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Survey Reveals Impact of Excess Weight for Dogs – and Their Owners
Dogs
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4+ MIN

Survey Reveals Impact of Excess Weight for Dogs – and Their Owners

ST. LOUIS — A new survey from Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets found that excess physical weight in dogs carries an emotional weight for owners, and that many owners view their dogs as thinner than they really are. Results showed that approximately one in five dog-owning households consider one or more of their dogs to be overweight, according to a press release. However, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, the number of overweight dogs in the U.S. has reached a record high, with 59% of evaluated dogs either overweight (37%) or having obesity (22%). The Pro Plan Veterinary Diets survey was released on Oct. 11 – National Pet Obesity Awareness Day – and included more than 600 U.S. dog owners who identified their dog as overweight. It highlighted the physical and emotional factors contributing to excess weight and how these hinder dog owners from helping their pets. 'Dogs do not always gain excess weight due to a lack of care from their owners,' said APOP President Ernie Ward, DVM. 'If anything, an overweight dog may be a sign that the owner cares too much about their dog's happiness. But while it's often said that 'food is love,' feeding a pet too much could lead to an overall reduced quality of life.' More from the release: The Emotional Impact of Excess Weight The new survey revealed that excess weight gain in pets can be related to the emotions owners experience around feeding and treating: -75% of surveyed owners agreed they feel guilty when their dogs appear hungry. -67% agreed food is a primary source of their dog's happiness. -67% agreed they bond with their dog by feeding him/her treats and don't want to lose that bond. -54% agreed they feed their dog more food, table scraps or treats when their pet begs for them. Despite their fears about losing the bond with their dogs, 88% of surveyed owners whose dogs are overweight agreed their pets' body condition does concern them and 92% agreed that weight loss would be beneficial. These beliefs may be fueled by weight-related behavior changes in their pet that can impact the owner: -92 percent of surveyed owners agree they are sad when their dog can't participate in activities they previously enjoyed when their weight was ideal. -45% indicate their dog has less energy for playtime, 44% say their dog tires easily after minimal activity and 27% say their dog is less engaged or playful with their families. 'The results show that many owners of overweight dogs feel conflicted about what quality of life means for their pets,' said Jason Gagné, DVM, DACVIM (Nutrition), Director of Veterinary Communications for Pro Plan Veterinary Diets. 'While owners recognize that excess weight is keeping their dogs from participating in activities they once enjoyed, they also worry their dogs will be unhappy if feeding changes are made.' What Can Owners Do? Many surveyed owners have tried to help using DIY slimming strategies but were met with limited success. According to the survey, the most common weight-loss approaches tried by owners are reducing portions of existing food, cutting back on treats and increasing exercise, yet 68% of owners who tried these strategies stated their dogs lost only a little weight or no weight at all. 'Understanding the significance of this issue is the first step towards a healthy future for our pets,' said Gagné. 'The second is working closely with your veterinarian to create a weight loss plan that will work for you AND your pet – including the right nutrition, which can make a big difference. Pro Plan and Pro Plan Veterinary Diets offer a range of formulas, like OM Metabolic Response + Joint Mobility, specifically designed to help pets lose body fat while maintaining lean muscle mass.' It's also important to think about weight before it becomes a problem. In a 14-year study published in 2002, Purina scientists were the first to show the importance of keeping dogs at an ideal body condition throughout their lives3.  Researchers monitored the health of 48 Labrador Retrievers throughout their lives during which half the dogs were fed 25% less (restricted-fed) than their full-fed (control) siblings. The results showed that feeding dogs to an ideal body condition over a lifetime can significantly extend a dog's healthy years – by an average of 1.8 years for the dogs in the study. If you have concerns about your pet's weight, talk to your veterinarian. To learn more about weight management support and Pro Plan Veterinary Diets, visit proplanvetdirect.com. About the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 2005 with the primary mission of preventing and treating pet obesity. APOP conducts research to substantiate pet obesity prevalence levels in the United States and offers resources and tools to veterinarians and pet parents to recognize, prevent, and treat pet obesity.  By Neslé Purina
 

How Long Can Your Always-Hungry Cat Wait For Dinner?
Cats
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5+ MIN

How Long Can Your Always-Hungry Cat Wait For Dinner?

