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5 Tips to Help an Overweight Pet

Just like humans, pets can become overweight and experience a wide range of health concerns related to the extra pounds. Not only does the extra weight exert extra stress to bones, joints and ligaments, but an overweight pet is also more at risk of developing diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, increased blood pressure, thyroid problems, heat intolerance, difficulty breathing, lower stamina, decreased liver function, increased surgical/anesthetic risk, reproductive problems, digestive disorders, decreased immune system, increased cancer risk, skin and hair problems and decreased life span and quality of life.

How do you know if your pet is overweight? Ask your veterinarian, they will examine your pet and give your pet a body condition score on a scale of 1 – 5, with 3 being ideal, 1 too thin and 5 obese.

Here are 5 tips to help an overweight pet:

1) Mind the calories – know your pets daily caloric requirement. A veterinarian can help you to determine this amount more accurately than the feeding guides on your bag of pet food. Factors such as whether your pet is spayed/neutered can significantly change the caloric requirement of your pet.

2) Portion control – change to a smaller food dish and get an accurate food scoop to measure out the food. It is easier to overfill a larger dish because it looks close to empty. No more free feeding as you have no way to keep track of how many calories your pet is ingesting. Meals must be precisely measured to ensure your pet is not overeating. Several smaller meals instead of one or two larger ones, may work for the pet that seems hungry all the time.

3) Try a weight loss food – ask your veterinary team to recommend a good high quality weight loss food for your pet. These foods are specially designed to meet all of your pets needs while having reduced calories and fat, and often have increased fiber to help your pet feel full for longer.

4) Watch the treats – if you give your pets bones, biscuits or any other treats, these also contribute to that daily caloric requirement. Which means you will need to cut back on the food according to how many treats you give your pet. Some good lower calorie high fiber options for treats include carrot sticks!

5) Get Moving – a daily dose of exercise is good for your pets health and will help them to expend some calories. Try to aim for a daily 30 minute walk.

The goal is to get your pet to their ideal weight over time. A rapid weight loss is not healthy for your pet. Stop in at your veterinary clinic every 2 weeks for a weigh in and some encouragement! The process can take some time, but remember your pet did not gain all of that weight overnight! Putting in the work to help your pet lose weight or prevent excess weight gain is well worth the effort as you will be rewarded with a happier healthier pet!

Call us at Chestermere Veterinary Clinic to ask us for a food recommendation or to find out more on how to help your pet 403-272-3573, or visit us at http://www.chestermerevet.com.

Source:
Drs. Foster & Smith. Pet Education.com. Health risks in overweight or obese dogs. Web Sept 10, 2015. http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=2+1659&aid=694

That Pet Blog. 5 Simple Steps to Prevent Pet Obesity. Web Sept 10, 2015. http://www.thatpetblog.com/page/2/#.VfGhKpfdeRk

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All about Ticks and Keeping Your Pets Safe

Ticks are present in Alberta, even in the cities, and may be in your own backyard!

What are Ticks?
Small external parasites that are members of the arachnid (spider family). They have 8 legs and their bodies are commonly a sunflower seed shape. They may be hard or soft. The picture shows a tick before and after a feed.

Why are Ticks dangerous?
They can carry many different diseases that can make you and your pets very ill, such as lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Babesiosis and Erlichiosis.

What is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease can cause severe pain, swelling, fever, limping and a loss of appetite. Unlike people bitten by Lyme infected ticks, pets do not get the characteristic “bull’s-eye” rash at the site of the bite within three to thirty days. People can only get Lyme disease from infected ticks.

How is Lyme disease treated?
Lyme disease can be controlled by antibiotics. However, a lengthy course of treatment is necessary. Sometimes the initial antibiotic chosen may not be effective, and a number of other types may need to be trialed before finding the right one.

What can you do to protect your pets?
The key is prevention. Keep your pets from being exposed to ticks. Ticks wait on the tips of grasses and shrubs and are not commonly found in trees. When brushed by a moving animal or person, they quickly climb onto the host. Ticks can only crawl; they cannot fly or jump. Keeping pets from thick underbrush reduces their exposure to ticks. Dogs should be kept on trails when walked near wooded or tall grass areas.

