We love our pets and one of the things we get to do to show our affection is to feed them. They meet us for meals, or do tricks for treats, or chomp for chews!
But is your beloved pet getting too wide? Being overweight is a common condition we face as veterinarians. So how can you tell?
You score your pet.
Due to the huge variation within breeds, let alone across the species, it is impractical to simply assign a desired weight to any given cat or dog based on just its breed. Instead, veterinarians will use the 'Body Condition Score' (BCS) to explain if the pet is very thin, underweight, ideal, overweight, or obese. These exist in scales of 5 or 9. They aare done with 3 easy steps. Get hands on; a furry coat can trick us!
How to Body Condition Score
Step 1. Feel for the ribs
Place your hand on the side of your pet's rib cage. If you can feel, without pressure, individual ribs under your hand already, you pet is probably too skinny. Now move your hand back and forth along the ribs, still without pushing (think of ruffling a kid's hair). Can you feel the ribs now? If you can and they feel 'like a box of pencils' then you're perfect and go to step 2. If you can't feel them, push a bit until you can find them. Everything you pushed through is fat, and there should be very little of it over the ribs.
Step 2. Check the waistline.
Place your hands on either side of your pet's chest, while standing above or behind them. Bring your hands symmetrically towards their tail. Your hands should noticeably come closer together as they pass from the chest to the abdomen. All dogs (even bully breeds) should have a waistline, although some are less dramatic than others. All cats should have one too along the spine (not down near the belly though; some of them have extra skin there). If the pet is straight from shoulder to hip with no 'tuck', then they have too much fat!
Step 3. Check the belly.
While your pet is standing, place your hand on the lowest part of the chest underneath and run it towards the back end. Your hand should travel up as you reach the abdominal 'tuck'. This is usually the last spot to 'lose' as the pet becomes overweight so a flat belly (no tuck) is a strong sign your pet is overweight. However, remember that cats can hold extra skin dangling down there so don't count that! DO count the fat under the skin though.
Now that you can assess your pet, check out the chart and decide where they fall. If 2.5-3, you're good! If higher, keep reading
5 tips to Trim their Tummies!
1. Play the pounds away
We'd all like to do more walking, and that can help too, but often we're already do as much as we can consistently schedule into our lives. So add in searching games. Hide dinner around the house or toss it into the yard. Use a Kong or other feeding toy. Cut holes in a box and invite them to toss it around to get the food to fall out. Even chasing tossed a kibbles down the hall burns fat.
2. Switch it around
Vegetables make great treats instead of cookies. Try limited amounts of broccoli, peppers or green beans. Small amounts of apple or carrot can replace a dog cookie. Please remember: no grapes or raisins! Alternatively, use the kibble itself; set the dinner meal on the counter and pull each 'treat' from the bowl through the day. Whatever is left becomes dinner. They get their 'treat' and you control the calories.
3. Size does not matter
To a pooch, a treat is a treat. The size isn't important. So break that treat, whatever it may be, into smaller fragments and give a fragment instead. Save the others for the next treat, or the next day.
4. Cutting back Calories
That may mean a new brand, but weight loss diets may not be as good as they look; often they are as little as 5% different from their 'full fat' version. But you can also consider swapping to a canned food (so long as the 'per feeding' calorie intake is less and you take care of their teeth). You can also reduce the portion of the food being given. If they notice the volume change, soak the food to increase the volume (but don't forget their teeth like to chew, so check out our links about dental health!)
5. Let them guide you
The feeding guidelines on the side of the bag are just that; guidelines. Many pets need less than the recommendations. If your pet is padded, adjust the calories down until they are lovely and lean. If summer adventures lower their weight, increase the calories until they are back to their ideal weight. Just remember to bring those calories back down when winter inactivity starts. Let their weight, energy and needs guide you.
Leaner pets live up to 2 years longer than their chubbier counterparts and experience fewer health problems. Act now; use these tips to trim their tummies and keep them with you, healthy and happy, for years to come.
