Thanksgiving Turkey Dog

You might have some ideas about what your pet is thankful for, but what do you think your vet is thankful for?  You might be surprised by how often pets and vets are thankful for the same things!

 

The Dog: I’m thankful for a big backyard to run and play in.  I’m thankful for squirrels to chase and bark at.

The Vet: I’m thankful when pets have opportunities to exercise.  Plenty of times to run and play makes for dogs that are physically and mentally healthy.  

 

The Cat: I’m thankful for long naps in my warm bed.  I’m thankful that no one disturbs me while I’m taking my nap.

The Vet: I’m thankful for cats with enough resources to have their needs met.  That means appropriate litter boxes, plenty of water sources, things to play with, and comfortable resting places.  Having adequate resources reduces a cat’s stress level, and can prevent stress related diseases such as behavioral inappropriate urination and lower urinary tract inflammation.  

 

The Dog: I’m thankful for food!  Milkbones, foods, treats, snacks, and dinner!

The Vet: I’m thankful for owners who choose healthy diets and snacks for their pets.  I’m also thankful for owners who keep their dogs and cats from eating too many of their favorites snacks.  A treat should be just that… a treat.  

 

The Cat: I’m thankful for my lovely coat, and I’m thankful for my daily hair maintenance routine.  Who needs shampoo when you have a nice rough tongue!  

The Vet: I’m thankful for cats who are able to groom themselves.  I see it as a warning sign when a cat stops grooming themselves.  It can suggest joint pain, illness, or even obesity.  

 

The Dog: I’m thankful for my daily walks, my visits to the dog park, and my social routine at Doggie Day Care.  I’m thankful for other dogs to play with, and for the ability to stretch my legs.

The Vet: I’m thankful for dogs who get to interact with other dogs and with other people.  There is a lot of benefit both mentally and physically.  This is why I recommend vaccines!  One coughing pup can be risky to everyone!  

 

The Dog: I’m thankful for my human.  I love when my human scratches my ears, rubs my belly, fills my bowl, and takes me for walks.  I’m thankful for when my human comes home and I get to wag and bark and wiggle for joy!

 

The Cat: I’m thankful for my human.  I love napping together on the couch, I love when my human fills my bowl, and I love a clean litter box!  I’m thankful when my human gives me a new box to play in, or shows me a new toy.

The Vet: I’m thankful for their humans.  I’m thankful for animals who have a forever family to love them and provide for their needs.  I’m thankful for animals who learn trust and loyalty to their people.  I’m thankful for people who are willing to care for animals in sickness.  I’m thankful for people who desire to keep their pets healthy.  I’m thankful that animals can feel loved by humans, and in return humans can feel loved by animals.  The bond between people and animals is amazing, and I’m thankful for it.  

What are all these lab tests, and why are they necessary?

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Chemistry may remind you of your least favorite subject in school, or it might sound like a science experiment.  To your veterinarian, a “Chemistry Panel” can provide a LOT of valuable information!  Here are a few common lab tests that might be recommended by your veterinarian, and why they are important to the health of your pet.  

 

  1. Chemistry Panel: this panel tells us about glucose, kidney values, liver values, protein levels, and electrolytes.

— From this, we could potentially catch diseases from diabetes to kidney disease before your pet even shows signs of illness!  image8

— Some bloodwork is useful for finding new diseases, and some bloodwork is needed for monitoring medications and chronic diseases.  

— A fresh blood sample is required for this test

 

  1. Complete Blood Count (CBC): this panel tells us about white blood cell count, red blood cell count, and platelet count.  image1

image6— from this panel we can catch infection, anemia, and other conditions.  It is also very helpful to know trends in these values from year to year!

— from this panel we can catch infection, anemia, and other conditions.  It is also very helpful to know trends in these values from year to year!

— A fresh blood sample is required for this test

 

  1. Heartworm Test: this is a test for canine heartworm disease (a blood parasite)

image9— although heartworm disease is less common than some other parasitic infections, we are seeing an increasing rate of infections in our area.  image4

— Luckily, heartworms are highly preventable.  It takes 6 months from the time of the mosquito bite for the test to be positive, which is one reason why yearly heartworm testing is the best way to catch an infection.

— a heartworm test is recommended prior to starting heartworm preventative and annually to assess for prevention failure.  

— A fresh blood sample is required for this test

 

  1. Intestinal Parasite Testing: this examines the stool for eggs from intestinal parasites.image5

image3— most intestinal parasites can be transmitted to people and to other pets, so it’s a great idea to catch infection early and treat before allowing too much opportunity for spread!  

— pets who are losing weight, having diarrhea, or vomiting may need to have a stool sample checked.

