Doggie Obesity on the Rise

What are you feeding your plump pooch?

It’s a well-known fact that more than one-third of US adults struggle with obesity, but you might be surprised to learn that we are passing our poor eating habits on to our pets.

A new study from the Banfield Pet Hospital, showed that 1 in 4 dogs in the United States is overweight or obese. Why is this a problem? Dogs who overeat are prone to the same health issues as overweight humans, including Type 2 diabetes, respiratory and heart disease, osteoarthritis, high blood pressure and cancer.

Since 2006, doggie obesity has risen 37% and diabetes in dogs has risen 32%. However, most dog owners don’t think there’s anything wrong with their portly pups. This problem has become so prevalent that the Association for Pet Obesity has deemed October as National Pet Obesity Awareness Month.

Here is a chart to track your dog’s weight and how much he or she should be eating each day!

Also, check out these tips on how to ensure that your dog has healthier eating habits.

  • Feed small meals frequently. Divide the total volume or calories into four to six smaller meals – whatever you do, don’t feed your dog extra food.
  • Walk your dog or take it outside when it begs. The distraction and interaction may be just enough to make it forget its desire for food or treats. Plus, exercise is essential when it comes to shedding a few pounds.
  • Move the food bowl upstairs or downstairs at different times in the week it so that your dog must walk to get to its food bowl.
  • Use toys, balls, laser pointers, squeaky toys, anything that your dog finds interesting to chase. Try to engage your dog for at least ten to fifteen minutes twice a day. There are numerous toys that move and squeak that may also be interesting to your dog.
  • Do not use a self-feeder. While this seems obvious, auto-feeders are nothing more than unlimited candy machines to a fat dog. If you must, use an automated feeder that dispenses a set amount of food several times per day.
  • Pet your dog or play with it when it begs for food. Many dogs substitute food for affection
  • When the bowl is empty and your dog is begging for more, add a few kibbles to the bowl. By a few, we mean ten or fifteen – not a handful.
  • Give vegetables such as baby carrots, broccoli, celery and asparagus. Dogs love crunchy treats so make it a healthy – and low-calorie – choice.
  • Offer fresh water instead of food. Many dogs love fresh water so when they are eyeing the empty food bowl, fill up the water bowl instead.

Dogs Are Shaping the Future of Cancer Detection

Dogs Are Shaping the Future of Cancer Detection

If you consider dogs to be the coolest animals on the planet, here is more proof!  Doctors at the University of Pennsylvania have been using canines to sniff out ovarian cancer in tumor specimens. This research is changing the future of cancer detection and could potentially save thousands of lives!

Check out this cool article we came across via FoxNews.com!

By the time ovarian cancer is found, it’s usually too late to save the patient. Buried deep in a woman’s body, it has no telltale signs, and we doctors have no standard tests to diagnose it early.

Over 14,000 women die of ovarian cancer every year in the United States, but like many cancers, it has a characteristic odor – one that the common household dog can be trained to detect before it’s too late. At the University of Pennsylvania, using tumor specimens donated by cancer victims, researchers are putting dogs to work to sniff out cancer.

“The reason dogs are so much better than humans (in detecting cancer) is because dogs have an ability to do what I describe as smell in color,” Dr. Cynthia Otto, director of the Working Dog Center at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, told FoxNews.com. “They look around the room with their nose the same way we look around the room with our eyes. And they can smell each individual component.”

While I was observing two of the cancer sniffing dogs, McBain and Ohlin, not a single error was made.  Each time they went right to the container that held the cancerous tissue. The trainer rewarded the successful dogs each time with a complimentary “good boy” affirmation.

The next step in the process, which takes place at the Monell Chemical Senses Center, is to narrow down through analytical chemistry exactly which volatile odors from the cancer the dog is smelling. The researchers do this by using gas chromatography and mass spectroscopy – along with trial and error.  This information will be used in the construction of an electronic sensor – or artificial ‘nano-nose’ – that may one day be used in the doctor’s office to diagnose ovarian cancer earlier.

