Tag Archives: weight loss

Doggy quote of the month for December

pets-like-owners-expand-over-christmas-fanny-wright

Fanny Wright was born in Scotland and was a lecturer, social reformer and feminist.

If you are concerned about your dog’s caloric intake over Christmas, I strongly recommend a massage voucher for a gift – no calories, and we will get your dog moving better so they actually burn more calories which helps with weight loss.

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

Research reveals overweight dogs may live shorter lives

New research from the University of Liverpool and Mars Petcare’s WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition reveals overweight dogs are more likely to have shorter lives than those at ideal body weights.

Results from the study, conducted retrospectively across two decades and published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, revealed the lifespan of dogs that were overweight was up to two and a half years shorter when compared to ideal-weight dogs.

fat bulldog

The study examined more than 50,000 dogs across 12 of the most popular dog breeds. The effect of being overweight was seen in all breeds, although the magnitude of the effect differed, ranging from between five months less for male German Shepherds to two years and six months less for male Yorkshire Terriers.

Poorer quality of life

It is estimated that over a quarter of households (26%) in the UK and nearly half in the US (47.6%) own a dog. However despite our affection for canine companions, concern is growing that many pet owners are unaware of the serious health implications of dogs carrying extra weight. Pet obesity is steadily on the rise, with latest figures estimating one in three dogs and cats in the U.S. is overweight.

Although the study did not examine the reasons behind the extra pounds in dogs, feeding habits are thought to play a role in pet obesity. According to a recent Better Cities For Pets survey , more than half (54%) of cat and dog owners always or often give their pet food if they beg for it, and nearly a quarter (22%) of cat and dog owners sometimes overfeed their pet to keep them happy.

Study co-author and Professor of Small Animal Medicine at the University of Liverpool Alex German, said: “Owners are often unaware that their dog is overweight, and many may not realise the impact that it can have on health. What they may not know is that, if their beloved pet is too heavy, they are more likely to suffer from other problems such as joint disease, breathing issues, and certain types of cancer, as well as having a poorer quality of life. These health and wellbeing issues can significantly impact how long they live.

“For many owners, giving food, particularly tasty table scraps and tidbits, is the way we show affection for our pets. Being careful about what you feed your dog could go a long way to keeping them in good shape and enabling them to be around for many years to come.
“Worryingly, it is estimated only one in five pet owners always measures how much food they are giving their pet, with four in five (87%) always or often simply estimating the amount of food they think their pet needs at each serving.”

About the Study

The University of Liverpool and WALTHAM study was a retrospective, observational cohort study that leveraged demographic, geographic and clinical data from dogs that received care at BANFIELD® Pet Hospitals between April 1994 and September 2015. Data were available from 50,787 dogs across 12 of the most popular family breeds: Dachshund, German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, American Cocker Spaniel, Beagle, Boxer, Chihuahua, Pit Bull Terrier, Pomeranian, Shih Tzu, and Yorkshire Terrier. For each breed, the lifespan dogs whose owners reported them to be overweight and those in optimal body condition was compared.

As the largest general-veterinary practice in the world, Banfield has more than 1,000 hospitals across the United States and Puerto Rico comprised of veterinary teams who are committed to providing high-quality veterinary care for more than three million pets annually. The data extracted for this study included demographic (breed, sex, neuter status and date of birth) and geographic (latitude and longitude of the owner’s postcode) variables, plus data collected during in-clinic visits (date of visit, bodyweight and if available body condition), and date of death. Pedigree status and date of birth are both owner-reported parameters and were not verified by veterinary staff.

Source:  University of Liverpool

Pet obesity

October 12th is National Pet Obesity Awareness Day in the USA.  Pet obesity is a ‘first world’ problem; I often see dogs in my practice that are overweight or obese.

This handy obesity chart gives you an idea of how to score your dog’s (and cat’s) body condition:

Layout 1

A vet check is always advisable before starting your dog on a weight loss programme.  In my experience, weight loss isn’t just about dietary changes.  Massage and stretching combined with exercise can help your dog feel  better and move more freely – meaning more calories are burned to assist with any reduction in food intake.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

Canine cancer: the warning signs and the way to a cure?

According to the Animal Cancer Foundation, one in four dogs will develop cancer in their lifetime.  That’s a pretty scary statistic.  A diagnosis of a malignant cancer for one’s dog is just as traumatic and worrying as a diagnosis of the disease in any member of the family.

Experts in both human and canine cancers agree that we still have much to learn about the types of these diseases and how to treat them.

The National Veterinary Cancer Registry has been launched recently to identify and register pets diagnosed with cancer.  The Registry’s goal is to facilitate and promote medical treatments that lead to advances, higher success rates and eventual cures for cancer in pets and people by matching animals with cancer to clinical trials for new cancer treatments.

NVCR logo

The Registry is a joint venture between the CARE Foundation, Baylor University Medical Center (BUMC) at Dallas and the Texas Veterinary Oncology Group.

