April is Prevention of Lyme Disease Month, and scientists are predicting a warm spring, which means that the northeast is likely going to experience a greater than average Lyme disease problem this year. Lyme disease is considered to be a serious ailment in dogs, so it’s important to do what you can to protect your pet from becoming infected, especially if you enjoy taking your dog for walks or hikes in wooded areas now that the weather is so nice.
Awareness is the better part of prevention, so let’s go through commonly (and not so commonly) known facts about Lyme disease:
March 16, 2020
We are very aware that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) is creating challenges for all of us, personally and professionally. First and most importantly, we hope that your family and your pet(s) are remaining safe and healthy. We want to keep you updated with our recommendations as well as the steps we are taking in order to continue offering the care your pets need while providing you, and our associates a safe environment.
At Oronoque, we keep our hospital clean and disinfected, and we have increased the frequency of these cleanings in accordance with CDC recommendations to help ensure the safety of both our clients and associates. Similarly, handwashing hygiene is incredibly important in a hospital, a step we continue to emphasize to staff and clients. We always provide options for hand cleaning for clients and staff members, and we work closely with our teams to make sure that anyone who is not feeling well understands that we support them staying home.
What do I do if I have been exposed to the coronavirus while my pet needs care?:
In order to help us continue to serve pets in need, we ask that our clients who have recently traveled to a high-risk country, had any exposure to symptomatic or confirmed positive cases, or confirmed positive themselves not bring their pets in the hospital unless they are having a medical emergency.
If your pet is due for routine care, (annual exams, vaccines, dental cleanings, nail trims, or any other non-urgent appointments), please call us to discuss rescheduling to a later time. If it is determined that your appointment cannot be rescheduled for medical reasons, and your appointment is necessary, we ask that you have a healthy family member or friend bring your pet to the visit.
I have not been exposed and my pet is scheduled for a visit or is sick.
If your pet is sick or scheduled for routine care, we are open and fully operational. We recommend you follow these simple steps:
Text Messaging/Email: You can send and receive texts or emails with our staff. Texting is only available during operating hours and response times vary. Emails may be directed to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Home Delivery: Pet food and medications may be ordered directly through our online pharmacy.
We know many of our clients consider their pets members of the family and, as such, are concerned about the health of ALL family members. When it comes to the health of your pet, your veterinarian is your best resource! Here is what you should know about COVID-19 and pets:
What is the Coronavirus impact on pet health?
Can dogs or cats get COVID-19?
Based on what we know currently there is limited evidence to support risk of COVID-19 to your pet and no evidence that you are at risk from your pet.
What if my pets not feeling well or is showing signs of flu-like illness?
If your pet shows any signs of illness, such as coughing, sneezing or lethargy, call us immediately, and keep them indoors to prevent further spread. Signs of illness in dogs and cats are usually associated with various common viral and bacterial infections (kennel cough, canine flu, etc.) that are neither coronaviruses nor transmissible to people.
Should my pet wear a mask?
No. There’s no scientific evidence that face masks protect pets from infectious diseases or air pollutants, and masks have the potential to be unnecessarily scary or uncomfortable for pets.
Should I get my pet tested for COVID-19?
At this time, testing pets for COVID-19 virus is unwarranted, as there is currently no indication that apparently healthy and unexposed pets should be tested for the virus.
Where can I get more information on COVID-19?
You can get the latest information from reputable sources such as:
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): About Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
World Small Animal Veterinary Association: Coronavirus & Companion Animals Advice: https://wsava.org/…/the-new-coronavirus-and-companion-anim…/
World Organization for Animal Health (OIE): Questions and Answers on the 2019 Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19): https://www.oie.int/…/questions-and-answers-on-2019novel-c…/
Please be rest assured that we are monitoring this situation closely and we will continue to consult and seek input from internal and external experts to provide the best guidance and advice for you, our valued clients. Do not hesitate to contact us if you have questions or concerns.
Why Calming Medications May Need to Be Given to Your Pet While in the Clinic
Do you have a fear of going to the doctor or the dentist? How does that make you feel? Or perhaps you know someone who gets anxious just thinking about going to the doctor or dentist? Your pet may feel the same way about going to the veterinary clinic.
If your dog shakes, pants, acts restless, or will not take treats from the veterinary team while being examined, he is experiencing the same kind of anxiety. If your cat does not want to come out of her carrier, hisses or tries to jump off the table when being examined, she is also experiencing anxiety. It is important to know that when your pet shows these behaviors, they are not misbehaving but it is their way of saying that they are fearful, anxious and stressed (abbreviated FAS). They are acting this way because they feel threatened.
