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.

 

Baby, It’s Cold Outside!

 

Old Man Winter may be in town, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy the Great Outdoors with the family pet.  If you are going to be spending time outside, however, there are some special precautions that must be taken in order to ensure everyone has a great time!  Take the following into account when spending time in the elements this winter:

  • Be sure that your pet has access to water.  Just because it is cold out doesn’t mean hydration is not necessary.  Don’t forget that many water sources freeze in the winter.
  • Pay attention to the paws!  Your pet’s paws may become sore or even cut when walking on frozen ground and ice.  You might consider investing in some protective doggy boots if trekking for long periods in these conditions.
  • Many ice-melting products are not pet-friendly!  Use a pet-approved product for your own property and be sure to clean any potential contamination from your pet’s fur and paws upon your return home.
  • Steer clear of antifreeze.  Even a tiny amount of this sweet substance can be lethal.
  • Be extra careful around frozen lakes and ponds.  If your pet should fall in accidently, it may not be able to get out.  Hypothermia is also a concern.
  • Use extra care in icy areas for both you and your pet.
  • If your pet begins to shake or shiver, it is time to end your outing.  Just because your pet is wearing a fur coat doesn’t mean it can’t get cold.  Just like you, the more active your dog is, the warmer it will stay.  Your pet may benefit from wearing doggy booties or a coat.
  • Try to target your outdoor activities for the warmest part of the day.  There is a big difference between going for an hour long walk at noon and walking in the evening after the sun has gone down!

Don’t keep your pup all cooped up until Spring!  By getting out, you will enjoy the season and keep you and your pet healthy and fit.  Just be aware of weather-related dangers so that you can head outdoors worry-free.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside!

 

Old Man Winter may be in town, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy the Great Outdoors with the family pet.  If you are going to be spending time outside, however, there are some special precautions that must be taken in order to ensure everyone has a great time!  Take the following into account when spending time in the elements this winter:

  • Be sure that your pet has access to water.  Just because it is cold out doesn’t mean hydration is not necessary.  Don’t forget that many water sources freeze in the winter.
  • Pay attention to the paws!  Your pet’s paws may become sore or even cut when walking on frozen ground and ice.  You might consider investing in some protective doggy boots if trekking for long periods in these conditions.
  • Many ice-melting products are not pet-friendly!  Use a pet-approved product for your own property and be sure to clean any potential contamination from your pet’s fur and paws upon your return home.
  • Steer clear of antifreeze.  Even a tiny amount of this sweet substance can be lethal.
  • Be extra careful around frozen lakes and ponds.  If your pet should fall in accidently, it may not be able to get out.  Hypothermia is also a concern.
  • Use extra care in icy areas for both you and your pet.
  • If your pet begins to shake or shiver, it is time to end your outing.  Just because your pet is wearing a fur coat doesn’t mean it can’t get cold.  Just like you, the more active your dog is, the warmer it will stay.  Your pet may benefit from wearing doggy booties or a coat.
  • Try to target your outdoor activities for the warmest part of the day.  There is a big difference between going for an hour long walk at noon and walking in the evening after the sun has gone down!

Don’t keep your pup all cooped up until Spring!  By getting out, you will enjoy the season and keep you and your pet healthy and fit.  Just be aware of weather-related dangers so that you can head outdoors worry-free.

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!

Why Pudgy Pets aren’t so Cute

Fat dogs aren't cuteJust like the rest of America, our nation’s pets have expanding waistlines. According to the Association of Pet Obesity Prevention, about 54% of pets in America are overweight or obese. While being curvy may be cute, it is not healthy. Pets that are overweight are at increased risk for the following:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart and respiratory disease
  • Joint injury including cranial cruciate ligament injury
  • Kidney disease
  • Many forms of cancer
  • Decreased life expectancy (up to 2.5 years!)

If those aren’t reasons enough to take your pet’s weight seriously, then nothing is. If you are not sure if your pet is overweight, be sure to ask us at your pet’s next checkup. We can also give you helpful tips in order to aid in shedding pounds including prescription diets and lab work to rule out underlying medical conditions.

(Scoot, scoot, scoot) Scoot Your Booty

Ah, the dreaded butt-drag.  Every pet owner has experienced it.  But what does it mean? Don’t ignore it!  If your dog is carpet surfing, there is a reason.  Here are the most common causes:

  • Anal sacs Booty-ScooterAll dogs and cat have little sacs right inside the rectum that contain a stinky fluid.  Normally this fluid is expressed when your pet has a bowel movement.  Sometimes the glands can become clogged or infected, however, resulting in a very irritating pressure that can be painful. You can help avoid this by bringing your pet in for grooming, which can include anal gland expression.
  • Parasites – Intestinal parasites such as tapeworms can cause irritation around the rectum, resulting in scooting.
  • Allergies – Allergies, in particular food allergies, can cause an itchy behind.  Give us a call if you suspect this may be the case for your pet.
  • Irritation – Anything irritating such as debris stuck in the hair around the rectum or inflammation secondary to diarrhea can result in your pet dragging or licking at its bottom excessively.
  • Fleas – Fleas love to hang out around the back half of the animal, which can sometimes result in scooting.  Fleas can also carry tapeworms, another culprit!

So next time you catch your pet dragging its rear end on your white rug, don’t yell at him or her-  Make an appointment to get it checked out!  Your dog or cat is trying to tell you something!