Most of us start the year by making New Year resolutions. Sometimes they revolve around health, self-progress and overcoming challenges. As we work on our resolutions this year we should make some for our pets. Of course, it would be easier if our pets could tell us what they want to improve. They may say losing weight, healthier skin and coat, conquering allergies or having a bright shiny smile. Even though we cannot understand our pets verbally we can see weight concerns, signs of distress and potential gum diseases. These are all challenges that you and your pet can conquer in the new year with the help of your vet, your determination and your pet.
In my opinion losing weight can be one of the hardest challenges to overcome but the results in the end will leave you with a pet that has a new playful and vibrant personality. The steps to losing weight take a lot of determination and time. Here are the key points…
If your pet falls into the overweight range in the chart below, then the first step is to make a veterinary appointment to form a plan to help your pet lose weight. You may question why you can’t just put your pet on a “weight management” hard food/soft food diet and take them for a walk every day. Well, this is because each pet is different just as we as humans are different and may struggle losing weight even with the fab diet plans. Your vet will be able to calculate a daily calorie intake based on your pet’s breed, size, age and exercise availability. An approved weight management hard/soft food will be prescribed or suggested with a safe exercise plan that will change as your pet’s weight falls off.
It is not safe for animals to lose weight drastically in a brief period so at weekly weigh-ins you should expect to see a small weight lose each week with them losing 2-3 pounds a month for smaller animals and 3-4 for larger animals. You should see signs of less sleeping and more activity as well as less begging for food and an overall happier attitude.
Who doesn’t strive to have flawless skin and shiny hair? We all do! Beauty isn’t only for us, as our pets physically and I am sure mentally feel better looking like the studs and princesses that they are. In my household the past few months we have been working hard to clear up the skin of a stray we found that has decided to make herself at home with us. When we found her, she was missing lots of hair and her skin was covered in scabs and wounds. Instantly we gave her a bath with oatmeal based shampoo and conditioner. Oatmeal based bath treatments help provide moisture back into the skin as well as soothing it. As with anything that we give our pets it is important to pick a shampoo and conditioner that is of higher quality. My favorite bath products are TropiClean. I was introduced to this product many years ago when I worked at a grooming salon and since then I swear by it. They have many different treatments based on your pet’s needs.
After her bath we started her on a skin care diet plan. We choose to go with Blue Buffalo Limited Ingredients lamb and potato that helps promotes healthy skin and coat. As a supplement to help jump start her healing and hair
growth she is on a salmon oil-based treat. Salmon oil-based supplements are great every day vitamins that can be used for animals that are struggling with their skin and coat or animals that already have immaculate skin and coats. You will find that there are many of these supplements offered online. Before choosing one look at the ingredients and reviews from actual buyers. On Amazon verified purchasers will be labeled as so on their reviews. Look at the most recent reviews as well as doing your own research. It is essential that the ingredients say wild Alaskan salmon and not farm raised. Real wild salmon has the nutritional benefits that are raw and natural compared to farmed raised which are often filled with processed nutrients.
It has been 3 months since we found the stray that we now call Phoebe and her skin condition has almost completely cleaned up and her hair has come back in very thickly. We will continue to keep her on a skin care diet plan for some time even after her skin has cleared up. This will ensure that no conditions pop back up.
Allergies are by far the most frustrating resolution to take on but is a must for pets suffering from them. It is important to understand that diagnosing some allergies can take some time and others may be quick. Finding out the allergy your pet has may surprise you. For example, my cat Alex is allergic to seafood. Who would have thought that a cat is allergic to seafood? Determining his allergy took some time. The first step we took was contacting the vet to be sure it wasn’t something serious in his gut. They had us put him on a bland diet that consisted on grain free hard food to see if he was allergic to corn or any other grains. When this didn’t resolve the issue, we talked to a veterinary specialist at NC State College where they suggested taking him off seafood as many cats are allergic to it. The change in him within the first week was amazing. He no longer was in constant pain and spending most of his time in the litter box.
Alex was an easier case then some with determining his allergy. Every vet is different with their study to diagnose a pet’s allergy. As mentioned the first step is to reach out to these vets. They will often try at home solutions that entail a change in the diet. A change in the diet will take 4-6 weeks for it to fully be in the pet’s system so improvements may take this whole time. If a change in the diet doesn’t work, then I would ask your vet to refer you to a veterinary dermatologist as this is the quickest way to get some answers. A veterinary dermatologist will assess the allergy and typically take blood work and run allergy tests. Once the allergy is determined a treatment plan will be made with follow up visits. For most pets they will overcome their allergies within a few months.
Oral dental disease is common in both cats and dogs as they get into their older ages. Since our pets cannot brush their teeth food fragments often stick. Over time gum gingivitis forms causing immense pain and potentially going up into the gums for more serious problems. Pets that are having tooth pains can become aggressive and refuse to eat. This can all be prevented with the right oral hygiene formula.
As puppies or kittens and in their younger years pets have clean white teeth. Some of this is related to them being more playful and chewing on bones or catnip toys that help act as a floss to their teeth and cleaning them. As your pet hits middle age, they calm down more allowing for food to stay on their teeth. This is often when the vet will recommend teeth cleaning at their yearly checkup.
Surgical teeth cleaning should be done yearly for most pets that do not have an at home regimen. This procedure requires the pet be put under while the vet cleans their teeth, gums and checks for any concerns. While this may be the best solution for some people it can be prolonged and spread out over years by using at home hygiene products. These products should be labeled as approved by The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC¬Æ) which awards a seal that shows acceptance to products that successfully meet preset criteria for effectiveness in controlling plaque and tartar deposition in dogs and cats. These approved products can be found on the following websites: http://www.vohc.org/VOHCAcceptedProductsTable_Dogs.pdf http://www.vohc.org/VOHCAcceptedProductsTable_Cats.pdf
Most of these products can be used on pets that are 6 months or older. It is recommended to start oral hygiene at 6 months to help prevent any future problems as well as protecting their new adult teeth. Hard food should as well be a part of their daily diet as it rubs against the teeth helping to clean them as the pet chews. Remember that nothing is worse than a tooth ache for us so help prevent your pet from having one.
These are just a few examples of what a pet’s new year resolutions might be. Not all pets will even need a preventive or needed change in their daily lives. For those pets think about their personalities and what they enjoy. If you have a very playful dog, make it a priority to take them to the dog park once a week. For dogs that aren’t fond of other dogs go for a few walks each week to get them out of the house that they are in 24/7. Cats can be less time consuming for us. Cats take care of their nails by scratching them against surfaces. If your cat scratches your furniture get them a cat tree. Work with them on training to get them to scratch the tree with the use of catnip spray. Your cat will enjoy their new scratch posts and have a spot to call their very own.
If your pet does happen to fall under one of the resolutions that we talked about you can find out more about the individual topic by going to our blog page on the website and finding the blog that is titled for your concern. We will also be doing a blog devoted to veterinary dermatologists in the next few months to come.
It is never too late to make a resolution so have a “chat” with your pet and look them over. If you see some concerns make a veterinary appointment to address them and stick to a plan of action and results will surely follow.