Thanksgiving Safety Tips

The holiday season has arrived, 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. Below are some general tips to enjoy the holidays with your pet this year:

Make no bones aboutbone 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 your curious companions.

 

 

catPets aren’t for stuffing. 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.

 

sweets

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.

 

 

kitchenKeep out of the kitchen. 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 and kitchen preparations are properly tied up and covered to avoid your pet reaching any dangerous items or making a mess of the festivities.

 

 

Eeat drink.gifat, 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.

 

Keep Your Pets Happy and Safe This Halloween

Halloween ushers in its own brand of awesomeness in the form of pumpkiniStock_000010646352Small_jpg[1]s, candy, and costumes. Spider webs and creepy decorations set the stage for ghost stories and trick-or-treating. But holiday fun for humans can translate into hazards for companion animals. Halloween is the busiest time of year for the Pet Poison Helpline because companion animals often accidentally ingest Halloween candy or décor. Check out the following tips for West Hill Animal Hospital, in West Hills, CA,  to help keep your furry friends safe and happy this Halloween season:

  • Keep your animals inside around Halloween and away from the front door during trick-or-treating. Animals can become excited or threatened by visitors, so keep them in a separate and enclosed room where they can remain calm—this also eliminates the risk that they will escape. Don’t leave dogs in the yard because they can escape or be subjected to torment by passersby. As an added precaution, make sure that your animal companions wear identification at all times. And if you’re going trick-or-treating, don’t take your animals with you.
  • Although all cats should be indoor cats, this is even more important during the month of October—especially if you have a black cat. Black cats are often associated with dark forces and are an easy target for Halloween pranksters who commit violent acts against unsuspecting kitties.
  • Decorations pose a threat to dogs, cats, and other animals. Keep your animal companions away from jack-o-lanterns, candles, balloons, or other decorations that they could ingest, become tangled in, or be injured by.
  • One of the biggest hazards to four-legged friends during Halloween is candy. Keep candy in secure containers and in an area that your animal companions cannot gain access to. Chocolate is toxic to dogs, and sugary candy can lead to pancreatitis. Raisins, certain nuts, and xylitol (an artificial sweetener found in some gums and candies) can also be poisonous to furry friends. Plus, animals don’t remove the wrappers from candy and may try to eat discarded wrappers—ingesting these wrappers can cause choking or life-threatening bowel obstruction.
  • If you think your animal companion has ingested something, symptoms to watch for include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, not defecating or straining to defecate, agitation, increased thirst, an elevated heart rate, and in severe cases, seizures. Contact your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline immediately.

Do not hesitate to contact your veterinarian or the 24-hour Pet Poison Helpline immediately at 1-800-213-6680 if you suspect that your animal companion has ingested something or might be injured. Keep these numbers on hand for quicker response—the faster that you can get help, the less your animal companion will suffer and the more likely he or she will make a speedy recovery.

Senior pet care

Your pet ages more quickly than you do, making it essential that he/sBassettdog_jpg_jpghe be examined at least once a year and even more frequently as they approach their senior life stage. Often, pets begin to develop diseases  common to their senior human counterparts, such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, endocrine disease and cancer. These diseases can go unnoticed in their early stages, making preventive health care even more important.

The age at which a pet reaches the senior life stage varies breed and lifestyle. Additional annual screening for diseases and other age related problems should begin at age seven for most cats and small to medium sized dogs. Large and giant breed dogs should be screened starting at age five or six.  Wellness testing helps to establish healthy baseline  values and identify problems early, rather than waiting for obvious signs of illness. It is  recommended for all senior animals as well as any pet exhibiting one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Changes in your pets mobility
  • Noticeable weight loss or gain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea or vomiting
  • Lumps, bumps or irritation to their skin
  • Issues with their teeth
  • Issues with their ears or shaking of head

These behaviors may reveal that further, more specific tests may be needed. Family  Pet Clinic in North Richland Hills, TX recommends blood work and a  urinalysis yearly to all of our senior pets. It helps to show slight  changes in the tests to catch illnesses earlier.

