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The Wellness Blog

Curious Kitties – Exploring a New Environment


Keep your kitten safe from common household items.

Spring is a popular time of year when people welcome new kittens into their home. If you’re one of those lucky folks who are expecting or recently welcomed a new addition to your family, be sure to consider the likelihood that your kitten’s curiosity will be invoked by the introduction of a new environment. It is important to anticipate your investigative friend may find his way into items that are not suitable for contact. Some items may be more obvious than others so take the time to examine your kitten’s surroundings closely and remove any potential risks. Create a list of important phone numbers that you may need to reference in case of an emergency. Numbers should include your local vet hospital, emergency clinic and animal poison control hotline. Here are some items to be sure to keep our of your kitten’s reach.

1. Human Medications – Human medications were one of the top calls received by the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center in recent years. Pain killers, cold medications and other prescription or over the counter medications have various toxicity levels and should be stored in a place where pets cannot get to them.

2. Chocolate – This beloved human treat can make pets ill. It can contain high levels of fat and methylxanthine. The darker the chocolate, the higher the potential for clinical problems, which can include vomiting, diarrhea, panting, increased thirst and urination, arrhythmias, and tremors/seizures.

3. Lilies and other Toxic Plants – Lilies in their entirety are toxic to cats and have been linked to cause kidney failure. While only parts of other plants can be considered toxic to cats, it is recommended to research your household plants and remove any that may be considered harmful to your pet.

4. Antifreeze – Whether from a leak or a small spill while refilling, most brands of antifreeze consist of 95 percent ethylene glycol, an extremely toxic chemical. As little as 1/4 of an ounce (1-2 teaspoons) of this sweet-tasting liquid can prove to be fatal to a cat.

5. Easter Basket Grass & Holiday Tinsel – These shiny, stringed decorations are especially attractive to kittens. They are often played with and eaten and can cause intestinal obstruction or act as a linear foreign body.

Prepping Your Pup for Outdoor Activities

Black dog

Be sure to inspect your yard and always practice proper pet etiquette.

Warm air is finally upon us, which means you and your pet will likely be heading outdoors for some fun in the sun.  Here are some important things to consider when preparing your dog for time outside, particularly following the winter.

The Great Outdoors

Before you let your nosy hound explore all that your yard has to offer, make sure you take a walk around to inspect for any potentially dangerous items. New plants may have recently pollinated your yard so it’s important to keep your pets away from any that could be harmful. Take care to remove or fence off any hazardous plants, such as lilies, azalea, and rhododendron to name just a few, that your dog may be able to access. You should also check your yard for choking hazards, this particularly applies to young puppies or especially curious dogs that are apt to chew on items they shouldn’t. Small sticks, stones or pieces of bark should be removed from your pet’s reach.

A Stroll in the Park

When taking your dog to a local park or other public area, always be respectful and aware of necessary pet etiquette. A dog taken to a public area should always be leashed, unless the rules for the area are otherwise. Given the likelihood that your pet will encounter other animals and people, it is beneficial for your dog to be trained in general obedience and important commands such as stay, sit, and down. You’ll want to reward your pet for their social excellence so be sure to have some snacks on hand, like Wellness® WellBites® to help keep your dog motivated. Having a well-trained pup will help keep these social encounters positive and enjoyable for all of those involved. 

Day Trips

This time of year is a great time to take your dog for longer day trips, be it hiking, a trip to the beach, or a day of exploration. It is important that you plan ahead and pack appropriately for yourself as well as your pet.  Make sure you pack an adequate water supply, a drinking bowl for your dog, food and/or snacks, a collar and leash. Other items such as toys, bedding or blankets, a shade mechanism and pet-first aid kit are also helpful items to have on hand if needed. Just as we see with humans, if your pet has been fairly lazy during the winter months, you’ll want to build up their stamina gradually. Steadily increasing the distance of walks or hikes will help your pup increase his or her endurance to these various activities. As you embark on various journeys with your pet, keep a close eye on their condition to ensure your pet is enjoying the activity and is not at a point of exhaustion.

