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The other day I treated a dog that had a chronic (long term) ear infection. This dog had been treated for his ear infection 2-3 times by the former veterinarian and it was still a problem. Well, there are a few reasons this could have happened. Let me address one of them. It is possible that an ear cytology was not done on this dog when he was seen previously. What this means is that we can take a swab from the ear and look at it under the microscope. When we do this, we can determine what is actually causing the infection in the first place. It is usually either yeast or bacteria, but sometimes it is a combination of both. By establishing what is causing the infection, we can more appropriately dispense medication to correct the problem. We can also track the progression of our treatment over time by assessing the numbers of organisms subjectively. Yup, we can do that right in the hospital, during your visit! It takes us anywhere from 5-10 minutes to prepare the slide and read it, then we can give you an answer while you wait! If your pet is shaking his or […]
There are so many parasites out there than can affect your dog and your cat. When you visit the vet they rattle off all these names and it is truly confusing. I wanted to refresh your memory about one parasite in particular – heartworms. Yup – they live in the heart. Technically, the adult worms live in the heart and the “babies” swim around in the blood stream. The heartworm is given to your dog or cat through an infective mosquito. The heartworm has to be transmitted through the mosquito, but the bad news is that lots of mosquitoes carry heartworms. Yes, people can get them, too, but it only happens in immunocompromised individuals. Humans are not the natural host for these worms. We test your dog for heartworms by taking a sample of blood. This test looks for adult worms that have established themselves in your dog’s heart. These are the trouble-makers. We also recommend you give your pet monthly heartworm preventative. This monthly pill kills any new baby worms the mosquito may have given your dog or cat before they can grow up into dangerous adults. Protect your pet from heartworms – they are highly prevalent in our […]
Most of us don’t make a habit of looking at our pet’s teeth on a regular basis. This is unfortunate, since our pet’s mouths can be a true source of discomfort and disease when not cared for properly. Even my own dog’s mouth can get worse than I imagine it is. I cleaned my dog’s teeth yesterday. They were… you guessed it… worse than I imagined. I knew my dog had bad breath and some tartar build up, but it wasn’t until I cleaned his teeth that I realized how dirty they really were. My technician and I spent a great deal of time scaling, scraping, and polishing until we finally cleared away the harmful tartar that had built up and addressed the gingivitis that would lead to horrible abscessed roots if left for much longer. I’m pleased to report that we were able to avoid extractions this time, but in the future I’ll be quicker to address the problem! I encourage everyone to check their pet’s mouth frequently and report to their veterinarian if they notice red gums or tartar building up. Early intervention will save your pet pain and discomfort in the future.
Yesterday I saw the worst mouth in a dog that I have ever seen. I have truly seen some rotten teeth in my practice. I won’t describe how nasty some dog and cat mouths can get and I will attempt to provide an adequate description here without completely grossing you out… This dog had it all – loose teeth, recessed gums, inflamed gums, tartar galore, halitosis to beat the band, obvious abscessed tooth roots, food stuck in places it shouldn’t be due to pocket formation in the gums, and caked on plaque. When I looked at the upper canine tooth (the fang) – I knew I had seen it all. There was a HOLE in the dog’s gum. This hole was above the gum line and exposed the side of the tooth root (if it hadn’t been packed full of food, pus, hair, and whatever else you can imagine). You see, this dog had an untreated tooth root abscess that had progressed so far that the only outlet for the abscess was through the side of the gum. Painful does not describe it. My heart went out to this dog.Why am I telling you this? Sometimes we all need to […]
Nothing justifies your decision to perform a procedure like the hapiness evident in your pet after it has been completed. It’s tough to know how much a recommended procedure will help your pet until after you have gone ahead and done it! That’s hard medicine to swallow, I realize. Nonetheless I see this phenomenon time and again. Case in point: I recently removed retained deciduous teeth (baby teeth) from a dog and now he is acting great, is less moody, and seems like a different dog according to the owner. That’s music to my ears!
Being able to do treatments and care for our pets at home is a wonderful way to save money! It also really gives us the feeling that we are making a difference in our pet’s life. Whenever possible, I do encourage my clients to take on treatments that they can do at home. One example is with fluid therapy. We often give fluids to our pets repeatedly when they are in renal (kidney) failure. We can teach owners to perform this task in a matter of minutes and then the pet’s care can come more under the control of you, the owner. Ask me more about home care for your pet the next time you are in.
