Category: Pet health and nutrition

Is Your Dog Fit2BPawsome?

April is National Canine Fitness Month. To celebrate, KC Pet Collective has created a free 6 week challenge to help you get your dog moving.  Join Fit2BPawsome for education, support, discounts, and a chance to win prize packages from our local sponsors.  The challenge begins on April 30.

Do you find it challenging to keep your dog in top condition?

You are not alone.  Over half the dogs in the US are overweight or obese.  Dogs today are more like to live indoors with people than at any other time in history.  And being housebound can lead to weight gain when pet parents don’t make enough time for dog exercise.

A recent study showed that dogs spend just five minutes a day running and about an hour walking each day.  Depending on breed, more vigorous exercise is probably needed to keep the weight off.  Yet busy schedules can keep pet parents from getting their dog out to play.

KC Pet Collective has joined with generous sponsors to create a fitness challenge designed to keep you motivated for success.

Fit2BPawsome has all the key components to get your dog in the shape of her life.

  1. Incentives.  That’s right.  Experts agree that having something to work for increases your chances of success.  All challenge participants will be eligible for prize packages including board, play, and /or grooming packages from Dog Pawz and Camp Bow Wow Liberty, a gift certificate for high quality, natural pet food from Pet Wants Olathe, a dog-walking kit from Four Leg Stretch, and a gift package from Tail Waggin Pet Stop.
  2. Support.  Support and accountability increase commitment to fitness goals. Join our Facebook group, or share your progress on social media using the hashtag #fit2bpawsome.  Post a photo of your dog every week,create videos of your best workout activities, and discuss the obstacles you face to get your dog moving.  We’re hoping you’ll find new friends and fitness partners to help you stay on track.
  3. Tools.  We’lll help you find the tools you need for success.  Participants in the challenge will receive a 25% discount on dog fitness trackers from Babel Bark.  Pair the tracker with the free app to connect to your veterinarian, service providers, and favorite pet stores.  The app tracks activity level and lets you sets goals for your dog.  You’ll receive discounts for doggie day care to keep your dog active when you aren’t available. We have even partnered with Flexy Body Babes to provide workout moves for dogs and humans.
  4. Tips and tricks. We’ll keep you up to date on the best dog fitness hacks here in the blog and on the Fit2BPawsome Facebook page.

 

Spring is one of the best times to get outdoors.  As the weather improves, make a commitment today to creating more physical exercise opportunities for your best friend.  Sign up now!

 

 

It’s Canine Fitness Month. Get Your Dog Moving.

April is National Canine Fitness Month.  This event is sponsored annually by FitPaws to raise awareness of the growing problem of canine obesity.  Don’t leave your dog’s fitness to chance. Take charge, get moving, and keep him fit for life!

national canine fitness month badge from fitpaws
National Canine Fitness Month

Pet Obesity is Epidemic in the US

Pet obesity is on the rise in the US.  According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 54% of US dogs were overweight or obese in 2016 according to their veterinarian.     An estimated 49.1 million dogs and 50.5 million cats are overweight or obese in the United States.

Obesity decreases longevity and quality of life

Obesity is a significant health issue for both dogs and cats.  Several diseases have been linked, either directly or indirectly, to obesity.  Obese animals are at risk of osteoarthritis, heart disease, pancreatitis, and some types of cancers (American Animal Hospital Association).  Diabetes mellitus may be linked to obesity in dogs, although the evidence for this is not as strong.

Both quality and length of life are decreased in obese pets (AAHA).  In the Golden Retriever Lifespan study, scientists found that when Goldens were even moderately overweight their life expectancy was reduced by almost two years.

The good news is that obesity is preventable. The bad news is that pet obesity is still difficult for pet parents to recognize.  When pet parents were asked about their own dogs weight, 81% of pet parents and 87% of veterinarians said their dogs were a normal and healthy weight.  If 54% of dogs in the US are overweight,  it’s clear that many owners and even veterinarians are thinking wishfully about their pet’s weight.

Take control of your dog’s fitness.

Exercise

How can you take charge of your dog’s fitness?  You can start by beginning a healthy exercise program.  In general, dogs should be active 30 minutes to 2 hours per day, depending on their breed.  Some active working breeds like border collies need at least 45 minutes of vigorous activity each day.

Work your dog gradually into fitness.  If your dog has been relatively sedentary, start with short 5-10 minute walks and move up.  Your goal should be 45 minutes of activity for your dog each day.

Always consult your veterinarian before beginning any exercise or diet program for your pet.  Remember that certain breeds, especially short-nosed dogs like bulldogs, are not well-suited to vigorous activity, and special monitoring is needed.

Diet

The other side of the fitness equation is diet.  Start by understanding what is an ideal body condition and weight for your dog’s breed.  Set a goal with your veterinarian for a healthy weight and feeding plan.  It’s important to consult your veterinarian before you start any diet or fitness program with your pet.

