Fat Cats: the Issue of Cat Obesity

 

 

The pet obesity epidemic is a big concern in this country, and the problem is growing worse.  Weight loss is not easy for anyone, human or otherwise.  When it comes down to it, the solution seems simple:  Eat less, exercise more.  This is easier said than done, however, particularly in the cat.  But there are important reasons for us to strive to reach a healthy weight for our feline companions.

Overweight cats are prone to illness and shortened lives

Overweight cats are prone to some serious medical conditions including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, respiratory disease, osteoarthritis, high blood pressure, and certain forms of cancer.  Overweight cats live shorter lives than normal weight cats.  Also, these cats tend to be “lazier”, not moving around as much, which makes it harder to detect early signs of serious illnesses.  Fat cats are no laughing matter.

What can you do to help your cat slim down?

So how do we accomplish safe, successful weight loss for our furry felines?

  • Cut the calories.  This sounds simple enough, but there is more to it than just not eating as much.  Fat cats are prone to developing a serious liver disease called hepatic lipidosis if they do not eat enough.  Kitty diets should only be started under the guidance of your veterinarian.  He or she can help you to calculate your cat’s daily calorie requirements.  Don’t be tempted to use a self-feeder.  Instead, measure out portions daily.  Pet or play with your kitty when it begs–some cats are literally starving for attention!  Feed small meals frequently and freshen the water bowl often.  These little changes can make a big one!
  • Change the food.  For some cats, simply changing the diet can make a drastic difference.  For instance, most canned foods have a lower caloric content than their dry counterparts.  Light or diet foods are also available.  Be sure that you are not cutting calories too drastically by calculating caloric needs with your veterinarian.  Cats can be finicky about new foods, so be sure to gradually introduce the new diet over a 1-2 week period.  You can try to make new foods more palatable by warming them slightly or adding a little oregano or a splash of salmon juice or omega-3 fatty acid supplement.
  • Get that kitty moving! No bones about it–it is harder to increase your cat’s activity level than your dog’s.  It takes some creativity to get your cat burning calories.  Make your cat “hunt” for its food by moving the bowl frequently.  Try putting it at the furthest place from kitty’s sleeping spot to encourage movement.  Use interactive toys such as flashlights, laser pointers, paper bags–anything your cat likes to chase to have a short activity session daily.   You may need to change it up frequently.
  • Keep track of progress.  Rechecks and weigh-ins can help tell you if you are on the right track.  Monthly weigh-ins are ideal.  If you are not making progress in a month’s time, it is time to try another food or technique.

 

The Problem with Online Pet Pharmacies

 

You may be asking yourself, “Why shouldn’t I order my pet’s prescription online?  Good prices, direct shipping, what’s to lose?”  Be aware that it may not be as good as it sounds though. Take the following into account before choosing where to purchase your next veterinary prescription:

  • When your veterinarian prescribes a medication, he or she can dispense it in a safe manner, ensuring your pet has had any recommended screening performed, looking out for drug interactions, and keeping the product in an appropriate manner.  This does not always happen with online pharmacies.
  • The FDA says, “buyer beware” about online pharmacies.  There has been much concern about the quality and authenticity of drugs that can be obtained online.
  • If you have a problem or question, your veterinarian is able to address it directly.  Not all veterinary pharmacies can claim the same.
  • Websites that sell prescription veterinary products without the need for a prescription are breaking the law, plain and simple.  If they are ignoring the law in this respect, where else are they cutting corners?
  • Many drug company warranties such as those for heartworm prevention are invalidated when the product is purchased through such venues.

 

Talk to us or to your veterinarian.  He or she truly has your pet’s best interest at heart. And you may be able to walk out the door with your pet’s medication for little more than ordering online.

Our on-site pharmacy is well stocked and able to fill prescriptions before you leave. We are also a compounding pharmacy which means that we can tailor your pet’s medication to their unique needs. This gives us the ability to adjust the dose and method of delivery or to offer solutions for pets that are difficult to medicate, such as adding flavors or ordering transdermal medications.

Talk to us or to your veterinarian about the options they offer. Sometimes convenience is not worth the risk, and your pet’s medications fall into that category.

Holiday Plant Primer

 

Around the holidays our homes are filled with all sorts of objects that aren’t there the rest of the year.  Many times this includes festive plants of all kinds.  These plants often end up in the mouths of curious pets, especially puppies and kittens.  Some may not cause any problems at all, but many cause side effects ranging from mild to severe.  Here is the low-down on a few of the more common holiday house guests:

Poinsettia

While the poinsettia plant is perhaps the most infamous holiday plant, its reputation is not entirely deserved.  Its extreme toxicity is largely an urban legend.  The plant is mildly toxic and irritating to the mucous membranes.  While it is unlikely to cause severe illness, it is probably best to keep this plant out of reach.

