web analytics

Archive | Health

Fundraiser to benefit Brison Ricker

 

WERQ dance fitness workout March 11

Join us for a dance fitness party to raise funds that will go towards Brison Ricker’s medical care. Brison Ricker is a 15-year-old Cedar Springs student who was diagnosed in January with inoperable brain cancer.

What better way to raise funds than to come together for a 90-minute dance fitness party? Sweat to some of your favorite songs for a good cause. Let’s do what we can to help kick cancer’s butt!

No experience necessary—anyone can do it! Just throw on your fitness gear, bring a water bottle, a sweat towel, and your favorite dancing/workout friends!

The fundraiser will be Friday March 11, 6-7:30 p.m. at Red Hawk Elementary. The cost is $10.  It will last 90 minutes, with multiple WERQ Instructors, and fun routines to your favorite radio hits!

Just DO IT!

Posted in Arts & Entertainment, Cedar Springs Public Schools, HealthComments Off on Fundraiser to benefit Brison Ricker

MDHHS reports first pediatric flu death of season; Urges individuals to get vaccinated

From the MDHHS

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services confirmed this week that the first influenza-associated pediatric death of the 2015-2016 flu season has been reported in Michigan. This is an unfortunate reminder of how serious influenza can be, and MDHHS is reminding residents that it is not too late to get vaccinated for flu this season.

The reported death was a school-aged child from the Southeast region of Michigan. Although this flu season has been relatively mild in Michigan so far, flu viruses are circulating in the community and can cause serious illness, hospitalization, and death. MDHHS strongly recommends that everyone aged 6 months and older get a seasonal flu vaccine.

Nearly three quarters of the positive influenza specimens confirmed by MDHHS Bureau of Laboratories this flu season have been the 2009 H1N1 virus. This virus can cause severe flu infections in children and in young- and middle-aged adults. The 2015-2016 flu vaccines are a very good match to the flu viruses that are circulating nationally. Flu vaccine is the best way to prevent getting the flu and can also reduce the severity of flu illness.

Although flu vaccine is recommended for everyone aged 6 months and older, vaccine is especially important for persons at increased risk for complications from flu, including children, adults aged 65 years and older, persons of any age with underlying medical conditions, and pregnant women. Children less than 6 months of age are too young to be vaccinated and need to be protected by vaccination of their close contacts, including parents, siblings, grandparents, child care workers, and healthcare personnel.

We need to do everything we can to prevent pediatric deaths from influenza, and flu is a vaccine-preventable disease,” said Dr. Eden Wells, Chief Medical Executive for the MDHHS. “Vaccine is the best way to protect against getting the flu, and there is still time to get vaccinated this flu season.”

In the 2014-2015 flu season, only 44 percent of Michigan residents were vaccinated against flu, putting Michigan in 40th place in the country. MDHHS urges residents to make sure they protect themselves and their families against getting flu this season.

There is still plenty of flu vaccine available. To find flu vaccine near you, call your healthcare provider, local health department, or check the Health Map Vaccine Finder at http://flushot.healthmap.org. For more information about the flu, visit www.michigan.gov/flu.

Posted in Health, NewsComments (1)

Group knits red hats for babies born in Greenville

The Stitchers & More group and some of the hats they’ve made.

The Stitchers & More group and some of the hats they’ve made.

February is American Heart Month and a fellowship group with the informal name of Stitchers & More is celebrating. They are raising awareness of heart disease by knitting red hats for all babies born in February at United Hospital in Greenville.

The Stitchers & More group began twenty years ago as a group of women who gather once a month for fellowship while crocheting, stitching, scrapbooking, and sewing. The group ranges in age from early twenties, up to their oldest member who is turning ninety this year. When asking the group what inspired them to participate in this project, the name Kaylee is spoken in unison.

This project is dedicated to a two year old from Woodlawn Christian Reformed Church who underwent successful open heart surgery,” explained member Mary Brasser.

Heart disease remains the number one killer of Americans and congential heart defects are the most common type of birth defect in the country. Congenital heart disease is a problem with the heart’s structure and function that is present at birth. Some defects will heal on their own, over time, while others will need to be treated. Some are treated with medications and others with surgery.

We work closely with the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital Pediatric Cardiology Program when we identify an infant in need. All of our infants are screened for congenital heart disease and we also carefully monitor the cardiac health of women with congenital heart defects who are pregnant or want to become pregnant,” said Dr. Jonathan Windeler, Chief of Pediatrics at Spectrum Health United Hospital.

