What You Need to Know About the Long-term Effects of Pet Obesity

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Did you know you may be literally killing your pet with kindness? That’s right, those daily treats you give your pet may give the illusion that all is well, but the reality is that the extra treats and the resulting extra weight are causing lasting damage to your pet’s internal organs, bones, and joints — some of which can never be remedied even with a change in diet and exercise.

Worried yet? According to veterinarians across the U.S., more obese pets than ever are showing up in their clinics and the trend does not appear to be slowing. It is not surprising that excess weight can take as much of a toll on an animal’s body as it does on a human’s body. While some of the effects of obesity can be reversed through attentive diet changes and increased physical activity, there is some damage that can only be mitigated by the change of habits. Some damage will remain for life, and the longer the excess weight is on the body, the more severe the damage to the body will be.

Research is the first step toward making the changes that will grant you and your pet longer lives in which you can enjoy each other’s company. Here then, are some ways to identify whether your pet is overweight or obese, along with a few beginning steps on how to reverse the damage before it’s too late.

What Kinds of Changes Should You Look Out For?

Many pet owners will not notice their dog or cat has been gradually putting on extra weight until the animal starts slowing down significantly. More often it is the animal’s regular groomer or veterinarian that will notice your pet’s physical changes. To do a check on your pet, feel around its midsection while your pet is standing. The ribs and spine should be easy to feel, and on most pets there should be a tucked in, or slight hourglass shape to the waist. If you cannot easily feel your dog or cat’s ribs or spine, and the tucked-in waist has thickened considerably enough to give the animal a more tubular shape, it is time for you to consult with your veterinarian about a weight loss regimen for your pet.

What Harm Can a Few Pounds Do?

According to recent findings by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), more than 45 percent of dogs and 58 percent of cats can be classified as overweight or obese. A gain of even a pound or two of additional fat on some dogs and cats can place significant stress on the body.

Some of the conditions that can occur as a result of excess weight are:

– Exercise intolerance, decreased stamina
– Respiratory compromise (breathing difficulty)
– Heat intolerance
– Hypertension (high blood pressure)
– Diabetes or insulin resistance
– Liver disease or dysfunction
– Osteoarthritis (lameness)
– Increased surgical/anesthetic risk
– Lowered immune system function
– Increased risk of developing malignant tumors (cancer)

What Can Be Done to Alleviate the Damage?

In many cultures, the sharing of food is regarded as a loving gesture, but the most loving thing you can do for your overweight pet is to put it on a diet. This is the only way to ensure that your pet will have the best opportunity for a life that is full of activity and good health. Besides, there are lots of healthy treats available, and lots of loving gestures you can share with your pet without worrying about them leading to weight gain. Talk to your veterinarian about a good reduced-calorie food and exercise plan that will specifically benefit your pet’s age, weight and breed, and you will be on your way to getting your pet on the road to recovery before it is too late.

photo source: Pixabay

source: Pixabay

 

 

What’s Are the Most Common Household Toxins for Pets?

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As a pet owner, you want to keep your furry friend safe and healthy, but your pet’s curious nature can sometimes get him into trouble. Animals investigate the world with their mouths and can accidentally ingest poisonous substances.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Animal Poison Control Center is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to advise pet owners about potential pet toxicities. To help you take precautions and ensure your pet stays safe, the ASPCA has compiled a list of the most-frequent offenders, many of which can likely be found in and around your home.

Pets and over-the-counter medications

ADHD medications, antidepressants, and heart medications were most commonly ingested by pets, although your pet can suffer significant side effects from any human medication he eats. Keep all medications, both prescription and over the counter, safely stored inside a medicine cabinet or cupboard or up high where your pet cannot reach them, and ask all your visitors to do the same.

What foods are toxic to pets?

Many foods that are safe for people can be deadly to pets. Keep the following toxic foods away from your beloved companion:

– Chocolate
– Xylitol (often found in sugar-free gum)
– Macadamia nuts
– Grapes and raisins
– Onions
– Garlic
– Alcohol
– Caffeinated drinks
– Raw yeast dough
– Raw or undercooked meat

Never leave food where your pet can reach it, and keep pets out of the kitchen when children are eating to prevent them from gobbling up dropped food.

