Candy OlsonDr. Candy Olson graduated from veterinary school in 1978, and has been working as a small animal veterinarian ever since. She started her own practice, Greenbriar Animal Hospital, in Fairfax, Virginia in 1993 with a goal to providing a very personal level of service, like an old fashioned family doctor’s office. The hospital has grown into a busy 2 doctor practice with a full time dog and cat groomer. The practice and Dr. Olson have received several awards for top quality service to her patients and their owners, but what she enjoys the most is fine tuning the day to day care of her patients, and helping their owners cope with medical and behavioral issues that pop up in today’s lifestyles. Dr. Olson is particularly interested in the care of geriatric pets and in pets with multiple medical and/or behavioral problems. She keeps her veterinary knowledge current by reading more than 8 veterinary journals every month, and by attending more than 80 hours of continuing education meetings each year (Virginia requires 15 hours per year). She also serves as a mentor for student veterinary technicians and high school students interested in veterinary medicine. Her hobbies include gardening, travel, and photography (photography is an extended family hobby). Some of her photos and some of her family’s photos are framed and on display at the animal hospital.
Hi, I am Dr. Candy Olson from Greenbriar Animal Hospital. We're shooting a series of videos on tips for how to care for your dog at home. This section is tips on feeding, and we've got a bunch of information for you; in general for puppies, to adults, to senior dogs. One of the important things about food for dogs is you want to try and get the best food that you can afford. There are a lot of good premium dog foods out there. The decision about whether you get a certain brand or another, do a little bit of research, experiment, and see what you're comfortable with. If you have any questions about food, ask your veterinarian, they can give you a lot of good information. As far as the general type of food is concerned, the big thing for dogs is that dry food is what has all the calories. So, if your dog is underweight, barely managing to keep weight, dry food is good. If you're on the other end of the scale and your dog is really struggling and is heavily overweight, you want to give it a lot less dry food and replace that dry food with something that's lower in calories and still healthy. You really have three options for that lower in calories and still healthy kind of thing. The first thing that you can do is replace it with some canned food. Canned food in general is much lower in calories, especially if it's the kind of diet canned food. This food right here, for example, this is a prescription food that is made for dogs who are overweight and need to lose weight. It's very yummy, one of the best tasting foods, we practically never had a dog turn it down. The difference in calories here is, this is a regular dog food, kind of standard sort of calories, and this is a regular dry food standard sort of calories. These two cans have the same amount of calories as this can, which has the same amount of calories as three quarters of a cup of this dry. Now, I don't know about you, but if I was a dog I would want that rather than that, it's just not very much. It's tough for dogs because the thing with dogs is they're supposed to be hungry, they're supposed to live hungry, that's a dogs natural state. It's people that get involved in this that are always, oh, you shouldn't have to be hungry, giving him stuff, and they don't get enough exercise so they get overweight, and you get in this whole vicious cycle. It's tough to be strict enough, to say no, you're supposed to be hungry, you don't get to eat anything more. So, working this volume thing and being able to give them more without giving them more calories is a whole lot easier. So, you can do the diet canned food, it works great. You can also take half of their dry food away and replace it with vegetables. Things that you would consider to be free, more or less calorie free, if you were on a diet; carrots, green beans, cauliflower, that kind of stuff. If you do that, you do want to stay away from canned vegetables, because even the low sodium canned vegetables are very high in salt, and that's not good for dogs.
You want to do fresh or frozen. I get those big bags, frozen bags of veggies, and take a handful, put them on a paper plate, nuke them in the microwave for 30 seconds maybe, just until they're no longer icy. Mix them in with my dog's food, she loves them. Dogs are like people, they develop particular taste. These are all things that you can do to help them lower the calorie level, and if your dog is having problems with being overweight, increasing the exercise helps a little bit too, but a lot of the problems the dogs are prone to if they get overweight mean that you can't do their exercise, so a lot of times you're just looking at how can I cut back the calories? How can I keep them healthy? A couple of other things for dogs is a lot of pet food manufacturers say that you should feed puppy food for the first year. For most dogs, unless you have giant breed dog like a Great Dane or St Bernard or something like that, that's actually way more calories than they need. A current recommendations is for most dogs when you puppy reaches between four and five months of age, it's time to switch to adult food. As far as homemade food, dogs are little tricky getting a homemade diet that's just exactly balanced. There are some recipes and your veterinarian can probably steer you to some that are correct and balanced and have varied ingredients, but they're pretty complicated. They have stuff like bone meal tablets and sardines and vegetable oil, and there is usually 10 or 12 ingredients, and so it's really important if you're doing a homemade diet for your dog to make really sure that it's proper and complete with all the vitamins and minerals, because it's actually pretty difficult to do.
One quick mention here, there is a little bit of information out there and recommendations to feed your dog a raw diet. As veterinarians we really don't recommend that, me in particular, for a couple of reasons. First of all, it tends to cause a lot of problems with the dog's digestive system. It is very easy to cause infections and problems, because the raw food picks up bacteria very easily. The third thing is, which is one of the biggest things, is the risk for people to develop problems from it. It is extremely easy to develop problems with E. coli and Salmonella and that kind of thing from handling the raw food, and so that is definitely not something that we can recommend, it tends to cause a lot of problems. But if you do have any questions about diets or food that you would like to try, you think, is this a good food, is this a bad food, talk to your veterinarian and get some more information, because there's a lot out there. One of the frustrating things for me as a veterinarian is in commercial pet foods, whether you're at a grocery store or a pet store or ordering online, there is very little information about calories, anywhere. It's not one of the things that's required to be on the label, so they don't put it on the label. But there is usually a website or an 800 number that you can contact and find out, what are the calories in this dog food? Whats the comparison? Sometimes you will be really surprised and find out that this adult food and this adult food made by the same company can be almost identical, where they can be really different in calories or content, and yet it doesn't really indicate that on the label, so it's worth checking out.
That's some basic information on feeding tips for dogs. We're going to go over some specific things for handling your overweight dog next.