DogTime Blogs

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Pet Sleeping Habits

Dogs need their sleep and without it they can become stressed. Stress can result in behavioral changes, weight loss and a lowered immune system. Although very few studies exist on the sleep and dreaming habits of dogs, it appears that the amount of sleep required depends on the dog breed, age and energy levels. Most dogs need about 14 hours of sleep a day.

Large breed dogs such as Newfoundlands, Saint Bernards and Great Danes sleep a lot more than the small breeds. They can sleep up to 18 hours a day. Low energy dogs that sit at home such as Bull dogs and Bassett Hounds sleep a lot more than high energy dogs such as working dogs (e.g. search and rescue dogs).

Placing your pet’s bed in an area that is away from noise and activity will help them get their required amount of sleep for rejuvenation. Changes in sleep patterns can definitely be an early sign of illness. If this is the case, seek veterinary attention for further investigation.

Like humans, dogs’ do dream. The twitching, whimpering and paw movements are signs of a dog in deep sleep. Avoid suddenly waking your pet up from deep sleep.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Anti-inflammatory Side Effects

Pets are often prescribed anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) to help relieve the pain following surgery, dentals or long term for pets with chronic conditions such as arthritis. These products can provide very effective pain relief, but are not advised for pets with kidney, liver, or stomach issues. Only your veterinarian is able to choose the right anti-inflammatory for your pet.

If your pet has been prescribed anti-inflammatories, it is important to monitor your pet closely for any side effects such as:
- vomiting
- diarrhea (with or without blood)
- inappetence
- tense abdomen
- black stools
- drinking a lot
- urinating a lot
- pale gums

Notify your veterinary hospital immediately if you notice any of these signs.

And NEVER use human NSAIDs on your pets!

Prevention of serious NSAID problems
- Monitor for signs
- Visit the veterinarian regularly i.e. every 3-6 months
- Have blood tests done at vet visits to pick up early signs of kidney or liver problems
- Keep to the prescribed dose (Increasing the NSAID dose does not necessarily provide more pain relief)
- Notify the veterinarian of all other medications your pet is on. Other drugs such as Corticosteroids (used for allergy relief) and Aspirin can cause serious drug reactions.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Is your Pet Missing Teeth?

On the surface, missing teeth may not appear to be a problem in cats and dogs. But, under the surface, bone cysts or abscesses can form causing long term problems.

Dogs and cats should have all their teeth showing by 6 months of age.

How many teeth are they supposed to have?
Dogs: 42 permanent teeth
Cats: 30 permanent teeth

You local vet can schedule dental x-rays to determine whether a tooth is truly missing or whether it lies under the surface of the gum.

It's always best to get these investigated early rather than wait for a more serious problem to occur.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is the development of a malformation of the hip in any dog breed. More commonly seen in large breed dogs, it has been reported by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals as high as 80% in some breeds. The condition has a strong genetic component but can also be caused by other factors such as growth rate and diet.



Commonly affected breeds:
• Bull Dogs
• Newfoundlands
• Saint Bernards
• Labrador Retrievers
• Golden Retrievers

Diagnosis:
• Radiographs analyzed by the University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program (PennHIP)

Treatment:
• Anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce the pain
• Nutraceuticals to help with join health
• Modified exercise program
• Physical Therapy
• Diet modification for weight loss
• Surgery

Prevention:
• Do appropriate screening of dogs before adopting them
• Get your puppy screened early at the time of vaccination

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Pets with Bad Breath

Healthy pets should have normal fresh breath. Bad breath can be a sign of a serious dental disease or health problems. The American Veterinary Dental Society reports 70% of cats and 80% of dogs show signs of dental disease by age 3 years.

It's important to have your pets teeth examined by a veterinarian every year. You can help prevent dental problems by brushing your pets teeth regularly.

Other preventive measures include dental sealants, dental chew toys, and dental chews. Ask your veterinarian to discuss preventive options for your pet.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Pets with Allergies

Allergies are one of the most common problems in dogs with inhaled allergens, food and fleas being the top causes. When pets breathe in allergens such as pollens, they can develop itchy and irritated skin. Allergic pets generally show signs around 6-7 months and fully develop signs by 3-5 years. It can be seasonal or it can be all year round.

Signs of allergies in pets:
• Chewing of feet
• Discoloration of fur on feet (saliva staining)
• Hair loss
• Hot and reddened skin around face, feet, armpits and groin
• Scabby skin

If you suspect allergies, your veterinarian can run a simple blood test to determine what is causing your pet to itch.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tips for Flying with Pets

Traveling pets has become increasingly popular. With the introduction of pet-specific airlines, it is important for us to know how to prepare our pet for safe air travel.

• Restrict food for 12 hours before a flight
• Provide only small amounts of water
• Exercise your pet just before the flight
• Train the pet to see the crate as a positive experience by allowing it to sleep in there at home, giving praise and treats
• Use puppy pads or small litter box for the trip to help with any accidents
Stay as calm as possible to your pet doesn’t pick up on your concerns

Monday, December 21, 2009

Inter-dog Aggression and Owner-Directed Aggression

If your dog shows aggression towards other dogs when walked, you may want to make note of the following tips to prevent problems:
- Avoid high-density dog areas
- Avoid hours that are popular for dog walking
- If you see a dog up ahead, create space between you and them
- Use head collars to help control your pet
- Use a short non-retractable leash



Owner-directed Aggression


This form of aggression is highly dangerous to you and your family and should be taken very seriously. If this occurs, schedule an appointment with a qualified veterinary behavioralist to help get this under control sooner or later.

Basic tips for handling this dog include avoiding these pets when sleeping, eating, toileting or nursing.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Beware of Christmas Plants

Christmas plants are those that are often used to decorate the homes during the festive season.

Toxic Plants:
- English Holly
- American Mistletoe
- Poinsietta
- Christmas Tree Preservatives

Thursday, December 17, 2009

How to tell if your cat is in pain following surgery

Following surgery, any animal can be more quiet than usual. But, how do you know if they are in pain? Unfortunately, complications can occur following surgery so it is important to be able to read the signs so that you know when to take your pet back to the veterinary hospital.

Tips:
• Posture: a cat in a hunched position, with its head hung low, resenting handling is likely to be uncomfortable.
• Orientation in bed or crate: a cat that sits back in its bed or crate, or pacing, agitation or vocalization can also indicate that your pet is uncomfortable.
• Facial Expressions: A head-down posture with the eyelids half-closed may indicate pain.
• Loss of Normal Behavior: any change in the normal behavior should be monitored as it may indicate pain.
• Response to handling: a cat that flinches or turns to bite when its wound is gently touched is an indication of pain.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Uveitis in Cats

Uveitis is an eye disorder that can lead to blindness in cats. It is a condition that affects the uvea which is made up of the iris, and surrounding tissue.

Signs of eye pain:
- Redness
- Squinting when in light
- Third eyelid prominence
- Weepy eye

Treatment involves reducing the inflammation, treating any underlying causes and preventing complications such as glaucoma, cataracts, and lens luxation.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

How to Prevent Birds from Biting When Being Handled

Just like our cats and dogs, birds should not be punished for bad behavior such as biting. Punishment can lead to increased aggression, fear, apathy, and avoidance behaviors. It’s important to see through the eyes of the bird and determine whether it bites out of fear, aggression or avoidance.

Tips to handling a bird that bites
• Use a wooden perch and teach your bird “up” and “off”.
• Reward the bird with tiny treats
• Once the bird is comfortable on the perch, use this as a means to move your bird.
• Eventually, train your bird “up” and “off” on your still hand.

A bird can just as easily learn that certain behaviors will be followed by a positive reinforcement.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Thinking of a Gift for your Pet for Christmas?

When considering a fun and safe gift for your pet, don’t forget good quality time. Pets love a good cuddle, a walk, lounging on the couch with you, and just spending time with their family. Cats love toys that dangle or crinkle. Dogs like squeaky toys and toys that hide treats.

Safety tips:
• Avoid rich Christmas food including roast turkey, chocolate, nuts, garlic, or onions
• Avoid cooked bones
• Keep Christmas decorations safely away from pets

Friday, December 11, 2009

Will Cat Food Hurt My Dog?

Cat food is not harmful to dogs. However, a cat’s diet does have different nutritional requirements to that of a dog’s diet. The richness of a cat’s diet can cause problems for dogs such as stomach upsets (vomiting and diarrhea) and even obesity.

On the other hand, dog food does not contain the necessary nutrients for cats. And therefore, cats cannot achieve a healthy balanced diet from dog food. It’s always best to keep the cat food for cats and the dog food for dogs.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

USA Today Pet Talk: How to pet a dog, a lesson for kids and parents

Very interesting tips for kids and parents at Pet Talk: USA Today

Salmon Poisoning

Salmon poisoning actually refers to the fatal disease when dogs ingest salmon that is carrying a tiny parasite. Well-cleaned and cooked salmon is unlikely to cause a problem. However, care must be taken in feeding fish of any kind to your pet as bones can cause harm to your pet’s digestive tract.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Is it Ok to Give My Dog Milk?

Many dogs are actually lactose intolerant which means that they lack the enzyme necessary to break down the lactose within the milk. These affected dogs can become ill with vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach discomfort, when fed milk.

Whilst many dogs are lactose intolerant, some dogs are not. If you are unsure, only give small amounts of milk at a time and dilute with water.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Car Sickness

Motion sickness does occur in dogs and usually occurs very shortly into a car ride. Dogs typically start drooling and then vomit. It’s important to get your dog used to car rides from a young age. Letting them sit in a car for a few minutes a day will help them to be calm and associate the car with a good experience. Once your pet is comfortable with the car, you can then gradually introduce short car rides.

If your pet is older and does not seem to be acclimatizing to the car, you can always talk to your veterinarian about motion sickness medication.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Feet Chewing

Unlike people, where allergies cause sneezing, coughing, and watery eyes, dogs show allergies by chewing at their feet and legs. On white-haired dogs, the orange tinting is a sign of saliva staining and chronic allergies.

