April is National Heartworm Awareness Month - 04/04/2019
April is National Heartworm Awareness Month. Dogs are probably the first pets that come to your mind when you hear heartworm disease. Although dogs are the pet most commonly affected by heartworm, cats can be affected, too. recent studies have shown that the incidence of heartworm disease in cats is much greater than previously thought. Compared to dogs, cats are not a natural host for heartworms and are relatively more resistant; however, we still see an infection rate of 5 to 20% of the rate of dogs within the same geographic area.
Cats become infected by heartworms the same way dogs do; through the bite of an infected mosquito. Many pet owners are surprised to learn that about a third of heartworm-infected cats are indoor cats. Think of how easily a mosquito can enter your home -through a tear in a screen, or through an open door as you enter or depart.
Heartworm disease can’t be transmitted from one pet to another, cats must be bitten directly by a heartworm infected mosquito to get the disease. When the mosquito bites a cat, the mosquito inserts its sharp mouthpiece into the cat’s body. The mosquito then deposits microscopic heartworm larvae into the cat’s bloodstream as it feasts on the cat’s blood. The larvae mature for several months, then migrate towards the heart and lungs through the bloodstream. They end up on the right side of the heart and in the pulmonary artery (the large blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the lungs), where they mature into adult heartworms. About six months after initially entering the cat, the heartworms are mature enough to reproduce.
Cats can be particularly difficult to diagnose with heartworm. There are no specific clinical signs in cats, although they may show non-specific signs such as lethargy, lack of appetite or weight loss. The most common sign is the sudden onset of cough and difficulty breathing, which can often be mistaken for and/or misdiagnosed as asthma. Sometimes, an apparently healthy cat may be found dead or may develop sudden respiratory failure leading to death, in which case heartworm disease may be diagnosed post-mortem.
Unfortunately, unlike treatment for dogs, there is no medication to kill heartworms that is approved for treating cats. Treatments are usually supportive, focused on managing symptoms of the disease and preventing the reproduction of new heartworms. Surgical removal of the worms is possible, but is often reserved for cats with poor prognosis without surgery. However, because cats are not natural hosts for heartworms, the worms are often unable to complete their life cycle and die without reproducing. This means heartworm infections may be short-lived in some cats and may resolve on their own.
The best way to prevent heartworm in your cat is to give your cat heartworm preventive. In warmer climates like Arizona where mosquitos can be active year-round, cats should receive a preventive year-round. There are many forms of preventive, usually given monthly; they may be given orally or applied topically. Your veterinarian can suggest products that best fit your cat’s needs. Talk to your veterinarian about how to best protect your cat.
Adult Versus Senior Pets - 03/07/2019
If you watch television, you’ve probably been seeing an increasing number of commercials on TV and in print about lifestyle nutrition, including an emphasis on different diets for different ages of pets. While it is relatively easy to determine when a cat or dog becomes an adult versus a kitten or puppy, the shift from adult to senior is less obvious, particularly when it comes to dogs.
Smaller breeds of dogs tend to age at a slower rate than large and giant breeds. Nevertheless, the changes that signal the onset of aging generally begin to occur at around 6 -8 years of age in dogs and around 9 years of age in cats. Most veterinarians agree that dogs are considered to be senior at 7 years of age, while cats that are more than 10 years of age are considered senior. Furthermore, in the past few decades we have seen a rise in the average age of dogs and cats, with more and more pets over the age of 10.
Often, an early sign of aging in our pets is a change in the coat or hair, such as the presence of gray in the coat, particularly around the chin or face, a change in the texture of hair, or thinning of the coat. Skin becomes less elastic and more fragile, and may become either drier or greasier, depending on the pet.
It’s common for the pet’s claws to become drier and more brittle with age, and nails may break off more easily or become thicker and somewhat misshapen. You may need to trim your pet’s nails more frequently because of these changes, and your pet may require more frequent bathing.
Changes in your pet’s digestive system may lead to decreased ability to digest nutrients from their food, leading to problems such as weight loss or loss of muscle mass. Some pets become obese in old age, while others become thin and bony. In both of these cases, diet changes are necessary.
Older animals are at risk for developing diseases such as thyroid disorders, liver problems, kidney problems, high blood pressure, heart disease, muscle and/or joint problems such as arthritis, etc. Many of our pets hide the signs of sore or aching joints from us, and the only subtle sign of problems may be decreased activity as shown by reluctance to play, climb stairs or jump up or down onto or off of furniture.
