- It's not a commentary on your cleanliness. When we mention fleas, we don't mean your house is less-than-clean. Even the cleanest home can be the target of a flea infestation. In fact, infestations usually start because the fleas were picked up outside of the home and brought inside unknowingly. If a pet has access to a yard, dog parks, nature areas or kennels, he is at risk of picking up these pesky hitchhikers who make your home their next bed and breakfast.
- "Indoors-only" doesn't always work. Your dog may almost always stay indoors, but unless he strictly uses pee pads and never goes on a single trip outside your home, he really isn't an "inside" dog. And even if this is the case, an indoor pet (whether dog or cat), is still at risk for a flea infestation. The chance is obviously lower, but there's no such thing as zero risk.
- "Seeing no fleas" doesn't mean "no worries". When you never see a flea on your cat or dog, you might think a flea preventive just isn't necessary. But flea preventives do just that - prevent fleas. These products should be used before a flea infestation is seen so that it stays that way. Unfortunately, a flea problem can manifest before a single flea is even seen on a pet. In the case of cats - who are notorious for their fastidious grooming - you might never see evidence of fleas. However, this doesn't change the statistics. A single adult flea can lay up to 50 eggs a day, so it's easy to see how fast an infestation can start. Once an infestation is present, each pet must be treated along with the home and yard. It's so much easier to prevent fleas than dealing with their consequences!
- We can find a perfect match. We know you might have a bad experience with preventive you've tried in the past, and that might turn you off to the whole idea of preventives. But now it's up to us to let you know the advantages and disadvantages of each product and find one that will work for your pet. Don't want to use a "greasy" topical? We can recommend an oral product instead. Cat or dog have a sensitive stomach? Maybe you would like to go with a topical. In most situations, at least one product can fit the individual needs of you and your pet. Please ask us what flea preventive would work best for you, your pet and your home!
Four reasons to question whether your pet needs flea preventive -- and why the healthy answer is YES!
House-soiling is one of the most common reasons why pet owners abandon or relinquish their cats. Unfortunately, these cats frequently end up in shelters where they often are euthanized.
House-soiling can be a complex problem to solve, but there are ways to prevent, manage, or resolve feline house-soiling behaviors. Your cat does not urinate or defecate outside the box due to spite or anger towards you, but because its specific physical, social or medical needs are not being met.
FOUR BASIC CAUSES OF HOUSE-SOILING
Environmental and Social Factors
Medical Causes and Problems
Feline Idiopathic Cystitis
Four reasons why your dog needs a yearly heartworm test (even if you faithfully give heartworm preventives every month!)
You dutifully give your dog heartworm preventives every month, so you don't need to do yearly tests, right? Unfortunately, it isn't that simple to keep your dog free of the foot-long parasites. Here's how annual testing can help protect your pooch and your wallet:
1. Protection limitations: Heartworm preventives can't stop mosquitoes from carrying heartworm larvae to your dog. Instead, they kill heartworm larvae before they mature, reproduce and cause damage, but they only work against certain larval stages. Any larvae too young to be stopped by the preventive at dosing time will not be covered until the next month's dose. Any larvae too old will be able to grow into adults that can't be killed by preventives. So any lapse in dosing could allow a larva to mature. A heartworm test is the only way to know it's there before serious damage is done.
2. Testing limitations: No commercially available test can detect heartworm larvae until they become adults, so there is a limbo period when heartworms can't be detected by a test or stopped by a preventive. With a yearly test, you have a chance of catching any heartworms before they cause extensive damage to the vessels of the heart and lungs. If we skip testing, we won't know your dog has heartworms until it shows clinical signs of cardiac impairment and irreversible damage has been done.
3. Resistance: Resistance to heartworm preventives is growing. This is because veterinarians used to put infected dogs on heartworm preventives in hopes of keeping the disease from getting worse, allowing the worms to adapt and build resistance. In the Mississippi Delta region, for example, researchers have identified heartworms that can develop in dogs that are receiving heartworm preventives. Yearly testing can help prevent resistance development and can help veterinarians know when resistant worms move into the area.
4. Insurance: Heartworm preventive manufacturers offer product guarantees. If your dog gets heartworms and your veterinarian can show that you purchased preventives without lapsing and did yearly testing, the manufacturer will pay for your dog's heartworm disease treatment (as long as your dog has a negative test on record each year).
