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Front Page » July 3, 2007 » Local News » Feeding pets safe, nutritional diets while gauging consum...
Published 2,584 days ago

Feeding pets safe, nutritional diets while gauging consumption to prevent obesity


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By CLELL BAGLEY
Utah State University Extension

The recent recall of several brands of manufactured pet food due to the melamine contaminated ingredients raises questions and concerns in dog and cat owners at locations across the state. While it is important for Carbon County residents to make certain that what they feed dogs and cats is safe for the animals, the primary hazard to the pets' long-term health is obesity. It is especially important for Carbon County residents to monitor consumption and take steps to prevent pets from eating more for than the animals actually need.

The recent recall of several brands of pet food due to the melamine contaminated ingredients continues to raise questions and concerns in dog and cat owners at locations across the state.

The situation has been heightened by an unrelated recall of a brand of dog food due to contamination with salmonella bacteria.

Soon after the recall, alleged experts emerged claiming they had the best way to feed pets.

After closer examination of the claims, it appeared that many of the suggestions were contradictory.

Some of the alleged animal experts recommended that people prepare all pet food at home.

Others recommended that people should feed cats and dogs only meat.

Still others advised people to feed pets only raw meat on the bone, whole chickens or rabbit carcasses.

An important lesson learned from the claims is that dogs and cats are quite adaptable to a variety of foods and feeding methods.

There are alternatives on what and how to feed pets, but none of the options are without risk.

Carbon County residents should consider the several guidelines when feeding pets so they don't create a new problem as they try to avoid another concern.

The guidelines include the following:

•If cats and dogs are eating commercially marketed foods that have not been recalled and are doing well, there is no reason to change the animals' diets.

•Feeding pets nothing but table scraps may result in digestive upset, an unbalanced diet or nutritional deficiencies.

•Feeding pets red meat only results in an unbalanced diet and has caused severe nutritional deficiencies.

•Feeding meat on the bone provides a diet that is deficient in some nutrients.

Also, the bones can be a hazard.

Some dogs and cats learn how to manage eating bones with few problems.

But for other cats and dogs, the bones can become lodged in the animals' throats.

In addition, pets can become severely constipated with sharp bone chips and the animals must have veterinary assistance for relief.

•While feeding pets raw meat products, people should be aware of the possibility of bacterial contamination.

The precaution is true whether the food is a balanced ration, the whole carcass of a rabbit or chicken or a pet treat.

Meat and meat products often carry bacterial organisms such as salmonella, campylobacter or E. coli.

Unless food is cooked or irradiated, people not have the technology to prevent all potential contamination from the organisms.

Pets build some resistance to the organisms, but the animals are still susceptible.

Leaving meat in a warm environment - temperatures higher than 45 Fahrenheit - for longer than approximately 15 minutes before feeding pets can allow bacterial organisms to multiply in numbers that can overcome an animal's resistance mechanisms.

`Even freezing will not destroy some of the organisms and, when the meat is thawed, the bacteria will grow.

•Before deciding to prepare pet food at home, people should discuss it with their veterinarians.

Veterinarians have examined pets and know the animals' nutritional needs.

Then, people should learn the basics of basics of pet nutrition.

Donald Strombeck's Home-Prepared Dog and Cat Diets: the Healthful Alternative has healthful suggestions for pet diets.

For additional information, Carbon County residents with Internet access may visit http://www.petdiets.com/.

•While it is important for people to make certain that what they feed dogs and cats is safe for the animals, the primary hazard to the pets' long-term health is obesity.

It is especially important to be sure that pets don't get fed more than the animals need.


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