As Cancer In Humans Declines There Is Hope For The Same In Animals

FOCUS ON PETS

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Cancer in humans is on the decline -- such wonderful news. Now, medical experts are using the statistics from this trend to determine what is making the difference. They have already come to some significant conclusions.

Some medications have proven harmful. Certain food products are killing us. Early detection and treatment is a lifesaver.

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Icy's owner regularly checks her for signs that she is getting too heavy. More exercise and less food are the cures for this serious health risk.

Included in those findings are the significance of obesity and diabetes, which are both impacted by improper diet and lack of exercise.

Finally, efforts are being made to remove the "bad fat," which is primarily used in fast food restaurants, places where more and more of us are eating more often than we should.

The importance of diet and exercise should never stray very far from our consciousness.

A column in a November New York Times talked about animals that are being used to study new cancer drugs. Instead of being in small cages in laboratories, these are family pets, mostly dogs, who have cancer. Through these studies, many dogs are being saved, and more, better drugs are being proven beneficial to people.

We do not hear about the huge numbers of dogs suffering and dying from cancer. Many dogs do not see a veterinarian regularly and their deaths are not reported. However, lots of dogs are diagnosed with cancer. Some go through chemotherapy or are fortunate to be part of these drug studies.

Living in an area near a veterinary school has its advantages. Treatment is expensive, so, too often, pain medication is the only treatment.

Hopefully, we will soon begin hearing about a reduction of cancer in dogs.

The all-around health of our pets will improve, as will ours, when we pay more careful attention to diet and increase the amount of exercise. We have been told time and time again that these two factors are the miracle workers and yet we continue to overeat and be sedentary. And we eat too many of the wrong foods and not enough of the good ones.

It is frustrating to see a person who is nice and slim allowing their dog to be fat. It does not make sense. Too often we just neglect to take a good look at our pets, checking for those excess pounds.

Stand over them and put your thumbs on the backbone and run your fingers over each side of the rib cage. You should be able to easily feel the backbone and ribs. If you cannot, your pet is carrying around too much weight.

This excess is causing stress for his heart, hips and joints. It is also making him more susceptible to deadly diseases such as cancer. It could kill him.

If your dog or cat is overweight, do him a favor. Cut back the amount of food you are feeding him and get him out for a walk. Cats exercise by chasing a little ball or being enticed with one of those magic wands.

Many owners have great excuses about their pet's obesity, saying it is all coat or their build. But it is your pet that is suffering from your overindulgence.

Along with cutting back on the quantity that you are feeding, carefully read the ingredient label on the bag of pet food, not the front but the fine print in the back. Does it sound healthy to you?

If your pet is overweight, it will be necessary to not only cut back the amount you are feeding, including treats, but also to get more exercise. You will both be delighted with how much better you feel after an invigorating walk.

Cesar Milan, the Dog Whisperer, advocates physical exercise for several hours a day. This is very helpful, particularly with an aggressive dog, as it tempers that aggressive energy. For most of us, that is impossible, but we can all take a walk. Every little bit is helpful.

Lori Chandler, the dog trainer who did an internship with a disciple of Cesar Milan, the Dog Whisperer, is doing a "Country Clinic" in Pine on Sunday, Jan. 28, at 3 p.m. If you have questions, such as who is the leader of your pack or other problems, you should plan to attend this seminar.

There is no charge. Refreshments will be served. If there is enough interest, more of these clinics might be scheduled.

Space is limited. Call Annemarie at (928) 978-0089 or (928) 476-3944 to reserve your spot or to get more information.

Don't forget to sign up for the Pet First Aid and CPR course offered through Payson Parks and Recreation on Feb. 24. You must register ahead of time and space is limited. I hope to see you there.

Also through Payson Parks and Recreation is the Walk A Hound, Lose A Pound 5K, which will be Saturday, March 31. This will be a fun time -- all of us walking with our dogs.

Preregister and you get a T-shirt for you and your dog. If you do not have a dog, willing loaner walkers will be available from the Payson Humane Society.

To prepare for this 5K, a 3.1 mile walk, Payson Parks and Recreation invites you and your well-mannered, leashed dog to join the Payson Striders Walking Club. Each Tuesday and Thursday, they will meet at noon at the park office and walk with the goal of physical fitness.

For more information about these programs offered through Payson Parks and Recreation, call Holly Aungst, Recreation Coordinator at (928) 474-5242.

In the meantime, eat smart, exercise and include your pet in your lifestyle changes. You both will be healthier and happier.

-- Christy Powers can be reached by e-mail at cpwrather@earthlink.net or by snail mail at HC1 Box 210, Strawberry, AZ 85544.

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