Prevent ticks from attaching. K9 Advantix offers proven protection against ticks. It repels and kills ticks before they can attach. With K9 Advantix, ticks are repelled and killed before they can bite, reducing the potential risk of a tick-transmitted disease. K9 Advantix is a liquid that is applied to the skin of your dog and is absorbed only at the skin level. One application lasts approximately 1 month.

A vaccine is available for protecting dogs against Lyme disease. This vaccine initially requires a booster. Annual revaccination depending on the risk of your pet may be necessary to maintain immunity. The vaccine is safe and effective. Be sure to discuss any questions you may have regarding the type and frequency of vaccination with your veterinarian. To book an appointment for the vaccine call Chestermere Veterinary Clinic at (403) 272-3573. Note that this vaccine does not protect your pet against the other diseases that ticks can transmit, therefore it is still important to limit tick exposure and to prevent them from attaching.

How can you protect yourself?
Cover up as much skin as you can when you’re going to be in wooded or grassy areas. Wear a hat, a long-sleeved shirt, and long pants with the legs tucked into your socks. It’s a good idea to wear light-colored clothes so ticks are easier to identify. Check yourself for ticks after you’ve been outside. Use a bug spray that contains the chemical DEET to repel ticks.

What should you do if you find a tick?
Check your pet immediately after it has been in a tick-infected area. Some ticks are about pinhead size in juvenile stage, but a little more obvious in adult phase and after feeding. If you find a tick moving on your pet, the tick has not fed. Remove the tick promptly. If you find a tick attached to your pet, grasp the tick with blunt tweezers near the pet’s skin and firmly pull it straight out (this reduces the possibility of the head detaching from the body upon removal). Do not twist or jerk the tick as this may cause the mouth parts to break off and remain in the skin, increasing the chances of infection. Continue applying steady pressure even if the tick does not release immediately. It may take a minute or two of constant, slow pulling to cause the tick to release. You may need another person to help restrain your pet. Removing the tick quickly is important since the disease is not transmitted until the tick has fed for approximately twelve hours. If you crush the tick, do not get the tick’s contents, including blood, on your skin. The disease can pass through a wound or cut in your skin. Use blunt tweezers or disposable gloves to handle the tick. If your fingers must be used, shield them with a tissue or paper towel.

After removing the tick, thoroughly disinfect the bite area and wash your hands with soap and water. Home remedies such as applying petroleum jelly, grease, or a hot match to the rear of the tick are not recommended and do not work. These practices cause the tick to salivate and can actually increase the chance of transmitting disease.

After removing the tick, put it into a small container with a piece of moistened cloth. Be sure to label the container with information about the time and place where the tick bite occurred. This activity will help you to remember details of the incident if symptoms associated with tick transmitted diseases appear later. This information will also be of help to a veterinarian or physician diagnosing an illness. Bring the tick to your veterinarian (if you found the tick on yourself, take it to your doctor) so it can be submitted for testing (this test is no charge). If you do not think you are able to remove the tick yourself, bring your pet into their veterinarian as soon as possible, the earlier a tick is removed, the better chance your pet has against disease.

Erlichiosis – Symptoms include fever, swollen lymph nodes, respiratory distress, weight loss, bleeding disorders, and occasionally neurological disturbances. Dogs experiencing severe anemia or bleeding problems may require a blood transfusion. However, this does nothing to treat the underlying disease. Certain antibiotics are quite effective, but a long course of treatment may be needed.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever – Symptoms include loss of appetite, fever, depression, vomiting, diarrhea, painful muscles and joints, dizziness, depression, stupor, seizures swollen lymph nodes, bleeding in the eyes, nose or stool, and fluid accumulation in the face and legs. Some animals develop pneumonia or heart problems, which can lead to sudden death. Renal failure can occur. The disease is treated with antibiotics. Dogs who have severe damage to their nervous systems may not recover completely.

