Can my pet make me sick?

Did you know… Several diseases can be transmitted from pet to person, and vice-versa?

If you’ve ever shared your home with other people, you know that illnesses can travel from one person to another, until everyone’s been infected. The same can happen with pets and, even worse, illnesses can transfer from pets to people and back again. We call this zoonotic disease, and protecting your pets is the first step to protecting the rest of your family. Here are just a couple of the zoonotic diseases you should watch out for:

Mange Caused by specific mite species
Transmitted pet-to person through direct contact with mites on an infected animal

Signs and complications in pets: Itching, hair loss, dandruff or crusty lesions, and bleeding or oozing skin

Hookworm Infection Hookworms are thick, short (6- to 12-mm) worms that are whitish to reddish brown with a hooked front end. They live in the gastrointestinal tract. Transmitted pet-to-person through skin or fecal-oral contact

Signs and complications in pets: Diarrhea, anemia, weight loss, and deterioration of the skin and coat condition; adult dogs and cats may not show signs.

From rubble to renewal: Riverview Animal Hospital comes to the rescue

A family in Durango, CO family was enjoying an evening at home when their house exploded from a gas leak. Their 9 year old daughter, Cameron Kelley, drug herself out of the rubble while suffering from a fractured leg. Her mother and father, Tim and Karen Kelley, were uncovered about 4 hours later from under 4 to 6 feet of debris. Both Tim and Karen suffered severe injuries and were transported by helicopter for emergency treatment.

No one thought about the family pets until the next day. The family’s friends organized a team to look for Rocko, a chocolate lab, and Tippi, the family cat. After being trapped for more than 16 hours, Rocko was discovered and pulled to safety, although in serious condition. He was rushed to Riverview Animal Hospital where Dr. Randy Hays and his staff treated him for burns, ocular trauma, heart issues and liver trauma, during his 5 day stay in the hospital.

The hospital received numerous phone calls from people across the country wanting updates on Rocko and wondering how they could donate to his medical expenses. Rocko has since made a full recovery but did lose vision in one of his eyes. One of the bigger surprises was finding Tippi, the cat, 17 days after the explosion. He had lost nearly half his body weight and had some minor liver inflammation. His hair was burned so badly and embedded with insulation that the staff had to shave him, so his primary doctor, Dr. Stacee Santi, crocheted him a sweater to keep

Thanks to the incredible care and compassion from the staff at Riverview Animal Hospital, Tippi has also fully recovered and has joined the rest of the family at their temporary home in Durango as they focus on healing and savoring every moment they have together.

Eastern Shore Hospital gives ‘Beef ’ a second chance

In the wee hours of the morning, a yellow lab mix puppy, who was likely less than six weeks old, was abandoned at the doorstep of Eastern Shore Animal Hospital in Painter, VA in a National Beef box.

The puppy was seizing and while staying at the hospital had vomited a large amount of wild cherry pits. The hospital immediately posted an awareness message on their Facebook page to educate their clients on the dangers of toxic plants and tried to track down the puppy’s owner.

Within hours, the hospital had their entire community talking about “Beef ” as they were inundated with feel good messages. While the puppy was in critical condition, the hospital continued to keep their fans updated on the status and progress through social media. When she began to become more mentally alert and physically stable, the hospital even posted a video to their Facebook page to show her improved condition. Watch the video here.

Beef made a full recovery and was adopted by a family in Lynchburg that renamed her Koda. What a great way to engage the power of social media to educate clients about the dangers of ingesting harmful substances, as well as find a new home for a puppy in need.  Let’s all wish them luck because Koda is a lively lady now that she has made a full recovery!

Parasite Control

Intestinal parasites such as hookworms and roundworms can be a troublesome concern, especially for very young animals. Most puppies/kittens are born with worms and dogs/cats remain susceptible to the harmful parasites throughout their lives. Worms live inside your pet, making the symptoms difficult to pinpoint, and are therefore detected through a fecal analysis. Internal parasites can not only harm your pet, but many can also be transferred to children and adults, making them sick as well.

Your hospital performs a fecal analysis on all new puppies and kittens. If your pet does have a parasite problem, your veterinarian can provide you with different medications and treatments to remedy the problem and steer your pet back to good health. Preventive care and prescription heartworm medication are key, because of the damages presented by intestinal parasites to both pets and people.

As a pet parent, you should ensure your pet is receiving the safest and most effective ongoing preventive care.

Flea and Tick Control

Like most pet owners, you probably enjoy spending quality time with your pets both indoors and out. Don’t leave them at risk for any unwelcome visits from pesky parasites like fleas and ticks. Fleas and ticks can be very damaging to the human-animal bond, particularly when flea invasion gets out of control or when ticks hitch a ride with your pet. Not only can these unfriendly parasites make your pets extremely uncomfortable, they can pose grave health risks.

