Hopkins Road Animal Hospital

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Is My Pet Overweight?

     Is your dog or cat overweight?  Did you know obesity in pets is a growing problem?  It has been reported that 45% of dogs and 58% of cats are overweight or obese.  Being overweight can cause a lot of health problems for our pets, including heart disease, respiratory disease and joint disease.  Here are a few ways you can get out there and help your pet shed more than hair and get back into great shape.

     For dogs, start with cutting back on their portions and treats between meals.  Dogs are programmed to eat until they feel full.  Most people feed their pet 1.5 to 2 times their caloric requirement.  Furthermore, most dogs and cats are spayed or neutered, slowing down their metabolism and decreasing their daily caloric requirements.  One trick you can do to allow your dog to feel full and decrease the calories without changing to a low calorie diet, is reduce the food portion by 1/3 to 1/2 and add 1/4 to 1/2 a can of green beans.  Most dogs love them and the beans allow them to feel full without the extra calories.

     Exercise is not only important for physical shape and health, but also important for your pet's mental health.  A fenced back yard is great, but not a substitute for walking, swimming, or playing ball with your pet.  The time together builds your relationship, helps with manners and obedience in public, and decreases common behavior problems seen by most veterinarians.  I recommend walking your pet for at least 15 minutes in the coolest time of the day.  Pets like people need to gradually increase their exercise time and distance.  It would be difficult for a pet that is not used to jogging to go on a 2 mile jog.  Also, be aware of the type of terrain you are exercising on.  Where concrete is great for filing the nails, it can be hard on the pads and cause abrasions and ulcerations as well.  If the weather is bad, some pets can be trained to walk on a treadmill.  Swimming can be great 10-20 minutes a day in a safe and easy accessible location.  Remember to rinse them off and clean their ears after swimming in lakes and rivers.  Playing fetch for 10-15 minutes a day is like sprinting on the football field.  It can be great for the muscles, lungs and burning calories, but it can put a lot of strain and wear on the joints and ligaments.  If your pet has joint problems, playing fetch is not recommended.

     Our purring companions are a little harder to exercise because they tend to be content at doing nothing.  Again, we have to cut back on their food intake and treats to make the biggest impact on weight loss.  I recommend 1/4 to 1/3 a cup of dry cat food twice a day or 1/4 to 1/2 a can of cat food, depending on the size of the can.  One must understand the small kibbles of food are calorie dense. 

     Exercise your cat with toys, such as strings, feathers, balls and other widely available toys made specifically for cats.  Laser pointers are one of the fastest growing types of toys.  The cats and dogs see the red dot as a bug or other edible object.   With lasers, you want to be careful not to point the beam directly into your pet's eyes.  Even though they are low class lasers, they can still cause retinal damage if held on the eyes for too long.

     In summary, take a good look at your pet or pets and decide if they seem overweight.  I hope you will be able to use some of these tips to get out there and help your pet or pets to live longer and stronger for many years to come. 


Dr. Barry Parks, DVM

Wellness for the older pet


Important facts about senior testing

An aging pet’s organs gradually deteriorate and may lose their ability to function properly. We use senior testing

to promote early detection and treatment of disease, so we can maintain health and prevent illness during your

pet’s senior years. Early detection of disease often gives us more effective and less costly treatment options. And

senior testing helps establish normal baseline values for your pet, creating a point of comparison for the future.

What pets should take part in senior testing?

We recommend senior testing for all senior pets as well as any pet who is exhibiting one or more of the following

symptoms: weight loss or gain, increased thirst or urination, lethargy, vomiting/diarrhea, poor hair coat, coughing,

seizures, unusual behavior, or overall decline in condition.

Is my pet a senior?

If your pet is 7 years old or older, we consider him or her senior. Your pet may seem healthy well into its senior

years. However, many problems common to senior pets (like kidney or heart failure) may not present symptoms

until your pet becomes seriously ill. A comprehensive senior care program helps your veterinarian identify problems

early enough to institute preventive healthcare measures.

What is senior testing?

Your pet’s complete senior testing program includes these elements:

A physical exam is the most important part of the senior care program. Your veterinarian will assess all body

systems to check for any abnormalities.

