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FAQs: Pet Health Issues and Preventative Remedies

Pet Health Issue FAQs
This section of frequently asked questions addresses pet health issues and risks for specific cat and dog breeds, as well as holistic treatments and preventative measures. We hope the insightful answers will help you learn more about pet health issues in general and the health advantages of choosing Flint River Ranch premium health foods as part of a balanced diet that assists in the prevention or management of pet health problems.

If you have any questions that aren't listed below, please don't hesitate to send them to us. We welcome your feedback and would love to help with any pet-related questions you may have.
pawprint icon Why is excessive weight (obesity) a critical health issue for pets?
As with humans, excessive weight in dogs and cats places extra demands on virtually all of the organs of their bodies, resulting in numerous health risks. The risks of pet obesity are serious and often extremely costly, with disease and sometimes death as potential consequences. As is so often the case, it's much cheaper and easier to prevent issues than it is to treat and fix them.

Some cat and dog breeds are genetically predisposed to being overweight, a predisposition that can be made worse by lack of regular exercise and/or overfeeding (including free feeding). All cats have the potential to become overweight, but the problem tends to be more prevalent in mixed-breed cats, Persians, American Shorthair and Manx breeds.

Some of the more popular dog breeds prone to obesity are Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Beagles, Weimaraners, Dalmatians, Basset Hounds, Shetland Sheepdogs (Shelties), Mastiffs, St. Bernards, Great Danes, Elkhounds, English Springer Spaniels, Cocker Spaniels, Pugs, Dachshunds, Miniature Schnauzers, Miniature Poodles, Shih Tzus, Welsh Corgis, Bichon Frise (Bichons), and Cairn Terriers. Unfortunately, many of the dog breeds prone to hip dysplasia are also prone to obesity.

A weight control plan and/or premium weight management pet food diet such as Flint River Ranch Adult Cat Lite reduced calorie formula for cats, or Flint River Ranch Senior / Flint River Ranch PLUS premium reduced calorie formulas for dogs, coupled with regular exercise and plenty of fresh water available at all times, can result in long, healthy, pain- and disease-free lives for your feline and canine companions, as well as the enjoyable absence of several-thousand-dollar-vet bills for you.

For additional information, a list of the many health risks associated with obesity, treatment and prevention options, and details on the recommended Flint River Ranch products, please consult our full Obesity and Excessive Weight Health Risks in Pets page.
pawprint icon What is canine influenza and should I be concerned about the new dog flu virus? New to A+ Flint River Ranch
The internet and e-mail have helped spur rumors and growing worry among dog lovers of a newly discovered respiratory virus known as canine influenza, or the dog flu, that has killed dogs in numerous states.

While there is legitimate concern among veterinarians, kennel operators, and pet owners due to the lack of a vaccine and insufficient immunity to the new dog flu, Internet and hearsay tales of massive dog fatalities due to canine influenza are just that – tales.

The disease is only deadly in rare cases — about 10 percent in puppies and old dogs, and approximately 5 to 8 percent in adult dogs, according to experts — and most dogs recover from the infection, but it is of legitimate concern because it appears to be spreading rapidly. Additionally, nearly 20 percent of infected canine influenza dogs do not display any clinical signs but can still spread the disease.

Approximately 80 percent of dogs exposed to the virus contract only a mild form of the disease, which mimics kennel cough, or canine bronchitis. Kennel Cough is rarely serious, and most dogs are regularly vaccinated for kennel cough with the bordetella vaccine once or twice a year. The bordetella vaccine does not work on the new canine respiratory disease, but development of a vaccine for canine flu is currently underway.

The majority of dog deaths due to canine influenza have occurred at greyhound tracks in Florida, Massachusetts, Arizona, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Texas and Iowa, but there have been documented cases in some kennels and shelters.

For additional information, symptoms to watch for, and treatment and prevention recommendations, please consult our full Canine Influenza / Dog Flu Virus page.
pawprint icon What are osteoarthritis and degenerative joint disease in pets?
Osteaoarthritis (osteo - bone, arthritis - joint inflammation and pain) and Degenerative Joint Disease are conditions resulting from wear and tear that causes inflammation of the joints, leading to swelling, pain and stiffness. These conditions can affect any dog at any age but are most common in older large-breed dogs. Excessive body weight (obesity) can also greatly exacerbate the issue.

Many large and giant breed dogs are genetically predisposed to degenerative joint disease and osteoarthritis, especially Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Great Danes, Golden Retrievers, Doberman Pinschers, Mastiffs, St. Bernards, and Newfoundlands.

Symptoms of osteoarthritis include stiffness in moving joints (hips, knees, elbows, shoulders), favoring a limb, difficulty in rising, a hesitancy to jump, decreased activity level, and general lethargy.

