Water Festival is here and so is the warmer weather!
I know we’re all excited to get outside and enjoy Water Festival and all the summer activities. Please remember when you take your lowcountry pets outside to be mindful of the potential hazards the heat can pose.
Here’s a quick overview from our AMC Veterinary team, of how we can keep our dogs and cats cool, happy and healthy during our Beaufort summer.
- Make sure your pets have access to shade and water at all times – Pack water and a bowl for the boat
- Bring senior, sick pets, (and certain short-nosed breeds, i.e. bulldogs) inside as they may not be as heat tolerant as younger, healthy dogs
- Watch out for hot asphalt, pavement, and beach sand because it can burn your dogs paws. Ouch! Just try standing on hot pavement barefoot for 1 minute, YOU CAN’T DO IT, so neither can your dogs.
- Exercise your dogs in the early morning or late evening to avoid the warmest part of the day
- Kid swimming pools are a great way to help keep your pets cool during the summer.
Please never leave your pets in a car without air conditioning for any period of time.
Look how hot the inside of your car can get in just 10 minutes!
Signs of Heat Stroke to look out for in dogs:
* Elevated body temperature
* Excessive panting/salivating
* Weakness in the limbs/collapse
If you notice these symptoms in your dog, please have them seen by a veterinarian ASAP because heat stroke can be life threatening if not treated quickly.
Hope you enjoy these sunny days safely with your pets! Our AMC veterinarians and hospital teams are here to help if you have any questions to concerns about the health of your pets.
July 4th marks the anniversary of America’s independence. Animal Medical Center wants you to have fun but remember that your pets may not love all the celebrations.
As dog and cat lovers we look forward to celebrating the longer summer days but please remember with this summer holiday how hazardous this holiday can be to our pets.
Thankfully, most pet guardians are aware of the potential dangers of fireworks. That said, accidents happen, and if a pet is left unattended around fireworks, he can become accidentally poisoned or injured. More commonly, pets develop severe anxiety from the noise of fireworks, which can result in undue stress or even the accidental escape out of the house (in an attempt to run away from the sound).Why are fireworks harmful to pets?
Fireworks contain hazardous chemicals such as coloring agents, dangerous heavy metals, sulfur and oxidizing agents such as potassium nitrate. Many of them contain dense cardboard also, which can result in a problem (e.g., foreign body obstruction). If fireworks are accidentally ingested, they can cause gastrointestinal upset in your dog (cats rarely ingest fireworks, thanks to their discriminating palate!).
Clinical signs of firework poisoning include:
- Painful abdomen
- Bloody diarrhea
- Lack of defecation
- Breathing harder
- Neurologic signs (e.g., tremors, seizures)
- Kidney injury
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and mucous membranes)
- Bone marrow changes
Depending on what type of firework your pet ingested – and how many he got into – the clinical signs can vary in severity.Another risk of fireworks? Thermal injury.
If your dog is exposed to lit fireworks, it can cause burns to the face, lips, nose, eyelids/eyes or inside of the mouth. Always keep your pet far out of reach of lit fireworks!
Please call our office if you have any questions or concerns prior to having any of the above emergencies.
Animal Medical Center of the Lowcountry 843-524-0198
Animal Medical Center West 843-525-6655.
Let’s talk about teeth for a minute, as February is National Dental Month in the veterinary community.
Periodontal (dental) disease is the most frequently diagnosed health problem in our pets; with 76% in dogs and 68% in cats; yet it is preventable. “According to the American Veterinary Dental College, most dogs and cats have some evidence of periodontal disease by the age of three, often indicated by bad breath, a change in eating or chewing habits, pawing at the face and mouth, and depression.”
Dental disease is similar to an iceberg; most of the damage is below the surface. Continue reading to learn more.
The first thing pet owners notice is a sour smell coming from their pets’ mouth. The first thing your vet notices is much more, including but not limited to tartar build up, gum recession, tooth loss, and mouth pain.
Let me explain. Periodontal disease occurs when bacteria in the mouth forms a sticky substance called plaque on the surface of the teeth. The plaque becomes dental calculus (tartar) as minerals from saliva harden. The tartar is firmly attached to the surface of your pets’ teeth, but this is not the main problem.
