Thursday, January 20, 2011

I’m Not Fat….I’m Fluffy! Portly Pups and Corpulent Cats

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One of the world’s fastest growing health threats is not a virus or a bacterium. Even though it is not contagious, it is spreading rapidly. It has spread to all countries, from the developed to the poor. It is devastating the public health of the population and adding millions of dollars in health care costs. It has become so common that in 1997 the World Health Organization (WHO) formally recognized it as a global epidemic. The epidemic has even spread to our pets, and has become just as serious a threat to their health and lifespan as it is to ours.
What is this growing health crisis? Obesity.
Obesity is an abnormal accumulation of body fat, usually 20% or more over an individual's ideal body weight. Obesity is associated with increased risk of illness, disability, and death.
According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), over 45% of dogs and 58% of cats are estimated to be overweight or obese. “Pet obesity is now the biggest health threat to pets in the US,” states lead researcher Dr. Ernie Ward. “The costs of obesity in illness and injury make it the number one medical issue seen in today’s veterinary hospitals.”
People no longer seem to have a concept that their pets are overweight. In our “super-size” society, pets that would have been considered overweight 20 years ago are today seen by their owners as normal, in part because we are surrounded by so many overweight pets. Veterinarians often have to tread lightly when approaching the subject with the owners of pudgy pets. Larry Kornegay, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association, who has a private practice in Houston, says he sees an overweight pet nearly every day, and usually the owner is overweight as well. “I talk about their pet’s health. Still, some clients take it personally.”
Veterinarian Bernadine Cruz of Laguna Woods, CA, states “We have a skewed notion of what’s really overweight, because we supersize everything.” Cruz says pets are often in her office in the first place because of symptoms they are having, and it turns out that being overweight has worsened their conditions.
So, just what is “overweight” in regards to our pets?
To put it in perspective, let’s compare their weight proportionally to a human’s. According to APOP, if a Yorkshire terrier weighs 12 lbs, it is equivalent to a woman of average height weighing 223 lbs. A 14 lb cat is equivalent to a 237 lb man. Increase the cat’s weight to 20 lbs, and it is equal to the same man weighing 300 lbs. Each pound on a cat is equal to between 13-15 lbs on a person.
Other than the numbers on the scale, how can you tell if your pet is overweight? There are a number of ways to check. Some of the more obvious signs are:
  • Difficulty feeling ribs under the fat layer on your pet’s sides
  • Sagging stomach – you can grab a handful of fat
  • Broad, flat back
  • No visible waist when viewed from above
  • Roll of fat on the neck or over the tail
How does obesity affect a pet’s health and life span?
Just as in people, obesity can cause a number of serious health conditions. Overweight pets are likely to have a shortened life span. Obesity-related disorders not only cause pets needless suffering and discomfort, they also cost pet owners tens of millions of dollars each year.
There is a laundry list of potential health issues related to obesity. Some of the most common are:
  • Osteoarthritis – arthritis related to excess weight can occur in both dogs and cats. This is a painful condition made worse by excess wear and tear on the joints.
  • Diabetes or Insulin Resistance: overweight pets often develop problems with blood sugar regulation. Diabetes itself causes a number of issues, including heart disease, nerve damage, kidney problems, vision problems, and more.
  • High Blood Pressure: excess fat tissue secretes hormones that cause the heart to pump harder and blood vessels to constrict.
  • Respiratory disorders: many overweight pets , especially short-faced breeds, can develop serious breathing problems if they are obese.
  • Heart Disease: the heart has to work harder to pump blood through the body.
  • Cancer: obesity has been shown to increase the chances of many forms of cancer.
Other issues can occur as well. Putting an obese pet under anesthetic can be tricky. There are also behavioral issues that may result. An arthritic dog may snap at a child who accidentally pushes him over , or a cat that can barely fit inside his litter box may decide to use the carpet instead. Either of these things could lead to a pet being given up to a shelter.
Okay, so you have determined that your pet is not just fluffy….he or she is FAT. How did they get that way, and what do we do about it?
Next time we will look at causes of obesity, and changes to diet and lifestyle to help your pet be fit and healthy again.

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Saturday, January 15, 2011

10 Dog Foods that May Lead to Cancer

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10 Dog Foods that May Lead to Cancer

According to Dr. Carol, one out of every five pets is affected with cancer. In fact, she reports on an 80% increase in breast or mammary cancer and a 100% increase in prostate cancer. She attributes this to ineffective cancer treatments and lack of prevention of cancer.

According to Colorado State University, as many as 50% of pets die of cancer, making it a leading cause of pet death. With loads to worry about and treatments being insanely expensive, what can you do now to help prevent cancer in the future? Below, we have gathered ten dog foods that may lead to cancer to keep off of your next shopping trip. Many of these foods have also been known to cause illness in humans and are also a good choice to stay away from in all pet and people foods.

1. Maple Syrup
Found in only one percent of dog food, this may not be a leading cause of cancer but it does feed cancer according to Natural News. The sugar found in it can also cause weight gain, arthritis, hyperactivity, and others. However, this blog entry does get top spots for being part of “Pet Food Ingredients Revealed!” Other shocking entries and cancer causing agents are revealed. Free to read online, you can check out ingredients listed from best to worst, used with the most frequency, and alphabetically.

2. BHT/BHA and Ethoxyquin
These are preservatives that are often used in pet foods to preserve fats and stabilize the entire product. Developed in 1950, Ethoxyquin has actually been shown to have similar properties to Agent Orange, a poison used during the Vietnam War. Humans who were working with it in the rubber industry reported a dramatic rise in such diseases as cancerous skin lesions, loss of hair, blindness, leukemia, fetal abnormalities, and chronic diarrhea. In animals, it has been linked to immune deficiency syndrome, spleen, stomach and liver cancer, along with the same diseases in humans.

