The temptations will be all around us once again this year with turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, pies and cookies and chocolate (which is toxic for both dogs and cats).
We have to be especially careful to always honor the true nature of our dogs and cats and remember that these special foods are for us and are not what Mother Nature designed for them. But why can’t they have a little fun with us during the holidays? Overeating anything can be a problem. Our pets may be especially vulnerable during the holidays. This is when your guests will want to offer your dog(s) and cat(s) a little treat or taste of something they are eating. Children, that are not your own, may not be aware of your cats’ and dogs’ special dietary needs and species-appropriate meals and lifestyle. Besides that, everything is so tempting to share with the family pets who give us that “look.” Our cats and dogs are attracted to the amazing aromas in the house, such as a spill on the floor or that exquisite platter you placed on the coffee table. It is up to us to make sure they don’t get to help themselves so that our special evening doesn’t end with a trip to the veterinary emergency hospital.
Overeating isn’t just a holiday concern. It’s a behavior that has to be kept in check all year long. It can be dangerous, especially for dogs. Watch for symptoms such as excessive drooling, dry heaving, or vomiting, which could indicate a life threatening condition known as bloat. Your cats’ symptom of overeating will usually be demonstrated by vomiting their entire stomach content on your floor. Cats have a mechanism that causes them to vomit if their stomachs are overfilled — and overfilling could be as little as an extra tablespoon of food. But a dog’s stomach can become distended, hard, and uncomfortable to the touch. The symptoms of canine bloat are serious; your vet will refer to them as Gastric Dilatation Volvulus and this can occur when their stomach becomes overstretched by excessive gas content. It is commonly referred to as “torsion” and/or “gastric torsion,” which occurs when the stomach is also twisted.
The word bloat is used as a general term to cover gas distension of the stomach with or without twisting. The majority of ingested food, such as dry food or kibble is usually still quite dry in the stomach, so fluids from other parts of the body are often absorbed into the stomach, potentially causing your dog to become dehydrated quickly. Dry foods and commercial pet foods in both bags and cans are not biologically appropriate for what my veterinarian writing partner, Jean Hofve and I refer to as a Paleo Dog or Paleo Cat.
The Paleo Dog and Cat’s ancestors ate everything they could when they got it. For them fast food was running away from them and when they caught it they might overeat for a different reason than our pets do today. They overate because they didn’t want anyone else to get their food, once they caught it, since they didn’t know when they’d be getting to eat again.
Today’s commercial pet foods are full of flavor enhancers that notoriously trick our pets in to eating more food and tanking up on water, which is especially true with the feeding of dry foods. Dry and cooked, processed foods take a very long time to make it through the dog’s and cat’s digestive track and this offers ideal conditions for internal parasites. Parasite symptoms often manifest in overeating.
There are other health conditions that exhibit with symptoms of overeating, such as: hyperthyroidism, diabetes, pancreatitis (this inflammatory condition can also be demonstrated by refusing to eat and vomiting), pituitary gland tumors, or the inability to digest or absorb food due to a poorly functioning digestive system.
Pets on prescription drugs (like steroids) also tend to overeat. I recommend natural anti-inflammatory supplements, such as MOXXOR Omega-3 marine lipids be given on a daily basis to prevent inflammation.
Dr. Jean Hofve’s and my books such as our new, Paleo Dog, Give Your Best Friend a Long Life, Healthy Weight and Freedom from Illness by Nurturing His Inner Wolf teaches the hows and whys to feed a biologically appropriate diet. We also share the importance of love, companionship, exercise, a safe environment by pet-proofing your home — especially important during the holidays along with myriad holistic modalities.
For information on our book PALEO DOG, Give Your Best Friend a Long Life, Healthy Weight and Freedom from Illness by Nurturing His Inner Wolf, from Rodale Press, which is due out in June of 2014, you can visit Amazon.com and also pre-order it now for your Kindle or in paperback. Amazon.com.
Have safe, happy, healthy holidays with your whole family on two legs and four!