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The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) reminds pet owners that if you're planning to make a New Year's resolution for 2014 to lose weight that you should include your pet in your plans for a healthier life.

It's estimated that between 25 and 40 percent of dogs and cats and 31 percent of people in this country are overweight. Studies have found that other domesticated animals, including horses, are also prone to obesity.

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The agency has repeatedly issued alerts to consumers about reports it has received concerning jerky pet treat-related illnesses involving 3,600 dogs and 10 cats in the U.S. since 2007. Approximately 580 of those pets have died.

To date, FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) has conducted more than 1,200 tests, visited jerky pet treat manufacturers in China and collaborated with colleagues in academia, industry, state labs and foreign governments. Yet the exact cause of the illnesses remains elusive.

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AVMA's Holiday Tips for Pet Owners

December abounds with holiday celebrations, and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is reminding pet owners that nothing can spoil good cheer like an emergency visit to a veterinary clinic to save a pet from a not-so-happy holiday disaster.

"Veterinarians often see an increase in the number of emergency calls during the holiday season. Whether it's exposure to chocolate or fatty foods, or pets injured through exposure to festive decorations such as electric cords, ornaments, tinsel, etc., the holidays can present hazards for pets," explains Dr. Clark K. Fobian, AVMA president. "The most important way you can enjoy your pet through the holiday is by providing oversight and supervision so that they are not exposed to foods, decorations, strange people, or other things that can cause a disruption or an upsetting trip to an emergency clinic. For example, children often want to give pets extra treats during the holidays, but these treats should never include candy or table scraps. A little extra diligence is required to ensure that pets get proper foods and healthy pet treats."

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Is the worst part of cuddling with your pet its bad breath? This could be a sign of looming dental problems. Preventive veterinary dental care can save you money in the long run. Pet Dental Health Month, sponsored by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) every February, reminds pet owners that brushing their pet's teeth is good for both your pet's health and your budget.

"It's something you do every morning, part of your daily routine—brush your teeth. While most people take care of their own mouths, they often forget that they also should take care of their pet's teeth through a regular dental health care regimen," explains Dr. Clark K. Fobian, president of the AVMA. "One of the most common problems veterinarians see in pets is dental disease, and, unfortunately, these issues can get serious if untreated. I remind pet owners that an untreated dental infection can spread to the heart, kidneys and other organs, and suddenly become life threatening. Practicing good dental hygiene at home, in addition to regular dental cleanings by your veterinarian, is the most efficient and cost-effective way to keep your pets healthy, comfortable and pain-free."

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Some of the dangers from the retractable cord include rope burns if rapidly extended while touching it, wrapping the cord around you and/or your pet, and the cord breaking. Dogs approaching other dogs without permission and the dog running with the owner being pulled, and possibly injured, at the other end are other dangers, warns Dr. Alan Holter, WVMA member and veterinarian at Dodgeville Veterinary Service.

The WVMA recommends using a standard length leash for all dogs to help ensure the safety of you, your dog and others. However, if you are planning on using a retractable leash, take precautions to help ensure a safe and enjoyable excursion.

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Madison, WI 53718
Phone: (608) 257-3665
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Email: wvma@wvma.org

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