KC Pet Collective wants your pet to be in her best condition.  Stay tuned for an exciting new challenge featuring prizes, incentives, motivation, support, and more.

 

Citizen Science: Understanding Breed-Specific Behavior and Dog Genetics

How well can we identify the breeds in a mixed-breed dog by appearance alone? How much is breed-specific behavior influenced by the way different breeds are treated?  Now you can help scientists find out!

The Mutt-Mix Project

Darwin’s Dogs and the International Association of Animal Behavioral Consultants are collaborating to learn more about the ways small changes in the DNA of dogs over time have influenced canine behavior.  Project Mutt-Mix uses a citizen science survey to gather information about how well people can identify dog breeds in a mixed-breed animal.

The survey is the first step towards a larger goal of understanding how people perceive different breeds, and how this perception influences our relationship to dogs.

You don’t have to be a dog parent to participate!  Anyone will be able to test his/her breed recognition skills through a short survey.  Participants will receive a certificate of participation as well as the answers to the survey in about two months  This survey hasn’t launched, but those who are interested can sign up now.

A better understanding of breed-specific behaviors may help to prevent breed discrimination.  This knowledge may also help advance training techniques to better match breed characteristics and owner expectations.

Darwin’s Dogs

Darwin’s Dogs is run by the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT and UMass Medical School.  The project studies canine genetics to understand and to develop treatments for psychiatric and neurological disease in both humans and animals.  Like the Mutt-Mix project, Darwin’s Dogs relies on citizen science surveys.

Participating dog owners complete a series of brief surveys.  Once an owner completes ten surveys, they are eligible to submit a saliva sample for their dog.  From each sample analyzed, owners will receive information about their dog’s genetics and breed.  Scientists will compare the genetic information to behavioral data provided by the owner.  Scientists will not analyze every sample submitted.  Instead, the scientists will select samples for analysis based on the needs of the project.  Enroll your dog(s) at Darwin’s Dogs enroll to begin.

Get involved

Together, the Mutt-Mix project and Darwin’s Dogs provide an opportunity for dog lovers to contribute to science.  Sign up today and get started.

What do you think?  Are you already participating in Darwin’s Dogs?  Comment below to share your story.

 

Is Your Veterinarian’s Salary the Cause of Higher Veterinary Bills?

The cost of veterinary care has risen faster than inflation for the past two decades.  Is your veterinarian’s salary the cause of higher veterinary bills?  Probably not, according to a new study.

The American Veterinary Medical Association economics team recently completed a study examining veterinary salaries in the US over the past couple of decades to see if rising veterinary salaries account for the increase in veterinary costs.  The team found that while mean income for veterinarians rose until 2006, it is now declining.  In fact, when accounting for inflation, veterinary compensation is decreasing.  An influx of younger veterinarians, more women in the profession, and a decline in practice ownership may account for the decline in compensation.

Younger workforce

As older veterinarians retire, new graduates earning on average less than $80,000 per year take their place.  Right now, Generation X professionals are reaching their peak earnings capacity.  But they are outnumbered in the veterinary profession by Millennials, who are working at or near entry level salary.  The number of new veterinarians entering the market is expected to outpace retirements for the next decade or so.  That may continue to keep the average salary low.

More women in veterinary medicine

There are now more women entering the market as veterinarians than men.  Unfortunately, women have historically been paid less than their male counterparts, and this trend continues.  In 2011, the gap between median male and female veterinary salary was $24,000.  The AVMA reported in 2015 that on average, female veterinarians make $2406.97 less than males.  Until salaries become more equitable for women in veterinary medicine, income growth may remain slow.

Decrease in practice ownership

Owning a practice has been one way veterinarians earn more money in their careers.  However, it takes substantial time to start a practice.  For instance, more than 70% of veterinarians who graduated between 1970 and 1979 own a practice.  In contrast, only 6% of those who graduated between 2010 and 2015 own a practice.  And the trend is for veterinarians to wait longer to buy a practice.

How much is a veterinarian’s salary?

The study found that the mean salary for veterinarians in 2016 was about $112,000.  To put that into perspective, remember that new veterinary graduates come out of their 8-year college experience (including undergraduate and veterinary school) with an average of $167,000 in debt (2016).   Veterinary medicine is not a quick and easy path to riches.

What is behind rising veterinary care costs?

Harvard Business Review explored the similarities and differences between human and veterinary medicine in 2017.  Costs are rising in both of these sectors.  Rising healthcare costs for humans are attributed in part to the burden of a heavy regulatory framework and involvement of insurance companies.  These factors do not influence veterinary medicine.  The authors speculate that introduction of new technologies in both sectors spurs increased costs.  Intuitively, increasing sophistication of practice, with introduc tion of expensive new instruments and the expertise to use them, should lead to increased cost for services.

