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Weight Loss Tips for Dogs and Cats

Many of us make resolutions that pertain to decreasing the size of our waistline.

Sadly, many pets need their owners to make – and keep – resolutions pertaining to their waistlines too. Obesity rates in pets are increasing and now parallel the growing number American adults with a weight problem.

Weight Loss Tips for Dogs and Cats | atlanticvetseattle.com

Fifty-five percent of dogs and 59.5 percent of cats are overweight or obese, according to reports from the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP).

Fat Cats

Fat is a biologically active tissue, and excess fat tissue can wreak havoc on a pet’s metabolism. Cats with excessive body weight are at significantly higher risk for developing insulin-dependent diabetes, arthritis, kidney disease, high blood pressure, and cancer.

Plump Pups

Overweight and obese dogs also have increased risk of arthritis, diabetes, heat exhaustion, and cancer. Obese animals also have increased anesthetic risk should they require surgery.

Weight Loss Tips for Dogs and Cats | atlanticvetseattle.com

Weight Loss Tips for Pets

Losing weight involves strategically and carefully decreasing calories (while preserving critical nutrients) and gradually increasing exercise. Sound familiar? Yes, we humans go through the same process to lose weight!

Please consult us before starting your pet on a diet. We will help you determine the proper number of calories, the type of diet, and the amount of exercise your pet needs each day, based on several factors:

  • your pet’s weight and metabolism
  • whether your pet is spayed or neutered
  • your pet’s age
  • typical daily activity your pet currently gets
  • whether your pet is indoors or outdoors, or both

Measure & Track

Once you know how many calories per day your pet should be eating, you’ll want to measure and track how much you feed your pet. Studies show that feeding even 10 extra tiny kibbles per day can add up to a pound of weight gain per year in small dogs and indoor cats!

Avoid Sugary Treats

Cut back on the treats, please! You don’t want to sabotage your efforts to help your pet lose weight by “rewarding” him with sugar- and fat-laden treats. As little as 30 extra calories per day can result in a weight gain of more than three pounds a year (kind of like humans gain weight when we inhale high-calorie drinks, donuts, and snack crackers).

When you give your pet a treat, look for healthful low-calorie, no-sugar goodies. Some treats offer the added bonus of helping keep your pet’s teeth clean. Ask us to recommend healthy goodies.

Monitor Serving Size

Break those treats into teeny-tiny pieces. Your pet can’t do math — she won’t realize that you’re rewarding her with half a treat!

Healthier Options than Store-Bought Treats

  • Dogs: small slices of apple, banana, baby carrots, broccoli, green beans
  • Cats: a flake of tuna or salmon
How to Take Advantage of Our 'Green' Discount | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Exercise With Your Pet Every Day

Of course, daily exercise is a must. Exercise helps regulate weight and behavior, boosts your pet’s immune function, and improves cardiovascular health.

Take your dog on a brisk walk for 20 to 30 minutes.

Actively play with your cat for 5 to 15 minutes per day, using a cat toy, remote-controlled battery mice, practice golf balls (the ones with holes in them), or a wad of paper.

The health benefits of exercising with your pet will rub off on both of you!

Ask for Help

At Atlantic Veterinary Hospital, we have an arsenal of creative and time-proven strategies that may be helpful in your efforts to improve your pet’s weight, including what to do if some members of your family have a hard time accepting or adhering to a pet’s new health régime.

Please call us at 206-323-4433 for an appointment if you’d like to discuss your pet’s weight and set up an exercise plan.

Here’s to the health of you and your family, both human and furry.

Diabetes in Dogs and Cats: What You Need to Know

We usually think of diabetes as a human disease. But it’s becoming more prevalent in dogs and cats.

Diabetes in Dogs and Cats: What Pet Owners Need to Know | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Diabetes in Dogs

Diabetes in dogs is usually classified as Type 1, where the body is not producing enough insulin, a hormone crucial to metabolism. Untreated, diabetes mellitus (DM) can be fatal.