Common allergies:
• Fleas
• Food
• Shampoo
• Pollen
• Grasses

Your veterinarian can help run tests to determine what your pet may be allergic too.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Scooting

Scooting can be caused by a number of reasons:
• Fleas
• Worms
• Anal Gland Problem

If your pet regularly gets its parasite preventives, it may need to be examined by the veterinarian. Anal glands, particularly in smaller breeds, can become blocked. If these glands are not expressed regularly, they can cause extreme discomfort and also become infected.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Important Tips for Kids and their Pets


Pets are an important part of life for over 60% of the US population and children can benefit immensely from the bond they form with their pets. Unfortunately, serious dog bites, cat scratches, and other pet-related diseases still occur in children predominantly 4-9 years of age.

Pets' Playground - Playing Safe In a Dog-and-Cat World, published by the American Animal Hospital Association, is an essential resource to help keep kids safe while benefiting from the human animal bond. The book can be viewed here.

Pets' Playground teaches children about:
· Pet behavior and feelings
· Pet toys and playtime
· Healthy meals and treats for pets
· Good pet care and responsibility
· Creepy crawlies that pets and kids need to avoid
· Household safety and poisonous plants
· Visits to the vet
· And more!

More fun pet games at Kids and Pet Safety

Drooling

Dogs can drool for many reasons:
• Nervousness
• Excitement
• In anticipation of food
• Breed-related

To save your carpet, furniture and clothing from drool, try to wipe your pets mouth regularly, use chew toys to help them swallow more to soak up any excessive saliva.

If you pet has started to drool suddenly, seek medical attention as it may be a sign of nausea, anxiety, or painful teeth.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

My Dog Keeps Pulling on its Leash

It’s not unusual for the excited dog to pull on its leash when walked. Unfortunately, this can put a lot of pressure on their neck. Gentle Leaders are a great solution for preventing pulling. The Gentle Leader attaches to the collar and wraps around the muzzle.

Taking your pet to obedience class can also help your dog learn to walk calmly.

Monday, November 30, 2009

My Dog is Attracted to Smelly Things

Unfortunately, like their wild counterparts, dogs are attracted to smelly things like dead animals, manure, droppings, and garbage. It’s not fully known why they do it, but there are some tips to help prevent it from happening:
• Keep your pet fenced in your yard
• Pick up droppings in the yard
• Secure trash so they cannot gain access even when it is knocked over
• Keep your pet on a leash when walking
• Train your pet to come and stay so that you can avoid them rolling in smelly things

Friday, November 27, 2009

My House Smells of Urine!

Urine smells can be difficult to remove from the house. And, unfortunately, dogs tend to return to the areas they have soiled in the house. It’s important to train your pet outside or with a crate to toilet in the appropriate places.

Suggestions for removing urine smells:
• Unsealed concrete floors (garage, basement): Use disinfectants to seep into the concrete. Rinse with water and allow to completely dry. Use concrete sealant once completely dry.
• Linoleum: use disinfectants.
• Carpet: To remove the smell completely, pull up the carpet and replace the padding. Then clean the carpet with an enzymatic cleaner.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Calluses

Calluses are thickened and hairless areas of skin that form over the joints as a result of repeated rubbing against rough surfaces. They do not pose any health risk and prevention by protecting your pet from abrasive surfaces is best.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tail Chasing

Dogs can chase their tail for a number of reasons:
• Fleas
• Anal gland problem
• Worms
• Boredom

Parasites and anal glands can easily be managed through proper medical care. Unfortunately, if the problem is behavioral, it is most likely the sign of an obsessive-compulsive disorder which requires the professional help of a behavioral specialist. Dogs such as terriers are more prone to these behavioral problems.

In the meanwhile, try not to react in any way when your dog chases its tail. Laughing or scoldings are forms of attention. You may notice that some incidences trigger this behavior such as rain, time of day, or food.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Why do my dog’s teeth chatter?

Teeth chattering is not all that uncommon and it is often an indication of excitement or nervousness. If your pet has been doing it all their life, it’s probably just an old habit. If your dog suddenly starts to do this, you should have its teeth checked by the veterinarian. Dog’s can start chattering if their have dental disease like swollen or bleeding gums, broken teeth, oral masses.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The ‘Ideal Dog’

A recent survey was conducted to determine the ideal dog. A number of behavioral and physical characteristics were identified:
• Medium size
• Short hair
• Neutered
• Safe with children
• Fully house-trained
• Friendly
• Obedient
• Healthy

Participants also wanted their ideal dog to come when called, not to escape, enjoy being petted and display affection towards them.

King, T et al. Describing the ideal Australian companion dog. Applied Animal Behaviour Science. 2009

Friday, November 20, 2009

Handling an Injured Pet

If your pet is injured or you come across an injured pet, it’s important to know the basics of handling in order to prevent harm to yourself and further harm to your pet.

Even the most gentle of pets can be unpredictable when in pain.

• Call your veterinarian immediately to explain the situation
• If you suspect a fracture, muzzle your pet
• If your pet is vomiting, do not use a muzzle
• If you are unable to get your pet into a carrier, use a thick blanket as a stretcher to carry your pet into the car

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Steps to Appropriate Play with your Dog

1. Provide plenty of exercise
2. Provide mental stimulation with puzzle toys such as the KONG
3. Interactive games such as fetch
4. Teach basic commands
5. Ignore bad behavior
6. Promote socialization with other dogs

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Salmonella

Salmonella is a bacteria that can cause gastrointestinal infections in people (Salmonellosis). Clinical signs include diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever and cast last up to 4-7 days. It is usually contracted through the ingestion of food contaminated with animal feces. Birds and reptiles (such as turtles, snakes and lizards) naturally carry salmonella and therefore should be handled with care.

Illness can be prevented with simple hygiene practice:
1. Wash hands with soap before eating;
2. Cook all meat;
3. Do not use raw eggs;
4. Wash kitchen surfaces and utensils with detergent;
5. Wash hands after handling reptiles or birds especially after coming into contact with their droppings

Who Is Responsible for Teaching Pet Safety to Children?


Who is responsible for teaching children about how to properly interact with their pet while avoiding harm to themselves? Doctors, veterinarians, teachers and parents all play a significant role in educating children about pet safety.

Pets’ Playground: Playing Safe in a Dog-and-Cat World, a fun yet educational children’s book, was created to help veterinarians, medical doctors, teachers and parents provide children ages 4 to 9 with the necessary skills and knowledge to promote safety for both children and their pets while strengthening the human-animal bond. Pets’ Playground, written by Australian veterinarian Amanda Chin, covers topics such as dog and cat behavior, parasites, nutrition, home care, and veterinary care.

Pets' Playground teaches children about:
• Pet behavior and feelings
• Pet toys and playtime
• Healthy meals and treats for pets
• Good pet care and responsibility
• Creepy crawlies that pets and kids need to avoid
• Household safety and poisonous plants
• Visits to the vet
• And more!

Available now at Amazon

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

How to Stop Bad Play Behavior

1. Ignore your pet if it is showing bad behavior towards you i.e. barking, jumping up
2. Distract your pet with the right toys if it is chewing on the wrong toy
3. Speak up with a ‘No’ if your pet is doing something wrong
4. Keep your pet on a leash to help maintain focus
5. Use head halters for better control
6. Consider muzzles in extreme cases to prevent biting injuries
7. Give time-out as a last resort if your pet won’t stop the bad behavior

Avoid punishment!

And, always seek professional advice from your local veterinarian.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Arsenic Poisoning

Arsenic Poisoning
Dogs that like to chew outdoor furniture may be at risk of arsenic poisoning. Decks, balconies, and porches made of pressure-treated wood built before 2004 may contain arsenic. Arsenic was used as a preservative. Any arsenic-treated wood that has been washed or sanded can expose our pets to arsenic.

Symptoms of arsenic poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, weakness and drooling. Any dog suspected of coming into contact with arsenic-treated woods should be taken to the vet hospital immediately.

To help protect your pet:
- Never allow your pet to drink rainwater that pools on outdoor furniture
- Wipe down your pet after being exposed to outdoor furniture to reduce any arsenic that may be clinging to your pet’s coat
- Prevent your pet from playing in the soil where any outdoor furniture may exist
- Use a sealant regularly on outdoor furniture to seal in any arsenic
- Replace any wood furniture that you are unsure of

Friday, November 13, 2009

Normal Puppy Play Behavior

Normal puppy play consists of chasing, pouncing, and barking. But, it is important to understand early signs of aggression so that it can be addressed.

Normal puppy play
Play bow (lower its head and raise its back end)
Tail wagging
Dart back and forth
High-pitched barks
Play growls
Play-attack on command

Aggressive Behavior
Deep-tone growl
Fixed gaze
Stiff posture
Spontaneous attack

If your puppy is showing early signs of aggression, seek professional advice from your veterinarian on how to handle it, sooner than later.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Stopped Using the Litter Tray?

Cats can be fussy when it comes to their litter tray. However, the reasons for it can range from serious to not so serious reasons.

1. Urinary Problem: urinary tract infection, bladder stones, urine crystals
2. Dirty Litter Tray: litter trays should be cleaned daily and fecal matter removed as soon as possible
3. Use of disinfectants: potent disinfectants such as bleach can discourage cats from using the tray. Detergents and warm water are sufficient.
4. Litter type: avoid scented litter
5. Toilet Position: Keep the litter tray in a quiet area away from thoroughfare, water bowls, food bowls, or sleeping areas.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Latest research on the bond between baby and dog

Babies may very well know what your dog is trying to say. A recent study done at Brigham Young University looked into infants less than 6 months of age and their reaction to angry and friendly barks. Based on the research that emotions are one of the first things babies pick up on in their social world, they put this to the test.

Study participants were all from households that lived with dogs. Babies were shown a friendly or angry picture of a dog and were observed to see how they would react when the angry or friendly bark was played.

Researchers noted that babies spent most of their time staring at the photo that matched the bark.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

FLUTD – Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease

FLUTD is a problem of the lower urinary tract of cats. Unfortunately, it affects many cats causing often a long-term problem. Some cats are prone to bacterial and crystal build up in the urinary tract which can result in pain and inflammation.

