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QUESTION: I got a buffalo leather chew toy for my 8 year old Australian Shepherd yesterday at a local market.  He's had all his shots and he's generally in good health but we're working on his weight (he's about 85lbs, but he's also tall for his breed) The toy is about an inch wide, 10 inches long, and knotted at the ends to make it shaped like a bone.  My dog managed to chew open the knots, leaving it just a flat strip of leather.  I tried to take it from him in case he swallowed it but too late, down it went.  He hasn't shown any signs of discomfort.  He swallowed it a little after dinner.  He usually gets about two cups of food at night and two cups in the morning.  He passed stool this morning and it was normal for him.  Should I call the vet about this or will the leather simply pass through eventually?

ANSWER: Well so far so good. What you need to watch for is him not passing any stool now. The stool he did pass was in there before he ate the rawhide.

Generally speaking Leah, we do NOT recommend these chew toys. Too many dogs have died from them.
I had someone write me in here once about a gorgeous 3 year old Golden Retriever who was fine at 6 am and dead at 8 when he was discovered. No one knew how long he had been dead but he had suffocated on a piece of one of these exact same chews.
His name was Willie and I promised her I would forever pass on Willies story if it would prevent even one death by rawhide chew toy.

So there you have it. Now I would watch him closely to see that his stool size/amount remains normal.

Four cups of food twice a day is not helping his weight. That's way too much for an 8 year old dog. What kind of food is he eating? He should be on a Senior diet and it should be one that gives him the nutrition he needs with way less food.

Let me know what you are feeding and I can give you some guidelines and recommendations.



---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: We have him on Purina One Healthy Weight right now.  http://www.purinaone.com/dogs/products/smartblend-healthy-weight-dog-food/feedin  

I was just going off of what the instructions said, but how much would you suggest that we try?  Are there other brands that you could suggest?
Thank you for your help.  We will continue to monitor him.  There is an emergency vet open all hours nearby that we can take him too if anything changes.

Answer
Hi Leah,
Sorry it took me a few days to get back to you-but I wanted to make sure that I had the time to answer you thoroughly. I hope that your dog is doing well.

I am always surprised by the lack of nutritional knowledge that veterinarians have,but I shouldn't be. They don't get much training in nutrition during vet school. More than one has told me that. In light of all the new information out there about our own health, and the old adage, "we are what we eat," there isn't a reason for vets to not be able to guide their patients and clients through the maize and bombardment of advertisers of pet foods.

So I am going to give you a mini lesson in dog food,and pet foods in general.Purina has been around a while, as have other manufacturers such as Waltham and Hills.Hills is the only one of those companies that was started by veterinarians and is still run and operated by veterinarians. Hills creates Science Diet, and as the name implies, this food is a result of the science of optimal nutrition.
Now there are many factors when look at and comparing foods. Many foods boast about having meat of some sort as the first ingredient on their label. But is it really the largest portion of ingredient that the food is made from?

Here are the tried and proven methods for comparing dog foods:

Here are the things you should look for when evaluating a food:

1. Ingredient splitting.

Ingredient splitting is when you see whole chicken first on the label and you are led to believe that that must be the best and the largest ingredient in the food- since it does say it has whole chicken right?

Wrong. If the next five ingredients or even the next three are grains, then by weight, they will be the LARGEST amount of ingredients in the formula. There may be whole chicken in it, but if there is one pound of chicken and two pounds of grain by volume, what is the largest ingredient? It's the grain. It doesn't matter what order they are in either.
In your Purina Healthy Weight formula, the largest amount of ingredients are grains: brewers rice, corn gluten meal, soybean meal, & soybean meal. We don't know the exact weights, but by volume, in other words, overall amounts, you can bet it's these grains.
1 for Hills as they don't ingredient-split their labels.



2. Feeding-Trials:
That is just one way that companies trick people. Other ways are by not having a fixed formulation or by not having feeding trails on their foods.
Feeding trials are when a food is formulated and fed over a period of time to a select group of target animals (with a control group) to verify the nutritional efficacy, digestibility, palatability and other key information about the food.

How can you tell if your food is trial fed or just 'formulated to meet the AAFCO requirements?' Just read the label. By law this has to be on the bag somewhere and Pro Plan reads like this: "Pro Plan® Kitten Chicken & Rice Formula is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) Cat Food Nutrient Profiles for maintenance of adult cats."
What that means is that Purina can't be bothered with real feeding trials to see if their food is healthy and helps prevent illness over a long period of time. They only formulate it so that it meets the guidelines. Personally, I want to know if what I buy truly is healthy for my pets. Now the Healthy Weight Formula suggests that it IS trial fed, and that is a good thing. 1 for Purina. 1 for Hills as well.

