January 29, 2013

Pet Health: How You and Your Pet Can Stay Fit With Winter at Your Door

Filed under: Cat Weight Loss,Dog Weight Loss — Tags: — 1st Pet Naturals @ 11:00 am

Pet HealthWinter is in full swing. The chilliness and crisp air makes it difficult to not only get into shape, but to stay in shape. With the excuse of, “it’s the holidays,” long behind us, we need to look to the future… the summer. This means getting you and your pet fit. Here are five easy ideas for you to stay active with your pet until the spring rain washes your winter blues away.

Escape your house. Find the right time to take your pet out. Would it be easier to go out in the mornings or after work? Set aside time and establish a routine that works for you and your pet.

Never let the cold get to you. Dress warmly. Not only you, but your pet as well. It will make your trip outside a more comfortable adventure. For those who are fortunate to enjoy warm temperatures all year round, well lucky you, there should be no excuses for the cold.

To jog or not to jog? Not all of us can run marathons or even run around the block without getting tired (I know I can’t). Instead,  find other activities besides jogging, that you can do with your pet, such as a walk or a hike. Hey, why not even have a snowball fight?

Outré? Think extravagant (that’s what outré means in case you are wondering). Getting out and exercising with your pet can be fun, but it depends on your attitude about getting active. If you’re happy and enthusiastic, your pet will be too. Being active doesn’t have to be too serious. Remember, your pet can sense the way you are feeling, and how you feel affects them; so get excited and have fun. Being active doesn’t have to be serious.

Yawn or Yawl. Make it fun. If you and your pet are tired, stop! Exercising is suppose to energise you and your pet. Keep daily activities short, sweet, and fun so you don’t yawn and your pet doesn’t yawl.

Go out and enjoy yourself and remember to be safe. If you feel like you cannot get rid of your winter blues, worry not, summer is on the way.

January 16, 2013

“Red Rover, Red Rover” – We Call Clean Doggy Over

Filed under: Dog Grooming — Tags: — 1st Pet Naturals @ 7:22 pm

grooming your dogWe are recommending DIY dog grooming as a supplement to professional dog groomers – not as a replacement.

Dog groomers put your pet at ease, shampoo and dry with trained efficiency, cut with style, and take on the difficult task of nail trimming.   They also are pet lovers, and have a keen eye for health issues that they pass on to the pet owners.   If you can only afford one grooming per year, let it be the first spring grooming.   You dog will welcome the season with gusto in the hands of a professional!

As much as we love and recommend professional groomers, some pet owners simply can’t afford to pay for professional pet grooming as often as it is needed.  For example, some dogs need weekly grooming, as certain dogs tend to be a magnet for mud.   Here are some tips to ‘pretty up’ the pooch between grooming visits:

Buy a dog grooming kit at the pet store or online.   Be sure to get a kit that is suitable for your dog’s length of fur.

  • Pay a lot of attention to your dog prior to the grooming.   Most dogs should be brushed every other day, so that’s a good place to start.  You can use cornstarch to loosen up any matting.  If you brush regularly, there will be less and less knots.  Cut out any mats that cannot be combed out.
  • Remove any discharge from your dog’s eyes.  If the fur is stained, you can use tear stain remover (can be picked up at any pet store).
  • Wash your dog.   (You will need them to be free of mud, twigs, etc.)  If your dog has long hair, you can move to the cutting phase next.   If your dog is a short-hair, just dry with a towel and you are done.  You can use a blow dryer, but it’s not necessary.
  • Always cut in the direction of your dog’s fur.  It’s important to use slow, even strokes.  If you move faster than the blade can cut, your pet will end up with a choppy look.    One technique is to brush the coat up, and then clip the ends.
  • Use small scissors (groomer’s) to trim between your dog’s toes.   Cleaning up this fur will help keep your pooch from slipping on the floor.
  • Clip your dog’s toe nails. It’s critical that you are very careful, and just trim a little at a time.   If clipping your dog’s toe nails makes you uncomfortable, start by just trimming a tiny bit, and then use a dremel to file them down.
  • Finish up with a treat and lot’s of love!  (Don’t talk about or show the treat before the grooming is complete – dogs are not know for patience!)

We have purposely not addressed the issues of ear cleaning and teeth today.   A dog’s ears are very sensitive, and cleaning can be traumatic for them. Teeth cleaning is very important to your dog’s health as well.   Our holistic vet, Dr. Loridawn Gordon will address these issues in the next couple of weeks.   Please refer to her blog.

As a reminder, do use a groomer from time to time if you can afford it.   They have wonderful, gentle cleansers, are “plugged in” to pet issues and products, and are keen to share their knowledge with their pet loving clients.

