Category Archives: Obesity

New Year’s Resolutions for Your Pet

posted on December 01, 2016 by Dr. Jamie Hartman

Every December many of us start to think of the coming year and we often make resolutions for things we are going to do differently or try to achieve in the coming months.  This year, why not set a resolution for your pet or for both of you?

In America, 54% of dogs and 58% of cats are classified as overweight or obese.  So while you may make a resolution to lose weight yourself, why not include the household pets as well?  Start by using an actual measuring cup instead of “eyeballing” amounts of food, look for lower calorie foods and treats, limit overall treat intake, and try meal feeding instead of leaving food out all the time.  Contact us to learn more about how to formulate a safe weight loss plan for your pet.  We can recommend diets and calculate the amount of food you should be feeding.
Another part of weight loss is getting more active.  Things you can do with your dog to help get more activity for both of you include walking, jogging, running, hiking, and skijoring.  If one or both of you is a bit out of shape or just is not used to a lot of exercise, a slow build up to activity is recommended, as pets can get sore too!  You can also increase activity for your pet indoors-play with toys, lasers, or even use feeder toys to help stimulate both your pet’s mental and physical wellbeing.  Schedule a set play time each day or incorporate small amounts of increased activity and interaction (during commercial breaks of your favorite show perhaps).

There’s a saying that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but this is not true.  Try having your pet learn a new trick.  Positive reinforcement techniques such as clicker training are a great way to help shape behavior.  Cats can learn tricks too with the right encouragement!  Sit, lay down, shake, roll over, play dead, and high five are some popular tricks, but there are endless possibilities.  Other options include joining a training class or canine good citizen class, or look into becoming a certified therapy pet.

Vow to do a better job with your pet’s home care.  Did you know that it is recommended to brush your pet’s teeth daily?  Just like with humans, plaque (soft food particles, bacteria and debris) hardens into tartar after about 24 hours.  Use a pet safe toothpaste and lots of positive reinforcement.  Even if you can’t get daily, every little bit helps, and it gives you a chance to see inside their mouth to notice changes earlier.

Some breeds require daily or weekly hair brushing as well.  Nail trims should be performed every 4-8 weeks depending on the pet, and ears may need to be cleaned periodically also.  Getting into a routine can help the pet become more accustomed to these procedures, and again, you may spot changes earlier allowing easier treatment or even prevention of problems.

Put reminders on your calendar to do these things as well as giving monthly heartworm and flea and tick medications.  While discussing things to put on your calendar, make sure to schedule your pet’s yearly examination appointment as well.

Lastly, make yourself a reminder to update your contact information on your pet’s microchip and ID.  These items are not useful if they contain old contact information such as incorrect addresses or phone numbers that are no longer in service.  You can update microchip information through Home Again here.

We wish hope both you and your pet the best of luck in achieving your goals, and hope that you have a wonderful new year!screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-12-50-34-pm

Winter Weight Woes

posted on January 03, 2014 by Dr. Jamie Hartman

As winter continues on, pets’ waistlines can start to fill out.  Lack of activity outdoors (lets face it, who wants to walk in negative 20 with 2 feet of snow?), shorter days leading to more sleeping, and a lower metabolism can all lead to weight gain in winter. There are ways to help prevent this however.

Cut back on their food.  Starting when the weather turns colder and you know activity will start to drop, cut back on food intake about 10%.  Decrease treats as well, and avoid the temptation to share holiday foods with your pets.

Increase activity indoors. If you have an area where your pet can play indoors, take advantage.  Throw a ball down the hall or stairs and allow your pet to retrieve it.  Use a laser pointer or cat toys on strings to encourage your pet to move around.

Use feeder toys or puzzle toys.  Feeder toys increase your pet’s mental activity to help combat long days of boredom from not being able to go outside.  The pet has to work and move around to get the food to come out, so they burn calories while eating.  This also will take longer than eating from a dish, giving the pet something to do other than lay around.

Take advantage of the “good” days.  On those days when it’s not as cold or slippery, try to take walks despite the fact it’s winter.  Pet’s feet can get frostbite, so take short walks and watch for ice, snow, or salt getting in their feet.  Use boots, sweaters, or jackets to help keep your pet warm.  Even 10 minutes will be beneficial to your pet.  Also, some dog parks are open year round.  If your pet does well with other animals, the nice days are great ways to ease cabin fever and help burn some calories.

Hopefully by using these tips and tricks, your pet will not gain as much weight over the winter, and will be healthy and happy when spring finally rolls around!

walking-myself

November Nutrition: What food should I feed my pet?

posted on November 02, 2012 by Dr. Jamie Hartman

As November begins, many of us start thinking of our delicious turkey dinner with all the trimmings.  As thoughts of cranberries and stuffing fill our minds, I urge you to think of the meals we give our pets every day.  Here at Heritage Animal Hospital, we offer a variety of prescription diets and wellness diets for all of your pets’ needs.

Our veterinary therapeutic diets include Hill’s®, Purina®, and Royal Canin® products.  They are available for a variety of health issues including weight loss and management, diabetes, kidney disease, gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting or diarrhea, inflammatory bowel disease, food sensitivities or allergies, liver disease, urinary tract disease, joint disease, and dental disease amongst others.

