Tag: treats

The Big Fat Truth About Pet Obesity (and What You Can Do About It)

We all know that face our pets make at us when they want a treat. But let’s stop for a second and think before we give in.

Obesity is a growing epidemic not just for humans but for our furry companions as well; a recent survey done by the veterinary students at University of Georgia showed that 54% of our nation’s pets are overweight or obese. That’s 88.4 million pets!

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So keeping this in mind, how will being overweight affect your pet? There are many conditions that can develop from your pet being overweight such as osteoarthritis, decreased stamina, hypertension, diabetes, lipomas (fatty mass), respiratory compromise and most of all it can shorten their life span. Scary stuff right?

Well I know what you’re thinking, “how do I know if my pet is over weight?” Sometimes it can be hard to recognize that your pet is overweight as the weight gain can come on gradually or it is hard to actually accept that your pet is more than just a little chunky and is now fully obese. To assist in this evaluation, body condition scoring has been developed and is fairly easy to accomplish. There is a five-point system (where three out of five is considered optimal). What you want to do is evaluate your pet, feel for a small amount of padding over the ribs. It should be possible to feel the ribs and there should be a small tuck in the belly where the hind legs meet the body. See the graph below.

BCS

A question you may be asking yourself is “What can I do to prevent my pet from becoming overweight?” Let start with two words; portion control. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to figure out exactly how much each individual pet should be eating. Determining the correct size for meals depends on the type of food they are fed, how many times a day they eat, their size, their metabolic rate, the amount of exercise they get, and more. To start the process, take a look at the feeding guide on your pet’s food’s label to see how much they should be eating.

dietSo say your pet is already over weight and you’re ready to get some of that extra chunk off your furry friend. This may sound simple, but in fact when one simply tries to cut back on food; it just doesn’t seem to cut it. As with humans, a more formal approach seems to work best. This means feeding a prescription diet made for weight loss (typically “lite” or “less active” diets are meant to prevent weight gain, not actually cause weight loss), exercise, and coming in for regular weigh-ins at the vet’s office.

This means:

  • There must be control over what the pet eats. That’s easy enough if there is only one pet, but trickier if there is more than one pet in the home. Use your ingenuity to feed the pets separately.
  • Feed in meals. Leaving food out encourages snacking. Feeding in meals makes it easier to feed multiple pets different foods or different amounts of food.
  • Commit to regular weigh-ins. Know what the goal weight is and how long it should take to reach this goal/or how to tell if the pet is on target. It is important not to try to go too fast. If the weight loss is not on track, sometimes it is necessary to feed more rather than less. Your veterinarian may need to be in contact with the clinical nutritionists at the pet food company so as to make the best recommendations.
  • Consider interactive toys that can be used when you are not home or where your own participation is minimal.

icecreamIf you have concerns about your pet’s weight, talk to your veterinarian. Be sure to rule out any health issues that might specifically cause obesity as an initial step in obesity management.

By: Shelly Crosson

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Making Your Cat’s Visit to the Vet More Feline Friendly

By Ashley Elliott

We all love our cats but taking them to the vet can be stressful for both cats and their owners! Trying to catch our feline friends and then get them into a carrier isn’t always a walk in the park. Here are some tips on how to get your cat to have a more enjoyable experience from the carrier to the clinic.

Getting your cat used to being around their carrier is the first step to reducing stress for both you and your cat when bringing them to the clinic. If the only time your cat sees the carrier is when you’re trying to catch them to take them to the vet, they’re not going to be too happy to see it. But if you keep the carrier out all the times, your cat will get used to it. If you don’t want to leave it out all the time, try getting the carrier out for about a week before your appointment.

Teaching your cat to love their carrier is the second step to make a trip the vet less stressful. This can be achieved by training your cat to associate good things with their carrier. Food is an excellent motivator. Just let your cat associate meals and yummy treats with their carrier. Start by feeding your cat right outside of the carrier. Over the next few days, slowly move the food further into the carrier. You’ll know that your cat is comfortable when they’re eating their food in the carrier without hesitation.

There are calming pheromone sprays, like Feliway, that can help as well. You can spray a towel, blanket, or even the carrier itself. Do this about twenty minutes before you plan on leaving the house.

Since you’re going to the vet, chances are your cat is going to get some vaccines. Towels may be used during the exam to help comfortably restrain your cat. You can train your cat to get used to this at home. You can also train your cat to get used to having their skin handled similar to how you trained them to like their carrier. Associate treats or food with light handling of their skin.

Now that your cat isn’t running away at the sight of carrier, it’s time to go to the vet! If you’re not able to go into an exam room right away, try to keep your cat away from scary situations in the waiting room. There are all sorts of strange smells and sounds in waiting room that could make your cat anxious. Try to keep other animals away from the carrier. Other animals may want to investigate the carrier, but this could upset your cat. You could cover the carrier with a towel to help prevent this.

Once you’re in the room, let your cat get used to their new surroundings. Open the carrier door and let them investigate. Don’t dump your cat out of the carrier or try to pull them out of it. This will just upset your cat and set a bad tone for the rest of your cat’s visit. Most carriers can be disassembled or opened in different ways. You can also use treats or catnip to make your cat feel more comfortable in the room.

Training your cat to love their carrier and helping them get used to being handled will help you and your cat have a more enjoyable, stress free visit to the clinic.