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Archive for March, 2013|Monthly archive page

Easter Lilies and Your Cat

In Health Tips on March 26, 2013 at 9:55 am

As Easter is fast approaching I want to stress to every cat owner about the potential hazards that may take over your house without even realizing it. With Easter, comes flowers, candies, and other materials cats think are toys and dinner.

photo (1) copyLilies:

I hope if you own a cat you are aware of the dangers lilies bring to your pet. When a cat eats a lily you don’t physically see any signs of toxicity until 6-12 hours after ingestion. At this point you might notice your cat vomiting, seeming lethargic, or just acting sick. Unfortunately we are not sure why lilies are toxic, but we do know that the entire plant can cause problems for cats if ingested. If your cat is not treated right away, your pet could develop kidney failure.

If you do notice that your cat has eaten any part of a lily take him/her into your vet right away. They will want to start IV fluids to flush the toxicity out of your cats system. They will also start your cat on stomach protectants.

With medical treatment right away, your cat will leave the hospital healthy and ready to eat more lilies. The key, keep them out of reach!

Candy, Chocolate, and Gum:

In many candies and gums contains an ingredient called Xylitol. This is important to know because it is extremely toxic to dogs. Xylitol is lethal at a very small dose. A 10-pound dog could die if it consumes one stick of gum containing xylitol. If consumed, dogs can develop hypoglycemia (low glucose) or hepatic necrosis (liver failure).

Chocolate as many know is toxic to dogs as well. It contains an ingredient called theobromine. The darker the chocolate, the more toxic it becomes. If your dog consumes chocolate you might see the following signs: excitement, tremors, vomiting, diarrhea, excess thirst, seizures, and possibly a coma.

If your dog consumes chocolate or candy make sure to have them vomit right away. Also call your vet. They will give you specific instructions on what to do. Before calling your vet, try to get a good idea of how much they ate and exactly what it was. This way your vet can determine how toxic what they ate is.

Easter Grass:

One last item around during Easter is the Easter grass many products come with. Cats are highly interested in this stuff. It is light and moves around while making a fun sound. And as you know since owning a cat, cats love to eat things like this. If your cat does eat this, or anything else like strings, this is very dangerous because it can cause a linear foreign body.

The reason linear foreign bodies are so dangerous is because they can cut away at your cat’s intestines and esophagus. Once a cat consumes Easter grass I would not recommend pulling it out or making your cat vomit. If you pull it out, it could cause more damage if it is further down in the digestive track. Take your cat to your vet, they will know the best procedure.

Conclusion:

Keep plants, candies, chocolate, and Easter grass away from your pets! Easter is supposed to be spent with family and friends, not in the emergency room for your cat or dog. As an owner your responsibility is to keep them healthy and safe!

Has your pet gotten into something over a holiday and landed you in the emergency room?

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So Your Dog Ate a Sock

In Health Tips on March 24, 2013 at 5:40 pm

photo copySome dogs are known to eat almost anything that passes by their mouth. Anything from rocks to socks. Some of those dogs are just fine, they eat the sock and sometime within the next week that sock is no longer in their system. The problem with dogs eating socks among other foreign objects is that they sometimes do not pass. When this happens surgery is the only option. Foreign bodies can be tricky.

Symptoms your dog ate something unusual:

Unless you physically see your dog eat something they are not supposed to, you won’t know until it becomes a problem. Most pets do fine the first day or two with the object in their system, until whatever they ate becomes stuck. Since objects like socks take a long time to digest, it can become stuck in your pet’s stomach or intestines causing a blockage. This blockage makes it difficult for food and water to pass through. When this happens animals usually begin to vomit anything they eat or drink. They become lethargic and dehydrated. When your pet is unable to keep anything down—food or water—there is a chance you have a foreign body on your hands.

