S.T.E.P.S. February 2012 Update

Total enrolled in S.T.E.P.S. this month: 6

S.T.E.P.S. is a new healthy living initiative for pets which is designed to help with weight management by incorporating families working with an Animal Hospital of North Asheville veterinarian, online support, and an informational Facebook page with community activities. The S.T.E.P.S. program is open to dogs and cats to join at any time, and there is no registration fee.

To order to enroll your pet in S.T.E.P.S., he or she must have had an Annual Comprehensive Physical Exam at Animal Hospital of North Asheville in the last 12 months. This is necessary in order for your veterinarian to have the needed knowledge of your pet’s health to be able to formulate a healthy diet plan, and is the only requirement. If your pet’s Annual Comprehensive Physical Exam is current, no appointment is necessary to enroll. If your pet has not had an Annual Comprehensive Physical Exam within the last 12 months, please schedule it and your pet can be enrolled during the exam. If you are uncertain of the date that your pet had his last Annual Comprehensive Exam, you can call us at 828-253-3393 to find out, or you can check online through your Pet Portal.

At enrollment, we ask you to bring your pet with you in order for us to weigh and record the beginning weight. You will be given an informational packet including tips on how to get started, weight and exercise worksheets, and a food measuring cup.  In addition, we will ask you to fill out a simple questionnaire to help us better understand your pet’s daily lifestyle and diet. Your pet’s Primary Veterinarian will review this information and call you to discuss a customized program and diet for your pet.

Each month, or as directed by your veterinarian, you will weigh your pet and record the weight. The weigh-in can be done free of charge at Animal Hospital of North Asheville any time we're open, and without an appointment. If you would rather weigh your pet monthly at home, be sure to be consistent in the method used to weigh your pet and the scale used.   If you do decide to weigh at home, please call us with each monthly weight so that we can record it in your pet’s record for your veterinarian to review.  This enables your veterinarian to monitor the weight loss for any concerns that may arise due to too rapid of weight loss or any troubles in getting the weight off, and call you with needed changes to the plan.

Weight loss should always be monitored. Healthy weight loss should be a slow (1-2% per week) and steady process for your pet. It is critically important in cats that weight loss not exceed 1-2% per week because cats are very susceptible to liver damage that can occur when there is a large and sudden decrease in calorie intake. Any change in food type in cats has to be very gradual due to the need to keep the cat eating.  When a cat is presented with a new food, you cannot assume that he will “eat when he is hungry”.  Therefore, gradual mixing in of the new food is necessary. Your veterinarian will help you monitor the rate of weight loss and advise you if it is too rapid.

Visit our Facebook page frequently for tips, upcoming events in the community for you and your pets, articles on healthy living and for events sponsored by AHNA. It is a great place to share questions, make new friends, get support from other families, and recommend or get recommendations on toys, games or recipes. But most of all, our Facebook page is a great place to have fun! Remember that S.T.E.P.S. is not only for the cats and dogs that need to lose weight but for anyone who wants to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

As part of a healthy lifestyle, Animal Hospital of North Asheville is offering lower calorie treats during visits. The treat we most commonly give dogs is freeze dried liver which has approximately 10 calories per treat, but we can break the treats into four pieces of 2.5 calories each.  Our cat treats contain 4 calories each, but again these can be broken.  Unlike humans, pets value the experience of getting a treat and attach little value to size of the treat.  Frequent treats for your pet are an essential part of our program to decrease patient stress in the hospital.  By giving treats throughout the visit, starting on arrival and following through the exam and while visiting the treatment area for procedures, it allows us to keep a positive atmosphere for your pet. We break the treats into small pieces so they may have more frequent treats without a large amount of extra calories given. If you are working on a weight loss plan with your pet, we will always respect your wishes if you prefer no treats be given during the visit. However, we urge you to consider cutting back the amount of food given at breakfast or dinner the day of the appointment rather than forgoing treats during the visit. If your pet has a treat he especially likes and you want to bring it for us to give during the visit, we are very happy to give that instead. One client brings small sections of orange for her dog to receive because that is his favorite thing.  Likewise, if your pet has special dietary needs such as a hypoallergenic diet, please bring some of the food that he eats to be used as treats during the visit, since getting our treats might cause these pets to experience symptoms. 

We are looking forward to working hand in hand with families and the community to promote and maintain healthy living. If you have any questions or would like to enroll in the S.T.E.P.S. program, please contact Animal Hospital of North Asheville at 828-253-3393 or info@ahna.net.


A food and exercise log is a great way to take a look at how much food and exercise your pet gets in a day. Many times families many not realize how many extra calories a pet receives in a day.  Often overweight pets have gained weight from the snacks between the meals rather than the meals themselves.  Many times it is in the treats that various family members give without knowing what the other is giving. Be sure to write down every morsel your pet consumes. After filling out the daily food log, comparisons can be made as to how much a pet is eating to how much your pet should be eating. By discussing with your primary veterinarian you will be able to determine what is the correct amount and diet your pet should be eating.

Diet: Be sure to include to include the type of foods and the amount given. Include all snacks, treats, bones and tidbits given by all family members.

Exercise: Record all of your pet’s activity. Including playtime, walks, naps, petting, grooming, eating and begging.

Stop in and pick up your daily food log record sheet at the front desk.

AHNA is the PROUD SPONSOR OF Brother Wolf's Run for the Paws 5K Run and 1 Mile Fun Walk on April 22nd! Please join members of the AHNA staff WALKING or RUNNING at the event. Check out the S.T.E.P.S. Facebook page for weekly hikes (either Sat or Sun - times and dates TBA) to get ready for the walk!