First of every month marks my monthly pet check-up. Why the first you might ask? Well, it is easy for me to remember. I do my monthly invoices on the first, I pay my credit card bill, the month changes and it is one of those tasks I always do on the first of each month.
All pet owners know that even a low maintenance pets need some care. When it comes to cats and dog they need much more attention than a fish or a turtle for example. There is quite a lot of things which need monitoring and checking up on, on a regular basis.
I have a list (kept safe in my head) which I run through during my monthly pet check-up.
This is related mainly to Lilly. She has a weight problem, so my monthly check-up on how she is doing is a must. There is a great body condition tool on the Purina website, which can be a tremendous help for any dog owner.
Skin, coat and nails
This one is especially important for Bunk. He gets hot spots and despite petting him daily sometimes they get missed. A full body check-over of the skin is a necessity for me. This also applies to our cats. They aren’t happy with the check-ups but I simply need to know if they are all ok.
As for nails – I don’t trim nails myself but I monitor them monthly and take the dogs to the groomer or vet if needed.
This is also the best time for some preventing treatments. I treat all my pets with Frontline in order to keep them tick and flea free. The treatment is easy and as long as you have the correct product from your vet, you can easily do it at home. You can read more about fleas and ticks here.
The first of the month is also the time when my dogs get their ears cleaned. No matter if they are dirty (they shouldn’t be) or not, they get cleaned. Keeping your dogs ears clean is very important as an untreated infection can lead to a hearing loss 🙁
I buy an eye cleaner for my dogs. In most cases it is used if / when needed. Bunk is a very messy pup and from time to time things get into his eyes, things like his dinner for example. Then he rubs his eyes with his paw, making the irritation even worst. A few drops of eye cleaner and a cotton wool pad and done, shiny healthy eyes.
Smelly breath isn’t nice. We have a no kisses policy anyway as standard behaviour in the house but as bad breath can suggest something more serious is going on with your pets health I like to check if their breath is still acceptable. At the same time I have an opportunity to check their teeth and gums; this is how I know that Lilly needs a trip to the vet dentist for some fang cleaning.
This is our standard monthly routine. Every three months I am adding some worming tablets to the mix just to keep things on the safe side.
So we are now just over three weeks into the challenge and I only have one dog left in the running.
My big boy is out.
Just after I posted my last post, I began to notice a few hot spots returning on Bunks skin. I am not absolutely sure if this is the foods fault but I am not going to take any chances. He was eating a grain free food before the challenge and his skin problems were almost none existent… but then it was also summertime and therefore there was much less moisture in the air… so who knows… anyway he is out and I am getting him back onto his old food or to be specific on a senior version of it.
So this is leaving me with only Lilly who is still following the advised food regime.
Last Wednesday we went back into our local Pets at Home store for a check-up. To our huge surprise and confusion Lilly had put 2kg on yet she looks much slimmer. Both her visual and hand examinations showed a lot of improvement – she has one more rib “sticking out” just as she should have… yet she is heavier… The only answer we could come up with for this strange development with the lovely people from Pets at Home was the fact that muscle is heavier than fat… so maybe she has lost some fat and gained some more muscle…
As it was just us girls out shopping, we stopped at the groomers and Lilly had her nails trimmed. Normally we do it at the vet… clip, clip… down on the floor… few minutes and all is done. At the groomers it was a totally different story. Lilly went onto a proper grooming table… for the first time… I think she was a bit scared but she kept a happy face 🙂 She was nicely secured and the trimming began. I was tempted to check her weight again afterwards but I guess that a nail trim wouldn’t make a lot of difference.
Lilly runs a lot more these day; especially since Friday, as we have Barnie staying with us again. The extended exercises are doing her good and she looks much healthier. She likes her new food, but I am not sure if she isn’t a bit hungry…
So you see picking the right food isn’t so easy. Like I said before I do not necessarily blame the food for Bunks skin problems, after all he is prone to hot spots, though it is a little coincidental that the new hot spots started just after the new diet started and thus if the food is indeed aggravating it, it is time for a change… again…
Have you ever had or have a pet with any food related health problems?
