Eyes on Peas in Grain-Free Diets &ndash

In 2019, the FDA released a list of grain-free dog foods potentially linked to an increased risk of developing dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).

To learn more about these diets’ ingredients, researchers from Tufts University conducted metabolomic profiling of nine of the diets on the FDA list that listed three or more pulses (legume seeds like peas and lentils), potatoes or sweet potatoes as main ingredients replacing grains.

In an article published in the journal Scientific Reports in August, the researchers identified peas as a leading suspect among the compounds analyzed. The article stressed that more research is needed to investigate the potential link.

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Researchers Identify Deafness Gene &ndash

Researchers at the University of Helsinki and the Folkhalsan Research Center have discovered the cause for a rare type of deafness in Rottweilers called nonsyndromic early-onset hereditary canine hearing loss.

The study, published in May in the journal Human Genetics, identified a variant in the LOXHD1 gene that affects the function of the cilia of the cochlear sensory cells.

The finding is significant because it means that dogs used for breeding can now be tested for the defect so it isn’t passed on to future puppies. The discovery may also help researchers better understand hearing loss in humans.

Go Green this Holiday &ndash

As the end-of-the-year holidays approach, you may be inspired to create lots of edible goodies from your kitchen, as your loyal dog watches intently. No need to make your dog green with envy. Why not fortify him by treating him to some healthy green foods?

Not all green-colored foods are safe for your canine chum, so that’s why Dogster reached out to two leading veterinarians to identify safe greens and dangerous ones.

Stepping up to the (food) plate with answers are Dr. Justine Lee of Twin Cities, Minnesota, the country’s only board-certified veterinary specialist in both toxicology and emergency critical care medicine. Also offering advice is Dr. Lindsey Bullen, a board-certified veterinary nutritionist who practices at the Blue Pearl Veterinary Specialty Hospital in Cary, North Carolina.

Both experts are on a mission to ensure your dog spends the holidays happily at your home — and not inside a veterinary emergency clinic.

“I definitely see more dogs coming to our ER over the holidays,” says Dr. Lee, who is also chief executive officer of VETgirl and hosts the ER Vet show each week on Pet Life Radio.

She also points out that in the top toxins of 2020 report released by the Animal Poison Control Center, human foods unsafe for dogs ranked third, only behind over-the-counter medications and human prescription medications.

Good greens

This list of dog-safe green foods gets the healthy green light because these foods are loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber. You’ll find these in dog foods or you can feed a small amount as treat:

Green beans

Another perk of dishing up is that they are low in calories and help dogs feel full and not pack on the pounds during the holidays.

Some dogs enjoy munching on raw, cleaned, green veggies making this safe list, especially green beans. If your dog takes a pass, Dr. Bullen recommends that you try steaming theses greens and allowing to cool before adding them as toppers to your dog’s meal.

If possible, purchase organically grown vegetables to ensure no pesticides or chemicals were added during the growing process.

As much as you may enjoy butter, olive oil and spices added to your greens, serve them plain to your dog to avoid any issues, like upset stomach, vomiting or diarrhea.

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Caution for these greens

What human green foods should never be given to dogs?

Green grapes. In fact, all hues of grapes and raisins. These sugar-packed fruits can cause acute kidney issues if ingested by dogs. Additionally, grapes can cause choking and may block a dog’s airway, causing him to stop breathing and collapse.

Here are a couple of green foods that are not toxic, but are certainly not 100% safe for dogs:

Avocados. Dr. Lee clarifies that avocados are not poisonous to dogs, but are deadly to birds and livestock due to a fungicidal called persin. Dogs seem to be more resistant to persin than birds and livestock.

“If your dog eats a whole bowl of guacamole, he might have an upset stomach,” Dr. Lee says. “The bigger danger is the pit that can get stuck in the stomach and intestines and definitely put a dog in danger.”

Dr. Bullen adds, “Avocados have wonderful nutritional properties and are sources of good fat. But my concern is the slippery pit. I err on the side of caution and do not feed avocados to my dog, Heidi.”

Raw asparagus. A dog may incur mild gastrointestinal distress if he eats a lot of these green sprigs. Another negative: Much of the nutrients are lost when you cook asparagus. And don’t forget: Anyone or any dog who eats asparagus produces urine with a pungent odor.

How much safe greens should you give your dog at the holidays or any time of the year?

“To play it totally safe, make sure it is less than 10% of the dog’s diet so it reduces the risk of any gastrointestinal distress,” Dr. Bullen says.

Dr. Lee’s parting advice: Pre-program your cellphone with the phone numbers for your local veterinary clinic, the nearest veterinary emergency hospital and the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline (888-426-4435 and aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control).

