What You Need to Know About the Dangers of Pet Obesity

Obesity isn’t just a human problem, it’s a pet problem, too. Obesity doesn’t just slow our dogs, cats, rabbits, and other pets down, it also shortens their lives. Overweight pets are more at risk for many diseases and health issues and the extra weight can have a negative impact on the pet’s quality of life.

So what do you need to know to prevent pet obesity?

How Big of a Problem is Obesity for American Pets?

Over half of our pets are considered overweight or obese. In 2018, 60% of cats in America were overweight or obese and 56% of dogs were considered too plump. Exactly how many pets does that amount to? Almost 100 million. That’s a lot of excess pounds!

While this has a huge impact on pet health, it also affects how much people pay for veterinary care. One report from 2016 estimates that Americans paid an extra $62 million dollars in vet bills for obesity-related issues.

With numbers like these, many people consider pet obesity an epidemic.

How Did Our Pets Get So Fat?

The world of veterinary nutrition has grown leaps and bounds over the past decades. We’ve seen a lot of progress in our understanding of what pets need to eat to be healthy. Yet this problem seems to increase just as quickly. In fact, studies show that rates of pet obesity have continuously climbed since 2009.

So, how do pets, despite having balanced diets, nutritional guidelines, and portion recommendations still get so big? Pet parents tend to overfeed, over-treat, and let their pets overindulge in handouts.

People love their pets. And sometimes this love manifests in feeding. We get that. But obesity is preventable. So, we’re happy to chat with you about other forms of affection your pet might enjoy. We also have some great tips on ignoring those puppy eyes.

Obesity is Painful and Shortens Pets’ Lives

When it comes to pets, extra weight isn’t a minor health issue. It’s the difference between your pet becoming ill and having a shorter life, or living healthily and happily into her advanced years.

Some complications of obese pets have a higher risk for include:

For Dogs

  • Arthritis
  • Urinary Tract Disease and Bladder Issues
  • Liver Disease
  • Thyroid Problems
  • Torn Knee Ligaments
  • Diabetes
  • Spinal Issues
  • Kidney Disease
  • Heart Failure
  • High Blood Pressure

For Cats

  • Bladder Issues and Urinary Tract Disease
  • Chronic Kidney Disease
  • Diabetes
  • Asthma
  • Liver Disease
  • Arthritis
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Heart Failure
  • Gall Bladder Disorder
  • Spinal Issues

Additionally, carrying around extra weight does a number on your pet’s joints and mood. Pets that can’t get around don’t have as much fun.  And many studies show an increased risk of cancer and a decrease in a pet’s life expectancy - by up to two years - in overweight pets.



How Can You Tell if Your Pet is Obese?

Sometimes it can be hard to tell (or admit) that your pet is overweight. We’ve heard it all, from “he’s not overweight, he’s just fluffy” or “she’s not obese, she just has a thick coat.” Many pet parents feel guilty when their pet gets on the scale, but you should only feel guilty if you’re unwilling to try to help your pet.

So, take a moment and do a quick check to see if your pet may be a little chubbier than she should be.

Common signs that your dog or cat is overweight include:

  • Enough fat over their ribs that it’s difficult to feel them
  • A tummy that is wider than her ribs
  • A tummy that tends to hang down.
  • Slowing down and not being able to jump, run, or maneuver like they used to.

How You Can Fight the Pet Obesity Epidemic

The first step to helping your pet is recognizing that they are overweight. Still not sure if after you’ve read the list above? Give us a call.

We can work together to tailor a weight loss plan for your pet. We can look at options, including

  • Diet
  • Portion control
  • Strategies that help pet parents not overfeed
  • Treats
  • Exercise routine

Chubby Pets May Be Adorable But Their Condition Is Not

Help fight the battle against pet obesity and keep your pet in a healthy shape. Weight control can lengthen your pet’s life and improve her quality of life. It’s up to you to keep your pet healthy but we’re here to help you every step of the way. Just give us a call and we’re happy to chat about a plan during your next appointment.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

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Celebrating Our Amazing Veterinary Technicians

So much goes into the care we provide every pet and person that walks through our doors. And our mission to provide each pet with the best medical care wouldn’t be possible without our hardworking, dedicated, and compassionate team of skilled veterinary technicians.

