To adopt or not to adopt? Are you prepared? These are the questions!

To adopt or not

The decision to adopt a pet should never be taken lightly. Whether it’s your first, your second, or perhaps even your third pet, the questions you need to ask yourself and the preparations you should have in place remain the same. “With animal shelters open for adoptions [adoptions weren’t allowed on levels 4 and 5 of lockdown] and many people staying at home for the foreseeable future, if you’ve been thinking about adopting a pet, now is as good a time as any. However, there is a lot that needs to be considered before making the decision to adopt,” explains David Roache, Managing Director of dotsure.co.za.

Commitment – Puppies and kittens grow up to become dogs and cats, so if you’re only looking to adopt for the cute factor then stop right there. Adopting a pet is a big commitment. Cats can live up to 15 to 20 years and, depending on the breed, a dog can live an average of 10 to 15 years. So, make sure everyone involved in the care of your new pet is on board for the long haul. Puppies and kittens will take up plenty of your time, especially in the early days, so if you’re too stressed or focussed on a big project at work, then perhaps wait until you have more control over your schedule before visiting the animal shelter. It’s important to remember that a pet is for life and, in this case, not just for self-isolation.

Personality trumps cute – Love at first sight may not always apply when it comes to choosing the right pet for your family. It’s important to focus on the character traits that are going to make this adoption work. It’s the difference between a very energetic dog who’ll want to go on daily runs or one who’ll be satisfied with shorter, slower walks, as long as he can sleep on your lap while you watch TV on the couch. Figuring out first how a pet will fit into your life will help you make the smart adoption choice. Shelter staff will know many of the pets’ personality traits and will be able to assist you with your decision, especially if the pet is older and has been at the shelter for a longer period.

Training – If you’re adopting a puppy, kitten or even one of the shelter’s older pets, you’re in for some training no matter what. Whether it’s teaching your new pet which areas of the house are off-limits, getting used to a leash or where the litter box is, it will take some time, so be ready to start training from day one. Patience and perseverance are important and will lead to a loving and rewarding relationship.

Spring clean and stock up – Before any new paws touch your floor make sure you’ve hidden any loose wires, put away small items that can be easily swallowed and moved any house plants out of reach that may upset your new family member’s stomach. Make sure you’ve got toys, food and water bowls, a collar, a leash and a bed ready for when your new pet arrives. A comfortable, warm, fully stocked environment with all your new pet’s necessities will help make the transition an easy one for both of you. 

Neutering and spaying – Dogs and cats can be sterilised as early as eight weeks of age however, most pets are sterilised between four and six months. If your pet hasn’t been sterilised upon adoption, the shelter will give you the correct paperwork for sterilisation to take place when the time comes, and you’ll have to provide proof to the shelter upon completion of the procedure.

The best thing you can do for your pet’s health is to have him or her sterilised. Some of the benefits include decreased aggression and a lower risk of mammary and ovarian cancer in females.

ID tag and microchip – Make sure your newly adopted pet is kitted with an ID tag so should he ever get lost, you’ll be contacted. Microchips are the best assurance for identification, especially when it comes to cats who don’t tend to wear collars. Remember to update your contact information with the microchip company if your details change.

Pet insurance – Our lives are so stressful as it is, so why let rising vet bills become a pet hate? Pet insurance gives you peace of mind, should something happen to your pet. Pet insurance isn’t just a ‘nice to have’ but a necessity in today’s tough times.

Introducing your new pet to other furry family members – If you already have pets at home, you are going to need to pay careful attention when introducing someone new to the fold. If possible, even before bringing your new pet into the house, rather find a neutral spot to make introductions. An outdoor space with enough room for cats to roam or for dogs to be on a leash is a good option. If both your established and new pets’ body language is good and there is no sign of aggression after a significant period of sussing each other out time, then you can bring your new pet into the house. However, they will still need to acclimatise to each other, so it’s important to remember to provide each pet with their own bed, introduce toys slowly, separate your pets when you’re out and most importantly, be patient.

Someone who knows all about the importance of pet adoptions is Carren Nickloes from the Animal Anti-Cruelty League (AACL). While Nickloes explains there’s been a noticeable rise in the number of people looking to adopt, they are currently only open on an appointment basis to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. “At the beginning of lockdown, we were inundated with stray pets, pet parents dropping their fur babies off with us as they couldn’t afford to care for them, and emergency situations. While we do not see this slowing down anytime soon, we’ve started community feeding schemes specifically for those who can’t afford to feed their pets, but who don’t want to give them up. Pets make up an important part of the family unit, and we’ll do whatever we can to keep a family together.”

Roache explains that shutting down shelter adoptions during the higher levels of lockdown had a profoundly devastating effect.  “It’s a desperate situation. We know that many animal shelters rely solely on public donations and on the money they receive from adoptions. Taking away shelters’ ability to facilitate adoptions saw many around the country take a huge knock, some even having to close their doors.”