Canine influenza is a highly contagious respiratory disease that is caused by canine influenza virus (CIV) Type A. There are 2 known strains in the United States:
1. CIV H3N8 - first reported in greyhounds in 2003. Since then, CIV H3N8 has spread to at least 41 other states. This virus is of equine origin and can be difficult to diagnose.
2. CIV H3N2 - recently found in the United States. This virus is of avian origin and spread to 30 states by April 2016.
Most unvaccinated dogs are susceptible to infection by both viruses. Neither virus is infectious to humans, but as with human influenza, the best protection against canine influenza is vaccination. It's also important to note that canine influenza is not seasonal like the human flu.
Are certain dogs at greater risk for infection? Any dog can be at risk for canine influenza regardless of age, sex or breed. However, certain activities can raise your dog's risk of infection. Answer the risk assessment questions later in this article to determine whether your dog might be at a higher risk.
How is canine influenza spread? Canine influenza spreads the same way as the common cold in humans. Canine influenza viruses are most commonly spread through direct dog contact (sniffing, licking, nuzzling), through the air (coughing and sneezing), via contaminated surfaces (sharing water bowls or toys), or through contaminated humans (with viruses on their clothes or hands).
Where could my dog catch canine influenza? The more your dog socializes with other dogs, the higher the risk of contracting canine influenza and other infectious respiratory diseases.
What are the clinical signs of canine influenza? Most cases of canine influenza are mild. However, up to 20% of infected dogs will have moderate to severe illness. The common clinical signs of canine influenza are:
QUICKLY ASSESS YOUR DOG'S RISK
Does your dog:
If you're reading this, chances are you love your pets - and you know that panicked feeling when you think something might be wrong. Why is he whining? Why is she limping? Is he in pain? Is this something serious? What should I do?
We all want answers fast, so it's tempting to look for clues online. In fact, AAHA receives many, many private messages through Facebook requesting medical advice for a pet. But the response is always: "Ask your veterinarian." Why?
It isn't a cop out. Seeing your veterinarian about an issue your pet is having is the best way to care for your dog or cat, says Heather Loenser, DVM, AAHA's Veterinary Advisor for Professional and Public Affairs. Loenser practices in several specialty, emergency and general practices in the New York metro area, and lives with a number of rescued dogs, cats, turtles and five pampered hens.
"Without examining a pet and carefully questioning an owner, the advice given over the internet could be inaccurate and potentially life threatening", Loenser says. "Although many pet owners are experts in their pets' day-to-day routines, favorite activities, foods, and toys, they are not experts in their medical conditions. It is not uncommon for a pet owner to make misdiagnoses and ask questions based on said misdiagnoses."
For instance, pet owners often send messages asking AAHA to recommend a shampoo for a "stinky dog." Often, the dog's problem is not a "stinky" body, but a painful--and smelly--ear or dental infection that needs to be treated by a veterinarian.
"Another common question is what medication is best to treat a pet's seizures. Diagnosing a seizure can actually be quite difficult and there are many other causes, including fainting from heart disease, serious liver disease, or difficulty regulating blood sugar", Loenser says. "Veterinarians are trained to identify the many causes of a problem that is noticed by a pet owner, make an accurate diagnosis, and communicate the treatment options."
When you consult the internet, aka "Dr. Google", instead of your veterinarian, it can be a challenge to find recommendations based on fact rather than fiction. Online health "remedies" could be ineffective, costly, or even dangerous.
There are also important ethical and legal reasons why a veterinarian shouldn't give medical advice about a dog or cat they've never examined. In fact, AAHA requires a strong veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR) in order for practices to provide quality care for animals.
"Veterinary medical ethics require veterinarians to have a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship", says Loenser. "Currently, our profession does not consider online consultations a valid way of establishing a VCPR. Once a veterinarian has examined a pet and is familiar with their care, it is not uncommon for communication to occur over the phone and via the internet."
Until that relationship is established, veterinarians cannot respond to online questions about a pet. As Loenser pointed out: "without a valid VCPR, it is unethical and in many cases, illegal, for a veterinarian to dispense advice".
If you have questions about something you read on the internet, don't hesitate to ask an expert who is truly invested in the health and happiness of your pet, Loenser says.
