Tag: puppy

Rethinking How We Feed Our Pets

While looking online or in pet stores for goodies for your furry children, you’ve probably come across some really, really weird things. Like that cat bed that looks like an over-sized fur-lined Croc shoe and the dog muzzle that looks like a duckbill. But let’s be real – it’s just a bed and it’s just a muzzle. Your pet doesn’t get more enjoyment out of it because of how it looks (that’s just for us because c’mon, those duckbill muzzles are hilarious).

planetdog
Planet Dog’s Orbee-Tuff Link Toys & Mazee Balls are perfect for treats!

Believe it or not, some of these goofy looking pet products have an actual purpose and benefits that your pet will actually be able to pick up on.

Treat Toys
Dog owners are already familiar with treat dispensing toys. How many different types of KONGs are out there? Fill ’em up with treats, peanut butter, or even doggie toothpaste and let your pup have at it! Depending on the dog and the contents, this could mean hours of entertainment for your pup! KONGs aren’t the only ones, either. A quick search for “dog treat toys” brings up pages and pages of results. We even have some here in clinic from Planet Dog that our boarders love to use. Toys likes these are important for your pup. Not only can they help with separation anxiety when you’re away, but they offer mental stimulation and environmental enrichment as well.

That’s great for treats, but what about full meals?
Slow Down Bowls and other slow down feeders take this same idea and apply to it meal time. How often does your dog inhale their dinner without even chewing it? Or maybe they eat it too fast and throw it up a few minutes later? Does one dog inhale their food and then try to take bowls1food from the other dog?

Making your dog take their time with their food is important for numerous reasons. They can choke or aspirate on the food, have other GI issues such as gas or vomiting, or they can bloat (which is an extremely dangerous condition and can be fatal). Going through their food too quickly can also leave them feeling unfulfilled and dissatisfied. And we all know how hard it is to ignore a pet that is begging for more food – just look at the statistics for obese animals in the United States.

Eating too fast can also keep them from receiving the full benefits of their diets. For example, the Royal Canin Dental Diet (for cats and dogs) is designed to be chewed multiple times before breaking, therefore “brushing” their teeth while they eat. Swallowing the food whole completely negates that benefit.

Wet food, dry food, raw diet, homemade… it doesn’t matter! Slow down bowls and feeders work for every kind of pet food. Of course, some may work better for wet food than others. With so many different shapes and sizes out there, you should be able to find one that works for you and your pet.

When looking for a slow down feeder for your pup – you need to consider a few things.
1) How large of a bowl do you need? – Pay attention to your pup’s portions and make sure you get a bowl that’s appropriately sized. One that’s too small isn’t going to help your dog 039b16e26948ba65ab8e2dacb55643dbmuch because the food will just cover the prongs or spill out and one that’s too big won’t be much of a challenge. Bowl size is also based off of what kind of dog you have. For example, a Pug wouldn’t use the same size bowl as a Boxer.
2) Does this shape work with my dog’s snout? – Dogs with longer snouts are going to need feeders with larger prongs for them to navigate. On the other hand, smooshed face dogs would need shorter prongs, otherwise they wouldn’t be able to get the food out.
3) Can my dog flip it over and spill the food everywhere? – Most slow down bowls have non-slip bases. Be sure to get one if your pup likes to throw their bowls around!
4) Is it easy to clean? – With all of the nooks and crannies of these bowls and feeders, you need to be sure that you’re able to keep it clean. There are dishwasher safe ones, but be sure to check it afterwards for any leftovers. Especially if you’re feeding a wet diet – that stuff can be pretty stubborn when it dries! Clean them on a regular basis as well – leftover food can attract bugs and gives mold a place to hangout.

rsz_shutterstock_1034640622What about our feline friends?
Cats need to have the environmental enrichment with their toys, bedding, and scratching posts. Cats are also hunters. That is what they’re wired to do. You know that bobcats and mountain lions hunt, but our indoor cats have that instinct to hunt, too. Yes, even the lazy cats. We’ve all seen it – your cat is crouched down and doing that goofy butt wiggle, ready to get that mosquito hawk that made a grave mistake by coming into your cat’s domain. Maybe you’ve even received a “gift” from your cat in the form of a half-eaten lizard. Yes, it’s gross, but that just means that your cat loves you and doesn’t want you to starve because you’re terrible hunter.