Post-Play Clean Up

Whether your pet is playing in your own backyard or taking a long hike, a thorough inspection and cleaning should be performed after their time outdoors. This includes cleaning any dirt or build-up from the dog’s ears and paws, as well as checking the dog thoroughly for ticks (if applicable to the area in which you live).

Following these simple steps for safe outdoor play will help keep your dog healthy and happy, and make the outdoors all the more enjoyable for you and your pup.

May Ask the Vet

Dr. Moser

Dr. Moser

This month, Dr. Moser answers your questions about choosing the right food for a dog with SARDS and a dog developing fatty nodules.

Q: We have a 10-year-old daschund that has Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome (SARDS) and is also excessively hungry. We are feeding her Complete Health® Super5Mix® Just for Seniors, but it is hard to keep her satisfied and keep her weight down. Any suggestions?

A: Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome (SARDS) causes loss of visual function in any breed of dog; blindness results in days to weeks. The cause is still being investigated.

Before the onset of permanent blindness, the dog may exhibit clinical signs similar to Cushing’s disease (hyperadrenocorticism) increased food and water intake, urination and body weight.

When you go to the veterinary clinic for follow-up; have your vet measure the body weight and estimate the body condition score.  Then, based on examination findings, a program can be established to help control body weight.

Don’t free choice feed (leave foods out all the time); rather feed a premeditated number of calories per day in a meal fashion– two to three times per day.  This increases digestive function and satiety.

Here are 3 feed management suggestions for a 15 pound dog (desired weight) that needs about 350 kcal of energy per day:

#1  Feed 1/3 cup of Just for Senior dry kibble three times per day.   (340 kcal)

#2   Feed ½ x 6 ounce can of Senior Recipe wet food in the morning. (90 kcal)

       Feed ½ x 6 ounce can of Senior Recipe wet food at noon            (90 kcal)

       Feed ½ cup of Just for Senior dry kibble in the evening.              (175 kcal)

#3  Feed 1/3 cup of CORE® Reduced Fat kibble three times per day. (350 kcal)

Monitor your pet’s progress by measuring the body weight twice a week.  Adjust the caloric intake depending depending on the desired effect on body weight.  Encourage your dog to exercise by going for a daily walk.

Q: My lab eats Wellness® Large Breed Adult Health, is 9 years old and has begun to develop fatty nodules.  Is there a special food to prevent and reduce fatty deposits?

A: A lipoma is a benign fatty tumor commonly found subcutaneously in overweight dogs.  They should be evaluated by your veterinarian.  Many times a “watch and see plan” is adopted; you measure the lumps monthly and record the results to monitor change; then discuss findings with your vet at the next wellness exam.

Adipose (fat) tissue was historically thought of as inert storage of energy for later use.  Current research has shown an important secretory role for adipose tissue.  Adiposites (fat cells) have the ability to release high levels of chemical mediators called adipokines.  Adipokines influence appetite, energy intake and expenditure, satiety, insulin responsiveness, and inflammatory response.  In addition to interference with movement and structure, lipomas are metabolically active and can impact overall health.

There is not a special “low lipoma” diet but since your dog is probably overweight, you should discuss a weight reduction program during your veterinary appointment.  Walk your dog onto a scale at the clinic and get an accurate body weight.  With the vet’s help, learn to assign a body condition score.

Also, measure how much food and treat calories (energy) the dog eats every day.

Because weight loss is desired, decrease the current total amount of Wellness Large Breed Adult Health dry kibble and treat calories offered by 20% daily.  One 8 oz. measuring cup of Wellness Large Breed Adult Health kibble contains almost 340 kcal.  Feed small frequent meals (three daily) of measured amounts of food.  Do not free feed and use treats sparingly.

Keeping your pet active will also help achieve weight loss goals. Walking your lab regularly and encouraging active play can help your pet get fit and stay fit. Be sure to weigh your pet frequently so that you can monitor progress and continue to adjust the diet as needed.