3. Fixed-formulation vs. open-formulation.
Unfortunately, this is not  something the average person is privy to most of the time and the food companies are not going to be very honest about it. What it means is this:
Open formulation means that when the company buys ingredients to put into their foods, they buy whatever is cheapest on the docks that day. Several companies often buy in together to get the cheapest price. So if a slaughter house has a special on day-old chicken carcasses from Idaho and they ship them to Texas, the major food company buyers will pony up and buy the lot then split it.  99% of all the pet food manufacturers use open-formulation. This is one reason why so many pets get sick even after eating the same food all the time. Owners constantly say, but I didn't change the food and now my pet is vomiting and has diarrhea. Well they didn't change the food but the company sure did. Pets don't handle changes in diet well so illness results. Nasty but true, unfortunately.

Fixed-formulation, however, means that the pet food company will use the same ingredients, the same suppliers and growers and have the food delivered to them only. They do not buy the food of the day at the docks. Hills suppliers are USA growers and the food is the same from batch to batch and bag to bag.
Score 1 for Hills.

5. Dry-weight analysis vs. Guaranteed analysis

The guaranteed analysis is what is placed on the labels by law. What it provides is what nutrients are in the food in an 'as is' or 'as fed' basis.
The dry-weight analysis provides the true measure of the amount of a nutrient in a given food. The dry-weight is the weight of the nutrient with all water removed. So you can compare dry to dry and wet to wet but must use a conversion to compare wet to dry.
Let's just say that after all the moisture is removed, you get the real amount of a nutrient. So if your food says it has a minimum of 41% protein, after the moisture is removed this translates to about 95% protein per cup. Is that good? No. It's not good when you consider how high protein diets can contribute to so many health issues in our pets. They haven't proved that it causes kidney disease but it does promote ailing kidneys to fail faster.
Let's just say that you don't want to have your dog, especially a senior, on any high protein diet.  
Here is the guaranteed analysis of your Healthy Weight Formula:

Guaranteed Analysis      Dry Weight
Crude Protein (MIN)    25.0%          
Crude Fat (MIN)    8.0%          
Crude Fat (MAX)    12.0%
Crude Fiber (MAX)    5.5%
Moisture (MAX)    12.0%
Linoleic Acid (MIN)    1.3%
Calcium (Ca) (MIN)    0.9%
Phosphorus (P) (MIN)    0.7%
Zinc (Zn) (Min)    150 mg/kg
Selenium (Se) (MIN)    0.35 mg/kg
Vitamin A (MIN)    13,000 IU/kg
Vitamin E (MIN)    250 IU/kg
Glucosamine (MIN)*    400 ppm
Omega-6 Fatty Acids (MIN)*    1.5%
         

* Not recognized as an essential nutrient by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles

When I converted this food to a dry weight analysis, the actual protein content of the food is 28% and the fat is really 11%. And that's okay, but it's not okay to not tell you the actual formulation or nutritional composition. I recently contacted Canine Caviar as I had someone in here ask me about it. I asked them for a dry weight analysis of their food and they wrote me back and told me that they didn't need to give it to me. Red ALERT!! Any company that willingly withholds this information is hiding something. Purnia doesn't list it either, but Hills ONLY uses their DWM (Dry weight matter) composition online of their foods openly.
  
http://www.hillspet.com/products/ib-canine-adult-slim-and-healthy-chicken-barley

Then there are the KCals per cup and feeding amounts. Purina's foods are listed with almost 1/3 cup more per feeding then Hills- in some cases a whole cup and a half more! Why? Well,
dogs and cats eat to meet one need- their energy needs to survive. If they are not getting the precise nutrition they need in their food, they will eat and eat in vain trying to get that nutrition. I call it the "trying to get a pound of steak protein from a box of saltine crackers" syndrome. Because, in effect, that is what millions of dogs and cats do every day.
The result? We have an obese pet epidemic in our country!! We already have an obesity epidemic without adding our pets to that.

Having obese people and pets isn't a sign of affluence as it once was- now it's actually a sign of malnutrition. Yes, you read that right. Most obese pets are actually suffering from malnourishment.