Remember that with your at home observations and yearly tests can  prevent or slow down the progression of some diseases. If your older pet is exhibiting any of the above listed behavioral changes, you are the first with a voice to help them find relief.

Why should I spay my pet?

SammiBorerThere is much talk today about having your pet spayed or neutered. Why should you as a pet owner consider this for your pet? Scientific studies have shown that spaying/neutering has many different benefits. It can help decrease your pet’s risk of cancer, reduce the occurrence of several disruptive behaviors and may even help your pet live longer. One benefit that is extremely important in females is the reduced risk of pyometra.

Pyometra is an infection within the uterus. This infection occurs due to the hormonal changes within an intact female. When the female is in heat, her body undergoes several changes to create an environment that is optimal for pregnancy. Her uterus will not allow white blood cells to enter to ensure that sperm is not killed by these white blood cells. She will also start secreting progesterone to increase the lining of the uterus so it could potentially support fetal development if she does become pregnant.

If the female does not become pregnant, she will start a new heat cycle. Over time as she keeps going through these cycles, her uterine lining will become much thicker and may eventually start making cysts. These cysts may start secreting a fluid that is a perfect environment for bacterial growth. Bacteria are able to enter the uterus when the female is in heat. During heat, the cervix (which acts like a gate to the uterus) is not tightly closed. The bacteria is then able to slip through the cervix and into the uterus, thus starting an infection.

Pyometra can make your female dog or cat very ill. This can also be very painful to your animal.  If you spay your pet early enough you can prevent this horrible infection from ever occurring. A spay is an ovariohysterectomy which means that the uterus and ovaries are surgically removed, including the environment in which the pyometra causing bacteria thrive. In conclusion, eliminating the occurrence of pyometra is one of the many benefits to having your pet spayed.

 

Beat the heat!

With the approaching of the warmer weather and increased temperatures comes an increased risk of heatstroke.  According to Sahuaro Vista Veterinary Clinic,iStock_000015255391XSmall_jpg in Oro Valley, AZ, heatstroke occurs when a pet become extremely overheated and cannot lower its body temperature by itself.  This condition can come on very quickly, and without intervention.

Heatstroke can affect any animal at any time, but is most commonly seen in pets that have been left in parked cars.  A recent study showed cars parked on a partly cloudy, 93 degree day, saw temperatures increase to 120 degrees in just 15 minutes, making this a very real danger for pets.  Risks include exercising in warmer weather and being left outside during hot weather—especially if there is limited access to water and shade.  It is recommended to exercise your pet in the coolest hours of the day—early morning or later evening, and cool them off with a drink or a cool bath afterwards.

Under normal circumstances, animals pant to cool off.  If panting is not sufficient, their bodies redirect blood to dilated blood vessels in the skin—this helps the animal radiate heat to eliminate it from the body.  In a heat-stressed animal, the hotter the animal gets, the more blood is routed to the skin—and away from critical organs like the brain, kidneys and liver, causing these organs to fail.

Symptoms of heatstroke cover a wide range, including: heavy panting, vomiting/diarrhea, dehydration, collapse, seizures, coma and death.  It is imperative that if it is believed that an animal is suffering from heatstroke to be seen by a veterinarian immediately.  Not only will the doctor externally cool the pet, but fluids may need to be administered as well.  Death is common in patients with heatstroke, so time is of the essence.  Stay vigilant this summer and prevent unnecessary suffering.

 

Do you have an itchy pet?

Fleas can actually survive in cold weather, so make sure your pet is protected all year long! Is your best friend’s chronic scratching giving you the blues? Something as simple as allergies may be the culprit says Tina Williams, Hospital Manager of Sahuaro Vista Veterinary Clinic in Oro Valley, Arizona.

