Many dogs and cats (and their owners!) get into a routine for a treat at a specific time of day – sometimes a mid-morning or late-night snack! It can be hard to break this routine and completely cut out the snack. Instead of cutting out the snack, here are a few tips on making the snack healthier:
1. Use vegetables as low calorie snacks. There are many healthy vegetables that your dog will find a tasty treat! Many people are surprised when their dog loves cucumber. You can also try beans, broccoli, and carrots too. For a dog who likes a good chew, a broccoli stem is often a good replacement.
2. Give a lesser amount of the snack they get. Sometimes the entire treat may be too many calories, so try breaking it into smaller pieces and feeding a smaller total quantity. Instead of 2 large biscuits, they may get ½ of a biscuit broken into 4 pieces.
3. Save a small portion of your pet’s daily portion of kibble for a snack at another time in the day. If your pet normally gets 1 cup total of kibble per day split into 2 meals of ½ cup each, you may try splitting this into 3 meals of 1/3 cup. Your pet will be just as excited for their third portion of kibble at snack time. Some dogs, and even some cats, may prefer that this snack be interactive – use it to do a bit of obedience training, or hide and seek for their snacks. This is an added source of mental stimulation and environmental enrichment for your pet when you are busy.
Other snack options:
You can also use fruits as snacks or training treats. Blueberries, slices of apple, and melon all make good treats. You can even mix small chunks of fruit with water and freeze them for a refreshing ice cube snack in the summer.
Snacks to avoid:
Avoid high fat foods, especially fatty pieces of meat. These can make dogs and cats very sick.
Avoid onions and grapes - these can both cause toxicities.
Avoid large quantities of carbs – bread, donuts, spaghetti. These higher calorie snacks are of no added nutritional value for your pet and they will push them over the amount of calories they require in a day.
Ask your vet for more recommendations for your pet if they have a special diet or medical condition.
More and more dogs and cat are rated as overweight or obese by their veterinarians. These animals are being put at risk of developing serious diseases earlier in life, and they are also more likely to have a shortened life span.
Carrying extra weight can predispose your pet to early arthritic changes. The more weight they carry, the more pressure is applied to their joints. Arthritis can start earlier, and as they become more painful, they have less ability to exercise. This becomes a vicious cycle of inactivity leading to weight gain leading to further mobility concerns and weight gain. Some of these obese dogs and cats are euthanized early for an inability to get around, an inability to get in the car, or the inability to keep themselves clean.
Ligament tears are also more common in obese dogs – these are usually seen as an acute lameness. These tears can be surgically repaired, but once again, obesity will make recovery more difficult.
Obese cats that decide not to eat are more at risk of developing hepatic lipidosis or fatty liver. By not eating (for any reason – stress, other illness, or because they are unhappy with what you are offering) they develop hepatic lipidosis that makes them feel ill and less likely to eat. These cats get sick faster and need intensive care to start eating again.
Obese dogs and cats are at a higher risk of developing diabetes. Just like people, animals can get diabetes. And just like people, diabetic cats and dogs may require twice daily insulin injections, special diabetic food, and regular blood glucose monitoring. Not only can this be stressful on the pet, as well as their caretaker, but it can also be expensive.
Animals that are overweight or obese may also have a more difficult time breathing and may develop exercise and heat intolerance. This can make weight loss difficult for these animals.
What diseases are obese pets predisposed to?
Is my PET fat?
Your pet’s body condition score is evaluated regularly at their annual exam. Here is a scale that is commonly used. An easy way to monitor your pet is to make sure that from above they have a slight indent at their abdomen, behind their rib cage, and from the side they should have a tuck up at their abdomen.
If your dog or cat’s body shape has become boxy or overly rounded, they are in need of a diet and exercise plan!
What do I do to help my pet lose weight?
If you acknowledge that your pet is in need of weight loss, that is the first step to making a change!
Next step is to determine where the unhealthy habits lie – it is either lack of exercise or over indulgence of food and treats.
It is important that your pet doesn’t lose weight too quickly! We want slow, steady, but consistent weight loss. Please contact your veterinarian to help develop a plan for safe weight loss for your pet.
We will have further tips later this month on healthy snacks.
Having difficulty achieving weight loss for your pet?
