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Frequently asked questions
Dr John Lowe, the Trophy Nutritionist and Sue Reid Trophy's resident expert wrote this piece for our Winter 2013 Newsletter. The Trophy Customer Hotline (01367 240333) is always busy on the same subject.
Dogs and cats are living longer today than in the past. This is without doubt due to the combination of improvements in both pet nutrition and veterinary medicine.
Studies have examined not just specific aspects of the pet’s needs and nutrient requirements, but also looked at lifetime impact of diet, concepts of optimum nutrition and the way in which nutrition at one stage of life impacts another.
Nutritional research has also extended into the role of designing diets that directly support and are integral to the success of veterinary care, for example where specific disease situations force changes in nutrient supply to help manage the animal more successfully during the period of illness or in some cases for the rest of their life. Such diets, termed diets for particular nutritional purposes (PARNUTS), are controlled under additional legislation to that for conventional pet foods, and are almost exclusively sold by the veterinary profession. These diets should be considered as a key component of veterinary management.
One can readily understand some pet owners’ reactions to being told that they need a “special” diet for their pet, particularly when they see the price. However, in some circumstances these specialist diets will aid the management of and the success of the treatment of their pet. They are bound to be expensive as they are difficult to make, use very specific ingredients and have limited distribution and demand in the market place.
For some disease conditions the use of such a diet is for a limited period only and once the animal recovers it can revert to a conventional pet food. The return to one of Trophy’s top quality premium diets would seem highly appropriate in such circumstances, guaranteeing the pet owner the delivery of quality nutrition at affordable prices.
The use of these diets for specific nutritional purposes should not be confused with the fact that like all of us, veterinary surgeons need to make a living. Consequently, many have turned to selling conventional pet food (often made by the same company as the veterinarian prescribed ones) as well as veterinary services. Selling pet food in this way means the veterinary surgeon can not only recommend a diet of his or her choice, but can actually earn from this endorsement, by selling from the surgery.
Trophy Premium Foods and many of the Trophy additional ranges compete extremely well with those conventional pet foods sold from veterinary surgeries. When one looks at ingredients, nutritional content and the range of recipes which do not contain certain ingredients, they provide the pet owner with a wide choice with which to feed and manage their pet’s needs. It is easy to consult your Trophy representative in order to be able to make an informed selection from the Trophy range that matches the pet food recommended by the veterinary surgeon. However it would be unwise to consider alternatives if the diet was an integral part of the veterinary management of a disease or life-threatening, long-term condition.
Let’s look at one problem. Food allergy - an adverse reaction to a food ingredient with an immunological basis - seems to have become a very topical subject and as such, reactions are often manifested as skin irritation. Sometimes these conditions are also called food hypersensitivities or intolerances.
Given the wide range of foods and food ingredients our pets consume it should not be surprising that adverse reactions occur; but they are comparatively rare. The incidence often reported is 1-6% of all skin conditions seen by veterinary surgeons and no more than 10-20% of all allergic reactions reported; flea hypersensitivity and atopy, a geneticpredisposition towards allergic reactions to common antigens, like pollen, mould, and house dust, are far more common. Plug in air-fresheners and concrete dust are less common, but can also cause a reaction.
The causal agents of food allergies in dogs are considered protein-based and thus any protein could be the agent. However, the most common food ingredients resulting in reactions are wheat, dairy, beef and soya. Hardly surprising as these would be
common in many dog foods and prior exposure is a factor in developing an allergy.
The protein molecule has to be of a certain size to stimulate the immune system. A number of diets specifically designed for dogs that have developed allergies to food contain hydrolysed protein. These proteins, in simple terms have been made broken down into tiny fractions which the immune system does not recognise. They will essentially ‘fly under the radar’ of the immune system and not provoke an allergic reaction. These diets can be useful
in cases where food allergies are suspected, but the exact culprit can never be pinpointed. The problem with the allergy-prone dog is that they can develop intolerances to any ingredient (or indeed more than one ingredient). Thus the preferred approach for initial management is to use an exclusion food trial. This will hopefully pinpoint the problem ingredient and thus allow you to select a food that avoids it. Ask your local Trophy Nutritional Advisor about the best way to go about this.
Remember that treats are food too and these need to be looked at in terms of what ingredients are in them.
If your dog is eating any of the ingredients most commonly associated with allergens, eliminate these first. It’s a good place to start – wheat, dairy, soya, beef. Try our Trophy Premium or Holistic Range, which contain none of these ingredients in the recipes
and lots of key benefits for the allergy-prone dog.Bear in mind that it can take 6-8 weeks for skin conditions to recover, so it’s important to give a food trial a fair chance. Unless the symptoms get far worse on the new food! The intestinal tract may well have suffered damage so it important to make life as easy as you can from this point forward for the immune and digestion systems – Trophy Premium Lite, Trophy Premium Hypo-allergenic, Trophy Premium Holistic and Trophy Premium Duck & Vegetables are all very suitable diets to try.