Female dogs are twice as likely to develop DM than male dogs, as are older dogs, aged 7-9. Certain breeds are more predisposed to DM, including:

  • Australian terrier
  • Beagle
  • Bichon Frise
  • Cairn terrier
  • dachshund
  • Keeshond
  • miniature pinscher
  • poodle
  • Samoyed
  • Schnauzer

Diabetes in Cats

One in every 200 cats may be affected by DM. More male cats have DM, as well as cats aged 8-13 and Siamese cats.

Diabetes in Dogs and Cats: What Pet Owners Need to Know | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Signs of Diabetes in Dogs and Cats

  • Always thirsty
  • Always hungry
  • Urinates frequently, or urinates in the house/outside of litter box
  • Good appetite and possibly overweight, yet continually loses weight (particularly over the back)
  • Cloudy eyes (dogs only)
  • Dry or dull coat
  • Poor skin condition (such as excessive dandruff)
  • Blindness
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy


Dogs and cats with diabetes usually require life-long insulin injections, careful bloodwork monitoring, and frequent re-evaluation.

How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth (Video)

We humans brush and floss our teeth daily (hopefully!). Brushing your dog’s teeth every day will help keep his smile healthy.How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth | atlanticvetseattle.com

Acclimate your dog to the tooth-brushing process when he’s a puppy, if possible, so he becomes comfortable with you looking at his teeth, opening his mouth, and smelling his breath.

Establishing a “normal” baseline is important, because it’ll help you recognize changes, such as reddened or puffy gums, cracked or broken teeth, growths, swellings, discharges from the teeth and gums, or a change in breath. (If you notice any changes, schedule an appointment with us so we can do a thorough exam.)

Here’s a 7-step process  to help your dog get used to having his teeth brushed:

Step 1:

How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth | atlanticvetseattle.com

First, you’ll want to get your dog used to having your hands near his mouth. For a few days, gently run your fingers around his lips and the outside of his mouth (muzzle) until he gets comfortable with you touching around his mouth (praise your dog and reward him with a treat).

Step 2:

How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth | atlanticvetseattle.com

Once he’s comfortable with that, gently lift his lips and run your fingers along his teeth and gums for a few days.

Step 3:

Find out which pet-approved toothpaste your dog likes. Don’t use human toothpaste, which usually contains fluoride, a substance that can be toxic if swallowed (and dogs can’t spit in the sink, nor do they rinse their mouths after brushing). Some toothpastes for humans contain a sweetener called xylatol, which can be deadly for dogs.

Get a couple of enticing-to-dogs flavors such as beef and poultry. Let your dog taste-test the toothpaste. Put a pea-sized dab of toothpaste on your clean finger, and allow your dog to lick it off your finger. If he likes the flavor, the tooth-brushing experience will be more pleasant for both of you.

Step 4:

Using a veterinarian-approved toothbrush that’s the correct size for your dog’s mouth, add a dab of toothpaste to the brush and gently brush his front teeth and the adjacent gum line for a couple of seconds, using a small circular motion. Do this for a few days to help your dog get used to the tooth-brushing experience.

Step 5:

Over the course of several days, slowly work your way to the back of the mouth, brushing on the outside of the teeth. Ninety-six percent of tartar is on the outside of a dog’s teeth, so don’t worry about brushing the inside of your dog’s teeth; his tongue will keep the inside of the teeth fairly clean.

Step 6:

Gradually work up to brushing both sides of your dog’s mouth for 30 seconds per day.

Step 7:

After every session, lavishly praise your dog and reward him with a crunchy veggie treat.

Monthly and Yearly Checks

Once a month, do a thorough check inside your dog’s mouth to see whether you notice any unusual changes.

Once a year, schedule an oral health exam. Every 1-3 years (depending on your veterinarian’s recommendation), schedule a professional dental cleaning.

