The importance of pet weight control and fitness January 13, 2017 12:35
Your cat or dog's weight is absolutely key to their health and well-being. We spoke to our vet, Dr Cooper, and asked her what she would advise to ensure your pet is at their optimal weight.
The dangers of an overweight pet
Dr Cooper is passionate about preventative health care and weight management is at the forefront of this as being overweight predisposes your cat or dog to so many otherwise avoidable health issues. The following conditions are common in overweight pets.
Carrying extra weight puts excess pressure on joints, causing many overweight pets to develop degenerative joint disease (arthritis) at an earlier age than pets who are a healthy weight.
Fat produces pro-inflammatory compounds that put your cat or dog at a greater risk of inflammatory conditions like joint disease and skin issues.
Higher blood pressure and kidney disease
Overweight pets’ hearts have to work hard to pump blood around the body so they often have increased blood pressure which puts them at risk of heart disease as well as kidney disease.
There is also a link between being overweight and diabetes and liver disease.
How to tell if your pet is overweight
Cats and dogs can easily be overweight. In fact, in Dr Cooper's experience, the majority of pets she sees are overweight and their pet parents are totally unaware of it. "There are many points I assess during a weight-management consult, but the easiest one for pet parents to monitor themselves is fat cover over the ribs. This is done by running your fingers/hands gently over your pet’s ribs. Each individual rib should be easily felt with minimal pressure. If you have to push down to feel the ribs or if you can’t feel them at all, this is a sign of being overweight."
What can you do?
The best thing to do is to get your vet to assess your pet’s body condition and determine what their ideal weight should be. This is an important factor in deciding how much and how quickly your pet needs to lose and from this an appropriate diet and exercise programme can be tailor-made for your cat or dog.
Choose the right diet
We have delved into the many aspects of pet nutrition here (read more). At Absolute Pets (in-store or online) we stock a wide range of have world-class, perfectly balanced diets, suitable for your cat or dog and particular to their size and breed. We also stock a whole range of foods especially for weight loss like the Eukanuba Weight Loss for Dogs and the Hills Science Plan Perfect Weight for Cats.
Consider also whether your cat or dog should be on any form of supplement such as a daily vitamin, supplements for allergies or joint care. The Herbal Pet range is certainly worth looking at.
Get the right amount of exercise
Just as it is with humans, exercise is so important for cats and dogs. Find out more about pet exercise and consider investing in items such as a good lead, a set of balls, a frisbee or even a cat laser.
Book a check-up with your vet
If you are in any way concerned about your cat or dog's weight, book a check-up with your vet.
From the perfectly balanced diet to the right amount of exercise, we hope you will find what you need at Absolute Pets to inspire a more healthy and active way of life for your pets in 2017.
Tips for travelling with your pets November 16, 2016 14:38
The holidays are on their way for many of us in South Africa. It's always wonderful to be able to take your pet with you so that the whole family can be together but travelling can be a stressful experience for cats and dogs. Here are our top tips from our Absolute Pets vet, Dr Cooper, for making your pets feel comfortable and safe.
1. Get your pets used to the car
If you are planning a long road trip, it's a good idea to get your pet used to being in the car. Start by going for short drives. If you have a cat, get them used to a carrier first before putting them in the car.
2. Take breaks on any drive
On your journey, you should stop every hour to allow pets to stretch their legs and go to the toilet. And make sure to offer them water too.
3. Make sure you know your airline's pet regulations
If you are flying, contact the airline you are flying with to find out what their requirements are. Airlines are constantly changing their rules and regulations and many like Kulula and British Airways employ the services of Pet Lounge so that the pets are not stressed at a traditional check-in.
If you need a crate or carrier, make sure it is big enough for your pet to stand up and turn around in but not too big that it could topple over. For cats and dogs, try and get them used to the carrier or crate before you fly.
If you are crossing borders, it is recommended that you contact a pet travel agency as they are familiar with the ever-changing requirements of different countries.
IATA have published pet container regulations which you can read here.
4. Consider calming products
There is a wide range of calming products available and if you haven’t used any before, it may be best to discuss with your vet what would suit your pet.
5. Get your vaccinations up to date
Up to date vaccinations, particularly rabies, de-worming and tick/flea control are always important, but even more so when your pet will be exposed to different risk factors during travelling. Browse all de-worming, tick and flea products.
And remember, if you know in your heart that your pet is really not happy travelling, it can be kinder to get a pet-sitter instead so they can relax at home while you enjoy your holiday. Most of all, we want the whole family to be happy and healthy!
How to help your pets cope with anxiety and stress November 05, 2016 09:34
This article has been republished and slightly modified from Cipla Vet's website.