Yesterday we were able to help one of our clients out. He had to go to work, but also wanted to be present for his cat’s appointment and to consult with me. Here is what we did: he dropped his cat off in the morning on his way to work and we scheduled an appointment for him over his lunch hour. His cat stayed with us in our recovery ward while he worked in the morning and he came over at lunch for his appointment. We did the appointment as usual in the examination room and when it was finished, we put the cat back in our ward and he went back to work! After work he picked up the kitty and went home. The cat enjoyed seeing the hospital activity from a safe location and got special attention from our staff during breaks. It was the best kind of visit for everyone involved, even the kitty!
We are always happy when it is time to get the Christmas tree set up and start our holiday baking. However these two activities can potentially be harmful to your dogs and there are some things to think about while preparing for these activities. The Christmas tree should be well-secured. It can easily be toppled by a happy puppy and could hurt the dog (or person) who may be standing in the wrong place at the wrong time! Also remember to watch your dog for the first few days after your tree is up to be sure they are not showing interest in eating the tree or its decorations! Pine needles can irritate the throat if the dog eats them and lead to subsequent problems. Christmas ornaments – especially home-made ones that are baked or made from dried pasta – are notorious for getting eaten! Put them high on the tree or keep them off the tree until your puppy grows up and has been trained to leave the tree and its decorations alone! Most of us know that chocolate is also harmful to dogs. The primary substance of concern is called theobromine and it is toxic to dogs in […]
Winter is the time we truly notice how frequently our dogs go outside each day. They remind us of this fact every time they come back into the house, along with the mud or snow they just tracked in! Here are a couple of tips on how to cope with these problems. 1. Lukewarm water washing – this works great for mud as well as ice. Leave a small shallow bucket of water in your mud room, just inside your back door, or in your garage. When your pup returns with ice balls between his toes or muddy feet, dunk each foot into the bucket then dry with an old towel. If your dog objects to this at first, repetition and persistence will win out. Be sure to have you dog on leash or have a helper when “dunking” at first to minimize mess. 2. Dry towel wiping – this is simply an easier version of the first suggestion – use an old bath towel to wipe your dog’s feet when he returns with snow on his feet or wet feet. Practice makes perfect – keep training foot handling and the house will stay clean!
National Poison Prevention Week is March 17-23. In an effort to raise awareness of common household items that can poison your pets, I have decided to share some of the ASPCA (the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) guidelines. *Keep all drugs out of your pets’ reach in closed cabinets. Painkillers, cold medicines, antidepressants, vitamins and diet pills can be lethal to animals, even in small doses. *Never give your pets medication unless you are directed to do so by a veterinarian. Human medicine is not for pets. *Always read the label before dispensing medication. Some flea products for dogs can be deadly if given to cats. Thousands of cats and dogs needlessly suffer and many die each year by accidental ingestion of household poisons, including popular houseplants and common foods. “Most pet owners simply do not know that small amounts of chocolate, onions, macadamia nuts and bread dough can be dangerous,” comments Dr. Steve Hansen, Senior Vice President of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. “Many cats are poisoned in the spring from plants including daffodils and lilies. A cat that eats an Easter lily will die unless it receives prompt medical attention,” says Hansen. The […]
Arthritis is a common problem in our pet dogs and cats. In fact, many of our senior pets suffer from arthritis pain to some degree, whether they indicate it to us, or not. Degenerative joint disease is the number one cause of chronic pain in dogs and cats. I will give a brief review of some of the medications available to us to help ease our pet’s pain. Remember that a “multi-modal” approach works best – that is, use several pain medications and they will work better than one single medication. I often prefer to diagnose arthritis pain though a trial treatment period. It works like this, we may suspect arthritis pain, so we can prescribe a short course of medications and assess our pet’s response to that treatment. Slow-acting medications can take weeks to months to exert their effect. I like to use these in early-onset of stiffness. Some are even added to the dog food these days. These meds are nutritional supplements. They work well when combined with anti-inflammatory medications. They include glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, omega three fatty acids, MSM, as well as anti-oxidants and free radical scavengers. I use a lot of glucosamine and fatty acids […]
I used to have a dog that would chew his own nails so that we wouldn’t have to cut them! He hated having his nails cut! Sometimes, though, we had to help him keep up with the job. We can all benefit from knowing how to properly cut our pet’s nails. We have added a video to our website that shows how to trim a dog’s nails and it can also be found on YouTube. YouTube video A cat’s nail trimming is essentially the same. It is actually easier, if you can get your kitty to hold still and cooperate! But that’s another story. Keep in mind that as you get near the “quick” (the blood vessel) the nerve sensitivity increases and there is a pinching sensation that some pets anticipate will be worse than it actually is. Be sure to go slow and try not to cut the nails back too far. This will help your pet build trust in your ability and minimize fear of the procedure.