“In a pet emergency, minutes count,” she says. “Always call ahead, so that the vet team can be ready when you arrive with your dog.”

Put a little “green” in your shopping cart:

Zuke’s Superfood Blend with Great Greens; $7.49. | zukes.com or chewy.com

Dr. Harvey’s Veg to Bowl; $36.95. | drharveys.com

Because, Animals Omega & Probiotic Sprinkles for Dogs; $24. | becauseanimals.com

Stuff the Stockings with Care &ndash

If dogs could write letters to Santa Paws, they would definitely ask for tasty treats and, maybe, a dose of calmness. The upcoming holiday season coupled with this ongoing pandemic may trigger anxiety, stress and fear in some once mellow dogs.

“There are some pets who adjust and adapt, but there are others who are desperately trying to find ways to cope,” says Dr. Lisa Radosta, a board-certified veterinary behaviorist who operates the Florida Veterinary Behavior Service in West Palm Beach, Florida. “Stress will get worse in these pets if we ignore it.”

By definition, stress is the general term used to describe any physical, mental or emotional toll on a dog. Fear is a normal response to a real or perceived threat, and anxiety is the anticipation of a response.

Stress, fear and anxiety can trigger medical conditions in some dogs, by weakening the immune system and causing gastrointestinal upset.

Unaddressed, some rattled dogs may:

become major yappers
start piddling in the house
wolf down food at mealtime
vault off the sofa to charge the front door when a delivery arrives
stick to you like a shadow as you move from room to room

Or do all of the above and more.

Stuff those stockings

Of course, there are traditional dog treats, made even more fun when it’s a special seasonal treat. To add other items to the stocking that aren’t so traditional but really show you care, Santa Paws (aka Dogster) delivers a rundown of some healthy stocking stuffers to relieve holiday or just regular stress in your dog:

Toys with squeakers

These toys can tap your dog’s inner hunter. Encourage and praise your dog for ripping out the stuffing and extracting that coveted prize — the squeaker.

“Let your dog take out the squeaker — it is great fun for your dog,” Dr. Radosta says. “Keep a supply of these toys and bring out new ones and toss away the destroyed ones. Your dog needs a healthy outlet like this. Otherwise, he will dig in your backyard, bark out the window and destroy your furniture.”

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Holiday Miniz 3-Pack Naughty and Nice Bones $9.99. zippypaws.com

Holiday Brainey-Reindeer $8.99. zippypaws.com

Pheromone diffuser

Available in sprays, plug-ins, collars and even in travel sizes, products like Adaptil contain synthetic calming pheromones specifically for dogs.

“Pheromones affect the dog’s brain in a different way than other smells,” Dr. Radosta says. “They are more connected to the emotional sections of the brain. People can’t detect the smell of these products, but their dogs definitely can.”

One diffuser covers 600 to 700 square feet, so don’t go overboard on the number in your home. Help calm your dog by also spraying inside your car and his crate during road trips or drives to the veterinary clinic.

If your dog loves opening wrapped gifts, don’t take it personally if he doesn’t go gaga over this stocking stuffer.

“My dog, Maverick, doesn’t get excited when he opens this gift,” Dr. Radosta says. “It’s like giving your kid vitamins for Christmas.

Cuddly stuffed toys

These stocking stuffers deliver hug-ability and comfort for those dogs who like sitting on or resting against a soft, plush toy that may look like a doggie pal.

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Snuffle and licki mats

These food puzzles are the canine equivalent of you doing a crossword puzzle. They require your dog to focus on the food mission, distracting them from perceived stressful situations.

“Food is fun for a lot of dogs,” Dr. Radosta says. “Licki mats and snuffle mats can definitely encourage them to use their noses to hunt and forage for food. They keep dogs mentally entertained.”

Try rotating each type so your dog doesn’t get too ho-hum about the same food mat or puzzle.

Calming music

Music with predictable tempos like classical genre can be calming sounds to an anxious dog. Playing music or white noise devices may help block out outside aggravating noises to your dog, such as delivery trucks or leashed dogs walking by in front of your house.

Special clothing designed to calm dogs

Thundershirts and other clothing brands were created to help reduce feelings of separation anxiety in some dogs.

“The concept is that pressure reduces stresses as it does in babies who are swaddled,” Dr. Radosta says. “Just make sure that you apply these pet shirts per the directions, so you put it on correctly.

Comfy dog beds

Figure out your dog’s napping and snuggling styles before shopping. “My dog has a little arthritis in his elbows, so I bought an orthopedic bed for him in colors that match my home’s interior — gray and blue,” Dr. Radosta says. “I paid attention to how he sleeps — flat on his side spread out — so I could buy a bed that was long enough to match how he sleeps.”