What about prescription veterinary products?

Prescription animal medications are often flavored to increase palatability, so pets may mistake them for treats and eat more than prescribed. Inquisitive pets may even eat pills that aren’t flavored, so keep all medications out of your pet’s reach. Remember, animals can chew through plastic bottles, so child-proof may not mean pet-proof.

What other household items are dangerous to my pet?

Products such as paint, glue, and cleaning chemicals are often left out on the assumption that pets won’t eat these bad-tasting substances. But sometimes pets lap up liquids because they feel good or have an interesting texture. Household products can contain dangerous chemicals, and some household glues expand in the stomach and can cause a life-threatening blockage.

Rodenticides

Products designed to kill rodents are particularly dangerous to pets, who may be tempted to eat the tasty bricks, granules, or pellets left out for mice and rats. Rodenticides kill rodents by causing internal bleeding, high calcium levels, brain swelling, or toxic gas production. Never put rat bait out where your pet can find it, and keep your pet confined to your yard to prevent him from eating your neighbors’ rodenticides.

Insecticides and pets

Ant baits, bug sprays, and foggers can be poisonous to your pet. Read labels to ensure you use these products properly and prevent pets from exposure during and after use. Store all insecticides on high shelves out of a pet’s reach.

Plants toxic to pets

Plants found in flower beds, vegetable gardens, and indoor planters and arrangements can be toxic to pets. Cats, who particularly like to munch on greenery, are sensitive to many plant types, but dogs can also be at risk. A complete list of toxic and nontoxic plants can be found on ASPCA’s website, but the most common toxic plants include:

– Autumn crocus
– Azalea
– Cyclamen
– Daffodils
– Dieffenbachia
– Hyacinth
– Kalanchoe
– Lily of the valley
– Lilies
– Oleander
– Sago palm
– Tulips

If your pet eats leaves, flowers, or stems, take him, along with a plant sample, to your AAHA-accredited veterinarian immediately. Although toxicity signs may not be apparent, removing poisonous material as soon as possible to prevent toxin absorption into the body is vital.

Garden products and pets

Many products used on lawns, gardens, and flower beds can cause toxicity in pets. Fertilizers made from bone meal or blood meal are tempting to pets and can cause pancreatitis, or may clump in the intestines or stomach and cause a blockage. Other fertilizers and herbicides applied to lawns also may contain toxic chemicals.

photo source: Pixabay
source: AAHA

Hot Weather Safety Tips for Pets

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As temperatures rise, everyone (and their pets) flock outside to spend time in the nice weather. But warmer weather can be rough on your pets if you’re not prepared. Hot weather-related conditions like heat stroke and dehydration are more common as temperatures rise, so it’s important to pay attention to the signs and use your judgment if it’s safe for your pet to be outdoors. Here are a few hot weather safety tips for pets.

Keep them cool

When the weather is hot, make sure your pet has plenty of options to stay cool. Cats and dogs only sweat through their paws, so it’s easy for them to overheat. Their primary method of cooling off is through their respiratory tract by panting (especially in dogs). Puppies and kittens have an even harder time self-regulating their temperature. Short-nosed (brachycephalic), overweight, and senior pets are just some of the groups that are at a higher risk of overheating and getting heat stroke.

If you’re spending time outside, set up a resting place in a shaded area, encourage your pets to take breaks when they’re playing, encourage them to rest in a raised bed that allows for air circulation underneath, or allow them to rest comfortably inside while you enjoy the sun.

You can also create frozen treats with a Kong or ice cube mold. It can be as simple as freezing water or broth (without onion or garlic) with yummy treats inside. This also aids in keeping your pet hydrated.

Keep them hydrated

Just like humans, cats and dogs can become dehydrated quickly in hot weather—and even a short amount of time outdoors can cause mild dehydration. Make sure to provide plenty of water around the house and bring water (and a bowl) with you if head outside. You can also boost hydration by feeding them canned food or adding water to dry kibble at each meal.