Babesiosis – Symptoms include a wide variety of symptoms ranging in severity all the way from a sudden collapse to an infection with no apparent symptoms. The prognosis for a dog diagnosed with babesiosis is guarded. Owners should be aware that dogs that have survived babesiosis often remain infected. These dogs may suffer a relapse of disease in the future or may serve as a source for the further spread of disease as babesiosis can be transmitted to other dogs through scrapes or wounds.

For these diseases, the only prevention is limiting tick exposure and repelling ticks with a product like K9 Advantix. There are no effective vaccines available.

If your pet is not already on a tick prevention program, please call Chestermere Veterinary Clinic at (403) 272-3573 to discuss how we can help you protect your pets.

This blog is based on material written by Ernest Ward, DVM © Copyright 2005 Lifelearn Inc. Used with permission under license. June 13, 2010

Keep your Pets Egg-stra Safe : 4 Easter Dangers to Avoid

While you are enjoying Easter this weekend with your family, please remember to keep these popular Easter items away from your pets:

1) Easter Lilies – Highly toxic to cats (yet only causing minor gastrointestinal upset in dogs), all parts of the Easter Lily are toxic; leaves, stem and even pollen. As little as 1 leaf or a small amount of pollen is enough to cause serious problems including kidney failure or death. Symptoms begin around 6 – 12 hours after ingestion and include: vomiting, inappetence, lethargy, dehydration, disorientation, staggering and seizures. There is no antidote so immediate treatment by a veterinarian is absolutely necessary. Other toxic Lilies include: Tiger Lilies, Asiatic Lilies, and Day Lilies.

2) Easter Grass – The stringy paper or plastic grass that often lines Easter baskets can create an obstruction in a pets intestines if ingested, and can potentially be a choking hazard. The grass tends to be particularly inviting to cats to play with. If an obstruction were to occur, a pet would likely require an expensive foreign body abdominal surgery. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, inappetence, abdominal pain, and straining to defecate or constipation.

3) Chocolate – The darker and more bitter the chocolate, the more dangerous it is. For small pets the effects can be even stronger. Symptoms of chocolate toxicity from ingestion include: hyperactivity, restlessness, vomiting, elevated heart rate, elevated blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, tremors, increased body temperature, seizures and collapsing. Chocolate toxicity can be fatal, so always call your veterinarian to check, even if you think your pet is fine.

4) Candy sweetened with Xylitol – A natural sugar free sweetener, most commonly found in chewing gum, but also found in some candies, mints, jello or pudding. Symptoms of toxicity from ingestion include: weakness, lethargy, collapsing, vomiting, tremoring, seizures, jaundice, malaise, black-tarry stool, and coma. Xylitol toxicity can be fatal, so seek veterinary care if you think your pet has ingested something containing xylitol.

If you suspect your pet has ingested any of these items, contact your veterinarian immediately. You can also call the pet poison helpline: 1-800-213-6680 (24 hours, 7 days a week) or check out http://www.petpoisonhelpline.com for more information.

For more information on things that are toxic to pets, contact Chestermere Veterinary Clinic at 403-272-3573 or visit us at http://www.chestermerevet.com.

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Source:

Pet Poison Helpline. “Easter Pet Poisons” Web April 4, 2015. http://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/pet-owners/seasons/easter/.

Meet Your Veterinarians!

At Chestermere Veterinary Clinic we are always accepting new patients and look forward to meeting you and your cats and dogs. We also welcome you to take a tour of our clinic, just ask!

We love getting to know our clients and being involved in the community. We support Chestermere’s Listening Tails program, and frequently present to children at schools. Look for us at Chestermere’s community events such as the Mind Body & Spirit Expo, Pet Fest, the Country Fair, Bark for Life (Canadian Cancer Society) and fall parade. We have also put on a clinic open house and pictures with Santa in the winter!

Like our Facebook page or check our website http://www.chestermerevet.com for updates on our next community event!

Now let’s get to know your veterinarian a little bit better!