Hills products are made right here in the USA and are never sourced from China, or any other country. My recommendation for you dog is to slowly, over a period of 7 days, switch him from the food he is on and onto this one:

http://www.hillspet.com/products/ib-canine-adult-slim-and-healthy-chicken-barley

Now, this is very important. You need to measure his food with an 8 oz measuring cup- like you use for cooking. This food has LESS calories per cup then Healthy Weight as well--289 per cup compared to Purina's 320 per cup. That might not seem like much, it can make a difference.

More of what will change is that over a period of time, weeks, months, you will see your dog being less and less hungry- starving like most dogs seem to act. The reason for this is that his energy needs WILL be met with less calories and more precision nutrition.

The starting amount to feed is not for his weight now, but what he SHOULD weigh. So you are going to start him on 3 cups a day- two in the morning and one at night. Your goal here is to get him down to around 60 lbs and maintain his weight there. You are also aiming to feed him only once a day if possible. Twice a day feedings cause obesity due to them eating then sleeping.

Another thing is that you need to stop all treats if you feed them and only give him raw carrots if he likes them. He can have 2-3 of those a day. My dogs lived to be 15 and 14 by eating Hills foods raw carrots and never did either one of them EVER get sick or need dental work. Most dogs DO need dental cleanings, don't get me wrong, but they never had any issues with their teeth.

So that's my very long answer to your "what do you recommend?" question!! If you have any more questions, please let me know.
Also be sure you weigh your dog when you start on this plan and check it weekly. Please let me know how he does.


Ingredients
Turkey (natural source of glucosamine), brewers rice, soybean meal, corn gluten meal, poultry by-product meal (natural source of glucosamine), oat meal, whole grain wheat, corn germ meal, whole grain corn, soybean germ meal, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols (form of Vitamin E), glycerin, animal digest, calcium carbonate, salt, calcium phosphate, caramel color, potassium chloride, Vitamin E supplement, choline chloride, zinc sulfate, sulfur, L-Lysine monohydrochloride, ferrous sulfate, manganese sulfate, niacin, Vitamin A supplement, calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, copper sulfate, riboflavin supplement, Vitamin B-12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, garlic oil, folic acid, Vitamin D-3 supplement, calcium iodate, biotin, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of Vitamin K activity), sodium selenite.  C-4175

Manufactured and guaranteed by: Nestlé Purina PetCare Company, St. Louis, MO 63164 USA
Animal feeding tests using the Association of Animal Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) procedures substantiate that Purina ONE Smartblend Healthy Weight Formula Dog Food provides complete and balanced nutrition for maintenance of adult dogs.

AAFCO is a voluntary state membership association that develops standards and regulations to ensure consumer protection and safeguard the health of animals and humans.


Calorie Content
3336 kcal/kg
320 kcal/cup  

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Jana Connell RVT, CVT

Expertise

PLEASE READ BEFORE SUBMITTING TO ME: I am NOT a vet and do NOT diagnose diseases. That is only for a licensed Veterinarian to do. I will give you suggestions and steer you toward calling your vet for help. You can call the vet's office and talk to the technician there or the vet at times. Don't be afraid to call them! If you have a serious issue with your pet please post it to one of the veterinarians in here- I will tell you the same thing in my answer. IF your pet is injured or in an emergency situation, CALL YOUR VET- Do not wait and post in here. Just call the vet's office and get them in to see the vet right away. Critical treatment time is lost if you seek answers here when you should have your precious pet at the vets!! Don't sit at home waiting for an answer when your pet is critically ill or injured!! I can answer most questions about small animal and wildlife care as well as small animal nutrition. I can also answer questions about all phases of dental care for small animals. I DO NOT answer questions about birds (unless it is wildlife or songbirds) or HAMSTERS/GERBILS/CHINS/GUINEA PIGS/REPTILES/FROGS/RABBITS/PET BIRDS OF ANY KIND so please submit these questions to the appropriate sections. I, as well as other experts in here, do NOT do homework questions- that is for YOU to do! Please respect these rules for all of us. Thanks!

Experience

I have over 35 years experience in the field of veterinary medicine. I specialized in small animals and did wildlife rehab for over 25 years, mostly raptors, squirrels and opossums. I am a Small Animal Nutritional Consultant with 6 certificates from Hills Pet Foods, CNM and Purina. I also specialized in Small Animal Dentistry which is a field I truly love.

Organizations
Audubon,World Wildlife Federation, American Society of Veterinary Dental Technicians.

Education/Credentials
Licensed with California and Oregon, RVT and CVT. Certified Veterinary Dental Technician Have over 550 logged hours of Continuing Education Credits(that means I keep up to date!).

Awards and Honors
Nominated for Expert of the Month for the last 5 years.

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