As the well-being of all animals is top of mind for dotsure.co.za, they stepped up, with the utmost of urgency, and donated R300,000 to the AACL in April. With lockdown having gone on a lot longer than any of us expected, and shelter expenses piling up, they’ve now donated a further R150,000 with R100,000 going to AACL Johannesburg and R50,000 going to AACL Cape Town.

“This donation is huge for us and is going to dramatically assist us to continue to care for the health and welfare of animals, specifically for those in our hospitals. We encourage anyone looking to bring a little joy into their lives during these uncertain times to make an appointment with us,” adds Nickloes.

To adopt or not

Source: www.dotsure.co.za

Who run the world? Cats!

Who run the world - cats

Ask any cat parent who rules the roost in their home and the answer will always be the same, the cat. Cats pride themselves on having their pet parents wrapped around their adorable fluffy paws. However, you are more than just a source of food to your cat. A study published late last year, Attachment bonds between domestic cats and humans, found that cats see their pet parents as a source of comfort and security, too. In other words, they do love you, even if they don’t show it. The research revealed that cats form attachments to their pet parents likened to those that dogs, and even babies, form with their caregivers.

Lead study author Kristyn Vital, a postdoctoral fellow at Oregon State University in the US, says most cats are looking to their pet parents to be a source of safety and security. Therefore, it’s important for cat parents to remember how their behaviour in a stressful situation can have a direct impact on their cat’s behaviour.

“These findings in many, but not all ways, debunk the myth that cats are standoffish and don’t feel a strong connection to their pet parents,” says Marycke Ackhurst pet behaviour expert at Hill’s Pet Nutrition. On the flip side, these new findings come hot on the heels of an earlier study done in Tokyo that found cats do in fact understand their own names — so if they don’t come when you call, they’re probably just ignoring you. “Case in point,” adds Ackhurst.

Speaking to this point, Abigail Tucker, author of The Lion in the Living Room: How House Cats Tamed Us and Took Over the World, says cats primed us to love them, partly because of their humanoid faces – those big eyes remind us of our own babies – and partly because they didn’t fear us as much as other animals did. Now, cats are a global obsession, especially online, where figures like the late Grumpy Cat have more followers (and earning potential) than many human celebrities. So, in many ways, cats rule us.

However, Tucker adds, cat parents take great pleasure from making their cats happy, even if it is more challenging. Finding their sweet spot, whether it be a toy, a treat, or a certain kind of scratching, brushing, or petting that brings on the contented sound of purring is deeply satisfying. Humans, bred to live in groups, are prone to want to please others, and what better challenge than a cat? And what do cat parents know pleases their cat more than anything in the world? Sleep. It makes them so happy. “Cats can sleep anywhere between 12 and 16 hours a day, with energy conservation being one of the main reasons for their extended sleep periods. This is where the term ‘cat nap’ originates. In addition to deep sleep, cats can doze off for brief moments at a time, lasting anywhere from five to 30 minutes, but remain on high alert for predators or prey – a biological impulse. If your cat has ever fallen asleep sitting up, she’s doing what she’s supposed to,” says Ackhurst.

It’s only natural then that a cat parent would go out of their way to find the perfect bed, cushion or spot for their ‘queen’ to rest her head. Just like us, cats want a warm, soft bed that’s going to provide them with hours of comfort and relaxation, preferably placed in the warmest part of the house during the day, think sun streaming through windows, and the cosiest part of the house at night. That’s why, from 18 August, you’ll receive a free Hill’s designer, luxurious cat bed to take home to your king or queen when you buy two bags of either Hill’s Feline Science Plan or Hill’s Feline Prescription Diet between 3kg and 7kg. *

Despite your cat’s lengthy sleep requirements, she is anything but lazy, explains Ackhurst. In fact, for the four to seven hours of the day your cat isn’t sleeping, cat parents should make sure their cat gets plenty of play and exercise. A rigorous play session is especially important in the evening, when your cat is hardwired to begin the ‘hunt.’ Provide your cat with some fun DIY toys such as an empty toilet roll and string or some feathers attached to a stick, and a durable scratching post to shred (another innate cat behaviour).

Who run the world - cats

Source: Hill’s Pet Nutrition

South African Veterinary (SAVA) Statement on the Welfare of Livestock Transported by Sea

SAVA

South Africa, Johannesburg, 06 August 2020: The South African Veterinary Association (SAVA) is a voluntary organisation representing veterinarians in South Africa. Our approximately 2100 members come from all fields within the veterinary profession and represent both clinical as well as government regulatory aspects. SAVA notes with concern the on-board welfare of live animals transported by sea for the exclusive purpose of slaughter at destination from South Africa to the Middle East. SAVA supports sustainable and profitable livestock farming, but this must happen in conjunction with positive animal welfare.

