Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Obesity in Dogs

Definition
· Obesity (the storage of excess fat) is usually caused by excessive food intake and insufficient exercise.
· Estimates show that 40% to 50% of dogs are overweight and 25% of dogs are obese.
· Dogs can develop many obesity-related health problems.
· By examining your dog, veterinarians determine whether he or she is overweight or obese and help you create a weight-loss program.
· The most effective weight-loss plans involve increasing activity and feeding fewer calories. Causes Obesity (the storage of excess fat) is typically caused by excessive food intake and insufficient exercise.

According to estimates, 40% to 50% of dogs are overweight and 25% are obese. Obesity is more common in older, less active pets. Dogs that are fed homemade meals, table scraps and snacks are more likely to be overweight than dogs eating only a high-quality commercial pet food.

Diagnosis and treatment
There are many obesity-related health problems, and some medical conditions can lead to obesity. So it’s important to take your dog in for annual checkups. Remember, you can’t judge if your dog is overweight merely by putting him or her on a scale. By examining your dog, veterinarians can use weight, overall body condition, and other indicators to tell you whether he or she is overweight or obese, what the probable cause is, and what the best weight-loss regimen is. Don’t feel bad if you are told your dog is too heavy.

Everyone knows that dieting can be challenging. But losing weight can help your dog live longer, avoid disease and feel better, so it is well worth the effort. Get veterinary advice before changing your dog’s eating and exercise habits. Veterinarians are trained to recommend an appropriate diet and exercise program for safe weight loss. When helping your dog lose weight, slower is safer. “Crash” diets or intense workouts aren’t appropriate for inactive dogs. If your dog gained the weight slowly, he or she can lose it slowly. The most effective weight-loss plans involve increasing activity and feeding fewer calories. The more convenient you make it, the better the chance of sticking with it. When on a weight-loss program, your dog should lose 2% or less of its initial body weight per week. For example, a 100-pound dog should lose no more than 2 pounds every week. A successful weight-loss program may take a year or longer.

Diet
There are several dietary strategies for helping your dog lose weight. One or more of the following may be recommended by your veterinary hospital. For all of these methods, it’s important to use an actual measuring cup (not an old coffee mug or drinking cup) to keep track of how much you’re feeding your dog. Feed your dog smaller meals more often. This helps your dog burn more calories and should help minimize begging for food. However, don’t feed more food per day. Instead, divide your dog’s daily ration into three or more feedings. Feed your dog less of its regular food per day. This strategy is most effective with increased activity. But check first with your veterinarian to ensure that your dog will receive the right amount of nutrients. Instead of feeding your dog less, gradually switch him or her to a lower-calorie food recommended by your veterinarian. The change should be gradual; a sudden switch could upset your dog’s stomach.

Combine the new food with your dog’s usual food in larger and larger proportions over several weeks until you are only providing the new food. Give treats only on special occasions, such as birthdays, holidays, or good visits to the veterinarian. Offer low-calorie treats and limit or eliminate fattening ones.

Exercise
You can help your dog become more active and lose weight by scheduling regular play times and walks. Consult your veterinarian before beginning an exercise program for your dog. Not all games/exercise are appropriate for all breeds or medical conditions. For walks, start out slowly to give your dog a chance to adapt to an exercise routine. Work up to a brisk 10- to 20-minute walk or jog once or twice a day. On hot or cold days, go easy or rest. If you don’t have time to walk your dog, hire a dog walker. Doggy day care centers can also help ensure that your dog gets plenty of exercise throughout the day. Here are some calorie-burning activities for your dog:

· Fetch
· Keep away
· Playing with other pets
· Walking or jogging
· Running off leash in a restricted area
· Swimming (great for arthritic dogs)
· Tricks for low-calorie treats
· Tug of war

 SOURCE: https://www.aaha.org/pet_owner/pet_health_library/dog_care/diseases_conditions/obesity.aspx

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Is Your Cat Missing the Litter Box?

You have a problem. Your cat is thinking outside the box, and not in a good way. You may be wondering what you did to inspire so much “creative expression.” Is your cat punishing you? Is Fluffy just “bad”? No, and no. House soiling and missing the litter box is a sign that your cat needs some help. According to the Winn Feline Foundation, house soiling is the number one complaint among cat owners.

