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News and Information about Dogs, Cats, and Pet Products

The statistics are staggering: Between 25%-35% of cats in the United States are overweight or obese. And this epidemic is more than just a cosmetic issue. Cats are more likely to suffer from arthritis, respiratory disease, and diabetes, among the conditions. These ailments lead to a worsening quality of life, shorter life span, and more expensive medical bills. As the adage goes, ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pond of cure’, so is true in providing the proper nutrition to your cat. But, with so many options available, choosing the right food for weight management or loss can be daunting enough.

This article, however, will not focus on what is the best food to feed. Creating an ideal feeding plan might be more important than the food choice itself. Consider some of these ‘cat-raptions’:

 

  • A measuring cup can be the simplest tool available to help guide your cat on the pathway to weight loss and takes the ‘guesstimate’ work out on how much to feed. Filling the bowl to the brim and approximating with a ‘handful’ are not acceptable options!  You may be surprised by how much you are really overfeeding your cat. 
  • An automatic feeder can be your best friend, especially if you are not home for hours at a time, or if your cat is an early-riser who pesters you for breakfast. Instead of filling the bowl with a copious supply of kibble, precise amounts of food can be released at various intervals making sure your can does not go hungry. Placing the feeder in an empty bedroom or extra bathroom will make you feel less guilty as your cat ‘pesters’ the automatic feeder rather than you for food.
  • A variety of commercial ‘food puzzles’ (even homemade ones) may be used to not only provide your cat with physical stimulation during feeding, but also contribute to their emotional well being. These puzzles are essentially an object that releases small amounts of food when your cat interacts with them. Cats are natural predators in the wild and will eat multiple small meals per day. Allowing your cat to express their natural instincts at the same time they are ‘foraging’ for food might be as beneficial to their welfare as it is for weight loss.
  • Having multiple cats should not be a roadblock to weight loss! Consider these options: meal feeding, feeding in separate rooms or at different heights, or using a NekoFeeder. This neat device provides ideal weight cats consistent access to their food while keeping those ‘dieting’ cats away. Only cats that wear an electronic key collar are allowed access to the feeder. For more information visit www.nekofeeder.com.

Finally, don’t forget to ask your cat’s veterinarian for advice, an often underutilized resource in feline dietary management! Your veterinarian is also a trusted source to determine the best diet as he/she has received formal training in nutrition as part of their medical education.

Wheatland Animal Hospital is located at 24041 W. 103rd St., Naperville, IL 60564. They can be reached at (630) 904-2020 or visit their website at www.wheatlandanimalhospital.com.

 

 

 

In 2015, a widespread outbreak of severe respiratory disease affected a large number of dogs in the Chicagoland area. A new strain of canine influenza virus, H3N2, was implicated as the causative pathogen. Many dogs in our area are still at risk of contracting this viral infection. This article will offer pet owners the most up-to-date information on the canine influenza outbreak as well as answer the most frequently asked questions…

  • What is Influenza?

Influenza is a virus that can affect many species of mammals and birds. Particular strains of this virus, H3N8 and H3N2, can cause respiratory symptoms in dogs. Previous outbreaks of influenza in dogs were attributed to the H3N8 strain, originating from Asia, has been the major isolate responsible for the widespread infection in the Chicagoland area.

  • What is the difference between H3N8 and H3N2?

The viruses are named for the different proteins (Hemagglutinin and Neuraminidase) in their outer capsules and allow for the strains to be differentiated.

  • How is the Canine Influenza spread?

The virus is spread via respiratory particles (such as coughing, barking, and sneezing) and contaminated objects (such as food bowls, collars, and leashes, and kennel surfaces).

  • What are symptoms of the Canine Influenza?

Coughing is the most common symptom, but other symptoms vary depending on the severity of infection. Some dogs can cough for 2-3 weeks once they have contracted the virus. Other symptoms may include sneezing, nasal and ocular discharge, fever, and decreased appetite. Some dogs may not show any symptoms, but can still be asymptomatic carriers of the virus.

  • Can Canine Influenza mimic other respiratory infections?

YES. Symptoms of other viruses or bacteria that are common causes of “kennel cough” (such as Bordetella or Parainfluenza) may resemble canine influenza.

  • Is my dog at risk for contracting Canine Influenza?

As canine influenza is transmitted by close contact, dogs in boarding kennels, doggie day care centers, and animal shelters are most at risk. Your veterinarian is the best resource to determine the risk for your dog.

  • If my dog show similar symptoms to Canine Influenza, is there a test to determine if my pet has the virus?

Blood and nasal/throat swab test exist to diagnosis canine influenza. Depending on when your dog may have been infected, your veterinarian will choose the best test to submit.

  • How many dogs have been infected with Canine Influenza in the Chicagoland area?

Over 800 dogs have tested positive for the H3N2 virus within the last year in our area. Though it is estimated that thousands of dogs have contracted ‘upper respiratory disease’ in the last year, it is unknown how many dogs were truly infected with H3N2 (as some dogs probably tested negative for the virus or were not tested at all). Regardless of the actual number, the number of dogs that contracted acute respiratory disease in the Chicagoland area within the last year was VERY HIGH.

  • What is the treatment for Canine Influenza?

As H3N2 is a virus, there is no specific medication or treatment. Depending on the severity of infection, supportive care, such as antibiotics, may be prescribed by your veterinarian to treat for concurrent bacterial infections.

  • Is Canine Influenza fatal?

In the majority of cases, this viral infection is not fatal. However, fatalities have occurred in patients with severe cases of the disease.

  • Is a vaccine for H3N2 available?

There are currently separate vaccines available for H3N2 for dogs. It is recommended to consult with your veterinarian to see if your dog is at risk and should be vaccinated. Two doses of the vaccines are necessary to develop an adequate immune response.

  • Can people or other animals contract Canine Influenza?

There is no risk to humans. There are only a few documented cases of H3N2 infecting cats at this time, and does not appear to be a major concern.

  • Where can I find additional information on Canine Influenza?

Your veterinarian is the best resource on issues related to the health of your dog.

Updated information on canine influenza is available from the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine webpage.

Wheatland Animal Hospital is located at 24041 W. 103rd St., Naperville, IL 60564. They can be reached at (630) 904-2020 or visit their website at www.wheatlandanimalhospital.com.