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#HappyPawlidays Pet Safety Twitter Chat Recap

Check out veterinarian Dr. Cindy Bressler’s tips on pet safety around the holidays!

The holidays can shake up our routines, and the same can be said for the routines of our pets. We recently hosted a Twitter Chat with veterinarian Dr. Cindy Bressler where she shared her tips for how to keep your pets safe during the holiday season. We’ve compiled our favorite tips from Dr. Bressler. Take a look, below:

Don't miss the #HappyPawlidays Pet Safety Twitter Chat, Wed., Nov. 19, 8pm ET w/ @wellnesspetfood & @DrCindyBressler http://t.co/O0w7lN8d2Y

Find out tips from @DrCindyBressler on how to keep your pets safe for the holidays--11/19 @ 8 PM ET! #HappyPawlidays http://t.co/uQ2hvzDTDK

How to Prevent Pet Diabetes

It’s National Pet Diabetes Month!

Diabetes isn’t just a human disease. It’s on the rise in our pets, affecting thousands of dogs and cats every year. According to Banfield Applied Research and Knowledge (BARK) diabetes more often affects cats than dogs. Diabetes typically develops in older pets, however, since diabetes is largely a lifestyle related disease, it is preventable.

Key Triggers

In both dogs and cats, diabetes is tied to obesity and age. If your pet is over 10 years old and weighs too much, he or she is at a higher risk for diabetes. To decrease this risk, you can work with your veterinarian to increase your pet’s exercise level and decrease his or her caloric intake.

Just like with people, if pets consume more calories than they exert, they will gain weight. However, not all calories are created equal. It’s best to choose higher protein foods, and many pet parents find that a grain-free pet food with natural ingredients helps prevent their pets from gaining weight. Wellness CORE recipes for cats and dogs are grain-free and provide high-quality protein sources. Because a higher-protein diet can be more nutrient dense (as well as calorie dense), you may need to speak with your vet about decreasing your pet’s portion size when you transition foods.

Some vets say that a higher protein, lower carbohydrate diet may help prevent diabetes.

What is Diabetes Anyway?

You probably know diabetes has something to do with insulin. Insulin is a hormone that processes blood sugar (glucose) so your body has energy. When your body can’t process the glucose properly, sugar builds up in the blood and urine.

This leads to an imbalance that affects the whole body, and can become very serious if untreated.

Symptoms of Diabetes in Cats and Dogs

Although cats and dogs handle diabetes differently, they can exhibit similar symptoms of the disease:

-Increased thirst/increase in water consumption

-Weight loss

-Lethargy

-Vomiting

-Change in appetite

Many of the symptoms of diabetes in pets can mimic other diseases, so if your pet exhibits any unusual behavior, it’s best to take him or her to the vet promptly.

Although a serious disease, if the vet determines that your pet has diabetes, it can be treated effectively with medication, diet & lifestyle changes.

Why Adopt a Senior Dog?

When you adopt a Senior dog, you get all the benefits of a sweet, doggie companion without any of the headaches of potty training, chewing and mess-making so common to puppydom. Your senior adoptee will likely be well-mannered and will make an easy transition to your home.

In honor of Senior Dog Month, Wellness shares three good reasons to consider saving a senior pup:

1-      Their maturity makes them easy to train and they’ll settle in quickly.

Senior dogs have years of experience living with humans and many of them can easily adapt to a new environment—including one with kids and other pets. Many of them are already housebroken so you can skip that phase.

2-      They like to lounge – A senior dog will not require the hours of exercise a puppy needs. A few short walks a day and your senior is good. The rest of the time, he’ll be happy to lounge in a comfy spot.

3-      What you see is what you get – You already know how large the dog is and the temperament is easy to size up. There will be no surprises later.

Soon to be empty nesters, those with a less active lifestyle and dog lovers who’d simply enjoy having a dog lay by their feet can all benefit from adopting a dog entering his or her golden years.

At What Age are Dogs Seniors?

Veterinarians say 7 years old is the standard, however, there is a bit of leeway depending on the breed/size of the dog. Smaller dogs are considered “senior” at an older age while large breeds could be “seniors” at age 6.

Why Do Great Dogs End Up at the Shelter?

Pet shelter staff say many of the reasons pets end up there have nothing to do with the dog. Rather, dogs sometimes end up at the shelter due to a life change experienced by the pet owner. Pet owners may move or take another job and they don’t think they have time for the dog anymore. Pet guardians may also become unable to care for a pet as they get older or fall ill. There are multiple reasons a dog may be up for adoption that have nothing to do with the dog’s disposition.

