Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Dr. Tracey Hlede & Partners for Healthy Pets

      If you know me (or my writing) you know that I'm dedicated to the Human-Animal Bond, to Education and to Wellness. (I wrote The Angell Memorial Animal Hospital Book of Wellness and Preventive Care for Dogs). I believe a Wellness Program is imperative for every pet, every species. It's much easier to prevent an illness than to treat it, and much easier to treat if it's caught early. Keeping our pets healthy is our responsibility. It's part and parcel of having companions. 

      I recently had the opportunity to do a Q & A interview with Dr. Tracey Hlede of Chicago who is the spokesperson for Partners for Healthy PetsPartners for Healthy Pets is a committee of the American Veterinary Medical Foundation created to ensure pets receive the preventive healthcare they deserve through regular veterinary visits. Led by the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Animal Hospital Association, this is an unprecedented collaborative alliance of over 100 veterinary associations, colleges of veterinary medicine and animal health companies all committed to a vision of improved overall health for pets.   
      Pet health and Wellness is an important topic for every pet owner.  My questions are in black, Dr. Hlede's  answers are in my usual brown type. 

Dr. Tracey Hlede and friends

.       What do you see as the major factors in the decline of pet health today?

In my practice there are two issues that come to mind quickly that I see as big problems on a daily basis.  The first being a reactive attitude to health care.  I am often treating illnesses in my patients that could have been preventable or more easily manageable had we caught the problem sooner.  The decline in preventive healthcare is directly correlated to the decline in pet health.  Having regular wellness exams allows me to assess the real state of health of my patients, make a preventive health plan for my patients, and catch health issues sooner instead of reacting to a crisis or advanced stage of the disease.  Unfortunately when I’m reacting to a health crisis the prognosis tends to worsen as well as the comfort level of my patient.

The other problem I see is an epidemic of pet obesity.  There seems to be a misconception of what a pet’s ideal weight should be as well as the impact being overweight has on the health of our furry companions.  Being overweight is associated with a host of health problems such as arthritis, diabetes, respiratory problems, etc. 

2.     Many owners attribute diet to today’s major healthy problems. Do you agree or disagree? Why or why not?

For the most part a diet consisting of an AAFCO (American Association of Feed Control Officials) regulated diet which should be on the label of any pet food sold is not going to be detrimental to the health of pets.  There is evidence that speaks to the opposite that as pets are fed carefully balanced diets life spans increase.

I do believe diet is a fundamental part of the Wellness Exam and it is vital to discuss diet with your veterinarian since every pet is different and there is a wide variety of diets available.  There are some conditions that may be created by diets such as dietary intolerances to certain ingredients or diseases in which a medicated diet may be warranted.  One large problem I see is people over feeding their pets leading to obesity which then leads to a host of complications.  As there is no evidence that in general a balanced commercial pet food causes diseases but to the contrary prevents many diseases, I believe a well-balanced nutritional plan overseen by a veterinarian based on the individual pet’s needs is vital to longevity and good health.

3.     Why aren’t pet owners taking their pets to the veterinarian at least once per year?

Most of us lead really busy lives and sometimes veterinary visits just skip the to-do list so it’s forgotten.  Some owners are just not aware of how vitally important an annual check-up can be.  Others may be intimidated by the cost of healthcare.  I have some owners that don’t want to bring their pet regularly because they get very stressed coming to my office.

The statistics show since 2001 dog visits have dropped 21% and cat visits have dropped 30%!  These slips are correlated with a steady increase in preventable diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, obesity, fleas, etc.

These reasons do have solutions for the educated pet owner.  Many pet owners believe that they know their pets better than anyone else, and while that’s true, there are conditions that only your veterinarian can spot.  Veterinarians are trained to detect preventable conditions at the earliest stages so knowing this helps owners prioritize check-ups.  Most clinics offer payment plans and accept pet insurance. is a source of information, and is another.  Finally, there are solutions to help the stressed patients make it in from calming supplements, to tips for travelling to the vet, to actual anxiety medications to ease the visit.

4.     How do you think these problems can be resolved for pets and their people?

A minimum of a yearly check-up is the best way to keep your pet as healthy as possible- it’s just as important to your pet as food and love.  It’s easier to prevent disease than treat it.  More so it costs less in the long-run to prevent rather than treat.  Pets age faster than we do so missing even one yearly check-up can be like us not visiting a doctor for over five years.  There is often a solution for those concerned about bringing their pet in and anyone who has not taken their pet to a vet within the past year should call their vet’s office and ask for help in ensuring that this important check-up gets scheduled as soon as possible!

Thank you, Dr. Hlede!