We are so thankful to the Stitchers & More group for their kindness and generosity. It is our hope that this information will raise awareness of heart disease and will inspire others to participate in similar activies,” said Shelly Westbrook, Foundation Director at Spectrum Health United and Kelsey Hospitals.

For more information about the congenital heart disease, go to http://www.spectrumhealth.org/congenital-heart-disease

Posted in Featured, Health, Seasonal, Valentine's DayComments Off on Group knits red hats for babies born in Greenville

The H Word: When is it time to call hospice?

When is it time to call hospice? While the H word scares people, Hospice of Michigan says that making the call early can enhance quality of life at the end of life.

When is it time to call hospice? While the H word scares people, Hospice of Michigan says that making the call early can enhance quality of life at the end of life.

Jane is suffering from cancer. It started in her liver and has now spread to her lungs and embedded in her bones. The chemo and radiation are not helping. But her doctor is yet to bring up hospice, the H word so many don’t want to hear.

Americans are a death-denying culture,” explains Dr. Michael Paletta, chief medical officer at Hospice of Michigan and hospice physician for 20 years. “Sometimes we don’t want to accept our own mortality. Often, patients wait until a doctor mentions end-of-life before they will even begin to wrap their minds around it. But, if patients don’t ask, doctors may continue to search out treatment options, even if a cure is unlikely.”

Paletta explains that doctors don’t always offer hospice as an option because they don’t want to deny patients a ray of hope. “Doctors take the decline and death of patients very personally,” Paletta said. They don’t want to be responsible for denying a patient the opportunity to recover, and they want to know they have done everything possible to cure their patients of illness.”

In modern medicine, it’s unusual for a doctor to feel there is nothing else to offer. There is always one more experimental drug or treatment to try; the question is what benefit will the treatment offer the patient and at what cost.

While a doctor may not want to deny hope, Paletta says it can be just as harmful to foster a patient’s unrealistic vision of recovery.

Hope comes in many shapes and forms,” Paletta said. “Instead of hoping for a cure that doesn’t exist, patients can hope to manage their pain and symptoms and improve their quality of life. This isn’t giving up hope; this is hoping for something that can actually happen and devoting energy to something that has proven to be valuable.”

Continue to pray for a miracle, but put things in place that will help you and your family. Perhaps the miracle provided is a controlled, dignified and peaceful ending of a celebrated life.

But when is the right time to consider hospice for you or your loved one?

If treatments are not going well, and if the treatment path the doctor initially laid out doesn’t seem to be working, it might be the right time to ask your doctor what’s next and when you should consider hospice,” Paletta explained. “If your doctor says it’s too soon to discuss hospice, try to get a better understanding of what the road ahead looks like in terms of treatment options. Ask when it will be appropriate to consider hospice and request specifics. This will help you gain a better understanding of the path you’re on and if you and your doctor have the same goals.”

If you aren’t satisfied with the plan your doctor has in place, seek a second option. I’m always surprised to hear that people don’t consult with another doctor. They seem to think this will offend the physician, but it’s usually welcomed. Good doctors realize that most of the time their recommendations are reinforced and a second option can actually enhance the faith and trust their patients have in them.”

Paletta notes that considering hospice isn’t a decision, it’s understanding your options. “Hospice is a choice that patients and families can make, but no one should ever be forced to make that decision,” Paletta said. “If you decide you’re not ready for hospice and you want to continue to seek out treatments, you can wait. And then it’s an informed waiting that has a specific end point rather than delaying or avoiding the decision.”

Paletta suggests that those suffering from a severe or terminal illness should contact hospice sooner rather than later, even if they aren’t necessarily ready to begin hospice care.

It’s always better for patients to reach out to a hospice organization early, rather than in a time of crisis. This gives them the time and ability to gather information about the services offered, choose the hospice organization that suits them best and make an informed decision. Hospice can even help with things like advanced directives and selecting a patient advocate.”

And perhaps most importantly, by looking into hospice options early in your illness, you’ve put yourself in a position where you can make the decision that’s right for you and take that pressure off your family.

For more information on Hospice of Michigan and the services it provides, contact 888.247.5701 or visit www.hom.org.

Posted in HealthComments Off on The H Word: When is it time to call hospice?

Happy & healthy: tips for aging well

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Family Features

Although you can’t stop time, the right type and amount of physical activity can help stave off many age-related health problems.

More than half (59 percent) of Americans expect to still be living at home independently at the age of 80, according to a recent survey by the American Physical Therapy Association. However, the same study showed that at least half of the same population recognizes they will see a decline in strength and flexibility as they age.

