Pet Q & A with Dr. David A. Wolfe
Shaker Veterinary Hospital, Latham
By Ciara McCann
Q: Are there any seasonal health issues to be watchful for with pets?
A: In the winter, certainly frostbite and hypothermia are the big things to watch for. Sometimes if your animal goes out and its feet are wet, they could freeze right to the ground. You don’t want to keep them outside in extreme temperatures for very long, and also because of the cold, animals need to eat more to build energy for heat production.
As it becomes warmer and we move into spring, you have to worry about mosquitoes and ticks. Using heartworm preventative treatments and topical medicines can help your pet stay healthy.
Q: What are some warning signs to look for in your pet to see if they are sick and should be taken to the vet?
A: In general, watch their attitude. If your pet vomits and a minute later is back eating, they are probably fine. However, if they vomit and then look depressed and won’t eat, then you have a problem. Be on the look out for any changes in their demeanor. If they aren’t acting like they normally do, you should get them checked out.
Q: What are some dangers in the household that can endanger your pet?
A: In the spring, antifreeze is a big danger to pets. For some reason, they like the taste of the ethylene glycol and will start licking it if there is a puddle in the driveway. It doesn’t take much to be fatal to your pets. You should bring them in to the vet right away if you suspect this happening.
Getting into the garbage is also a big problem for pets. If they consume rotting products it could cause gastroenteritis.
Q: How can you protect yourself from catching a disease or illness from your pet?
A: Primary, basic cleanliness is a main way to avoid catching something from your pet. Getting them the proper vaccinations and training them not to bite early on can prevent you from getting infections.
Always wash your hands right away after coming in contact with your pet’s waste products. Also, I never let my dogs lick my mouth. Dogs have a habit of licking their own behinds, which can lead to the transportation of intestinal parasites. Licking you anywhere else can be okay, but not on the lips.
Q: Are there any certain breeds of dogs or cats that seem to have a lot of health problems?
A: Different breeds have different problems. For example, Persian cats are known to have liver and kidney diseases, toy breeds have problems with their kneecaps and Scottish Terriers are prone to mandible diseases. If you are thinking about getting a pet, do your research and find out about any congenial or inherited diseases.
Q: How often should pets get a check up with their vet?
A: For young animals and puppies, at least two to three times a year. As your pet gets older, like eight or nine years old, twice a year is enough. Lately, we’ve been conducting wellness exams, workups and blood tests for pets that come in; it’s like a human getting a physical. It’s good to do this periodically to pick up on anything disastrous before it becomes life-threatening.
Q: Do you have any tips for new puppy owners?
A: Well, the most common cause of death in young dogs is behavioral issues. You need to start training them early, and if you are having trouble, get help. If they tend to bite when they young and you don’t correct it, they will become more of a significant liability than an asset.
The first thing you should teach them is to come, and the second thing is the word “no.” Make it pleasurable for them when they do respond to your call so they will want to do it more often. If you teach them this early, they will come back when you call them if they ever start to run into the road.
Q: Housebreaking a new pet can be difficult, any advice or tips?
A: I like to teach cage training. Right after a young puppy eats, take them outside. If they don’t go, put them in their cage and take them out a half hour later. Continue until they do go.
During the night you should keep them in their cage and take them out once during the night and first thing in the morning. After they are five or six months old they will be able to hold it longer.
Q: How would you recommend preventing your pet from becoming obese?
A: The biggest problem with pets right now is obesity, and it’s more of a human issue. Most dogs just want attention, so we shouldn’t praise them with food. Instead of rewarding them with a treat, play with them instead.
Don’t give them a key to the refrigerator. We tend to want to give them food because we think it makes them happy, but we don’t need to teach them they need an oral gratification. Some dogs will eat just to please their owner when they aren’t really hungry.
My advice is to give them regular dry food and not to mix in any wet, canned food to make it taste better. You can give them the occasional treat, but we shouldn’t over feed our pets.
Q: What are some things to keep in mind when traveling with your pet?
A: Especially in the spring and summer months you have to be watchful for heatstroke. If you must leave your pet in the car, leaving the windows open might not be enough. Leave the air conditioner on or park the car in the shade.
Another thing, which a lot of pet owners are doing lately is microchipping their animals. The process is simple and relatively inexpensive. A tiny microchip that fits in a needle is injected into the area above the shoulder blades that corresponds with contact information that is given to the American Kennel Club. If your pet ever gets lost this greatly increases the chance of reuniting with them.
Q: What are some things to keep in mind when choosing the right pet for you and your family?
A: Aside from researching possible diseases, the most important thing to consider is personality. Not all dogs are meant to be around young children; in fact some can be quite aggressive. You have to look at the breeds and what they were originally meant for.
For elderly people, small dogs are a better choice. They are easier to lift up and take to the vet than a Saint Bernard would be.
Also, if possible, try and look at the mother and father of the pet you want. This way you can get an idea of what their personalities will be like. If the parents want to eat you alive, chances are their offspring will too. On the other hand, if they seem laidback and like to be around people, you might be better off picking one from this litter.
Good for you, good for your dog!
The expression “It’s a dog’s life” certainly holds true for the millions of four-legged friends who are now enjoying some of life’s best little pleasures, a privilege their owners have appreciated for years. In fact, more than 75 percent of pet owners consider their dogs to be members of the family, according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association 2005 to 2006 National Pet Owners Survey. This means America’s canine companions are now enjoying creature comforts that include sleeping in bed with their owners, traveling on vacations and meeting with their doggie pals for organized play dates. In addition, recent trends in pet ownership are changing the way dogs eat, with the emergence of dog food that is inspired by entrees more commonly found on the dinner table.