Clinical Signs:
• Straining to urinate
• No urinating
• Blood in the urine
• Urinating more frequently
• Urinating in unusual places or in their bed

Risk Factors:
• Poor quality diets
• Reduced water intake
• Unsuitable litter trays causing cats to “hold”
• Poor hygiene
• Poor health

Monday, November 9, 2009

Ever thought your pet looked guilty for doing something wrong?

Before you tell your pet off for doing something wrong or looking guilty, read on. Dogs are very good at picking up human emotions. When you’re sad, happy, or fearful, dogs can pick up on it. A recent study done at Barnard College in New York looked into how owners interpreted their dogs’ expressions. Owners were told that their dog has stolen a treat (when they hadn’t) and were asked to react how they would normally. Owners that reprimanded their pet thought they were seeing a look of guilt from their pet, when in fact their pet was expressing unhappiness from the owner’s disappointment. It was concluded that the effect of scolding was more pronounced when dogs were obedient, not disobedient.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Feline Aids - FIV

Feline Aids is a viral disease that is spread via cat bites. Whilst similar to the human form of HIV, the feline form cannot infect people. No treatment exists and positive cats may lead healthy lives for years before their immune system shuts down, making them susceptible to disease and death.

Prevention:
• Limit exposure to unknown cats
• Keep your cat close to home to prevent run-ins with stray cats
• Keep your cat indoors at night
• Always have cats tested at the shelter before bringing it home
• Isolate aggressive cats from other cats
• Neuter all cats to prevent fighting

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Most Popular Dog Breeds

The American Kennel Club recently published the most popular dog breeds for 2008. By looking at their personalities, it’s no surprise they were at the top of the list.

Labrador Retriever
Intelligent, eager to please their owner

Yorkshire Terrier
Energetic, adaptable, driven to investigate

German Shepherd
Direct and dependable, hard working

Golden Retriever
Smart, easy-going, family-friendly

Beagle
Happy-go-lucky, energetic, sociable

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Common Diseases of the Mouth – Cats

Disease of the mouth is the most common problem of cats, affecting 30-70%. Plaque and tartar build up can lead to more severe disease of the kidneys, lungs and heart. Up to 100 billion bacteria can exist in the saliva every day. And it’s this bacteria that can set up home on the cat’s teeth.

Prevention:
• Use preventive techniques recommended by your vet e.g. tooth brushing, textured kibble, prescription diets.
• Control disease such as diabetes, thyroid disease, FeLV, FIV
• Eliminate plaque and tartar through oral hygiene practices recommended by your vet or annual cleaning

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Chronic Diarrhea in Cats

Cats that suffer from diarrhea for more than 3-4 weeks are considered chronic. The most common causes include:
• parasites – worms, protozoa, giardia
• inflammatory bowel disease
• adverse food reactions
• cancer
• viral infections
• antibiotic-related
• organ failure (liver, kidney)
• thyroid problems
• pancreas problems

Cats with chronic diarrhea should undergo a comprehensive workup at the vet hospital. The vet will usually want a fresh stool sample to check for parasites. Blood test will determine whether there are any liver, kidney or thyroid problems.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Microchips Can Increase the Chance of Reuniting a Lost Pet

A recent study done at the College of Veterinary Medicine, Ohio State, revealed that pets that are microchipped have a better chance of being returned to their owner after entering a shelter. For cats, the return to owner rate was 20 times higher and for dogs 2.5 times higher.

This highlights the importance of microchipping, as well the importance of securing the house so that pets do not escape the home.

It’s one thing to have a microchip, but as the study revealed, it is also importance to ensure that the data stored on the microchip is up-to-date: 35% of owners could not be found was because of incorrect contact details.

The study was published in the July 15 issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween and Pets

It’s not uncommon to get our pets involved with Halloween. But, it is important to note that not all activities are safe for pets.

Treats to Avoid:
• Chocolate
• Gum
• Chewy candy
• Hard candy balls
• Treats with foil or plastic wrapper

Keep to treats such as carrot sticks, pet cookies, or apple slices.

Decoration Dangers:
• Lighted jack-o-lanterns
• Spooky fog
• Stringed festive lights
• Electrical cords

Dressing up your pet:
• Avoid clothing that is too tight (this can choke your pet or stop circulation)
• Do not dress your pet up if they are nervous or seem agitated
• Never leave your pet with a costume unattended

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Tear Stains

Dog breeds such as the shih tzu, poodle, maltese, french bull dog, and cavalier, can commonly get a red discoloration under their eyes. This is tear staining and although the staining may be unsightly, the staining is not a medical concern. What may be a concern is whether your pet has an eye condition that has resulted in excessive tears. Examples of eye diseases include conjunctivitis, glaucoma, blocked tear ducts, and dry eye.

If your pet has suddenly developed excessive tears, always have their eyes checked by the veterinarian.

If your pet has excessive tears due to the breed, gentle cleaning daily with warm water can help reduce the staining.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Can houseflies spread Ringworm?

A recent study examined the role of the housefly in spreading ringworm. And, although the fly does not actively spread ringworm in its excretions, it could carry it on its surface and transmit it to other animals and people as a mechanical vehicle.

For this reason, it is especially important to control the housefly particularly when the household is occupied by people or pets with a lowered immune system and to practice good hygiene.

Ringworm is a fungus that causes skin disease. A open skin wound is necessary for an infection to occur. Washing our hand frequently after playing with your pet and covering up skin wounds will help prevent disease.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Feline Infectious Peritonitis (F.I.P.)

FIP is caused by the virus, coronavirus. It causes no or mild disease, usually diarrhea. The virus is widespread and occurs worldwide and is transmitted through contaminated feces. Once infected, the cat will shed the virus before dying.

Diagnosis relies on a good history of the pet as cats often succumb to the virus several weeks after a stressful episode such as surgery, adoption, or trauma, and are usually from multi-cat environments. Cats often present with weight loss, fever, and a poor appetite. Younger cats under 1 year of age, older cats or purebred cats are at a higher risk.

For more information about the prevalence in your area and the best way to prevent the virus, contact your local veterinarian.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Walking Dandruff

This condition of walking dandruff is due to a mite called Cheyletiella yasguri. It can cause itchiness and dandruff. These mites live on the surface of a dog’s, cat’s, or rabbit’s skin. And as they travel around the pet, dandruff attaches to their back giving the illusion that the dandruff is walking.

Not only can these mites cause problems to our pets. They can also bite humans, causing lesions on our skin. These mites can be found in dog bedding, dust particles around the house and can occasionally be picked up by our pets from places like dog day care. Because of this, it is important that the environment is cleaned regularly through vacuuming. And that early signs of itching or dandruff are examined by the vet.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Pets as blood donors

Just like humans, pets can qualify to become pet blood donors. Emergency and critical-care hospitals can transfuse up to 20-30 pets per week. So, its no wonder there is a need for dog and cat donors.

Not all pets qualify. It takes a very calm pet to lie still with a needle inserted into their jugular vein in the neck.

Requirements:
Dogs:
• 50 pounds or more
• 1-8 years of age
• Current vaccinations

Cats:
• 10 pounds or more
• 1-8 years of age
• Current vaccinations
• FeLV/FIV negative

Ask your local vet hospital or critical care center to see if your pet qualifies.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Congestive Heart Failure

Congestive heart failure can result from many different heart conditions such as valve disease. It results in the heart not being able to effectively pump the blood to the rest of the body. Early signs in dogs may start with a subtle cough or exercise intolerance.

Certain breeds are at higher risk including the:
• Cavalier,
• poodle,
• Chihuahua,
• Great Dane,
• Boxer.

Treatment often includes medications to help relieve the chest of fluid build up and to help the heart pump effectively.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Caring for a Senior Cat

The American Association of Feline Practitioners recently published their senior care guidelines. Cats were classified into the following categories:

• middle-aged 7-10 years
• senior 11-14 years
• geriatric 15+ years

With the improvement of cat care, the percentage of older cats has increased with many cats living into their 20s. It’s with regular visits to the vet – twice a year – that we can ensure that cats live a healthy long life.

Cats are very good at disguising pain or illness until it is severe. Early health changes occur at the middle-age range and full vet examinations with blood tests can often pick up these early problems.

One thing that you can do at home is to monitor your cat for early behavioral problems. Studies have found that behavior problems increase with age – nearly 30% of cats between 11-14 years develop at least one behavioral problem and increases to 50% for cats 15+ years.

Examples of behaviors that may change:
• Interaction with people or other pets
• Grooming
• Sleep habits
• Exercise
• Vocalization
• Toileting

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Aggression


Dog aggression is a problem that can appear in many different forms and should be taken seriously: guarding toys or food, play biting, barking at owner.

If your dog is showing any of these examples:
• Seek veterinary attention immediately
• Consult an animal behaviourist or specialist trainer
• Do not put your dog into a situation where they can be harmful to people or other animals until the issues are resolved

Monday, October 19, 2009

Food Allergies

Food allergies are a common problem in our pets.

Common food allergies
Dogs: Beef, Cow’s milk, chicken, eggs, wheat, soy, corn
Cats: Fish, chicken, beef

Problems food allergies causes include gastro and itchy skin.

Elimination diets whereby you remove these common problems for at least 8-12 weeks can help determine if food allergies are really a problem. Otherwise, veterinary prescription diets can also be used for this time.

Improved responses can be seen 1-9 weeks of the changed diet if you are dealing with a food allergy.

Friday, October 16, 2009

What to feed your rabbit

Rabbits require a diet high in fibre and roughage.


One of the most common problems encountered in rabbit medicine is dental disease. Rabbits have teeth that are continually growing so they need to be worn down when eating.


Feed a good quality fresh hay or fresh grass. Avoid feeding lucern hay as it is too high in calcium.

You can also offer your rabbit fresh leafy greens and vegetables such as brocoli, cabbage, spinach leaves, brussel sprouts

Do not feed a sole diet of rabbit pellets or mixes.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blindness in Dogs

Common causes:
Cataracts
Dry eye
Ulcers
Tumors
Infection
Glaucoma
Retinal problems (atrophy and detachment)
Lens luxation

Glaucoma
This eye disorder is characterized by an increase in eye pressure and can result in blindness. Glaucoma is thought to affect approximately 2% of dogs.

