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.

Does my senior pet really need blood work?

Senior Wellness BoxerDogs and cats age more quickly than their human companions.  That being said, when a pet reaches seven years old, it is considered a senior – with the same types of health risks that humans face at advanced ages.  One thing that many veterinarians recommend is a senior blood panel.

There are many reasons a blood panel can be helpful.  If done consistently, annual blood tests can help a veterinarian track and evaluate the overall condition of a pet’s vital organs and health.  In addition, blood tests can help a veterinarian detect early signs of many serious health conditions such as: kidney disease, diabetes, hypo- and hyperthyroidism, and liver disease.

Senior profiles are more comprehensive and will provide a more thorough evaluation of your pet’s current health.  These panels can also provide a good look into the body’s response to medications and anesthesia.  There are different types of blood tests that can be done, all performing different functions.  A CBC, complete blood cell count, looks for adequate red and white blood cell numbers and checks their present condition.  The chemistry profile looks at various organ enzymes, glucose, proteins, electrolytes, and cholesterol.  Finally, senior panels also look at thyroid function, making sure it is not over or under active.  In addition, your veterinarian may need to check your pet’s urine for signs of disease.

Routine blood work is useful in many applications: to establish a baseline on a healthy pet to compare to later, to help diagnose a pet that is “just not right”, and in geriatric pets.  Speak to your veterinarian today to see if a senior blood panel is right for your best friend – it is the best gift you can give.

 

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.

 

Heartworm disease: Not just for canines

Indoor catsMost pet owners are aware of heartworm disease, the clinical symptoms, and how we can prevent this process from occurring in our four legged canine family members. However, many cat owners still remain unaware of the serious nature of the disease and the huge risk that it presents to their feline companions.  Feline heartworm disease manifests itself differently, although it can be just as life threatening in cats as in dogs.  According to Memorial Cat Hospital in Houston, TX, prevention is simple, and yet many feline owners remain unaware of the importance of monthly prevention in their pets. Unlike dogs, there is no treatment for eliminating heartworm disease in cats, making prevention all the more critical.

Although outdoor cats are at greater risk of being infected, a relatively high percentage of cats considered by their owners to be totally indoor pets also become infected. Overall, the distribution of feline heartworm infection in the United States seems to parallel that of dogs but with lower total numbers. There is no predictable age in cats to become infected with heartworms. Cases have been reported in cats from nine months to 17 years of age, the average being four years at diagnosis.

Heartworms do not need to develop into adults to cause significant disease and illness in cats.  Much of the clinical symptoms seen with Feline Heartworm Disease is caused by the microfilaria migrating through the lung tissue on the way to the cat’s heart.   Heartworm disease in felines affects the cat’s pulmonary system, not the heart, as in canine patients. Newly developing worms and the subsequent death of most of these same worms can result in acute pulmonary inflammation response and lung injury. This initial phase is often misdiagnosed as asthma or allergic bronchitis but in actuality is part of a syndrome now known as Heartworm Associated Respiratory Disease (HARD).

Monthly heartworm prevention is a simple, easy step that you as an owner need to take to keep your kitty happy and healthy for life!  If you have additional questions or need more information, please take the time to discuss with your veterinarian today!

To learn more about Feline Heartworm Disease and prevention of this insidious disease in our kitties, please visit The American Heartworm Society. Or, watch this informative video which explains heartworm disease in feline patients very well, and be sure to protect your furry feline friend.

 

Indoor Cats—not as safe as you think!

Indoor catMany cat owners have pets that are strictly kept indoors.This leads to a common misconception that these felines don’t need regular veterinary care as they are not exposed to as many environmental factors as their outdoor counterparts. According to the veterinarians at Catalina Pet Hospital in Tucson, AZ, this is profoundly untrue.

Indoor cats may not face all of the same risks as outdoor cats, but there are many factors that are unavoidable and can only be detected with proper, regular veterinary care. Some of the more prevalent feline ailments include: dental disease, cancer, and arthritis—just to name a few.

Dental disease is a commonly overlooked condition as it can be difficult to both check and clean a cat’s teeth. Studies show, however, that over 70% of pets over three years old have had some degree of dental disease. Dental disease is painful and progressive. If left untreated, it is possible for the pet to lose all of its teeth as well as developing further complications.

