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Introduction

The veterinarians and staff at Lassiter Animal Hospital are pleased to provide you with an online newsletter.
This fun and fact-filled newsletter is updated on a regular basis.

Included in the newsletter are articles pertaining to pet care, information on our animal hospital, as well as news on the latest trends and discoveries in veterinary medicine.

Please enjoy the newsletter!






Obesity in Dogs

Americans and their dogs appear to have one thing in common: they are both overweight. The problem is that they eat too much and too often. Along with excessive eating, the amount of exercise needed to burn up the calories is not sufficient. Also, the foods we feed to our pets (as well as what we eat ourselves) are very high in calories.

There are several reasons why your dog may be overweight. The most common causes include over-eating, diabetes mellitus, hypothyroidism, Cushing's disease (hyperadrenocorticism) and obsessive-compulsive eating disorder. Obesity is more commonly due to over-eating than disease.

Obese animals tend to live a shorter life than animals that are trim. Fat dogs have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, liver disease, diabetes, orthopedic problems and even neurological problems. Dogs that are overweight often experience difficulty breathing and become less able to tolerate heat. They may also experience difficulty walking or be unable to tolerate regular exercise due to muscle weakness. As responsible pet owners, we need to make sure that our pets are eating properly and not excessively overweight.

Obese animals tend to have shorter lifespans

A Proper Diet Is Key To Your Dog's Overall Health

Recent studies have shown that 53 percent of American dogs are overweight and about 58 percent of cats are overweight as well.

Planning a Diet

If your pet is overweight, work with your veterinarian to decide on and stick to a proper weight-reduction plan. Your veterinarian can help assess your pet's obesity and weight reduction plan and determine whether there are any complicating disease concerns. In some cases, a prescription type of diet may be recommended.

Weight should be lost gradually. Starvation or crash diets are inhumane and rarely work. Most dogs require 10 to 12 months on a weight loss plan before results are achieved. Dogs should eat twice a day and be fed reasonable amounts of high fiber low-fat dog food. Also, treats should be small and strictly rationed.

Help your obese animal by following a proper weight loss diet.

A Proper Diet Is Key To Your Dog's Overall Health


General Weight Loss Instructions

Weight loss should be a family effort. All members of the family must admit the animal is overweight and commit to a weight loss program.

  • One person should take charge of feeding the dog.
  • If the dog is extremely overweight, the diet must be changed to a therapeutic veterinary diet specifically designed for weight loss. Simply feeding less of your dog's regular food is rarely, if ever, successful.
  • Owners must be willing to measure exactly the amount of food offered. Minimize treats. If treats are necessary, offer low calorie snacks such as air popped popcorn or a piece of vegetable (such as carrots or green beans).
  • Most dogs do achieve ideal or near ideal body weight when the owner and family members are committed to improving the pet's health.
  • In order to maintain the ideal weight, it is often necessary to continue feeding the weight loss die. The amount of food however, is generally increased.

Food Recommendations for Feeding Overweight Dogs

Lower your pet's daily caloric intake by 50 percent of that required at their ideal body weight.

Change the pet food product to one designed for weight loss and containing:

  • less than 340 kcal per 100 g of food on a dry matter basis.
  • between 5-10 percent fat.
  • between 10-30 percent crude fiber.
  • greater than 25 percent crude protein.

Feed your pet twice a day.

Feed the prescribed measured amount of food.

Give treats only as directed. Use specifically designed low calorie treats or give cooked or raw vegetables.

Exercise your dog regularly to help maintain a healthy weight.

Exercise Your Dog Regularly To Help Maintain A Healthy Weight


Exercise is an important factor in weight loss. As with humans, exercise provides an outlet for pent-up energy. Another benefit from exercise is that it leads to the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain. Serotonin has two effects that might be relevant: first, it helps to prevent depression and has anti-obsessive properties. Second, it reduces appetite. Both are desirable for weight loss.

Recently, a new medication has been introduced for weight loss in dogs. This prescription medication is available only through your veterinarian.

Your dog's weight contributes significantly to his or her well-being. A fat dog is generally lethargic and does not live life to the fullest. A trim healthy dog is much more active and truly makes a more enjoyable companion.

