Hurricane Preparations Plan for your Pet

“When disaster strikes, preparation makes all the difference,” states Dr. John Manolukas, DVM, at Hanover Regional Animal Hospital in Wilmington, NC.  If it is not safe for you, it is not safe for them.  Make a plan and assemble an emergency kit for yourself and your pet.

Start getting ready now!

ID your pet

Ÿ  Microchip – A simple injection can place a rice-sized microchip permanently in your pet. Hanover Regional Animal Hospital will register your pet for you, and provide online access to change any information.  This is the best wiStock_000004089992XSmall_jpgay to ensure your pet can be identified.

Ÿ  Collar – Make sure your cat or dog is wearing a collar with identification.  The information should include your cell number, pet’s name and if possible the name of a friend or relative outside your area who will be able to contact you if you have to evacuate.  For cats, we recommend break away collars.

Put together a disaster kit. (see instructions below)

If you evacuate, take your pet. If it is not safe for you then it is not safe for them. Remember, while you may plan to return in a day or so, sometimes it can take days to weeks before you can get back to your house.

Plan for a place to stay ahead of time. 

Friends and relatives. This is the best choice – as long as they live out of the path of the storm, tornado or hurricane, and your pets get along with theirs.   

Hotels.

Ÿ  Contact multiple hotels within a targeted safe zone and find out their pet policy.  Be sure to ask about their policies in evacuation situations.

Ÿ  Ask about any restrictions on number, size, and species.

Ÿ  Inquire if the “no pet” policies would be waived in an emergency.

Ÿ  Keep a list of animal-friendly places handy, and call ahead for a reservation as soon as you think you might have to leave your home.

Ÿ  Online resources for pet-friendly hotels:

     Doginmysuitcase.com

     Pet-friendly-hotels.net

     Pets-allowed-hotels.com

     Petswelcome.com 

Consider a kennel or veterinarian’s office.

Ÿ  Make a list of boarding facilities and veterinary offices that might be able to shelter animals in disaster emergencies.

Ÿ  Be ready for everyday emergencies – have your first aid kit ready to go. 

If you stay home, do it safely.

Plan and prepare a safe zone.

Ÿ  Gather the pets in the same safe location as the rest of family.  Identify a location where you all can stay together and make the safe area animal friendly.

Ÿ  Close off or eliminate unsafe nooks and crannies where frightened cats may try to hide.

Ÿ  Move dangerous items such as tools or toxic products that have been stored in the area.

Ÿ  Be sure to close your windows and doors, stay inside, and follow the instructions from your local emergency management office.

As soon as you know trouble is on the way.

Ÿ  Bring your pets indoors as soon as local authorities say trouble is on the way.

Ÿ  Keep pets under your direct control; if you have to evacuate, you will not have to spend time trying to find them.

Ÿ  Keep dogs on leashes and cats in carriers, and make sure they are wearing identification.

Ÿ  If you have a room you can designate as a “safe room,” put your emergency supplies in that room in advance.

Ÿ  Listen to the radio periodically, and don’t come out until you know it’s safe. 

Take care even after the disaster.

Keep taking care even after the disaster.  There are many dangers following a disaster, some of which are on the ground and in locations our pets are more likely to visit than us.  Be sure to scout out any area your pet will be investigating.

Ÿ  Your home may be a very different place after the emergency is over, and it may be hard for your pets to adjust.

Ÿ  Don’t allow your pets to roam loose. Familiar landmarks and smells might be gone, and your pet may be disoriented. Pets can easily get lost in such situations.

Ÿ  While you assess the damage, keep dogs on leashes and cats in carriers inside the house. If your house is damaged, your pets could escape.

Ÿ  Be patient with your pets after a disaster. Try to get them back into their normal routines as soon as possible. Be ready for behavioral problems caused by the stress of the situation. If these problems persist, or if your pet seems to be having any health problems, talk to your veterinarian.

Ÿ  If your community has been flooded, search your home and yard for wild animals who may have sought refuge there. Stressed wildlife can pose a threat to you and your pet. 

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How to put together a disaster kit

Keep the disaster kit in a duffle bag that can be grabbed quickly if you have to evacuate in a hurry.

Food and Water

Food: (per day amounts)

5 days worth of food for each pet, bowls and a can opener if you are using canned food.

       Dry food – 1 cup per 20-25 lbs of pet is a rough estimate.

Water: (per day amounts)

Dog                                          Cats

30 lbs  ¼ gallon    (4 cups),       Small Cats    1 cup

60 lbs  ½ gallon    (8 cups),       Medium Cat  2 cups

90 lbs  ¾ gallon  (12 cups)         Large Cat     3 cups

Medications and medical records. 