— A fresh stool sample is recommended for this test

 

  1. Urinalysis: an examination of the urine for cells, bacteria, and concentrationimage2

image7— from this test we can monitor for signs of endocrine diseases, such as diabetes, kidney disease, and urinary tract infection. We can also monitor urine concentration.  

— A fresh urine sample is required for this test

— There are several ways to go about collecting a sample.  Your veterinarian can discuss these options with you!

 

  1. Thyroid testing: this test examines for inappropriate amount of thyroid hormone

image8— dogs are more prone to hypothyroidism, while cats are more prone to hyperthyroidism.  

— a hyperthyroid cat will lose weight rapidly, and can have secondary complications such as heart disease.

— a hypothyroid dog will gain weight, and can have secondary complications such as panting, skin disease, and muscle weakness.

— A fresh blood sample is required for this test

The tests listed above are our most frequently requested tests.  Other tests may be indicated, but are not routinely run on each patient.  Lab work can sound intimidating, but is an important part of routine health care for our cats and dogs!  

A few do’s and don’ts on enjoying the weather with you dogs.

Dog with sunglasses

sun

Summer Heat Guidelines:

  • Some breeds don’t tolerate the heat well
    • Thick coated breeds- collies, huskies, malamutes, newfoundlands
    • Large Breeds- great danes, rottweilers, boxers
    • Bracycephalic breeds- pugs, french bulldogs, boston terriers
  • No cars.  Period.  It’s unimaginably hot in a closed car.  Don’t be tempted, it’s not worth the risk
  • Some dogs don’t know when to quit
    • Dogs who love to please won’t quit, even when they get tired.
    • Limit exercise for those who would chase a ball until they drop
  • The pavement is HOT!  
    • If you wouldn’t walk on the pavement barefooted, your dog probably doesn’t want to either.  Pawpads can be burned by hot pavement.  
  • Give them a place away from the sun.  
    • You may like soaking in the rays, but dogs need shade and plenty of water during the heat of summer.
  • If your pet is used to air conditioning, they aren’t going to be as tolerant of the heat.  

 

Fun things to do with your pets this summer

  • Go for a swim
    • Start small.  Not all of us are natural golden retrievers!  There is nothing wrong with a few inches of water in the bottom of the kiddie pool as a starting spot.  Small plastic pools are pretty affordable, and are a great way to introduce your dog to water.  Don’t force reluctant pets.  They’ll do what they are comfortable with.dog with ball on nose
  • Learn a new trick
    • When the family is home from school, it’s a great time to learn some new tricks.  You don’t have to be outside to do some obedience training.  If you are beating the heat outside by hanging out in the air conditioning, take the opportunity to brush up on Fido’s obedience training.
  • Bobbing for treats
    • Remember that kiddie pool?  Fill with a few inches of water, and drop treats one at a time into the water.  Active dogs will enjoy fishing the treats out.  Remember not to over do it on the treats OR the water!  Yes, there is such a thing as drinking too much.  No upset bellies this summer, please!
  • Challenge your dog’s nose
    • Start small by having your dog stay, place the treat a few feet in front of them, and make them wait until you say “find it.”  Gradually move the treat further, then start hiding.  Another alternative is to play “find the treat” using three shoeboxes and a strategically placed snack.  These are good games to keep the mind occupied.    
  • Don’t fear the walk!  
    • As long as you exercise caution, walks can be a safe summer activity.  Do outdoor activities in the morning and evening, and don’t take a fast walk.  Take a nice, short stroll.  Be sure to stay off hot pavement, stay in the shade, and take some water.  

What you should know about Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke

  • Symptoms
    • Bright red mucus membranes, collapse, excessive panting, vomiting, and seizures can all be signs of heat stroke.  A rectal temperature over 104 degrees after exertion is suspicious for heat exhaustion
  • What to do
    • Start cooling.  Wet paw pads with cool water, hose dog with cool water, and start a fan on the dog.  This can be life saving.  Cooling should be stopped when the pet reaches 104 degrees to avoid dropping the body temperature too low.  
    • HEAD TO THE VET RIGHT AWAY
  • Complications of heat stroke
    • Renal failure, interruptions in the ability of the blood to clot, and hypoglycemia can occur.  Unfortunately pets that suffer from heat stroke are at a very high risk of developing complications that result in death.  

The Cost of a Free Puppy

Some honest thoughts on the cost of veterinary medicine, and how to be prepared for the costs of health care for your best friends!

dog & calculator

In my previous posts, I have given some information relevant to pet owners.  My intention has been to give information that pet owners would find useful, and interesting.  I hope that this post will be as informative as the previous posts, possibly even more so.  I’m going to tackle the sensitive subject of the cost of pet ownership.  I recently read an article from CNBC.  This article makes reference to a report from the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals.  This report says that an astounding 98% of people underestimate the lifetime cost of pet ownership.  As a collective whole, veterinary clinic team members recognize the financial constraints of pet owners. In order to combat this problem, we need to be prepared.  