Since many of these age-related problems can be difficult to spot by the average pet owner until they are advanced, senior pets should visit the veterinarian more often. Annual check-ups are considered to be the normal for adult cats and dogs, but once a pet becomes senior, twice a year checkups are advisable so that your veterinarian can look for subtle signs of problems before they become serious.
Since dogs and cats age at a much faster rate than humans, visiting the veterinarian every six months would be the equivalent of visiting your doctor for a physical examination every 3 or 4 years! A senior examination for your pet will always include a complete physical examination and periodic evaluations of blood, urine and fecal samples as well as other tests, depending on the individual patient.
Over the past several decades, research into optimal nutrition has resulted in the formulation of nutritional recommendations that provide the right blend of fats, proteins, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins to slow the signs of aging and help deal with problems that accompany aging. Seniors need a different diet than adult cats and dogs. On your next visit to the veterinarian with your senior pet, be sure to discuss these recent advances in clinical nutrition, so that you can make an informed decision about what is best for your furry friends and how you can help prolong their lives.
February Is Dental Month - 02/04/2019
Most of us don’t think twice about brushing our teeth every day or about going to the dentist for a check-up and cleaning every six months to a year. Some of us try to brush your pet’s teeth every day or so, but do we take our pets to the veterinarian at least once a year for a regular check-up or cleaning? Plaque and tartar can build up just as easily on your pet’s teeth if your pet doesn’t have regular dental care. Serious dental disease can result and impact more than just your pet’s teeth and gums.
You’re not just combatting bad breath when your pet has a check-up and cleaning. Dental disease, or periodontal disease, is a serious health condition. Periodontal disease is the result of plaque and tartar build-up under the gums. Because plaque contains millions of bacteria, plaque and tartar build-up cause inflammation and infection of the tissues surrounding the teeth. It can cause eroded gums, broken teeth, severe pain, and even bone loss to the jaw.
Bacteria under the gum line can affect other areas of your pet’s body, too. Bacteria from the mouth can travel throughout the body and put your pet at greater risk of developing heart, kidney, and liver disease, and complications from diabetes.
You can help prevent periodontal disease by using dental products recommended by your veterinarian (products that have the Veterinary Oral Health Council Seal of Acceptance). These products have been proven to slow the development of plaque and/or tartar in pets and include special diets, chews, edible treats, water additives, wipes, oral sprays, and toothpastes. Be cautious of products that make claims of whitening teeth if there is no Veterinary Oral Heal Council Seal of Acceptance.
Avoid giving your dog or cat products that are too hard – hard bones can chip or break teeth – dental treats and bones should bend.
If you don’t know how to brush your pet’s teeth, ask your veterinary health care team for help. They can advise you on how best to hold your pet and position the toothbrush. They can also provide tips for a successful stress-free session.
Daily brushing, treats, and water additives can help keep periodontal disease at bay. However, a yearly exam by your veterinarian is extremely important. Your veterinarian will assess your pet’s gums and teeth, look for signs of inflammation and infection, and may recommend a professional cleaning or tooth extraction if periodontal disease is present.
Your veterinarian will review with you what procedures are likely required prior to the professional dental cleaning. Your veterinarian may perform preanesthetic blood tests to ensure kidney and liver function are satisfactory for anesthesia, as well as an evaluation of the heart and abdomen, if needed. Anesthesia is important to allow tooth-by-tooth examination including dental x-rays.
A dental cleaning visit will include a thorough dental examination, teeth cleaning, and polishing to remove the tartar and periodontal disease-causing plaque. Both hand and ultrasonic scalers are used to remove plaque and tartar above and below the gum line. After scaling, the teeth are polished to remove microscopic scratches and decrease the rate of subsequent plaque build-up.This is done while your pet is under general anesthesia. Once anesthetized, your veterinarian and veterinary assistants will thoroughly examine the mouth, noting abnormalities in the medical record. A dental probe will be used to evaluate gum bleeding and periodontal pockets where food can accumulate and decay, if not properly cared for.
When periodontal disease is advanced, it may not be possible to save the badly affected teeth, which may need to be extracted either during the procedure or at a later time.
