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Aug 23, 2019

Is Your Pet Overweight?

Posted by Bob under Cat Arthritis, Dog Arthritis, Pet Obesity

In previous blog posts, we discussed risk factors for osteoarthritis and how to reduce or delay the onset of osteoarthritis.  In both of those posts, we mentioned that a pet being overweight may contribute to his/her development of osteoarthritis. 

Unfortunately, it is estimated that approximately 56% of dogs and 60% of cats in the United States are overweight or obese.  But how can you tell if your pet is overweight?  Below are some tools to help you determine if your pet is overweight.

One way to tell if your pet is overweight is to determine your pet’s body condition score.  You can look this up online and find pictures of what your pet’s ideal body should look like.  Below is an example of a body score chart for dogs and cats.  What score does your pet receive?  If you’re not sure, your veterinarian can help to determine your pet’s body condition score.

Notice in the chart above, the pictures show the view of dogs and cats from the top.  Looking at your pet from above can be a helpful way to determine if your pet is overweight.  Like the chart above says, you should be able to feel your pet’s ribs but not see them.  There should be a slight layer of fat over your pet’s ribs.  Your pet should also taper at their waist- a bit like an hourglass shape.

Another sign that your pet is overweight is reduced stamina or increased lethargy.  Is your dog panting more or not able to walk as far?  Is your cat unable to jump up on furniture?  Note that these signs can also indicate other, more serious conditions so if you’re concerned about your pet’s behavior, take him/her to the vet.

Nobody wants to be told that their pet is overweight.  But it puts your pet at risk of many diseases so it should not be ignored.  In addition to osteoarthritis, obesity can lead to serious health conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.  Alternatively, your pet may be obese as a result of a health problem such as hypothyroidism or Cushing’s disease. 

If you believe your pet may be overweight, a visit to the veterinarian is probably in order.  Luckily, there are steps you can take to ensure your pet maintains an ideal weight or to help your pet lose weight.  Your vet can rule out underlying diseases and also help you establish a nutritionally sound diet as well as an exercise routine that is appropriate for your buddy.

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Feb 22, 2010

Misleading Labels Can Lead to Overweight Dogs & Arthritis

 

We care so much about the health of our dogs, especially when it comes to weight and sometimes the parallels between human health and dog health are surprising.  Just as people search for low calorie food and often find the labels to be confusing, low calorie dog food labels can be misleading as well.  There is a link between being overweight and arthritis in people AND in our pet buddies!   Read the rest of this entry »

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Feb 19, 2021

Walking to Reduce Obesity and Osteoarthritis

February 22nd is National Walk Your Dog Day, a day to remind dog owners about the importance of regular exercise such as walking. Studies have demonstrated that regular exercise can actually reduce symptoms of osteoarthritis and contribute to weight loss and weight management.

Link Between Obesity and Osteoarthritis

According to caninearthritis.org, osteoarthritis is the number one medical condition associated with obesity in dogs. Excess weight leads to increased wear and tear on a dog’s joints and can therefore lead to the onset or worsening of osteoarthritis. When a dog’s joints become painful, this often leads to reduced activity. Reduced activity can lead to more weight gain and thus the cycle continues. While it may seem appropriate to restrict activity for dogs with painful joints, the opposite is actually true!

Walking to Reduce Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

Multiple studies have shown that regular exercise can benefit arthritic joints. Regular, low-impact exercise, such as walking, can lead to reduced joint pain and stiffness, weight loss, and increased muscle mass. Experts agree that regular, short-interval exercise is key, as opposed to doing one big activity on the weekends, such as a long hike. Regular exercise may be something as simple as taking a walk daily or on most days.

So now that you know the benefits of walking, let’s all take a walk on National Walk Your Dog Day!   

Note: Your veterinarian is your best resource when it comes to your dog’s health. Your vet can help you determine if your dog is overweight or if your dog has a degenerative joint condition such as osteoarthritis. He/she can also help you formulate an exercise plan tailored specifically to your dog’s needs.

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Oct 9, 2020

The Link Between Obesity and Osteoarthritis

Posted by Bob under osteoarthritis, Pet Obesity

Over the past 10 years, there has been a significant increase in pet obesity rates according to a report conducted by Banfield Pet Hospital. In this report, Banfield determined obesity is the second most common health problem in our pets with 1 out of 3 dogs and cats (in the Banfield population) classified as overweight.

Obesity may cause or exacerbate multiple health issues, including osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a painful inflammatory condition of the joints that is progressive, meaning without intervention it continues to get worse over time. One of its most significant contributing factors in dogs and cats is being overweight. In fact, dogs that are overweight or obese are 2.3 times more likely to be diagnosed with osteoarthritis. That means an overweight dog is more than twice as likely to suffer from this painful disease than a dog of ideal weight. With obesity in pets on the rise, it makes sense that osteoarthritis is also on the rise.

