Tag: dog

Visiting the Vet doesn’t have to be Scary!

A-scared-dogWe’ve learned a lot about dogs and cats over the last 20 years including a lot about their behaviors. The truth is dogs are not people and cats are not small dogs. They have different preferences and respond differently to stressful situations.  Unfortunately, visiting the veterinarian is frequently considered a very stressful experience for both pets and their owners.

The good news? You don’t have to sacrifice care by skipping out on regular veterinary visits because of stress. There are plenty of ways for you and your pet to stay relaxed during a veterinary visit. As we work on becoming Fear Free Certified, we want to share some of these tips with you!

Fear Free visits start at home!

dogincardangerSocialization is key! Early, positive experiences can build a foundation of trust and help prevent fear from developing. Puppies should be enrolled in training and socialization classes. Dogs should be comfortable riding in the car, visiting new places and meeting new people. A combination of rewards, slowly acclimatizing your pet to car rides and, sometimes, anti-anxiety medications given prior to the veterinary visit can greatly reduce or eliminate anxiety associated with car rides.

Something most clients don’t think about is that it’s ok to come by, even when your pets don’t actually need any kind of care. In fact, we encourage it! We have several patients who stop by for nothing more than some love and a handful of treats. This allows us to bond with our patients and build trust.

Owners can also desensitize their pets to being examined by handling them frequently at home, rubbing their feet, ears and gums.

Pheromone & Supplement Therapy

Like most animals, dogs and cats use a series of scents and pheromones, or “chemical signals”. These pheromone signals are used to mark territory and convey a large range of feelings including anxiety and contentment. There are several products that mimic some of the “feel good” pheromones that animals give off.

feliway-electric-diffuser-48-ml-3Feliway is a synthetic pheromone that mimics the facial pheromone produced when a cat rubs its face on an object to scent mark. Meridian is a synthetic pheromone that mimics the pheromones mother cats produce to reassure kittens. The calming pheromones from both of these products reduce the alarming sense cats can feel during stressful situations and help control those unwanted behaviors that stem from stress including aggression and inappropriate urination.

Adaptil-Diffuser_r7nexxAdaptil for Dogs works in a very similar fashion. Mother dogs communicate with their puppies through natural messages released into the air. These “comforting messages“are called Dog Appeasing Pheromones and they provide a strong signal of security and comfort to dogs of all ages.  Adaptil is available in several different forms: diffusers, collars and spray. In the event that an owner does not have Adaptil at home, we do have bandanas that have been pre-treated with spray in all of our exam rooms. Clients are encouraged to loosely tie one around their dogs’ necks while waiting to be seen.

1431-zylkene-newIn addition to synthetic pheromones, we also carry some supplements that have shown effective relief of stress in both dogs and cats. Zylkene is made with a milk-derived ingredient and it promotes calmness in pets. It often gives pets a calm feeling without causing sedation or drowsiness. Zylkene can be used for specific stress inducing events such as a visit to the vet, boarding, fireworks, thunderstorms and travel. Pets that are fearful may benefit from starting Zylkene one-two days prior to a known stress inducing event. It is also approved for long term, daily use.

Visiting the Clinic

pets-like-vetAll dogs entering the clinic should be on leashes and all cats should arrive in carriers. We try to make sure that all pets are moved into exam rooms quickly but if your pets are especially anxious, ask if you can wait in the car or even outside. In addition, ask our staff for a bandana that has been pre-treated with Adaptil. This can be tied loosely around your dog’s neck and will help him/her to relax some while waiting to be seen.

It is best for your pet to be hungry when he/she comes for his visit to a Fear Free veterinary clinic, since he will have a wide assortment of treats and toys available to reduce anxiety, distract and reward him while waiting, being examined and having treatments done. Pet owners are encouraged to bring their pet’s very favorite treats and toys as well.

In the exam rooms, pets will appreciate a familiar slip-proof surface on the table. Both Feliway and Adaptil are used throughout the clinic in their various forms and are also used in our boarding facility.

