Dr. Scott Petereit of Camp McDonald Animal Hospital, Mount Prospect, volunteers his time providing veterinary care to homeless pets at The Buddy Foundation. Today, he answers a few questions from Buddy Beat readers.
Q. Do dogs and cats need their blood pressure taken like humans, and why?
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A. Dogs and cats can develop high blood pressure, however, testing blood pressure in pets is not as accurate as it is in humans. Therefore, veterinarians generally do not screen for high blood pressure like they do for humans.
Your veterinarian is most likely to recommend a blood pressure screening only if your pet has been diagnosed with a disease known to cause high blood pressure, or if your pet has symptoms that might suggest there is high blood pressure.
Q. How do I get my dog to lose weight? I can't afford a tread mill.
A. Obesity is probably the most common health issue affecting pets in America today. There is no secret to getting pets to lose weight. Just like us, in order to lose weight, they need to regularly burn more calories than they take in. Therefore, the simple formula for weight loss is to increase your pet's exercise and decrease his calorie intake.
Your veterinarian can recommend a diet that is formulated for weight loss and work with you to get your pet to a healthy weight. It's up to you to practice the "tough love" required to trim those treats and scraps and stop feeding more than your pet needs.
Your veterinarian can help you determine how much you should be feeding your dog and, if weight loss is not progressing as planned, your veterinarian may discuss ruling out certain medical conditions to see if correcting a medical condition may help your pet lose those added pounds.
There are some diets that are nutritionally engineered to really help our cats and dogs lose weight. There is even a drug that has been developed for use in dogs that cannot seem to slim down by traditional means.
Getting your pet down to a healthy weight wi11 help reduce the risk of diabetes, back and joint problems, breathing problems, liver disease, and even certain skin diseases.
Q. My cat appears to have very bad breath, is this something I should be concerned with?
A. Yes! Bad breath can be a sign of disease in the mouth or other illness. Bad breath can be due to advanced dental disease, infected teeth, gum disease, or from mouth tumors. Bad breath can also develop as a result of kidney failure or even advanced diabetes. Take your cat in to be evaluated by your veterinarian.
Q. My older dog is developing little "skin tags" around her neck and shoulders. What could this possibly be and should it be treated?
A. Older dogs commonly develop various types of tumors and growths on the skin and under the skin. About 80 percent of these types of growths in dogs are benign and usually not of any major concern.
You should consult with your veterinarian to make sure that the growths you see on your dog are not concerning. Often, your vet may be able to remove them by simply freezing them or using a laser.
Depending on the size and type of growth, your veterinarian may suggest surgical removal or simply monitoring these growths if they are not bothersome and do not appear to be aggressive.
Q. My cat seems to be drinking a lot of water lately, could he be developing diabetes?
A. Diabetes is a relatively common reason for increased water intake in cats, but increased water intake could also indicate a variety of other health issues.
Kidney disease is a very common cause for increased thirst in cats, but other diseases such as thyroid disease, uterine infections, liver disease, low blood potassium, and diseases that cause a cat's blood calcium to increase are reasons for increased water intake as well.
Your veterinarian can likely identify the cause of your cat's thirst and make recommendations to help your cat with some laboratory testing.
• The Buddy Foundation is a nonprofit (501c3), all volunteer, no-kill animal shelter dedicated to the welfare of stray, abused and abandoned cats and dogs. Call (847) 290-5806 or visit thebuddyfoundation.org.