Many cats put on Oscar-worthy performances to convince their parents they are constantly starving. Often, they start with jumping on your head at 4 a.m., perhaps followed by biting your toes, stealthily pushing priceless breakables off the counters, or pacing in front of their bowls and yowling nonstop. But how can you tell if your cat is really getting enough to eat, and how long can they reasonably wait for their next meal? There are a number of factors that need to be considered to answer these questions. For starters, how old your cat is, the kind of foods your cat eats, and any health conditions your cat has can all influence how often your cat needs to eat.  For example, there are big differences in the nutritional needs of growing kittens and pregnant cats, compared to adult cats who are mostly sedentary indoors. It is always best to consult your veterinarian and defer to their recommendations when it comes to the particular nutritional needs of your cat. Here are some general guidelines that may help. How long can your cat wait between meals? The short answer is that it depends. And no one knows exactly. Wild felines who hunt need to eat many small meals throughout the day but may also go long stretches without food. On average, hunting cats eat about eight to 10 small prey a day, so they spend the majority of their waking time stalking, chasing, and hunting in order to meet their dietary needs. For our pet cats who spend most of their time lounging indoors, they tend to burn many fewer calories and have access to higher quality diets. Their needs for food are quite different. Studies have shown that cats' stomachs empty between four to eight hours after a meal, depending on what they eat. So, while your cat may be able to go up to eight hours between meals, most nutritionists recommend feeding many small, frequent meals throughout the day to attain the best physical and mental health for your cat. So, if you're planning to go out of town, it's important that you instruct your cat sitter as to how often your particular cat needs to eat. Do different foods affect hunger differently? What you feed your cat may affect how often they need to eat and how quickly they become hungry after a meal. Some factors that influence this include protein content, fiber content, and whether you feed a dry kibble versus canned wet food. In cats, protein content influences their satiety, or feeling of fullness, the most. A high-protein diet may keep a healthy cat feeling full the longest. Some cats should not have high-protein diets, such as those with kidney disease, so make sure to speak with your vet before switching to a high-protein diet.   Fiber is also known to play a role in feelings of fullness and to slow down the emptying of the stomach and intestines. This seems to play a smaller role in cats, compared to humans or dogs. Commercial high-fiber cat diets have not been shown to significantly affect fullness in cats, but certain fiber supplements containing inulin do seem to have more of an effect. As always, consider these supplements after consulting with your veterinarian to make sure it is safe and appropriate for your cat. Be aware that adding too much fiber or introducing it too suddenly can lead to gastrointestinal upset, such as nausea and diarrhea.   When it comes to keeping cats full, there is some evidence that kibble actually stays in the stomach longer than wet food, which may keep them feeling full longer. The debate over feeding dry food versus canned food is endless, and there are many valid reasons to choose one over the other. In general, canned food tends to have higher water content, which is very important for keeping cats hydrated. Canned food usually has a pureed consistency, which may cause it to be digested more quickly and easily. In most cases, cats should not eat dry food exclusively for overall good health, but there may be strategic ways to incorporate small amounts of dry food into your cat's diet. How can you keep your cat from constantly crying for food? Depending on your cat's particular life stage and health, there are many ways to help them feel satisfied while allowing you to get some sleep, too. For kittens and pregnant cats that need to eat frequently, a timed feeder may be a good option to provide snacks overnight and in the early morning. Remember that these feeding devices are not usually recommended for cats in other life stages because they can lead to overeating and risk of obesity. For adult cats, food puzzles are a great way to provide smaller, frequent meals while improving your cat's activity level and mental enrichment. These can be homemade or commercially available puzzle-style feeders that require your cat to 'work' for their food.  It slows them down and allows them to snack gradually and also gives them a challenge to figure out how to get the food out. The simplest form of a food puzzle would be just hiding kibble around the room for your cat to seek out. More complex puzzles are also available in a variety of styles.   In general, providing smaller, frequent meals may help your cat to feel more satisfied and for those cats that have no health concerns, adding a little extra fiber and higher protein content may also keep them feeling full longer.   Look for these signs of actual starvation or illness in cats. It is important to note that cats cannot safely skip several meals in a row. This is especially serious for young kittens, pregnant cats, cats with underlying health problems, and overweight and obese cats. If your cat skips multiple meals, it is a sign of illness, and they should be seen by a veterinarian right away. It is also not safe to intentionally skip feedings as a weight-loss strategy. Overweight cats are prone to a condition called hepatic lipidosis, aka fatty liver, that can be triggered by skipping meals. For this reason, it is critical to follow your vet's recommendations on feeding guidelines, especially if you are trying to encourage your cat to reach a healthy weight. by Dr. Amy Fox, DVM
 

