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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.

Top Dog and Cat Gifts for the Holidays

Regardless of whether your cat or dog has been naughty or nice, we know you’ll want to spoil them during the holiday season. Below, we highlight our top dog and cat gifts. Our suggestions for Fluffy and Fido will keep all of you happy during this busy time.

Top Picks- DogClassic-KONG1-700x700

KONG Classic–We love the holidays, but they can certainly shake up our routine (and our pets’ routines too). During the holiday season, your pets may experience added stress from guests in the house, or they may get an upset tummy from indulging in too many table scraps. The KONG Classic can help alleviate both of these issues, and it makes a fun gift for your pooch! The natural rubber, USA-made KONG Classic is bright red and super-bouncy. It helps distract and engage stressed dogs by bouncing unpredictably, and it can be filled with healthy treats such as Wellness® WellBites® to curb excessive snacking. KONG Classic comes in many sizes and rubber strengths.

Wellness® Petite Treats Soft Mini-Bites With Lamb, Apples & Cinnamon–Smaller breed dogs have unique needs, even when it comes to treats. product-lg-dog-treat-petite-treats-lamb-apple-cinPetite Treats come in plenty of tasty flavors (we selected a holiday favorite with apples and cinnamon) and are bite-sized for smaller mouths. They are perfect to take on the road during holiday travel.

Top Picks- Cat

Kitty Scratch Pole–As you probably know, cats like to scratch. In fact, scratching is a way for cats to mark their territory, stretch, and “file” their claws.Untitled-1They typically scratch in highly visible areas, marking their territory on the drapes, carpet or sofa. You can avoid shredded furniture by strategically placing one or more scratching posts in the house. However, not all scratching posts are created equal, and the USA-made Kitty Scratch Pole proves that. Made from sustainable wood and recycled cardboard, this eco-friendly scratching post is designed with a refillable cardboard center. We love that when your kitty shreds the cardboard past recognition, you can just pop on a new cardboard piece (sparing the reusable base from the landfill).

Wellness Pure Delights Turkey & Salmon Jerky–Us humans get to sample some of the most delectable dishes during our end-of-the-yearproduct-lg-cat-treat-pure-delight-turkey-salmon festivities, and we all know ignoring the cat doesn’t work. Rather than share human food that might make your kitty sick, give her a few of the scrumptious, USA-made Wellness Pure Delights Turkey & Salmon Jerky treats. Pure Delights are wheat and grain free and contain no corn or soy! These perfectly-sized morsels will satisfy even finicky felines, while keeping calories in check with only 1.2 calories per piece.

We hope you have a wonderful holiday!

How to Pet Proof Your Living Room for a New Puppy or Kitten

It’s fun to bring home a new puppy or kitten. You can cuddle them, introduce them to family members, post pictures on Facebook and spoil them silly!

What’s not fun is when they chew something they shouldn’t—remote controls, shoes and  window blinds come to mind. Puppies and kittens are naturally curious. They’ll explore the nooks and crannies that even your vacuum may not have seen lately, and they’ll learn about new things by putting them in their mouths.

So, how do you pet proof your home? Each room will require a slightly different strategy and in this post we’ll focus on your living room. It’s a good idea to take some time before your new furry family member arrives and give your home a critical eye.

5 Steps to Pet Proofing Your Living Room

1) Pick up shoes and stow them in a closet or bin. Puppies are notorious chewers, but kittens may find shoelaces irresistible too. Plus, without house training, they may find shoes to be excellent places to “mark” their territory. Yuck!

2) Remove breakables. It only takes a swish of a tail or a bat of a paw to knock your porcelain or other fragile knick-knacks off tables or mantles. Not only will you be left with shards of glass to clean up, but Mimi could step on them and get cut.

3) Pick up children’s toys. To prevent pets from potentially choking on smaller pieces, store action figures and building toys in a box with a lid when playtime is over.

4) Identify and research your houseplants. Many common plants and flowers are poisonous to pups and kittens so they could get sick from gnawing on the petals or leaves. You may want to swap any questionable plants for safe ones, or store certain plants in a room with a closed door.

5) Give your new furry friend a soft cushion or pet bed in your living room. Your pets want to be with you and they’ll appreciate a cozy place nearby to call their own.

What pet proofing tips have you’ve gained from experience? Do you have a photo of your pet lounging in his or new digs? Share them on our Facebook page!