The problem occurs when the plaque and tartar start to spread under the gum line allowing access for bacteria to invade the surrounding tissue, bones, and blood. The body’s natural immune response is to release white blood cells to form a counteract on the bacteria. However, the chemicals released by the animals own immune system actually worsens the problem and further degrades the tissues and ligaments around the tooth. Worst yet, is when bacteria reaches the bloodstream; where they can begin to affect your animals internal organs (heart, liver, and kidneys).
Periodontal disease includes gingivitis (red, inflamed gums) and periodontitis (loss of bone and soft tissue surrounding the teeth). The appearance and severity can present in a wide range, which cannot be accurately assessed without general anesthesia in our pets. I know that the mention of anesthesia makes most owners queasy, but the potential for shorter life expectancy, pain, and that nuisance breath should help encourage a serious conversation with you veterinarians.
What can you do at home to help protect your pets’ teeth is easy.
Brush their teeth daily! That’s it, plain and simple.
Give them CET Chews. Animal Medical Center keeps them on the shelves. They are enzymatic dental chews that help reduce plaque and freshen breath.
Feeding a hard food, especially in cats, will help minimize tartar and dental calculus from forming as well, by mechanical abrasion of teeth.
Ask your vet today if your pet is in need of a dental cleaning. When periodontal disease is caught early you minimize the risk of tooth extractions (the costliest part of the procedure).
Pet’s scratching? You’re finding fleas?
Q: (Jennifer) a couple of the dogs are scratching like crazy. I have Seresto collars on, have started topical flea, bathe regularly, changed their food… not sure where to go from here.
Q: (Kim) my dog is right at 20lbs and is on Trifexis for that weight. I feed him and wait about an hour before giving it to him, but since switching he vomits within the hour of taking it, any suggestions?
In this month’s blog we address one of the most popular veterinary questions we’re asked at our hospitals – ‘how do I control fleas?’
Now that Fall is here in the Lowcountry and we’re all enjoying the delights of cooler weather, it’s still just as important to ensure that ALL animals in your house are on flea prevention ALL YEAR ROUND. As our South Carolina climate typically doesn’t get cold enough in the winter to kill off many of the bugs, it means that fleas are affecting our pets every day of the year. And if your pet’s scratching is localized to the rear and / or their face and neck, it’s likely due to these vicious fleas.
Managing fleas begins with understanding of the life cycle of the flea:
- Flea eggs take 3 months to become adult fleas
- Many products are targeted to kill one life cycle not all, which means the environment requires treating every 3 months to kill all life stages
- There are many products labelled for killing fleas inside and outside the house, but don’t forget the most important is cleaning. If you spot a flea on your pet it’s a good bet that you have fleas in your home. Vacuuming the house as well as washing any bedding the pet lays on frequently.
Pro tips from our AMC veterinarians:
- All oral products are best consumed after a meal and be sure that the pet is consuming the product and not spitting it out when we turn our backs, they can be sneaky!
- Sentinel Spectrum is our most highly recommended product because it stops the vicious flea lifecycle
- Trifexis is a great product but one of the side effects is vomiting. If this is an issue with your pet you may want to switch to another product such as Nexgard or Sentinel
- When applying a topical make sure to part the hair and apply directly to the skin
- Seresto collars must be applied close to the neck. We want to be able to fit two fingers between the collar and the pets neck. If the collar is loose there is limited contact for the product to be absorbed. Remember that the product is only effective for 8 months. This efficacy decreases with exposure to water
- Sounds like you are doing everything right to treat fleas but you’re still seeing fleas or flea dirt?
…make sure all the animals in your environment are treated, all year round!
*Seresto collar image accredited to www.pepperpom.com
AMC, you asked Dr Guilloud and he has Pet Insurance info to share!
We hear that many pet owners are seeking a broad spectrum of information, to help guide their decisions on Insurance for canine and feline companions. Decisions about whether an insurance plan is the right fit for the care of their pets, or which plan best aligns with their specific pets’ needs. Dr Guilloud and our AMC veterinarians believe that education is the foundation for all of us to provide better care for our pets.
