Healthy Weight Pets Live Longer Lives

Healthy Weight Pets Live Longer Lives

Spoiling our pets is one of the best parts of owning one. Going to the doggy bakery and picking out cute cookies and bones for birthdays and milestones is fun and rewarding to both parties involved! And here in the Summerville, SC area we have so many amazing pet boutiques. However, spoiling our pets with high calorie treats regularly can set them up for health concerns down the road.

According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 60% of cats and 56% of dogs were classified as overweight or obese in 2018.

Just like with humans, our pets can suffer from high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease all related to their weight. Obesity also affects major organs such as the kidneys, liver, and respiratory system, as well as increases our pets’ risk for developing certain diseases like diabetes, hypothyroidism, and cancer. Pets can also experience physical pain in the form of arthritis when they are overweight causing lameness and ligament damage.

Obesity is measured on a Body Condition Scoring System ranking your pet on a scale from 1 to 9, with 4 or 5 being the “ideal” body condition. An ideal body condition for a pet is being able to just feel the ribs, but not see them, and having a nice, tucked waistline. One through 3 are considered “too thin”, meaning the pets’ ribs, spine, and/or hip bones are prominent and noticeable. Six through 9 are considered “too heavy” or obese, meaning that the pets’ ribs are covered with a layer of fat, waist may be noticeable from above or not at all, and other areas of the body, such as the tail and neck, may have increased fat deposits. When deciding how much to feed your pet, it is important to remember to feed to body condition and not weight itself.

Healthy Weight Pets Live Longer Lives

If your pet is obese there are ways to help them achieve a healthy weight. There are many diets available, both over the counter and veterinarian prescribed, that help with weight loss by restricting calorie intake. It is also important to be sure you are not overfeeding. A lot of pet owners don’t realize they are overfeeding their pets, and it can be difficult to refrain from giving the yummy table scraps and treats. Here at Cane Bay Vet Clinic our staff is well versed in diets and would be happy to discuss options with you!

Diet combined with daily exercise is often all it takes to help your pet achieve a healthy weight. However, sometimes there may be an underlying issue, such as hypothyroidism or Cushing’s disease, that prevents your pet from losing weight. If you are having trouble getting those pesky pounds off your pet, consult with Dr. Hill and Dr. Turick to determine if blood work may be warranted.

Keeping your pet at an ideal weight not only helps keep numerous health issues at bay but can prolong their life by an average of 1.8 years.  And who doesn’t want some extra quality time with their favorite furry friend?! If you have questions about your pet’s weight or diet Cane Bay Vet Clinic would love to help you out!

Grain Free Boutique Diets: Are They Bad for Your Dog’s Heart?

Diet related heart disease is not new in the veterinary world. In the 1980’s, scientists found a link between dilated cardiomyopathy in cats and taurine deficiency in their diets. Since then all commercially available cat foods are supplemented with taurine and dilated cardiomyopathy is rarely, if ever, diagnosed in cats today. Dilated cardiomyopathy, or DCM, is a type of heart disease in which the heart becomes enlarged and does not beat or contract as effectively as it should. It can lead to heart failure and death if left undiagnosed and untreated. Symptoms can include increased sluggishness or sleepiness, coughing, decreased appetite, pale gums, and fainting. Clinical signs often appear late in the course of disease; therefore, this disease can go undetected for some time and make your pet very ill suddenly, without a lot of warning.

In more recent years, DCM has been on the rise in our canine patients and in breeds not typically diagnosed with this disease. The link in most of these cases has been Grain Free Boutique diets that have peas, lentils and legumes in them in place of grains.

The FDA has recently released a report naming the top brands associated with this recent rise in dilated cardiomyopathy.

 These brands in order of reported cases include Acana, Zignature, Taste of the Wild, 4Health, Earthborn Holistic, Blue Buffalo, Nature’s Domain, Fromm, Merrick, California Natural, Natural Balance, Orijen, Nature’s Variety, Nutrisource, Nutro, and Rachael Ray Nutrish. If a brand is not on this list, it does not rule it out as a potential cause of heart disease. It simply means it has not been reported to the FDA in enough numbers to make the list at this time.

Ultimately, grain free diets have very little basis in science and are more of a marketing ploy perpetuated by good advertising.

