Category Archives: avma animal health awareness

Chubby Pets are Cute!… Right?

In the United States, an estimated 57.6% of dogs and 52.6% of cats are obese, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention.  The problem has reached epidemic proportions.

More than half of our furry loved ones are significantly overweight, and it’s time we give those statistics a second look.  Just as it does with humans, obesity severely affects our pets’ overall quality of life.  There are considerable consequences that come from ignoring this problem, and we owe it to our pets to understand exactly what those problems are.  Some of the risks associated with obesity in pets include:

  • Arthritis and general joint discomfort
  • Diabetes
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Kidney Disease
  • Increased Risk of Cancer

Do any of those issues sound familiar?  They should.  They are the same problems that humans experience as a result of poor body condition.

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Unfortunately, owners of obese pets suffer right alongside them, and it hits you where it really hurts: your wallet.  Pick any one of the secondary diseases that come about as a result of your pet’s obesity, and you will find that the cost to maintain their care is significant.  All of these diseases require ongoing monitoring, medications, and in some cases, life-saving procedures.

Financial impact aside, the biggest bummer of them all is watching your companion lose his or her ability to enjoy life.

If your pet is young, avoid these problems altogether by helping your pet maintain a healthy weight throughout his or her life.  It’s common sense, really.  Don’t overfeed, don’t feed junk food, and promote a playful and active daily routine.

If your pet is already obese and you want to stop the disease before it progresses further, the time to act is right now.  Start by speaking with your pet’s veterinarian about a healthier diet change.  There are oodles of high-quality, low-calorie diets available that are specifically formulated to help your pet shed some pounds.  Depending on the severity of your pet’s condition, it’s likely that your vet will recommend a few routine diagnostics (bloodwork, x-rays, etc.) before you begin the transition to a new food.  Once everything checks out fine, begin the transition.  Your vet will provide instructions for a gradual diet change, spread out over several days.

Once your pet has made the switch to a healthier diet, slowly begin to introduce more activity into his or her daily routine.  If you choose to go for walks, gradually increase the distance, speed, and frequency.  For cats, make exercise fun by introducing new toys.  Of course, if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, adopt a playful new friend for your pet.

If you have concerns about the diet you are currently feeding or your pet’s current body condition, speak with your veterinarian.  He or she knows your pet’s individual situation best and can provide invaluable advice for helping your pet live a long, happy, healthy life.

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Responsible Dog Ownership

When you think of a responsible dog owner, what key characteristics come to mind?

For some, it’s waking up at 5am to let Fido out and fill his food bowl.  Others feel that they are responsible pet owners because they feed only the most expensive dog food and go for walks at the same time of day every day.  However you choose to define responsible dog ownership, there are a few basic ideas that fall under the category of “common courtesy” that you should always bear in mind.

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Pick up after your dog!  This is one of the most basic responsibilities of owning a dog.  As a courtesy to your neighbors and other members of your community, always pick up pet waste during walks and off-leash play.  There a few things worse than walking in your front door and realizing that you’ve brought a nice smelly surprise home with you.   Don’t be the guy who left that mess behind for someone to step in.

Don’t let your pooch roam the neighborhood unattended.  Okay, so maybe this doesn’t happen so often anymore, but this version of irresponsible pet ownership still exists.  No matter how friendly or well socialized your pup may be, it’s not cool to let him or her wander through the neighborhood.  Our pets are the best version of themselves when we are with them.  In your absence, it’s very likely that he is begging for food from the neighbors, leaving “gifts” in their yards, digging in their trash, or any number of other naughty canine behaviors.  Keep your pets next to you – they’re happier that way, anyway.

Remind your dog to mind his manners.  Everybody loves dogs (right?), but nobody likes a dog who knocks them down every time they visit.  Try to discourage your dog from jumping on people, begging your dinner guests for table scraps, and licking them to death.  We understand that these are friendly behaviors that really aren’t harming anyone, but it’s still a nuisance to guests in your home, and they will definitely not earn you the “Responsible Dog Parent of the Year” award.

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September is Responsible Dog Ownership Month (not to be confused with Responsible PET Ownership Month, which occurs in February).  This month of recognition was created by the American Veterinary Association as a way of celebrating the efforts of the dog moms and dog dads who make the world a better place for our canine companions.

