We live in a really fast paced society, and with that comes the need to have information fed to us at increasingly quick levels. The e-article "Is Google Making us Stupid?" provides a great synapsis of our current situation as a human race. We want information, answers, stuff, food, gratification, results, and by golly, we want it now! With this mentality and current state however, we tend to gloss over details to speed things up.
This same expectation and human behavior has spilled over into the veterinary exam room. This human need "to speed things up" has also seemingly decreased people's ability to listen to what we're saying. And if they do listen to some of what we're trying to tell them, within minutes, this concentrated focus is interrupted by the beep of an incoming text message. Maybe it's a blank stare that clues us in, or even a question that we've already provided the answer to... but when people don't hear what we say, it's super frustrating.
When someone pays for services, they are paying for time. In many cases, they are also paying for an opinion. What good does it serve to enter into this service situation without listening? And who is really losing out? In the end, it's the pet, who could've benefited from an open and attentive mind, and professional services. Here are a few examples of how the lack of listening plays out in the animal service world:
1. I'm going to tell you everything I know because I need to make myself look good. And, then I'm going to tell you how to do your job.
2. I'm going to ask your opinion, not once, but twice. And then, I'm going to do what I want to do anyway.
3. I'm going to play "Devil's Advocate", which tells me, the service provider, that you've not heard a thing I've just said. You're holding onto your own opinion and not entertaining mine.
1. I'm going to listen to you briefly, look at my watch, and then move on to tell you what I think is wrong with your pet. I haven't addressed (heard) what your important concerns are and I'm on a schedule.
2. I provide a one-size fits all treatment plan. It doesn't matter what you're telling me, because in my mind, I fit most situations into three or so common treatment options.
3. I offer up treatment options that are pie in the sky. Good, but I never listened to the fact that you're on a budget. Then, I'm going to make you feel badly for declining my A-Game treatment option.
Listening and the art of effective communication is a two way street. It's quickly becoming a lost art however, where people are losing the value of showing respect via the of hearing what's being shared. Without effective communication, any situation, especially that of service provider and client can get really frustrating. How can we improve this?
Several weeks ago, Hill's Prescription Diet announced a revolutionary new concept in the diet pet food arena, their Canine Metabolic Advanced Weight Solution product. The food is designed to help your dog loose 28% body fat in two months, because it works to control hunger. (Source: http://www.hillspet.com/products/pd-canine-metabolic-prescription-diet-dry.html). Hills has it right: a glaring 50% of American pets are overweight. Yikes!
Upon close examination, the first few ingredients are listed here: Chicken By-Product Meal, Whole Grain Wheat, Whole Grain Corn, Corn Gluten Meal, Pea Bran Meal, Soybean Mill Run, Soybean Meal, Dried Tomato Pomace, Chicken Liver Flavor, Dried Beet Pulp, Flaxseed, Coconut Oil, Pork Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid) (Source: Hillspet.com). Though really well intentioned, some of these ingredients may raise the hair on the necks of those who watch their pet's intake of byproducts and grains. Oh... and did I mention Image C. Hills Pet Food that a 27.5 lb. bag is priced at $71.69? (petfooddirect.com)
The first ingredient is chicken by-product meal, but do you know what that is? According to AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials), the product is defined as follows: Chicken By-Product Meal - consists of the ground, rendered, clean parts of the carcass of slaughtered chicken, such as necks, feet, undeveloped eggs and intestines, exclusive of feathers, except in such amounts as might occur unavoidable in good processing practice. Keep in mind that the ingredient that your pet food contains the most of is listed first. Yep.
The next products, such as Whole Grain Wheat, Corn, Corn Gluten Mean, Pea Bran Meal, and Soybean meal product sound just fine, that is, if you're feeding cattle. Dogs share 99% of their DNA with the wolf, and they are carnivores. The necessity of these grain products is questioned, as well as the digestibility. Not to mention, we HOPE they are being sourced from America and not China. Perhaps most concerning is that these grain products contribute to some of the most common dog allergens.
Moving on to "Liver Flavor".... just what species is that liver from? So... what if my Cocker Spaniel has a beef allergy, and it's beef liver? How would I know? Hmmm... how do we know? Beet Pulp is simply the dried residue from sugar beets, but we still see some pets with an allergy to this ingredient. Tomato pomace, which is likely added to boost fiber, is defined by Wikipedia as...." an inexpensive by-product of tomato manufacturing. Effectively, it is what is left-over after processing tomatoes for juice, ketchup, soup, etc". And that leaves us with Flaxseed, Coconut Oil, and Pork fat. Leaving the flax and coconut oil alone, let's look at pork fat.
By AAFCO standards, Pork Fat is obtained from the tissues of mammals and/or poultry in the commercial
processes of rendering or extracting. It consists predominantly of glyceride esters of fatty acids and contains no additions of free fatty acids. If an antioxidant is used, the common name or names must be indicated, followed
by the words "used as a preservative". What is wrong with this picture? Is there anything that sounds even remotely healthy here?
It is reasonable to think that pet weight loss is very possible with some control on the part of the human. After all, dogs and cats don't shop at the store or fill their own bowls. They eat what we feed them, and there certainly are lots of food to choose from. Watch for future posts featuring natural options, holistic foods, and some insight on RAW feeding.
What are your thoughts? Would you feed this food to your dog? What dog or cat food do you love?
Each year, thousands of animals go without vet care simply because their owners can not afford it. From the cost of basic vaccines, heartworm prevention, and sterilization, many people feel the cost of care is out of reach. There is a lot to be said for not owning a pet if you can't afford to, but that's another subject. The bottom line is that there are some really great ways you can shave dollars off of your vet visit, without compromising care.