Many pets experience anxiety and this can be a debilitating and overwhelming experience for your animal. Anxiety can be caused by both external and internal factors, and calming an anxious animal is no easy task. Here are some useful ways in which you can assist in managing your dog’s stress:
- Look out for sudden changes in your pet’s behaviour. Dogs use body language to communicate and they can show stress in different ways. Signs such as trembling, excessive pacing or panting as well as excessive licking can all be signs of stress. The earlier you pick up these signs the quicker you can help your pet to feel calmer.
- There are a variety of things that can cause your pet to feel anxious such as unfamiliar surrounds including a visit to the vet, grooming parlour or kennels. Loud noises can also be stressful as a dog’s hearing is a lot more sensitive than ours, so thunderstorms and fireworks can be particularly stressful experiences. Try closing the curtains and play the TV or radio aloud so that it drowns out the noise.
- Some dogs also suffer from separation anxiety while you’re away during the day (often expressed through barking, digging or chewing). Try giving your dog a toy to play with that will take his or her mind off your absence. Toys that stimulate lengthy play such as treat filled items will stimulate your dog for longer.
- If your dog experiences anxiety while you are around, give it affection and physical contact. This will help to calm and reassure your pet.
- Exercise your dog regularly to avoid pent up energy which can also develop into anxious behaviour.
- If your dog has heightened levels of anxiety and stress, try to give it a ‘time out’ – take your dog into a quiet, calm space where it can calm down without the added stimuli of people, noises and action.
- Check your own stress levels and behaviour – your energy can influence your dog’s energy. Try to remember that your pet can share your stress so try to relieve your own tensions when spending quality time with your pet.
- If you cannot control your dog’s environment, or are aware that big changes or events will be occurring, try anti-anxiety medication, such as CalmEze. CalmEze is an all-natural product for stress and anxiety in dogs and cats. It stimulates feelings of confidence and provides a sense of wellbeing to help pets cope during bouts of stress. Over the long term CalmEze can also be used to assist with behavioral problems.
We sell a number of calming products in store and online. If you're looking for some backup, find the treatment that's right for your pet here.
What you need to know about pet exercise November 02, 2016 14:22
There is nothing that matches getting home to that frantically wagging tail at the end of a long day. As MK Clinton put it so well, 'the world would be a nicer place if everyone had the ability to love as unconditionally as a dog.'
So how do you make sure that you are giving your cat or dog the exercise he or she needs to be happy and healthy? We asked our Absolute Pets vet, Dr Cooper, for her advice on pet exercise.
Why is exercise so important?
The right amount of exercise keeps pets at their ideal weight and this is important as being overweight can lead to health problems and conditions. Exercise also prevents frustration and boredom and it is an excellent opportunity for bonding with your pet as well as being an essential pet socialisation opportunity.
How much exercise should your pet be getting?
There is no hard and fast rule as how much exercise your pet should be getting depends on factors such as age, medical conditions, breed and fitness levels. The best thing to do is to speak to your vet and ask his or her advice. However, here are some guidelines to get you thinking along the right lines.
Puppies need free play with a focus on teaching good manners like how to walk politely on a lead.
Dogs between (1-7 years old) need at least a 20-30 minute walk daily. Frequent, consistent exercise is better than high intensity, irregular exercise which can lead to injury.
For older dogs, around a 20 minute controlled walk should be suitable. Swimming is also good for sore joints. At all ages but especially as your dog gets older (and wiser), you must listen to them and judge what they can handle.
You will need to spend some time figuring out what your cat enjoys. Try lasers, cat teasers, toy mice and catnip toys. Browse all of our cat toys here.
Spend at least 10 minutes a day playing with your cat so that they don't lose their play drive and become lazy and bored. High intensity exercise like running after a laser is a great way to burn off energy.
Older cats should still be getting around 10 minutes of interactive play daily but of lower intensity like playing with a cat teaser instead of sprinting after a laser.
Tips and tricks for getting the right exercise
There are lots of fantastic products out there that can help inspire more playtime, fun and exercise. Here are some of our favourites.
1. The Rogz Frisbee
This is a great toy for young and old dogs - it is one of the best frisbee discs available. It floats so it also works well if your dog loves water play. It's soft enough to be suitable for older dogs and durable enough to last.
2. Kong Squeak Balls
Tennis balls can cause damage to teeth and gums so we love the Kong Squeak Balls which protect teeth and provide endless fun for those dogs (and their parents) who love a game of catch.
3. Launch stick
If your pet needs a lot of exercise, a Launch Stick could be a great buy. You get to walk around the park at your own pace whilst your companion can run, run, run after that ball launched far and wide by this handy stick.