 

What are the costs?

New Pet care– spay/neuter, puppy vaccines, microchip

Routine care– annual physical exams, annual vaccinations, heartworm preventative, flea and tick preventative, heartworm testing, and diagnostic monitoring profiles

Sick pet care– vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, mild musculoskeletal injuries

Emergency pet care– foreign body surgery, severe GI disease, hit by a car, toxin ingestion, laceration repair, bloat (GDV), anemia (low blood volume),

Orthopedic concerns ACL tear (Knee injury), fracture, neck/back injury, hip dysplasia

Chronic health concernsdiabetes, hyperthyroidism, Cushing’s disease, Addison’s disease, renal failure, heart failure, arthritis, ears

Allergies– deserving of a category to themselves!  This may involve medications, diet changes, and frequent medications for skin infections.  

— to name just a FEW!

How can we be prepared?

Certainly not all pets will develop all of these diseases, but when an emergency or a chronic illness arises, it’s good to be prepared.  

  • Understand how expensive pet ownership can be. In this way you avoid the shock of expensive veterinary bills. Small breed dogs will be with you for 13-16 years, large breed dogs from 10-12 years, and cats can be a member of the family for as long as 18-20 years.  As they age, cost of care generally increases.  
  • Do some research!  Before you buy or adopt, talk to some people who own the type of dog or cat you are interested in.  Some breeds have an increased prevalence of diseases such as allergies, back problems, diabetes, ear problems etc.  It is good to be mentally prepared for the unique challenges of the breed you select.  
  • If using a breeder, ask some questions.  Ask about the health history of the parents of the pups.  Ask about genetic disease testing such as degenerative myelopathy for corgis, collie eye anomaly for herding breeds, and OFA certification for hip dysplasia (and more!)
  • Start setting a few dollars a month away.  It’s the same concept as an emergency fund for your family, but this is for your fur kids!  
  • Pet Insurance.  It’s a confusing topic, but getting your new pet started on insurance can save you from a heartbreaking situation on down the road.  
  • Most importantly, don’t underestimate the money saving potential of good preventative care!  A few good examples- heartworm preventative is expensive, but it’s cheaper than treating a large dog for heartworm disease.  Spaying your dog can prevent uterine infections that lead to emergency surgery.  Vaccinating for parvovirus protects your dog from a disease that can lead to several days of intensive care hospitalization!  

The report from People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals also states that 93% of people said the decision to own a pet made them happier!  We know you love your pet.  We don’t really like talking about money, and we certainly don’t like asking for it.  As members of a veterinary care staff, we consider ourselves a team, and we want to include you in the team.  You, as the owner, caregiver, and all around pet parent are the most important member of the team, and we don’t want to leave you behind.  We care about each member of the family, both two legged and four legged!

 

(Reference- www.cnbc.com , Zack Guzman, http://www.cnbc.com/2017/04/27/how-much-does-it-cost-to-own-a-dog-7-times-more-than-you-expect.html

What dog owners should know about this mysterious, and serious, disease.image4

Blastomycosis.  Chances are, you’ve never heard of it.  

If you have heard of it, you know this little yeast organism is a foe that should not be underestimated!  

What is it?

Blastomycosis, commonly called Blasto, is a fungal organism that is found in the soil in the east-central USA.  Like most fungi, it likes cool, moist, dark conditions.  

Who can get it?  image3

People and Pets are susceptible to Blasto.  Dogs are most commonly affected, as they are the most likely to have noses down in the dirt.  However, people can pick up Blasto as well!  Fungal organisms are inhaled, and convert to the yeast form at body temperatures.  Blasto is NOT directly contagious between pets, or between pets and people.  

What does it do?

This organism has some favorite locations in the body.  

— Pulmonary: when the lungs are affected, the organism causes multiple lesions throughout the lungs.  Cough, fever, difficulty breathing, and lethargy are the most common complaints.  A severely affected patient will likely need hospitalization, treatment is long, and the prognosis is guarded.  image2

— Lymph nodes: Like pulmonary blasto, this is a severe infection requiring an extended treatment period.  Usually blasto has affected another area of the body, not just the lymph nodes.  

— Eyes: one or both eyes can be affected.  Initially, we notice inflammation and a low intraocular pressure, but the inflammation quickly progresses to glaucoma (or high pressure).  In many cases, the affected eye loses vision.  In some cases, the eye must be removed to bring comfort to the patient.

— Bone: this creative organism is well adapted to cause painful lesions in the bone.  It can look like bone cancer, so it is important to distinguish between the two.

