From playful pups to distracted cats, trying to take a picture of your pet can be a frustrating experience. As a pet parent, you’ve probably tried and failed to capture an image that is worthy of social media, but you don’t have to be a professional to get a great shot. We asked Nate Wyeth, one of Nulo’s resident photographers, for tips and tricks on how he snaps such beautiful photos of his golden retriever, Ranger.(more…)
Taking your dog for a hike can be a great way to enjoy some fresh air and spend quality time with your pup. As with any activity, accidents can happen, and it’s essential to take certain precautions to help keep your pet safe during a hike. In this article, we’ll discuss what to bring and how to keep your dog safe while hiking.(more…)
Although the concept has been around since the 1980s, sustainability has become more than just a trending buzzword in the last five years. Everything from manufacturing processes, packaging materials, product ingredients, and how companies operate has been called under scrutiny, largely led by consumers. Companies of all kinds – including those in the pet industry – are reevaluating their current practices and evolving to new standards.
The topic of sustainability is deeply rooted in food security and the responsible management of resources as the world’s population continues to grow. The global population of humans is estimated at 7.9 billion people today – which is more than double what it was 50 years ago. This raises a concern about whether there will be sufficient resources and a hospitable environment necessary to support the lives of people in future generations.
Too much carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses accumulating in the atmosphere is unhealthy for the earth, as well as the many diverse forms of life that inhabit it. This strain on resources is compounded by the number of pets we keep, the supplies and food they need to grow, and the waste generated as a result of their care. That’s why today, more than ever, it’s important to learn about sustainability and what steps can be taken to help ensure a better tomorrow.
Why is Sustainability Important?
Let’s start by looking at the current state of pet ownership. In the United States, it’s estimated that almost half of all households own at least one dog, and about a quarter own at least one cat:
2020 U.S. Estimates1,2 Population Pet-Owning Households Dogs 83.7 million 45% Cats 60 million 26% People 330 million – Children (0-14 yr) 60 million –
When we compare this to the human population, we actually have more dogs and cats than we do kids ages 14 or less, by a margin of millions! Clearly, we LOVE our pets!
Despite the many rewards of pet ownership, our pet-centric way of life does take a toll on the environment. In a single year, we feed our pets upwards of 9.8 million metric tons of pet food. This results in 5.6 million tons of waste produced annually. Since pet waste is a direct product of their food intake, pet food manufacturers have a big responsibility for environmental stewardship for the products we produce.
So, what is sustainability as it relates to pets?
A recent definition is: “the conscientious management of resources and waste necessary to meet the physiologic requirements of companion animals without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their environmental, social, or economic needs.”3 In other words, when we consider all of the inputs we need for the responsible care of our pets, and all of the waste streams generated, the net impact is what will ultimately influence our ability to contribute to long-term sustainability.
What action is Nulo taking to improve the sustainability of our products?
Our mission is to become an ever more sustainable company as we inspire people to live “Healthier Together” through active, healthy lifestyles with their pets. Here are a few areas we’ve been busy focusing on to help reduce our environmental impact:
We are transforming the way we work – from how we source raw materials, to how much energy we use in our offices – to ensure every part of our operations and extended supply chains help people, pets, and the planet thrive.
Sustainability Facts: According to a study by the National Environmental Education Foundation, almost 90 percent of employees engaged in their company’s sustainability work say it enhances their job satisfaction and overall feelings about the company.4
- Nulo is a proud member of the Pet Sustainability Coalition (PSC), a nonprofit organization that accelerates sustainability in the pet industry through education, implementation tools, and collaboration. As a nonprofit, PSC offers companies like ours many tools designed to help them align with responsible, sustainable business practices, such as supply chain, good governance, efficiencies, and strategizing. Our membership in PSC delivers education and inspiration, and engages employees in taking sustainable actions.
- In addition to being a proud member of PSC, Nulo has also partnered with a third-party sustainability firm that helps organizations like ours plan, source, deliver, finance, and measure the wider impact of our products and services. This initiative involves a comprehensive assessment of our products and business from cradle to grave, allowing Nulo to quantify our existing carbon footprint and identify key opportunities for improvement as we work towards lowering our potential impacts on climate change.