What to do:

If you have a known eater of foreign objects, and they begin vomiting after consuming anything, get them to the vet. While there, your vet will start by taking x-rays of your pet’s digestive system. With the x-ray, vets can see most objects and see if it is causing a blockage. Many times the x-ray itself is not enough. At that point your vet will recommend further diagnostics prior to surgery or, if they are feeling sure that something is in there, they will go straight to surgery.

Surgery to remove foreign objects generally is safe as long as you have a healthy pet to begin with. There are always anesthesia risks, but your vet will talk to you about those.

Now, if you physically saw your pet eat something like a sock, I would recommend making them vomit whatever it is they ate right away. If you are comfortable doing this yourself, and your pet has no medical issues, you can give your dog fresh hydrogen peroxide (old won’t do anything). You can start by giving your dog one teaspoon for every ten pounds. Some dogs will take just the hydrogen peroxide; others need it mixed with something like peanut butter.

After giving the hydrogen peroxide, wait at least 15 minutes. If your dog has not vomited give another dosing. If your pet still has not vomited within 15 more minutes take him/her straight to your vet. They have other medications to use to get your pet to vomit. The reason you want to make them vomit right away is to get it out before the object reaches the intestines.

How to stop them from eating things:

Stopping your pet from eating random objects can be difficult. You can try training them to stop, specifically if they are interested in one particular object. Many dogs will only consume socks, therefore I recommend making sure all socks are picked up and out of reach. Other dogs like to eat rocks. They can be difficult especially when your dog is let loose outside. As a last resort, especially if your dog has had a number of foreign bodies, would be to keep a basket muzzle on your dog. These are not tight around the mouth, your pet can still open its mouth, they just can’t get ahold of anything. This is not a bad thing to try, trust me, its worth trying a basket muzzle over surgically removing something.

What has your pet consumed? How did you know?

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Itching and Scratching, What Gives?

In Health Tips on March 19, 2013 at 9:38 am

One of the most frustrating problems in veterinary medicine is the question many pet owners ask, “Why does my animal itch so much?”

Causes:

photo-6The reason this can be such a tricky problem, to find the true cause of the itch, you may have to run test after test. Itching and scratching can be caused by a number of different factors that are difficult to find. Some include:

  • Fleas
  • Mites
  • Allergies from the environment
  • Contact allergies
  • Food allergies
  • Fungal infection
  • Skin infection

Controlling the Itch

There are a few different therapies you can try before going to the vet, these include:

  • Shampoos– pet stores sell a number of different medicated shampoos that can temporarily relieve your pet’s itch. Follow directions on the bottle.
  • Topical products– there are a number of different anti-itch products that pet stores sell. These include ointments, lotions, or moisturizers. Just be sure to follow directions.
  • Medications– antihistamines and corticosteroids can help your pet from itching. Talk with your vet for the best option and dosage.
  • Supplements– some supplements such as fish oil and fatty acids can help temporarily relieve the itch.

If these therapies don’t help completely, I would suggest visiting your vet.

Finding the Problem:

When you bring your dog or cat into the vet because of itching, I would first suggest looking for fleas. If you find fleas or flea dirt, it can be a somewhat easy fix. By eliminating the fleas on your pet and in your home, your pet can hopefully become itch free.

Second, your vet can do a simple skin scraping or pull hair to look for mites. This is a quick and easy fix with the right medications.

Third, I would suggest running cultures to check for fungal infections and skin infections. As well as blood work to check for underlying problems. These tests take time to get the result. You have to wait for the “infection” to grow. But, if and once there is growth on the culture plate, your vet can submit the growth to a lab to get results that show exactly which antibiotic or medication can clear the infection. This can be timely and costly, but if it is an infection, it is the best way to cure it.

Lastly, run an allergen panel. This is pretty costly and many times allergens are not the problem. This test is nice because it can tell you if your pet is allergic to grains, pollens, or anything else and you can make changes based on the results.

