Top Veterinary Articles of the Week: Body Condition Score, Superfoods, and more ...

What is Your Pet’s Body Condition Score?
Dr. Nancy Kay/Spot Speak

Here we are, talking about body weight and condition again. As tired of hearing about this as you might be, this is too important to let off. Way too many dogs are either overweight or obese. It shortens their life span, it contributes to disease and pain, it diminishes quality of life.

Whether your dog is overweight or not does not depend strictly on weight only. Weight does provide some information but it's important to remember that how much a dog should way can be hard to determine in itself. It is the proportion of muscle to fat that helps to make sense of things.

To illustrate what this means, let's take a look at something we can all understand. How much do you think Jason Statham weighs? 185 lbs. Ideal body weight for 5' 10" male is 149-183 lbs. That puts Jason Statham right up there, doesn't it? But what does that mean?  I mean, seriously, have you seen the guy?

That's where the body condition scoring comes in play. It's not just about weight alone but what it consists of. Muscle or fat?

Because of his hips, we're keeping JD just below optimal. With all her exercise restrictions, she actually gained some fat but we got her back to about optimal now and working on getting here where JD's at.

How Important is Paw Friction to Dog Traction?
Dr. Julie Buzby/

Apart from potential ice in the winter, or the odd slick rock, how many slippery surfaces do you find in nature? And yet, our civilized environments are full of them. It's nice to have lovely hardwood or tile floors. It looks great; it's easy to clean, and if you're allergic it's better for you. But what do our dogs think of such surfaces? There are plenty of "funny" videos featuring dogs slipping on such surfaces. Do you find it funny? I do not. Now, there are some who learned to take advantage of the slick properties and have some fun with it sliding on purpose. But it is not safe and dogs are not made to deal with it. A healthy young dog can compensate, but even they can slip or fall when rushing around the corner excited their mom or dad came home.

I can tell you, that when Cookie came to us, she had no experience with any man-made surfaces at all and was slipping even on cement tiles!

What about dogs who are older whose muscles aren't that strong, have joint or other mobility issues? When Jasmine came home after her hyperthermia horror, she could barely hold herself up at all. We plastered all the floors with rugs. But she was able to find the couple inches that weren't covered and slip. She was not able to compensate for the lack of traction at all.

Is it the foot or the nails that are meant to provide traction? And what happens to how they can feel their environment through their feet when you put booties or other non-slip contraption on them? The toenails, working like cleats, are the primary traction mechanism for dogs.

Read Dr. Buzby's thoughts on the subject of dog traction in their natural environment and how it translates into helping them in our homes.

The Fab Five: Five Superfoods to Feed Your Pet
Dr. Ernie Ward, Petplan

One of the things I love about Dr. Ernie Ward is that he's an advocate of whole foods. I too believe that while nutrients are important, counting just a few isolated ones does not a wholesome diet make. Whole foods go beyond a few amino acids, vitamins and minerals. And even at that, processing destroys many of them too. I wonder what would happen if you fed anybody just a mix of select essential nutrients without all the rest of goodness that comes with wholesome ingredients. But I'd rather not find out because I believe that would produce a very unwell individual, whether human or animal.

What are Dr. Ward's top five recommended whole foods?