Tag Archives: Pet Holiday

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!

 

New Year’s Resolutions for Healthy Pets

Happy New Year! We hope you’re feeling refreshed and ready to take on the new year. Resolutions are a great way to start the year off, whether they are a list of things to accomplish, or just fun ideas to make 2013 your best year yet. We often think of resolutions not only for ourselves, but for our families as well. Here are our top resolutions for your healthy pets.

 

Make exercise with your pet a daily part of your routine

Not only is exercise beneficial to keeping your pets happy, active, and at their optimal body condition, exercising your pets can also provide the same benefits to you! Take a walk each day with your pooch, or spend some time playing with your kitty around the house. It will increase your bond while integrating physical activity into both of your lives. Play also keeps your pets’ mind sharp; even just five minutes per day spent tossing a ball or dangling a mouse can mentally stimulate them!

 

Schedule a check-up       

Just like humans, furkids need to visit the vet once per year; for older pets, the visits should be more frequent (about twice per year).  So while you’re scheduling your yearly tune-ups, don’t forget to make an appointment to take your pets to the vet as well. Dr. Katy Nelson, a veterinarian and Freshpet blog contributor, explains the importance of taking your pet for a check-up:

“By going for wellness appointments, you can hopefully catch changes in your pet’s health early on and prevent conditions from worsening or even reverse them completely. Your veterinarian will do a full physical examination (including oral and ocular evaluations, listen to the heart and lungs and assess weight, joints, changes in skin or coat, and much more) and make recommendations for improved or continued health based on his or her findings. Slight changes in weight, inflammation in the oral cavity or small lumps or bumps can all indicate more serious disease conditions and early intervention could be lifesaving.”

 

Volunteer

Many people resolve to give back to the community in various ways, and volunteering with shelter animals can be a very rewarding way to do so. Visit your local shelter to find volunteer opportunities. Walking the dogs, playing with the cats, and donating money or much needed items like blankets and bowls are all great ways to help a shelter. Even consider fostering a rescue or an expectant mother. This can be a fun way for you to introduce your children to volunteering while enjoying another furball at home. Keep up with how we’ll be giving back this year on our donations blog.

 

Set up play dates

Hosting play dates for your pooch will help socialize her and get her used to new faces and other animals and people. Plus, they’re a lot of fun for owners and pets alike! Visit the dog park, take a walk together, or invite your friends and their pets over for a great day indoors or outside.

 

Re-examine eating habits

The New Year is a great time to look at your pets’ eating routine and make healthy adjustments as needed. Resolve to feed fewer table scraps? Consider swapping in a fresh treat instead. Or try our fresh treats in place of shelf-stable treats, often containing many ingredients that are less than ideal for our pups and kitties. Look for ways to integrate fresher foods into your diet and that of your family members. Our fresh foods and treats are made with wholesome ingredients, gently cooked to maintain more nutrients and keep your pups and kitties happy and healthy.

 

Take more car rides

Getting your pets accustomed to car rides can have lasting benefits beyond just feeling the wind on their furry faces. Car rides are a great way to introduce your pets to new scenery, especially in the cold. And next time you have to take them to the vet, the car ride may not be as frightening.

 

Bonus: Dogs and Cats share their resolutions for 2013

Babble.com put together these adorable slide shows to celebrate the new year. What would your dog or cat’s resolution be? Visit us on Facebook or Twitter and tell us.

Dr. Katy’s Tips for a Happy, Healthy Holiday Season

Happy Holidays from Freshpet! As you’re preparing your home for upcoming celebrations, don’t forget these tips from veterinarian Dr. Katy Nelson to keep your furry ‘kids’ safe, healthy and happy this holiday season.

Decorations

Decorating the house is one of the most delightful traditions this time of year, but Christmas trees can present hazards to pets that are drawn to the lights, tinsel, and ornaments. Ensure your tree is secured in a sturdy stand to prevent pets from knocking it over, or consider anchoring it to the wall to prevent tipping. Hang any breakable ornaments high enough to be out of your pets’ reach. Sometimes it is best to keep the tree in a room that your pup or kitty cannot enter on their own, or at least have a baby gate to keep the furry ones away.  My theory is if it doesn’t look safe for a toddler, it’s probably not safe for your pets! Keep electrical cords and wires out of your pets reach as chewing on these can lead to harmful electric shock. Avoid long strands of ribbon hanging off of your wrapped presents, and if you have cats at home, avoid the tinsel. Cats are very attracted to this string, but swallowing it can cause serious harm to their digestive tract.

 

Holiday Shrubbery

Many popular holiday plants are actually poisonous to pets if ingested. Mistletoe, poinsettias and holly can cause our pets to have upset stomachs, while lilies can potentially damage your cat’s kidneys. Opt to avoid these plants if you have animals in the house, and instead choose a pet-safe bouquet, such as  faux flowers and holiday foliage, or a fragrant and beautiful arrangement of oranges with cloves.