January 10, 2013

11 Tips to Help Your Pet Lose Weight with Diet and Exercise

Filed under: Cat Weight Loss,Dog Weight Loss — Tags: — 1st Pet Naturals @ 7:21 pm

Diet and exercise for dogsYesterday we promised to give you some tips to help your Fat Pooch with his/her pouch!  So, we’re going to talk about the dreaded D & E – Diet and Exercise!!

It can be hard to determine if your pet is actually overweight, particularly if your dog is of a heavier set breed.  So ask your vet to do an evaluation of your pet’s height and weight.  Your vet should be able to recommend an ideal weight for your dog at each stage of development. Generally, up to 15% above the optimal weight is considered overweight, and over 15% is considered obese. And, just as you should do for yourself, weigh your pet regularly – once per week or once per month.

While some breeds are more prone to obesity than others, it’s generally us, the owner, that is making our dog fat!  We just can’t resist those puppy dog eyes!!  Below are some key points to consider, beginning with Diet.

  • Keep track of everything your dog eats throughout the day. This includes treats, snacks, biscuits the kids and neighbours give him/her!
  • Try reducing portions.  Your vet may be able to make a recommendation as to how many calories your dog needs to lose and then maintain an ideal weight.
  • Ask your vet about diet dog food.  Look for one that is high in fiber – it will help your dog feel full more quickly.  Introduce it slowly – mixing in small portions with the regular food at first – and gradually increasing.
  • Treats and snacks are o.k. – just don’t overdo it.

Now on to Exercise. It’s common knowledge, and research shows, that when pet owners exercise with their dog, they tend to stick to the program.  And, the benefits of exercise for both you and your dog are numerous!

In addition to burning calories (which helps with weight loss), increased stamina, lower blood pressure, improved muscle tone and bone density, exercise also helps lower the risk of depression and common behavioral problems.

There are several ways to add exercise into your dog’s daily routine – walking, jogging, hiking, cycling, swimming, roller-blading….or simply playing fetch.  You can even set up your own agility obstacle course at a dog park or playground.  Use the benches or some small logs, the swings, teetertollers, and some soft-weight balls or Frisbees to throw around.  Be creative!

Here are some suggestions to keep you on track with your exercise program:

  • Set realistic goals , considering other commitments and obligations in your life such as work, family, etc.
  • Try and set aside a specific time of the day.  Particularly in the summer months, it’s important to run during cooler times of the day, as a dog can’t cool itself down by sweating.
  • Ease into an exercise program with your pet. Begin slowly, and gradually increase your speed, distance, intensity.   And, just like us, pets need a warm up, cardio segment and cool down.  A 5-minute warm-up, followed by 20-30 minutes of cardio, and then a 5-minute cool-down is sufficient.  You can increase the cardio time as you and your pet get fitter.
  • Hydration (lots of water) is important before, during, and after your workout – for both you and your dog.  Short-faced breeds are more susceptible to dehydration, as they tend to not be able to pant efficiently.
  • Modify yours and your dog’s workout if necessary.  Even older pets, or pets with health issues such as lung, heart or inflammation can still exercise with you, with a modified workout. For senior dogs especially, exercise increases strength and flexibility.
  • How do you know if you’re exercising too hard, or not hard enough?  You should be breathing hard, but able to carry on a conversation, and your dog should be panting to some degree.  However, you should not be totally out of breath, and your dog should not be panting excessively.
  • Both you and your dog should consult a health professional before beginning any exercise and diet plan.  Your vet can address any underlying health issues with regards to your dog.

So, the key here is to be aware of what, when and how much you’re feeding your pooch, and find physical activities which you and/or your family can enjoy with your pet!  Trust me, you will be rewarded by how great you both feel…and look!!!

January 9, 2013

Is Fido fat?

Filed under: Dog Weight Loss — Tags: — 1st Pet Naturals @ 5:58 pm

Dog FoodWe all want our best dog friends to be with us for as long as possible. So, we have to ignore those loving eyes and wagging tails when it comes to being a pushover to pooch.

The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention released their 5th annual survey in 2012, and found 53% of adult dogs and 55% of adult cats are overweight, or worse yet, obese.    And yes, that adds up to 88.4 million fat pets.

One of the biggest concerns to veterinarians, is that most pet owners are not aware that their dog is overweight.   In fact, overweight dogs are becoming so common that it’s hard for pet owners to recognize.    Paunchy dogs are the new norm.   Extra weight on your dog puts them at risk for health conditions, particularly relating to heart, respiratory, and skeletal.

