Feeding & health issues for our pets

Pet Rhodesian Ridgeback are at risk for bloat & GDV

Rhodesian Ridgeback

Health concerns for pets about what and how they eat

My pets can depend on me. They are family and I want to do what is best for them too. Their companionship and unconditional love enriches my life daily. I have been honored to have 2 dogs in my life who, I know without any doubt would throw themselves in harms way to protect me in a heartbeat. You simply cannot and should not take that kind of love for granted. Most of my pets have looked at me to be their protector.

I am concerned about the quality of pet food. No longer do I feed my dogs and cats corn based pet food. Corn is at risk for mites and mold when it is allowed to keep moisture and not handled properly. Bugs spread contaminants to the entire stock quickly, so this is not insignificant. This can lead to health risks for pets, and possibilities of allergies to develop. It is worth it to me to buy better quality food without corn and including better ingredients. I have found great choices for food that do not cost much more than the cheap stuff.

Dog concerns

You have probably heard the horror stories of pets that have died as a result of cheap food from questionable sources. This is something that really concerns me. We need to be informed on their treats as well. Learn about the breed of dog that you have. For example, did you know that Pugs and French Bulldogs have 2 very serious issues? Their eyes can pop out of the socket if they are jarred, and they may have anatomical breathing reduction in their airway that surgery can remedy. Floppy eared dogs need to have their ears cleaned regularly to prevent infection.

If you are aware of the health concerns for your dog. You can recognize symptoms for trouble, have an idea of the problem, and act quickly to rescue them. While this information is in terms of dog breeds, your mutt that you love may also be susceptible. There is a lot to be said for mixed breed dogs…they are strong and free of many breeding problem concerns. They are more of a question mark on concerns though. It can’t hurt to be informed.


Bloat is a problem where the stomach of the dog expands after it eats. This can crowd other organs, make it hard for them to breathe, or interfere with circulation. It is a problem for dog breeds that have deep chests. That means a long rib cage area, not wide chest. The dog breeds at risk for bloat: Great Danes, Boxers, Rhodesian Ridgebacks, Doberman Pinschers, German Shepherds, Weimaraner, Irish Setters, Gordon Setters, Basset Hounds, Akitas, Standard Poodles (the large ones), St. Bernards, and Newfoundland.

Gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV)

This is very serious and a terrible thing for a dog to go through. It is a condition where the stomach that is full of food can rotate and become constricted around the food contained in it. Dog breeds at risk for bloat are also at risk for this condition. It can be an added complication of bloat.

Certain breeds are very susceptible to this problem. These are the dog breeds that have a bad combination of attributes to their anatomy and their behavior. If you know that you have one of these high risk dog breeds, you can take the proper precautions to prevent this problem. It is a benefit for these dogs to eat a number of small meals. Mainly, keep them from being active after eating. Get the dog to stay calm and idle until after their meal is properly digested.

Bloat and GDV symptoms to watch out for

Bloat symptoms are: restlessness, excessive drooling, swollen stomach area, pacing, trying to vomit without any results. More advanced symptoms: pale gums (poor circulation), weakness, trouble standing, racing pulse, trouble breathing. If you suspect your dog is in trouble, please act quickly and get them to the vet.

Pets that eat very fast

I have battled this problem. This may be a point of concern for you as well. Having had a dog that ate so fast that choking was often a concern, I was even afraid he might break teeth. This is an issue that should cause you to consider the nugget size of the dry dog food you get for them. If the dog is large and the nugget size is small, they can be more at risk for choking if they are eating fast. Larger size nuggets will force them to chew up their food.

Slow them down

This can take time to remedy. Usually, it starts because of competitive feelings about another pet. For this case, try to separate them when they eat. You can try feeding them in small doses. There are clever puzzle food dispensers and treat dispensers that make the dog do more to get the food. Usually this is used for entertaining the dog, but in this case, it can slow them down on eating too.

Feeding our pets with our food

I think we are all tempted to share our food with our pets…especially when they are watching every bite we take with that look on their faces… You have to know what foods are safe and which ones are not. Some foods, like chocolate or grapes, have things in them that are toxic for our pets. Too much fat in their diet is as bad for them as it is for us.

These are fine for your dog or cat:

meat and eggs: cooked (raw meat has the same risks as it does for us, too much meat fat can damage them fast if the kidneys are overwhelmed).
plain yogurt
cooked oatmeal
cooked grains: quinoa, wheat and other grains (if no allergies)
vegetables RAW: carrots, bell peppers, lettuce, spinach, sweet potato, pumpkin, cucumber, zucchini, lettuce, celery, fresh corn (small quantity), tomatoes (the plant leaves are very bad for them – contain solanine)
vegetables COOKED: carrots, bell peppers, green beans, sweet potato, pumpkin, broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, squash
fruit: apple (seeds), banana, cantaloupe, watermelon, strawberries, blueberries, or orange sections.
cashew, peanuts, popcorn
peanut butter
bread, pretzels, graham crackers, pasta (not great nutritionally)

Foods you should not feed a dog or cat:

caffeine (coffee, tea, cola, energy drinks are toxic)
baking soda, baking powder (electrolyte abnormalities, congestive heart failure, or muscle spasms can be caused by large amount ingested)
nutmeg (can cause increased heart rate and hallucinations)
macadamia nuts (toxic for dogs and cats – not clear why)
persimmon seeds, peach or plum pits – seed/pit is toxic, the fruit is OK
rhubarb (toxic – Soluble calcium oxalates)
avocado (fruit cause stomach upset, pit is toxic)
grapes or raisins (toxic)
chocolate (toxic)
Xylitol (artificial sweetener that is toxic)
wild mushrooms or toadstools (dangerous for all of us)[our mushrooms from the store are not a problem, but anything outdoors is dangerous]
almonds (upset the stomach and intestines)
garlic (toxic) or onions (toxic, can cause hemolytic anemia)
milk, Ice Cream (can cause diarrhea, digestive problems)
salt or sugar

