It is an exciting time when you introduce a new furry friend into your home. When going to get your new pet, it is best to leave your current pet at home. Car travel can cause stress to your current pet as well as the new pet. Forcing the two to interact so suddenly in this stressful environment can cause or worsen anxiety and can potentially cause fighting.
Most dog owners are familiar with the term “senior” when it comes to describing their pet’s age, but as dogs are living longer thanks to advancements in veterinary medicine, a new term, “geriatric” is being used to classify older dogs. For the body sizes of 25#, 50#, and 100# in dogs, pets are considered geriatric at the ages of 13 years, 11, years, and 9 years respectively. Special considerations must be thought of to keep our geriatric pets healthy and comfortable as they advance in age.
Just as in humans, vision and hearing begin to decline in geriatric dogs. You may find that you dog does not greet you as regularly when you arrive home or is hesitant to move in dimly lit rooms. Leaving the furniture arranged as your pet is accustomed and keeping lamps on to light their paths at night is one way to help prevent falls and bruises from reduced vision. A gentle pat to wake your sleeping companion when you arrive home would be a kind way to say hello rather than trying to shout their name to come greet you.
The embarrassment of urine leakage is also something that geriatric dogs face as their urinary sphincter begins to weaken with age. One way of managing this is with a drug called Proin that helps to tighten urinary sphincter tone. This drug must be used cautiously in geriatric pets due to potential side effects, so an organ screening would need to be performed prior to or shortly after beginning the medication and then periodically throughout your dog’s life.
Finally, difficulty with rising from a sitting position and stiff joints are a very common problem in geriatric pets, even the littler ones. Joint supplements containing glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are the first line of defense against arthritis by keeping cartilage and joint fluid healthy. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs provide relief of arthritis pain and inflammation. Adding non-slip rugs help with slipping issues and re-usable bags can have their sides trimmed away to make a flat sling that can be placed under the lower back so that you have handles to help larger dogs with rising. Give us a call to describe this better or stop by and we’ll show you how.
Did you know that many of your pet’s risk of diseases can be in your own back yard, your favorite pet store, or even the dog park you take your pet to?
Something as innocent as allowing your puppy to play in a puddle of water, playing fetch with your dog at the river, letting your pet play in a wooded area, and most importantly taking your dog to the dog park can pose health risks to your dog. These are the most dangerous places for your pet if they are not vaccinated regularly and kept on a monthly heartworm and intestinal parasite preventive.
One of the most common parasites many pet owners are unaware that their pet can get is Giardia. This parasite leads to symptoms of abdominal pain, weight loss, and most commonly diarrhea that is excessively smelly. Most owners are not aware of the fact that letting their precious fur baby drink from the puddled rain water or any standing water in the yard puts their pet at risk for this disease. The Giardia can even be transmissible to owners that do not follow proper hygiene rules. The best way to prevent your pet from getting this organism is not allowing them to drink from any standing water and to provide a fresh clean water bowl every day.
Two other common conditions are Leptospirosis and Lyme’s Disease. These can cause irreversible damage to your pet’s health. Lyme’s Disease is transmitted by a species of ticks. Most people are not aware of the damage something so small can cause. Leptospirosis , commonly referred to as Lepto, is transmitted by wild animals such as possums, raccoons, rats, and squirrels. It is commonly found in the soil and once again it lives in the waters that your pet plays in and drinks from. With the continual urban sprawl, there is even risk for backyard pets that are frequent diggers. Vaccinations are available to prevent against Leptospirosis and Lyme’s Disease. Although we cannot protect your pet from all dangerous things, we can, as their advocate, inform you of the risks they may be exposed to and help you to protect them from the things mentioned.
Information for this blog was obtained from www.veterinarypartner.com. This is an excellent source for husbandry information for all small mammals. Rabbits are the third most popular pet behind dogs and cats. Rabbits require a large percentage of fiber in their diets to maintain gastrointestinal health. In general, any diet modifications should be made slowly over a period of at least one week. Oftentimes, rabbit owners make the mistake of overfeeding commercial pellets that are high calorie. Commercial pellets designed for adult rabbit maintenance should contain 18% or higher fiber, 13-14% protein, and fat content of no more than 3% and should be fed at no more that ¼ cup per 4 pounds of body weight per day.
Two especially important sources of nutrition for rabbits are an unlimited supply of timothy grass hay and fresh leafy greens at a maximum of 1 cup of packed greens for every 2 pounds of body weight. The timothy hay provides essential fiber necessary for dental and gastrointestinal health as well as proteins, vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates. For rabbits that have only been fed commercial pellets, introduce the timothy hay first and once your rabbit is eating the hay well for at least four weeks, add in the leafy greens. Introduce one green at a time and wait three days before introducing a new one. Greens should be washed thoroughly to remove pesticides. Offer three different types of greens including red and green cabbage, carrot tops, parsley, romaine lettuce, endive, radicchio, collard greens, kale, and mustard greens daily once your pet has been introduced appropriately.
