How nutrition can play a role

dietary-counselingAccording to Catalina Pet Hospital, in Tucson, AZ there is no one cure-all remedy for allergies. Some conditions have a quick fix, while others require a lifelong commitment to careful management. The right nutrition can play a big role in this process.

There are certain aspects of your pet’s diet that can help diminish—or even eliminate—allergy symptoms. Protein is one of the key aspects of proper nutrition as it assists in promoting natural cell repair—and it is important that your pet gets the right kind. Sometimes it is necessary to switch your pet to an alternative protein such as venison or duck to help decrease reactions or intolerances to common food ingredients.

Essential fatty acids are another ingredient that are helping in controlling the symptoms of allergic reactions. Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids will help nourish and protect skin from dryness and flakiness.

Lastly, antioxidants are critical in helping to maintain a healthy immune system. Vitamin E and other antioxidants will help protect your pet’s immune system from damage due to cellular oxidation caused by free radicals.

Diet is a simple, every day way you can support your pet’s health and wellness. Talk to your veterinarian today on what diet is right for your best friend!

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.

Feline Leukemia Virus (FLV) Explained

Most cat owners have heard of feline leukemia virus or seen the acronym, FELV.  Perhaps you have had a new kitten tested for the virus, maybe you have discussed the leukemia vaccination, but few have had the chance to discuss the gravity and prevalence of this incurable disease states Deborah Karpf, Hospital Manager at Galveston Animal Hospital in Galveston, TX.

Graycat_jpg_jpgViruses attack the body by taking over their cells and turning them into virus producing machines.  This can kill the cell, or potentially cause it to become cancerous by changing the cell’s genetic makeup.  “The feline leukemia virus has a particularly devastating effect to the cells that make up the immune system and help produce blood cells,” explains Dr.Christina Guillory at Galveston.  This destruction to the immune system causes the infected cat to be less able to fight off disease and infection than a healthy cat, and more likely to experience harsher symptoms and longer recovery time before being well again, if at all.  The cat’s health will become progressively worse due to persistent illness, and possible cancer or anemia.  Even with the best of care, the life expectancy of the patient is usually no more than 1-4 years from the time of infection.

The feline leukemia virus is fairly easily spread through close contact among cats because the virus can be found in the saliva, feces, blood, milk and urine of infected cats warns Dr. Guillory.  Sharing litter boxes and bowls, mutual grooming, fighting, and sexual activity can all lead to the transmission of the virus.   The incidence of this virus is rather alarming; according to the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, 2.3% of the feline population in the United States is infected, with higher concentrations in areas that have large stray populations.

However, there is a bright side to this disease; the feline leukemia virus is preventable through vaccination!  The leukemia vaccine has been available for years and is very effective in stopping the virus from infecting our four-legged friends.   The American Association of Feline Practitioners advises vaccinating all kittens and at-risk adult felines, such as outdoor cats and group housing feline foster families.  Discuss with your veterinarian what the recommended preventive care plan is for your feline family.

Cheers to a new year and another chance to focus on your pet’s health!

Did you know…A gain of 2 pounds in a 20 pound dog is equal to a gain of 15-20 pounds in the average adult?

Picture2If your pet indulged a little too much over the holidays, a New Year’s Resolution to eat right and shed some weight might be just the thing he or she needs. These simple rules will help your pet start the year off in the right direction:

Calories In, Calories Out: Dogs and cats are no different than people – if they eat too much and aren’t active enough, they’re going to gain weight.

 Quality, Not Quantity: A good quality pet food will provide all the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals needed to keep your pet healthy. Your veterinarian can advise on how much to feed to obtain your pet’s optimal body weight.

Know Your Pet’s Lifestage: Puppies and kittens need more calories than adult pets to help them grow. Most senior pets need higher levels of fiber and fewer calories. Just like all pets are unique, all diets are not built the same.

Diet Impacts Overall Health: The right diet can help alleviate and treat skin problems, gingivitis, and scores of other medical issues.

 What is your New Year’s resolution for your furry companion going to be this year?

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 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.

What is Feline Diabetes?

According to a study performed by Purina, Diabetes is a very common disease in cats affecting up to 2% of the feline population in the United States.  This disease occurs when the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin, resulting in high blood sugar.  Richard Henderson, DVM of Gavelston Vets in Gavelston, TX warns that if left untreated, many other health problems can occur which can result in blindness, kidney damage, muscle weakness, and urinary tract infections.  Diabetic cats often require daily insulin shots at home, and frequent trips to the veterinarian for blood sugar tests and monitoring.

The increasing number of diabetic cats in today’s society is a result of sedentary indoor life styles and free-choice feeding, ending in an epidemic of obese felines.  There is also research that, for many cats, the carbohydrates in dry cat food cannot be used for energy, and is easily converted into stored fat.  For this reason, feeding canned cat foods that are high in protein anPicture2d low in carbohydrates can be fed to aid in weight loss and prevention of diabetes.

Your veterinarians will take a medical history from the cat owner and perform blood tests and urinalysis to determine if your cat has developed diabetes.  Dr. Henderson notes that diabetic cats can be successfully managed but requires a dedicated owner.  In cases where a cat is overweight but not yet a diabetic, a successful weight loss program will prevent the disease from developing and increase your cat’s longevity and quality of life.  Many feline diseases can be prevented through weight loss and weight management.  Proper diet is key not only caring for the diabetic patient, but also to prevent this debilitating condition from developing.

 

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

Valley Fever Cases on the Rise

Signs of Valley Fever are increasing in pets throughout Arizona, New Mexico, southwestern Texas and the central deserts of California. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, around 30-60% of people who live in these endemic areas are exposed to the fungus at some point in their lives, meaning your pet has the same likelihood of exposure as you do.

Caused by inhaling a fungus found in soil, Valley Fever (CAnimal Hospital Arizonaoccidioidomycosis) initially infects the lungs of your pet and may disseminate to other areas of the body such as to the organs and bones. Your pets may show no signs of infection; however those who cannot naturally fight off the infection will typically exhibit flu-like symptoms. If you notice your pet is lethargic, feverish, coughing, and shows a lack of appetite, have him/her seen by a veterinarian immediately.

“Valley Fever is causing real health problems for many people living in the southwestern United States,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “Because fungus particles spread through the air, it’s nearly impossible to completely avoid exposure to this fungus in these hardest-hit states. It’s important that people are aware of Valley Fever if they live in or have travelled to the southwest United States.” Like humans, pets are highly susceptible to inhaling these floating fungus particles, especially if your pet spends large amounts of time outdoors or likes to dig.

This recent increase in Valley Fever could be related to changes in weather, which could impact where the fungus grows and how much of it is circulating; higher numbers of new residents or changes in the way the disease is detected and reported to the states or CDC.

The only way to determine if your pet has in fact contracted Valley Fever is through a full panel blood test. Not every pet that gets Valley Fever requires treatment, but for those pets at risk for more severe forms of infection, it is important they receive an early diagnosis and complete veterinary care.

Now is the time to have your pet tested for Valley Fever.  A variety of Arizona animal hospital locations throughout the state will be offering 20% off a full or re-check blood panel with an exam through August 31st.  After the exam, you will be advised if screening for valley fever would be recommended for your pet based on history, lifestyle, and exam findings.  Click here to find the most convenient veterinarian in your area and check to see if they are offering this promotion.