A few days ago I attended a symposium where the topics of obesity and probiotics were discussed. It was an informative set of lectures. Let me give you a few facts relating to these subjects. Obesity in dogs is a primary precursor to torn ligaments in the knees of dogs. The surgery to correct the torn ligament can be done a few ways, but arthritis will absolutely be a factor for the affected pet. One of the primary modalities to address knee problems is weight loss. Fat releases pro-inflammatory hormones. The digestive tract is an important player in the body’s immune defense system. Probiotics are live cultures of bacteria that promote proper digestive function. Probiotics typically resolve diarrhea through regulation of the population of bacteria in the gut.
I have attended several CE courses in the past month. The most recent was a discussion hosted by a laser manufacturer about the benefits of laser therapy. Of course this leads to immediate skepticism: a lecture hosted by a company that wants me to purchase their product… Nonetheless, I found the lecture intriguing and have continued to ponder the pros and cons. Here is some basic information for you. Class IV lasers are simply those lasers in a category that indicates the level of harm they can do. These lasers, when used in practice, require that we wear a special type of eye protection. They also have healing effects. The therapy is supposed to reduce pain, reduce inflammation, and speed up the healing process. It can be used on wounds, fractures, abscesses, sprains, and dermatitis, just to name a few modalities. The therapy is the result of energy interacting chemically and biologically with tissue. This causes “photobiostimulation”. Lasers produce a single wavelength beam of light that is uniform (in “phase”). It penetrates deeply into tissue to produce changes at the cellular level. The lecture stated that pain is reduced through affecting stimulation thresholds and essentially reducing pain perception. Inflammation is […]
Yesterday I saw a young dog riding in the back of a pickup truck. Wow. I just don’t get it. Are dogs disposable? A dog has no awareness of how fast they are going or how high they are. They do not have any way of understanding the level of danger of any given situation. No one is sitting back there with the dog in an attempt to control their movement (it’s against the law because it’s too dangerous). Even if they were, no training is foolproof. Imagine the dog sees a bunny rabbit on the side of the road, or they are peering over the side with their front feet up when you drive over a big bump in the road, or they just decide they want out… No, having them tied back there is not a solution. Now we add hanging to the list of dangers. If you travel with your dogs in this fashion or you know someone who does, please consider these things. It takes only one fall out of the vehicle to end the dog’s life. Every time you travel this way, there is a 50/50 chance your dog will be in the back of […]
I so often hear stories about people’s cats urinating outside their litter boxes. This happens not only in my practice, but when I travel or meet people who discover that I am a vet. There are some basic “rules” to follow when you are personally faced with this problem, and I will mention a few here. Cats have not evolved over years and years to know house rules when it comes to going potty. We are lucky that cats are generally fastidious and we take advantage of that. However, a clean litter box is a must. The cat will find a different place to go if the litter box only gets cleaned once a week. Some cats refuse to use the box after only a day or two of non-cleaning. The litter box has to be in the realm of the cats natural territory in the house. Putting the box in the farthest back corner of the basement does not promote use. Having one box for two or more cats to share is not enough. Having two boxes side by side equates to one box in the cat’s mind. The box can’t be too close to the food and water. […]
I have been thinking recently of things that often get missed. This discussion on feline preventative medicine is long overdue. I mentioned to a group recently that they should not forget to “winterize” their outdoor cats and they got a chuckle out of that. Let me explain what I meant. I am talking to two different types of people – they are cat owners and cat caretakers. There are many people who care for outdoor cats who are reluctant to take that final step and admit they are the primary caretaker for the cat. There are plenty of neighborhood cats that fit this picture – they are outdoors all year round and several people share the responsibility of feeding them. However, there is usually one person to whom that responsibility primarily falls and this is the person that is actually the owner of the cat, whether they would like to admit it, or not. So face it, you own a cat. Now read on to see how to better care for that cat. I know you care – you keep feeding it! Cats that are outdoors for ANY length of time during the day should be protected against all they […]
I wanted to share some information with you about Intervertebral Disk Disease in dogs. The disease can occur in cats, but it is more common in dogs. I recently attended a lecture on this topic and wanted to summarize some key points for you. First, this disease is most common in dog breeds that have long backs. Namely, Daschshunds but also Beagles, Corgis, Basset Hounds, Cocker Spaniels, and others. These breeds have a genetic predisposition to developing disk herniation, but it can also occur after trauma such as a car accident. Disk herniation is literally movement of the intervertebral disk into the space normally occupied by the spinal cord. The disk normally serves as a cushion between the vertebrae, but it can move upwards and impinge on the spinal cord with this disease. When the disk herniates in the mid to lower back it can cause paralysis and/or the inability to properly urinate and defecate. If the disk herniates in the neck, it can cause neck pain, lameness in a front leg, or even paralysis of all four limbs. The herniation can occur suddenly, or can happen slowly over a long period of time. Definitive diagnosis frequently requires specialized imaging. […]