Firework Top Tips for pets
Fireworks can frighten our pets.
Fireworks are enjoyed year-round by people but can be a source of fear for many animals. Follow our top tips to make firework celebrations less frightening for your pet. Planning ahead can help your pet cope with the firework season.
• Make sure your dog or cat always has somewhere to hide if he or she wants to and has access to this place at all times. For example this could be under some furniture or in a cupboard. Do provide a den or hiding place where your dog can feel safe.
• Do walk your dog when it is light outside during fireworks season. This reduces the chances of your pet being outside when fireworks are let off.
• Do ignore fearful behaviour, such as panting, shaking and whining. Dogs can pick up on their owners' anxiety which can increase the problem.
• Do ensure your dog is inside the house and close windows and curtains to muffle the sound of fireworks.
• Never punish or overly fuss over your pet when it's scared as this will only make things worse in the long run.
• Do provide distractions such as new toys and chews during fireworks season.
• Do stay in as much as possible with your pet during fireworks season as your normal habits will help them feel settled. The noise of the TV or music can also drown out the bangs. Ignore the firework noises yourself. Play with a toy to see if your dog wants to join in, but don’t force them to play.
• Do plug in a D.A.P. diffuser (available from your local Trophy Nutritional Advisor) into your dog's favourite room up to 14 days prior to a fireworks party, which contains a synthetic copy of their natural pheromones to help increase the sense of security. Try with Trophy Easy Going Herbs.
• Make sure your cat has somewhere to hide if it wants to. For example this may be under some furniture or in a quiet corner. Don’t try and tempt your cat out as this will cause it to become more stressed.
Don’t forget small animals
• For outside pets, partly cover cages, pens and aviaries with blankets so that one area is well sound-proofed. Make sure that your pet is still able to look out. Provide lots of extra bedding so your pet has something to burrow in. Do check that they are ok from time to time.
My dog is overweight, what can I do to help him lose weight?
Around 35% of all dogs in the U.K. are now overweight or obese! In the Trophy Product Leaflets there is the
- Reduce food intake.
- Develop and stick to an exercise routine – see summer 2011 customer newsletter.
- It is better to feed two or three small meals per day, rather than one large meal per day.
- Stick to the feeding amounts recommended and do not overfeed. Feed a fixed amount each day.
- Monitor your dog’s weight – get your local Trophy advisor to weigh your dog each month – this service is free.
- Keep referring to the PFMA Size–Ometer in the product leaflets. You should be able to easily feel but not see the ribs.
- Do not feed treats or titbits, no matter how hard this may be!
- Never feed human food.
- Keep a food diary, so the whole family can see what the dog has eaten so far on any one day!
- Weight loss in a dog is a slow and steady process and can take up to 6 months to see a significant difference. Remember calories need to be reduced and exercise needs to be increased.
Recommended products: Trophy Premium Lite, Trophy Premium Holistic, Trophy Diet
My Dog is underweight, how can I help him gain weight?
- Feed a food which is high in oil and provides a good quality protein source.
- Check the amount being fed and adjust as needed. If food is being increased in amount given, feed an additional meal rather than offering overly large meals. Draw up a feeding schedule that all members of the family must stick to. Do not feed treats or titbits. Do not feed in between meals.
- If weight loss is due to stress, nervousness and or hyper-activity consider using a herbal blend to help.
- Consider a food formulated for dogs with digestive problems to help improve digestion and gut function.
- Consider a herbal blend that promotes condition and appetite.
- Check that there are no dental problems. If they have inflamed gums or tooth decay the pain this causes, could be stopping them from eating.
- Some detergents leave a residue in the feeding bowls that give a soapy taste. Do make sure the dog’s bowl is well rinsed. Wash the bowl after each meal, it may not look dirty, but the oils in the food, mixed with saliva will create a nasty smell and put dogs off from eating their meal.
- Some dogs can be sensitive to noise and put them off eating their meals. Metal tags banging against food bowls can be very distracting to sensitive dogs at mealtimes. Remove the collar before feeding.
- Ensure the dog is fed away from other pets or distractions, find a special place to feed them.
- Consult vet if symptoms persist.
Recommended Products: Trophy Premium Active, Trophy Premium Hypo-Allergenic, Trophy Premium Duck & Vegetables, Trophy Lamb & Rice, Trophy Whole Body, Trophy Easy-Going.