"It's what we were trained to do", she says. "It's why we went to school. It's why we get up every day. It's why we become bonded to our patients and clients, grieving and celebrating with them, throughout a pet's life."
When you don't have an urgent medical situation or a question specific to your pet, but want general information about pet health care, here are some reputable sources to consider:
- AAHA's Pet Health Library
- Veterinary Partner
- ASPCA Poison Control
- Pet Poison Helpline
- AVMA Pet Care
- American Assoc. of Feline Practitioners - Cat Care
- Cornell Feline Health Center
- Indoor Pet Initiative - The Ohio State University
But of course, when in doubt, make an appointment to see your veterinarian.
Does your pet have bad breath??????
February is National Pet Dental Month. Studies show that by age three, 80 percent of dogs and cats exhibit signs of gum disease, which include yellow and brown buildup of tartar along the gum line, red inflamed gums, and BAD BREATH. Although dogs and cats rarely get cavities, the plaque and tartar that do form can cause infections and gum disease. This can lead to tooth decay, bleeding gums and tooth loss. Bacteria can enter the blood stream and damage the heart, liver and kidneys.
As part of this month long dental awareness program, we are offering a reduced fee for dental cleaning. Ultrasonic dental scaling involves the careful cleaning of all surfaces. The polishing helps remove microscopic scratches and will slow down the accumulation of plaque. This procedure will ensure a brighter, healthier smile and fresh smelling breath!
For our dental month promotion, we are offering either FREE pre-anesthetic blood work (a $65.00 value) or $50.00 off the total cost of your pet’s dental procedure. THE PROMOTION WILL BE OFFERED THE MONTH OF FEBRUARY OF EVERY YEAR.
You probably get plenty of sloppy kisses from your canine cohort, but getting a good look at his mouth and teeth takes a little more effort. So, gather your furry friend in close, gently open his mouth, and take a closer look at these critical parts of your pooch:
Lift up your dog's lips and take a look at the gums. They should be pink, not shades of red, white, yellow or blue. Some dogs have dark pigment spots on their gums and tongue. Don't panic -- that's normal.
If your dog's gums look red and swollen, that's the first sign of periodontal disease, a serious condition you'll want your veterinarian to address right away. As the condition worsens, your pet's gums will recede, and without treatment his teeth will eventually loosen and fall out. The key: catch the condition early and take action.
Next, look at the teeth. They should be white and clean and should not be broken or cracked. If you think a tooth may be cracked, take your dog to the veterinarian right away.
He or she will examine your dog's teeth and may recommend X-rays to determine the extent of the damage. Depending on the results, your veterinarian may choose to pull the tooth, restore it, or refer your pet to a veterinary dental specialist.
Just like people, dogs accumulate tartar at different rates. If your pet's teeth have lost their pearly shine, your veterinarian can take care of the problem with a professional cleaning. He or she also can tell you how often your pet's teeth need to be cleaned. Some pets may need their teeth cleaned every 6 months, while others can go a few years between cleanings.
Part of the difference depends on the characteristics of your dog. However, you can control some factors that affect tartar buildup. For example, pets who eat dry food accumulate less tartar than pets who eat moist or canned food. You can also make a difference by brushing your pet's teeth at home. And if you're not up to that, you can still give your pet special treats and dental chew toys that help control tartar. Your veterinarian can recommend specific products.
A note on dog breath
Your dog's breath may not smell sweet, but it shouldn't make you flee the room. And foul odor in the mouth can indicate dental disease. Excessive drooling and lumps in your dog's mouth aren't normal either. Alert your veterinarian if you notIce any of these problems.
You've probably felt your cat's sandpaper-like tongue on occasion, but getting a good look at his mouth and teeth takes a little more effort. So gather your furry friend in close, gently open his mouth, and take a closer look at these critical parts of your cat:
Lift up your cat's lips and take a look at the gums. They should be pink, not shades of red, white, yellow or blue. Some cats have dark pigment spots on their gums and tongue. Don't panic -- that's normal.
If your cat's gums look red and swollen, that's the first sign of periodontal disease, a serious condition you'll want your veterinarian to address right away. As the condition worsens, your pet's gums will recede, and without treatment his teeth will eventually loosen and fall out. The key: catch the condition early and take action.