Ÿ  Write down your pets’ feeding schedules, medical conditions and behavior issues in case you need to board them.

Ÿ  Keep your veterinarian’s name and number with you.  A business card works great.

Ÿ  Make sure to have photos of you and your pets, to help identify them in case of separation and to prove ownership.  Microchips are still the best method of permanent identification.

Ÿ  Place a copy of all medical records in a waterproof container. These should contain any identification information such as a microchip and rabies certificates as well as county licenses.

First-aid kit. Place your pet first aid kit in a waterproof container in the disaster duffel. 

Plan for waste. Litter box, litter and garbage bags for collection of pets’ waste.

Control of pets.

Ÿ  Carriers – for safe transport of pets and to prevent escape.

Ÿ  Pillowcases – you should have a pillowcase for each cat and small dog to aid in capture and control.

Ÿ  Leashes and harnesses – to maintain control of your pets when they are under stress.

Comfort items – blankets bed and toys if convenient, to reduce stress.

 

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.

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.

A happy reunion for Tanner

TannerTanner, a very friendly six-year-old pug mix, was brought in to Best Friends Animal Hospital in Chambersburg, PA after he was discovered walking alongside a nearby road. He was scanned to see if he had a microchip and sure enough he did! As a result, the clinic was able to locate Tanner’s family in Maryland.

The family expressed to the clinic that he had been missing for nearly 3.5 years. As you can imagine, when they came to the clinic to see the pug, it was a very special reunion indeed. The video of their reunion was posted on the clinic’s Facebook page and received an incredible amount of exposure with close to 300 “likes” and 60 re-posts. Click here to watch footage!

With such a positive ending, this is great enforcement to all pet owners out there on the importance of microchipping.

Welcome Home, Tanner!

 

The dangers of Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis is a serious bacterial disease that infects dogs, horses and small wildlife.  It is a life threatening zoonotic disease, or a veterinary disease that can also infect humans.  When an infected animal urinates or salivates on their environment, which may include your lawn, they leave enough bacteria to be infectious if ingested by your pets, states Mary Jean Calvi, LVT, at Pawling Animal Hospital in Pawling, NY.

Often referred to as “Lepto,” it is most often acquired through accidental ingestion of infected urine. However, the bacteria can also enter the body through open wounds, abrasions or mucus membranes in the eyes of nose.  The signs and symptoms of Lepto mimic signs of many other diseases which is why immediate diagnosis is important.  These symptoms include fever, lethargy, GI upset, loss of appetite, joint pain, nausea, excessive drinking, general malaise, jaundice, yellow foamy vomit, dark or bloody urine or unusual “accidents” in the house.

Prevention is the best medicine. Vaccinating your pet against Lepto can make a difference.  Make sure you talk to your vet about this important vaccine.

 

Kennel Cough: Questions and answers

All of us have witnessed the condition known as kennel cough. Often we see our newly adopted or fostered dogs start to cough within hours of arriving off transport. This cough is usually a very mild and self-limiting infection, but it is important to understand that all of the causes for kennel cough are highly contagious. Dr. Jonathan Smith, VMD, of Larkin Veterinary Center in West Lawn, PA states that although it’s uncommon, any cough has the potential to lead to a more serious infection.

What causes kennel cough? In recent years, it has been determined that kennel cough is usually not caused by a single agent, but is often a combination of viruses or bacteria which act together. The condition is referred to Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex (CIRD). Most of the causes for kennel cough are actually viral, similar to the common cold in people. We routinely vaccinate for a number of these viruses, including distemper virus, parainfluenza virus, and adenovirus. However, there are a number of recently discovered viruses which can also cause similar signs that we do not routinely vaccinate for. These include the canine influenza (dog flu), the canine respiratory corona virus, and others that have not yet been identified. Because most of these infections are usually mild and resolve on their own, identifying them does not usually ultimately affect treatment. This is why veterinarians usually do not perform diagnostics to determine what’s causing the cough.

Isn’t the canine flu (CIV) more serious than these other infections? Yes and no. Dogs exposed to canine influenza can have a wide range of signs, including nasal discharge, fever, cough, and lethargy. As with the other viral infections, most young healthy dogs get better with little or no treatment at all over a 2-3 week period. Older or immunocompromised dogs are more at risk for this normally mild infection to develop into pneumonia.

Well then what about bordetella? Bordetella Bronchiseptica is a highly contagious bacteria which can cause an infection of the trachea and upper airways. It can also remain in the airways of asymptomatic dogs for weeks to months, and, unfortunately, immunity (either from vaccines or previous exposure) can be short lived. As with most of the other infections, bordetella usually causes a mild short term cough without any severe signs. Puppies, most notably brachycephalic (short faced) breeds more likely to develop pneumonia from a routine bordetella infection than other dogs.