My dog is suffering from loose/soft stools, what advice can you give me?
All dogs suffer from this from time to time and within 24 hours all will be back to normal. In most case this would have been as a result of eating something they should not have or they may have had a minor upset that lasted a short while.
- May occur as a result of scavenging, be this of food or foreign matter / object.
- Changing the diet dramatically may also cause diarrhoea.
- It is suggested that the dog is not fed for 24 hours to allow the digestive system to clear. But ensure fresh drinking water is still available. The normal diet can then be reintroduced. Please note than in 99% of cases there will be no need to change the food, unless the problem persists.
- If the problem persists, check the storage & condition of the food.
- It is rare for a food that has normally been acceptable to cause the problem.
- Most digestive upsets in a dog are just transient occurrences and will clear in a short while.
- Look at the feeding rates being fed. Cut back and adjust as needed. In most cases the dog will be being overfed.
- Consider a lower protein / lower fat diet and one designed for dogs with a delicate / sensitive digestion.
- Always ensure the dog has access to fresh water
- Consider a faecal score chart to help distinguish between loose stools and a scour (diarrhoea)
- Consult your vet if symptoms persist.
Recommended products: Trophy Premium Maintenance, Trophy Premium Holistic, Trophy Premium Hypo-Allergenic, Trophy Premium Lite, Trophy Chicken, Rice & Veg, Trophy Working Dog with Chicken & Corn (Sensitive), Trophy Fuss Pot
My dog is a fussy eater. How can I encourage him to eat? He has little or no appetite.
- Feed in small amounts, little and often.
- Use a complete food, which can be left down for ad-lib feeding. However do change the food regularly to ensure it is fresh.
- Add warm water, small amounts of marmite or honey to the food to moisten food and help stimulate appetite.
- Do not be tempted to feed other foods not formulated for dogs or feed in between mealtimes. Set a feeding regime.
- Keep treats and titbits to an absolute minimum, no treats is best.
- Consider using a herbal blend to promote appetite.
- If the amount of food fed is an issue, consider using a higher nutrient specification which can then be fed in a lower quantity. This will ensure that nutrient requirements are met in a smaller amount.
- Change the food fed, occasionally (but stick within the same range) to give a variety in flavours.
Recommended Products: Trophy Premium Duck & Vegetables, Trophy Hypo-Allergenic, Trophy Special, Trophy Premium Active, Trophy Fuss Pot, Trophy Whole Body.
My dog is suffering from itchy, irritated skin – what could be causing this and how can I help to improve it?
- It is often difficult to determine the exact cause of the problem. However common problems include:
- Wheat Gluten Allergy
- Natural elements such as: dust house mite, pollen, fleas, household goods like air fresheners, plug in fragrances etc.
- Food intolerance
- It is possible for a dog in mid life to develop an adverse reaction to a food that has in the past been acceptable.
- Common food intolerances are to wheat, dairy products, soya and beef.
- There is no such thing as a universal hypo-allergenic food. It can only be hyper- allergenic to the dog, if the dog is not allergic to the ingredients it contains. However a diet that contains ingredients that the dog is not intolerant to will solve the problem. The only way to determine this is by exclusion diets.
- As a first step feed a product formulated for dogs prone to this type of sensitivity. I.E. One that does not contain the most likely problem ingredients. Wheat being the main one.
- Choose a food that has a high level of Omega 6 & 3 fatty acids, as these will benefit the skin and coat.
- Choose a food that has other key ingredients to promote a healthy skin and coat, such as biotin.
- Consider a herbal blend to promote the skin and coat condition.
- Remember that skin irritation can also be seasonal and hormonally driven.
Recommended Products: Trophy Premium Hypo-Allergenic, Trophy Premium Duck & Vegetables, Trophy Premium Lite, Trophy Premium Holistic, Trophy Premium Maintenance, Trophy Seaweed & Nettle.
My dogs can’t eat any of the Trophy dog foods as he is allergic to chicken and all products contain chicken fat!
Trophy uses chicken fat in our recipes as it is widely considered to be the highest quality and most digestible fat source for dogs. The chicken fat is filtered and purified to remove the protein molecules and therefore the fat itself cannot cause an allergic response. Our recipes which are chicken meal / protein free may well be suitable for a dog that cannot have chicken protein.
Recommended Products: Trophy Premium Hypo-Allergenic, Trophy Premium Duck & Vegetables.
I have read that beet pulp is a poor quality, cheap filler, with little nutritional value. And it’s bad for my dog’s teeth. Why, therefore do you use it in your foods?