This is a natural response and is quite common, as going to a veterinary clinic can be as stressful for your pet as going to the dentist is for you. Why is it so stressful? It is because your pet perceives the different sounds and smells of a veterinary clinic, along with seeing other animals and new people, as alarming or dangerous. If you are taking your pet to a Fear Free practice, you will notice that they do things differently. They will offer your pet treats. You may hear soft music playing. The veterinarian may sit on floor to examine your dog or examine your cat in their carrier. These actions are meant to reduce your pet’s level of FAS. In some cases, despite the veterinary team’s efforts to reduce FAS, your pet may be still be fearful, anxious and stressed and may require a medication to calm them so that the examination or procedures can be completed with minimal stress to your pet.
Why would a dog or cat require medications to calm them?
When dogs and cats are showing signs of FAS, they are not only frightened, but they are also having a negative experience. In other words, they are having a bad day! Recognizing the signs of FAS early and giving calming medications to reduce FAS, will benefit your pet by allowing them to have a better experience. Because they are calm, they will not struggle and the veterinary team will be able to complete the examination, clip their nails, treat an infected ear or other types of procedures. Providing a positive experience is in the best interest of your pet. An additional bonus: the memory of a positive experience for one visit may allow the next visit to be less scary and stressful for your pet.
What kinds of situation would in-clinic administration of calming medications be required?
What types of medications are used?
If you are anxious and stressed going to your dentist, you may have been prescribed an anti-anxiety medication. Similarly, your pet with FAS will receive an anti-anxiety medication to calm them. These medications are used in people and some of these medications have also been developed specifically for dogs and/or cats. There are several different medications, so your veterinarian will decide the right medication for your pet. These medications are safe and well tolerated.
What to expect after you pet has been given a calming medication?
Depending upon the types of medications used, they may return to their regular routine and act normally, once they get home. With other medications, you may notice that once your pet is at home, they may be a little sleepy. Since most of these medications have a short duration of action, your pet should be back to their normal routine within a few hours. They will usually eat a small meal and you can take them for a leash walk. It is best if you do not let them outside by themselves until the following day. Your veterinarian will provide specific instruction for what to do once you return home with your pet.
What questions should you ask your veterinarian if your pet requires calming medications to be given in the clinic?
Conclusion: Medications given in the clinic to calm your pet are often necessary for pets that are showing a moderate to high level of FAS or if the diagnostic or treatment procedures will be stressful. These medications are beneficial to keep you pet calm for the current visit and may make the next visit easier for your pet.
(Information provided by Sharon L. Campbell, DVM, MS, of fearfreehappyhomes.com)
Dental health is a very important part of your pet’s overall health, and dental problems can cause, or be caused by, other health problems. Your pet’s teeth and gums should be checked at least once a year by your veterinarian to check for early signs of a problem and to keep your pet’s mouth healthy.
Watch periodontal disease video
What is veterinary dentistry, and who should perform it?:
Veterinary dentistry includes the cleaning, adjustment, filing, extraction, or repair of your pets' teeth and all other aspects of oral health care. These procedures should be performed by a veterinarian or a board-certified veterinary dentist. Subject to state or provincial regulation, veterinary technicians are allowed to perform certain dental procedures under the supervision of a veterinarian.
The process begins with an oral exam of your pet’s mouth by a veterinarian. Radiographs (x-rays) may be needed to evaluate the health of the jaw and the tooth roots below the gumline. Because most dental disease occurs below the gumline, where you can’t see it, a thorough dental cleaning and evaluation are performed under anesthesia. Dental cleaning includes scaling (to remove dental plaque and tartar) and polishing, similar to the process used on your own teeth during your regular dental cleanings.
Oral health in dogs and cats:
Your pet’s teeth should be checked at least once a year by your veterinarian for early signs of a problem and to keep your pet’s mouth healthy.
Have your pet’s teeth checked sooner if you observe any of the following problems:
Causes of pet dental problems:
Although cavities are less common in pets than in people, they can have many of the same dental problems that people can develop:
It starts with plaque that hardens into tartar. Tartar above the gumline can often easily be seen and removed, but plaque and tartar below the gumline is damaging and sets the stage for infection and damage to the jawbone and the tissues that connect the tooth to the jaw bone. Periodontal disease is graded on a scale of 0 (normal) to 4 (severe).
The treatment of periodontal disease involves a thorough dental cleaning and x-rays may be needed to determine the severity of the disease. Your veterinarian or a board-certified veterinary dentist will make recommendations based on your pet’s overall health and the health of your pet’s teeth, and provide you with options to consider.
Why does dentistry require anesthesia?:
When you go to the dentist, you know that what’s being done is meant to help you and keep your mouth healthy. Your dentist uses techniques to minimize pain and discomfort and can ask you how you are feeling, so you accept the procedures and do your best to keep still. Your pet does not understand the benefit of dental procedures, and he or she reacts by moving, trying to escape, or even biting.