Additionally there are grass plants that benefit cats

oat, rye, barley, and wheat grasses
catnip or cat grass (this one has a very strong effect – not too much)


Here are the cases where you need a companion pet:

– Super athletic/high-energy – destruction issue
– Very intelligent – boredom issue & possible mayhem & destruction
– Miserable while you are gone – loneliness, separation anxiety, crying/howling

A companion pet makes you and your pets happier. They exercise and entertain each other. They prevent loneliness or boredom problems. Any problems that arise from having the companion pet are much easier to deal with…really! Make sure that they choose each other. They may not take to each other…especially when they are different species. But with work, you can make it work…read on.

Pet companion

Cats are a special problem when it comes to new companions. They can become extremely upset by this! Even if you feel like you have started out wrong, it can work. The easiest way to bring in a new pet is to rotate rooms. The cat and the companion pet switch rooms. Putting one of the pets in a carrier/cage while leaving the other free can also work. The cat smells this new animal in the house environment without a physical encounter. Do this until the cat is comfortable with the scent of the other. Then when they meet, it is a comfortable acquaintance and goes better. This method works on dogs too.

My Experience

I found that my pets were healthier and happier on dog food that contains no corn. It was easier to gauge the effects with the cats though. They were not throwing up nearly as much. That was a very big deal to me. Both the dogs and cats had great appearance to their coats that shows proper nutrition. While they are willing to eat cheap food, I can tell the difference in the effects upon them.

My choices

I think life is easiest if I can feed high quality dry pet food to my cats and dogs. This has the proper nutrition for them. It also has the hard texture that helps to clean and utilize their teeth more like their wild ancestors. They get treated to quality canned food and our food as well. I like to do things like make pumpkin treats for the dogs.

Giving bones to dogs

German Shepherds are the beautiful dogs that I grew up with in my family. I saw the many times that we had to take them to the vet for rescue from the ravages of chewing up bones. My mom did not believe that this was a problem for them at first… When a dog chews up bones into little pieces, these brittle pieces can become like sharp shards that pack into the digestive system, clog them up, and cause pain. I do not recommend letting them have these.

If bones are cooked they are hard and brittle. When they are raw, they bring all the dangers associated with raw meat. Wild ancestors of dogs chewed up bones. The bone marrow is something that is beneficial. If the bones are flexible and not brittle, then they are not a concern. I do not give bones to dogs.

Fat trimmings

This is the other bad dog experience I saw as a child. My family would give the dog the fat that was trimmed off our meat after dinner. The dog loved this added to her dog food. This led to her kidneys failing from too much meat fat in her diet. She had to eat special dog food after that and her health declined badly. Please do not make this mistake with your dog.

I had a Rhodesian Ridgeback

My Rhodesian Ridgeback thankfully never had bloat issues. He was extremely high-energy and full of light and joy about life. I was his fourth home. He had terrible separation anxiety. Although he was cage trained already…I wanted to get him out of there when I was not around. I had him pick out a companion dog for himself from our well-run local pound. They were both active and played together. We fenced in the back yard and they had a great time all day every day together.

Eating too fast became a problem

The companion dog had gone through hard times on the street, had experienced hunger, and she never forgot. I know this because she was very concerned about not having food. She was so concerned about food that the Ridgeback picked up on it. He also became that way. They both came to eating too fast. I could not seem to change this, so I left their food out all the time. They were high energy and active, so this solution worked well.

The hilarious moment in this bad behavior came when I saw him taking their dog blankets and hiding a dish of dog food underneath. Then when she ate the food that was not hidden, he was the one panicking, and he didn’t remember where he hid the rest of the food.

Vet visits

One thing that I was lucky on with my Ridgeback was that he loved riding in the car. This guy loved trips to the park for “walks”. Actually it was him either running around or moving fast enough on a leash to make my strides phenomenally long…LOL. He loved the trip to the vet too. This dog loved car rides so very much that his companion dog overcame her fear of them. She figured there had to be some reason he loved this…

A dog CAN like going to the vet

I was lucky that the vet was just an animal magnet and unbelievably fair on costs. He always gave a couple of really, really small dog cookies. This just added to the reasons to love vet visits for my Ridgey. Training dogs is all about repetition and reward. If you give them some small treats when they go to the vet and behave well…their attitude towards going to the vet will become a positive one.

Cat trips to the vet…you make do

Unfortunately for cats, this is a different story. Each case will be unique, I think. My experience is either they tolerate it alright or really badly and I have had both types. I have always used carriers with them to keep it safe and under control.

Almost every cat I have had has done well with this task. I had one, however, that became like she was possessed. After 20 minutes in the car, she is making strange and eerie sounds, then spewing out of both ends…it was like the Exorcist…never saw if her head was spinning while this happened… If you have a cat like this, I truly sympathize. What you have to do is plan ahead and prevent that cat from eating for a day prior if it is for reasons other than sickness. When they have this reaction, they pretty much always will. Your vet may have medication to help on anxiety and motion sickness that you can give them before traveling.

If you are interested in the dog and cat products that I value…feel free to visit my blog pages about this…

DOG PRODUCTS My blog page
CAT PRODUCTS My blog page