The OIE is the intergovernmental organisation responsible for improving global animal health and welfare. South Africa is a signatory to the OIE’s Terrestrial Animal Health Code. Chapter 7.2 of this Code recommends how the process of live exportation should protect animal welfare. However, the OIE Code is only a set of guidelines to ensure that basic principles are taken into consideration when member countries develop and implement standards. It sets out the responsibilities of the different role players but does not enforce minimum welfare standards on board these ships. Unlike issues relating to disease, the standards or “guidelines” for welfare carry no sanction. It is also worth noting OIE guidelines are generically created and local circumstances may not be properly considered.

The OIE Code states that “welfare of the animals during their journey is the paramount consideration and is the joint responsibility of all people involved1”. It is the responsibility of the competent authority of the exporting country to establish the minimum standards for animal welfare during loading of the animals and for the duration of the journey. In South Africa, this competent authority is the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD). Both the setting and monitoring of welfare standards for live animal exports by sea are currently lacking in South Africa.

South Africa may lack the capacity for thorough regulation in some regards, however this does not mean that regulations should be ignored. The minimum animal welfare standards are legislated by the Animals Protection Act (Act 71 of 1962). The Act is legally binding and expressly states in Clause 2(m) that any person who “conveys, carries, confines… any animal… in conditions affording inadequate shelter, light or ventilation or in which such animal is excessively exposed to heat, cold, weather, sun, rain, dust, exhaust gases or noxious fumes; or without making adequate provision for suitable food, potable water and rest2”, as well as any person who causes, procures or assists in the above, is liable for prosecution.

Investigations by the NSPCA, as well as reports from well-established independent bodies within the production animal industry in both South Africa and Australia (e.g. Livestock Welfare Coordinating Committee), have condemned the practices surrounding live exportation by sea. The Australian Veterinary Association has raised fundamental concerns with heat stress risk and compliance with the Australian Standards3–5 during these shipments.

Findings include:

  • Severe logistical challenges surrounding the transportation from production sites to the loading site leaves room for errors, such as predisposition to injury and overlooking the loading of unsuitable animals e.g. pregnant or ill animals.
  • High prevalence of diarrhoea and anorexia6 shows that many animals do not adapt properly to the food provided on board, losing body condition and often dying during the journey.
  • High stocking densities makes it impossible to properly inspect thousands of animals daily for behaviour and health problems, as is recommended by the OIE Code.
  • Animals were unable to lie down to rest and cannot easily reach food and water troughs7. Ship movement on waves also makes sheep uncomfortable8.
  • The double-deck design of the ship leads to faecal soiling of food and water troughs on lower levels by animals on higher levels. This contributes to reluctance to eat and the faecal-oral transmission of diseases such as salmonella6.
  • Slippery floors and gaps between decks predispose animals to injuries.
  • Build-up of waste matter combined with poor ventilation resulted in unacceptably high concentrations of ammonia in the air.
  • Hot weather, high stocking density and high ammonia levels contribute to heat stress. Sheep were documented to cluster around fans with open-mouthed breathing, depressed disposition and respiratory rates faster than 100 bpm9,10.

Additional independent observers should be present on board to support the existing veterinary services. Animals are recognised as sentient beings by the South African Constitutional Court and by the OIE. Currently, in South Africa as well as other countries, welfare is often erroneously measured solely by the number of mortalities during the voyage. All of the above findings are considered severe infringements on animal health and welfare and can cause extended suffering and death if not treated immediately and resolved. Animal welfare is often severely compromised long before the point of mortality, and low mortalities should not necessarily be equated with high welfare standards.

Arguments in favour of live export are commonly erroneously based on the concept that religious beliefs of the destination country demand on-site slaughter for consumption. The Muslim Judicial Council Halaal Trust (MJCHT) issued a press statement reiterating its concern for the welfare of animals, stating that the South African government “could not provide the necessary safety conditions for the animals on sea-vessels.”  According to the MJCHT, animals which are not transported in good physical condition cannot be considered Halaal for slaughter11. South Africa has no jurisdiction over how the animals are slaughtered at their destination. Regulations or the enforcement thereof may be minimal, leaving animals to an uncertain and potentially inhumane fate. Slaughter must therefore be conducted at a Halaal abattoir in South Africa, where it can be properly regulated.

SAVA recognises animals as sentient beings that are capable of experiencing both positive and negative states. Fiscal interests of individual exporting stakeholders must not take precedence over the health and welfare of the animals being exported. SAVA supports calls for improved legislation protecting animal welfare within South Africa which will protect our ‘Proudly South African’ reputation, safeguarding the interests of all sentient beings. Until such legislation has been developed and is fully enforced, SAVA is of the opinion that as a humane alternative, sheep and other livestock destined for export for the purpose of slaughter at their destination should rather be slaughtered in South African abattoirs which comply with international religious and cultural (Halaal) regulations. Animals should be slaughtered as close to the site of production as possible, in a manner that will uphold South Africa’s rightful pride in the quality of our meat.