Just as in humans, dogs and cats both suffer from many kinds of allergies including food, environment, dust and pollen. Narrowing down where and why your furry friend is itching can help to quickly find a solution.

Healthy skin will be smooth and soft with no signs of irritation. If there is excessive dryness or oiliness, this can be a sign of an underlying skin problem.

If your pet seems to have itching all year round, this may be caused by a food allergy. This can occur in any age—even mature animals that have been on the same diet for long periods of time. Other symptoms of food allergies include: vomiting, diarrhea, and gas.

If the paw is the culprit, it could be a seasonal allergy. In fact, according to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), 85% of dogs suffering from itchy paws have allergies to pollen, dust mites or airborne allergens. If the paw does seem to be the target area for discomfort, also look for pink paws, fur loss in the area, or scabs.

Other factors such as infections, parasites, and hormonal imbalances can cause severe skin reactions. For accurate diagnosis and treatment, be sure to contact your veterinarian for a thorough physical exam.

Don’t let your pet get wrapped up in the holiday celebration!

As we celebrate the holiday season, we’d like to make sure that our furry friends don’t get wrapped up in some of the decorations or festive treats that may be hazardous to their health. Mary Jean Calvi, LVT, from Pawling Animal Clinic in PawliView More: http://hailiejayphotography.pass.us/ebah2013ng, NY alerts us to some of the dangers that may be lurking around the house to ensure your pets can enjoy a safe and happy holiday.

Resist the Fancy Feastings
As a part of our family, most of us try to share our holidays with our pets. But as difficult as it may be, try and resist the urge to indulge your pet in the rich foods of the season. Gastrointestinal upsets which can actually lead to more serious conditions such as pancreatitis are common complaints we see this time of year. Pets are not people and will do much better on a quality pet food diet!

Did you know that ingesting several ounces of chocolate can kill a small dog? Dark chocolate and baking chocolate are even more toxic. Make sure to keep all chocolate far out of reach of pets.

Deck the Halls
While decorative plants adorn many homes at this time of year, be aware that many ornamental plants of the season can be toxic to pets. Mistletoe, poinsettia, holly, and lilies are just a few. Symptoms can range from mild gastrointestinal upset, nausea and vomiting to kidney failure. When decorating with plants, remember to restrict animal access.

Oh Christmas Tree …
A veritable wonderland for animals, especially cats. But dangers abound! Water from your tree may contain fertilizers that can upset your pet’s stomach. Ribbons, tinsel, and string can easily become lodged in intestines and cause obstructions. Glass or other ornaments, if ingested, can cause internal lacerations. Close proximity to candles can singe hair quickly … or cause fires if accidently knocked over.

Dangers also lurk under the tree. Electric cords are potential electrocution risks. Small toys can cause obstructions and batteries contain corrosives that can cause ulcerations to the mouth, tongue and GI tract.

The Weather Outside is Frightful …
Adequate shelter from the elements should always be available for your outdoor pets. And don’t forget … water bowls left outside WILL freeze!

Outdoor cats will often seek the warmth from a car engine and climb right up under the hood. To avert any CATastrophes, bang on the hood or honk the car horn before starting your vehicle to warn any unsuspecting cat time to flee!

Winter Wonderland
Ice melting products, depending on the active ingredient, can be irritating to pet’s skin, pads and mouth. Restrict your pets’ access to areas where these products have been applied or make sure they wear their rubber booties too!

Antifreeze is sweet to the taste but did you know that one teaspoon can be lethal to a cat (4 teaspoons to a 10 pound dog!). Thoroughly clean up all spills and store antifreeze in tightly closed containers.

Not a Creature Was Stirring ….
Except for the mice! Ingested rat and mouse bait can cause serious clotting disorders. When using these products be sure to place them in areas totally inaccessible to pets. Always keep the product information should a problem arise. In an emergency, it is helpful to know which active ingredient was involved.

 

Osteoarthritis signs and treatment

Bassettdog_jpg_jpg“My dog seems to be getting up and moving slower since the weather change. What should I do?”

