Posts tagged with "Animal lovers"

Fat shaming hits the pet set

February 7, 2019

When a dog or cat gains weight, it’s easy for a pet parent to assume that there is simply more of him (or her) to love. In fact, only 17% of owners acknowledge that their pet is obese, according to findings of a recent study by Nationwide, the country’s largest provider of pet health insurance.

“Others know their pet is overweight but don’t think it’s a problem,” said Deborah Linder, who heads the Tufts Obesity Clinic for Animals Clinical Nutrition Service. “Wrong!”

However, just as 70% of adult Americans (age 20+) are classified as overweight by the National Center for Health Statistics, so, too, are their pets.

Veterinarians report that nearly 50% of the dogs they see are overweight or obese, a February 4 report by Jane Brody of The New York Times reveals.

And the average weight of pets has risen over the past decade, Nationwide notes. In 2017, obesity-related insurance claims for veterinary expenses exceeded $69 million, a 24% increase over the last eight years,  the insurer reported in January. With only 2% of pets covered by insurance, the costs to owners of overweight pets is likely to be in the billions.

Indeed, obesity in pets has been associated with diabetes, pancreatitis, hyperlipidemia (high fat levels in the blood), joint disease, skin disease, and even a shorter lifespan, the Tufts Obesity Clinic says. A study of Labrador retrievers, a breed especially prone to becoming overweight, revealed that excess weight can take nearly two years off a pet’s life.

So for our pets, as well as ourselves, it’s best to adopt the concept that “less is more.”

study of 50 obese dogs enrolled in a weight-loss program conducted by the University of Liverpool in England during 2011 demonstrated the value of losing excess body fat, The New York Times reports. The 30 animals in the study that reached their target weight had greater vitality, less pain and fewer emotional issues than the animals that remained too fat.

But as with people, prevention is the better route—and, Linder emphasized during an interview with Brody, treats should make up no more than 10% of a dog’s daily calories.

“We love our pets and want to give them treats, but we often don’t think about treats from a caloric standpoint,” said John P. Loftus, an assistant professor, Section of Small Animal Medicine, at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. “It adds up over time. Better to show our love in ways other than food.”

Everything counts as a treat, including marrow bones and rawhide,” Dr. Linder told Brody, as well as scraps of human food offered by owners or scarfed off their plates. Treats used for training or retrieval should contain only a few calories each, like Fruitables Skinny Minis or Zuke’s Mini Naturals.

Rather than overdoing treats, give your dog love and attention by playing ball, fetch or tug-of-war, which provides some exercise that burns calories. Cats, too, love to play with things they can wrestle with, like a toy mouse on a string or a ball of yarn. For pets that are too old or unwilling to play, you can show your love calorie-free with a caress, a belly rub, or a scratch behind the ears.

Equally important is to learn to resist pets that beg for more food than they need. Linder advises, “If you’re already meeting your pets’ nutritional needs, they’re not hungry. What they’re really asking for is your attention. Better to distract them with an activity.”

Cats can be even more challenging than dogs. They tend to graze, prompting owners to leave food out for them all the time. This becomes a problem for overweight cats. Dr.

Linder says, “I’ve never met an animal that could free-feed and still lose weight.” For cats that come begging for food at 4:30 a.m., she suggests using an automatic timed feeder. Cats quickly learn when the food will drop down and will wait at the feeder instead of nudging their owners, she said.

Of course, regular physical activity —15 to 30 minutes day—is important for a dog’s overall well-being, but it’s rarely enough to help an overweight dog lose weight “unless they’re running a 5K every day,” Linder noted. “They’re not going to burn off the calories in a marrow bone with a walk around the block.”

Research contact: @tuftsvet

A new leash on life: Senior dogs enjoy loving care at Vintage Pet Rescue

December 18, 2 018

High on the list of things that “shouldn’t happen to a dog” is being abandoned in old age, or being given up when an elderly owner is too infirm to continue providing a much-loved pet with the care it deserves.

Now Kristen and Marc Peralta, a couple who live in Rhode Island, are welcoming dogs in their golden age to live at Vintage Pet Rescue—a nonprofit that takes in elderly pooches from local shelters when they are unlikely to find a new home.

Indeed, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals senior dogs in shelters have an adoption rate of just 25%, while younger dogs have a 60% rate.

“We are committed to rescuing vintage [senior] pets from shelters and assisting owners who can no longer care for [them]. We give these animals love, attention, and medical care for the last months or years of their lives,” the Peraltas say on their website.

The two activists met at an animal shelter in Los Angeles in 2013, and discovered their shared love for senior dogs. After they got married and moved to the East Coast, they began rescuing dogs over the age of eight and bringing them to their spacious home, an old church in Foster, Rhode Island.

In 2017, Kristen turned the labor of love into a full-time gig, according to a December 17 report by the Huffington Post—and today, she oversees the care of 27 mostly senior dogs.

 “It breaks our heart to see senior dogs in shelters,” she told the online news outlet. “They’re just frail; they’re probably scared; [and] a lot of them have vision or hearing issues. Just seeing them, you just want to help.”

This was the heartbreaking scenario for four older Chihuahuas who lived in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with a woman named Linda, until her Stage 4 lung cancer, prevented her from keeping them, People first reported. Linda needed to move into her sister’s home in Rhode Island to receive care, as well as chemotherapy treatment, but the dogs couldn’t come.

Linda and her sister searched for a rescue that wouldn’t euthanize or separate the four pups, and they came across Vintage Pet Rescue. The Peraltas welcomed the chihuahua pack, and Linda is able to visit them often, as her sister lives just a few miles away.l

“I started out visiting the dogs every other day which was wonderful,” Linda told People. “[Kristin] accommodated me with my schedule and the dogs there are all happy, loved, and taken care of better than I can do myself.”

When she first started Vintage Pet Rescue, Peralta didn’t anticipate caring for animals whose owners needed care themselves, but she said she receives many requests for situations like this.

“We really wanted to be able to provide the dogs with an environment where they’ll be comfortable, living in a home cage-free,” she told the Huffington Post. “It then kind of expanded into helping people who could no longer care for their senior dogs—whether they were going into a retirement home or someone’s relative passed away. It’s not what we set out to do but it’s really nice. The owners can still be a part of their dogs’ lives.”

A life spent waiting on two dozen older dogs can be hectic, she told the news outlet. Peralta schedules vet appointments at least once a week, doles out individual medications and does a lot of bathing and petting. “Throw some social media and fundraising in there, and it’s busy,” Peralta said.

But the work is rewarding, and she thinks it’s helping to show more and more people just how special senior dogs are. “They all have such distinct personalities — every one of them is such a character,” she told HuffPost.

“You can just tell how much they appreciate you,” Peralta commented. “They’re thankful that they’re with you and you love them. It’s so special to know that you saved a dog’s life and that it’s going to have a happy rest of life because of you.”

Research contact@Kbratskeir