DogTime Blogs

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.

• 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.

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.

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.

+/- 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.

• 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.

• 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

• 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.

• 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.