 

Gift Giving

Many families give their pets gifts around the holidays, which is a tradition I am a big fan of! There is nothing cuter than helping your dogs or cats open up their presents with the whole family around. When choosing toys, be sure they are large enough for your pet to play with without swallowing. Know your pets chewing tendancies when choosing toys- if you’ve got an aggressive chewer, avoid toys that may break into smaller pieces that can become choking hazards. If your pet is not one that destroys their playthings, then a stuffed squeaker toy may become a favorite.  And tasty treats are always a hit this time of year. Just remember, if you pick up Freshpet treats, be sure to keep them in the fridge until it is time to open gifts. Or, consider making a healthy homemade treat like Freshpet’s Ready to Bake Cookies!

 

Table Scraps

Though it can be tempting to feed your pets leftovers from a great holiday meal, try to avoid it. Many of the foods we eat during the holidays are definitely not intended for our cats and dogs, especially sweets and fatty or spicy foods (these can cause anything from mild GI upset all the way to a life-threatening case of pancreatitis). Instead, have a few Dog Joy treats handy to involve your pup in the celebration. Dog Joy Turkey Bacon treats are a tasty and safe alternative to human leftovers, and in proper portions, won’t cause your pet to have to ‘loosen up their waistband’ like we may have to.

 

Holiday Parties

Just like children, pets can become overly excited when there is a lot of commotion in the home. So, when you’re having a holiday party, be sure there is a quiet place that your pet can retreat to, like an interior bathroom with the vent fan on (for white noise), or a bedroom that’s insulated from the celebration. Stock the spot with fresh water, a few toys, and comfy bedding to snuggle up in.  And just in case the worst happens and your pet manages to slip out the front door, make sure you have your pet’s microchip or collar information up to date so that you can be easily reached when your pet is found.

 

I hope that you and your pets have a wonderful, and safe, holiday season!

Holiday Travel with Freshpet Food

Thanksgiving is almost upon us, which means the holiday season is officially beginning. With the holidays comes a busy travel schedule as we celebrate with friends and family. We are often asked the best ways to travel with Freshpet food, so we’ve compiled a few options for those planning to bring their fur kiddos along for the ride.

 

Stock up on fresh food once you’ve arrived at your destination

Freshpet food is available in a wide variety of stores all across the country. If you’d rather wait until you arrive (perhaps you are flying, for example), you can use our store locator  to find a retailer who carries Freshpet in your destination city. Or if you are staying with close friends or family, politely ask them to pick up the food for you ahead of time on their next shopping trip. .

 

Bring Freshpet foods with you from home

This method works best for car trips, where you can easily bring a cooler along. Pack a cooler with your Freshpet food and ice packs, we recommend about one ice pack for every roll or bag of food that you bring. If you’re packing slice & serve rolls that have already been opened, don’t forget to use a plastic bag or saran wrap to cover the open end. Our roasted meals, complete meals, and treats packages are already re-sealable, so skip this step if you’re bringing these foods along. Some fans even opt to cut up pieces of our slice and serve rolls, bag and freeze them for travel purposes. While ok for your pet to eat, freezing the food may change the color and texture slightly.

Finally, for easy clean-up we recommend bringing disposable plates or bowls to serve the food along the way, along with a water bowl.

We wish you all a very safe and happy holiday season, and we hope that wherever you go, you enjoy a worry-free trip with your family.

Our Favorite Pet-friendly Halloween Costumes

Happy Howl-o-ween! We have been seeing a lot of fun, pet-friendly Halloween costumes this year, and the more we see, the more we LOVE. It’s not too late to get a costume for this Wednesday. Here are a few fresh ideas in the final days before Halloween – luckily, there are even some great deals out there!

We hope you have a safe, happy, and healthy Halloween with your family this year!

 

Dogs 

One of our favorite costume trends this year is dressing your dog as a character. We just love the little arms.

Here are a few very cute ones!

 

Another popular choice: Dress your pooch as a different, charming animal.

Mooooo-ch (Available at PetSmart), Dog-o-saurus (Available at Target), Giddy up Cow-Pup! (Available at Target)

 

 

 

 

 

And of course.. a personal favorite here at Freshpet – Bacon!

Crazy for Bacon! (Available at Target)

 

 

Cats

 

While there are a lot more dog costumes readily available out there for purchase, we found some great costumes for the cats in your family. Or, try out some of the smaller dog costumes on your kitty – often these will work just as well for our feline friends.

 

Here are a few costume ideas that will be sure to get your cat in the Halloween spirit while still giving him the mobility most curious cats need!

 

Devilish Kitty (Available on Etsy.com), Cats by the Sea (Available at Petco), LOL Cat (Available on Etsy.com)

 

Kitty West (Available on Etsy.com), Kitty See, Kitty Do (Available on Etsy.com), BATCAT! (Courtesy of Freshpet Fan Harley)