Dr. Gabby Rotaru believes she has the best job in the world: if you think about it, what other job fills your heart with so much joy that it really brings tears to your eyes, makes you laugh and wonder, discover and create, is never boring and so uplifting? And in what other job can you feel that you truly make lives better (pets and owners alike) and learn every day from each and every pet you meet? There is this invisible bond that forms between you and all animal lovers that come through the door: owners and pets are a second family to her, they get to know each other, trust and respect each other and for this she is so grateful!

Dr. Gabby moved to Canada in 2001 with two cats and two dogs. She feels it was definitely one of the best decisions she ever made! She graduated in 1997 in Romania, Europe and has worked in the small animal field ever since.

Dr. Gabby truly enjoys the combination of internal medicine, surgery, dentistry, radiology and laboratory, which make her job so interesting. She also enjoys educating people how to prevent disease in their pets, this is where the true challenge is! Working emergencies for about 5 years before becoming the practice owner at Chestermere made her realize that some things can be prevented and it is up to us to help our pets stay out of trouble and stay healthy!

In her spare time she loves going biking and hiking with her dog Moxie, or cuddling on the sofa with her two cats Ziggy and Felix. Yoga, gardening and feng shui are other ways Dr. Gabby uses to relax and appreciate all the blessings in her life.

Call us to book your pets next appointment at 403-272-3573.

5 Ways Pets Help Kids & Families

1. Learning – Studies have shown that children can learn in a relaxed fashion when in the presence of a pet. Since pets are non-judgmental, children feel safe exploring and trying new things, rather than fearing they will be critiqued if they make a mistake. Chestermere’s Listening Tails program operates on this finding, a program designed to improve children’s reading skills and confidence by having them practice reading out loud to dogs. For more information on the program visit http://ctds.ca/listening-tails/.

2. Comfort – After a difficult day, sometimes there is nothing better than returning home to a wagging tail or a purring cat to curl up with. Pets often instinctively sense when we need some extra comforting, and it can be a relief to just snuggle up with a pet who isn’t going to ask you a lot of questions. The act of petting has even been shown to foster a sense of relaxation, inducing stress relief and even reducing blood pressure.

3. Nurturing – Pets provide children with an opportunity to practice caring for something other than themselves, helping to plant the seeds of parenting skills for when they are adults. Learning to feed, walk, brush fur and teeth, encourages responsibility. Nurturing animals is especially helpful for boys, as they tend to have less practice than girls using their nurturing skills. Girls are encouraged to play house, play with dolls, and become babysitters more often than boys do.

4. Health – Studies have shown that having pets reduces a child’s risk of developing certain allergies and asthma. Particularly during the first year of life, exposure to pets helps a child’s immune system to develop protection against allergies.

Pets can also encourage the family to be more active, whether taking the dog for a walk, hike, or playing fetch.

5. Bonding – Have you ever taken your dog out for a walk only to be approached my someone wanting to pet your dog or ask questions about him? Pets are great social magnets, and allow us to bond with other people that have pets and make new friends.

Having a pet also encourages family bonding. Even picking out a pet in the first place, is something that can bring a family together, and even involve children in making a large decision with the family. Many people consider the pet as part of the family, and every family member enjoys being involved in the care for the pet. Everything from going on family walks, to buying Christmas presents for the pet!

Make sure your pet is healthy by visiting Chestermere Veterinary Clinic for their wellness examination and vaccinations or any time you have concerns, call us at 403-272-3573, or visit http://www.chestermerevet.com.

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Source:
Strickland, Bill. “The Benefits of Pets.” Parents Magazine. Web February 16, 2015. http://www.parents.com/parenting/pets/kids/pets-good-for-kids/.

5 Steps to Brushing Your Pets Teeth

1. Get your pet comfortable with you handling their mouth: Gently handle your pets mouth for a few seconds frequently. Try to do it when they are relaxed, and always make it a positive experience. Offer them a treat or a favorite toy after you are done.

2. Use pet toothpaste: Human toothpaste should not be used on pets as it is not meant to be swallowed. Pet toothpastes often are flavored with things your pet may find very tasty, and this may help your pet accept brushing more readily. Chestermere Veterinary Clinic can provide you with a free pet toothpaste sample to try. Start by using a small amount of paste on your finger and rub it on your pets teeth and gums. Try to work through the entire mouth.