Once the conditions begin they cannot be completely cured, but treatments and therapies are available to help maintain the health of the joints as much as possible, preventing further damage and relieving pain. Treatment options include chondroprotectants (chondro - cartilage), which are medications or supplements that work to maintain cartilage health. These types of supplements commonly include glucosamine, chondroitin, and possibly vitamins or other components. Chondroprotectants work by minimizing cartilage damage and swelling, enhancing new cartilage production, and increasing joint lubrication.

Flint River Ranch's glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate-fortified Flint River Ranch PLUS premium pet food and Jubilee Wafers are recommended for their potential value in helping pets suffering from or genetically predisposed to suffering from osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease.

For additional information, treatment options, and details on the recommended Flint River Ranch products, please consult our full Osteoarthritis in Pets page.
pawprint icon What is Feline Urinary Syndrome (F.U.S.)?
Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD), more commonly known as feline urinary syndrome (F.U.S.), is a scientific term used to describe a variety of urinary tract disorders in cats, including kidney and bladder stones, urinary blockage, and cystitis (an infection or inflammation of the bladder). Since numerous conditions fall into this diagnosis, it can be confusing to veterinarians and pet owners alike.

FLUTD can be caused by several factors (and combinations of these factors), which include stress, urinary pH, water and fiber intake in the cat's diet, and the ash content in the diet.

Male cats are much more likely to get this disease than females. While there is no specific means of prevention, a healthy and properly balanced diet can significantly reduce the chances of your cat getting FLUTD / FUS.

FUS researchers have made a connection between high urinary pH levels and magnesium. Look at the foods you are feeding your cat very carefully; some cat food manufacturers, including Flint River Ranch, have supplemented their dry and canned offerings with pH-controlling acidifiers like DL-Methionine to help to keep the cat's urine pH in the normal range of between 6 and 6.5.

Flint River Ranch's Premium Cat Food for kittens and adult cats, Flint River Ranch's Premium Lite Cat Food weight control recipe, and Flint River Ranch's Premium Hairball Management Formula Cat Food are all examples of diets that contain low ash and magnesium content and the acidifiers needed for maintaining proper pH.

For additional information, treatment options, and additional details on the recommended Flint River Ranch products, please consult our full F.U.S. / FLUTD page.
pawprint icon What is urolithiasis (urinary stones) in dogs?
Urolithiasis (urolith - urinary stone, -iasis - disease of) is a condition in which crystals in the urine combine to form stones, also called calculi or uroliths. These can be found anywhere in the urinary tract of dogs, where they cause irritation and secondary infection. Most end up in the bladder or urethra.

Dalmatians have a defect in the pathway that normally leads to the breakdown of urates, which are a by-product of protein digestion. This results in increased urate excretion in the urine (4 to 8 times that of other breeds) and predisposes the breed to the formation of urate crystals and, eventually, stones.

Other dog breeds predisposed to urolithiasis include Cocker Spaniels, Bichon Frise (Bichons), and Miniature Schnauzers (struvite stones - caused by magnesium ammonium phosphate); English Bulldogs (urate and/or cystine stones); Lhasa Apsos, Miniature Poodles, Miniature Schnauzers, and Yorkshire Terriers (calcium oxalate stones); English Bulldogs, Dachshunds, Newfoundlands, Irish and Scottish Terriers, Newfoundlands, and Irish Setters (cystine stones); and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels (xanthine stones).

Flint River Ranch has developed several premium pet food formulas to assist in the possible prevention of urinary stones, including our Flint River Ranch DryWater premium moist pet food formula, our Flint River Ranch Lamb and Rice premium formula with low purines, and our Flint River Ranch "Fish and Chips" Premium Pet Food lower protein formula with added fruits, vegetables, and essential fatty acids.

For additional information, treatment options, and details on the recommended Flint River Ranch products, please consult our full Urinary Stones in Dogs page.
pawprint icon What is hip dysplasia?
Hip dysplasia (hip abnormality or disease) is the medical term for "badly formed hip" and is a genetic issue that is extremely common in larger dog breeds. Many large and giant breed dogs are genetically predisposed to hip dysplasia, especially German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, Rottweilers, Great Danes, Golden Retrievers, Doberman Pinschers, Mastiffs, St. Bernards, Border Collies, Newfoundlands, English Mastiffs, Neopolitan Mastiffs, and Bullmastiffs. In some cases, about 50 percent of certain larger breeds are affected.

Flint River Ranch has developed two glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate-fortified products to assist in the possible prevention and holistic treatment of hip dysplasia: our Flint River Ranch PLUS premium pet food and our Jubilee Wafer dog biscuit treats.

