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Here are some questions/answers that we are frequently asked. If you have additional questions that aren't covered here, please feel free to CONTACT US at Cumberland Veterinary Hospital.

The Dr. said my pet might have food allergies, what does that mean?

This means that something in your pets’ diet is causing them to have an allergic reaction. The signs are usually itchy, irritated skin including paws and ears. However, we often see food allergy displayed as vomiting and diarrhea. The most likely cause of the allergy is the protein source (Chicken or beef most commonly). The treatment is to introduce a diet that has a protein source that they have never had before, for example duck, kangaroo, fish, or soy. It is important to feed this diet and ONLY this diet (No treats!!) for 10 weeks to decide whether or not it has improved your pets allergies.

My vet said to feed my pet a “hydrolysed” diet for allergies, what does this mean?

Hydrolysed means that the protein has been broken down into its component amino acids. It is used to modify the allergenic properties of food. For example if your pet has a chicken allergy, you want to avoid anything with chicken in it. However if it is hydrolyzed, the part of the protein your pet is allergic to is removed. In this form it is no longer really “chicken” and can been fed to your pet.

I heard its bad to feed my cat wet food, is that true?

Quite the opposite, in fact, we recommend it! Cats are originally from the desert and their diet consisted of mice. They would get all they needed from the mice including water as mice are primarily made of water. That being said, they are not programmed to drink water. Adding canned food into your pet's daily feeding will not only keep them better hydrated, it has shown to help kidney, bladder function and is the best choice for weight loss.

I trimmed my dogs nail too short and it won’t stop bleeding, what should I do?

The best way to stop bleeding is to apply pressure for a good 10 minutes. If you have some flour or corn starch that may help to stop the bleeding faster. If it is still not working, you may have to pick up some styptic powder from the vet or pet store. Or you can always bring them here and we will help you stop the bleeding.

My dog has diarrhea, is there anything I can do at home?

As long as your dog seems to be feeling well and not vomiting, you can skip a meal to allow the digestive system to calm down and then try feeding a bland diet like lean ground beef and rice. If the diarrhea continues for more than 24 hours or your pet starts to vomit he/she should been seen.

My dog seems sore is there anything I can give him?

It is NOT safe to give your pet Advil or Tylenol. It is best to bring in your pet and we can dispense the appropriate pain meds.

By- products are in the ingredients list on the bag of pet food I buy, is this bad?

No, as long as you are feeding a good quality pet food. By- products are highly nutritious for your pet. They do not consist of feathers and beaks. They are primarily organs (lung, spleen, kidneys, livers).

What is heartworm?

Heartworm is a blood parasite carried by mosquitoes. If a dog is bitten by a mosquito carrying heartworm while not on any preventive medication he will contract this parasite. The parasite lives in your dog's heart and if not treated can cause heart failure.

Why do I have to do a blood test every other year to check for heartworm?

Even if your pet is on heartworm preventive medication we must do a test every other year. That being said, the latest recommendation of the heartworm society is annual testing. The reason for this is that most heartworm preventive medication is 98% effective so there is a small chance he/she can still get it. Also we are seeing new strains and mutations in heartworm so it is important to diagnose early as we can treat it. Heartworm infection does not show any signs until your dog is in heart failure so it is important to test often so we can treat it because if left untreated, it will cause irreversible damage to the heart and lead to death.

Is there any benefit in feeding a grain free diet?

There are no known benefits in feeding grain free. In fact, grain free diets are higher in calories and can lead to obesity. Grain free does not mean carbohydrate free as the grains are often replaced with potatoes.

Is there benefit in feeding low carbohydrate diets?

Yes, Low carb diets are beneficial to both dogs and cats as their nutritional requirements are very low for carbs. Also feeding a low carb diet usually helps with weight loss.

I am feeding my pet the amount of food that the bag says and he/she is still gaining weight, why?