1. Interview Your Vet: Do what? Yes, you heard me- make an appointment and go talk to your vet. Find out what their emergency policy is, if they will see you, or if they will automatically refer you. Bankers hours are becoming really popular among solo practitioners, so make sure your doc will be there if you need 911 care. Also ask what the emergency policy is, and what fees are involved. If you are automatically referred, you will pay more for a specialty emergency hospital in most cases. Also ask your vet about their protocols on vaccines- do they offer a three year protocol or a mandatory vaccinate every year plan? Ask anything else that may be important to you personally, such as can you stay with one doctor in the practice? It's best to know all of these things ahead of time, before the need arises.
2. Teach Your Dog the Recall: This basic exercise, come when called, will save your dog's life. It's more important than teaching your dog to sit, and we suggest teaching an emergency "rescue" word that is only used in the case of "no matter what you're doing, stop and come immediately!". Of course, reward with some really high value food treat for coming. Why? Dogs that are hit by cars can be killed. If they survive, the damage can span from hundreds to thousands of dollars. This doesn't include the permanent damage your dog may have. Honestly, teaching your dog to come when called can save you this really big expense, and ultimately, its life. Average Savings- Can you put a price on your pet's life?
3. Learn to Trim Your Pet's Toe Nails: Everyone is afraid of the dreaded "cutting too short".... but I promise you, your dog or cat will not bleed to death. Invest in a really good pair of nail trimmers and some styptic powder (blood stop powder), just in case. Then, have your vet or groomer show you how to trim your pet's nails. With practice, you can master this really easy task, and save yourself between 8-15$ per trim!! The average savings here is about $80 per year!
4. Keep your Pet at a Healthy Weight: Like their human counterparts, pets that carry extra pounds are more vulnerable when it comes to weight related health issues. Hip, heart, and back problems are just a few of the issues that can crop up when your pet is well padded. Extra weight can aggravate conditions like arthritis. The cost of NSAIDS is going to run about .50-2.75 PER PILL. How do you know what a healthy weight is? Rather than focus on a number, make sure you can feel your pet's ribs but not see them. The waist should also have a nice "tuck". Not sure? Ask your vet or an un-biased friend. Average savings just on NSAIDS for a large sized, middle aged dog $900/year!
5. Brush Your Pet: Grooming your pet may sound super simple- but did you know, it can save you money? Obviously, you'll save on grooming costs. But those owners who brush their pets regularly often find early health concerns, such as lumps and bumps long before most people. In addition, brushing aerates the coat, making the environment unfriendly for the bacteria that may form hot spots down the road. Finding those lumps and preventing hot spots could save hundreds of dollars due to early detection. Average savings depends, but an estimate is about $100-200 per year.
Look for the continuation of this blog in the next segment.
As part of my work, I've been educating clients about pet food for more than 25 years. There are more choices than ever before! Even with a great selection, I still like the idea of a natural diet for pets. By natural, I mean RAW. If that isn't your thing, or if you don't like the idea of raw feeding, there are many other good retail choices. More on RAW in a coming post.
What's important to you as a pet owner? Do you want to feed your dog the best commercially available food? Let's get on the same page right off by saying that there is no one "best" food for all dogs. By examining your personal preferences and values however, making choices is much easier.
The first rule of thumb is this: No corn, wheat, soy, or artificial colors. All of these ingredients not only top our most allergenic items, but they can contribute to a very gassy pet. Along with the gas comes large stool size & volume. A high grain content also means more shedding in the house. Be on the look out for one popular kibble brand that also uses 3-4 forms of sugar in it's semi-moist food. This product, by the way, will stay moist on the grocery shelves for two years!
Dogs share 99% of their DNA with the wolf, and therefore, should not be fed these huge amounts of cereal products. Cats certainly do not need the carbs either. Again, raw is a better choice, but high quality kibble can work. In nature, dogs and big cats will also consume the viscera, or gut of their kill. How do you feel about the by-products in your pet's food? Did you know that by AFCO standards, "Poultry By Product Meal" can contain up to 5% feathers? Yikes!
This is some debate over by-products, and whether they should be included in pet food. Keep in mind that by-products may also include things that we just don't like to talk about. And, that higher quality food which still contains by-products may cost 60$ per bag or more. The debate includes information that questions the digestibility of by-product material, as it should. Obviously, lean cuts of muscle tissue are more digestible. However, when a RAW or natural diet is fed, by-products such as tripe and organs may be included. This mimics the dog and large cat's tendencies to graze on bones, hide, and again, the viscera.
By following the rule of thumb above (no corn, wheat, soy, or artificial colors), you can do well choosing a healthier food for your pet. If you ever switch brands, it's HIGHLY recommended to mix the two foods, old and new, in increasing amounts, until you are feeding all new food. This may help avoid stomach upset and diarrhea.
To learn more about your dog's diet, and to see an actual score, visit www.dogfoodadvisor.com. Where does your diet rank?
Welcome to my blog! Here I'll be sharing information about Animal Communication, Animal Reiki, Personal Coaching, and Muse about the Veterinary Industry......
I'd like to begin by reminding all of my Seattle Area clients that I'll be in town at the end of June! If you'd like a session, please see the prepaid button in the store.
Thanks for stopping by, and please check back often for updates.
Jen Ortman, owner of Holistipet (LLC) is a Professional Animal Communicator, Animal Reiki Master Teacher, author, and speaker.