The good news is that it is very treatable. An accredited veterinarian can help you determine if the problem is medical or related to social or environmental stressors. In addition to a complete physical exam, the doctor will ask you specific “where and when” questions. Health factors Tony Buffington, DVM, PhD, a specialist in feline urinary disorders at The Ohio State University, and founder of the Indoor Cat Initiative says that many veterinarians recommend a urine test for every cat with a house soiling problem. The urinalysis will determine if blood, bacteria, or urinary crystals are present — signs that your cat might have feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD).

FLUTD is very common and can cause painful urination. Cats that begin to associate the litter box with pain will avoid it. Other medical possibilities include hyperthyroidism, kidney disease, diabetes, and arthritis and muscle or nerve disorders that might prevent your cat from getting to the litter box in time. Environmental factors If there is no medical cause, the next step is to look at environmental factors. Start with the litter box.

Your cat might be avoiding the litter box because it is not cleaned well enough, you’ve changed the type of litter you use, or there is only one box for multiple cats. Another possibility is that your cat is “marking” — spraying urine, typically on vertical objects such as walls and furniture, or in “socially significant” areas near doors or windows. Both male and female cats mark. The most common offenders are cats that have not been spayed or neutered. Buffington says that stress can cause elimination problems too. For example, subtle aggression or harassment by other house cats or neighborhood cats may be an issue.

Indoor Cat Initiative
Even unremarkable changes in your home can make your cat anxious or fearful. Look around. Did anything change right before your cat started having problems? Did you get a new pet? A new couch? Maybe you just moved the old couch to a different part of the room, or had a dinner party. Cats are sensitive creatures and changes that seem small to you can throw your cat off his game. Check with your veterinarian about finding solutions that work for both you and your cat.

 Source: http://www.aaha.org/pet_owner/pet_health_library/cat_care/behavior/missing_the_litter_box.aspx

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Back to School Separation Anxiety



With all the excitement of the kids going back to school, many families may not think about what it means to the dog or cat. What you may notice are changes in behavior, a sad dog or cat, who mopes around or sleeps a lot more. Or your dog may suddenly started chewing things he shouldn't, or your cat does a lot more meowing. And you may not even connect the unusual cat or dog behavior with back-to-school time. Dogs and cats love routine, it makes them feel secure. They like knowing that certain things happen at about the same time each day, and they know where they want to be when it happens. If the kids have been around all summer, playing outside with the dog, or giving kitty extra love and snuggles, and suddenly they’re gone all day, it's upsetting. For some pets, they just feel sad and confused, and others feel real separation anxiety and may act up.

Kids can help your pet through the back-to-school blues The first thing to note is that this is a family matter, and a good opportunity for the kids to take more responsibility for the care of their pets. Let your kids know that their dog or cat is going to miss them when they're gone all day, and discuss what they can do to help their pets through it. One of the best ways for a pet to get over the loss of one routine is to replace it with another. Your pet may be sad all day at first, but if he knows that at 3:45 your kids will be home from school and will actively play with him soon after each day, your pet has something new to look forward to. If your child has a set time to do homework or read, that's an excellent time for the dog or cat to curl up next to her and "help" with studying. Ask your kids to think of other ways to include their pets in their routines.

More than just sad, it’s separation anxiety If your pet exhibits true separation anxiety, as in, he goes crazy when he sees your kids put on their backpacks to leave for school, or is destructive when everyone is gone, you'll have to do some gentle training to ease his stress. Your kids may feel sorry for their pet and do a long sad goodbye. This only reinforces your pet’s fears and builds up the anxiety. It’s better to make the goodbye upbeat and brief, or eliminate it completely. Depending on your pet, he may respond well to a goodbye petting, a little goodbye treat, or simply leaving with a cheerful "good boy!" as your kids go out the door. This should happen before your pet gets upset. If your pet is freaking out, absolutely do not reward with anything. If you can get your pet to calm down รข€“ if it’s a dog, a simple "sit!" command may help. Then reward with petting and telling him he's ok once he’s calm. If your pet gets upset just by the backpacks or car keys being picked up, pick those items up and walk around the house with them several times a day, but don't leave. Your pet will learn not to associate those items with the pending doom of your kids leaving.