And while we are thankful for them every day of the year, we want to take the time this National Veterinary Technician Week to show just how vital they are to our practice and the lives of your pets.

Why Do Veterinary Technicians Deserve a Week’s Worth of Recognition Each Year?

Many of our clients interact with our vet techs when they come in and don’t even realize these special women have a highly esteemed title and a very difficult job.

Jennifer, Melissa (Missy), Jessica, Britt, Travis, Courtney, and Emily are all our talented and amazing vet techs. Each of these women worked hard to get where they are and share their love and care for animals daily. They zoom in and out of rooms, greet pets, take vitals, and are often the first medical staffers you share your pet’s status with.

The week of October 13th through 19th is dedicated to showing how much these individuals do to make pets’ lives better because they deserve to be recognized for their commitment and talent.

This year’s National Veterinary Tech Week is all about action, and boy does that seem fitting. It takes action to be a skilled vet tech. And our vet techs seem to magically fly and flutter around our practice. They seem to be in more than one place at a time, and they seem to practically read our minds at other times.

So, What Makes Our Veterinary Technicians Beyond Amazing?

1. Veterinary Technicians Are the Nurses of Our Veterinary Medicine World

This means they’re on their feet all day. They work closely alongside each of our doctors to provide your pet with the best care. This may mean, holding a Great Dane still for a blood draw or explaining to a client the benefits of certain vaccines. They keep up with charts, take notes on pets, prep vaccines, and educate pet parents.

2. Our Vet Techs Face Each Challenge with Genuine Smiles

Each of our vet techs proves that there are no challenges too big to face when the wellbeing of a pet is at risk. Because a vet tech is often the first person you see in the examination room, they hear your worries and concerns. They also answer many of your preliminary questions. 

And you know what? They leave the room and chat with the doctors while remaining ready to dive into any situation we face. They never complain when procedures are laborious, difficult, or long. And we love them for that.

3. We Can’t Help But Be Reminded of Why Our Veterinary Technicians are the Best Each Day

Vet techs have stressful jobs. They often function as extra eyes, ears, and muscles. And you would think normal people would tire of the fast-paced, intense, emotional nature of their job, but we’re constantly reminded of how much they care. It warms the heart to hear them talk sweetly to a pet that feels under the weather or share encouraging words to a dog that’s a bit shy.

4. Our Veterinary Technicians Extend Their Care and Compassion Beyond the Workday

What came first: The love of animals or the career? Well, with our team of experienced vet techs, it’s obvious they are, always have been, and always will be true animal lovers. And we are so happy to watch our team grow. What should you know about our technicians?

Emily began her career as a kennel tech and loved those furry faces so much, she dedicated herself to become a vet tech. And guess what? She’s excellent at her job!

Missy has worked with animals for almost two decades and surrounds herself with her own zoo each day she leaves, here. She has dogs, cats, and chickens!

Jennifer demonstrated her dedication to helping animals in need through her work at the Humane Society and continues to do so by rescuing and caring for injured strays in her free time. 

Travis has a genuine appreciation of the value that pets add to our lives and loves working with them and their owners.

Brittany (you may know her as “Britt”) has grown up in the veterinary field. It was a natural step for her to become a tech.

Courtney grew up with a love of animals, as did all of our technicians. Her kind demeanor is a true comfort to our patients.

5. And Their Amazing Attitudes Inspire Those Around Them

It’s true that when our practice opens each day, our staff seems to gravitate to the positivity and balance of our vet techs. They tend to be the people others look toward for inspiration and a positive reminder of how much we can do for others.

Thank You to Our Veterinary Technicians and the Other Vet Techs Out There

These skilled and educated professionals are the backbone of a well-run practice. They exemplify what medical care for pets should look like. What we’re getting at is

“Thanks!” to our vet techs at Grantsburg Animal Hospital and Wild River Veterinary Clinic. We couldn’t care for pets the way we do without you.

Be sure to take the time to thank any vet techs you know this week. We know our pets benefit from their dedication, kindness, and patience.

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Fleas and Ticks are Still Here!

Don’t you wish fleas and ticks would take a vacation? Unfortunately, these little buggers are here to stay: no retirement, no vacations, not even sick days. If these pests were people, they’d deserve a promotion!

