How to tell if your pet is overweight

Posted on 17 April 2023
How to tell if your pet is overweight

As a loving pet owner, it's essential to pay close attention to your pet's health and well-being. One aspect of their health that can be overlooked is their weight. Obesity is a growing problem among pets, and it can lead to a wide range of health issues, including joint problems, diabetes, and even heart disease. In this article, we will discuss some common signs that your pet may be overweight and what you can do about it.

One of the easiest ways to tell if your pet is overweight is to check their body condition score (BCS). This score is a measure of their body fat and muscle mass and is based on a scale from 1 to 9, with 1 being extremely underweight and 9 being extremely obese. To check your pet's BCS, place your hands on their rib cage and feel for their ribs. A dog body condition score between four and five is considered ideal – not too big and not too small, which is where you should aim to get your dog.  You should be able to feel their ribs without having to press too hard, but they should not be visible. You should also be able to see a waistline when looking at your pet from above and from the side.

Look for Signs of Fat

Another way to tell if your pet is overweight is to look for signs of fat on their body. This can include a thick layer of fat around their neck, a protruding belly, and thick fat pads on their hips and shoulders. You may also notice that their face and legs appear thicker than usual.

Pay Attention to Their Energy Levels

Pets who are overweight may also have low energy levels and may not be as active as they once were. They may also become tired quickly during exercise or may have difficulty getting up and down stairs.

Check Their Eating Habits

If you suspect that your pet is overweight, it's essential to take a close look at their eating habits. Are they eating more than they should be? Are they getting enough exercise? Are they eating the right type of food? All of these factors can contribute to weight gain in pets.

What You Can Do About It

  • Talk with us at Lithgow Veterinary Hospital before making changes to your pet's diet or exercise, it is essential to rule out any underlying health issues that may contribute to weight gain.  We can give you guidance and plan a weight loss plan tailored to your pets needs.

  • Adjust your pets diet: Your pet's diet plays a significant role in their weight, so it is essential to provide them with high quality food that is appropriate for them, breed, age and activity level.  We may recommend a specific type of food, portion size and feeding schedule.

  • Be careful with treats, treats add calories too, in particular avoid the temptation of feeding human leftover food scraps. 

  • Monitor your pets portions, many owners overfeed their pets, so this is important.  Avoid free feeding your pets, which means leaving food out all day.  Instead feed them at specific times.

  • Increase your pets exercise, it is vital for your pet's health and weight loss.  Start slowly and increase the intensity and duration of the exercise.

  • Provide mental stimulation, boredom and stress can lead to overeating so try puzzle feeders and interactive toys.

  • Monitor your pets progress and track their progress.

Remember, weight loss takes time and patience, so be consistent with your pets diet and exercise routine.  With your love and support and some help from Lithgow Veterinary Hospital, your pet can achieve a health weight and live a happy, active life.

Posted in:News  

Pet Skin Cancers

Posted on 16 March 2023
Pet Skin Cancers

“Slip, slop, slap” isn’t just a good idea for human family members - did you know that cats and dogs can suffer from sun-related skin cancers too? 

Is my pet at risk of sun-related skin cancer?

Squamous cell carcinomas (SCC’s) are skin cancers that can occur in both dogs and cats and are associated with high UV light exposure causing chronic (long-term) skin damage.

SCC’s most commonly develop in pink-skinned pets, particularly in sparsely-furred areas such as around the eyes, ears, nose or belly. Most pets who develop these skin cancers are middle-aged to older, with a history of sunbathing.

What symptoms does SCC cause?

In the early stages, SCC’s may just look like a small scabby skin area, similar to an abrasion. However, these lesions won’t heal properly and will continue to enlarge, and may become red, raised, lumpy or ulcerated (raw). 

SCC causes localised tissue damage but doesn’t usually spread around the pet’s body (although it may do so late in the course of the disease for some patients, causing symptoms such as weight loss or breathing difficulties).

What should I do if I notice an unusual skin lesion on my pet?

If your pet develops any unusual skin lesions or lumps, particularly ones that don’t seem to be healing or are getting worse, it’s best to book a prompt appointment with one of our vets.