There’s no shortage of interactive cat toys to help fulfill their need to hunt (seriously, just look up “automatic cat toys” online and you’ll have enough content to browse through to last for hours). But treat toys hit that need differently because they contain food. The hunt isn’t simply for fun now, they’re going to actually get something to eat out of it. There are so many different kinds out there, you should have no issue finding one that works for your cat. Depending on the size of the treat toy, you may be able to use it for slimcat_summary_largefull meals. Using this method can help your indoor kitty get some additional exercise, which is especially great for overweight cats.

However, if your house is prone to having ants or other bugs, moving treat toys may not be the best option since they can leave crumbs and small pieces of food all over your floors. Otherwise you need to be sure to sweep up after using them. Most moving treat toys work gets on hard floors, like wood or tile. They can work on carpet, but it depends on how thick it is. You would definitely need to vacuum afterwards if used in carpeted areas.

But what about with their real food?
Maybe your cat is fine with having food simply presented to them in a bowl, or left out in an automatic feeder. Or maybe your cat is a complete pig and eats their food waaaaay to fast, only to throw it up a few minutes later. There are all sorts of ways to make meal time fun time for your feline friends.

Puzzle Feeders are meant for full meal portions and they provide a different kind of challenge for your cat. Your cat can’t just sick their head in the bowl and inhale the food (which can lead to vomiting or aspiration). Your cat will have to actually stop and think about how to get the food out. Some puzzle feeders have covered holes that the food goes in and your cat has to uncover the food before eating. Others have food that’s released when part of the puzzle is rotated from them pawing at it.

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We’ve used this particular puzzle feeder for Sushi before.

Know that your cat will refuse to do a puzzle to get to their food? Not to worry! There are smaller sized slow down bowls and feeders for cats, too. Similar to the dog ones, these have raised ridges or shapes to space the food out. You’ll find that some are better for wet food than others as well. The same tips above apply to finding the right bowl or feeder for your cat. For example, smooshy faced Persians would need a bowl or feeder with shorter prongs.

Not sure where to start? That’s fine! Ask your veterinarian or their staff for suggestions! Here at TLC, several staff members have used these methods with their own pets at home. We’ve even used some for our own Clinic Cats!

By: Ashley Elliott & Mariah Lamb

“My Dog Isn’t Mean – It’s Had The Distemper Shot!”

Annotation 2020-02-18 150926Canine distemper is a contagious viral disease that attacks multiple parts of the body in dogs like the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems. The virus has also been present in canidae species like wolves, coyotes, raccoons, and skunks (or “creatures that party in the night” as Dr. Kuecker refers to them). Even ferrets can get distemper!

The distemper virus is airborne meaning that is spread by the spit and mucus particles from an infectious dog. The virus can also be transmitted by fomites like water bowls, equipment and food, or by a mother dog to her puppy through the placenta. Infectious wild animals can also transmit distemper.

Symptoms include:
STAGE ONE: Pus-like discharge from eyes, fever, nasal discharge, coughing, lethargy,  reduced appetite, and vomiting.
STAGE TWO: The nervous system becomes infected and dogs begin exhibiting neurological signs like walking in circles, head tilt, muscle twitches, seizures and potentially paralysis – either partial or full.
In wildlife species, the infection symptoms seem to closely resemble rabies.

Annotation 2020-02-18 150957Unfortunately, pets don’t usually survive distemper. Most that do survive end up having lasting, irreparable damage to their nervous system.

Infected dogs are usually diagnosed by how they present in-clinic, bloodwork, and other laboratory testing. There is currently no cure for distemper, so treatment consists of supportive care: Fluids to replenish hydration that is lost through vomiting/diarrhea, medications to control and reduce vomiting/diarrhea, and medications to help with the neurologic symptoms. Care to prevent secondary infections must also be taken. It is also recommended that infected dogs be isolated from all other dogs to help prevent the spread of the disease.

While all dogs are at risk for acquiring distemper, puppies younger than four months and unvaccinated dogs are at a much higher risk of catching distemper.

Annotation 2020-02-18 151023Prevention is key!
Consistent and complete vaccination has proven to be extremely effective in preventing our canine friends from contracting distemper. The distemper vaccine is normally combined with some other common vaccines, such as parvovirus, parainfluenza, hepatitis, and sometimes leptospira. We’ll call it the five-in-one special! Along with the rabies vaccine, distemper is considered to be a “core vaccination” that every dog should have.

This vaccination is given as a series. Depending on the age of your dog, your doctor may administer the first distemper vaccine and then have you come back in a couple weeks to re-administer. After that, your dog may only need to be re-vaccinated once a year. As with all vaccinations, the repeated exposure to the virus helps the dog’s immune system build immunity to the disease that they are being vaccinated for.