Most pet food companies suggest a higher amount to feed your pet so always ere on the lesser amount. Also you must look at what to feed your pet for his/her IDEAL weight not his/her current weight. When in doubt, if your pet is still gaining weight on the amount, chances are he/she is ingesting too many calories for his/her metabolism and you need to cut back.

I cut back my pets food amount and it seems to little and he/she is very hungry all the time, what do I do?

It may be time to switch to a diet food that has a very low calorie content per cup and that is high in fibre. That way your pet can still eat a good amount but still take in less calories. For instance we sell a food called Royal Canin Satiety support and it contains 244 calories in 1 cup of food. You should compare this amount of calories to the current food you are feeding. If you need help one of our technicians would be happy to assess the ideal weigh of your pet and take a look at your current pet food.

How do I know if my pet food is a good quality one?

This is a very difficult question because most pet foods do not provide enough information on the package properly assess the quality of the food.

 The best thing to do is to call the phone number of the company (if you can not find one, this can be a red flag). Ask the company the following questions

  • Do you have a veterinary nutritionist on staff in your company?

  • What are your quality control measures?

  • Can you send me a nutrient profile of your food? (this is different from a guaranteed analysis, a guaranteed analysis does not tell us anything about the quality of the diet)

  • How many kcal/cup does your food have?

The food company should be able to provide all this information. If they can’t, you might want to look into another food.

Is it a better food if it says “holistic”?

Do not be fooled by this word. It is only used as marketing tools. Holistic has no legal definition and is unregulated, ANY pet food company can use this term on their food bags.

If I spay/neuter my pet will they gain weight?

Ideally no, but you need to change the amount you are feeding by 25 % as their metabolism will slow down. Also, cats and small breed dogs should be slowly transitioned from puppy/kitten food to adult food around 6 months of age (around the same time as surgery). Medium to large breed dogs, it is ideal for growth to continue on puppy food until 12 months of age then transition. For all nutrition questions, our technicians are happy to assist you.

My pet doesn’t seem to be in any pain but why is he limping?

Animals can be very stoic creatures and symptoms and signs of pain often go unnoticed. Limping is a very obvious sign of pain or discomfort, but it may not appear as such because your pet continues to go about his regular business despite the awkward gait. Limping as a symptom will often come and go, thus many owners will perceive it to be getting better. Unfortunately, limping that goes without diagnosis and restrictions doesn’t usually result in healing, but rather becomes worse as the underlying injury is exacerbated. Don’t ignore this common sign of pain!

Why does my pet sometimes make weird noises like he can’t breathe properly but seems totally fine after?

Some dogs have a condition known as paroxysmal respiration or, as it is more commonly called, “reverse sneezing”. With this condition, the dog rapidly pulls air into the nose, whereas in a 'regular' sneeze, the air is rapidly pushed out through the nose. The dog makes a snorting sound and seems to be trying to inhale while sneezing. Although it can be alarming to witness a dog having a reverse sneezing episode, it is not a harmful condition and there are no ill effects. The dog is completely normal before and after the episode. During a reverse sneeze, the dog will make rapid and long inspirations, stand still, and extend his head and neck. A loud snorting sound is produced, which may make you think the dog has something caught in his nose. A reverse sneezing episode can last for several seconds to a minute. Most cases of reverse sneezing require no medical treatment. If your dog experiences a reverse sneezing episode, you may gently stroke the neck and try to calm the pet. Once the dog exhales through the nose, the attack is usually over. It is very rare for dogs to develop any complications or suffer any risk during these attacks. Most episodes of reverse sneeze last less than a minute, although longer durations have been reported.

What to do if my pet his having an allergic reaction?

The most common clinical signs of an allergic reaction include itching, red skin swellings called wheals or hives, a swollen face or muzzle, excessive salivation or drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea. Severe cases, difficulty breathing including cyanosis (bluish color of the tongue and gums). An anaphylactic reaction is considered to be a medical emergency and immediate treatment is required. Please contact your veterinarian upon seeing any of these clinical signs for treatment.