Ahwatukee Animal Care Hospital

10855 South 48th Street
Phoenix, AZ 85048

(480)893-0533

www.ahwatukeeanimalcare.com


Summer in Arizona Means Monsoon Thunderstorms and Fireworks! - 07/03/2020

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Thunderstorms and fireworks may cause fear and anxiety for your dog. Those booming fireworks and natural “light and sound shows” may be fun for you to watch, but consider how they affect your four-legged friend.

When monsoons come, you can hear rumbling off in the distance. While some dogs may carry on “as usual”, others may hide, bark, tremble, or seek comfort from you. Further, many communities’ Fourth of July celebrations have been cancelled due to COVID-19; however, some celebrations may still be in the works and families and individuals may have their own private fireworks festivities planned. Before you plan a backyard fireworks show, consider that the noise created by fireworks is similar to that created by thunderstorms when they roll through. If your dog fears thunderstorms, chances are she/he fears fireworks, too.

Fear of loud noises is common in dogs and arises from their natural survival instincts. When thy face a threatening situation I.e. strange sound, animal or person, etc.), fear is nature’s way of protecting them from harm. The dog’s fear alerts him or her to potential danger and stimulates a “fight or flight” response to keep him/her safe by either approaching the danger or fleeing from it.

The problem is that some dogs have an excessive fear of thunderstorms or fireworks and develop a phobia. In the case of thunderstorms, these dogs not only react to the noise, but also to lightning, change in barometric pressure, windy conditions, and darkening sky that accompanies the rolling and cracking sounds of thunder. When thunder-phobic dogs are really scared, they act out.

There are steps you can take to deal with both thunderstorm and fireworks phobia.

~  Accompany your dog to a soundproof room in your house, such as an interior room that doesn’t have windows or your basement. Set up your dogs bed or crate for comfort.

~  Play fetch or tug of war using your dog’s favorite toy.

~  Turn on the TV, radio, or fan to help block the noise.

~  Try filling a kong with peanut butter or favorite treats to keep your dog preoccupied.

~  If your dog enjoys being in her/his crate, try covering it with blankets to help muffle the noise of the storm or fireworks.

~  Some dogs feel secure when placed in a weighted dog vest or anti-anxiety wrap. Ask your veterinarian about these options.

~  Be sure to follow the above steps when it’s not storming or prior to fireworks season. This will help your dog become familiar and comfortable with the room/routine, and will help prevent the association of this room or routine to only thunder and fireworks.

~  Never set fireworks off near your dog. Keep your pets inside your home during the time you or others may be setting off fireworks. This helps with anxiety and helps prevent your dog becoming frightened and running away.

Prepare your dog for the inevitable storms and fireworks. Have a happy Fourth of July!


Wellness Checklist – Pet Healthcare You May Have Missed During COVID-19 Isolation - 06/14/2020

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The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our daily lives and activities, including taking our furry, feathered, and scaled pets to see the veterinarian. Changes to how your veterinary hospital operates and sees their patients were implemented during the shut down and are likely to remain for a while longer. Some of these changes may include curbside drop off (now optional at our hospital for the next few months), limited access to the hospital, and perhaps the use of telemedicine for certain appointments, and use of extra sanitation and safety measures.

Regardless of the new protocols that your veterinary hospital has put in place, the importance of preventive medicine remains for the well-being of your pets. Unvaccinated pets pose a threat to the overall health of animals in your community and the use pf preventives to avoid flea and tick infestations or a devastating heartworm infection are as important now as they always have been.

Call your veterinary hospital to find out how they are seeing patients during this challenging time, and book an appointment today.

Some of the preventive measures, and the importance of catching up now on wellness care that you may have missed due to the COVID-19 pandemic are discussed below.

Annual or biannual wellness exams are crucial in preventive medicine, Your pets can’t tell you when something feels “off” and your veterinarian is trained to pick up on these subtle changes.Bloodwork to check how prescription medicines are working, or screening for diseases are important to prevent more serious issues down the road. With all the extra time spent at home with your pet(s) over the past several weeks, you may have noticed bumps or lumps or other subtle changes with your pet. Now is the time to get things checked out before they become serious concerns. Early management of disease or illness can improve the prognosis and outcome for your pet.

It is heartworm season in many parts of our country. It isn’t too late to start your heartworm preventives. If your pet is on year-round preventives, now is the time to renew your prescription. Prevent a devastating life-threatening illness by calling your veterinary healthcare team today and get your pet(s) protected!