The reason I suggest finding the itchy problem in this order, is to save you time and money. An itchy animal is a pain for you and your pet. It’s uncomfortable. Does your pet itch? Have you tried any of these therapies or have other suggestions?

Comment, post, question, and learn. Lets connect!

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The Runs of Diarrhea

In Health Tips on March 18, 2013 at 10:42 am

Every pet owner, at some point or another, has encountered the challenge of having an animal with diarrhea. We all now this is an unpleasant experience for both the animal and owner. Your pet has the urgency to always have to “go,” and you have the task of cleanup. But, why do our pets get diarrhea in the first place?

photo-4

Causes:

One of the main causes is from eating something your pet shouldn’t. This causes an upset stomach just like we get. Other reasons diarrhea occurs includes:

  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Toxicities
  • High fat diets
  • Sudden change in diet
  • Reaction to medication or allergens
  • Virus
  • Gastrointestinal disease such as inflammatory bowel disease, liver or kidney disease, cancer, etc.
  • Parasites
  • Poor diet
  • Compromised immune system

As you can see, if your animal begins having diarrhea, there are a number of different causes. When an animal has diarrhea they tend to have a frequency of needing to go out, straining to defecate, they could become dehydrated, lose their appetite, or even develop a fever.

What should you do?

Since diarrhea can be a common theme, I suggest starting with a 12-hour period of no food. This can clear the stomach of any bad foods and helps to start over. After 12 hours is up begin with a bland diet, starting with small portions and working up to a normal meal.

A Bland diet could include lean ground beef, cooked thoroughly making sure to drain out all grease and serve it with cooked rice. Or, cooking a boneless, skinless chicken breast and shredding it over rice. These are some easy to make at home recipes.

Otherwise your veterinarian might be able to provide a few cans of a bland prescription diet such as Science Diet I/D or Royal Canine gastrointestinal. For these food, you need a prescription from your vet. These diets help ease the stomach and hopefully recover your animal’s problem.

After you start feeding your pet a bland diet, continue to do so until their stool looks normal. Also make sure they are only receiving this diet, no treats or table scraps. If the pets stool turns normal within 72 hours, begin slowly transitioning their food back to their normal diet. Do this over the course of 3-4 days.

If their stool does not improve within 72 hours, or your animal begins having blood in their stool you should call your vet and let them know what you have tried. At this point, your pet is probably dehydrated and what you thought was simply a case of an upset stomach, could reveal there is something else going on.

Diarrhea can be more then a simple case of an upset stomach. It might actually be the only sign you get from your pet when something more serious is going on. But if it were my pet, and he was completely healthy, I would start with the bland diet and if that does not work I would talk with my vet and begin running some tests. If you are lucky you might catch a disease or problem before it becomes more serious.

Diarrhea is a common problem but could become serious. Does your pet get diarrhea? What causes it? What do you do to stop or prevent it?

Comment, post, question, and learn. Lets connect!

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Obesity is More Than a Problem

In Health Tips on March 11, 2013 at 11:48 am

147255562_e19c4ce83a_bPreventing obesity is one way to control and prevent problems in our pets. There are a number of different health problems cats and dogs acquire because they are overweight. Just like humans, pets that eat too much and eat unhealthy food will develop problems.

Problems with Obesity:

An overweight animal has the increased risk of the following types of disease and other risks:

  • Endocrine and metabolic diseases such as hypothyroidism, hyperadrenocortism, insulinoma,
  • Hyperlipidemia and dyslipidemia
  • Orthopedic problems such as fractured bones
  • Cardio and respiratory disease including hypertension
  • Urinary tract problems and reproductive disorders
  • Neoplasia (cancer)
  • Decreased longevity
  • Difficulty evaluating animals, listening to heart and lungs
  • Difficulty drawing blood or placing IV catheter
  • Increased anesthesia risk

Reasons Animals Become Obese:

There are a number of reasons animals’ become obese to start with. Here are a few examples:

  • Calorie intake exceeds their exercise and energy expenditure
  • Neutering and spaying animals tends to decrease their metabolic rate (you should still neuter and spay your pet)
  • Pets are fed too much, given table scrapes, or given too many unhealthy snacks
  • Behavioral reasons like anxiety and depression
  • Not having a standard feeding schedule
  • Genetic disorder

Solution:

When you own a pet, you have a commitment to them. You are there to feed, walk, and care for them. Managing weight is one of those commitments. Trust me, I know it is difficult to control. My cat thinks 4am means its time for breakfast. I struggled to hold back and not feed him, but I don’t wake up that early and he was intruding on my sleep. So, I caved. I would feed him early, then again in the afternoon, and before bed just to shut him up. He had me trained. Until I noticed he was gaining weight. I invested in an automatic feeder that feeds him at 4am. This way he no longer wakes me up. It works! I also cut back on the amount I was feeding him.

Since we all know animals give you that look when they are hungry. The key is to train them! They need to get on a feeding schedule so they know when it’s not time to eat. Second, figure out how much energy they are actually burning each day. If your pet is very inactive, they don’t need a ton of food. If you are having trouble figuring out the best amount to feed, discuss this with your vet. They love to help owners out with things like this. Heck, write me a comment and we can figure it out together.

Lastly, stop with the table scrapes. And never give them greasy burgers from the drive-thru. I know it seems like a fun treat for them, but pancreatitis is calling their name if you do this.

Also daily exercise won’t kill them, or you! I make sure my cat gets a good 5-10 minutes of laser pointer time. It gives him exercise and I can do it while watching TV, cooking, or getting ready. Schedule time for your pet, they need attention.

What ways are you helping keep the weight off?

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Fleas. Ticks. Disease.

In Health Tips on March 8, 2013 at 5:21 pm

As March brings in warmer weather, as a pet owner, we need to consider the creatures that come with it, fleas and ticks! Vet’s push flea and tick preventative products for a reason, there are plenty of problems that join them.

Fleas and ticks are tiny insects and external parasites that live off of blood from other animals. When they feed off of an animal’s blood, there is a chance the insect could be carrying a disease. The transmission of the disease can easily be transferred from the insect to the blood stream of the animal causing serious problems. Without proper prevention and treatment, you could have a real problem on your hands.

Problems: 

Here are some common (not all) problems and diseases animals’ acquire from fleas and ticks.

1.    Flea Bite Dermatitis

This is an allergic reaction to flea saliva. This causes your pet to become very itchy and even could lose hair. After eliminating any fleas, ointments and antihistamines can help cure your animals need to itch!

2.    Tapeworms

Fleas carry a disease called Dipylidium caninum, and if a pet ingests an infected flea, it now has tapeworms. Treatment requires pills or a paste to clear the tapeworms away.

3.    Lyme Disease

Deer ticks can carry a disease called Borrelia burgdorferi. Signs your dog could have lyme disease include: fever, anorexia, weakness, and pain in their joints. If the disease is not caught and treated, your dog could develop kidney failure, heart abnormalities, or seizures. Treatment includes a heavy dosing of antibiotics along with IV fluids.

4.    Canine Ehrlichiosis

Brown dog ticks carry the disease called Ehrlichia canis. Signs your dog is infested include: fever, enlarged lymph nodes, anorexia, stiffness, swelling of limbs, and coughing. If not treated, your dog could develop anemia, have a decreased platelet count, and start easily bleeding. In bad cases of ehrlichiosis, dogs can develops kidney failure, enlarged spleen, respiratory issues, and severe weight loss. Treatment includes heavy antibiotics, IV fluids, and blood transfusions.

5.    Tick Paralysis

A variety of ticks can develops a toxin in their saliva that causes dogs to develop paralysis. It starts in the limbs and can move to the lungs causing respiratory issues leading to death. Treatment includes removing all ticks before symptoms get worse.