Immunological disease, reproductive issues more common in purebred cats
Cats
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2+ MIN

Immunological disease, reproductive issues more common in purebred cats

Purebred cats are more likely to experience reproductive issues, heart disease, and surgical complications as compared to mixed-breed felines. This is according to a Morris Animal Foundation-funded study, published by researchers from the University of Guelph (U of G) in Canada. To identify the difference in disease risk between purebred cats and their domestic crossbreed counterparts, the research team examined the records of approximate 550,000 cats, collected by Agria Pet Insurance Company in Sweden. The data encompassed information from insurance policies and claims, along with the cats' breed, age, and sex. The study revealed that purebred cats, compared to domestic cross breeds, were more likely to develop diseases in most disease categories, including: Female reproductive issues Heart disease Complications from surgery Lower respiratory infections Immunological diseases 'This study's findings provide important insight for cat owners, veterinarians, breeders, and researchers, offering a comparative look at disease patterns in purebred cats versus mixed-breed cats,' says Barr Hadar, DVM, one of the paper's authors. Surprisingly, though, the study found domestic crossbred cats were more likely to develop endocrine, skin, and mobility issues than purebred cats, Morris Animal Foundation reports. 'One of the potential explanations for this finding is that domestic cats might have greater access to the outdoors, leading to more injuries, skin, and locomotive issues because they're outside jumping and running around,' Dr. Hadar says. Researchers are currently analyzing the dataset to develop predictive models with the aim of implementing them in a clinical setting to forecast the likelihood of specific diseases in cats. 'Information on feline disease frequency and risk is a valuable tool that can help guide clinical decision-making, assist in monitoring and planning of breeding programs, educate cat owners, and prioritize research,' Dr. Hadar says. 'A more granular look into specific causes of morbidity would be beneficial.' The findings have been published in VetRecord. 

Interactions between Mycotoxins: Additivity, Synergism and Antagonism
Dogs
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3+ MIN