If your dog is overweight, a visit to your veterinarian is the best first step.

Financing Your Pet's Health Care

Health care costs are rising rapidly - not just for you, but also for your pet. Veterinary medical costs are on the rise and many treatment options once available only for humans can now be used on pets. This is great news for the health of your pet, but it may not be so great for your wallet. Specialized treatments, emergency surgeries and consultations with specialists are expensive and working large veterinary bills into an already tight budget can be difficult for many pet owners. However, there are many options for pet owners looking to budget for the care of their faithful companion.

When it comes to tackling a large veterinary bill, health care credit cards are an easy option for pet owners. CareCredit, the Wells Fargo and Citibank all offer credit cards that can be used to pay for your pet's health care. CareCredit was the first company to offer financing exclusively for veterinary care. CareCredit works just like a regular credit card, except that it can be used for veterinary medical care, as well as for human medical costs such vision care or dentistry. More than 100,000 veterinarians in the country accept CareCredit and CareCredit's website features a searchable list of veterinarians who take payment through CareCredit.




To use CareCredit, apply online at www.carecredit.com. Once you're approved, make an appointment for your pet with your veterinarian. When it's time to pay the bill, you can set up a CareCredit payment plan with your veterinarian. Payment plans can last anywhere from three to 18 months, with no interest; for higher treatment fees, 24 to 60 month payment plans can be set up with a fixed 11.9 percent interest rate. The average credit limit is $4,000.

Chase also offers a specialized credit card for health care costs. The ChaseHealthAdvance allows pet owners to set up no-interest payment plans spread out from three to 24 months. Longer financing periods (for 24 to 48 months) are available with an interest rate ranging from 0 to 11.99 percent. The credit limit for ChaseHealthAdvance ranges from $5,000 to $20,000.

Wells Fargo and Citibank also offer credit card financing options for veterinary care. The Wells Fargo Health Advantage Card and the Citi Health Card work much like CareCredit and can be used for both veterinary and human medical procedures.

The Citi Health Card offers three different payment plans: zero interest for three to 18 months; a budgeted 48-month plan at 12.96 percent interest and a regular credit plan at 21.98 variable interest. Wells Fargo offers similar payment plans that can be customized by your veterinarian.

Not all veterinarians accept health care credit cards. Before applying for a card, ask your veterinarian which payment plans he or she uses. It is also a good idea to find out if veterinary emergency clinics in your area accept health care credit cards, as well. Adding another credit card to a growing stack of bills is a difficult choice, but far less difficult than choosing to forego an important procedure for your pet because of high costs.

Your Pet's Allergies

The skin is the largest organ of the body. It's major function is to protect the rest of the body from the external environment. With it's sweat glands and rich blood supply, it is also responsible for regulating the body's temperature.

The exterior portion of the skin is called keratin. In animals, this protective waterproof layer is thickest on the paw pads. Under the keratin layer are the epidermal cells. These cells are constantly dividing, as new cells are replacing damaged older cells. The keratin layer and the epithelial cells are the body's first line of defense against invading microorganisms and hazardous environmental substances. These layers are also responsible for keeping moisture inside the body, preventing the body from dehydrating.

Like humans, animals have allergies. Some allergies are seasonal while others occur year round. In the northern parts of the U.S., flea allergies are commonly seen in the summer and fall. In the southern states, flea allergies often occur throughout the year. Food allergies are not seasonal. They can occur anytime during the year. The most common types of allergies in pets (particularly dogs) include: contact allergies, flea allergies, atopy and food allergies.



Asthma and hay fever are common symptoms of allergies in humans. Animals rarely develop these symptoms. Scratching is the most common symptom of allergies in pets. Some animals scratch so much that they mutilate themselves. It is not unusual to see an allergic dog with large skin wounds and areas devoid of fur (often called "hot spots"). Once the skin is injured, the animal is susceptible to a serious bacterial infection.

There are many ways to treat allergies in pets. Food allergies can be treated with hypoallergenic diets. Certain animals respond favorably to desensitization. Unfortunately, in most cases, allergies are extremely difficult to treat and require medication. This medication should only be dispensed by a veterinarian.

