I’ve heard Corn is bad for pets.  Is this true?

Less expensive pet foods often contain a lot of corn, used largely as a carbohydrate source, because it is cheap.

Dry foods have more corn /grain than canned foods as these grain products are used to give the food it’s crunchy texture.


 Corn is not a very natural food for dogs, who are omnivores, and certainly not for cats, who are carnivores.

Vets have recommended dry food over wet food for decades to improve pet’s dental health (because we don’t let our pets chew on bones because we don’t like having to perform emergency surgery to remove the bones from obstructing their intestines).

The result: more high carb foods have been fed to our pets over the decades.

There has been a huge  rise in diabetes in dogs and cats, largely attributed to the high carbohydrate content of commercially available pet foods.  So there came a great movement away from corn and grains, in general, being deemed the evil contributors to the rise in pet illness (diabetes,and obesity).  Furthermore, as we learned more about food allergies in pets, as in people, we discovered pets develop allergies to their food ingredients:  proteins from any source, whether meat, dairy, grain, fish, or soy.  So, another strike against corn and grains.

  I believe that we feed our dogs and, especially our cats, way too many carbohydrates in general.  That is one of the reasons that I don’t recommend feeding less expensive grocery store foods.  The less expensive it is, the more likely it is to be heavy on carbohydrates, light on protein.  However, some carbohydrates are improtant for metabolism, brain function, athletic energy, etc.  The “bad” thing is the amount of carbs.  So, buy Premium over grocery-store brands that use corn and grain judiciously, as a highly digestible energy and protein source.

 BUT Beware :  A lot of the “grain-free” foods just replace the corn, wheat and barley with high glycemic value carbohydrates such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and carrots in their formulations!  Food ingredients with high glycemic value, as any human diabetic knows, are quickly converted into sugar by the body.  This is even worse than corn and other high fiber, low glycemic grains!

If you are looking for grain- free food, look for diets that get the necessary carbs into their foods with lower-glycemic sources such as peas and berries (even peas have a pretty high gycemic index, balanced only by their high protein content) which is at least better for protecting our pets against the diabetes epidemic.

Another reason humans choose to feed grain- free foods is because they believe that it is more “natural” for the pet.  After all, how many pets would eat corn in the wild?  Well, cats wouldn’t.  But a dog would if it was in the intestines of its prey dinner (cats don’t usually eat the intestines of their prey).  But then, they would also eat the other grains, seed, berries and grasses present, too.  But, potatoes and sweet potatoes  are not a usual food item for most prey animals, so these are certainly even less “natural”!   (How many wild dogs and cats go rooting for potatoes?)

Here’s a List of  “Red zone- High Glycemic Index foods”  Are these in your pet’s food?  Located toward the top of the list, indicating high volume in the overall mix?   

The other big reason for the grain-free craze is our new understanding of food allergies in pets.  Certainly, some  pets can  develop allergies to corn, wheat and other grains.  But, many more pets develop allergies to beef, chicken, soy and  dairy products than to vegetable sources!  So, there is nothing magically hypoallergenic about grain-free or corn-free food, unless that happens to be the (unlikely) ingredient that your pet is allergic to!  You can certainly try a grain free diet to see if your pet’s allergies improve.   If they do improve, great!  If not, you have not ruled out other food allergies.  

Vet’s Perspective (my opinion):
 If you want to see if your pet responds to a grain- free diet, go ahead and try it.  Just realize that there is nothing sacred about the over-all nutritional value in grain free diets.  I have seen  many pets suffer from the number one nutritional disease– obesity– on grain-free diets as on any other food. (Because there is no control on the number of calories that go into pet diets, so many of these “nautral and grain-free” foods are unreasonably high in calories.   So, don’t get taken in by the advertising or the teenager at the pet food store.

There is nothing “dirty” or “bad” about grains and corn in pet food diets as long as they are not used excessively!

“Myth of Fact” :Corn is a poorly digested “filler” that causes allergies

“Myth or Fact: Pet foods should be grain-free
An interesting perspective on grain -free foods…

cat eating foodDo they really help?  Are they worth the extra expense?
Usually Yes and Yes.  Sometimes, maybe not so  much…

There are pet foods advertising that they prevent hairballs, prevent or retard dental disease, protect against sensitive skin conditions, protect against obesity, treat sensitive digestive tracts and various combinations of the above!  Let’s explore which of these is really worthwhile.