4. BeviQui Water Attachment
If you are planning a lovely beach walk followed by a day out, it is wise to have a collapsible bowl or a handy water attachment like this one in your boot. For any exercise over an hour, you need to bring water along with you.
5. Sun cream
It's often forgotten that pets can also get burnt and are susceptible to skin cancer in later life.
If you are going to be spending time in the harsh sun, a good sun block is a must for your pets.
6. Rogz Trendy Summer Kits
Above everything else, have fun and enjoy every minute with your beautiful pet.
Why is grooming your pet so important? October 14, 2016 07:04
Grooming your beloved puppy, dog, kitten or cat, is not only about making them look ship-shape, it's also an essential aspect of pet care. We asked our Absolute Pets vet, Dr Cooper, why it is so important.
For a happy and healthy pet!
There are so many good reasons to consider a regular trip to a Pet Spa and the number one reason, of course, is the well being of your loyal pet.
Put simply, grooming improves your pet's condition. A brush aerates their coat and is good for blood circulation as well as removing dead skin cells and unclogging pores. For long-haired pets, grooming helps to prevent mats which can be painful and difficult to remove and, for cats, grooming prevents hairballs.
When it comes to hygiene, especially of long-haired cats and dogs, grooming can help keep all the nooks and crannies clean, preventing nasty infections.
How often should you 'groom'?
We would suggest you book in to a top quality Pet Spa at least once a month, especially for long-haired breeds.
For home grooming, we suggest daily brushing for long-haired pets and for more short-haired breeds, weekly. Eyes and ears should also be checked and cleaned at home if necessary. You can find our range of home grooming products here.
Grooming recommendations are generally the same for dogs and cats with the exception that cats groom themselves so are cleaner than dogs and thus don’t really need to be washed. They also stress easily so if a wash is necessary a dry shampoo can be used.
It's a great bonding opportunity
We all love one-on-one quality time with our special people, so why should it be any different with our loyal companions? It may take a little getting used to at first, but grooming at home is a chance to bond and well, that's important. The one-on-one time also allows you to check for any lumps and bumps, wounds or external parasites and skin condition, and if there is anything out of the ordinary you can book an appointment with your vet.
How to ensure your pets love their Pet Spa experience
As with most aspects of pet care, if you can start grooming from a young age, it is more likely that your dog or cat will enjoy the whole experience. However, for a professional groom the primary vaccination course must be complete (around four months of age).
When grooming at home, our advice is to keep brushing sessions short to start with, and keep the mood light and fun. If you need to, use a few treats.
When considering a professional Pet Spa, take your pets for a meet and greet before the whole grooming experience to familiarise them with the new people and environment and start with only a brush.
You can also ask to be there for the first time and take a few treats with you to make it fun. For cats, you will need to get them used to travelling to the Pet Spa in a carrier so that they are not stressed. There are a variety of calming products on the market that can help pets relax a little more, especially when the experience is so new.
Speak to your vet
Each pet has individual grooming requirements which are definitely worth discussing with your vet. So chat about this when you next go for a check-up.
About our Pet Spas at Absolute Pets
Our Pet Spas around South Africa are kitted out with world-class equipment and we only use the very best products. Our groomers are highly trained and ready to give the very best experience to your cats or dogs. We understand and appreciate the relationship of trust that needs to be built with each pet and love getting to know each and every character.
What you should consider when it comes to pet health October 06, 2016 11:10
Just as it is with us humans, when it comes to the health of our beloved pets, prevention is often better than cure. We asked our Absolute Pets vet, Dr Cooper, what she believes are the key aspects to pet health, so let's get the low down.
1. Teeth, teeth, teeth
We often forget how important dental hygiene is for our pets - it's one of the most common problems Dr Cooper sees in her veterinary practice and one that can have serious implications. Older dogs can stop eating as a result of pain due to dental disease and recovery is difficult.
The good news is that any dental problems are almost entirely preventable if a good routine is established in puppyhood. If you haven't yet started with a dental regime for your pet, don't worry, starting late is better than never!
Get your pets used to toothpaste and a toothbrush. There are lots of good products available such as the Kyron Pet Dent range which includes brushes for little mouths and long-handled brushes for dogs with longer snouts. Brush often, ideally daily, to remove plaque.
Rawhide chews and Greenies also prevent plaque build-up. We recommend that pets have their teeth professionally scaled and polished annually from 1-3 years of age to remove existing tartar and it is advisable to steer clear of bones that can result in tooth fractures, sharp hooves which can damage gums and felt-covered balls which can cause excessive wear of the tooth's enamel. Shop our full range of dental health products here.