So he and his Animal Medical Center team put their heads together and selected this Pet Insurance Comparison Chart (CLICK here to view and PRINT) – compiled by one of our trusted veterinary resources, DVM 360. Comparing plans across multiple categories, they cover pet owners’ most asked questions about insurance for their animals.
Here’s a snippet from the Comparison Chart, with a few of the many questions people have asked:
“Are therapeutic diets covered?”
“What dental work is covered?”
“Does the plan offer a trial period to pet owners?”
For the full Pet Insurance Comparison Chart (CLICK here to view and PRINT).
Is your pet itchy? Sneezy? Experiencing watery eyes or prone to ear infections?
These may be signs that your pet is experiencing allergies.
There are three common types of pet allergies:
- Flea allergies
- Environmental allergies
- Food allergies
The frustration with allergies is, it can be hard to find the trigger to your dog or cat’s itching frenzy. Once we determine the allergen(s) it is typically a lifelong management process. An important thing to remember is that while you may be frustrated by your itching pet, they are genuinely uncomfortable and need to be diagnosed by your veterinarian and treated without delay.
Today, I am going to focus on the most preventable type of allergy, Flea Allergy Dermatitis. At our Beaufort veterinary hospital, I regularly hear, “but I never see fleas”. Well, let me tell you, you’re not alone. A flea allergic pet only requires one bite to cause a cascade of allergy symptoms. The most common symptom being uncontrollable itching and chewing. If the animal is constantly chewing due to fleas, it is likely that the pet has ingested the evidence. Yes, I mean they ate the flea. The diagnosis is made from clinical signs of hair loss and redness at the base of the tail, back, neck, and face.
So… there are fleas. What next?
1) Monthly flea prevention; in addition to your lowcountry pet’s life-saving monthly Heartworm preventative, there are numerous types of medical products to manage fleas. These can be administered either topically or orally. Please consult your veterinarian to discuss a program that best suits your beloved pet.
2) Flea removal treatments. These work by either killing adult fleas, preventing their growth, or repelling them altogether. Each product has its own combination of methods.
3) Treat the environment. This includes anywhere your animal may lay inside and/or outside. Washing your dog’s bed and your sheets, vacuuming regularly (especially in the cracks close to the walls), and treating your backyard (especially the shaded areas) are all parts of the equation. It is important to treat the environment every 3 weeks or so for at least 3 months to ensure all life cycles of flea are eradicated.
4) Did I mention monthly flea prevention?!
Food for thought to end the discussion. Have you ever heard your veterinarian talking about flea dirt? Well that is actually the poop from the flea and the digested blood from your pet. This may make you think twice about skipping that monthly prevention.
Click the links below to learn more about pet allergies:
-Dr. Kirsten Seelenbinder
Happy New Year to our Animal Medical Center family! Wishing everyone a year of health and well-being for our families, (including our furry four-legged loved ones).
AMC spotlights the importance and benefits of an Annual Wellness Exam, a vital part of maintaining a healthy, happy, and long life for your pets. Also, for our snowbirds and their outdoor-loving companions, an option to include the new Lyme Disease Vaccine. While effective tick control remains the cornerstone for reducing the risk of all tick-borne diseases, we are now providing vaccinations against Lyme disease to further reduce this risk.
An overview of Wellness Exams:
- Since dogs and cats age faster than their humans and cannot communicate when they are not feeling well, a wellness exam allows your veterinarian valuable insights into the health of your pet
- Older pets and those with medical issues may need to be seen more frequently, and screening tests may be recommended. Screenings can detect disease before symptoms develop, including diabetes, kidney disease or thyroid disease
- Your veterinarian will examine your pet from head to tail to ensure they are healthy and up to date on vaccinations and preventives
- In the long run these annual checkups will save expense and heartache by protecting your pet from preventable diseases and by detecting illness early when it is more treatable.
Ticks, Lyme Disease and the Vaccine:
Recently we’ve seen an increasing number of dogs with exposure to Lyme disease; some of which haven’t travelled outside of our region. This may be common for many of you who have relocated from the Northeast or other endemic areas but this is new to us here in sunny South Carolina.
* What is Lyme disease & why is it affecting us in SC?
Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria, Borrellia burgdorferii. Any dog exposed to ticks is at risk, as the ticks transmit the bacteria during feeding. Rural dogs as well as suburban dogs may come into contact with the deer tick.
* How does the vaccine work?
The Lyme vaccine is given as an initial series of 2 vaccines, given 2-4 weeks apart, then as an annual booster. Before starting this series, we test your dog for Lyme disease with the 4DX Heartworm test. This vaccine will not protect a dog who is already positive for the disease.
Please contact us with any questions or concerns regarding an Annual Exam, the Lyme vaccine, tick control and your pet’s health!
A personal note from Dr Mark 🙂
As autumn approaches, so do new potential dangers that pose a threat to your dog and cat. Here are the top 5 fall toxins to be on the lookout for as summer ends. Keep your pet safe by keeping these out of reach!
When in doubt, if you think your pet was poisoned, call your veterinarian, emergency veterinarian, or the ASPCA
As the weather gets colder, mice and rats start seeking shelter in warm locations, in other words, your house! Unfortunately, the start of autumn means the start of mouse and rat poisoning. There are several types of active ingredients in these mouse and rat poisons, and they all work (and kill) in different ways. Depending on what type of mouse and rat poison was ingested, clinical signs include:
- Weakness, Lethargy, Difficulty breathing, Coughing blood
- Dehydration, Inappetance, Profuse vomiting, A distended stomach
- Tremors, Seizures, Kidney failure, Even death
We’re never an advocate of using these types of poisons, as they pose a threat to wildlife, pets, and birds of prey (e.g., raptors like red-tail hawks, owls, etc.). I’d rather you use the more humane snap trap–much safer to you and your pet! Learn more about rat poison here.
Did someone mention Halloween? The last week of October poses a big danger to dogs, as there’s a greater likelihood that your dog will find the candy stash. While one or two small Snickers® bars aren’t usually dangerous, significant ingestions (e.g., your whole candy bowl) can result in chocolate poisoning in dogs. [To be on the safe side I don’t recommend feeding chocolate of any kind to your pet].
The toxic ingredient: methylxanthines (called theobromine) and caffeine. With mild poisoning, clinical signs of chocolate poisoning include:
Keep in mind that with chocolate, the darker and more bitter the chocolate, the more dangerous it is!
I’m all for going green, and am a huge advocate of recycling and composting. However, before you start composting, make sure you have a well secured, fenced off compost pile. If wildlife or your dog ingests the compost directly, it can result in severe poisoning secondary to the mold (containing tremorgenic mycotoxins). Clinical signs of compost poisoning include:
- Drooling, Vomiting, Inappetance
- Panting, Agitation, Incoordination, Tremors, Seizures
While the majority of mushrooms are benign and only result in minor symptoms when ingested, there are a few types that can be deadly (even to humans!) when ingested. Because mushroom identification is so difficult, we veterinarians have to err on the side of caution and assume any mushroom ingested by a pet is toxic.
The most dangerous type? The Amanita mushroom.
Depending on the type of mushroom ingested, clinical signs include:
- Gastrointestinal signs (e.g., drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain)
- Neurologic signs (e.g., walking drunk, tremoring, agitation, seizures)
- Organ damage (e.g., liver or kidney failure)
- Even death
As mice and rats come into the house to stay warm, so do moths! Mothballs may look benign, but can be quite dangerous as they typically contain chemicals such as paradichlorobenzene or naphthalene. The classic smell of mothballs is typically due to “old-fashioned” mothballs that contain naphthalene, and these are generally much more toxic than the paradichlorobenzene-containing ones.
- Gastrointestinal signs (e.g., drooling, vomiting, abdominal pain)
- Neurologic signs (e.g., lethargy, tremors, etc.)
- Blood changes (e.g., abnormalities in the red blood cells)
- And rarely, even organ failure
Yes, we currently have the vaccine at our Beaufort Animal Medical Centers! Please give us a call and we can determine if vaccination is the right course of action for your pet.