Anesthesia makes it possible to perform the dental procedures with less stress and pain for your pet. In addition, anesthesia allows for a better cleaning because your pet is not moving around and risking injury from the dental equipment. If radiographs (x-rays) are needed, your pet needs to be very still in order to get good images, and this is unlikely without heavy sedation or anesthesia.
Although anesthesia will always have risks, it’s safer now than ever and continues to improve so that the risks are very low and are far outweighed by the benefits. Most pets can go home the same day of the procedure, although they might seem a little groggy for the rest of the day.
How much do you know about your pet's dental health?
Take this quiz to find out.
What can I do at home for my pet’s oral health?:
Prevention of the most common oral disease in pets consists of frequent removal of the dental plaque and tartar that forms on teeth that are not kept clean. Regularly brushing your pet’s teeth is the single most effective thing you can do to keep their teeth healthy between dental cleanings, and may reduce the frequency or even eliminate the need for periodic dental cleaning by your veterinarian. Daily brushing is best, but it’s not always possible and brushing several times a week can be effective. Most dogs accept brushing, but cats can be a bit more resistant – patience and training are important.
There are many pet products marketed with claims that they improve dental health, but not all of them are effective. Talk with your veterinarian about any dental products, treats, or dental-specific diets you’re considering for your pet, or ask your veterinarian for their recommendation.
(Information provided by AVMA.org)
Let's talk dogs in heat — What should you do if your dog is in heat? And what are the signs of a female dog in heat in the first place? Do dogs know when they're in heat?
Do dogs have periods? Not the same way that female humans do. Female dogs who aren’t spayed go into heat and the amount of time a female dog bleeds and when she’s fertile varies greatly from a human menstrual cycle. Let’s discuss some facts about dogs in heat — and why it’s important to spay your female dog!
1. A dog heat cycle only happens once or twice a year: The canine estrus cycle (commonly referred to as the dog heat cycle) occurs every 6 to 12 months.
2. A puppy can go into heat sooner than you think: The earliest that most dogs will experience their first heat cycle is at 6 months of age.
3. Dogs in heat should stay away from intact male dogs for 3 to 4 weeks: This means that dogs in heat should not visit dog parks or do any doggie day care visits. “Anytime a dog is in heat, assume it’s going to be at least a month and keep them away from male dogs during that time,” says Nancy Kelso, DVM, medical director at VCA Columbia Animal Hospital at Hickory Ridge in Columbia, Maryland. “Generally, neutered males are fine, however, it’s also stressful for intact males to live in the same house as a female in heat so we usually recommend totally separating them.” If possible, send one of the dogs to stay with a relative or friend for a month or so.
4. Don’t think you’re in the clear once the bleeding stops: With dogs in heat, each dog heat cycle lasts 3 to 4 weeks, but you will only see bleeding during the first 2 weeks. “The fertile period is actually when the bloody discharge starts to subside and it becomes pink or clear and there’s much less of it,” Dr. Kelso says. “Even the swelling of the vulva goes down substantially so a lot of people think the dog is out of heat, but no, that’s actually the prime fertile time.”
5. The bleeding from dogs in heat isn’t as bad as you might think: “Fortunately, in most dogs it’s not a large amount, it’s relatively small,” Dr. Kelso explains. “Some people will use sanitary diapers for dogs.” With some dogs in heat, you won’t really notice the bleeding.
6. Don’t delay scheduling your dog’s spay: Many people don’t ever experience dogs in heat since it’s best to have your female dog spayed prior to her first heat cycle. If your new rescue dog goes into heat before you can get her spayed, your vet might suggest waiting until she is done before spaying her. “It can be done while they are in heat or immediately after, but it’s not the ideal time because the uterus is much larger and much more vascular at that time,” Dr. Kelso says. “If we have the luxury of time, then the perfect scenario is we wait about two months after they’ve been in heat to spay them, but if we need to get it done because they’re getting adopted out then we’ll definitely spay shortly after heat or when we need to.”
7. Spaying your dog decreases her chances of developing mammary cancer: Mammary cancer is the equivalent of breast cancer in dogs. Check your female pup regularly for lumps in her breast tissue (from her armpit to her groin). If you feel something suspicious, schedule an appointment with your vet.
8. Pyometra is another danger for female dogs who aren’t spayed: Pyometra is an infection of the uterus. It can be deadly and almost always requires an emergency spay surgery. If the infection is “open” (meaning the cervix is open) it can be easier for veterinarians to diagnose because there is usually foul-smelling discharge from the vaginal area. “Dogs can also have a variety where the cervix is closed, so the pus is actually building up inside the dog and those dogs get really sick,” Dr. Kelso says. “They don’t eat, they don’t drink and they run a high fever. If you see any of those symptoms, you should bring her in to a veterinarian.”