Some pets will need special diet food to help achieve weight loss success! These diets have a number of ways that they are effective in weight loss. They often help your pet to feel full, this means they won’t eat as much. They may have fewer calories per cup so they can eat more but not be taking in as many calories. If your pet needs a diet food, ask your veterinarian for assistance choosing the right one.
There are many possible toxins to pets outdoors, but here are a few you can avoid using to prevent health risks to your pet.
Most people know that chocolate can be toxic to dogs. This is because of theobromine in chocolate which, depending on how much is eaten, the type of chocolate ingested, and the size of the dog, can cause symptoms from vomiting and diarrhea to seizures and death.
Theobromine and caffeine are also present in cocoa bean mulch. The quantities of each varies in different brands of mulch, but with the same sweet smell as chocolate, your dog may be enticed to eat the mulch causing them to have the same toxicity symptoms as when a dog ingests chocolate.
To avoid this toxin it is recommended to pick a different kind of mulch for your garden.
Cocoa bean mulch
Many lawn fertlizers are now child and pet friendly. Be aware of what you are putting on your lawn and what plant fertilizer you are using around certain plants. Some of the specific plant fertilizers contain bone or blood meal which is very palatable to dogs, but can cause stomach upsets. Other fertilizers may contain organophosphates that can have more severe symptoms including difficulty breathing, seizures, and possibly death. These symptoms can be seen in either dogs or cats that ingest organophosphate type fertilizers.
Remember to store your undiluted pool chemicals in a safe place away from where your pets (and children) can access them. When diluted in the pool, these chemicals should have minimal, if any, side effects on your pet. It is always recommended to rinse your dog after they have been swimming to remove excess chemicals from their coat that they may later groom off.
Blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) can be a problem in our nearby lakes, as well as in ponds and streams. These bacteria can produce toxins that can be fatal within hours if pets ingest them. If your dog likes to swim, make sure they are swimming in clean water, and avoid beaches that are closed due to high algal blooms!
There are many potential toxins that pets can be exposed to. Make sure you know what is in your backyard where your pets play, and also be aware of your surroundings when you visit family and friends for barbecues or picnics. Have fun and keep your pets safe this summer!
Taking your dog camping is a great adventure for both of you, but don’t forget to be prepared! Just like you would take a first aid kit for yourself and your kids, you should have a similar first aid kit for your dog.
Items to include in a pet first aid kit:
There are many commercially available first aid kits for dogs – you can take a look at a local pet store, or you can make your own.
You should include:
If you plan to go hiking, you can make this first aid kit portable by putting it in a knapsack for your dog to carry. Make sure you get your dog accustomed to wearing their own pack before a long hike. You can also add water, pet-safe bug spray, and a snack if needed for a long hike.
Be sure to stay safe and have fun!
Here are some extra safety travel tips no matter how you are travelling with your dog:
Although many animals get itchy when they are bitten by a flea, some animals get extremely itchy, to the point where they have bleeding wounds on their backs. These animals have a flea allergy dermatitis – they react to flea bites more severely than other animals.
What does it look like?
Flea allergy dermatitis often looks like either a lot of little scabs, or a few larger scabs over the back of your pet. Usually they are right at the base of the tail. There is often a fair amount of hair loss in this area, and the skin is usually very red and inflamed.
How is flea allergy dermatitis identified?
Flea allergy dermatitis also includes fleas. Finding fleas themselves on your pet or flea dirt helps to confirm the diagnosis. Flea dirt is small black dandruff that you are able to see if you part the fur and look close to the skin. When this black dirt is removed from the animal, you can put it on white paper towel and add water. If it dissolves leaving red-brown marks then it is flea dirt. If it doesn’t leave a mark then it is regular ground dirt.
How is flea allergy dermatitis treated?
Flea allergy dermatitis often requires a multi-modal approach including antibiotics, anti-itch medications, as well as flea products. One of the most important things to remember is to treat the animal with a flea preventive product for at least 3 months to kill all the fleas that may hatch over that time.
How can I prevent flea allergy dermatitis?
It is often recommended to keep your pet on year round flea prevention if they have a flea allergy. It is much more comfortable for your pet and more cost effective for you to keep your pet on flea prevention than to need to see your vet multiple times a year to treat flea allergy dermatitis.
Don’t forget, flea season has started! If your pet still needs their prevention make sure to give us a call!