Why do these dogs always appear to develop a cough right after transport? Lots of factors make dogs either more or less susceptible to these infections. Exposure, stress, nutrition, intestinal parasitism, vaccination or exposure history, and overall health affect a dog’s immunity. It is safe to assume that most shelter dogs have been exposed to at least one of these viruses or to bordetella prior to transport. Even if they are not displaying any symptoms before they travel, the stressful trip to D.C. causes their immune system to succumb to the infection and a cough develops.

How contagious are these agents? Unfortunately, all of the causes for kennel cough are highly contagious. Most infections are spread through aerosol (moisture droplets) from sneezing or coughing, and also through fomites. A fomite is any object which can transport the virus including people, clothing, shoes, or anything which is moved from one area to another. Veterinarians recommend that any dog that is suspected of having kennel cough be isolated from other dogs for 14 days, however they are usually only contagious for the first 7-10 days of illness. Of course, isolating dogs is often not a possibility for a foster or for newly adopted dogs, but the next paragraph explains why we are willing to risk exposure.

Should I be worried about bringing a coughing dog home? As we just discussed, most of the agents are highly infectious to other dogs. Whether a dog develops a cough from these viruses is entirely dependent on their immunity, which is shaped by their previous exposure (doggie day care etc) or vaccinations. Most young, healthy, vaccinated dogs are not at risk of becoming very sick from exposure to a new house mate. Similar to sending your children to school, there is always the risk of a dog developing a cough despite being the healthiest dog on the block. The more important point is that these infections are almost always mild, short lived and should not cause any lasting harm.

If most of these infections are viral, why does my veterinarian often treat with antibiotics? As in people, most viral infections cannot be treated directly. The main concern with a primary viral infection is that a secondary bacterial infection can develop. By treating with antibiotics, we can decrease the chance that a cough will develop into pneumonia. In addition, because bordetella is a bacteria and not a virus, it is very susceptible to an antibiotic called doxycycline. Thus, a course of doxycycline not only treats the bacteria but also can also limit the period in which it is contagious to other dogs.

When and why should I vaccinate? Unfortunately, immunity to bordetella is short lived, and most veterinarians recommend that any dog at high risk (doggie day care, grooming facilities, boarding facilities etc) be vaccinated as often as every 6 months. The vaccination can be either intranasal or injectable. Both of these work well, however the intranasal is much quicker in providing an immune response. There is also a vaccination for CIV (canine flu) available, and although we do not know how common CIV is in our local dog population, veterinarians currently recommend the vaccine for any dogs who fall within that same high risk category. As with the flu vaccine in people, none of these are 100% protective. Most boarding facilities require these vaccinations not just for your dog’s well-being, but also to keep the prevalence of these infectious agents to a minimum in their facility.

When should I be concerned that this is more serious than kennel cough? It is important to understand that there are many causes for coughing in dogs. If a cough is from CIRD your dog would have a history of interaction with other dogs, and the cough would start within the first week or so after exposure. The main concern with CIRD is its potential to lead to pneumonia, which is an infection of the lungs. If your dog’s cough persists for more than 3 weeks, if your dog becomes lethargic, stops eating, or is having difficulty breathing, he or she should be evaluated by a veterinarian as soon as possible. Heart disease, heartworm infection, lower airway disease (similar to asthma or COPD in people), parasitic or fungal infection, cancer and others are all possible causes for a cough. If a cough slowly progresses over weeks to months, and is unresponsive to antibiotics, it may not be a simple case of kennel cough. A physical exam by a veterinarian and chest x-rays are usually the next step to evaluate the lungs and airways.

If you ever have any questions or concerns about your dog’s cough, do not hesitate to contact or visit your local veterinarian.

Submitted by:
Jonathan Smith, VMD
Larkin Veterinary Center
2333 Penn Avenue
West Lawn, PA 19609
610-678-2525
www.larkinvet.net

How to brush your dog’s teeth

Dental disease is the single most widespread health problem in pets, and we know that good oral hygiene will add an average of 3 years of healthy life states Jamie Przybysz, CVT, at Bush Animal Hospital in Eugene, OR. Time to get out the toothbrush!

Ask your dog to sit or gently position into a seated position.dental 1  Carefully lift the lips to expose the teeth.  Praise the dog frequently during the procedure.  Simply examine the gum line for just a minute or two for the next few days.   The best time to brush is after the evening meal, when both you and your dog are relaxed.  My dog has been familiar with watching me brush my teeth, so I trained him to come and sit while I’m brushing my teeth, then he gets a treat reward before and after his brushing.  He learned this routine very quickly!  

