National Holistic Pet Day

Grace in Flowers Yes, it's today, August 30, 2011.

I know there's a day for everything (didn't we just get through National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day?) but when it's for something I want people to know about, then count me in.

But first, what does holistic mean? According to the Oxford Dictionary (which I use because I can't help it, I'm British amongst other things):

Medicine characterized by the treatment of the whole person, taking into account mental and social factors, rather than just the physical symptoms of a disease.

At Embrace, we cover all sorts of pet holistic treatments such as acupuncture, chiropractic treatments and physiotherapy, as well as more mainstream veterinary care so it's something I am keenly interested in to help the overall health of cats and dogs.

Two holistic pet health tips related to weight from Dr. Donna Spector in the Top 10 Ways to Celebrate Holistic Pet Day:

  • keep your dog or cat's weight in a healthy range is part of a holistically healthy life to avoid health complications from pet obesity; and
  • move to healthy treating habits such as freeze-dried treats or fruits and vegetables to keep the calories down.

This was just two tips. There are 8 more to help celebrate National Holistic Pet Day today and every day. 

How are you celebrating your pet's holistic health?

Related Obesity Posts:
August is Obesity Month at Embrace Pet Insurance
Claim Example: bilateral hip dysplasia surgery in a Golden Retriever
How many calories a dog or cat should eat a day?
What does a healthy dog really look like?
National Holistic Pet Day




Welcome to my fellow Blogpaws bloggers


Yay! You made it to my blog. Lovely to have you drop in. 

This month, we're focusing on pet obesity but there's a lot to read on pet health and pet insurance - if you can't find what you are looking for, just let me know.

If you are interested in guest blogging for me, check out my Guest Blogger Guidelines and let me know what you are thinking. I don't have too many guest bloggers but I love the ones I have.  

To learn about pet insurance in general, check out the Pet Insurance 101 section in the right hand column and for a general wander around the blog, there's always the archive section to the right and you can use the Lijit search feature top right.

For a quick overview of who I am and what this blog is about, there's always the About Me page.

And of course, you can always join the Embrace Facebook page or follow me or Embrace in Twitter. We'd love the company!

If you have any thoughts, comments, questions or anything else on your mind, please email me. I'd love to hear from you.


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Laura Bennett
Chief Embracer and Co-Founder


What does a healthy dog really look like?

IMG_0927I met a new friend Zoe on vacation recently.

My family and I were in northern Minnesota at a cabin and we went to get gas in our boat at the local supplies store. As we pulled up at the dock, a very enthusiastic dog named Zoe ran up to us and dropped a pine cone onto one of the girl's lap and stood there expectantly, wagging her tail and quivering in anticipation of the game of fetch she was hoping we'd participate in.

How could we resist!

While we were tossing the pine cone, which became increasingly mangled and had to be replaced several times, I noticed how fit and healthy-looking Zoe is. I talked to her family, who own the resort she lives at and she stays fit because she finds so many people to play with (proactively dropping pine cones or sticks in their boats as they pull up to get supplies) and she stays active all the time. She eats well but exercises all the time, building muscle and a beautiful shiny coat.

Check the video out to see Zoe in action fetching pine cones - no "flabrador" here! 

For those of you wondering if Zoe is actually a bit too thin, note Zoe's waist and ribs. You can see her waist clearly and if you run your hand over her side, you can feel her ribs but they aren't overly obvious - a nice balance for a beautiful dog. We're all rather immune to labradors with no waists and think that's how a labrador should look like - it's not. Just ask your veterinarian.

Is this what your Labrador looks like? Is this what you would like her to look like?

Related Obesity Posts:
August is Obesity Month at Embrace Pet Insurance
Claim Example: bilateral hip dysplasia surgery in a Golden Retriever
How many calories a dog or cat should eat a day?
What does a healthy dog really look like?
National Holistic Pet Day

How many calories a dog or cat should eat a day?

Have you ever counted calories to manage your own weight? Have you ever done it for your cat or dog? Every snack and treat you give your pets adds more calories to their diet and could be sabotaging the diet you have them on.

Today, Dr. Rex Riggs discusses how many calories your dog or cat needs and how many extra calories different treats add to their diet. You might be surprised by what you read.

Dr. Rex Riggs is the owner of Best Friends Veterinary Hospital in Powell, Ohio. He is a veterinarian, and an Advisory Board member of Embrace Pet Insurance.

677092_hungry_dog I wish I had a dime (OK…$10) for every time one of my clients said “but it was just a little piece….” when describing the table scrapes or cookie they gave their animal. 

We need to be careful when supplementing our pet’s diets. 

First, your dog or cat does not need any snacks or table foods, because their diets are nationally balanced.   Secondly, many foods that are fine for us are REALLY BAD for your pet.  Bacon, pork products, milk, chocolate, grapes and raisins are just a few of our favorites snacks that can be dangerous to your animal.  The consequence for feeding these can range from diarrhea and vomiting to kidney disease, seizures and even death.

What I want to concentrate in this article is how we are making our pets fat unintentionally.  

We all love to see an animal “beg” for a treat or “little piece” of whatever we are eating. But are we killing our pets with kindness?  The harmful effects of being overweight are the same as they are for humans.  It has been said an overweight animal can have a 30% shorter lifespan.

