Vet Blog

Do you think your pet is fat?

Do you think your pet is fat?  If you cannot see your pet’s ribs under the skin on their chest then they probably are not at a perfect weight. They are not alone! In a recent study over 50 % of American pets were overweight. It has become an epidemic in the pet world. 

 Obesity increases as your pet ages and with breed size, but a recent study showed that the breeds most affected by obesity were small breed dogs. Pugs were the most overweight breed in a study in 2019! Small dogs are usually more successful at losing weight than larger dogs.

To determine if your pet is an ideal weight his or her ribs should be easy to feel. They should have a waist that you can see and a “tuck “ to their abdomen from the side and from above views. 

There are some things that can cause your pet to gain weight besides eating excess calories and not getting enough exercise to use up those calories. Some pets are heavy because they have a hormone abnormality such as hypothyroidism. I always say if you are battling your hormones you won’t win in the end!  These pets may have cardiovascular disease or hypertension. Decreased immune function and joint disorders will also cause your pet to gain weight. Your veterinarian can help address these issues if they are the cause of your pet’s weight gain.

The best thing for cats is to try to control their weight as they grow from kittens. It is hard to cause a cat to lose weight. It can be harmful for a cat to lose weight quickly, so we must increase exercise and very carefully control their calories.

An interesting fact is that over-the-counter pet foods do not allow for weight loss. You can cut back the amount they are eating but the companies making pet foods are required to offer a food that does not allow weight loss, this is a federal standard of the FDA and AAFCO.  In order to feed a restricted weight loss diet, you should feed a prescription diet, or a diet formulated by a veterinary nutritionist.

Another interesting fact is that treats can increase the calories your pet takes in by up to 75% of their dog or cat foods. So, if you feed treats make sure it is not interfering with the food intake.  Some pet treats are designed to be a food source, and some are not.  They should not represent more than 10% of your pet’s calorie intake.

 Consult your veterinarian to try to help your pet be in their best condition. For information on pet obesity visit

The best thing you can do to help your pet maintain a proper weight is monitor your pets calories intake and walk and play with them on a regular basis.

Dr Karen Hinkle DVM

Bald Eagle Patient

Welcome to the Doctors’ Blog! My name is Dr Karen Hinkle DVM . I have an interesting case that I thought I would share with everyone. We work with the tireless volunteers at the Wildside Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Eaton Rapids when they need us. This time they called my associate Dr Bauer for an injured adult Bald Eagle that a farmer had found in his field.

When she examined the bird, she saw a large wound in its left wing. radiographs were taken of the entire bird. It was found to have a fractured “elbow” (between the humerus and ulna/radius bones). The end of the ulna was missing and there was evidence of shrapnel in the wound. It appeared that someone had shot the Bald Eagle in the wing. The volunteers there asked if we would help repair the bird as he would have to be euthanized if we could not do anything. They had asked everywhere and the doctors who usually do this for them were not available. I have very little experience doing surgery on large birds but we were willing to try. We believe this bird is a male because he is a bit smaller than others at the sanctuary and male Bald Eagles are smaller than females. The injuries to the wing were too severe to repair. The wound was very large and infected.

I found information on amputation of the wing of a large bird. We had to get permission to do this repair as he would never fly again and there are rules to keeping him in captivity forever. He seems to be a gentle bird. He does not seem upset when we work with him. He likes to eat the rats they feed him, as long as they take the skin off first! These things make us think he will do well in managed environment. We were given permission and we performed the wing amputation. The surgery must be performed quickly as there can be danger to long anesthesia times in a bird. Our staff had to prepare the surgical site by plucking feathers not clipping fur! The surgery went well. Our nurses monitored him during anesthesia .

We removed the damaged end of the wing in record time for having never done it before! We used special local anesthesia blocks so that there would be no pain on the stump left behind. As he was recovering our nurse Allegra had to hold him upright for over 30 minutes so that he could breath normally as he came out of anesthesia.

He recovered very well. We had a lot of questions after surgery. We were not sure he would leave the area alone to heal. We gave him a backwards Elizabethan collar that you can see worked just fine.

He had great healing. He had no surgical or infectious complications. We were not sure that there would be proper feather growth so that the stump would be protected with feathers. Here you can see they grew back just fine.

They call him “Brave”. I hope that when they place Brave in an educational setting, he will bond with a female bald eagle.

They can raise baby eagles that will fly free in the home of the Brave.