Movement experts such as physical therapists can help aging individuals overcome pain, gain and maintain movement, and preserve independence – often helping to avoid the need for surgery or long-term use of prescription drugs.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

These nine tips, provided by the experts at the American Physical Therapy Association, are keys to helping you age well:

Chronic pain doesn’t have to be the boss of you. Each year 116 million Americans experience chronic pain from arthritis or other conditions. Proper exercise, mobility, and pain management techniques can ease pain, improving your overall quality of life.

You can get better and stronger at any age. Research shows that an appropriate exercise program can improve your muscle strength and flexibility as you age. Progressive resistance training, where muscles are exercised against resistance that gets more difficult as strength improves, has been shown to help prevent frailty.

You may not need surgery or drugs for your low back pain. Low back pain is often over-treated with surgery and drugs despite a wealth of scientific evidence demonstrating that physical therapy can be an effective alternative with less risk.

You can lower your risk of diabetes with exercise. One in four Americans over the age of 60 has diabetes. Obesity and physical inactivity can put you at risk for this disease, but a regular, appropriate physical activity routine is one of the best ways to prevent and manage type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Exercise can help you avoid falls and keep your independence. More than half of adults over 65 report problems with movement, including walking 1/4 mile, stooping, and standing. Exercise can improve movement and balance and reduce your risk of falls.

Your bones want you to exercise. Osteoporosis, or weak bones, affects more than half of Americans over the age of 54. Exercises that keep you on your feet, like walking, jogging or dancing, and exercises using resistance such as weight lifting, can improve bone strength or reduce bone loss.

Your heart wants you to exercise. Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in the United States. One of the top ways of preventing it and other cardiovascular diseases is exercise. Research shows that if you already have heart disease, appropriate exercise can improve your health.

Your brain wants you to exercise. People who are physically active, even later in life, are less likely to develop memory problems or Alzheimer’s disease, a condition which affects more than 40 percent of people over the age of 85.

You don’t have to live with bladder leakage. More than 13 million women and men in the United States have bladder leakage. A physical therapist can help you avoid spending years relying on pads or rushing to the bathroom.

To learn more about the role of physical activity as you age, or to find a physical therapist near you, visit MoveForwardPT.com.

Posted in Featured, HealthComments Off on Happy & healthy: tips for aging well

Debunking detox with 5 easy fixes

HEA-Debunking-detox-myths1

(BPT) – Lots of things in life create messes that need to be cleaned up – even in our bodies. Think of a playroom after a long day of family fun – toys and games strewed about the room, which if not tidied, we often end up tripping over. The same holds true for our bodies. After a holiday season of overeating and overindulging, our bodies need straightening up to function at their best, otherwise our digestive system becomes cluttered with toxins. And with cold and flu season in full swing, a body clean up will not only help to improve your digestive system, but it may also help boost your immune system as well.

The goal of detoxing is to eliminate toxins in the body. Toxins are unusable products resulting from the metabolism of nutrients, pollutants, pesticides, food additives, medical drugs and alcohol. A true detox doesn’t require fasting or flushing your colon clean, instead it’s finding ways to boost your body’s own natural detoxification system to rid itself of harmful toxins. Just follow these five easy detox fixes from Registered Dietitian Ashley Koff to clean-up your diet and your health:

Eat organic. Reduce the toxins you take in by choosing organic foods that contain no artificial ingredients or synthetic preservatives and are GMO-free. Jumpstart your day with delicious Nature’s Path Flax Plus(R) Pumpkin Flax Granola that is rich in flax seeds and high in fiber.

Power up with plants. Phyto (plant) nutrients such as antioxidants found in fruits, vegetables, spices, whole grains, nuts and seeds create your bodies clean up team. Eat more and let them naturally help clean up your digestive system.

Follow the rainbow. Variety is essential to a healthy diet, and it is important to add a rainbow of colorful, spices and blends of grains, seeds and nuts to your diet.

Find fiber. In order to eliminate toxins through our body’s digestive tract, we need to eat foods rich in fiber and nourish good bacteria it is also important to choose foods that contain nutrients like magnesium that support healthy motility of the digestive tract and bitter herbs which help stimulate the digestive tract.

Nourish with nutrients. Our internal detoxification system needs the right nutrients to nourish our bodies. Add healthy and good-for-you foods such as, broccoli, garlic, leeks, sesame seeds, greens and beans to your diet to boost your energy level and cleanse your body at the same time.