Hairball preventive/ protective foods
are usually helpful.  However, they don’t work equally well for all cats.  And, the secret ingredient is nothing tricky:  psyllium.  The stuff Metamucil (r) is made of!  This digestible fiber helps with hairballs by gumming the GI contents together, promoting a more rapid transit time.  So fur gets stuck in the food digesta and processed out of the stomach faster– before it can cause vomiting, and out into the litterbox faster and smoother.  Any diet can be made into “Hairball formula” at home by sprinkling a small amount of unflavored generic Metamucil on your cat’s food.  But, that’s one more thing to do in the morning.  For the convenience, if your cat has hairballs, it MAY be worth the price.

Dental diets
have revolutionized the level of are that owners can give their pet’s teeth! Studies have shown that Dental Diets can reduce the amount of tartar or pets’ teeth by 80%!  And, since diet and dental care are probably the #1 and #2 Best Things that you can do for your pet’s overall health, Dental Diets usually take care of both!  Grocery store brands of dental diets are OK, but Premium brand dental diets are better *.  These diets usually have larger kibbles, forcing dogs and cats to actually chew their food– not just swallow whole!.   Some have enzymes to help break down accumulated tartar, and calcium binders to lower the calcium content in the saliva (which causes the hardened “calculus” that forms on animals’ teeth).  Dental diets are especially helpful for pets showing a tendency toward dental disease or those who won’t allow their owners to rush their teeth.  When these diets help reduce the numbers of times that a pet has to undergo anesthetic professional cleanings, that saves them from the procedure and you the expense.  That’s WORTH the expense, in my book!

“Sensitive skin”
formulas can be helpful to pets with inhaled allergies or contact allergies because they help improve the skin’s natural immune barrier.  This has recently become a focus of interest into why some animals (and humans) have more skin allergies than others!  The Sensitive Skin  diets can sometimes be helpful in pets with food allergies as well IF the pet is allergic to an ingredient that is NOT included in the diet. Beware: over-the-counter diets that claim to be for sensitive skin are NOT the same as a truly “Hypoallergenic diet” that may be recommended by a veterinarian.  However, a 3 month trial with a sensitive skin food– with nothing else passing the pet’s lips– will tell you how much it can help your pet.

“Sensitive Stomach” formulas
work great for some pets with chronic diarrhea or vomiting, especially if they have food intolerances.  These diets also improve gastrointestinal health by supplementing fatty acids, probiotics (healthy gut bacteria) and prebiotics (nutrients to promote rapid growth of probiotics).  Just about any pet can benefit from these supplements.  And, sometimes, it’s just a matter of trying a diet for a couple of months (again, with nothing else passing the pet’s lips) to see how much it can help.  Definitely WORTH the extra expense if the diet cures the vomiting or diarrhea issues!

“Inactive”, “Lite”, “Redued calorie”
are all labels that invite human consumers to purchase pet foods for their obese pets.  Unfortunately, there is nothing necessarily low calorie about these foods, according to a 2010 study by Tufts University *. There are few regulations on when pet foods have to list calorie density (the amount of calories pe rserving) on their packaging.  And, with such variety on the recommended serving sizes for pets, it’s very hard to know how to begin helping an overweight pet lose the extra pounds.  You sure Can’t Rely on the Package claims to give you any guidance.  Your best recommendations will come from your vet.  If you can find out how many calories your dog or cat food has, your vet can calculate how much you need to feed to help an overweight pet lose extra pounds.  Beware: these diets are often misleading in their labeling!

Vet’s Perspective (my opinion):
Hairball formulas work for most cats- some still need additional treatments.  They are worth buying for the sake of convenience, if you don’t want to supplement the food yourself (but then, again, you will still have to buy the psyllium to add…)
Dental diets
made by the Premium food companies (Royal Canin(tm) and Science Diet ™ ) are terrific for pet’s prone to dental disease! If your pet has no health issues requiring a special diet, these diets are great nutrition and great dental care in one package!
Sensitive skin diets
are always worth a try, but check with your vet first.  If your pets has sensitive skin issues, there is probably an underlying disorder that your vet can help with to maximize your diet success.
Sensitive stomach formulas
are good for almost all pets and certainly worth a try for pets with chronic diarrhea or vomiting issues.  Again, though, consult your vet as there are often serious underlying reasons for chronic vomiting and diarrhea that may need to be dealt with as well.
“Low calorie” diets
usually are not what they are “cracked up” to be.  If you really want to help your pet lose weight, consult with your vet about the calorie content of your pet’s regular food.  Your vet can help you figure how much of your pet’s regular  food to feed to help your pet lose weight.  If the food you feed is extra high in calories, your vet can recommend a lower calorie food!