9. Dogs in heat know when they are in heat and fertile — and when they are not: “Dogs know when they’re ready to be bred,” Dr. Kelso says about dogs in heat. “They get a little more flirtatious. Sometimes they might be a little grumpy at the beginning of heat. If a dog tries to mount them or something, they’re basically saying, ‘I’m not ready.’"
(Information provided by Jackie Brown of dogster.com)
What Is Laser Therapy For Pets And How Does It Work?
At Oronoque Animal Hospital, we pride ourselves with always searching for new ways to care for your pets especially where pain is concerned. Veterinary laser therapy provides a non-invasive, pain-free, surgery-free and drug-free treatment that is used to treat a variety of conditions, and can be performed in conjunction with existing treatments.
Laser treatment for dogs and cats employs deep-penetrating light to promote a chain of chemical reactions known as photo-biostimulation. This process helps relieve pain through the release of endorphins, and it stimulates injured cells to heal at an accelerated pace.
Although improvement is often seen after the first visit, your pet's condition will influence how often and long laser therapy is necessary. Treatments vary in length, but most sites require 3 to 8 minutes. Laser treatments for cats and dogs are cumulative, so each additional treatment facilitates a greater improvement in your pet's condition. The length and frequency of treatments vary by condition, so allow us to help devise a sufficient laser treatment schedule for your canine companion.
Cold Laser Therapy For Pets
Laser therapy, also may be referred to as Cold Laser, Low-Level Laser or Class IV Laser Therapy. Each of these terms refers to the same therapy, using the same equipment to stimulates cell regeneration and increase blood circulation.
What Types Of Conditions Can Laser Therapy Be Used To Treat?
Dog laser therapy can be used to treat a multitude of ailments, including:
Muscle, ligament and tendon injuries
Post-surgical and soft tissue trauma
Hot Spots and open wounds
Arthritis / hip dysplasia
Degenerative disc disease
Anal gland infections
Many of our veterinary therapy patients are older animals with musculoskeletal ailments. Some signs that your senior companion is experiencing pain or discomfort are:
Abnormal sitting or lying posture
Circling multiple times before lying down
Whining, groaning or other vocalizations
Limping, unable to get up or lie down
Difficulty getting into car or down stairs
Lack of grooming
Won't wag tail
Licking or biting area
Lack of appetite
Laser Therapy For Pain Relief
Laser treatments are an excellent way to provide pain relief to your furry companion. Laser therapy reduces pain by reducing inflammation through "vasodilation" (the opening of blood vessels) and also by activating the lymphatic drainage system, thus draining swollen areas. The result is a reduction in swelling which reduces pain. The lasers also stimulate nerve cells that block pain signals from being transmitted to the brain, thereby decreasing nerve sensitivity. Because there is less inflammation, less swelling and an interruption of pain signals to the brain, the pet will experience less pain. Laser treatments also stimulate the production of high levels of naturally-produced endorphins which further counteract your pet's pain.
Laser Therapy To Recover From Injury Or Surgery
Laser therapy is a very helpful tool during postoperative recovery. In minor cases, laser therapy alone may be enough to alleviate pain and stimulate the healing process. Because it works directly on injured or affected areas, laser treatments can help speed up healing, strengthen muscle and tissue, improve mobility and enhance your pet's overall quality of life almost immediately.
What Can I Expect At My Pet's Laser Therapy Appointment?
A technician will hold the laser wand directly over the affected area for somewhere between 3 and 10 minutes. There is no pain associated with the treatment and most pets will relax during this time. The almost immediate relief of pain will allow your pet to be comfortable and any anxiety he or she initially experiences will quickly dissipate. Occasionally, some pets actually fall asleep during their therapy sessions.
Is Laser Treatment Painful Or Uncomfortable?
Laser treatment is totally pain free and very comforting. As the laser is administered, your pet may feel a gentle and soothing warmth, tingling, or no sensation at all. For many, laser therapy is very relaxing. As areas of pain or inflammation become more comfortable, any anxiety and tension your pet may be experiencing tends to quickly dissipate.
Are There Any Side Effects Of Laser Therapy ?
Laser treatment has no known side effects, and is considered both safe and effective across the veterinary industry.
How Can I Schedule A Laser Therapy Appointment?
Scheduling an appointment for veterinary laser therapy is as easy as picking up the telephone, sending us an inquiry through our contact page or visiting our veterinary hospital in person. Our knowledgeable, compassionate veterinary team can help answer any questions you have. Make an appointment for your companion to begin experiencing the benefits of laser therapy today!
November is National Pet Diabetes Month. In order to do our share and help spread the word, this month’s blog will be all about diabetes.
Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects pets as well as people. Even more alarming is the fact that the prevalence of diabetes has been increasing. To help combat this growing epidemic, we hope that everyone reading this will learn about diabetes so that you become familiar with the signs, symptoms, and treatment options and assume a more proactive role in the fight against diabetes.
Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disorder that occurs when the body is unable to control blood sugar levels. In one classification scheme, there are two types of diabetes, Type I and Type II:
Type I, also known as insulin dependent diabetes mellitus, occurs when the body is unable to produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone released when blood sugar levels are high, such as after meals, and directs cells in the body to move sugar out of the blood stream and into cells for storage or energy.
Unlike Type I, in Type II diabetes, insulin is being produced but the body becomes less responsive to its effects, which is why it is also called non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. Regardless of the cause, both forms of diabetes result in chronically elevated blood sugar levels that damage capillaries and lead to different complications like nerve damage, kidney failure, and even death.
So what causes diabetes? Diabetes mellitus is a multifactorial disease influenced by both inherited and environmental factors. Genetic predisposition seems to be an important risk factor, and in dogs, certain breeds, like Keeshonds and Samoyeds, are more likely to develop diabetes. Age is another important risk factor. Though it can affect animals of any age, it is more common in middle-aged and older animals. However, of all the risk factors, obesity is arguably the most important, especially since the prevalence of obesity is increasing. In the United States, it is estimated that 45% of dogs and 58% of cats are overweight; that is more than half of the cats in this country.
What should you be looking for? The classic symptoms of diabetes are increased thirst, increased appetite, and increased urination. In addition to these textbook symptoms pets with diabetes may become lethargic, lose weight, have a dull coat, and in dogs, develop cataracts. It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of diabetes so you can promptly seek veterinary care if you notice any of these in your pets.
Fortunately, diabetes is manageable. With the right medications, diet and weight loss, diabetes can usually be controlled. The goal of treatment is to prevent high blood sugar or hyperglycemia, provide stable blood sugar levels and avoid hypoglycemia. Insulin is the primary treatment for both dogs and cats. There are several different types of insulin available with different durations of action.
In addition to medications, diet and weight loss are just as important when it comes to treating diabetes in pets. Recent nutritional studies show that switching to a low-carbohydrate and high-protein canned food diet is the most effective dietary routine for most diabetic cats. Speak with our veterinarian about what, if any, nutritional changes are necessary for your particular pet. Weight loss is also important because obesity is a common cause of insulin resistance. Fatty tissue releases factors that impair the effects of insulin. To promote weight loss, you should exercise your pets in addition to following your veterinarian’s dietary suggestions. Encourage active play and exercise for both dogs and cats.
Fortunately, we know that the diagnosis of diabetes does not have to be a death sentence. When caught early and with proper treatment, diabetes can be controlled and the complications of the disease can be delayed or even avoided. If you think that your pet has diabetes or may be at risk, take them to your veterinarian for an exam and screening tests. Of course, the prevention is the best treatment for any disease. We may not be able to change genetics or stop aging, but we can do something about obesity. So join us and help your furry friend lower their chances of developing diabetes by fighting obesity with diet and exercise.
Below are some helpful tutorials for giving insulin to your pets!
If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or give us a call -- our doctors are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.
(Information provided by Dr. Ruth MacPete, DVM from pethealthnewtwork.com)
Thanks to better care, pets are living longer now than they ever have before – but as pets get older, they need extra care and attention.
Regular veterinary examinations can detect problems in older pets before they become advanced or life-threatening, and improve the chances of a longer and healthier life for your pet.
When does a pet become “old”?
It varies, but cats and small dogs are generally considered “senior” at seven years of age. Larger breed dogs tend to have shorter life spans compared to smaller breeds and are often considered senior when they are 5 to 6 years of age. Contrary to popular belief, dogs do not age at a rate of 7 human years for each year in dog years.
Age is not a disease. Although senior pets may develop age-related problems, good care allows them to live happy, healthy and active lives in their senior years.
What problems are more common in senior pets?
While it’s easy to spot the outward signs of aging such as graying hair-coat and slower pace, it’s important to remember a pet’s organ systems are also changing. An older pet is more likely to develop diseases such as heart, kidney and liver disease, cancer or arthritis. Cancer accounts for almost half of the deaths of pets over 10 years of age. Dogs get cancer at roughly the same rate as humans, while cats have a somewhat lower rate.
It is normal for pets to lose some of their sight and hearing as they age, similar to humans. Older pets may develop cataracts and they may not respond as well to voice commands. If you teach your pet hand signals at a younger age, it may be easier for you to communicate with your pet as his/her hearing worsens with age. Simple gestures such as “come” or “stop” can allow you to safely retain control of your pet without the use of words. Pets with poor sight or even blindness can get around well in familiar environments. If your pet’s eyesight is failing, avoid rearranging or adding furniture or other items that could become obstacles.
