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.

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!

How prepared are you?

Disasters strike when we least expect them.  We never think it will happen to us, yet every year tornados, fires, hurricanes, and floods strike locations all over the United States.  If something like this were to affect your family, are you ready?  It is National Pet Preparedness Month, and it’s the perfect time to ask yourself the following:

  • Where would you go? Do you have a list of facilities or locations that you could take shelter at?  Where would your pets go?  Try to make a list of pet-friendly hotels, boarding facilities, or homes that would take your pet in case of an emergency.
  • What would you bring? Everyone should have an emergency preparedness kit.  Be sure to include your pets.  Keep a carrier, leash and collar, food, water, and bowls in a designated location.  Don’t forget any medications and a copy of your pet’s medical records.
  • Could your pet find you if you became separated? Keep identification tags and microchip registration information current so that your pet can find its way home should you have to part.

We all hope that we’ll never have to deal with an emergency like this, but it does happen. Being prepared will give you peace of mind, and is the best way to ensure you and your loved ones will make it through as safely as possible.

Please contact us if you have any questions.

 

Heartworm Disease: How Much Do You Know

Dog and CatHeartworm disease is no joke.  It is a very serious problem for pets that, with a little effort, is almost completely preventable.  Here are a few facts regarding heartworm disease so that you can better understand how to protect your pet:

  • Heartworms grow inside the heart, lungs, and associated vessels.
  • Heartworm disease is transmitted by female mosquitoes.
  • Both dogs and cats can become infected.
  • Heartworm disease has been found in ALL 50 states.
  • Pets that are infected may not exhibit any signs until serious problems and even death occur.
  • There is a treatment for heartworm disease in dogs, although the treatment is expensive and can have a high risk of complications.  No treatment is currently available for cats.

Contact us and we can help you to decide what the best preventative plan is for your pet.  By educating yourself you can protect your dog or cat from this scary disease.

 

Idle Hands: Why Mental Stimulation is Important for your Pet

Bored BeagleWe’ve all heard the saying:  Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.  This not only applies to humans, but to our pets as well.  It is estimated that most dogs need at least 6 hours of mental activity a day.  Boredom can result in all sorts of behavioral problems, including destructive and obsessive behaviors.

Exercise is a great outlet, however many pets benefit from mental stimulation as well.  Mental exercise is not hard to accomplish- try hiding treats around the house, playing hide-and-go-seek, teaching a new trick, or making a play date with another pet.  For dogs, try doggie daycare to keep them occupied while you’re away. You may just see a change in your pet’s behavior for the better.  And you will have a happy dog or kitty to boot!

If you have any questions or would like to discuss some suggestions for your pet, contact us!