Watch out for signs that your pet is dehydrated, like:

Less energy
Dry nose or gums
Panting
Loss of appetite

Protect their paws

Walking on hot pavement can cause your pet’s paw pads to burn. If it hurts to touch the pavement with the back of your hand, it’s too hot for your pet’s paws. Try exercising your pet in the early morning or after the sun goes down to minimize the burn risk. If you need to be outside with your pet during the hottest parts of the day, consider investing in booties that will protect their paw pads from burns and blisters. Try to do as much of your walking on grass and dirt, as opposed to sidewalks and asphalt (which can get extremely hot!).

Keep the pests away

Spending time outside exposes your pet to more pests that can cause harm. Fleas and ticks thrive during warm temperatures, as do mosquitoes (which can carry and transmit heartworms to your dogs and cats). Make sure your pet is on a good, broad-spectrum parasite preventative medication. This includes indoor-only pets too, as parasites make their way inside through screens and even on the bottom of your shoes.

By The Zoetis Petcare Team

Where Fleas and Ticks Hide in the Fall?

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Fleas and ticks are a year-round nuisance for most of us but, when it comes to the infestations of our yards and our homes, the fall seems to be a particularly terrible season. Here are few areas fleas and ticks like to hide and how to best limit your pet’s exposure to these pesky parasites.

Leaf Piles

The autumn season is probably best known for the beautiful changes it brings to the colors of leaves just before they begin to fall to the ground. Though they may be a pretty sight and a blast for kids (or pets) to play in, leaf piles can also be a haven for fleas, which prefer to congregate in humid areas away from bright sunlight.

Solution: Rake up fallen leaves regularly and immediately bag and dispose of them in a secure trash receptacle.

Tall Grasses/Trees

Ticks love to climb up tall grasses so that they can grab onto a passing animal or human.

Solution: Mow your lawn regularly and trim back branches so they don’t jut out toward walking areas.

Outdoor Feeding/Sleeping Areas

Does your pet frequently sleep outdoors or do you leave out food and water bowls for them? Fleas and ticks recognize these high traffic areas—whether they are trafficked by your pet or a wild animal like a raccoon or possum—and lie in wait until they can latch onto a host.

Solution: Regularly clean out sleeping areas, especially if there are pillows inside. Also, if possible, remove food and water bowls after your pet uses them and/or before nighttime. Raccoons and possums are opportunistic feeders and will eat or drink anything left out. They also are frequently teeming with ticks and fleas.

What if My Pet Doesn’t Go Outdoors Much?

Even if your dog stays close to home, fleas and ticks are canny creatures, and they have ways of making it into your home and onto your pets, even with preventions in place. All it takes is a few fleas or ticks to get established in your yard before you have a full-scale infestation on your hands.

Be Proactive

Visit your veterinarian for advice on the best preventive medications and the safest way to use them. Your doctor will be able to show you the proper way to apply these flea and tick medicines for dogs and recommend just the right dose for your pet’s age and weight. Some people also choose flea and tick preventatives based on their personal preferences or the lifestyles of their pets.

photo source: Pixabay
source: Pet MD

Tips for Preventing Ear Infections in Dogs

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If your pup has floppy ears, allergies, or happens to be an avid swimmer, you’re probably no stranger to canine ear infections. Ear infections in dogs are not uncommon, but using simple, preventive tips can help stop ear infections from developing.

If you suspect your dog has an ear infection, call your vet. “Prompt veterinary care is essential to avoid more serious consequences such as a ruptured eardrum, middle or inner ear infection, and hearing loss,” says Dr. Alli Troutman, a holistic veterinarian at Integrative Veterinary Service in Brookfield, Wisconsin.

Symptoms of ear infections in dogs are hard to miss. “The affected dog is usually shaking his head frequently, may tilt his head with the sore ear usually on the ‘down’ side, and there is often a sour odor coming from the ear,” says Dr. Beth Boynton, Professor of Wellness at Western University College of Veterinary Medicine in Pomona, California. “It may look swollen, red, and full of moist discharge.”

Spare your dog some needless suffering and avoid the expense of extra vet trips with these safe and effective vet-approved tips for preventing ear infections in dogs.

1. Rule Out Underlying Causes

An ear infection is typically a sign that something else is going on with your dog, says Dr. Alexandra Gould, a veterinarian in Tacoma, Washington. “It’s only through treating these underlying causes that ear infections can be prevented.” Causes, she says, include allergies, foreign objects stuck in the ear (like foxtail grasses), hormonal and autoimmune diseases, and tumors.

