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. 

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.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Health Warning: Prevent Heat Stroke in Pets

Pets and parents alike look forward to spending the long, sunny days of summer outdoors, but being overeager in hot weather can spell danger, warn ASPCA experts. 

“Even the healthiest pets can suffer from dehydration, heat stroke and sunburn if overexposed to the heat,” says Dr. Lila Miller, ASPCA Vice President of Veterinary Outreach, “and heat stroke can be fatal if not treated promptly.”

Watch out for the following symptoms of overheating in pets: excessive panting or difficulty breathing, drooling, mild weakness, stupor and even collapse. Pets can also suffer from seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomiting, along with an elevated body temperature of over 104 degrees.

Take these simple precautions, provided by ASPCA experts, to help prevent your pet from overheating. And if you suspect your pet is suffering from heat stroke, get help from your veterinarian immediately.
  • Avoid dehydration by always having fresh, clean water available and lots of shady places where pets can cool off. When the weather’s extremely hot, keep your pets indoors.
  • Give your dog a light summer haircut to help prevent overheating. Shave the hair to a one-inch length, but never down to the skin, as fur offers protection from the sun. Brushing your cat more often than usual can also help prevent problems caused by excessive heat.
  • When using sunscreen or insect repellent, be sure the product is labeled specifically for use on animals.
  • Never leave an animal alone in a parked vehicle. “On a hot day, a parked car can become a furnace in no time—even with the windows open—which could lead to fatal heat stroke,” says Dr. Louise Murray, Director of Medicine at ASPCA Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital.

Originally published by the ASPCA.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Keep Your Cat Safe in a Heat Wave

The temperature is soaring, and it’s only going to get hotter. Make sure you know how to keep your cat safe in the summer heat.

  1. Watch out for heatstroke. Symptoms include panting, lethargy, drooling, fever, vomiting and collapse. If you think your cat may have heatstroke, get the vet ASAP — the condition can cause permanent organ damage and death. Learn more about heatstroke in pets.
  2. Offer your cat several ways to cool off. Leave a fan on in a place where your cat can sit in front of it, add some ice cubes to her water or offer her a cool treat (check out our recipe for catsicles.)
  3. Let your cat find cool spots in the house. Your cat will seek out the cooler parts of your home, so make sure she has access to areas with tile floors or rooms that don’t get much sun.
  4. Play in the morning or evening. Any exercise should take place during the cooler hours of the day. This is especially important for young kittens and seniors, both of whom are very vulnerable to heatstroke. (If your cat has just eaten, make sure you give her some time to digest before you begin playtime.)
  5. Brush your cat often. A well-groomed, tangle-free coat will help keep your cat cool. (Learn more about grooming your cat.)

Article originally published by PetFinder.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Protecting Pets from Poisons in the Yard and Garden

Many gardens and yards around the country are growing and blossoming well ahead of schedule. Outdoor enthusiasts who are also pet owners are delighted with the early onset of spring, enjoying their outdoor living spaces while watching their pets run and play. 

The veterinary and toxicology experts at Pet Poison Helpline would like to keep pets safe this spring and summer by informing pet owners of potentially harmful substances, flowers and plants that are dangerous to dogs and cats. “Many of the calls that we receive at Pet Poison Helpline this time of year involve pet ingestions of yard and garden products that may have harmful chemicals or ingredients,” said Ahna Brutlag, DVM, MS, assistant director at Pet Poison Helpline. “Additional yard-related emergencies involve pets that have dug into and ingested the contents of compost piles, or consumed various plants and flowers that can be poisonous.” Some of the most common potentially harmful dangers for pets that reside in many yards and gardens are listed below. 

Mulch Products 
Cocoa bean mulch is made of discarded hulls or shells of the cocoa bean, which are by-products of chocolate production. The tempting “chocolate-like” smell often attracts dogs and may encourage them to eat the mulch. Processed cocoa bean hulls can contain theobromine and caffeine, the two toxins of concern in chocolate. Unfortunately, determining the amount of toxins in mulch can be difficult as it varies greatly from product to product. Many varieties contain very low amounts of the toxins and are not as dangerous as dog owners are often led to believe; however, varieties with higher toxin concentrations can cause vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, an abnormal heart rhythm, seizures and in extreme cases, death. Since it is not usually apparent how much of the toxin the mulch contains, it’s best to keep dogs a safe distance away, to always supervise your pet while outside, or to not use the mulch at all. 

