Obesity is a Serious Threat to Your Pet's Health
Obesity in pets has reached a national epidemic, according to a recent report from the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. The organization states that more dogs and cats are overweight or obese than those who are a healthy weight. The exact numbers are 54 percent for dogs and 59 percent for cats. Obesity in pets means that the animal’s weight is at least 30 percent higher than desired for the age, breed, gender, and species.
Excess body weight can cause numerous health problems in dogs and cats, just as it can in people. Cancer, diabetes, and heart disease are among the most serious. Being overweight or obese also diminishes quality of life. Your pet may struggle with breathing or walking difficulty, low energy, chronic joint pain, depressed mood, and more due to the excess weight. As surprising as it seems, many pet owners don’t recognize when their dog or cat weighs too much.
To maintain a stable weight, women should aim for 2,000 calories per day and men 2,500 calories per day. However, the caloric needs for pets is significantly less. A 10-pound animal needs only 200 calories per day to remain healthy. For a 50-pound dog, 700 to 900 calories is usually enough. You can click here to learn more about caloric needs for your dog or cat.
How to Help Your Pet Lose Weight
The first step in helping your dog or cat slim down is knowing how many calories he consumes in a day. To do this, you need to know how much food you’re giving him. We recommend using a measuring cup when you feed your pet so there’s no question of how much he’s eating. A common mistake among pet parents is continually filling the food dish and allowing their dog or cat to graze off and on throughout the day. If you do give your pet treats, make sure they contain nutritious ingredients and have little to no sugar.
Don’t Change Your Pet’s Diet Before Consulting Us
Dogs and cats are sensitive to any change in their diet, even when you switch to a healthier or lower calorie food. Before making any changes, please schedule an appointment with your pet’s regular veterinarian at Battletown Animal Clinic for a check-up. We will review the ingredients in the food your pet currently eats and ask you questions about treats and how often she exercises. We may make a recommendation for a specific brand of pet food that you can order easily from our online store.
How to Plan a Successful Road Trip with Your Pet
Visit Us Before You Go
Dealing with a sick or hurt pet on the road can be extremely stressful. We encourage you to schedule a preventive care exam at Battletown Animal Clinic before you leave for vacation. We will ensure that your pet is up-to-date on vaccinations and in good health to make the trip. Be sure to ask us for a proof of rabies vaccination and a health certificate if you plan to travel with your pet outside of Virginia.
What to Pack for Your Pet
Your family road trip will go a lot smoother if you remember to pack everything your pet needs before you leave. It’s especially important to pack the brand of food she normally eats since you might not be able to locate it while traveling. Try to stick to her feeding routine as closely as possible since stress or excitement can cause stomach upset. Other things to include in a travel bag for your pet include a first aid kit, supplies for grooming, food and water bowls, a leash, medications, and a litterbox and fresh litter for cats.
Best Practices for Traveling
Once you’re on the road, following these tips will make for a happier trip:
- Build frequent stops into your schedule. Dogs need to eliminate as well as release their pent-up energy. They should also drink water at every stop to avoid dehydration.
- If your pet is prone to motion sickness, avoid giving him food while your car is moving. You should also avoid giving him any food that you choose to eat while in the car.
- Cats and dogs should be in a carrier while the vehicle is in motion. If that’s not possible, purchase a safety harness to use like a seatbelt. Although your pet may protest the restricted movement, it’s not safe to allow her to roam free inside the car. It’s distracting to the driver and could be a disaster in case of collision.
- Don’t leave your pet alone in a parked car. He can become dangerously ill from the heat, not to mention highly anxious.
- If you’re traveling in a pick-up truck, your pet needs to be in the cab of the truck. Additionally, don’t allow your pet to hang his head out of a window because a piece of flying road debris could injure him.
How to Help Your Pet with Allergies or Asthma
Asthma in Dogs and Cats
- Car exhaust fumes
- Cat litter dust
- Chemical solutions and household sprays, including deodorant, flea spray, hair spray, and perfume
- Fireplace and tobacco smoke
- Mold and mildew
- Pollen from grass and trees
Allergies in companion animals typically fall into one of these categories:
- Contact: A contact allergy develops due to your pet making direct contact with the allergen, such as ingredients in grooming products.
