They say “we are what we eat” and if this is true for humans, it is certainly also true for our pets! We recently discussed with Dr. Sara Edwards, a local Veterinarian, the importance of selecting the correct foods/treats for your pet as well as ways to help your dogs and cats live a longer, healthier & happier life!
- To start, could you please tell our readers a little about yourself and what you do? Where can we find out more about your business?
My name is Dr. Sara Edwards. I am a veterinarian who owns Magnolia Veterinary Surgery with my husband, Dr. George Edwards, also a veterinarian. I graduated from Millsaps College in 2004 and Mississippi State University-College of Veterinary Medicine in 2009. I have been practicing as a small animal veterinarian for the past 6 years. We recently opened our own mobile veterinary surgery practice, which caters to referring veterinarians in Northeast Mississippi and the Memphis,TN area. More information can be found on our Facebook page and on our website, http://magnoliavetsurgery.com/
- Dog and cat owners encounter an array of choices and confusing labels when shopping for pet food/treats. As a practicing vet, any suggestions on what to look for and what to stay away from?
Choosing a food for your pet can be a daunting task with so many different varieties to choose from. Vet school teaches us that the best food would be home-made food, such as boiled chicken and rice. However, not many people have the time to make their own pet food and this is often not as nutritionally balanced as a commercial dog and cat food. I usually recommend a good quality food from well-known and established companies like Hills (Science Diet) particularly because they make foods for specific types of diseases and conditions. For example, if your dog is suffering from kidney disease, he should be on a renal/kidney diet. If your pup is healthy, I would recommend an age appropriate “healthy diet” from any of the larger brand dog food companies that have published research on the advantages of using their food. I feed my own dogs Purina and they have done well on it for years. The biggest mistake that I find owners make is with the treats they feed their dogs. The first mistake is feeding human food, or “table scraps”. Dogs do not handle cheeseburgers and fries, or hot dogs the way our own bodies do. These foods can lead to a disease called pancreatitis, which can be fatal. Human “scraps” also add to the ever-growing obesity problem in our pets, which, in turn, leads to other diseases. I always persuade my clients to give vegetables as treats if possible.
- For dogs and cats with a sensitive stomach, are there particular ingredients you would recommend when “treating” them?
I would recommend very bland-type foods such as: boiled chicken, rice, or sweet potato. Tukabear Organic Sweet Potato Treats are a great option because they only contain organic sweet potatoes. Also, pumpkin (in small amounts of the canned version) is good as well. These foods rarely lead to intestinal upset even if your pet has a sensitive stomach. The increased fiber also promotes good digestive health.
- What kind of treats do you recommend for aging dogs and cats with difficulty chewing because they have few teeth?
Many times, older pets with a history of dental disease have difficulty chewing food to varying degrees. Soaking food in water prior to mealtime helps to make the food easier to chew. Many treats are often hard and are designed to be chewed to release tartar build-up on teeth. For pets that have difficulty chewing, there are several freeze-dried versions of food and treats on the market including Tukabear Free-Range Chicken Treats, which are easier for older dogs and cats to eat.
- Aside from food, what are some of the most important steps owners can take to keep their dogs and cats happy and healthy? Any quick tips?
It may seem repetitive, but nutrition and exercise, just as in humans, are keys to happy & healthy pets. Many of the diseases and orthopedic conditions we see as veterinarians are worsened by obesity. Owners can avoid such conditions by simply making sure their animals are getting enough exercise, either in the form of walks or by playing with them daily, as well as keeping a close eye on the pets’ caloric intake of healthy foods. Overfeeding has become a huge problem with pet owners, and unhealthy treats are often a significant component to obesity. A good, well-balanced diet (including appropriate treats) and regular activity promotes good health in pets as in people.
- Finally, do you have any pets of your own?
In my family, we are lucky to have a 10-year-old Siberian Husky named Nicolas, a 9-year-old British Labrador named Jake, and an 8-year-old three-legged cat named Rhianna.