Laser Treatment DogA lot of people are interested in the concept of a drug-free, pain-free, surgery-free alternative to pain management in their pets, but intelligent, discerning pet owners often ask me: “But How Does It Work?”

  • Laser Therapy uses “cold” laser light of low intensity to stimulate tissues to heal. Healing occurs by a number of physiologic mechanisms.
  • Laser light dilates blood vessels in the area of application. Dilated blood vessels can carry de-oxygenated blood away and bring in freshly oxygenated blood faster. The departing blood will also carry away deleterious by-products of injury and bring in fresh cellular nutrients, allowing cells to rejuvenate faster.
  • Lymphatic vessels are also dilated, allowing edema-forming lymph fluid to escape injured tissues, reducing swelling. This reduces pain.
  • Laser light desensitizes local nerves so that they cannot fire as quickly, thereby sending fewer pain signals to the brain.
  • Healing tissue fibers called collagen align themselves in a more linear, uniform, “normal” direction when exposed to laser light, reducing scarring and improving the tissue strength of newly healed wounds faster.
  • Bacterial growth (and probably viral reproduction) are inhibited by exposure to laser light, making laser treatment helpful in treating non-healing wounds, contaminated wounds and burns.
  • Laser light stimulates the “battery pack” of cells, called mitochondria. The mitochondria can then produce more ATP, which helps cells do more work. Cells can then get rid of biologic waste products more quickly and efficiently. They can heal and turn over depleted by-products faster. They can also reproduce faster, resulting in faster healing.

By these mechanisms, Laser Therapy provides us, at Cimarron Animal Hospital, another weapon against pain, either as a drug-free option or with standard treatments to enhance comfort beyond the ability of drugs alone. Laser therapy has been very helpful in treating our patients with:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Post Surgical Pain
  • Rattlesnake Bite (where pain, swelling, infection and subsequent tissue necrosis are all significant factors in recovery)

Wounds can be encouraged to heal faster, stronger, with less infection and less pain:

  • Non-healing wounds
  • Dog fight wounds
  • Anal sac abscesses
  • Cat fight abscesses
  • Burns
  • Ear infections

If your pet has any of these conditions and you would like to offer him another form of relief and a faster road to recovery, Call Us to schedule your consultation to find out how laser therapy can help maximize your furry family-member’s quality of life. Visit our contact us page to setup an appointment.

Dog eating carrot Are you really buying what you think?

Natural: There is no government issued definition for “Natural” on food products.  The  FDA claims:
[FDA] has not objected to the use of the term on food labels provided it is used in a manner that is truthful and not misleading and the product does not contain added color, artificial flavors or synthetic substances. Use of the term “natural” is not permitted in a product’s ingredient list, with the exception of the phrase “natural flavorings.”
AAFCO (American Association of Feed Control Officials) defines the word “natural”, when used to describe a pet food as: “A feed or ingredient derived solely from plant, animal or mined sources, either in its unprocessed state or having been subjected to physical processing, heat processing, rendering, purification extraction, hydrolysis, enzymolysis or fermentation, but not having been produced by or subject to a chemically synthetic process and not containing any additives or processing aids that are chemically synthetic except in amounts as might occur unavoidably in good manufacturing practices.”
This is certainly a “cleaner” way of eating.  I think most human doctors and veterinarians will agree that eating more natural food is better than eating all the chemically processed food that is so prevalent in both the human and animal markets today.

Organic: Foods must contain at least 95% (by weight) organic ingredients to have the USDA Organic seal.  To qualify as organic, an ingredient must be raised is strict accordance with the USDA regulations in order to …”foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not be used.” ( http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/nop ).  That is certainly a very worthy cause that should be supported as much as possible in the name of preserving our biosphere and planetary quality of life.
Note that pet foods can carry the label “Natural”  without the USDA Organic Seal if only 70% of the ingredients are organically manufactured/ raised.
Many pet foods are made with “Organic ingredients”, meaning that there are ingredients in the diet that comply with the USDA definition.  Not all ingredients are necessarily in compliance.