Very often, allergies are responsible. “Skin allergies bring inflammation to the surface of the body which causes irritation and warmth. The confined space of the ear canal breeds yeast and bacterial growth that further increases the inflammation,” and can lead to ear infections explains Dr. Michael Lund, veterinary staff manager for ASPCA’s Community Medicine Department in New York.

Like us, dogs can react to any number of allergens in the environment, like pollen, grass, mites, and fleas (another reason to protect your dog with proper flea and tick prevention). And what you feed your dog may be the problem, says Boynton. Some dogs have food allergies or food sensitivities, which can predispose them to ear infections. “Dogs in the United States most often react to beef, dairy products, and wheat,” she says.

2. Keep the Ears Dry

“Yeast and bacteria thrive in warm and moist environments—and many dog ears prove to be the perfect Petri dish,” says Lund. This is especially true for breeds like Cocker Spaniels and Retrievers, whose floppy ears trap moisture.

He says the best preventive for these types of dogs who are predisposed to ear infections is cleansing and drying the ears every five to 10 days. If your dog is a swimmer or is bathed regularly, clean his ears as soon as possible after water exposure. “This ensures the moisture is adequately removed to prevent yeast and bacteria from getting a chance to colonize the ear canals.”

Dr. Jill Abraham, a board-certified dermatology specialist with Blue Pearl Veterinary Partners in Midtown, New York, suggests placing a cotton ball in the ears during bath time to keep them dry. “You don’t have to push the cotton ball in deep, it can rest at the opening of the ear.”

After the bath, remember to remove the cotton ball and dry the ears. “After a bath, you can use a dry paper or cloth towel to dry the inside flap and around the opening of the ear canal.”

3. Keep the Ears Clean

To clean the ears, Abraham suggests the following routine. Lift up the earflap, then fill up the canal with a vet-recommended solution, or soak a cotton ball with solution and squeeze the liquid into the canal. After gently massaging the base of the ear for 20 to 30 seconds and letting your dog shake his head, use dry cotton balls or soft towels to wipe off debris. “You can use cotton-tipped applicators in the folds inside the ear flap, but don’t insert any into the ear canals,” she says. “This could push wax and infection deeper down and damage the ear drum.”

What Is the Best Ear Cleaner for Dogs?

Lund advises against home-made ear-cleaning solutions like diluted hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, and rubbing alcohol. “At-home remedies are often half water, and water in the ear is what can predispose many dogs to ear infections.” Instead, ask your vet for a recommendation based on your pet’s specific needs.

4. Consider Supplements

Of course there is no substitute for a nutritionally complete diet made from high quality ingredients, but the following supplements may be used as part of your strategy for preventing ear infections. Always check with your veterinarian before feeding your dog supplements.

If allergies are at the root of your dog’s ear infections, a daily omega-3 fatty supplement can help. These supplements can reduce inflammation, which may lessen the risk of ear infections, says Lund. Omega-3 fatty acids, like those found in fish oil supplements may “decrease inflammation associated with skin allergies that often appear in a dog’s ears and feet.”

A malfunctioning immune system can make your dog more prone to infections, so maintaining balance is essential. A probiotic supplement can balance the normal bacterial flora within the intestinal tract and promote an appropriate immune response. “A healthy gut is a happy gut, and a happy gut is a healthy immune system,” says Troutman.

5. Reconsider Plucking Ear Hairs

Plucking your dog’s ear hair can be beneficial, but it’s not appropriate for every dog. “I stick by the old adage, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’” says Abraham. If a dog has healthy ears and has not had infections, she often advises pet parents not to pluck. “But, if a dog with very hairy canals keeps getting ear infections then it can help to keep the canals free of hair.”

If you do decide to pluck hair from your dog’s ears, this is probably not something you want to try at home, unless you’re experienced. Overly-aggressive plucking could lead to pain and cause more ear problems.

“I don’t advise pet owners try plucking ear hairs at home on their own. This is best performed by a groomer or veterinary professional.”

photo source: Pixabay
source: Pet MD