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My Favorite Pet Sitter


January 2009 Newsletter

Obesity in Dogs: How to Help Control It

Courtesy of Drs. Foster and Smith

Obesity may be the number one health problem for domestic pets. And, obesity leads to inactivity, which leads to more obesity and health conditions like heart and liver disease, diabetes, arthritis, and an increased surgical/anesthesia risk. Studies of our pets have shown that a quarter to a third of all American pets could stand to lose weight. As veterinary professionals, even we have trouble keeping a pet with a propensity to be overweight as healthy as we can.

Plump Pups

Obesity in dogs is unhealthy for more reasons than it is for humans:

  • Bone and joint problems can be caused or exacerbated by obesity.
  • An obese dog may have high blood pressure and is at risk for heart disease and more serious lung conditions. Many times the chest wall of the obese pet is layered with fat, which, because of its increased vascularity (many blood vessels), puts an unbelievable strain on the cardiovascular system.
  • Obesity also plays a major role in liver and kidney disease. Although the pet's organs remain the same size, his bigger body produces more waste products and toxins for the liver and kidneys to filter out. This increases their workload significantly.
  • In addition, being overweight or obese plays a huge role in cancer, diabetes, reproductive problems, stomach and intestinal problems, and even heat stroke.
  • The obese pet may even be at greater risk when being anesthetized for surgical procedures. Being obese can decrease your pet's life expectancy and make the life he does have very uncomfortable.

Bred For Fat?

Certain dog breeds have a propensity for fat. Dogs that were bred for working, like Labradors or Golden Retrievers, northern breeds like Malamutes or Huskies whose ancestors needed the extra layer, and Dachshunds, Beagles, and Shelties are among breeds that were created to be active and do work. When a breed that is bred for work does not do that work anymore, that breed tends to put on the pounds. However, this is no excuse for not trying to help your favorite companion be the healthiest he can be!

How You Can Help

  1. Long daily walks can help combat excess weight; they're good for you as an owner and they can increase the bond you have with your pet. Playing fetch is also effective.
  2. Do not give table scraps or people food. You may be giving more than you realize.
  3. Try to decrease food amounts. Start by decreasing by about 10% and decrease by 10% increments if your dog is not losing weight.
  4. Treats should be given sparingly. Use lower fat alternatives.
  5. Feed a lower calorie food. Be sure that the food is of a high quality, since your pet will not be getting as many calories.
  6. Salt-free canned vegetables, such as string beans, can be used to bulk up the food. If you don't want to spend the extra money on a low sodium product, rinse the vegetables well under running water.
  7. If your dog's constitution can tolerate vegetable scraps like the ends of broccoli or carrots, they are a good way of getting more bulk into your dog's diet.

Slimming Down a Fat Cat

By Dr. Marty Becker

Courtesy of

Would it improve the quality of your cat's life--or yours--if he became diabetic? Because that's one of the risks of chronic obesity in cats. Overweight cats are also prone to joint, ligament and tendon problems, difficulty breathing and even skin problems because they can't groom themselves properly.

Talk to your veterinarian about your cat's overall health and a plan for slowly trimming down your overweight pet. Quick-loss programs can make your cat ill or even kill him, which is why a vet-approved slow-reduction plan is best.

Pay attention to what you're doing to contribute in ways you may not even be fully aware of. For example: Do you share your meals with your cat, handing him the choicest tidbits off your plate? Do you love to give him cat treats several times a day? These things all add up!

Make food harder to get. Our pets are now "born retired," and food takes no effort to find. Break up the daily portions and put them in places that are harder to get to--on top of a file cabinet or cat tree, for example. Also make use of food puzzles that make animals work both their minds and their bodies to get the yummies.

Most of all, remember that food is not love. Instead of interacting with your cat over food, bond over grooming or play. Your cat will love you just as much for a loving session of gentle brushing and combing, or a playful half-hour spent being teased with a cat "fishing pole" or other toy. Time spent in either pursuit is better for an overweight cat than eating, and the exercise will help take the weight off.

How to Read a Cat

Cats don't have facial expressions.  Instead, their whole bodies show their feelings.  A cat whose pupils are round may be frightened or excited, while an angry cat will narrow its pupils to threatening slits.  A cat's whiskers swing forward when it is curious, threatening, or exploring.  But if whiskers point backward, the cat is probably feeling defensive or trying to avoid touching something. 

Ears also signal feeling.  The ears of a relaxed cat point slight outward, but an alert cat's ears swing fully forward to point straight ahead.  Upset cats may twitch their ears, and a cat under attack will flatten its ears fully against its head  - -  a protective posture that helps to shield these fragile structures in fights.

Attackers will do well to avoid any cat whose ears are rotated backward but not fully flattened.  This cat is signaling that it is furiously angry, but not yet scared enough to protect its ears by flattening them.  In other words, this cat's ears are shouting a serious warning:  "Watch out!"

Tails tell tales of feelings, too.  A bristly, puffed up tail signals a furious or frightened cat.  An upset cat may twitch its tail from side to side, indicating that the cat is feeling frustrated and torn between two choices  - - perhaps decided whether to run for shelter or to fight back.  A cat who is feeling good about himself will have his tail in the air.

Pets of the Month

Congratulations to January’s pets of the month: Poppy, Bino, and Mishka!  They are adorable Persian cats and are adored by their parents.  They were recently interviewd by their mom, Sonbol, and had this to say.


How we met our family:

Poppy: When I was 9 years old, I was rescued by Purebreds Plus Cat Rescue from a place where I was kept in a cage for all my life…I had wobbly legs and all my hair was shaved, but my foster mom took one look at me and called Mommy and said “Have I got the cat for you!” so Mommy and Daddy came over, took one look at me and fell in love and brought me home. 