Ingredient selection has a critical role in defining your pet’s food costs, quality, format, and the potential carbon impact they contribute to the final product.
Sustainability Facts: The North American Renderer’s Association estimates that as much as 50% of the live weight of an animal is considered inedible for grocery cuts and would end up going to landfills if it wasn’t used to nourish our pets. It’s estimated the process of producing animal protein meals (i.e., chicken meal, turkey meal, and salmon meal) has the same effect on greenhouse gas emissions as removing more than 12 million cars from the road.5
- Nulo’s kibble recipes feature industry-leading levels of animal-based protein, and we achieve this using a combination of frozen meat, poultry, and fish as well as dried protein meals to supply essential amino acids for your dog or cat. By using protein meals, we are reducing the net carbon footprint of our formulas while still providing your pet with the optimal nutrition they need.
- Nulo’s Challenger™ line is made with certified organic grains like oats, millet, barley, and rye as well as fish that are sourced through Marine Stewardship Council-certified fisheries. The spirit of Challenger is reaching beyond conventionally-grown ingredients and choosing sustainability, with additional emphasis on sustainably and ethically sourced ingredients.
Our food and treat production
Pet foods are produced using several different technologies today, including extrusion, retort canning, freeze-drying, baking, and many others. Depending on the size of a manufacturing facility, their energy and resource usage, their waste streams, and operational efficiencies, they can each have different environmental impacts.
Sustainability Facts: In general, major environmental impacts of commercial facilities are land use, energy use, and water use. Compared to many human food manufacturing sectors like milk, cheese, bakery products, and snack foods, pet food production has a lower relative carbon footprint.6
- One of Nulo’s treat bakeries is 100% solar-powered, off-setting an estimated 1,456 tons of greenhouse gases each year.
Pet food packaging serves a lot of important purposes, including protecting your pet’s food from environmental contamination, prolonging its shelf-life, and providing essential information to you about the nutritional composition and usage instructions. But packaging that accumulates in landfills is taking a toll on our environment.
Sustainability Facts: Containers and packaging make up a major portion of municipal solid waste, amounting to 82.2 million tons of generation in 2018 in the U.S. (28.1 percent of total generation).7
- Our kibble, freeze-dried, and treat packaging are produced in a Certified B Corporation™ facility. B Corp is a non-profit organization that recognizes companies with environmentally innovative production processes and those that sell products or services with a positive environmental impact.
- Nulo’s Challenger™ line is part of the TerraCycle® recycling program, where our customers can request an envelope to send in their packaging to be diverted from landfills into renewable products.
- Our cans are made from 100% recyclable steel and aluminum.
- The TetraPak® cartons are made of 71% recycled paperboard from Forest Stewardship Council™ certified forests.
What are some ways you can live more sustainably with your pet?
You can also take steps to lessen the impacts of climate change that encourage solutions and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Actions that we all take today can help shape the world for years to come. Not only are these actions good for the environment, but they are also good for personal and community health, environmental stewardship, and quality of life.
- Monitoring your pet’s food intake and body condition. Feeding too much food and treats in excess of what your pet actually needs contributes to pet obesity8, increases the amount of waste your pet generates, and compounds the resources needed to produce the food. Your veterinarian is an excellent resource to help you determine the ideal body condition and feeding amount for your pet’s age and lifestyle.
- Spaying or neutering pets if they’re not intended for breeding. It’s estimated that approximately 3.1 million dogs and 3.2 million cats enter U.S. animal shelters every year.9 By proactively preventing unplanned litters, you can help to reduce the population of pets without forever homes. Discuss the options with your veterinarian so you can decide what’s right for you, your family, and your pet.
- Reducing landfill waste by recycling packaging whenever possible. It’s estimated that of all municipal solid waste generated in the U.S., food containers and packaging make up nearly a third, and only slightly more than half (54%) is being recycled.7 This leaves lots of room for improvement, especially for steel and aluminum cans and paperboard containers which are 100% recyclable. If you’re unsure which materials can be recycled or where to recycle them, the EPA has several great tools for building your recycling knowledge.