Yes, just like many of us humans, animals can also suffer from seasonal allergies. Just like humans, some dogs and cats will also get an allergic conjunctivitis, or red and irritated eyes from exposure to dusts and pollens. Rather than sneezing, most dogs show allergy symptoms through their skin and extensions of their skin including their ears and anal glands.
The most common allergy symptom is overall itchiness. Many dogs will get itchy all over. They will scratch their ears, necks, backs, chew their feet and down their legs. Their skin may appear red and inflamed - this is usually much easier to see on dogs with short coats or with light coloured fur. Depending on the severity of the itch, some dogs may also cause themselves infections by chewing too much!
Does your dog get ear infections? Ear infections are often a sign of an allergy. Usually they’ll start by scratching at their ears more or shaking their head a lot. This can progress to very red and inflamed ears with lots of discharge.
Many dogs with seasonal allergies will get a seasonal ear infection, while others will get year round ear infections. Some of these year round dogs are also always itchy and always chewing their feet, even in 3 feet of snow! These dogs often have a food allergy and a diet change may be in their future.
Ear infections in dogs are usually caused by either bacteria or yeast, or a combination of both bacteria and yeast. It is important for us to differentiate which it is so we can use the appropriate medication to resolve the infection. To prevent infections some dogs will need regular ear cleanings with pet ear cleaners.
Anal glands are scent glands that sit on either side of the anus. During a normal bowel movement, cats and dogs anal glands are expressed onto their feces as another form of scent marking.
If you notice your dog scooting their bum across the floor, or constantly licking at their hind end, they may have an anal gland issue. Some dogs can have ongoing issues with their anal glands and require assistance expressing them. Anal glands may just be difficult to express, but they can also become infected. In some cases, this is also a sign of an allergy.
If your dog has some or all of these symptoms and is becoming more uncomfortable as the warm weather picks up, make sure to book an appointment with your vet so we can help get them feeling more comfortable.
Why does my dog have pink feet?
Often times, dogs who lick their feet frequently will develop pink staining on their feet, or any other area they lick a lot. This staining occurs when porphyrins in the dog’s saliva oxidize (when they are in contact with oxygen), making the pink colour on their feet.
How do I get rid of it?
Since saliva staining is caused by the dog over licking their feet, we need to stop that licking to stop the fur from turning pink.
It is normal for dogs to groom and clean their feet, but a dog with allergies likely overgrooms and chews at their feet, between their paw pads, and even up their arm. Often times it looks like they are chewing a corn cob as they itch all the way up their leg or chew between their toes. If your dog is licking and chewing this much, you should see your vet so we can help get their itching under control.
The overgrooming and chewing of feet is a common sign of allergies in dogs. These allergies are often seasonal allergies, especially if it only starts at a certain time of year, likely when a certain type of pollen is around, then goes away the rest of the year. The staining on your dog’s feet goes away since they are not itchy so they stop chewing.
There are many options to help minimize the itch and discomfort for your pet and help prevent irritation to their paws from chewing on them. For many pets with seasonal allergies a short course of antihistamines may be enough, while others will require something a little stronger to keep them comfortable through the summer months.
If your dog suffers from allergies, book an appointment with your veterinarian so they can help you find the right treatment for your pet’s allergies.
What is heartworm and how does my dog get heartworm?
Heartworm is a blood parasite that lives in the pulmonary vessels near the heart.
Mosquitos transmit heartworm. If a mosquito that carries heartworm bites your pet, they may infect your dog with heartworm larvae. This larvae takes a number of months to develop into adult heartworms.
What are the symptoms of heartworm disease?
Symptoms of heartworm disease can vary from a cough and exercise intolerance to absolutely no symptoms depending on the number of adult parasites. The heartworms live in the blood vessels, and can cause damage to the vessels and the heart even though we may not see clinical symptoms.
How do we diagnose heartworm disease?
Heartworm disease is tested for with a blood test. A small sample of blood is needed to run a test in the clinic. Usually we will have results within 10-15 minutes. This test checks for an antigen produced by adult female heartworms.
If a blood test comes up positive, confirmation that the test is correct is usually done by examining the blood under a microscope. Below is a video of microfilariae moving under a microscope. These microfilariae are produced by adult heartworms.
Prevention is the best medicine!
Heartworm disease is becoming more common, even in Ontario. We recommend all our canine patients be on a heartworm prevention throughout transmission season (late spring, summer, and fall). There are a variety of heartworm prevention medications – either oral or topical.
