Obesity and weight loss

Obesity is one of the most common nutritional disorders seen in both cats and dogs. Animals that are overweight are predisposed to a range of health problems.

These health problems can include:

• Diabetes
• Cardiovascular disease (heart disease)
• Degenerative joint and orthopedic disease (including arthritis)
• Joint stress or musculoskeletal pain
• Respiratory problems
• Cancer and tumours
• Skin problems
• Hypertension (high blood pressure)
• Reproductive disorders
• Decreased quality of life
• Shorter life expectancy

So, what causes obesity?

We love our pets a lot, but sometimes we can love them too much. By giving in to those adorable begging eyes and giving them extra treats, we are potentially causing them harm. Overeating and lack of exercise are the leading causes of obesity and ones that we luckily have control over.

There can also be medical factors that could contribute to your furry friend weight issues; it is therefore important to talk to one of our vets before you embark on your pet’s weight loss journey.

How do I know if my pet is overweight?

There are a few signs that your pet might be overweight, these can include:
• Difficulty feeling your pet's ribs
• Little to no waist
• A reluctance to exercise
• A waddle to their walk

Oh no! I think my pet is overweight. What do I do now?

Our team is here to help both you and your pet, book in an appointment with one of our vets to discuss a tailored weight loss plan. This may include a change in diet and exercise routine


Is your pet suffering from separation anxiety?

Lots of people have added a new fur baby to their families over the past few months during the pandemic. It was the perfect time to stay home and train them and make sure they got the best start to life. Now that we are slowly returning to normal and your pet is alone more often, you may notice some signs that your furry family member is struggling to adjust to the changes.

Signs of separation anxiety in your pet

Chewing and other destructive behaviour

You may notice that your furry family is being more destructive than usual. They may be chewing things around the house, digging in the back yard or destroying furniture. While this can just be a normal part of your pet growing up, if they tend to only show this destructive behaviour when no one else is around, it may be a sign of separation anxiety.

Urinating and defecating inside

Another warning sign of separation anxiety for both cats and dogs is if they are intentionally doing their business where they know they are not supposed to - right in front of your eyes.

Escaping

A dog with separation anxiety might try to escape from their confinement, whether it be the backyard, a crate or inside the house.

Excessive grooming

For cats specifically, you may notice they are excessively grooming resulting in hair loss or sores.

Recurring cystitis

This is also a warning sign for separation anxiety in cats. Recurring inflammation of the bladder leads to symptoms such as straining to urinate, bloody urine and relieving themselves in unusual places.

Treating separation anxiety

The good news is there are many ways that our veterinary team can help you and your furry family member adjust to their new lifestyle. This can include:

  • Behaviour modification
  • Crate training
  • Increased exercise
  • Stimulating toys
  • Pheromone therapy
  • Medication

If you suspect your pet is suffering from separation anxiety, make an appointment with your vet today. If you are a Best for Pet member, your consultation will be at no extra cost!


2021 Pet Parent Checklist

The new year is a great time for resolutions and new goals, it is also a great time to make sure your pet is set for the year ahead. 2020 was a challenging year for everybody and as we go back to normal, our pets may find the change difficult. Here is a handy checklist to make sure your pet is set for 2021.

Does your pet have an up-to-date ID tag?

Bored pets are more likely to escape. If your pet escapes on an impromptu adventure and is found by a stranger, having an up-to-date ID tag with your current information can ensure your pet is returned safely to you.

Is your pet microchipped?

Similarly, if your pet is found without an owner or ID tag and is handed into your local vet clinic or council, a valid microchip is needed to confirm the identity of its owner and notify them.

Is your pet registered with the council?

The benefits of registering your pet are the ease of reuniting pets with their owners. The registration fees paid goes to maintenance and patrols of off-leash parks and fenced dog parks, school education visits and other pet related council initiatives.

Book them in for an annual wellness check

Booking your pet in for their annual wellness check at the beginning of the year will make it easy to remember when they are due. Annual wellness checks are important as they help to detect and protect your pet from diseases and other health problems before they become bigger issues. Often times, our pet’s can be sick without showing any symptoms at all, which is why it is good to bring them in annually to ensure they are healthy and happy.

Start a schedule of flea and worming treatment

One of the most important parts of being a pet parent is making sure your furry family member is up to date on their flea and worming treatment.

Book in their annual booster vaccinations

Up-to-date vaccinations are crucial to maintaining your pet’s health and lifestyle. We recommended that you schedule at least one yearly veterinary appointment for your pet. This can be done during their annual wellness check.