Fruits and vegetables are considered “treat” foods and should be fed at a maximum of 1 tablespoon total per 2 pounds of body weight. Ideal fruits and vegetables include carrots, apples, strawberries, pears, peaches, squash, tomato, papaya, mango, blueberries, and raspberries. Avoid starchy foods such as bananas, grapes, beans, corn, peas, and potatoes. Find at least one treat food that your rabbit likes and feed a small amount daily to check on how good your rabbit’s appetite is. If they will not eat the treat food, there may be something that needs veterinary attention.
As our companion dogs and cats begin to age, they may develop illnesses or diseases which can begin to affect their quality of life. In some cases, early detection blood screening is helpful in catching these diseases early and postponing progression. There are other illnesses though such as cancer or heart disease that can develop slowly under the radar and may not be noticeable until your pet’s quality of life begins to decline.
When I have an owner bring their pet to me with concerns over quality of life, I certainly examine the pet, but more importantly, I discuss with the owner the pet’s behavior at home. There are three criteria I consider in evaluating a pet’s quality of life. First, is your dog or cat still acting as a companion and coming around to be scratched and given affection to? Second, is your cat or dog willing to eat regularly and if so, able to keep food down without vomiting? Finally, is your dog or cat able to go to the bathroom (posture) without falling or having to sit in their own waste? If any of these are questionable, I would begin to consider medical intervention and if that is unsuccessful, humane euthanasia.
Many pet owners struggle with the decision to end their pet’s life by humane euthanasia. I explain to pet owners in this predicament the process of euthanasia to help them in their decision making. In my experience, it is a peaceful process where their dog or cat will fall asleep first in their lap or on a soft blanket and then their breathing and heartbeat will stop after they have lost consciousness. I also explain that I consider it our gift to our companions to end their suffering peacefully. Most owners usually find comfort in knowing these details
Do you know how microchips work in pets? Most pet owners first learn about microchipping their pets when they bring their cat to be spayed or neutered. This of course, is an easy time for your veterinarian to implant a microchip because your pet would not be moving while anesthetized. But did you know a microchip can be implanted at any appointment visit with little to no pain to your pet?
The benefit to microchipping is that is provides unique and permanent proof that identifies that your cat belongs to you. Cats that live outside tend to know their whereabouts well, but if they are injured and found by a Good Samaritan, how would that person know who it belonged to? Some owners think that their indoor cat could not or would not escape. However, what would happen if a house fire or tornado impacted their home and in the disaster, their beloved companion got loose? These scenarios are reasons that we at Trusty Vet support microchipping you cat. We know that they are your furry friends and the success stories about cat’s being reunited with their owners when they’ve been microchipped are all the proof we need.
The simple process of microchip implantation involves pinching the skin between the shoulder blades and quickly inserting the rice sized microchip underneath the skin with a sharp needle similar to but larger than ones used to administer vaccines. The microchip is then registered in an online database with the owner’s contact information. When a stray pet is brought to a veterinarian or animal shelter, the facility will scan the shoulder region looking for a microchip in hopes of reuniting owner and cat.
Most puppies are introduced into their new homes between 6-8 weeks of age, shortly after they are weaned. Up to this point, their mother and siblings have been influential in developing good puppy manners. If puppy is too rough with its siblings, their littermate lets out a yip and scurries away. Momma dog will roll the puppy over and place a paw on his or her tummy and pressure on its neck with her mouth to teach it to behave. Your responsibility as the new pet owner is to continue developing the puppy into an obedient pet.
Organized obedience school usually begins for a puppy around 12 weeks of age. In the gap of time between weaning and obedience school, you can still teach your puppy not to bite, jump, or have accidents in the house. Close monitoring of the puppy will allow you to run interference quickly if your puppy is beginning to show inappropriate behavior. Redirection is beneficial in managing play biting by offering your puppy a chew toy to play with rather than your hand, pant leg, or coffee table leg. You can try to squeeze your puppy’s toes, bump your knee into their chest, or turn in circles to deter jumping.
Whatever training you are working on needs to be consistent and practiced by all members of the household so that your puppy will not become confused and can be raised into a pleasant companion. Additional puppy training tips can be found at www.veterinarypartner.com.
There are pros and cons to the argument on whether cats should be housed inside or outside. In this blog, I will leave my personal opinion to myself and rather discuss the risks and benefits of each living situation.