Unsure if your pet's weight is perfect yet? Check with your vet. The in-clinic scales are no-charge and the advice from the front desk staff can be priceless!
We wish we were posting to wish a Happy New Year to people, but sadly we've had a huge increase in COVID-19 in Sooke lately, including the Omicron variant that is threatening to take us out of action. In addition to precautions within the practice, we are implementing a temporary "curbside" regime once more.
While there will always be some exceptions for pets that need their people, overall we are reducing contacts by having only the animals enter our building. We want to be here for you and your pets. Please be patient with us as we get your animals the care they need!
1. Please call us from the parking lot upon your arrival so we can direct you.
2. For product pick ups, we will deliver the items to the downstairs door.
3. If you are arriving for an appointment, do not leave a message; call back or knock on the door. Once checked in, a staff member will call back (usually on an outgoing blocked number) to get the information, then will come collect your pet. The veterinarian will contact you via phone again to go over all information and discharge the pet.
4. If exceptions are required (such as euthanasia or extremely nervous pets unsafe without their owners), please minimize the number of people entering. We still require masks in our building for all staff and clients unless medical exemptions apply.
We are working with each individual animal and their owner to ensure our stellar care of the animals is maintained! Please talk to us if you have any questions!
It's that time of year again! Cheer and Celebration! Food and Festivities! Families and Friends!
But what about the Holiday Hazards that accompany our fun? As your home routine gets disrupted, there are some particular concerns for your pets during this time of year. We at Sooke Vet are here to help! To start, here are some hazards to be aware of and how to avoid them!
While we like to wrap things under the tree or set up special decorations, it's important to recognize things that may be dangerous to your pet. Here are some commonly seen toxicities around the holidays.
Plants: Amaryllis, Azaleas, Chrysanthemums, Evergreens, Holly, Ivy, Juniper, Lilly, Mistletoe are all toxic. And yes, poinsettias are not great either, but they cause stomach upset, and ulcers in the mouth (so vomiting and diarrhea happen!) and are not considered poisonous.
Chocolate: Chocolate can cause arrhythmias, stomach upset, and death in high enough quantities. The amount of cocoa matters; the darker the chocolate, the worse the effect. Keep them away from your pets (yes, even cats)
Raisins: Keep Fido away from the fruitcake! Raisins cause kidney failure in dogs! (It also applies to grapes, although that's less festive!)
Macadamia nuts: It's a mild toxicity but can cause depression, vomiting, diarrhea, and weakness.
Make sure these items are away from your pet, even if wrapped. Their noses will detect the goodies within and might land you at the emergency clinic late one night!
2. Electrical chords
Setting up lights and the tree look so lovely but watch that chords are not in an easily-reached location for a young animal. Most animals will out-grow this obsession with chewing wires, but some pets may re-discover their desire to chew when left alone or anxious. Give them appropriate chew things, and keep the chords away!
3. Ornaments and decorations:
Decorations: Vets hate tinsel and ribbons. Why? Long thin items are fun for pets (especially cats), to play with, but then they might swallow them. And if the object tangles and can't pass, you're off to see a vet for an emergency surgery. Prevent that by not having these items available without supervision!
Ornaments: Although more uncommon, hooks on the tree ornaments can cause grief too. The hooks can get stuck anywhere from through lips to half way down the intestines! Use a short loop of string and hang them out of reach!
The tree: A curious pet can bring that tree down in an instant! Cats tend to like to climb the tree too. Secure it to the wall to prevent toppled treetops from ruining your morning. Ingestion of the needles is also not good, so keep it tidy!
We love our pets and want to spoil them, and what better time than the holidays! But look out; not all toys and treats are a good idea.
Hard toys: Any toy should pass the 'kneecap test': if you don't want someone to hit you in the kneecap with it, don't buy it for your pet. Hard toys like antlers or bones are the leading cause of broken teeth down the road. Pick something firm but not hard, like a durable rubber toy or the newer 'indestructibles.'