- Properly disposing of pet waste. Dog and cat feces present a public health risk due to the potential for pathogenic, parasitic, or antibiotic-resistant microorganism transmission through direct contact or contamination of municipal waterways; especially, in urban areas where human and animal populations are dense. Abandoned pet waste carried into nearby streams or lakes by stormwater also contains nutrients that can encourage excessive algae growth and release ammonia, which can be toxic to fish and other aquatic wildlife. The best methods of disposal of pet feces include passage through sanitary sewage lines (i.e., flushing) or in municipal solid waste channels (i.e., landfill).
Final Thoughts on Sustainability
The topic of sustainability isn’t just a trend, but rather an opportunity for brands and retailers in the pet industry to exceed the evolving expectations of environmentally conscious pet owners everywhere. While sustainability practices and eco-friendly products won’t change the world overnight, embracing small changes now can have a lasting impact on our future.
References for Additional Reading:
- American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). 2017-2018. U.S. Pet Ownership Statistics.
- The World Bank. 2019. Population, total – United States.
- Acuff, H. L., Dainton, A. N., Dhakal, J., Kiprotich, S., and Aldrich, G. 2021. Sustainability and pet food: Is there a role for veterinarians? The Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice. 51(3): 563-81.
- National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF). 2017. Activating the Workplace by Engaging Employees in Sustainability.
- National Renderers Association (NRA). 2014. Rendering is Recycling Infographic.
- Egilmez G, Kucukvar M, Tatari O, Bhutta MKS. 2014. Supply chain sustainability assessment of the U.S. food manufacturing sectors: A life cycle-based frontier approach. Resour Conserv Recycl. 82:8-20.
- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 2018. Containers and Packaging: Product-Specific Data.
- Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. 2018. 2018 Pet Obesity Survey Results.
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). 2019. Facts about U.S. Animal Shelters.
Does your cat struggle with hairballs? As the weather warms, you may notice that your cat is shedding more than usual. When this happens, your cat may also experience more issues with hairballs. Cat hairball management requires a basic understanding of what causes hairballs and how you can help prevent them in your cat.
Here are a few tips to help get your cat’s hairballs under control.(more…)
Are you looking for ways to show your pet some extra love this spring? While we often shower them with treats to show how much we care, giving your pet treats isn’t always what’s best for their health. Treats are a significant source of calories and can contribute to obesity in cats and dogs. Let’s discuss some helpful tips for making healthy treat choices for our pets.
The Importance of Portion Control
Portion control is essential for helping your pet maintain a healthy weight. Many pet owners use food to show their pets love. However, this can result in overfeeding and significant weight gain. Obesity in dogs and cats is a growing problem, and lack of portion control can put your pet’s health at serious risk.
To establish healthy portions, you will need to determine your pet’s daily calorie requirement. This number is calculated based on factors such as your pet’s weight, age, and activity level. Doing these calculations can be tricky, and it is often best to consult with your veterinarian. Your vet will assess your pet’s overall health and use specific formulas to calculate their unique calorie needs.
Once you have determined how many calories your pet should be consuming, it’s time to measure out your pet’s food. Measuring out your pet’s treats is an essential step, but it’s best to start by measuring out their regular food.
Your pet’s food label should have information regarding the number of calories per cup of food. This information is typically listed at the top of the nutrition label as “kcal/cup.” The terms calorie and kilocalorie are commonly used interchangeably in the pet food industry, so there is no need to worry about complicated unit conversions.
Keep in mind that many pet food labels will provide feeding recommendations based on your pet’s weight. These recommendations do not take your pet’s unique needs into consideration. Because of this, it’s best to stick to the recommendations provided by your veterinarian and take the time to do the extra math.
How to Calculate Your Pet’s Treat Allowance
The final step in establishing a healthy treat plan is determining how much food you will need to remove from your pet’s daily meals. With 10% of their calories coming from treats, you will need to reduce the number of calories they receive from their regular food. Reducing your pet’s food by precisely 10% can be tricky, but it’s essential to do your best to keep your pet’s health on track.
Once you understand your pet’s daily calorie requirements, you will need to calculate your pet’s daily treat allowance. According to veterinary nutritionists, treats should be limited to less than 10% of your pet’s daily calorie intake. If your pet needs 600 calories a day, no more than 60 calories should come from treats. While it can be tempting to sneak your pet a few extra bites, those extra calories can add up quickly.