You may not have seen any ticks or fleas on your pets yet this year, but you definitely want to keep it that way! One way to get exercise and maintain physical distance is hiking. Tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and ehrlichiosis can have significant health impacts on pets if not caught and treated early. No one wants a flea infestation, least of all your pets!Also, fleas can also carry a type of tapeworm. Now is the time to make sure your pet is ready for summer and protected from these pests.

Your pet may have missed her/his annual vaccinations during isolation. Rabies, a fatal non-treatable disease, is caused by a virus that can affect all dogs and cats – even indoor pets. All it takes is one quick encounter with an infected animal, such as a raccoon in the yard, or a bat that found its way into your pet’s environment. With rabies outbreaks in wildlife populations in various areas, vaccinating your pet should not be put off. Additional vaccinations that your pet may have missed depending on his or her vaccine schedule, your geographical area, and your lifestyle include: distemper, parvovirus, hepatitis, leptospirosis, Lyme disease, canine parainfluenza virus, kennel cough, rattlesnake vaccine and canine influenza. Additional vaccinations that your cat may have missed depending on her or his vaccine schedule, your geographical location, and your lifestyle include: feline panleukopenia (FPL), feline viral rhinotracheitis (FVR), feline calicivirus, feline chlamydiosis, feline leukemia disease complex, feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), and feline bordetellosis. Keeping your pet’s immunizations up-to-date is important for his/her overall health.

As we begin phasing out of isolation, it is time to slowing start resuming our “normal” activities, those these activities may look and feel different. Call your veterinary hospital to schedule a wellness exam and catch-up on care you may have missed.


COVID-19 and Pet Supplies - 04/01/2020

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On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization characterized COVID-19 as a pandemic. Many parts of the world are practicing social distancing as a means to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and flatten the curve.

The situation is changing rapidly and while people have been stocking up on non-perishable food items, cleaning supplies, and paper products to get through the recommended period of social distancing, it’s important to ensure that you obtain the supplies that your pet needs too. Much like preparing for a natural disaster (flood, fire, hurricane), during this social distancing period, it’s important to have everything you need for your family, including your pets.

Items that you should stock up on now if you haven’t already:

Pet Food. Be sure to have several weeks’ worth of food (and treats).

  • If your pet is on a veterinary diet, call your veterinary clinic to receive instructions on picking up food.
  • If your pet’s regular food isn’t in stock at the pet store, you’ll need to buy an alternative. You can check with your veterinary clinic to see if they carry the diet that your pet is on. You may need to switch to a grocery store brand, but don’t wait until your pet’s regular food runs out. You’ll need to do a gradual switch to the new food. Mixing some of the old food with increasing amounts of the new food over a period of 3-7 days allows your pet to acclimatize to the new food, which will help prevent gastrointestinal upset.

Kitty Litter and Pet Waste Disposal Bags. Check your supplies of kitty litter and pet waste disposal bags. Be sure to have enough to last several weeks.

Medication. Ensure that you have a three- to four-week supply of your pet’s medications.

  • Call your veterinary clinic to make arrangements to pick up all the medications your pet needs.

Flea/Tick/Heartworm Preventives. Just because you’re social distancing doesn’t mean that your pets are staying inside all the time; they’ll still be exposed to fleas, ticks, and mosquito-carrying heartworms. With flea, tick, and heartworm season just beginning, it’s important to keep these preventive measures in place.

  • Call your veterinary clinic first if you need to pick up these prescription items. Remember that heartworm testing is necessary prior to initiating a heartworm preventive schedule. Ask your veterinarian if your pet is due for heartworm testing.

Emergency Caregiver. Pre-designate a family member, friend, or boarding facility to help with care in the event that you become ill.

  • Compile a daily schedule for your pet. List your pet’s food preferences and amount of food provided, medications and dosing schedules, medical conditions, routines, veterinary contact information, and medical and vaccination records.

It’s a difficult time across the globe. The ability to care for your pets depends on how well you have prepared. So, prepare, but don’t panic.fullsizeoutput_75c9


Coronavirus and Your pet - 03/12/2020

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The outbreak of respiratory disease caused by a new coronavirus (COVID-19), first detected in Wuhan City, China, has raised concerns and created a global pandemic.

While the number of cases remains relatively low in the United States of America, with most cases occurring in China, South Korea, Italy and Iran, the spread of the virus worldwide is prompting more fears and affecting our economy and daily life.

While much is still unclear about the source, transmission, behavior, and incubation times, the ways to help protect ourselves and our pets is relatively clear.

