Tag: dogs

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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What in the world is Giardia?

giardia-trph1Giardia is a single-celled microscopic parasite that lives in your dog’s intestine. It is classified as an intestinal infection cause by the parasite Giardia Iamblia. The infection commonly infects older dogs, but more frequently infects young puppies.

Eww! How do dogs get Giardia?

Dogs develop the infection by ingesting the offspring of Giardia that are shed in another animal’s feces. Dogs become infected when they accidentally swallow the water source, or by eating something that has been contaminated by feces, like grass. Since dogs love to put things in their mouths, this means that there are plenty of ways your dog can pick up the parasite in his environment. Whether it is by chewing on a stick, eating someone else’s poop, or drinking from a puddle.

giardia_process

How will Giardia affect my dog?irie-lakeWEB

Giardia in dogs does not always cause problems, but when it does it is highly unpleasant. Giardiasis, the disease caused by the Giardia infection, typically results in diarrhea. The parasite inhibits your dog’s ability to properly absorb nutrient, water, and electrolytes, which leads to weight loss, poor conditions, and even can lead to death. If you have concerns about your dog after spending a fun weekend at the beach, contact your Veterinarian to schedule an appointment.

Treatment is simple once diagnosed. This is one of the many reasons why fecal parasite screening is so important, along with semi-annual Veterinary exams for your pet. If your pet was diagnosed with Giardia, or any other type of intestinal parasite, be sure to clean up after them as soon as possible. Be sure to thoroughly wash your hands as well after handling their stool. Preventative care is always the best way to avoid parasites and diseases!

By: Kimberly Delaney

Hey girl. I missed you sooooo I ate the wall…

Can you tell when your pet is stressed? Anxiety is a common condition that we hear about from clients time and time again. It can affect both cats and dogs and we see it at the clinic on a daily basis. Sometimes pets are stimulated by specific events such as a visit to the clinic, fireworks or visiting relatives and other times it may not be so easy to pinpoint the stressors. Even little things like running the vacuum may cause pets to pant and shake, panic or even act out in destructive ways. Like humans, pets may even experience physiological changes as a result of anxiety.

So what do you do when your furbaby exhibits signs of anxiety? Don’t worry! We know exactly how you feel because we’ve been there too! Thankfully, there are lots of ways to help our pets combat their anxiety.

Check out this personal account from one of our Kennel Technicians, Susan, and her experience with her dog’s anxiety over the years:

Cannon: A Story of Anxiety

by: Susan N.

I adopted Cannon in the summer of 2013 while my husband was deployed. I got him from a Craig’s list ad advertising a 10 month old Lab/Shepherd mix for $40. I was in love the second I saw his picture. I immediately messaged the owner to set up a meet and greet for the next day. At the meet and greet I was told he was destructive when he was left alone and that they kept him in a kennel most of the time because he was too rambunctious for their small child. I adopted him on the spot.

He was rambunctious, to say the least. He was constantly on the move, pacing and coming back to me to lick my face and arms. He had no concept of personal space. He had just been moved to a new environment and was still a puppy so I did not worry too much about it. I was able to spend a few days at home with him without needed to leave him.  The first time I left him home alone was to run to PetsMart. I did not put him in his kennel. I came home to a GIANT mess. He had gotten into some of my school work and shredded it, there were scratch marks by the front door, and he had also had accidents in the house when he never had before. He greeted me at the door a bundle of energy, tail wagging, whining, jumping and licking. I think he missed me just a bit. I had owned dogs before and understood the concept of separation anxiety. I was not, however, very prepared to deal with it.

Sings of separation anxiety include destructiveness, excessive vocalization and house soiling. Cannon displayed two out of three signs. The hallmark of separation anxiety is that these behaviors occur immediately after departures. Additional signs occur when the owner is preparing for departure, such as gathering school work or grabbing keys. The dog needs to be with the owner as these things occur and follows people when they are home. Cannon was always glued to my side.

I did my research and began a plan to help my poor puppy with his anxiety. One out of every six dogs may suffer from separation anxiety.  Some dogs have anxiety so severe that cannot be left alone without injuring themselves. Dogs this severe should not be left alone. Some dogs benefit from being placed in a dog day care. Others will adapt to having a specific place to be confined when left alone, such a crate or a specific room. Cannon had a kennel but hated it. He would not even go near it. Due to his previous owners keeping him in the kennel so much he had developed a phobia of being kenneled. Luckily, I had a spare room for Cannon. (Spoiled much?) I placed his bed, food and water in his room. I would place him in the room and give him a Kong toy stuffed with peanut butter and treats. I would gradually increase the amount of time he was in the room by himself. After some time, he began to think of his room as a happy place, a place to eat and get special treats. This managed his separation anxiety for the time being.