Do you feed your pet grain or grain free food?
If you feed a grain free diet I would love to hear your recommendations.
Joint problems aren’t limited to humans only; animals suffer from them as well. They can cause your pet to feel uncomfortable and even pain. As responsible pet owners we are supposed to do all we can to prevent this from happening; it is however, and most importantly, much easier than dealing with the consequences later on if we don’t.
So, what can cause joint problems in dogs?
Age – The older your dog, the more chances there are he or she will suffer from this condition.
Breed – large and giant breeds have to support more weight and are much more prone to joint problems than smaller dogs. This is why it is very important to think about the future and start protecting your dog as soon as possible.
Weight – Overweight dogs, a growing (no pun intended) and serious problem here in the UK, have a much greater chance of developing joint problems than their slim cover-girl friends. Remember, you can really hurt your dog with love. That extra sausage given as a treat just for being sooo cute will go straight to their hips.
Accidents – Unavoidable usually, but is your house safe from slippery floors or heavy things knocked over with an excited tail?
Infections – Significant reductions in the chance of this occurring can come from a good diet and exercise.
Genetic predispositions – Check out the parents if you can especially if you dog is a “mutt”. If it’s a pure breed then the breeder should be able to give you some history and advise you on the likelihood of problems in the future.
These are some of the main factors that play a big role in our beloved pets potentially developing joint problems.
Can we prevent this from happening?
Of this I am not sure. I am tempted to say no, but I believe that we can greatly reduce the chances of it occurring just by following some basic steps.
Knowing what can cause joint problems and knowing what to do in order to minimise the chances of it happening will help give your pet a better life and potentially save you and your pet a lot of problems in the future.
When we got Bunk, we knew what sort of breed we were getting, we were aware of the increased chance of problems it might hold for us in the future and yet we still got him. We started then and still do try our best to give both him and Lilly the best chance of a pain free life in the years to come.
So what can we do to prevent or minimise joint problems in dogs?
Just as with humans it can be argued that diet is very important, if not the single most important factor in determining what if any health problems we will incur in the future. A lot of people don’t really pay too much attention to what they are feeding their pet, often subconsciously driven by a marketing campaign created to make profits not the best for your pooch, which is a really scary thought. We have to pick the right food for our dog. It is extremely important that they eat what’s right for them and that the food contains all the necessary ingredients. When picking the food, do your research. Do not just pick a random pack from the shelf in the store because it is on offer! Make sure that the food is balanced and that it contains glucosamine and chondroitin, both of which help protect the joints. If you have the time, skills and willingness you can always cook something special for them, like jellied pigs trotters 🙂
Whilst we are on the subject of diet I would also recommend adding some fish oil. Research shows that it can reduce joint discomfort as well as promote healthy development. Fish oil contains omega-3 & 6 fatty acids that have greater benefits; it benefits their skin and coat, it improves the immune system, decreased inflammations, helps with energy levels, reduce risk of heart problems etc etc… Fish oil is not expensive, it will not break your bank and it will give real benefits to your dog.
As stated above the more overweight the dog, the greater the chance of developing joint problems. Keeping your dog slim is extremely important, simply because their weight affects so much more than just joints. I featured a post about Pet Obesity some time ago, so please read it if you want to know more on the topic.
Regular exercising of your dog is a must. Walk your dog as it will encourage movement and the flexibility of the joins and help them stay in better condition for longer. It also stimulates their minds and is their natural state which helps in a holistic way, It will also help with weight control. But like with everything in life moderation, exercising has to be done in moderation; too much or too little isn’t going to benefit your dog in fact it will be most unbeneficial.
Swimming is highly beneficial for dogs as it doesn’t put any pressure on their joints and helps them relax. I am not suggesting that you have to take your dog to hydro therapy but if you have the sea, a lake or even a stream nearby and your dog likes to get wet, let them. Yes, I know it might not be ideal at times, your dog is all wet, your house stinks like a wet dog, your dog needs a bath… very time consuming but highly beneficial.