Finally, detox foods can be delicious as they are nutritious. Check out this fiber-rich recipe that is sure to have your friends and family asking for seconds.

Roasted Squash with Crunchy Pumpkin Topping

Roasted Squash with Crunchy Pumpkin Topping

Roasted Squash with Crunchy Pumpkin Topping

Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: 40 minutes Total Time: 1 hour

Serves 6

Ingredients:

1/2 cup Nature’s Path Flax Plus(R) Pumpkin Flax Granola

1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs

1/4 cup melted coconut oil

3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper

1 large butternut squash (about 3 lb.), peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes

2 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon fresh thyme

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

Mix together Pumpkin Flax Granola, bread crumbs, 2 tablespoons coconut oil, ¼ teaspoon each pumpkin pie spice, salt and pepper.

Spread evenly on baking sheet; bake for 6 or 7 minutes or until mixture is crisp and golden brown.

Toss together squash, brown sugar, thyme, and remaining pumpkin pie spice, salt and pepper; arrange on prepared baking sheet.

Roast for 30 to 35 minutes or until fork-tender and lightly browned.

Arrange squash on platter and top with granola mixture.

Tip: To make fresh bread crumbs, pulse day-old bread in a food processor until it resembles coarse crumbs; store in airtight container in the freezer for up to one month.

Nutrition Facts, per 1/6 recipe

Calories 240

Fat 11 g

Cholesterol 0 mg

Sodium 240 mg

Carbohydrate 33 g

Fiber 5 g

Sugars 9 g

Protein 3 g

Posted in Featured, Health, RecipesComments Off on Debunking detox with 5 easy fixes

Colder weather: 

HEA-Blood-pressure

How to manage your blood pressure and health

(BPT) – Research shows that as the temperature drops, your blood pressure tends to increase. The changing weather brings cooler temperatures and increases your risk for heart attack, stroke and other serious health conditions.

Measure Up/Pressure Down is a national high blood pressure campaign, led by the American Medical Group Foundation, and aims to empower people to measure, monitor and maintain a healthy blood pressure. As the weather changes, Measure Up/Pressure Down and campaign supporter United Health Foundation have three tips for your heart health:

1. Understand high blood pressure:

High blood pressure, also called hypertension by medical professionals, means that the force of blood pushing through your body is too strong. That pressure puts a strain on your arteries, which carry blood from your heart to the rest of your body. In colder weather, blood vessels constrict more than normal, which raises blood pressure. By understanding what high blood pressure is, you can make lifestyle changes to stay on top of the disease.

2. Practice healthy habits:

Healthy habits -such as being physically active, eating healthy and limiting alcohol, can be critical to managing your high blood pressure year round, especially during fall and winter. Try to get up and move for at least 30 minutes each day. As the weather changes, modify your exercise routine to include raking leaves, shoveling snow or walking indoors at a nearby mall. During the holiday season, many people indulge in unhealthy food and large amounts of alcohol at holiday parties, family festivities and other gatherings. You don’t need to give up everything you love, but set limits before each event to ensure you don’t go overboard. With high blood pressure, it’s important to limit sodium and harmful fats. You should also limit alcohol to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.

3. Measure and monitor your blood pressure regularly:

If you have high blood pressure, talk with your healthcare team about how frequently you should monitor your blood pressure. Blood pressure monitors are inexpensive and can be purchased at pharmacies and other stores. Many community locations, like supermarkets and pharmacies, have machines that take and record your blood pressure. Others, including fire departments or local gyms, may have staff on hand that can measure your blood pressure for you. Be sure to properly position your body for an accurate reading. For instance, when you measure blood pressure over a coat or jacket, your reading can be falsely elevated.

More than one in three Americans have high blood pressure. To measure, monitor and maintain your blood pressure all year round and learn more about this disease, please visit MeasureUpPressureDown.com.

Posted in HealthComments Off on Colder weather: 

Spiritual Care at the end-of-life

Hospice of Michigan spiritual care advisors help patients discover a sense of peace and closure as they prepare to die.

Hospice of Michigan spiritual care advisors help patients discover a sense of peace and closure as they prepare to die.

From Hospice of Michigan

When we are young and healthy, we can feel invincible. There’s plenty of time – and opportunity to solve life’s problems and make one’s mark.

But when faced with death, perspective can change quickly and so can priorities. This is when we begin to evaluate the meaning of life and contemplate the legacy we will leave behind.

Rev. Ronald White sees this time and time again.  As a spiritual care advisor with Hospice of Michigan, it’s White’s job and his mission to help hospice patients discover a sense of peace and closure as they prepare to die.