Battery-operated toys: Because our pets like to chew and destroy, a battery can be a problem. Swallowing the battery is very dangerous! These toys are not for avid chewers and should be avoided.
Squeakers: If your pet likes the squeak, get a toy that has a built-in squeak, not one of the cheap plastic UFO-shaped squeakers within. A bit of chewing can free that choking hazard from the toy. If it goes down to the stomach, the squeaker is also about the right size to get stuck somewhere along the intestines!
Outfits: Tassels and bells and bows! So cute. So… edible?? Please avoid dangling things on outfits. It won't take long for something to end up in the stomach! Also make sure things fit properly so they don't chaff or impede breathing.
For an anxious animal, changes are hard enough but add in new people, including potentially different types of people (like children!), and it's a recipe for significant stress. Look for these signs of stress in your pets, then look for ways to mitigate the impact of your visitors.
Signs of stress:
Panting without being hot or under exertion
Barking (especially alarm barking)
Yawning when not tired
Hypervigilence (constantly looking around)
Avoidance behaviours (eg sniffing something, turning away, ignoring)
Changes in posture (cowering, slinking etc.)
We hope everyone gets to enjoy the festive season with their furry loved ones and, with a bit of foresight and planning, not have to visit any emergency clinic! Happy Holidays!
To help make accessing food and treats for your loved pets easier, we've launched a Vetstore online portal. Click on the link to set up an account. Once you're verified as a client of ours, you'll get access to the online store, which includes all your pet foods, treats, and toys! You can order 24/7 for delivery to the clinic (arrival Tuesdays and Fridays) or order for delivery right to your door! We're not quite ready to do it for medications, but for food and treats, it's a convenient option to get your pet what they need on time!
So check out www.myvetstore.ca/sookevet today!
A quick news point; Our distributor has run into some delays with the shipment of pet foods. This has meant food orders (NOT medications) are being delayed by 1-2 orders. That means 3-7 days delays from normal delivery. If your pet is on a prescription diet, please plan a bit farther ahead and order in advance so we can ensure we get the food in before you run out!
And now... all about puppies and socialization!
During the first three months of life puppies go through a period where curiosity outweighs fear. It is EXTREMELY important to socialize your puppy with new people, animals, stimuli and environments during this time, to prevent or at least reduce behavioural problems later in life. All training should be based on fun-for-all, through frequent praise and/or treats for desired behaviors. As this receptive period occurs before your puppy is fully vaccinated, precautions need to be taken.
Recommendations for socialization include:
If your puppy displays signs of fear and is not thriving, we encourage you to schedule a consultation. We can discuss ways to reduce anxiety and positively reinforce good behaviour to develop a balanced, well adjusted dog for life!
Modified from the AVSAB Position Statement on Puppy Socialization
Here's a little something from the Pet info section! Did you know we have dozens of topics, each with their own write up, on the info page? Check it out HERE
This month's focus is on arthritis! It's not just for the old. While the natural wear and tear of joints over time plays a role, remember that younger pets suffer too. This is particularly the case if they injured a joint previously or had an abnormal joint to start with. There are many things you can do as an owner to help your pet continue to live an active, happy, pain free life despite this condition. Depending on the level of arthritis, you may require one, or all, of the below recommendations for the rest of your pet's life.
If you want to learn more about what osteoarthritis is and how we diagnose it, check out this link to Veterinary Partners.com website!
1. Weight control.
If your pet is already trim, then keeping them that way is vital. Any extra weight being carried across an arthritic joint makes it more painful, and speeds along the development of more arthritis. If your pet is overweight, please talk to the veterinary team about organizing a plan for controlled weight loss (and check out the section HERE). With cats in particular, be very cautious about dieting; done wrong, it can be harmful. Your vet is the best resource for creating a weight loss plan that works for you and your pet.