Blood chemistry tests measure levels of various substances in the blood and diagnose diseases such as diabetes,

and liver and kidney failure.

A complete blood count (CBC) provides a detailed look at the blood itself and helps the doctor diagnose

anemia or infection.

A urinalysis gives information on kidney function and checks for urinary tract infections.

The thyroid screen (T4) helps diagnose thyroid disease, which is an especially common ailment in older

cats and dogs.

Glaucoma testing measures the pressure in each eye quickly and painlessly using a tonometer. Undetected

glaucoma leads to irreversible blindness.

During a retinal exam, performed after the pupils are dilated, the veterinarian will look for evidence of

bleeding, degeneration, inflammation, or detachment.

Blood pressure measurement lets our team check for hypertension. Just as in humans, high blood pressure

in pets can lead to kidney problems, heart disease, blindness, and other complications.

Radiographs (X-rays) come as part of the senior care program. Generally, we perform chest radiographs

to assess the heart and lungs. However, your veterinarian may decide a different set of radiographs would be

more important for your pet. For example, he or she could recommend abdominal radiographs to assess the

liver or kidneys.

FeLV/FIV testing, recommended for senior cats, tests for the feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency

viruses, which can suppress the cat’s immune system and lead to secondary infections, anemia, and even cancer.

I’d like my pet to participate in the Senior Care Program. What do I do?

Call us to arrange a day for your pet to receive his or her testing. Please withhold food from your pet starting at

10 p.m. the night before so we can get an accurate blood sample. Make water available for your pet as usual. We

prefer that you admit your pet to the hospital by 8:00 a.m., and we’ll schedule a discharge appointment between

4 p.m. and 6 p.m. the same day to review the test results with you.


The Importance of Dental Hygiene

Dental disease is a silent process that may cause many other illnesses, including kidney, heart, and blood infections.
When pets don’t receive the dental care they need to keep their teeth clean and their gums healthy, their mouths can
harbor bad bacteria. Ask your veterinarian for more information.


Stage 1
A healthy mouth with normal bacterial
flora, sound gums, and minimal plaque

Stage 2
You can see the inflammation caused on the
gum tissue from the bacterial buildup in the
beginning stages of dental disease. While the
teeth still appear somewhat healthy, the health
of the mouth is starting to decline.

Stage 3
An unhealthy oral cavity with
unfavorable bacteria, gum and inner lip
ulcerations, receding gums, root exposure,                                                                                                                            BEFORE & AFTER
and plaque buildup. Some tooth loss is
probable. This condition may be painful.

Stage 4
The mouth is full of pus, bacteria, and disease.
The teeth are falling out and the gums are
severely inflamed and infected. The roots are
infected and exposed. Tooth loss is eminent.
This condition is painful.



Skunk Spray Toxicosis

By Charlotte Means, DVM, MLIS, DABVT, DABT

Although pet owners seldom witness their pets being sprayed by a skunk, the odor is immediate and unmistakable when spraying occurs.  Ocular edema, conjunctivitis, drooling, and squinting are commonly noted in animals that have been sprayed.  Many dogs will rub their faces, roll, sneeze, and vomit.  Temporary blindness may occur.  Exposure to skunk spray can be oral, dermal, ocular, and respiratory.  Dermal absorption of the spray is minimal.  The severity of signs may depend on a pet's proximity to a skunk when being sprayed and the area of exposure (face vs. legs or side).  If an animal is sprayed directly in the face, inhalation can occur.

Krebaum skunk odor removal formula*

1 quart fresh 3% hydrogen peroxide

1/4 cup baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)

1-2 tsp of liquid dishwashing detergent

For large dogs, add one quart of tepid water to ensure complete coverage.

Mix the above ingredients together.

Bathe the animal outdoors.  Apply the formula to the pet, working deeply into the fur, and allow it to set for five minutes.

Rinse with copious amount of water after five minutes.

Repeat if necessary.


The mixture must be used promptly and will not work if stored for any length of time.

Do not store in a closed container.  The container could break as the peroxide releases oxygen.

The pet's fur as well as clothing, towels, and carpeting may be bleached by the formula.

*Source:  Krebaum P. Skunk odor removal.  Chem Engineer News  1993, Oct

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