Resolutions for pets Print E-mail
News - Rubrieke
Tuesday, 31 January 2017 22:15
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Dr Liesel van der Merwe is a small animal medicine specialist. Send her your questions: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Dr Liesel van der Merwe

So, it’s another new year. Let’s think about some resolutions which would improve your pets’ quality of life and make yours a little easier.

Obesity is a major problem in people the world over due to a change in our dietary habits for which evolution hasn’t prepared us. Rapidly digestible carbohydrates seem to underpin the obesity epidemic.

Likewise, our pets are also getting fatter. It seems that what owners perceive as ‘normal’ has changed and they see ‘plump’ as healthy. Dogs should have a clearly defined waist and ribs should be felt, although not clearly defined.

Feed your dog regularly once or twice a day at about the same time so that they relax about the whole food situation. As mentioned in a previous column, I throw the morning meal all over the lawn and driveway so that they have to forage.

This is also a good way to feed dogs which are inclined to gulp their food down too fast. It causes increased swallowing of air which can cause gastric dilation and volvulus as well as increased flatulence.

Animals which are overweight have breathing problems as well as joint issues, both of which can resolve once the weight is normalised. There are special veterinary diets available for dieting and weight loss in dogs.

Just restricting the normal diet and taking away snacks is a good start, but isn’t always effective and in these animals a special high protein, high fibre, low carbohydrate and fat diet for calorie control is effective. Animals generally lose about one percent of their body weight per week and attain goal weight after about four to five months.

Try to feed the best diet you can afford. The more expensive and premium diets contain better quality digestible proteins and oils (omega-3 and -6) and less carbohydrates. This keeps your pets healthier in general and can reduce vets bills for gastrointestinal and skin conditions.

The bag will usually last longer than a cheaper bag, as your pet will eat less as it is more digestible. Evidence of this is usually smaller and less frequent stools – not a bad side effect at all.

Regular routine exercise is good for your dogs’ health and mind. There are a lot more dog-walking parks opening up where dogs are even allowed to go off lead. Obviously your dog needs to be reasonably well trained and well socialised.

Lead walking is an alternative to get the socialisation up to scratch. Dogs also get bored if just left in the yard, no matter how big the yard is. They need interaction with their owners and they really do well with regular outings.

Read up on animal and canine behaviour. Understanding how your dog responds to other dogs will help you to be more relaxed when out with other animals. If you, as an owner, are more relaxed then your dog is also more relaxed.

As far as your cats are concerned, make sure they are contained at night so that they are not involved in cat fights. This is beneficial for your cat as well as for good neighbour relationships. Unfortunately we live close together and our cats’ territories often overlap with those of others.

Cats also like high places to sleep and keep watch from. Create look-outs and high points in your garden and home where they can relax. If you have multiple cats make sure you have extra bowls and water points to ensure that access to resources is good and there are multiple access points. Cats often work by subtle intimidation and blocking of resources.

Control of ticks is the only way to prevent biliary fever. Fleas may transmit blood diseases to cats and cause severe allergic skin disease in dogs. Intestinal worms are especially dangerous in young puppies but can also cause gastrointestinal signs in adult dogs and can be transmitted to humans.

Get advice on your specific situation and start a routine anti-parasite program. There are new tablet forms of tick control available as well as long-acting collars, both of which are effective and easy to apply. This is money well spent.

As your pets get older they require health checks so that your veterinarian can pick up problems earlier when something can still be done about them. Don’t leave lumps and bumps to grow to a large size before you visit your vet.

This means that a small procedure turns into a large surgical procedure and could also mean that the prognosis becomes worse due to the spread of a malignant tumour.


© 2020 Die/The Bronberger