Having been in the veterinary field for over 2 decades, there are 2 important ways to take care of your pet’s body. They are, a multi-modal approach to pain relief, and nutrition. These two are essential in overall wellness and set the tone to keep our pet’s bodies in the best shape! This means less visits to the veterinarian, less cost, but most importantly a healthier pet.
A multi-modal approach refers to the variety of pain relief options that are available to help with our pet’s pain and discomfort. Some discomforts are a natural part of the aging process, while others may be related to other conditions. They can come on rather quickly, or slowly over a period of time-sometimes making them difficult to identify as pain. Osteoarthritis is the inflammation of our bones in the joint and affects most of our pets as they age. They get up stiff and are slow to move at first. Perhaps they limp on a leg or their back is painful. Who can relate? But our poor pets, sometimes have difficulty communicating this to us. An exam is essential to determine where the pain is at, and possible radiographs (x-rays) to help understand in more detail the cause of discomfort. Typically, when seeing a pet for pain, starting with fast acting medication for immediate relief is necessary, in addition to several modalities that can help consistently control or alleviate pain, on a long-term basis.
Nutrition! Proper nutrition is so critical to overall health, but also difficult to understand for a variety of reasons. One example I often encounter: I will see a client, and diagnose a terminal cancer, sometimes necessitating end of life, due to its remarkable impact on quality of life. What is frustrating is that most often, they have faith and accept my unfortunate diagnosis and proceed with euthanasia… but would not believe me when talking about nutrition. I can speak of how there can be such a thing as too much protein or that grains are not fillers, but many clients still believe the unknown writer on a website of unknown origin and perspective. In general when we feed our pets premium food they have less gastrointestinal, skin, allergies, and urinary issues. This is true but where some may debate or get led astray is, what is meant by premium food? I have 3 qualifying means to evaluate food:
- Feeding trial or formulated. Diets that do a feeding trial are tested – going through a thorough evaluation, whereas formulated are created using a recipe. There are several perspectives of truth, one being that a diet tested is better than one that is not, and the other truth is that there are many diets that are formulated but still do well. I hear quite often that they want to do what is best for their pets – and in my professional opinion, that is the one that has gone through a feeding trial
- Specific Life Stage or All Life Stage. We want a diet that is specific like a growth, an Adult, or a Senior. An all life stage diet is noted to cover a puppy through senior years. This is not good due to different nutritional requirements for puppies (6 months) as compared to the 12-year-old dog. Consider here whether you have eaten the exact same diet as an infant, toddler, child, young adult, adult, and senior. And have you ever changed your diet in order to improve your overall health-low fat, gluten free, calorie restricted, vitamin/mineral enriched, etc. The same would apply, if you want what is best for your pet, you would need to feed the specific life stage for their age, or nutritional content for their specific needs.
- Comparing apples to apples. On all pet foods there is the guaranteed analysis. This only gives the minimum or maximum of nutritional requirements. To get more precisely accurate information, you would need to go online or call the pet food company, for the nutritional analysis like we see on our food. A step further is to compare on a dry matter basis – truly apples to apples. If a pet food company does not give the nutritional analysis – do not feed that diet. If they cannot be open with what is in the diet, how can they be trusted? Furthermore, once you have the nutritional analysis, then a proper reference of nutritional requirements is needed.
Taking care of our bodies is essential for overall wellness – and something we have grown accustomed to paying attention to. It is also a strong recommendation for our pets, that leads to a happier, longer, and higher quality of life. For further questions, call Altitude and we’d be happy to assist you in making sure you’re providing the best possible pain management and nutrition for your pet’s specific needs.