Interactions between Mycotoxins: Additivity, Synergism and Antagonism

In animal production and pets, the clinical signs of mycotoxicosis in the field can rarely been explained by the very low levels of mycotoxins present in the feed. However, the combination of mycotoxins can have a double effect as high as when those toxins are presented individually. Despite the magnitude of this challenge, the literature on the combination of toxins is still limited, especially with regards of trichothecenes ​(Pedrosa, 2010)​. The combination of several mycotoxins leads to the formation of different interactions that can be additive, synergistic or antagonistic (Greco et.al, 2014). It should be noted that the type of interaction varies depending the animal species, sex, age, mycotoxin dosage, duration, nutritional status of the animals and the route of exposure to the mycotoxin ​ (Gruber, Jenkins, & Shatzmayr, 2019)​. Additivity  Additivity refers to the effect of the combination of mycotoxins being the same as the sum of the individual effect of each toxin. When the combination of mycotoxins presents the effect of the most toxic mycotoxin without the effect of the other mycotoxin, the term 'less additive' is used (Smith et.al, 2016). Some examples of mycotoxin combinations that exhibit additivity include Aflatoxin B1+ Ochratoxin A, Aflatoxin B1+ Toxin T-2, Aflatoxin B1+ Fumonisin B1, Ohcratoxin A+ Toxin T-2, DON+Fumonisin B1, Moniliformin+Fumonisin, Moniliformin+ DON, Fumonisin B1+ Diacetoxyscirpenol and Fumonisin B1+ Toxin T-2 (Aihelen, 2021). Antagonism  Antagonism refers to the combination of mycotoxins having a lesser effect than the sum of the individual effects of the toxins (Smith et al., 2016). In other words, the concept of antagonistic effect applies when the toxicity of one compound is used independently of the toxicity of the other compound (Ruiz, Macakova, Garcia, & Font, 2011). It has been reported that the combination of DON and zearalenone has an antagonistic effect on immune function in pigs. Similarly, the same antagonistic effect was reported in mice, but on liver health and metabolism (Gruber, Jenkins, & Shatzmayr, 2019).  Sinergism Synergism between mycotoxins is defined as the toxic effect exerted by the combination of various mycotoxins at certain concentrations that is greater than the sum of the effects of each mycotoxin when presented individually ​ (Gimeno & Lígia, 2011)​. In other words, synergism is when the observed effect of the combination of mycotoxins is more than what is expected based on the effects of each mycotoxin. When one or more mycotoxins do not induce an effect while the combination does have a significant effect it is called potentiation, although this term is rarely used (Smith et.al, 2016). Synergism increases the toxic effects of mycotoxins, and some of the synergistic actions are presented by aflatoxins with ochratoxin or aflatoxins with T-2 toxin ​ (Greco, Franchi, Rico, Pardo, & Pose, 2014)​. In Fusarium-derived mycotoxins, most interactions range from additive to synergistic, affecting mortality, animal growth, and feed intake. Several reports indicate synergistic interactions of deoxynivalenol with fusaric acid, DON with fumonisin B1, or even diacetoxyscirpenol and aflatoxins. ​ (Pedrosa, 2010)​ The challenge of the interaction between mycotoxins in animal production Nowadays, most of the studies on the combination of mycotoxins in animal nutrition are conducted in vitro using cellular models instead of animal models. There is a huge diversity of interactions that mostly have additive or synergistic effects, and given the complexity of the mycotoxin mixture, their combined toxicity is difficult to predict. The toxic effects presented by cells vary according to: cell type, exposure time, mycotoxin concentration, tests used, and statistical models. With these mentioned factors, the mycotoxin combination undoubtedly represents a threat to human and animal health since the toxicity of each combination will be different for each contaminated feed; not to mention that mycotoxins when combined can generate a toxic effect, even if they are present at low concentrations (Smith et al., 2016). Finally, there is a lack of studies that address topics such as exposure to sub-toxic concentrations of mycotoxins from multi-contaminated feed, as it is a more realistic scenario for food and feed consumption. by Bionte Technical Department  All Pet Food 


Dogs

Dogs World Vet Day
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3+ MIN

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What to Know About the Mysterious Respiratory Illness Affecting Dogs

A mysterious respiratory illness that has been sickening dogs continues to spread across the United States while veterinarians try to determine its causes and the best methods for treating it. The symptoms are similar to kennel cough, an upper respiratory infection, but can last much longer and, in some cases, prove fatal, according to veterinarians. Here is what we know:   What are the symptoms? The infected dogs develop a cough, fever, lethargy and intermittent loss of appetite. While infected, some dogs will develop pneumonia. Veterinarians have reported seeing blue and purple gums in those cases. Dogs with kennel cough may show some of these symptoms, such as coughing, lack of appetite, fever and lethargy. If it's kennel cough, the symptoms usually clear up in one to three weeks. With the latest respiratory illness, however, veterinarians are reporting that dogs can have symptoms for six weeks or more.   Where has this been reported? The illness has been found in at least seven states: Colorado, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island, Illinois, Maryland and Wyoming. It's unclear how many dogs in total have been infected, because there is no official count of the cases.   The cause is not clear It's unclear what causes the illness. Researchers are still running tests to learn more about the illness. There is some disagreement on whether the illness is caused by a virus or by bacteria. Dr. David Needle, senior veterinary pathologist at the New Hampshire Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory of the University of New Hampshire, said that he believed the illness was being caused by a bacteria, based on what he had seen in his area. Some veterinarians in Oregon hypothesize that it could be viral, because the dogs they have treated have not responded to antibiotics. 'I'm open to it being either, and I'm open to it being something we're not even thinking about,' said Dr. Kurt Williams, director of the Oregon Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at Oregon State University's Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine. Researchers strongly agree that dogs are most likely to develop the illness when they have been around other dogs. Dr. Lindsey Ganzer, a veterinarian and the chief executive at North Springs Veterinary Referral Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., said that all of the dogs she had treated for the illness had spent time in places with high concentrations of dogs, such as boarding facilities, doggy day care centers or dog parks. Dr. Ganzer said she feared that veterinarians might see an increase in cases as more owners board their dogs or send them to day care during the holidays. 'We're really hoping just with getting the word out there that people are less inclined to do that,' she said. 'The veterinary community as a whole is kind of scared.'   What should owners do? Don't panic, and isolate your dog if it is showing symptoms. Dr. Stephen Kochis, the chief medical officer for the Oregon Humane Society, said he did not want people to be alarmed by the new illness, because the overall number of dogs with respiratory illnesses had not increased. If dogs are showing symptoms, there are steps owners can take to be proactive, he said. 'All of us have gone through Covid,' he said. 'I would say if your dog is showing signs of respiratory disease, isolate them in the home, call your vet, get them seen.'   Source: The New York Times