Imagine how you would feel after an 8 hour long night on the cold hard floor, this is how your dog feels every morning, afternoon and evening. Dog beds are not just an aesthetics exercise, they are necessity! Every dog needs to have a good dog bed. Something warm and comfortable, large enough so he or she can stretch and roll over if desired but most important it has to offer a good lever of support for their joints, back and body, something like this Scruffs Hilton Orthopaedic Bed.
Sleeping on the cold hard floors of modern households is not natural, they are designed to sleep on the soil or grass which has some give and retains the bodies heat; something our tiles and wood veneered floors cannot offer, as such they are not ideal and not recommended. I know that sometimes it is hard to get your pet to sleep in the bed, but this is one of the reasons why people started dog training. Buy a good dog bed for your pet and make them sleep in it. Or if you own a dog like our Lilly you can take the easy quick option and sacrifice your own bed through the day and evening for he own personal use…
I am done. This is my list.
I would love to know if there is anything else you would add to it.
*Lilly and Bunk received 1 bottle of Salmon Oil and a new bed from Pet Shop Bowl.
When you decide that it’s time to introduce a pet into your family’s life it’s easy to get caught up in discovering all the cute little things they do. One aspect that many people overlook is the potential expense that an unexpected trip to the vets can cost. With vets’ fees rising sharply, the average single pet insurance claim now costs more than £600.*
Luckily, here in the UK we have the NHS to rely on if we fall ill or have an accident but our furry, scaly and feathered friends are not so lucky and when they need medical attention veterinary treatment can be very expensive. Accidents can happen to anyone, at anytime and having More Than pet insurancewill give you peace of mind that those costly unexpected bills are taken care of.
Nobody likes seeing their pets unwell, so making sure that yours stays as healthy as possible is one very easy way to avoid going to the vet.
Here are 3 simple tips to keep your pet in tip top condition.
Collisions with cars can cause horrible injuries to animals and a simple way to prevent them is to always keep your dog on a lead when you go onto the street or near a road. Cats are creatures of habit so only let yours out into your back garden rather than letting them out of the front door towards the traffic.
Home Check Ups
As the temperature drops at this time of year, take the time to make a regular check of your pet’s paws and pads. Winter grit and salt are two of the biggest culprits for small cuts and grazes which can easily become infected. Both cats and dogs will always try to clean their own wounds but sometimes they will only irritate them further and can result in an upsetting appointment with the vet.
A Healthy Diet
Providing your pet with a healthy balanced diet is essential for them to get all the nutrients that they need and it is the very least that any responsible owner should do. It’s nigh on impossible to monitor everything that they eat when they’re off their leads in a park or put out for the night but while they’re under your control make sure that they’re eating the right amount of wholesome food. Another way to ensure your pet is having a well balanced diet is by making the food yourself rather than buying it from stores.
Do you have any tips on how to keep your pet healthy?
UK pet industry calls for clampdown on overfeeding,
to improve lives of our loved ones
Today, three in four (77%) vets believe pet obesity is on the rise. Despite pet obesity being a potentially life-limiting condition, new research by the Pet Food Manufacturers Association (PFMA), principal trade body for the UK pet food industry, reveals two in three (63%) owners feel more important problems face their pets.
Vets consider the root causes of pet weight gain to be owners not following feeding guides (72% re cats, 60% re small furries and 28% re birds), treating with leftover food (78% re dogs) and insufficient exercise, particularly for cats (46%), dogs (44%) and small furries (35%).
Zara Boland BVSc BE MRCVS, Founder of Vet Voice Ltd says: “Overweight pets, like humans, can suffer from a myriad of health issues such as osteoarthritis, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. There is nothing ‘cuddly’ about an overweight pet. Obesity is a disease in itself. It causes discomfort and illness that can result in both emotional distress and financial pressure for owners, and it has also been proven to reduce actual life length. We must continue pushing the pet health message until overweight pets are no longer an increasing and widespread concern.”