2. Regular, consistent exercise
Unused joints stiffen up. Overused joints ache the next day. Find the level your pet is comfortable at. Aim for more frequent, shorter bouts of exercise, and maintain it daily.
Using supplements may relieve some of the pain associated with arthritis. It can even reduce the amount of medications required to maintain an already painful condition, leading to less impact on the body as a whole. Quality-controlled products from reputable sellers provide peace of mind that the label is accurate and the product consistent. There are no commercially available diets that contain adequate amounts of supplements to be affective in arthritis cases. There are several prescription diets that do, including Royal Canin Mobility or Hill's j/d.
Glucosamine alone has little effect; its success is improved by being mixed with chondroitin. Additional remedies, such as Devil's Claw, also reduce the pain of arthritis. Because Devil's Claw works faster than most supplements (having some effect within 2 weeks, instead of 6 weeks such as glucosamine and chondroitin alone), we recommend Flexadin supplements.
Omega 3 fatty acids (aka fish oils) are more potent the more specific they are. We are looking for 66 mg/kg dose of EPA or DHA fatty acids. If the bottle doesn't show the breakdown of the fatty acids, find one that does. It was found that liquids are 1/3 more effective than capsules. These take weeks to months to show benefits, so don’t give up too early. That said, they do not work for every patient; studies show anywhere from 50% to 75% of cases respond, even at correct doses.
Other supplements that have been found to help include Green-lipped mussels, CBD, and turmeric, but remember that no one controls quality of supplements and little is known about dosing. Please discuss any product with your vet; they will be able to advise you about amounts and risks.
Cartrophen Vet (sodium pentosan polysulfate) is an injectable treatment for arthritis that promotes healing of joints and reduces inflammation. It is given as a subcutaneous (under the skin) injection once weekly for 4 weeks, then monthly. Often owners can learn to do them on their own at home, although we're also happy to help those who are more shy of needles! See this LINK for more information.
4. Alternative therapies
Although we cannot offer it at Sooke Veterinary Hospital, please know that referral is available for chiropractic or acupuncture treatments. Not every 'practitioner' of these alternative therapies are made equal, and some are not even legal. We would be happy to guide you.
5. Pain medications
We often have to use medications for pain relief periodically or chronically. Common medications include NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories), Gabapentin, or opioids. We aim to reach the lowest effective dose but please remember: do not increase the amount or frequency of medications without consulting us. We are more likely to add other modalities than increase the dose of a given medication because of dangerous side effects.
Our goal at Sooke Veterinary Hospital is to help you and your pet live together for many long, comfortable years. Please do not hesitate to contact us with questions!
Dental disease is prevalent in dogs and cats. Unfortunately, we can't expect them to clean their teeth themselves! Here are some options for slowing down the progression of dental disease and gingivitis! Don't wait for there to be tartar (brown or yellow discolouration)! By then, the disease is established and you cannot remove tartar without scaling the teeth. We want to promote oral health early as a preventative.
However, even if the best oral hygiene routine, plaque, tartar, and gingivitis will build up over time, just like in people. And, just like in people, removal of the stubborn hard tartar (including the hidden disease under the gumline) requires the work of the dentist. In our pets' case, that means their veterinarian.
Please DO NOT brush your pet's teeth if they have pain, bleeding of the gums, masses in the mouth, or broken teeth. This will cause more pain and make them dislike the procedure. If there is something going on in the mouth, please have the veterinarian check it and help guide treatment BEFORE you try to brush.
Six ways to delay the onset of dental disease:
By FAR the best option for the teeth is brushing. Ideally, you would brush your pet's teeth daily, although even a few times a week will help. Setting a schedule will help you remember to do it!
The best time to start is when they are young but have their adult teeth. The second best time is whenever you have the time and inclination to do it!
Check out this LINK to our 'HOW TO BRUSH YOUR PETS TEETH' and get those toothbrushes out!
