Thursday, June 9, 2016

Feeding Your Older Cat

Cats: They’re notoriously mysterious. They hide their illnesses well, often rule the home, and only want affection when they’re in the mood for it. Some cat breeds have average lifespans of nearly 20 years, while others might only live for 10. Most cats will begin to show visible age-related changes between 7 and 12 years of age. There are metabolic, immunologic, and body composition changes, too.

While some age-related changes are unavoidable, some can be managed with diet. It’s beneficial to start your cat on a senior diet at about 7 years old. Why? Foods specifically designed for senior cats help to maintain health and optimum body weight, slow or prevent the development of chronic disease, and minimize or improve clinical signs of diseases that may already be present.
As your cat ages, he or she will be more susceptible to particular health issues, including:
·         Deterioration of skin and coat
·         Loss of muscle mass
·         More frequent intestinal problems
·         Arthritis
·         Obesity
·         Dental problems
·         Decreased ability to fight off infection

Just like humans, cats who receive regular preventive health care and eat healthy diets will be less likely to suffer from age-related health conditions. Not sure what to feed your feline to help him or her age gracefully? Ask us—we’d be happy to help. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Tips for a Safe Memorial Day Trip with your Pet

Are you one of the millions of people who will hit the road over the long Memorial Day weekend? The American Red Cross wants everyone to have a safe trip and has some travel safety steps everyone can follow to help them enjoy their trip. DRIVE SAFELY With more people on the roads, it’s important to drive safely. Be well rested and alert, use your seat belts, observe speed limits and follow the rules of the road.

If you plan on drinking alcohol, designate a driver who won’t drink. Other tips for a safe trip include: 1. Give your full attention to the road. Avoid distractions such as cell phones.
2. Use caution in work zones. There are lots of construction projects underway on the highways.
3. Don’t follow other vehicles too closely.
4. Make frequent stops.
5. Clean your vehicle’s lights and windows to help you see, especially at night.
6. Turn your headlights on as dusk approaches, or during inclement weather.
7. Don’t overdrive your headlights.
8. Don’t let your vehicle’s gas tank get too low. If you have car trouble, pull as far as possible off the highway.
9. Carry a Disaster Supplies Kit in your trunk.
10. Let someone know where you are going, your route and when you expect to get there. If your car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Easter Pet Poisons

The veterinarians at Pet Poison Helpline receive hundreds of calls this time of year from pet owners and veterinarians concerning cats that have ingested Easter lilies. “Unbeknownst to many pet owners, Easter lilies are highly toxic to cats,” said Ahna Brutlag, DVM, MS assistant director at Pet Poison Helpline. “All parts of the Easter lily plant are poisonous – the petals, the leaves, the stem and even the pollen. Cats that ingest as few as one or two leaves, or even a small amount of pollen while grooming their fur, can suffer severe kidney failure.” In most situations, symptoms of poisoning will develop within six to 12 hours of exposure. Early signs include vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargy and dehydration. Symptoms worsen as kidney failure develops. 

Some cats will experience disorientation, staggering and seizures. “There is no effective antidote to counteract lily poisoning, so the sooner you can get your cat to the veterinarian, the better his chances of survival will be,” said Brutlag. “If you see your cat licking or eating any part of an Easter lily, call your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline immediately. If left untreated, his chances of survival are low.” Treatment includes inducing vomiting, administering drugs like activated charcoal (to bind the poison in the stomach and intestines), intravenous fluid therapy to flush out the kidneys, and monitoring of kidney function through blood testing. 

The prognosis and the cost – both financially and physically – to the pet owner and cat, are best when treated immediately. There are several other types of lilies that are toxic to cats as well. They are of the Lilium and Hemerocallis species and commonly referred to as Tiger lilies, Day lilies and Asiatic lilies. Popular in many gardens and yards, they can also result in severe acute kidney failure. These lilies are commonly found in florist bouquets, so it is imperative to check for poisonous flowers before bringing bouquets into the household. Other types of lilies – such as the Peace, Peruvian and Calla lilies – are usually not a problem for cats and may cause only minor drooling. Thankfully, lily poisoning does not occur in dogs or people. However, if a large amount is ingested, it can result in mild gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting and diarrhea. 