Many senior dogs have a lot of life and love to give. Check out these adorable senior dogs, up for adoption.

Celebrating Senior Pets

Of course they say that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks (which we don’t believe) but you can celebrate your senior pets this month with some good old fashioned awareness and appreciation. Our older pets have a much closer spot in our hearts, as they have lived alongside us through different stages and journeys in our lives. If dogs could talk, imagine the stories they would tell! November draws focus to our beloved older companions with Senior Pet Month, and this month we have some great tips for caring for the oldest members of our pet families.

New Habits

Bathroom Breaks
Just like people, elderly animals require more frequent trips to the bathroom, and it’s important to recognize that as your pet gets older, he may be less and less likely to alert you to the fact that it’s time to go NOW. With your dogs, be aware of changing bladder and bowel function, and adjust your walking schedule accordingly. And with your cats, be sure to keep the litter box clean to account for increased use. For both cats and dogs, be sure to alert your vet to any significant changes such as constipation, diarrhea or an increased urgency to urinate.

Behavioral Changes
In their younger years, Fido and Fluffy may have been bursts of energy, racing after toys or running circles around the yard. As they grow older, their need for play may lessen and their behavior in general could change. Once outgoing pets could become more quiet and need more time to themselves, or on the flipside, quiet pets may suddenly need your attention more and more. Understand that, just like us, gaining in years can sometimes make our buddies tired, grumpy or anxious. Be patient with your friend and understand that sometimes he’s just feeling his age.

Dietary Changes

Packing on the Pounds
As pets get older, their metabolism can slow and they can start packing on the pounds. Senior pets need you now, more than ever, to pay attention to the ingredients of the food going into their bowls. Even if your pet is just a little husky (and I don’t mean Siberian!), it’s up to you to modify the type and portion size of their food. Luckily, dedicated pet food experts have worked for years to develop tasty offerings that help manage your pet’s weight. Selecting the  best food for your pet doesn’t have to be complicated, and you can always ask your veterinarian for guidance on your pet’s diet.

Fiber and Other Needed Nutrients
Regardless of food type, as pets age, more fiber should be added to their diets to help regulate their digestion. Bran, apples, and even pumpkin can all add a powerful punch of fiber in your pet’s food, and this added boost of fiber will help ensure proper digestion, decrease risks of certain types of cancer, and encourage weight loss, among other benefits.

New Health Focus

Feeling it in the Joints
Arthritis can set in fairly quickly for our senior pets, and the discomfort it can cause can change a pet’s entire daily routine. Some dog breeds are more prone to joint or bone problems in later life, so it’s important to know what is to be expected with your particular pet. Upon seeing the first signs of joint stiffness, it’s a good idea to increase the intake of certain joint-friendly supplements, like fish oil or glucosamine, both of which can be found in certain types of foods and treats as well as in oil or pill form.

Dental Care
As pets grow older, more attention must be paid to their dental care. Offering toys that promote cleaner teeth is a good place to start, along with regular brushing and plenty of access to fresh water. With bi-annual veterinary visits, your vet can alert you if it’s time for a full cleaning, or if there are any issues that require stronger attention, such as an abscessed tooth.

Vision and Hearing Loss
Cats and dogs may experience some vision and/or hearing loss as they age, so it’s important to have the veterinarian check your pet’s eyes during each visit. If you or your vet determine there is sight or hearing loss, you can make proper adjustments to ensure the safety and comfort of your senior pet, both at home and outside the house.

Comfort

Sleeping Arrangements
Your beloved little buddy may have always slept on the foot of your bed, but pay attention to what he needs now and make arrangements for him to have restful nights in his older age. Many pet care companies now make orthopedic bedding specifically for aging pets, so do some research on what type of  bed can provide your pet the most comfort at night.

A Little Help, Please
Dogs that have always been allowed on the couch or bed, or even invited along for rides in the car, may have more difficulty now getting situated in their normal spots. Sporting dogs who have always jumped eagerly into the back of a truck may now find it difficult to make it past their front paws. Placing steps or ramps in typical places of entry can help your dog feel at home in all his favorite places, no matter how tired his bones feel that day.

