Archive for the ‘Animal Fitness’ Category

Fat Cats: the Issue of Cat Obesity

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

 

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.

 

Springtime fun for your outdoorsy pup

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

Spring is here and things are warming up outside, which means there are many more opportunities for outdoor fun! Long walks, hiking trails, play groups, swimming… It gets my tail wagging just thinking about it! As with any activity that you participate in with your pup, there are tips to remember when heading into the great outdoors to keep you both safe and happy.

  1. Let your dog carry his own weight. If you have a dog that doesn’t tire easily, get him a dog backpack to help boost his workout a little. Keep in mind that if you just slap the bag on, throw in some weights, and head out for your walk, Sparky might not be too keen the next time he sees the pack come out. The key is to make it fun. Put the pack on empty the first time and let your dog walk around in it while you offer him treats. The next time keep it on a little longer. Once he seems like he’s tolerating it, try it with a couple of water bottles in it to add some weight. As soon as he’s comfortable with it, try going for a walk with it on. The extra weight should help to tire him out faster so he’ll get more out of your walk.
  2. Help your dog to play nice with others. When the weather gets warmer the number of dog bites and dog fights increase due to the number of outdoor activities available to people, dogs, and dog owners. Keep this increased number in mind if you bring your dog to a location where there is the potential for other dogs. Be sure you always ask the owner before initiating contact with a new dog. If the owner is nowhere to be found, avoid any contact with the dog as best you can. Dog parks tend to be more crowded as well, which can sometimes lead to stress and aggressive behavior. Evaluate the situation and pay attention to your pup. If he seems stressed at all, a nice long walk alone with you may be a better option that day.
  3. Is it hot enough for you? We all know that dogs need exercise for both their mental and physical well-being and that a tired dog is a happy dog is a well behaved dog. However, you do need to exercise some caution once the summer temperatures get here, particularly if your dog is older, short-nosed, or has a thick coat. During those dog days of summer, try exercising your pet early in the morning or late in the evening when things have cooled down. Remember that asphalt can get very hot and can burn your dog’s paws. If it’s too hot for you to stand barefoot on it, you shouldn’t let your dog stand on it for very long either.
  4. Learn to recognize heat stress. Heat stress is a serious medical condition that can lead to other issues such as stroke, brain damage, or even death. It’s important to learn to recognize the signs that your dog may be suffering. Remember that dogs can’t sweat the way we do. They regulate their temperature by panting and are much more susceptible to overheating than we are. Signs of heat stress include heavy panting, glazed eyes, rapid pulse, unsteadiness, staggering gait, vomiting, or a deep red/purple tongue. If your dog is exhibiting any of these symptoms you should apply cool (not cold) water  gradually to your dog to decrease his temperature. Make sure to move them to a cooler, shady location and remember that dogs cool themselves from the bottom up, so using cold ice packs and applying them to your dog’s head, neck, and chest will help.
  5. Cowabunga! Most dogs love to swim, but some just can’t do it and others just don’t want to. If you’re going swimming be conscious of your dog’s preferences and skills before making him swim. If you’re swimming for the first time with your dog, start off in shallow water and coax him by calling his name and encouraging him with treats or toys. Never throw your dog into the water. If you’re lucky enough to be vacationing near the ocean keep a close eye on your pal to make sure he stays safe in any strong tides. If you’re swimming in a pool make sure your dog knows where the stairs are located, and give him a good rinse once he comes out. Otherwise the chlorine will dry on his fur and it may make him sick if he licks it off later.

Most importantly, enjoy your outdoors time with your furry friend. It’s easy to have a great time if you keep these few safety tips in mind. As always, feel free to call us with any questions.

Why Pudgy Pets aren’t so Cute

Friday, January 27th, 2012

Fat dogs are not 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.

Fall Fitness for Your Pet

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

Boy and dog playing in leavesThe weather has finally started to cool off any you can think about enjoying some time outdoors with your pets!  Here are some suggestions for fun activities that you and Fido can enjoy together:

  • Take a hike:  Get out and enjoy the beautiful fall colors with your pet.  Many parks and trails welcome leashed pets.
  • Play some football:  NFL players aren’t the only ones who are ready to play.  Many dogs enjoy chasing a ball and tumbling in the grass!
  • Rake some leaves:  Make yard work a fun and interactive chore.  You’d be surprised how much fun running through leaf piles can be.
  • Take a trip to the dog park:  If your pup enjoys the company of others, the autumn is a great time to visit the dog park.  It’s not so hot as to hamper long, active play but it is not so cold yet that the weather ruins a good time.

Fall can be an enjoyable time for you and your pet to spend some quality time together.  Take advantage of the weather, because winter is right around the corner!

Visit our website for more tips on keeping your pet happy and healthy.

Summer Fitness for Pets

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Are you and Fido striving for the perfect bikini body this summer?  Follow these tips to ensure a safe experience for you both!

  • Stay hydrated!  You both should have plenty of fresh water available to keep your body functioning at its peak.  Many pet retailers sell portable dog bowls so you don’t have to share a water bottle.
  • Make sure your pet can keep up with you.  Pets that are not used to heavy activity are going to experience even more difficulties in the heat.  Very young or old dogs may have a harder time in hot weather.  Also, certain breeds with short noses such as Boxers, Boston terriers, Pugs, and Bulldogs are prone to overheating due to their anatomy despite their fitness level.
  • Swimming can be a fun activity but be sure to allow your dog to participate in a safe manner.  Not all dogs are natural swimmers.  They should be supervised at all times when in the water.  If you allow your dog in your swimming pool, teach him where the steps are.  A dog’s natural instinct is to try to get out of the nearest edge, which is usually not the way out.  Never allow your dog to swim in areas where you would not swim.  Pool water and lake/pond water can be irritating to the skin and can cause skin and/or ear infections.   Dogs should be rinsed with clean water and ears cleaned after every swim.