The treatment your pet may require will be discussed with you after the cleaning, once each tooth and the gums have been checked. Since it can be difficult to predict the extent of dental disease in advance of the procedure, your veterinarian may contact you during the procedure to discuss any additional treatment that may be necessary.
Never use human toothpaste with your pets. Human toothpastes contain ingredients that are not intended to be swallowed and could cause problems for your pets. Also, avoid using baking soda to clean your pet’s teeth. Baking soda has a high alkaline content and, if swallowed, it can upset the acid balance in the stomach and digestive tract.
Pet toothpastes are non-foaming and safe to be swallowed. They are available in flavors appealing to pets. Additionally, many of these toothpastes contain enzymes that are designed to help break down plaque chemically, which reduces the time you need to actually spend brushing your pet’s teeth.
Regular wellness checks with your veterinarian and daily brushing will help your pet live a longer, healthier, and pain-free life!
Fitness Trackers for Pets - 01/15/2019
Fitness trackers have become very popular over the past ten years. Fitbits, smart phones, and smart watch trackers allow us to monitor our daily health data: number of steps taken, calories burned, and total distance traveled, etc. Some track our sleep patterns and will remind us to stand up if we’ve been sitting for a while.
As wearable technology evolves for humans, it’s also evolving for pets. Collar systems and attachable sensors allow us to track our pets’ activity, location, and even health parameters such as heart rate, respiration rate, and temperature.
Not all wearable technology for pets is built equivalently. Some activity trackers operate using simple two or three axis accelerometers (think step counters), while others combine more complex accelerometers with GPS, increasing the accuracy of movements and providing pinpoint location. Others have biosensors allowing you and your veterinarian to monitor health conditions.
You need to consider your objectives when you select a fitness tracker for your pet. Your veterinarian can help you determine which fitness tracker might best benefit the health of your pet.
The following are a few of the fitness trackers available:
FitBark. FitBark is a sensor that attaches to your pet’s collar and uses an accelerometer to track your pet’s activity. The sensor can track rest, active, and play times as well as distance traveled and calories burned. Because each pet is unique, and exercise needs vary between breeds and age, FitBark provides you with data on dogs of similar weight, age, and breeds around the globe. This allows you to compare your dog’s activity to that of dogs similar to your pet to help ensure an activity level goal that makes sense for your dog. You can track your dog’s progress by viewing historical data. FitBark identifies how long a dog spends resting, moving about, or changing positions at night. Changes in sleep habits can indicate illness or pain and can alert you that your pet may need veterinary care. Early diagnosis and treatment are important for many conditions, including injuries and arthritis.
PetPace. PetPace is a collar system that not only tracks your pet’s activity, but also tracks pulse, temperature, heart rate variations, respiration rate, and calories consumed and burned. PetPace has an integrated health monitoring service that analyzes data collected from the collar and sends alerts to both you and your veterinarian if problems are detected. Three levels of monitoring are available to you, depending on your pet’s needs.
Whistle 3. Whistle 3 is a sensor that attaches to your pet’s collar and uses an accelerometer and satellite systems (GPS and GLONASS) to track your pet’s activity and location. Whistle3 will also send you alerts if your pet escapes from his or her “safe place” – a “geo-fenced” area that you can set up to keep track of your pet wherever your pet may be. Whistle 3 also tracks your pet’s rest and will send you alerts of her or his sleep or activity patterns change.
Vetrax. Vetrax is a sensor that attaches to your pet’s collar and is only available through your veterinarian. Vetrax uses an accelerometer with sophisticated algorithms to detect specific behaviors such as shaking, scratching, walking, running, resting, and sleeping. Your veterinarian can use this information to detect changes in your pet’s behavior that are related to certain conditions, such as injuries, arthritis, and skin problems. It also allows your veterinarian to better supervise a weight management program in overweight pets.
This wearable technology allows us to “check-in” and monitor our pets even when we can’t be with them. This technology helps us detect subtle changes in behavior early on and that way we can get treatment started much sooner than would normally be the case.
Not all pet trackers are available in all areas. Also, some have monthly or annual subscription plans. So, do your research about which ones are available in your area and which tracker best suits your needs.