The link between obesity and osteoarthritis is an unfortunate vicious cycle: Weight gain causes more wear and tear on your pet’s joints, leading them to be less active and potentially gain more weight. Likewise, sore joints can lead a pet to be less active which can then lead to weight gain. If weight is not lost, the cycle will continue.

Furthermore, reduced activity often leads to more stiffness and pain. As we discussed in this blog, regular exercise tailored to your dog’s breed and physical abilities may reduce the severity or even delay the onset of osteoarthritis. Regular physical activity helps to build and maintain muscle mass as well as aid in joint fluid circulation, both of which support healthier joints.

If you are unsure if your pet is overweight or suffering from osteoarthritis, consult this blog and speak with your veterinarian. Oftentimes pet parents are unaware that their furry family member is overweight or uncomfortable. Veterinarians are trained to assess your pet’s Body Condition Score or “BCS” (see BCS charts for Dogs and Cats to learn more) and detect pain during their physical exam. In addition to increasing controlled exercise, calorie control is also essential. Your veterinarian can help create a diet plan specific to your pet’s needs. Maintaining an ideal body weight is crucial in minimizing discomfort related to osteoarthritis.

If your dog or cat needs more help with his/her osteoarthritis beyond weight loss and customary medications, consult with a veterinarian regarding treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy. Stem cells have demonstrated the ability to reduce pain and inflammation and to aid in the repair of damaged joints. Need a list of VetStem providers in your area? Contact us here.

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Jan 17, 2020

January is Walk Your Pet Month

Posted by Bob under Cat Arthritis, Dog Arthritis

At VetStem, one of our goals is to educate pet owners about the prevalence and potential severity of osteoarthritis (OA) in our pets.  Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease that can be debilitating.  It has even been identified as the number 2 reason for euthanasia.  Though 1 in 5 dogs in the U.S. are affected by OA, there are some steps you can take to potentially reduce or delay the symptoms of OA in your pet. 

In a previous blog, we shared some steps you can take to help reduce or delay the symptoms of OA in your pet.  One of those steps is to provide your pet with regular exercise.  While pets require varying amounts and different types of exercise, your veterinarian can help you to develop an exercise routine tailored specifically to your pet.

Since January is Walk Your Pet month, we thought it important to highlight the potential effects that regular walks can have on your pet’s joint health.  Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine states, “Regular physical activity is paramount in the treatment of osteoarthritis both in humans and animals.  A lifestyle of regular activity that is moderated away from intermittent extremes of exercise and activities to which the pet is not conditioned is essential.  Ideally, multiple shorter walks are better than one long one.  The same activity every day (or slightly increasing if tolerated) is ideal.” 

According to the Arthritis Foundation, walking comes with several benefits which may lead to healthier joints including muscle strengthening, joint fluid circulation, and weight loss.  Weight loss is an important factor when it comes to managing pain and lameness associated with osteoarthritis.  One study found that weight loss significantly decreased lameness in obese dogs with OA.  If you’re concerned that your pet may be overweight, you can refer to this blog or contact your veterinarian. And don’t forget, cats get OA too!  Cats with OA may also benefit from exercise.  Speak to your veterinarian about the best way to exercise your cat.

Ben, getting his exercise in by hiking the Pacific Coast Trail
with his human and VetStem CEO, Dr. Bob Harman

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Aug 2, 2019

Tips to Help Reduce or Delay Osteoarthritis in Dogs

Posted by Bob under Dog Arthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA) affects approximately one quarter of the dog population.  OA is a chronic disease that is characterized by cartilage loss and bone changes in the affected joint(s).  Symptoms include painful joints and decreased or limited mobility.  While certain breeds of dogs, usually larger breed dogs, may be predisposed to developing OA, all dogs are at risk for developing this chronic condition.

Developing good habits early on may help to delay the onset of OA or may reduce the severity of the disease.  Below we have highlighted some general steps you can take to help prevent OA in your dog.  But remember, we advise that you first consult with your veterinarian to get a preventative plan tailored specifically to your dog.

Which brings us to our first step: regular veterinary visits.  Taking your dog to your vet for regular checkups may help to identify conditions that could lead to arthritis as well as identify arthritis early on in the disease process.  Your vet may be able to spot some of the earliest signs of OA even if your dog has not shown any typical symptoms such as limping or decreased mobility.  Early detection and treatment may help reduce the severity of damage to the joint(s).

Your veterinarian may also recommend a nutritionally sound diet for a slower rate of growth and joint supplements.  Joint supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin can help to slow the loss of cartilage, the tissue that cushions your dog’s joints.  Omega-3 fatty acids may help reduce inflammation in the body.  It is best to speak to your veterinarian to determine which supplements and/or diet will be best for your dog. 