These medications work retroactively meaning that your pet may be exposed to larvae transmitted from mosquitos during the month of June, but then the dose of prevention given July 1st will clear these larvae from your dog’s bloodstream so the larvae never have the chance to mature into adult heartworms.
Heartworm is a much safer than heartworm treatment. As always, prevention is the best medicine!
.Don’t forget to schedule your dog’s parasite screen with one of our friendly technicians! Ask us if you have any questions about your current prevention protocol!
Ticks have become a growing concern in Ontario in the past decade. A lot like very tiny spiders, these little pests feed on blood of mammals – that includes dogs and cats, rodents, deer, and humans.
Ticks are active when it is above 4°C. That means in Chatham ticks were active throughout most of February. Although March has been a little colder, we have still had temperatures above 4°C this month.
There are two main types of ticks in Chatham-Kent: the dog tick (Dermacenter variabilis) and the deer tick (Ixodes scapularis). The dog tick is larger, although still very small! The deer tick is much smaller, and the more concerning tick in our area. Both ticks can be found in wooded areas, or areas with tall grass. There are very large numbers of deer ticks in areas on the northern border of Lake Erie such as Rondeau Park or Point Pelee.
Of these two ticks, only the deer tick carries the bacteria that causes Lyme disease in both dogs and people. Once the tick attaches to its host (dog or human), it starts to feed on blood. As the tick feeds, the body gets larger and becomes engorged. The tick may stay attached and feed for many days. In this time it is able to transmit Borrelia burgdorferi – the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.
At your pet’s annual exam or yearly in the springtime it is recommended to run a parasite screen. This parasite screen is a blood test that tests for Borelia burgdorferi (which causes Lyme disease), heartworm disease and two other tick borne diseases.
If you and your dog travel to areas with significant tick populations, make sure to tell your veterinarian so we can make sure they are on the appropriate prevention this year.
Fleas are tiny parasites that live in the environment but can be sometimes be seen crawling through your pet’s fur. Their bites can be very itchy, making your dog or cat scratch more than usual!
how did my pet get fleas?
The flea life cycle starts when a flea is brought into your home. This can be a flea that hitchhiked their way in on your dog when he was out for a walk, or your cat that strolls the neighbourhood. But it can also be from a visiting family member’s pet, or occasionally one you brought in from outdoors.
Even dogs or cats that only lounge in the backyard can pick up fleas and bring them into the house. All it takes for a stray cat or wildlife to walk through your yard and leave some fleas or flea eggs in your yard to start a flea problem for your own pet.
Indoor only cats are also at risk of getting fleas, especially if there are cats or dogs in the household that do go outside, or if you live in an apartment building where other animals in the apartment may have fleas.
Once fleas are in your home, they very quickly multiply. A flea will jump on a dog or cat for a blood meal. They then lay eggs. These eggs will stay in your carpet or furniture as they go through their life cycle as larvae and pupae. They mature again into adult fleas that will jump on your pet to continue their life cycle.
My pet has fleas - now what?
If your pet has fleas it is best to stop the infestation from continuing by using a flea medication for your pet. There are both oral and topical products available depending on your pet and their needs.
Once a flea medication has been administered to your pet, when fleas jump on and take a blood meal they will die instead of laying eggs. This stops the flea cycle! But there are also larvae and pupae in the environment the need to be cleaned up or hatch into adult fleas in order to be exposed to the medication from your pet that will kill the adult fleas.
To aid in the quick removal of fleas from your home there are a number of cleaning options:
When should I worry about fleas?
Our usual flea season is spring through to the fall. With the warm weather this year, fleas have been around most of the year. Don’t forget to continue your pet on their monthly flea prevention through the fall months. Often times this is one of the worst time for pets to get fleas, yet many people discontinue their flea prevention at the end of the summer.
Give the clinic a call if you have any questions about fleas or flea prevention for your cat or dog!
Weekends, Holidays and After-hours we are available 24 hours daily 365 days a year at our location for local service by your veterinary team. Please call our office in case of emergency.
Please note - Weekend, Holiday and After-hour service is offered only to current clientele who have not transferred their files to another facility and whose animals are a patient of our practice that has been examined by one of our doctors in the past 24 months.
Check out our social media pages on Facebook and Pinterest for some educational information. Follow us on both to stay caught up on our current awareness campaigns.
Egan Fife Animal Hospital