For additional information, treatment options, and details on the recommended Flint River Ranch products, please consult our full Hip Dysplasia in Pets page.
pawprint icon What is elbow dysplasia?
Elbow dysplasia (elbow abnormality or disease) is similar to the more common hip dysplasia in that it is a genetic issue common in larger dog breeds. Dogs with elbow dysplasia typically show forelimb lameness and elbow pain, frequently in both forelimbs. While this is an inherited defect, environmental factors such as diet, activity, and trauma also have a role in the development and progression of the disease.

Many large breed dogs are affected, including Basset Hounds, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Bloodhounds, Bouvier des Flandres, Chow Chows, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Great Pyrenees, Irish Wolfhounds, Labrador Retrievers, Mastiffs, Newfoundlands, Rottweilers, St. Bernards, and Weimaraners. Elbow dysplasia is also more common in males than females.

Flint River Ranch's glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate-fortified Flint River Ranch PLUS premium pet food and Jubilee Wafers are recommended for their potential value in helping pets suffering from or genetically predisposed to suffering from elbow dysplasia.

For additional information, treatment options, and more on the recommended Flint River Ranch products, please see our detailed Elbow Dysplasia in Pets page.
pawprint icon What is a slipped spinal disc / intervertebral disc disease?
Intervertebral disc disease occurs when the jelly-like inner layer of the vertebral disc protrudes, or herniates, into the vertebral canal and presses on the spinal cord, typically causing extreme and debilitating pain. Disc problems such as herniated discs primarily occur in chondrodysplastic (chondro - cartilage, dysplastic - abnormal development) breeds such as the Dachshund, Beagle, Bassett Hound, Pomeranian, French Bulldog, Lhasa Apso, Pekingese, Shih Tzu, Welsh Corgi, Cocker Spaniel, and Miniature Poodle. Many of these dogs were bred to have short, thick legs, and although this is normal for the breeds, it is basically the result of abnormal development of cartilage.

Doberman Pinschers (Dobies) can also be affected by intervertebral disc disease, commonly in the neck region.

Flint River Ranch's glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate-fortified Flint River Ranch PLUS premium pet food and Jubilee Wafers are recommended for their potential value in helping pets suffering from or genetically predisposed to suffering from arthritis and joint pain, including disc disease and herniated discs.

For additional information, treatment options, and details on the recommended Flint River Ranch products, please consult our full Intervertebral Disc Disease in Pets page.
pawprint icon What is patellar luxation?
Patellar luxation occurs when a dog's kneecap slips out of the groove that allows it to slide up and down. There are several reasons why luxated patellars can occur, including malformation of the groove. Dogs will be lame when the patella is out of place, and over time the dog may develop other degenerative joint changes, such as osteoarthritis.

A predisposition to this disease is commonly inherited in the following breeds: Miniature and Toy Poodles, Yorkshire Terriers, Pomeranians, Pekingese, Chihuahuas, Boston Terriers, Basset Hounds, Bichon Frise (Bichons), Shih Tzus, Silky Terriers, and Lhasa Apsos. Patellar luxation can also occur in any breed as a result of trauma.

For additional information, treatment options, and recommended Flint River Ranch products, please see our detailed Patellar Luxation in Pets page.
pawprint icon What is osteochondrodysplasia?
Osteochondrodysplasia (osteo - bone, chondro - cartilage, dysplasia - abnormality of development) describes a range of disorders characterized by abnormal growth of cartilage and bone. Most of the disorders classified as osteochondrodysplasias affect the bones of the limbs. Pets with this condition are more likely to develop arthritis and joint pain.

Osteochondrodysplasia occurs in numerous dog breeds, including Basset Hounds, Daschunds, Alaskan Malamutes, Great Pyrenees, Labrador Retrievers, Irish Setters, Samoyeds, Norwegian Elkhounds, Samoyeds, and Scottish Deerhounds.

While there is no specific treatment or cure for this disease, intermittent joint pain can be treated with pain killers, anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g. buffered aspirin or drugs like Rimadyl), and "Chondroprotective agents" such as glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate. In some cases, surgery may be recommended to help to correct a deformity.

Flint River Ranch has developed two glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate-fortified products to assist in the possible prevention and holistic treatment of osteochondrodysplasia: our Flint River Ranch PLUS premium pet food and our Jubilee Wafers.

For additional information, treatment options, and details on the recommended Flint River Ranch products, please see our full Osteochondrodysplasia in Pets page.
Some of the information on various pet health issues courtesy of the Canine Inherited Disorders Database.
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