Friday, December 17, 2010

Help your pets lose weight

I found this helpful article today for pets who need to lose a little (or a lot) of weight. In addition to the suggestions below, we also have a medication called Slentrol that alters the way a dog's intestinal system processes fat, in order to to "fool" them into thinking they have eaten a fatty meal when in fact they haven't. This helps shut off their appetite, just as any actual fatty-food meal tends to do.  Too bad they haven't worked out the details of this medication for humans! (Do not take this yourself, it is not approved for use by humans).

Dr. Utchen

011 weight loss resolutions for your pet

2011 weight loss resolutions for your pet
(ARA) - OK, so you purchased new running shoes, joined a gym, and are ready for a fit and healthy 2011. But while getting in shape and losing weight is an admirable New Year's resolution for you and your family, it's important to remember that people aren't the only ones who might need to shed a few pounds. The number of overweight pets in America continues to rise. Nearly half (45 percent) of dogs and 58 percent of cats are overweight or obese (at least 20 percent above ideal weight), according to a recent survey of veterinarians by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention.

"Pet owners might mistakenly think that a pudgy dog or cat is cute, without realizing this extra weight puts the pet at a greater risk for developing serious health problems, including arthritis and diabetes," says Dr. Grace Long, a veterinarian with Nestle Purina. "But the good news is that with proper nutrition and exercise, pet obesity can be reversed."

Pet owners need to remember, however, that while their weight loss success rests largely in their own hands, paws don't have the same power. If pets are to be successful at getting in better shape - and health - their owners need to intervene. Fortunately, concerned pet owners can start the New Year off on the right foot. In 2010, Dr. Meredith Rettinger, a veterinarian with Laurel Pet Hospital in West Hollywood, Calif., supervised a group of eight overweight dogs and their owners as they participated in Project: Pet Slim Down - a 90-day weight loss journey documented online at Dr. Rettinger currently is overseeing a similar 120-day journey for dogs and cats and their owners. Project: Pet Slim Down is a nationwide program from Purina Veterinary Diets that unites pet owners and veterinarians in helping pets lose weight.

Dr. Rettinger offers five simple guidelines, "2011 Weight Loss Resolutions for Your Pet," to help you - working with your veterinarian - help your pet live a leaner, healthier life.

Resolution 1: Make an appointment with your veterinarian. Just as people need expert guidance and a physician's supervision when attempting to lose weight and/or improve their fitness level, veterinarians have the knowledge to help pet owners achieve sensible, lasting weight loss for their pets.

Resolution 2: Set realistic, measurable exercise and weight loss goals. Your veterinarian can help you rule out any medical reasons for excess weight and help you plan a fitness and nutrition program that takes your pet's age, size and breed into account.

Resolution 3: Discipline yourself to make exercise a priority for you and your pet. Sure, our lives are getting busier and we have less time to exercise, but even setting aside time each day for short walks with your pet will help both of you.

Resolution 4: Control portions. Just as limiting intake is important to your own weight loss goals, ensuring a daily volume of allowed food for your pet will be key to success. Your veterinarian can tell you the exact amount of food to feed your pet each day to achieve a healthy weight, so you don't have to guess. He or she also will remind you not to say "I love you" with food.

Resolution 5: Use treats correctly. It's OK to reward your pet with a treat for a successfully completed task. Just remember that these calories need to be subtracted from the total calories allotted for the day, and they shouldn't exceed 10 percent of that allotment. Consider low-calorie treats, or break treats into smaller pieces for more rewards with the same amount of calories.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Dogs and Chewing by Frank Utchen, DVM

Chew on this.

Some dogs seem to chew on everything: shoes, wood, stairs—you name it. This is one of the normal ways dogs investigate their environment, keep their jaw muscles strong, and to some degree help remove dental tartar.

However, every year we see numerous dogs (and cats) who have swallowed something indigestible and life-threatening, so I encourage you to monitor your pets’ chewing behavior carefully.

