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.

Pet Obesity Awareness

Humans aren’t the only ones who have been packing on the pounds in recent years. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, an estimated 54Pet Weight Loss%, or 93 million of dogs and cats in the United States are overweight or obese. Cats alone had the highest obesity rates at 21.4%, while dogs were fairing slightly better with 8.6%. So that means around 6.7 million dogs and 20 million cats are obese.

Being obese means the animal is 20% or more heavier than their ideal body weight, and 5-19% for those that are overweight. When asked by their vets, 90% of dog owners and 54% of cat owners responded that they regularly gave their pets treats. But when their vets tell them their pet is overweight, only about 17% of owners agree.

Why is this happening? The main problem is pet owners who believe feeding their pet large quantities of food and numerous treats is showing their pet love. In reality, doing so is killing their pet, for just like us obesity in pets causes various health problems and shortens their lifespan. A majority of pet food producers aren’t helping either, for they pack their products with byproducts, fillers, and non-digestible ingredients. They are even putting sugar into their treats! As an animal hospital we take obesity in pets very seriously.  Our pets are unable to monitor their own health. They don’t understand what calories are or notice that they ingest too many.

There are special diets that we can order to help kick start the weight loss for those patients are severely obese. Hill’s and Royal Canin have diets for both cats and dogs.  Treats at home can even be substituted with vegetables. Of course, consult with your veterinarian about dietary counseling or before changing anything in their normal diet to keep from causing gastrointestinal upsets.

Feel good pet tails; A tiny chinchilla fills a big heart

Judy and I went on a 14 mile hike in the Arizona desert today.  By the time we returned to our truck, it was getting a little cold, and I had a case of the chills.  It reminded me of one winter afternoon when I went to check a bunch of cows at a dairy farm in New York.  6 cows had twisted stomachs and needed surgery.  It was 20 below zero outside and colder inside the barn.

Each surgery took 45 minutes and I had to strip to the waist to scrub up and operated that way.  In between each surgery I pulled my coat on to prep the next cow and regain some body heat.  Before I began the last surgery, I went out to my truck and started it up and cranked the heater and blower up to as high as they would go.  When I finished and dressed again for the last time, my hands were shaking and my whole body vibrating uncontrollably.  The cows were doing fine but the doctor was blue.  I climbed into my truck and felt the lovely, delicious, heart and body warming heat blowing over me like the hot sun in July.  It felt so good I almost shed a tear.

I think of that day whenever I get chilled and remember my old friend, my truck, with the wonderful heater.  It’s amazing the simple things that bring us the greatest and most exhilarating joy.  Life doesn’t have to be so complicated, but it is.  I returned to the clinic to see a few small animal appointments.  I took a short hot shower and then began the appointments.  One of them was an 8 ounce chinchilla with a large tumor on his hind leg.  I had just operated on six 1500 pound cows and wrestled all day with cows, horses, farmers, and all manner of large animals and now my patient weighed less than a cup of coffee.  But the owner loved that little creature with all her heart and that was what brought us together in the exam room.

I had never operated on something so tiny.  It needed to have the leg amputated, so general anesthesia was the order of the day.  I devised a mask from a plastic syringe cover and made a hole in the bottom into which I could place the tube carrying oxygen blended with gas anesthetic to render the beast unconscious and without pain.  We clipped and scrubbed the leg and I chose the smallest  uture materials we had and went into surgery.  I carefully dissected the muscles of the leg and ligated all the tiny bleeders and removed the leg.   I sutured up the muscles covering the bone that was left and then sutured the skin.  I shut off the anesthetic so the chinchilla was just on oxygen, and within 5 minutes, it was up and moving around.  In an hour it was eating and doing well.

It was the most remarkable thing I had ever done.  Such a tiny beating heart about the size of a pea, but valiant in the struggle to live.  It is amazing the effect such a tiny creature can have on a human being.  They can uplift, strengthen, give purpose to being, save from depression, exhilarate, and bring joy to the troubled heart.  It certainly did all of those things for me.  As I watched it recover and run around I felt great purpose in my chosen career as I relayed to the owner the remarkable recovery of her beloved pet and watched her shed tears of relief.

Cited from the book Fella, a collection of lifetime memories that reminds readers of the trust animals place in us to be their friends and guardians.

By: Dan Gilchrist, DVM
Waterville Veterinary Clinic
Waterville, NY

Common dog dental questions – Answered!

85% of dogs over the age of 3 show some stage of periodontal disease. Think about it: If we didn’t brush for years on end, our teeth would be falling out from disease. So it is very important to learn about brushing your pet’s teeth and taking her to your veterinarian for regular oral care evaluations and professional cleanings. Ask a veterinarian to answer some common dental questions, and here’s what you’ll learn.

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How many teeth do dogs have? Most adult dogs have 42 teeth. For comparison, people typically have 32 permanent teeth.

When do baby teeth fall out, and what happens to them? This is breed and genetically dependent, so baby teeth will fall out at different times. But in general, around 14 to 16 weeks of age, dogs begin losing their incisors (front teeth), with others following in later months. The canine baby teeth (“fangs”) usually fall out when the dog is between four and six months of age.

What is the biggest factor that contributes to dental problems in dogs? The biggest issue is probably periodontal disease, which is inflammation of the teeth’s support structures. Depending on how advanced the disease is, this can affect gums and/or bone.

Will a dental cleaning help my pet’s breath? Dogs should not naturally have bad breath. A thorough dental cleaning and regular brushing at home is going to improve your pet’s breath.