For our healthy pets, we offer Purina Pro Plan® foods and Solid Gold® foods for all lifestages including puppy/kitten, adult, and senior.  There are a number of reasons we at Heritage Animal Hospital recommend Solid Gold® Foods.  Solid Gold® was one of the first pet food companies in the United States that uses all natural ingredients in their food.  Solid Gold® is a holistic food that uses premium ingredients and none of the foods contain artificial preservatives.

Solid Gold® does include ingredients such as quality protein sources for muscular health, whole grain for fiber, fruits and vegetables for cell health, essential omega fatty acids for skin and hair health, glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health, taurine for heart health, botanical extracts for antioxidants, and probiotics for intestinal tract health. Solid Gold has varieties with different protein levels for different pet needs, as well as gluten free and grain free varieties.

Purina Pro Plan® foods are well-balanced diets that come in formulas for all life stages.  They contain ingredients such as real meat, poultry, or fish for muscle and heart health.  They also contain high levels of antioxidants to help support the immune system, vitamins and minerals to support heart health and bone and teeth strength, prebiotics to support digestive system health and are a highly digestible formula to minimize waste.  In addition, they help maintain a healthy weight through an optimal protein to fat ratio.  Purina Pro Plan also comes in a wide array of varieties, ingredients, tastes, and textures to ensure your pet will like what they are eating.

We understand there is a wide variety of pet foods available on the market today, and many of them are quality foods.  These are just a few that we have found and liked.  If you feed something else, please make sure that somewhere on the bag there is a statement saying the food has been tested or formulated to meet AAFCO standards for your pet’s particular life stage.

Still confused by the choices facing you in the pet food aisle?  Ask us today about the best diet choice for your pet’s needs, life stage, and health status!

Posted in: Nutrition Obesity

Obesity as an Epidemic

posted on August 03, 2012 by Dr. Jamie Hartman

As the calendars turn to August, one thought enters my mind-food on a stick!  August brings the state fair, and while I know a deep fried candy bar on a stick is not healthy for me, as an occasional, once a year treat, it is okay to indulge.  While many people realize watching what we eat is important for a number of health reasons, these same people may not realize watching what our pets eat is just as important.

You may think an extra pound or two can’t hurt that much, but a pound is not just a pound.  While two or three additional pounds may have very little effect on you or me, they can be quite serious for your pet.  Three extra pounds on a 15 pound dog is equivalent to a 150 pound person gaining 30 extra pounds, and  3 extra pounds on a 10 pound cat is equal to 45 extra pounds on a 150 pound person!

Obesity and overweightness is the #1 health condition affecting American pets today.  Purina estimates that 58% of cats and 45% of dogs are overweight or obese.  This equals 35 million dogs and 54 million cats!

This is a serious epidemic as being overweight has been linked with a higher incidence of a number of health issues including oral (mouth) disease, skin disease, diabetes, pancreatitis, thyroid disease, joint diseases such as arthritis and hip dysplasia, hepatitis, urinary tract disease, asthma, torn ligaments such as ACLs, liver disease, heart disease, kidney disease, exercise intolerance, slower wound healing, increased anesthetic risk, and cancer.

Even more importantly, it has been found that being overweight can significantly decrease lifespan.  Purina did the first life-long study in dogs regarding diet and its effect on pets.  Half of the dogs were fed free choice, meaning they were allowed to eat as much as they liked.  The other half of the dogs were fed 25% less than what the free fed dogs ate.  The differences were amazing!

Dogs that were allowed to free feed had an average body condition score (BCS) of 6.7/9 (4.5/9 being ideal), whereas dogs that were slightly restricted had a BCS of 4.6.  The control fed dogs lived 15% longer-almost 2 years, with an average of 13 years in the control fed dogs versus 11.2 years in the free fed dogs.  Lastly, the control fed dogs didn’t start needing treatment for medical conditions until a median age of 12 years, whereas the free choice pets started needing treatment at a median age of 9.9 years.

What does this mean for your pet?  Simply put, a pet kept at a healthy weight throughout life is a healthier pet, and has a longer average lifespan.

How can you help keep your pet healthy?  Veterinarians use something called the body condition score to assess a pet’s weight, as there can be quite a range of “normal” weights for a specific dog breed.  Body condition score is a way to judge how much fat or muscle is on an animal and is more accurate than weight in judging an animal’s body composition.  It is based on a 1-9 scale, with a 4-5 being a healthy weight.

To score body condition, a couple areas are looked at:

  • Are the bones visible?  Bones such as the ribs, spine, and hip bones should not be visible in most dogs and cats.  Some breeds are naturally leaner and in them it may be normal to see the bones.
  • How easily are the ribs felt?  They should feel as though you are running your finger over the back of your other hand’s fingers.  There should be a slight fat covering, but you should not have to push hard to be able to feel the ribs.
  • Is there a tuck of the abdomen visible from the side of the animal?  There should be a nice tuck visible.
  • Is there a waist visible when viewing the animal from above?  There should be a waist visible.

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If you think your pet may be overweight or obese and would like help formulating a diet plan, or if you would like to prevent your pet from becoming overweight, please contact us to discuss calorie requirements and feeding guidelines for your pet, or visit our website for more information.

Posted in: Obesity