Products:

As you can see, all of these diseases can be pretty traumatic to your pet. The thing is, prevention is the best solution. By using flea and tick medications for prevention, you could save your pet stress and save you money. Especially if you are living anywhere near woods, you need to use these products.

Every Veterinarian will offer different products, but here are a few that I think work well:  

There are also collars that contain an ingredient called amitraz, which kills off ticks, but honestly these do not work well and are pretty gross.

Another product I like is Frontline Spray. I think this is a great product to spray on your dog after a hike through the woods and you come home with a dog full of ticks. It’s a quick way to get rid of them. Just don’t just this product daily and make sure to read the instructions.

dogs!Best Practice:

As you can see I am an advocate of using flea and tick products. It may cost money to prevent a disease that might never even happen, but if it does, it can take weeks and thousands of dollars to fix. Growing up my family had a golden retriever named Jesse who acquired Lyme disease. He became stiff in his joints and after a snap 4DX test from the vet; we found he had Lyme disease. With antibiotics he was cleared!

So, since it is March and the weather is getting warmer, remember to start your flea and tick preventions! What’s your favorite product? Anything I missed?

Comment, post, question, and learn. Lets connect!

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Rat Poison the Toxicity that Haunts

In Health Tips on March 4, 2013 at 1:46 pm

Poison_Labels_by_brainwreckI can’t even count the number of dog’s I’ve seen come in because they ate mouse poison. We all hopefully know that mouse poison is toxic to pets. I mean, how do you think it works on killing mice? It contains a substance called an anticoagulant. This causes the mouse to lose the function to clot blood. When a dog or cats eats it, they also lose that function.

The hard part about this, is when an animal eats the poison, we usually don’t see it. The problem with not physically catching your pet in the act means you have no idea they have been poisoned. Symptoms usually don’t start until a week after ingestion. At this point, treatment is difficult and expensive. Many pets don’t make it.


Symptoms:

Many owners catch that their pet isn’t right because they start bleeding somewhere. Commonly the animal will get nosebleeds, urinate blood, have blood in their feces, bruise easily, vomit blood, or even ooze blood from their gums. The animal tends to be weak due to lack of blood volume, and is probably accumulating blood somewhere inside the body.

Treatment:

If you are lucky enough to catch your pet eating mouse poison, of any kind, make him/her vomit right away! By keeping fresh hydrogen peroxide around the house, this can be a quick and easy step. Give your dog about 1 Tbls for every 15 pounds. You can either put it straight in your pet’s mouth or mix it with bread or peanut butter. To be honest, if your pet ate mouse poisoning, this shouldn’t be too difficult of a task, your pet clearly will eat anything! If your pet doesn’t vomit within 15 minute’s, give another dosing of the hydrogen peroxide.

Be sure to get your animal into the vet right away so they can start treating with vitamin K.

Now, if you don’t catch your pet eating poison, but you do see signs of bleeding, get to a vet right away. Your vet will run a variety of blood tests to determine the severity. Your pet will receive blood products to return the blood loss. Your pet will also receive vitamin K to return the clotting factors. Your pet likely will stay at the vet anywhere from days to weeks depending on how bad the toxicity is.

Prevent:

Now, I get why you would have mouse poison around the house. Mice can cause a lot of damage, and a lot of people are afraid of them. But having this toxic substance around the house, even in place where you think your dog can’t get to, is not always safe. Pets are tricky. They will work and work at something until they get it. You probably already know this. The best bet to prevent a poisoning from happening is to keep all blocks, pellets, etc. of the mouse poisoning out of your home, garage, and any other place your animals goes. There are other options to kill mice. Try the old fashion traps. The good thing is if your pet triggers a trap, there is a small likelihood they are going to get trapped in it!

Have you had a pet eat mouse poison? Have you even thought about the dangers of keeping it around? On a side note, keeping the pet poison helplines number on hand is always a great resource when you’re in a time crunch 1-800-213-6680.

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