.Holistic: The term “Holistic” has no legal definition as a nutritional quality.  The term “holistic” means “in consideration of the whole”   The HOPE of dog foods labeled as “holistic” is that they would be made of natural ingredients of human-grade quality without byproducts or fillers, made without chemicals or sewage sludge fertilizers and be easily digested. for maximal nutrtional uptake with every ingredient complimenting all others to provide a nutritional balance for the whole body. However, since any food or product can be labeled “Holistic”., buyer beware.  Read your ingredient list.  There may be fillers; there may be chemical additives; there may be ingredients that pets don’t synthesize into useful nutrients (flax seed)!  Don’t forget the calorie count– an “oft forgot” nutritional consideration (a lot of diets are very high in calorie, contributing to obesity in our pets).  Who is creating the diet you are interested in?  Are animal nutritionists involved?

While we all agree that Natural is better than processed and organic is better for our biome and bodies than artificially produced, does it mean that the food so labeled is actually nutritionally balanced for your pet?    Maybe not.
The companies that produce “Natural” and “Organic” and “Holistic” foods are often not engaged in active research into pet nutrition.  And, since there are so few regulations as to the optimal nutritional requirements for a complete cat or dog diet, they can put however much of pretty much anything they want to result in whatever number of calories, carbohydrates, proteins and fats that they want.  I don’t want to discourage people away from these more natural diets as long as they are working out for an individual patient.  However, if the pet starts to have nutritional concerns (such as obesity due to very high calorie density of these foods) it doesn’t matter how “Natural” or “Organic” a food is, it isn’t healthy!

If you like the idea of Natural or Organic and you can afford it, by all means, try it!  Read the ingredients list! Don’t get sucked into TV advertising!  (If a company has a lot of money for advertising, they might not be putting it into careful manufacture of the food or research into improving (or into cleaning their manufacturig plants so as to avoid food contamination?)  If your pet has problems on that formula, as with any diet, it’s OK to give up that ideal in exchange for improving your pet’s over-all health.  As with any diet formulation, no one diet is perfect for every pet.  Ask your vet for suggestions.

Here is an interesting article from the American Animal Hospital Association: Read Here

dog_hip_arthritis_640Glucosamine and Chondroitin are commonly given to people and pets for treatment of arthritis/ osteoarthritis.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin are building blocks of cartilage and joint fluid.

MYTH:  The cheaper products in the grocery/ drug/ vitamin stores are just as good as the expensive stuff my vet recommended at half the price.

While some supplements for pets and people are the same, and it may be  OK to purchase the less expensive brands (double check with your vet to make sure that the human product is, in fact, equivalent), Glucosamine and Chondroitin products are not all created equal.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin are both very large molecules that are not readily absorbed by the intestinal tract.  The result is, that not much of the supplement gets into the bloodstream to get to the joints.  Special manufacturing processes can make these molecules more absorbable.  Naturally, that special processing costs money, making the “good quality”, readily absorbed, products more expensive to purchase.  So, the less expensive the product, likely the less well it is absorbed.  That means, more of that cheaper Glucosamine/ Chondroitin supplement will end up eliminated in the feces, rather than helping your pet’s stiff joints.

Even the best Glucosamine/ Chondroitin product is not very well absorbed, so dogs need to take large doses to be worthwhile at all.  15- 20 mg/ lb is recommended.  Human products often require treating your pet with many tablets a day to get even an adequate dose.  The premium veterinary products are going to be high potency, minimizing the number of tablets you have to give.  (As an added bonus, the veterinary products come in yummy flavored treats that pets usually love!)

nutramax logo

Most veterinarians agree that the “gold standard” brand of Glucosamine/ Chondroitin supplements are made by the      Nutramax ® company.  They have been the ground-breakers in the special manufacturing process needed to make your pet’s                    supplements maximally absorbed.

With careful spending on everyone’s mind, it’s tempting to buy the cheapest products.  But, in this case, the cheaper product could just mean that more of your dollars are ending up in the backyard.

There has been a dramatic increase in cats diagnosed with Diabetes Mellitus in recent years.  Popular veterinary medical belief attributes this epidemic in diabetes to two factors:

1)  The massive over-dose of carbohydrates that we feed our cats in the form of commercial foods and

2) The subsequent increase in feline obesity.