Dogs World Vet Day
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4+ MIN

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Survey Reveals Impact of Excess Weight for Dogs – and Their Owners

ST. LOUIS — A new survey from Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets found that excess physical weight in dogs carries an emotional weight for owners, and that many owners view their dogs as thinner than they really are. Results showed that approximately one in five dog-owning households consider one or more of their dogs to be overweight, according to a press release. However, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, the number of overweight dogs in the U.S. has reached a record high, with 59% of evaluated dogs either overweight (37%) or having obesity (22%). The Pro Plan Veterinary Diets survey was released on Oct. 11 – National Pet Obesity Awareness Day – and included more than 600 U.S. dog owners who identified their dog as overweight. It highlighted the physical and emotional factors contributing to excess weight and how these hinder dog owners from helping their pets. 'Dogs do not always gain excess weight due to a lack of care from their owners,' said APOP President Ernie Ward, DVM. 'If anything, an overweight dog may be a sign that the owner cares too much about their dog's happiness. But while it's often said that 'food is love,' feeding a pet too much could lead to an overall reduced quality of life.' More from the release: The Emotional Impact of Excess Weight The new survey revealed that excess weight gain in pets can be related to the emotions owners experience around feeding and treating: -75% of surveyed owners agreed they feel guilty when their dogs appear hungry. -67% agreed food is a primary source of their dog's happiness. -67% agreed they bond with their dog by feeding him/her treats and don't want to lose that bond. -54% agreed they feed their dog more food, table scraps or treats when their pet begs for them. Despite their fears about losing the bond with their dogs, 88% of surveyed owners whose dogs are overweight agreed their pets' body condition does concern them and 92% agreed that weight loss would be beneficial. These beliefs may be fueled by weight-related behavior changes in their pet that can impact the owner: -92 percent of surveyed owners agree they are sad when their dog can't participate in activities they previously enjoyed when their weight was ideal. -45% indicate their dog has less energy for playtime, 44% say their dog tires easily after minimal activity and 27% say their dog is less engaged or playful with their families. 'The results show that many owners of overweight dogs feel conflicted about what quality of life means for their pets,' said Jason Gagné, DVM, DACVIM (Nutrition), Director of Veterinary Communications for Pro Plan Veterinary Diets. 'While owners recognize that excess weight is keeping their dogs from participating in activities they once enjoyed, they also worry their dogs will be unhappy if feeding changes are made.' What Can Owners Do? Many surveyed owners have tried to help using DIY slimming strategies but were met with limited success. According to the survey, the most common weight-loss approaches tried by owners are reducing portions of existing food, cutting back on treats and increasing exercise, yet 68% of owners who tried these strategies stated their dogs lost only a little weight or no weight at all. 'Understanding the significance of this issue is the first step towards a healthy future for our pets,' said Gagné. 'The second is working closely with your veterinarian to create a weight loss plan that will work for you AND your pet – including the right nutrition, which can make a big difference. Pro Plan and Pro Plan Veterinary Diets offer a range of formulas, like OM Metabolic Response + Joint Mobility, specifically designed to help pets lose body fat while maintaining lean muscle mass.' It's also important to think about weight before it becomes a problem. In a 14-year study published in 2002, Purina scientists were the first to show the importance of keeping dogs at an ideal body condition throughout their lives3.  Researchers monitored the health of 48 Labrador Retrievers throughout their lives during which half the dogs were fed 25% less (restricted-fed) than their full-fed (control) siblings. The results showed that feeding dogs to an ideal body condition over a lifetime can significantly extend a dog's healthy years – by an average of 1.8 years for the dogs in the study. If you have concerns about your pet's weight, talk to your veterinarian. To learn more about weight management support and Pro Plan Veterinary Diets, visit proplanvetdirect.com. About the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 2005 with the primary mission of preventing and treating pet obesity. APOP conducts research to substantiate pet obesity prevalence levels in the United States and offers resources and tools to veterinarians and pet parents to recognize, prevent, and treat pet obesity.  By Neslé Purina
 


