IAMS Q&A With Dr. Amy Dicke

My dogs are a big part of my life. Our life, I should say. But honestly, I feel like they are my children. So forgive me when I say “my”. I am very excited to be part of IAMS and feed my dogs IAMS  dog food. I was recently given the opportunity to ask some questions and get some answers from Dr. Amy Dicke. See below.

Question 1-
Our Husky is getting older; we notice her hearing is fading and her legs ache etc. What can we do to make her more comfortable?
Stiffness, reluctance to join in family activities, digestive upset and changes in haircoat quality are common symptoms of aging. As a pet parent, it is important to monitor changes in your pet and discuss with your veterinarian. Remember – early detection and preventative care is key in maintaining your pet’s health!

Here are some general tips for helping your husky feel more comfortable as she ages:

  • Provide a soft, orthopedic dog bed as this will help with stiff and aching joints
  • Feed an age appropriate diet which incorporates key nutrients targeted to the nutritional needs of an older dog. Look for products with antioxidants, such as vitamin E to support immunity; the prebiotic fructoologosaccahirdes to support digestive health; glucosamine, a building block of joint cartilage; and omega 3 fatty acids to sustain haircoat quality. Also consider warming her food which may enhance the food’s fragrance and taste especially for senses that may be failing with age.
  • Consider low-impact exercise, such as swimming or short walks to maintain muscle strength and support joint function.

Question 2- 
I have three dogs, each different breed and age. Should my dogs be eating different foods? Should they each have their own diet? What else should they be eating?
Just like humans, pets’ nutritional needs change as they mature and navigate the different stages of life. It is important to recognize pet foods are tailored to different life stages and life styles, so feeding your pet according to their age and their activity level will help ensure they receive optimal nutrition. Large breed puppies (>50kg at adult weight) can transition to adult food around one year of age as their rapid growth and need for extra nutrients and calories is waning. Once adults they should be fed according to their activity level; high energy dogs may need a performance product and couch potatoes may do best on a weight control formula. As a large breed dog approaches 5-6 years of age they are entering the mature adult life stage and around 9 years of age their senior years. You may see decreasing energy levels or tartar build up on teeth, while other things may be hidden like decreasing muscle tone and immune function. The mature adult and senior nutrition should incorporate key nutrients targeted at combating these changes. Choosing to feed age and activity appropriate nutrition is best for meeting your dogs’ nutritional needs.

Can food and treats can be incorporated into the diet, but are not necessary. Treats should be formulated for the dog – not table scraps, and remember do not over-indulge as you will most likely be providing excessive calories, which can lead to an overweight condition..

Question 3-
Our youngest is a runner. He runs off and lately does not listen or come back. How can we get him to stop doing this?

Training dogs to listen to their owners is a struggle that many pet parents face; however, it is one of the most fundamental things young dogs need to learn. At such a young age, your dog thinks it’s a game and you will need lots of patience to train him, but it can be done.

Your dog needs to learn that listening and coming to you is important, so be very positive and encouraging when he does so. Sometimes I like to give pups a treat when they have a great day with training, the positive reinforcement often seems to work, but remember to not over do it. It is important to not chase after your dog when he runs away from you, he will think you are playing with him and it ultimately is giving him the attention he wants. It is best to start the training slowly, I recommend in a small room in your home and progress to more open areas as his behavior improves.

For additional information on puppy training visit iams.ca for videos looking at leash training, expert advice on listening, feeding, vet visits and more when it comes to your young furry friends.

Question 4-

How often should we be bathing the dogs? Is there a shampoo that is good for their skin?

Not only is pet grooming very important for the overall health of your dog, it also maintains a healthy appearance. You should bathe your dogs at least once every three months to help remove oil and dirt that can cause bad odours. However if your dogs are spending a lot of time outdoors, I would recommend bathing them more frequently.

Some tricks for bathing are to use a gentle brush to comb your dog’s hair as this will remove any loose hairs. Fill your basin with lukewarm water, I recommend about four inches of water. Use either a pitcher or a hose to gently wet your dog. Work a pet shampoo into their fur, one section at a time, until you build up a nice lather and then rinse. Pat your dog dry with a fluffy, soft towel.

When it comes to shampoo, do not use a human one as they are too acidic for your dogs skin and can cause irritations. Use a dog shampoo as these are formulated to ensure that the pH balance of your dog’s skin is not compromised.

Again, I can certainly offer you general advice, but I would strongly recommend you speak to your own veterinarian would know best regarding their health, skin needs and well-being. 

Question 5-
What is the best way to take care of our dogs teeth?
Dental hygiene is often overlooked, but it is very important in maintaining your dog’s overall health.

Here on some tips on taking care of your dog’s teeth:

  • Know your dog’s mouth- do an inspection to have an idea of what your dog’s mouth looks like so you’ll be able to detect any changes right away. Gums should be pink and teeth should be clean. If you notice the gums are red or white this can be a sign of something wrong and you should take your dog to a vet.
  • Brush your dog’s teeth regularly! This is very simple and will ensure that plaque and tartar build up do not lead to more serious issues. Be sure to ask your vet for brushing techniques if you are unsure.
  • Consider tartar control pet treats- an easy and delicious way to ensure tartar is kept at bay
  • Give him something to chew on- having your dog chew on a soft toy will massage the gums and scrape tartar off of the teeth

Question 6-
We have a Macaw and have not yet let the bird out around the dogs. What is the best way to introduce them safely?
The best way to introduce new pets to your dogs is to do so slowly as their reactions to one another can be unpredictable. Interactions should be supervised at all times and be watchful for overly intense or predatory play behavior. A veterinarian specializing in exotics and birds may provide additional advice for helping you achieve one big happy family.

Question 7-
My dogs are 1 Husky  1, Lab cross and 1 black lab. Is there anything about these breeds I should know?
Labs are one of the most popular dog breeds and it’s no surprise given their fun and loyal nature. Be sure to keep an eye on their body condition and weight as obesity can be an issue for this breed. They tend to gain weight easily if they aren’t active.

Huskies are energetic and athletic dogs. As a breed they are remarkably healthy and have few health concerns. They do have a thick coat which requires regular attention and brushing. 

Consider visiting iams.ca for more tips on the care and feeding of your specific breed of dogs! You might also look into walking groups in your area to meet pet owners with similar breeds and exchange experiences and tales!

DISCLAIMER: The information provided is for informational and educational purposes only. This information should not be substituted for the guidance and advise of your veterinarian or a
behavior professional. For nutritional information please visit www.iams.ca or contact the Iams Consumer Care Nutrition Specialists toll free at 1-800-675-3849.


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