3. Use a toothbrush: Once your pet is comfortable with you handling their mouth and enjoys the pet toothpaste you have chosen, introduce a toothbrush. Ask the team at Chestermere Veterinary Clinic for a free toothbrush for your pet. The toothbrush should be size appropriate. Wet the bristles and apply some toothpaste to the brush, try to push the toothpaste into the bristles so it doesn’t come off in one globule as soon as you begin brushing your pets teeth. Gently brush, starting off by focusing on the fang like canine teeth.

4. Brushing: When your pet becomes comfortable with this, you can begin to brush more teeth and gradually increase the amount of time spent brushing and pressure you use. You do not need to brush the inside surfaces because most of the tartar accumulation occurs on the outside surface. When brushing the front teeth, lift the upper lip and use an up and down motion.

5. Frequency
:
Your time and commitment to brushing regularly can result in a vast improvement in your pets dental health. It can enhance their quality of life and deepen the bond that you share. Ideally, brush your pets teeth once a day!

Ask the team at Chestermere Veterinary Clinic for food and treat recommendations to help support your pets dental health! Call us at 403-272-3573, or visit http://www.chestermerevet.com if you have questions or concerns, or would like to book a dental examination.

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Source:
“Simple Steps to Easier Brushing” Hand-out by Medi-Cal Royal Canin.

5 of the Largest Dog Breeds

These gentle giants will astound you with their size! Here are just a few of the largest dog breeds in the world.

1. Great Dane: A strong and friendly breed originally bred to hunt wild boar. The world record holder for tallest dog Zeus, measured in at a 7 feet 4 inches when standing on his hind legs and 44 inches at the shoulder. He was 5 years old when he passed away of old age.

2. Old English Mastiff: Known for courage, mastiff’s were originally bred as guard dogs. 2 world record holders for heaviest dog go to the mastiff’s. In 1989 Zorba weighed in at 343 lbs, while in 2001 Hercules weighed in at 282 lbs.

3. Irish Wolfhound: Originally bred as guard dogs and for hunting wolves and elk. Another tall breed that can measure up to 7 feet tall when standing on hind legs or 30 – 34 inches at the shoulder. Weighing in around 150 lbs.

4. Saint Bernard: Intelligent and strong, they were originally bred to rescue travellers caught in blizzards and avalanches. Weighing on average between 140 – 220 lbs.

5. Newfoundland: Known as the workhorse, they were originally bred for heavy labor and are excellent long distance swimmers. Weighing on average between 100 – 200 lbs.

Remember that the largest dogs also age the quickest and have a much shorter lifespan, on average ranging from 5 – 10 years. If you have a giant breed, consider taking them for a physical exam every 6 months instead of annually after the age of 4 or 5. Contact us at Chestermere Veterinary Clinic to book an appointment 403-272-3573, or visit us at http://www.chestermerevet.com.

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Sources:
Breed information from:
The American Kennel Club. AKC Meet the Breeds. http://www.akc.org. Web January 14, 2015.

Photos and information from:
Readers Digest. World’s Largest Dog Breeds. http://www.readersdigest.ca/pets/breeds/world-s-largest-dog-breeds/. Web January 14, 2015.

5 Reasons to Adopt a Pet

Christmas is fast approaching and getting a new pet may be at the top of some Christmas lists. If you have done your research and are certain about adding a new member to your family permanently, please consider adopting a pet. There are many adoption agencies that cover a wide variety of different species, so even if you are looking for something besides a cat or dog, you may still be able to find an adoptable option.

Here are 5 fantastic reasons to adopt:

1. Save a life: millions of adoptable pets are euthanized each year, simply because there are too many and not enough resources to care for them. Adopting a pet saves that pets life, and frees up space for another pet in the shelter.

2. Save money: adoptable pets have a minimal price tag, and often come spayed/neutered, health examined by a veterinarian, micro-chipped or tattooed and with vaccines. Some pets may even come with supplies. Many shelter pets are mixed breeds, which are generally healthier, saving you money on vet bills later in life.