Cats are more popular pets than dogs; however they visit the vet a lot less often, according to a study done last year by the American Veterinary Medical Association. Some statistics I have read estimate they see the vet half as often as dogs. Cats do, in fact, require regular veterinary visits. Our feline friends have a tendency to hide their illnesses and subtle signs that they are sick tend to go unnoticed by owners for a long time. It seems that people get cats because they are perceived to be a lower-maintenance pet than dogs. This is true and the cat’s independence is part of their charm. However, we also find ourselves paying less attention to their day to day routines such as appetite, water consumption, and litter box habits. In addition, cats are often less stoic than dogs and are certainly less apt to complain when they aren’t feeling well. They usually become more reclusive. Cats very frequently show signs of illness that are very nonspecific when compared to dogs. Cats might lose a pound of body weight and although that does not seem like a lot, the average ten pound cat that loses one pound has just […]
Not all flea preventatives are created equal. There are quite a few flea prevention products that we see on the shelves of pet stores and advertised through on-line pharmacies. Some cost more than others and some require a veterinary prescription. In my opinion, the primary and important difference in flea prevention is in “speed of kill” – allow me to explain what that means. The various topical flea preventatives that are commercially available all have different time frames in which they are anticipated to kill the fleas that jump on the treated pet. This is important because when we take into account the flea’s life cycle, we can understand that we want to kill that flea before it has the chance to lay eggs that will further contaminate the environment. A topical flea preventative that kills the flea faster will act as a treatment for fleas (the flea is dead) as well as a preventative for fleas (the fleas are not laying eggs that will contaminate the home/yard and serve as a source for further infestation). This combination of action gives us the best possible prevention and treatment for fleas. There are some other variations between the products. Safety for […]
Lately I have been seeing quite a bit of this common problem with the recent weather we have been having. Fear of thunderstorms can stem from several sources, but once the dog becomes fearful, it is a difficult and tiring process to reverse the effects. Most puppies are not fearful of storms – this comes later in life and I feel the fear is based in behaviors the puppy observes. Therefore, prevention is possible and so is behavior modification to reverse the behavior. Prevention – teach the puppy that storms are nothing to be afraid of. The puppy begins to worry about storms when they become noisy, the light shows begin, or when they see us responding to the storm in a dramatic way (running around looking for candles and flashlights). One effective tactic is to take the puppy outside during a light storm and play ball. You can take the pup for a walk in the rain, or sit on the porch and practice tricks while feeding treats. If you ignore the storm, the pup will learn to do so as well. When the puppy exhibits fearful behavior such as to a loud thunderclap, you should get his/her attention […]
Many dog owners and some non-dog owners know what bloat is. The movie “Marley and Me” brought the issue to the surface for a while, though now many who saw the film still don’t know how that dog died. I never saw the movie, but I do know about bloat and I feel it nearly unforgivable to happen to a vet’s dog. Here is what happened: my dog Emma is a lab/springer mix. She usually gets a burst of energy in the evening after I get home from work. On this particular day, she had just finished eating her dinner, then goaded me into throwing her Frisbee for her. We went into the back yard and I tossed the Frisbee. The first chase and catch was mild, the second throw produced a nice chase and she nearly caught that one, the third throw included a high catch with a tail flip – it was beautiful. The fourth throw never happened. She came back and dropped the Frisbee, was panting as expected, but didn’t want to go again. She paced a bit, then ran off to go pee. After that, she returned to the porch, but didn’t want to play. Shortly […]
Tick season is upon us and I wanted to give you a refresher (or a first lesson) in tick removal. Ticks will attach to their host (your pet or yourself) by grabbing a mouthful of skin and holding on for dear life. There are many rumors about how to proceed with their removal, but the best and easiest is this: pull it out. Yes, there is more. Be sure to grab the tick as near to the surface of the skin as possible. If you have fingernails to help, that’s good, but don’t pinch the tick off. Pull with steady and firm pressure until the tick releases. Once released, you can confirm that you got all of the critter by checking him. His legs will be flailing against your fingertips and his tiny head and even tinier mouth usually has some skin in it. Gross, but true. You do want to remove the entire tick to prevent localized infection and transmission of disease. The topically applied flea and tick preventatives often work to kill the tick before it is able to transmit disease. Lyme disease is the commonly known one – it is transmitted by the deer tick in this […]