References:

  1. Norris RT. Transport of animals by sea. OIE Rev Sci Tech [Internet]. 2005;24(2):673–81. Available from: https://www.oie.int/fileadmin/Home/eng/Health_standards/tahc/current/chapitre_aw_sea_transpt.pdf
  2. South Africa. Animals Protection Act 71/1962 [Internet]. Government Gazette, 71/1962 Pretoria, South Africa: South African Government; 1962. Available from: http://www.gov.za/sites/www.gov.za/files/Act 71 of 1962.pdf
  3. Department of Agriculture F and F. Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock (Version 2.3) 2011. 2011;17, 106. Available from: http://www.daff.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/1904365/australian-standards-v2.3.pdf
  4. Australian Veterinary Association Ltd. A short review of space allocation on live export ships and body temperature regulation in sheep. 2018 [Internet]. 2018;(May). Available from: https://www.google.com/search?q=A+short+review+of+space+allocation+on+live+export+ships+and+body+temperature+regulation+in+sheep&rlz=1C1CHFX_enAU897AU897&oq=A+short+review+of+space+allocation+on+live+export+ships+and+body+temperature+regulation+in+sheep&a
  5. Australian Veterinary Association Ltd. Heat Stress Risk Assessment Issues Paper VALE Submission October 2018. 2018;(October).
  6. Richards RB, Norris RT, Dunlop RH, McQuade NC. Causes of death in sheep exported live by sea. Aust Vet J. 1989;66(2):33–8.
  7. Australia 60 Minutes. Sheep, ships and videotape: Part one. 2018.
  8. Santurtun E, Moreau V, Marchant-Forde JN, Phillips CJC. Physiological and behavioral responses of sheep to simulated sea transport motions. J Anim Sci. 2015;93(3):1250–7.
  9. Carnovale F, Phillips CJC. The effects of heat stress on sheep welfare during live export voyages from Australia to the middle east. Animals. 2020;10(4).
  10. Pines MK, Phillips CJC. Microclimatic conditions and their effects on sheep behavior during a live export shipment from Australia to the Middle East. J Anim Sci. 2013;91(9):4406–16.
  11. MJCHT. Protect The Rights Of Animals, Don’t Export live [Internet]. Muslim Judicial Council Halaal Trust. 2020 [cited 2020 Jul 8]. Available from: https://mjchalaaltrust.co.za/protect-the-rights-of-animals-dont-export-live/

Source: SAVA

How to support active mobility with healthy joints in dogs

Hill's Pet Nutrition

Showing signs of joint stiffness?

As we get a little older we all start to feel a few more aches. pains and stiffness, even if we are still very active. This is usually more noticeable in the winter months when the weather is colder. The same can be true for our dogs. In fact, up to 40% of dogs show signs of joint sensitivity1 and mobility is on of pet parents top three health concerns, even more so than their pets weight.1

Mobility issues and (osteo)arthritis

“Arthritis” is a general term for changes in the joint caused by normal or abnormal wear and tear.  “If not managed properly it can become extremely painful and debilitating,” says Dr. Guy Fyvie Hill’s Pet Nutrition’s veterinary advisor.  Because your dog’s joint pain directly impacts his mobility and how well he’s able to get around, it can have a serious effect on his quality of life.

What causes mobility problems?

There are many reasons why your dog could be experiencing joint sensitivity and pain associated with arthritis.

AGE – as dogs get older, joint cartilage will progressively wear away. While it is much more common in senior dogs, younger dogs can suffer from arthritis, too.

BREED – certain breeds are more prone to developing arthritis. “At-risk” dog breeds include large dogs, like Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds and Rottweilers and breeds with abnormal limbs, like Bassets and Bulldogs.

EXCESS WEIGHT –  puts extra stress on your dog’s joints and cartilage, increases joint inflammation, increasing the risk of pain and arthritis.

ACCIDENTS OR TRAUMA – Trauma to cartilage and growth plates may lead to arthritis later in life, and adversely affect mobility.

CONGENITAL OR HEREDITARY DEFECTS – Some breeds may have congenital or hereditary conditions,  that make them more prone to developing arthritis later in life, for example large breed dogs prone to hip or elbow dysplasia.

What to watch out for

It’s never too soon to start looking out for the signs of joint sensitivity, catching them early can help manage this painful condition. It’s often easier to spot the signs in the winter cold- your dog may be stiff, less playful, move around less and sleep more than usual. The signs can often be misinterpreted as pets ‘slowing down’ due to old age, and include:

  • Stiffness, especially after resting
  • Hesitation to go up and down stairs
  • Lagging behind during walks or tiring easily
  • Preferring to lie down rather than sit or stand
  • Whimpering, growling or snapping when you touch his joints

It’s not all doom and gloom

Although not curable, there are plenty of things pet parents can do to reduce arthritis pain and improve their pet’s quality of life including managing his weight, the right kind of exercise, comfortable warm bedding, avoid stairs, anti inflammatory medication and the right nutrition. It’s best to work with your vet for a comprehensive plan to manage your pet suffering from the pain of arthritis.