Since fleas can survive a cold winter by feeding on unprotected pets and ticks are active whenever it is warm enough outside for them to crawl about their surroundings, preventive measures should be taken year round. By undergoing measures to inhibit these outbreaks, the diseases these parasites transmit to pets and people can also be mitigated or prevented.

There are many safe and effective flea and tick control products available, and your veterinary team should be able to help you choose the correct preventive regimen based on your pets risk factors and health status. Once a year, it is important to discuss with your veterinarian which external pest control products are ideal for your household, based upon the everyday life of your pet.

Senior Pet Care

Thanks to the advancements in veterinary medicine, pets are living longer than ever. However with this increased lifespan comes an increase in the variety of conditions and diseases that they are susceptible to including osteoarthritis, kidney disease, heart disease, liver disease, cancer and diabetes. And because pets age faster than we do, health problems can progress much more rapidly.

According to the American Animal Hospital Association, scheduling regular veterinary examinations is one of the most important steps pet owners can take to keep their pets healthy. AAHA recommends that healthy senior dogs and cats (age 7+) visit the veterinarian every six months for a complete exam and laboratory testing.

Your senior pet’s wellness exam should include the following:

•Health Consultation
•Physical Examination
•Diagnostic Tests
•Intestinal Parasite Test
•Overall Wellness Recommendation
•Vaccinations (if necessary)
•Blood Work

A visit to your veterinarian is imperative if you notice any of the following:

•Unexplained weight loss
•Excessive drinking and/or urination
•Loss of appetite or lethargy
•Behavior changes
•Diarrhea or vomiting
•Skin lumps, bumps or irritation
•Bad breath, plaque on teeth or bleeding gums
•Ear odors, redness, scratching or head shaking

Does My Old Dog or Cat Really Need Senior Blood Work?

At least once a day, we are discussing senior blood work with a client for their elderly cat or dog states Amanda L. Maus, DVM, at Catalina Pet Hospital in Tucson, AZ.  Clients want to know why we should do the lab work.  Will “bad” results change anything that they already do for their pet?  The answer is yes!  When we do blood work for a senior pet, we are looking for conditions that the pet may be hiding or for recently appearing symptoms.

Once we are able to identify certain diseases, we can develop a treatment plan that may include changing the diet and prescribing certain medications.  For example, a senior cat may come in for his or her annual exam and we notice that the kitty has lost one or two pounds from the last visit.  There are several diseases that can cause weight loss in senior cats such as diabetes, kidney disease or thyroid disease.  Let’s say the kitty is diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, an overactive thyroid gland.  We are fortunate to have quite a few treatments options ranging from a prescription diet, pills, or radiation therapy.  By running some blood tests, we are able with certainty to address the specific cause of the cat’s weight loss and improve that patient’s quality of life!

If we can prevent or slow the progression of a disease, our senior pets are much more comfortable and can enjoy their remaining time with our families that much easier.

Submitted by:

Amanda L. Maus DVM
Catalina Pet Hospital
3801 East Fort Lowell Road
Tucson, AZ 85716


My Dog’s Stiffness or Limping is Just Old Age, Right?

cat, feline, joints, stiffness

Gabe, a 16-year-old domestic short hair cat, lies on a heated blanket to help his joints feel better.

When senior pets come into our office for their annual wellness exam, we ask slightly different questions of our clients then we did when their pets were younger states Amanda L. Maus, DVM, at Catalina Pet Hospital in Tucson, AZ.  Is your pet having any trouble jumping – onto the couch or into the car?  Is your pet slow to get up in the morning after laying down for a long time?  Has your pet seemed to slow down over the past few months? Is your pet limping or extra tired after a long walk he or she used to be able to do with no problem?  Has your pet lost interest in playing? Is your pet slow to lay down or seems to have trouble getting comfortable ?

All of these questions are aimed at discovering signs of pain in your pet. Pets are stoic creatures and do not cry or limp unless the pain level is very high.  If your answer yes to at least one of these questions, your pet may be having signs of arthritis or degenerative joint disease.  An x-ray of your pet’s legs or spine can help determine the location and extent of the disease.  Luckily, we are able to address this disease with lifestyle changes and medications, similar to how it is treated in people.

First, we address your pet’s weight in the form of a body condition score on a scale of 1-5 or 1 – 9.  If your pet is overweight, we can discuss either a change in feeding the current diet or consider changing to lower calorie food.  Daily moderate exercise in the form of walking or swimming helps with maintaining an ideal body weight as well as helps keep the joints mobile.

dog, canine, senior, arthritis, joints
Kona, a 9-year-old Rottweiler, takes Dasuquin, Metacam and Tramadol for his arthritis.