“Come” is one of the most important commands we teach our dogs. It is a potentially life-saving word, too. If your dog is running toward the road for example… Dogs learn that they can ignore our commands at times. They learn this because when we tell/ask them to do something and they don’t do it, there may be no consequences at all. It is imperative that this is not true when your dog hears, “come.” Here are some rules that need to apply to that word. 1. In teaching it: never say “come” unless the dog is already coming toward you or you have them on a leash or rope of some kind. When you say the word, there must be no alternative but to comply. 2. Always make it very worthwhile for the dog to come. When they obey, there must be a super fantastic reward awaiting them. They must immediately get the reward. There can never ever be any punishment after complying. It no longer matters what they did that made you say the word, if they come, they must not be punished. If you are trying to teach them not to do something, go and get them […]
Yes – last week my dog, Brett had his teeth cleaned again. I say again because the last time I did the procedure was only 3 months ago. This dog has a natural plaque-building rate that nearly equals the rate that weeds grow in our yard. Every time he has his teeth cleaned, it is the full monty. He is under general anesthesia, has his teeth hand-scaled, then ultrasonic scaled. After that, they are polished and we apply fluoride. Most dogs after having this procedure done can go over 12 months before having to repeat. Even longer when they are getting oral care at home. Not my Brett. I have tried it all and he just has bad teeth. Why am I telling you this? Many people are concerned about repeated anesthetic procedures (surgeries). Brett is living proof that this fear is quite unwarranted. He has been having surgery at least once a year ever since he was four years old. He is now thirteen years old and acts like he is a five year old dog. Many people put off teeth cleaning procedures for a variety of reasons, but waiting to do it will only make the disease worse. […]
If your dog is acting quite normally and suddenly develops diarrhea, the first question in your mind should be: What caused this? Often dogs get sudden diarrhea from eating inappropriate things such as greasy foods, bark or mulch from outside, items from the garbage can or compost pile, people food, etc. Sometimes diarrhea develops from stressful situations. They can also develop diarrhea from eating plants, getting into chemicals, or eating their toys. If you fear one of the latter – call your veterinarian immediately. If you suspect your dog was given barbeque by your neighbor last night, then there are some first steps you can take to try to alleviate the situation. I always recommend an immediate fast. No food for either 12 or 24 hours, depending on the severity of the diarrhea. Please keep in mind that we are talking about a dog that is acting 100% normal in every other way. Fasting the dog will allow the contents of the stomach and intestines to clear out and hopefully begin the healing process. Break the fast with a BLAND diet. Yes, there are diets that are more bland than over-the-counter dog food! Veterinarians have diets that are manufactured to […]
Harness with tether Traditional seatbelt A lot of dogs do not ride along with us in our car the way we truly want them to, but is that the dog’s fault? If you have not taken the time to teach your dog how to act in the car, then how can you expect him to behave? Riding in the car requires training, just like anything else. You need to teach your dog how behave and what is expected of him while you are busy driving. Let’s start from scratch.1. Decide what you want your dog to do while riding in the car and make sure that everyone who will be driving with your pup is in agreement on this. The rules must be established first. 2. Put your dog in the car in the location of your choosing. I recommend the back seat, or the back section of a wagon. I think we can all agree that the dog in the driver’s lap is a bad idea! You then move to the driver’s seat and do not turn the car on. Wait. If your dog stays where you put him, give him praise and perhaps a small treat. Keep in […]
Money Saving Pet Hygiene Tips Did you know that keeping your pet clean can SAVE you money? I’m as interested in saving money as the next person and if it means I get to keep my pet healthy at the same time, then tell me more! From tooth brushing and ear cleaning to nail trimming and bathing, there are many things that you can do for your pets to keep them healthy. If this ends up meaning that you can spend less money fixing preventable problems, then it’s a win-win!TeethBrushing your pet’s teeth at home can reduce the bill when it’s time for them to have their teeth professionally cleaned. Here is the explanation. Periodontal disease – when the tooth is diseased under the gum line – leads to decay and the need for extractions (not to mention the pain that process entails). Tooth brushing at home can significantly impact the level of periodontal disease the pet develops and also slow the progression of dental disease over time. If and when your pet needs a professional cleaning, there will be less chance that extractions will be needed if you have done your part at home. Remember, brushing your pet’s teeth […]