“Many people assume spiritual care is about religion, and while it can be, it can mean something different to everyone,” White says. “Spiritual care is not intended to change patients’ belief system, but accept patients wherever they are on their journey and provide support at the end of life.

“When a person is dying, reality can hit hard. It’s often as they face the end that people look to find closure and mend relationships. This could be with God, family and friends or the world at large.”

The need for spiritual care differs from person to person. Some find solace in their religious faith; others may need to evaluate the meaning of their life or come to terms with important issues.

Spiritual care advisors like White provide support for patients and their families as physical, emotional and spiritual needs arise. This can mean helping patients through a journey of faith, reconnecting them with their church, helping to mend family rifts or simply listening to patients while they share things that are weighing on them.

Many times, when facing death, people seek forgiveness, White explains. “We’ll often try to reconnect family members and bring them together for a family meeting so they can sort through issues while there is still time. Many times we see that the family members don’t even remember what the disagreement was about, just that something happened. In circumstances like this, talking things out usually helps. But other times issues are deeply rooted and can’t be resolved. While we can’t fix all problems, we make our best effort.”

When you can’t mend a situation, White notes that sometimes it’s enough to just be there to listen.

“Letting patients tell their story and talk through problems can often lead to acceptance,” White says. “As spiritual care advisors, our conversations with patients are confidential. Sometimes patients have things weighing on them that they don’t want their family to know about, but they still need to share with someone. Knowing that we can be their confidant allows them to open up to us and find a sense of peace.”

White explains that some of his most important work is with veterans.

“Many veterans have a lot of guilt when they near the end-of-life,” White said. “They are dealing with things they saw or did in the name of war—often things they’ve never shared with anyone. When we work with vets, we know we can’t change what happened, so we spend a lot of time talking. We ask them about the duties they had, where they served and how they were involved. These questions can lead to meaningful conversations and often times helps veterans share the things that are weighing on them. Sometimes just talking through an issue with someone provides acceptance and closure.”

White notes that anxiety at end-of-life can cause unnecessary pain – which is why the role of a spiritual care advisor is so important.

“Providing comfort to patients and their families is our number one goal,” White adds. “Helping patients find solace and closure allows them to die a good death. This is something that provides peace for both the patient and their family.”

Posted in Featured, HealthComments Off on Spiritual Care at the end-of-life

Seven unlikely foods that sabotage fat loss

HEA-foods-that-sabotage-fat-loss

(BPT) – The basic idea behind fat loss is simple: eat better, exercise more. However, hidden in this formula are numerous caveats and footnotes. No wonder there are so many books and television specials about the 100 different ways people are supposed to exercise and eat right.

According to Becca Hurt, MS, RD, and program manager of Life Time Weight Loss at Life Time – The Healthy Way of Life Company, “one of the most confusing parts of dieting is the fact that many of the foods people think will help them lose weight actually pack on the pounds.” Hurt notes there are enemies lurking in common foods that almost everyone eats or drinks. So, what’s to be done? To help identify some of the most common weight-loss enemies, Hurt has provided a list of seven culprits everyone will want to weed out of their diet.

Coffee shop drinks

Never mind the french fries and potato chips, Hurt says that liquid calories are more often one of the biggest downfalls when it comes to losing weight. For many, it starts with their morning coffee. While 1-2 cups of coffee with only cream added is no harm, the danger is in the sugar loaded, caramel-chocolate dieting disasters many people believe to be perfectly healthy because they ordered the non-fat options. “Not only do these drinks lead to a sugar rollercoaster and energy crashes, they may be loaded with as many as 500-plus calories,” says Hurt.

Skim milk

“Only recently, Americans started to realize fat isn’t always the bad guy,” explains Hurt. “There is no difference in fat loss between diets with no-fat and full-fat dairy consumption, according to recent studies.” In fact, Hurt notes that people often add sugar to enhance the taste of their skim milk, which quickly turns it into a decidedly unhealthy option.

Pasta

Yes, even whole grain pasta is stripped of beneficial nutrients, bleached and loaded with preservatives to make it more shelf-stable. Pasta portions can also be confusing. “A pasta meal should begin with a big salad, and the high protein meatballs should be larger than the portion of pasta,” says Hurt. “Instead of spaghetti and meatballs, it should be meatballs with some spaghetti on the side.”

