Does Your Dog Have a Vitamin Deficiency?

Does Your Dog Have a Vitamin Deficiency?

When we talk about how nutritionally good a dog food is, many of us focus on protein and fat content, especially since dog food marketing makes it appear these are the only important parts of the food. However, just like us, dogs need vitamins and vitamin deficiencies can cause all kinds of health problems. The following are the main deficiencies a dog may have and their symptoms.

Vitamin A

Beta-Carotene or Vitamin A deficiency can cause your dog to have a weakened immune system, often resulting in being ill frequently. They may also have night blindness and skin issues. Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin so diets that are too low in fat can often be the culprit here.

Vitamin B1

Thiamine or Vitamin B1 deficiency is actually pretty common in dogs. A B1 deficiency in your dog will cause vomiting, excessive drooling, and loss of appetite. If your dog reaches “terminal” stage (lacking B1 for about a month) they will die within just a few days. Some dogs have intestinal issues that prohibit the absorption of the vitamin. And some foods are just lacking in it, especially raw and canned diets.

Vitamin B2

Riboflavin or Vitamin B2 can causes stunted growth in puppies. It can also cause dry, flaky skin, eye problems, and fainting in all dogs. B2 deficiency can even cause heart failure. Dogs on some forms of antibiotics may need more Vitamin B2, so ask your vet if your dog is currently taking antibiotics.

Vitamin B3

A Niacin or Vitamin B3 deficiency can be fatal! Symptoms include your dog’s tongue turning dark (brown or black), inflamed lips and gums, no appetite, seizures and bloody diarrhea. You dog should not have too much B3, which can also cause issues.

Vitamin B6

Pyridoxine or Vitamin B6 deficiency can cause epilepsy, kidney damage, asthma arterial disease, and allergy issues. It’s even been linked to cancer!! Like B3, too much B6 is also bad.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is vital to bone health in dogs just like it is in humans. Rickets is caused by Vitamin D deficiency and involves swollen joints and misshapen (bowed) legs. Too little Vitamin D can also cause calcium to build up in the muscles, including the heart, causing a host of other issues, including hemorrhaging.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is vital for the health of many important organs including the liver and heart. It’s also important for eye health, muscles and nerves. But, too much vitamin E inhibits the absorption of Vitamins A and K. This is another fat-soluble vitamin that could be deficient in low fat diets.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is not a vitamin that gets much press. But it should. A deficiency in K might be the worst of all of these. Without enough Vitamin K, your dog’s body will not be able to clot blood, which will cause hemorrhaging and death.

But My Dog Food is a “Complete” Diet, right?

You may be wondering how dogs can have deficiencies when their food is marketed as “complete.” Unfortunately, not all pet food brands follow the recommended minimum nutritional guidelines set forth by associations such as the Pet Food Industry Association of Australia. This means not all foods have adequate nutrition. In other cases, the wrong ratios could be inhibiting absorption, as mentioned about with Vitamin E. And some do not have the adequate nutrition because of the nature of their processing.

And since each dog is different, some dogs may need more of one vitamin than another. Like how some humans are anemic and need iron supplements. So it could be the food is nutritionally complete for some dogs, but just not your dog.

The Thiamine Trouble

As mentioned above, Thiamine (Vitamin B1) deficiency is actually fairly common in dogs (and in cats!) and can cause death. Part of this problem stems from the way the foods are processed (or not processed). Even if the manufacturer originally added B1 to the food, the processing may remove it. There have been several recalls lately of canned dog and cat food that were deficient in Thiamine.

Canned foods are especially susceptible to being deficient in B1. As part of the canning process, the foods are sterilized within the cans. Since B1 is a heat-sensitive vitamin, as much as 50 percent can be lost during this process. In addition, some canned foods contain alkalinizing gelling agents that alter pH, thus altering the amount of thiamine available as well. If you feed your dog canned food, be sure you are choosing a food that is tested AFTER canning to ensure adequate vitamins and minerals are in the final product.

Raw food diets are also known for being deficient in B1. Raw fish (tuna, salmon) or shellfish in these diets contain an enzyme that destroys thiamine.

Rice bran can also cause a break-down of Thiamine.

In dry food, Thiamine also depletes over time. Studies have found losses can be as great as 57 percent after 18 months, so it’s a good idea to research your dog food company and make sure the food isn’t being stored for great lengths of time before it hits the pet store shelf.

Being aware of what vitamin deficiencies look like can help save the life of your pet. Knowing a bit more about how processing can affect the nutritional value of your dog’s food can also save your pet and makes you a more informed consumer. To learn more about how we make sure Stay Loyal food is nutritionally complete, check out our ingredients page.

Does Your Dog Have Morals? New Study Says Your Dog IS Fair, and Not Because of You!

Does Your Dog Have Morals? New Study Says Your Dog IS Fair, and Not Because of You!

Have you ever wondered if dogs have morals? And if they do, is it something we humans teach them? After all, morals – a standard of behavior or beliefs about what is and is not acceptable to do – including fairness and guilt – are often thought of as human traits. But is this correct? Should we assume that animals don’t have any sense of right or wrong?