To confirm a diagnosis, we may need to perform further testing, which commonly involves a surgical biopsy of the lesion under general anaesthetic. We may also recommend blood tests to check your pet’s general health.

Can SCC be treated?

SCC can be treated and is best done so as promptly as possible before it becomes too invasive into the local tissues.

Surgical removal of the SCC with a wide margin of surrounding tissue is generally the preferred treatment, and is curative if all the tumour cells can be removed. However, surgery may not be possible in cases where wide margins of surrounding tissue can’t be easily taken (e.g. the nose), or if there are multiple lesions or the patient has other health issues preventing surgery. In these cases, our vets may discuss other options such as:

  • Referral for radiation therapy

  • Cryotherapy

  • Topical therapy with a medicated cream to encourage the pet’s own immune system to destroy the cancerous cells

How can I protect my pet’s skin?

If you have a pet with areas of sparsely-furred pink skin, it’s best to protect their skin from UV damage as you would for a child.

If possible, limit your pet’s sunbathing activities, particularly between the hours of 9am-3pm. Instead, allow them outdoor access earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon to limit their UV exposure.  It can help to provide your pet with stimulating indoor activities during this peak UV time, such as long-lasting chews and puzzle toys.

If your pet is going outside for more than 10 minutes during peak UV times, then trial the usage of a pet-safe sunscreen (that contains no zinc, which can be harmful if licked). These can be purchased as sticks, creams or wipes, depending on what your pet will best tolerate.

Additionally, if your pet will tolerate a pet sunhat and/or sun suit, these can be effective for UV protection (not to mention adorably hilarious).

If you have any concerns or queries about your pet’s skin health, contact the Lithgow Veterinary Team on 02 6351 3269.

 

 

HEARTWORM – IS YOUR PET PROTECTED?

Posted on 4 January 2023

 

Heartworms are parasitic worms that can live inside the arteries of the lung and in the chambers of your dog’s heart to feed off their blood. As the disease progresses, your dog’s ability to adequately pump blood around their body to vital organs and tissues is greatly reduced, resulting in heart failure and eventually death.
We are seeing an increasing number of heart worm cases throughout the Central West region. Heartworm infection has now been diagnosed in foxes as well, increasing the number of animals your pet can get a heartworm infection from.

With over 1485 heartworm cases diagnosed in Australia in recent years, 96 in NSW and 9 cases locally the numbers are on the increase. The risk is increased even further when you travel your unprotected dog.

It is an awful disease for your dog to endure, will drastically reduce their life expectancy and is completely preventable.


Heart worm kills…don’t let your dog be its next victim.


 

Itchy dog keeping you up at night? Skip the home remedies and ask your local itch expert

Posted on 4 January 2023

There are many causes of itchy skin in dogs including infections, parasites and allergies.
While home remedies and over-the-counter products can sometimes help,more often they prove to be ineffective, wasting time and money. And the end result? Your dog is left suffering with itch!


That’s why you need to ask your local itch expert: your vet.


To treat itch correctly, you need to know the underlying cause of the itch. As vets, we use our knowledge and experience to correctly diagnose that cause. We can then tailor an effective treatment plan to suit your dog’s needs.

 

 
Fleas are one of the most common causes of itchy skin in dogs but did you know they are not the only parasite that could be involved? Mites can also cause very itchy and uncomfortable skin.

 

 

Bacteria and yeast infections can make your dog very uncomfortable. On top of the itching, infections can lead to redness, rashes and a bad smell!

 

 

Dogs can be allergic to many of the things that cause hayfever in people, like dust mites, weeds, trees and grasses. Instead of sneezing, allergic dogs typically develop very itchy skin.

 

We are your local itch experts and are here to help. We can assess your dog's skin, understand their specific risk factors, and use special tests — like looking under the microscope — to specifically identify what is making your dog itchy. 


Once we know this, we can develop a tailored treatment plan that is effective in keeping your dog itch free. We offer the latest advancements in skin care, including new steroid-free treatment options that can provide rapid and sustained relief for your dog, without steroid side-effects
 

So if your dog is itchy, ask us and rest easy knowing your dog’s health is in expert hands.

 
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