Just a few of the problems we see each year:

Bones. Although most dogs love to chew on bones, there are two main problems I see from this. First, as expected, some dogs will get a bone stuck in their throat or elsewhere in their digestive tract. A bone stuck in the throat or the intestines is excruciatingly painful and constitutes an emergency. A bone caught in a dog’s throat can often be easily removed after being placed under general anesthesia, but a bone lodged in the intestines requires major abdominal surgery to remove.  It is life-threatening and can cost several thousand dollars depending on the severity of damage to the intestines and other complications.

Second, every year I see dogs who have cracked and broken teeth from chewing on bones. These dogs always have abscesses in the jaw bone surround the roots of the broken tooth. The only way to get rid of the infection is to either extract these teeth or perform a root canal on them. Either one involves general anesthesia and significant expense. Consequently, I do not recommend dogs be given hard bones to chew on.

Squeaky toys. Although rubber toys that squeak when a dog bites them are generally safe, I have seen two dogs in the past few years who chewed up the toy completely and swallowed the metal squeaker inside, which subsequently became lodged in the intestines and required surgery to remove. One of these dogs had to have a section of severely damaged intestine removed.

String, ribbon, etc. Sadly, I have seen several dogs die from having swallowed string, ribbon, dental floss, and the like. These are collectively referred to as “linear foreign bodies”. Once a dog begins chewing on something like this and swallows the beginning of a long strand, it can be impossible for them to spit it out. As a result, they keep swallowing until the entire ribbon-like object has been swallowed. This can become tangled in the intestines, causing severe damage over a long length of the intestinal tract, which can be fatal even when surgery is performed to remove it. I have seen this happen with video tape, leather belts, loose strands of fibers from rugs, shoelaces, panty hose, plastic “grass” used for filling Easter baskets, and virtually any other long, linear material.

Corn cobs. Every year we see several dogs that have swallowed chunks or corn cobs when then become lodged in the intestines. Corn cobs are not digestible and should never be given to dogs to chew on. I have seen one dog that died as a result of intestinal rupture from having a piece of corn cob stuck in the digestive tract.

Gorilla Glue. This is a particularly strong and expansive glue that some dogs find tasty. After chewing on the bottle and swallowing some glue, it expands to fill the entirety of their stomach and then hardens. The surgery is very much like removing a bowling ball from their stomach.

And that’s just giving you a brief taste of the kinds of things dogs chew on and develop serious complications from. Virtually anything can become a problem if swallowed (e.g. , socks, rocks, peach pits, gardening gloves, stuffing from pillows, coins, buttons) although every year I am amazed at some of the stories clients tell me about their dogs and the things they have swallowed that were eventually passed without complication, like the dog that chewed up and swallowed a complete terra cotta planter pot and managed to pass it (with some difficulty).

But I recommend you do not take chances. Monitor your dog’s activity closely. Offer rubber or digestible treats. And when in doubt about giving your dog something to chew on, err on the side of caution.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Different but the Same

Despite the obvious differences between dogs and cats and humans, the diseases we all experience are virtually the same. As an example, in the past 2 weeks I've seen 2 new diabetic dogs and 1 new diabetic cat. All 3 were showing the typical indicators of diabetes: drinking and urinating more, and losing weight. Often, diabetic pets eat more while still losing weight. If you notice changes like these in your pets--or for that matter anything that seems out of the ordinary--give us a call or shoot us an email any time.

Frank Utchen, DVM

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Cold Weather Tips by Dr. Leanne Taylor

As winter approaches, those of us that live in California think, ‘Ah, thank goodness I don’t have to worry about winter-proofing’. Albeit true that we and our pets are not subjected to the cold like those in Minnesota, there are still some important things that all pet owners should be aware of during the colder months of the California year.  For those of you that travel to Tahoe, or other cold regions with your pets, the tips below are even more important to be aware of.  The ASPCA puts out a great list of tips for the cold weather that we highly recommend reading.  For your benefit and your pets.