Other Dangers to Pets at Easter Time 
 Pet Poison Helpline also receives calls concerning pets that have ingested Easter grass and chocolate. Usually green or yellow in color, Easter grass is the fake grass that often accompanies Easter baskets. When your cat or dog ingests something “stringy” like Easter grass, it can become anchored around the base of the tongue or stomach, rendering it unable to pass through the intestines. It can result in a linear foreign body and cause severe damage to the intestinal tract, often requiring expensive abdominal surgery. Lastly, during the week of Easter, calls to Pet Poison Helpline concerning dogs that have been poisoned by chocolate increase by nearly 200 percent. 

While the occasional chocolate chip in one cookie may not be an issue, certain types of chocolate are very toxic to dogs. In general, the darker and more bitter the chocolate, the greater the danger. Baker’s chocolate and dark chocolate pose the biggest problem. The chemical toxicity is due to methylxanthines (a relative of caffeine) and results in vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, an abnormal heart rhythm, seizures, and possibly death. Other sources include chewable chocolate flavored multi-vitamins, baked goods, or chocolate-covered espresso beans. If you suspect that your dog ate chocolate, call your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline immediately. Spring is in the air and Easter is a wonderful holiday. Remember that your pets will be curious about new items you bring into your household like Easter lilies, Easter grass and chocolate. Keep them a safe distance away from your pets’ reach and enjoy the holiday and the season. 


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Holiday Pet Safety

“My pet would never eat food off the table!”
“My pet would never knock over the Christmas tree!”
“My pet would never bite someone!”

We all know our pets pretty well, but what we don’t always realize is that stress can make anybody do crazy things! When you have holiday guests or flashing Christmas lights or loud holiday music—or all of the above—at your house all at once, your pet may get stressed and frustrated, causing them to act out in unexpected ways. Most pet accidents are met with the statement, “He’s never done anything like that before!”

We recommend always making sure that your pet has a safe place to sit and relax during your holidays parties. Just like some people, pets need to get away from the action and de-stress, but most of the time they don’t know how to ask for their space. If your pet is comfortable in their crate, we recommend moving it into a quiet room and letting them spend some time resting during your holiday get-togethers. Your pet will be happier, and by extension, you and your guests will be happier! And holidays disasters will be prevented.  

Friday, November 20, 2015

Thanksgiving Pet Safety Tips

‘Tis the season for friends, family and holiday feasts—but also for possible distress for our animal companions. Pets won’t be so thankful if they munch on undercooked turkey or a pet-unfriendly floral arrangement, or if they stumble upon an unattended alcoholic drink. Check out the following tips from ASPCA experts for a fulfilling Thanksgiving that your pets can enjoy, too. 

Talkin’ Turkey
If you decide to feed your pet a little nibble of turkey, make sure it’s boneless and well-cooked. Don't offer her raw or undercooked turkey, which may contain salmonella bacteria.

Sage Advice
Sage can make your Thanksgiving stuffing taste delish, but it and many other herbs contain essential oils and resins that can cause gastrointestinal upset and central nervous system depression to pets if eaten in large quantities. Cats are especially sensitive to the effects of certain essential oils.

No Bread Dough
Don't spoil your pet’s holiday by giving him raw bread dough. According to ASPCA experts, when raw bread dough is ingested, an animal's body heat causes the dough to rise in his stomach. As it expands, the pet may experience vomiting, severe abdominal pain and bloating, which could become a life-threatening emergency, requiring surgery.

Don't Let Them Eat Cake
 If you’re baking up Thanksgiving cakes, be sure your pets keep their noses out of the batter, especially if it includes raw eggs—they could contain salmonella bacteria that may lead to food poisoning.