Help! The groomer nicked my pet! This is certainly something that no one wants to think about, but one risk factor of pet grooming is the occasional cut. Shoot, that’s a big part of why we don’t do it ourselves – we have a professional do the work! Even a pro can occasionally snip the wrong thing and that’s because our pets do not hold still for the groomer and do not understand the consequences. It is a blessing that we as vets rarely see cuts from the groomer – I commend them for their work! But it happened to YOUR pet – now what? More than likely your pet stopped bleeding before it was sent home. If a more serious incident occurred, the groomer probably already took your pet to the vet for stitches, glue, or staples. If your pet has re-commenced bleeding, the first thing is to stop the flow and allow a scab to form. Apply direct pressure to the wound with a paper towel. Do not use any soaps or peroxide to clean the site as you may actually rub away the first stages of the scab that are trying to form. Remember that ears (and […]
Holiday Pet Hazards It seems that every year we hear about seasonal dangers that could affect our pets. At the risk of being redundant, I will review them again for you. A refresher is always nice to have and some “dangers” are more serious than others. That being said, if your pet is acting unusual, it is best to get the advice of your veterinarian because it is always better to be safe than sorry. Toxic plantsPoinsettias, Mistletoe, Holly, Amaryllis, and Christmas trees. These plants cause GI upset (vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, nausea). Many times our pets only get small amounts of them and because they are irritating or taste bad, our dogs and cats leave them alone. There are some exceptions where these plants can be bad for our pets – namely if they ingest large quantities or certain parts (like the bulb of the amaryllis).The toxic plant to be very aware of is the Lily – it causes renal failure in cats. Namely Lilium and Hemerocallis genera (Easter lilies, tiger lilies, day lilies, etc.) are the dangerous ones. Any ingestion of a lily in a cat is a medical emergency and your cat should be admitted to the hospital. […]
Cold weather tips for your pets We have just come through a very rough spell of extremely cold weather and there may be more in our future. Here is a quick refresher on some cold weather issues that may crop up for you and your pets. Not all pets have the same tolerance for cold as others, so be sure to treat your pet as an individual. Of course large, double-coated dog breeds will handle the cold a lot better than small dogs or cats will. Most dogs can habituate and tolerate temperatures as low as 45 degrees Fahrenheit, while some dogs do fine even near 32 degrees, but once the temperature drops lower than that, be careful of over-exposure or long duration of time in the cold. Please keep in mind that indoor dogs and cats who are not used to cold temperatures will need to come back into the warmth sooner than those who spend a lot of time outdoors.Keep your exotic and pocket pets away from drafts at all times and do not take them for rides in this weather – they will get cold quickly.Cats and wild animals will sometimes seek warmth against a car’s engine. […]
It’s a small question on the surface, but quite loaded when you stop to consider it on a deeper level. Many people who decide to purchase/rescue a new pet realize the importance of their decision and take certain factors into account. This forethought is very much needed, however the full implication is still frequently underestimated. I feel the decision to add a new pet to the family should be taken nearly as seriously as the decision to add a baby to the family. Granted, these two things are on VERY different scales of responsibility; however the approach to these additions is nearly the same. With any new addition, factors such as lifestyle, schedules, and finances are just a few important considerations. The most common stories of failed pet ownership are those that begin with the pet being given as a gift. When little forethought is put into the decision of pet ownership, the shock of owning a pet is often enough to leave that pet in a shelter, abandoned, or neglected. No new pet owner wants these horrible outcomes for their pet; however, the burden of ownership is often much greater than anticipated. Factors to consider:1. Expected life span – […]
image courtesy of vcahospitals.com Many of us have heard of the benefits of fatty acids for some time now. In fact, there is a great deal of good research into these products and their uses. I will attempt to write a synopsis to help you as a possible consumer of fatty acid supplements – either for yourself or for your pet(s). This information is largely based on a recent lecture I attended by Dr. Kenneth Kwochka.Fatty acids are important sources of energy, but I will focus on their benefits to cells and management of inflammation. Neither Omega 3 or 6 fatty acids can be synthesized in the body. We (and our pets) get fatty acids from our diets.Omega 6 fatty acids are good for the skin, but bad for inflammation. They are processed in our bodies to Arachidonic Acid (AA). Omega 6 fatty acids are important in skin because they help produce a viable barrier to the environment. Think of the skin as your largest immune organ. It protects you from what you encounter. When your skin is damaged, it is not protecting you. Omega 6 fatty acids keep the skin a viable immune organ. However, the pathway that leads […]