3. Older Pets: November is adopt a senior month. Older pets need homes too, and are wonderful additions to a family. Older pets are usually already house and crate trained and well socialized, and you will not have to go through the highly energetic and sometimes destructive puppy/kitten phase.

4. The right match: Before pets are cleared for adoption, they are put through a variety of tests, both physically and behaviorally. Most shelters will be able to tell you if a pet will do well with other pets, and children. Have a specific breed in mind? Contact your local shelters and ask about being put on a waiting list if that breed comes in. While many shelter pets are mixed breeds, pure breeds come in as well.

5. Break the Cycle: Help end the cycle of overpopulation and animal abuse. Don’t support factory breeding, puppy/kitten mills, or backyard breeders. Tell everyone about your positive experience with pet adoption and hopefully more people will consider adoption!

Another way to help is to become a foster family for shelter animals. Being a foster home allows more animals to be saved from euthanasia, providing them a safe space and care until a suitable home becomes available. If you are interested in becoming a foster home or would like more information, contact the shelter directly.

Here is a list of some Calgary and area animal shelters to check out!
AARCS – Alberta Animal Rescue Crew http://aarcs.ca/
Calgary Humane Society http://www.calgaryhumane.ca/
ARF – Animal Rescue Foundation http://arf.ab.ca/
Pawsitive Match Rescue Foundation http://www.pawsitivematch.org/
Oops-a-Dazy Rescue http://www.oopsadazy.com/
Misty Creek Dog Rescue http://mistycreekdogrescue.com/
Rocky Mountain Animal Rescue http://www.rockymountainanimalrescue.com/
Meow Foundation http://www.meowfoundation.com/
Happy Cat Sanctuary http://www.happycatsanctuary.net/

If you have questions, contact us at Chestermere Veterinary Clinic 403-272-3573, or visit us at http://www.chestermerevet.com.

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Coconut Oil for Pets

Coconut oil is very popular these days and has been attributed to many healthy uses for humans. A quick internet search will also bring up dozens of purported healthy uses in pets, but unfortunately there is not a lot of scientific evidence to support these claims.

What we do know, is that coconut oil, like most oils, is a saturated fat. Feeding a saturated fat to a pet can be dangerous, especially to those that are sensitive to fat, having conditions like pancreatitis. Others may experience gastrointestinal issues from consuming coconut oil. Consuming a saturated fat can also lead to excess weight gain if a pet is fed too much, and their regular diet is not reduced to account for the extra calories being consumed from the oil.

The most successful use of coconut oil that has been reported by veterinary professionals appears to be for topical use for skin allergies or yeast. Coconut oil does have anti-fungal properties, explaining why it may be successful in helping to treat yeast infections. Coconut oil also helps to safely increase hydration of dry skin, and can aid in faster wound healing. This topical use of coconut oil has not been thoroughly scientifically studied in pets, so consult your veterinarian to see if they feel a trial may be successful for your pet’s particular condition, and the best way to apply.

Coconut oil is also considered a very safe cooking oil as it has a high smoke point and does not degrade like other oils may do when cooked. So for those pets on specific home-made diets, coconut oil may replace your other cooking oil.

If you have questions, contact us at Chestermere Veterinary Clinic 403-272-3573, or visit us at http://www.chestermerevet.com.

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Sources:
D O Ogbolu, A A Oni, O A Daini & A P Oloko. J Med Food. June 2007; 10(2): 384-7. “In vitro antimicrobial properties of coconut oil on Candida species in Ibadan, Nigeria.”

Anna Liza C Agero & Vermén M Verallo-Rowell. Dermatitis. September 2004; 15(3): 109-16. “A randomized double-blind controlled trial comparing extra virgin coconut oil with mineral oil as a moisturizer for mild to moderate xerosis.”

K G Nevin & T Rajamohan. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. January 2010; 23(6): 290-7. “Effect of topical application of virgin coconut oil on skin components and antioxidant status during dermal wound healing in young rats.”

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