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Catnip for dogs

New research is showing that the benefits of catnip for cats can also help some dogs calm down. Geralynn Cada-Ragan, a certified professional dog trainer, is part of the team at Meowijuana that recently added a lineup of items for dogs called Doggijuana that contain dogginip.

“If you put dogginip in a dog’s food, mix it with peanut butter on a licki mat or in a toy, you up the attraction factor and make these items more appealing to a dog,” she says. “This is another way to distract a dog and help him get that extra amount of calm.”

Dogginip $9.99. doggijuana.com

CBD treats and Zylkene supplements

The popularity of people using cannabidiol (CBD) products to ease anxiety, pain and other issues is sparking use on their pets. CBD items come in treats, soft chews, sprays, tinctures and capsules for dogs, but these products are not regulated and do vary in quality.

“We do not know what dose is right for dogs for CBD, and we certainly do not know how safe CBD is,” Dr. Radosta says. “There may be promising research on the use of CBD for epilepsy and arthritis, but its use has not been proven yet for behavior issues.”

Zylkene is an over-the-counter food supplement that contains a calming natural milk protein. It is most effective when given before a stress-inducing event, like the arrival of holiday houseguests, because it does not cause drowsiness.

Paw CBD Peanut Butter for Dogs $69.99/600mg strength. cbdmd.com

Suzie’s CBD Soft Chews $24.95. suziespettreats.com

©Slavica | Getty Images

The gifts that keep giving

Here’s a dandy gift idea you can’t wrap and stuff in a stocking — treat your dog to a workout every day.

“Dogs need a balance of physical and mental exercise,” Geralynn says. “Take your dog for a brisk walk or a run to help them get their energy out. Or, if the weather is bad, train them by having them go up and down the stairs or back and forth on a long hallway. A tired dog is a good dog.”

Focus on building your dog’s can-do confidence and unleash positive feedback when he masters a new trick or pops into a sit without hesitation.

“Keep in mind that our dogs are experts at smelling our body chemistry,” Geralynn adds. “Your level of stress can make your dog more stressed.”

Houseguests can also trigger unwanted emotions in some dogs. Days or weeks before guests arrive, train your dog to head for a sanctuary space, a safe, private spot. It can be a spare bedroom, walk-in closet, laundry room or other space away from the hustle and bustle.

“Your dog needs and deserves a place to go that feels safe and where he will not be bothered by visitors,” Dr. Radosta says. “Condition your dog now that this is his safe, calm place by tossing in treats and putting his favorite toys in that space.”

Based on his response, strive to increase the time he spends inside this closed space.

“You are giving your dog an agreement that this is a sanctuary that he can go to and will not be bothered by visitors,” she says. “Be patient and supportive, because one of the pillars of preventive behavioral medicine is independence training.”

You and your dog need and deserve a calming holiday season — one that is full of jolly and no folly.

Holiday Foliage Safety Facts &ndash

Green and red are definitely the go-to colors during the holidays. But which holiday plants are safe to mingle with your dog? (For other pets, check ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.) Dr. Lee assesses these popular holiday decorations:

Poinsettias: Dr. Lee says, “They are not poisonous to dogs. The milky sap when you break open a leaf may cause a little bit of irritation if ingested, but it is not going to be a big deal.”

Mistletoe: “It can potentially be poisonous, but rarely results in any heart arrhythmias. If ingested, it can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Fortunately, mistletoe is usually hanging up high and out of reach of dogs. In my 25 years of practice, I’ve never seen a dog poisoned from it.”

Holly: “Holly is pointy and spiky, making it not very attractive to dogs or cats. It can cause mild vomiting and diarrhea if eaten, but it is not a plant dogs want to eat.”

Christmas cactus: “I have one in my house. It is a very soft succulent that is very beautiful. At best, it may cause vomiting and diarrhea if eaten by a dog, but it is not poisonous.”

Christmas tree: “Evergreens are prickly, so pets rarely try to eat or chew them. As for the water in a bowl at the bottom of a real tree, it is not a big deal. Just keep your Christmas tree well-hydrated and block your dog from drinking out of it by placing aluminum foil over the bowl to cover it.”

Pine needles: Can puncture or irritate your dog’s stomach if swallowed, so prevent your dog from nosing around the tree and lower temptation by not placing any wrapped food gifts under the tree for your dog to smell and try to eat.

However, more dangerous is the tinsel hanging on the tree. Dr. Lee strongly encourages you to decorate sans this shimmering decoration. “No tinsel should be on trees in dog and cat households because of the risk of them swallowing this linear foreign body.”