The “Garfield” Zone

Earlier this week, one of our fabulous technicians, Daria, sent us this great comic about feline obesity. We knew right then what we should talk about in the week’s blog post: feline obesity!

Obesity in cats can be a bit tricky. There are a few common mantras we hear when it comes to a cat’s weight, “Our cat is big boned…” and “His tummy hangs a little bit, but he’s happy…” Although both seem like good reasons to let your cat be a bit chubby, that extra weight can take years off your cat’s life.

For cats just a pound or two extra can be the difference between healthy and unhealthy and with 50% of cats in America overweight it is important we start looking at where we are going wrong as pet parents.

The biggest cause of pet obesity is how and what we feed our cats. Cats are known to be as lazy creatures. They burn very few calories each day and just like humans the only way they lose weight is to burn more calories then they take in.

How to know if your cat is overweight:

Visual: While your cat is standing, look down at your cat from above, do they look like they swallowed a ball? If so, they are overweight!

Feel: You shouldn’t be able to see your cat’s ribs, but you should be able to feel them. If you cannot feel your cat’s ribs and/or backbone, they are over weight.

What your doctor may be noticing: There are several common illnesses that we see in cats that are overweight:

  • Liver issues
  • Diabetes
  • Constipation
  • And skin problems when they are too big to properly clean themselves

Helping your cat lose weight

How to properly feed your cat:

If you cat is overweight, the easiest way to help them lose weight is to restrict their food intake. For many families, this means they must stop free feeding. Free feeding is the easiest way for a cat to gain weight. It is as if you left a chocolate cake out on the counter and told your human child to take a bite only when they were hungry -you would be out of cake in a minute!

Choose healthy cat foods that are low in carbohydrates and high in protein. Just like humans, proteins will help your cat feel full while carbs will help pack on the extra pounds.  Also, consider reducing the number of treats, and substitute with good ol’ fashion human attention as a praise or reward.

How to help your cat burn a few extra calories:

If you are already reducing their food intake or feel that their food portions are already within a healthy range, consider increasing their exercise level. Games like “laser tag” where they try to catch the red dot of a laser pointer, or having them work for their food (putting it in several, small dishes or piles on a multi-level cat tree, so they must jump and walk around to eat) will help increase their activity and calorie burning!

 

We always recommend checking with your doctor before making any drastic changes to your cat’s lifestyle as some pets can be negatively affected by change. If you are considering making changes to their diet or exercise routine, give us a call! We would be happy to talk with you and confirm that you will see positive benefits to the changes you make!

Pets in Pain: Arthritis

As pets age, their bodies begin to change. Similar to humans, many pets will begin to show signs of arthritis and other joint problems. For many pets, untreated arthritis can be painful and debilitating for the rest of their life. Thankfully, with proper medical care from your veterinarian, the pain from arthritis can be managed and our much-loved pets can live comfortable and pain-free lives.

Caring for pets in pain takes a special touch. Our doctors are very familiar with the needs of pets in pain and take great care to help reduce and manage the pain.

What is arthritis?

Your pet, just like a human, most commonly experiences a form of arthritis known as osteoarthritis, but there is also rheumatoid arthritis and infectious or septic arthritis. Arthritis is inflammation of the joints, and is most often found in the hips, knees, shoulders, elbows and vertebrae (ie the main joints of the body). Primary osteoarthritis has no known cause, while secondary osteoarthritis can develop in pets with poor joint conformation or past trauma to their bones or joints. The less common rheumatoid arthritis is connected to the immune system, and lastly, bacteria or viruses that attack the joints cause infectious or septic arthritis.

How can I tell if my pet has arthritis?

Since your pet cannot talk to you about their pain, it can be difficult to notice when something is wrong. Your pet may be experiencing arthritic pain if they are less willing to walk, play, or exercise and have trouble getting up or jumping. Some pet-parents may notice a loss of appetite and tiredness in their pet. Arthritis is more common in medium to large breed dogs, however small breeds and cats can also be affected. If you notice any of these signs that your pet is experiencing pain from arthritis, an appointment with your pet’s veterinarian is needed.

What can Pacific Animal Hospital’s doctors do to help my pets pain?

For many years, medication was the primary way of treating arthritis. Through lots of research and updates to veterinary medicine, Pacific Animal Hospital can now offer additional options to manage the pain and inflammation associated with Osteoarthritis. Two of these options are Acupuncture (LINK) and Class IV Laser Therapy (LINK). Acupuncture involves using tiny needles placed in specific points on the body. Class IV Laser Therapy involves using a cold laser to energize cells to heal themselves. Both of these treatment modalities help with the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis and can reduce or eliminate your pet’s need for medications. Of course, a healthy diet and exercise (yes, just like your doctor is telling you) is a great way to help reduce the pain of arthritis.

Word to the wise

If you happen to also be experiencing arthritis of any kind, please know that your personal medications will not help your arthritic pets and can be quite harmful. If your pet ingests any of your medications, please call the hospital immediately. If we are closed, the ASPCA’s Poison Hotline (link) is a great resource. For more information on how Pacific Animal Hospital can help with your pet’s arthritis pain, contact our animal hospital, located in Oceanside CA, at (760)-757-2442.

 

Written By: Megan Roberts

Simple tips for a safe Halloween for you and your pet!

Oceanside is a great city to celebrate Halloween for humans and pets alike! The warm summer air and late sunset make it the perfect place to go trick-or-treating. Halloween, like any other holiday, can be a fun celebration for your pets by taking a few precautions to ensure they feel safe and secure!

Ms. Danni in her Halloween costume!

Pet Costumes: Although many pets have no problem being dressed up and paraded around, it is not for every cat or dog. If your pet appears to be in distress or discomfort, consider allowing your pet to dress up in their “birthday suit” or a festive collar and leash!

Your costume: If you plan to take your pet out with you on Halloween, or if you plan to be dressed up around the house, consider forgoing the spooky mask or giant hats. These items can scare or confuse your pet or may spark a territorial instinct if they think you are an intruder.

Safety: If you plan to have trick-or-treaters come to your door, consider keeping your dogs or cats in another room. With the door opening and closing repeatedly, a nervous pet may dash out the door or be frightened by the gools and goblins at your doorstep. Although Halloween is a social time for people, a safe space, with their favorite toys and treats, may be the most comfortable way for your pet to spend the holiday.

Treats: As tempting as it can be for your child to share their Halloween bounty with their favorite furry friend, try not to share human treats with your pets! Many local dog food stores and dog bakeries make special treats for your pets, or consider making some yourself. Our Pinterest page, For Dogs,  has several easy to make dog treat recipes.

Parties: If you plan to go out for Halloween, consider attending a “pet friendly” event. Be it our Howl-O-Ween or another event, a Halloween geared towards your pet will allow them to socialize in a pet-friendly atmosphere, visit with other pets, and these events generally occur during the day in a family-friendly environment –so you and your pet will have a great time!