Tag Archives: health

Overweight Cats & Why Owners Should Stop Being Offended

Owners of overweight cats need to hear this, and hear it without any type of sugar coating or euphemisms.  When I tell you your cat is overweight, it’s because your cat is overweight.  I’m not calling you fat, I am not picking on you, and I am not saying you are a bad person.

I can’t stress this enough – it’s not about you.  When I make a recommendation for your cat to lose weight, it is only because of the high number of risks associated with overweight cats, much the same as for a human.  It’s also because your cat is far too heavy.

People hear these risks so often that I think they’ve become desensitized to it, and therefore complacent when it comes to actually changing it.  Even if it may not be something that you take into account for your own daily life, at least do your cat the courtesy of helping them. They depend solely on you for it. A cat doesn’t understand the risks and complications of obesity so it is up to you as their sole caregiver to help them lead a happier, healthier life.

From: http://charlotte-harris.net

How can you tell if your cat is overweight?  Look at his head.  If it looks tiny in proportion to his body, your cat is too fat.  If your cat is over seven kilograms (ish), chances are they are overweight.  If your cat can’t lick it’s own ass, it’s too fat.   If any of these things apply, you need to take a good look at the way you’re feeding.  What may seem like a miniscule amount of food to us can actually be a normal meal for your feline.

It seems that people think that treats and a buffet of food is the key to keeping a kitty healthy and happy.  Oh look how cute he is, meowing because he wants more food.  Oh look, I’m feeling sad so I am going to get some love from my cat by feeding it some more treats.  This is not OK.  If you do these things even though it is making your cat rotund, then you should re-think being a cat owner.

You are not making their lives better by giving them all of the food and treats they want – you are contributing to a poor quality of life.  You are shortening that life, and making what they have left of it more and more uncomfortable with each pound they gain.  Outward signs that your cat may be uncomfortable or feeling effects of obesity are:

  • Panting (this is NOT normal for a cat and indicates distress)
  • Unwillingness to climb or jump
  • Inability to groom properly causing scalding around hind end
  • Itchy, scaly skin
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Inappropriate urination

By inappropriate urination, I mean urinating or defecating outside of the litterbox.  Maybe he just can’t fit, or maybe he’s trying to tell you something.  A common misconception I hear of on a constant basis is that urinating outside the litter box happens because the cat is unhappy with you, the owner.  This is silly and you need to stop thinking this way.  While it may seem like they have the capacity for vindication sometimes, this is false.  Inappropriate urination is understood to be a behaviour indicative of stress or urinary tract disease.  Don’t believe me? Here’s a University who has also said it:

http://www.vet.cornell.edu/fhc/health_resources/brochure_housesoiling.cfm

Something in your cat’s world, be it a new person, thing, or even renovations, can trigger these behaviours and getting to the bottom of which one it is can help.  It is heartbreaking to see cats being brought in for euthanasia for something like this because the majority of cases can be helped with a little guidance from the vet and effort from the owner.  If you have a situation like this, please ask your veterinarian for information first.

http://www.petobesityprevention.org

People need to realize that what you may think is a good weight for cats is actually much too high.  It seems like it has become a social norm to have a chunky cat at home.  If your cat doesn’t have a defined waist or it takes more than a light touch to feel ribs – your cat is too fat.  Here’s a little comparison to help this sink in – 1 pound gained on a cat is like 15 pounds on an average adult woman.  Click here for the full chart.

Injecting your cat after every meal probably doesn’t sound like your idea of a good time, does it?  Approximately 0.5% of cats will develop the disease due to obesity. This puts the numbers IN THE MILLIONS.  I don’t think it’s fair to these animals to feed them the way people do.  Let’s face it, there’s probably a solution and the onus needs to be put back on the owner to seek it out and make change.  Your cat is not mad at you, not getting back at you because you left, your cat is stressed.  It is your job to help.

Here’s more information on feline diabetes: http://www.vet.cornell.edu/FHC/health_resources/brochure_diabetes.cfm

See the bottom of this post for websites with statistics.

From: http://blog.petflow.com

http://www.canadianveterinarians.net/

http://www.petobesityprevention.org/

 

Feel free to shoot me an email with questions.

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Dog Behaviour – Where I Stand

Lately I’ve observed many different dogs with many different owners who exhibit all variations of behaviour while at the vet clinic.  After seeing this and polling owners about the dogs’ daily routines, feeding, etc, I have found that there seems to be a pattern between dogs who aren’t regularly stimulated, exercised, and taught “manners” and dogs who get all of these things.  One side tends to exhibit more bad behaviours than the other, and I think you can guess which is which.

This has prompted me to want to learn more, to expand the small amount of knowledge I gained while in tech school and really understand more about how to help the dogs and, just as importantly, the owners.

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I’ve been looking into ways to specialize through different organizations for technicians.  There aren’t as many options in Canada but hopefully there is an avenue I can explore in order to find the information I’m searching for.

There is one driving force behind this epiphany:  The desire to help these dogs as well as their owners. To be able to give sound, sensible advice to owners who are at their wits’ end as well as have that advice be backed up by training in the area of behaviour.

There are so many people that I see, mostly through the clinic but some just through random meetings, that have issues with their dogs.  Many, at least from first glance, can be attributed to things like lack of exercise or things to keep their brains busy. I don’t feel like this is fair to the dogs.

Like I’ve said before, these animals depend on you for every aspect of their health and this includes daily exercise and mental stimulation. This could include things as simple as spending some time teaching a trick, fetching a ball, or going for a nice, long/walk to learning to do agility courses or tricks with discs.

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I feel strongly that dogs who are not couch potatoes require this sort of thing in order to be mentally and physically healthy. Without adequate stimulation, dogs tend to become hyperactive or destructive. They need an outlet for the energy they’re taking in, or behavioural issues can develop.