When your dog is comfortable with sitting and hdental 2aving the lips handled, rub your finger over the teeth and gums for a minute or two.  This will get him used to having something in his mouth.  Next, put a small amount of specially formulated pet toothpaste onto your finger and allow the pet to taste it.

Next, you may want to graduate to a finger brush or gauze square. Gently rub the gauze over the teeth and along the gumline. You only need to concentrate on the outside of the teeth.  Make sure you are reaching the rear molars because this is where the majority of dental disease occurs. 

Now, you both may be ready to graduate to a regular bristled toothbrush.  Apply a small amount of paste onto the brush.  Place the brush bristles at a 45 degredental 4e angle to the gumline.  Move the brush gently in circular patterns over the teeth.  Start by only brushing a few teeth for a few seconds.  Don’t forget to praise your dog all along the way!  As the brushing sessions continue, include more teeth and build up to about 30 – 60 seconds on each side.  The teeth should also be brushed in a back and forth motion.  Brushing should be done every 24 – 48 hours. 

Submitted by:

Jamie Przybysz, CVT
Bush Animal Hospital
2415 Oakmont Way
Eugene, OR 97401
www.bushanimalhospital.com

So just what is inolved in a dental cleaning?

Every day, owners have questions about dental cleanings for their pets. What happens? Is it safe? Why does my pet have to have anesthesia to clean his teeth? We asked our doctors to help explain the procedure, and let you in on what goes on during a routine dental cleaning.

Why is anesthesia necessary? cat dental

Much like your experience at the dentist, a dental procedure involves using tools that vibrate at high frequencies, make loud sounds, and spray jets of water. The use of general anesthesia allows your veterinarian full access to the teeth, gums, and below the gum line.

What is involved in a dental procedure?

1. The beginning of the procedure involves cleaning off the tartar and calculus that is firmly adhered to the teeth; this requires both specialized dental tools with sharper edges, and machine assistance. Then a dental machine that utilizes ultrasonic vibrations to break-up mineralized tartar is used to remove remaining build-up on the surfaces of the teeth. A combination of the scaling machine and hand tools are used to remove tartar and calculus both above and below the gum line.

2. The teeth are polished with a mildly abrasive paste and polisher tool to smooth the enamel surfaces.

3. A protective substance, such as fluoride, is applied to the teeth to strengthen the enamel and kill bacteria responsible for dental disease. 

Your veterinarian and veterinary technicians function as a team, working and monitoring your pet carefully to provide the best care and ensure safety. Machines are used to keep a close eye on your dog or cat’s vital signs. Veterinarians are trained carefully to provide safe anesthesia, and to make your companion as comfortable as possible. Ask your veterinarian if you have any further questions and concerns about feline dentistry and anesthetic safety.

 

 

 

 

 

The truth about intestinal worms

Many people have the misconception that if they don’t see worms in their dog or cat’s stool that they don’t need to be dewormed states Dr. Rebecca Marr, DVM, at Owl Creek Veterinary Hospital in Virginia Beach, VA. This is a complete misunderstanding of the threat that intestinal parasites pose to your animal and to your family. Many intestinal worms can cause serious illness for the animal, but also can be transmitted and harmful to people as well. As veterinarians, we have taken an oath to protect public health and it is our job to inform and keep you safe from health risks that your companion animal may pose to you.

There are four main types of intestinal worms that affect dogs and cats: roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms. All of these worms take vital nutrients and protein away from your pet and may cause vomiting and/or diarrhea. Tapeworms are the worm’s owners typically seen around the rectum and are typically caused by ingestion of fleas or from hunting small rodents. Most of these can be prevented by regular use of flea prevention. Roundworms, Hookworms, and Whipworms are common in puppies and kittens, but also can infect adult dogs and cats. These worms live in your pet’s intestines and shed eggs in the feces, thus contaminating the soil, yard, litter box, etc. When your pet licks the dirt, eats grass, or cleans their feet they can accidentally eat these eggs and become infected. The adult form of the worm stays in the intestine and is usually not seen, while eggs are only visible with a microscope.

Roundworms and Hookworms have been known to cause disease in people; children and elderly are at an increased risk. It is therefore very important for the health of your pet and family to keep your pet as worm free as possible. The Companion Animal Parasite Council guidelines (www.capcvet.org) recommend deworming puppies and kittens repeatedly, routine fecal examinations, year round heartworm preventatives, and cleaning up dog poop from the yard daily.

Submitted by:
Rebecca Marr, DVM
Owl Creek Veterinary Hospital
587 S Birdneck Road
Virginia Beach, VA 23451
(757) 428-4344
owlcreekveterinaryhospital.com