Next, look at the teeth. They should be white, clean and smooth and should not be broken, cracked or pitted. Cats can develop pit-like areas in the teeth near the gum line -- they're similar to cavities in people and can be quite painful. If you think a tooth may be cracked or pitted, take your cat to the veterinarian.
He or she will examine your cat's teeth and may take X-rays to determine the extent of the damage. Depending on the results, your veterinarian may choose to pull the tooth, restore it, or refer your pet to a veterinary dental specialist.
Just like people, cats accumulate tartar at different rates. If your pet's teeth have lost their pearly shine, your veterinarian can take care of the problem with a professional cleaning. He or she can also tell you how often your pet's teeth need to be cleaned. Some pets may need their teeth cleaned every six months, while others can go a few years between cleanings.
Part of the difference depends on the characteristics of your cat. However, you can control some factors that affect tartar buildup.
For example, pets who eat dry food accumulate less tartar than pets who eat moist or canned food. You can also make a difference by brushing your cat's teeth at home. And if you're not up to that, you can still give your pet special treats that help control tartar. Your veterinarian can recommend specific products.
A note on cat breath
Your cat's breath may not smell sweet, but it shouldn't make you flee the room. And foul odor in the mouth can indicate dental disease. Excessive drooling and lumps in your cat's mouth aren't normal either. Alert your veterinarian if you notice any of these problems.
When pet poisonings from human medications happen, they can be serious. Below is a list of the top 10 human medications pets most frequently ingest.
1. NSAIDS (Ibuprofen, Naproxen) -- Topping the list are the common household medications called non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), which include common names such as ibuprofen and naproxen. While these medications are safe for people, even on or two pills can cause serious harm to a pet. Dogs, cats, birds and other small mammals including ferrets, gerbils and hamsters may develop serious stomach and intestinal ulcers as well as kidney failure.
2. ACETAMINOPHEN -- When it comes to pain medications, acetaminophen (Tylenol) is popular. Even though this drug is safe for children, it is not safe for pets, especially cats. One regular strength tablet of acetaminophen may cause damage to a cat's red blood cells, limiting their ability to carry oxygen. In dogs, acetaminophen leads to liver failure and, in large doses, red blood cell damage.
3. ANTIDEPRESSANTS (Effexor, Cymbalta, Prozac, Lexapro) -- While these and other antidepressant drugs are occasionally used in pets, overdoses can lead to serious neurological problems such as sedation, incoordination, tremors or seizures. Some antidepressants also have a stimulant effect leading to a dangerously elevated heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature. Pets, especially cats, seem to enjoy the taste of Effexor and often eat the entire pill. Unfortunately, just one pill can cause serious poisoning.
4. ADD AND ADHD MEDICATIONS (Concerta, Adderall, Ritalin) -- Medications used to treat Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder contain potent stimulants such as amphetamines and methylphenidate. Even minimal ingestions of these medications by pets can cause life-threatening tremors, seizures, elevated body temperature and heart problems.
5. BENZODIAZEPINES AND SLEEP AIDS (Xanax, Klonopin, Ambien, Lunesta) -- These medications are designed to reduce anxiety and help people sleep better. However, in pets, they may have the opposite effect. About half of dogs that ingest sleep aids become agitated instead of sedate. In addition, these drugs may cause severe lethargy, incoordination (including walking "drunk"), and slowed breathing in pets. In cats, some forms of benzodiazepines can cause liver failure when ingested.
6. BIRTH CONTROL (Estrogen, Estradiol, Progesterone) -- Birth control pills often come in packages that dogs find irresistible. Thankfully, small ingestions of these medications typically do not cause trouble. However, large ingestions of estrogen and estradiol can cause bone marrow suppression, particularly in birds. Additionally, intact female pets are at an increased risk of side effects from estrogen poisoning.
7. ACE INHIBITORS (Zestril, Altace) -- Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors are commonly used to treat high blood pressure in people and occasionally, pets. Though overdoses can cause low blood pressure, dizziness, and weakness, this category of medication is typically safe. Pets ingesting small amounts of this medication can potentially be monitored at home, unless they have kidney failure or heart disease.
8. BETA-BLOCKERS (Tenormin, Toprol, Coreg) -- Beta-blockers are also used to treat high blood pressure but, unlike with ACE inhibitors, small ingestions of doses can cause life-threatening decreases in blood pressure and a very slow heart rate.
