by Dr. Jean Hofve & Jackson Galaxy
Library of Congress ISSN #1550-0764
Volume 7, No. 1 — March 2009
In this issue:
1. News Bites
- Canned Food Prices Going Up
- Alpha Lipoic Acid is Toxic to Cats
- Same Food, Different Cans
- Nestle/Purina Sues Wysong, or was it Wysong Sues Purina?
2. Bad Hair Days – Skin Problems in Cats – Part II
3. Omega 3’s Are Essential For Your Cat!
1. News Bites
Canned Food Prices Going Up: Makers of canned pet foods expect a “major” increase in the price of cans in 2009, forcing them to either eat the cost or raise prices–guess which it will be! Menu Foods said that although raw material costs declined from recent highs, it’s been advised by its can supplier that it should expect a “major increase” in the price of steel cans in 2009 that will “at least, necessitate a price increase on petfood sold in steel cans.”
Alpha Lipoic Acid is Toxic to Cats. The popular and powerful antioxidant, alpha lipoic acid, is included in several products for cats. However, a study from The Ohio State University found that just 1/40th of the dose that makes rats sick will harm a cat. While the amount in most supplements is very small, there may be cumulative effects. Too much alpha lipoic acid is extremely toxic to the liver. Never give your cat alpha lipoic acid made for people, and avoid pet products containing it.
Same Food, Different Cans. A recent survey by the pet food industry found that people are more likely to buy pet food if the can is in a different shape than other brands. Our advice: “Pay no attention to that can behind the curtain!” It’s what’s in the can that matters; see the many articles on feline nutrition in our Free Article Library for more info. (Tip: You can find what you want faster if you sort our 90+ articles by topic; just click on the “Category” heading at the top!)
Nestle/Purina Sues Wysong, or was it Wysong Sues Purina? It’s both! Why? Purina somehow obtained a patent in 1999 on technology invented by fellow pet-food maker Dr. Randy Wysong to “enrobe” (coat) kibbles with live probiotics. Purina now wants to prevent anyone else from using it without paying them a “license fee,” even though Purina has never even used the technology. Nice guys, huh? One more reason to avoid Purina products; but Purina and other grocery and discount brands in general are made with inferior ingredients (corn, wheat, soy, by-products) that your cat shouldn’t be eating anyway.
Dr. Jean was recently interviewed for LoveToKnow.com about holistic cat care, and it was just posted online. Read the whole, very comprehensive article here!
2. Bad Hair Days, Part II
In Part I of “Bad Hair Days,” we considered the major external causes of hair loss (alopecia). As we mentioned, a veterinary visit is the first step in solving “bad hair” problems. Along with parasites, the veterinarian will also consider other potential causes of hair loss. Certain patterns, such as symmetrical hair loss along the sides, may point to an endocrine disorder; i.e., a problem with one of the hormone-secreting glands, such as the adrenals.
Contact allergies, while extremely rare, are possible. A new carpet, cedar bed, or different detergent used to launder the cat’s bedding can cause a local allergic reaction that causes the cat to lick at the itchy area. Hair loss and rash will occur in the areas where the cat most frequently comes into contact with the material, such as feet and tummy.
Localized pain may also cause the cat to lick an area excessively. A brewing abscess is painful, and will inspire a lot of licking before it opens and drains. Hair loss over joints may indicate arthritis pain. I once examined a cat who had suddenly started licking at one particular spot on her right side. As I mulled over which organs were in that part of the abdomen, I became suspicious and did some tests. It turned out she had acute pancreatitis, which we successfully treated before it became a full-blown, life-threatening problem.
Once parasites and medical problems have been ruled out, there are still two major players to consider. The first is diet. Food intolerances or allergies may show up first in the skin, causing tiny red crusty sores that spread or coalesce as the cat rubs or scratches at them. Lesions around the face and ears are typically seen with food allergies. Allergies to inhaled substances, such as dust mites or pollen, produce identical signs. A diet trial, skin or blood test, or trial treatment with antihistamines or anti-inflammatory drugs may be used to assess the cat for allergies. (See our article on Food Allergies in Cats for more info.) Read more….
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3. Omega-3’s Are Essential For Your Cat!
No doubt you’ve heard of Omega-3 fatty acids, Omega-6 fatty acids, and essential fatty acids. But did you know that they are essential for pets, too?
The term “essential” means that the animal cannot synthesize the nutrient within its body, but must obtain it in the diet. For example, humans and dogs can make Vitamin A out of beta-carotene, but cats must consume Vitamin A directly from their food. Among fatty acids, arachidonic acid is essential for cats but not for dogs; while Omega-3s and Omega-6s are essential for both.
Omega-3s generally are anti-inflammatory, while the kind of Omega-6s that are found in vegetable and plant oils and most animal fats, Omega-6s (the most common in both human and pet diets), can actually promote and increase inflammation when there’s too much of it.
What do essential fatty acids do? First, they are critical in development, especially for the nervous system and heart. They are incorporated into the membrane of every cell in the body. They are precursors to many important hormones and other compounds in the body. In dogs and cats, they’re especially important for skin and coat health. Lack of a healthy balance of essential fatty acids is linked to many serious health conditions, such as allergies, skin diseases, obesity, cancer, insulin resistance, diabetes, asthma, arthritis, autoimmune diseases, behavioral issues, and cognitive dysfunction (senility). cow eating corn
Pet foods typically utilize leftovers and by-products of the human food industry. In the U.S., livestock and poultry are fed large amounts of corn, which shifts their natural Omega-3 content to mostly Omega-6. Pet foods that use animal fat or vegetable oils therefore contain large amounts of Omega-6s and virtually no Omega-3s… Read more….