Too Much of a Good Thing
A few small boneless pieces of cooked turkey, a taste of mashed potato or even a lick of pumpkin pie shouldn’t pose a problem. However, don't allow your pets to overindulge, as they could wind up with a case of stomach upset, diarrhea or even worse—an inflammatory condition of the pancreas known as pancreatitis. In fact, it’s best keep pets on their regular diets during the holidays.

A Feast Fit for a Kong
While the humans are chowing down, give your cat and dog their own little feast. Offer them Nylabones or made-for-pet chew bones. Or stuff their usual dinner—perhaps with a few added tidbits of turkey, vegetables (try sweet potato or green beans) and dribbles of gravy—inside a Kong toy. They’ll be happily occupied for awhile, working hard to extract their dinner from the toy.


Thursday, September 17, 2015

Annual Veterinary Exams & Preventive Health Care for Dogs

We all know that preventing disease or catching it in its early stages is far better than treating it once it has had time to progress to a more severe stage. Preventive health care on a regular basis will help you do just that, and save you and your pet from needless suffering and a larger financial burden. This article explains what preventive measures you can take to keep your dog healthy. 

Just as annual physical exams are recommended for humans, they are recommended for our pets as well. If your dog is older or has medical problems, he may need even more frequent examinations. A year is a long time in a dog's life. Assuming our pets will live to their early teens, receiving a yearly exam means they will only have about thirteen exams in a lifetime. That is not very many when you think about it. 

 During your dog's annual physical exam you should review these aspects of your dog's health with your veterinarian: 
Vaccination status Parasite control for intestinal parasites, fleas, ticks, mites, and heartworms 
Dental health – care you give at home; any mouth odors, pain, or other signs of disease you may have observed 
Nutrition – including what your dog eats, how often, what supplements and treats are given, and changes in water consumption, weight, or appetite 
Exercise – how much exercise your dog receives including how often and what kind; and any changes in your dog's ability to exercise 
Ears and Eyes – any discharge, redness, or itching Stomach and intestines – any vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, gas, belching, or abnormal stools 
Breathing – any coughing, shortness of breath, sneezing, or nasal discharge 
Behavior – any behavior problems such as barking, 'accidents,' or changes in temperament 
Feet and legs – any limping, weakness, toenail problems 
Coat and skin – any hair loss, pigment changes, lumps, itchy spots, shedding, mats, oranal sac problems 
Urogenital – any discharges, heats, changes in mammary glands, urination difficulties or changes, neutering if it has not already been performed 
Blood tests – especially for geriatric dogs, those with medical problems, and those who are receiving medications 

 How often? 
You may have heard about the current controversies regarding vaccinating dogs and cats. Some researchers believe we do not need to vaccinate annually for most diseases. But how often we should vaccinate for each specific disease in adult animals has not yet been determined. We do not know how long the protection from a vaccine lasts. It may be 5 years for one disease and 3 years for another, and less than 2 years for another. Almost all researchers agree that for puppies we need to continue to give at least three combination vaccinations and repeat these at one year of age. They also agree that rabies vaccinations must continue to be given according to local ordinances. Against what diseases? Experts generally agree that the core vaccines for dogs include distemper,canine adenovirus-2 (hepatitis and respiratory disease), canine parvovirus-2, and rabies. Noncore vaccines include leptospirosis, coronavirus, canine parainfluenza andBordetella bronchiseptica (both are causes of 'kennel cough'), and Borrelia burgdorferi (causes Lyme Disease). Consult with your veterinarian to select the proper vaccines for your dog or puppy. Researchers at the Veterinary Schools at the University of Minnesota, Colorado State University, and University of Wisconsin suggest alternating vaccinations in dogs from year to year. Instead of using combination vaccines (vaccines against more than one disease), they recommend using vaccines with only one component, e.g., a vaccine that only contains parvovirus. So, one year your dog would be vaccinated against distemper, the next year against canine adenovirus-2, and the third year against parvovirus. Then the cycle would repeat itself. Other researchers believe we may not have enough information to recommend only vaccinating every 3 years. As with cat vaccines, manufacturers of dog vaccines have not changed their labeling which recommends annual vaccinations. Again, each dog owner must make an informed choice of when to vaccinate, and with what. Consult with your veterinarian to help you make the decision. For more information on vaccines, see Vaccines, Vaccination, and the Immune System of Dogs. 