Prevention is better than cure

The good news is you can start helping before the trouble starts. Hill’s expertise in therapeutic nutrition has shown us that proper nutrition, even when they are young and healthy, results in the best success in supporting the joints throughout their lives, into the senior years. 

Hill’s Science Plan Healthy Mobility is enriched with Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oils (EPA) and clinically proven antioxidants to support active mobility, joint flexibility and ease of movement through healthy joints.

  • EPA from fish oil helps decrease inflammation and keep joint cartilage healthy
  • Glucosamine & chondroitin are building blocks of healthy cartilage
  • L-carnitine helps limit weight gain and load-bearing on the joints and maintains lean muscle to support the joints.

Ideal for active dogs and breeds that are prone to joint sensitivity, it’s suitable to be fed to the whole dog family from 1 year onwards.

Source: Hill’s Pet Nutrition

Helping cats and dogs with sensitive stomachs and skin

Hill's Pet Nutrition

Sensitive Pets

Many pets experience sensitivities and some of the most common areas of concern for pet parents include tummy upsets and a dull coat with dry, itchy, flaky skin. Up to one third of pet parents report seeing skin flare ups once in a month in both cats and dogs1 and “skin issues” is a commonly internet searched pet topic. Digestive issues are unpleasant and can be very worrying when you see them in your pet.

What can cause these sensitivities

Your pet’s itchy, flaky skin may be caused by a number of factors including parasites & fleas, environmental allergens such as dust, pollen and mould, bacterial and fungal infections, lack of skin specific nutrients  and sensitivities to certain kinds of proteins in their food. Cats may also experience hormone imbalances that can make them prone to skin problems.

Digestive disorders also have a variety of causes which can range from eating something inappropriate or new – we all know that pup who explores the world with his mouth first – to food intolerances or sensitivities, infections, inflammation of gastrointestinal organs and even stress! Some breeds are more prone to particular digestive problems and flatulence including German Shepherd Dogs, Labradors, Pugs and Bulldogs, and Sphynx, Rex and Ragdoll cats.

What to watch out for

Ideally your pet’s coat should be clean, for cats fluffy, soft & smooth and for dogs shiny and relatively soft & smooth even on short or wirehaired breeds. If you see any of these signs your pet may have a skin condition that requires treatment.

  • Red patches, spots or pimples
  • Scabs, crusts or thickened skin
  • Dry, flaky or scaly patches
  • Dull hair with excess loss
  • Bad skin odour
  • Itching, scratching, licking or rubbing
  • Ear infections

Although a little more unpleasant, digestive problems are also easy to spot and consist of one or many of these symptoms:

  • Vomiting or regurgitation
  • Diarrhea or soft stools
  • Change of appetite
  • Flatulence
  • Stomach gurgling
  • Constipation
  • Weakness
  • Sudden inactivity or depression

As both these issues can be serious health concerns we recommend that you consult your veterinarian for any persistent or severe symptoms or if you are in any way concerned.

Ruling out more specific conditions, even healthy pets can experience occasional tummy upsets or flatulence or show signs of dry, flaky or itchy skin and a dull coat. It’s not uncommon for sensitive stomach and skin issues to occur at the same time.

The right food can help

Even when the cause of your pet’s sensitivity is not related to nutrition a high quality food formulated especially for sensitive stomachs or skin can help. At Hill’s, we study pets’ biology to understand how nutrition impacts digestive & skin health. Prebiotic fibre is important for the gut microbiome, the unique mix of bacteria essential for a healthy digestive system. Vitamin E, Omega-6s & other nutrients help maintain & protect skin.

Hill’s Science Plan Sensitive Stomach and Skin is one delicious food ideal for pets with sensitive skin, sensitive stomachs – or both. It’s precisely balanced to support healthy skin and gentle digestion with: .

  • Easy-to-digest ingredients & fibres to encourage nutrient absorption & stools that are easier to pick-up
  • Prebiotic fibre to fuel beneficial gut bacteria and support digestive health
  • Enhanced levels of omega-3’s & -6’s and Vitamin E to nourish the skin and replenish natural oils for a healthy skin & luxurious coat

Source: Hill’s Pet Nutrition

Why keeping your pets at a perfect weight is important

Hills Science Plan

Chubby is not cute!

You may think your dog has a little ‘puppy fat’ or that your cuddly cat is just the cutest thing, but for pets, even carrying a little extra weight can have huge health implications.

Keeping your pet at the right weight will prevent many disease conditions associated with obesity, extend their lives, make them happier and most certainly result in long term savings on veterinary bills.