To determine the specific number of treats your pet can have, you will need to find out how many calories each treat contains. Most treats will list the nutritional information and calorie count on the label. The serving size of treats may vary, so it’s critical to pay close attention to these details when calculating your pet’s treat allowance.
What About Table Scraps?
If you’re enjoying a delicious home-cooked meal, you may be tempted to share a few bites with your furry friend. Unfortunately, some table scraps can be harmful to your pet’s health. Foods such as chocolate, grapes, and garlic can be toxic. Other foods may be too rich for your pet to digest and cause problems such as diarrhea, vomiting, or pancreatitis.
In addition to these concerns, table scraps can pose a significant risk to your pet’s weight. Many of the scraps pet owners share are high in fat and contain a significant number of calories. The calories in your pet’s table scraps can be hard to estimate. As a result, pets can easily exceed their 10% treat allowance.
Because of these dangers, it is usually best to avoid table scraps altogether. However, if you are going to share your food, stick to pet-safe vegetables. Vegetables are typically low in calories and provide essential vitamins and nutrients. Much like any other treat, these calories should be carefully monitored and fall within your pet’s 10% treat allowance.
Summary – Giving Your Pet Treats
Treating your pet with love is about more than providing endless snacks. The best way to show your pet love is to help them live a long and healthy life. Before you break out that extra-large bag of treats, take a moment to consider how your pet’s treats are impacting their long-term health. Luckily, making healthy choices doesn’t mean eliminating treats altogether. With proper portion control and treat selection, giving your pet treats can still be an exciting way to brighten their day.
It’s the season of love, and we’re ready to celebrate Valentine’s Day with our cats! You may be familiar with the Five Love Languages, which describe five ways that we receive love from others. But can this also be applied to our pets? Find out your cat’s love language below!
Let’s be honest – very few cats are THIS level of touchy-feely. And if you do have a cat that values physical touch, you know that this is always on their terms (not that we always know what these terms are…), and you will be alerted to their terms and conditions with a swift swat from a front paw, sometimes accompanied by a, shall we say, love bite. All jokes aside, cats that receive love through physical touch are most often found rubbing up against your legs, climbing into your lap to curl up for a snooze, or snuggling in beside you for head scratches. This Valentine’s Day, spend extra time petting your cat exactly how they like – or else!
Does your cat insist on going to the bathroom with you and scream at the door when you shut them out? If yes, your cat probably receives love through quality time! Your cat’s greatest desire is to be in your presence and for you to be in theirs. Consider a Valentine’s Day date with your cat watching their favorite movie (probably the Aristocats), playing with their favorite toy, or simply sitting in the quiet with one another, enjoying each other’s company.
Cats that love to receive gifts can best be described as hoarders. They find every sock, every hair tie, and every dead bug (or bird, or mouse) in your house and drag them back to their lair to add to the pile. They don’t need YOU to bestow gifts upon them – they are independent kitties who don’t need anyone but themselves to fulfill their needs! But for Valentine’s Day this year, consider gifting your kitty with their favorite treat or toy and watch them enjoy the real gift – the box – for hours on end.
Acts of Service
There isn’t a cat in the world that doesn’t love to be served. In their eyes, that’s all we’re here for – to provide them with our undying service and worship. And sometimes, they return that service in the lovely “gifts” they bring us, like dead creatures they’ve found (or, you know, killed) outside. Hey, somebody’s got to take care of the humans since they can’t hunt for themselves, right? If your cat loves to be served and doted on, consider taking the hunting duties off their hands and preparing a special meal for them this Valentine’s Day!
Words of Affirmation
Does your cat love to sing you the song of her people? Sometimes, the noisiest cats are the ones who just want to hear how much you love them! They spend their days asking for praise in their own language, so it’s time to deliver on this request through words of affirmation. Spend your Valentine’s Day telling your cat everything you love about them – their soft coat, their motorboat purr, and their perfect little toe beans.
It’s the season of love, and we’re ready to celebrate Valentine’s Day with our dogs! You may be familiar with the Five Love Languages, which describe five ways that we receive love from others. But what about how our pups need our love? Find out your dog’s love language below!