Next, we consider the use of medications.  Supplements such as glucosamine, chondroitin and omega 3 fatty acids are easy ways to help support the cartilage and natural lubrication of joints.  Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are a great way to provide pain relief and decrease inflammation in the joints.  If additional pain relief is needed, we consider the use of opiate type medications and medications that directly act on nerve and chronic pain pathways.

Finally, at home you can consider massage and range of motion exercises of the affected joint. A heated blanket or bed with padded bedding can really help soothe sore joints.  Additional therapies, such as acupuncture, may also help.

Instead of just blaming old age, we can try different lifestyle changes and medications that can provide relief for your senior pet.  Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian if you have noticed any of the above changes in your pet.  Together, we can develop a plan that is specific to your pets needs as they age.

Submitted by:

Amanda L. Maus DVM
Catalina Pet Hospital
3801 East Fort Lowell Road
Tucson, AZ 85716

My Cat’s Not Eating!

As we are in the midst of holiday season, it seems appropriate to discuss a topic that is likely to cause nightmares for any veterinarian states Nicole McCready, MDVM, at Camelwest Animal Hospital in Phoenix, AZ. Being presented with a cat who won’t eat frequently causes anxiety, and a feeling of urgency by veterinarians to correct the situation. The old thought of “If you wait long enough, they’ll eat” just isn’t the case with cats. They can and will starve themselves. To make matters worse, once a cat has stopped eating, it can be very difficult to get them eating again–even if you correct the initial cause!

When presented with a cat who won’t eat, there are two main goals your veterinarian is presented with:

1. Determine what’s going on and correct it if possible
2. Try to get calories and nutrition into the cat

Number 1 is a no brainer… Of course we have to find out why the cat isn’t eating. That’s why you brought him in, right? Your veterinarian has to be like a detective. Unfortunately your kitty can’t just tell us why it’s not eating. He doesn’t just walk in with a sign on his side that says “the rotten tooth in my mouth hurts” or “my kidneys aren’t working and I’m nauseated”.

anorexic cat, Hepatic LipidosisThere are many causes of a cat not eating, some obvious, and some not so apparent. It could be anything from a painful infected tooth, cancer, nausea from organ failure, endocrine or hormonal diseases, stress in the home, or even a change in the food that the cat doesn’t like. Your veterinarian may ask you quite a few questions about the household, including about the other pets that live there, people in the home, any food changes, any other symptoms such as vomiting, and how long the problem has been going on.

A complete physical examination of the cat will then be performed. Often the cause of the decrease in appetite can be discovered after a 20 minute consultation. The next step will be some diagnostics, often a blood workup, a urine analysis, and x-rays, to find out about organ functions and look for signs of cancer or other physical abnormalities.

While we are waiting–either for diagnostic results, or to do something about the problem (like scheduling dental work), we will focus on the second goal — Calories! It is critical that your cat gets food back into their system. When a cat goes without eating they start to utilize the fat and muscle stored in their body. This sounds like a good plan, except that cats have the peculiar issue of the fat clogging up their liver. This can cause a potentially fatal type of liver disease called Hepatic Lipidosis (any vets reading this just shuddered a little bit).

Hepatic Lipidosis is the worst kind of catch-22. It’s caused by severe anorexia, and makes the kitty feel worse, so they REALLY don’t want to eat. The most important aspect of treating the disease is to get food into the cat. Of course, this is going on in a cat who probably has some other disease that has already made them not want to eat!

Sometimes the kitty has to be force fed, your veterinarian may use appetite stimulants, or we may recommend a surgically implanted feeding tube. This may seem drastic, but getting adequate calories into your cat may make the difference between life and death. There are times an owner may think “But I got that tablespoon of food into her this morning…” or “She ate two bites of chicken…” but this is really not sufficient. Until you are able to get your cat to eat a whole chicken breast over the course of a day, you are not getting enough in (Note! DO NOT try to force a whole chicken breast into your cat– its likely to be unpleasant for both you and the cat. Follow the advice of your veterinarian regarding getting food into your cat, feeding amounts, and proper techniques).

An anorexic kitty may seem like a relatively minor issue, but as your veterinarian’s palms are becoming sweaty. If we’re recommending a list of diagnostics and force feeding, please realize your vet is just trying to prevent the snowball from rolling downhill any faster. If your cat stops eating, DON’T WAIT– take him to your vet! The sooner your kitty is seen, the more likely we can resolve the issue and get your cat eating again without any major interventions.

Submitted by:
Nicole McCready, MDVM
Camelwest Animal Hospital
10045 W. Camelback Road #105
Phoenix, AZ 85037