-Madison Cole

Sources:
https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/petcare/canine-distemper

Distemper in Dogs – Causes, Symptoms, & Treatment

Parvovirus – Deadly, but Preventable!

First things first – What is Parvo?

Almost every mammal species has its own parvovirus. The canine parvovirus was discovered in 1967. At first the strain present CPV-1 did not represent much of a threat except to newborn puppies. In 1978 a new variant appeared called CPV-2. At this time the virus was still new and no dog had any kind of immunity against the virus. With no resistance and no natural immunity to the virus, the resulting epidemic was disastrous.

canine-parvovirus-parvo-in-dogs-1In 1979, the virus mutated again creating the CPV-2a. This strain was even more aggressive that the first two. Vaccine manufacturers were unable to keep up with the demand. The virus is able to rapidly spread and infect dogs because it is shed in large numbers by infected dogs and is especially hardy once in the environment.

At this point in time, the virus is considered to be in every environment. Simply trying to keep a puppy from exposure to the virus is a futile task. Luckily, most dogs have some level of natural immunity to the virus and vaccination against it is common practice now.

How is it spread?

Parvo is spread through the feces of infected dogs. Very little fecal material is needed to transmit the virus. Parvovirus can remain in the environment for six months to a year. It is especially tough and it can survive both extreme heat and subzero temperatures. The virus enters the body through the mouth as the puppy or dog cleans itself or eats food off the ground. There is a three to seven day incubation period. First, the virus hangs out in the lymph nodes in the throat and begins to multiply. Once the virus has reached sufficient numbers, it then begins to attack the bone marrow and begins to kill the young cells of the immune system. 

dogs

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms of parvovirus include severe, bloody diarrhea, lethargy, vomiting, weight loss, lack of appetite, and fever. Parvo should be considered as a possible diagnosis for any young dog presenting with vomiting and diarrhea.

The GI tract is where the most damage is done by the virus. The lining of the intestinal tract is covered in finger like projections called villi. The villi are covered in even smaller finger like projections called microvilli. These projections increase the surface area of the intestine allowing for absorption of nutrients. The cells that make the the microvilli are short lived and are replaced by cells deeper in the tissue that rapidly multiply. The parvovirus strikes these cells. The villi then become blunted and the dog is not able to absorb nutrients. The lining between the digestive bacteria and the blood stream is broken down. This is what causes the characteristic bloody diarrhea of parvo. Bacteria can now enter the bloodstream causing widespread infection.

The virus kills in one of two ways. The first is dehydration and fluid loss brought on by diarrhea and vomiting. The second is bacterial infection from the loss of the intestinal barrier.

parvotestHow is it Diagnosed?

A diagnosis is made by Parvo ELISA test. This is performed in clinic and takes about 15 minutes to run. The biggest drawback to the ELISA test is that recent vaccination with a live virus vaccine can cause a false positive. In this case, doing a complete blood count to look for a drop in white blood cells may also be done.

Treatment

With proper treatment and hospitalization, the survival rate is 75-80%. Treatment of parvovirus centers around supportive care. Supportive care includes keeping the dog hydrated, comfortable, and as strong as possible. There is no way to kill the virus inside the dog. The only way to cure parvo is to keep the dog strong enough that eventually the immune system is able to make enough antibodies to the virus to fight it on its own. When treating parvo, be prepared for a 5-7 day hospital stay and intensive care. Unfortunately, treatment can be expensive. 

puppy-diarrhea-vetThe first step in treating parvo is keeping the dog hydrated. IV fluids are needed to replace the fluids lost by the extreme vomiting and diarrhea. Antibiotics are also needed to help prevent septicemia. The loss of the intestinal barrier allows bacteria from the GI tract into the bloodstream. Since the virus destroys the the immune system, the dog has no way to fight on its own. Keeping the patient comfortable is a key part in treating any disease.

Tests are done to monitor the progress of the disease and effectiveness of the treatment throughout the puppy’s time in hospitalization. These tests include white blood cell counts, complete blood count, electrolyte and glucose levels, urine specific gravity, lactate levels, and total blood protein.

There are some additional treatments that can be done to help the puppy (such as plasma transfusions and certain kinds of cold medicine). However, these options are not a substitute for hospitalization and need to be discussed in detail with your veterinarian before starting them. 

Aftercare

Once the puppy has recovered from the worst of the infection, they can then be sent home. They will most likely be sent home with antibiotics, anti-nausea, and anti-diarrhea medications. It is important to follow your veterinarian’s instructions for the medications and home care.

puppyeatingYour puppy will probably be very hungry after going so long without solid food. He should be fed in small portions every 1-2 hours. If he is allowed to gorge himself, this can upset his already delicate tummy.

