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.

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!

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.

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 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.

 

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

Flea and Tick Control

Like most pet owners, you probably enjoy spending quality time with your pets both indoors and out. Don’t leave them at risk for any unwelcome visits from pesky parasites like fleas and ticks. Fleas and ticks can be very damaging to the human-animal bond, particularly when flea invasion gets out of control or when ticks hitch a ride with your pet. Not only can these unfriendly parasites make your pets extremely uncomfortable, they can pose grave health risks.

Since fleas can survive a cold winter by feeding on unprotected pets and ticks are active whenever it is warm enough outside for them to crawl about their surroundings, preventive measures should be taken year round. By undergoing measures to inhibit these outbreaks, the diseases these parasites transmit to pets and people can also be mitigated or prevented.

There are many safe and effective flea and tick control products available, and your veterinary team should be able to help you choose the correct preventive regimen based on your pets risk factors and health status. Once a year, it is important to discuss with your veterinarian which external pest control products are ideal for your household, based upon the everyday life of your pet.

Senior Pet Care

Thanks to the advancements in veterinary medicine, pets are living longer than ever. However with this increased lifespan comes an increase in the variety of conditions and diseases that they are susceptible to including osteoarthritis, kidney disease, heart disease, liver disease, cancer and diabetes. And because pets age faster than we do, health problems can progress much more rapidly.

According to the American Animal Hospital Association, scheduling regular veterinary examinations is one of the most important steps pet owners can take to keep their pets healthy. AAHA recommends that healthy senior dogs and cats (age 7+) visit the veterinarian every six months for a complete exam and laboratory testing.

Your senior pet’s wellness exam should include the following:

•Health Consultation
•Physical Examination
•Diagnostic Tests
•Intestinal Parasite Test
•Overall Wellness Recommendation
•Vaccinations (if necessary)
•Blood Work

A visit to your veterinarian is imperative if you notice any of the following:

•Unexplained weight loss
•Excessive drinking and/or urination
•Loss of appetite or lethargy
•Behavior changes
•Diarrhea or vomiting
•Skin lumps, bumps or irritation
•Bad breath, plaque on teeth or bleeding gums
•Ear odors, redness, scratching or head shaking