 


How to tell if your pet is in pain

If you’ve ever had a pet in pain then you know that they seem to suffer in silence.  Unlike us, your pets can’t tell you when they’re in pain and oftentimes show few observable symptoms. We’ve put together a few things to keep an eye out for that may indicate that your furry family member is feeling discomfort.

Sometimes when a pet is in pain, you may see subtle changes in their behaviour. Cats may sleep more and resist jumping, dogs may be hesitant to go on a walk. Any changes in behaviour can be a sign of pain or other health issues and we recommend taking your furry family to see one of our veterinary team.

Signs of pain in dogs can include:

  • Anxious or submissive behaviour
  • Whimpering and howling
  • Aggressive behaviour such as growling or biting
  • Refusal to move or guarding behaviour
  • Loss of appetite

Sign of pain in cats can include:

  • Changes in defecation and urinary habits
  • Quietness or lack of agility
  • Excessive grooming seen as patches of hair loss
  • Guarding behaviour
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite

If you notice any of the above changes in your furry family member, book in a visit to see one of our veterinarians to ensure your pet is happy and healthy!


Dog mouth with tongue hanging out

What does bad breath mean for your pet?

Dog mouth with tongue hanging out

Bad breath in our pets isn’t just a remanence of what they have eaten, but a sign of more serious diseases lurking in their mouth or elsewhere in the body.

What causes bad breath?

The number one cause of bad breath is periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is caused by a build-up of bacteria, tartar and plaque which then damages the gums, teeth and oral ligaments and can cause our pets' teeth to fall out. The bacteria that sits on the teeth can then move its way through the body and damage vital organs.

Some other causes of bad breath are:

  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease
  • Cancers
  • Skin infections
  • Foreign bodies

My pet has bad breath, what do I do?

If you have identified that your p

et has bad breath, it’s important that you visit us to narrow down what the cause is.

If the smell is because of periodontal disease, professional cleaning along with at-home tooth brushing and good oral health can aide in cure and prevention. If the smell is caused by something else, once treated, the smell should go away.

It’s important to have regular check-ups with us, that way issues can be identified before it is too late.

Prevention is the best medicine

Like us humans, maintaining good oral hygiene is key to good breath. The same goes for our furry friends. To avoid issues relating to periodontal disease brush your pet's teeth often with a soft toothbrush and pet-friendly toothpaste, feed them food that is designed with your pet’s dental health in mind and feed them a dental chew daily.

If you are noticing a bad smell as your pet breathes, it is important that you arrange an appointment with us as soon as possible so we can determine what the cause is and discuss possible treatment options.


Cat snuggled in blanket

Pet seizures and how to respond

Cat snuggled in blanketJust like humans, our pets can also suffer from seizures. Whether caused by a pre-existing condition or seemingly out of the blue, it is important as a pet parent to understand the causes, signs and how to respond.

What is a seizure?

A seizure occurs when an abnormal amount of electrical activity occurs in the brain. This can happen suddenly and cause the body to shake tremendously. The severity and duration of a seizure can vary depending on the cause.

What causes seizures in pets?

It’s valuable to know what can cause seizures in our pets. Seizures are caused by a range of issues including:

  • Consuming poisons or toxins
  • Liver, kidney or other diseases that affect metabolic balance or cause toxin build up
  • Brain tumours
  • Brain trauma or injuries
  • Pre-existing conditions such as Epilepsy

Seizures are likely to occur when there is a change in the brain’s activity. This could be during increased excitement (eg. Feeding) or when your pet is waking up or falling asleep.

How do I know if my pet is having a seizure?

Signs that your pet is having a seizure include:

  • Collapsing
  • Jerking body movements
  • Muscle twitching and a paddling leg motion
  • Sudden unconsciousness
  • Drooling or foaming at the mouth
  • Involuntary urination or defecation

Before and after a seizure, some pets can look dazed, confused and become disorientated.

My pet has a seizure, what should I do?

  1. Remain calm. Try to gently slide your pet away from anything they could injure themselves on.
  2. Avoid their head and mouth. Dogs cannot choke on their own tongue, so don’t need their head supported or anything in their mouth. They may also bite you accidentally if they are touched.
  3. Keep time. Track how long the seizure lasts. If a seizure lasts more than a couple of minutes, it can cause the body to overheat. Keep your pet cool by placing a fan over them and putting cold water on their paws.
  4. Let your dog know that you are there by speaking softly. Again, avoid touching as they may bite.
  5. Contact your vet. Especially if the seizure lasts more than 5 minutes or continues to have them. Prolonged seizures put your pet at risk of developing brain damage.

If you think your pet is having a seizure, please contact our clinic immediately.


