Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Get Out a Different Vote: Let’s Hear it for Heroic Pets and People!
ASPCA Seeks Nominations for 2008 Humane Awards

As citizens across the country continue to make their way to the polls for the 2008 Presidential primaries, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) is asking the public to cast one more ballot.

As it does every year, the organization is seeking public nominations of extraordinary pets and people for its annual Humane Awards program. If you know a fabulous feline or precocious pooch with a knack for saving lives, or a heroic human being who has improved the lives of animals, the ASPCA wants to hear from you. Nominations are being accepted until July l5 at

Last year’s winners included a first-aid wunderkind and golden retriever who performed a modified Heimlich maneuver on his choking owner; a petite kitty with a loud voice who saved her family from dying of carbon monoxide poisoning; and a selfless pre-teen who works tirelessly on behalf of homeless horses.

"The ASPCA Humane Awards is our way of recognizing the important role animals play in our lives, the significance of the human-animal bond, and the people who make animal welfare a central part of their lives," said ASPCA President & CEO Ed Sayres.

Those who may be considered for this distinguished honor include humans who have worked on behalf of animal welfare and animals who have engaged in acts of heroism in the United States during the past year. Winners will be invited to attend the Humane Awards Luncheon on Thursday, October 30, at the historic Rainbow Room in New York City, where the awards will be presented.

Categories open for nomination include:

· ASPCA Dog of the Year

: for a dog who has performed a heroic act in the past year;

· ASPCA Cat of the Year

: for a cat who has performed a heroic act in the past year;

· ASPCA Kid of the Year

: for a child aged 14 or under who has rescued an animal or helps make the world a kinder place for animals;

· ASPCA Law Enforcement Officer of the Year

: for a member of the municipal police force (or other public service officer) who has made a heroic effort to save an animal in the past year; and

· ASPCA Firefighter of the Year

: for a municipal firefighter who has made a heroic effort to save an animal in the past year.

· Other Nominations

: Any other nomination that does not fit into any of the above categories.

The ASPCA will is accepting nominations via its Web site at All submissions must include the following: the nominee’s name, street address, email address, and telephone number; the category for which he/she is being nominated; and a short statement (400 words or less) of why this person or pet deserves the award.

The deadline for entries is Tuesday, July 15, at 12 PM (EST). Winners will be chosen by a committee selected by the ASPCA, and announced to the public in mid-October. For more information, please visit

Friday, May 09, 2008

Obesity in Pets

While over-feeding by giving treats to your animal may be considered a sign of your affection, it might also be a death sentence. In the United States and other countries, about 40 percent of pets are obese. In fact, the No.1 nutritional problem for all pets is obesity.

Dr. Debra Zoran, associate professor and chief of medicine at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, has some valuable advice about getting your portly pet in shape.

She says the first step a pet owner should take is to have the pet examined by a veterinarian to assess its overall health, body weight and body condition. The vet will typically use the Body Condition System (BCS) chart in order to classify the animal as lean, overweight or obese. A score of 8 or 9 on the BCS means the animal is clinically obese and measures should be taken to reduce the animal’s excess fat tissue.

“Obesity in animals is caused by a combination of over nutrition and decreased energy expenditure,” Zoran confirms.

Over nutrition is something that the pet owner can control, with a little extra effort and help in understanding proper feeding in dogs and cats from your veterinarian. Zoran says there are a number of dietary factors that can result in a pet becoming obese. First, pet owners need to know the proper amount of food – and calories – they need to provide their animal based on its lifestyle, neuter status, workload and body condition.

She notes to keep in mind that recommended serving sizes on the labels of pet food have been calculated for active, intact animals, and should be decreased by 20 - 30 percent for neutered animals, house dogs and cats, and animals that lead a primarily sedentary lifestyle.

“Dogs should be fed twice a day at controlled time intervals. Try not to leave the food bowl down constantly since this is often the cause of overeating,” informs Zoran.

Zoran also recommends limiting the number of treats a dog receives, especially around the dinner table. Every treat the dog receives has calories, which can lead to obesity if the dogs’ caloric intake is not adjusted. Since treats are often an important aspect of owner-dog interaction, it is essential to increase exercise to compensate for the added calories. This can be done by allowing the animal to run in the backyard or taking the animal to a park. It is important to visit with a veterinarian if a pet owner is unsure of the optimum amount of food or treats a dog should receive.

Just as in dogs, feline obesity is also a significant problem in pet cats. Since inside cats are less likely to be extremely active, their caloric content should be carefully controlled. The most common method of feeding indoor cats is free choice, since open bowl feeding is highly associated with over-eating.

Ideally, Zoran says, cats should be fed small meals two to four times a day in controlled time intervals and using a specific amount of food. Zoran recommends encouraging activity in cats by purchasing toys or using other methods of stimulation like laser lights or climbing trees in order to encourage physical activity. The key to feline activity is to increase movement – cats respond to movement and activity.

“Cats need physical activity in order to burn the excess amount of carbohydrates and other calories present in their food,” she adds. “Since cats are carnivores, their bodies do not need any carbohydrates. If the animal lies around all day, these carbohydrates are not used and this can lead to obesity.”

Obesity is a serious disease that can lead to an early death. Obesity is associated with the development of osteoarthritis, diabetes mellitus, hyperlipidemia, cardiac and respiratory diseases and diseases of the urinary system, including kidney disease and bladder problems. Zoran says it is a pet owner’s responsibility to control the animal’s food intake and foster an environment that encourages exercise. A good way to show your pet some love is to keep it thin and healthy.

Pet Talk is a service of the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.

Puppy Born Green!
Watch the video here.