Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Pet Obesity: A Weight Loss Challenge

Posted: 29 Sep 2009 07:56 AM PDT


Shades of "Biggest Loser!" now we can get our pets involved in the whole "obesity" challenge issue. We talk about nutrition a lot, here and on the pet insurance blog (and I just did a post on nutrition for Shine), and I know pet parents have this on their minds. I know because they talk about it on Twitter.

But, many of us are guilty of feeding our dog from the table - and adding a lot of extra pounds to their girth. Not only is this bad for their bones and their overall health relevant to weight, it's bad because we're often giving them food that isn't right for them. Who knew that dogs could eat vegetables? Not me! We never talked about that during vet assistant training. Yes, we were taught to discourage folks from giving dogs treats from the table, but no one said, "If you must feed from the table, give your dog a carrot or some broccoli. At least it will be healthy food."

According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 50% of dogs and cats in the U.S. are overweight or obese. Yikes! At our house, a lot of that was pizza crusts. We always gave Carmie pizza crusts. Now, we seldom eat pizza so, if she were still here - she'd be pretty disappointed. The Wabby doesn't like table scraps, except a small bite of chicken, sometimes.

Well, because of this issue, because we pet parents need some guidance on keeping our pets' weight down, the OM Weight Loss Challenge (from Purina) was created. Clearly, this problem can cause more than a fat belly. Today, obesity "affects pets on the same scale as their owners, triggering serious health conditions that impact quality of life and life span." That means, diabetes, osteoarthritis, lethargy, and just plain discomfort. A fat dog or cat has a harder time getting around, and that impacts all areas of their body.


The OM Weight Loss Challenge "provides the structure and veterinary team support many owners need to stay on track," my contacts at Purina tell me. Our podcasts with Dr. Grace also cover some of the obesity problems and she is very much involved in this challenge. The goal is to feed low-fat, low-calorie diets, with high protein to help maintain lean body mass and optimal levels of fiber. They even have Lite-Snackers...whoohooo! Hey, hop over to the Challenge site, join up, and share your story.

It could help someone else keep their dog and cat healthy, slim, and happy.

All the Creatures

All the Creatures

A healthcare career with animals

Posted: 29 Sep 2009 08:20 PM PDT

Almost everyone I know wanted to be a veterinarian at one point in their younger years. Either their grades in school or finances kept them from becoming one. There are many other animal health careers besides vets. There are veterinarian technicians, lab technicians, horse dentists and artificial insemination technicians.  Those are just a few animal [...]


Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus; A Gift From Your Pet?

Posted: 24 Sep 2009 12:02 PM PDT


I've got to get out more. Apparently there is an epidemic going on in this country that I was unaware of until this morning. Even more interesting to us is that our pets may be involved in the transmission of this bug. Before you start running for the anti-bacterial hand gel let me put this in context for you.

According to an NY Times article on-line this morning pets are now involved in the transmission of methicillin- resistant Staphylococcus aureus. This bug has been a problem for humans for decades. It's one of those nosocomial (you get it at the hospital) infections that plague health care workers and hospitalized civilians. 
The more recent news is that dogs and cats are now a source of transmission of this bug back to humans. More and more veterinarians are reporting that infections with MRSA are cropping up in dogs and cats.
It appears to work like this: MRSA is transmitted from infected humans to their pet dogs and cats. These same dogs and cats may develop their own MRSA infections in some cases or they may simply become symptomless carriers of MRSA. As such, they are capable of spreading this bug to other humans that share their space. Like you and me.
Interestingly, this first came to light in therapy dogs. We've discussed the important role these dogs play in hospitals and nursing homes. About five years ago vets noticed that these dogs were coming down with MRSA infections at unusually high rates. They are still at high risk.


I don't think we need to hit the panic button on this, yet. According to a veterinary internal medicine and microbiology specialist up in Canada, only two to three percent of dogs tested carried this bug. Even at that, most dogs are capable of mounting a strong enough immune response to rid themselves of infection in two or three weeks according to Dr. J. Scott Weese at the Ontario Veterinary College. So, 97-98% of us can relax.
Dr. Weese does recommend some common sense precautions, however. His recommendations include foregoing sloppy wet kisses from your hound or face licks from your kitty. He also suggests that you wash your hands after close contact and petting with either species. I would think that this goes double for anyone that is immunocompromised. That would include anyone taking immunosuppressive drugs, AIDS patients or elderly folks with chronic diseases. These precautions area already in place at health care facilities where therapy dogs do their good work.
This is certainly something we should all be aware of. Still, the chances of you getting this bug are far greater from being hospitalized or from working in a hospital than from close contact with your pet. In fact, you could say that dogs and cats should be more leery of close contact with people than vice versa. However, it should be on our collective radar screens. Now go give your dog or kitty a hug, hold the kisses and, just for safety's sake, wash your hands. 

Lots About Dogs

Lots About Dogs

What is Leptospirosis in Dogs?

Posted: 29 Sep 2009 06:00 AM PDT

Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that can affect a dog's blood, liver, and kidneys. The bacteria that cause the illness are carried primarily by rats and other rodents, but dogs that are infected with the disease can infect other dogs as well. Ingestion of the urine of an infected animal is the most [...]