Signs of glaucoma
Enlarged eye
Slightly dilated pupil
Inflammation of conjunctiva

Breeds predisposed to glaucoma
Bouviers des Flandres
Dandie Dinmont Terriers
Welsh Terriers
Basset Hounds

Cataracts
Cataracts are an opacity of the lens.

Breeds commonly affected by inherited cataracts (onset of cataracts ~1 year of age)
Afghan
American Cocker Spaniel
Bichon Frise
German Shepherd
Golden and Labrador Retrievers
Siberian Husky

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Preventing Dog Bites




Nearly 1 million Americans require medical attention annually following dog bite inuries.

Most of these injuries occur in children aged between 5-9 years and a significantly higher incidence in boys than girls.






It is important to teach children basic safety and dog behaviour so they can avoid being bitten.
• Do not approach an unfamiliar dog.
• Do not run from a dog and scream.
• Remain still if approached by an unfamiliar dog.
• If knocked over by a dog, be still and quiet.
• Do not play with a dog unless supervised by an adult.
• Immediately report stray dogs or dogs displaying unusual behavior to an adult.
• Avoid staring into the eyes of a dog.
• Do not disturb a dog who is sleeping, eating, or nursing puppies.
• Do not pet a dog without allowing it to see and sniff you first.
• If bitten, immediately report the bite to an adult.

Further statistics at CDC

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Weight Loss Plan

Obesity is a major health issue in the world. And unfortunately for our pets, they follow in our footsteps of overindulgence and poor activity. According to the Journal of American Medical Association, it is estimated that:
• 7.2 million dogs are obese
• 26 million dogs are overweight
• 15.7 million cats are obese
• 35 million cats are overweight
• Over half of these pets are older than 7 years of age.

Signs that suggest your pet may be overweight:
• the collar is getting too tight
• you cannot feel your pet's ribs
• your pet has no waist
• your pet has a broad flat back

Obesity can cause many other unwanted problems such as
• Diabetes
• Arthritis
• Liver disease
• Heart problems

Overweight pets can be expensive pets: a diabetic emergency can cost up to $1500 for one visit, and a cruciate ligament repair can cost up to $5000 for surgery.

Tips to Weight Loss
• Feed your pet only at meal times i.e. once or twice daily
• Do not use treats for training unless they are healthy e.g. carrots;
• Reward with hugs and positive attention
• Do not vary the diet too much as this encourages fussiness
• Do not allow for ‘begging’ behaviour
• Allocate feeding to one household member to avoid your pet being fed twice
• Measure or weigh your pet’s food
• Consider veterinary recommended weight loss diets
• Keep the food in a secure, out-of-reach area
• Do not feed table scraps
• Increase your pet’s exercise

Your veterinarian can help you calculate the amount of calories your pets need a day and also advise you on the types of exercise that is right for your pet.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Why the average pet owner should not breed their pets

Being a professional dog or cat breeder requires a lot of experience and knowledge. If you are seriously considering becoming a breeder professional, contact the local breed association for advice.

Things to think about:
• Too many pets end up in shelters
• Development of genetic disorders
• It requires a lot of time and effort in selecting the right mates – it’s a profession
• It requires knowledge of the breed as well as genetics
• You need to put in place the appropriate disease preventive measures
• You need knowledge of the mating and whelping process
• You need to understand diet requirements

Friday, October 9, 2009

Fractured Teeth

A fractured tooth is one that has a crack or break in the crown or root of the tooth.

The treatment options include:
- extraction,
- dentinal bonding
- root canal.

Broken teeth can be uncomfortable as they can be associated with exposed pulp where the nerves and blood vessels are found.

Your local veterinarian will be able to assess the damage and determine what the best treatment is. In severe cases, your pet will be referred to a dental specialist.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is a behavioral condition that occurs when dogs are separated from their owner. Dogs can demonstrate destructive behavior such as chewing furniture, barking, escaping from the home, digging through doors, urinating or defecating in the home when left alone.

It is estimated that 17% or 10.7 million dogs in the US suffer from Separation Anxiety.

How to prevent separation anxiety:
• From a young age teach your pet to be comfortable with alone time
• Leave your pet something to play with such as toys or other play mates
• Leave the music or radio on at home
• Avoid over-enthusiastic hellos and goodbyes
• Reward your pet when they are behaving calm

If your pet is showing signs of separation anxiety, contact your local veterinarian for specific tips for your pet. In worst case scenarios, medication may be prescribed to accompany behaviour modification techniques.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Annual Dental Cleaning

Everytime your pet has a dental exam and cleaning, a dental record is completed.

Your veterinarian will determine:
- are there any teeth missing,
- are there any extra teeth,
- is there tartar present,
- are the gums inflamed (gingivitis),
- are there any broken teeth or mobile teeth,
- are their any deep pockets surounding the tooth.

There are various techniques and products that can help reduce tartar build up. Talk to your local veterinarian about what is suitable for your pet.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Perfect Grooming Tools

Good health, diet and grooming are all important in getting the perfect coat on your pet. However, grooming tools can make all the difference.

Soft-bristle brush
All purpose brush on any pet
Broad head and supple bristles

Metal Comb
Largest, stiff, sturdy tines are best for removing mats

Grooming Glove
Good alternative for pets that don’t like to be brushed

De-matting tool
Tapered metal tines at an angle to work out mats in long-haired breeds

Tangle Splitter
For use on the toughest mats

Slicker Brush
Short, metal bristles for removing loose hair and dirt

Flea Comb
Narrow tines to help extract fleas
Make sure you have a tub of soapy water to put the fleas into immediately.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Can Dogs Improve Mental Health?

A recent study researched women and their relationship with their dog. It was found that companion dogs do contribute to improvement in emotional, mental and physical health.

Mental health was described as an ability to live a full and productive life. This study showed that a deep emotional relationship existed between owners and dogs and this increased mental stability.

Women described their dog as making them “feel safe”, “loved”, and “worthwhile”.

Friday, October 2, 2009

How to Reduce Visits to the Groomer

For pet owners who have long-haired dogs, visits every 4-6 weeks to the groomer can get very expensive.

Here are some tips to lengthen the time between visits:
1. Brush your pet weekly
2. Shampoo, condition, and blow-dry monthly
3. Trim nails and paw-pad hair
4. Keep ears clean, dry, and free of hair
5. Trim the rear end to help keep it clean

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Getting Rid of that Urine Odor

Urine smells especially from intact males can permanently seep into all types of surfaces: wood, rubber, and metal. Domestic Engineering has a great idea on cleaning up these surfaces:

1. Use a black light to see exactly where the urine is
2. Mix equal parts of club soda and white vinegar in a bucket
3. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle
4. Spray onto the urine stained area on the surface
5. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes
6. Rinse thoroughly with clear water
7. Dry the surface with an absorbent cloth

*Vinegar may harm some surfaces so you may want to test a spot first.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Dying your Dog’s Hair

Occasionally we may come across a poodle with pink or purple hair. It’s important to know that these pets have been professionally groomed with non-toxic hair dye. Human hair dye must NOT be used on our pets as most are toxic and extremely harmful to our pets coat.

If you are thinking of changing your pet’s coat color as a fashion statement, you must seek a professional groomer who has experience with pet coat dye.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Bored Cat Syndrome

If your cat spends all day, every day indoors, it could be at risk of Bored Cat Syndrome. As cat people, we need to make sure that our home is enriched with fund things for our cats to do all day. Keeping our cat active and stimulated will also prevent boredom and obesity.

Here are some fun things to add to your home to entertain a cat all day:
• Tall cat trees with shelves
• Carpeted shelving
• Runways around the rooms
• Window perches
• Hanging toys for your cat to try and catch
• Treat balls
• Hide a couple of healthy treats around he house (always find them when you get back to avoid rotten treats around the house)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Common Poisonous Garden Fruits & Seeds

Gardens can contain toxins that cause disease in our pets. Some commons ones are listed here. It’s important to check our yards for offending plants and prevent our pets from getting access on walks.

Gastro
• Acorn
• Asparagus
• Chili Peppers
• Holly
• Honey Suckle
• Candle nut

Respiratory Failure
• Deadly Nightshade
• Heavenly Bamboo

Heart Failure
• Yew

Liver Disease
• Cycad

Friday, September 25, 2009

Mammary or Breast Cancer

Breast cancer represent approximately 25-50% of all tumors in dogs and are the 2nd most frequent class of cancer after skin tumors. In cats, breast tumors are the 3rd most common cancer.

Dogs:
The average age for dogs is 10 years with females being the most affected over males. Unfortunately for males, if they do have these tumors they are usually highly malignant (spread to other body tissues). Tumor size plays a significant role in determining the prognosis of your pet. Therefore, the earlier the tumor is removed and the smaller it is, the better chance your pet has of surviving.

Cats:
Unfortunately, cats that present with mammary masses have a 80-90% chance of being highly malignant. The average age is 10-12 years. Therefore it is important to take your pet to the vet as soon as you feel a lump.

Treatment:
Surgery
Neutering
+/- radiation therapy
+/- chemotherapy
+/- hormone therapy

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Exercise Program for the Fat Cat

Obesity is an excess in body fat and is one of the most common disease in cats. Excess fat can also lead to a number of other diseases that can reduce the quality and quantity of life. Alterations in lifestyle are needed to reduce body fat and include: increasing physical activity, and changing the diet.

Increasing activity should be a gradual process:
• Increase play time
• Provide toys that encourage the cat to play itself
• Increase your cats movement through the use of food

Good cat toys are those that encourage rapid movement, give out sound, are small to represent prey and have the ability to supply small treats as a reward. Examples of toys include the fishing rod toy, climbing toys, dangling toys and hollow toys that small amounts of kibble can be placed into.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Acupuncture for pets

Acupuncture was first practiced nearly 3000 years ago. IT is the act of using needles to stimulate acupuncture points to:
Relieve pain
Improve animal body function

Acupuncture points are areas of high numbers of nerve endings, nerve bundles, and vessels.

Some studies have shown improved treatment outcomes when combined with veterinary acupuncture:
• Pain (hip dysplasia, spondylosis, joint disease)
• Healing of chronic wounds
• Cancer patients
• Immune mediated disease
• Skin disease
• Seizures

If you are interested in seeking acupuncture as a means to improving your pet’s quality of life, be sure to find a qualified veterinarian through the American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Pet heart murmurs – should I be worried?