Wellness Plans Make Routine Dental Healthcare Affordable

Atlantic Veterinary Hospital’s Wellness Plans are a program we designed to save you money on important preventive healthcare services for your furry family members.

Each Wellness Plan provides all essential preventive healthcare services we recommend for one year, plus discounts on any additional care your pet may need. Some of our plans include additional services like a professional dental cleaning and full-mouth digital dental radiographs.

Wellness Plan costs have some built-in discounts and spread the cost of care over 12 months with zero interest, allowing you to budget for your pet’s care. If you’d like to learn more about our affordable wellness plans, give us a call at 206-323-4433.

Related articles:

Why do Pets Get Dental Disease?

Dental Checkups and X-Rays: An Important Routine to Keep Your Pet’s Teeth Healthy


5 Tips for a Healthier Dog Smile

How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth (video) – White Cross Vets

Why Smooshy-Faced Dogs and Cats Require Additional Dental Care

Smooshy-faced breeds of dogs and cats, technically called brachyocephalics, require additional dental care when compared to their longer-faced cousins.

Why Smooshy-Faced Dogs and Cats Require Additional Dental Care | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Frenchies, Pugs, Bostons, Boxers, English Bulldogs, Shih Tzus, Lhasa Apsos, Chihuahua, Chow Chow, Bull Mastiffs, Pekingese, Persians, Exotic Shorthairs, Himalayans, British Shorthairs, Scottish Folds, and the like have been bred to have shorter faces.

However, although their jaws are shorter, their teeth are still typical size, resulting in dental crowding. Instead of their teeth lining up in a straight arcade, their molars and premolars are turned sideways, creating valleys where food can lodge.

Unless it’s removed within 24 hours, that food becomes plaque, which in turn becomes tartar, causing gingivitis.

Left untreated, gingivitis progresses to periodontal disease, then tooth loss and pain.

Fortunately, with good dental hygiene and routine professional teeth cleaning, these fun, adorable breeds of dogs and cats can enjoy excellent dental health and keep their teeth for a lifetime. It just takes a bit more effort, but they’ll thank you for it.

Dental Checkups and X-Rays: An Important Routine to Keep Your Pet’s Teeth Healthy

Dental check-ups and routine dental X-rays are necessary for a healthy mouth and to ensure your pet’s teeth are picture-perfect for a lifetime.

During physical exams, we take a look in your pet’s mouth. However, a visual examination of your pet’s mouth doesn’t tell us everything we need to know.

Tartar on a dog's tooth | Atlantic Veterinary Hospital, Seattle

More than half of each tooth resides under the gumline, where the human eye can’t see.

What we do see is the exterior of the tooth crowns, but we can’t see the tooth roots, dental ligaments, or jaw bone. This is why full-mouth dental X-rays are such an important part of your pet’s dental care and a service we perform with every anesthetic dental procedure.

While it may be tempting due to cost to skip dental X-rays, in order to provide thorough care, we consider them a necessary step in evaluating your pet’s dental health and developing a dental treatment plan.

Advantages of Dental X-rays

Dental X-Ray of a dog's mouth | AtlanticVetSeattle.comDental X-rays, also known as radiographs, can detect oral health problems at their earliest stages, such as gum disease, bone loss, oral infections, and some types of tumors. After examining your pet’s mouth under anesthesia and reviewing the X-rays, we can accurately diagnose and treat dental problems.

Because dental X-ray machines are designed to minimize radiation, these processes are safe and your pet’s exposure is negligible. In fact, we use the very latest digital X-rays, which further reduce radiation exposure and significantly improve the quality of the picture for the veterinarian to review.

Wellness Plans Make Routine Dental Healthcare Affordable

Atlantic Veterinary Hospital’s Wellness Plans are a program we designed to save you money on important preventive healthcare services for your furry family members.