— Skin: any non-healing wounds, draining tracts, or unexplained wounds should be suspect for blastomycosis.  

What should I look for?

Blasto has a very wide variety of clinical signs.  Coughing, fever, lethargy, inappetence, vomiting, difficulty breathing, and collapse can all be signs.  Enlargement of lymph nodes, squinting/pain in the eyes, oozing skin wounds and lameness may also be noted in some patients.  When in doubt, have your pet examined by a veterinarian.   

How is it diagnosed?

Most commonly Blasto is most commonly diagnosed by looking for a specific byproduct of the organism (antigen) in the urine.  This test is run by an outside lab.  Blasto can also be seen in needle aspirates of wounds and lesions on the skin in some cases.  X-rays should be used as a tool to evaluate lungs for lesions typical of blasto.  

How is it treated?

Treatment takes a LONG time.  The core of treatment is through use of strong anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory medications.  Each individual patient will be treated differently based on the body system that is affected by the organism.    

Feline Pandora Syndrome

So Much More Than Urinary Indiscretions

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Ever wonder why so many cats have trouble with appropriate litter box habits?  One explanation is Pandora Syndrome.  Cats frequently have lower urinary tract disease and inflammation, with an absence of bacteria, stones, crystals, or anatomical disease.  This has been renamed many times, and we are now recognizing that there is a lot more going on than just lower urinary tract signs. Veterinarians strive to understand why this collection of diseases occur, and are slowly recognizing just how complicated it can be.  

 

The most common element of this collection of symptoms is signs of urinary tract disease.  Spraying, urinary indiscretions, straining in the litter box, frequent urination, and blood in the urine are common signs.  Sometimes the amount of inflammation can be enough to cause a blockage of the urinary tract.  This happens more frequently in males than in females, and is an emergency situation.  

 

Additionally many of these cats show intermittent signs of vomiting, diarrhea, itchy skin, upper respiratory tract infections, and CNS signs.  Urinary tract symptoms are often the predominant clinical sign, with other body system involvement being overshadowed.  The origin of this collection of symptoms may actually be related to early development of the central nervous system.  This early development of the central nervous system may actually influence how cats respond to stress.  An inappropriate response to stress leads to development of the clinical signs of lower urinary tract disease and Pandora Syndrome.  It is speculated that this response develops very early in the cat’s life.  Strays, bottle fed kittens, kittens raised in shelters, and even kittens whose mothers were stressed during pregnancy seem to have a higher incidence.  

 

Pandora Syndrome is diagnosed by the presence of lower urinary tract signs and involvement of at least one other body system.  Rarely is there a true bacterial infection.  Addiimage4tionally the presence of bladder stones must be ruled out.  

 

The treatment for Pandora Syndrome relies almost exclusively on environmental modification.  There is no specific “cure”, hinging instead on decreasing severity of signs and increasing the length of time between episodes.  When a cat is unable to urinate due to urinary obstruction, emergency treatment for placement of a urinary catheter to relieve the obstruction should be sought with urgency.  In many cases hospitalization for 2-3 days for fluids, maintenance of a urinary catheter, and treatment for pain is necessary.  For non-obstructed felines, pain control is the first line treatment.  From there, it’s time for some changes!

 

  1. Encourage water intake!  Canned food, water fountains/bubblers, and multiple options for water bowls are necessary
  2. In some cases, anti-anxiety medications are necessary.  However, these should generally be used as an adjunctive therapy to environmental image2changes.
  3. Provide for basic needs- i.e. water, food, quiet resting places, and at least one litter box per cat plus one extra.  These should be in different areas of the house, and at least one per floor of the home.  
  4. Each litter box (and there should be multiples!) should be cleaned daily, and fully washed weekly.  Avoid changing the brand of litter, as cats like routine!  
  5. Provide a quiet, safe place to access resources.  Noisy dogs, unfamiliar/stray cats, rambunctious children, loud neighbors, and noisy hobbies (like garage bands!) can be unintended stressors to our felines.  If you have a noisy home, make sure your cat has a room to escape to.  
  6. Provide toys, and rotate through new toys to provide some variety
  7. Puzzle toys, or hiding small amounts of food around the room can add a “hunting” element to your cat’s usual routine.  
  8. Feliway- a synthetic form of the facial pheromone, feliway provides cats with a “grandma’s homemade apple pie” warm and fuzzy feeling.  It can be purchased in diffusers, sprays, and wipes, and can be beneficial to stressed cats.  (Remember to spray in the carrier before a trip to the vet, your vet will thank you!)

 

Please take a peek at the resources below for some good suggestions for environmental enrichment and modification!  

Reference – https://indoorpet.osu.edu/cats/resources , http://foodpuzzlesforcats.com/