Veterinarian Offers 7 Tips for Feeding Your Pet, In Response to the Pet Food Recall

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Dr. Sonja Olson gives specific steps to help concerned pet parents.

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The information is constantly changing and evolving. So, it's no surprise that pet owners are worried and even confused about what to feed their pets, in wake of the recent pet food recall. "Toxicologists are still struggling to know how this all happened," according to Dr. Sonja Olson of Florida Veterinary Specialists & Cancer Treatment Center, in Tampa. "The dilemma is targeting the exact ingredient and the source, so that we can determine which products are safe and which ones are not."

So, while scientists work hard to pinpoint the problems, how exactly is a pet owner supposed to feed their pet? Dr. Olson offers these 7 tips:

1. The foods that have been the least incriminated are the dry foods. Stick with the dry foods right now, just to be safe. Pay attention to the labels on all these foods and consider selecting a type of food without wheat gluten. Many semi-moist and canned foods contain wheat gluten, while most dry foods do not.

2. Consider your pet's lifestyle and medical issues. Pay attention to the other ingredients on each bag of food. Note the amount of sodium, especially if there's a heart or kidney problem. Peek at the percentage of protein versus the carbohydrates, etc.

3. Be aware of what's also in pet food TREATS. Apply the same principal to your treats, as you do with the food. Some of those treats are not at all good for your pets. They can be very high in sodium, etc.

4. Home cooking is another option. Home cooking is often easier for feeding dogs, than cats. Dogs are omnivores and often less finicky, making it easier to change foods. Cats, being 100% carnivorous are often very fussy. You can find pet food cookbooks online or at the bookstore. Cats may need vitamins and supplements to make sure their home cooked meals are complete. Cats are very sensitive to having a vitamin D deficiency.

5. Prescription diets have tighter guidelines and controls on their ingredients than other pet food. They are still considered safe. One prescription diet has voluntarily been recalled, as a precaution, while experts determine if the product's wheat gluten, which contains melamine, is contributing to the problem.

6. All natural foods are not necessarily better than other ones. People should pay attention to every bag of food they look at.

7. Talk with your veterinarian, rather than the salespeople at the food store. Your expert is going to be your veterinarian. They know your pet's history and lifestyle. Your vet will be up to date with the latest on the recall and the ingredients of concern.

"This is a huge wake up call to the pet food industry, to veterinarians and to pet owners," adds Dr. Olson. "The problem can only make us better. We're going to be more educated pet parents in terms of what we're feeding our kids. In the vet community, we'll be more educated about pet nutrition. In the pet food industry, you know there are going to be new standards. Unfortunately, it took tragedy to bring us here."

Dr. Sonja Olson is a regular guest on television and radio in the Tampa area. She also provides comment for newspapers, magazines and online media. Dr. Olson is available for media interviews.

Media Contact: Jennifer Vickery at 727-946-2082 or Kelly Farnan at 727-709-5252

Florida Veterinary Specialists state-of-the-art facility is designed and equipped to provide emergency, specialty and critical care for pets. Specialty services include: acupuncture, avian and exotic, dermatology, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, radiology, surgery and more. It's located at 3000 Busch Lake Blvd. in Tampa. The emergency service is accessible 24 hours a day when a regular veterinarian is not available. FVS provides after-hours, weekend and holiday emergency services for many veterinary practices. Check out http://www.fvs.com for more

Florida Veterinary Specialists has a sister hospital in New York City. NYC Veterinary Specialists & Cancer Treatment Center opened its doors to the public on September 18, 2006. Initial specialties at the 20,000 square foot facility include: Behavioral Medicine, Cardiology, Critical Care, Dermatology, Emergency Medicine, Internal Medicine, Medical Oncology, Neurology/Neurosurgery, Ophthalmology, Radiation Oncology and Surgery. NYC Veterinary Specialists has a dedicated ICU, digital radiology, ultrasonography, MRI, computed tomography (CT) and radioiodine treatment for cats. It is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and is located in Manhattan at 410 W. 55th St. between 9th and 10th Avenues, across the street from the Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre. For more information, go to http://www.nyc-vs.com.

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