Tick Prevention

Tick, Tick, Tick: For Tick-Borne Infections and Unprotected Pets, it's Only a Matter of Time

Last week, while lavishing my dog with some behind-the-ear scratches after a walk together in the woods, I found a tick on her leg. This was alarming for a couple of reasons. Not much larger than a freckle, the critter nearly escaped my notice. Even when I did see it, I almost dismissed it as a speck of dirt or a bit of lint—after all, it had been six months since I had needed to be vigilant. Then I remembered: It's spring, the weather is getting warmer, and here come the ticks—especially the tiny, easily-overlooked deer ticks that carry Lyme disease.

And there are even more reasons to be concerned. According to an article in Veterinary Practice News, tick populations are increasing and are poised to reach unprecedented levels in 2013, due to a number of factors including warmer winters, decreased insecticide usage, and the white-tailed deer population, which has swelled as a result of successful conservation efforts. White-tailed deer are ticks' primary mode of travel and the main reason they are so widespread, although other migratory animals such as birds and coyotes transport ticks as well.

Aside from Lyme disease, ticks can carry almost a dozen human and animal diseases, including Rocky Mountain spotted fever, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, and Cytauxzoon felis, a deadly organism that afflicts domestic cats.


Treatment a necessity, not an option

When it comes to illnesses, prevention is generally the least costly and least stressful option, and tick-borne infections are no exception.  Given the emerging statistics about tick population growth and disease, prevention protocols should be considered a standard, not optional, part of pet care—as important as semi-annual wellness exams, vaccinations, and even fresh water and food.

Talk to your veterinarian about tick-borne diseases that are specific to your area and about implementing an effective protection plan. Options include:

  • Lyme disease vaccine
  • Veterinarian-recommended tick and flea preventive products
  • A long-lasting insecticide yard spray that will kill both tick eggs and larvae

Regardless of the method, or combination of methods, you choose, it is a good idea to always thoroughly check your dog after being outside, especially in woodsy, grassy, or brushy areas. If a tick is attached to your dog's skin, remove it carefully with tweezers, and wash the affected bite area and your hands with soap and water afterward.

Renting With Pets
Is he allowed in your new apartment?

Is the rental market improving or getting worse for tenants with pets? Some say better, others disagree and scream worse...unfair!

According to a study released in 1999 by the National Council on Pet Population, moving was identified as the major reason for giving up a pet dog and the third most common reason for giving up a pet cat. Moving in itself was not the reason for giving up the pet; it was the landlord's refusal to accept pets in the new apartment or house.

Certain regions of the country are more difficult for renters who have pets. According to a study, renting with pets is most difficult in the Northeast and in California. The area of the country where it is easiest to rent with pets appears to be in the Southeast. The situation in Atlanta is a prime example of why it is so difficult for some pet owners. With only 2500 apartment complexes in the metropolitan area, only about 10 percent take dogs weighing more than 35 pounds. In the metropolitan New York area (including Long Island and New Jersey), it is very difficult for a new renter to find lodging where pets are allowed.

As frustrating as it appears, there are methods to sway owners with firm "no pets" policies.

  • Make sure your pet is well behaved. Toilet training is a must and personality problems, such as separation anxiety, must be addressed.
  • Adoption of a pet-friendly contract with set rules:
  • Spay or neuter requirements
  • Obligatory License
  • Current with vaccinations
  • Leash policy
  • Designated toilet area
  • Scoop-up regulations
  • Supplemental pet security deposit
  • Pet committee to oversee the program

The Humane Society of the United States' website offers a "Renting with Pets" section.

In the San Francisco area, pet owners can purchase a revolutionary new insurance policy. This policy protects landlords against pet-related damages. www.LeasesWithPets.com sell policies for about $200/year that cover up to $5000 worth of damage.

If you already own a pet and your landlord is trying to evict you, consult an attorney that has some knowledge in landlord-tenant law as well as in animal law. Many cities and towns have laws that prohibit eviction of a tenant who owns a pet.

For more information about renting with pets, the following websites are worth visiting:

www.hsus.org - Humane Society of the US
www.mspca.org
www.sfspca.org
www.apartments.com - Includes pets as a search criteria

Most of the information for this article comes from the ASPCA. You can visit their website at www.aspca.org.

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