If your dog’s first reaction to meeting a new human is to roll over for a belly rub, their love language might be physical touch. Dogs with this love language can usually be found bumping your hand for pets, climbing into your lap to give stinky kisses, or smothering you as they climb into your bed for the night (of course, they don’t sleep in their own beds – they could never be away from you for that long). If physical touch is your dog’s love language, make sure to spend some extra time snuggling them and getting all of their itchy spots this Valentine’s Day – they will return that love tenfold!
Is your dog never more than 2 feet away from you? Would you describe them as a “Velcro dog”? Then your dog’s love language is quality time. Dogs who value quality time will bring you their favorite toy, again and again, to ask you to play or get excited when they see their collar and leash come out for some quality time on a walk with you. All they want this Valentine’s Day is more time hanging with their best friend, so carve out a few hours to spend with your dog doing their favorite activities!
Remember that time your dog pulled the biggest bone or nicest toy off the shelf at the pet store and claimed it as their own? Yeah, their love language is probably receiving gifts. Your dog knows what they want, and they feel most loved when a thoughtful gift is given to them! On February 14th, present your dog with their favorite kind of chew or toy and watch their eyes light up as they realize it’s all for them -and promptly destroy it quicker than you imagined or intended!
Acts of Service
Very few dogs’ love language is acts of service, but those who do receive love this way are the most obvious. These dogs are hilariously needy – they bring you their leash to ask you to walk them, they pick up their food bowl at dinner time and present it to you for filling – all they want is for you to do something for them! This may sound selfish, but don’t misread your dog’s intentions. Dogs with this love language provide you with all of the joy and emotional support in the world, and all they ask in return is for a responsibility or two to be taken off their plate. Maybe you should bark at the squirrel in the backyard today and give them a break from their guard dog duties!
Words of Affirmation
Everyone knows a dog that receives love through words of affirmation. Their sole motivation in life is hearing those two sweet words – “Good Dog!” These dogs will go to extremes to earn your praise and are unbelievably smart in their tactics. This Valentine’s Day, take a moment to tell your dog just how much they mean to you and how good they really are!
It’s not uncommon for people to put on a few pounds over the holiday season. With the onset of colder temperatures, activity levels drop, and hibernation mode sets in. However, this is not limited to humans, as your pet may also experience winter weight gain.
Dogs who used to get a daily walk outside and cats accustomed to exploring the yard are now confined to the cozy indoors. Meanwhile, we are tempted to indulge our pets with tasty treats and special foods during our celebrations. Lower activity levels and extra holiday treats can put our pets at risk for taking in more calories than they can burn – resulting in weight gain. So, what can be done to help?
Prevention is Key
If your pet is already in good shape and active, make sure they continue to exercise throughout the winter months. Whether this means a game of indoor fetch, a romp through the snow in the backyard, or a good hike when the weather allows, try to be active as often as possible to allow your pet to work off excess calories.
If your pet isn’t getting near enough exercise time regardless of the changes you’ve made, consider cutting back on their calorie intake a bit to compensate for the lower level of activity. Gradually offering fewer treats and lowering the amount of kibble being fed at mealtimes should help offset the effects of lower activity levels during the winter. It’s also worth noting that the quality of treats being fed can significantly impact the health of your pet. Opt for low-calorie, superfood-type treats with wholesome, recognizable ingredients rather than treats high in calories that contain ingredients like sugar, molasses, and rice syrups.
A little math can also help ensure that you are not offering so many treats that you are essentially canceling out the reduction in calories made by decreasing your pet’s mealtime portions. All pet treats should have a calorie content listed on the back of the packaging. Similarly, this information should also be available near the Guaranteed Analysis on the back of your pet’s food packaging, usually in calories (or the equivalent Kcal) per cup format. If your pet’s kibble contains 400 calories per cup, for example, and you typically feed a cup per day but have now decreased this amount to ½ cup, you have created a calorie reduction of 200 calories. To see the benefits of your pet’s winter dietary changes, you will need to ensure that you are offering less (ideally much less) than 200 calories of treats per day; otherwise, your well-intended changes may cancel out. Therefore, finding quality, low-calorie treats for your pet is equally essential to long-term weight management.
Weight Loss Plans
If your pet is already overweight, a bit more change will likely be required. High-calorie treats should be eliminated, and meal portions should be cut back significantly to get your dog or cat on the path to healthy living. You may also consider transitioning your pet to a ‘Trim’ or ‘Weight Management’ recipe, which can help decrease the amount of fat in your pet’s diet. These recipes may also contain ingredients like L-Carnitine, an amino acid that can help your pet metabolize fat in their diet.