Each Wellness Plan provides all essential preventive healthcare services we recommend for one year, plus discounts on any additional care your pet may need. Some of our plans include additional services like a professional dental cleaning and full-mouth digital dental radiographs.

Wellness Plan costs have some built-in discounts and spread the cost of care over 12 months with zero interest, allowing you to budget for your pet’s care. If you’d like to learn more about our affordable wellness plans, give us a call at 206.323.4433.

It’s Pet Dental Month – Why You Should Care

By Bubba the Cat
Public Relations Officer

February is National Pet Dental Health Month. Why an entire month dedicated to pet oral health?

Well, mostly to get pet owners’ attention, really, because our doctors talk about dental health all year long. Frankly, as a cat, I’m a bit bored hearing them talk about it, but for the sake of your pet, please listen up!

In the past 25 years, the quality of medical care veterinarians provide has grown with the evolution of humans’ bond and relationship with their pets. We pets are now cherished four-legged family members and as such, expect the same quality of care you humans get.

National Pet Dental Health Month | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

In addition, significant advances have been made in the understanding of the detrimental effects of chronic inflammation on other areas of a body beyond the mouth.

Just a few decades ago, many humans didn’t grasp that we pets felt pain and that bad breath in pets wasn’t “normal.”

You get it now, right?

Bad Breath is Bad!

Pets do feel pain, bad breath is abnormal, and both can often be prevented or alleviated.

However, humans will still ask our doctors, “Why is my pet still eating and acting normally if he’s in pain?”

Tartar on a dog's tooth | Atlantic Veterinary Hospital, SeattleWell, in the wild, if an animal allows pain to prevent it from eating, it will become weak and preyed upon or expelled from the pack. In essence, we pets do our best to hide pain and any sign of weakness.

Newer research has shown that chronic oral infection and inflammation are a serious threat to our overall health and well-being.

The chronic inflammation of dental disease can initiate oral cancer, and the infection and inflammation release bacteria and other factors into the bloodstream that harm internal organs and make arthritic joints hurt more.

Why Do Pets Get Dental Disease?

Firstly, because we live longer than our wild counterparts.

Brushing a dog's teethAnd secondly, we pets don’t fully utilize our teeth like a wild carnivore. Today, we get our food handily delivered in a small kibble, served in a bowl.

This lack of using our teeth, along with changes in the shape of dogs’ skulls (as a cat, don’t get me started on that one!) results in plaque build-up.

We often don’t get our teeth brushed every day to remove that plaque like you humans do, and that plaque becomes tartar, then gum disease, then periodontal disease.

Even you humans, who are brushing your teeth twice a day, are supposed to see your dentist twice a year for a professional cleaning!

Here’s a good video that will help you recognize the signs of periodontal disease in your dog or cat:

Small Dogs Especially Need Dental Care

And, as smaller and smooshy-faced breeds (like Pugs and Persons) were developed, Mother Nature kept the teeth of small breed dogs proportionately larger than those of larger dogs.

Smiling, happy PugFor example, if you compare the size of the teeth of a Pug to a Golden Retriever, you will notice that the Pug’s teeth are about quarter the size of those of the Golden’s, while its body size is only about one-tenth the size.

As a result, most of their teeth are rotated and stacked like dominoes behind one another, often causing significant dental problems. This makes the mouths of small breeds much more crowded, leading to severe tartar buildup which quickly leads to loss of bone and gum tissue. Those tiny mouths are also much harder to brush than those of larger dogs.

Veterinary dentistry is a relatively recent medical advancement and not every veterinary hospital may offer the same set of skills and knowledge in caring for your pet’s teeth. Dentistry has only been recently offered as part of the veterinary medical education, and many veterinarians have acquired the skills and knowledge to properly treat pet’s teeth and gums via continuing education based on their level of interest and understanding of the field.

This accounts for the fact that as a pet owner you may have received several different opinions about your pet’s teeth and likely will see a great variance on the cost of pet dental care from hospital to hospital.