Changes in activity:
If your pet is starting to avoid active playing or running or if he/she has trouble with daily activities such as jumping up on a favorite chair or into the family car, he/she may have arthritis. A pet with arthritis may also show irritation when touched or petted (especially over the arthritic areas), and may seem more depressed or grouchy. There may be other reasons for these changes; have your pet examined by your veterinarian to determine the cause of the problems. Veterinarians have access to many therapies to help manage your pet’s arthritis, and simple changes in your home such as orthopedic pet beds, raised feeding platforms, stairs and ramps may also help your older pet deal with arthritis.
Changes in behavior:
Behavior changes in your pet can serve as the first indicators of aging. These changes might be due to discomfort or pain (arthritis, etc.) or worsening sight or hearing, but they may also be due to the normal aging process. Some behavior changes in older pets may be due to cognitive dysfunction, which is similar to senility in people.
Common behavior changes in older pets that may be signs of cognitive dysfunction:
Weight can have a tremendous effect on an older pet’s health. Obesity in older pets increases the risk of arthritis, difficulty breathing, insulin resistance or diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, skin problems, cancer and other conditions. An overweight pet may not show any early warning signs of health problems, so regular visits to your veterinarian are recommended. Once your veterinarian evaluates your pet’s condition, he or she can recommend a proper diet and suggest other steps to help your pet maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Sudden weight loss in an older pet is also a source for concern, especially in cats. Hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid gland), diabetes and kidney disease are common causes of weight loss in senior cats. If you notice any sudden changes in your older pet’s weight, contact your veterinarian.
Should new pets be introduced into the home as older pets age?
It may be tempting to introduce a new pet into the home as your pet gets older, but you should consult with your veterinarian before adding a puppy or kitten. Ideally, a new pet should be introduced when your older pet is still active and can move away from the younger animal if he/she needs a “time-out.” Senior pets need to know they have a quiet, secure place where they can walk away and rest, undisturbed, in comfort.
(Information provided by the avma.org)
Chow down on the secrets to good skin and coat health.
We humans understand the importance of incorporating nutritious food in our diet. Good nutrition means that the body is getting everything it needs — vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, proteins and essential fatty acids — to function well.
A cat’s diet isn’t any different.
“The foundation of health is nutrition,” says Ernie Ward, DVM, founder of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention and chief veterinary officer of Wild Earth Inc., a company that makes plant-based protein pet food in Berkeley, California.
So, if good nutrition leads to better overall health, then the solution to helping a cat with skin problems is finding that perfect pet food, right? Not really.
“There is no ‘right’ food for skin problems in cats, just like there’s no ‘right’ food for people,” says Heather Loenser, DVM, senior veterinary officer of the American Animal Hospital Association. “Instead of focusing on choosing the ‘right’ food, focus on making the ‘right’ choice by speaking to your vet.”
Skin issue causes:
Skin problems can present as dry, flaky skin; bumps, redness and rash; and/or bald patches, to name a few. This can leave a cat scratching and grooming excessively. The likely culprit: a skin infection (fungal or bacterial) or allergies.
The causes of allergies can be broken into three main categories:
Is it really a food allergy?-
Despite common belief, food allergies are not prevalent in cats. In fact, food allergies affect just 0.1 percent of cats, according to 2018 Banfield Pet Hospital State of Pet Health Report. This means that although food allergies are possible, it’s more likely that a cat’s skin condition has a different cause.
“Food allergies in cats are quite rare so before going through the time, expense and risk potential stomach upset of switching foods, pet owners should seek veterinary care,” Dr. Loenser says.
If a food allergy is suspected, a veterinarian will conduct a dietary elimination trial.
Feline Food Allergens:
The most commonly identified allergens for cats are:
But, may also include pork, dairy products or eggs, according to the clinical nutrition service at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University. However, cats can also become allergic to exotic meats such as venison, duck, bison or kangaroo. This means that feeding less-common proteins does not necessarily prevent food allergies from developing, the clinical nutrition service further noted.
When it comes to addressing skin problems, Dr. Ward’s first line of defense is omega-3 fatty acid supplements.
“If I have a feline patient that has any type of dermatological disorder, I’m reaching for omega-3 fatty acids,” Dr. Ward says. “In its truest form, [these essential fatty acids] act as anti-
inflammatory agents. They help reduce some of the itching associated with any type of allergies.”
More importantly, omega-3 fatty acids boost the immune system and aid in skin healing, he adds.
“The skin is the largest organ on a cat’s body, so we want to keep that barrier healthy so it can prevent other problems,” Dr. Ward says.