To visit the Partners for Healthy Pets website, point your browser to:

Friday, April 25, 2014

Hairball Awareness Day & Pet Grooming!

Photo of Neezie by Darlene Arden

Grooming your pet is an important part of pet care. It doesn't just make your pet look and feel better but it also gives you a chance to bond together and relax. It can be a rather zen-like time. Start when your puppy or kitten is small, don't pull, don't let knots develop. It's just as horribly painful for a dog or cat as it is for a small child to have tangled hair that's being pulled.  If you have a coated dog or cat, daily brushing and grooming is a good habit to get into.

I speak from experience. While my own hair is an eternal bad hair day, I learned to groom a Yorkshire Terrier in full Specials Coat. You know what that is - it's that long flowing coat you see on television when they're broadcasting dog shows. In order to keep the coat from breaking and have that flawless look, the dog is bathed once a week.  That's followed by a detangling cream rinse and then (oh, yes, there's more) the coat is oiled and wrapped.  Back in the day when I learned to do it, we used bakery wrappers.  Each bakery wrapper was folded in half and then in thirds. The coat is sectioned off so it doesn't pull and each section divided. The hair is put in the middle of the third, the other parts are folded over and than it's secured with an elastic band. Don't pull it tightly. Don't put a topknot up tightly, either, or your dog could end up with alopecia (baldness) from the hair being pulled from the roots. It's painful and you don't want to cause pain.  The wraps are redone either every day or every other day.

Dogs without a hair coat can do well with a chamois cloth.  Short or medium coats will need a brush and comb.  

Dogs with hair don't shed any more than we do but dogs with fur will certainly shed and this is the time of year when our dogs and cats are shedding profusely as they lose their Winter coat in preparation for Summer.  It actually is the sun that helps this process along.

Whenever you bathe your cat or dog, be sure to rinse out the shampoo and conditioner thoroughly. Leave no traces behind.

When we think of hairballs - and today is National Hairball Awareness Day - we think of cats. Why?  Well, they tend to cough up hairballs and usually leave them someplace where we are bound to accidentally step in it.  The reason they cough up hairballs is because they ingest their own hair when they groom themselves. Those rough little tongues that give up sandpaper kisses feel like that because they have little hook-like structures on the tongue, set backwards, and that helps pull the hair out when grooming. We need to help them along so they won't have so many hairballs. Daily brushing and combing can go a long way in this regard.  At its worst, the dog or cat's coat will mat and you don't want to go there.  Mats will have to be very carefully cut out. Don't let it progress that far!
Photo by Darlene Arden

A bath will cut down on the amount of shedding but shed they will.  A veterinary dermatologist who worked at Boston's famed Angell Memorial Animal Hospital, told me to put on old screen at the bottom of the sink before bathing a cat. The cat's claws grip onto the screen and there's less chance of you being scratched.  It also gives the cat something to hang onto.

The type of brush or comb will depend upon the length of the coat, just as it does with a dog. With my Chartreux, Aimee, who is double coated, all she really needs is a good combing but I go a little further. At the suggestion of the breeder from whom I got her, I bought a ZoomGroom.  This is a rubber brush and it helps loosen dead hair that can them be combed out. It also gives a nice massage so Aimee just loves it!

I have heard a great deal about the Furminator, a tool for grooming pets that gets rid of dead hair.  Unfortunately, I've never been given the opportunity to test one so I cannot tell you anything about it from personal experience. It's on my "wish list."

I can tell you that for distributing oils, and for a healthy skin and coat, grooming is very important.  Use it as a bonding time.  Relax and enjoy your special companion.  And do your best to eliminate hairballs and tangles before they start!

Photo of Alana by Claire Clayton

Thursday, April 10, 2014

WayFounder and Nontrepreneurs with GREAT Pet Product or App Ideas

Damon D'Amore

Most of us sit at home and wonder how people can come up with great pet products, pet care, or apps for pet owners.  And then there are those who have the idea but don't know where to go next.  They aren't in a position to start a business, or wouldn't know where or how to begin to bring their idea to the marketplace.  Apparently, those people are called nontrepreneurs.  If you're one of those people, I have some very interesting news for you.  
Sandy's photo by James Stagg

WayFounder is a new company founded by Damon D'Amore.  Who's he, you may well be asking yourself.  You're not alone, I didn't know, either.  D'Amore is a former Wall Street Trader who was a broadcast producer for The Apprentice and Undercover Boss, two popular business-related television programs.  WayFounder has just - and I mean literally - just launched to help those of you who have the idea but not the means for making that dream come true. 