By following typical “flu-season” precautions and using common sense, you can reduce the risk of contracting and/or spreading the virus:

~ avoid close contact with people who are sick

~ stay home when you are sick

~ Cover your mouth and nose with your elbow and arm when you cough or sneeze

~ use the foot tap or outside elbow bump instead of shaking hands

~ Frequently and thoroughly was your hands with warm water and soap for at least

20 seconds each time

~ clean frequently touched surfaces in your home and workplace

While coronaviruses can infect animals, currently there is no evidence that pets or other domestic animals can be infected by this new virus. Further, there is no current evidence that pets could be a source of infection. With that being said, we are still learning about the new virus. Because viruses evolve quickly, it is important to stay informed of any changes that may develop with the transmission or spread of the virus in domestic animal populations.

If you are under quarantine for COVID-19, there are important steps to take – remember to treat the animals in your home just like people. If someone in your home is infected, the same quarantine that applies to people applies to pets.

This means:

~ restrict activities outside your home (do not go to school, work, or public areas)

~ only go out to receive medical care (call ahead to receive instructions)

~ do not use public transit, taxis, uber, or ride-sharing forms of transportation

~ use a separate washroom in your home, if possible

~ stay in a separate room, away from people and pets in your home, if possible

~ restrict contact with your pets (avoid snuggling, petting sharing food, sharing your

bed, and being licked/kissed)

~ when it’s possible, have others in your home care for your pets

~ If you must care for your pet, wear gloves and a mask, and wash your hands before

and after

~ if you’re sick with coronavirus and have had contact with your pet, don’t allow your

pet to wander outside

Stay informed on the latest information and advice, check the CDC website and your state’s department of health website.

 


February is National Pet Dental Health Month! - 01/30/2020

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February is National Pet Dental Health Month. The purpose of Pet Dental Health Month is to raise awareness that pets need dental care. The American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that more than 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats have oral disease by the time they are three years old.

Although our cats and dogs are domesticated, their ancestors evolved to hide symptoms of injury or weakness in order to survive in the wild. Modern pets have retained this characteristic. Therefore, your pet may be suffering in painful silence from a hidden dental condition such as a tooth root abscess, a broken tooth, dental decay, or inflammation/infection of the structures surrounding the teeth (periodontitis). Often, the only thing that you might notice is that your dog no longer plays with chew toys or that your cat paws at her/his mouth more frequently. Once a tooth becomes infected, it will require either a root canal treatment or extraction.

It’s not just bad breath you are combating when your pet has his/her annual dental examination and cleaning. Dental disease is a serious health condition. Bacteria under the gum line can affect more than just your pet’s teeth and gums. Bacteria from the mouth can travel throughout the body and put your pet at greater risk of developing heart, kidney, and liver disease, and complications from diabetes.

Dental disease is probably one of the most under-recognized serious health risks for our pets. In part because animals cannot tell us if their teeth or gums hurt and they try to hide symptoms. Therefore, it is important to visit your veterinarian at least once per year for a dental examination and professional cleaning. Your veterinarian can also recommend the appropriate dental treatment to keep your pets pearly whites looking and feeling good for life.

The main culprits that cause the development of a dental infection are dental plaque and tartar. When plaque and tartar are first deposited on the teeth, they cause gingivitis or inflammation of the gums. Over time, bacteria and other organisms invade the inflamed tissues, causing an infection. Left untreated, they will spread, causing stomatitis (general infection of the mucous membranes of the mouth) or periodontitis (an infection of the ligaments, soft tissues and bones that anchor the teeth in place). Ultimately, oral disease will lead to tooth loss.

Fractured teeth can also lead to the development of tooth infection. The most common causes of tooth fractures are playing catch with hard objects and chewing on hard objects such as bones or rocks.Teeth may break on the tip or cusp, on the side (called a slab fracture), or along the root. Tip or cusp fractures are usually fairly visible, but both slab and root fractures may go unnoticed to a pet owner until an abscess forms.

Another major cause of tooth infections in pets is dental decay. In dogs it is relatively uncommon, estimated at less than 10% of all dental problems. However, in cats, enamel decay or erosion is a very common problem known by several different names including “oral resorptive lesions”, “neck lesions”, “cervical line erosions”, and other terms. When the protective enamel of the tooth is damaged or lost, bacteria will quickly infect the tooth and surrounding bone. The teeth ultimately become brittle and parts of them snap off, leaving behind fragments that cause further problems.