Unfortunately, dogs who are exposed to the virus can remain contagious for up to 4 weeks. To best protect your dog, they require a series of two bivalent (both influenza strains) vaccines, administered three weeks apart. *Please note that your pet will not have full immunity until 2 weeks after the second vaccine*. As with our human influenza vaccinations, the canine vaccine does not guarantee a complete lack of illness should exposure occur; the goal is to lessen the severity of symptoms should a dog become sick.
We strongly recommend this vaccine for anyone whose pet may be boarding, grooming, participating in dog shows / agility, doggie day care, or any dog who is often exposed to other dogs.
Be a good neighbor and keep our loved ones healthy!
- At your veterinarian – If you do have a coughing dog, please wait in the car and do not bring your dog into the vet clinic unless directed to do so, due to the highly infectious nature of the disease.
- Human parents – please note that canine influenza can be transmitted through direct and indirect contact, (meaning dog to dog transmission, but can also live on things such as clothing/food and water bowls/etc.
- Day to day dog life – If your dog is showing symptoms of coughing, sneezing, ocular drainage, and/or lethargy, this is a time for your dog to stay home and not socialize. And this is true for any contagious disease, not just canine influenza. We have many contagious upper respiratory tract infections that are much more common in the lowcountry than canine influenza. If your dog is sick, please don’t go to dog parks or to the groomer’s office. If you were making plans to board your dog, see if you can have a family member or a friend come to your home instead. Your boarding and grooming facilities’ owners and your community’s neighbors will thank you for this kindness.
More information on the current influenza strain…
- As of the writing of this blog, we still do not know where in South Carolina this virus was reported or how many dogs have been affected. What we do know is that The University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine is one of the many schools tracking this disease, especially after a recent new exposure at a dog show in Perry, Georgia. The University of Florida issued a report this week simply listing the states that have had reported cases of H3N2. South Carolina was on this list.
- H3N2 has been present in South Carolina before these recent cases. A veterinarian in Mount Pleasant diagnosed it in 2 dogs traveling to our lowcountry, after staying in an infected boarding facility in Atlanta, in the spring of 2015. The owner’s vigilant observation of her dogs’ newly developed respiratory signs and the quick thinking of the veterinarian to send off testing for the virus allowed these dogs to be isolated and likely prevented this virus from spreading to other local pets.
- While we all appreciate the media for educating our community on the existence of this virus, the lowcountry veterinary community sees a higher rates of pets passing away from other more common deadly diseases such as parvovirus, heartworm disease, and exposure to toxins such as rodent poisons and antifreeze. As pet owners in Beaufort and the surround areas, we need to be sure our pets are continuousely up to date with monthly preventatives and keep them safe from toxins!
As always, our experienced doctors and veterinary team are here to care for your lowcountry pets, keeping them healthy and happy! Call us to determine the best treatment for your pet.
Summer’s here! Keep your Beaufort pets comfy, cool and safe as our weather heats up.
Warm weather can be dangerous for our lowcountry pets; it’s hard for them to keep cool in the scorching sun because animals don’t sweat like people do. Your hot dogs cool themselves through panting, but did you know that they sweat through their paws too?
And while cats tend tolerate the heat a little better than dogs, and even prefer it (we’ve all seen cats stretched out on sunny windowsills), that doesn’t mean that you should forget about your cat this summer!
1. Never, ever, EVER leave your pet in a hot car. It can take minutes – yes, MINUTES –for a pet to develop heat stroke and suffocate in a car. On a 78 degree day, for instance, temperatures in a car can reach 90 degrees in the shade and top 160 degrees if parked directly in the sun! Your best bet is to leave your pet home on warm days.
2. Keep the paws in mind. When the sun is cooking, surfaces like asphalt or metal, (think truck bed), can get really hot! Try to keep your pet off of hot asphalt; not only can it burn paws, but it can also increase body temperature and lead to overheating.
3. Water and shade. Do your best to keep your furry friend cool and comfortable when you’re out and about. If you and your pet are out in the sun for an extended period of time, make sure there’s plenty of water available to avoid dehydration. Also, get your pet into the shade as much as possible.
4. Haircuts. If you have a pet with a thick coat, consider a haircut! One inch is a good length to avoid sunburn (yes, pets can get sunburns too!) and also keep your pet cool.
