Ask the vet: Dog food dos and don'ts

Ask the vet: Dog food dos and don'ts

NEW YORK CITY - Did you know whippets and Italian greyhounds don't like the cold?

Did you also know how easy it is for dogs to ingest marijuana?

FOX 5 NY's Natasha Verma talked to chief veterinarian Dr. Jerry Klein of the American Kennel Club about what owners should know about their dogs, covering food sensitivity, marijuana's impact on pups and protecting them in the winter time. Her interview is part of the FOX 5 NY special "Meet the Breeds," airing this Friday at 10:30 p.m.

Here's what you need to know about your dog and diet:

Dogs like consistency and don't like change. In fact, some dogs don't do well with change.

"They don't speak, but they do tell us in their own way." Dr. Jerry Klein

Dr. Klein mentioned there are a lot of boutique diets out there, but dogs don't really need them. Klein added that he thinks the basic commercial brands of dog foods are the way to go as long as they are completely balanced.

If owners want to gain a better understanding of their dogs' food, Klein suggests visiting AAFCO. AAFCO is a non-profit organization that sets standards for the quality and safety of animal feed and pet food in the United States.

NOTE: AAFCO does not provide veterinary medical advice or recommendations of any type.

Klein said if you have a rapidly growing puppy, especially a large or giant breed, he recommends looking for food made for a large or rapidly growing puppy.

Other than that, if your dog is maintaining a healthy weight, produces healthy stool and has a healthy coat, then Klein does not recommend changing food.

Why can some dogs be sensitive to food?

Klein said food sensitivities are really common. Klein found that his dog is sensitive to chicken.

He's had many dogs and never thought that they would have a problem with chicken.

Klein said there is a reason why the protein is on the dog food label. He said it is really important that pet owners read the label and know the first three or four ingredients listed.

If your dog has constant itching or scratching, or is consistently licking its feet, talk to your vet about changing their food, Klein said.

Marijuana and our dogs

<div>Cannabis plants grow in the greenhouse at Vireo Health's medical marijuana cultivation facility, August 19, 2016 in Johnstown, New York. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)</div>
Cannabis plants grow in the greenhouse at Vireo Health's medical marijuana cultivation facility, August 19, 2016 in Johnstown, New York. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

"All it takes is a little for a small dog to become toxic." Dr. Jerry Klein

With the legalization of recreational pot, Klein said he has seen a lot of dogs get into marijuana throughout his career. Klein said there are three ways that dogs can get into marijuana:

  1. Inhaling second-hand smoke: If someone is smoking in a small room with a small dog, the dog can get high.

  2. Eating something from the street: Dogs can ingest something either by walking down the street or from someone's ashtray when they are not careful.

  3. Ingesting an owner's edible: Marijuana could be ingested in gummies, brownies or cookies.

What are the symptoms you should look out for?

  • Get lethargic or sometimes hyper

  • Urinate on themselves

  • Puking

Why dogs might vomit is because marijuana has antinausea properties. It also depends on how much marijuana a dog gets. Klein says to call your vet and be honest.

What should pet owners know about an aging dog and how to take care of them?

"You want to catch something before it happens." Dr. Jerry Klein

Klein said one thing pet owners can do before their dogs get old is to prevent them from getting overweight.

Obesity is the number one preventative health issue in American dogs today, Klein said. He added the excess weight puts excess stress on their joints and backs.

Klein said to make sure your dog visits the vet once or twice a year to make sure nothing develops in their thirst, urine production, and behavior.

Protecting our dogs in the winter:

"Don't wait that long if your dog is shivering. Be on top of it." Dr. Jerry Klein

Klein said most dogs are not acclimated to the cold weather.

"If it's too cold for us, it's probably too cold for our dogs," Klein said. "The older they get, the more sensitive they get to it."

Some breeds just don't like the cold, including whippets and Italian greyhounds.

Klein was never a believer in sweaters for dogs, but now he said they should get used to wearing them.

Owners also have to be careful of rock salt. Klein said if you live in the city or any area where neighbors use it or commercial areas, make sure to clean your dog's paws really well before coming in.

He suggests cleaning their paws with a warm towel or getting them a pair of booties.

"My dog for example when I don't have her wear booties if it's really cold out she'll start lifting a leg or two, and she's telling me. Look at your dog, read your dog, before it shows signs of being really at stress" Klein said.

If it's very cold, Klein also suggests limiting their time outside.