There will be a quarterly online competition and pet-related products are slated for the first quarter's competition.  WayFounder will provide the winner in each category (there are a  few in the quarter) with a cash prize of $10,000., a commitment to spend up to $50,000. to bring the product idea to market, and royalties.  If a product that's selected exhibits the promise of scaling up into a product line of its own or even spawning an entirely new category of its own, WayFounder commits $250,000. to hire an "Executive Entrepreneur" or a Founder/CEO with experience in that specific category, to take the business to the next level. 

Sam & Alana's Photo by Claire Clayton

TheWayFounder Team consists of an impressive Advisory Board:

  • Jeffrey Hayzlett: CEO of The Hayzlett Group, Contributing Editor and Host of Bloomberg TV, and former Fortune 100 CMO
  • Justin Lewis: Former President of the Global Retail Marketing Association and Fortune 500 CMO
  • Jamie O'Hara: Founder and Managing Partner of Grise Global Ventures
  • Jeff Pulver: Founder of #140 Conference, Co-founder of Vonage
  • Sasha Strauss: Founder and Managing Director of Innovation Protocol
  • Bill Wilson: Founder and President of ClickxChange (Not related to Ryan Wilson)
WayFounder is built on the idea that ideas come from everywhere.  Could a great one come from you?  This may well be your opportunity to find out.

Here's the link:  Follow it if you have a dream you hope will come true....

The competition is currently limited to residents of the United States.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Moving with Your Pet & Winners of "The Art of Purring," by David Michie

Alana - Photo by Claire Clayton

Moving can be exciting, exhilarating, exhausting and an adventure. If you're moving and you're reading this, then of course your taking your pet(s) with you. What would life be without our companions?!    

Moving with pets requires some special consideration because it will definitely interrupt their routine and they will be in an unfamiliar place. However, they will have you and that's what really counts!

Dogs and cats need to make the adjustment to a new home.  How you will go through this process depends upon some factors:  are you moving far away or in driving distance of your old home?  Closer is easier for you dog.  Easy move and cat takes a little more preparation because cats don't like change and really love their homes.

Neezie - Photo by Darlene Arden

if you're within driving distance of the new home, take your dog alone on a few casual visits to the new place.  Let him sniff around, get to see the outside and the inside, become familiar with it even though none of the furniture is there yet. Before you move in, bring something familiar for him to smell and/or play with so it doesn't all seem so strange.

Wherever you go, short or long distance, do not tranquilize your pet. It will only make travel that more difficult and suppress the animal.  Before you go anywhere your cat and/or dog should be familiar with their carrier.  Keep it out all the time and pop some treats in there and a comfy bedding as well as a toy or two. Make it the best, safest place. It will be easier to get your friend into the crate if it's familiar and feels safe and cozy.  

Before moving into the house, set up a separate room for your dog or your cat (or one for each, if possible).  With all of the hassle and noise of strangers bringing furniture and boxes, it can be very upsetting for your pet and there is always the chance for an inadvertent escape.  Be sure your pets re microchipped as well as having collar or harness and tag.  And register the tattoo. It won't help to reunite you with your lost pet if they can't find you to notify you!!

In that separate room, put a bed or the carrier with the door open, a litterbox or place to eliminate if you won't have time to walk your pup - wee wee pads, for example.  Scratching post for kitty, toys for either species, water, food and a radio or TV turned on to relaxing music or a familiar TV show. Don't forget to go into the room periodically to "visit" and reassure your pet.  You can slowly begin to let them have access to more of the house after the movers have gone.  Don't forget to use bottled water as water changes from place to place, and be sure to take along your pet's normal food. This is no time to upset the digestive tract!

Photo of Kitten by Darlene Arden

Try to keep things as normal as possible.  Put things in handy places for your pets - Cat tree near a window, for example.  Decide where they will be fed, where you want them to spend time with you at first. The family room?  Your bedroom?  The kitchen?  The choices are yours.  

Be sure everything seems normal to your pet.  Speak in a normal voice. Relax.  Soon your favorite companion(s) will, too!  

Before you move, don't forget to locate a good veterinarian.  And do make an appointment for a get-acquainted visit before you actually need to see the veterinarian to begin that relationship on a good footing.    

Remember to relax and enjoy your new life together with your pets!

And now for the announcement you've been waiting for.....  The 2 winners who will each receive a copy of "The Dalai Lama's Cat and The Art of Purring," by David Michie.  The copies provided by Hay House for our contest!  A big Thank You to the publisher!!

Drum Roll Please!  The Winners are:

Cary Hillman



To claim your book, please send me an e-mail via my website ( using the link to contact me.  Please include your name and mailing address.  Thank you!  You must claim your prize by this weekend or it will go to someone else via another drawing.  Thank you!!  And Congratulations!!