Heart murmurs are a common finding in routine veterinary examinations. But, the stethoscope alone cannot determine the underlying cause. Once diagnosed, it is not uncommon to have a million questions running through your mind. This article will shed some light on the more common questions such as:
1. why does my pet have a heart murmur?
2. how will the murmur affect my pet’s life?
3. what tests are necessary and why?
4. does my pet need medication?
5. does my pet need a lifestyle change?

Pets younger than 3 years of age can be affected by birth heart defects. Many congenital heart disorders follow specific breeds. Some younger pets will live comfortably with few problems for their whole life. New murmurs found in older pets are usually caused by heart valve problems or heart muscle problems. Other causes may be due to infections, anemia or hypertension.

Some murmurs maybe accompanied by moderate to severe clinical signs such as lethargy, poor growth or respiratory problems. In these cases, a full heart examination with or without medication, and a change in exercise and diet is often recommended.

Once a murmur is diagnosed, it is highly recommended that these pets undergo a complete cardiac assessment – radiographs, ECG, ultrasound. This will help determine the treatment plan.

Monday, September 21, 2009

X-rays vs Ultrasound

X-rays, otherwise known as radiographs are often taken at veterinary hospitals to help diagnose problems. Historically, this was the first choice of diagnostics among all other imaging techniques. They help find chest problems, bone injuries, tumors or bladder stone detection.

The downside of radiography is safety concerns when dealing with radiation, inability to take a good picture and the difficulty in finding the problem.

Today, many practices own an ultrasound. Ultrasounds are safe, portable, and can give the vet an idea about body function, motion and flow. They are often the first choice when diagnosing heart problems, organ disease, or pregnancy. The difficulty is that to use an ultrasound takes a lot of practice and can lead to a misdiagnosis when handled by an inexperienced technician.

At times, it may not be clear as to what is going on. In this case, both imaging techniques may be required.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Soft Rawhide Reduces Calculus

A recent study looked at the use of soft rawhide given daily to dogs to help reduce dental calculus. Calculus is the hard tartar found on teeth and is made up of bacteria, saliva minerals, and food. Brushing teeth is considered the gold standard in veterinary medicine to help reduce plaque and tartar build up. It’s important to do this daily as within minutes new bacteria start to build up on the teeth. Within 3 days, plaque can solidify into tartar making it very difficult to remove.

Unfortunately, some dogs will not allow their teeth to be brushed and some pet owners cannot brush their pets daily (although highly recommended!). So, based on this one study, it appears that feeding a soft rawhide can actually help reduce dental calculus by nearly 30% within a month and may actually be beneficial between teeth brushing.

Source: J Vet Dent 26(2); 82-85, 2009

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Epilepsy in Dogs

Watching your pet seizure can be extremely distressing, particularly for the first time. It’s always important when your pet is seizuring to remove anything around them that can cause harm. Do not try to caress your pet during a seizure as you can be accidentally bitten.

Once your pet’s seizure has subsided, seek veterinary attention when it occurs for the first time. It is important to have a full workup to ensure that there is nothing serious such as poisons causing the problem.

Seizures are one of the most common problems seen at a veterinary hospital. Epilepsy describes the condition of frequent seizures where an underlying cause is not found. 25-40% of dogs with seizures are diagnosed with epilepsy. These dogs are generally between 1-5 years of age with 70-80% of all dogs managed successfully on long term medication.

Treatment is assessed on seizure frequency and blood drug levels.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

ASK THE VET: At-Home Cleaning of Itchy, Smelly Ears



Itchiness, smelliness, and redness can definitely be signs of an inflamed and/or infected ear.

The most common Causes of ear problems include:
1. Yeast infections
2. Food Allergies – often both ears and accompanied by itchy feet and belly
3. Fox tails/Grass Seeds – often accompanied by head shaking or pawing into the ear
4. Parasites - mites (demodex), fleas, ticks
5. Hypothyroidism – often both ears

The following can be done to determine the cause:
• Ear swabs can help determine if there is an infection
• Allergy testing can be done to rule out allergies
• Fox tails can be ruled out with examination of the ear canal usually under anaesthetic
• Parasites can be controlled with regular preventive medicines
• Blood tests can rule out hypothyroidism

When dealing with ear problems, especially infections, it is extremely important to have the ear checked by a veterinarian before using any cleaning solutions. Ear infections can cause an ear drum to rupture and using cleaning solutions whilst an ear drum is ruptured can cause serious harm to your pet.

Cleaning tips:
• Use mild ear cleansers such as Saline or Saline plus povidone iodine (diluted) when the health of the ear drum is unknown
• Moisten a ear pad or gauze swab and place a few drops of saline into the ears and massage the base of the ear (where the ear joins the head)
• Massage in an upward motion as if to expel the fluid from the ear canal
• Ensure that all liquid is gently removed from the ear once flushed.
• Avoid using Q-tips as this can push the infectious material deeper into the ear canal and also rupture the ear drum

Always, ask your local veterinarians if you are unsure.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Top 10 Ways Pets Break Bones

Veterinary Pet Insurance recently reviewed their database to find the Top 10 ways pets break bones.

1. Hit By Car
2. Jumping
3. Falling
4. Fight With Other Pet or Animal
5. Running and Slipped
6. Hit or Struck With Object
7. Caught in or Between Object
8. Running into Object
9. Stepped On
10. Injured in Car Accident

In 2008, VPI had over 5000 claims for fractures – 40% from car accidents!

This is an important reminder to:
• Keep our pets secure within the home as to not run onto the road or behind our car
• Always know where your pet is
• Keep the windows and doors closed at all times
• Keep pets off tables, tall beds, and high chairs where they can fall from

Monday, September 14, 2009

Why Does Dog Urine Stain the Lawn?

As with humans, animals have high levels of nitrogen in their urine. This high nitrogen can burn and kill grass.

The safest way to minimise urine stain is to:
Provide a gravel area and train your dog to toilet there; or
Pouring water over the urine immediately after your dog has gone. This will dilute the nitrogen effects.

Holistic additives that are fed to pets to reduce the urine staining can be detrimental to some pets, causing crystals or stones to build up in the bladder.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Average Medical Costs per Dog Breed

Veterinary Pet Insurance recently reviewed their database to find the Top 10 insured dog breeds.

Breed Number Insured Average Medical Costs Per Year
1. Labrador retriever $287
2. Golden retriever $279
3. Yorkshire terrier $245
4. Shih Tzu $207
5. Boxer $295
6. German shepherd $296
7. Chihuahua $215
8. Maltese $241
9. Pug $249
10. Cocker spaniel $252

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Do Cats Always Land Naturally On Their Feet?

Cats, on most occasions do appear to land on their feet when pouncing from tall heights. The reasons for this are:

1. Terminal Velocity
They reach terminal velocity (constant speed of falling) at a much faster rate than humans when skydiving. It is estimated that they reach terminal velocity at 5-storeys.

2. Strong “righting” reflexes
They can easily twist their bodies until they are the correct side up.

3. Flexibility
They have the ability to extend their legs to increase their surface area to minimise the fall.

But in saying all this, it is important that we prevent our cats from being in a position of falling from great heights as not all cats can land on their feet.

Tips:
• Always close your windows when your cat is around
• Always know where your cat is
• Prevent your cat from being on a balcony
• Always close your doors

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Most Common Medical Conditions

Veterinary Pet Insurance recently released their top 10 medical conditions sorting through nearly 340,000 claims.

Top Pet Medical Conditions of 2008

Top Canine Claims
1. Ear Infections
2. Skin Allergies
3. Pyoderma/Hot Spots
4. Gastritis/Vomiting
5. Enteritis/Diarrhea
6. Urinary Tract Infections
7. Benign Skin Tumors
8. Osteoarthritis
9. Eye Inflammation
10. Hypothyroidism

Top Feline Claims
1. Lower Urinary Tract Disease
2. Gastritis/Stomach Upsets
3. Chronic Renal Failure
4. Enteritis/Diarrhea
5. Diabetes Mellitus
6. Skin Allergies
7. Hyperthyroidism
8. Ear Infections
9. Upper Respiratory Virus
10. Eye Inflammation

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Why Do Dogs Kick Out Their Back Legs after Toileting?

Does your pet kick their back legs out, as if to kick grass over their toilets?

Although thought by many to be a way of covering up their doings, it is actually a way of further marking their territory after they urinate or defecate. Dogs have scent glands in their paw pads and the act of kicking out their back legs helps to mark their territory.

This action is predominantly a trait of entire males, but neutered males and occasionally females will be seen doing this too.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Can Diet Increase the Life of Our Cats?

Nestle-Purina recently undertook a study to determine whether diet could in fact increase the life of a cat. They looked 3 different diets:
1. complete and balanced senior diet
2. complete and balanced senior diet + antioxidants
3. complete and balanced senior diet + antioxidants + oils + prebiotic

Results showed that diet 3:
• improved the quality of life,
• showed fewer decreases in lean muscle,
• improve clinical blood measurements,
• increased the life span, decreased disease incidences,
• improved body weight.




Cupp CJ, Philippe C, Wendell WK, et al. Effect of nutritional interventions on longevity of senior cats. Intl J Appl Res Vet Med 2006;4:34-50.
Cupp CJ, Kerr WW, Jean-Philippe C, et al. The role of nutritional interventions in the longevity and maintenance of long-term health in aging cats. Intl J Appl Res Vet Med 2008;6:69-81.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Kitten-Proofing your Home

Kittens can get up to a lot of mischief and explore all ends of the house. It’s important to make sure that the house is free from the following common dangers:
1. Keep cupboards closed
2. Close any potential crawlspaces
3. Close fireplaces
4. Cover air vents
5. Close toilet lids
6. Remove any choking hazards such as rubber bands, buttons, paperclips
7. Remove string, wool, ribbon, shoe laces
8. Remove electrical cords or cover with plastic tubing
9. Lock away poisons
10. Prevent access to the garage
11. Remove potential toxic plants
12. Lock away medicines

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Chihuahuas – Most likely to Bite the Vet!