Dr Gerald S Post, Founder and President of the Animal Cancer Foundation says there are 10 warning signs of cancer in both dogs and cats.  They are:

1. Swollen lymph nodes: These “glands” are located all throughout the body but are most easily detected behind the jaw or behind the knee. When these lymph nodes are enlarged they can suggest a common form of cancer called lymphoma. A biopsy or cytology of these enlarged lymph nodes can aid in the diagnosis.

2. An enlarging or changing lump: Any lump on a pet that is rapidly growing or changing in texture or shape should have a biopsy. Lumps belong in biopsy jars, not on pets.

3. Abdominal distension: When the “stomach” or belly becomes rapidly enlarged, this may suggest a mass or tumor in the abdomen or it may indicate some bleeding that is occurring in this area. A radiograph or an ultrasound of the abdomen can be very useful.

4. Chronic weight loss: When a pet is losing weight and you have not put your pet on a diet, you should have your pet checked. This sign is not diagnostic for cancer, but can indicate that something is wrong. Many cancer patients have weight loss.

5. Chronic vomiting or diarrhea: Unexplained vomiting or diarrhea should prompt further investigation. Often tumors of the gastrointestinal tract can cause chronic vomiting and/or diarrhea. Radiographs, ultrasound examinations and endoscopy are useful diagnostic tools when this occurs.

6. Unexplained bleeding: Bleeding from the mouth, nose, penis, vagina or gums that is not due to trauma should be examined. Although bleeding disorders do occur in pets, they usually are discovered while pets are young. If unexplained bleeding starts when a pet is old, a thorough search should be undertaken.

7. Cough: A dry, non-productive cough in an older pet should prompt chest radiographs to be taken. This type of cough is the most common sign of lung cancer. Please remember there are many causes of cough in dogs and cats.

8. Lameness: Unexplained lameness especially in large or giant breed dogs is a very common sign of bone cancer. Radiographs of the affected area are useful for detecting cancer of the bone.

9. Straining to urinate: Straining to urinate and blood in the urine usually indicate a common urinary tract infection; if the straining and bleeding are not rapidly controlled with antibiotics or are recurrent, cancer of the bladder may be the underlying cause. Cystoscopy or other techniques that allow a veterinarian to take a biopsy of the bladder are useful and sometimes necessary to establish a definitive diagnosis in these cases.

10. Oral odor: Oral tumors do occur in pets and can cause a pet to change its food preference (i.e. from hard to soft foods) or cause a pet to change the manner in which it chews its food. Many times a foul odor can be detected in pets with oral tumors. A thorough oral examination with radiographs or CT scan, necessitating sedation, is often necessary to determine the cause of the problem.

The ‘miracle’ of weight loss

I caught up with an acquaintance this week who had asked me a while ago for a recommendation of a vet who could give her a second opinion on her dog’s heart condition.  Her Chihuahua was on many different medications for heart problems and she was not happy with her health or progress.

So I asked her how things were going…and she told me that she had managed to get her dog off all medications.

The miracle cure?  ‘We’ve taken one kilo (2.2 pounds) off of her’

Wow.  A Chihuahua is a very small dog and so a kilo of extra weight is definitely classed as obesity.  Here’s what an obese Chihuahua looks like:

An obese Chihuahua

An obese Chihuahua

It is in your dog’s best interest to manage their weight and keep it in the healthy range.  This is usually achieved with a combination of exercise and a proper diet.

Obesity shortens lives!

Watching your dog’s waistline

Body condition score

Take a look at the chart above.  It shows you how to spot ideal body condition on a dog.  Earlier this week, I was speaking with someone and she commented that she felt Daisy was too thin.  In fact, Daisy had just been to the veterinarian for her health check and was declared to be in ideal condition with an excellent body score.

The problem is that the person speaking with me owns several obese and overweight dogs.  She knows her dogs must lose weight, but she has become so accustomed to seeing an overweight dog that a dog in good condition looks too thin to her.

I work with dogs who need to lose weight by recommending exercise programmes combined with making the dog comfortable through massage, acupressure and laser therapies.  Dogs don’t get fat overnight; their weight loss programmes take a bit of time too.

Over these holidays, please don’t overfeed your dog.  And take the time to review the body conditions listed above.  If your dog isn’t in ideal condition, what do you need to do to get them there?

Another reason to keep your dog fit and trim

University of Liverpool researchers have found that obese dogs can experience metabolic syndrome, a condition that describes multiple health issues that occur in the body at the same time.  Obese humans suffer from the same syndrome.

The condition occurs when a number of health problems, such as increased blood glucose and increased cholesterol levels, develop together, with the potential to increase the risk of other diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

In a study of 35 obese dogs, 20% had metabolic syndrome.  These dogs had increased blood insulin which suggests that the pancreas is working harder than normal.  Blood adiponectin, a protein produced by fat cells that helps control sugars and fats, was also at lower levels than normal.

The metabolic abnormalities improved when the dogs successfully lost weight.

The research team admits that they have to study the impacts in more detail to understand the health implications of metabolic syndrome.

However, why wait for more studies?  If your dog is overweight we already know that their quality of life improves with weight loss.

Source: University of Liverpool media release