Feline Friendly!

adventurecat-yuki-11-of-118-1024x768We get numerous calls every day from pet owners needing to reschedule their cats’ appointments because they are hiding or they can’t get them in their carriers. This is because most cats never see their carrier unless they are going to the vet and they have been conditioned to associate their carrier with scary experiences. Cat owners should find a place in the home where their carrier can be left out. Allow your cats to become familiar with their carrier.  A carrier that opens from the top as well as the front is ideal. Leave the door open so the cat can investigate and leave its scent on the carrier. Put treats and favorite toys in the carrier to encourage exploration. Make sure the bedding is soft, comfortable and stays in place when the cat moves. If the carrier you use is one of his or her favorite safe sleeping spots, your kitty will be much more likely to accept transportation in a vehicle and also will be happier once they reach the hospital.  Clients are encouraged to pick up a Feliway wipe prior to the appointment so that they can wipe their kitty’s carrier at home an hour or so before their appointments.

cat-vetOnce at the clinic, cats are moved quickly into our kitty exclusive exam room. We keep a Feliway Diffuser plugged in at all times to help create a naturally soothing environment for our feline patients and help them feel safer while here. Cats are welcome to explore the exam room and even climb the cat tree. We have plenty of catnip and treats at hand and also keep warm towels on hand for cats to curl up or hide under during their exams.

For kitties that require a little extra stress reduction, we have “Feline Fear Free” kits. These kits include a couple of doses of a tasteless medication that can be sprinkled directly on their food the night before and the morning of their appointments. This medication will help to relax them. In addition, the kits include a Feliway wipe for their carrier.

All cats that drop off for exams or boarding are kept in a separate area, away from dogs, and are given tents or boxes to curl up and hide in.

Sedation is not a last resort

stress dogWe will never struggle with your pet or hold him/her down in an uncomfortable position for any reason. This will only create a cycle of fear and distrust that will become nearly impossible to break. Once a pet is at the clinic, if it is fearful and won’t take a tasty food reward, even if hungry, it’s time to regroup. While a lot of people balk at the idea of sedating their pets, sedation with safe and effective modern drugs is ideal in many situations and is certainly more beneficial to the pets’ mental well being than being wrestled to the table or floor. Some pets may even need sedation for routine examination and that’s ok! Many pets are so psychologically damaged or fearful that they would benefit from sedation before they even leave home. Our doctors can work with you to create a stress reduction plan for your pet that meets their individual needs.

Clients are encouraged to bring their pets by for “happy visits” or desensitization exercises to prepare them for future handling without sedation. Even a very fearful pet can be taught to tolerate procedures with time and effort.

By: Tara Sansing

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Pyo- Oh No!

UntitledWhat is a Pyometra?

“Pyometra” is an infection of the uterus of unspayed cats or dogs after a heat cycle. This condition can happen at any age but is more commonly seen in older pets and can be deadly if left untreated.

After several heat cycles, the uterus changes! The uterus becomes very thick and has excess tissue that would be used to support a potential pregnancy. Without a pregnancy to support, the uterine lining grows in thickness and cysts can form in the tissues, resulting in condition known as “Cystic Endometrial Hyperplasia.” This cyst-covered lining secretes a fluid into the uterus, creating an ideal environment for bacteria to grow in. High levels of progesterone (a hormone involved in heat cycles) do not allow the uterus to contract so as to expel fluid, leading to an accumulation of bacteria inside the uterus. While the bacteria inside the vagina is healthy, if it crosses into the cervix it can cause the infection which leads to a pyometra. Not all dogs who develop a pyometra will contract “Cystic Endometrial Hyperplasia.”

Untitled1Bacteria enters into the uterus by way of the cervix. The cervix is normally tightly closed, except during a heat cycle where it remains open and relaxed so sperm can enter freely into the uterus. A healthy vagina contains bacteria which can cross over into the cervix during a heat cycle and develop into a pyometra.

What are the possible signs of a Pyometra?

The signs can be different depending on whether the cervix is open or closed. In an open-cervix pyometra, the pus and/or discharge can drain out through the vagina. A pet may also have a fever, become very tired or lethargic and may not want to eat or drink.

In a closed-cervix pyometra, the uterus continues to swell with accumulation of pus and fluid, resulting in the abdomen becoming distended. The bacteria within the uterus can release toxins into the bloodstream, affecting the rest of the body very quickly. These pets seem to fall ill very quickly – they are incredibly lethargic and depressed, refusing water or food and may vomit or have diarrhea.

Untitled3

How is a pyometra diagnosed?