It is a fact that beet pulp is one of the best fibre sources available for dogs as it contains both soluble and insoluble fibre. The soluble fibre is a good food source for the friendly bacteria in the gut and the insoluble fibre ensures the correct transition time of food passage through the gut. This leads to maximum digestion and absorption of the nutrients in the food.
Beet pulp also provides texture to the kibble, ensuring it fractures well in the mouth and therefore could promote good oral health. Beet pulp comes from the sugar beet plant, however all the sugar has been extracted before we use it, we use unmolassed beet pulp. It is therefore not bad for your dog’s teeth.
Corn/Maize is not a desirable ingredient in dog foods! Why use it?
The maize we use in our foods is over 80% digestible. This is achieved by ensuring it is well ground before use and by making sure that an optimal extrusion temperature is met during the baking. Size and heat affect digestibility. Maize is used as it is an excellent energy source; a sustained energy release throughout the day is achieved. With most owners feeding once or twice per day, this combination of rice, maize and beet pulp helps promote this sustained energy release.
Allergies to maize are very rare. Wheat gluten, soya, dairy and beef are the more likely ingredients to course an issue. All manner of ingredients are often suspected of being responsible for the symptoms of allergies, when it can often be the case that environmental factors, such as grass pollen, fleas, dust mites, air fresheners etc are causing the problem. An immune response to these environmental allergens is much more common, than a true food allergy. Symptoms are often identical and food allergy testing is not 100% reliable, so it is difficult to pin down what is causing the allergic reaction. Trophy does produce a complete cereal free food, which is totally gluten free, so start with this.
Recommended Products: Trophy Premium Duck & Vegetables.
Will changing my dog’s diet cure his colitis?
Colitis is not as such a medical condition (it is a term used to describe inflammation and irritation of the colon). Symptoms are loose stools, which are often covered in mucus and there may also be fresh blood evident. There are many possible causes of colitis. A good diet and food management can be very helpful, but it is not a cure. It is essential that the root cause is diagnosed by your vet and treated accordingly.
Unfortunately many owners find themselves trying all manner of new foods, but not seeing an improvement in stool formation. This is because there will be an underlying reason for the symptoms. A high quality, low fat, hyper-allergenic food will help and in some cases will lessen the bouts of diarrhoea. However please seek veterinary advice in the first instance.
Recommended Products: Trophy Premium Lite, Trophy Premium Holistic.
Ageing in dogs
Why do dogs eat grass?
Dogs love to munch away on grass and some even make it part of their daily routine. Fortunately, most experts believe it isn't something you should worry about. Nearly every dog eats grass sometimes, and some dogs eat it all the time. You would think that by now we would have a good reason why they do it. But we don’t. Dogs explore their worlds with their noses and mouths... And there's the grass - attractive, sweet, with an appealing texture and it's very accessible on the ground. Why not eat it?
Dogs are very flexible in their tastes. They'll eat their dog food, then walk over to see if there's anything good left in the rubbish bin. Basically, they'll eat or try to eat, whatever they find in front of them. They didn't care too much if had been lying in the sun for a week or was half-buried or even had other things crawling in it. It is food to them and they are not going to pass it up.
Dogs, unlike their catty counterparts, are not carnivores. But they're not like your normal omnivores, either. For tens of thousands of years, these opportunistic scavengers have devoured anything and everything, as long as it fulfilled their basic dietary requirements. Dogs are best described as carnivorous omnivores. They don't need to eat grass or vegetable matter from the garden anymore because most commercial dog foods are nutritionally complete. But dogs aren't nutritionists they just know what they like. Their natural instincts tell them that grass can be eaten, so they eat it.
Vets still aren't sure if dogs eat grass because they feel sick or if their stomachs get upset after they have eaten the grass. One theory suggests that there's something in grass that does stimulate the urge to vomit. Another theory suggests that when ingested, the grass blade tickles the throat and stomach lining; this sensation, in turn, may cause the dog to vomit, again we don’t really know.
So, when you think about it, grass munching isn’t that bad at all, just be aware that when grass has been treated with insecticides, herbicides, or other chemicals it can be very hazardous to your dog. Avoiding letting your dog eat grass in public places is a good idea as some areas could have been treated with these type of chemicals.
In conclusion. We hope you have found these FAQ useful and that they have dispelled some of the myth surrounding complete pet foods. The internet has a lot to answer for! While there are a huge number of excellent websites and forums where owners can source accurate and informative information, there are also some which contain misleading and inaccurate information. And where this information is put forward as fact with little or no scientific evidence to support it; it is misleading.
Here at Trophy we are happy to answer any question you may have concerning our foods, pet nutrition, general advice etc. So do give us a call on 01367 240333. We will be delighted to hear from you.