Regular dental examinations, annual professional dental cleanings, and daily brushing of your pet’s teeth will help your pet live a longer, healthier, and pain-free life!

Please visit the dental sections of our website to learn more about dental health, how to brush your pet’s teeth, and what is entailed in professional dental cleanings.


January Is Walk Your Dog Month! - 01/17/2020

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January days are short and it is easy to get the blahs. After all of the festivities and excitement in the month of December, January can be a bit of a let-down for some people and pets. If you have a dog, one way to beat the blahs and work off some off those holiday pounds is to celebrate Walk Your Dog Month!

Embrace the cooler temperatures and get out there and enjoy the beauty of Arizona with your dog! No matter what the weather is outside, your dog needs to go out.

Getting outside and walking will not only help beat the winter blahs, incorporating a walk into your daily routine will help you both get some healthy exercise. Exercise can also help reduce behavioral issues that your dog may have.

If you and your furry pal are tired of the same old route, discover some new hiking areas in your community. Be sure to follow leash rules and take plenty of water for both of you.

Since the days are shorter during winter, and our work days are long, we are often walking our dogs in the dark this time of year. Be sure motorists can clearly see both you and your dog. wear brightly colored or reflective clothing and check out the multitude of lights available for your dog -from light up collars and clip on collar lights to light up leashes.

Bundle up and get moving. Spring and warmer Arizona weather is just around the corner!


Pet Holiday Safety - 12/07/2019

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It is the season of peace, love, light, and joy. It’s time to visit family and friends. It’s time for party cheer and fun. Festive candles and Kinaras are lit, holiday decor is is shimmering, bows and ribbons adorn gifts, fires burn, treats and food are abundant and Christmas trees are decorated. With all of the celebration and merriment, it is important to plan for pet safety in your home.

Christmas trees can be very tempting for cats and dogs. Your cat may view the tree as her/his new climbing post or a comfy place to perch and look out the window. Your dog may see the ornaments as new toys to play with and chew. Therefore, it’s important to make sure your tree is safely secured. Just in case your dog bumps it or pulls on it to get that prize ornament, or your cat tries to climb it, the tree and all of your beautiful decorations won’t come crashing down.

It is important to be mindful of the decorations you use on the tree and throughout your home.

Glass tree ornaments can be hazardous. Ornaments are colorful and often shiny. They are attractive and pets are curious. If your pet knocks an ornament off the tree, both you and your pet could be injured. Use unbreakable or plastic ornaments to be safe.

Tinsel is a big no-no when it comes to pets. Some pets just can’t resist the shiny tinsel. All it takes is one piece of tinsel to cause a life-threatening situation for a pet. Tinsel can become lodged in the gastrointestinal tract and cause many problems, all requiring emergency surgery.

Candles should never be left unattended, even for just a minute. With the flick or wag of a tail, a candle can topple or fur can catch fire. Singed hair, burns, and house fires are preventable. Consider using battery powered candles. If you use real candles, place them in pet safe places and watch them carefully. Never leave them unattended.

Many holiday foods and drinks can make your pet sick. Indulging in your pet’s begging can result in his or her upset stomach or even pancreatitis ( a painful condition that causes vomiting and diarrhea). Our pets aren’t accustomed to eating fatty foods like turkey, gravy, and mashed potatoes. Small amounts of turkey (white meat only and no bones) and plain vegetables are usually alright as long as they are shared in moderation. However, it is best to ask your guests to refrain from feeding your pet. If you are a guest, don’t feed your host’s pet.Some pets may try to take a sip of a beer, wine, hot chocolate, or eggnog. Chocolate is poisonous to your pets and alcohol poisoning can occur quickly, so keep drinks out of reach, too.

Check out our page regarding poisonous foods and plants on our website. Take a few moments to check your home for possible holiday hazards and you and your pets will enjoy a safe and happy holiday season!


Thanksgiving Safety For Pets - 11/25/2019

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It’s that time of year! Plans are underway for holiday get-togethers, meals, cocktail parties. and festivities with family, friends, and neighbors. While all of these are great fun and a time to enjoy and indulge on treats, sweets, foods, and drinks, it’s important to be mindful of our furry friends.

