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Winter Pet Safety

Pug in an orange jacket out in the snow.
When the temperature drops, our pets rely on us more than ever to help them navigate the challenges of winter. Here are some tips to ensure your pets stay warm, healthy, and happy during the cold months:

Weight Management for Cats

Overweight cat sitting in kitchen
The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention estimates that 60% of cats are overweight or obese. In animals, fat starts to accumulate around internal organs before it’s visible from the outside. That means by the time you notice your cat is gaining weight, her health may already be negatively affected. A 10-pound cat only needs about 200 calories a day. Being overweight or obese doesn’t just affect how your cat looks, it also increases her risk for many health problems including: Cancer Decreased lifespan Heart disease Bladder stones Type 2 Diabetes and insulin resistance Osteoarthritis If your cat does become overweight or obese, talk with your veterinarian about ways to get your cat back to a healthy weight. This could include a change in diet or starting an exercise program. Your veterinarian can help you to find a solution that works for you and your cat.

Weight Management for Dogs

The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention estimates that 59% of dogs are overweight or obese. In animals, fat starts to accumulate around internal organs before it’s visible from the outside. That means by the time you notice your dog has gained weight, his health may already be negatively affected. Being overweight or obese doesn’t just affect how your dog looks, it also increases his risk for many health problems including: Cancer Decreased lifespan Heart disease Kidney issues Type 2 Diabetes and insulin resistance Osteoarthritis If your dog does become overweight or obese, talk with your veterinarian about ways to get your pup back to a healthy weight. This could include a change in diet or starting an exercise program. Your veterinarian can help you find a solution that works best for you and your dog.    

Deciduous (Baby) Teeth in Pets

Puppy with baby teeth
Like humans, dogs and cats have baby teeth, called deciduous teeth, that are replaced by permanent teeth as the puppy and kitten grow and develop. The deciduous teeth begin to erupt around 2 to 3 weeks of age while the permanent adult teeth erupt between 3 to 7 months in dogs and 3 to 6 months in cats. When puppies and kittens lose their baby teeth, you might notice blood on their gum, lip, or tongue. This is normal. You may or may not find little teeth scattered around on the carpet or floors. If your pet swallows them, they will not cause any problems. There are four types of teeth found in mammals: Incisors – incisors sit at the front of the mouth and help the animal cut and grasp food Canines – canines sit behind the incisors and are used to stab and tear food Premolars – premolars sit behind the canines and are used to grind food Molars – molars sit at the back of the mouth and are used to grind food A tooth is divided into two parts – the crown and the root. The crown is the visible part of the tooth outside of the gum, while the root lies within the gumline and anchors the tooth in the mouth. Normally, as the permanent tooth begins to develop, it will push against the root of the deciduous tooth. The body will then break down the deciduous tooth root until it can no longer be anchored in the mouth and eventually falls out. In some cases, however, the deciduous teeth remain in the mouth even as the permanent teeth come in. This is called persistent deciduous teeth and requires the surgical removal of the remaining deciduous teeth (see photo below). While extraction of persistent deciduous teeth can be tricky due to their long roots, it is important to remove the retained teeth as soon you or your veterinarian notices them as they can cause the permanent teeth to become misaligned or displaced in the mouth, leading to future dental problems and an increased risk for periodontal disease. The teeth typically affected are incisors and canines and are usually seen in small, toy breed dogs. The dental x-ray above shows a Maltese with retained incisors and canine teeth. The photo of the extracted teeth below shows the roots that did not dissolve. The third photo shows the puppy’s perfect smile after removal of the retained deciduous teeth.

Thanksgiving Food and Pets

Dog at table with turkey dinner in front of him.
As much as we’d like to include our furry family members in our Thanksgiving celebration, the menu selection for pets can be tricky. Even a small amount of turkey skin can lead to a life-threatening condition called pancreatitis, and many other Thanksgiving staples are poisonous to pets.   Here is a list of Thanksgiving foods to keep away from animal companions — and a few you can share. Keep in mind that even “safe” foods can be dangerous if you feed too much.  If your pet likes to scavenge, be sure to clean up leftovers as soon as your meal is over, and keep trash cans tightly covered. If you’re having guests over, make sure they know not to feed table scraps to your pets — no matter how much they beg! Foods that are NOT safe for pets: Turkey Skin & Drippings Turkey Bones Ham Stuffing Salt & Seasonings Grapes Raisins Onions & Garlic Chives & Leeks Macadamia Nuts Walnuts Mushrooms Corn on the Cob Chocolate Bread Dough Alcohol Xylitol   Foods that are SAFE for pets in small amounts* Turkey (boneless, skinless, unseasoned white meat) Green Beans (unseasoned) Mashed Potatoes (plain, cooked & unseasoned) Sweet Potatoes (plain, cooked, & unseasoned) Apple (2 or 3 slices, no seeds) * Even “safe” foods are dangerous if you feed too much, so limit portions to about a spoonful of each.