Chances are if your pet is overweight, you don’t even know it. At least that’s what a survey by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) says. Roughly 45 percent of pet owners with an overweight or obese pet thought their animal was at a healthy weight.

The majority of dogs and cats in U.S. households are now overweight, with 52.5 percent of dogs and 58.3 percent of cats above their ideal weight. Dr. Brandy Vickers of Avenues Pet Hospital in San Francisco says it’s something she sees all too often.

“I would say two-thirds to four-fifths of the pets I see for regular check-ups are overweight to obese,” Dr. Vickers says.

dachshund pit bull mix
Sundown is at an ideal weight, according to the Nestle Purina weight chart. If you compare this picture to the chart below, you’ll see he matches up with the side view of the number 5 dog.

Overweight and obese animals are subject to the same diseases as humans and there has been a sharp increase in pet disease, including diabetes, hypertensions and cancer. But all these debilitating conditions are preventable by keeping your pet at a healthy weight.

You might be overwhelmed if you have an overweight pet, so we’re laying out the professional tips for getting your furry friend back in shape.

San Francisco dog owners beware! Suspicious meatballs were once again spotted in the Twin Peaks and Richmond neighborhoods of San Francisco, setting off another scare nearly eight months after a dachshund died from eating a poison-laced meatball.

KRON 4 San Francisco

Police found hundreds of poisonous meatballs in July, 2013 around the Twin Peaks and Diamond Heights neighborhoods. Investigators think whoever left those poisoned meatballs was trying to kill dogs.

And that perpetrator may be striking again.

Thinking about skipping a visit to the vet to save some cash? You’d better think again! New statistics show pets are getting sicker simply because their owners are skimping on basic medical care.

vet exams dog's earObesity, kidney disease, arthritis and cancer are all on the rise and the American Veterinary Medical Association says it’s because owners are not taking their pets to the vet for routine exams. We found a USA Today article detailing the pet health epidemic, so we reached out to our vet expert to find out what’s really going on.

Obesity is up 37 percent in dogs (and an astounding 90 percent in cats). Diabetes is up 32 percent and arthritis is up 38 percent. A whopping 60 percent of dogs have dental disease, which is highly preventable.

Itching, licking and scooting; these are just some of the things we’ve grown accustomed to with Yellow Dog. We’ve known for quite some time Yellow is an allergy sufferer, and we’ve also known it’s not food related. Yellow has atopy, one of the four main kinds of allergies found in dogs; atopy is a reaction to harmless allergens in the environment. We didn’t know exactly what those allergens were, until now.

allergic dog has belly rash
Yellow Dog developed this belly rash while we were visiting a friend’s house. Turns out, he’s allergic to cats.

Yellow’s symptoms were getting worse, so our regular vet recommended we see a specialist. We visited the Pet Emergency & Specialty Center of Marin to see a dermatologist who could properly diagnose and treat his allergies. Dr. Nicole Eckholm is one of about a dozen dermatology veterinarians in the Bay Area. She administered a skin test, testing 58 possible allergens; Yellow had positive reactions to 11 items including three types of grasses, several trees, a type of mites, and cats.

Pet insurance is quickly becoming popular with numerous companies now popping up on the market. But it takes more than just signing your dog or cat up and paying a premium; most companies require “routine care,” which an owner must comply with to keep their coverage intact. And most companies restrict what’s covered, so you may be stuck footing the bill. Here are four major things you need to consider before deciding on pet insurance.

1. Vaccinations and Preventative Care

You must keep up vaccinations and certain “preventative care” to maintain a policy. A dog must be spayed or neutered within one year of age or within 60 days of adoption. Breeding dogs can be insured for an additional premium with some companies. Regular vaccinations must be kept up-to-date, as well as medications to prevent fleas, lice and parasites. Apart from regular vaccinations and flea/tick medications, owners are also required to administer heartworm medications, if recommended by their vet.