      Cats are carnivores.  Their teeth are designed to tear meat, not grind grain.  Their gastrointestinal tracts don’t supply a lot of sugar- digesting enzymes.  They have more fat digesting enzymes.  Their pancreatic insulin-sereting cells can’t keep up with metabolizing excessive carbohydrate/ sugar loads.

All these facts tell us that cats should eat a high protein, low carb diet.  In fact, science has now demonstrated what cats have known for millennia:  mice are the perfect cat food! Protein, fat and carbs all in the right proportion!  Yumm!  Since we humans don’t want the fuss and mess of feeding our cats live mice (and most cats wouldn’t eat pre-killed mice), we are forced to try to feed them a suitable artificial diet.  So, we have devised prepared dry and canned foods full of carbohydrates (because they are a cheap source of calories and provide a good binder for dry foods).  These foods are easy to eat quickly and are often provided all day long, “free choice”.

Furthermore, more of our cats are kept in safe indoor environments which limit their activity and  encourage boredom eating, contributing to obesity.   Cats tend to store fat intra-abdominally.  This fat is the most hormonally active fat, being the biggest contributor to insulin resistance.

The result is, that our domestication and interest in economizing on their food sources has put them at risk for a debilitating and problematic disease– Diabetes.

 To protect your cat from Diabetes

Preventing Diabetes in cats is much easier than treating.  Treatment involves strict adherence to a special diet, usually twice daily insulin injections that have to be given without fail, every day at the same time, tying you to your home and cat rather inflexibly.  Diabetes in cats tends to be complicated by other coexistant metabolic diseases such as pancreatitis, cholangiohepatitis and inflammatory bowel disease.  Most of these patients end up on numerous medications to balance all these conditions to maintain a kitty’s active lifestyle.  It’s an overwhelming condition, requiring the most dedicated of owners for proper care.  If you are like most cat owners who like cats because they usually DON’T require a lot of our care, except petting, feeding and litter box cleaning, you just don’t want to go down the Diabetic Road with your kitty.

Prevent Obesity.  Regardless of the food you provide, feeding limited quantities in 2-3 meals daily will help keep your cat trim and will protect him from diabetes.  Vigorous exercise, whether in a safe, enclosed outdoor arena (because most of us find vet trips to repair injuries from predators and cars quite inconvenient and entirely unconducive to a long kitty lifespan) or through several exhausting (for the cat, not you!) play period indoors will help keep your cat more mentally alert as well as fight the creeping calories.

  • Feed a “Kitty Atkins” diet.  High protein and low carb diets are the best for cats.  These are not readily available over the counter yet, so ask your veterinarian for a recommendation.  Special concerns are whether your kitty has renal disease or other medical conditions that may preclude this kind of diet.  But, most healthy adult cats will benefit from a higher protein diet than most over the counter diets.
  • Feed more wet food (than we have in the past).  Wet food, by its nature, usually has lower carbohydrates than dry food.  But still feed a high quality brand.  There are even canned “kitty atkins” formulations available through your vet.  Some over-the-counter foods are better than others.  “Fancy Feast”, by Purina, actually has one of the lowest carbohydrate contents on the market.

Vet’s Perspective (my opinion):
In my practice, I emphasize weight control.  I recommend Royal Canintm Neutered Male formula, specifically designed to be lower in calories from carbs and higher in protein than over-the-counter foods (it is also urinary tract protetcive) for my overweight middle aged cats–male and female.   (** Obese Middle-aged Male Orange Tabby cats are 30% more likely to get diabetes than any other cat!**)  For cats that stay overweight, I offer clients an annual Fructosamine test as part of their wellness testing.  This test reflects the average blood glucose level over the last 3 weeks.  It can be an early indicator of diabetes.

Signs of Diabetes to watch for:

 * Decreased social interaction with humans or other pets

* Decreased grooming, rough coat.

* Increased, sometimes ravenous appetite

* Increased water drinking or water-seeking behavior (drinking out of water glasses, the sink, shower).

* Weight loss, especially in the face of ravenous appetite.


One of the saddest things that we see in our veterinary clinic on a weekly basis is the old pet who hasn’t been brought in to the vet, usually in years,  to be euthananized because it is “too sick” to be fixed any more.  Many of these pets are emaciated, dehydrated, no longer walking, some have bed sores from laying on hard surfaces for most of the day and night or soiled by their own eliminations.  The saddest cases are these– the ones that we know have been debilitated for a long time, yet their owners didn’t seek veterinary help.