Other dogs with more severe cases may need the help of medications or Pheromone therapy. Adaptil is a synthetic pheromone product that mimics the pheromone that mother dogs put out when nursing. It sends out the signal that the dog should feel calm and relaxed. There are several medications that act as a calming agent or sedative. Zylkene, Flouxetine,Trazadone, Diazepam and Alprazolam are several such medications. You should consult with your vet to decide upon the right medication for your dog.

Fast forward several years. I added two more dogs and a cat to the household. My husband had gotten out of the army and it was time for us to move back home. After a twelve hour drive, we settled into our new apartment. Due to work schedules and lack of room we needed to get Cannon kennel trained. Utilizing the same strategies I used when Cannon first displayed his separation anxiety I managed to get him kennel trained. All three dogs began sleeping in their kennels instead of in the bed with us. Then the first rain storm hit…

Cannon was NOT happy with this. He barked and whined and clawed his way out of the kennel. Once Cannon was out of his kennel he was shaking and would not leave my lap. Cannon had developed thunder storm anxiety. This is not unheard of in dogs with an existing anxiety condition. Thunder storm anxiety is also common by itself.

Treating dogs with thunder storm anxiety is very similar to treating separation anxiety. Dogs may try to find a place to hide during a storm. Alleviating the symptoms of storm anxiety may be as simple as giving them a safe place to hide such as a kennel or a comfy corner of a room. Other dogs do well when distracted by a puzzle toy or working on obedience exercises. Thunder shirts may work for some dogs. Other dogs may require medication if their anxiety is severe. The medications for storm anxiety are the same as with separation anxiety. Talk to your vet to discuss the best course of action for your specific dog.

After talking with Dr. Kuecker & Dr. Richardson, Cannon now wears an Adaptil collar and takes Zylkene once a day. He stays in his kennel while I’m at work and is sleeping soundly through storms. It is such a good feeling to know that he has been relieved from his anxiety and can now enjoy life more without all of the stress that he was previously experiencing.

 

 

The Big Fat Truth About Pet Obesity (and What You Can Do About It)

We all know that face our pets make at us when they want a treat. But let’s stop for a second and think before we give in.

Obesity is a growing epidemic not just for humans but for our furry companions as well; a recent survey done by the veterinary students at University of Georgia showed that 54% of our nation’s pets are overweight or obese. That’s 88.4 million pets!

img_petFitTreatTrans_500_en

So keeping this in mind, how will being overweight affect your pet? There are many conditions that can develop from your pet being overweight such as osteoarthritis, decreased stamina, hypertension, diabetes, lipomas (fatty mass), respiratory compromise and most of all it can shorten their life span. Scary stuff right?

Well I know what you’re thinking, “how do I know if my pet is over weight?” Sometimes it can be hard to recognize that your pet is overweight as the weight gain can come on gradually or it is hard to actually accept that your pet is more than just a little chunky and is now fully obese. To assist in this evaluation, body condition scoring has been developed and is fairly easy to accomplish. There is a five-point system (where three out of five is considered optimal). What you want to do is evaluate your pet, feel for a small amount of padding over the ribs. It should be possible to feel the ribs and there should be a small tuck in the belly where the hind legs meet the body. See the graph below.

BCS

A question you may be asking yourself is “What can I do to prevent my pet from becoming overweight?” Let start with two words; portion control. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to figure out exactly how much each individual pet should be eating. Determining the correct size for meals depends on the type of food they are fed, how many times a day they eat, their size, their metabolic rate, the amount of exercise they get, and more. To start the process, take a look at the feeding guide on your pet’s food’s label to see how much they should be eating.

dietSo say your pet is already over weight and you’re ready to get some of that extra chunk off your furry friend. This may sound simple, but in fact when one simply tries to cut back on food; it just doesn’t seem to cut it. As with humans, a more formal approach seems to work best. This means feeding a prescription diet made for weight loss (typically “lite” or “less active” diets are meant to prevent weight gain, not actually cause weight loss), exercise, and coming in for regular weigh-ins at the vet’s office.

This means:

  • There must be control over what the pet eats. That’s easy enough if there is only one pet, but trickier if there is more than one pet in the home. Use your ingenuity to feed the pets separately.
  • Feed in meals. Leaving food out encourages snacking. Feeding in meals makes it easier to feed multiple pets different foods or different amounts of food.
  • Commit to regular weigh-ins. Know what the goal weight is and how long it should take to reach this goal/or how to tell if the pet is on target. It is important not to try to go too fast. If the weight loss is not on track, sometimes it is necessary to feed more rather than less. Your veterinarian may need to be in contact with the clinical nutritionists at the pet food company so as to make the best recommendations.
  • Consider interactive toys that can be used when you are not home or where your own participation is minimal.

icecreamIf you have concerns about your pet’s weight, talk to your veterinarian. Be sure to rule out any health issues that might specifically cause obesity as an initial step in obesity management.

