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Friday, December 20, 2013

Looking for that "Perfect" gift?

Christmas Pets
   It’s that time of  year again! When everyone tries to think of the PERFECT gift for a loved one, young or old.  Many families may consider purchasing a new pet (puppy or kitten) as a gift, but there are several things to consider before making this type of commitment.
            First, if the pet is a kitten or puppy, it is likely that this will become a member of the family for many years to come.  On average, large breed dogs can live 12-13 years old and smaller breed dogs can live to be 15-16 years old.  A cat’s lifespan can average between 15-16 years old, but some do live to be 20!  Regardless, it is a lifetime commitment for that individual pet, and with that comes certain responsibilities: providing adequate shelter, food, and water, and appropriate health maintenance. Yearly wellness examinations are recommended for each pet, regardless of age.  Once the pet reaches senior age (dogs >7 years old, cats >8-9 years old), yearly wellness bloodwork is recommended to monitor overall organ function.  Even if no problems are noted at home, yearly wellness bloodwork can aid the veterinarian in identifying a disease in the early stages BEFORE it is evident to the owner. 
            Second, not every breed is meant for every person.  Each breed has its own list of specific diseases or anatomical abnormalities that they may br predisposed to.  Becoming an owner of a “problem-proned” breed can be a time commitment and a financial commitment.  Many of the purebred organizations, as well as the AKC (American Kennel Club) have breed specific websites available with important information regarding the breed.  Always research a breed of dog or cat before purchasing or adopting to ensure that it will be a suitable fit for the family.  There are also numerous purebred dogs and cats that find their way to shelters every year, so make sure to visit the local shelter or breed rescue organizations when searching for a pet as well.
            Lastly, Christmas can be a very stressful time for the introduction of a new puppy or kitten.  There are often numerous visitors stopping by, the family schedule is not what it typically may be, and there are plenty of opportunities for a new pet to consume something it shouldn’t (whether it be a toxic food or a new toy).  The recommendation is generally to wait until after the holidays when it is easier to get into a new “routine” with the pet, especially if house-training a new puppy.  Less visitors in the house mean less stress on the pet and less opportunity for them to sneak a treat that they should not have.  It may also decrease the pet’s exposure to an illness that could be brought into their new surroundings by a visitor (pet or human). 
            If you have any questions regarding a new pet or a specific breed, please feel free to contact your family veterinarian. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Pet Supply Drive - to help cats and dogs awaiting their forever homes!

We will be collecting donations until December 30th for Ruff World and Cats Can. These rescues depend on the support of our community to be able to give the best possible care to the dogs and cats awaiting homes, and we hope you’ll partner with us in raising money & collecting supplies. Items can be dropped off Monday through Saturday in our office. We will match any monetary donations up to $500, to be split between Ruff World and Cats Can.

Here is Ruff World's wish list: donations toward their account at STAH, Dog & puppy food- they don't turn any food away but prefer pedigree type food (no food coloring) called bites and bones in generic form, Flea & tick meds, blankets, dog beds, pillows, paper towels, are always welcome.

Cats Can's wish list includes: Friskies canned food, bleach, Purina one chicken & rice, laundry detergent-(H.E. formula), Purina one kitten formula, gently used towels and paper towels. Thank you!!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

‘Tis the season for pancreatitis

            As we begin to prepare to enter the holiday season, it is important to begin to address potential problems that may exist for our four-legged family members during this time of the year.  Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners are a tempting time for pet parents to want to involve their pet in the festivities and give them a “treat” for the holiday season.  It is very important for parents and visiting relatives/friends to remember that not everything can be fed to pets, as some foods are toxic, and an abundance of high-fat foods or food they do not typically receive can lead to development of a serious illness called pancreatitis. 
            Pancreatitis is simply inflammation of the pancreas. It can affect both dogs and cats, but is more common in dogs.  Typically, the most common inciting cause of pancreatitis in dogs is a history of dietary indiscretion, often from ingesting high-fat foods; however, a true cause is rarely identified. Other potential causes include abdominal trauma, certain medications, or a severely high triglyceride level.  Owners will typically notice the pet exhibiting a decrease in their appetite and vomiting (the two most common clinical signs seen).  They may also experience abdominal pain, which may be noted as increased lethargy (tiredness), panting, vocalizing, or acting painful if touched in that region.  Diarrhea may also be seen in some pets.  If left untreated, pets can become very dehydrated, and surrounding organs can also become affected (i.e. liver).
            Pancreatitis is diagnosed via appropriate clinical signs and blood work.  A SNAP cPL test can be performed at the veterinary clinic and provide a quick “positive-negative” result for pancreatitis.  Routine blood work (complete blood count, serum chemistry) is also performed to assess for dehydration, infection, and abnormalities with the liver or kidneys (elevation in liver values).  Radiographs and ultrasound of the abdomen are also performed to rule-out other diseases.  Treatment for pancreatitis depends on how severe the pet is affected, and can involve IV (intravenous) fluids, pain medications, anti-nausea medications, and antibiotics if infection is present.  Some pets recover quickly, while others may require days of hospitalization; in rare cases, pancreatitis can be fatal.

Upcoming blog: Common food toxicities in pets

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Having a Happy Halloween with your pets!

*Make sure you walk your dog early in the evening, to avoid the crowds.

* If you decide to dress your pet in a costume, please make sure it is lightweight and non-constricting. Don't use rubber bands, as they can constrict blood flow if too tight, can become entangled in an animal's fur, and may even be left mistakenly on the pet. Do not leave him/her in the costume unattended as they could chew it up and ingest harmful materials or become entangled and choke.

* If you are escorting children for trick-or-treating, leave your pets at home. Dogs get can excited and stressed when encountering all these "strange laughing, squealing" creatures and may become agitated enough to snap at a young child. If you must take your dog with you, keep it on a short leash and away from large groups of children and other pets.

* Tell the children not to share their candy with the family pet.  Chocolate can be toxic to animals – causing vomiting, restlessness, heart issues, or even death.  If you think the pet has eaten chocolate, please contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.  Wrappers and lollipop sticks should be discarded into the garbage as they can be hazardous to your pet if swallowed by causing intestinal obstructions and even perforating the intestines, which is life-threatening.

* Be careful with jack-o-lanterns, candles, fake spider webs, and other decorations.  If they ingest the decorations they may become ill, and if they knock over a lit candle they may get burned or start a fire.

Halloween can be a fun day for all of your family members – two and four legged – if everyone remains safe.  Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

More Halloween Tips!

Please keep your pets inside as they may become easily agitated or frightened by the kids, costumes, and loud noises.  By keeping them secluded in a quiet room away from all the activity, you can ensure that they do not escape through an open door.  You could give your pet food, water, and even some special treats or a safe toy to play with while they are in the room. Please have collars and tags for identification on them, just in case they do manage to escape!

Keep cats inside several days prior to and the night of Halloween. Sadly cats are often the victims of pranksters’ cruel tricks.