Some of those owners couldn’t afford veterinary care.  Some just thought they couldn’t, but never even called.  Some of those owners were too busy with their human lives and didn’t notice until the pet finally collapsed, unable to move.  Some owners just didn’t want to spend the money, feeling the pet wasn’t worth the investment because “she was already so old”.  (Why invest a lot of money in a pet that is just going to die in a year or two of something else?)  But, most of the people who come in to us in these situations either didn’t recognize the signs of illness (usually in the case of cats), or figured that their pet had something incurable and so what was the sense coming to the vet?

There are so many things that we can do to mprove the lives of senior pets today!  Medical advances over the last decade have given us new understandings of the types of diseases of aging pets and their metabolic processes.  We have cool new medications that help us give heart failure patients 2 or more years of good quality life!  With modern prescription diets and nutritional supplements, we are able to give years to cats in renal failure– cats that 10 years ago would have been debilitated and needing euthanasia in 6 months! 

Newer diagnostic modalities and advances in the old stand-bys are the key to letting us treat these diseases of old age by letting us identify them earlier on.  Early detection is critical to successfully treating medical conditions of old age.  All the best medication in the world can’t fix a sick pet past a certain point.  And, sure, a lot of these diseases are incurable and progressive.  But, we have a choice in whether we want to let the disease progress rapidly, “naturally”, shortening the pet’s life and diminishing her quality of life, or choosing to proactively protect the health that remains, slowing the progression of the disease and enhancing the pet’s quality of life to the end.

There is always an end.  But, each pet parent has to decide how they will help their pet get there.

We encourage everyone with older pets to take the brave plunge.  Take your older pet in to your vet at least once yearly (twice is really better as the aging body changes so rapidly).  Let your vet collect blood and urine samples to screen for the common diseases of old age.  If something is uncovered, talk to your vet about treatment options that fit within your budget and lifestyle.

Caring for a pet through his senior years is a responsibility and a promise that we all comit to when we adopt an animal.  Your veterinarian and their staff understand that responsibility can be financially, phycially, or emotinally unmanageable for some pet owners.  If that’s the case, that’s OK, too.  Be honest with your veterinary staff about your abilities so they can help you give your pet the best quality life you can.  And, be honest to your pet.  When you can no longer help him have a good quality animal life- having fun, eating, able to get around to care for necessary functions– it’s time to let him go.  Consider euthanasia before he is suffering.

After a lifetime of unconditional love, despite our forcing them to live within our human social constraints, in the artificial environments that we put them in (apartments, forced cohabitation with other animals they despise, eating on weird schedules, doing silly tricks) our pets desesrve that from us.


Obesity is an epidemic in cats, as it is humans. And, just like humans, cats suffer several special health risks.

 Obese cats (those with a body condition score of 4/5 or 5/5) have a 40% increased chance of developing Diabetes than their thinner counterparts.

 Obese cats have a 37% increased chance of developing Feline Inflammatory Cystitis than normal cats.

 Obese cats are more likely to develop debilitating arthritis than normal cats.

Obese cats frequently develop chronic pancreatitis which can become fatal

 Cats tend to develop a lot of abdomen and intra thoracic (in the chest) fat as opposed to subcutaneous fat. (They are the “apple-shaped bodies” of the animal world).  The unique risks associated with intra-abdomenal and intra-thoracic fat (called “Visceral fat”) have recently been studied in both humans and animals.  This complex disease process is called ” Metabolic Syndrome”.

FAT MAKES YOU HUNGRY, SO YOU GET MORE FAT-  Visceral abdominal fat secretes a chemical that turns off a cat’s satiety center in his brain. This prevents the brain from recognizing signals from the stomach that it is full. The cat never knows when it is full; he may act hungry all the time, even though he is gaining weight! Of course, this only makes his obesity problem worse.

 FAT CAUSES INFLAMMATION-  Visceral abdominal fat secretes inflammatory mediators. These chemicals make the cat more prone to inflammatory diseases such as Feline Inflammatory Cystitis (painful bladder disease), Osteoarthritis, Feline Stomatits (painful gum inflammation)  and Feline Asthma (life-threatening)!  Weight reduction can be the best thing you do to improve your cat’s bladder disease! Who knew?!?

 FAT CAUSES DIABETES MELLITUS-  Visceral abdominal fat secretes a chemical called Resistin which makes cells Insulin Resistant—this is what causes Diabetes Mellitus in obese cats.