Cannabis, CBD, and Your Pets - 11/19/2018
With the legalization of marijuana (cannabis) in Canada and in several states in the United States, accidental consumption by pets is a growing concern. Furthermore, the use of cannabidiol (CBD) for the treatment of health conditions is on the rise, both in humans and pets. Although results of several studies have shown positive effects of CBD in dogs, its safety and effectiveness as well as long-term ramifications are not fully known or understood.
Currently veterinarians in Canada and the United States can’t legally prescribe CBD for pets. Clinical trials have begun on the use of cannabis-based products in pets for the treatment of anxiety, osteoarthritis, and epilepsy. If the results of studies prove to be positive, it’s possible that Health Canada and the FDA will approve the use of CBD in pets in the future.
In some countries, CBD products containing no more than 0.3% THC are legal to sell. This has led to a market of pet products containing CBD, including treats, sprays, balms, oils, and other CBD products. Many of the products haven’t been fully researched. Many of the positive effects are based on preliminary results and anecdotal reports only. Therefore, it is best to use other options your veterinarian can legally prescribe until the research is more definitive.
It’s important to understand the differences between CBD and the other components of cannabis. There are several strains (sub-species) of the Cannabis plant, including “hemp” and “marijuana” or “cannabis”.
All Cannabis plants contain over 100 cannabinoids (i.e. active chemical compounds of cannabis). Each cannabinoid has different effects in the body. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive component of cannabis, binds to receptors in the central nervous system causing a euphoric “high” feeling. On the other hand, CBD has no psychoactive effects. It binds to different receptors throughout the body and doesn’t cause euphoria.
Hemp has very low concentrations of THC ( approximately 0.3%), while cannabis contains between 5 – 20%. Hemp (and other specially bred strains of Cannabis) contain high levels of CBD. These high CBD, low THC strains are preferred for extracting CBD for medicinal use.
CBD is used to treat a variety of health conditions in human patients, including seizures, stress, anxiety, nausea, arthritis, gastrointestinal disorders, and back pain.
Cannabis flowers are smoked in joints or bongs. To avoid the smoke, they are also vaped. Cannabis can be mixed in foods such as cookies, brownies, and candies. It can also be brewed as a tea.
Pets that consume cannabis, whether from eating the dried leaves and flowers, or by eating the edibles, or by inhaling second-hand smoke, may become high. Depending on how much cannabis a pet inhales or ingests, certain neurological effects will become evident. The signs include disorientation, incoordination, leaking urine, excessive drooling, vocalization, hyperactivity, and a wide-eyed appearance due to dilation of the pupils. In some cases, seizures and coma can result.
Treatment may include administration of activated charcoal, IV fluids, anti-anxiety medications, and a quiet environment until the effects of the drug wear off.
If you decide to forge out on your own and treat your pet’s health condition with CBD, it is important to buy CBD products from a reputable, trusted brand. At minimum, check to see if there is a certificate of analysis for the product your are considering. This certificate tells you how much THC is in the product; it should never exceed 0.3%. Be sure to let your veterinarian know that you are giving your pet CBD. Blindly giving your pet CBD without taking precautions is a recipe for problems.
Until the research is clear and DBD is legal for use in pets, it is best to use other options that your veterinarian can legally prescribe to help your pet with any health issues and conditions he/she may have.
Cat Day is Coming! - 10/24/2018
October 29th is cat day! A great way to celebrate fantastic felines is to debunk some of the common myths about them.
~ Cats always land on their feet. It is often true that cats land on their feet; however, this isn’t always the case. Each spring and summer when the temperatures rise, the incidence of “high-rise syndrome” also rises. The term “high-rise syndrome” was coined in the 1980s when an animal treatment center in New York City treated over 100 cats that had fallen out of high-rise buildings during a five month period. Cats’ reflexes often allow them to turn right-side-up as they fall, depending on the height from which they fall. Cats falling from low heights don’t necessarily land on their feet because they don’t have time to right themselves. Even if a cat does land on her/his feet, she/he may sustain severe injuries to her/his back, pelvis, legs or head. Prevent falls by securing window screens and keep your cat off of rooftop decks and balconies.
~ Cats are low maintenance. No pet is truly “low maintenance”. Cats require fresh food and water every day, as well as litter box maintenance. They need love and attention. Playing with your cat and spending time grooming him/her should be a daily activity.
