Veterinarians at MyPetCareTV.com Offer Tips to Keep Your Pets Trim and Healthy for 2009

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Humans aren't the only ones who need to make healthy New Year resolutions

Los Angeles, CA - January 14, 2009 -- It's that time of year when we dust off the treadmill and vow to eat better, lose weight and be healthier. But what about your pet? Pets too deserve a healthy and happy New Year. According to a 2007 study by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 43 percent of dogs - approximately 32 million - are overweight or obese and potentially face serious health problems. Approximately 50% of all adult cats over 7 years of age are obese.

Many pet-owners are unaware that their pet is unhealthy or, according to a recent survey, may be too embarrassed to address the problem with their veterinarian or fellow pet-owners. Vets may even hesitate to broach the sensitive subjects of weight and obesity. Nationally recognized veterinarian Dr. Bernadine Cruz, DVM, one of the resident veterinarian advisors on MyPetCareTV.com, has put together a list of questions pet owners need to ask:

  • What is obesity?
  • How does this happen to my pet?
  • What are the medical concerns?
  • What can I do as a pet-owner?
  • Is medical intervention available?

Pet obesity is defined as being 20 percent over ideal body weight. Improved medical care, indoor living and nutritious food have contributed to pets living longer, healthier lives. But a plethora of dining choices and treats, along with pet owners who desire to lavish edible love on their furry family members, have contributed to the expanding problem of dog and cat obesity. Other causes can range from genetics and breed, to over-feeding, lack of exercise, boredom, and old age. Obesity can decrease your pet's lifespan by 15 percent and decreases the quality of life your pet can live.

How can you determine if you have pudgy pet: with a simple Body Condition Scoring test. With your dog or cat standing, look down on them. You should see an indentation after the ribs. If it looks like a sausage, it's fat. Place your hand gently on your pet's ribcage. With slight pressure you should be able to feel its ribs. If you are pinching an inch, it's fat.

So, what can you do to get your pet back on track? Dr. Cruz has put together some simple steps that can help you develop a "New Year New Pet" regime:

"Dogs are really the easiest to get to slim down. They are much more willing to go for a walk and thankfully most don't know how to open cans or cupboards," says Cruz.

Step one - keep the animals out of the kitchen when you are cooking and away from the table when people are eating. It is the rare person who can resist slipping a tidbit to that poor, poor pitiful creature staring at you. It is also a good idea to separate multiple pets at meal times. It is not uncommon for the pet on the diet to finish its controlled portion only to push the other pet away from their food.

Step two - If a dog just has to have a treat because it was the good boy or girl and went potty or some equally talented act…give it a green bean, a baby carrot or piece of apple. If the pet says 'no way, where is the good stuff' well you are exonerated because you offered but the pet said no. You can also give a piece of its regular dry food as a treat.

"Cats can be more trying. You can't put a cat on a very strict diet or just try to tough it out for a day or two by offering food your cat doesn't like and expect it to change its mind. They can develop a fatal liver condition. Slow is always best for a cat."

Step one - Cats don't have to have food available 24/7. Controlled feedings of measured amounts is best. If you must leave food out for your cat, hide it in various spots in the house in small quantities, and then the cat has to search for it.

Step two - Cats can exercise. They just prefer not to. Find what floats your cat's boat. It may be chasing a laser light or doing acrobatics while playing with a string. Try to set up some regular "play dates" with your cat.

Learn how to improve feeding practices, exercise habits, and to indentify overweight indications particular to cats and dogs, and enjoy even healthier companionship in this new year with the support of MyPetCareTV.com and your veterinarian. Pet owners can go to http://www.MyPetCareTV.com and post more questions and suggestions. Dr. Cruz, along with hundreds of member veterinarians, is available to answer questions and talk with pet owners on the site. Membership is free. MyPetCareTV.com brings pet-owners and veterinarians together in an all-in-one free online resource. With features from social networking to health advice from peers and professionals, MyPetCareTV.com is the Facebook for pets, inviting owners to be a friend to their pet and find community for themselves.

For more information or to schedule an interview with the (human) founders of MyPetCareTV.com or Dr. Cruz please contact Trina Kaye at 915-310-0970 or by email at TrinaKaye (at) tkopr.com.

About Dr. Bernadine Cruz
Bernadine D. Cruz, D.V.M., is an associate veterinarian at Laguna Hills Animal Hospital, Laguna Hills, Calif. She specializes in companion animal medicine and has been practicing veterinary medicine for more than 20 years. Dr. Cruz received her doctor of veterinary medicine degree from the University of California at Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

She is a nationally active speaker on general pet care, emergency preparedness and her passion…pets in pain. Dr. Cruz is a veterinary consultant for several national television programs, and has extensive experience across all media. She has hosted a one-hour live pet show on Southern California television for five years. Dr. Cruz has appeared on "Cats" on the A&E Network, "Petcetera" on the Discovery Channel, "Smart Solutions" and "Help at Home" on the Home and Garden Channel. She has addressed pet health concerns on local as well as national television news broadcasts. Dr. Cruz was the source of pet care education to listeners on KKGO in Los Angeles for over two years. She also graced the airwaves on the CBS radio affiliate in Los Angeles, "KNX 10.70 News Radio" with pet health tips. She presently can be seen in thousands of veterinary offices coast to coast on the educational DVD series "PetCare TV," and provides answers to internet using pet owners on "MyPetCareTV.Com."

Dr. Cruz assisted in the development of the "First Aid for Pets -- Dogs & Cats" course endorsed by the American Red Cross and the Humane Society of the United States. She is the author of "the Secret Sex Life of Dogs and Cats"; a text for pet owners that entertains and at the same time educates them on the reproductive behaviors of their pets. Among other distinguished roles, she is chair of the American Veterinary Medical Association's Council on Communications and a member of the Iams Pet Wellness Council.

Dr. Bernadine is a veterinarian who takes it to the people. She has served as a volunteer veterinarian for the Iditarod Dog Sled Race, "The Last Great Race" in Alaska. You can find her in late winter along the North Shore of Lake Superior, serving the needs of the canine athletes in the John Beargrease Sled Dog race. Her two cats, Bogie and Divot aren't impressed with her credentials…they just call her 'Meow-om'.

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