Did you know that dogs and cats can develop behaviors in their old age that are the same as dementia in humans? We know that we (humans) are prone to cognitive impairment as we age and that it affects our memory, attention, problem solving, and language. We also can suffer from disorientation as the condition progresses. Alzheimer’s disease is one form of dementia in people and some of the brain lesions that are found in human Alzheimer’s patients are the same type as we see in our pets. Behaviors that you may see with CDS: Inappropriate elimination Memory loss (forgetting commands) Irritability Sleep disturbances Restlessness Barking/crying Separation anxiety Panting Drooling Obsessive licking or decreased grooming Neediness or aggression Changes in activity Altered interest in food Staring Going to the wrong side of doors Getting stuck in corners Wandering Forgetting they just ate There are a few things we can do to help our pets maintain their cognitive function for longer. Supplements such as SAM-e and Omega 3 Fatty Acids have been proven to diminish clinical signs of this syndrome or to improve performance in cognitive tasks. There is a medication called L-Deprenyl that is used to treat CDS – it […]
Every dog owner knows that their pet should be on monthly heartworm prevention. Heartworms sure sound like a bad thing – I mean worms that live in the heart – not cool, right? Right!I have discovered lately that some thoughts and general knowledge vary among my dog-owning friends and clients and felt it was time to comment on a few facts. Thank you to those of you that give your dog monthly heartworm prevention because your vet recommends it. However, I also want you to know WHY! Thank you also to those that purchase your product from your vet – there’s a reason you should do that… do you know why?Heartworms come from mosquitoes – the worm has a life cycle that involves something called an “intermediate host” and it’s a mosquito. Canids (dogs, foxes, wolves, etc.) are the “primary host” and most susceptible to infection, though cats can get heartworms and even immunocompromised humans have been known to get them. In the wrong host, the worm tends to migrate around and often ends up in the lungs, causing chronic and severe damage to the host. thanks to oasisanimalclinic.com A heartworm is a pretty good parasite. I mean, a good […]
So you are looking to adopt a puppy or kitten, dog or cat… what age should you get? That depends on a lot of factors. Let me try to explain some differences in your choices and what you may find with each stage of life. I am striving to keep these explanations brief, so please understand there is a lot of generalization here. Puppies/Kittens < 6 weeks of age: these animals are supposed to still be with their mothers, so if some misfortune led them to need a home, they will also require some proper “weaning” to be done (both behaviorally and physically). These animals may need fed milk replacer if they are very young; or canned food. They will require transition to eat dry kibble. They urinate and defecate a LOT and cannot yet be potty trained, so they require a lot of clean up. They need to eat at least 4 times daily; often more (depends on age). There is great personal reward in bringing up an animal from this young age. It is a lot of hard work, but there is also a strong bond that is formed through this process. Some behavioral problems may emerge due […]
It is not enjoyable to take a dog for a walk that pulls on the leash. Furthermore, your friends and family don’t particularly want to help care for your dog when you are away because he or she is hard to handle. It’s also unpleasant for your groomer, boarding kennel, and veterinarian. In this instance, I am of the opinion that it is not sufficient to reach a tolerable state with your dog, but rather get your pet behaving as others would expect him/her to. http://blog.adoptandshop.org/bad-habits-leash-pulling/ (When I refer to a tolerable state, that is when you have accepted your pet to perform a command sub-par because you are satisfied with that level of response. Example: you tell your dog to sit and stay, which he does for 5 seconds, then he stands up. This is a sub-par response because optimally when you tell your dog to sit and stay he should remain in a sit/stay as long as it takes until he is released from that position.) Why does my dog pull? In most cases, it is because your dog learned that when he saw something interesting and pulled in that direction, you followed. When walking down the street […]
In March, I went to a lecture at the Western Veterinary Conference titled “The Snotty Nosed Cat: Is There Ever Any Hope?” By Dr. Lynch. In this talk, Dr. Lynch reviewed the many causes of this condition in cats, which are listed with an * below. *Acute (fast onset) rhinitis may be viral, bacterial, or fungal – it’s very important to remember how contagious the pet may be and also to test for FeLV/FIV even for indoor cats. We also had a discussion of the most common organisms found and what diagnostics tests are important to perform and which ones may be skipped over. Next Dr. Lynch discussed pros/cons of various antibiotics that can be used and also talked about an antiviral treatment. *Nasopharyngeal polyps – typically a young cat, cause unknown. Only 2 treatment options: traction vs. osteotomy. (Both of these are surgical options, one less invasive than the other, but also has the potential for re-occurrence.) When surgery is done, secondary Horner’s syndrome is common (a sign of nerve damage). *Nasal foreign bodies – sudden onset is the key sign, discussed ways to diagnose and treat this condition. Typically it’s a blade of grass that gets caught in […]