When and how often pets should be tested for heartworm infection is also a matter of debate. In making a decision on when to test, we must consider how common heartworm disease is where the pet lives, what heartworm preventive the pet is receiving, and how long the mosquito season lasts. The American Heartworm Society (AHS) advises all adult dogs being started on a heartworm preventive for the first time should be tested. In addition, all dogs should be tested annually for heartworm infection. In the past, if a dog had been on preventive methods routinely, it was not considered necessary to test every year, perhaps only every two to three years. Because of reports of animals on preventives that still contracted heartworms, the AHS recommends a more conservative testing routine. It may be too difficult to document when an animal hasn't been checked in three years, and therefore, annual testing will ensure that an infection is caught in plenty of time to effectively manage it. 

As with vaccinations and heartworm testing, you will find different opinions on when or if fecal examinations should be performed and when or if pets should receive regular 'dewormings.' Decisions on testing and worming should be based on circumstances such as: the age of your dog the likelihood your dog is exposed to feces from other animals whether your dog is on a heartworm preventive that also controls intestinal parasites if your dog has been previously infected if you plan to breed your female dog if there are children who play with the dog Regular deworming is recommended by the American Association of Veterinary Parasitologists (AAVP), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC). Puppies* Initiate treatment at 2 weeks; repeat at 4, 6, and 8 weeks of age, and then put on a monthly heartworm preventive that also controls intestinal parasites. Using a year-round heartworm preventive/intestinal parasite combination product decreases the risk of parasites. 

If not using such a product, worm at 2, 4, 6, and 8 weeks of age and then monthly until 6 months of age. Nursing Dams Treat at the same time as puppies. Adult Dogs If on a year-round heartworm preventive/intestinal parasite combination product, have a fecal test performed 1-2 times per year and treat appropriately. If not on a year-round heartworm preventive/intestinal parasite combination product, have a fecal test performed 2-4 times per year and treat appropriately. Also monitor and eliminate parasites in pet's environment. Newly Acquired Animals Worm immediately, after 2 weeks, and then follow above recommendations. * Drs. Foster and Smith suggest that owners of newly acquired puppies should obtain the deworming history of their new pet and contact their veterinarian to determine if additional deworming is needed. Roundworms and hookworms of dogs can cause serious disease in people, especially children who may not have good hygiene habits. Treating your dog for worms is important for your pet's health as well as your own. Many veterinarians would agree that at a minimum, dogs should have an annual fecal examination performed. Fecal examinations are advantageous. By having a fecal examination performed, you will know if your dog has intestinal parasites. If she does, you may need to change her environment and access to other animals. You will also know what type of parasites she has so the proper medication will be selected to kill all of them. 

Many veterinarians are starting to recommend screening tests for our older pets. Just as we have our cholesterol and blood pressure checked more often as we grow older, it is suggested our older pets need some routine checks too. Diabetes mellitus, kidney disease, and some hormonal diseases occur much more frequently in older animals. To test for these conditions and identify them before severe and/or irreversible damage is done, blood tests and sometimes radiographs are helpful. An abnormal result means we can diagnose and treat the condition early. Normal results are helpful in giving us a baseline with which we can compare future results. Many of our older animals are also on medications and may require tests to evaluate the medication level and/or potential harmful effects on various organs. Oral health is also extremely important in our older pets, so they may require more frequent dental check-ups. If you have an older dog, discuss these options with your veterinarian. In summary, annual exams along with recommended blood screening in older animals, vaccinations, heartworm testing, and parasite control will help your dog live a happier and longer life.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Time to Clean Your Pet's Ears?

