Sep 112013

Here is an excellent explanation of why canned/wet food is the best for cats from Lisa Pearson:

“Cats have a low thirst drive and are designed to get their water needs met by their prey or food bowl. Canned food (vs dry kibble) promotes urinary tract health and optimal systemic hydration which is especially critical for cats with kidney insufciency. See Opie’s pictures at -

Urinary Tract Health page – for a look at the suffering that water- depleted diets very often contribute to. Please do not fall into the trap that so many people do by engaging in wishful thinking and assuming that your cat makes up the water defcit at the water bowl. Many studies have shown that when all water sources are considered (food and water bowl), cats eating dry food – even the “good drinkers” – consume ~50% the amount of water that a cat on canned food consumes. This is in spite of the fact that cats on water-rich diets rarely go to the water bowl.”

Thank you Lisa!

Mar 262013

It is Easter time and one subject dear to my heart is rabbit care. I often warn about the temptations to buy that sweet little bunny or chick in the pet store at Easter. The live “Easter Bunny” indulgence leads to a great deal of suffering and pain for rabbits because most people do not realize how long the commitment to care for a rabbit is; many of the Easter rabbits are abandoned or surrendered to shelters which creats an overpopulation of rabbits in need of homes. All the while, most rabbit breeders and pet store employees can tell customers nothing about the proper care of these amazing animals. In fact, pet stores will often display rabbits in a cage with cedar shavings as bedding. A rabbit exposed to cedar fumes can develop respiratory problems and, worse, develop kidney disease and failure leading to death. But the pet store owner will happily sell customers cedar bedding for the rabbits. Ignorance is rampant. Clay kitty litter, ingested by rabbits, will block their intestinal tract so it is not an option. Fortunately, there are plenty of paper-based or cellulose bedding products now to keep your bunny safe.

I have a soft spot for rabbits because my rabbit Boodles, who died young many years ago, opened my eyes to how ill-informed I was on his care. In fact, it was the grief over Boodles’ death that led me to abandon a career in business to return to veterinary school and become a vet. I have dedicated many hours learning about rabbit health and have made it a point to educate people on their proper care.  Here is a picture of a class of elementary school kids who took the time to learn about rabbit care from me and my rabbit Harriet.   Harriet_edu3

Harriet is a house rabbit and lives peacefully with the dogs and the cats. She has a collar with a tag and a microchip like the others. She is litter box trained and has her own collection of toys. She has an ample supply of fresh timothy hay and fresh vegetables. The best nutrition products for rabbits are produced by Oxbow. Oxbow produces a rabbit kibble and hay products that are a great base for their diet. In addition, plenty of leafy green vegetables, such as dandelion greens, arugula, parsley and beet tops are a necessary addition.  Limited spinach, kale and carrots are a healthy treat for them. To keep their teeth trimmed, safe chew toys are required and help keep your house safe from the rabbit’s need to chew. Apple branches are a great chew toy for rabbits. I use hay, not cedar shavings, for my rabbit’s litter tray. Fresh hay for eating (a very very important part of their diet) on one side and a well-defined corner for their toilet. Some vegetables and fruit are not good for rabbits and yard plants are potentially dangerous. A great resource for all things rabbit and a wonderful adoption resource is the House Rabbit Society at . The site has great information on healthy diets, toxic plants and substances, tips on husbandry, a list of rabbit friendly vets and lots of info on their care.

Buy a Bunny a Little Time
Mar 102013

Cats love tuna fish!

Photo: Erin Berkeley Marr

There are very few who don’t. Why is fish, as a staple diet for cats, dangerous?  Fish contains an enzyme called Thiaminase. This enzyme breaks down Thiamine, an essential vitamin also known as B-1.  If cats are fed mainly fish, either as tuna or in pet food that is not supplemented with Thiamine, they can become very sick. Vitamin B-1/Thiamine is essential for neural health…. it feeds and protects neurons.  If a cat is thiamine deficient, it will develop neurological symptoms and eventually die if its diet is not corrected. Fortunately, cats can recover from this if they get proper care and a well-balanced diet.  Recently, several pet food companies have recalled their cat food because it was deficient in Thiamin (most recently, today in fact, Diamond Pet Food issued a recall).  Pet food companies must add Thiamine to their fish formulas to compensate for the enzyme and ensure cats get enough Thiamine. It is likely their food was tested and found to have inadequate levels.  I like to give the pet food companies credit for doing the right thing by recalling their foods; it shows they are testing and following through.

Along those lines, a pet peeve of mine are pet food companies who market “cat food”, mostly canned food, that is “all tuna” and “100% Natural Chicken”.  If shoppers are not careful and aware, they often assume this is a complete diet for their cat. IT IS NOT! Many companies do not make it clear that this is designed to be a TREAT and not be the cat’s main diet. The words to look for on the label are the following:


or variations on that statement. Even better, a pet food company will test its food via feeding trials to ensure they are healthy, as shown on this label. For growing kittens, it is best to find a diet formulated for their age and that should be stated in the AAFCO statement.


AAFCO guidelines aren’t perfect and are in need of updating, but they are the best we have at the moment. So please read labels and be aware that there are a lot of companies jumping on the pet food band wagon who neither have the expertise nor the resources to ensure that the products they are producing/marketing are healthy and complete for your pet. Good nutrition is important for your cat’s long term health.

Jan 122013

Jana Rade, and her dog Jasmine, have launched a “Show Off Your Dog’s Waistline” to bring better awareness to the problem of pet obesity. Obesity contributes to many health problems and as our loved ones get older, keeping the weight off contributes to their overall quality of life.

My dog, Flash, has volunteered to show off her trim waistline for the cause. I rescued Flash at 4 months after she was found by animal control officers with a tight rubber band around her muzzle and severe burns on her body having been doused with gasoline and set on fire. She is now approaching 17 years old and although she shows the scars of her trauma, she is in excellent shape and is proud to join Jasmine’s cause.

Show off your dog’s beautiful body and post pictures on Jana’s site.

Join the cause! I look forward to seeing everyone there.

Nov 222012

Is what you feed your loving companions healthy for them? This is what Bill Good asked me on Tues morning on his show in Vancouver, BC on CKNW AM980. The recent illnesses and deaths of many dogs after they ate chicken jerky treats made in China has prompted many pet guardians to question how safe are the food and treats that many companies sell. How regulated is the pet food industry in Canada and the US? The answers may surprise you. Bill and I had a lively discussion and could answer only a few of the many calls that came in. If you would like to listen to the segment, you can go on-line to iTunes podcasts and listen for free. Here is the link to the Bill Good Show podcasts on iTune. My talk is in the first half of Nov 20th Hour 3. If you have any questions after listening, please contact me. The Bill Good Show Podcast on iTunes

Get Adobe Flash player