Here are some tips on introducing the new addition to your other cats. Introducing a new cat to a household with previously existing cats can be troublesome sometimes. Cats have very tight-knit societies and they often resist abrupt changes in their society. A new cat coming into the house is exactly what the established cat would not appreciate. Having said that, some cats are introduced to each other with very little aggression or problems. I want to give you some advice on new cat introductions to make the process go more smoothly and hopefully avoid difficulties. When a new cat is to be introduced into the house, they should not be simply put into the same room as the existing cat and left alone. This could result in a large fight and a subsequent trip to the nearest vet clinic! Cats need to be introduced slowly. Remember that juvenile cat and kittens are more readily accepted than older cats, but even older cats can learn to get along. Here are the steps for cat introductions that seem to work the best. Bring the new cat into the house and isolate it in one room of the house with the door […]
Oops is that your fear or the dog’s hang up? Training to freely go up and down stairs Dear Dr. Amy, I have been having trouble getting my Shih Tzu to walk down the stairs from my balcony. When she was 6 months old she fell from my balcony. Luckily she was ok, but ever since then she has refused to walk down the stairs. They are very scary for her since they are open steps and she could fall through. The funny thing is, she has no difficulty climbing up the stairs. What should I do? I have been carrying her down the stairs for about a year now! Sincerely, This Is Getting Old Dear TIGO, It sounds as if your dog has done a wonderful job of training you! She has figured out that she can get extra attention from you if she hesitates at the top of the steps. You give her sympathy, reassurance, and a free ride! The funny thing is, she is probably not scared of the stairs at all since she has no difficulty climbing them. Now you will need to train her to be more independent. We will re-train her to the stairs. […]
Does your dog have a habit of piddling when excited or nervous? Here are some tips to help you understand and correct the behavior. Your dog is most likely exhibiting submissive or excitement urination. Dogs will display extreme submission by cowering, crawling, and peeing. These dogs are frequently quite shy by nature. We also see this behavior in young dogs that cannot control their excitement. They are so overwhelmingly happy to see you that they just pee their pants, so to speak! What you will need to do is boost your dog’s confidence level a bit by increasing her independence. This works to treat both conditions since they either need confidence boosting because they are fearful or they need confidence boosting to ensure better sphincter control. First, be sure to not lean over your dog when you come home to greet her. Also don’t face her head on. Use your most neutral voice when greeting her – not too deep (angry) or high pitched (excited). Your best option is to actually be to ignore her for about 10 minutes when you first come home. Just walk in the house and go about your business without acknowledging her at all. […]
WCVC is a Cat Friendly Practice Cat Friendly Designation Elevates Cat Care The cat is king. With cats being the most beloved pet in the country, there is a growing need to improve the health care and overall well-being of the feline population. Whether it’s a routine checkup or special visit, the staff at West Chester Veterinary Care (WCVC) is committed to ensuring that cats get the best care. And, to further its dedication, WCVC recently implemented the Cat Friendly Practice (CFP) program to offer pet owners more at every phase of the cat’s health care process. “We are committed to providing quality care to our feline patients.” said Dr. Amy Hellard, owner of WCVC. “When we heard about the CFP program, we knew it was time to take a fresh look at the practice to determine what could be done to make the veterinary visit more positive for cats and cat owners.” Program Puts Cats First The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) pioneered the CFP program to provide a framework for creating a positive practice environment for cats, including medical care that supports the cat’s unique needs and knowledgeable staff members who understand feline-friendly handling. “The AAFP realizes […]
Most of us are familiar with ticks as the pesky little creatures that can carry and transmit Lyme Disease. Did you know that there are other diseases that they can transmit to our pets, and that ticks are not just seasonal but a year-round concern? There are five major species or types of ticks that we are usually concerned with in our pets for transmitting disease. While Lyme disease is the most common issue that most of us are familiar with, they can also carry other organisms. These can cause diseases that affect a dog’s platelets (cells that allow blood to clot), white blood cells, liver, and the muscular and nervous system! Ticks are like heat seeking missiles in their quest to find a warm-blooded animal to feed on. They detect carbon dioxide from a nearby victim and crawl / grab onto the victim from the ground and start sucking blood and regurgitating it back into the victim. It is at this time the different organisms that cause diseases are transmitted. Yuck!! In the past, the type of tick tended to be dependent on what part of the country you lived in and what time of year or season it […]
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Dr. Hellard and her staff always provide excellent care to my dogs.
Always personal and professional. Wonderful care! Would recommend to others for veterinary needs. – DF
Great response with respect to appointment. Staff very friendly, genuine and kind. Very satisfied.
Thank you! In on time and out in a hurry. Very personable & awesome with my kitty.
We love WCVC!! They’ve always provided excellent care for our dog and staff is fantastic.
The passion you all have for what you do really shines through, thank you
I give my experience 10/10, and it never wavered throughout the entire experience.
The ENTIRE experience from start to finish with WCVC has been exceptionally positive!