Thanksgiving safety tips

The holiday season is upon us and seems to always be packed full of family, friends and food, but with all of the celebration comes possible health concerns for our furry friends. Emergency visits to the veterinarian increase during the holidays and are usually due to pets having eaten something they shouldn’t have states St. Francis of Assisi Veterinary Medical Center Thanksgiving Safetyin San Antonio, TX. Below are some general tips to follow while enjoying the holidays with your pet this year:

  1. Make no bones about it. Meat bones can easily splinter and cause serious damage to your pet’s gastrointestinal tract. Make sure you have properly disposed of all of the bones and that the garbage is kept out of reach from our curious companions.
  2. Avoid the fat. Too many fatty, seasoned, unfamiliar foods can lead to pancreatitis and gastroenteritis in your pet. Both of these medical conditions can be painful and even life-threatening. If you decide to give your pet a bite of turkey, make sure it is boneless, lean and well-cooked to avoid salmonella bacteria.
  3. Avoid the sweets, stick with treats. Consider all of the desserts prepared during the holidays, many of which contain chocolate and other toxic ingredients to our pets. Keep your pet’s noses out of the batter and focused on a treat of their own such as a made-for-pet chew bone or a Kong toy.
  4. Guard the garbage. Even if your pet isn’t one to snoop through the trash, the tasty smells of freshly cooked food can be very tempting, so make sure the garbage is properly tied up to avoid your pet reaching any dangerous items or making a mess of the festivities.
  5. Eat, drink, and be merry. With all of the hustle and bustle of the holidays, make sure your pet has fresh water, food of their own and quiet time away from the excitement to ensure they aren’t overwhelmed by the festivities.

If you have any questions about keeping your pet comfortable during the holidays, contact your local veterinarian.

Why all the Feline Wellness Talk?

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Feline Wellness Exam

“Each veterinarian’s primary goal is to allow your pet to have the best quality of life feasible for as long as possible.”

As the practice of medicine, both human and veterinary, has evolved over time, physicians increasingly share a philosophy of promoting wellness. But what does wellness really mean? This mindset of wellness and prevention means that doctors are looking to provide care for their patients before the worst has already happened, and put into play supportive measures that can delay, if not completely prevent the onset of illness and disease, especially those related to aging and the environment states Bush Animal Hospital in Eugene, OR. Each veterinarian’s primary goal is to allow your pet to have the best quality of life feasible for as long as possible . The tools a veterinarian has available to achieve this can range from simple regular routine examinations and vaccinations to more complex nutritional and pharmaceutical support.  Wellness examinations do not necessarily mean that your pet is going to be subjected to a barrage of complicated medical tests and treatments.

Some animals may need close monitoring of blood work, x-rays or other tests or many pets benefit simply from being physically examined, having their heart and lungs listened to and their general health assessed. Thus preventing a health issue from developing undetected. A general health assessment before surgery can help prevent complications and assure a speedy recovery. Ask your veterinarian for guidance in developing a plan for your cats health care to give you as many years as possible with your cat companions.

The Scoop on Poop

A fecal examination is the microscopic evaluation of the feces that is used to identify the presence of intestinal parasites. Some of the parasites are worm-like, while others are simple single-celled organisms called protozoa. Fecal examinations are recommended on all animals as part of a yearly health exam. Fecal examinations are also recommended on all puppies and kittens. However, if a pet develops diarrhea of unknown cause, exhibits unexplained weight loss, or has a history of prior parasitic infections, additional fecal testing will often be recommended.

Why is this important and why should you care?

Most of these parasites are not visibly shed in the stool, though microscopic eggs can be found in otherwise normal looking feces. Some of these parasites are zoonotic, meaning they can be transferred from your pet to you or your family. Children are the most susceptible to zoonotic parasites since they tend to put things in their mouth and play in the dirt, where these parasites are found. These worms can cause abdominal pain, skin irritation, neurological problems and vision loss. Studies have shown that approximately 20% of children contract roundworms every year from their pets in the United States.

Coccidiosis is an intestinal tract infection caused by one-celled organisms (protozoa) called coccidia.

Roundworms can be transmitted from pet to pet via infective eggs shed in the stool. Worms can sometimes be vomited up or seen in the feces and look like spaghetti. If a growing pet is infected with a large number of roundworms, they can stunt growth, cause serious digestive upsets and result in excessive gas formation. These pets have a characteristic ‘pot bellied’ appearance.

Tapeworms in pets cause few problems in adults, but can result in digestive upset and stunting of growth in puppies or kittens. Some tapeworms are zoonotic, meaning humans can be infected by the pet. Depending on the type of worm involved, a large number of worms can cause intestinal blockage.

Hookworms are one of the most pathogenic parasites of the dog. The hookworm is approximately 1/2 to 1” (1-2 cm) long and look like strings of spaghetti and attaches to the lining of the intestine. As a result of blood sucking, hookworms can cause severe and sometimes fatal anemia. In addition, the infective larvae can enter the host either by mouth or through the skin, particularly the feet. Eczema and secondary bacterial infection can result due to irritation as they burrow through the skin.

Giardia is a one-celled parasitic species classified as protozoa. Clinical signs can be continuous, or persistent with diarrhea and weight loss, while some animals show no signs. When the eggs (cysts) are found in the stool of a pet without diarrhea, they are generally considered a transient, insignificant finding. However, in young animals and debilitated adult pets, they may cause severe, watery diarrhea that may be fatal.

Whipworms are intestinal parasites which are about 1/4 inch (6 mm) long and are usually not seen in the stool. They live in the cecum and colon of dogs where they cause severe irritation to the lining of those organs. This results in watery, bloody diarrhea, weight loss, and general debilitation. They are one of the most pathogenic worms found in dogs.

What should you do about it?

The doctors of Countryside Animal Hospital in Tempe, AZ recommend an annual fecal exam and a monthly parasite prevention (Heartgard Plus) to protect your pets and family from contracting any zoonotic parasites. Remove feces from your lawn, street or kennel daily. Exercise your pets in grassy areas not frequented by other animals. Prevent your pet from eating rodents such as mice, rats and rabbits. Control fleas.