5 Must Have Travel Accessories for Dogs and Cats

If you plan a summer or fall road trip with your pets, you know you need to do more to ready your pet than simply toss Max or Fluffy into the backseat. It takes a little preparation.

First, you’ll want to establish that your destination is pet-friendlythere’s nothing like showing up at your hotel 7 hours later with Max in tow to be told there are no more pet friendly rooms.

Cat car travel

Of course, you’ll also need a few other items as well. Here’s a list of travel necessities:

1—Restraint – Just as you use your seat belt when in the car, your pets should be secured. This prevents them from becoming projectiles if you are in an accident.

There are many options available today from harnesses that work similar to seat belts to traditional pet carriers. Which is best for your pet?  It’ll depend on factors like your pet’s temperament and comfort level with riding in the car—and, how much space you have. If your car will be full of kids and luggage, putting Fluffy in a carrier may be your best option.

2—Food/Water/Dishes – Be sure to pack enough food for the trip and bring a water supply for your pet. You’ll need dishes too. If you make a pit stop and realize you don’t have a water bowl, it can make for a little unnecessary complexity. Collapsible travel bowls pack well.

3—Comforting Items – Even if your pets are good travelers, they will feel more content with familiar items such as their favorite toy, or an old towel or shirt that smells like home.

dog-travel-car


4—Cleaning Supplies/Alternate Carrier
– Some pets are nervous travelers and may have an accident in their carrier. If this happens, you can minimize your pet’s discomfort by pulling over and cleaning out the carrier or swapping it for an alternate one.


5—Favorite Treats
–Your pets already appreciate their favorite treats. They’ll be very happy that you remembered to bring them!

Enjoy your travels!

April 2013 Ask the Vet

Q: I have two questions. I am feeding my Golden Retriever Wellness® Complete Health® Super5Mix® Large Breed – Adult Health recipe. I give her one cup in the morning and one cup in the evening. Is this the right amount?  Like most Golden Retrievers, she gains weight easily. Also, I’ve been told that rotating foods occasionally is good for them. Do you agree?

A: To determine the amount to feed a dog:  get an accurate body weight on a scale (your vet will have a walk on scale), then consult the feeding guide on the package to get a suggested starting range.  Start conservatively.  Feed multiple meals per day if possible.

Wellness Large Breed Adult dry food contains 336 kcal per cup, so in two cups that is 672 kcal per day.   If that amount maintains activity, body weight and body condition score at desired levels, then that is the right amount to feed.

Canine dietary rotation among complete and balanced diets is fine.  To help avoid unwanted weight gain when switching foods, carefully keep the total daily caloric intake constant.  Note that calories per cup are not the same for all foods—rather the number varies widely.

Q: I currently feed CORE® Grain-Free Ocean Formula due to my dog’s allergies. However, he is now six years old. Is it still OK to feed the same food to an older dog?  At what age should I start looking at other formulas?

A: CORE® Grain-Free Ocean Formula is a great food for older dog maintenance.  If the dog responds well to this food, there is no reason to switch to a senior low protein type diet.

12lb Small Breed Adult Health Dry Dog Food

At Wellness, your complete satisfaction is always our top priority. Only the best tasting, most nutritious food will do for our furry family members. With that in mind we want to let you know that we have discovered that a small amount of our 12lb Small Breed Adult Health Dry Dog Food with the “Best By” date of August 18, 2013 did not meet our high standards. A small batch of the product with this specific date code was found to be higher in moisture than our recipe calls for. High moisture may cause food to mold before its expiration date, but poses no health risk.

We want you and your pet to be completely satisfied, so we are asking those who may have this limited supply of food to contact us for a replacement. No other dates, bag sizes or recipes are affected. Thanks for your support of Wellness, and we apologize for any inconvenience. If you have any questions, please call us at 1-800-225-0904 between the hours of 8am and 5pm eastern time, Monday through Friday.

October 2012 Ask the Vet

Q: My one year old border collie/husky mix is on Wellness Super5Mix Just for Puppy Recipe Dry Dog Food. When should I feed him adult Wellness and what would be good for him?

A: Now is a good time to switch from a Wellness puppy diet to a Wellness diet directed at the maintenance of an adult dog. Most veterinarians recommend switching when the puppy reaches about 80% of anticipated adult body weight or at 1 year of age.

Within the Wellness line of natural dog foods you have choices; Complete Health Super5Mix, CORE Grain Free, and Simple Limited Ingredient Diet. Canned and dry foods are available for all of these recommended Wellness dry dog food recipes. Remember each dog is an individual and response to diet will vary from dog to dog. Try different products and monitor the response; coat and skin softness and sheen, activity level, the presence of a small amount of firm stool, etc.