Dental Care Fees

Fees for dental care in pets are determined by the level of dental disease present in a pet’s mouth, as well as the hospital’s knowledge base and quality of equipment.

Dental X-Ray of a dog's mouthDigital dental X-Ray units to evaluate the large portion of the teeth that lie below the gum line, high-speed dental drills, and laser therapy to promote healing are now considered “standard of care,” yet some veterinary hospitals still do not yet have them and are unable to perform comprehensive dental services.

If you have specific questions about your pet, please feel free to contact one of our doctors at 206-323-4433.

What Leptospirosis is and How to Protect Your Dog

Heavy rainfall means it’s leptospirosis season in the Seattle area!

What Leptospirosis is and How to Protect Your Dog | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

What is Leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis is a family of bacteria that thrive in wet climates. Wild animals, particularly rodents, can shed leptospirosis in their urine, contaminating puddles and wet soils. Dogs can contract leptospirosis by drinking or sniffing water contaminated with urine from an infected animal.

Symptoms of Leptospirosis in Dogs

This is a difficult infection for a dog owner to pinpoint, because leptospirosis may present with a number of vague, non-specific symptoms, which may include:

  • No signs of illness whatsoever (asymptomatic infections)
  • Decreased appetite or anorexia
  • Fever
  • Muscle pain, stiffness, reluctance to move
  • Weakness and depression
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Conjunctivitis (red eyes)
  • Dyspnea (difficulty breathing) or coughing
  • Jaundice
  • Organ failure (kidney or liver failure)

Protection and Treatment

Fortunately, a yearly vaccine can offer protection. Because the disease is caused by bacteria, it can be treated with antibiotics. Of course, no vaccine provides 100 percent protection against infection. To minimize your dog’s risk of exposure, keep your dog away from stagnant water and rodents.

6 Easy Ways to Change a Pet’s Life

There are lots of recognized special days throughout the year, some important and some just silly fun. Change a Pet’s Life Day (January 23, 2021) is one that really hits home with us.

This special day promotes pet adoption and appreciation of the important work animal rescue organizations do through their employees, volunteers, and donors.

6 Easy Ways You Can Change a Pet’s Life | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Many pets have a rough ride before they find a loving home, and many never make it out of the shelter alive.

The ASPCA estimates 6.5 million pets enter shelters in the United States every year, but less than half of them are adopted.

Sadly, 1.5 million pets are euthanized.

You can make a huge difference in the life of a pet by choosing to adopt. With so many unwanted and abandoned pets in shelters, it feels more urgent every year.

Here are six things you can do that can genuinely make a difference in a pet’s life:

1. Adopt a pet from shelter or rescue organization if you can.

If you’re in the position to adopt a pet, it can be a very rewarding step (for a waiting pet, and for you as well) to welcome one into your home.

Pet owners live longer, happier, and healthier lives.

2. Sponsor a shelter pet.

If you can’t adopt a pet, many rescue organizations welcome pet sponsorship, a means of financially supporting a pet until it is adopted.

3. Donate time and/or resources to a shelter or rescue organization.

Rescue organizations depend upon volunteers and donations. Donations of pet food, blankets, towels, leashes, collars, carriers, and most importantly, money are welcomed by most rescue organizations.

Time is also needed – fostering  pets, walking dogs, socializing kittens, cleaning kennels, answering phones, and assisting with events.

4. Spay or neuter your pet.

Please don’t add to the problem by allowing your pet to increase pet overpopulation through unplanned litters.

5. Take the time to train and socialize your pet.

Sadly, more than 40% of pets surrendered to shelters are done so for behavior problems.

6. Microchip and ID your pet.

Many pets entering shelters are lost. Microchips and collar tags are an extremely important part of helping return those pets home. Unidentified pets have a much slimmer chance of being found by their families.

Thanks for supporting Change a Pet’s Life Day! Together, we make a difference.