As with any major changes to your pet’s lifestyle, we recommend talking with your vet before beginning a new weight-loss plan. It is important to first confirm that your pet doesn’t have any underlying conditions that could be causing weight gain. Once cleared, your veterinarian can also help you determine an appropriate daily amount of food to provide your pet and help you structure and implement an achievable exercise regimen.
Monitoring your Pet
If you are concerned about your pet gaining weight during the winter, pay a visit to the veterinarian at the start of the season and have their weight recorded. Ask your veterinarian to show you how to look and feel for certain landmarks of an overweight or obese body condition, such as feeling for the ribs and spine. It could also be helpful to weigh your pet once a month to make sure the pounds aren’t creeping up and that they are maintaining (or losing) weight as needed. Maintaining a healthy weight in your pet will help ensure a longer, healthier life and even aid in joint health as your pet ages by keeping off excess pounds that could add strain to bones and joints.
The skin is your pet’s largest organ and the first line of defense for their body. Your pet’s skin needs proper care and nutrition to maintain its barrier function and protect the internal body from the environment outside. The skin also contains tens of thousands of hair follicles in every square inch, which are responsible for continually growing and replenishing the fur that makes each of our four-legged friends so soft and lovable.
Here’s what can you do to help keep them looking and feeling their best at any age.
Healthy Skin & Coats Start From Within
Healthy skin and a soft, shiny coat can say a lot about your pet’s overall well-being. Because the two are closely related, strategies to care for the skin and coat often go hand-in-hand. While a regular grooming routine is essential for removing dirt, debris, and odors on the surface, it’s at the cellular level where your pet’s skin health and coat quality are most profoundly impacted.
The skin is a complex network of trillions of specialized cells that need the resources to grow, function, and replicate properly. Some resources can come from inside the body, but most need to be replenished, and often, in order to keep up with the body’s continuous metabolism and cell turnover. That’s why a healthy diet is essential to provide the nutrients that cells need to keep normal processes running smoothly. But not all foods support skin and coat health equally.
What should you look for in a food for skin & coat health?
Optimal skin and coat health nutrition include ample protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Without the proper amounts of these nutrients, the skin can become easily damaged, dry, and flaky; and your pet’s fur can become brittle and shed excessively. By providing the body’s necessary tools to maintain and repair itself, you can support your pet’s skin and coat from within.
- Animal-Based Protein is a rich source of amino acids, which are the building blocks your pet’s body needs to repair cells, synthesize the keratin, collagen, and elastin, and produce pigmentation that gives your pet’s coat its characteristic color. Good animal-based protein sources include meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and organ meats.
- Omega-3’s, 6’s, and 9’s are families of healthy fats that have important roles in your pet’s cell membranes and are precursors to important immune modulators that play a vital role in their immune, hormonal and inflammatory responses. Marine fish oils (like salmon, menhaden, sardine, herring, mackerel, or anchovy) are excellent sources of DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids. Certain animal fats and plant oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids, such as chicken fat, canola oil, and safflower oil. Omega-9’s make up a large portion of the fatty acids found in Palm and Coconut Oils.
- B Vitamins such as biotin (B7) help the body break down glucose, fatty acids, certain amino acids for cellular energy. Together with niacin (B3) and choline, pantothenic acid (B5) helps protect the skin by promoting the synthesis of skin fats, while riboflavin (vitamin B2) helps build proteins in the skin and offers protection against environmental damage. Good sources of B vitamins for dogs and cats are organ meats, fish, and yeast.
- Vitamin A is required to form and repair normal, healthy skin cells and the production of sebum, which is the natural oil that helps protect your pet’s outermost layer of skin. Good sources of Vitamin A are organ meats like liver, fish, and eggs. Vitamin A can also be added in a supplemented form to complete and balanced pet foods.
- Vitamin E protects skin cells from free radical damage as an antioxidant. Free radicals are produced by cells through normal metabolism, pollution, and sunlight and contribute to the aging process and cellular death. Good dietary sources of Vitamin E include supplements (alpha-tocopherols) and many plant oils and grains.