Our pets are our friends, companions who have stayed true to us through thick and thin. And now, as they are growing older, it is our responsibility to provide them with the proper care and courtesy afforded to any respected elder. Take good care of your buddy and keep him for as long as you can and he will love you his entire life.

Ask Wellness: November 2014

What would you recommend for dogs with tear stains?
There are many reasons for tear stains around the eyes. Diet does not seem to play a role. Some breeds (short nosed breeds) have a higher incidence of stain around the eyes. Irritation (infection, long hair touching the eye, dust and dirt etc…) can cause excessive tearing, clogged tear ducts, eyelids that turn inward are a few of the causes.
It is always best to have your veterinarian check your pup and determine the cause so an effective resolution can be determines.

Q. What do you recommend for dogs with tear stains?

A. There are many reasons that dogs have tear stains around the eyes, however, diet does not seem to play a role. Some breeds (short-nosed breeds in particular) have a higher incidence of stain around the eyes. Irritation, infection, long hair touching the eyes, dust and dirt in the eyes can all contribute to excessive tearing, clogged tear ducts and, in turn, tear stains. We recommend that you have your dog examined by your veterinarian to narrow down the cause of the tear stains and determine an effective resolution to the issue.

Wholesome Thanksgiving Ingredients for Your Pets

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and with the arrival of this beloved holiday comes thankfulness for the year behind us, the arrival of relatives to join hands around the table, the football rivalry that makes us not want to join hands around the table, the Thanksgiving Day parade that never ceases to entertain, and the cornucopia of delicious Thanksgiving foods that seem to make their grand appearance only once a year. While you are enjoying your own Day of Thanks this year, don’t forget about the four-legged members of the party who have set up camp under the dining room table, just hoping that something wonderful makes its way from your plate to their tummies. While most table foods are not recommended for your pet’s health, there are several delectable harvest foods that are not only tasty to your pet, but healthful as well!

Pumpkin

The Benefits
Pumpkin is not only an appetizing treat for your pet, but also a very healthy one to offer. A great source of fiber, pumpkin is a natural promoter of healthy digestion, which lends itself to the overall energy and vitality of your pet. Proper digestion is also a powerful aid in weight management, which can help prevent a whole host of other health problems down the road.

This colorful harvest symbol also helps with urinary health, as the natural oils in both the skin and seeds has been shown to increase urinary functionality. The seeds also promote healthy skin and coat (perfect for our pets with allergy problems!) Pumpkin is also a powerful source of Vitamin A, Beta-carotene, potassium and iron, attributing to longevity and cancer prevention.

Serving Suggestions
Fresh pumpkin is, of course, the best source for serving, but canned pumpkin also packs a hearty punch as well. It can be mixed in with dry food or given as a treat, and many pets find the flavor irresistible. Keep in mind that pumpkin can act as a laxative if too much is given, so consult with your vet about the quantity your four-legged friends can have on Thanksgiving. For a ready-made pumpkin treat your pet can’t refuse, try Old Mother Hubbard Soft Bakes with Carrots and Pumpkin, perfect for busy chefs in the kitchen or families on the go for the holidays.

Cranberry

The Benefits
The delightful red berries make their way onto many a Thanksgiving table, and luckily they can also find a place in Baxter’s bowl as well! Cranberries are rich in antioxidants and Vitamins A, B1, B2, C, and just as they do for humans, they also promote good urinary health and can aid in the prevention of urinary tract infections and bacterial growth. By lowering the pH, cranberries make urine more acidic, which makes it harder for bacteria to grow, and cranberries also have at least two known agents that work to prevent bacterial growth.

These potent berries have also been found to reduce the incidence of bladder stones in dogs, as well as the development of Idiopathic Interstitial Cystitis in cats. If your pet has a history of urinary tract infections or otherwise bothersome urinary problems, these delicious red berries and their juice can be given as a very healthy supplement.

Need another reason to serve cranberries to your beloved pets? These little magic charms also work to prevent the formation of plaque on your pet’s teeth, containing powerful flavonoids and plyphenols that help protect your pets sensitive chompers.

Serving Suggestions
Avoid giving cranberry salad or other sugary versions of this healthful food. Many stores also carry ‘cranberry juice’ that is a very sugary version of an otherwise healthy drink. To serve to dogs, offer organic cranberries as a whole fruit, or mix in organic cranberry juice with food or water. The bitter taste may ward off the more sensitive pallets, so be wary that this healthful food may be served better if mixed with food or other treats.