Dog in dog house with bone

Moving house with your pet

Many of us dread moving house, and even the thought of it can be a stressful experience. This can also be the case for our pets. Pets become attached to familiar spaces and can become territorial. It’s important to keep your pet comfortable before, during and after you move them to a new location.

Before the move

Before moving, we recommend:

  • Seeing your Veterinarian - especially if you are moving to a new area. Make sure that their vaccinations are up to date and if you are moving to a new location, you take a copy of your pet’s medical records too. We have clinics all over the country, so ask us to refer you to one of our colleagues.
  • Organising your pets’ space: Plan where it will go before your pet moves in. If they walk in and see a familiar space, it can help them feel at home and at ease.

During the move

This is the time that can cause the most angst for pets. If you know your pet may get anxious, Adaptil and Feliway are safe, non-drug options that can help relax your pet and settle them into their new space.

Your pet and pet belongings should be the last thing that gets packed, and the first thing unpacked.

Whilst on the road to your new house, be sure to stop for regular breaks (these may be more frequent for some pets) and that your pet can easily access water. If the move is too much for your pet, it might be an idea to put them in a boarding facility or let them stay with a friend.

After the move

Just like us, our pets are getting used to the new environment. Learning the new space around them and where everything is. Below are 3 things you can do to help your pet settle in.

  1. Be sure you show your pets where they can access their bed, food, water and their toilet.
  2. Stick to your normal routine. If you stick to your normal routine, your pet will notice this familiar behaviour and can feel more at ease.
  3. Give them love and attention. Be sure to play with your pet and help them feel loved during this process of change.

If you are ever concerned about moving with your pet, ask one of our team for advice.

If you have recently moved, be sure to let your local Vet know and update your records. Also, don’t forget to update your pets microchip details as well.


Sad overweight dog

Helping your dog lose weight

Sad overweight dog
Pet owners need to be strict with their dog's diet

We all want our furry family members to be happy so sometimes we spoil them with sneaky snacks or a little extra food. These seemingly innocent actions on a regular basis may contribute to our pets’ weight and obesity – which can lead to a number of serious medical issues.

A good indicator to tell if your pet is overweight is if you can’t feel their ribs or they lose their waistline. A pet with a healthy bodyweight should have an hourglass shape when looked at from above, and you should be able to feel the tops of their vertebrae when running your hand along their spine. Overweight pets can be reluctant to play and can find exercise or movement painful. Swapping those unhealthy treats for a healthy, balanced diet plus regular exercise, has been shown to give your pet a longer and happier life.

If you suspect your pet is overweight, your first step will be to visit your local Veterinarian. Once the Vet assesses your pet you will likely be given:

  • Instructions to maintain a healthy diet that include recommendations on food and portion sizes.
  • An exercise plan tailored to your pet that will provide sufficient movement and exercise for your pet to lose weight.

The importance of specialty food in weight loss

While simply decreasing the amount of food in each meal could help your pet lose weight it is not recommended. Smaller amounts of their usual food can reduce the amount of nutrients they are receiving. Instead, your Veterinarian may recommend a specially designed food to complement the weight loss program. These specialty foods are highly-digestible and high in nutrients while having reduced calories.

The importance of regular exercise

Exercising not only helps your pet lose weight but also helps the body and metabolic system to function properly, and engages the mind. You may have to start off small and slow and first with your dog’s exercise plan. Depending on how overweight they are they may tire quickly or may end up overexerting themselves and causing injury. Swimming, in particular, can be a low impact yet effective exercise if your dog is struggling with long walks.

The next step is to stick to the plan with absolute vigilance. It is up to the pet owner to make sure the diet and exercise plans are followed. Any extra food, treats or missed exercise sessions will mean that it will take even longer for your pet to be happy and healthy again.

If there are other people in the house that feed your furry family member, make sure you are all on the same page with the eating times, portions and the amount of exercise needed. There is no benefit to sticking vigilantly to the plan if someone else in the house is giving your dog treats.


Dog and two cats in a nice home

The problem with the pancreas

Dog and two cats in a nice home
Avoid giving your pets treats and foods that are high in fat

As pet parents we can often forget that our furry family members aren’t just small versions of ourselves when it comes to food! While they may like a piece of bacon as a tasty treat or reward for good behaviour, foods that are high in fat – like bacon – are not as easily managed by our pet’s digestive system.

What is the Pancreas?

The Pancreas is an enzyme-producing gland that is part of an animal’s digestive system.  The Pancreas is essential in aiding proper digestion and maintaining blood glucose levels and can cause serious issues if not functioning properly.