Cats

Cats World Vet Day
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3+ MIN

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Cats’ noses appear to function like powerful aroma analysis equipment

Published in PLOS Computational Biology, the study was funded by Waltham Petcare Science Institute and led by Ohio State University, Monell Chemical Senses Center and the University of Pennsylvania.   These new findings deepen our understanding of the domestic cat's enhanced sense of smell, aiding new strategies to meet cats' food preferences.   Researchers created an anatomically accurate 3D computer simulation of a domestic cat's nose to understand how cats smell. They used a variety of techniques to create the simulation, including high-resolution micro-CT scans to generate an accurate model of a cat's nose. The simulation of air and odor flow through the virtual cat nose revealed similarities with a parallel coiled gas chromatograph.   In basic gas chromatography, the substance being analyzed is vaporized and carried by a steady flow of gas through a tube. Different chemical components in the substance interact with the tube in distinct ways, which enables them to be separated and identified.  In a cat, its complex nasal structure is made up of multiple tubes, like a parallel coiled gas chromatograph, making the process even more efficient than the basic chromatography technique.   'We have partnered with leading institutions to further understand cats' sense of smell', says Dr. Scott McGrane, sensory science expert at the Waltham Petcare Science Institute. 'Computational Fluid Dynamics (or CFD) is usually used to solve engineering questions related to how fluids flow.  In our case, we have applied CFD to study airflow and how aroma compounds move through the cats' nose.  Cats' noses have a complex structure that enhances their ability to smell, akin to the snail-like coiled cochlea which we know enhances hearing sensitivity'.  'This new research shows a cat's nasal structure is about 100 times more efficient in detecting aroma compounds than having a single straight tube, which most amphibians have', Dr. McGrane added.  The study and findings deepen our understanding of cats' enhanced sense of smell and present the potential for future computational and behavioral studies on the palatability of cat food, including in the area of new sustainable protein sources.  It's a topic we are exploring through our sensory science work, which aims to further our understanding of the sense of smell and taste in cats and dogs.  Our recent research has discovered new insights into the taste perception of pets by studying the sensitivity of taste receptors using a range of approaches, including computational modelling. One study looked into bitterness and its relationship with toxicity for dogs, while another explored the kokumi taste receptor of cats, which is described as a taste enhancer rather than a taste on its own.   We are committed to using scientific research to gain a better understanding of how cats and dogs experience and enjoy the food they eat. It means we can continue meeting their needs nutritionally, while at the same time ensuring they savor their meal, for happy pets, as well as healthy pets. 

Source: Whaltam PetCare

Cats World Vet Day
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5+ MIN

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How Long Can Your Always-Hungry Cat Wait For Dinner?

