Tag Archives: dr-katy

Walking Dog in Snow

Dr. Katy: Prepping Your Pet for 2014!

With the holiday season having come and gone, we have so much to look forward to with a brand new year ahead!

 

You’re not alone if you may have indulged a little too much in tasty food and drinks over the holidays as you were enjoying the time with family and friends. While it can be easy for us to head to the gym or make slight changes in our diet to get back to our target weight, it can be more difficult for our pets to shed any unwanted pounds they may have added. According to a study by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, on average dogs gain 0.3 pounds and cats gain 0.4 during the holidays. That is equivalent to 5-7 pounds for a human; a lot of extra weight for a pup or kitty to lug around!

 

As I’ve often said before, keeping a healthy lifestyle for ourselves and our pets is critical for long-term health and happiness. Unfortunately, because our pets cannot choose their diet on their own, it’s important for us to make sure they’re putting their “best paws forward” when it comes to nutrition and activity.

 

As we head into 2014, here are my tips on how you can help your pet battle the bulge that he/she may have picked up in the new year, and how to monitor their weight throughout the year:

 

A quick check to determine if your pet is a bit overweight is by feeling around the rib cage.

A quick check for excess weight can be done by feeling for your pet’s rib cage, which should be easy to spot if your pet is at a healthy weight. (Photo: elfin_peaz. Flickr)

 

  1. Check your pet’s weight regularly. You can check your pet’s weight at home by gently running your fingers along their rib cage. At a healthy weight, their ribs should be felt easily and have a thin, silky layer of skin moving over them. If you feel your pet is overweight, make an appointment with your vet to discuss an appropriate action plan. You can read more about how to conduct the “feel test” here.
  2. Portion control. Pet obesity is largely due to the overconsumption of commercial food and treats. Feeding guidelines are usually based on a “healthy adult pet” and one size does not fit all. There are many factors used to determine how many calories your pet needs, like life stage, reproductive status, physical activity, and disease conditions, so be sure to speak with your vet to determine what daily caloric intake is right for your pet. This is what we call “target weight,” or the ideal weight for your pup or cat. And while we love to feed our pets treats, these added calories can push your pet over their target weight – so treat with caution!
  3. Read labels. Cats and dogs are natural carnivores and thrive on fresh, meat-based diets. Many traditional shelf-stable pet foods are carbohydrate-based and contain fillers like corn, wheat and soy, which are harder for your pet to digest. Instead, look for all natural food that has meat as the first ingredient, like Vital Beef & Bison or Freshpet Select Chunky Chicken & Turkey slice & serve rolls. A protein-dense food will also help your pet stay fuller longer and provide longer-lasting energy.
  4. Avoid table scraps. Human food is not appropriate for household pets in most instances. A complete and balanced food made especially for pets is recommended, just like all of the recipes you’ll find with Freshpet.
  5. Regular exercise. Keeping your pet active will help them burn calories and gain muscle tone. For a list of fun ways you and your pet can exercise together this year, visit my blog post on 10 fun ways to exercise with your pet.
 
Taking your pet for a walk is an excellent way for both of you to get exercise, helping to burn calories and release endorphins. (Photo: Kenneth Allen - WikiCommons)

Taking your pet for a walk is an excellent way for both of you to get exercise, helping to burn calories and release endorphins. (Photo: Kenneth Allen – WikiCommons)

 

 
I hope that 2014 brings many amazing experiences and memories with you and your pet, but most importantly, I wish you a healthy (and happy) year ahead!

 

Dr.-Katy-on-Beating-Holiday-Stress

Dr. Katy’s Advice for Beating End of Year Stress

This time of year, it can feel like we’re being pulled in a thousand different directions.

 

There’s holiday shopping, the end of year blitz at work, managing your busy schedule, managing those of your kids (furry ones included), and prepping for the New Year. It can be exhausting. Then, there are so many things that we feel like we should be doing as well: volunteering, giving to charity, going to visit family, etc. With all of that going on, we can forget to take care of ourselves.

 

There’s a known term for letting our hearts get too big and actually causing stress: “Compassion Fatigue.” Whether you’ve got a house full of pets, kids still at home, or are responsible for the well-being of others as part of your career, when you focus on others too much without practicing self-care, that’s when a healthy adjustment might be necessary. While there are many lessons we can learn from our pets, taking time for ourselves to relax is one of the most important and healthy.

 

Dr.-Katy-on-Beating-Holiday-Stress

 

As an emergency veterinarian, I have certainly experienced “Compassion Fatigue” in my career. There are days in this job where it seems like everything I see is in critical condition, and every owner has a story that pulls on the heartstrings. Some days, all I can do is stay compassionate and supportive for them and their pets. But when I have my own things to worry about, taking on someone else’s can be draining.

 

While caring for the needs of others is extremely important, balancing their needs with your own is critical. If you’re not happy and healthy, it’s hard to care for someone else! Thus, prevention of emotional, physical and spiritual burnout is key. Here are my tips for surviving the busy (and sometimes overwhelming) holiday season and heading into the New Year with you on your mind:

 

    1. Carve Out Time for You: I know, easier said than done; but as a multi-career working mother, wife, entrepreneur, volunteer, daughter, friend, etc. let me assure you that it can be done. Be sure to make yourself as much a priority as you do everyone else.
    2. Get Some Rest and Manage Your Intake: Beware of yummy “feel good items.” It’s okay to have that delicious Gingerbread Latte occasionally, but having to have one can become a problem. Caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol can make you feel better temporarily, but are not the answers when experiencing burnout. Instead, make sure to get into bed earlier to wake up feeling well rested and with a more positive outlook.
    3. Spend Time With Your Pets: Loads of research over the last 25 years has shown us that living with pets provides numerous health benefits, both physically and mentally. In an article I wrote recently, I mentioned that spending more time with our pets could lower our blood pressure, lessen anxiety, reduce allergies, encourage healthy socializing, and boost our immunity. So, there’s a great excuse to build in more time with your pets, even if it’s just a quick walk together or extra few minutes of giving them affection.
    4. Get Some Exercise: Just a 10-minute walk around the neighborhood with your furry friend can make a healthy impact. Exercise releases endorphins, which are natural “feel good” hormones. This way, you’ll be doing your body and mind a favor, while helping your pet experience the same. Here are some great ways to get exercise in with your dog or cat, whether at home or on vacation this holiday.
    5. Ask for Support from Those Closest to You: It’s never a sign of weakness to tell those you love that you could use a hand. Perhaps you can delegate a few responsibilities, or ask for them to help you get something done. Or, sometimes just having someone to listen can make us feel so much better. It’s important to be sure to ‘escape’ from the busy lifestyle every once in a while and, sometimes, doing so with a close friend or loved one is the best way!

 

 

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Our pets are great at taking time for themselves, something to emulate! And don’t underestimate the positive effects spending time with our furballs can have on our health. (Photo: Phil Roeder, Flickr)

 

By taking a little time for yourself, you strengthen your own ability to give to others by making yourself a happier person. As we enter the thick of the holiday season and begin to think about the New Year, it’s important that we remember these important tips to take care of ourselves.

 

Happy Holidays to you and yours, and I can’t wait to connect with everyone again in the New Year!