~ Cats can’t be trained. If your cat uses a litter box, your cat has been trained. You can train your cat to do other “tricks”, too. Cats can be trained to “come,” walk on a leash, scratch on a post rather than the furniture, get his/her nails trimmed, shake a paw, and even to sit, roll over, and shake a paw.
~ Cats are indifferent and aloof. Cats are just as loving as dogs. Cats can develop deep bonds with their family members and rely on their humans for companionship and care. Some cats develop separation anxiety if they are left alone for long periods of time.
~ Cats only purr when they are happy. Cats also purr when they are in pain. Purring may actually increase in a cat experiencing pain. If your cat is purring while showing signs of pain (i.e. changes in eating/drinking, litter box and grooming habits; and reluctance to be picked up or touched) seek veterinary care for your kitty.
~ Cats require milk. Cats do not need milk, unless you are thinking of newborn kittens who do need milk – their mother’s or a specially formulated kitten milk replacement- but not cow’s milk. If your cat has a well-balanced diet designed for your specific cat’s age , life stage, and health needs, he or she will get all of the nutrients required. Milk can cause stomach upset since most adult cats are lactose intolerant.
~ Rubbing butter on your cat’s paws will help him or her find his/her way home. When moving from one home to another, some people suggest rubbing butter on your cat’s paws. The idea behind this practice is that licking to remove the butter will also remove the scent of the previous home, as well as provide the cat the opportunity to survey the new home to become familiar with the scents, sights, and sounds. However, rubbing butter on your cat’s paws will only result in greasy paws and floors and will stress out your cat. To help your cat adjust to a new home, keep her/him indoors for at least two weeks. Don’t allow your cat out at night and accompany your cat the first several times he/she does go outdoors. Make sure your cat is microchipped so that, if he/she does get lost, there is a higher chance of being returned to your home.
~ Cats hate water. Most cats don’t like water, possibly because their coats don’t dry very quickly, leaving them soggy and cold. However, some cats do like water and will play and even swim in it.
~ Cats and dogs never get along. Dogs and cats often get along; however, it may take some time. If a new pet is being introduced into your home, take steps to make the introductions slowly. Keep the dog on his/her leash during initial introductions. Allow one pet to roam free while the other is confined. This allows each pet to become familiar with the other pet’s presence. Some dogs have a strong prey instinct and love to chase, pin or pick up other animals they perceive as fair game. This can include cats. Likewise, some cats may swat at, growl, or run and hide from dogs. Be aware, careful, and patient when you consider mixing dogs and cats in your home. Ask your veterinarian for help if you need it.
~ Cats are nocturnal. While it may seem like your cat is nocturnal, playing and performing crazy antics in the middle of the night, cats are actually crepuscular (most active during twilight -periods of dusk and dawn. This instinctive behavior comes from hunting when opportunities to capture prey are better and there is just enough light for them to see. If your cat is active at night you can train him/her to sleep at night be increasing his/her daytime activity level, feeding him/her the largest meal right before bedtime, and ignoring his/her nighttime antics. This may involve confining your cat to an area of the house where you can’t hear his/her requests to play.
October is Adopt-A-Dog Month - 10/17/2018
The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has been in existence for almost two hundred years and is recognized as an organization devoted to helping animals worldwide. One of their efforts is the encouragement of adoption of shelter animals, to save animals lives that otherwise might be euthanized. October is Adopt-A Dog month, established in 1981 as an annual event to encourage people to save animals’ lives as well as to enrich their own lives by adopting a dog.
Millions of dogs all over the world are waiting in shelters to find their forever home and family. Tragically, for many of those dogs that never happens. If you are thinking about adopting a dog, a shelter or rescue dog will not only provide you with a companion, but you will save a life. Shelter and rescue dogs come in all shapes, sizes, ages, breeds, personalities, and colors, so you are sure to find just the pet you are searching for.
Research has shown the benefits of pet ownership. Owning a dog can have physical, mental, emotional and social benefits. Pet owners are happier than non-pet owners. They feel less lonely and have lower rates of depression. Pet owners seem to cope better with stress, grief, and loss. Pets are also wonderful for children, teaching them responsibility, empathy, and enhance self-esteem while helping to combat boredom and loneliness.