 FAT BEGETS MORE FAT AND MORE INSULIN RESISTANCE-  Visceral abdominal fat also releases factors that cause the adrenal glands to secrete more corticosteroid than is normal. Excessive corticosteroids cause increased deposition of visceral fat (a viscious cycle!) AND cause insulin resistance (a double whammy to developing Diabetes!)

 To virtually prevent Diabetes, to reduce incidence and severity of painful Stomatitis and Cystitis and life-threatening Asthma, Overweight cats should lose weight.

 If your cat is overweight

  • Please ask your Veterinarian or Veterinary Technician how to help your cat lose weight
  • Have your cat’s Fructosamine checked once or twice a year to check for pre-diabeties

 Watch for signs of disease related to Obesity:

  • Excessive drinking/ urination/ weight loss
  • Lethargy or decreased social interaction
  • Urinating in inappropriate locations
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Bad Breath and Difficulty eating
  • Difficulty Jumping up

Fear of Thunderstorms is a very common problem with dogs in Arizona; especially during the monsoon season and during fireworks displays.


You can help by desensitizing your dog to the noises of thunderstorms, by playing rain and storm CD’s and videos in your home during non-storm season. Start playing your CD’s with volume very low while playing with your dog. Play “fetch” or lay on the floor and rub his/ her tummy—anything that is distracting or relaxing for your pet. Gradually increase the volume of your CD as your dog gains confidence and is able to ignore the noises. As he becomes ore relaxed with the storm noises, you can begin to decrease the level of attention you are giving him (so that he doesn’t expect you to give him 100% of your attention every time there is a storm!).


Giving your dog attention when he is afraid is very tempting. Unfortunately, it only promotes codependent behavior. Instead, try the next tip to teach your dog that he can function appropriately and receive your positive attention for the ne appropriate behaviors when a storm is brewing.


You can also distract your dog during storms by playing games, doing Obedience drills, or giving him a long-lasting food treat such as a “Twist and Treat” filled with a smear of lite cream cheese or cheese whiz. Again, the objective is to distract him from the environment. If you train your dog to play “fetch” every time a storm threatens, before long, he’ll be forcasting theweather by bringing you his ball!


DAP is a synthetic doggy happiness hormone that mimics the hormones given off by mother dogs during the early weeks of life. Exposure to this pheromone helps dogs relax In scientific studies, dogs displayed fewer “nervous” behaviors when they were exposed to anxiety provoking stimuli than did dogs who were not! Plug a diffuser into the socket near where your pet rests dueing the day. Perhaps one in his safety zone. Aerosolized DAP is available to spray directly in the environment during sudden onset of anxiety or whenever our dog is demonstrating sudden onset of anxious behaviors (for whatever reason– not just storms! Great for separation anxiety, too!). You can also spray DAP on your dog’s bandana!


During times when you are not home, and a storm may come, be sure that your dog has a “safe” place to go to get away from the elements. You may have to provide a dark room or closet for him to hide in. As strange as this sounds, having a small dark place to hide goes a long way toward relieving your pet’s anxiety. Outdoor dogs will probably need access to the house or garage via a doggy door.


If your dog is already trained to the Gentle Leader, place the collar on at the first signs of anxiety. The sensation of Mama Dog being near (as she “scruffs” the dog’s neck with the neck loop of the collar) can reduce many anxieties. If your dog is not already trained to a collar, start now! It’s a help with many behavior issues as well as Thunderstorm Phobias!


These tight fitting body wraps help many pets feel more secure. They are available on line at Amazon.com


There are several “natural” remedies that you can try. The only one that we have seen help consistently is “Anxitane”. This is available through Cimarron Animal Hospital or Amazon.com


If these measures do not help and your dog is unable to sit down during a storm or threatens to hurt himself or destroy your property, there are medications that can help.

 Tranquilizers (like Acepromazine) cause sedation but behaviorists agree that, while the pet appears less anxious, he is still scared, just unable to demonstrate it because he is too sleepy. If your pet is able to rest quietly or sleep through the storm, a tranquilizer may be fine to help him cope with the anxiety. However, if he still remains awake and looks scared, even though he may not be moving much, an anti-anxiety drug may bea more humane choice.