What causes Pancreatitis?

When we allow our pets to indulge in foods that are high in fat, such as pork, beef or lamb, it can cause inflammation in the pancreas. Obesity can also increase the risk of your pet developing pancreatitis.

Symptoms of Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis can develop rapidly in both dogs and cats and if left untreated can sometimes cause permanent damage, peritonitis and even death.

The common symptoms include:

  • Anorexia/no appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness/Lethargy
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dehydration
  • Diarrhea

Diagnosing Pancreatitis

There are a range of clinical processes used to diagnose pancreatitis in your pet. Blood tests, x-rays and ultrasound are the key means of collecting supportive information for a diagnosis. Pancreatitis often needs to be treated at the veterinary clinic, including potential hospitalization, as your pet will require intravenous fluids, pain medications to manage the pain associated with this disease, anti-nausea and antiemetics and sometimes antibiotics.

How to avoid pancreatitis in pets

Avoid giving your pets treats and foods that are high in fat, as well as maintaining a healthy weight for your pet. If you are unsure about which foods are best, stick to the pet food recommended by our Veterinarians.


dog and cat eating from bowl

Maintaining a healthy weight for your pet: your questions answered

Helping your furry family member to maintain a healthy weight not only improves their quality of life but significantly reduces the risk of serious conditions associated with obesity. To help you keep your pet on track, we’ve answered some common questions on weight and nutrition.

What's a healthy weight for my pet?

Just as in humans, a healthy weight is not the same number for each pet. There are many factors that need to be taken into consideration such as breed, age, gender and overall health. The best way to determine the ideal weight for your best is to discuss with our team.

Dog weight scale Cat weight scale

…But my pet’s always been overweight.

There are some specific factors that could make your furry family member predisposed to weight gain, and therefore maintaining a healthy weight is even more important. There are several breeds of dog that are more likely to gain weight than others, including Beagles, Pugs, Labrador Retrievers, Cocker Spaniels, Scottish Terriers and Saint Bernards. Female dogs are also more likely to gain weight, and if your dog has been de-sexed they are more likely still; the frequency of obesity in de-sexed male and female dogs can be twice that of entire dogs.

For cats, some factors which may make your cat more likely to struggle with weight gain and obesity are:

  • Breed and sex
  • Aged between five and 10 years old, when their activity begins to decline
  • Fed very frequently and more than the recommended portion (or fed ad lib.)
Sad overweight dog
Pet owners need to be strict with their dog's diet

How do I maintain my pet’s weight?

Rigorously maintaining good eating practices is the most effective way to maintain your pet’s healthy weight.

  • Feed your pet at the same place, time and with the same bowl every time
  • Don’t feed them scraps
  • Don’t give in to begging
  • Swap their treats for kibble taken from their daily allowance of food
  • Weigh them once a month and have regular veterinary check-ups

How does being overweight or obese affect my pet?

When your pet is overweight or obese, it is increasingly likely to store the food it consumes as fat, rather than using it up. This happens because they are increasingly inactive and the energy your pet is expending is less than the energy it's taking in. This extra fat can begin to affect the function of specific organs – such as the liver – or ‘coats’ others, like arteries. The extra weight also puts pressure on your pet’s joints, leading to arthritis and degenerative joint disease.

What are the risks if my pet is overweight or obese?

In general, obesity can reduce your pet’s quality of life and life expectancy; it’s harder for it to play and move around, and surgical procedures or check-ups become more difficult. There are some other issues that can arise from obesity.

Diabetes

Obese pets can be more at risk of diabetes. Often, the diabetes can be reversed once any extra weight is lost (particularly in cats), as the accumulated fat which is directly responsible for a failure to regulate glucose is no longer present.

Arthritis

Obesity in pets is one of the leading causes of arthritis in cats and dogs as the excess weight can put unnecessary strain on the joints – particularly in older pets.

How do I exercise my cat?

While giving your dog exercise can be as easy as taking them for a walk, the way to exercise a cat can be less obvious.

Ensure that you have regular playtime with your cat, particularly if they live indoors. Indoor cats need, on average, a third fewer calories than outdoor cats due to their lower energy expenditure, so playing with them is a good way to increase their movement and reduce the likelihood of gaining weight.

Two minutes of playtime twice a day, gradually increasing as they get more active, is an excellent start. Give them toys they can play with by themselves, or food toys which encourage them to play with an object to get a few kibbles as a reward.

Which food is best for my overweight pet?

There are many specific types of wight management food that is designed to assist in your journey to help your furry family member lose weight. It is best to consult one of our Veterinarians on the best choice of food for you and your pet.