7 Cold Weather Tips for Dogs

Despite the popular misconception, fur alone is not enough to protect dogs from the elements. Like people, dogs have varying degrees of cold tolerance.

7 Cold Weather Tips for Dogs | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Hypothermia in pets

Even the hardiest breeds are susceptible to hypothermia. Pets can die from hypothermia, where decreased core body temperature decreases circulation to organs, brain, and limbs. Luckily, hypothermia can be easy to avoid by taking a few precautions.

1. Ask Us About Cold Weather Protection.

Arthritis can worsen in the cold months, increasing stiffness and discomfort. Several key strategies can help keep your older dog comfortable and active in cold weather, and we’re eager to share this information with you at your next appointment.

2. Know Your Dog’s Cold Tolerance.

Although all dogs are at risk in cold, wet weather, some are better able to handle a dip in temperatures. Huskies and other Artic breeds are certainly more comfortable in cold weather than breeds such as grey hounds. Consider that old, young, thin-coated, and wet dogs are at greater risk for hypothermia.

3. Take Shorter Walks With Your Dog.

All dogs need daily exercise year-round, but in extreme temperatures, shorter, more frequent walks are preferable to extended walks. Don’t forget about playtime at home, either.

7 Cold Weather Tips for Dogs | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

4. Beware of Antifreeze & Sidewalk De-Icers.

Antifreeze dripping under cars can be deadly to dogs, even in small amounts. And rock salt used to melt ice on sidewalks and road ways can cause irritation to dogs’ paws. Take care where you walk your dog to avoid these substances.

5. Some Dogs Need Warm Sweaters or Rain Coats.

Small dogs have a larger surface area for their body size and benefit from a warm, dry coat or sweater during cold weather. Dogs with short fur, even large dogs such as Whippets or Vislas, also appreciate dog clothing. And any dog would benefit from a rain coat around here this time of year!

6. Don’t Leave Your Dog Outside Too Long.

While dogs need exercise, they also need warmth and comfort. Leaving dogs outdoors in the cold make them miserable and some develop frostbite or die. Make sure your dog has access to a warm, comfortable place to rest and isn’t outdoors too long when temperatures are low.

7. Dogs Should Always Have Access to Fresh Water, Even When Outdoors.

Be sure your dog’s water bowl isn’t frozen and don’t use a metal bowl outdoors in cold weather because your dog’s tongue can get stuck! (Think of the flag pole when you were a kid). Heated water dishes are available for outside to prevent frozen water dishes.

Why is My Cat Suddenly Sneezing So Much?

When your cat sneezes, she is releasing high-pressure air from her nose and mouth.

Why is My Cat Suddenly Sneezing So Much? | atlanticvetseattle.com

A few sneezes a day is fairly normal, but when kitty sneezes consistently over a period of days, you may want to bring her to visit us, as she could have an upper respiratory infection.

While most sneezing is caused by a viral infection, other causes of sneezing could be bacterial, fungal, a foreign body (see our article on Foxtails), or a tumor.

When to Call Us

Give us a call at 206.323.4433 if you notice these other symptoms along with sneezing:

  • Runny eyes
  • Squinting
  • Nasal discharge (clear or yellow)
  • Swelling around the nose or a misshapen nose
  • Lethargy
  • Difficulty chewing food
  • Drooling
  • Bloody discharge from the nose
  • Inappetance/anorexia
  • Pink eye signs
  • Ulcers in the mouth
  • Noisy  breathing or increased difficulty breathing
  • Dehydration
  • Fever
  • Weight loss

We’ll give your cat a thorough exam and may run some tests to confirm the type of infection.  If treatment is needed, we’ll recommend a course of action.

Atlantic Veterinary Hospital in Seattle serves the following neighborhoods: Mt. Baker, Columbia City, Beacon Hill, Rainier Valley, Seward Park, Capitol Hill, Leschi, Central District, Madison Valley, International District, and Georgetown.