Worldwide, obesity is a massive health problem for humans

According to the World Health Organisation, 39% of adults are overweight. In South Africa some studies indicate that almost 70% of women and 39% of men are overweight or obese. Sadly this trend extends to our pets too – South African vets say that more than half of pets they treat are overweight or obese.

Love is blind

9 out of 10 pet parents of overweight pets mistakenly identify their pet’s weight as normal. This is widely referred to as the “Fat Gap” and is a key factor in the pet obesity epidemic. Pet obesity is a serious health risk and sadly pet parents don’t see it. 

Pet obesity is the number one health risk pets face

Excess weight in pets can decrease their life expectancy by up to two-and-a-half-years, putting them at a higher risk of disease. Pet obesity has been linked to more than 20 ailments, including arthritis, urinary conditions, skin problems, heart disease and cancer. “If you think fat pets are happier, think again – overweight pets have been shown to be less happy,” says Dr Guy Fyvie, veterinary nutritional advisor for Hill’s Pet Nutrition.

Signs to look out for

Visible signs that your pet may be overweight include not being able to feel their ribs anymore; loss of a discernible waist; pads of fat around their neck and base of their tail; a ‘waddle’ rather than a ‘walk’; difficulty playing; lagging on walks, overheating; shortness of breath and bad temper.

Emotional treating

Pet parents’ behaviour often plays a major role in their animals being overweight “Treating our loved ones with food is a way we can show them how much we love them. It’s part of our culture and tradition,” says Carla Bath, marketing manager at Hill’s Pet Nutrition. “But that shared piece of toast reflects the emotional part that makes obesity a complex condition that’s tough to beat.”

The right food can help

Sticking to a diet is difficult; much like it is for humans. But cutting your pet’s portion sizes or restricting calories is simply old fashioned! Hill’s weight loss foods are the best selling foods for overweight pets.  The scientific research means these foods work very differently.  Based on the science of nutrigenomics, it ignites a pet’s metabolism from that of a fat storer to a fat burner, allowing pet’s to lose and maintain weight more effectively than restricting calories or portion sizes which often results in begging and the pet becoming even more calorie efficient.  Similar to human diets that just results is a disappointing yoyo effect.

For better results try Hill’s Science Plan Perfect Weight

Created from years of expertise in therapeutic management, Science Plan Perfect Weight has a blend of natural ingredients which spark metabolism and help burn calories, preventing excess energy from being stored as fat.  It’s an easier, more effective way to keep weight off.  No deprivation and no guilt.  Plus it’s made with no artificial preservatives, flavours or colours just like the rest of our range.

Perfect for

This food is ideal for neutered cats and dogs.  Pets that are less active and breeds like Labradors, Beagles and Dachshunds  prone to weight gain.

Source: Hill’s Pet Nutrition

Telemedicine – A New Frontier for Veterinary Clinics

Medici

As the use of technology and communication continues to grow at a rapid rate in South Africa, which has been escalated by lockdown, the incorporation of telehealth and telemedicine has become a topic of interest within the veterinary fraternity. As a modern solution to unprecedented circumstances, telehealth is described as the virtual veterinary services and telemedicine is a term used for the digital interaction between a veterinarian and their client/patient. The appropriate application of telemedicine, according to telehealth app Medici can enhance an animal’s care by facilitating text, voice and video communications, diagnostics, treatments, client education, scheduling and other operational tasks with a veterinarian.

Today, many families see their animals as family members and are willing to go the extra mile to ensure they live a happy and fulfilled life. According to research, the need for digital engagement is only going to strengthen with 39% of millennials who are most likely to own a dog or cat compared to the previous baby boomer generation.   

The South African Veterinary Services (SAVA) alongside Medici takes a further look into the benefits of telemedicine for pet owners and veterinarians who work with companion pets, livestock or exotic animals. 

  1. General wellness advice
    Whether you have a question on a specific topic or require further insight or information, our first port of call is the internet. However, we are often bombarded with a multitude of results that we must sift through to get the most accurate answer or source. Telemedicine, whether delivered through message, email or video can help veterinarians provide owners with expert advice they can trust. It also allows for pet owners and their veterinarians develop a closer relationship. Owners and their animals will receive better and more qualified care by engaging directly with their veterinarian, faster assessments and a greater sense of care.

  2. Convenient care
    Taking an animal to the vet can be challenging if the animal for example; does not enjoy the experience, is to large to easily transport, gets anxious about being in the car or around other animals, is a senior animal or is terminally ill. Telemedicine offers a sense of comfort and convenience for pet owners who are only required to take their pet to their veterinary clinic, if it is an emergency.

  3. Affordable and accessible
    Animals, like people, require constant care. Telehealth provides an easy, convenient and affordable option for patients and their owners for any after-hours care needs, which increases the loyalty and confidence amongst pet owners.

