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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!

 

Fresh Fans - Shelby and Raina

Blind Pups Shelby and Raina Are the Fresh Fans of the Week!

When we started Freshpet back in 2006, we set out with the following mission in mind: “ALL pups and kitties deserve fresh pet food, too.”

 

Since Day One, giving back has always been a core principle of what we do here at Freshpet. And rarely is the spirit of giving more prevalent than during the holiday season.

 

When Kristen with the Blind Dog Rescue Alliance posted on our Facebook page about her pups Raina and Shelby, we knew they were special. We asked Kristen if she’d share some more details about her pups with special needs, and got an incredibly heartwarming tale just in time for the holidays. We’re so happy to feature these two pooches as our Fresh Fans of the Week!

 

Fresh Fans of the Week: Shelby and Raina of the Blind Dog Rescue Alliance!

 Fresh Fans - Shelby and Raina

Here’s what we learned about Kristen and her amazing dogs, Raina (above right) and Shelby:

 

How Did Raina and Shelby Become a Part of Your Family?

 

One day, I was browsing on PetFinder.com. I came across this gorgeous white puppy with the cutest pink nose you’d ever seen. Her name was Raina, and was born blind and deaf, the result of bad breeding. While I’d never had a special needs pup before, I applied to adopt Raina. A round-trip car ride from New Jersey to North Carolina later and Raina became part of the Murdoch family. Having her in our family has truly changed my life.

 

Did Raina Inspire You to Become More Active With Blind Dogs?
You have no idea! After adopting Raina, I became an active volunteer with the Blind Dog Rescue Alliance. That’s when I came across other blind pups in need that I couldn’t help but want to bring in under my roof. Shelby, pictured above, is my sixth foster dog for the Blind Dog Rescue Alliance. Shelby was found as a stray on the side of the road in North Carolina, who had developed diabetes and has cataracts, not to mention she is blind, but can hear. Despite this laundry list of ‘issues,’ Shelby is one of the happiest and healthiest girls you’ll ever meet. With lots of love and a nutritious diet, thanks to her favorite Freshpet Vital rolls, she is learning to give and receive affection and how to interact playfully with others!

 

What Are Some of the Challenges in Fostering Blind Pups?
The communication can be an issue with dogs that are blind, deaf or both. So for Raina, who is both, it certainly takes some more time for her to learn instructions and how to live in her environment comfortably. We’ve taught our baby Raina touch commands, like on moving directionally, and it’s amazing how quickly she’s picked them up – she’s so smart! But what’s the most incredible thing is that Raina, being born blind and deaf, doesn’t know that she’s different from the other pups – so we try and treat her that way, too. With Shelby, she can often be more scared of her environment because she can hear noises, but not see where they are coming from, and can be startled easily. It is very important to know the needs of individual pets with specific conditions in order to communicate effectively.

 

 

Blind Dog Rescue Alliance  video 2013 Ryot challenge from linda@ssmpr.org on Vimeo.

 

You Mentioned Raina Inspired You – How Else Have You Gotten Involved With Blind Animals?

 

Where do I start!? I coordinate and volunteer for monthly rescue events with Raina and Shelby. I also maintain the Blind Dog Rescue Alliance’s Facebook page, where these two have accumulated quite the digital following. In 2007, I started Lending a Paw!, a community outreach program which has raised over $18,000 in donations to date! In 2011, I received an Honorable Mention for the Humane Society of the United States’ National Kind Teach Award program. When you find something you love, it becomes so easy to get inspired to get involved and give back – and I’ve got my pups to thank for that!

 

What Has the Freshpet Donation Meant to You and Your Pups?
All of my furry girls LOVE Freshpet! The Blind Dog Rescue Alliance volunteers and our blind dogs truly appreciate the generous donation of Freshpet food. I want my pups to eat healthy, but a raw diet just won’t work in this house. So when I first tried Freshpet, my dogs went crazy for it, and to have some donated now is so amazing. To my dogs, Freshpet is not dog food – they think they are getting a special treat. Raina uses her incredible sense of smell around mealtime, which leads her to the fridge, and Shelby and the other girls will “circle dance” when I open the fridge at mealtime. They all lick their bowls completely clean!!

 

Do you have any experience with dogs or cats with special needs? Share their story in the comments below!
Rescue Pup Harry

With Help From a Dog Rescue and Freshpet, Stray Pup Harry Makes A Comeback

We all love a great comeback story, and that’s exactly what we’ve found in Harry, a Basset Hound.

 

Last week, Suzanne F. of the Mid-Atlantic Basset Hound Rescue shared a story with us about Harry, a stray whose days appeared to be numbered. The Mid-Atlantic Basset Hound Rescue works tirelessly to take in Hounds without homes, to provide veterinary care and to set up adoptions for these deserving fur-kids.

 

For years now, we’ve worked with the Mid-Atlantic Basset Hound Rescue to donate Freshpet foods and treats. We love hearing stories about the pups our donations have helped, and Harry’s story is truly one to remember.

 

Harry when he first came to the Rescue

 

Harry the Basset Hound arrived at the Dog Rescue in mid-June of this year, after he was found as a stray in Stroudsburg, PA. He had been neutered and was comfortable indoors, so it seemed to Suzanne that Harry had been abandoned. “His coat was a total wreck,” say Harry’s foster parents, Rich and Ginger, who quickly brought him on a visit to the veterinarian. With a laundry list of health issues, such as Lyme’s Disease, a skin infection, ingrown dew claws, stomach lumps and general emaciation, Harry’s prognosis was not positive.

 

After some initial tender, love and care, Harry put on enough weight to receive anesthesia needed to remove the benign tumors on his stomach and have nine decayed teeth removed. Still, the vet was concerned that vaccines, in Harry’s physical state, “could put him over the edge.” With limited mobility and lingering health issues, Harry was a long shot for a heart-warming recovery story.

 

But that’s just what happened.

 

Upon their third visit to the veterinarian in three months, Harry began to turn the corner. The veterinarian was astonished about the progress that Harry had made. “Key to his recovery was vastly improved nutrition, including Freshpet Select Slice and Serve rolls and frozen Meatball Mix-Ins,” says Rich. However, Harry’s absolute favorites are the Dog Joy treats. Harry now picks up his pace for his Dog Joy treats, mobility improvement previously unimaginable when he arrived at the rescue. According to Ginger, “It is obvious that with his improved health and yummy food, Harry thinks he is living large.”

 

Harry in his new foster home!

 

In just three months, Harry, in desperate need of a warm family and proper nutrition, is now living the healthy, happy life he deserves. Thanks to his foster parents Rich and Ginger, Harry now has a loving foster home and plenty of donated Freshpet foods and treats to keep his tail wagging.

 

Thank you Suzanne, Rich and Ginger for taking Harry under your wing and for sharing this beautiful story!

 

We love to hear how the fresh, nutritious ingredients found in Freshpet recipes have helped fur-kids get back to their healthy selves. Got a Freshpet story to share or a favorite recipe? We’d love to hear from you! Please submit your review and story here: http://bit.ly/18uONZP