We can’t exclude physical issues when it comes to the combination of lack of exercise and overeating.  Obesity is rampant among the pet population.  This page has some insight on the statistics regarding pets in America.

Many people will pass on their bad eating habits to their dogs, resulting in a huge number of overweight and obese pets. I can’t stress enough the toll that this takes on a dog’s body. They can develop diabetes later in life, just like we can, and I am sure that injecting your dog with insulin every day isn’t really your idea of a good time. Joint disease is also exacerbated by extra weight putting excess stress on those joints. Many larger breed dogs are already prone to this, but every extra pound goes a long way to crippling them later in life.

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According to the CVMA, obesity can also put your dog at risk for things like Gastrointestinal problems, increased cancer rate, reduced liver function, high blood pressure, and impaired hormone release.  See more here.  If you aren’t sure how to help keep your pet at a healthy weight, need ideas for stimulation, or if you aren’t sure if you’re doing the right things, your vet is a great resource for information to keep you informed.

If your dog is one who gives you trouble at home or you can’t seem to get them to lose weight, there are ways to help and your vet can help you with that. Also keep in mind, and I can’t stress this enough, that plenty of exercise and play time can go an incredibly long way in helping with many behavioural issues.

It is never a bad idea to do baseline blood work to screen your dog for early signs of different diseases, or just have a visit to make sure you are doing what you can to make your dog’s life as happy and healthy as possible. After all, many dogs are a part of the family and they deserve to live happy, comfortable lives. The only person with the power to give that to them is you.

Feature photo from http://www.petattack.com

Keeping a Positive Attitude When the Day Gets “Veterinary Clinic” Rough

From: http://www.catwisdom101.com

There are days at the vet clinic that never seem to end. You’re missing veins, nobody is cooperating for their exams, owners are being difficult or non-compliant and euthanasias are abundant. How does one keep a positive attitude and bring a smile to each and every client when faced with a day like this? Here are a few ways that seem to work for me:

1. Make light of any situation
I am one of those people who uses humour, or attempts at humour, in any situation that makes me uncomfortable, sad, angry, frustrated. You name it, and I’m trying to be funny. This not only makes my coworkers laugh (sometimes), but laughing and/or smiling allows me to release some of that emotion and to make an otherwise terrible situation seem a little more bearable.

For example, we had euthanized a very large dog that day and had some trouble getting it in the freezer because there were things in there that didn’t need to be. Once I had solved the problem of getting that stuff out and the big dog in, I sent out a clinic-wide email asking people to please remove what they could from the freezer because I wasn’t really into playing “Jenga” in there for long periods of time. It made a few people chuckle after an otherwise crazy day and if I can help to boost morale with cheesy things, then I am gonna lay it on.

2. Allowing someone to “let it out”

The first eleven seconds of this video is what plays in my head all the time.

Every single time I read or hear the words “let it out”, I am reminded of the above scene voiced by the late Robin Williams. It makes me smile a little inside, but I also do this in the literal sense. Whether they need to cry, vent, or they just can’t bear to be present in another euthanasia that day, I like to be that person who listens or fills in whenever needed and I know that my teammates would do the same for me.  Think of your coworkers like you’re all part of the Amigos.

I think voicing your frustrations can be a very good strategy for getting through the day with your sanity intact.  There are certain people I work with who know that when I need to vent, it’s not that I am mad at them or I am being too negative.  They know that I just need to voice my opinion or voice my frustrations and then it’s over and I feel better.  Then I can continue on with my day.  Often you can’t voice what you really think in an appointment because staying professional and courteous is so crucial, so being able to do so can help with getting rid of some frustration.

3. Cut yourself some slack

From: http://redsight890.blogspot.ca/

 

Yes, I get it. You’ve done this job for “x “years and you are more than capable of hitting that vein, or powering through that tough appointment. The sooner someone realizes that perfection is an impossible goal, the sooner they will be less hard on themselves when they’re having a bad day.

Even being as relatively new as I am, I know that there are going to be days when I’m not at my best. Those days are getting fewer and further apart, and that is what I strive for. You’re going to make mistakes, but as long as you make each one a “teachable moment”, you’re on your way to becoming an even better technician (or whatever your title may be).

Being perfect one hundred percent of the time isn’t going to happen because the industry is constantly going to evolve and change.  You can either learn and adapt, or get left behind thinking you’ve seen it all.  Chances are, you haven’t.  Even some of the technicians I respect the most, who really have “seen it all” know that there is always more to be learned, and staying humble really goes a long way.

4. Give yourself a minute

Sometimes you just need a sec.  Take a few minutes to allow your brain to rest, to recharge, and to deal with the craziness.  I realize that there are some days where time is short and there doesn’t seem to be enough of it to go around.

From: http://www.workingnurse.com

I think it is incredibly important to at least have a few moments where you can just sit and release some of that tension.  I recently did some CE on compassion fatigue which I felt was really useful.  Since we are in a field which requires a compassionate and empathetic person, sometimes this can put some strain on us mentally. I intend to write further on the topic, not as an expert by any stretch of the imagination but just put out the information I have gathered so far and possibly inject some of my own experiences in.

Just think, you could have to work with people.

From: http://www.media-cache-cd0.pinimg.com

Don’t get discouraged.  Just know that at the end of the day, you really are doing all you can and you are making a difference in the lives of your patients.  Any client or employer with sense will know that you are only human, and that you deserve respect for the work that you do.

If all else fails, I watch cat videos until I feel better.  This one, for example, had me laughing until I cried.

 

As always, feel free to leave me a comment.  Any positive feedback or constructive criticism to become a better blogger or a better tech would be great!