When back-to-school means an empty house If everyone is gone all day, both parents included, your pets are going to be bored on top of being upset. It's important to leave them some interactive toys to help them pass the time. Eventually, they will get used to the new reality, and will likely sleep most of the day. You can balance the boredom by providing vigorous exercise each day when you or your kids are home. Remember, you and your kids may have had a very busy day, but your pet has done virtually nothing, unless there is evidence to the contrary, as in a shredded or chewed up sofa. Providing your dog or cat active, vigorous play each day will help them burn up their pent up energy. Take your dog for a run or go outside and throw a ball or flying disk. For your cat, run around the house with a little toy on the end of a string. You may also want to consider getting your pet a little buddy to keep him company when no one is home. Even an aloof adult cat is likely to accept a kitten into her life, and the kitten will entice the older cat to play. And dogs, being true social animals, nearly always accept another dog to play with. Remember, your pets can get nervous, upset, anxious or lonely just like people, only they don't have the benefit of knowing that you’ll be back when you leave. It's up to you and your kids to make your pets feel secure in ways they understand.

Source: http://www.petcentric.com/08-24-2009/your-pets-view-of-kids-going-back-to-school

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Car Sickness In Pets


Does your dog throw up in the car when you go for rides? He may be experiencing typical motion sickness, just like some people do. Motion sickness usually begins very shortly after starting the car ride. The dog will begin to drool and then vomit. It’s not serious, but certainly not something that we like to clean up! To solve the problem, first try acclimating the dog to car rides. Do this by simply putting him in the car for a few minutes each day without going anywhere. Then try just going down the driveway and back, and the next day going around the block. Gradually build up the distance and time the dog rides in the car. 

 Sometimes this will help to decrease the dog’s anxiety over riding in the car and may help to decrease vomiting. If that doesn’t work, there are some over-the-counter medications you can try. The medication will need to be given about an hour before the car ride. Ask your veterinarian for a recommendation as to what drug to try and the dosage for your pet.

(Never give any medications to your pet without your veterinarian’s advice!) These drugs are safe, with drowsiness usually the only major side effect. But since your dog isn’t driving the car, that shouldn’t be a problem! If over-the-counter drugs don’t work, your veterinarian may be able to suggest another method for curing the car sickness.



Monday, June 23, 2014

Hot Weather Tips to Help Your Pet Stay Cool This Summer

Summer means enjoying the weather, and for most, with your pet! Remember to keep your pet healthy this summer by keeping them safe in the summer’s high temperatures.



 Here are just some of the ways you can help ensure your pets have a safe summer:

 Visit the Vet. A visit to the veterinarian for a spring or early summer check-up is a must. Make sure your pet is up-to-date on all necessary vaccinations. Pets should also be given a blood test for heartworm every year in the early spring. The deadly parasite is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito, and it is recommended that dogs and cats be on a monthly preventive medication year-round.

 Keep Cool. Dogs and cats can become dehydrated quickly, so give your pets plenty of water when it is hot outdoors. Also make sure your pet has a shady place to escape the sun, and when the temperature is very high, don't let your dog linger on hot asphalt.

 Know the Symptoms. Some symptoms of overheating in pets include excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, seizures, and an elevated body temperature of over 104 degrees. Summertime is the perfect time for a backyard barbeque or party, but remember to keep alcoholic beverages away from pets, as they can cause intoxication, depression, comas, or even death. Similarly, remember that the snacks you serve your friends should not be a treat for your pet; any change of diet, even for one meal, may give your dog or cat severe digestive ailments.” Avoid raisins, grapes, onions, chocolate and products with the sweetener xylitol.

 Water Safety is Pet-friendly. Do not leave pets unsupervised around a pool, as not all dogs are good swimmers. Introduce your pets to water gradually and make sure pets wear flotation devices while on boats. Rinse your dog off after swimming to remove chlorine or salt from his fur, and try to keep your dog from drinking pool water, which contains chlorine and other chemicals that could cause stomach upset.

 Source: http://www.aspca.org/about-us/press-releases/aspca-offers-hot-weather-safety-tips-help-pets-beat-heat-during-dog-and-cat

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

It’s Pet Appreciation Week!

Our pets appreciate us every single day as they depend on us for food, water, shelter, and love. Let’s show our pets some extra appreciation this week!