Veterinarians see a lot of patients with ear infections. In fact, it's the second most common reason for a client visit, according to pet health insurer, VPI Pet Insurance. With ear problems prompting so many trips to the vet, should ear cleaning be a necessary part of grooming your pet?

Generally, cleaning a dog's ears on a routine basis is not necessary, according to Leonard Jonas, DVM, MS, DACVIM, a veterinarian with Wheat Ridge Animal Hospital in Wheat Ridge, Colo. That's because animals have a naturally occurring self-cleansing process.
"I've had pets my whole life," Jonas said. "I don't remember ever routinely cleaning out their ears."
However, that doesn't mean pet owners should never take notice of their dog's ears. Certain breeds, lifestyles and physical characteristics will make a dog more prone to what Jonas calls "abnormal situations," in which the pet's normal homeostasis is disrupted. This is when something, either systemically or locally in the ear, interferes with the normal surface barrier defense system and the normal cleaning process that keeps bacteria and yeast under control.
There are signs to watch for if your pet is having an issue with its ears. These, according to Jonas, include:
  • Shaking its head
  • Flapping its ears
  • Rubbing at its ears, either with a paw or by rubbing against furniture or carpet
  • Self-massaging the ear to ease itch, pain or irritation
  • Debris and/or redness inside the ear
  • Sores inside the ear
  • Odor in the ear due to abnormal oils and bacteria
"If you [the pet owner] look in the ear, you can see sometimes a lot of debris," said Jonas, explaining what an ear with an infection or problem may look like. "Then [you] see redness on the ear flaps (inside) or sores developing. And then there's also odor that occurs when you have an abnormal ear."

Breeds to watch
There are certain breeds of dogs—such as Shar Peis, bulldogs and poodles—that have narrow ear canals and have a higher chance of incurring ear issues. Poodles, especially, have more hair in the canals, Jonas explained. "The hair itself is not a problem, but if they've got something abnormal with their whole defense system, all that extra hair in there makes it difficult."
Cocker spaniels are notorious for ear problems, Jonas added.

When to clean your pet's ears
According to Jonas, it's best to consult your veterinarian before going forward with an ear-cleaning regimen. Unlike cleaning the teeth, cleaning the ears does not need be done regularly. If a pet owner suspects that something may be wrong with the ear, it's advised to visit the veterinarian and establish whether the dog's ear needs to be cleaned by the owner either routinely or for an instructed period of time.
Cleaning the dog's ears without first seeing a veterinarian is not a good idea, Jonas said, "because you don't know what's going on inside. You don't know if there has been a ruptured ear drum; you don't know if there's a stick or a stone or something stuck down inside the ear that needs to be fished out by a veterinarian."
A veterinarian can diagnose the problem and make the proper recommendations, which may be cleaning and/or medication.
Typically, there are two situations for which a dog's ears would need to be cleaned regularly. The first is when a veterinarian instructs for it to be done, and the second is when the dog is frequently in water. "Water in their ears disrupts the normal defense barrier system in that ear, and can make them prone to getting infections and irritation and inflammation," Jonas said.

If there needs to be ear cleaning
A veterinarian should show the owner how to properly clean the dog's ears because "there are a lot of different techniques, and it depends on what the problem is," Jonas advised.
There are a couple of precautions to always remember, according to Jonas. First, never use a Q-tip, because it tends to push the wax and debris further into the ear. Second, be sure a groomer does not pluck the hair out of the dog's ears, unless that hair is contributing to an ear problem; Jonas believes that doing so may cause irritation.
One thing pet owners should also consider is that if the dog has an ear infection, it could be very painful for them. Forcing the dog to get its ears cleaned or putting medication in them can be a dangerous situation for the owner and the dog.
"If your pet doesn't want you to do it, don't, because it hurts," Jonas said. "You're just going to create a problem, and you need to look to alternatives."

Originally published by Healthy Pet.