The authors note that in both human and veterinary medicine spending increases towards the end of the patient’s life.  They speculate that one reason costs rise more quickly in healthcare than in other sectors is that healthcare decisions involve emotions to a much greater extent than in other areas.  This may play into the “heroic” medicine that is increasingly practiced to intervene in desperate situations.  It is less likely to be a factor in preventive care and routine treatments for pets, in my opinion.  The authors fail to make clear that neither physicians nor veterinarians use the emotional aspect of medical decisions to increase billing, in general.  Rather, heroic care is based on a desire of both the doctor and the patient/client to prolong life.

Yes, veterinary care is expensive.  Does that mean that veterinarians are taking advantage of their clients through price gouging?  Maybe in rare cases.  But overall, veterinarians are an altruistic bunch of people who could have made a lot more money in a different profession.

 

Don’t Move to the Suburbs to Please Your Pet. City Dogs May Be Happier.

Millennials are buying suburban houses to please their pets. But does the change in lifestyle really benefit their dogs?  Probably not. Here’s why city dogs may be happier.

According to a recent report in Time, millennials are leaving cities to buy homes in the suburbs because of their dogs.  There’s a perceived benefit to larger homes and big yards. But the benefit may be more about convenience for the humans than happiness for the dogs.  We have kept dogs in rural, suburban, and city environments.  Here are four reasons we think our dogs are happier in the city.

1. The walkies

Walks are the number one reason city dogs may be happier.  As apartment dwellers, we spend more time walking our dogs each day than we ever did in the suburbs.  This means not only more exercise for all of us, but more time spent interacting with our dogs.  Walkies are mandatory, and the dogs allow no procrastination.   In addition to quick trips down to the dog park for sanitary purposes and play, we also make several long walks around the city each week.

Although suburban areas may boast more dedicated walking trails, neighborhoods within cities are often better connected by sidewalks and other pedestrian ways.  From our front door, we can walk for miles in almost any direction and never leave the sidewalk.  Public green spaces and dog parks are concentrated into a smaller area and are more accessible by foot in urban areas.  Unlike the suburbs, cities offer diverse sights and experiences for both pets and people.

Dogs walked in crowded urban spaces often require more training and better leash skills than their suburban counterparts.  Dogs enjoy learning and need to be challenged throughout their lives.  Daily walks provide a time for reinforcing leash training and building a stronger human/dog bond.

2. The dog-friendly spaces

There are more dog-friendly public spaces within walking distance in the city.  City dogs enjoy spending more time with their parents on the patio at local coffee shops, bars, and restaurants.  Most dog-friendly eateries offer fresh water for pets, and many provide treats for their canine patrons, too.

3. The socialization

City dogs get more socialization opportunities than suburban dogs.  Dog parks are increasingly offered as an amenity in rental communities.  We are among the growing number of renters with access to a private dog park.  As a result, our dogs interact with other dogs every day.  And because city dwellers generally have smaller homes and must be more conscious about separation-related behavior issues, city dogs are more likely to go to day care when their parents are away.

4. The tribe

Most city dogs end up with their own tribe of ardent fans.  Our dog Wesley is a crowd pleaser wherever he goes, and he thrives on the attention.  It’s safe to say that social dogs like Wesley get a lot of pleasure from interacting with a variety of people.  When handled appropriately, the increased exposure to many different people can help shy dogs become more tolerant and confident.

Does a Yard Really Make a Dog Happier?

The biggest downside for the city dweller is not having access to a yard.  Having a yard is undeniably much more convenient for dog parents.  There’s no need to rush outside with the dog in freezing weather or rain, and walks can be scheduled at the parent’s convenience, instead of through necessity.  However, the benefit of a yard to dogs is not as clear.

Having a yard means that a dog can go outside more frequently during the day.  Going outside more frequently doesn’t necessarily mean that a dog will get more beneficial exercise, especially if his owners forego regular walks.   Remember that dogs left to their own devices spend only about five minutes a day running and 68 minutes a day walking.  The majority of your dog’s day is spent sleeping or resting (about 19.4 hours), whether inside or out.

Giving a dog unsupervised access to a yard may lead to some unpleasant surprises.  The dog may dig or bark at passersby.  Even worse, the dog may get out of the yard and wander off.  Although there isn’t good data available, it seems more likely that a dog let out into the yard is more likely to escape than a city dog that is walked on a leash.

Your dog can be happy whether you choose to live in the city or in the suburbs.  It’s a mistake to think that suburban life on its own, will make your dog happier.  What is important is that you spend quality time with your dog every day.

What do you think?  Are you looking to move out of the city?  Are you living in the city and loving it?  Or are you and your dog sitting pretty in a suburban home?  Comment below to share your story.