  4. Post-surgical care
    When an animal has undergone any type of surgery, post-surgical care is of the utmost importance. A key benefit of telemedicine is that owners can now help their veterinarian monitor this crucial stage simply through the power of their smartphone or smart device (e.g. laptop/iPad etc). Veterinarians can monitor a patient’s post-op recovery by simply asking the owner to send images or videos of where the operation/incision took place. This will allow for the veterinarian to ensure that there are no abnormalities. Video calls or videos can also help veterinarians monitor the animal’s behaviour and mobility.

Locally, the South African Veterinary Services (SAVA) recently ran a survey to assess the impact of COVID-19 on veterinary services and telemedicine. The results

A recent survey from SAVA indicates that 37% of respondents indicate that they make use of remote consulting (whether through established platforms such as Medici, or informal channels such as WhatsApp). However, only 21% of veterinarians that perform remote consulting actually charge for the service. It is important to state that, whether a veterinarian performs a physical consultation or an online consultation, the veterinarian applies his/her knowledge and experience to be able to make an initial determination.

For more information, please visit the South African Veterinary Services (SAVA) website, Facebook or Twitter page.

Source: SAVA

Why our pets may be feeling the cold more than we think

Why our pets may be feeling the cold more than we think

While the cold weather may bring many positives such as TV series marathons in bed and an excuse to have just one more mug of hot chocolate, what it can also unfortunately bring with it is a lot of discomfort to our fur babies. Winter can exacerbate existing ailments our pets may have such as arthritis and, while we may be able to verbalise our pain, unfortunately our pets can’t. When it comes to cats it’s especially difficult for pet parents to acknowledge their pain as they’re absolute masters of disguise – a survival instinct. “Caused by the wear and tear of cartilage and bone of the joints, arthritis, if not managed properly can become extremely painful and debilitating,” says Dr Guy Fyvie, Hill’s Pet Nutrition’s veterinary advisor.

He explains that pets are more likely to develop arthritis as they age, but at times can occur in younger pets as a secondary ailment due to an inherited disease such as hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia, or trauma to cartilage and ligaments.

According to the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA), arthritis in pets is not a single ‘type’ of problem and presents differently in the growing, versus the middle-aged, versus the older cat or dog. Therefore, arthritis presenting at the different life stages requires a unique approach for optimal care. For example, in a growing dog surgical intervention may be the first line of treatment in an effort to limit the disease progression and the likelihood of pain in the future, whereas an older cat, for example, may require pain management and dietary changes. “We know arthritic cats are harder to diagnose, so signs pet parents should look out for is 1. sleeping all day, contrary to popular belief this isn’t normal. It’s called ‘slowing down,’ and is almost always pain related, and 2. look out for a scruffier coat especially around the tail area as they struggle to groom.”

It’s not all doom and gloom, however. Dr Fyvie says the good news is that there are plenty of things pet parents can do to reduce arthritis pain and improve their pet’s quality of life.

Weight management – Carrying a little extra weight can become a significant load on your pet’s joints and can increase the pain and stress on an already arthritic pet. Maintaining optimum weight should be a priority. If your pet’s weight is a concern, make an appointment with your vet. Your vet will objectively assess their weight, recommend nutritional and lifestyle changes if necessary, and prescribe pain relief or anti-inflammatory medication, as required. A food like Hill’s Prescription Diet Metabolic + Mobility can also help to support pets’ joints while assisting them in losing those extra kilos and maintaining a healthy weight.

Regular exercise – It’s hard for all of us to get up and move in winter – it’s just so cold. However, it’s important to maintain regular gentle exercise with our pets to keep their joints healthy and moving. A brisk walk with your dog when the winter sun is high, or a play session with your cat and an empty toilet roll will do wonders for everyone’s physical and mental wellbeing and is critical in the management of arthritis.

Comfortable bedding – Make sure your pet has a warm and sheltered area that is out of the cold, wet and wind. Winter nights make joint pain worse and a snug comfortable bed with extra blankets will allow your pet to relax while they’re lying down and recuperating. Just make sure your pet’s bed isn’t on a high level or is difficult to get in and out of, as this can put added pressure on their joints.

Avoid stairs – By minimising access to stairs, where possible, for really arthritic pets, can reduce unnecessary trauma. If stairs are unavoidable you may have to carry small pets up and down or use ramps around the house, if space allows. If jumping in and out of the car proves problematic for your larger dog, then consider a portable ramp to make this transition easier. For cats specifically, lower their food and water bowls for easy access or, if this isn’t possible, ensure there is a halfway jump to get up to them.

Nutrition – The food your pet eats plays an important role in their overall health and well-being.  Hill’s Prescription Diet j/d and mobility range of foods for dogs and cats are made with high levels of specific Omega-3 fatty acids, Glucosamine and Chondroitin, and is the only food clinically proven to improve mobility in as little as 21 days. For accurate diagnosis and treatment options, always consult your veterinarian and ask them to recommend the best food for your pet’s arthritis and joint health.