Having a dog can have a number of health benefits, leading to increased levels of physical activity and improved heart health, lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Growing up with a dog may help strengthen immune systems and may reduce the risk of allergies in children. Having a dog can also be a great way to meet people and break the ice in social situations. Having a furry face and a wagging tail meet you at the door when you get home can improve your mood and help you relax at the end of a busy day. Having a dog can also help you sleep better, providing a feeling of safety and that someone is keeping watch while you sleep.
So, if you’re thinking about getting a dog, make sure you check out the wonderful dogs in need of a home at your local shelter or go online to search for a rescue organization for the breed you’re looking for before you “shop” for a pet. You will be saving a life and the dog you bring home will be forever grateful and will give you unconditional love.
National Animal Safety and Protection Month - 10/01/2018
2018 has brought severe weather to many parts of our world. Whether it was forest fires, flash floods, hurricanes, heat waves, flooding and landslides, earthquakes, or ice storms, Mother Nature has not always been kind.
These events serve as a reminder that we must be prepared for unexpected events and natural disasters. Not only is it important for you to have an emergency plan for yourself and your family, but also have one for your pets.
An emergency kit packed with items your pet(s) need should be ready before it is ever needed and easy to grab as you head out the door. Evacuation orders can happen quickly, and you may not have time to gather items you need. In the rush to leave your home and get to safety, you may forget essentials such as medication.
The following is a list of items to take with you and preparations to make in advance.
~ Be sure to have some food packed in Ziploc bags (to keep food dry and fresh) or canned food. If needed, be sure you have a can opener. This food supply should be enough to last at least one week. Be sure to swap out food every few months to ensure its freshness.
~ Bottled water is a must. In many emergency situations, water becomes contaminated with sewage or other contaminants that will make both you and your pet ill. Boiling water before consuming it will kill most bacteria, but will not remove chemicals such as pesticides that may make their way into the water supply during a disaster situation. Your dog will drink between 1/2 and 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight per day. In extreme heat, this will increase. Ensure you have enough water for both you and your pets during an emergency. As with your pet’s food, swap out water every few months to ensure its freshness.
~ Pack collapsible or travel dishes.
~ Your cat(s) will still need a place to eliminate, so having a litter box and a bag or box of litter packed is essential.
~ Waste bags are needed so that you can pick up your pet’s waste.
~ Pack some wipes so that you can clean your hands.
~ Keep some familiar items in your pet’s emergency kit and rotate these out so that they remain familiar. Consider packing a toy, a blanket, or a towel that your pet is familiar with in order to help reduce stress.
~ Have an extra comb or brush in your bag.
~ Have a carrying crate ready. This is especially important for your cat.
~ Have collars and leashes ready.
~ Keep a supply of your pet’s medication in the emergency kit. You will need to swap these medications out with fresh supplies frequently. Check with your veterinarian to see how often you should swap out your pet’s medications and which medications you should pack in your emergency kit. Obviously, refrigerated medications can’t be pre-packed. However, have frozen ice packs ready to help keep medications cold in the case you need to pack refrigerated meds when evacuating.
~ It’s a good idea to pack basic pet first aid supplies such as gauze pads, self-cling bandages(won’t stick to your pet’s fur), antiseptic wipes, cotton swabs,disposable gloves, petroleum jelly, thermometer, sterile saline solution, a muzzle to prevent biting, and a basic pet first aid book.
~ Ensure your pet is microchipped. Unfortunately, during many disasters, pets become separated from their owners. Microchipping increases the chances that you will be reunited with your pet if you become separated. Ensure you keep your contact information that is associated with the microchip up to date. Also, be sure your pet is wearing an ID tag on her/his collar with up-to-date contact information on it.
~ Don’t leave your pets behind. You may not be able to return to your home later.
~ Have a back-up plan. If evacuation orders are issued quickly or situations make it impossible for you to get home to gather your pets, make arrangements ahead of time to have a friend or neighbor pick up your pet(s) and the emergency kit for you.
Taking time to plan and prepare for a potential emergency is worth every minute it takes. Having a kit prepared for your pet(s) will reduce anxiety, stress, and frustration should you need to evacuate. Even if you end up staying in your home, these supplies may be needed if power or water supplies are disrupted during an emergency or severe weather event. Be prepared.
Animal Pain Awareness Month - 09/13/2018
We all stub our toes, bang our elbows, or lift a heavy box the wrong way and twist our backs. But what about our furry friends? Your pet may cry out if he or she experiences sudden or acute pain; however, what if she or he doesn’t, or what if your pet is suffering from chronic pain, as is common with dental disease or arthritis? How do you know your pet is in pain?
