Enzymes are the building blocks of life. The functions of enzymes are the same in humans as in animals. These little proteins control essential chemical reactions inside our pets’ (and our) bodies, such as building bones, developing red blood cells, healing wounds, driving heart beats, thinking, breathing and digestion. Without enzymes, life couldn’t exist.
There are three types of enzymes: metabolic enzymes, digestive enzymes, and food enzymes. Metabolic enzymes are responsible for operating the body’s organs, tissues and cells. Digestive enzymes break down foods, allowing their nutrients to be absorbed into the bloodstream and used in body functions. Digestive enzymes ensure our pets get the greatest possible nutritional value from their diets. Lastly, food enzymes are those supplied directly from food.
When our dog or cat is born, he or she has an ample supply of enzymes, but stress, environmental factors, processed foods and aging all reduce the body’s ability to replenish the enzyme supply. Think of enzymes as a bank account. The body is constantly pulling from this account to maintain functions critical to life, and it’s essential to make deposits into this account to ensure the body has what it needs to “pay the bills” (stay healthy).
Digestion trumps all other functions. Think of digestion as the mortgage. This bill has to be paid before anything else, and if there aren’t enough funds to meet the need, the body will pull enzymes from other “accounts” to ensure digestion is completed.
How do we make deposits into this enzyme bank account? One way is to feed our pets raw foods. When foods are heated over 118 degrees Fahrenheit, their enzymes are destroyed. However, even raw foods only contain enough enzymes to digest that food. When considering our bank account metaphor, raw foods make a deposit that is instantly withdrawn. They don’t have any surplus to help replenish the account.
The most effective way to maintain a healthy enzyme level is through supplementation of high quality digestive enzymes.
Unlike hormone replacement therapy, the body does not become dependent on enzyme supplementation. Enzymes are already being produced in the body in response to food intake. The problem lies in the inadequate production of enzymes to meet the demands of stress factors, including denatured food, environmental toxins, physical exercise and emotional stress. Therefore, enzyme supplements help the body to simply catch up to its demands.
In Clover’s digestive aids, OptaGest and Fresh Digest, contain clinically tested levels of digestive enzymes. Just 1/4 teaspoon contains 45 mg of human-quality, plant-based enzymes in addition to 700 mg of organic prebiotic to support a healthy intestinal balance. Just sprinkle over or mix into daily meals to help maintain your pet’s enzyme bank account.
Interested in learning more about enzymes? We recommend The Healing Power of Enzymes by Dr. DicQie Fuller, PH.D., D.Sc.
Your kitten weighed only a few ounces at birth. He’ll put on about 2 pounds in the next 10 weeks and continue to gain weight rapidly until he’s about 6 or 7 months of age. After that, he’ll continue to gain more slowly until about 11 months of age; his female littermates will grow until they are 9 to 10 months of age. Food fuels not only his growth, but also his energetic play.
Kittens start eating solid food — or, actually, soft food — at about 4 weeks old. A meat-based canned kitten food is ideal for this time. They’re still drinking their mother’s milk at this age and will typically continue to nurse as well as eat kitten food until about 5 or 6 weeks of age.
After weaning, kittens do best on a diet formulated for kittens. Kitten food is more nutrient dense, supplying calories and nutrients in smaller amounts, easier for little stomachs to hold. Avoid adult cat diets labeled for maintenance; they don’t have the higher protein and fat content that kittens need. A dry kitten food should have about 35 percent protein and 12 to 24 percent fat content; canned food will appear to have less because it is diluted with water.
Don’t feed a kitten puppy or dog food. Unlike a dog, a cat is an obligate carnivore, and her body cannot obtain some of the essential nutrients from the vegetable-based ingredients in dog foods. Cats have a higher minimum requirement for protein in their food than do dogs, and they also require some nutrients that dogs don’t necessarily need in their food. For example, cats and kittens require taurine, an amino acid present only in animal tissue, in order to maintain cardiovascular and visual health.
Although cats are carnivores, that doesn’t mean you should feed them just meat. Doing so can lead to nutritional imbalances. Quality commercial cat foods are supplemented to provide optimal nutrition for your kitten. So simply feeding a diet of meat is inadequate. Rapidly growing kittens are especially susceptible to these nutritional imbalances. Nor should you feed lots of fish, which can cause a condition called steatitis (or yellow fat disease). Don’t add vitamin or mineral supplements to a complete and balanced diet. Doing so has been known to cause severe medical problems in kittens.
You’ll want to introduce dry food (perhaps softened at first by moistening it with water) so that your cat will be familiar with both dry and wet foods. In fact, you can offer a variety of foods and flavors to hopefully encourage your cat to be more accepting of novel foods as an adult. But don’t go overboard catering to your kitten’s demands; you don’t want to encourage a finicky eater! And don’t switch the entire meal from one food to another, as this can cause gastric upset. Just introduce small bits of various flavors as adjuncts to the meal.
Because of the kitten’s small stomach, it’s best to divide his food into three or four small meals a day. You can switch to twice-a-day feeding around 6 months, but some older cats also prefer small, frequent meals. Let young kittens eat as much as they want; they will almost certainly not become overweight. You can free feed as long as other pets don’t eat all of the food and you leave out only dry food. Young kittens need a lot of calories for their size.
Most kittens are naturally slender, but if your kitten is overly bony or pot bellied, contact your veterinarian. Parasites and other medical conditions should be ruled out first, but if the problem points to your kitten’s diet, get your veterinarian’s opinion on the best diet for your kitten. An occasional missed meal is no cause for concern, but if your kitten goes several hours without eating (especially a kitten less than 8 weeks old) or is vomiting and has diarrhea at the same time, consult your veterinarian.