“If it’s not recommended by the vet, it is not a specific requirement of our policy,” Trupanion insurance spokeswoman Heather Kalinowski says. “For vaccinations, again, we operate by the vet’s recommendation. As long as the pet owner is following recommendations set by their vet for appropriate vaccination, we will provide coverage.”

yellow dog getting shots
Yellow Dog puts on a brave face (sort of) for his vet-recommended shots.

Vaccinations are pretty much a given with pet ownership, but keep in mind you must oblige with whatever preventative medications and treatments your vet deems necessary in order to keep an insurance policy, which can be an added expense. Also be wary of over-vaccinating your pet; some vets will call for every shot in the book and others adhere to timelines of what has been clinically proven to be effective. You can read more about the vaccinations your dog really needs here on YDB.

With all the recent talk of contaminated jerky treats, you may be wondering which treats are safe for your dog. We at Yellow Dog Blog have got you covered! We filled our shopping cart with 11 safe and healthy treat options that are easy to find (we found all but one at PETCO). You’ll notice almost every package overtly says if the product was made and/or sourced in the United States. Please note we have not been paid for this article; all the treats selected are ones we feed Yellow Dog and Sundown, and they love ’em!

1. PureBites

pure bites freeze dried treats

Freeze-dried treats are the motherlode of treats for your dog. They are as simple as it gets; one meat ingredient with water content removed.

There are several brands on the market but most major retailers carry PureBites. They are sourced 100 percent in the U.S. and have a very high protein content, as you might imagine. PureBites are about as healthy and natural as you can get!

Yellow Dog is a special creature. He’s got attitude and personality. He’s also got some twisted little feet. It’s probably a result of his mixed breed; we guess he’s a Dachshund-Jack Russell-Beagle mix.

“Yellow has chondrodystrophic legs, which just means the cartilage model his bones are made from didn’t form quite right,” Dr. Brandy Vickers of Avenues Pet Hospital says. “It’s normal for several breeds, including dachshunds and bassett hounds.”

Check out how his paws roll over:

dog bow legs

dachshund crooked legs

When Yellow walks, his nails grind directly on the pavement with every step. We never have to cut his front nails and in fact, we need to protect them and allow them to grow, otherwise he hits the quick when he walks.

Every year, you visit the vet and get a round of shots for your dog, along with an expensive bill. We all want to protect our pets, so we comply with whatever our vet or clinic recommends. But there is some debate over which vaccines are necessary and how often they should be given.

yellow dog getting shots
Yellow Dog is being a brave boy while he gets his rabies and bordetella shots.

Yellow Dog and Sundown were recently due for their shots, so we at YDB decided to get the low-down on vaccines. We consulted our vet expert, Dr. Brandy Vickers of Avenues Pet Hospital in San Francisco, to find out what’s best for each individual pet owner.

Just about everyone on the planet knows chocolate is toxic to dogs. But there are many other food items that are dangerous for your dog to consume.

Grapes/Raisins

Before we were aware of this one, we noticed Yellow was reluctant to eat grapes that fell on the floor. Good thing, too! dog avoids eating grapesGrapes have a toxin that can cause severe kidney or liver damage, even in small amounts. Also be wary of giving your dog human cookies that may contain raisins.

We chronicled the warning signs and dangers of dental disease in the first part of this series on oral health. Now it’s time to explore a teeth-cleaning procedure done right. It’s very important to ask the right questions and make sure your dog is taken care of during his teeth cleaning, as he will be put under general anesthesia and may need to have teeth removed. More on that to come. First, let’s walk through the teeth-cleaning procedure.

Step one: Anesthesia

sundownanesthesiaSundown has his IV in place and is ready for his injection of propofol to induce anesthesia. A vet should perform a check on your dog before inducing anesthesia to make sure he’s healthy enough for it. Blood work may need to be done. Sundown checked out fine; he is young and quite healthy so he was green-lighted for this procedure. You should ask what precautions your vet takes against anesthetic complications.