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Should I worry about my pet’s weight?

Did you know that 1 in 3 dogs and 1 in 4 cats are considered overweight or obese in the UK?

If you pet is carrying extra weight, it can reduce their quality of life. Our previous blog discussed how to assess your pet to see if they are under or over weight and give you an indication if there is something to be concerned about.

To help your pet stay in the best shape possible, you will need to make sure they get plenty of exercise, have access to good quality food and don’t over indulge. There are lots of ways you can help your pet lose a little weight if they need to, but obviously it is better to avoid their weight becoming an issue in the first place by putting them on a good routine from the day you bring them home.

Overweight pets are usually classed as being over 15% over their recommended ideal weight and obese pets more than 30% over their recommended ideal weight.
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Coronavirus and our Pets

Following reports in the news of a pet dog in Hong Kong testing MKVG Coronavirus Statement DOGpositive for coronavirus, we are aware pet owners may be worried. The dog tested as a “weak positive” for novel coronavirus multiple times, however has shown no symptoms of the virus. This result suggests only a very, very small amount of the virus was present in the animal.

This suggests that the dog has a low-level of infection of the novel coronavirus and this is likely to be a result of human to animal transmission. At the moment, evidence would suggest that COVID-19 is not “zoonotic”, and is unlikely to spread from animals to humans, and the predominant route of transmission of COVID-19 is still contact human to human or between humans and inanimate objects.

At this time, the World Health Organisation of Animal Health (OIE) have advised that: “There is no evidence that dogs (or cats) can contract or spread infection of COVID-19.” Pet owners are at no more risk from their furry friends than they are inanimate objects such as a door handle. The best approach is still to stick to good hygiene, using soap and water to wash hands regularly throughout the day.

We will endeavour to keep up to date with the situation, and inform our clients as soon as we have any more information. We advise clients to keep up to date with scientific reports, rather than relying on the tabloid news headlines.

Please keep an eye on our website and Facebook pages for further updates as they become available to us.
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Medical conditions that can cause weight changes in dogs

My dog’s weight is changing but I’m not sure why?

If your dog is losing or gaining weight, and you have not change their daily allowances of food, there may be an underlying medical condition. Here are some conditions that can influence an animal’s weight.
  • Thyroid problems – Dogs can experience thyroid issues which may cause them to gain or lose weight quickly. Hypothyroidism is commonly seen in dogs (more so than hyperthyroidism which is often seen in cats), and can cause individuals to gain weight as a clinical symptom.
  • Parasites – Internal parasites can burrow in a dog’s intestinal system and deprive them of the nutrients they require, potentially leading to sudden weight loss.
  • Liver Disease – Dogs that are experiencing liver disease may show weight loss.
  • Diabetes – Diabetes is also known as insulin deficiency, where an animal is unable to absorb sugar from blood. Diabetic dogs will tend to have a large appetite but still experience weight loss.
  • Arthritis – Dogs that are experiencing joint pain may be reluctant to exercise or play and as a result may experience weight gain. A controlled diet to take this into consideration can help.
  • Cushing’s Disease – this is a condition where an animal produces too much of a hormone called cortisol. This condition is normally accompanied by weight gain.
  • Dental problems – if your dog is experiencing dental issues, they may find eating very painful and lose weight as a result of their decreased intake.
If you are worried about your pet’s recent change in weight, please make an appointment with one of our veterinary surgeons to discuss your concerns.
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Is your dog at a healthy weight?

Our canine friends come in all shapes and sizes, so their ideal weight will differ depending on breed, sex and age.

How do I assess my dog’s weight?

When assessing your dog’s weight without a set of scales, you can get an indication by running your fingers down the side of their rib cage. At an ideal weight, you should be able to feel their ribs under a slight fat covering. If their ribs are felt too easily, they may benefit from gaining a little weight, and if their ribs are difficult to feel, they may benefit from losing a little weight.

Another thing that will give us an idea if the dog is at ideal weight, is by running our fingers down their spine. For a dog at ideal weight, you should be able to feel the spine under a slight fat covering. If the spine is prominent then they may benefit from a little weight gain, and if the spine is difficult to feel, they may benefit from losing a little weight.

Lastly, a good indicator is to assess your dog whilst standing up. For a dog at ideal weight their tummy will gather in just slightly after their last rib. If this is not noticeable on your dog, then they may benefit from losing a little weight.
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Alabama Rot – Update February 2020

Cases of Alabama Rot are still being reported in the UK, with Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists providing an update of a further 12 cases within 2020, totaling 2016 confirmed cases since 2012.

This disease is still very rare within the UK, and we advise dog owners to seek advice from their local vet if their dog develops unexplained skin lesions. Within a twenty mile radius of Milton Keynes, there has only been one confirmed case since 2014. If you are traveling with your dogs, areas of higher case records include South of England and North West of England areas.
What is Alabama Rot?

Alabama rot is a disease which damages blood vessels within the kidney and skin. The disease causes blood clots to form in the vessels, damaging their lining and delicate tissues within the kidneys, and sadly can lead to kidney failure which can be fatal. It can also cause ulceration on the dog’s tongue. Alabama rot is also known as Cutaneous and Renal Glomerular Vasculopathy (CRGV), and was first detected by in the 1980s in the USA.

What causes Alabama Rot?

Unfortunately the disease can affect any dog of any breed, age or size, and the majority of cases have recently been walked in muddy or woodland areas.

There seems to be more cases reported during the months November to May than there is between the months of June to October, therefore winter and spring time is more dangerous to your dog.

What are the symptoms?

Most commonly, the skin lesions are seen below the knee or elbow, and are a symptom of the disease rather than being a wound from injury. There may be a patch of red skin or an ulcerated area, and there may be swelling around the lesion. In the following two to seven days, the affected dogs have developed signs of kidney failure, including vomiting, lethargy and reduced appetite. This disease will not be the only cause of skin lesions or kidney failure, often there will be another cause.

However, prompt diagnosis and treatment is imperative for any dog with Alabama Rot, but without knowing what causes the disease, it is also difficult for us to be able to give you specific advice on prevention or where to walk your dog.

How to prevent Alabama Rot?

We advise checking your dog over for skin lesions regularly and monitor for any signs as mentioned above. We also suggest bathing your dogs after their walks to remove any mud. Alabama rot is unfortunately not a disease we can vaccinate against at present, and it is not thought to affect cats or rabbits.

We will update this blog if any new information becomes available for this disease.

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