Feed your dog like part of the family
More and more dog owners want to feed their dogs like they feed themselves — choosing foods made with gourmet flavors and real, wholesome ingredients that offer a balance of high-quality nutrition and great taste. According to a Purina survey of 1,000 adult pet owners living in the U.S.*, 91 percent rank high-quality protein as the most important nutrient to consider when purchasing food for their dogs and cats. This is followed closely by 90 percent who say they want to serve their pets foods rich in antioxidants. Mealtime has never been more exciting for man’s best friend as dog owners place great emphasis on the quality of the food going into their dogs’ bowls.
“Over the past several years, we have seen the emergence of a growing food trend that we call ‘affordable indulgence,’ ” said Lucien Vendome, executive chef for Nestlé. “Gourmet foods and flavors once considered upscale and limited only to fine-dining establishments are now appearing in mass channels such as grocery stores and even in commercial dog food.”
According to Vendome, “Four-legged friends can now enjoy a gourmet meal with the Filet Mignon, Prime Rib and New York Strip Flavors found in the ALPO® Chop House Originals® brand dog food line, which also includes products made with Angus beef.”
In addition to enjoying real meat flavors, dogs can also dine on food featuring unique ingredients in the form of wholesome fruits, vegetables and a wide selection of good-for-you grains. For example, some dog foods are now formulated with accents of antioxidant-rich cranberries and sweet potatoes. Others deliver excellent nutrition and great taste through whole grains like oatmeal and brown rice.
As more and more pet owners feed their four-legged friends like they feed themselves, they are helping to ensure that mealtime is the highlight of every-one’s day! For more information on the gourmet flavors found in ALPO brand dog food, visit www.alpo.com.
*Phone interviews were conducted of 1000 adults, ages 18 and over, living in the United States during a one-week period in April 2007. Most results have a margin of error of +/- 5% at the 95% confidence level for comparable data between the populations of pet owners.
Indulge your dog’s desires
Sometimes, dogs just want to be dogs, and it’s up to their owners to find creative ways for their canine companions to enjoy some dog-gone, good old-fashioned fun. It may require dog owners to go back to the basics, but it makes all the difference in making their canine friends feel like a special part of the family. Dogs desire the simple things in life — daily exercise, delicious meaty meals and lots of bonding time with the humans they love most!
Dogs need a positive outlet for energy, and nothing helps them release it more than a walk around the block, a fun game of fetch or a trip to the dog park. Not only does exercise help dogs maintain a healthy weight and ideal body condition, but it also helps keep them out of trouble and resting quietly at the end of the day. A walk provides dogs with a chance to enjoy the fresh air as well as check out all the great sights and smells of the neighborhood. For more active pups that prefer to run, a fun game of fetch with a tennis ball or
a flying disc is just the trick. And for social dogs who prefer the company of other dogs, a play date with a small group of their beloved canine companions can be the perfect activity for exercise and bonding.
Now, for the highlight of a dog’s day — mealtime! Don’t forget that the delicious aromas and tastes of a gourmet meal can now be shared with the whole family, including the dog. Mealtime is a great time to remind dogs just how much they are loved each and everyday. So, while the family gathers around the table to enjoy a mouthwatering dinner, make sure the dog bellies up to his bowl to find an equally appetizing meal, such as one of the many tasty beef flavors of ALPO Chop House Originals brand dog food, which is made with Angus beef. As the old adage goes, a way to a loved one’s heart is through his stomach, and dogs are no exception.
In addition to their daily walk and a great meaty meal, dogs like nothing better than some one-on-one bonding time with their owners. It only takes a belly rub and some snuggle time to get tails wagging. In fact, spending quality time together can benefit the owner as much as it does the dog, and it may even result in fewer doctor visits for the owner, especially for non-serious medical conditions.
Dinner is served: Top Dog Food Trends
The humanization of pets trend is significantly impacting the dog food industry. As a result, owners are finding more specialized product offerings that allow them to feed their dogs like they feed themselves, choosing food that is inspired by selections more commonly found on the dinner table.
Here are some of the hottest trends changing the way America’s dogs are eating:
As more people are embracing a healthy lifestyle and eating organic and natural foods, they are also choosing natural foods for their pets. Industry research shows that natural/organic pet food is expected to grow at more than three times the rate of total pet food through 2007 (Packaged Facts, Market Trends: Natural Pet Products, February 2005). Among the ingredients included in natural pet food are whole grains such as oatmeal and brown rice and accents of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables like cranberries and sweet potatoes.
“Only the best” has long been the standard for fine-dining establishments that cater to people who desire a high-quality, gourmet meal. Now dogs can also enjoy the fine tastes in life with dog food products like ALPO Chop House Originals brand dog food that features restaurant-inspired flavors including Filet Mignon Flavor, Top Sirloin Flavor and Ribeye Flavor made with Angus beef.
Dog owners are taking an active role in not only trying to promote their own health, but also the health of their canine companions. For example, dog food is now available with specialized ingredients that support healthy joints, an important benefit for large breed dogs. In addition, omega fatty acids are now added to
some pet foods to help promote a healthy skin and coat (Pet Foods Get Functional, “Functional Ingredients Magazine,” July 2006, pages 10 to 15). Advanced veterinary formulas are also available for purchase through veterinarians for pets with certain health conditions.
In this time-starved society, people are continuously looking for products that help them get things done faster and easier, so they can enjoy more time with their families. Convenience is also finding its way to the dog food bowl, with dog food products that are now available in special user-friendly packaging that helps make feeding time even more enjoyable. For instance, certain dog food products come in cans with easy open lids, which eliminate the need for a can opener. Other dog food products come in re-usable plastic containers that make it possible for the owner to save the unused portion in the refrigerator until their dog’s next meal.