Bino: I was rescued from the same place as Poppy and I looked like a skinny skeleton with no hair…my foster mom called Mommy and said “Have I got the cat for you!” and the rest is history.

Mishka: I was also rescued by Purebreds Plus but from a different hoarder situation…my foster mom (who had also fostered Poppy and Bino) called Mommy and said…well, you know the story by now.

What we have to say about the companion human(s) we share our home with:

We love Mommy and Daddy…Daddy is wrapped completely around our paws and lets us get away with everything (what a softie) but Mommy occasionally uses the word “NO!” when we’re naughty…but then she give us a kiss anyway!

Our favorite hobbies:

Poppy: I love napping…in the sun or on top of the blankets on Mommy and Daddy’s bed.

Bino: I love stalking baby Mishka, pouncing on him, and chasing him around the house…it’s so much fun! 

Mishka: I love grooming myself and cleaning Bino as well…on a good day, I can lick his face for a good 5 minutes before he whacks me! Oh, I love playing chase with Bino as well.

Our favorite foods:

Poppy: *Grumbly voice* We only get to eat prescription food…no treats, no tuna, no yummy stuff, just plain old prescription food!

Bino: *Dreamy voice* When Mommy was out of town, Daddy gave me a bit of something called Turkey…I lurrrved it.

Mishka: *Excited voice* I love my prescription food.

Our favorite toys:

Poppy: The glitter ball thingie that Mommy’s hooked up to a fishing pole.

Bino: Mishka’s tail…and Mommy’s hair.

Mishka: My blue mouse…and the glitter ball…and the ping pong ball…and the plastic thingie around the milk-bottle cap…and post-it notes…and pens…and anything I can find in the house.

Our most exciting adventures:

Poppy: The day Mommy put a harness and leash on me and took me for a walk in the neighborhood!  WOW! It was awesome!  I refused to go the next day though…I’d seen enough.

Bino: Every day with Mishka is an adventure! 

Mishka: The day I climbed up the kitchen cabinets and perched on top all the way up near the ceiling…the look on Mommy and Daddy’s face was priceless!

Our idea of a perfect day:

Poppy: Napping, eating, finding Mommy or Daddy for some cuddles and hugs, then back to napping.

Bino: Napping, eating, stalking and chasing Mishka around the house!

Mishka: Sitting on Mommy’s desk while she works, playing with my toys, waiting for Bino to wake up so we can play chase!

Secret skills or abilities that few people know about us:

Poppy: I can sleep in the middle of any situation…the roof can cave in, the world could come to an end, Children could be visiting, and I’ll keep on snoring.

Bino: Mishka and I can disappear into thin air when those short screaming people (Mommy calls them Children) come over…

Mishka: *Mumbling* Oh yes, we don’t like those loud Children thingies...good thing Bino and I have an invisibility cloak!

What we like most about our pet sitters:

Poppy: I love Auntie Sue…she’s nice and sweet and plays with us when Mommy and Daddy go away.

Bino: I love Auntie Sue…she sits on the couch with me and pets my head just the way I like it…

Mishka: Auntie Sue? Auntie Sue? I love Aunty Sue.  Is she coming over? Where is she? She is my friend!  She pets me and plays with me and gives me all the love and attention that I desperately miss when Mommy and Daddy go away.

Service Announcements

Please remember to provide us with a phone number where you can be reached.  Sometimes an emergency could come up and we need to be able to reach you.  Also be sure that we have an accurate emergency contact on file for you in case you can’t be reached.

We have a new and improved web site!  We redesigned our web site to make it user-friendlier.  We welcome your feedback.  The work was done by Clarity Web Studio, owned by one of our clients, and I’m happy to recommend their work.

The new rates are now in effect.  See below.  In addition, if you want to have regular dog walking, you can have your dog walked twice a week starting at $115 a month or 3 times a week starting at $173.  Does your pooch need some exercise?  We can help!

  • 20-min. visits $16

  • 30-min. visits $22

  • 45-min. visits $30

  • 60-min. visits $38

  • 12-hr. overnights $70

  • Key pick-up and drop-off $6 per trip

  • Claw clipping $15 for first pet, $5 each additional pet
    (charge is waived if I can fit this in during a pet sitting visit)


  • “Power Walk” (90-min.)

    1 dog $38

    2 dogs $53

    Minimum 2 dogs on a walk


  • “Senior Stroll” (60-min.)

    1 dog $28

    2 dogs $38

    Minimum 2 dogs on a walk


  • 10% discount for regular dog walking, paid by 1st of each month.


Focus on Spay/Neuter

On February 22, 2009, committed people from throughout the Sacramento area will come together to change the world by spaying and neutering dogs and cats of low-income residents in Sacramento, Placer and Yolo Counties.  

The Sacramento Area Animal Coalition (SAAC) has an ambitious goal for Spay Day 2009, the 10th anniversary of this event: to provide a record 1,000 surgeries and save the lives of tens of thousands of puppies and kittens in the Sacramento region!

While SAAC relies on support from volunteers and more than 20 local veterinary clinics and animal shelters to offset the cost of providing 1,000 surgeries on Spay Day, they still need your help to raise the additional monies required to achieve our ambitious goal for the animals. 

You can help make Spay Day 2009 the most successful event of its kind in the nation! 

* Donate online at or by downloading and mailing the following flier
with your donation: 

For as little as $10 you can sponsor 10 spays and help drastically reduce the number of homeless dogs and cats in the Sacramento region.

* Become a Spay Day volunteer. Visit for more information.

Thank you for changing the world by helping to save the lives of tens of thousands of puppies and kittens in the Sacramento region, and by helping to ease the extreme burden placed on area animal shelters and rescue groups.

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