Dr. George Preti, a chemist at the Monell Center, emphasized his hope for the future by holding up an orange and an aspirin.

“This is the size of a tumor when it is generally diagnosed,” Preti said, referring to the orange. “It is hidden inside the female. This is the size when it should be diagnosed; this is an aspirin, and it should be diagnosed when it is about this size. So this is what we are striving for – to go from here where most of the ovarian cancers are diagnosed today to here (the aspirin) or even less than this.”

Preti said that the dogs are already born with the nose, so now we have to build it. That “building” could save thousands of women from a major cancer killer. When ovarian cancer is found early, more than 90 percent of patients survive after five years. It will take an unlikely team of scientists to accomplish this: a dog expert, a renowned chemist, and the cancer specialists at University of Pennsylvania.

Bats and dolphins and their use of echoes led to the development of the ultrasound. Now it’s the turn of man’s (and woman’s) best friend to lead to the better detection of cancer.

How to Keep Pets Pest-Free

Tick and flea prevention

As seasons change, a new slew of pesky pests may be on the horizon. According to the Companion Animal Parasite Council, more than 34 percent of dogs nationwide are infected with gastrointestinal parasites. The number of pets infected with external parasites, such as fleas, ticks and bed bugs, is significantly higher. Animals make prime targets for these troublesome parasites, as warm hosts are the ideal living environment. Your pet’s sweat, blood and skin cells become a three-course meal, while its furry coat offers warmth and protection. Protect your four-legged companion from problem pests by using preventive measures.

Fleas

Dogs and cats become infested with fleas through contact with infected animals or with fleas in their environment. While fleas cannot fly, they do have strong legs that allow them to jump from host to host with ease. There are more than 2,000 species and subspecies of fleas that thrive in warm, humid environments. These external pests can often be seen scurrying across your pet’s skin. They appear as pinhead-sized, dark copper-colored insects that reside in furry areas. Pet parents can eliminate fleas and flea eggs and break the life cycle with over-the-counter or prescription medication. Treatment can be given year-round to keep pets flea-free.

Worms

Fido may look healthy on the outside, but his insides could be suffering from the effects of internal worms. Cats and dogs with internal worms may not show any symptoms right away but could eventually experience weight loss, dry fur, increased appetite, weakness and diarrhea as the infection worsens. Occasionally, the worms may appear in the pet’s vomit or feces. Heartworm is one of the most common and most preventable types of internal worm that can be avoided with heartworm medication. According to the American Heartworm Society, heartworms can infect more than 30 different species of animals and can be deadly if left untreated. Disinfect your pet’s food and water bowls regularly, and maintain an effective worm control program to keep pets protected from worms from an early age.

Bed Bugs

Approximately 99.6 percent of U.S.-based pest management professionals have encountered bed bug infestations in the past year, according to the National Pest Management Association. Bed bugs are not created in filthy environments as believed by some, but are carried into homes on luggage or other possessions — often from hotels or other homes. While bed bugs prefer human hosts, they may choose your pet as their next meal. Bed bugs do not live on people or pets but can bite. If you think you may have these miniscule creatures living in your home, you can learn more about bed bugs at Orkin.com or a similar service. There are a number of treatment options available, ranging from “bug bombs” to professional pest management services.

Ticks

There are more than 650 species of hard ticks, PetMD says. These eight-legged pests have mouth parts that attach to their warm host animal until they are engorged with blood. Ticks are not insects, but arachnids, like spiders and mites. They are most active during late spring and throughout the summer season and reside in tall grass or brush before attaching to outdoor cats and dogs. If you spot a tick on your pet, it can be removed by treating the area with rubbing alcohol and plucking it from the skin with a pair of tweezers. Use caution, as contact with the tick’s blood to yourself or your pet can cause a potential infection. To reduce the risk of ticks, pets that live in areas with a high tick population can use topical treatments to ward off these mini moochers.