Your guests have arrived! Purses and coats are stored in your mudroom or spare bedroom when closet space is exhausted, but you don’t know what your house guests have in their pockets. Curious pets can sniff out all sorts of items that could end up putting a damper on festivities or worse.

fullsizeoutput_75d7  All of the special yummy treats and rich foods that will be present between now and New Year’s Day are delicious and something to look forward to. Our pets are often excited to try a treat or a bite of the great-smelling food. When it comes to sharing your Thanksgiving meal with your pet, please be cautious. All of those rich foods can cause gastrointestinal (GI) upset (diarrhea and/or vomiting) and some seemingly safe foods are in fact toxic to cats and dogs. Remind your guests to refrain from sharing their meal and instead prepare a special bowl of safe food for your pet.

Avoid giving your pets dark turkey meat or skin and NEVER give your pets any turkey bones. Dark meat and skin are fatty and can cause GI upset as well as pancreatitis. Bones can splinter causing damage to the esophagus, stomach, or intestines, or they can become lodged requiring emergency surgery.

Vegetables tend to be a safe choice; however, not if they’re mixed with ingredients like garlic, chives, onions, or leeks. While preparing vegetables such as broccoli, green beans, or sweet potatoes, set some aside to feed to your pets later.

Chocolate is a definite NO when it comes to sharing with your pets. The darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is to dogs and cats. It can cause abnormalities in heart rhythm, seizures, and even death.

Candies, mints, and sugarless gum may seem harmless; however, they can pose a danger to pets if they contain xylitol. These sweets have strong scents that can easily attract curious pets. Even a small amount of xylitol can cause life-threatening liver failure in dogs. Signs of xylitol poisoning include weakness, vomiting, muscle tremors, seizures, and coma.

Cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and marijuana can cause severe toxicity and even death. The liquid nicotine in e-cigarettes can have a strong scent and can be very attractive to pets, especially the flavored e-cigarettes. Consuming only a few cigarettes or even a single e-liquid cartridge can cause serious illness. Signs of toxicity can develop quickly and include a rapid heart rate, panting, muscle tremors, excessive excitement, uncontrolled urination and/or defecation. In some cases, ingestion of nicotine can cause seizures, paralysis and even death. Other sources of nicotine, such as nicotine gum and chewing tobacco can cause the same symptoms. Marijuana can also be toxic. The active ingredient in marijuana, THC, is quickly absorbed from the GI tract. Signs of toxicity include involuntary eye movements, incoordination, depression or excitement, agitation, hallucinations, vomiting and heart arrhythmias.

If your cat or dog gets into over-the-counter or prescription medications, there could be serious consequences. Anti-inflammatory drugs (i.e. Advil, Motrin, etc.) can cause abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting In fact, kidney failure may result. Anti-depressants and ADD/ADHD medications can cause life-threatening heart problems, tremors, seizures, and high body temperature, requiring emergency veterinary care.

Either keep guests coats and belongings safely behind closed doors, or have your guests check their coat pockets and make certain purses are closed tightly.

Taking a few precautions and remembering that moderation is always key, everyone in your home, including those furry friends and family members, is sure to have a Happy Holiday!


November is Pet Diabetes Awareness Month - 11/01/2019

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November is Pet Diabetes Awareness Month. Recent studies have shown that the number of diabetic diagnoses in cats and dogs over a nine year period (2006-2015) increased by up to 80% in dogs and 18% in cats. This correlates with the increase of the number of overweight and obese pets. Despite the fact that the diagnosis of diabetes in dogs has significantly increased, diabetes is still three times more common in cats than in dogs.

Diabetes results when the body doesn’t make enough insulin, doesn’t use insulin properly, or the body stops producing insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas. It is responsible for allowing glucose in the blood to enter cells. The glucose provides the cells with energy to function. Insulin helps keep the body’s blood sugar from getting too low or too high.

Diabetes causes two effects:

First, when cells don’t have enough glucose (energy) to function properly, the body begins to break down the body tissues and convert them to sugar by the liver. This makes the problems for the pet worse because, as the blood sugar continues to rise higher.

Second, a continued high blood sugar level causes damage to many organs, including the eyes, heart, blood vessels, kidneys and nerves. Death can even occur if the condition is not treated.

Although diabetes only affects about 1% or less of dogs and cats, it’s important to be aware of the risks for this disease and the signs it may be present, especially since the incidence of diabetes is on the rise.

Certain dog breeds are at a higher risk for developing diabetes. These breeds are: Samoyeds, Miniature Schnauzers, Australian Terriers, Beagles, Bichons Frises, Dachshunds, Cairn Terriers, Fox Terriers, Keeshonds, Pugs, Miniature Poodles, and Puli. Unspayed female dogs and neutered male cats are also at greater risk for developing diabetes. Further, other risk factors for developing diabetes include age (i.e. older dogs and cats are at higher risk), obesity, inactivity, and genetics.