Dogs seen by a veterinarian early on in the condition may not show all of the above signs. They may just have slight vaginal discharge with not many other signs of illness. Because of the seemingly quick onset of a pyometra, most dogs are not seen until later on in the condition.

If a pyometra is suspected, a veterinarian will perform radiographs to see if the uterine is enlarged. However, if it is a closed-cervix pyometra, radiographs may not show an enlarged uterus. An ultrasound can also be performed to differentiate a pyometra from a normal pregnancy. A veterinarian will also perform bloodwork to see how the organs are functioning within the body. An elevated white blood cell count (a tell-tale sign of infection) and elevation of globulins (a protein associated with the immune system) may be present in a dog with a pyometra.

What is the best way to treat a Pyometra?

Untitled4A pyometra can be life-threatening if not treated immediately. The preferred treatment is surgical removal of the entire uterus, otherwise known as an ovariohysterectomy or “spay”. The spay procedure is very routine, however when a pet develops a pyometra, the procedure becomes more complicated and risky as the patient going under sedation is sick. The surgeon will remove the infected uterus and ovaries and take precaution as to not accidentally puncture the swollen organs. Pets who are diagnosed early on in this condition are an excellent candidate for surgery. Pets that are further along in the infection will require a longer period of hospitalization while running on intravenous fluids to stabilize the pet before and after undergoing surgery. Antibiotics may be added to treatment as well.

The chance of survival without surgery is very low. If treatment is not started promptly, toxins from the infection can spill into the bloodstream, affecting the rest of the body system. In a closed-cervix pyometra, there is an additional risk where the uterus could potentially burst, causing pus and bacteria to spill over into the abdomen.

What is the best way to prevent a pyometra?

Spaying your pet is the best way to prevent a pyometra. Spaying your pets also reduces their risk of developing mammary cancers and completely eliminates unwanted pregnancies. If you have decided to breed your pet and do not want more litters, you should promptly spay your pet. As the amount of heat cycles increase without development of pregnancy, the greater the chance of uterine infection.

Sources:
https://www.texvetpets.org/article/pyometra-in-unspayed-pets/
https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/pyometra-in-dogs
http://veterinarymedicine.dvm360.com/canine-pyometra-early-recognition-and-diagnosis?id=&pageID=1&sk=&date

By: Madison Cole

It’s been a bad flu season… for dogs!

By: Tara Sansing

As you have most likely already seen via the news there have been recent outbreaks of the flu in dogs across the country. At least two positive cases have been confirmed in the Houston area in the last couple of weeks.

Please be aware that this is the second strain of dog-flu-symptomsinfluenza that has been known to affect dogs. In the past, we have seen outbreaks of the Canine Influenza Virus (CIV) otherwise known as the H3N8 strain. The current flu virus, H3N2, emerged in Asia in 2005 and spread to the United States in 2015. Since then, there have been scattered positive cases in dogs across the country and more recently large outbreaks in several states.

Just like the H3N8 flu virus, H3N2 is an upper respiratory virus. The most common symptoms are coughing, fever, nasal discharge, lethargy and lack of appetite. Dogs are contagious for 5-7 days prior to showing the first symptoms and it is for this reason that H3N2 has spread very quickly. Because the virus is relatively new, dogs have no natural immunity against the virus—if unvaccinated and exposed, the chances of being infected is close to 100%.

The significance of an influenza infection is that it compromises the normal defense mechanisms of the canine respiratory tract so that secondary bacterial infections, including pneumonia, are common. The mortality rate for the virus and resulting infections is 8%. The dogs most at risk of dying are very old, young or are immune compromised because of another condition. Breeds such as Bulldogs, Boston terriers, German shepherds, etc. are more susceptible to secondary lung infection.

Who should be vaccinated?

Any dogs that walk in the neighborhood, visit with neighbor dogs through the fence, get dogs-playing-dog_parkbathed/groomed, board, go to training classes or play at the dog park are at high risk.  It is important to understand, however, that a dog does not have to come in direct contact with a dog that has the virus. The virus can live in the environment for several days and so any dogs that are in the same area later are also at risk.  The H3N2 virus can also be brought home by any person that has come into contact with the virus.