A study conducted in 2008 by Friederike Range at the University of Vienna, Austria, tried to shed some light on this idea. Do dogs have a sense of fairness? The research team conducted an experiment on a group of dogs that had all been taught the same trick – to shake (give a paw). Every dog was happy to give their paw when cued, whether they were given a reward or not

But what happened when some dogs were given a food reward and others were not??

As soon as the researchers changed the rules where some dogs were being rewarded and others were not, a significant change took place. In their report, the researchers commented: “We found that the dogs hesitated significantly longer when obeying the command to give the paw” when some were being rewarded and some were not. Eventually the dog who were not being rewarded stopped responding to the cue altogether.

NOT FAIR!

Based on this research, animal behaviorists were pretty sure that dogs did indeed have a sense of fairness. They are not the only animals that researchers have tested to see if they have a sense of fairness. Prior to Range’s study, a study done by Frans de Waal at Emory University in Atlanta had found similar results with monkeys. In this case, the monkeys would even show signs of displeasure if the other monkey receive a better reward (say a grape instead of a cucumber) for doing the same work.

All of these studies were done with animals with close human contact – did we somehow reinforce or teach this behavior as part of domestication?

In other words, is it more of a response to cues (subconscious or conscious) than the animal having a truly moral compass? For example, reward-based dogs are usually trained via offering or shaping behaviors. So one could argue that the dog has stopped offering that particular behavior because it thinks the human wants something else (and not just because the situation is unfair). However, Range accounted for that by working the same dogs alone. Even without food, the dogs would continue to respond to the cues and work with the experimenter with no signs of agitation.

A Dog’s Sense of Fair Play is NOT from Us

A new study just released by the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna, set out to test this theory by looking at wolves, undomesticated relatives of our canine friends.

The study was conducted in a similar format. The wolves were being asked to touch a target that had been placed in their cage. The results were even more interesting – the wolves actually have a LOWER tolerance for unfairness or “inequality” than the domestic dog. One wolf stopped working after just three repetitions of not getting anything while another wolf was reward. He was so frustrated he broke the target.

The opposite of what you might have expected, researchers found that the domestic dog has a slightly higher threshold when it comes to coping with unfairness. They believe this could be because they are used to dealing with humans, who often treat dogs unfairly.

In addition, they found that both dogs and wolves were sensitive to inequality of quality, like the monkeys mentioned above who would react if another monkey received a “better” reward.

What Does This Mean For The Average Dog Owner?

Will knowing your dog has a sense of “fair play” change the way you interact with him? Especially in a multi-dog household? Maybe, maybe not. It could be useful in some training circumstances. For example, if you are working on building up one dog’s variable reward cycle – i.e. you used to give him a reward every time he did a behavior while he was learning, but now that he has mastered it, you want to start fading out those rewards – you may NOT want to train him next to a dog that is still early in the training and getting reward every time, as it could cause your dog to get frustrated and shut down.

More than anything, it’s just cool to continuing discovering just how sensitive and smart dogs really are.

 

Looking for a Running Buddy? Not All Breeds Are a Good Idea.

Looking for a Running Buddy? Not All Breeds Are a Good Idea.

A dog can be a great workout buddy. They not only work as a reason to get out and do something active, they are non-judgmental and will never comment on your weight or how fast/far you go. Not to mention they are probably the cutest running buddy you will ever have!

BUT NOT ALL DOGS ARE CREATED EQUAL

This is especially true when it comes to their physical ability. While some breeds may have been bred for running (Greyhound) or sustained physical activity (border collie) other breeds were either never meant for much physical activity OR the breed has been changed over the generations to no longer be able to handle physical activity without serious health risks. If you are looking for a dog because you would like someone to motivate you to exercise five days a week, be sure to do your research and pick out a breed that will be able to handle that kind of exercise. Here are some breeds/breed types that you should NOT choose

Brachycephalic Dog Breeds

Any dog breed with a short-nose cannot breathe properly. When they exert themselves, this problem is exacerbated. They also don’t do well in heat, which means that in the warmer months physical activity can cause a problem quickly. While they may be fine with playing in the backyard for a bit or even a brisk walk around the block (you want to keep them in shape after all!), they are not a buddy for the marathon runner. These breeds include: English Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Pugs, Brussels Griffons, Affenpinschers, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Bulldogs (of any type), etc. Other breeds that are also put under this category are the Boxer, Cane Corso and Bullmastiff. Depending on the individual, some of these dogs are not as “short-nosed” as others and may be able to handle more physical activity. However, warm weather will still pose a problem and you should definitely watch for signs that your dog is having trouble breathing.

Bad Conformation

Regardless of what breed you are looking into, a dog with bad conformation will be much more likely to develop issues from consistent, strenuous exercise. So whether you are looking at puppies or rescue dogs, make sure the dog you are looking at has the build for running. Dogs with spinal deformities, crooked legs, short necks, or any type of face structure that inhibits proper breathing are not good choices for a running buddy.