The following are some signs that your pet may have diabetes:

~  excessive thirst and drinking

Take note if your pet is drinking more frequently and emptying the water bowl more often than she/he used to.

~  lethargy (less activity)

Because your pet can’t convert nutrients from his/her food into energy, he/she tires easily and has much less energy to go for walks or play.

~  weight loss despite increased appetite

Since your pet’s body can’t efficiently convert the nutrients from his or her food into energy (glucose) needed for cellular processes, the body starts to burn fat and muscle for energy.

~  excessive urination or accidents in the house

Increased urination (secondary to increased thirst) occurs because the body is trying to get rid of excess glucose by sending it out in the urine.

Your veterinarian can diagnose, treat, and help you manage your pet’s diabetes. Diabetes is often controlled with insulin injections, typically given once or twice a day immediately following a meal. Some pet parents are hesitant at first about giving their pet insulin injections. They fear not being able to do it properly and/or are afraid of hurting their pet. However, your veterinarian and your veterinary health care team will show you how to give the injections and will make sure you feel comfortable.

Your veterinarian will advise you about diet and meal plans individualized for your pet and will also advise you about a consistent exercise program to help keep your pet’s glucose levels as normal as possible. Diet and feeding times are important in diabetes management. It is important to feed your pet at the same time each day and keep meal sizes consistent.

It is important to take your pet for regular veterinary checkups. Your veterinarian will recommend checkups at regular intervals in order to monitor your pet’s condition.

Remember, diabetes is treatable. The sooner it’s diagnosed, the sooner it can be treated. Treatment is important in order to avoid and/or lessen serious health problems.

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Pet Obesity Awareness Day is October 9th - 10/03/2019

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Pet Obesity Awareness Day is October 9th. It is a day that helps increase pet owner awareness to a growing problem. Depending on which study you read, estimates vary up to 56% of cats in the United States are overweight. An estimated 60% of dogs are overweight. Being overweight is one thing, but being obese is something else! Studies have reported that, of those pets classified as overweight, 27-39% of cats and 20% of dogs are considered obese.

An obese pet is one that is very overweight – at least 30% over what would be considered an ideal weight. For example, If your dog’s ideal weight is 60 lbs. and he actually weighs 78 lbs., he would be considered obese. If your cat’s ideal weight is 10 lbs. and she weighs 13 lbs., she would be considered obese.

Weight data from more than 19 million cats across North America from 1985-2015 was analyzed and researchers found that as cats age, they gain weight. Additionally, the average weight of our feline friends is on the rise. Further, 52% of the cats in the study had only one body weight noted in their medical record. This suggests that pet owners either didn’t take their cat in for regular checkups of they took them to different clinics.

Why are the extra pounds a problem? Many pets that are overweight develop osteoarthritis (OA), which is often painful. Not only does additional weight put extra forces on the joints, it also contributes to inflammation. OA is often under diagnosed because cats and dogs are masters of disguise when it comes to pain. In addition to OA, obesity can lead to serious health conditions such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

Preventing obesity begins with the first day you start feeding your pet. Allowing your kitten or puppy to graze all day can set up a pattern of overeating which may lead to excessive weight gain and possibly obesity. Once a pet becomes obese, she or he is already in the habit of overeating. While it can be a challenge to get your pet to lose weight, your veterinarian can help create a plan to help your pet shed those extra pounds.

The diet plan may include setting up a feeding schedule rather than free feeding. Your veterinarian will help you determine which food is best for your pet, the ideal amount of food that your pet should consume each day, and may even recommend a food specially formulated to facilitate weight loss.

Your veterinarian may also recommend an activity or exercise plan for your pet. You may be asked to move your pet’s food dish to different areas in the house to encourage him or her to move more. Try using a feeding ball that needs to be rolled around to release kibble. This extends the eating experience and encourages movement. Schedule play times to help build exercise into each day. Be sure to ask your veterinarian about how much exercise you should begin with – you don’t want to overdo it. Start slow and build up your pet’s stamina.

Monitor your pet’s weight. Take your pet for annual or semi-annual (senior pets) check-ups with weigh-ins. This allows your veterinarian to track weight changes and allows earlier detection of any other changes or health issues.

This October 9th, check your pet’s weight. Do you have an overweight pet? If so, call us and get an appointment so that we can help you structure an appropriate diet plan to help your pet be healthier and happier. If you aren’t sure if your pet is overweight, schedule a weigh-in and consultation.