Exercise can also play an important role in reducing wear and tear on your dog’s joints.  Various breeds of dogs require different amounts and different types of exercise.  Work with your veterinarian to develop an exercise routine that is tailored to your dog.  By exercising your dog in the appropriate manner, you may be keeping them lean and building muscle which can help support their joints.

Keeping your dog at an ideal weight is essential in minimizing the wear and tear on your dog’s joints.  Like people, a dog’s body is not designed to carry too much extra weight.  When a dog is overweight, they are more likely to develop OA.  Speak with your veterinarian to develop a good nutritional plan for your dog to help maintain a healthy weight. If your dog has already been diagnosed with OA, speak to your veterinarian about the possibility of VetStem Cell Therapy.  Or contact us to receive a list of VetStem providers in your area.

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Apr 27, 2018

Does My Dog Have Arthritis?

Posted by Bob under Dog Arthritis

We know one out of five dogs suffer from arthritis.  Is your dog the one out of five?  This blog will focus on the risk factors and symptoms of arthritis to help you to determine if your dog should be evaluated by your veterinarian.

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a condition in which low-grade inflammation results in pain in the joints and wearing of the cartilage that covers the bones of the joints.  When cartilage becomes worn down, the joints are no longer able to move smoothly and shock absorption is reduced making things like walking, running, and jumping more painful.  Increased pain can lead to decreased movement which may cause muscles to atrophy and ligaments to become more lax.

So, what are the risk factors for OA?  Unfortunately, a common cause of OA is dysplasia (when the joints are misshapen) which is a congenital condition that many large breed dogs are prone to.  Additional risk factors include being overweight, broken bones, infection, or just wear and tear from repetitive motion.  Your dog is also more likely to get OA as he/she ages.  Add to this the fact that pets are living longer due to the advances in veterinary medicine and we can understand why the 1 in 5 statistic is so high.

Common symptoms of OA include limping, decreased activity, and a reluctance or inability to jump.  There are several other signs of OA however it is best to consult with your veterinarian if your dog may be at risk of getting OA.  Annual exams can be a good way to catch the disease early and if any of these symptoms have a sudden onset, a visit with your vet may be in order.

If your dog has been diagnosed with OA, contact VetStem today to receive a list of veterinary stem cell providers in your area.

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Dec 15, 2010

Sunny – His Early Christmas Present

Sunny is a 15 1/2 year old buff Cocker Spaniel.  Sunny looks young for his years and is active with his owner (Kristi).  Kristi is my daughter and Sunny has been by her side for all these 15 years.  Two weeks ago, Sunny hopped off the couch and became immediately very painful and lame on his right rear leg.  Ouch!!  Not being a small animal veterinarian, I took Sunny to see a veterinary surgeon, a friend attending the CVC West veterinary convention in San Diego. Read the rest of this entry »

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Apr 21, 2010

Sudden Pain and Lameness? Your Dog May Have a Ruptured ACL

 One of the most common injuries a dog can get is a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).  The tearing of the ligament happens in healthy athletic dogs as well as overweight dogs when they are running and suddenly change direction.  The ACL and the posterior cruciate ligament are two ligaments that cross each other as one travels from the front to the back of the knee joint, and the other travels from the back to the front. What does the ACL do?  This ligament is a fibrous band of tissue that attaches your dog’s femur with their tibia, making the knee joint a hinge. 

What are the signs of a torn cruciate?  Read the rest of this entry »
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Mar 8, 2010

What’s The Right Amount of Regular Exercise for My Dog?

Posted by Bob under from the vet, Pain in Pets

The following blog post is from Sandy Gregory, an exercise physiologist at Scout’s House, a provider of products for disabled and special needs pets. Sandy graciously offered her time to write a special blog post for us.

 

 

 
Photos courtesy of Scout’s House

What’s The Right Amount of Regular Exercise for My Dog?
by Sandy Gregory, M Ed, RVT, CCRA
Exercise Physiologist at Scout’s House

Whether you and your dog are training for something competitive or  are just having fun, there are several factors to consider before starting a new exercise program:

1)  Get Your Vet’s Ok—Talk to your veterinarian to make sure your dog is healthy enough to exercise. 
2)  Start Easy—Don’t go full force into a workout program.  Consider the activity level and age of your dog first.  If he’s a puppy, he shouldn’t get more than 15 minutes of exercise at a time, 3 times a day.  And never exercise a puppy on hard surfaces as that can damage growing bones and joints.  Likewise, if your dog is older or doesn’t move easily, if he’s overweight, or if he has a short nose or short legs, he won’t have much endurance to start.  Read the rest of this entry »

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