- Zinc is a co-factor in more than 100 enzymes, with cell replication, nutrient metabolism, and cell membrane structure roles. Zinc is also involved in the transport of Vitamin A into the blood and collagen and keratin synthesis of new skin cells and wound healing. Red meats such as beef, lamb, and organ tissues are naturally rich in zinc. This mineral is also commonly added to dog and cat foods in a supplemented form as Zinc Sulfate, Zinc Proteinate, or Zinc Amino Acid Chelate.
- Iodine is required only in very small amounts by dogs and cats but has an important role in the production of thyroid hormone. The thyroid regulates your pet’s growth, development, and metabolic rate, including cellular turnover rate and hair regeneration and loss. Sea kelp is one of the richest natural sources of iodine, but this mineral is also commonly added to dog and cat foods in supplemented form.
- Copper is an essential mineral that participates in the synthesis of melanin, a pigment that helps give your pet’s hair and skin color. Copper is found naturally in organ meats and shellfish but is commonly added to dog and cat foods in the form of Copper Sulfate, Copper Proteinate, or Copper Amino Acid Chelate.
- Selenium plays a vital role in hair growth and helps to reduce cellular damage caused by free radicals. Dietary sources of selenium include organ meats, shellfish, eggs, and the supplements Sodium Selenite and in some diets for dogs, Selenium Yeast.
Providing a balanced diet with proper ratios of essential nutrients, using skin-supporting nutritional supplements, as well as keeping them hydrated with plenty of fresh water, are great ways to help your pet maintain healthy skin and a beautiful, shiny coat. Always consult your veterinarian to determine the best plan for your pet’s healthiest skin & coat regimen.
As a pet parent, you know your best friend needs both mental and physical exercise to stay happy and healthy. But just like humans, dogs and cats experience less flexibility in their joints as they get older. So what can you do to help ease joint stiffness due to normal daily exercise and activity?
First, let’s talk about joint anatomy.
What is a joint?
A joint is a structure in the body at which two parts of the skeleton are joined together. At the joints, bones are covered in a special type of connective tissue, cartilage, which helps to cushion and support the bones where they bend and move.
Synovial joints are the most common in a dog’s body and serve two primary functions: enabling movement and absorbing shock from weight transfer, allowing them to run, jump, and play with agility. With normal daily exercise and activity, the joint cartilage, surrounding tissues, and lubricating synovial fluid need to be maintained in order for your pet’s joints to stay healthy. Cold weather generally causes muscles to feel stiffer and synovial fluid in joints to have less pliability, making it extra challenging to maintain normal activity this time of year.
How can you support your pet?
Start by bringing your pet to your veterinarian for an examination. Routine veterinary care can help to identify any concerns and provide a recommended plan for your pet’s optimal joint care throughout their lifetime.
You can also find several joint-supporting foods and functional supplements that help by providing the building blocks for your pet’s synovial fluid, cartilage and connective tissues, including:
- Glucosamine may stimulate the production of proteoglycans which help maintain the health and resiliency of joints and connective tissue.
- Chondroitin Sulfate is a natural component of cartilage and works together with glucosamine to help support the maintenance of your pet’s joint cartilage.
- Hydrolyzed Beef Collagen is made from enzyme-treated cartilage (type 2 collagen) with high bioavailability for incorporation into the structure of your pet’s joints.
- Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is rich in organic sulfur and plays an important role in synthesis of collagen and glucosamine, both of which are vital for healthy bones and joints.
- Organic Turmeric’s main active component, curcumin, has potent antioxidant properties that help protect cells and tissues from oxidative damage.
- New Zealand Green Mussel contains glucosamine, chondroitin, antioxidants, and minerals that help maintain healthy cartilage and joint function.
- Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil is rich in EPA and DHA, omega-3 fatty acids that support a healthy inflammatory response.
- Eggshell Membrane contains Hyaluronic Acid, which helps maintain the synovial fluid that lubricates joints.
- Vitamin E supports healthy cartilage cells and protects cells against oxidative stress damage.
- Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) supports collagen, the main protein in joint tissue and bone.
With the guidance of your veterinarian, use joint-supporting foods and health supplements, and establishing a regular exercise routine that works well for you and your pet, you can help your pet maintain normal joint function and mobility.