“Ideally, but unfortunately not in all cases, the management of arthritis should be a gentle one, involving a combination of the above approaches to optimise your pet’s comfort. The most important thing to remember though is to keep a close eye on your pet and if you notice any changes in their behaviour, make an appointment with your vet.  Prevention is always better than cure,” Dr Fyvie concludes.

For more information visit the Hill’s website

Media contact Republic PR | Julia Rice | [email protected] | 083 379 4633

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Help your kids take the lead with pet duties during lockdown

Help your kids take the lead with pet duties during lockdown

How quickly our lives can change. What used to be very busy days, with you only walking through the front door early evening has now changed to you being at home 24/7.

While being in lockdown is by no means ideal, this is in fact the perfect time to give your children more responsibilities when it comes to looking after your family pet. “Looking after a pet is a great responsibility and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Your kids will still need to be guided by you as to how to look after them appropriately,” explains Carla Bath Hill’s Pet Nutrition marketing manager.

She advises that the following needs to be considered when it comes to a child’s age:

  • Toddlers should be taught the correct way to handle a pet, and what is and isn’t acceptable. At this age, they do not know how to interpret their pet’s behaviour, and therefore need to be supervised by an adult.
  • Younger children between the ages of four and five are still too young to take on any solo responsibilities but can help when it comes to feeding the family pet and filling up their water bowls. Those from the ages of six to eight can take on small tasks such as grooming, playing fetch, or even making DIY toys for your pet such as an empty toilet roll and string for a cat, all under adult supervision.
  • Older children can be given more pet responsibilities. From the age of 12 they can start taking on all tasks associated with pet parenthood – walking (after lockdown), feeding, grooming, playing and cleaning up after them, with minimal adult supervision.

“Guiding a child on how to care for a pet, encourages a bond between the two, and will foster a love for pets in your child that will continue into adulthood,” adds Bath.

During this time, children have more time on their hands than before and pets who are used to daily walks, are now spending most of their time cooped up inside, needing more attention than usual. Pairing the two together is the perfect solution.

Bath suggests the following activities to help get your child and your pet, thinking and moving:

  • Mental stimulation games such as the cup game are great ways to get your dog thinking. Get three cups, have your child hide a treat under one of them and then switch the cups around. See if your dog will be able to find the hidden treat.
  • If your pet is still young, teaching it simple commands such as ‘sit’ and ‘paw’ will get your pet thinking, and give your child a sense of accomplishment.
  • Have your child read to your pet. This is a win-win situation. It will give you time to get on with your work, your child reading, and your pet enjoying the extra attention.
  • Throw a bouncy ball against the wall for your cat to try and catch. This will keep them entertained for hours.
  • Building an obstacle course works your child’s imagination and will keep your dog and cat entertained.

For your pet, it is all about spending time with those they love, and for your child, not only will this keep them busy and away from screens for a bit but will also give them a sense of accomplishment, responsibility and grow an everlasting bond.

Visit www.hillspet.co/za/shop-online to get Hill’s Science Plan delivered to your door

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Media contact Republic PR | Julia Rice | [email protected]

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Montego’s Bags O’ Wags treats range expands with new look and exciting flavours

Bags O Wags

Montego’s range of trendy and tantalising treats for deserving dogs just got a whole lot bigger, with exciting new variants and flavours all wrapped up in a new look to match the goodness inside – and it’s a pretty big woof!

Bags O’ Wags fans will still be able to recognise their favourite treat packs by the logo and overall look, but will surely be excited by the quirky new 2D illustrations, the variety of fun and adorable characters made for each pack, and vibrant bursts of colours designed to make pet food shelves pop.

The fresh new design includes new themed looks for the beloved original ranges of Crunchies (for dogs that prefer crispy biscuits) and Chewies (for dogs who want something to savour), as well as three delectable new variants – Munchies, Squishies, and Puppy Trainers.

Because we believe all dogs deserve only the most wagtastic treats, the Bags O’ Wags range now also comes in a whopping 14 new flavour variations including; Juicy Boerewors, Yummy Peanut Butter, Succulent Spare Rib, Wholesome Original, Om Nom Nicely Iced, Delectable Beef Flavoured Marrow Bones, Fried Bacon, Grilled Chicken, Smoked BBQ, Roast Beef, Refreshing Mint Flavoured Dental Tubes, Scrumptious Peanut Butter Flavoured Toffees, Strawberry & Cream, Condensed Milk & Caramel, and Chocolate & Vanilla

The entire range is made with the same premium quality recipes and great flavour you’ve come to expect from Montego’s wide range of pet nutrition products. Made from real meat as an ideal daily treat to compliment a healthy, nutrition-based and balanced diet for all breeds of puppies and dogs.

Stay tuned to www.montego.co.za for more information.