Also, here are some links to investigate
Veterinary Partners (Why brushing is important)
Veterinary Partners (Q&A about dental prevention)
Video "How to Brush your Dogs Teeth"
Video "1 minute training" WebMD Pet
#2 Dental wipes
A second option very similar to brushing but not quite as good is dental wipes. These are small pads that have an enzyme or cleanser in them. Wiping the teeth daily reduces plaque and freshens breath, without the need for toothpaste. It's a good option for those pets who can't quite tolerate a toothbrush, but don't mind someone's finger in their mouth!
#3 Dental diets
If brushing isn't possible, then a daily regime of oral health is still needed. There are some diets designed to act as a toothbrush and remove plaque before it establishes into tartar. Diets such as Hills t/d or Royal Canin's Dental have larger kibbles that encourage chewing. While their exact mode of action differs, they work to reduce the plaque in the mouth by at least 25% and, like all good oral hygiene, feeding your pet usually is daily occurrence, so you're getting some oral health daily!
#4 Dental chews
These take many forms. Some are enzymatic rawhide chews. Some are shaped to encourage chewing or to reach the corners of the dog (or cats!) mouth. Overall, their function is similar to dental diets; they work to reduce plaque through chewing or enzymatic action. Be warned! Not all chews are made equal! Look for the VOHC logo to know it has been tested and reduces plaque by 25%. Watch out for products that quote old papers and make claims to reduce plaque without evidence!
If you pet tends to simply crush a chew and swallow it whole, these are NOT for you! They need to be chewed to be effective, and we don't want any choking. Pets should be supervised when chewing.
#5 Plaque off/Clenzadent
We were a little ahead of the game with this one; our clinic knew about Plaque Off before it had VOHC. Now that it does, it's found in pet stores and clinics. This is a kelp powder used on the food daily that changes the composition of the saliva and softens plaque to be more readily rubbed over by normal chewing actions. We know it works, but not for everyone. Many times, we find tartar is softer (and easier to remove) on pets who use it, but it is a bit variable on response.
#6 Water additives
Some people like the water additives. These are essentially a safe mouthwash for your pets that is added to water dishes so every drink in a quick rinse to cleans the mouth. Please ensure you have regular water available as some pets don't like the taste and may avoid it. They need to be changed out daily as well, making them best suited for small dogs or cats! An example is Healthy Mouth. Find more info HERE.
As always, we're happy to guide you to the option that suits your pet best! We just want to see those pearly whites looking their best!
Do you have a favourite dental prevention regime?
It's official; we're on break from August 1st to the 8th. We'll be back at 8am August 9th to serve you and your pet. In the meantime, If your pet requires emergency care outside of regular hours, please call the Central Victoria Veterinary Hospital OR WAVES (in Langford). Both provide emergency after-hours care. Click on the names to be taken to their websites.
See you soon!
We had the amazing Sooke Fire Department out to do training with our staff over the staff meeting this morning! The wind cooperated for the most part (we only got blasted back wth the powder a few times). Turns out we have a great place to practice real-life use of the fire extinguishers; our parking lot!
We learned a few tricks to using the extinguishers and other fire-safety tips.
Stay safe out there!
HEATSTROKE IN PETS
What is heatstroke?
Heatstroke occurs when your pet’s body temperature rises above the normal range of 38.3-39.2 degrees. Dogs and cats have few sweat glands and cannot cool off by sweating like humans, so they overheat more easily. Pets mainly cool off by panting, as moisture evaporation from the oral cavity helps lower body temperature. Heatstroke most commonly occurs when pets are left outside on hot days, but also can develop if:
What are signs of heatstroke in pets?
Which animals are at greatest risk?
Any pet can develop heatstroke but the following are more predisposed:
What should I do if my pet shows heatstroke signs?
Ways to prevent heatstroke
Consider the possibility of heatstroke any time the temperature is above 27C or humidity is high, and take these precautions to keep your pet cool:
Enjoy the summer safely!