Fertilizers, Soil Additives and Pesticides 
While fertilizers are typically fairly safe for pets, those that contain blood meal, bone meal, feather meal and iron may be especially tasty – and dangerous to dogs. Large ingestions of the meal-containing products can form a concretion in the stomach, potentially obstructing the gastrointestinal tract and causing severe pancreatitis, and those that contain iron may result in iron poisoning. Also, ingestion of pesticides and insecticides, especially if they contain organophosphates (often found in systemic rose care products), can be life-threatening, even when ingested in small amounts. Slug and Snail Baits Available in a variety of forms (pellets, granular, powder and liquid), slug and snail baits contain the active ingredient metaldehyde, which is highly poisonous to dogs and cats. When ingested, metaldehyde produces clinical signs of distress within one to two hours, including salivation, restlessness, vomiting, tremors, seizures, and life-threateningly high body temperature. These baits are highly toxic and without immediate veterinary attention, symptoms can last for several days and can be fatal. Compost Gardeners love their compost; however, it can be toxic to pets and wildlife so please keep it fenced off. As the organic matter decomposes, it is common for molds to grow, some of which produce hazardous tremorgenic mycotoxins. When consumed by an animal, moldy food or compost ingestion can result in sickness and physical distress in as little as 30 minutes. Symptoms include agitation, panting, drooling, vomiting, tremors and seizures. Prompt veterinary treatment with appropriate supportive care usually results in a good prognosis. 

Flowers and Plants 
Some of the most dangerous spring and summertime threats to pets in the yard are common flowers and plants. Sago Palm: Popular in warmer climates, this outdoor and indoor plant can be extremely harmful to pets. All parts of the plant, including the fronds/leaves, nuts and seeds are especially poisonous to dogs. Ingesting even a small amount can cause severe vomiting, bloody stools, damage to the stomach lining, severe liver failure and, in some cases, death. This plant is considered one of the most deadly in dogs and long-term survival is poor; only 50% of dogs who ingest is often survive this dangerous plant, even with veterinary treatment. Without treatment, sago palm poisoning can result in severe, irreversible liver failure. Prompt treatment is always needed for the best prognosis. Lily of the Valley: An early springtime favorite, the Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis) contains cardiac glycosides, which are also used in many human heart medications. When eaten by dogs or cats, this common perennial can cause vomiting, diarrhea, a drop in heart rate, severe cardiac arrhythmias, and possibly seizures. Any pet with a known exposure should be examined and evaluated by a veterinarian and treated symptomatically. 

Crocuses: There are two types of crocus plants: one blooms in the spring and the other in the fall. The spring plants (Crocus spp.) are more common and cause only gastrointestinal upset accompanied by vomiting and diarrhea in dogs and cats. However, the fall crocus (Meadow Saffron or Colchicum autumnale) is highly toxic and can cause severe vomiting, gastrointestinal bleeding, and multisystem organ failure with bone marrow suppression. Symptoms may be seen immediately but can be delayed for days. If you witness your pet eating a crocus and you are not sure what variety it is, seek veterinary care immediately. 

Lilies: Cat owners beware of lilies! While some types, such as the Peace (Spathiphyllum spp.), Peruvian (Alstroemeria spp.) and Calla (Zantedeschia spp.), cause only minor symptoms when eaten, other varieties of the true lily family (Lilium and Hemerocallis species) are deadly and highly toxic to cats, including Tiger, Asiatic, Easter, Japanese Show and Day lilies. Ingesting very small amounts – eating as little as two petals or leaves, orexposure to the pollen – can result in severe kidney failure. Even the water in a vase containing true lilies is considered highly poisonous, as the toxin in the plant is water-soluble. If a cat consumes any part of these lilies, he or she needs immediate veterinary care to prevent kidney failure. 

Pet Poison Helpline’s new iPhone application contains an extensive database of plants, chemicals, foods and drugs that are poisonous to pets. Always available with or without Internet access or cell phone service, the iPhone app has full-color photos for identifying poisonous plants, and a powerful indexing feature that allows users to search for toxins, cross-referencing them by common and scientific terms. For emergencies, it has a direct dial feature to the veterinary experts at Pet Poison Helpline. Called Pet Poison Help, the iPhone app costs $0.99 and is available on iTunes. More information is available here. 

While enjoying the beautiful gardens and flowers this spring and summer, have the knowledge to keep your pets safe. If, however, you think a pet may have ingested something harmful, take action immediately. Contact your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline at 1-800-213-6680. Pet Poison Helpline is the most cost-effective animal poison control center in North America charging only $39 per call, including unlimited follow-up consultations.

 Source: Published on May 7, 2012

Monday, April 20, 2015

Senior Wellness

Did you know that a dog is considered a senior at just seven years old? It’s easy to forget that pets seven and older need extra special attention, when they still seem so young. 

We’re here to help you understand what to expect as your pet ages, so you can give your pet the best quality of life possible in their golden years.  

Senior evaluations and evaluations include diagnostics as required.

View the video below for more details about wellness exams.