5. This one’s for the cats: keep your windows screened! We all know cats love windowsills. You may want your house to be ventilated, but you definitely do not want your kitty to fall out!
6. Stay safe at barbeques. Backyard barbeques are a lot of fun, but the food and drinks offered can be bad for pets. Keep your pets away from alcohol and foods like grapes, onions, and chocolate.
7. Fireworks aren’t fun for everyone. Keep your pet away; the dangers are obvious – pets are at risk for fatal injuries and painful burns if they are allowed to run around freely when fireworks are being used. Some fireworks also contain chemicals toxic to pets like potassium nitrate and arsenic. Not to mention, the loud noises can be frightening and disturbing to pets (remember, their hearing is many times better than ours).
And perhaps most important, pay attention to your pets – you’ll know when they seem uncomfortable or like they might be in some trouble!
April is National Heartworm Prevention Month. AMC is dedicated to making sure your pets are protected; helping our lowcountry clients ensure their dogs and cats receive monthly preventative medication.
Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal disease in pets; transmitted by mosquitoes and caused by foot-long worms (heartworms) that live in the heart, lungs and associated blood vessels of affected pets. Causing severe lung disease, heart failure and damage to other organs in the body – if untreated, Heartworm disease can also cause death. Fortunately, our veterinarians can screen your Beaufort pet for infection and provide monthly preventative medications to protect your pet, year round.
The symptoms of heartworm disease are subtle and can be easy to miss. As the number of heartworms increases, the symptoms of coughing, lethargy, exercise intolerance, lack of appetite and weight loss become
more apparent. However our doctors warn that it is important not to wait until symptoms develop since irreversible damage may have already occurred by then.
Heartworm is prevalent here in the lowcountry!
Heartworm disease is more prevalent in the southeast and along the Mississippi River. Studies by the American Heartworm Society (AHS) have found that heartworm infections are increasing across the US. While most people know that heartworm disease affects dogs, many are unaware that it can also affect cats. The fact is any animal can be bitten by a mosquito and therefore become infected with the parasite. Speak with your veterinarian at Animal Medical Center of the Lowcountry or Animal Medical Center West, about your particular pet’s risks and how to protect them.
How is it diagnosed?
Dr Guilloud, Dr Wreden and Dr Cifranick frequently run tests for Heartworm disease in Beaufort – it is most commonly diagnosed using a simple blood test which detects the presence of heartworms. These fast, simple tests are completed in our hospitals and can provide results within minutes. Depending on the test results and the animal’s symptoms additional laboratory tests, radiographs and a cardiac ultrasound may also be recommended to determine infection and severity.
How is it treated?
The goal of treatment is to kill the heartworms without harming the patient. Fortunately, the treatment options have improved but they still have potential risks. Infected animals usually receive a series of intramuscular injections, hospitalization and then strict confinement to limit exercise for weeks. The fact is, treatment is expensive, time consuming and not without risks. For these reasons the goal should always be prevention rather than treatment of this horrible disease.
The best way to treat heartworm disease is to prevent it in the first place. Fortunately, there are numerous safe and effective preventative medications available. Heartworm preventative medications are available from your veterinarian at both Animal Medical Center hospitals. In addition to protecting your pets from heartworm disease, many of the heartworm preventatives also protect your pet against other internal parasites. This is important because it helps prevent the spread of parasites. So not only are you getting heartworm protection for your pet but also peace of mind that your pet has not picked up parasites like roundworms that can be transmitted to other pets and even humans. Finally, before starting preventative medications on pets over 6 months of age, have your Animal Medical Center veterinarian test them for heartworm infection because serious complications can develop if an infected animal is started on certain preventatives.
If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call us at Animal Medical Center, Beaufort, SC – our veterinarians are the best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.
7 Surprising Ways To Help Your Pet Lose Weight (And Why It’s Important)
It’s the responsibility of each of us to help our lowcountry pets maintain a healthy weight. Just as you’d never walk your dog around downtown Beaufort without a collar and leash or allow them to eat only pizza and ice cream (which many dogs would LOVE!), it’s up to pet owners to feed healthy, nutritious foods and treats and exercise daily. By using these seven simple suggestions and consulting our veterinarians at Animal Medical Center, you’ll be on your way to your pet’s best – and healthiest – year yet!