By: Shelly Crosson

Welcome to The (Bladder) Stone Age

Bladder stones are no joking matter!
While kidney stones are fairly common, another type of stone that can develop are called bladder stones. These stones are made of the build-up of minerals in the urine that collect in the bladder, producing a single or multiple crystallized, rock-like structure(s). They can range in size, making them very difficult to pass on their own. These can be very painful and even damage parts of the urinary system.

Causes of bladder stones:
There are several causes attributed to bladder stones.

  1. Mineral Crystals: Urine that contains an abnormal amount of specific minerals can potentially form bladder stones. There minerals are magnesium, phosphorus, calcium and ammonia. These are all minerals that derive from our diet.
  2. Urine pH: pH is an indicator of how acidic a liquid is. The urine of cats and dogs are typically acidic, meaning that they have a lower urine pH. An abnormal pH reading is a good indicator of an infection.
  3. Bacteria: Some stones are caused by bacteria in the urine. Bacteria in the urine can be discovered by running a culture & sensitivity plate. The urine is spread across a culture plate and placed in an incubator. If there are any bacteria present, it will grow on the plate and the doctor will determine what the best antibiotic would be for the patient. Bacterial infections can alter the pH of the urine, which can lead to crystal formation.
  4. Abnormal Metabolism of Minerals: A pet’s system can inappropriately be metabolizing the minerals leading to the formation of crystals in the urine. Some breeds are more prone to this than others.

The stones can develop anywhere between weeks or over a period of months. The rate of growth can be anywhere between a couple weeks or a few months depending on the crystals present or the degree of infection.

Symptoms:
The typical symptoms of bladder stones can be straining to urinate or only producing small amounts of urine frequently. Blood may even be visible in a pet’s urine as well. Sometimes, a pet will be noticeably uncomfortable during urination, appearing lethargic or unwilling to eat or drink.

Diagnosis:
To diagnose bladder stones, a veterinarian will typically perform a urinalysis. The urinalysis will give information regarding the pH, increased white blood cells, protein and bacteria which will aid in diagnosis. The presence of crystals will alert the veterinarian to do further testing.

The presence of crystals can indicate that a bladder stone is growing or is already present. Some bladder stones can be felt during a physical exam by your veterinarian but typically, your veterinarian will request radiographs or an ultrasound to be performed to confirm a potential diagnosis of bladder stones.

stonesTreatment:
After a confirmed diagnosis of bladder stones, your veterinarian will decide how to proceed. Some stones are able to be broken down with medication or specific kidney diets but more often than not, surgery to remove the stones will be performed so as to prevent further pain to the pet. Surgery can be performed either with a laser to break down the stones or through surgical removal of the stones.

Specifically in male dogs, the stones can get lodged in their urethra, causing immense pain. These stones cannot pass on their own and will need to be removed through flushing and subsequent surgical removal.

After the stones are removed, your veterinarian will recommend sending the stones out to a laboratory for further testing so as to ascertain what type of minerals are present

Case at TLC Animal Hospital:
We had a patient this past year who was diagnosed with bladder stones. Dr. Richardson was the attending surgeon and removed the bladder stones during a cystotomy surgery. The pictures are shown below. We are pleased to say that the patient has made a full recovery and is being monitored for prevention of re-occurrence.

stones2

Prevention of re-occurrence:
After surgery, your veterinarian will recommend prevention of further stones. While some pets can achieve this through a diet formulated to promote kidney health, others may require long-term medication. This will depend on the type of dog and also what type(s) of crystals are removed. Some breeds can be predisposed to formation of stones no matter what prevention is taken and should be placed on a medication regimen. The veterinarian will advise on what they think is best. Pets may need to come in periodically to recheck or culture their urine and bladder x-rays to monitor the kidney function.

Always make sure that your pet has access to fresh water and the ability to go to the bathroom. This can go a long way to preventing recurrence. Pet food that has more moisture will increase the amount of water that your pet receives and minimize crystal formation.

Sources:
https://www.lbah.com/word/canine/bladder-stones/
https://www.vetwest.com.au/pet-library/bladder-stones-in-dogs
https://www.acvs.org/small-animal/urinary-stones

By: Madison Cole