Your puppy should be considered contagious to other puppies for at least a month after infection. It is important to keep him confined from any dogs that have not had the full vaccine series. Your veterinarian will let you know when it’s ok to resume vaccines. It is possible that your puppy has developed a life long immunity from the parvovirus since the infection. You should still continue vaccinating him for parvo along with all other recommend vaccines. There should be no permanent ramifications from the parvovirus. After the 2-3 week recovery period your dog should go on to lead a happy, healthy life.

Prevention

To prevent parvovirus infection in your puppy, you must follow the recommended vaccine schedule. Starting at six weeks of age your puppy should be vaccinated every 3-4 vxweeks until he is 16 weeks of age. Until your puppy has completed the vaccine series, he should be kept away from other puppies and kept out of dog parks or other social situations. Once your puppy has had all necessary vaccines he is ready to begin exploring the world with you!

Ew! What is that in my dog’s stool?!

Oh no! It looks like your pet may have some kind of intestinal parasite!

parasites2Intestinal parasites are parasites that live inside a host’s gastrointestinal tract. Some feed off of the nutrients that the host ingests while others ingest the host’s blood. Whatever their food of choice may be, they can cause numerous issues for the host.

Examples of common intestinal parasites:
-Roundworms
-Whipworms
-Hookworms
-Tapeworms
Giardia
-Coccidia

While some parasites are large enough to see with the naked eye, this is not the case for all of them. For example, tape worms break apart and are usually passed as segments which can look like small grains of rice in your pet’s stool. Round worms resemble noodles or string. Others are much, much smaller and you may not physically see them in your pet’s stool. These parasites can cause all sorts of issues for your pet.

Symptoms include:
-Vomiting
-Weight loss
-Diarrhea
-Distended abdomen
-Scooting
-Occasionally coughing
-Anemia

How do cats and dogs get intestinal parasites?
Parasites are usually transmitted when an animal inadvertently ingests parasite eggs or spores in contaminated soil, water, feces or food. In the case of tapeworms, they can also be transmitted when a dog eats an infected flea. Puppies and kittens, on the other hand, usually get intestinal parasites from their mother. Transmission can occur in uterus or from nursing.
parasites
Many intestinal parasites are zoonotic, meaning that they can also infect humans. Simply practicing good hygiene is usually enough to prevent this from happening. You should always remove your pet’s stool from the yard and be sure to thoroughly wash your hands afterwards. The same goes for your cat’s litter box. Wearing shoes while outside can help protect you against hookworms.

Diagnosing and Treatment:
But don’t worry – these pesky parasites are easily treated! There are many types of dewormers available. Some parasites can be seen in the stool, such as tapeworm segments or roundworms. Others are much, much smaller and harder to detect. Here at TLC Animal Hospital, we send your pet’s stool to an outside lab for thorough testing to identify which parasites are present to ensure that the correct dewormer is used to treat any and all parasites that your pet may have. Some dewormers require a second dose that is given a few weeks later to ensure that all of the parasites are gone. Depending on the parasite, repeat testing of your pet’s stool may be needed as well once treatment is done.

tapeworm-cycle3-cat-rf1

Prevention:
10765_001_xxlWhile there is, unfortunately, no way to 100% prevent against intestinal parasites, there are steps that you can take that will drastically reduce the chance of your pet becoming infected. Most monthly heartworm preventatives also contain a broad spectrum dewormer. This helps get rid of any eggs or larvae that your pet may have picked up during the previous month. Picking up after your pet helps reduce the chance of any eggs or larvae from getting into the soil.

The best way to prevent against tapeworms is to use a monthly flea preventative. Having your yard treated by an exterminator for fleas will also help. The less fleas there are in the environment, the less of a chance your pet has of eating an infected flea. As we’ve written about before, every pet should be on a monthly flea preventative, even if they are strictly indoors. Read more about the flea preventatives that we offer in our previous post to help you decide which preventative is the best for your pet’s lifestyle.

puppy_kitten_careIf your pet is not already on monthly parasite preventatives, take them to your veterinarian to discuss how you can protect your pets and family from intestinal parasites.

Remember that the best way to protect your pets against parasites is to keep them on parasite preventatives and have their stool checked at least once a year. If you have any questions or concerns, you should always contact your veterinarian. They are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.

By: Pigeon Tyler and Ashley Elliott

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