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Monthly Archives: May 2014

Pet too Fat? There’s an App for That!

dog on scaleObesity is an epidemic, so it’s not surprising to find that obesity rates for pets are steadily climbing nationally and internationally. According to APOP (Association for Pet Obesity Prevention), 52.6% of US dogs and 57.6 of US cats are overweight or obese. What is astounding is the number of pet owners who believe their pet’s weight to be normal, when their pet is in fact overweight. According to PetFoodIndustry.com, UK studies by the Pet Food Manufacturers Association showed that while 77% of veterinarians believed approximately 45% off all the pets they see are overweight, but 63% of the owners said their pets were at the correct weight.

So what are concerned owners to do? Happily, the age of Smartphone technology has brought a number of options. A wide range of pet related mobile apps are available for both iPhone and Android users.

The Fat Dog Diet app was developed by veterinarian Pat Khuly specifically to help address the growing number of dogs endangered by carrying excess weight. Pet enthusiasts Steve and Kate O’Brien developed the Slim Doggy app to help dog owners determine whether or not they are over or underfeeding their canine counterparts. With an extensive database of more than 3000 dog foods, activity tracking and other functions, it’s a great resource for keeping Fido fit and trim.

What About Fat Cats?

Cats are even more likely than dogs to be overweight. Steve and Kate O’Brien recently launched the feline counterpart to Slim Doggy, Slim Kitty and the vet behind Fat Dog Diet is planning to launch a similar application soon. We encourage all responsible pet owners to watch their animal’s weight and food intake, so it’s worth exploring all the tools available to keep animals healthy and happy longer.

Protecting Your Pets from the Summer Heat

Cool Dog Umbrella
During summer months we tend to spend more time outdoors, but the Arizona heat can quickly become a hazard for both humans and animals. As the mercury creeps higher and higher, it’s a good time to review how to keep animals safe, well and happy.

No Parking
The number one rule during the summer – NEVER leave your animal in the car alone. On a hot day, interior temperatures can skyrocket in a few minutes, even with the windows open, leading to fatal heat stroke. Don’t risk your pet’s life. Leave them at home.

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!
It’s vitally important to stay well hydrated – especially for pets that can dehydrate quickly. If your pet is outdoors a lot, be sure to provide lots of fresh water and a shady spot for them to get out of the sun. During the hottest hours of the day keep your pets inside as much as possible. If you own a flat face breed like a Persian cat or pug, you should know that they cannot pant effectively, making them much more susceptible to heat stroke. These breeds, along with older pets or those that are overweight or have medical conditions should be kept cool. Keep them inside in the air-conditioning whenever possible.

Warning Signs Your Pet May Be in Trouble
When is a pet in danger? The symptoms of overheating include excessive panting or breathing difficulties, drooling, increased heart and respiratory rate, mild weakness, stupor or collapsing. Other signs of a pet in heat distress include elevated body temperature (over 104 degrees), seizures, vomiting, and/or bloody diarrheas. If your pet is exhibiting any of these symptoms, get them to the vet immediately.

Water Safety
A pool is a wonderful way to beat the heat, but like children, animals should never be left unsupervised around water. In order to pool-proof your pet, introduce them to the water gradually, and make sure they know how to get out. Practice “swimming to the steps” with your pet until they are able to get out of the pool unaided. If they accidentally fall in when nobody is around, this training can mean the difference between life and death. For dogs that love to swim, be sure to rinse their coats after swimming to remove chlorine or salt. And while it may be a losing battle, try to keep your dog from drinking pool water – the chemicals can upset their tummy.

Walking Your Pet
During summer, be careful of walking your pets during warmer hours. The pavement heats up and since pets are so close to the ground, they can overheat quickly. Even worse, the hot asphalt can cause severe burns to sensitive paw pads. Look for protective “shoes” to keep your pet safe from burns, and try to time your walks for early morning or well after dark.

Beware of Lawn Products, Pesticides & Pool Chemicals
Warmer weather also brings out chemicals that can be harmful to cats and dogs. Keep lawn and garden sprays, weed killers, flea and tick products, insecticides, rodenticides, citronella candles, oil products and insect coils out of reach of pets. When taking walks, avoid areas that have been recently treated with chemicals. If you believe your animal has ingested a poisonous substance, call your vet immediately or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888.426.4435.

Healthy Pets Mean a Healthier You

Doggie Kisses

Pets are magical creatures. As a source of companionship and unconditional love, they also give us an abundance of opportunities to laugh, connect with others and create funny YouTube videos. But that’s just the beginning. This year, the theme for National Pet Week is “Celebrate Healthy Pets”. While regular trips to the vet are vital for keeping your pet healthy and happy, did you ever stop to thank your pet for the health benefits they provide for you?

Numerous studies show that pets are not only good for our minds, but also good for our bodies. Chronic stress is a gateway to all sorts of health problems, and owning a pet is a great stress reliever. OK, maybe not so much during the puppy and kitten stage when they can be like miniature weapons of mass destruction, but with a little patience and training, it’s well worth the effort.

Just the simple act of petting a dog or cat can lower your blood pressure several points. While many of us hate the thought of getting up and going to the gym, we’re not quite so reluctant to get up, get outside and take a walk with the dog. Not only do we get the benefit of exercise and fresh air, walking the dog can even help us meet new friends or even potential partners – another mood booster! Pets also help boost our immune systems, and studies show that children in homes with pets are less likely to develop allergies.

Pets also reduce anxiety and relieve symptoms of depression or feelings of loneliness, which is why more hospitals, nursing homes, schools, rehabilitation centers and even prisons are incorporating animal-assisted therapy programs into their organizations. Here in Arizona, Gabriel’s Angels brings the healing magic of pets to help abused, at-risk and neglected children learn to develop trust, respect, empathy for others and other important life skills.

While you might think that all of these positive health benefits are limited to connections made with our furry friends, you’d be wrong. Many scientific studies show that interacting with fish, birds, horses, dolphins and many other animals can also relieve stress. Whether they’re furry, feathered or scaled, remember to thank your pet for all the health benefits they give to you by giving them the gift of good health through regular visits to the vet. Here’s to many happy years together!

A Video Thank You to Our Pets: click here

National Pet Week®: May 4-10

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We love our pets 24/7, 365 days a year. The unconditional love they show us each and every day enriches our lives beyond measure. So 33 years ago, the American Veterinary Medical Association created National Pet Week® to honor our furry (and sometimes not so furry) friends and companions.

In celebration of National Pet Week®, we encourage you to do a little something extra each day for your best friend. Take them for an extra walk; Add a special treat at mealtime; Setup a play date with a compatible companion; Toss them a new toy; But most of all, spend some time with them, reminding both them and you of the special bond you share!