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  • Pet Obesity on the Rise for Sixth Straight Year

    dog_eating_black

    One of America’s most common New Year’s resolutions is to lose weight, and statistics show that pet owners should share that goal with their dogs and cats. Data from Nationwide, the nation’s first and largest provider of pet health insurance, reveals that pet obesity is on the rise for the sixth straight year. In 2015, Nationwide members filed 1.3 million pet insurance claims for conditions and diseases related to pet obesity, equaling a sum of more than $60 million in veterinary expenses. The boost in total obesity-related claims signifies a 23 percent growth over the last three years.

    Similar to their human counterparts, excessive body fat increases the risk of preventable health issues and may shorten the life expectancy of dogs and cats. Nationwide recently sorted through its database of more than 585,000 insured pets to determine the top 10 dog and cat obesity-related conditions. Below are the results:

    Most Common Dog Obesity-Related Conditions Most Common Cat Obesity-Related Conditions
    1.    Arthritis 1.     Bladder/Urinary Tract Disease
    2.   Bladder/Urinary Tract Disease 2.    Chronic Kidney Disease
    3.   Low Thyroid Hormone Production 3.    Diabetes
    4.   Liver Disease 4.    Asthma
    5.   Torn Knee Ligaments 5.    Liver Disease
    6.   Diabetes 6.    Arthritis
    7.   Diseased Disc in the Spine 7.    High Blood Pressure
    8.  Chronic Kidney Disease 8.   Heart Failure
    9.   Heart Failure 9.    Gall Bladder Disorder
    10.  Fatty Growth 10.   Immobility of Spine

    “Obesity can be detrimental to the livelihood of our pets,” said Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for Nationwide. “Pet owners need to be aware of the quality and amount of food or treats they give their furry family members. The New Year presents a perfect opportunity to create regular exercise routines for our pets and begin to effectively manage their eating habits to avoid excess weight gain. Scheduling routine wellness exams with your veterinarian is the most effective way to get started on monitoring your pet’s weight, particularly for cats.”

    In 2015, Nationwide received more than 49,000 pet insurance claims for arthritis in canines, the most common disease aggravated by excessive weight, which carried an average treatment fee of $295 per pet. With more than 5,000 pet insurance claims, bladder or urinary tract disease was the most common obesity-related condition in cats, which had an average claim amount of $442 per pet.

    Below are simple steps you can take to help regulate your pet’s weight:

    • Avoid feeding your pet table scraps.
    • Keep a consistent diet by monitoring the amount of food you give your pet.
    • Regulate the amount of treats you give your pet.
    • Establish a healthy and fun exercise schedule.

    *Consult your veterinarian to best determine your pet’s weight loss protocol.

    *Source courtesy of Pet Age

  • How to Put the Brakes on Pet Car Sickness

    dog_car_window

    With summer travel right around the corner, many of us plan on hitting the road with our pooches for a little summer fun.  However, for some four-legged family members, road trips can mean upset tummies.

    Queasiness in the car is not just a human problem. Dogs and puppies do sometimes experience motion sickness on car rides.  Unfortunately, car sickness can make any kind of pet travel a distressing ordeal for both dogs and their families.

    Car sickness doesn’t have to be a serious or lasting problem for your pet. With the right treatment, it can be mitigated, or even stopped altogether.

    There are several causes of car sickness in dogs and puppies. The most common include:

    • Immature ears. In puppies, the ear structures that regulate balance aren’t fully developed, which can cause them to be extra sensitive to motion sickness. Many dogs will outgrow car sickness as they age.
    • Stress. If traveling in the car has only led to unpleasant experiences for your dog – to vet exams, for example — he may literally be worried sick about the journey.
    • Self-conditioning. If your dog experienced nausea on his first car rides as a puppy, he may associate car rides with illness, and expect to get sick in the car.

    Car sickness doesn’t look like you might expect it to in dogs, and you might not even realize that this is the challenge you’re dealing with. Here are some symptoms to look out for:

    • Inactivity/lethargy
    • Restlessness
    • Excessive/repetitive yawning
    • Whining/crying
    • Hyper-salivation (drooling)
    • Vomiting

    If your dog is suffering from car sickness, symptoms will typically disappear within a few minutes after the car comes to a stop.

    Fortunately, there are a number of different methods available to help prevent and/or treat canine car sickness.

    1.  Increase His Comfort Level
    • Turn your dog so that he faces forward. Motion sickness is related to the brain’s ability to process movement. The less blurring movement he sees out the window, the better he might feel.
    • Keep your dog as close to the front seat as possible (but not in the front seat). The farther back in the car you go, the more you sense motion.
    • Opening the windows a crack. This brings in fresh air, which is soothing, and helps reduce air pressure.
    • Avoid feeding your dog for a few hours before a car trip.
    • Transport him in a travel crate. A crate will limit his view to the outside, and will help to keep any sickness he may have confined to a small space.
    • Keep the temperature low. Heat, humidity and stuffiness can exacerbate car sickness.
    • Distract him. Toys, soothing music, or just hearing you speak may help calm and distract a high-strung dog.
    • Take frequent breaks. Getting out for fresh air or to stretch your legs can help him feel better periodically.
    • Exercise before your car ride.
    1.  Reconditioning  For dogs who have negative associations with riding in cars, reconditioning could be the answer. Reconditioning does take time and patience, but it really can help relax your dog.
    • Drive in a different vehicle.  Your dog might associate a specific vehicle with unpleasant memories.
    • Take short car trips to places your dog enjoys. This will replace negative associations with positive ones.
    • Gradually acclimate your dog to the car. Start by sitting with your dog in the car while the engine is off each day for a few days.  When he seems comfortable, let it idle. Once he is used to that, drive slowly around the block. Gradually progress to longer and longer trips until your dog seems comfortable driving anywhere.
    • Offer your dog treats, or offer him a special toy that’s just for car rides. This will make the car a fun and rewarding place to be.
    1.  Medication While motion sickness can be helped in natural ways for some dogs, there are cases in which medications is the only option. There are both over-the-counter and prescription medications available, including:
    • Anti-nausea drugs: reduce nausea and vomiting.
    • Antihistamines: lessen motion sickness, reduce drooling, and calm nerves.
    • Phenothiazine: reduces vomiting and helps sedate the dog.

