Some of us resolve to learn new skills in the New Year. Some of us resolve to improve on skills we already have. Many of us resolve to eat healthier, exercise more and lose a bit of weight. Your pet’s resolutions may also follow the same guidelines – new tricks, old tricks and a healthy body.
Obesity in pets can cause many of the same problems as it can in people. An overweight pet is prone to many problems such as: diabetes, joint/ligament/tendon problems, breathing problems and heart problems. Being overweight can also cause dogs and cats to develop skin and hygiene issues from not being able to reach areas and groom themselves properly.
Healthy pets do have some padding over their bodies, but a little padding goes a long way. To assess your pet’s body condition, first rub your hands over their ribs. The skin should move back and forth easily and you should be able to feel the ribs without having to press down too hard. Look at your pet’s waistline. Your pet should have a definable “waist” beginning at the bottom of their rib cage. You will notice the abdomen should tuck in slightly between the rib cage and hip area.
Crash diets are not safe for pets (especially overweight cats since they are prone to developing fatal liver problems if they stop eating or are forced to reduce their food intake amounts to quickly). A pet doesn’t become obese overnight and shouldn’t be expected to lose weight rapidly. It may take 4-6 weeks before you notice any change in their weight once they are started on a new diet and exercise plan. Slow and steady wins the race! You may bring your pet in and weigh them on our scales at any time to track their weight loss progress.
To help your pet lose weight, follow these tips:
- Consider a diet change. There are many low calorie diets available that can help your pet feel full after each meal.
- Maintain portion control (treats must be accounted for in these portions!) and invest in an accurate measuring cup.
- Try splitting meal portions. Sometimes your pet may be happier with two or three feedings per day, rather than just one. Just remember to divide the total portion for the day without any extras (including those tasty treats!).
- Walk or play away the weight. A combination of diet and exercise will help any pet lose weight.
- About those pesky treats again – feed healthier, low calorie treats. Many treats on the market are very high in fat, salt and calories.
Playing new games with your pets, teaching them new tricks and practicing old tricks is great to keep their brains sharp and healthy for 2014. It also gives them a sense of accomplishment and can be very stimulating and rewarding for everyone. Good spirits and a healthy brain and body lead to a long, fulfilling life. Cheers to 2014!
The following are some tips to help lengthen your senior dog’s life:
Regular exercise is great for the body and brain. Physical fitness can help keep your dog’s heart and lungs in good working order, help keep their joints and muscles in check, prevent boredom to help stop any destructive behavior and give them a sense of purpose.
Exercising your senior pet doesn’t mean that they have to tear up an agility course for hours on end or hike up the Squamish Chief in under an hour twice a day. Only exercise your dog at a level their aging body can handle. Swimming is always a great workout for weak joints and muscles. A couple moderately paced 20-minute walks every day can also work wonders for keeping your senior dog in shape. Being outside is also great for your senior dog’s mind. There are many stimuli to keep their brains sharp and fresh air will always brighten spirits.
When indoors with your dog, play games such as hide-and-seek or practice tricks (yes, you really can teach an old dog new tricks!) for low calorie treats. Keeping busy with different activities and games throughout the day will give their senior brains a new lease on life.
Keeping your senior dog’s body nice and lean will help prolong their life. Extra weight visible on the outside of their bodies also means there is extra fatty tissue around their organs, which could cause them to have a hard time working efficiently. Having to carry all that extra weight around means more strain and stress on their joints. Be careful not to feed your senior pet too many treats. It is always a great idea to meal feel them set amounts of food twice daily. Your veterinary team can help you to determine what their ideal weight should be and how much food you need to feed to reach the target weight goal.
Brushing your dog’s teeth provides much more benefit than fresh breath. It helps eliminate plaque and tartar buildup, which help prevent gingivitis. Decreasing the amount of bacteria lurking in your dog’s mouth will help keep their internal organs working in tip-top shape. When their gums are swollen and irritated, the blood vessels become enlarged and are able to pick up bacteria to transfer around the entire body. Brushing your dog’s teeth once a day is ideal. Be sure to use a toothbrush with soft bristles and a toothpaste designed especially for dogs.
*Warning* Below are before dental prophylaxis and after dental prophylaxis photos of a dog’s mouth:
Daily petting fests can often help you find lumps and bumps on your dog in their early stages of development. Your veterinarian can take a fine needle aspirate sample from the lump and determine what kind of cells it is made up of. Some lumps should be removed immediately; some lumps are ok to be left alone and just monitored. Hands-on attention to your dog could also help you find any skin irritations hiding under their hair or you may notice they have dry, flaky skin. A flinch or cry when petting in a certain area may alert you to take your senior dog to their veterinarian to have the cause of pain investigated further. Being petted and massaged makes your dog happy and helps lower their blood pressure and stress level, as well as yours.
Thanksgiving is just around the corner! Many of you may have big family gatherings for dinner; some of you may just enjoy a little quiet time with your pets. With all the yummy turkey, gravy and stuffing smells travelling throughout your home, your pets may find it hard to resist not drooling and giving you their best sad-eyed begging for food look. No matter how cute they are, they do not need to stuff themselves with human food.
Allowing your pet to ingest a large amount of Thanksgiving food can lead to stomach upset, constipation, diarrhea or vomiting. It can also put your pet at risk for pancreatitis. Allowing them to chew on bones (raw or cooked) can be fatal. Small pieces can break off and tear or puncture the digestive tract and large pieces can get stuck and cause a blockage in the digestive tract.
Be sure to inform all of your guests of your house rules for your pets. Take your energetic dogs for a long walk before guests arrive. Tired dogs are often (but not always!) better behaved. Allow shy dogs and cats to have a quiet place to go and hide if they are too stressed by all of the houseguests. It is a good idea to ensure that all pets are wearing their ID collars incase they escape from your home.
Pet obesity is an extremely common problem. It increases the risk for other serious health problems including arthritis, diabetes, heart and respiratory diseases. Being overweight can also lower your pet’s energy level and effect their ability to enjoy an active lifestyle with you and your family.
Weight gain can result when your pet consumes more calories than they are burning during the day. Overfeeding or overeating, inactivity or low activity levels, breed and age can all play a role in weight gain. Certain breeds, especially smaller ones, are more prone to being overweight or obese, as are many senior pets.
Give your pet plenty of opportunities for regular exercise that is appropriate for their age and health status. A vigorous daily walk (if your dog can tolerate it) is an excellent place to start. You can also take them swimming, running, hiking or have play dates with other dogs. Most cats won’t tolerate leash walking but regular play periods with fun toys can provide satisfactory activity levels and help maintain their health.
It is important to feed a well-balanced diet to your pets. If necessary, feed a calorie restricted diet. When you give treats to your pet, make sure to give healthy treats. It is best to meal feed your pets instead of allowing them unrestricted access to food (or the other pet’s food!). Be sure to get all family members are on the same page when it comes to feeding and giving treats to the family pets.
To help your pet lose weight, follow these tips:
•Consider a diet change. We offer many low calorie diets that can help pets feel full after a meal. We now offer the new Hill’s Metabolic Diet. You can phone us for an appointment and we can get your pet set up on this diet.
•Maintain portion control and invest in an accurate measuring cup.
•Try splitting meal portions. Sometimes your pet may be happier with two or three feedings per day, rather than just one. Just remember to divide the total portion for the day without any extras!
•Walk or play away the weight. A combination of diet and exercise will help any pet lose weight!
•Feed healthy, low calorie treats. Many treats on the market are very high in fat, salt and calories.
You may bring your pet in at any time and use our scales to monitor weight loss.