Mistletoe

The level of toxicity of mistletoe largely depends on the variety, but the berries of both the American and European variety cause stomach irritation at small doses. At larger doses, it can trigger much more serious problems (including low blood pressure, seizures, and disorientation).

Holly

Eating holly can result in severe stomach upset in dogs and cats.  Signs that your pet has eaten holly include smacking of lips, drooling, head shaking, vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite.

Lilies

Lilies are very popular around the holidays, but they are deadly for cats.  Ingestion causes severe stomach upset, heart arrhythmias, kidney failure, and death.

Christmas tree

Don’t discount the tree!  The oils and sap can be irritating to the mouth and stomach, which can lead to drooling and vomiting.

Grooming at Elmhurst Animal Care Center – Bow Wow Wow!!!

How to know who to trust with your pet’s grooming

Choosing somewhere to have your pet groomed can be difficult.  A plethora of grooming salons have popped up in recent years, and sometimes it can be almost impossible to tell which ones are good and not-so-good until you find out first hand.  Of course, we will tell you that our groomers are the best in the area, but we would rather you come to that conclusion on your own!  Here are some factors to consider when choosing a groomer for your pet:

  • Does the groomer personalize services?

For instance, certain pets may require special shampoos for itchy skin, have trouble with their ears, or need their coat trimmed a certain way.  Our groomers are willing to groom to your pet’s needs, not a one-size-fits-all template.

  • Does the groomer require proof of vaccination?

Requiring vaccinations protects your pet.  Be wary of any establishment that does not ask for this information.  We require all vaccines to be documented and current at the time of your appointment.

  • Does the groomer know you and your pet?

Many groomers turn and burn through many pets a day and don’t have time to get to know each client.  After a grooming session or two, your pet should be greeted by name!

  • Does your pet get treated like the prince/princess s/he is?

Likewise, when a groomer has many pets to groom in a day s/he is unable to take the time to pamper your pet.  Our groomers take pride in treating each individual pet to a spa day, taking time to allow even nervous pets to relax and enjoy themselves!

  • What kinds of hours do they keep?

Do you have to work around the groomer’s schedule or do they work with yours?  We are happy to work around your day care or boarding schedules.

  • Can they accommodate special requests?  Do they have a working knowledge of your needs?

If you have a show or performance pet, it may need to be groomed in a certain manner.  Does your groomer have an in-depth knowledge of your needs?  Thinking of changing up Fluffy’s look and going with a pink coat?  Can your groomer accomplish that?  Be sure to ask!

  • What happens if the pet needs medical attention?

Injuries and accidents can happen, particularly if you choose a groomer where care and experience are lacking.  In the unlikely event of a problem, Elmhurst Animal Care Center has veterinarians on staff that can immediately attend to your pet.  It is also convenient to have a veterinarian around so that any minor medical issues can be addressed during your pet’s grooming appointment.

Elmhurst Animal Care Center is proud to have an experienced, caring grooming staff to attend to your pets.  We hope that you trust us with your grooming needs.  Because a picture is worth a thousand words, here are just a few to help you see what a great job we do!

Elmhurst ACC - Before Grooming

Lucy Before Grooming

 

Elmhurst ACC - After Grooming

Lucy After Grooming – Bow Wow Wow!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elmhurst ACC - Before Grooming

Elmhurst ACC - After Grooming

Ernie & Daisy After Grooming – Woof!!

 

 

 

The Holiday Foods Naughty List

Happy holiday season to all of our friends, furry and otherwise!  We hope that this is a happy, healthy time of year for you all.  While we love to see all of you, we don’t want your pet to visit us unexpectedly during the holidays, so we are providing you with a list of the top five holiday foods that will land your pet in the hospital.

Top Five Holiday Foods That Can Land Your Pet in the Hospital

  •  Chocolate

It’s the main ingredient in many seasonal treats, and your pets may want to indulge as much as you do.  It is best, however, for our four-legged friends to avoid chocolate in all of its forms.  The offending ingredient is theobromine which is found in the highest concentrations in baking and dark chocolate.  Toxicity is dose dependent, which means that the smaller your critter, the less theobromine it will take to cause problems.  At lower doses, pets will experience jitteriness and vomiting/diarrhea. At higher doses, much more serious effects can occur including increased or irregular heart rate, seizures, or even death.

  • Raisins/grapes

Before you throw a piece of Aunt Louise’s fruitcake to Fido, think twice.  Raisins and grapes can cause irreversible kidney damage in pets.  Some animals seem to be more sensitive than others, and there is no way to know how sensitive yours is until it is too late.

  • Alcohol

Most people would never intentionally give their pet alcohol, however that glass of eggnog on the end table may prove to be too tempting for Rover to avoid.  Alcohol ingestion can lead to low heart rate, hypoglycemia, seizures, even respiratory failure.  Also beware of desserts containing alcohol and raw yeast-containing dough that can produce alcohol as it ferments.