- Flea Dermatitis: Some dogs and cats develop an allergy to flea saliva. This can cause severe irritation on the skin and intense scratching. Your pet may even scratch her skin raw.
- Food: Food ingredients, including wheat, soy, beef, and chicken, can cause allergy symptoms in some pets. We offer Royal Canin and other prescription diets for pets who can’t eat food that has been commercially prepared.
- Inhalant: This category of allergies included pollen, cigarette smoke, dust, or anything else that your pet breathes in and has a reaction to.
Excessive scratching, wheezing, and coughing are typically the first indication that a dog or cat has asthma or allergies. Please contact us at Battletown Animal Clinic for an immediate appointment if you notice these symptoms. Your pet’s veterinarian will ask questions about his home environment and behavior and run some tests to determine the triggers for his symptoms. Most pets with asthma or allergies respond well to environmental changes and prescription medication.
Memorial Day Safety Tips for Your Dog
Grills and Dogs Are a Bad Combination
Your dog could easily burn himself by jumping up on the grill trying to score a tasty treat. Additionally, lighter fluid and matches are toxic to dogs if swallowed. Matches can cause kidney and blood cell damage as well as difficulty breathing. The most common effects of ingesting lighter fluid include gastric and respiratory distress as well as skin irritation. Eating uncooked food dropped near the grill is not safe for your dog either. It’s best to keep him in the house or his kennel while the grill is in use.
Be Sure to Follow Your Dog’s Regular Diet
While you may avoid giving your dog table scraps, it’s important to let other guests know to do the same. Avocados, grapes, onions, raisins, and yeast dough are particularly harmful for pets. Alcohol can cause severe illness even in small doses. A large amount of alcohol can put your dog in a coma that he may not recover from. If anyone seems to think that getting a dog drunk would be funny, let them know it’s a cruel practice that you won’t allow.
Some dog breeds will naturally start swimming in water but this isn’t true of all of them. Those with short legs and a large chest area may sink instead of swim. If you take your dog swimming over the Memorial Day weekend, make sure you’re within an arm’s length of her in the water. Keep in mind that everyone in a boat needs a life jacket, even your dog.
Protecting your dog from insect bites and sunburn is important, but make sure you buy products meant for dogs and not people. Human sunscreen and insect repellent can cause diarrhea, drooling, excessive thirst, lethargy, vomiting, nervous system damage, pneumonia, and respiratory distress. Follow the product instructions and be sure to re-apply throughout the day if your dog will be outside for a long time.
In Case of an Emergency
If you’re traveling over Memorial Day weekend, make sure your dog has proper identification. A change in routine can be both exciting and stressful for your dog, which makes it more likely he will run off. We also recommend traveling with a pet first-aid kit and keeping one stocked at home. For urgent situations with your pet during regular office hours, please contact Battletown Animal Clinic at 540-955-2171. After hours, you may contact Valley Veterinary Emergency and Referral Service at 540-662-7811. This includes weekends and holidays.
How to Know if Your Dog Has Heartworm Disease
Heartworm testing in dogs requires only a simple blood test. Testing is a bit more complicated in cats and requires several blood tests before a veterinarian can make a diagnosis. This testing is typically done at the request of the cat owner when he or she suspects the animal may have contracted heartworm disease.
How to Spot Heartworm Infection in Your Pet
Difficulty breathing is the most common sign of heartworm infection in cats. Dogs tend to have more varied symptoms due to the heartworm living in the heart ventricles and the actual heart. These symptoms include:
- Fatigue, with or without exertion
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
Once Dr. Henke has positively identified heartworm in your dog, the next step is to complete a course of antibiotics, heartworm preventives, and steroids. Next, your dog receives a series of injections over the course of 60 days to kill adult heartworms. This requires staying at Battletown Animal Hospital for observation. Another dose of steroids may be necessary at this time as well. Lastly, you need to return with your dog in six months for a follow-up to ensure that all larvae and adult worms have died.
Preventing heartworm is far easier than treating it. We carry Heartgard Plus, Interceptor, and Revolution monthly heartworm prevention products. Dr. Henke will take your pet’s age, lifestyle, species, and weight into consideration before recommending a specific product. He will also go over how to administer the medication during your pet’s regular preventive care exam. Although heartworm can have devastating consequences, the good news is that it’s 100 percent preventable.
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