1. Calculate Calories
If you don’t know how many calories your pet needs each day, you don’t know how much to feed. And don’t think you can trust the bag; feeding guides are formulated for adult, un-spayed or un-neutered active dogs and cats. That means if you have an older, spayed or neutered indoor lap potato you’re probably feeding 20% to 30% too much if you follow the food’s instructions. Instead, ask our animal hospital veterinarians to calculate the proper number of calories your pet needs each day.
2. Measure Meals
A pet parent’s single greatest tool in the fight against excess weight is a measuring cup. Too many pet owners simply fill the bowl or “guesstimate” how much they’re feeding. Even worse, some pets, especially cats, are fed an “all-day buffet” that results from the “just keep the bowl full” feeding method. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention has completed studies to show that feeding as few as 10 extra tiny kibbles of food per day can add up to a pound of weight gain per year in indoor cats and small dogs.
3. Tactical Treating
If you’re going to give your pets extra goodies, make ‘em count. Too many pet treats are what I call “calorie grenades” laden with sugar and fat blowing up our pet’s waistlines and destroying their health. Choose low-calorie, no-sugar goodies that provide a health benefit. I like single ingredient treats such as sweet potato, salmon, and blueberry bites or functional treats that provide a bonus such as helping to keep teeth clean or promote mobility. Whatever treats you give, be sure to count those additional calories. Many pet owners feed the proper amount of food but sabotage their efforts by adding one or two snacks throughout the day. As few as 30 extra calories per day means your pet gains over three pounds in a year.
Better yet, dogs don’t do division. Dr Wreden at Animal Medical Center of the Lowcountry suggests breaking treats into little bitty pieces and divvying them out whenever your pet earns it. Be cautious of “guilt-treating” – the practice of giving your pet a treat because you feel guilty leaving them home alone. Instead, use treats only as a reward for good behavior. Pets (and people) need to learn to earn extra goodies.
***Inside AMC: Dr Guilloud’s furry trio earns their treats by trotting through TWO long daily walks; morning and evening. The entire pack is always all-smiles!
4. Vital Veggies
As an addition to packaged treats, Animal Medical Center suggests offering baby carrots, green beans, celery, broccoli, cucumbers, sliced apples and bananas or ice cubes. These naturally nutritious tasty tidbits are a healthy option for many dogs. For cats, try a flake of salmon or tuna when you’re feeling generous.
5. Hustle for Health
When it comes to living a long, pain-and disease-free life, research proves our most powerful partner is daily exercise. Dr Cifranick at Animal Medical Center West is an exercise enthusiast and advises that the health benefits of walking with your pet extend to both ends of the leash! For dogs, as little as 20 to 30-minutes of brisk walking is all it takes to boost immune function, improve cardiovascular health and reduce many behavioral problems. For cats, try playing with a laser pointer, remote-controlled toy or ball of paper for 5 to 15 minutes each day.
6. Smart Supplements
A couple of supplements may help keep your pet (and you) fit and trim. Almost every dog, cat and person can benefit from taking a daily omega-3 fatty acid supplement. These powerful fish oils pack a potent anti-oxidant punch that has been proven to help prevent and treat numerous diseases. In addition, they may help ease achy joints and perhaps encourage weight loss. Ask our veterinarians at our Beaufort, SC Animal Medical Centers if supplements make sense for your pet’s condition.
7. Cut Down the Carbs
Most dogs and cats don’t need a high-carbohydrate diet, yet many diets contain 60% or more carbohydrates when you analyze the food labels. Our pet doctors prefer low- or no-grain options with a protein source as the first ingredient, especially for cats needing to slim down. As a general rule, our veterinarians recommend trying a higher protein / low carb diet first for weight loss in overweight pets – but please be sure to check with Dr Guilloud, Dr Wreden or Dr Cifranick before making any diet changes. Pets with certain conditions, such as kidney failure, may do better on a different type of diet.
*Information from Pet Health Network http://www.pethealthnetwork.com/ – one of our favorite Education destinations for pet owners!