  • Artificial sweeteners

If you have candies or sweets around that contain the artificial sweetener xylitol, know that even small amounts can cause a life-threatening decrease in blood sugar and liver failure in dogs.

  • Table scraps

Ingestion of people food, particularly fatty, rich foods can lead to mild to severe digestive upset, sometimes requiring hospitalization.  Some animals may even experience pancreatitis, a sometimes serious inflammation of the pancreas.

Enjoy the holiday with your pets. Just be sure that the only holiday treats they get are pet safe!

Catnip and Your Cat

 

It is an enjoyable (and often hilarious) experience to give your kitty some catnip and watch what happens.  But what is catnip?  Is it safe?  And what is it about it that makes some cats downright batty?

Catnip is an herb (Nepeta cataria) that originated in the Mediterranean but is now found throughout the U.S. and Canada.  The ingredient in catnip that exerts its power over our feline friends is called nepetalactone.  This chemical mimics natural kitty pheromones and can trigger a wide range of behaviors including sniffing, licking, head-shaking, head rubbing, and body rubbing.  The effects last about 5-15 minutes.

All cats respond differently to catnip, with about 30% not seeming to care at all.  While some cats may exhibit extreme behaviors, catnip is non-toxic and there is no reason to worry about your cat being exposed.

 

Crate Training Basics

When done properly, crate training is a very valuable tool that can help you and your dog enjoy each other even more.  Here are some helpful tips:

DON’T use your crate as a punishment device.  Even crate trained dogs need exercise, interaction, and training.  

DO put your crate in an area where your family spends a lot of time.  Dogs are pack animals and want to be included in the action.

DON’T leave your pet’s harness or collar on while it is in the crate.

DO praise your dog for going into the crate.  Feed him/her meals inside and provide safe toys.

DO start by asking your dog to stay in the crate for only short periods of time while you are home.

DON’T leave your dog crated for too long.  For puppies under 7 months of age, a good rule of thumb is no more than the number of hours equaling the dog’s age plus one.  (So a 4 month old puppy can be crated up to 5 hours).

If you have any questions, please contact us.

 

Adopt a Pet, Gain a Friend

Did you know that 6-8 million pets end up in shelters every year?  And that half of those are typically not ever adopted?  Most of these pets end up in this sad situation through no fault of their own.  “Moving” and “landlord issues” are the most common reasons given when a pet is relinquished.  This means that your local shelter and rescue groups are filled with loving, family-friendly pets that just want to find a forever home.

When you adopt a pet, it typically is less costly than purchasing one or even getting one for “free”.  These pets often are fully vaccinated, dewormed, microchipped, and spayed/neutered.  A shelter or rescue can even help you to choose the right pet for your family.

By adopting a pet, you are doing your part to help the pet overpopulation problem.  So spread the word!  Tell us about your pet adoption experience!

 

Cataracts and Your Pet

Cataracts are, unfortunately, one of the most common eye problems in pets.  They are opacities in the lens of the eye and can affect any age, species, or breed.  Most cataracts are inherited, but pets with diabetes, trauma to the eye, or other ocular inflammatory diseases can also develop them.

Some cataracts can result in complete blindness.  Many pets do well without any type of treatment, however others develop problems such as glaucoma secondary to the cataracts.  Others may suffer decreased quality of life related to blindness.

There is no way to reverse cataracts, however a surgical procedure can be performed by a veterinary ophthalmologist in which the affected lens is removed.  This procedure, which is quite delicate, involves extensive aftercare.  In the carefully selected patient, however, it can almost completely restore vision.  Consultation with an ophthalmologist can help determine whether your pet might be a good candidate for surgery.

 

Long live your feline friend!

Cats are pretty self-sufficient, right?  While this is true, it reality we can do a lot to extend the length and quality of our cat’s life.  Paying attention to the following can really do a lot to add years to your time together:

  • Keep your cat indoors if at all possible.  Disease, parasites, predators, and man-made dangers such as cars lurk outside for even the savviest of kitties.
  • Follow veterinary care recommendations.  Routine examinations, vaccinations, parasite prevention, and dental care are important.  We have your cat’s best interest at heart and knows that including these types of things into your care routine is vital to your cat’s well being.
  • Provide an enriching environment.  Cats are naturally curious, and the indoors can get boring.  Interactive toys and climbing equipment are enjoyed.  Also, dedicated playtime that utilizes your cat’s hunting instincts is important.  Lure toys, laser pointers, and other cat-specific toys are great for this.
  • Emphasize good nutrition.  Provide fresh, clean water and a quality, balanced diet for your cat.  Consult with your veterinarian if you think your cat is under- or over-weight.

If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment for your cat to be seen, give us call!