Diet and taurine deficiency in dogs

If you have concerns about taurine deficiency in your dog, you’ll want to take a long, hard look at your dog’s breed and diet. The following article discusses nutritional choices for dogs that are predisposed to low taurine levels.

There has been a lot of information circulating online about taurine and dog health, with some sites suggesting taurine supplements and feeding dogs meat-based diets. While it’s true that meat-first diets are preferable to grain-first or vegetarian diets, should you be concerned about the taurine in your dog’s diet? Why is it important?

Taurine is an amino acid that supports healthy organ function. Most dogs are able to synthesize taurine from nutrients that are required to be present in commercially available pet foods, and do not need taurine supplements. However, some dog breeds are predisposed to a condition that prevents this synthesis from occurring, and therefore may suffer from chronically low taurine levels if the condition is unaddressed. These breeds are:

  • American cocker cpaniel
  • Retriever (golden and Labrador)
  • English Setter
  • Newfoundland
  • Great Dane
  • Saint Bernard

While taurine deficiency itself doesn’t cause physical symptoms, the underlying cause of some dogs’ taurine deficiency – such as cystinuria – will be symptomatic. If your dog has difficulty urinating or if there is blood in their urine, have them checked by a vet immediately.

Your vet will conduct tests to determine if your dog’s taurine levels are low. If it is discovered that your dog is suffering from a taurine deficiency, your vet may recommend taurine supplements or a pet food rich in taurine. Foods with high taurine content include dark meat poultry and fish. Zignature dog food taurine levels are naturally high enough to meet most dogs’ nutritional requirements, but you should check with your vet before making any significant modifications to your dog’s diet. Moreover, your vet may suggest alternatives that address other health issues for a more holistic nutritional solution.

To read more on topics like this, check out the food & health category.

Crate training: What you need to know

When it comes to crate training, how you approach the process can make the difference between success and disaster. In this second of a two-part series, I’ll discuss the do’s and dont’s of crate training.

While crate training is an excellent behavior management tool for dogs, there are a few things to remember if you want to ensure a happy outcome.

Do: Find the appropriate sized crate for your dog.

Your dog’s crate should be big enough for them to stand comfortably at any angle and lie down. Though you might be tempted to get an overly large crate, big crates may give your dog the impression that its big enough to relieve themselves inside.

Don’t: Use the crate to punish your dog.

It is extremely important that the crate is viewed as a positive place for your dog – if you use it as a punishment, they won’t go into it voluntarily, and it will make them anxious and stressed.

Do: Crate train as early as possible.

Puppies are the most responsive to crate training – get a crate before you bring your pup home. Older dogs may associate crates with kenneling, punishment or unpleasantness, and as a result might respond poorly to the crate. If you have a rescue dog who has experienced trauma, consult a professional trainer or dog handler to discover the best training methods for your dog’s disposition.

Don’t: Leave small items or choking hazards locked in the crate.

This includes towels and blankets, as well as small toys.

Do: Crate your dog in stages.

Proper crate training should be conducted incrementally in the following steps.

  1. Make the crate a happy environment. Leave treats and toys in the open crate and allow your dog to voluntarily enter.
  2. Close the crate door after they have stayed inside on their own. Don’t just shut the door as soon as they walk in – wait for them to lie down and relax. Remain in the room the first few times you close the door.
  3. Leave the room for a few moments with the door closed. Once they’re accustomed to the door being closed, you can start to leave the room for brief periods.
  4. Leave your dog in the crate overnight. Once your dog has been successfully left in the crate for a full night, they will likely be comfortable being in the crate when you leave the house.

Your ability to move from stage to stage will determine the success of the training. If you are never able to proceed – if your dog never voluntarily goes into the crate or exhibits destructive behavior when the crate door is closed – they may not have the correct temperament for crate training.

Don’t: Be deterred by mild crying and whining.

If and when your dog begins crying during the overnight stage of crate training, simply allow them to discover that their cries aren’t yielding the desired results. Periodic high-pitched cries are not an indication of real distress – they’re just asking for their way. However, if the cries are urgent and desperate, your dog could be feeling heightened anxiety, and it could be unsafe to leave them crated.

Do: Develop a consistent routine.

Dogs are comforted by routines. Make sure your schedule is the same every day – the same mealtime, walk time, time to relieve themselves, and crate time. This will help your dog accept what is expected of them.

Overall wellness is essential to success in crate training – some medical conditions may make crate training an impractical technique, including heart disease and DCM. Zignature, Blue Buffalo and IAMS are affordable and reliably high-quality pet foods with formulas for dogs with health concerns. In the long-term, consistent crate training can help your dog feel comfortable and relaxed in your home.

I’m a doggie blogger, pet parent to two deviously smart rescue pups, and enthusiastic amateur photographer.

To read more on topics like this, check out the lifestyle category.

Why a Bird Makes an Awesome First Family Pet: What You Need to Know

Forget cats, dogs, and the occasional hamster that always seems to die a mysterious death; the unconventional bird can make a surprisingly wonderful first family pet. Owning one is a rewarding and wonderful experience, so dive into the following tips and facts to help you learn everything from what bird is best for your family to feeding habits, care, and cost.

Bird Breed Matters

Like any other animal, the choice of bird is a big deal. Some are better for more experienced owners or in an adult-only house, while others are well-suited to being around children and are beginner-friendly. There are several different species that make great first family pets, from the Pionus parrot, finches, or even lovebirds. The following two top the list for both beginner owners and first family pets.

  • Budgies/Parakeets 

Budgies, also known as parakeets top the list of family-friendly birds. They have playful, adventurous personalities and are friendly and easy to handle. Their gentle and loyal personalities enable them to bond well with pet owners. Their beaks are small, so any accidental pecks or bites that may occur won’t be disastrous. Many budgies learn to talk and mimic speech as well, making them delightful and entertaining to be around. For those who consider getting a budgie, make sure that you are prepared to spend lots of time with him on a daily basis; they can and do literally die of loneliness.

  • Cockatiels

Just like some dogs are one-person only dogs, some birds become quite attached to one person, even displaying potentially aggressive behavior towards others. Since others may be helping with the care of them and interacting, this is not something you want in a family. Enter the cockatiel. Cockatiels make great multi-person, non-possessive first pets for families. Their personality is social and laid back, so whether you are playing an active game with them or just chilling while watching a movie, they make a great companion. For those preferring a more chill species that isn’t constantly emitting noise, a cockatiel is ideal.

Nutrition, Playtime, and Socialization

A well-cared for bird lives for an average of 20 years, so ensuring that they have a good quality of life is important. Choose a cage with plenty of room to flit about. Just remember that cages do not replace outside-the-cage socialization, which should occur on a daily basis. They will get easily depressed if left alone or ignored. Nutrition is just as important, so check out this list and research which diet is best for your bird. Buying in bulk will often save as well, so keep that in mind.

Conclusion

Birds are more delicate than a cat or dog, roughhousing could injure or even kill them, so make sure your child is old enough to handle them appropriately. With the proper nutrition, socialization, and care, you will have a very happy pet to help create wonderful family memories.