3. Cancer Tissue
You read that correctly. According to Precious Pets, animals that have cancer often find themselves becoming part of the pet food industry. With different standards for pet food, many cows, chickens, and other farm animals that are diseased – possibly even with cancer – find themselves becoming part of the pet food chain. Tina Perry has much more on a behind the scenes look at commercial pet food.

4. Genetically Modified Organisms
Also bad for people, genetically engineered food can be bad for dogs. They are often used to accelerate the growth of many crops, including corn, which can find their way into dog food. It is far more difficult to trace these GMO’s in dog food, but there is this entry from Yesterday and Tomorrow. It lists the dangers of genetic engineering and even lists foods that are good for pets.

5. Aflatoxin
This substance is so toxic it actually gets recalled, although not in every state. The toxic chemical is a by-product made by certain types of mold. Although it cannot be read off pet foods that include ingredients on the package, ABC does include a list of recalled foods that recently occurred in seventeen states. Brand names included Pet Pride, Old Yeller, and Kroger Value.

6. Blue 1 and Blue 2
These artificial colorings are used in candy, beverages, and baked goods. They have also been found in pet food and have been known to cause brain tumors in mice, according to Six Wise. You can also view the entire list of 12 dangerous food additives that are bad for both people and pets.

7. Gluten
Did you know that certain people can be allergic to wheat? Keeping in the tradition of what is bad for people is bad for pets, certain dogs can also be allergic to it, leading to a host of unexplained symptoms. While no link to cancer has been drawn, if your pet is having trouble with their diets, gluten may be the reason. Check out this article from Doctor J, an expert in gluten sensitivity in both people and pets.

8. Glyphosate
A current popular agricultural pesticide is known as Roundup. One of its active ingredients is glyphosate, which is highly toxic. Dr. Carol is a holistic veterinarian and warns of the dangers of this pesticide in pet and people foods. DNA damage and permanent mutations are a concern of the veterinarian. She also includes loads of cancer preventing tips for animals which include diet, exercise, vaccinations, spaying, and visiting the vet.

9. Fluoride
That stuff that is supposed to be good for fighting cavities can actually be harmful to pets. The Pet Examiner reported on a study done by the Environmental Working Group on popular dog foods. They found that all the brands of dog food tested all were found to contain bone meal and animal byproducts. It is believed that these ingredients are the source of fluoride contamination. Excessive fluoride can lead to weakened bones and teeth and even cancer.

10. Grains
The Dog Cancer Diet is a site that specializes in help treating diagnosed pets with the best in nutrition. In this section, they recommend that dogs and pets stay away from grains. They did not evolve on grains – which include rice, wheat, and corn – and should not be treated as such. They recommend that owners look for the primary ingredient to be meat. While grains are allowed, they should be farther down the list.

If looking for more on pets and disease, there is more to be found than the above ten dog foods that may lead to cancer. Another good source of cancer information is the Animal Cancer Center. Part of Colorado State University, they are researching and investigating into cancer in animals. Visit to learn more, get treatment options, and even read information about clinical trials.

If looking to avoid the entire host of pet food perils, there are loads of resources on the internet for making your own. Both Allrecipes and Dogtime include loads of homemade recipes for pets, some of which can actually be made on both the cheap and healthy.

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Sunday, January 9, 2011

A letter to your pets

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Pet lovers will understand!

The following was found posted very low on a refrigerator door.

Dear Dogs and Cats:

  • The dishes with the paw prints are yours and contain your food. The other dishes are mine and contain my food.
  • Placing a paw print in the middle of my plate and food does not stake a claim for it becoming your food and dish, nor do I find that aesthetically pleasing in the slightest.
  • The stairway was not designed by NASCAR and is not a racetrack. Racing me to the bottom is not the object. Tripping me doesn't help because I fall faster than you can run.
  • I cannot buy anything bigger than a king sized bed. I am very sorry about this. Do not think I will continue sleeping on the couch to ensure your comfort, however.
  • Dogs and cats can actually curl up in a ball when they sleep. It is not necessary to sleep perpendicular to each other, stretched out to the fullest extent possible. I also know that sticking tails straight out and having tongues hanging out on the other end to maximize space is nothing but sarcasm.
  • For the last time, there is no secret exit from the bathroom! If, by some miracle, I beat you there and manage to get the door shut, it is not necessary to claw, whine, meow, try to turn the knob or get your paw under the edge in an attempt to open the door.I must exit through the same door I entered. Also, I have been using the bathroom for years - canine/feline attendance is not required.
  • The proper order for kissing is: Kiss me first, then go smell the other dog or cat's butt.I cannot stress this enough.

Finally, in fairness, dear pets, I have posted the following message on the front door:

  • They live here. You don't.
  • If you don't want their hair on your clothes, stay off the furniture. That's why they call it 'fur'-niture.
  • I like my pets a lot better than I like most people.
  • To you, they are animals. To me, they are adopted sons/daughters who are short, hairy, walk on all fours and don't speak clearly.
Remember, dogs and cats are better than kids because they:
  • eat less,
  • don't ask for money all the time,
  • are easier to train,
  • normally come when called,
  • never ask to drive the car,
  • don't smoke or drink,
  • don't want to wear your clothes,
  • don't have to buy the latest fashions,
  • don't need a gazillion dollars for college and
  • if they get pregnant, you can sell their children

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