Give your pet something to smile! Be sure to contact your local animal hospital to find a special dental offer that’s right for your pet or click here to find a location near you!

Thanksgiving safety tips

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

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

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

The Scoop on Poop

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

Why is this important and why should you care?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What should you do about it?

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

Deployment with Urban Search and Rescue

In September 2013, Laura McLain Madsen, DVM of Holladay Veterinary Hospital in Salt Lake City, UT had an amazing experience deploying with FEMA Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) to the flooding in Colorado. She has been working with the search dogs and handlers for about six years, and then officially joined US&R Utah Task Force 1 in 2012 as team veterinarian.

Some of the hundreds of pets who evacuated with their owners on Army helicopters.

Some of the hundreds of pets who evacuated with their owners on Army helicopters.

There are 28 US&R task forces across the country, each comprised of several hundred people and a dozen or so dogs. Unlike smaller search and rescue teams that are focused on finding people lost in the wilderness, urban search and rescue teams are large teams with heavy-duty equipment to focus on rescuing people trapped in urban environments after large-scale disasters. The disasters to which US&R deploys include terrorist attacks (World Trade Center), hurricanes (Katrina), earthquakes, tornadoes, etc. Each task force is capable of deploying within four hours of a disaster, with all the equipment, supplies and personnel necessary to be self-sufficient for 72 hours.

Most of her teammates are firefighters, since they already have training in rigging, extrication and rescue. The team is also comprised of physicians, structural engineers and canine handlers.

Laura McLain McLain, DVM, and “Zeteo,” a search and rescue dog.

Laura McLain McLain, DVM, and “Zeteo,” a search and rescue dog.

The team was called up shortly after midnight on September 13, 2013.  Dragging herself out of bed, Dr. McLain got her uniform and equipment, and drove to the warehouse. She performed pre-deployment exams on the four dogs, and filled out their health certificates. The team spent most of that day convoying to Boulder in a long line of semis, trucks and vans. All roads into Colorado were closed that crossed into the state through a highway patrol roadblock. The team finally got to the Boulder Airport around 6:00pm, where they set up their base of operations, alongside the US&R task force from Nebraska.

As a team veterinarian, Dr. McLain’s primary goal was to keep the search dogs healthy so they can do their job of finding any individuals that were trapped. All of the Utah team dogs remained healthy for the entire deployment, but one of the Nebraska team dogs became ill, with profuse diarrhea and dehydration. The Nebraska task force does not have a veterinarian (less than half the task forces nationally have DVM’s) so Dr. McLain treated him as well and he was back to work the next day.

Dr. McLain was also called on to examine pets of evacuee, where there were long lines of evacuees coming off helicopters. 20 Army Chinook and Blackhawk helicopters flew back and forth between the canyons and the airport, evacuating residents and their pets. Some helicopter loads had more animals than people. Of course there were many dogs and cats, but also a fair number of exotic pets: parrots, turtles, small mammals, geese, fish, and even a monkey. Overall, the pets were amazingly healthy and happy. A few dogs had minor abrasions and lacerations from the flooding that were treated.

The deployment lasted a week. Dr. McLain expressed that despite being sore, soaked, and mentally and physically exhausted, it wasan invaluable experience for her and all of the other team members involved.

 

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.

 

From Frisky to Risky: Detecting Feline Diabetes

Spotting feline diabetes is not easy. Why? If human beings with diabetes often overlook their own symptoms, imagine how difficult it can be noticing the signs your kitty may be diabetic. When it comes to noticing symptoms of diabetes in cats, recognition is even more difficult as pets lack the ability to effectively communicate how they are feeling. Any delay in diagnosis can allow the disease to advance to the point where it can cause extensive physical damage. Knowing the potential symptoms of feline diabetes is a proactive approach, ensuring your pet gets the help he or she needs before it’s too late.

Excessive Thirst

It is natural for cats to act thirsty in the hot summer months or after rambunctious exercise. However, excessive drinking throughout the day that continues for a number of days may be a sign of feline diabetes. If you notice you are fillingcalicocat_jpg the water dish more often, you should have your pet tested for diabetes. Spotting excessive thirst can not only help with early detection of diabetes, but many other diseases as well.

Excessive Urinating

If your pet is drinking more water, he or she will likely need to use the litter box to urinate more frequently. You may not recognize excessive water intake right away, as it tends to increase gradually. However, you should notice when you are changing the litter box at a greater frequency, or they may be coming in and out of the house as if through a revolving door. These are great indications that a trip to the veterinarian is warranted.

 “Sweet Breath”

Most every pet owner is accustomed to the unappealing odor of warm kitty breath. If you notice that your pet’s breath has sweetened, it may mean that his or her blood sugar levels are off. Although you may appreciate the appealing change in your pet’s breath, it could be a sign that something is amiss.

Shivering

If you notice your cat shivering even though temperatures are relatively warm, it could be a sign of hypoglycemia, also known as low blood sugar. This could potentially be a medical emergency. Your pet may require an insulin injection to stabilize blood sugar levels. Seek professional help as soon as possible, or your pet may suffer serious, permanent injury.

Lethargy

Cats suffering from feline diabetes may appear very tired and weak most days. If your normally active pet suddenly develops lethargy symptoms over the course of several days, take him or her to your holistic veterinarian to have their blood sugar tested.

Loss of Weight

Too much weight loss can lead to feline diabetes. If your pet is rapidly losing weight, he or she could have diabetes or a more serious illness. Take your cat to the veterinarian without delay.