Lots About Cats

Lots About Cats

Cat Diarrhea Cure

Posted: 28 Sep 2009 07:45 PM PDT

Rice, uncooked, 1/2 cup Consomme, 1 can Turkey leg, 1 large Water, 2 cups Boil the whole works until the meat falls off the bone. Allow to cool and cut the meat into very small pieces. Feed about two tablespoons per cat several times a day.

The Days of Johann - an agility dog!

The Days of Johann - an agility dog!

Some weekend fun!

Posted: 28 Sep 2009 02:50 PM PDT

Mum surprised us yesterday, we got to go for a five mile walk. Don't think we've told ya, but we've been trying to get in 3-4 miles five days a week to keep me (oh yeah, and Mum and Gracie) in shape. Mum remembers after my muscle pulls when I could hardly walk two miles.

Times they have changed, I'm tellin' ya! Gracie, Mum and I have become walking machines!!

Every day we walk past the little pond (one of three in our neighborhood) that's closest to our house and check out the geese/ducks, and anything else that's hanging around. Oh, there's the blue heron we see a lot! I think we should name him/her, ideas?

Then we always make our way toward the big pond and see what's hanging out there. We like that they leave some cattails in the pond, more natural that way (even though the pond is chocked full of chemicals, sigh...).

Near the big pond is this old grain silo. Nice that they left it when they created this development. Some neighbors thinks it's an eye sore. But I like it, and there are lots of critters that like to hang out there. Good smellin'!

As we walk through the neighborhood, Gracie always has to check out the grasses that cover the utility boxes, just because she found something in there once, she thinks there's always gonna be something in there, silly girl :)

Sometimes at dusk in the summer we see all the hot air balloons out on their evening flights. They make me bark, a LOT!!! Occasionally they will take off right across the street from our house in the big field where I took off for a bird off leash that one day.

Well, yesterday since our walk was about two miles longer, we headed into other areas near were we live. The neighborhood across the street is a big one like ours, with just more expensive houses. We like to go there 'cause there are less kids, BOL!! And they have a lot more treed areas, also known as wildlife magnets :)

Interestingly, we went down a street we hadn't yet, and saw this...looks like some pup got caught when the cement was wet, how cool is that! Mum wishes she had my pawprints in our sidewalk now.

We kept walking and walking, and Gracie and I were pulling and pulling. Finally we got to our favorite place in this new neighborhood. It's a woodland area they preserved and put in a mulched walking path. It's not long, but it sure is fun and smelly. Oh and muddy. (Mum was kinda wishing we had ceramic tile all over the house when we got back, easier than carpet to clean, BOL!!)

Off we went, heading down the path, pulling Mum like she was a musher.

Found these neat woodland flowers, have no idea what their name is. But they are blooming at a very odd time of year here in Indiana. We liked their spunk.

We kept heading down the path, stopping at anything interesting of course!

The path ended and had a nice couple of benches to take a load off. So, of course, Mum had to try and get us to pose, we kind of obliged. :)

Have to say all three of us felt like we could have walked for ever. We were gone for almost two hours. Can we do it again today Mum? Palleeaasseee??????

Hope you had a great weekend too!

I've been tagged!!!

Posted: 28 Sep 2009 01:30 PM PDT

No, not that kinda tagged, it's a dog tag! I'm looking uber handsome in my cool new dog tag, don't ya think, BOL!!! (Click to bigify)

A couple of weeks ago we got an email from the nice folks at They said they wanted me to try out one of their cool tags. So we went to their site and ordered one. I chose the Earth tag, since I'm a green dog, ya know :)

It was super easy to order, and they have so many cool designs, it was difficult to decide. The unique thing about this company is that Dog Tag Art provides really unique, indestructible pet tags printed with crowdsourced artwork. All the artwork on the tags are provided by talented artists who make a little money on the side if their tag sells. Pretty cool huh?

And they say the tags are made of indestructible aluminum, so they're guaranteed for life! We even had it personalized (on the back) with my name, contact phone, vet emergency number and my microchip number - just in case. And they have a contest a couple of times a year. Send in your photo with your tag and you could win some prizes.

Have to tell ya, I like 'em! And I could have one for every single one of my moods :)


Monday, September 28, 2009


Humanity and Pets Partnered Through the Years (HAPPY)

Posted: 24 Sep 2009 11:42 AM PDT


A good friend alerted me to this Bill in the House of Representatives that aims to help pet owners with a tax deduction. Further proof that pets are family, just like ... our other relatives. I won't say just like kids, although to many of us, they are just like kids.

The bill notes that: 63% of US households have a pet. That's pet - not just a four-legged creature living with us; a PET - a beloved member of the family. My explanation, not theirs.

It also goes on to say that "the human-animal bond has been shown to have positive effects upon people's emotional and physical well-being." We've discussed that here, from time to time. Therapy dogs and therapy cats are very common, these days.

So, the essence of this Bill is to allow a deduction for the cost of "pet care expenses," to a maximum of $3500. They do go on to cite what qualifies as a pet care expense, such as "amounts paid in connection with providing care - including veterinary care- for a qualified pet other than any expense in connection with the acquition of the qualified pet."


The Humane Society is in favor of this. I am in favor of this. I know many pet owners, Moms and Dads, and pet lovers, that are in favor of this. We can only make it happen if we use our right to speak up and tell our representatives that we are solidly behind this bill and we support it completely.

Your turn...share and share alike. And make your voice heard. (if the link does not go directly to the Bill, go to this gov't link and search on "pets" will take you there; the Bill is H. R. 3501)