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Lifestyle : Everything Pets August 2011
1HERSA1 W004 AG4271015AA-280811 Social Petworking www.friendsfurever.com.au Everything to do with your four-legged friend. BAY2138. 09/11. GHG. Pet Holidays in Terrigal Visit our website for further information including pricing www.petresortsaustralia.com Terrigal (02) 4367 1200 Luxury 5 Star Resort at affordable prices Do you want to relax while youre away? By boarding your pets at Pet Resorts Australia you will have the peace of mind that your pet is happy, healthy and having fun at Australias Best Boarding Facility. Your pets will be looked after by a team of dedicated animal lovers who will always go the extra mile to make your pet smile. Daily exercise in our large outdoor spaces Five-star accommodation Daily room service and lots of cuddles Medication and specialised meals plans Swimming and lagoon walks Home comforts for cats Complimentary bath prior departure FREE Sydney Shuttle Service *Conditions Apply 4 SUNDAY, AUGUST 28, 2011 THE SUN-HERALD S pets SPECIAL REPORT What to wolf down With so many options available, Jason Mountney sniffs out the best doggy diet. Pack in the protein . . . but cooked food is not recommended. Photo: Dominic O'Brien If we feed dogs what they have evolved to require, we're feeding them the right diet. Vet Ian Billingsworth THE evolution of dogs from wolves to the pets of today started when they began scavenging through piles of food refuse left by humans rather than relying on hunting prey, Bathurst vet Ian Billingsworth says. ''Dogs became more omnivorous, eating more vegetables and more bones.'' Billingsworth says today's pet owners should try to replicate this diet and avoid cooked and processed foods, including commercial varieties of kibble. ''Kibble is the worst thing we can feed dogs,'' he says. ''Dogs aren't grain eaters. If we feed dogs what they have evolved to require, we're feeding them the right diet.'' Billingsworth advocates the BARF diet -- bones and raw food. ''It is essentially bones and biologically evolved raw food.'' A clinical vet at the University of Sydney's Camden campus, Chris McIver, says regardless of what they eat, many dogs are overweight. ''If your dog is overweight, there are a few health risks,'' he says. ''You could end up with diabetes, osteoarthritis, skin problems, heart problems, pancreatitis -- all manner of things. ''There has been a recent study on Labradors conducted over 14 years that found that overweight dogs had a shorter life span. Even moderate weight gain can be dangerous.'' McIver says keeping your dog in shape is a ''simple enough equation -- energy in versus energy expenditure''. He says if you see your dog scavenging something such as a discarded kebab it finds on its afternoon walk, reduce the amount of food it eats that night or even cut the meal altogether. He says while certain breeds such as Labradors, dachshunds and mastiffs are characteristically greedy, most dogs will instinctively scoff food as ''they don't know where their next meal is coming from''. As social animals, there's also an evolved instinct to eat as much as they can before another pack member gets its mouth to the food. McIver says while raw diets such as those advocated by Billingsworth have their merits, there are considerations to take into account. While raw bones are healthy for dogs, ''they can fracture teeth, which clearly isn't very good'', he says. Bones can end up being scoffed whole and might require surgery to be removed. Of course, your dog could build up some karmic points by becoming a vegan (eschewing animal products in the diet). Kathy Chau of Sydney pet-food retailer Vegepooch says the right diet for cats and dogs can exclude all animal products. ''People have different reasons for raising vegan pets,'' Chau says. ''It can be ethical or their pet could have allergies to certain meats such as chicken or beef.'' She says a non-meat diet can ease digestion ''as vegetables, fruit, grain and beans are high in fibre''. Chau claims ''about 30 per cent'' of Australian cat and dog owners feed their pets a vegan diet. ''It is possible to feed a dog a vegan diet,'' McIver says. ''It just must have all the components of a healthy diet. If you're going to do that, take an honest look at your dog a few months later and see what it is looking like. Check if it has lost weight, if its coat is looking OK and things like that.'' He says people putting their pets on unusual diets such as veganism are better off ascertaining if the regimes have been clinically tested. As the pet-food trade is a multimillion-dollar industry, he says it can be difficult wading through conflicting information. Billingsworth says feeding an omnivorous animal such as a dog a vegan diet risks giving the animal insufficient levels of protein.
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