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.

 

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.

 

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.

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.

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.