    Caution: Always discuss any medications you plan to give your pet with your veterinarian to ensure that your dog is healthy enough to take them, will be given the correct dosage, and won’t suffer any adverse effects.

    1.  Holistic Approach  Holistic treatments are another way to go for dog parents. They really can be effective, and are worth trying.  Some common holistic choices include:
    • Ginger. Ginger is used to treat nausea. Try giving your dog ginger snap cookies or ginger pills at least 30 minutes before travel.
    • Peppermint, chamomile and horehound naturally help calm the stomach and nerves of your dog. These are available in pills and teas.
    • Massage can help sooth and relax your pet before you travel.

    As with other medications, always discuss any holistic remedies you plan to give your pet with your vet to ensure that it’s appropriate and the dosage is correct.

    In short, with some patience, training, or the right medications or holistic treatments, you and your dog will be able to ride safely and happily together anywhere you need to go!

    *Source courtesy of TripsWithPets.com

    About TripsWithPets.com
    TripsWithPets.com is the premier online pet friendly travel guide — providing online reservations at over 30,000 pet friendly hotels & accommodations across the U.S. and Canada. When planning a trip, pet parents go to TripsWithPets.com for detailed, up-to-date information on hotel pet policies and pet amenities. TripsWithPets.com also features airline & car rental pet policies, pet friendly activities, a user-friendly search-by-route option, as well as pet travel gear.

  • Pet Travel: Take Your Furry Sidekick  Along, or Leave Him Behind?

    Adorable and soulful labrador mix ready to take the old car for a drive.

    As a pet parent, a road trip with a furry kid might seem like a dream come true. You’d love the opportunity to bond and share new experiences with him, and you’d certainly appreciate the company. But before you load your beloved pet into the car for the long haul, take a moment to reflect. A pet who’s a great companion at home, on walks, and on short trips around town won’t necessarily be an ideal travel buddy. Long trips aren’t right for every pet, and your pet’s needs should come before your desire to take him along.

    Does My Pet have a Road-Worthy Temperament?

    Like people, dogs have a wide range of different temperaments. Some are laid-back and easygoing, while others are nervous and high-strung. If your pet is adaptable, easy to please and likes new places and new people, he’s likely to be a great travel buddy.  However, if he’s nervous by nature, skittish about car rides, or anxious when confronted with something new, chances are, he’s not ready for a long trip. If your pet is nervous or fearful, don’t despair – with some training, he may eventually become a great pet traveler. He just may have to stay home this time around.

    With appropriate training, commitment,  and patience, most temperament problems can be overcome. Your pet can become less sensitive to stimuli, and more suited for travel. That said, desensitizing training techniques aren’t a quick fix. You’ll need to dedicate the time, offer a lot of leeway and understanding, and let your pet set the pace.

    Will This Trip be Fun for my Pet?

    Will your pet be comfortable? Did you plan pet friendly activities he will enjoy? Your dog might love an impromptu hiking trip through the mountains or a glorious day on the beach, but he may not be so thrilled to share your mother’s tiny apartment with her cats while you head off to the golf course or sit alone in a hotel room  during your out-of-town business meetings, (in fact, many pet friendly hotels don’t allow pets to stay alone in rooms). You know your dog best, so you are the best person to judge whether this trip will be an enjoyable one for him – if not, you can adjust your plans to be more pet friendly, or you can let him stay home where he’s sure to be comfortable.

    Is My Pet in Good Health?

    If your pet is injured or under-the-weather, you may be tempted to take him along on your trip so you can watch over him. After all, no one will care for him like you do! However, it may be best for your pet to stay behind under the care of trusted friend or family member. You will be busy driving, after all, and you won’t really keep vigil over him. The trip may make him tired, distressed or uncomfortable – factors that will be difficult to remedy far from home. A pet in pain or discomfort may even act out, which won’t make for a pleasant trip for either of you.

    If your pet is elderly, but in good health, you’ll need to make a judgment call. If he enjoys taking car trips and visiting new places, taking him along may very well be good for him. If he likes trips, but becomes uncomfortable easily, he may be better off at home. If you’re undecided, a quick trip to consult with your vet can help you figure out whether a road trip is in your pet’s best interest.

    If your pet suffers from travel anxiety, routinely taking him on brief trips, or planning occasional trips that end up somewhere exciting and fun can help teach him that traveling is a rewarding experience. If your pet experiences motion sickness during car rides, all is not lost – a number of remedies exist to help alleviate his suffering, including reconditioning, traditional medications, and holistic remedies.

    If your pet is up for it, hitting the road with him can be a fantastic way to break up the blahs, have some fun adventures, and spend some quality time together. However, even if your pet isn’t perfectly suited for travel right now, it doesn’t mean he never can be.

    Safe travels and happy tails!

    *Source courtesy of TripsWithPets.com

    About TripsWithPets.com
    TripsWithPets.com is the premier online pet friendly travel guide — providing online reservations at over 30,000 pet friendly hotels & accommodations across the U.S. and Canada. When planning a trip, pet parents go to TripsWithPets.com for detailed, up-to-date information on hotel pet policies and pet amenities. TripsWithPets.com also features airline & car rental pet policies, pet friendly activities, a user-friendly search-by-route option, as well as pet travel gear.