The most common reason for an increase in lameness or stiffness secondary to changes in the weather is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is the deterioration of joint cartilage and the inflammation associated with this damage. It can be limited to one joint or can affect multiple joints of the body. It is most commonly seen in middle age to older patients, and it can be a result of previous injury, genetic predisposition, conformational stresses, obesity, or excessive wear and tear from overuse. According to Parrish Tanner, DVM, at Quail Hollow Animal Hospital in Wesley Chapel, FL, the typical symptoms of arthritis include difficulty standing up or sitting, stiffness after laying down that improves with activity, and worsening symptoms with weather changes especially rain and cold. Osteoarthritis is seen often in all breeds of cats and dogs.

The first step for any patient displaying symptoms consistent with osteoarthritis is to evaluate their body condition/weight. The vast majority of dogs with symptoms of arthritis are heavier than their ideal body weight. If your dog is overweight, weight reduction through reducing food intake and moderate consistent low impact exercise (fast paced walks, swimming, etc.) of 30-60 minutes a day can have a profound positive effect. Even if a patient is not overweight, moderate exercise is almost always beneficial because it helps maintain or even build muscle mass.  This helps to support the damaged joints, reduces pain in the joint, and improves a patient’s range of motion. It is important to note that osteoarthritis and its symptoms are usually slowly progressive and lifelong, therefore, treatment and lifestyle changes to combat arthritis are life long as well.

Medical treatment for osteoarthritis usually comprises a multimodal approach. Treatment can include but not be limited to dietary changes, nutritional supplements, anti-inflammatory and pain medication, physical therapy, acupuncture, cold laser therapy, and occasionally surgical intervention. By treating arthritis in multiple ways, improvement of clinical symptoms is more greatly achieved while at the same time reducing side effects associated with high does of pain medication.

Dietary changes and nutritional supplements are often the first logical step to combat osteoarthritis. There are two prescription diets that have been shown in studies to help control symptoms of arthritis, and they also help in achieving an ideal body weight through calorie restriction. Supplementing the diet with omega 3 fatty acids and glucosamine/chondroitin can also have a very positive effect on patients that are suffering with arthritis.

If lifestyle changes, dietary changes, and nutritional supplements are not controlling the symptoms of arthritis then medication and other therapies would be indicated. The most commonly used medications for arthritis are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. NSAIDs can have a significant effect on the inflammation and pain of arthritis, but it is important to understand that there potential side effects associated with these medications and all other medications used for arthritis. Consistent monitoring, examinations, and bloodwork are needed when patients are on any medication for arthritis.

As our pets age, the signs of osteoarthritis can become evident to us either gradually over time or sometimes very acutely. Dr. Tanner stresses the importance of contacting your veterinarian for an examination, if your dog has started to have difficulty with mobility. An exam is the first step in determining whether a patient is developing osteoarthritis or has other medical cause for immobility. If arthritis is the cause, we can begin tailoring therapy for your dog to hopefully give him/her the most pain free, happy life possible.

Why microchip your pet?

Is your pet not microchipped? Well, then, it's a great time to make an appointment to have that done.

Is your pet not microchipped? Well, then, it’s a great time to make an appointment to have that done.

Don’t forget, August 15 is National Check the Chip Day! Thousands of pets become lost every day, and microchip identification is the one reliable way to reunite these lost pets with their owners. The procedure is safe, easy, inexpensive, and practically painless.

The microchip itself is about the size of a grain of rice. It contains a tiny metallic “bar code” surrounded by an inert membrane which makes it non-reactive when it is placed under the skin. The microchip is injected under the skin between the shoulder blades with a hypodermic-type syringe. Although the needle itself is larger than those used for vaccinations, most pets don’t seem to notice any more than any other injection. Once the chip is in place, it should be there for the life of the pet, and we will register your microchip to ensure your contact information is associated with the bar code number.