Many cats put on Oscar-worthy performances to convince their parents they are constantly starving. Often, they start with jumping on your head at 4 a.m., perhaps followed by biting your toes, stealthily pushing priceless breakables off the counters, or pacing in front of their bowls and yowling nonstop. But how can you tell if your cat is really getting enough to eat, and how long can they reasonably wait for their next meal? There are a number of factors that need to be considered to answer these questions. For starters, how old your cat is, the kind of foods your cat eats, and any health conditions your cat has can all influence how often your cat needs to eat.  For example, there are big differences in the nutritional needs of growing kittens and pregnant cats, compared to adult cats who are mostly sedentary indoors. It is always best to consult your veterinarian and defer to their recommendations when it comes to the particular nutritional needs of your cat. Here are some general guidelines that may help. How long can your cat wait between meals? The short answer is that it depends. And no one knows exactly. Wild felines who hunt need to eat many small meals throughout the day but may also go long stretches without food. On average, hunting cats eat about eight to 10 small prey a day, so they spend the majority of their waking time stalking, chasing, and hunting in order to meet their dietary needs. For our pet cats who spend most of their time lounging indoors, they tend to burn many fewer calories and have access to higher quality diets. Their needs for food are quite different. Studies have shown that cats' stomachs empty between four to eight hours after a meal, depending on what they eat. So, while your cat may be able to go up to eight hours between meals, most nutritionists recommend feeding many small, frequent meals throughout the day to attain the best physical and mental health for your cat. So, if you're planning to go out of town, it's important that you instruct your cat sitter as to how often your particular cat needs to eat. Do different foods affect hunger differently? What you feed your cat may affect how often they need to eat and how quickly they become hungry after a meal. Some factors that influence this include protein content, fiber content, and whether you feed a dry kibble versus canned wet food. In cats, protein content influences their satiety, or feeling of fullness, the most. A high-protein diet may keep a healthy cat feeling full the longest. Some cats should not have high-protein diets, such as those with kidney disease, so make sure to speak with your vet before switching to a high-protein diet.   Fiber is also known to play a role in feelings of fullness and to slow down the emptying of the stomach and intestines. This seems to play a smaller role in cats, compared to humans or dogs. Commercial high-fiber cat diets have not been shown to significantly affect fullness in cats, but certain fiber supplements containing inulin do seem to have more of an effect. As always, consider these supplements after consulting with your veterinarian to make sure it is safe and appropriate for your cat. Be aware that adding too much fiber or introducing it too suddenly can lead to gastrointestinal upset, such as nausea and diarrhea.   When it comes to keeping cats full, there is some evidence that kibble actually stays in the stomach longer than wet food, which may keep them feeling full longer. The debate over feeding dry food versus canned food is endless, and there are many valid reasons to choose one over the other. In general, canned food tends to have higher water content, which is very important for keeping cats hydrated. Canned food usually has a pureed consistency, which may cause it to be digested more quickly and easily. In most cases, cats should not eat dry food exclusively for overall good health, but there may be strategic ways to incorporate small amounts of dry food into your cat's diet. How can you keep your cat from constantly crying for food? Depending on your cat's particular life stage and health, there are many ways to help them feel satisfied while allowing you to get some sleep, too. For kittens and pregnant cats that need to eat frequently, a timed feeder may be a good option to provide snacks overnight and in the early morning. Remember that these feeding devices are not usually recommended for cats in other life stages because they can lead to overeating and risk of obesity. For adult cats, food puzzles are a great way to provide smaller, frequent meals while improving your cat's activity level and mental enrichment. These can be homemade or commercially available puzzle-style feeders that require your cat to 'work' for their food.  It slows them down and allows them to snack gradually and also gives them a challenge to figure out how to get the food out. The simplest form of a food puzzle would be just hiding kibble around the room for your cat to seek out. More complex puzzles are also available in a variety of styles.   In general, providing smaller, frequent meals may help your cat to feel more satisfied and for those cats that have no health concerns, adding a little extra fiber and higher protein content may also keep them feeling full longer.   Look for these signs of actual starvation or illness in cats. It is important to note that cats cannot safely skip several meals in a row. This is especially serious for young kittens, pregnant cats, cats with underlying health problems, and overweight and obese cats. If your cat skips multiple meals, it is a sign of illness, and they should be seen by a veterinarian right away. It is also not safe to intentionally skip feedings as a weight-loss strategy. Overweight cats are prone to a condition called hepatic lipidosis, aka fatty liver, that can be triggered by skipping meals. For this reason, it is critical to follow your vet's recommendations on feeding guidelines, especially if you are trying to encourage your cat to reach a healthy weight. by Dr. Amy Fox, DVM