Please note that much like the flu vaccine in humans, the vaccine does not guarantee that a dog will not contract the virus but the symptoms will be much less severe and the dog should recover more quickly.  Any dog that has not received the vaccine in the past will need an initial vaccine followed by a booster in 2-4 weeks. The H3N2 vaccine should continue to be administered annually along with the H3N8 vaccine.

Starting July 1st, all dogs that drop off for baths and boarding at our clinic will need be vaccinated for both strains of influenza. This is for the safety of all patients in our care.

If you have any questions or would like to schedule a time for your pup(s) to come in for the vaccine, please contact the clinic at 281-282-9944.

MDR… What?!..

Congratulations! You’ve just adopted a new family member! They are cute, furry and already an important part of your life! Naturally you want them to be as healthy as possible. You’ve been to the vet and you’ve talked about vaccines, microchips and spaying / neutering. But what about the MDR1 gene? Has your dog been tested? If not, you will definitely want to discuss this with the Doctor—especially if your dog is one of the affected herding or hound breeds, as it can cause life-threatening complications.

What is MDR1?

Many herding breed dogs have a genetic predisposition to adverse drug reactions involving over a dozen different drugs. Scientists discovered that these dogs lack a protein (P-Glycoprotein), which is responsible for pumping out many drugs and toxins from the brain, and that affected dogs show signs of toxicity because they are unable to stop drugs from permeating their brains. Researchers have identified that this condition is due to a mutation in the multi-drug resistance gene [MDR1].

In the grand scheme of things, the mutation wouldn’t be a problem at all except for the use of certain therapeutic drugs in veterinary medicine. While these drugs are very beneficial for most dogs, they can be dangerous and even lethal to those with the MDR1 mutation. Affected dogs, when treated with certain common drugs such as Ivermectin and loperamide (Imodium), are unable to pump out these drugs from the brain resulting in poisoning and neurologic symptoms ranging from tremors, anorexia and excess salivation to blindness, coma and even death.

How do I test my dog for the MDR1 Mutation?

Testing for the MDR1 Mutation is simple and non-invasive! All it takes is scheduling time for a technician to draw a blood sample from your dog. The blood can either be sent to Washing State University for testing for the MDR1 Gene or sent to the lab for a full Genetic Health Analysis which identifies both ancestry information and scans for multiple genetic disorders including the MDR1 mutation.

australian-cattle-dog

During January, all Genetic Health Analysis tests are 10% OFF

If you have any questions or would like schedule a time for your dog to come in for testing, contact the clinic at 281-282-9944.

The Atopic Dog- Help is Here!

By Marie Slutz

Does your dog constantly lick their paws or shake their heads? Have you noticed them scratching or rubbing on things? Are they loosing hair or does their skin look red, thickened or have an odor? Then your dog may be suffering from Atopy or Chronic Itch.

Some scratching is normal in dogs, but when it starts to cause damage to the skin it can be a problem.

There are many things that can cause your dog to be itchy including parasites, allergy to flea bites (even just one), food allergies, environmental allergens or even secondary infections.

Some dogs will suffer from seasonal itch but after years of seasonality the itch can start to last longer until finally it is a year round problem. This is true in about 80% of dogs with seasonal allergies. In dogs, seasonal allergies usually start early between the ages of 1 and 3 years.

Some dogs develop food allergies and this usually starts later in life about the ages of 5 to 6 years.

The good news is we now have a drug that goes straight to the itch to help give your pet relief while we figure out the cause of the itch. Apoquel is a new drug that is safe, effective and unique.

Safe:
Apoquel is safe to use in dogs 12 months and older
It is safe because it goes right to the source of the itch which means minimal effects on other parts of the body like some other drugs.
Side effects are mild and similar to those dogs who took placebo (sugar pill) most common side effects were vomiting and diarrhea, these only showed up in a small percentage of dogs and usually stopped on their own.
Unlike other treatments for itch, Apoquel is safe to use in combination with other things such as vaccines and NSAIDS (non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)

Effective:
Apoquel starts to relieve itch within 4 hours (comparable to steroids)
It effectively controls itch within 24 hours
It relieves the itch in the long term

Unique:
Only drug of its type and it has minimal side effects.
Works quickly and is safe to use long term or as needed to relieve itch

If you think your dog could benefit from this drug please call to schedule an appointment and find out how we can help your dog be more comfortable!