization. Puppies, unlike adult dogs, do not have mechanisms in place to regulate how much calcium is absorbed and deposited into the bones; excess calcium in the diet results in excess calcium deposit in the bones. This causes a deficiency of phosphorous in the rapidly growing bones, leading to skeletal abnormalities. Calcium and phosphorous should be provided to large breed puppies in a very tight ratio from an even 1:1 ratio up to 1.3:1 calcium to phosphorous.
When looking for a puppy food for your growing large breed, you will want to look for lower calcium levels to prevent excessive intake. Most food ingredients contain smaller amounts of phosphorous so a food with less calcium is also likely to give a closer ratio of calcium to phosphorous, but it is a good idea to check this ratio before purchasing.
If you would like more information, please contact us!
Free feeding cats is a very common practice in many households, but just because it is common does not mean it is the best option.
Indoor Cats are typically not Highly Active
Typical indoor cats are not considered “highly active,” rather they are more often a moderate or low activity level. Living indoors simply does not provide the space or stimulation that cats are adapted to. In an environment that lacks stimulation, cats will often eat when there is nothing else to occupy them. Free feeding makes it easy for indoor cats to consume more calories than they are expending, leading to weight gain and possible obesity.
Cats are not natural Grazers
When food is always available, you may see your cat eating at a variety of times throughout the day. Although it seems like your cat is grazing all day, picking out just a few kibbles here and there, in reality they are eating meals. Having a full bowl of food available 24 hours a day allows cats to eat many full meals in a day, often more meals than they should based on their energy expenditure.
Food Intake is an important Indicator of Health
Cats are very stoic and often do not present signs of illness that are obvious to us. A loss of appetite or reduced food intake can be a helpful early indicator of disease. Early detection of illness increases the chance of successful treatment. When cats are free-fed, it can be difficult to see when consumption has declined.
Cats prefer Fresh Food
When we set food out in a bowl, the oxygen in the air begins to degrade (oxidize) the fat in the diet. Cats are very sensitive to oxidized fat; even a slight breakdown in the structures decreases palatability, leading to a less enjoyable eating experience for cats.
Weight management relies on proper Measurement
When free fed cats begin to gain excess weight, creating a weight loss plan can be tough because it is difficult to know how many calories the cat has been consuming each day making it a challenge to restrict calories. When weight management diets (lower calorie diets) are free fed, cats will typically consume a higher volume of food, resulting in minimal, if any, calorie reduction.
Tips for transitioning to Meal Feeding
When cats are accustomed to having food always available, they end up on their own schedule which might not align with yours.
Measure out half of the day’s food and set it out in the morning, allowing the cat to eat on their own schedule. In the evening, serve the other half of the day’s food.
Adding canned food to the meal can encourage consumption right away and your cat will get use to the new schedule.
Engaging in play stimulates feline appetite, so spend some time interacting with your cat prior to meal time.
Meal feeding promotes Health
Feeding meals instead of free feeding can increase your cat’s health and prevent things such as obesity, which is a precursor for many feline diseases. Feed your cat fresh, appropriately sized meals to enhance their enjoyment and health.
We love our cats, but we don’t love the litter box.
There are a few different ways our litter box griefs can be resolved such as choosing the right type of litter or locating the box in the optimum place in the house. Another very effective solution is choosing a high-quality food.
Here are 3 ways switching to a higher quality diet can solve your litter woes.
1. Reduce Volume and Cost of Litter and Supplies
High quality diets are very digestible and result in less waste in the litter box. This reduces the volume of litter used and keeps the litter box cleaner for longer. Quality, digestible ingredients can lead to better stool consistency, making clean-up simple and easy, with less litter removal with each scoop. When using poop bags for disposal of litter and waste, you will also obviously also use less of these when disposing of less waste.
2. Reduce Litter Odour
High quality diets support optimal gut health with highly digestible ingredients as well as prebiotics and sometimes probiotics. Improved gut health can limit the offensive odour of the stool.
Some higher quality diets also include ingredients that work specifically to reduce litter box odour. Yucca Schidigera extract is an ingredient that supports the growth and function of beneficial gut bacteria for enhanced microbial fermentation, more complete digestion, less waste and less odour.
Other gut health support ingredients to look for are: chicory root, pumpkin, spinach, cinnamon, kelp, milk thistle, probiotics and digestive enzymes, among others.
3. Prevent Urinary Crystals
Urine crystals are a painful litter box issue for cats so urinary support is very important. Often, urine pH for cats is too alkaline; a more natural pH is slightly acidic. High quality diets contain high proportions of meat which keeps urine pH at the proper level. Diets also may contain support ingredients that acidify urine to prevent crystals. Cranberry and DL-methionine are examples of this type of support ingredient.
Your cat’s drinking source can also play a part in urinary health. Many tap water sources are slightly alkaline and contain a variety of dissolved minerals, that may end up forming crystals in the urinary tract.
Cat Water is a bottled water source designed specifically for cats, with urinary health in mind. Cat Water is distilled water with virtually no dissolved minerals and an ideal pH of 6.2-6.4. This water source limits mineral intake and helps keep urine pH at the perfect, slightly acidic level. The slight acidity of this water is also more appealing to cats than more alkaline sources, which will encourage cats to drink more water. Increased water consumption is a great prevention for crystal formation.
Cat Water is now available at Global Pet Foods!