Canine heartworm disease is a potentially fatal and totally preventable disease. Dogs contract heartworms by being bitten by an infected mosquito, which there are plenty of around our parts. Within six months, the heartworm larvae migrate to the heart and mature into adult heartworms that create turbulent blood flow (a heart murmur) and changes in the heart’s blood pressure. Eventually, congestive heart failure can develop or sudden death can occur.
Many families plan on summer vacations this time of year. If your destination is not pet friendly or your pet is not a good traveler (most cats fit into this category) they must be left behind while you travel. Two options exist for making sure your dog or cat is well taken care including finding a pet sitter to watch your pet in your home or booking a stay at a boarding facility.
The Fourth of July is a time of celebrating the Independence Day of America with fireworks representing the defeat of the British with “the rocket’s red glare and bombs bursting in air.” For the pet owner who has an animal that is frightened by the booms and blasts though, the circumstances can be defeating to them.
Attentiveness to vaccine health care reminders allows you as a pet owner to assure protection from multiple diseases for your canine companion. By law, the Rabies vaccine must be administered on a regular basis since the disease is still prevalent in non-domesticated animals, particularly raccoons. Distemper virus and Parvovirus are two diseases that can have fatal outcomes and are easily preventable with vaccine administration.
The vaccine industry for felines has been thorough advancements in the last 20 years. Most specifically, the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) developed guidelines for veterinarians to follow regarding when and where to vaccinate cats. Some vaccines, including Rabies vaccine, are now available non-adjuvanted meaning without a carrying agent that was previously administered in years past and carried the risk of cancer. These non-adjuvanted vaccines are worth the extra expense to assure a safer outcome in vaccinating your cat.
Vaccination protocols vary by practice but it is my recommendation to have all kittens given booster vaccinations every 3-4 weeks beginning at 6 weeks of age and continuing until 12 weeks of age. This allows the kitten to develop its own immunologic response to the vaccine and prevents interference with maternal antibodies. Older kittens need two vaccine boosters given 3-4 weeks apart. An adult one-year old cat needs their annual booster and then vaccines should be administered based on a lifestyle analysis and risk exposure.
I like to administer the Rabies vaccine in the right rear leg close to the ankle (hock), the Leukemia vaccine on the left rear leg, again close to the ankle, and the FVCRP (upper respiratory) vaccine between the shoulder blades. This allows a good distribution of the vaccines so that your cat is not overly painful in one location. It also follows the guidelines set up by AAFP. I always recommend vaccines be administered by a trained professional. Veterinarians are confident in the manufacturers they purchase from and know how to properly store vaccines.
There are many available formulations of cat food to purchase for your feline friend. The best type of food to feed is a small kibble that you cat chews in his or her back teeth. The harder kibble helps to keep your cat’s oral health at its best and avoids the excessive calories found in canned food. It is also important to maintain your cat on one specific diet as changes in foods can lead to upset stomach or diarrhea.
As a consumer that utilizes pet insurance for my own dogs, I feel that I can honestly provide you with an inside look into the perks of having pet insurance for your own dog or cat. Just the other day, a friend and client was faced with the decision on whether to proceed with a multi-thousand dollar surgery procedure for his dog’s blown knee. The reality of the situation was that his child’s need for braces was a more important monetary need. So while his dog will be managed for its pain, the surgery was simply cost prohibitive.
Working with animals can be quite a challenge since they are unable to verbalize what may be bothering them. While a physical examination is certainly an integral part of evaluating you pet’s health, the internal organs can have problems that can be present that may go undetected on a physical exam. Your pet’s blood contains cells, proteins, and enzymes that when evaluated individually and in relation to each other can indicate organ dysfunction, infection, hormonal imbalances, or inflammation.
Scientific and technological advancements have led to better protection against diseases across the medical field including veterinary medicine. However, not every dog or cat is susceptible to the multiple diseases that exist. This is why a visit to your veterinarian and a discussion of your pet’s lifestyle is so important. We can help recommend the appropriate vaccinations to protect your dog or cat from infectious diseases.
Every pet needs to be vaccinated for Rabies without question. Every dog needs protection from Distemper and Parvovirus beginning at 6-8 weeks of age to include four puppy booster and annual vaccinations thereafter. Every cat needs protection from fatal upper respiratory and neurologic viruses in the combination FVRCP vaccine beginning from 7-8 weeks of age to include three kitten boosters and annual vaccinations thereafter.
The other vaccinations available related to exposure risk in North Alabama include Feline Leukemia and Bordatella vaccines for cats, and Leptospirosis, Lyme, Influenza, and Bordatella vaccines for dogs. With the exception of the Bordatella vaccine, these vaccines require two initial immunizations followed by annual boosters thereafter to provide appropriate immune response and protection for your dog or cat.