To learn more about the American Veterinary Medical Association’s definition of responsible dog ownership, visit the AVMA’s Guidelines for Responsible Pet Ownership.


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Protect Your Pets from Back-to-School Hazards

Did you know that certain school supplies can be hazardous to your furry sidekick?  Whether it’s by choking or gastrointestinal foreign body, these items can absolutely be dangerous for pets.   Pet360 has compiled a list of some of the most common culprits in the back-to-school hazards for your best friend.

Check out “Top 10 Scary School Supplies”, courtesy of

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The Joys of Adopting a Senior Pet

Veterinary medicine has made incredible strides over the last couple of decades, and as a result, our pets are living longer and fuller lives.  For those of us who have made a lifetime commitment to our furry family members, having them around longer is a joy and a blessing.

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However, there seems to be a significant number of families who have “outgrown” their aging pets.  At least, that’s the most logical conclusion that can be drawn from the growing trend of homelessness among senior pets.  Well, as the saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.  If yours is among the thousands of families who are interested in adopting a new pet, we’d like to urge you to consider a senior.

Still need some convincing?  We’ve come prepared.

  1. They’re a lot less messy.  If you’ve ever been the proud parent of a brand new puppy, you know that all that playful affection comes along with its fair share of chores.  While we love puppies just the same, this high level of energy can be absolutely exhausting.  When you adopt a senior pet, you will most often find that they have already been housebroken.  They are also a lot less prone to chewing your baseboards and your favorite pair of shoes.  Of course, anything is possible, but most of the time with a senior pet, your wardrobe and home will be safe from harm.
  2. What you see is what you get.  When you adopt a senior pet, there’s no guesswork involved.  You will never have to wonder how big they will get or what sort of demeanor they will have.  They are already grown, and you can get a feel for their personality right away.
  3. Speaking of personality… Senior pets are often some of the most gentle and loving creatures you will ever meet.  They love to take it easy, and they’re never short on cuddles.  Don’t mistake that gentle nature for laziness, however.  If you’re looking for a dog to jog alongside you or a kitty to play chase with, senior pets can keep up with the best of them!  However, they always recognize when playtime is over, and they will be the best couch-cruising copilot you could ever ask for.
  4. They are generally well-adjusted and acclimate easily.  Once you’ve brought that old gem home, you’ll wonder how your family ever survived without him or her.  Generally speaking, older pets settle into new environments with greater ease than their younger counterparts.  They’ve also already learned how to coexist and function as part of the group.  They’ll slide right into your house and your heart in no time flat.
  5. They need you.  When they make their way into a shelter, it’s a shock to the system.  Trust us when we tell you that the family who rescues a senior pet from an animal shelter will be rewarded ten-fold.  If you don’t believe that these animals recognize the incredible act of kindness that you have performed for them, give it a shot.  We don’t need to convince you.  Your future best friend will spend the rest of his or her life doing that.

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In many American animal shelters, senior pets are considered to be among the least adoptable pets, and they are often the first candidates for unnecessary euthanasia.  We would love for that to change.  If you’re in the market for a new pet, consider a senior.  We can say with absolute conviction that you’ll be so glad you did.

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August 15th is National Check the Chip Day!

If your pet is lost or stolen, how will you find him?

Few things are scarier than having a pet turn up missing.  Microchips are a great way to increase your chances of having your beloved family member returned to you safely.  They have become an integral part of pet ownership, and for those who have chosen to forego microchips for their pets, we’d like to urge you to reconsider.

In an effort to encourage pet parents everywhere to have their pets microchipped and keep their registration up to date, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has created National Check the Chip Day.  The AVMA provides the following data on their “Microchipping of Animals FAQ” page:

A study of more than 7,700 stray animals at animal shelters showed that dogs without microchips were returned to their owners 21.9% of the time, whereas microchipped dogs were returned to their owners 52.2% of the time. Cats without microchips were reunited with their owners only 1.8% of the time, whereas microchipped cats went back home 38.5% of the time. (Lord et al,JAVMA, July 15, 2009) For microchipped animals that weren’t returned to their owners, most of the time it was due to incorrect owner information (or no owner information) in the microchip registry database – so don’t forget to register and keep your information updated.