Here is a checklist to determine if Fido is fat:

  • Does your dog have a big belly?    Look at your dog from a side view.  A dog’s belly should be tucked up behind the rib cage.
  • Your dog’s fur likely makes it difficult to visually examine their rib cage.   Put your thumbs on your dog’s spine and let your fingers feel his rib cage.   Can you feel his ribs?
  • Look at your dog from above, while he is standing.    There should be a waistline – an indentation between ribs and hips.
  • Does your dog’s stomach sag?
  • Can you feel your dog’s backbone or is there a layer of fat over it?

Did you determine that there is cause for concern with your dog’s weight?    If so, tomorrow we have some suggestions for 2013 to be a year of enhanced health for both you and your furry best friend!

January 8, 2013

What if your cat is a FAT cat?

Filed under: Cat Weight Loss — Tags: — 1st Pet Naturals @ 7:36 pm

Persian CatAfter reading yesterday’s post and going through the recommended checklist, you may have determined that your cat is overweight. Today we’ll give you some pointers on what you can do to prevent this from happening in the first place, as well as some suggestions on how to get your fat cat back to a healthy weight.

As in humans, diet and exercise go hand in hand. Your pet’s daily exercise has to be in sync with how many calories they consume.  Here are some tips for you and your pet:

  • Try not to overfeed your cat.  Not all cats will self-monitor their diet. In the case of an overweight cat, you will need to take action and limit their calories. (You may need to consult your vet to determine the recommended daily calories for your pet.)
  • Serve your cat 4-6 smaller meals throughout the day, rather than filling up their food bowl whenever it’s empty.
  • Ensure your cat is drinking plenty of water. (When their food bowl is empty, they will most likely go to their water bowl.)
  • Check food labels to ensure your cat is getting the proper nutrients for its age and size.  Limit human food and cat treats.
  • Exercise your cat by playing games with them. Incorporate actions with toys with which you can mimic a cat’s normal prey – such as birds, mice, other small rodents.  Any small object which rolls across the floor like a mouse or bug will get a reaction out of your pet.
  • Create interest by switching it up with 2 or 3 different games at each play time.
  • Play with your cat as often as you can – several times a day if possible, and vary the toys and type of play so they don’t get bored.

Just as we should with our own diet and exercise program, it’s best to consult a professional, in this case your vet, before you begin.

Remember to implement these changes gradually for your pet, and allow a reasonable amount of time to see results.  And, don’t give up….before you know it, both you and your cat will be reaping the benefits of a healthier lifestyle!

Check out Wednesday’s post to see if your dog is a hog!!

January 7, 2013

“Your Cat is Ssssooooo Fat” is Not a Joke

Filed under: Cat Weight Loss — Tags: — 1st Pet Naturals @ 11:03 pm

overweight catToo often in North America, fat cats are looked upon as funny or cute.   Imagine watching a Discovery Channel program on North American Wildcats, when on camera a tubby bobcat, a portly puma, or a flabby lynx appears.   It just does not happen.   Felines in the wild are not fat.   Why?   … because their caloric intake matches their exercise output.   Domestic cats that are overweight eat too much and exercise too little.   Obesity is the number one health problem experienced by domestic cats in North America.

Is your cat tipping the scales?  Here is a checklist of how to tell if your cat is overweight:

  • Does your cat have a big belly?   This is a belly that bulges out.  (Many cats have loose skin called a doolap – do not be concerned about a doolap.)   You are looking for tummy fat.
  • Run your hand along the side of your cat to feel its ribs.   There should be a thin layer over the ribs (a slight fat pad), but the ribs should not protrude.
  • Look at your cat from above while they are standing.   There should be a waistline, an indentation between ribs and hips.    Ideally, an hourglass physique.
  • There should be flesh on your cat’s hips but not excessively.
  • There should not be any fat pads on your cat’s shoulders.

If your cat is overweight, help is on the way.   Stay tuned … over the next two days we will provide suggestions to lower your cat’s weight.    Remember, they have this problem because their caloric intake is out of sync with their energy uses.   Diet and exercise suggestions for cats are on the way.

If your cat’s health is fragile, please consult a vet before embarking upon a diet and exercise plan.

Stay tuned … tomorrow we will provide suggestions to lower your cat’s weight .

Disclaimer: 1st Pet Naturals is an education resource, and all information herein is strictly for educational purposes. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure disease, nor is it meant to replace the (prescribed) treatment or recommendations of your veterinarian or healthcare provider. Always inform your veterinarian or healthcare provider of any products that your pet is taking, including herbal remedies and supplements.