Score your dog on weight and body condition monthly to evaluate the amount of food you are offering. If the dog is too thin—feed more; too fat—feed less. In addition overfeeding can result in soft stools. Remember– when a dog is neutered, there is a decrease in the daily energy needs of individuals by as much as 25%–you will need to feed less.

Feed adults at least two meals per day— don’t free choice feed.

A great diet to try on your dog would be Wellness CORE® Ocean Grain Free Recipe Dry Dog Food.

Q: My cat seems to have trouble chewing and sometimes drops her food out of her mouth? Should I be concerned?

A: I would recommend making an appointment with your veterinarian for a complete physical exam with emphasis on the head, neck and oral area. Trouble chewing may be a warning sign of dental disease or enlarged lymph nodes. Be sure to check your pet’s teeth frequently and look out for warning signs such as bad breath and bleeding gums. Talk to your vet about dental health for your cats as a preventive measure to help ward off future dental issues.

Keeping Your Pet Safe This Halloween

Halloween is a fun time filled with witches and ghosts. The holiday can be festive and enjoyable for your pet as well. However, you do need to take some necessary precautions to keep your pet safe on Halloween. The following are some tips to ensure it is a happy and safe holiday for both you and your pet:

• No treats for your pet. While it may be tempting to share your Halloween loot with a beloved pet, the candy may actually be very harmful. Many candies contain an artificial sweetener, xylitol, which can cause serious medical problems if eaten by pets. And, of course chocolate is very dangerous for dogs and cats. Instead purchase a special treat designed specifically for animals so that your pet can enjoy the holiday right along with you.

• Ingesting decorative plants can cause your pet to have an upset stomach. While non-toxic, pumpkins and the decorative corn that we often use for the holiday can cause stomach irritation when nibbled by pets.

• Costumes only for willing pets. Let’s face it, the pet costumes are difficult to resist. However, dressing your pet in costume can be a disaster and a struggle. For those pets that are resistant to wear a costume, don’t push the issue and you and your pet will both have an enjoyable holiday. If you do to choose to go the pet costume route and the pet is compliant, make sure the costume does not restrict the animal’s movement. Pet costumes also should not restrict hearing, seeing or the ability to vocalize. Also, ensure that the costume has no dangling parts that your pet could get caught on, leading to injury.

• The ongoing line of trick-or-treaters can become too much for even the most docile pet, as stranger after stranger comes to the door. This can be frightening and induce stress in your pet, so consider putting your pet in a separate room, away from the door.

Following these simple tips will keep your pet safe and happy this Halloween.

September 2012 Ask the Vet

This month, Dr. Moser answers your questions about changing your pet’s food and converting a cat’s food to all canned products.

Q: Is it okay to switch from Wellness® Super5Mix® Chicken Recipe to Wellness® Super5Mix® Whitefish & Sweet Potato Recipe or does that need to be over a course of 5-7 days?

A: It is always a good idea to introduce a new diet to a pet slowly–over about a week–gradually decreasing amounts of old food offered, while increasing the new. Even though many diets look “similar”, they often have different protein and fat content or a different ingredient addition rate, indicated on the label. Conservative feeding management will avoid many unwanted cases of gastrointestinal upset (vomiting and diarrhea).

Q: I would like to convert my cat to an all canned food diet. Would it be okay for my cat to only eat wet food and what is the best way to go about doing it?

A: It is fine to feed exclusively complete and balanced feline canned food to a cat. Wellness® Complete Health Canned Recipes for Cats are available in 10 delicious varieties to suit the differing taste buds of our feline friends. Some kibble fed cats will easily start to eat canned food, others may be resistant. Most cats can be switched to a moist food if the change is made gradually; some cats may take up to a month. Moist food is often offered as an additional option in a second dish next to the dry food. As the cat will consume the moist food, the dry food is reduced to induce hunger. Do this by dividing the daily amount of food into several small meals (at least four) offered for a limited time only— not in a free choice feeding setting. Patience is the key.

Wellness Cubed, Sliced and Minced cat cans are 100% grain-free and contain no added artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. For each delicious recipe, Wellness has paired succulent cuts of wholesome, all natural protein sources like chicken, turkey, salmon and tuna with delightfully savory sauces that are sure to please the palate of even the most finicky feline.