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

November is National Diabetes Month

posted on November 03, 2014 by Dr. Jamie Hartman

A common disease seen in dogs and cats is diabetes mellitus, or diabetes.  The pancreas is a L-shaped gland that sits next to the stomach and part of the small intestines called the duodenum.  The pancreas is responsible for producing a number of digestive hormones, such as insulin and glucagon.  Insulin is a hormone that helps digest sugar.  It is like the “key” to unlock the blood cells, allowing sugar to be used as energy.  Diabetes is the lack of or underproduction of insulin.

Without insulin, the sugar keeps circulating in the blood stream but is not available for use as energy, and therefore the body turns to fat stores and even muscles to fuel itself, which can lead to dangerous byproducts called ketones building up in the blood stream.  Also, the body is essentially in starvation mode at this point, as all of the food that is being eaten is unable to be used as energy, so the body is breaking down its reserves.

Signs that your pet may have diabetes include weight loss, usually despite a good to increased appetite, increased thirst, and increased urinations.  Since these symptoms can also be seen with other serious diseases such as kidney disease or thyroid disorders amongst others, if your pet is exhibiting any of these signs please schedule an appointment with us as soon as possible.

An examination may reveal weight loss and muscle loss, cataract development in the eyes, or other signs which may make diabetes a likely culprit.  Likely a blood sample will be taken to look at liver and kidney functions, red and white blood cells, and most importantly a blood glucose or sugar level.  A urine sample may be collected to look for signs of ketones or sugar in the urine, as well as signs of an infection.  Additional blood work to look at a fructosamine level, which checks the average blood glucose level over the last couple of weeks may be required to get a diagnosis.

If your pet does indeed have an elevated blood sugar, fructosamine, or glucose and/or ketones in the urine, a diagnosis of diabetes will likely be made.  Treatment often includes insulin injections and a diet change.  Specific treatment plans are formulated on a case by case basis.  With proper care, diabetic pets can live long, healthy lives.  If you think your pet may have diabetes, please call us today!