Sweet Potatoes

These festive orange spuds have been a favorite of Thanksgiving-celebrators since the beginning of the holiday, and there’s no reason why your pet shouldn’t also be served a helping as well! Sweet potatoes, in plain, unseasoned form, have been recommended for pets for years to soothe a sensitive or upset stomach, or even just to offer a filling, healthy food that goes easy on those who have are ill or have recently undergone surgery.

Considered to be one of nature’s nearly perfect foods, sweet potatoes, or yams, are an excellent source of potent antioxidants that aid in healing, the prevention of cancer and easing the effects of aging. Sweet potatoes contain vitamins A, C and B6, as well as the minerals manganese, copper, and iron. They are also an excellent go-to for dietary fiber, preventing loose stools in for pets with upset stomachs.

Serving Suggestions
Sweet potatoes can be found as an ingredient in wholesome dog food or can be served whole to pets after baking. They can even be sliced thin and baked to make crispy, chip-like treats. Some of the best dog treats even combine two Thanksgiving favorites: sweet potatoes and, of course, turkey.

There’s no reason your pets can’t participate in the Thanksgiving festivities this year, and luckily, many of the items on your holiday shopping list can also find their place in Fido’s bowl. Be smart about ingredients, including any added sugars or flavorings, and always consult with your vet if you have any questions. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Take some time this year to let your pets know just how thankful for them you are.

How to Celebrate National Pet Wellness Month

Life can be pretty busy; between work, school, family obligations, community involvement and all the other activities that pile up on a to-do list, it can be easy to let our attention to our pets’ wellness fall by the wayside. October is National Pet Wellness Month, a nationwide educational campaign backed by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and dedicated to reminding us how important our pets’ health really is. In these last few days of October, find some time to assess your own pets’ health and happiness, as well as how you can make some changes to improve the overall quality of their lives.

Pet Health

Your pet’s wellness starts with good health, and just as we try to make healthy choices in our everyday lives, we must also make good choices in regards to our furry companions.  Proper healthcare, good diet choices and the right amount of exercise and play can make all the difference in the wellness of our pets.

Annual Exam and Vaccinations
Imagine going years without seeing a physician. Hard to picture, right? Our pets age at a much faster rate than we do, and each passing year of our own lives equals several for Rover and Fluffy. It’s important to select the right vet and mark your calendar for yearly examinations to make sure that your pet is as healthy as can be. Proper vaccinations can protect your pet from common pet ailments, and keeping an eye on your pet’s internal wellbeing, through taking blood and fecal samples annually, assures your pet is living exactly as he should. Senior pets should visit the vet twice a year to make sure their bodies are in top shape, paying special attention to their dental health and blood test results.  Remember: our pets are not able to tell us when something isn’t right, so trust the opinion of a veterinary professional to guide decisions involving your buddy’s health.

Spay and Neuter
Spaying and neutering your pet isn’t a new idea, but did you know that only 10% of animals brought to shelters have been spayed or neutered?  It’s critical to protect your pet and prevent even one more pet from ending up in an animal shelter. And not only does this inexpensive medical procedure prevent unwanted pet pregnancies, it also has health benefits for your pet, including significantly reducing the kinds of cancer to which he is susceptible and reducing aggressive behavior and the desire to roam. And if nothing else, consider the cost; spaying or neutering is less than the cost of raising a litter of puppies or kittens.

Thoughtful Diet Choices
Proper diet and nutrition is at the very heart of health for people, and the same rings true for our beloved pets. Spot doesn’t have an opinion on the food placed in his dog bowl, and he’s trusting you to make the right choice when it comes to quality ingredients and nutritional value. Have you ever read the ingredients list on your pet’s food? It can be pretty scary, considering the amount of food produced with artificial ingredients, fillers and questionable by-products. Would you want to eat that? Certainly not! Look for quality ingredients that focus on health benefits, such as:

  • Live Active Probiotics
  • Omega 3 & 6 Mix
  • Essential Vitamins & Minerals
  • Fruit & Veggie Antioxidants

Your buddy is depending on you to make the right choice, so stock your pantry with pet food that is not only delicious but healthful.

Exercise and Play
A sedentary lifestyle in  humans has been proven to cause obesity, diabetes, many types of cancers and a whole slew of other illnesses that can be avoided with adding physical activity to daily life. The same is true for your pets, so it’s crucial that they are receiving adequate playtime and proper exercise.  Set aside time each afternoon or evening, and even make this a time to exercise together. Go  for a walk around the neighborhood or a jog at the park, or if the weather is nice, take your buddy for a swim at the beach or lake. Throw a ball, play tug-of-war, or even play a game of hide-and-seek with your canine companion.