A recent study run by the Coalition for Living Safely with Dogs and the CVMA showed that:
• Chihuahuas are the most likely to bite
• Siberian Huskies and Australian Shepherds were the next most likely to bite
• Lhasa Apsos inflicted the worst injuries
• 40% of all dog bites were from mixed breeds

Grooming and veterinary care only made up about 2% of all incidents.

This study is a good reminder to all pet owners to ensure that their pets are well socialized as puppies, well trained and adequately exercised in order to prevent these types of bite injuries.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Dog Knee Reconstructions or Cruciate Surgery

Unfortunately, many of us aware of the knee reconstruction surgery in dogs. In the veterinary world it is referred to as an ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) surgery. Surgeries can get up to as much at $5000. So, it’s often best to prevent it from happening.

Prevention:
• Prevent obesity as this can lead to strained joints
• Provide regular exercise to strengthen the muscles around the knee
• Stick to exercise that does not require a lot of twisting action or sudden stopping
• Always warm up before strenuous exercise such as long hikes, running etc

Predispositions:
• Large and giant breeds are at higher risk than small breeds.
• Young, active dogs are at higher risk
• Overweight dogs suffer higher levels of stress on their joints
• Dogs that are hit by cars, attacked by other dogs, or that suffer other forms of trauma may incur a cruciate ligament injury
• Dogs that have previously injured a cruciate ligament in one knee are at increased risk of injuring the ligament in the other knee at a later date.
• Dogs with relatively long legs are at increased risk of cruciate ligament injury.
• Dogs that are spayed or neutered at a very young age may be at relatively higher risk of cruciate ligament injury.

Symptoms
• Sudden, severe limping on one rear leg
• Dog bears no weight on the leg after injury.
• Dogs with partial cruciate ligament tears may experience milder or intermittent limping.
• Swelling of the knee may occur

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Cats Hiding Illness

Cats are notorious for hiding illness and have developed this from their wild counterparts. Subtle signs can exist but you often need a keen eye to be able to pick them up. Early signs are important to be picked up so that early disease prevention programs can be initiated.

Early signs:
• Changes in chewing, eating and drinking habits
• Weight loss or gain
• Changes in social interaction
• Avoids petting
• Increased vocalization
• Increased urinating
• Urine accidents
• Straining to urinate or defecate
• Grooming less or more

As cats get older, it is important to take them to the vet twice a year and sooner if you detect any early changes.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Brushing Your Pet's Teeth

When allowed by your pet, brushing your pet’s teeth daily is highly recommended by all veterinarians. It helps reduce the build up of plaque and tartar which contains nasty bacteria. Chronic dental disease can result in kidney failure, heart disease and severe jaw-bone infections.

Here are some tips:

1. Brush daily and make it a happy experience
2. Gently lift the lips and massage the gums and teeth. Praise your pet for allowing this.
3. Choose a suitable soft brush.
5. Use pet approved toothpaste. These are safe and are flavoured for added enjoyment. Never use human toothpaste.
6. Brush in a circular action, emphasizing the brush stroke away from the gums. Brush all four sides of each tooth for 1-2 minutes.

To watch a good video on how to brush, click here: http://www.videojug.com/film/how-to-brush-your-pets-teeth

Friday, August 28, 2009

Skin Problems

There are many causes of skin problems in pets. Skin problems are often diagnosed by clinical signs such as hair loss, redness, scratching, pustules etc.

Here is a list of the 5 most common causes of skin problems:

1. Parasites
• e.g. fleas, mites
• Diagnosis: on history, skin scrapings, treatment trial
• Treatment: effective parasite control, regular treatment, medication

2. Food
• e.g. soy, beef
• Diagnosis: history, 8-week diet trial
• Treatment: hypoallergenic diet, removal of all other food sources, medication

3. Environmental agents
• e.g. wandering dew, pollen
• Diagnosis: history, specific allergen testing
• Treatment: allergen-specific immunotherapy, environmental modification, medication

4. Bacteria
• e.g. staph
• Diagnosis: cytology, culture and sensitivity
• Treatment: antibiotics and topical treatment

5. Yeast
• e.g. malassezia
• Diagnosis: cytology
• Treatment: antifungals, medication

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Tips to reduce Pet Hair Everywhere

The following tips are for pets that shed hair regularly and evenly. For those pets that have suddenly had a loss of hair in a particular area or have become thin in the coat all over, seek medical attention.

1. Stop Hair at the Source
Brushing daily means that you will remove most of the hair before it has the chance of falling into the environment or onto you. Natural-bristle brushes are often the most effective. If your pet will allow it, brush in all directions. Regular bathing no more frequent that every two weeks will also help to reduce the shedding.

2. Environmental Cleaning
Vacuuming regularly will also reduce the environmental clumps of hair. Roller brushes will also help to remove hair off clothing and furniture.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Dogs and Cancer

The sense of smell is a dog’s primary sense. Sniffing allows dogs to take in air quickly to specifically identify the odor several meters away. Their sense of smell is extremely sensitive with over 220 million smell-sensitive cells within their nose compared to only 5 million in humans.

For this reason, dogs readily assist us in the community to track everything from people to drugs to explosives.

It's no surprise that dogs may have a use in human medicine. It has been fairly well documented that dogs can detect low blood sugar in diabetics. A recent study by the Pine Street Foundation in California has demonstrated a dog’s ability to detect lung and breast cancer in humans based on breath samples.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Choosing Cat Litter

If you have a healthy cat, but they are having toilet accidents, it could be a litter problem. Various studies have been done to look at a cat’s preference for litter.

Here is a summary of some of the findings.
• Number of litter boxes:
- Too few litter boxes for the number of cats can cause problems
• Type of litter box
- Hooded boxes are avoided by some cats
• Size of litter box
- Larger litter boxes are preferable than medium or smaller ones
• Litter Type
- Heavily scented or deodorized litter (e.g. citrus) are often avoided by cats.
- Cedar scents tend to be more tolerated by cats.
• Odor control
- activated carbon can be found in some litter brands to help reduce odor. Studies have shown that cats may prefer litter with activated carbon.
• Recently changed litter brand
- cats hate change
• Is the litter too dusty?
• Clumping or not clumping
- studies suggest cats prefer clumping litter
• Dirty litter box
– is it dirty? Is it cleaned with chemicals that are too strong?
• Poor location
- choose a secluded area
• Litter box liners
• Litter box side height

Generally, all cats have their own preference. If you have a cat that is happy with its litter, don't change it. Cats hate change!

Monday, August 24, 2009

How can we tell if our pet is in pain?

Pets show pain in many different ways. Change in behavior or activity are certainly early signs of a problem and should not be ignored. Here are some signs that may indicate to you that your pet is in pain

Physical Signs:
• Increased heart rate
• Increased respiratory rate
• Enlarged pupils
• Slowed reflexes

Behavioral Signs:
• Reduced appetite
• Difficulty rising or sitting
• Restlessness
• Quiet
• Personality change
• Licking or biting at itself
• Irritability

Friday, August 21, 2009

Causes of Dog Aggression

The conclusions of a recent study at the University of Cordoba suggest the following factors as causes of dog aggression:
• First-time ownership
• Lack of obedience training
• Spoiling the dog
• Receiving the dog as a gift
• Buying a dog on impulse
• Buying a guard dog
• Spaying female dogs
• Leaving constant supply of food
• Spending little time with the dog

Other factors such as breed, male sex, small sized dogs and the ages between 5-7 years have also been associated with a greater risk of aggression. However, this study concluded that breed had less influence.

This study should remind us of the importance of training and dog obedience and that dogs that are trained well are less likely to retain any inherent aggression.

Journal reference: Pérez-Guisado, Joaquín; Muñoz-Serrano, Andrés. Factors Linked to Dominance Aggression in Dogs. Journal of Animal and Veterinary Advances, 8(2): 336-342, 2009

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Pain medication

Pets are often prescribed pain medication (anti-inflammatories or NSAIDs) to help relieve the pain following surgery, dentals or long term for pets with chronic conditions such as arthritis. These products can provide very effective pain relief, but are not advised for pets with kidney, liver, or stomach issues. Your veterinarian can run tests to help choose the right pain medication for your pet.

If your pet has been prescribed anti-inflammatories, it is important to monitor your pet closely for any side effects such as:
- vomiting
- diarrhea (with or without blood)
- inappetence
- tense abdomen
- black stools
- drinking a lot
- urinating a lot
- pale gums

Notify your veterinary hospital immediately if you notice any of these signs.

NEVER:
- use human NSAIDs on your pets
- increase the dose without consultation with your vet – more medication does not necessarily mean more pain relief and can often increase the chance of side effects

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Pets and Elderly People

Each year, approximately 8 million people are admitted into the emergency room due to fall-injuries in the US. The Center of Disease Control (CDC) recently undertook a study to determine the relationship between dogs and cats and fall-injuries.

Nearly 90,000 falls were associated with cats or dogs. 88% of injuries were related to dogs. Female owners were 2.1 times more likely to be injured than males.

Prevention:
1. Be aware of your pet and their toys at all times
2. Ensure your dog undergoes obedience training
a. Make sure your pet can walk calmly on a leash
b. Do not jump up on people
c. Teach pets to “sit”, “stay” and “relax”
3. Discourage pets from lying at the foot of the bed or chairs
4. Discourage over-excitement

Check out the full report at CDC

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Barking Dogs

All dogs have vocals whether it is barking, howling or yapping and some breeds vocalize more often than others. It’s important to choose the dog that’s right for your situation. As with any bad behavior, excessive barking can be managed, if controlled early.

Dog Breeds That Bark A Lot
Beagle
Yorkshire Terrier
Cairn Terrier
West Highland White Terrier
Chihuahua

Always reward your pet for quiet behavior.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Treats for Pets

Treats are a great way to help with positive reinforcement for good behavior. So, it is important to choose the right treats and to give them in moderation. Each treat adds to the daily calories for your pet.