The coat and skin should look healthy, and your kitten should be energetic. The stools should be firm, well-formed, and brown in color. If your cat is underweight, seems tired or “quiet,” or has poor skin and coat condition or loose stools, see your veterinarian.
Your kitten should always have access to fresh water. You can give your kitten milk occasionally, but it is not necessary. Also, the enzymes necessary for digesting milk decline shortly after weaning, so some kittens may develop diarrhea from it.
Don’t leave wet food out, as it can quickly go bad. Store food in a cool place, and don’t buy more dry food than you can use in a few weeks.
At around 9 to 12 months of age, change your kitten to adult food. Make the switch gradually, mixing a little more of the adult food with the kitten food over several days. If you leave your cat on kitten food for too long, he could gain too much weight.
What your kitten eats in his first year of life helps form the foundation for a lifetime of good nutrition, so be sure to feed a quality kitten diet to help him on his way to healthy adulthood.
By: Rebecca Rose
The name for this is coprophagia. It is a common problem and there are ways to make it stop!
Sometimes the cause of coprophagia is behavioral. The dog must be trained that eating his feces, or the feces of other animals, is not okay. This can be accomplished by spraying bitter apple over the feces.
Another common reason for coprophagia is that the animal is not adequately digesting the nutrients in the food, leaving partially digested food in the feces. This can be stopped with an enzyme supplement such as OptaGest. Use a product with plant-based enzymes as they will work fast and be most complete. The enzymes will allow the dog or cat to digest all of the nutrients in the food and absorb them into the bloodstream. You will even notice the size and color of the stool changing. In cases like these, stool eating should cease in a few days after starting the supplement regimen.
By: Rebecca Rose, In Clover founder and product developer
If you have ever watched your cat wrenching to expel a hairball, or if you have stepped on a hairball in the middle of the night, you have experienced the discomfort of hairballs. Hairballs are known in scientific circles as trichobezoar and are very common in cats, especially in long-haired cats (although they occur with any length of hair). They are more common during warmer seasons and climates.
Studies have shown that cats normally spend as much as one-third of their waking hours cleaning and grooming themselves. Because of the structure of their tongue, a majority of this hair becomes consumed during grooming.
Cat hair is made up of keratin, a type of protein. When the cat is unable to break down and digest the hair, it forms into a hairball in the digestive tract. It is this hairball that causes the discomfort.
OptaGest gets to the root of hairballs with protease, the enzyme that digests proteins. OptaGest works to break down the hair so it can easily pass through the system. With daily use of OptaGest, hairballs will be a thing of the past.
Watch the active enzymes in OptaGest digesting a cup of oatmeal: In Clover Enzyme Test.
By: Rebecca Rose, In Clover founder and product developer
I heard the sound of a pan sliding on a tile floor, I quickly looked down to my side. Just as I thought, nothing there. My constant companion, a slightly overweight Golden named Floyd, was gone. Let me first explain that Floyd has always been what you might call willowy or delicate. On frequent trips to the open space, he is typically greeted with “what a pretty girl!” and he beams. A few months ago, Floyd hit middle age and his girlish figure disappeared seemingly overnight. A complete vet work up showed a very healthy dog and a recommendation for dieting.
When I heard that telltale sound of the cat food bowl scraping across the floor, I knew that Floyd had fallen to the temptation. I called his name, heard his head go up, tags jingle and then watched him avoid my gaze as he walked up the stairs and past me to the back door… with the handle of the cat food spoon protruding 4 inches out of his mouth. He obediently handed over the (compostable) spoon but not before I had the entire family gather around to see what he has stooped to. No harm, no foul with this episode but, according to Embrace Pet Insurance, gastrointestinal claims rank in the top 5 by number. See the most common items swallowed by dogs and cats.
With portion control of a very good dog food and more exercise, Floyd is watching his waistline return. His digestive system is kept healthy with OptaGest digestive supplement and a gate around the cat food and accompanying utensils.
What has your dog or cat gotten into lately?
By: Karen Taylor
Meet the wild sand cat. This hardy species of feline lives in some of the world’s harshest desert terrains. This kitty beats the heat by burrowing by day and hunting at night. With water scarce, they rely on moisture from their prey. We supply the habitat and prey for our domestic feline friends, so it’s our job to keep them safe when temperatures rise. Heat stroke in cats is less common than in dogs, but they are not immune. Warning signs (listed in order of progression) include fast and frantic noisy breathing, a bright red tongue or gums, vomiting, unsteady walking/staggering, diarrhea, pale blue or gray lips. If these signs are ignored, and nothing is done to lower the cats body temperature, coma and death are real possibilities.
Short-nosed cats, long-haired cats and cats that have breathing or heart conditions are especially susceptible to heat stroke. If heat stroke is suspected, apply cooling first aid by wetting your cat’s coat (wrap in a wet towel, gently wet them down in a sink, or use what you have available if outdoors) and get your cat to your vet or emergency vet ASAP!
Avoid the risk of heat stroke by keeping kitties indoors on hot days, providing them with cool spots to “burrow” and plenty of water. Cats vary in how much water they drink, so consider your cat’s diet as well; how much moisture is in your cat’s food? Proper hydration is always important to overall health, and dehydration increases the risk of heat stroke.
Keep cats out of cars, and help them avoid mishaps like being locked in garages or sheds that turn into solar collectors when temperatures rise! If transporting a kitty in a crate, make sure there is ample ventilation and water to keep your cat comfortable and healthy. Keep them out of direct sun and travel when temperatures are cooler.
Take a lesson from savvy desert cats to help your less-wild kitties not only survive, but continue to thrive during the heat of summer!