Clomicalm“is often a good drug with good safety that can be started a few weeks BEFORE storm season. It is given on a daily basis, so that the pet is calmer, even in the middle of the day, when our storms usually threaten, but we are not there to give them medication. For sudden anxiety, we can administer a panicolytic drug such as Alprazolam. this drug will cause some sedation, but mostly will help the dog with an overall sense of well-being. It takes about 1/2 hour to start taking effect and lasts for 4- 8 hours. Once your dog is more relaxed, work on those Obedience exercises or playing a game or giving a treat toy. The medication can help more anxious dogs LEARN that thunderstorms aren’t actually dangerous to them.

 Call Your veterinarian to help you decide which treatment would be best for your dog.

Different pets lead different lifestyles.  They live in different parts of the country, exposed to different parasites, at risk for different diseases.  They interact with other animals differently- some live with cattle and sheep, others got to dog parks, groomers, boarding kennels, others stay strictly at home.  Some breeds of dogs or cats are at risk for different medical conditions because of their genetics or the shape or size of their bodies.

Shouldn’t your pet receive medical recommendations based on his particular needs?  Why should he be subjected to the same vaccinations as pets who live on the farm in the Midwestern United States when the risk of diseases there is different from here, in our dry, desert environment? 

Cimarron Animal Hospital’s staff and Doctors make recommendations based on Your Pet’s individual health needs.  We do not believe in recommending “cookbook” tests, treatments, preventives, or vaccinations.

VACCINATIONS   Not every pet needs every vaccination every year!  Cimarron customizes vaccination schedules for each patient based on lifestyle and a risk assessment.  We help our Pet Parents decide which ones their pet really needs- and how often.  Vaccination clinics and Discount clinics won’t do that.  Pets who go to vaccination clinics and corporate vet practices with “cookbook” recommendations are getting over vaccinated.

“WORMING”   Most pets in southern Arizona don’t get intestinal parasites, so they don’t all need to get intestinal “worming” medicine routinely.  We recommend that dogs and outdoor cats have a stool/ fecal sample checked once a year or if there is a diarrhea problem.  Then we treat any parasites we find.  Since there are about 6 different common intestinal parasites of dogs and cats, and no single medication that treats them all, it is silly to give 1 medication, call it a “wormer” and think that a pet is safe.  This is especially true in Tucson where the most common parasites aren’t even the worm variety and won’t be cured with common “wormers”.

AGE SPECIFIC RECOMMENDATIONS   As pets age, their bodies are at risk for different disease conditions that can be treated.  Early intervention is aimed at preventing life-threatening health crises and extending the length and quality of a pet’s life.  Adult Wellness blood screening for middle aged dogs and cats, Senior blood and urine sampling for older pets, arthritis and cardiac screening for older pets with suspicious symptoms or breed specific risk are examples of the special considerations given to our patients.

BREED SPECIFIC RECOMMENDATIONS   Some breeds are prone to certain medical conditions.  At Cimarron, we will educate Pet Parents about those risks and offer screening tests or preventives when they are available.  For instance, basset hounds are prone to glaucoma.  It’s best that they have a glaucoma test at least once a year and any time they have red eyes once they hit young adulthood.  Boxers are prone to silent cardiomyopathy.  Experts recommend a screening EKG test once a year or any time the pet experiences fatigue.  Tests like these are often simple to do during an annual physical exam and go a long way toward early intervention and longer happier pet lives!

 PHYSICAL EXAMS  Every dog and cat should be examined by a veterinarian at least once a year to maintain optimal health.  Veterinarians look at body parts not often examined by owners.  They listen to hearts, look down ears to the ear drums, look at retinas, palpate for masses in abdomens and check joints for subtle signs of pain.  These are things that most owners can’t or don’t do.  Many pets have conditions that their people weren’t even aware of because dogs and cats (especially cats!) tend to hide their diseases until they are in dire straits! 

HEALTH CONSULTATIONS   Part of every Comprehensive Physical Exam.  This is your opportunity to ask your veterinarian how you can keep your pet happier and healthier for longer!  Your vet may discuss with you lifestyle adjustments, exercise changes, diet suggestions and nutritional supplements that could help your particular pet lead a healthier life.  This is also your chance to learn about new, cutting edge treatments, technologies and health opportunities that may benefit your pet.  Our objective is to educate our Pet Parents so they can make the best decisions for both their pets and their families. 

Cimarron Animal Hospital believes in protecting the health of each patient as an individual with

Individualized Medical Plans and recommendations because each pet is unique.  No pet is “just an animal” to us!