Good Treats:
Dried liver treats
Dog-approved biscuits for dogs
Dog dry food for dogs
Cat-approved biscuits for cats
Cat dry food for cats
Natural popped popcorn
Puffed rice

Bad treats:
Candy
Fatty foods such as chips or hotdogs

Poisonous treats:
Chocolate
Grapes
Raisins

Don’t forget that hugs and pets are just as effective and appreciated as an alternative to food treats.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Dogs Most likely to Bite

The Coalition for Living Safely with Dogs and the CVMA recently reviewed a survey of 188 dog bites.

The top 5 breeds were:
1. Pit Bulls
2. Labrador Retrievers
3. German Shepherds
4. Rottweilers
5. Chow-Chows

Situations for when bites occurred included pets protecting the property, play biting, grooming, kenneling, and veterinary visits

The most severe injuries came from the American bulldog, Calmatian, Standard Dachshund, English Bulldog and Lhasa Apsos.

This study highlights the importance of:
• Professional dog training
• Adequate pet exercise
• Supervision of children when playing with pets
• Appropriate education for children on how to play with pets

Further details on the study can be found at www.livingsafelywithdogs.org

Thursday, August 13, 2009

ASK THE VET: Cat with Bloody Stools

Seeing fresh blood in a pet’s stools means it is coming from the lower intestines (colon or rectum). Fresh blood in a cat’s stool can occur for a number of reasons. The most common cause is due to hard or dry stools. If this is the case, identifying the reasons for the hard stools and fixing this, will often resolve the problem. Feeding diets with higher moisture content such as canned foods rather than all dry food may help. Changing your cat’s diet to a commercial ‘high fiber’ diet may also help. Feeding more fiber such as a tablespoon of bran, with whole grains (barley, oats, or whole wheat) may help. For older cats (10+ years) it is often a good idea to get them checked by a veterinarian 1-2 times a year to make sure there is nothing more serious going on.

Other more serious reasons include:
• Infectious agents, such as bacteria, protozoa, viruses, and intestinal parasites
• Dietary intolerance/allergy/indiscretion
• Cancer (neoplasia) of the lower bowel
• Polyps (benign masses) in the colon or rectum
• Inflammatory bowel diseases, such as colitis
• Trauma to the lower bowel or anal area
• Clotting disorders (coagulopathy)
• Intussusception (the telescoping of one part of the bowel into another)
• Miscellaneous diseases of the anus, rectum and colon

Top Dog-Friendly Beaches

Petside have ranked the top 10 dog-friendly beaches in the US.

Check them out here:

1. CAPE SAN BLAS (PORT ST. JOE, FLORIDA)
2. QUIET WATERS PARK (ANNAPOLIS, MARYLAND)
3. BLOCK ISLAND (RHODE ISLAND)
4. CANNON BEACH (CANNON BEACH, OREGON)
5. FORT DE SOTO PARK (ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA)
6. CARMEL CITY BEACH (CARMEL, CALIFORNIA)
7. JEKYLL ISLAND (GEORGIA)
8. CORONADO (SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA)
9. STEWART BEACH (GALVESTON, TEXAS)
10. MONTROSE DOG BEACH (CHICAGO, ILLINOIS)

If you have a special dog beach that you would like to share – post it here!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Understanding the Cat Purr

Cats purr for different reasons – when they are content and when they are stressed. It is thought that purring releases endorphins, a natural stress reliever, to reduce pain during a time of healing.

Recent studies have also shown that the purr of a hungry cat is one of a higher-pitched sound – likened to a more urgent baby cry or meow. It is a behavior that some cats have picked up to get the attention of their owners.

What type of purr does your cat have?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Dog Friendly Cars

Honda announced its dog friendly Honda element concept car at the New York Auto Show this year. It features:
• Dog restraints
• Hardy fabrics
• Access ramps
• Cushioned bed
• Spill-resistant water bowl
• Doggy cooling system

This is a great reminder for pet safety and pet care when traveling with your furry friends by car.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Top 10 Wildlife Threats to your Pet

Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI) recently released the most common wildlife attack claims on pets for 2008.

1. Snakes
2. Coyotes
3. Raccoons
4. Squirrels
5. Scorpions
6. Javelina or Collared Peccary (Pig-like mammal)
7. Porcupine
8. Groundhog
9. Skunk
10. Rat

Wildlife are not only a source of attack on our pets, they can also be a source of disease such as rabies, fleas, ticks, worms. For this reason, it is important that we do as much as we can to prevent wildlife coming onto our property or having access to our pets.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Top 10 Wildlife Threats to your Pet

Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI) recently released the most common wildlife attack claims on pets for 2008.

1. Snakes
2. Coyotes
3. Raccoons
4. Squirrels
5. Scorpions
6. Javelina or Collared Peccary (Pig-like mammal)
7. Porcupine
8. Groundhog
9. Skunk
10. Rat

Ask the Vet: Pet Air Travel


Air travel for pets can always be stressful for both pets and people when traveling long distances. The best airlines to travel with as those that have specific policies for pet travel. Small pets can often be taken on board. Large animals are usually restricted to the cargo.

Safe pet travel is unrealistically flawless. Air travel consumer report provides updated information on air travel incidents here . These reports detail animal death, injury or loss per airline every month.

Doing your research on air travel and preparing in advance will help you make sure your travel is as problem-free as possible.

When traveling keep in mind:
• Airlines should be contacted in advance for their pet travel policy
• Examples of Policies: 1, 2
• Pets must be 8 weeks or older
• Pets must be healthy at time of travel
• Carry all pet documentation on board – health certificates, vaccination records
• Pets should NOT be sedated
• Label the crate well – “live animal – this side up” with contact details
• Place an old towel or toy in with the pet
• Do not feed just before a flight
• Bring water for your pet or ice cubes

Pet airways recently launched a pet specific airline. But, currently have limited destinations.

I open it up to the readers to share their specific experiences with air travel.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

What is Catnip?

Catnip is a plant from within the mint family. The plant contains a chemical nepetalactone which cats go crazy about—whiskers twitching, head butting, body rolling and generally having fun. But, not all cats are susceptible to the plants charms. Only two thirds of cats have inherited the gene.

Catnip is nontoxic to cats but can have these effects on cats for up to 15 minutes. After this time they often are calm and content.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Chewing

Chewing can occur for a number of reasons – teething, boredom, or anxiety. Most dogs have all their adult teeth by 2 years of age. Teething should definitely stop by this age. If teething is a problem, give your pet ice cubes to help alleviate any discomfort that they may be experiencing.



Bored dogs need to be exercised more or given chew toys to help entertain them throughout the day. If you work, consider dog day care or a dog walker to help alleviate any boredom your pet may experience during the day.



Anxious dogs can chew everything and anything when left alone. If a pet is to be left for long periods of time it is important that they are left with chew-proof toys. Exercise and training can help reduce anxiety. Making sure that you do not make a big deal about leaving and returning will also help your pet to remain calm.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Mounting

Male dogs and less commonly female dogs can get into a bad habit of mounting. The two most common reasons for this are dominance and misplaced sexual energy. Mounting can be used by males to demonstrate dominance over another dog. If this is the case then slowly introduce the dog on a leash to other dogs to restrict their ability to mount another dog.



If it is due to misplaced sexual energy, it is important to immediately stop the behavior and put them into a quiet area or on a leash for “time out”. Once your dog is calm and behaving, reward positively with hugs and treats.



Unfortunately, neutering has not been shown to reduce this bad behavior once instilled in the dog. However, early neutering has been shown to prevent this from becoming a bad behavior.

Monday, August 3, 2009

When is my cat a senior?

Like people, cats age at a different rate depending on breed, history and environment. Cats are considered ‘middle-aged’ when they reach 7 years. From 10+ years they are considered ‘senior’.

It’s from the middle-aged years that we should become more vigilant for early changes. Diseases can begin during these years and it often not until their senior years that the disease progresses to a point where the condition can become life threatening. Early detection is important.

Common conditions:

1. Hyperthyroidism

Thyroid gland overworks

Clinical signs include irritability, increased appetite, weight loss, poor coat, drinking more.



2. Chronic Kidney Disease

Kidneys do not function as well

Clinical signs: drinking more, urinating more, sudden weight loss, vomiting, off-food



3. Hypertension

High blood pressure

Can cause seizures, behavioral changes, strokes, blindness



4. Arthritis

Inflammation of the joints

Clinical signs: decreased grooming, less mobility, sleeping more, off-food, lameness



5. Obesity

Can cause other health issues such as diabetes, arthritis, urinary problems, respiratory and heart problems.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Hearing Loss in Senior Dogs

It’s not unusual for a dog’s hearing to deteriorate with age. You may notice your pet not responding to your call, sleeping longer, or your pet not being alerted to sounds they would normally hear.



Tips:

· Teach your pet hand signals with verbal signals

· Avoid sudden movements

· Use the ground for sending vibrations

· Keep to a strict routine – meals and toileting

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Cat Aggression

Cats are very social pets when well socialized from a young age. Studies have shown that cat personality appears to be linked to the personality of the father. A male cat that is adventurous, friendly and outgoing is more likely to have friendly kittens than that of an unfriendly, timid cat. There also appears to be genetically-programmed, timid and unfriendly cats that remain this way no matter how much training. Needless to say, most cats respond extremely well to early experience and exposure as a kitten.



Between the age of 12-14 weeks, kittens start to show predatory play behavior – hunting, scratching, fighting, spraying etc. Rewarding good behavior and soft play and ignoring bad behavior is essential from this age and earlier. Without this, aggression can develop.



Treatment of Aggressive Behavior:

Use food rewards for good behavior

Avoidance for bad behavior

Medical intervention if severe

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Signs of Mental Aging in Senior Dogs

Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome describes the aging of our pet’s mental state. Treatment options do exist for pet’s demonstrating these signs:

· Pacing

· Wandering aimlessly

· Increased vocalization – whining

· Confusion

· Seems lost

· Refusing food

· Inappropriate toileting

· Changes in interaction with people



Treatment options:

· Prescription medication

· Early behavioral modification

· Dietary intervention

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mouth Tumors

Unfortunately, the mouth is a common site for tumors in dogs and accounts for about 7% of all cancers. The most common mouth tumor is the melanoma then squamous cell carcinoma and fibrosarcoma.

