November 2020 Blogs

November is National Pet Diabetes Month

November is National Pet Diabetes Month, but with more than 50 percent of the nation’s cats and dogs overweight or obese, raising awareness of the common endocrine disease has been extended to pets – rather than just their human caretakers. It is estimated that one in every 200 cats may be affected by diabetes, being the most common endocrine condition found in felines. The numbers for dogs are similar and only expected to increase.

Diabetes results when a pet’s body doesn’t produce enough insulin (Type I DM) or doesn’t process it properly (Type II DM). When your pet eats, carbohydrates found in his or her food are converted into simple sugars, one of which is glucose. Glucose is then absorbed into the bloodstream through the intestines and travels to cells throughout the body. Inside cells, insulin typically helps turn the glucose into fuel. However, when there isn’t enough insulin, glucose can’t even enter the cells to be converted into energy and instead just builds up in the bloodstream.

National Pet Diabetes Month

Symptoms of Diabetes in Cats and Dogs:

At-risk pets include:

Although diabetes can’t be cured, it can be managed so that symptoms are reduced or eliminated entirely. Your veterinarian will decide which treatment options are best for your pet. Often, changes in diet and lifestyle, combined with or without daily insulin injections, can help your pet live a happy, healthy, active life.

If you’ve noticed any of the above symptoms in your pet and suspect he or she may have diabetes, contact your veterinarian today. Veterinarians are the only professionals who can accurately diagnose your pet and provide proper health management. Diabetes can affect a pet differently over time, even if your pet has experienced a long period of stability. The sooner your pet is diagnosed, the better, and the less likely you'll incur the cost of an expensive emergency visit for diabetic complications.

Celebrate Thanksgiving Safely with Your Pets

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to gather with family and friends and indulge in delicious holiday treats. You can be sure that if your cat or dog is around for the festivities, they'll want to share some of the goodies, too. But no matter how much your pets purr, plead, whine or whimper, owners should remember that holiday treats that are tasty for people can be potentially harmful for pets.

Thanksgiving foods may look tasty to your pet, but they could be harmful.

The typical Thanksgiving spread is flush with a variety of foods, from savory fare like turkey and stuffing to sweet foods like yams and cream pies. Your pet's diet is much blander and boring, and for good reason—foods with lots of fat, dairy and spices can cause vomiting and diarrhea in pets. For this reason, it's best to avoid letting Rover dine on the usual turkey day leftovers. If you must give your pet some holiday foods, stick to dishes like boiled potatoes or rice, which will not upset your pet's stomach.

Some holiday foods, however, can cause much more than an upset stomach in your pet. Garlic and onions are members of the allium family and, if eaten in large quantities, can cause hemolytic anemia, a blood disorder that causes red blood cells to burst. Raisins and grapes are also toxic to pets and have been linked to kidney failure.

Chocolate is one of the most dangerous foods that pets can eat—it's also one of the most prevalent holiday foods. Whether chocolate is found in cookies, cakes, truffles or baking squares, any amount can be dangerous. Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, both methylxanthines that can cause stimulation of the nervous system, increased heart rate and tremors. Signs of chocolate poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, hyperactivity and increased thirst, urination and heart rate.

Chocolate is dangerous for pets

Other sweet treats, like gum and hard candies, can also make your pet ill. Sugar-free candies and gum are made with xylitol, a sugar substitute that can cause a drop in blood sugar, depression, loss of coordination and seizures in your pet. Xylitol is also linked to liver failure in dogs. Be sure to keep all candies, chocolate and other sweets out of your pet's reach. If you believe your pet may have ingested chocolate or candy, call your veterinarian immediately.

You may also be tempted to give your dog a leftover turkey bone or two once the table is cleared. However, poultry bones are small and easily breakable and can easily shatter and get caught in your pet's throat. These bones can cause damage to your pet's throat or lead to choking.

Holidays can also be as stressful for your pet as they are for you. Large gatherings of unfamiliar people may cause your dog or cat unnecessary stress and worry. If your pet does not interact well with strangers, keeping him or her in a separate room during the festivities may help keep your pet relaxed and worry-free.

During holiday gatherings, it's a good idea to keep your veterinarian's phone number handy. If your pet does get a hold of some Thanksgiving food and experiences mild vomiting or diarrhea, you can help settle their stomach by withholding food for a few hours then feeding small amounts of boiled rice and cooked hamburger. If the symptoms persist, contact your veterinarian immediately.

The Health Benefits of Owning a Pet

Owning a pet is a lot like having a child. It will require food and drink, opportunities for physical and mental exercise, guidance, attention and love. And, it will give you something back in return. There’s an adage that claims “healthy pet, healthy you,” and it’s true for several reasons.

Imagine bringing a new puppy home. You’re already on the road to being a good pet parent because you’ve done some reading and know how important socialization is for young animals living in a world full of people and the sights and sounds that go with that. After getting settled at home and making sure your pet has visited your veterinarian for any necessary vaccines, you decide to introduce your pet to your neighborhood by taking him for a walk. As you strut around the block with your new prized possession, people begin to notice your adorable ball of fluff. Children and adults you pass will ask to pet your pooch and conversation will follow about his age, breed and so on. These conversations continue to occur and grow into possible friendships at training classes, the dog park and even with other pet-minded individuals online. Pet ownership increases opportunities for exercise, outdoor activities and socialization – as quickly as that.

family with pet

Pets Lead to More Physical Activity and Socialization

With all those bathroom walks and outdoor adventures, it isn’t surprising to find dog owners are more physically active and less likely to be obese than those without a canine to care for. Other pets may not require outdoor walks, but they do require cage or litter-box cleanings, daily replenishing of food and water, and some form of indoor exercise or interaction that takes away from time which may otherwise be spent planted in front of a television.

Pets can also influence us to be more social and develop relationships with other people and their pets. This may not seem important, but studies have shown people with more social relationships often live longer and are less likely to experience both metal and physical decline as they age.

Additional Health Benefits of Pet Ownership

Heart Health: The National Institute of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have both conducted studies showing people with pets are less likely to suffer from heart attack. Pets are proven to lower blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and because pets help reduce stress, pet owners who are recovering from a heart attack will do so more quickly.

Emotional Health: There’s nothing quite like coming home to a wagging tail or purring cat. In addition to reducing feelings of loneliness, pets provide their owners with a sense of purpose, which is crucial in combating depression. It’s understandable why pets are used to bring joy to the sick or elderly in hospitals and nursing homes.

Immune System Health: Research published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology has shown children develop stronger immune systems when exposed to animals early in life. One pediatrician found having a pet in the home can lower a child’s likelihood of developing pet allergies by as much as 33 percent.