Essentially, what this means is that your pet is more than TWICE as likely to be returned to you if he or she is microchipped and the registration is current.  Those numbers really are significant!

The AVMA has created a FaceBook event for National Check the Chip Day.  Make sure you check it out!

If your pet is not already microchipped, today is a great day to schedule that appointment.  If you’ve already taken this very important step, take the time today to check in with the manufacturer of your pet’s microchip to make sure that his or her registration information is current and correct.  The database that is most frequently checked by shelters and veterinarians is the Universal Pet Microchip Lookup Tool, which was created by the American Animal Hospital Assocation as a way of combining all microchip information from the various manufacturers.  However, it’s also important that you check your registration with the manufacturer specifically.

Covering all of the bases will make sure that your pet’s information is accurate, which could mean all the difference in the world for your pet’s well-being.

For those overprotective pet parents who are nervous about the microchipping process, we get it!  While the concept can seem like a scary one, we want to reassure you that microchips will not harm your furry friend.  They are inserted using a hypodermic needle, which is no more painful than your pet’s annual vaccinations.  No sedation or anesthesia is necessary, and your pet will not require any pain medications afterward.

Check out this great video provided by the American Veterinary Medical Association, which provides all the information you need to know about the microchipping procedure and its benefits.

International Assistance Dog Week: August 3-9, 2014

As you know, our team loves to recognize animals doing great things for their human companions, and we place tremendous value on the countless ways that animals make our lives better.

International Assistance Dog Week was created to pay tribute to all of the devoted and hard-working dogs who spend their lives providing independence and security for individuals with disability-related limitations.  These dogs give people a quality of life that would otherwise be out of reach to them, and there is simply no amount of praise that is adequate for what these animals are doing.

The goals of International Assistance Dog Week include:

  • Recognize and honor assistance dogs
  • Raise awareness and educate the public about assistance dogs
  • Honor the people who raise and train puppies to become assistance dogs
  • Recognize heroic deeds performed by assistance dogs in our communities

For more information, visit the International Assistance Dog Week website.

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June 20th is National Take Your Dog to Work Day!

Today is Take Your Dog to Work Day!  If you’re fortunate enough to have an employer who is willing to let you and your pooch participate, definitely take advantage of such a fun occasion!

Before you do, though, be sure to keep your pup’s well-being in mind.  Check out this article, Puppies in the Workplacefrom Worms and Germs (a blog created to promote safe pet ownership).

After you do that, check out to learn more about this exciting annual event!

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We Love Our Animals. Let’s Keep Them Happy!

The American Veterinary Medical Association has launched an exciting new feature for veterinarians and the public.  The AVMA’s new Animal Welfare Hub provides a one-stop resource for any person seeking information on animal welfare policies, guidelines, or other animal welfare – related topic.

Animal lovers everywhere hold the responsibility of providing and advocating for the needs of our companion animals.  One of the most important aspects of this responsibility is education.  It also requires a great deal of attention to the mental and physical well-being of our pets and wildlife.  To that end, the veterinary profession has taken the opportunity to share this wealth of information.

There are currently two AVMA entities working toward the overall objectives of this project:  the Animal Welfare Committee and the Steering Committee on Human-Animal Interactions.  In addition to these two standing committees, the AVMA has a number of other tasks forces and planning groups that are constantly working toward improving animal welfare.

By visiting the AVMA website, you can sign up for their quarterly animal welfare newsletter and read about ongoing projects and existing policies.  If animal welfare is something that you’d like to learn more about, you should absolutely check out the resources they have provided on their site (after you’re finished enjoying all of these super happy animal photos).

Here are some resources for our aspiring animal welfare activists (click to learn more):

The American Veterinary Medical Association – Animal Welfare: Responsibility and Opportunity

The Animal Welfare Institute

The United States Department of Agriculture – Information on Animal Welfare

Animal Welfare Approved

International Fund for Animal Welfare

There are countless other animal welfare organizations on the international, national, state, and local levels.  If you’re interested to learn how you can make an impact, speak with one of your local organizations.  They will point you in the right direction!