Reduced fat snacks 

For many, reduced fat, no fat and low fat labels on foods can be a green light to what they believe is guilt free snacking. The principle to remember here is not all calories are the same. “A 100-calorie pudding pack is not as healthy as 100-calories worth of almonds,” explains Hurt. “Food that is naturally healthy doesn’t have to have the “no-fat” label.” A handful of nuts, a few slices of full-fat cheese or some Greek yogurt are healthier options by far.

Energy drinks

For those looking to shed some fat, drinking one of these sugar-loaded bad-boys means putting the brakes on their body’s fat burning process. Hurt adds that people should get no more than 5 percent of their calories from sugar and just one energy drink will put someone well over this limit.

Sandwiches

While many think ordering a sandwich is a diet-friendly alternative to a burger, consider this: one sandwich has as many carbohydrates as a Kit-Kat bar! “Carbs are not a sustainable source of energy,” says Hurt, “and are responsible for that sluggish, hungry feeling that leads many to skip workouts and snack more.” The solution: ditch the bread and add a salad!

Protein bars

They might be marketed as the fat burning, muscle gaining snack, but don’t be fooled. Heavily processed protein bars are loaded with sugars and carbohydrates. To get the necessary protein, Hurt suggests looking to nuts or animal sources such as meats or yogurt instead.

Posted in HealthComments Off on Seven unlikely foods that sabotage fat loss

Keep pets healthy over the holidays

PHOTO SOURCE: (c) annaav - Fotolia.com

PHOTO SOURCE: (c) annaav – Fotolia.com

(StatePoint) When making holiday plans, consider your pets’ health needs. Here, five veterinary experts weigh in on steps to keep pets happy and healthy amid the hubbub.

Resist those pleading eyes

According to veterinary nutritionist Dr. Dottie LaFlamme, high-calorie tidbits contribute to caloric overload and bad habits, while lacking necessary nutrient balance.

“Just one teaspoon of beef fat can contain almost twice the calories a small dog should consume in daily treats,” LaFlamme notes, adding that feeding from the table also promotes begging behavior. “If you must give pets a treat, feed it in their bowl after the meal to help with portion control.”

Avoid holiday hazards

The holidays can be toxic to pets. Chocolate poisoning is one of the most common accidents during the holidays, according to veterinary critical care specialist and toxicologist Dr. Justine Lee. Other food foes include grapes, raisins, bones, unbaked yeast bread dough, alcohol and xylitol, a common sugar substitute.

Likewise, “Potpourri liquid contains detergents that can cause severe ulcers and burns in a cat’s mouth, while tinsel can act as a severe linear foreign body when stuck in a cat’s stomach and intestines,” she explains.

If you’re hosting, ensure houseguests pet-proof pill bottles.

Take preventive measures

Owners often experience a false sense of security about parasite prevention when the weather turns cooler. However, the holidays are no time to take a break from heartworm prevention, even though heartworms are spread by infected mosquitoes, says veterinary parasitologist Dr. Patricia Payne. Why? Because preventives work retroactively on heartworm larvae acquired earlier in the season.

“There’s no way to accurately predict past or future transmission, so the American Heartworm Society recommends year-round heartworm prevention for dogs and cats,” she explains. “Make sure to put a reminder on your holiday calendar to give routine monthly preventives to pets.”

Give the gift of activity

“When we removed hunting from pets’ daily lives, we reduced their physical and mental activity,” explains veterinary behaviorist Dr. Jacqueline Neilson. “When pets lack mental stimulation, they can become bored and depressed, and often create their own stimulating activities, such as chewing items or barking at passersby.”

Beat this concern with food puzzles and toys that require pets to work, play or “hunt.”

“Consider your pet’s personality when choosing holiday gifts,” says Neilson. “If your dog likes to chew things, a food toy that needs to be squeezed between the jaws may be ideal. Herding breeds may prefer a toy they can nudge.”

Travel prep

An estimated 30 million people travel with their pets annually, and holidays are primetime for hitting the road. Flying? Check your airline’s pet requirements. For car travel, invest in a carrier.

“Your pet will appreciate a safe haven while traveling,” says Dr. Robert Stannard, who recommends adding a favorite blanket to provide a sense of familiarity.

Travel bowls, favorite toys and medications are necessities, not luxuries. Just be careful not to overfeed.

“Like us, pets can get motion sickness,” says Stannard. “Don’t feed your pet right before leaving, and limit food during travel to help prevent digestive upset.”

With a few precautionary measures, your four-legged family members can have a happy, healthy holiday season.

Posted in Featured, HealthComments Off on Keep pets healthy over the holidays