Unfortunately, dry kibble does not have enough omega-3 fatty acids for optimal feline health, which is why Dr. Ward turns to supplementation.
“These are highly volatile fatty acids,” he says. “Open the bag and they go rancid.”
Canned cat food has higher levels, but unless it’s a therapeutic diet designed for skin problems, it’s still not going to contain enough, he adds.
Omega-6 fatty acids (found in corn, grains and other sources) are another important component to feline skin health. However, it shouldn’t exceed omega-3 levels, a common problem since most commercial pet food contains more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids, according to Dr. Ward.
“In the wild, cats consume more omega-3 fatty acids through meat than omega-6 fatty acids,” Dr. Ward says. “[Commercial cat food] flips this natural ratio. Suddenly there’s an excess of omega-6 fatty acids, which can then become pro-inflammatory. [Supplementing with] omega-3 fatty acids help bring the ratio back.”
Your veterinarian can help decide what particular brand and dosage, if needed, is best for your cat.
Behind the label:
Antioxidants, which can protect against excessive free radicals produced in cases of chronic inflammation, and proteins also have important roles in maintaining skin and coat health. In most cases, though, a nutritionally complete and balanced pet food will already have the optimal levels of each, according to Cailin Heinze, VMD, a board-certified veterinary nutritionist of the American College of Veterinary Nutrition at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University.
When choosing a cat food, don’t focus on marketing, such as flashy websites or in-store advertisements, online rating systems or reviews from other pet owners, because typically they are not based on science, Dr. Heinze says.
“Expense also doesn’t add up to the most quality cat food,” she says. “The best food isn’t the most expensive, and the worst food isn’t the cheapest. It’s certainly not a linear relationship.”
“Food allergies in cats are quite rare so before going through the time, expense and risk potential stomach upset of switching foods, pet owners should seek veterinary care,” Dr. Loenser says.
If a food allergy is suspected, a veterinarian will conduct a dietary elimination trial.
(Information provided by Marissa Heflin of catster.com)
Dogs tend to eat things that are never meant to be eaten, and in doing so they can contract some pretty serious infections. Find out what to do if your dogs gets a urinary tract infection.
Dogs may seem infallible — after all, they sometimes chew things that are never supposed to be eaten — but they can still get sick from time to time. Like people, dogs can suffer from urinary tract infections (UTIs), which can cause unpleasant symptoms like pain while urinating, frequent urination and inability to urinate. It can also lead to other urinary diseases.
Urinary tract infections have two main classifications: lower urinary tract disease (LUTD) or upper urinary tract infections. Infections that occur in the lower urinary tract involve the bladder and/or urethra, while upper urinary tract infections target the kidneys and ureters, which can sometimes be more serious. Infections in the lower urinary tract are generally more common because there is less ground the bacteria needs to cover. Once bacteria enters a dog’s urethra, its first stop is in the lower urinary tract, where it can wreak havoc. Infections spread to the upper urinary tract when they go untreated, allowing the bacteria to continue up the ureters and into the kidneys.
“Pets can get lower urinary tract disease (LUTD), which is an infection or inflammation of the bladder and/or the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body),” explains Dr. Russi, DVM, Banfield Pet Hospital.
Urinary tract infections happen when bacteria that naturally makes itself home in or on the body accidentally gets into an area it’s not supposed to be. Bacteria like Streptococcus and Escherichia coli are common causes. Other common causes of UTIs in pets could include endocrine diseases and injuries.
“There can be several causes of LUTD, including bacterial infection, stones, anatomical defects, incontinence or even cancer,” Dr. Russi says.
Symptoms of UTIs in pets are a lot like the symptoms of UTIs in humans.
“If your pet has frequent or difficult urination, painful urination, inappropriate urination, blood in the urine and/or excessive licking of the genital area, he may have a LUTD,” Dr. Russi explains.
As for “inappropriate urination,” that could mean anything from inability to urinate, straining to pee, cloudy or bloody urine, sudden peeing in the house, and more. Dogs with UTIs may also vomit or exhibit signs of back pain. Like with humans, dogs with UTIs may pee more often. For example, a dog that typically sleeps through the night may get up to go to the bathroom a couple of times.
“If you notice any of these symptoms or anything seems off with your pet, it’s important to contact a veterinarian who can help determine the cause of the issue,” Dr. Russi advises.
When diagnosing UTIs in pets, running tests is key, just like in diagnosing UTIs in humans. With humans, a doctor would likely have you pee in a cup, then run a test. Since our dogs can’t really aim for cups, the testing process is a little different and often, more complex. Capturing a urine sample in dogs can be especially difficult because UTIs might cause a dog to not be able to pee or to urinate in small quantities. That’s where cystocentesis comes in. Cystocentesis is a procedure in which veterinarians insert a needle into the bladder through the abdominal wall in order to capture a urine sample. Once captured, a veterinarian will test the sample.