Since fleas and ticks don’t take time off, neither can you when it comes to protecting your pet. In fact, fall is the busiest season for ticks and a favorite time of year for fleas!

Ticks and Fall

Fall is a tick’s favorite season to bite humans and their pets. Why? As the weather cools off (finally), we tend to spend more time outside. We take long walks with our dogs. We enjoy evening tea with our cat in the backyard. And we tend to go on more hikes in wooded areas where ticks hang out.

And it’s not just our fault that ticks seem to tag along more in the fall. They begin feeling chilly this time of year. And until someone knits sweaters small enough, and with enough sleeves for these pesky critters, they’re going to seek warmth by hopping on warm-blooded mammals.

The cold weather also drives tick towards our toasty warm homes. This means just walking your dog in your neighborhood is more likely to result in a tick bite.

What Can You Do to Reduce the Risk of Your Pet Becoming Prey to Ticks?

Ticks carry some painful, dangerous, and disgusting diseases. From Rocky Mountain tick fever to Lyme disease, you don’t want to worry if you find a tick has sunk its teeth into your pet. There are ways to protect your pet and reduce the likelihood of her getting bitten.

1. Keep Your Dog or Cat on Tick Prevention All Year-Round

Prevention is the best route to a healthy tick-free pet. Tick prevention that your dog or cat ingests works from inside out when it comes to tick-borne illness. If a tick latches onto a dog or cat on tick prevention, that tick rapidly gets a dose of poison. This kills the time in time to prevent your pet from catching diseases from the bite.

This also kills the tick in time for it to not make you its next victim.

2. Don’t Let Small Mammals Get a Free Meal Meant for the Birds

If you have bird feeders, it’s a good time to move them further away from your house. Why? If you get rid of the vehicle, you eliminate the hitchhiker. 

The seeds birds knock onto the ground become a free meal for mice, rats, squirrels, and other small rodents that may have ticks ready to drop off right outside of your window.

3. Rake Up Fallen Leaves

Ticks like to hide in leaf litter and moist organic material. If you have fallen leaves, rake them up. The last thing you want is your dog, cat, or child walking through a pile of leaves and stirring up hungry ticks.

4. Mow Your Lawn Regularly

Another way to ensure the ticks in your area to make your yard their home is to mow your lawn frequently. This makes it more difficult for ticks to hide and less likely for them to grab onto you or your pet as you walk past.

5. Check Your Pet Before They Come Inside

Finally, there’s the age-old technique of surveying your dog or cat for ticks. These parasites often aim for warm, damp, or hidden areas. So, thoroughly check your pet’s ‘armpits,’ between their toes, in their ears, and on their belly.

If you find a tick, you’ll need tweezers to remove it. Make sure you have a good grasp on it as close to its head as possible. Don’t pinch or squeeze too tight because you want to remove as much of the tick as you can. Leaving the head can often lead to infection.

Contrary to Popular Belief Fleas Often Fail to Flee During Fall

Fleas also enjoy the fall weather. They love the moisture and dampness we experience here. Do you know what else they like? Your dog or cat’s fur coat. Why? It helps them hide better. It also gives them a sense of protection. Often, fleas find their way into the warmth of your home and refuse to leave in autumn.

What Makes Fleas Thrive in Fall?

  • Fleas can live in temperatures down into the 30s.
  • Small mammals that carry fleas come closer to homes as the temperatures drop and they bring their fleas with them.
  • Fleas can enter your home and reproduce just as rapidly as they would if it were spring or summer.

Luckily, there are some ways to reduce your pet’s exposure to fleas and prevent fleas from infesting your house. And these techniques overlap with your tick checklist:

  • Remove leaf litter and organic waste from your yard
  • Use a prescription flea prevention
  • Don’t let your dog or cat run free near where rodents and small mammals travel

Don’t Make Fall A Flea and Tick Fest

If you need to refill your pet’s flea and tick prevention, make an appointment. Don’t give these bugs a fighting chance to ruin the cool weather and beauty of Grantsburg and surrounding areas for you this fall. When it comes to bugs, prevention will save you time, money, and headaches. Protect your home by arming your pet with the right prevention.

Image Credit: Pixabay

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The Most Common Chronic Pain Issues Our Pets Face

September is Animal Pain Awareness Month! And for most pet parents, this doesn’t mean much. Their dog, cat, rabbit, or other pet seems to get along just fine. But we want to take the time to pay special attention to the hidden pains some pets face.