2. Prevent ticks and fleas
Pets should be protected against fleas and ticks all year round, particularly in the Western Cape where there is no dormant period due to humidity. Ticks and fleas carry nasty parasites but it is easy to make sure your dogs and cats are protected.
Revolution is great for pets that have flea allergies as the fleas don’t need to bite before they die. NexGard comes as a tasty chew which should be given monthly and the Bravecto range provides up to three months of protection.
3. Care for joints and bones
Top quality, age-appropriate nutrition, fed in the right quantities, is so important for joint and bone care. Exercise is also a major factor with the type of exercise and amount being age and breed dependent. Generally, regular and daily exercise is recommended and swimming also works brilliantly for fitness and muscle strengthening without putting pressure on joints.
We also recommend joint supplements, particularly for large breeds and seniors. Take a look at the range here.
4. Consider the right nutrition
The right nutrition, with the right care, can lengthen your pet's life. Read on for our top tips for feeding your pet a balanced diet. Healthy treats, water and the best quality food you can afford, these are the investment required for a healthy and happy pet. We can't stress the importance of good quality nutrition enough.
5. Skin and ears
Regular, even weekly, grooming is a great way of picking up any problems early. This includes checking ears for excessive discharge or redness which can indicate infection.
If ears are a bit dirty, you can clean them with a bit of Otosil ear cleaner. It is also really important to keep ears dry! Particularly with dogs who love to swim, make sure you dry those ears afterwards.
If you wash your pet more than once a month, remember to use a non-stripping shampoo. There are also supplements which might help those pets with problem skin. Browse our full range of skin and ear products here.
6. Regular check-ups
Regular veterinary check-ups are important, especially as your pet gets older, as the sooner any condition is diagnosed, the sooner it can be managed with specific diets, supplements and treatments. A trip to the vets can indeed keep your pets happy and healthy!
The food you feed your pet could lengthen their life September 02, 2016 09:00
At Absolute Pets we are passionate about pet nutrition and a diet that gives your eternally loyal and loving companion the healthy and happy life he or she deserves. And so, we welcome with open arms the latest study by Eukanuba which shows how the right diet, together with appropriate care for your pet can indeed lengthen their life. Watch the video here and see this incredible study for yourself.
Pretty amazing isn’t it?
The Eukanuba Long Life Study
With 10 years of research behind them, the Eukanuba Long Life Study shows how a good diet can play a major role in improving the quality of a pet’s life as well as extending it. With fantastic nutrition and care, dogs can live beyond their breed’s average lifespan.
Our top tips for feeding your pet a balanced diet
With pet nutrition high on our agenda and this Eukanuba Long Life Study bringing the importance of the right diet into focus, we asked our Absolute Pets vet, Dr Cooper, for her top tips for feeding your pet.
1. Make sure you know the amount of food your pet needs
The amount you are feeding your pet is hugely important. This amount depends on the type of food, how many times a day they eat, their size, metabolic rate and exercise levels. Not feeding enough can cause deficiencies and feeding too much can cause obesity leading to increased musculoskeletal problems like arthritis, congestive heart failure, amongst others. Seek the advice of a vet or pop into one of our stores and we can guide you.
2. Consider your pet’s ‘life stage’
Puppies and senior dogs or kittens and wise old cats require very different diets. For example, a puppy needs high protein and specific minerals, vitamins and fats necessary for growth. A senior dog needs fewer calories and a higher quality protein to maintain body condition and muscle mass while putting minimal stress on the kidneys. Due to their slower metabolic rate, it’s important to prevent obesity in aging pets. A good pet food brand will provide you with the full spectrum so that you can rest assured that you are giving your pet the right diet throughout their life.
3. Give the best treats
Don’t forget the treats! These should be low in fat and sodium so fruit/veg are great options, for example carrots or apple slices.
4. Ensure fresh water is always available
Just as it is important for us to balance our diets with a healthy intake of water, so it is for our pets too. Always make sure their bowl is topped up and easily accessible.
5. Take your pet for regular check-ups at the vet
Regular veterinary check-ups are important, especially as your pet gets older, as the sooner any condition is diagnosed, the sooner it can be managed with specific diets. A trip to the vets needn’t be so scary!
As Dr Cooper puts it so well,"a good diet plays a major role in improving the quality of, as well as extending, a pet’s life. It also has a major influence on maintaining health and how the body responds to injury and disease.’
Get in touch
Pop in to an Absolute Pets store near you and we will gladly talk you through all of the options when it comes to pet nutrition. It’s what we love best.
Absolute Pets carries the widest range of advanced pet nutrition brands including Eukanuba but also Hill's Science Plan and Ideal Balance, Acana, Royal Canin and Vet’s Choice amongst others. You can view our range online or at any of our 32 stores.