Have we really thought just how many calories are in those treats? Why is there no nutritional or calorie information on those treats? Do we stop to think just how much a dog or cat needs calorie wise to maintain his/her weight? Probably not. 

Well…..I am going to tell you. 

Most dogs need about 25 to 30 calories per pound per day to maintain their weight.  You need to figure in, if you dog is a spud or an athlete, whether you need to add or subtract that to that amount.  That means, on average, a 30 lb dog needs around 800 calories daily, and an average cat needs 250 to 300 calories a day.  Really not much. 

The calories in the treats really add up.  The following list are the calorie content of some common treats:

Beggin Stips- 40

Pro Plan Brand Medium Dog Biscuits-32

T-Bonz brand Dog Snacks-45

Chew-eez  Rolls small/medium-171

Busy Bone Ultimate Medium-227

Busy Bone Dental large-443

Beggin Chew large-672 

Shocking huh?  There are so many other treats that are better for your pet with much fewer calories. Some of those are:

Cauliflower (1/4 cup)-6

Carrots 1 medium-19

Cucumbers (1/4 cup)-5

Green beans (1/4 cup) my dog’s favorite-9

Rice cake-40

If you think your animal will not be just as pleased with these as the expensive high calorie treats we buy….try them.  You will be surprised.

Related Obesity Posts:
August is Obesity Month at Embrace Pet Insurance
Claim Example: bilateral hip dysplasia surgery in a Golden Retriever
How many calories a dog or cat should eat a day?
What does a healthy dog really look like?
National Holistic Pet Day
Other posts by Dr Riggs

Dr_RiggsDr. Rex Riggs grew up in Wadsworth, Ohio, near Akron. Dr Riggs is co-owner of Best Friends Veterinary Hospital in Powell, Ohio. He is also on the board of the North Central Region of Canine Companions of Independence, a board member of The Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine Alumni Society and Small Animal Practitioner Advancement Board at The Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Riggs lives in Lewis Center, OH with his wife Nancy, their dogs Maggie, and two cats Franklin and Speeder. Outside of work, Dr. Riggs is an avid golfer and enjoys travel and photography.

Top 5 tips for running with your dog

One effective and fabulous way to keep your dog's weight down and her health up is to have her run with you (or you run with her - whatever suits your style).

About a year ago, I took up running so I could stay healthy into my old age. I don't have a dog and none of my three cats are very interested in getting up so early to run with me but I've often thought how nice it would be to have a canine companion trotting along with me in the early hours of the morning.

Talking to people who run with their dogs, here are few pointers to help you get started running with your dog.

Before we get to the tips though, consider what type of dog you have. I don't know about you but I haven't seen too many people running with their yorkies or mastiffs - they were just not born to run.

  1. Consider your dog's starting fitness

    Just because you run 5K races on the weekend doesn't mean your dog can keep up with you at the start. As with any untrained runner, start her off slow and build up her endurance to keep up. Even if you run at a slow pace, longer distances can be too much for a dog starting out. Stay alert to your dog's condition and walk home if she's finding it a bit too much.
  2. Use a leash

    Unless you live in the middle of nowhere and never see another human or animal ever, you can't know how your dog will behave when something unexpected happens. She sees that squirrel she's been dreaming of or is surprised by the garbage truck coming around the corner - who knows what will happen. If she's leashed, you can keep her safe. It might also be the law in your area.

    Talking of leashes, there are an amazing array of hands free and harness style leashes on the market these days. Just search online and you'll see a number of them. Got a favorite? Post it in the comments below.
  3. Practice makes perfect

    Not every dog will run along nicely beside you from the get go - tangled leashes around legs is not a fun experience for either of you (and so undignified too). Expect to be doing a number of slow practise runs with your dog to develop a good rhythm and space between you and you'll be good to go. If your dog is like most, having the opportunity to go out for a run is more than enough reward for behaving nicely. 
  4. Health first

    As with humans, dogs need water after running - make sure he's hydrated well during the day and immediately after a run. Share your water along the way if you have some. Do not let him drink standing water or water put out by a well-meaning store owner - you don't know what diseases any other dogs who drank from it have.

    You also need to consider your dog's paws. When you first start running, keep an eye on them to make sure delicate unexercised paws aren't getting sore. You also want to consider salt in the winter and hot concrete and asphalt in the summer. Add regular inspections into your routine to make sure you aren't overtaxing your dog's poor feet.
  5. Safety Considerations

    When you bring along your dog for a run, you introduce an element of, shall I say, "chaos" into your life - the unexpected can happen. So bring along your cell phone and if allowed in your area, you might consider a small pepper spray in case of unruly feral dogs or wildlife in the area. My cat was killed by two feral dogs in a very nice suburgan neighborhood - I had no idea they existed until that happened. You just never know what might happen.

Do you run with your dog? Got any stories to share? Also, what kind of dog do you think is the best running companion? I might have to get one one of these days!

Related Obesity Posts:
August is Obesity Month at Embrace Pet Insurance
Claim Example: bilateral hip dysplasia surgery in a Golden Retriever
a href="/blog/how-many-calories-should-pet-eat-daily" target="_self">How many calories a dog or cat should eat a day?
What does a healthy dog really look like?
National Holistic Pet Day

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