Grain free diets for our pets became very popular around the same time that gluten free and grain free diets became popular in humans. Our canine and feline companions are actually very good at digesting grains and receive a lot of nutritional value from grains such as corn. A lot of consumers also believe their pets have a grain allergy and therefore avoid feeding grains. In reality, very few pets actually have a food allergy to proteins such as beef or chicken, and even fewer pets are allergic to grains. In other words, grain allergies in our pets are almost unheard of. If your pet is experiencing itchy skin, ears or other signs of allergies, please discuss this with your Cane Bay Veterinary Clinic doctor. Pets in the Summerville, SC area are much more likely to be allergic to fleas or things in the environment such as pollen, grass and dust than they are to food.

The FDA, veterinary nutritionists, and veterinary cardiologists are working hard to figure out what specific components of these grain free diets are contributing to the recent rise in DCM cases. In the meantime, if you are feeding your pet a grain free diet, Dr. Turick and Dr. Hill are recommending transitioning to a grain inclusive diet until more is known. If you are not sure about your pet’s diet, or if your pet is on a special prescription diet, please discuss this with your veterinarian before switching. If you need to switch your pet’s diet, please transition from one food to another slowly over the course of a week to avoid causing your pet any gastrointestinal upset.

Is Your Pet Protected?

Do you remember the last time you gave your dog or cat a dose of heartworm prevention or flea and tick prevention? It can certainly be difficult to remember to do this important task on time, but it is so crucial for the health and well-being of our pets and us!

Did you know that 1 out of every 58 dogs and 1 out of every 107 cats in Berkeley county was diagnosed with heartworm disease last year alone!

Heartworm disease is transmitted by mosquitoes – one bite is all it takes to infect your dog or cat with this life-threatening disease. For all of us who live in the Low Country we know these blood suckers are everywhere.

Once a dog is infected it can take 6 months for that infection to be detectable with standard heartworm testing at your veterinarian. Dogs who are infected can have hundreds of foot-long, adult worms in their heart, causing significant damage to the heart and lungs. This damage starts to occur even before the disease is detectable on standard testing and can be life-threatening if left untreated. Also, treatment itself is not without consequences. A full course of treatment for dogs with heartworm disease in Summerville, SC can cost upwards of $1000 and is not without potential life-threatening side effects. This is why prevention is so important!

Cats with heartworm disease usually only have a few worms in their heart, but they can be very sensitive to heartworms. Cats develop heartworm associated respiratory disease (HARD) which can cause sudden and severe respiratory distress and even death.

Unfortunately, there is no treatment for cats with heartworm disease, so prevention is the best and only answer.

Just remember that mosquitoes come in our homes, so even strictly indoor cats are susceptible to heartworm disease and should be on year-round prevention.

Most heartworm preventions not only prevent heartworm disease but also help control intestinal parasites otherwise known as worms! Intestinal parasites not only cause our pets health issues – such as diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, and poor hair coat to name a few – but they can also be contagious to humans. Children who play outside and do not always keep the best hygiene practices can be particularly susceptible. Hookworms can get under the skin of humans and cause a very itchy rash known as cutaneous larval migrans. Roundworms can affect the liver, lungs, nervous system and even the eye causing blindness in humans. Most heartworm preventions given to our pets monthly can help control intestinal parasites and therefore greatly decrease the risk of parasitism in us and our children.

Finally, I will touch on flea and tick prevention. Fleas are a definite nuisance and can be very difficult to get rid of once an infestation takes place in our homes. Therefore, at Cane Bay Veterinary Clinic we recommend monthly prevention for both dogs and cats. Fleas can also carry some life-threatening diseases for our pets and cause anemia severe enough to warrant a blood transfusion. Ticks can also carry life-threatening diseases and infect our pets with diseases such as Lyme disease, Ehrlichia and anaplasmosis. Year-round flea and tick prevention is important for all dogs and cats to prevent life-threatening illness, and prevent you from spending lots of money with exterminators getting these nasty pests out of your home after an infestation takes place.

If your pet is not currently on prevention, talk to Dr. Hill or Dr. Turick or our Cane Bay team today, to get them on prevention and ward off many health concerns for you and your pet!