PFMA’s ‘Pet Obesity: Five Years On’ research arrives five years after its previous report, allowing pet owners and professionals to see how the needle has moved, gauging whether Britain is winning regarding pet slimming. New findings show that although pet owners’ awareness of pet obesity has improved, cause for concern remains – while vets feel up to 45% of all pets they see are overweight (45% of dogs, 40% of cats, 28% of small furries and 15% of caged birds), two in three (63%) pet owners believe their pet is the correct weight.
The vast majority (93%) of pet owners say they would be concerned to discover their pet is overweight, yet only one in three (37%) know how to check this, indicating that existing tools and guidelines are simply not getting enough cut-through.
PFMA is calling for pet owners to resist overfeeding and excessive treating, both heavy contributors to pet obesity – currently, two in three (68%) pet owners do not follow professional guidelines when deciding portion size, with 30% taking a cavalier approach relying on instinct. This needs to change.
Vets advise that treats should be fed occasionally and be taken into consideration at meal times, reducing the regular pet food ration accordingly. Whether consisting of dried, moist or a mixture of these foods, a daily diet suited to a pet’s life-stage and adhering to professional feeding guidelines is the best way to ensure pets receive optimum nutrition. Worryingly, nearly half (48%) of owners are feeding pets treats more than twice a day, unknowingly putting them at risk. One in three (36%) pet owners are using ‘human’ food to treat, but such treats are often unsuitable – some healthy human food treats (such as vegetables for dogs) are suitable, but others can be too high in fat and sometimes toxic (such as chocolate, onions and grapes).
As with humans, supporting diet with exercise is key in tackling pet obesity. Vets recommend exercise of at least 30 minutes twice daily for adult dogs, forty minutes daily for cats (particularly indoor cats) and four hours daily for rabbits – although the level of exercise required for any pet will also depend on its age, breed and health. Owners should always seek vets’ advice on this, as – for example – certain dogs may need longer, more vigorous walks. Encouragingly, nearly one in three (31%) owners currently provide up to an hour’s exercise a day, though there is a serious shortfall for rabbits and birds (with 69% and 78% of their owners believing no exercise is necessary, respectively).
HELP AT HAND
Three in four (78%) UK vets are running obesity clinics with high success rates (49.5%). All vets welcome questions from owners about their pet’s weight and will offer guidance on how best to stay on track. In addition, extensive pet weight management resources – including Pet Size-O-Meters and details of PFMA’s annual Weigh in Wednesday initiative – are available here. Further inspiration can be found and shared on the #GetPetsFit campaign Facebook page.
Taking its latest pet owner and vet findings into account, PFMA suggests that controlling portion size and monthly weighing or measuring are priority for any owners wanting to prolong and improve their pet’s life.
Michael Bellingham, Chief Executive of PFMA says: “All the tools are in place for pet owners and pet care professionals to better pets’ lives together – now is the time to use them. We need to engage pet owners emotionally, helping them realise that feeding and exercising their pet to optimum level can result in an extra two years of active life. To help spread the word about ideal pet weight, PFMA will launch a #GetPetsFit campaign in May this year. A host of pet experts are drawing the community of Teddington together to change its pets’ fortunes – watch this space.”
The Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association (PFMA) is the principal trade body representing the UK pet food industry, its 70 members accounting for over 90% of the market. PFMA aims to be the credible voice of a responsible pet food industry. While striving to achieve a balanced regulatory environment for the production of nutritious and safe food, PFMA also encourages responsible pet ownership working in partnership with relevant pet bodies. It aims to be the main resource for its members, general public and others as well as playing a lead role in forming opinions in Europe through the European Pet Food Federation (FEDIAF). For more information visit www.pfma.org.uk.
*This is an official PFMA press release – Pet obesity five years on from Thurs 13 Mar 2014