When we think of pain, we often think about broken bones, cuts, scrapes, and bruises. These are all forms of acute pain. But when it comes to our pets, it’s helpful to be aware of chronic pain. Chronic pain is sharp or dull pain that recurs or persists over a longer period of time.

Chronic pain is ultimately more complex because it can increase gradually and it doesn’t always have physical, apparent evidence like bruises, bumps, and cuts. Chronic pain also ebbs in severity. Often pet parents think their pet feels better just to find the same pet limping, again, a week later.

Our Pets and Pain

Our pets can mask chronic pain. And from time to time, owners aren’t aware that their sweet pet isn’t sleeping well, has trouble getting up from their bed. Sometimes chronic pain looks more like reluctance or old age. For example, a pet may want to participate and play, but they hold back due to pain. Why? Their pain slows them down or makes them withdrawal more despite the desire to engage.

What Causes Pets Chronic Pain?

Chronic pain can come in many forms and the causes can be just as varied. The most common forms of chronic pain include:

  • Joint pain
  • Cancer
  • Dental pain
  • Digestive pain
  • Skin irritation and rash
  • Urinary infection and issues
  • Skeletal issues like spinal disk slips
  • Post-surgical pain
  • Nerve pain
  • Virus related disease

Many causes of chronic pain are invisible to the untrained eye. Dental disease and discomfort can go unnoticed for weeks, months, and even years, but the throbbing discomfort often comes to light when a pet stops eating or loses a tooth. And the gradual onset of arthritis, cancer, and nerve pain hides within its slow progression. In other words, dogs don't wake up one day suffering from arthritis.

This is why we dedicated this time to chronic pain. We want you to participate in a meaningful way. How can you do that?

How You Can Participate In Animal Pain Awareness Month

Take a moment and evaluate your pet for signs of chronic pain. You see your pet every day. But how often do you take a moment to check for skin irritation or inflamed gums? Here are some basic checks you can knock out in a matter of thirty minutes or less or a few minutes daily for the next week or so.

1. Pay attention to how your pet walks. 
  • Does your pet limp? 
  • Does she seem to walk more slowly than she used to?
2. Notice how your pet lifts herself up after lying down or how she climbs stairs. 
  • Does she seem to hesitate before or while standing up?
  • Do her muscles shake or does she seem weak? 
  • Has she slowed down significantly over the past year?
3. Check for hesitation. 
  • Does your pet pause before jumping? 
  • Does she lag behind on walks?
  • Does she jump or get excited then seem to change her mind?
4. Do a quick dental check. This can be a little tougher with cats (we are happy to help). 
  • Does your pet have any broken teeth? 
  • Does your pet have swollen or red gums? 
  • How much plaque or buildup is clinging to her teeth?
  • Are her teeth discolored?
5. Assess how well your pet rests. 
  • Does your pet seem to have trouble getting comfy? 
  • Does she get up and pace or reposition herself? 
  • Does she wake frequently?
6. Check your pet’s urinary and digestive health. 
  • Does your pet strain to urinate? 
  • Is her urine dark, discolored, or show a presence of blood? 
  • Does your pet throw up or experience diarrhea often?
  • Does your cat cry out while urinating or seem to avoid her litter box?
7. Notice changes in mood or disposition. 
  • Does your pet seem more reclusive or aggressive? 
  • Did her temper seem to shorter? 
  • Does your pet seem to spend too much time sleeping?

Pain Management for Pets

Don’t let chronic pain rain on your pet’s joy. We can help your pet cope with and even overcome chronic pain to restore a better quality of life. If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, it’s a good idea to bring your pet by for an exam.

We can look in those ears to see if she’s scratching herself raw from allergies, mites, or yeast infection. We are also happy to peer deep into your dog’s mouth to assess those chompers that might make eating a painful experience.

Joint discomfort and arthritis can often be treated with NSAIDs and a diet. A quality bed can also help your pet sleep better.

But the most beneficial thing you can do for your beloved pet is to identify the source of her pain.

Let’s work together to say “Good-bye!” to chronic pain for pets. Give us a call today to give your pet the opportunity for less pain.

Image Credit: Pixabay

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