The cooler fall temperatures help prevent heat exhaustion during outside play, but as the temperatures continue to drop, be creative with indoor exercise.  You may have to throw a tennis ball down a hallway about five hundred times, but at least you know your buddy is getting the exercise he needs.

Pet Happiness

Don’t discount your pet’s happiness in his complete wellness profile.  Just as depression and anxiety in humans can cause a string of physical ailments, so can these conditions in our pets. To be a true pet parent and responsible caregiver for your pet, you must consider his emotional health as well. Set aside time each and every day to spend with your pet. Play a game of fetch, let your pup ride with you to run errands, cuddle up on the couch for a movie or make time on a Saturday for some grooming TLC. Your dog notices when he’s being ignored, and spending too much time away from home every day isn’t fair to your pet. Most pets like to be around their people, and when their whole world is wrapped up in you, you have to be there for them.  Put it on the calendar if you have to, but mark off some time for your pets.

Your pets depend on you to make good decisions involving their wellness, and that includes paying attention to their health and their happiness.

Does Your Pet Have Seasonal Allergies?

If you’re someone with seasonal allergies, you may be used to the influx of uncomfortable symptoms that arrive with the changing of the leaves in autumn and the sprouting of the grass in the spring. What you may not know is that it’s possible for your dog or cat to experience environmental allergies as well. Like us, pets’ allergies tend to flare up during the changing seasons. Below, Wellness veterinarian Dr. Al Townshend delves into this topic, answering some of the most common questions pet parents have about allergies in dogs and cats.

Q. Why can a pet’s allergies become worse in the fall or spring months? What environmental factors are at work during these times?

A. There are higher levels of environmental allergens in many parts of the country during the fall and spring months. In the fall, many common weeds such as Ragweed and Goldenrod are pollinating. Mold allergies can also arise in the fall as leaves and compost piles accumulate at the end of the growing season. In the spring, the majority of plants are producing pollen. Reactions to these allergens can be exacerbated by the dramatic shifts in temperature and moisture levels occurring during the changing seasons.

Q. What are some of the symptoms of seasonal allergies in dogs and cats?

A. The symptoms of seasonal allergies are very similar to those of food allergies and commonly include intense itching and scratching, hot spots, runny eyes and nose, sneezing and dry and flaky skin and coat.

Q. Is there a way to distinguish between environmental allergies and food allergies in pets?

A. It can take some experimenting to determine the main cause of your pet’s allergies. The big difference between the two types of allergies is that food allergies will occur for as long as a pet is on the food that she is allergic to, while environmental allergies are typically worse at certain points throughout the year.

To narrow down the type of allergy your pet has, keep a record of the pet’s symptoms. Make note of any symptom changes that coincide with changes in diet or season. If your pet’s food remains the same but her itchy skin only occurs in fall and spring, you’re likely dealing with an environmental allergy. If your record shows that your pet’s allergy symptoms are consistent year-round, we recommend working with your vet to try a different food (Wellness Simple Limited Ingredient formulas may help) or remove one potential environmental allergen. Although most environmental allergies are seasonal, some can occur year-round. Allergies to perfumes, feathers, cigarette smoke, flea & tick control products and even certain fabrics have been reported in pets. Whether testing for a food or environmental allergy, be sure to test one variable at a time and allow a few months for results as it can take that long for the immune-response to subside once the allergen is removed.

Q. What are some of the steps pet parents can take to remedy pets’ seasonal allergies?

A. If you determine that your pet has seasonal allergies, there are some steps you can take. Most seasonal allergens are difficult for dogs to completely avoid, as keeping them inside all the time is impractical. However, you can:

-Keep windows closed when environmental allergens are at their highest concentration

-Give your dog or cat regular baths with a mild cleanser which washes away allergens clinging to the coat

-Wipe paw pads down when your pet comes in from outside.

-Dispose of decaying leaves (in gutters, yard, etc.) promptly to reduce mold growth

-Change your car’s cabin air filter regularly

If your pet’s seasonal allergies are still significant after taking these steps, your pet may need medication to control the symptoms.

With a bit of observation and experimentation, you can get your pet’s allergies under control and help her feel more comfortable all year long.