Here’s the skinny, folks. Cats and dogs in the U.S. are getting fatter, and the sad truth is that most pet owners aren’t aware of the epidemic. A spring 2015 study by the Association for Pet Prevention highlights some pretty staggering numbers: 58% of our nation’s cats and 53% of dogs are considered overweight. The study also found most owners of fat pets who participated in the survey had no idea that their Fido was on the fluffy side. Unfortunately, obesity is now the biggest health threat to pets in the United States, according to researchers, and the costs of illness and injury as a direct result makes it the most treated medical problem in veterinary hospitals. Obesity also is one of the most preventable problems, but pet owners often let it go untreated. If your pet is overweight, veterinarians warn that you’re cheating him of a longer life — up to three years, according to some estimates. Obesity usually begins with too many snacks, too little exercise and a tendency toward table scraps. Sound familiar? Sometimes, just 3 extra pounds to a small dog feels more like 30. But simply being fat isn’t the only problem. Fatty tissue is a serious problem, too. The old school of thought was that fat (adipose tissue) stored energy and protected vital organs from injury. Newer research proves that fat isn't always so innocent, however. Adipose tissue is actually an endocrine organ that secretes hormones and cytokines, proteins produced by cells to regulate the body’s natural responses to disease and infection. But when the body releases too much of the protein, inflammation occurs and, over time, may predispose the body to develop chronic diseases including arthritis, diabetes, osteoarthritis, high
Animals are more sensitive to weird weather than humans, so they’ll sense a storm is brewing long before you. Don’t freak. When you do, they probably will, too. Dogs often are more aware of weather changes than other animals. That’s because their olfactory cortex (the part of the brain that analyzes smells) is 40 times larger than a human's. That means the slightest change in air quality can alert dogs to danger. Canines also are far more sensitive to shifts in barometric pressure, so Fido might experience storm-related anxiety long before the weatherman makes predictions. If your pet gets skittish during downpours, thunder bumpers and lightening storms, create a “safe zone” inside your home. Maybe a crate, a small room in the center of the house or a basement corner, where storms or less noticeable. Wherever it is, distract your pet from the commotion, especially excitable animals like dogs. Close the blinds; turn on the TV or radio, but not too loudly, and make your friend as comfortable as possible. Give him a blanket and a favorite chew toy. Feel free to leave the room, but don’t leave your pet stranded. Feed him regularly, play with him, reassure him and reward him for staying calm. But don’t coddle too much. Seriously. He’ll pick up on your pandering and wig out. Try to act as though everything is business as usual. And when it truly is, take the dog outdoors. Even if the storm wasn’t a big deal to you, it might have been for your pet. Animals can often become aggressive or defensive after storms, as they sense that their territory has been invaded. Be patient and monitor your pets’ behaviors until you’re sure they can
Vacations are a lot more fun when you share them with your best friend. If you plan to take your dog with you, careful planning and safety measures will make the trip more enjoyable. Safety First It’s safer for everyone if your dog is securely fastened or confined during car trips. A large dog in your lap or a small one bouncing around the accelerator pedal is dangerous, and in an accident, your unrestrained dog might be thrown about. Popular options for safe dog travel include dog seat belts, crates and car barriers. If you choose a seat belt, put your dog in the back seat. Riding up front increases the possibility of injuries or death if you have an accident and an airbag deploys. Microchip your dog before leaving home and attach an ID tag with your cell phone number to its collar. Never leave your dog unattended in a hot or cold car. It’s not just uncomfortable. It’s also inhumane and potentially life-threatening. Identify emergency animal clinics close to locations you plan to visit, particularly if your sidekick is a senior pet. Things to Bring Pack a spill-proof water bowl, your dog’s regular food, edible chews, medications and favorite toys, including chew toys. It‘s also good to pack something that can safely secure your dog when it’s unsupervised. A sturdy tether, a crate or an exercise pen works great. Dogs Who Dislike Car Rides Although some dogs gleefully bound into the car, others seem to dread the ride. If your dog seems afraid, anxious or uncomfortable in the car, experiment before making a long haul. Speak with the veterinarian. Your dog may suffer from carsickness. Even if it doesn’t vomit
Dogs love swimming, plain and simple. Given half the chance, most will jump headfirst into any stretch of water — the muckier the better. Aside from the fun factor, there are many reasons to treat your dog to a swim. The benefits of hydrotherapy are plentiful, including: Improved circulation and cardiovascular fitness Increased range of motion in joints Stronger muscles Better flexibility Relief from pain, swelling and stiffness For years, doctors have prescribed hydrotherapy to humans for years. And it’s helped racehorses recover from sports injuries. Dogs are the latest group of patients to benefit with encouraging results. Vets have long known that swimming is good exercise for animals with joint problems. A dog’s natural buoyancy supports the weight of the body, allowing strenuous, muscle-building exercise without over-stressing. If you think hydrotherapy is something that would benefit your pet, give us a call. All dogs swim with a life jacket under the supervision of a trained hydrotherapist. Most dogs large and small leave with a big, wet smile. But it’s not surprising considering that a five-minute swim is equivalent to a five-mile run.