If the pet becomes lost, all animal care facilities (shelters, veterinary hospitals, pounds, etc) will scan the pet for a microchip, using a special microchip reader that is simply waved over the skin. These scanners are very reliable and easy to use. Once a microchip is found, a special hotline is called, and the lost pet is reported. The pet owner is then called immediately and given the contact information about where to pick up their pet.

Regardless of the type of chip, every pet should have microchip ID. Some owners feel that their pet doesn’t need identification because it is always in the house, but in our experience these are the most likely pets to become lost when they get outside by accident. As separation from your pet can happen all too easily, appropriate identification, ideally permanent identification by use of microchip, is critical. Industry figures claim that 8,000 pets every day are located and returned home because they have a microchip; your pet should be protected!

Take this opportunity to check your pets’ microchip registration and make sure the information is up-to-date. Is your pet not microchipped? Well, then, it’s a great time to make an appointment to have that done. Search for a local veterinarian in your area here: http://www.youranimalhospital.com/

Looking for a pet? Click here to access the Universal Pet Microchip Lookup: www.petmicrochiplookup.org

Watch out for Leptospirosis

Star, a seemingly healthy 9 year old Boston terrier, had been unable to retain food for the last 24 hours.  After being examined at Caton Crossing Animal Hospital in Plainfield, Dr. Heather Stopinkski delivered the troubling news to Star’s family: Star may have leptospirosis.

An often fatal and contagious bacterial infection, leptospirosis is transmitted through the urine of livestock and wildlife, such as raccoons, skunks, and rats.  In a recent study, 60% of raccoons were found to be infected with the bacteria.

Infection typically occurs when dogs drink from streams, ponds, or stagnant water where infected wildlife may have urinated.  Dr. Stopinkski warns, even if the dog walks through contaminated water, there is a chance the bacteria can enter through a cut on the paw.

Cats are naturally resistant to this bacterial infection, however it is possible for dogs to pass leptospirosis on to their human owners should they come in contact with the dog’s urine.  The infection is becoming more common in humans, with almost 200 cases of leptospirosis diagnosed each year.

Dr. Stopinski cautions even handling an infected dog with a cut on your hand or touching the dog and then putting something in your mouth can transmit the infection, which is just as dangerous to humans as it is to dogs.

Although symptoms may take a few days to manifest from initial infection, warning symptoms to look for in your pet include fever, loss of appetite, diarrhea and vomiting.  Typically, within the next few days following these initial symptoms, the dog will become lethargic, followed quickly by kidney and liver failure. Even if treated early enough, and the infected dog survives, Dr. Stopinksi has noticed the chance of permanent damage to the dog’s kidneys and liver remains high.

There has been an increase in infections in suburban areas due to the building of houses and resulting destruction of wildlife environment.  Dr. Stopinski realizes dogs now have a greater chance of contact with wildlife, and are thus becoming exposed more often. 

Fifteen years ago, the vaccine guarding against leptospirosis only protected against two strains of bacteria and caused adverse reactions such as vomiting, diarrhea, and breaking out in hives.  Today’s vaccine provides better coverage against the bacterial infection with fewer negative side effects.

Typically, puppies receive two injections given two to four weeks apart once they have reached 12 weeks old.  Dr. Stopinski suggests evaluating older dogs for the vaccine on a case-by-case basis depending on their exposure to wildlife and their present health conditions

Treatment for leptospirosis is aggressive, especially if the dog’s kidneys and liver have already failed.  Treatment includes hospitalization, antibiotics, and intravenous fluids.

Unfortunately for Star, the Boston terrier, treatment did little to cure the infection and she continued to decline in health.  The pain became unbearable and Star’s family made the heartbreaking decision to euthanize Star to alleviate her suffering.

It is important to talk with your veterinarian to determine if your dog runs the risk of contracting leptospirosis.  Get your dogs vaccinated against leptospirosis to protect your health and theirs.