“There are several tests that can quickly assist in making a diagnosis, including a urinalysis, blood chemistry panels, X-rays or ultrasound,” Dr. Russi says. “A veterinarian will use the diagnostic tools best suited for the pet’s individual needs paired with a thorough physical exam and review of patient history to determine a diagnosis and treatment plan.”
With most bacterial infections, the easiest available treatment often involves medications and simply encouraging your dog to pee. This could mean walking your dog more frequently and encouraging him to drink a sufficient amount of water.
According to Dr. Russi, treatment for UTIs in dogs, “can consist of antimicrobial therapy, urine pH control, medications or dietary modifications.” In order to naturally adjust the pH balance of your dog’s urine, you can add a small amount of apple cider vinegar to your dog’s water bowl, which will help manage the bacteria. Alternatively, you can try the same thing with adding fresh lemon juice in the water bowl. Remember, the more your dog drinks water, the more likely she is to flush out the infection. Some homeopathic formulas sold at pet stores could include natural ingredients such as blueberry, cranberry or echinacea.
Dr. Russi continues, “In serious cases, placement of a urinary catheter to allow for urination, intravenous fluid treatments, or possible surgical correction may be necessary.”
Generally, the prognosis of a urinary tract infection in pets is good. Dr. Russi advises that it’s important to stick to your pet’s treatment plan, but in most cases, UTIs or LUTDs are not something to worry about.
“While each pet is unique, if you follow the proper treatment plans given by your veterinarian, your pet should make a speedy recovery,” Dr. Russi adds. “As part of your pet’s treatment plan, your veterinarian might recommend having your pet re-checked with a follow-up urinalysis to monitor recovery.”
Of course, there are some cases in which urinary tract infections become very serious. This most often occurs when infections travel from the lower tract to higher up in the urinary system.
“In some cases, urinary tract infections can lead to serious side effects such as the development of bladder stones, prostate infections, infertility, kidney infections, and even blood infections,” Dr. Russi says.
For this reason, it is crucial to monitor your pet as much as possible and take notes of all his symptoms. If you’ve already gone to the vet for this issue, you might want to consider booking a follow-up appointment so your pet can get a follow-up urinalysis.
How to prevent UTIs in dogs:
In some cases, lifestyle and dietary changes can be made in order to quash a pet’s likelihood of developing an infection.
“Your veterinarian can recommend ways you can help prevent LUTDs in your pet, depending on their unique needs and lifestyle,” Dr. Russi says.
These lifestyle changes can include adding high-sodium broth to your dog’s food, encouraging them to drink more, and adding blueberries, cranberries and echinacea into your dog’s diet. More frequent walks could also improve your dog’s likelihood of getting a UTI.
Dr. Russi adds that encouraging behaviors that naturally keep the bladder free from infection is one of the most proactive things you can do as the pet parent.
“For dogs, avoid prolonged periods of urine retention whenever possible,” Dr. Russi advises. So, in short, take your dog out to pee frequently. In order for this to work, however, you’ll have to encourage more water intake first. Some things you can do include adding high-sodium broth to your dog’s food. The sodium will make your dog thirstier, causing him to drink more. (Only do this if your veterinarian recommends it as it may exacerbate other health issues your dog may have.) You can also find specially formulated foods for dogs with UTIs at your local pet store or prescription diets through your veterinarian.
“While female dogs typically empty their bladders completely when they urinate, male dogs often only urinate small amounts at a time, keeping a reservoir available for marking territory,” Dr. Russi continues. “It may help with male dogs to take them for a long walk before going to work or bed, allowing them to completely empty their bladders. As with people, repeatedly being forced to wait to urinate can promote UTI development!”
Staying properly hydrated can also help deter the development of UTIs in pets.
“It’s also important to make sure your pet always has access to clean water to stay hydrated,” Dr. Russi adds. “The act of urination can physically remove bacteria that is trying to make its way up the urethra. Appropriate hydration can help reduce the chance of stone formation which can complicate or contribute to a urinary tract infection.”
Understanding if your dog is more prone to UTIs can be crucial to preventing them. Urinary tract infections are more common in dogs ages 7 and up and also, females. Male dogs have a longer urethra, which makes it more difficult for bacteria to get into. Some breeds are also more susceptible than others, as their bodies are more likely to develop kidney stones. These breeds include Bichon Frise, Shih Tzu and Yorkshire Terriers, thanks to their anatomy; since each of these breeds are generally shorter, they’re closer to the ground, meaning their urethra might be more frequently exposed to feces left on the ground.
(Information provided by Stephanie Osmanski of dogster.com)
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