Pets feel pain the same way we do, but they can’t tell us about it in the same way. Since they can’t use words, how do you know your pet is in pain? There are many signs that may indicate your pet is uncomfortable.
Signs of acute pain may be more obvious. For example, your pet may try to bite you or scratch you if you go near or touch the area that is painful. Signs of chronic pain may be less obvious.
Be sure to take your pet to the veterinarian if you notice any of the following changes or signs in your pet:
~ Decreased thirst or appetite
~ Decreased activity or reluctance to play
~ Reluctance to go for walks
~ Reluctance to go up and down stairs
~ Reluctance to jump on surfaces such as couches, chairs, or beds
~ Reluctance to lie down and/or difficulty rising
~ Lameness or holding a paw in the air when sitting
~ Difficulty finding a comfortable position, restlessness
~ Difficulty using the litter box or lapses in house training
~ Unusual body posture
~ Shaking or trembling
~ Sleeping more or less than usual
~ Squinting, blinking, or rubbing the eyes
~ Licking (over-grooming) a particular area, such as a paw or the hind quarters
~ Fast and shallow breathing or panting for no apparent reason
~ Purring (purring can be related to pain)
~ Unusual vocalizing (including whining, howling, yelping, groaning, growling, and whimpering in dogs; and purring, hissing, meowing, and growling in cats)
Don’t try to treat your pet’s pain on your own. Your pet may be experiencing what is called “referred pain” (pain felt in a part of the body other than its actual source). Your veterinarian will need to determine where the pain is originating from and treat it accordingly. Treatment may need to address more than just pain relief. For example, if your pet has a scratch on its cornea, this is what needs to be treated – pain medication will not correct the problem. Finally, many pain relievers that are safe for us humans to use are toxic and even fatal to dogs and cats.
Untreated pain is not something that any pet should experience. By paying attention to your pet’s behavior, you will be the first to notice the changes that may indicate that your pet is in pain. Know the signs, pay attention, and call your veterinarian if you notice any signs of possible pain. Your pet will thank you for taking good care of him or her.
Back To School Pet Tips - 08/29/2018
Whether you’re a full-time student yourself, a teacher, a parent of school-age children, or completing courses while working, the relatively relaxed summer schedule has likely gone out the window now that the fall semester has started.
It’s important not to forget about the furry members of your family that will be left home after the family departs. It’s an adjustment for your pets.
It’s easy to overlook your pets when your days are filled with early departures for work and school, carpooling, homework, and late returns from all of the after-school activities.
Here are some back to school pet tips that will take care of your pet’s needs and allow you to enjoy the time you spend together.
Start your day with a loving greeting. It only takes a minute to give your pet a quick stroke, scratch behind the ears, or hug, and it will help you both start the day off on the right foot (paw).
Set your alarm clock 15 minutes early so that you will have time to take your dog for an early morning walk. This allow both of you to get some fresh air and exercise. It’s a great way to begin the day and allows some quiet time before the hustle and bustle of your day begins.
Enjoy breakfast together. When you and your family have breakfast, feed your pet at the same time.
Chat to your pet while you prepare lunches for school or work. play fetch with your dog or play chase games with your cat while you complete your morning routine.
Don’t make a big deal of leaving. Extended departures can increase separation anxiety. Instead, encourage your family to give your pet a quick, friendly “See you later! We will be back!” without prolonging the goodbye.
Consider giving your pet a toy filled with treats or kibble to encourage some interactive play while you are preparing to leave, especially for those pets that become distressed when everyone leaves. This will distract your pet and provide her/him with some entertainment while you’re away.
When you return home, take your dog outside to play or for a walk. This will help you wind down from the busy day while providing your pet with some much needed exercise. Chat to your dog while walking or playing and praise him/her.
Allow your pet to rest beside you or your children during homework. Any contact with you is good for your pet.
Set aside time to play. You both deserve some fun every day!
Spend some time petting and/or brushing your dog or cat. Quality time and loving care will help both of you relax for the night.
Be sure to include all of your family members in caring for your pets. Assign each person a task (i.e. feeding, refreshing the water bowl, cleaning the litter box, playing, brushing). Enjoy each other!
Have a great school year!