Common Breeds
Mouth tumors can occurs in any breed of dog. However, certain breeds have been diagnosed
Melanomas - smaller breeds such as cocker spaniels and poodles
Squamous cell carcinomas - large breed dogs such as Labrador Retrievers and Samoyeds.

Age
• Melanomas – 12 years
• Squamous Cell Carcinomas – 10 years
• Fibrosarcomas – 9 years

Treatment Options
• Surgery
• Radiation Therapy
• Chemotherapy
• Immunotherapy

Monday, July 27, 2009

“Hot Spots” – Pyotraumatic Dermatitis

Hot spots refer to skin infections that occur due to an overgrowth in bacteria causing a nasty moist, infection that usually spreads under the coat. Some breeds are more prone to these types of infections such as Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers.

These skin lesions are often very painful and require a complete treatment program to ensure they heal appropriately.

Treatment:
- often begins with sedation and clipping of the hair over the affected area
- the area is then cleaned
- e-collar is placed
- pain medication for a few days
- antibiotics for 14-30+ days
- home care of daily washing with an antibacterial shampoo
- cool compress to help reduce the itchiness

Friday, July 24, 2009

Hair loss in Cats

Causes:
1. Failure to produce hair
- rare, but can occur in specific breeds such as Sphinx
2. Loss of existing hair
- skin infections – bacterial, fungal, parasitic
3. Self-trauma or behavioral
- excessive grooming, stress-related, injuries

Treatment depends on cause and can range from
• Flea control
• Mite control
• Antibiotics for bacterial infection
• Elimination diets for allergies

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Could you per be suffering from allergies?

Pets show signs of allergies in very different ways to our typical signs of sneezing and coughing. So, it’s important for us to be able to detect signs of allergies in pets:
1. excessive licking
2. general odor
3. ear inflammation or discharge
4. copper-stained paws
5. hair loss
6. circular crusty skin lesions
7. red pimples
8. greasy skin
9. dandruff
10. thickened skin

Veterinarians can perform various tests including:
• Skin smears
• Skin scrapings
• Cultures
• Urine tests
• Blood tests
• Allergy testing

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Weight gain after neutering

Having your pet spayed or castrated is indisputably beneficial to your pet as it can control pet populations and help prevent disease. However, studies have shown that within 48 hours of surgery, appetite can increase and metabolism can slow in cats. This can ultimately lead to weight gain and diseases such as arthritis, diabetes and urinary tract problems.

This highlights the importance of nutritional changes and exercise modification following neutering. Talk to your veterinarian about the appropriate diet and exercise regime for your pet.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Brushing your pets teeth

Dental disease is not necessarily a disease of our senior pets. Early dental problems can occur in younger pets. The American Veterinary Dental Society estimates that 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have dental disease by age 3 years.

Gum disease is caused by the buildup of bacteria within plaque on the tooth surface. Bad breath, red gums, tartar and plaque are signs of a dental problem.

Regular teeth brushing are the gold standard in pet dental care. Various products exist to help maintain the health of our pet’s mouth. Talk to your veterinarian about the best options for you. Not all pets will allow this procedure, so it’s always best to start when your pet is young.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Blastomycosis

Blastomycosis is a fungal infection that can affect dogs and people. Fungal spores are found in sandy, acidic soil near fresh water. Studies have shown that large breed, male, dogs of 2-4 years of age are at greater risk of the disease.

Route of infection: inhalation of spores

Clinical Signs:
Cough
Difficulty breathing
Enlarged lymph nodes
Eye infections
Skin ulcers
Lameness

Treatment:
Antifungal drugs

When appropriate treatment is prescribed for the correct duration, it has been reported that 70-80% of dogs completely recover. Dogs with severe cases of lung involvement and neurological signs have a poor prognosis.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Ask the Vet - Fever



A fever is an increase in body temperature: in dogs it is a temperature >104.0°F and in cats >103.0°F. Some animals, particularly cats can increase their body temperature with stress. But, any temperature over 104.0°F is unlikely to be due to stress. As body temperatures rise about 104.0°F, serious harm can occur to the pet’s internal organs.

Causes of fever include:
· Infectious disease (viral or bacterial)
· Immune mediated disease
· Cancer
· Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy (HOD) in young dogs.

Your veterinarian may need to run various tests in order to determine the cause of the fever. Tests include bloods, x-rays, and ultrasound examinations.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Feline Asthma Medical Options

Feline Asthma is the general term used to describe inflammation of the lower airways which restricts airflow through the lungs. Signs include wheezing and respiratory distress.

Feline asthma can be diagnosed by your local veterinarian and has various treatment options. Inhaled corticosteroids or bronchodilators have demonstrated fewer side effects than medications given orally. But, can be more difficult to administer.

Long term steroids
· Most effective long term treatment, however, are associated with many side effects.

Bronchodilators
· Administered as an inhalant and opens airways within 15 minutes in cats and lasts 3-4 hours.

If your cat has been diagnosed with feline asthma, talk to your veterinarian about the treatment options.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Open Windows

It’s not all that uncommon for pets to accidentally fall from a building or car out of an open window. Unfortunately, our pets do not quite understand the concept of open windows and the consequences of jumping out. Although cats are known for their ability to land on their feet “cat righting reflex”, they are not invincible when it comes to high-rise apartments and moving cars.

Prevention:
Secure your pets if you are to open a window
• Pet crates
• Pet barriers
• Car seat belts

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Fly Strike

Fly season peaks mid to late Summer. These unpleasant pests look for injured tissue on living animals to lay their eggs. The maggots then hatch out to feast on the damaged flesh. Common areas of attack include open wounds, around the eye, and around the anus. It takes about 8-12 hours for the egg to hatch into the maggot form. Infestations are not only irritating, but they can cause serious damage and death.

Prevention:
• Bathe and groom your pets regularly
• Check your pet’s skin for wounds or dermatitis daily
• Treat any conditions such as diarrhea
• Clean any skin folds
• Control flies in the home environment

Monday, July 13, 2009

Garden Fertilizers

As we prepare our gardens for the perfect bloom, care must be taken when using fertilizers around our pets. Fertilizer can contain many different ingredients; some of which can cause mild gastrointestinal irritation to death if ingested by our pets.

Blood meal
Dried and ground blood that contains 12% nitrogen. If ingested, can cause vomiting and diarrhoea.

Bone meal
Dried and ground animal bones. This ingredient makes fertiliser extremely inviting to our dogs. Large consumption can result in constipation or gastrointestinal blockage.

Iron
Commonly added to fertilizer and also found in vitamin supplements. Iron toxicity can result in stomach ulcers, liver disease, heart damage.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Common Household Poisons

Without toys and exercise, pets can become bored and start looking around the house for something to play with. There are various household items that should be securely stored. Most insecticides, pesticides and cleaning agents contain poisonous chemicals.

Examples:
• Ant Poisons
• Antifreeze
• Battery acid
• Bleach
• Brake Fluid
• Cleaning Products
• Crayons
• Deodorants
• Drain Cleaner
• Dye
• Fertilizer
• Flea Products
• Heavy Metals (Lead, Zinc)
• Insecticides
• Matches
• Paint Remover and Thinner
• Perfume
• Rat Bait

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Choosing the Right Dog Toy

There are many different types of toys to choose for our pet. It's important to choose the right toy for the right situation and the right size of dog or cat.

Training Toys: used to teach your dog what is ok to chew on.

Interactive Toys: toys that can be enjoyed by owner and dog i.e. tug of war or fetch

Durable Play Toys: toys that can be safely chewed on by your pet all day

Comfort Soft Toys: toys that your pet can bond with or sleep with i.e. plush toy

Treat-dispenser Toys: toys that provide mental stimulation for your pet i.e. KONGs that allow you to put food in the center

If your unsure, ask your vet to recommend the right toy for your pet.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Dog and Cat Blood Types

Human blood types fall into the categories of A, B, AB and O.

Cats:
Cats are similar with A (majority), B, and AB (rare). There is no O type. It's important to know what blood type your cat is in case of an emergency. Cats that receive the incorrect blood type can have severe and potentially fatal reactions.

Dogs:
There are many different blood types in dogs. Approximately 13 different groups are recognised with many new groups being discovered.

Your local veterinarian can perform various tests to determine what blood type your cat or dog is.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Discolored Teeth

A discolored tooth is often a dead tooth. It is important to get these teeth examined by your veterinarian. These teeth require extraction or a root cancl in order to prevent it from forming an abscess (infection).

Monday, July 6, 2009

Is Your Pet Ignoring You?

If your dog chooses to ignore you when you call their name, it could be because they associate their name with a punishment. Think about the last time your dog toileted in the house or did something bad. Did you call him/her by their name before scolding them?

This is just one reason for why your pet may not come to their name. But, it’s not too late to re-train them.

Over the next few weeks, practice calling your pet enthusiastically followed by the word “Come!”. As soon as your pet runs towards you, call out praise such as “Good Boy/Girl!” and reward with a big hug. Try this in a confined area first before using it in open areas.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Things to Consider Before You Get a Dog

Choosing the right dog for you is a step that shouldn't be taken lightly.
• If you are considering a pedigree, consult with your veterinarian, animal behaviorist, or responsible breeder to learn about suitable breeds of dogs for your household.
• Dogs with histories of aggression are inappropriate in households with children.
• If a child is fearful or apprehensive about a dog and, delay acquiring a dog.
• Always spend time with a dog before buying or adopting it.
• Introduce a dog to a home with extreme caution. Never leave a child alone with a
dog.
• Spay/neuter all dogs unless planning to breed with them
• Do not play aggressive games with your dog such as chasing, wrestling
• Socialize and train any dog entering the household.
• Teach the dog basic behaviours such as “sit”, “stay”, relax”, “come” Promote
submissive behaviors such as rolling over to expose abdomen and relinquishing food
without growling
• Immediately seek professional advice from veterinarians, animal behaviorists, or
responsible breeders if your dog shows any aggressive or fearful behaviour.
• Avoid buying a puppy from a pet shop as most the time the history of the pet is unknown.
• Avoid buying a dog that was advertise in the paper.
• A registered pedigree will always have papers and are printed on official paper.
• Ensure your puppy comes with an official vaccination record by the veterinarian