In the same vein, some dog breeds are more prone to problems with hip dysplasia and other joint issues including arthritis. This includes a lot of bigger breeds such as Great Danes, Saint Bernards, Rottweilers, and German Shepherds, to name a few. German Shepherds love activity, but that doesn’t mean the level of activity he can do is the same as you. Depending on the individual dog and its breeding, they can be known for having serious hip issues and a German Shepherd that is made to run five days a week for miles and miles may end up costing you a lot at the vet as he ages.

If you are choosing a puppy, ask the breeder whether they get their breeding dogs’ hips checked and what percentage of their puppies end up developing joint issues. Since many of these are hereditary, it’s best to stay away from lines with known issues. For breeds like the German Shepherd, look for the European lines. They have less slope in the back than the American lines and better overall conformation, making them less likely to develop joint issues.

The Little Dog Dilemma

Another thing to think about when picking a jogging buddy is the size of the dog. Yes, little dogs are easier to run with because they are much less likely to pull you off your feet, even if you don’t spend a lot of time training them to heel. (They can trip you more easily!) Small dog breeds such as the Chihuahua, Italian Greyhound, Jack Russel Terrier, etc., have lots of energy and a body built for running. However, they too can have joint issues and have thin legs that can easily get injured. For these reasons, they may not be good for the cross-country runner going over rough terrain. In addition, think about how many running steps they have to take for one of yours – they are going to tire out sooner than a bigger dog with a longer stride. That’s something to take into consideration as well.

Before you chose a dog to be your next workout partner, the most important thing is to think about your goals and the type(s) of physical activity you want your dog to share with you. Think about:

Terrain – lots of hills, rocky/uneven path, deep sand and/or flat grass?

Distance – do you just want to jog around a couple blocks or train for a marathon?

Speed – slow and steady or speedy?

Temperature – do you live somewhere that gets really warm? Really cold? Are you still planning on exercising in the cold or heat?

Frequency – are you running every day? Twice a week? Remember, just like us, it’s easier on the dog if you do the exercise regularly so they stay in shape. Infrequent exercise will put your dog more at risk for injury (and yourself!)

Asking yourself these questions can help you determine what breed of dog may be the best partner for you. And, no matter what breed you end up with, be sure you watch your best friend for signs of overheating or overexertion and don’t run a puppy excessively – especially a large breed – until their bones are fully developed as this will cause problems later. Doing your research will help ensure you and your new buddy travel happily down the trail.

Why Does My Dog Love To Roll In Dead Animals?

Why Does My Dog Love To Roll In Dead Animals?

Like poop eating, why dogs like to roll in dead animals and other stinky things is not something with a straight answer. Since our dogs can’t talk to us and explain why they do something that, to us, is disgusting, all we can do is study them and come up with the “most likely” reason.

Unfortunately, when it comes to rolling in stinky stuff, there does not seem to be even a “most likely” reason. Studies have come up relatively empty-handed on this one. However, they have dispelled one theory.

Many have thought that dogs ROLL IN STINKY STUFF AS A THROWBACK TO BEING SCVANGERS AS WILD DOGS.

Since wild dogs were not just hunters but scavengers, some believe that dogs roll in dead animals so that when they get back to the pack, they can follow the sent to the “food.” However, studies have never seen pack members immediately follow the scent trail after one has returned with the scent, so chances are this theory is not correct.

Theories that might have some merit then?

Well, its possible dogs are CLAIMING THE ITEM.

We know animals scent mark as a way of letting others know “this is mine and you can’t have it.” Some researchers, vets, dog behaviorists and dog trainers believe dogs come across something they like – say a dead rabbit that they want to eat later – and they roll in it to deter other animals (dogs) from taking it. But, this theory seems a bit weak when some dogs also like to roll in poop or decaying plant matter like leaves and even seaweed on the beach that they are probably not going to eat.

Another one is THEY JUST LIKE THE SMELL.

We’ve all see the dog rolling around in the grass or on a nice rug that scratches their back. They really seem to enjoy the action, and only seem to do it when they are truly “happy.” So, it’s possible that your dog is rolling in stinky stuff simply because to him, it smells wonderful. And since their nose is 10,000 times more sensitive than ours, a very stinky pile of whatever could send them into a nirvana state that makes them have the urge to just roll all over it – making it a behavioral response. There is no way to really test this theory.

And, finally, there is the theory that is most plausible. Again, it links back to their wild dog ancestry.

DOGS ROLL IN STINKY STUFF TO MASK THEIR OWN SCENT FOR HUNTING.

Just like hunters use camouflage and even scents to hide themselves while hunting, it’s very possible that dogs roll in stinky stuff to disguise their “dog smell” so they can better sneak up on prey. This is based on studies and research where wolves, jackals, and other canine species have been observed rolling in carrion and feces of herbivores (not other canines) during the hunt.

We may never know for sure the reason dogs do this, but there is one thing that all these theories have in common – instinctual behavior. This means it can be hard to get your dog to stop. A very strong “leave it” cue is probably going to be your best bet, reinforced with a reward your dog finds higher than whatever reward (including the satisfaction of carrying out the behavior itself!) he gets from the act of rolling on disgusting, stinky stuff. If you are struggling with it, find a dog trainer to help you and in the meantime, you can keep your dog leashed so he is less likely to practice the behavior while on walks.