9. THYROID HORMONES (Armour Desiccated Thyroid, Synthroid) -- Pets - especially dogs - get underactive thyroids too. Interestingly, the dose of thyroid hormone needed to treat dogs is much higher than a person's dose. Therefore, if dogs accidentally get into thyroid hormones at home, it rarely results in problems. However, large acute overdoses in cats and dogs can cause muscle tremors, nervousness, panting, a rapid heart rate, and aggression.
10. CHOLESTROL LOWERING AGENTS (Lipitor, Zocor, Crestor) -- These popular medications, often called statins, are commonly used in the U.S.. While pets do not typically get high cholesterol, they may still get into the pill bottle. Thankfully, most statin ingestions only cause mild vomiting or diarrhea. Serious side effects from these drugs come with long-term use, not one-time ingestions.
Myth 1: I don't live in a wooded area, so my pet can't get ticks.
Even if you think your pets don't visit areas where ticks are commonly found, such as wooded areas and places with high grass or brush, remember that ticks are actually able to live out their entire life cycle within your home. Woodpiles near or inside a home provide the perfect environment for ticks to survive. And when your pets are inside, this improves the environment for a tick's survival because ticks need readily available hosts.
It's also important to know that when small rodents such as mice are infested with ticks, they can enter the house, assisting the tick's transportation indoors. Even if ticks don't make their way into your home, they can still live in low grass and trees -- such as backyards of the most suburban homes. When pets play in these areas, they are at risk of tick infestation.
Myth 2: I haven't seen any ticks on my pets, so they aren't at risk.
You may find ticks on your pets once they're engorged and visible to the naked eye. However, the tick's life cycle includes two stages; larva and nymph, where they're not as easily noticed.
While you can remove adult ticks from your pets, you can't be sure that they haven't already laid eggs on the pet, continuing the tick infestation. Ticks in the larva and nymph stage need blood meals to grow into adult ticks, and the pet's coat is the perfect place to grow.
Myth 3: I've only found a few ticks on my pet, so I'm sure he's fine.
The phrase "it only takes one" fits perfectly to describe the risk of Lyme disease. While you may be diligent about checking for and removing ticks, it still only takes one tick bite for a pet to contract Lyme disease. When you find ticks on your pet, there's a good chance the pet has had other ticks you've missed. And even if you only find one tick, your veterinary team wants to protect your pet's well-being by testing for tick-borne diseases in the months following the bite.
Myth 4: I apply a flea and tick preventive to my pet monthly, so I don't need to worry about Lyme disease.
That's fantastic!! Just remember, no product guarantees absolute protection. Depending on the pet's habits and environment, you may need to take additional steps to prevent Lyme disease.
For example, because each product is different, the doctor may recommend different application schedules, depending on the product and the pet. The doctor may also advise reapplying the product if the pet has been swimming or bathed, so it's a good idea to check with the doctor if your pet gets wet after an application. And the doctor may also suggest routine testing for tick-borne diseases and vaccinations against Lyme disease.
Myth 5: During the colder seasons, I don't need to worry about applying flea and tick prevention.
Because most insect populations decrease once cold weather sets in, you may assume ticks will follow suit. In reality, ticks are much hardier -- and their population even peaks during the fall season. Ticks can also survive through the entire winter even when frozen in the ground. And occasional thaws during winter may release these frozen ticks for another blood meal. For the best protection, continuously apply preventives throughout the year, including the colder months.
Myth 6: My pet was treated for Lyme disease, so now she's cured.
Once a pet is diagnosed with Lyme disease, the doctor usually prescribes an antibiotic. Once the antibiotic course is finished, this doesn't guarantee the Lyme disease is cured and the pet is no longer at risk of experiencing Lyme disease symptoms. The infection in many pets is widespread, and in some cases it may take multiple courses of the antibiotic to successfully treat the Lyme disease. Your pet should also continue to be routinely screened for tick-borne diseases every year.
Myth 7: My pet has already contracted Lyme disease, so he can't receive a Lyme disease vaccination.
Pets that have been treated for Lyme disease run the risk of reinfection. So it's important to continue applying preventives and check your pets for ticks.
Another way to prevent Lyme disease is to administer Lyme disease vaccination. Although there are more benefits to giving the vaccine before exposure occurs, such as with puppies; adult or seropositive dogs can receive the vaccination to help prevent the pet reinfection.