Cancer in felines, though not as common as in canines, is still a very real threat, One of the most common forms of feline cancer is lymphoma—which can be caused by the feline leukemia virus (FeLV). Feline leukemia can be prevented through an annual vaccination for it. Signs of cancer can include lethargy, weight loss, hair loss, and even vomiting or diarrhea—therefore, any of these symptoms should provoke a visit to the veterinarian.

Lastly, arthritis is an extremely common ailment among cats; in fact, 90% of cats over 12 have some degree of arthritis. It can be tricky to notice a change in a cat’s behavior as they typically get arthritis on both sides at the same time, and so, will not be favoring one leg or side.

In general, cats tend to be very private animals and do not demonstrate or vocalize pain the way that dogs and people do. Without the help of a veterinarian, diagnosis can be near impossible, and suffering drawn out. Regular veterinary care will help to prevent unnecessary discomfort and help promote a long and healthy life for the animal.

Anxiety in pets

It has been said that anxiety can almost always be traced back to the first two years of life, a traumatizing event or both. Three main types that owners need to be aware of are separation anxiety, noise anxiety, and social anxiety.  According to Dr. Parrish Tanner of Quail Hollow Animal Hospital in Wesley Chapel, FL, it is important to know when to spot these behavioral problems and know when it is time to call in the doctor for assistance. Bringing these issues up with your veterinarian is a good idea. They will be able to help eliminate the behavior or even help your pet cope with it’s underlying anxiety issues.Lonely Days

Some common behaviors that may be exhibited with separation anxiety dogs are excessive barking or howling, inappropriate defecation or urination, destructive chewing or scratching of windows, walls, doors, digging up of carpet and flooring in front of closed doorways when left alone.

Self mutilation behavior is also a sign of anxiety which can result in the formation of lick granulomas (a thick, firm oval-shaped plaque that results from excessive licking of the lower leg). Aggression exhibited toward the owners when they leave the house is one of the more serious behaviors.

Dogs with noise anxiety might behave as follows: shaking, hiding, cowering, urinating uncontrollably or refusing to leave your side. For dogs at the other end of the spectrum, destructive or self-mutilating behavior may be exhibited. Please note that dog’s have the ability to sense changes in the weather. If your dog is thunderstorm-phobic, he may start his noise-phobic behavior well in advance of an approaching storm because he knows its coming.

These are just a few behaviors that dogs with anxiety may exhibit. If you believe your pet may have anxiety problems, Dr. Tanner encourages you to contact your veterinarian for an appointment. It is a good idea to address these issues prior to the fireworks this Independence Day.

For additional details, visit Organic Pet Digest to receive more information on preventing and treating pet anxiety.

The low down on microchips

There is one thing that of veterinary care cannot prevent and that is a lost pet. According to HomeAgain, “1 in 3 pets goes missing during its lifetime”, including those indoor cats that NEVER go outside and for this reason microchipping is recommended. Veterinary hospitalsMicrochipping like Quail Hollow Animal Hospital, in Wesley Chapel, FL offer microchipping services to help make the chances that a lost pet will get back to his or her family a little higher.

Terrie Roberts, CVT at Quail Hollow explains microchip implantation can be done during an already scheduled anesthetic procedure or while the pet is awake. A microchip is about the size of a grain of rice and is injected, much like a vaccine, under the skin. Every chip is biocompatible so as to not cause any adverse reactions once implanted. Also, microchips are permanent, so once the chip is placed it will always be there!

The way a microchip works, is that each chip contains its own special number that is linked to information that could reunite the pet with its family. Once the microchip is implanted, the pet is registered with the owner’s information with a pet recovery service that has access to a national database. Registering with the recovery service is the most important step of the process. Should that pet go missing and be found, any vet facility or shelter will be able to scan for the microchip number and search the pet recovery service with that number. Once the pet’s information is found, the family can then be contacted. A microchip is only as helpful as the information linked to it.

Occasionally, pets are found with microchips that have outdated information. The key to microchip maintenance is to keep contact information current in case a pet does become lost. For more information about microchipping, refer to www.public.HomeAgain.com.

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.