Tag: veterinary

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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Hey girl, nice place you got there…

Having a pet is amazing. The love, understanding, companionship… You love your pet so much that you don’t even think twice about picking up after them. They’re our fuzzy four-legged children and they’re just the greatest.

fleas-istock-o
Mind if I move in?

Fleas think that your pet is just the greatest too. They also think that your carpet, furniture and yard are pretty sweet and they all want to live there. Fleas thrive in humid environments and, unfortunately, we’re in Houston, Texas which is humid most of the year.

It only takes one flea to cause a huge problem. A single flea can lay up to 5,000 eggs in its lifetime, which is about 40-50 eggs per day. Eggs can take anywhere from two days to two weeks to hatch, depending on weather. Once the egg hatches, the larvae will seek out dark places to grow. The larvae then develop into a cocoon-like pupae stage. These are the hardest to kill as they are incredibly tough – most pesticides will not kill them. Pupae can remain dormant for weeks, months, even years before hatching. Once they hatch, the adult flea emerges and then goes to feast on your pet and make more fleas. This life cycle takes only about 90 days.

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Along with environmental factors, there are plenty of things that you can do to help ensure that a flea infestation is not in your future. The first place to start would be to make sure that all of your pets are on some kind of flea prevention. Every pet in the house hold needs to be on something, regardless as to whether they go outside or not. Fleas are crafty and will sneak in on clothes or shoes. Their eggs are very stick as well and can be easily transported by sticking to things.

There are many types of flea preventatives on the market. With so many options, how do you know which one is right for your pet and their lifestyle? Here are some of the basics that you need to know to help you decide.

Topical Preventatives – Canine

An important thing to remember with all topical preventatives is to not apply them when your pet is wet. They should be applied either 48 hours before or 24 hours after a bath. Make sure that you are bathing your pet with a pet shampoo that is soap or detergent free. Human shampoos are designed to cut oil and grease and will wash the product off of your pet. Most medicated shampoos can strip the preventative from your pet as well. If your pet is being treated with a medicated shampoo, ask your veterinarian if you need to change to an oral preventative during treatment. Be sure to remove all collars or harnesses until the product is completely dry.

vectra

While there are numerous types of topicals available, our doctors recommend using Vectra 3D for dogs. Vectra 3D is waterproof once dry and it does not break down in sunlight. It both kills and repels fleas, ticks, mosquitoes. It also prevents against some flies, mites, and lice as well. Vectra 3D will also kill whatever stage of the flea your dog comes into contact with – eggs, larvae, pupae, everything!

Vectra 3D is easy to apply as well. Simply part the hair at the base of the tail and using the applicator tip, squeeze the tube gently while working up the back towards the neck – “From rear to ear.” Once applied, it will begin to absorb into the sebaceous sweat glands of their body and translocate.

When this is happening, your dog may feel a tingling sensation. This may cause them to want to roll around on the floor, furniture, grass, etc. Do your best to keep your dog distracted so that they don’t roll around. This could cause them to rub off the product and cause it to not be as effective. Take them for a walk, play with a toy, do something to keep them busy for at least 15 minutes while the product is absorbed. Vectra 3D is toxic to cats, so if you have both in the house, be sure to keep them away from each other while it dries.

Topical Preventatives – Felines

All cats should be on some kind of flea prevention, regardless as to whether they go outside or not. Our doctors also recommend all cats to be on a heart worm preventative as well. While cats are not a natural host for heart worms like dogs, they can still contract them. There is currently no heart worm treatment available for cats, so we want everyone to be fully protected.

revBecause of this, our doctors recommend using Revolution for cats. Revolution is a topical that is applied once every 30 days. It kills fleas, prevents heart worms, deworms for some intestinal parasites, and can be used to treat ear mites as well. It works through your cat’s blood stream, similar to oral preventatives.

It should be applied to the skin on the back of the neck, just high enough where your cat is not able to lick the medication. If you have multiple cats, be sure to keep them separate so that they do not lick it off of each other. Don’t forget to remove collars before applying. Once dry, your cats fur may be “crispy” for a couple of days where the medication was applied. This will go away on its own.

catego

Another option is Catego. This is a topical flea and tick prevention, but it does not do anything for heart worm prevention. Catego is applied once every 30 days on the neck just like Revolution. It works similar to Vectra 3D and the fleas will die once they come in to contact with your cat’s skin. The fleas do not have to bite to die since it works through their skin.

Oral Preventatives

If you’re not comfortable with the idea of topical preventatives, oral preventatives are available as well.

Oral preventatives work much differently than topicals. These work through your pet’s bloodstream as opposed to their skin & hair follicles. This means that they work by killing the fleas that ingest your pet’s blood. They will not repel nor kill the other stages of the flea life cycle. In short, the fleas have to bite to die.

Our doctors have decided to carry Trifexis, Simparica, and Nexgard in clinic for our oral preventatives.

triTrifexis is for both heart worm and flea prevention. It also deworms for some intestinal parasites when given. This is a beef flavored chewable tablet that is given once every 30 days. Give it after your dog has eaten a full meal. This is not only easier on your dog’s stomach, but it also ensure that the medications are completely absorbed into your dog’s system. This is the only combination product that we carry in clinic for dogs.

simparicaSimparica is for flea and tick prevention. This is a liver flavored chewable tablet and it is also given once every 30 days. You can give this to your dog just like a treat or with a full meal, it doesn’t matter. Studies show that both medications in Simparica are just as effective at day 30 as they are on day 1, so that your dog is fully protected for the full 30 days.

nexgardNexgard is also for flea and tick prevention. This is a beef flavored chew (from the makers of Heartgard) and is given once every 30 days just like the others. You can give it either with a meal or just as a treat. Make sure that your dog does not swallow it whole as it will be better absorbed if it is chewed. Nexgard is also able to be used to treat certain types of mange.

There are oral preventatives available for cats as well, but we do not currently carry these in clinic.

If you’re using an oral preventative, you may still see fleas on your pet or in your house. This doesn’t mean that the product isn’t working! Don’t forget that these medications work through your pet’s bloodstream and that the fleas have to bite to die.

 True or False?

I only have to apply flea preventatives to my pets that go outside.

FALSE! Remember, it just takes one flea to cause a huge outbreak in your home. Flea eggs and larvae can be brought into the home on your shoes and clothing. Make sure that every pet in your house is on a preventative.

Fleas die back in the winter so I only have to treat my pets in the summer.

FALSE! Adult fleas can live outside in temperatures as low as 49 degrees! Also, since we’re in Houston, Texas it rarely gets cold enough here to truly cause the fleas to back off. We recommend each pet be on preventative year round for their health and to help prevent surprise infestations.

PuppyScratch_1024x1024There are numerous products on the market. The ones listed are the ones that our doctors recommend and that we carry in clinic. You’re welcome to choose whichever product you feel it right for you and your furry family. Other options are available through our online store as well. If you have any questions about fleas, preventatives, or what we would recommend, please feel free to contact the clinic.

 

By: Ashley Elliott

Making Your Cat’s Visit to the Vet More Feline Friendly

By Ashley Elliott

We all love our cats but taking them to the vet can be stressful for both cats and their owners! Trying to catch our feline friends and then get them into a carrier isn’t always a walk in the park. Here are some tips on how to get your cat to have a more enjoyable experience from the carrier to the clinic.

Getting your cat used to being around their carrier is the first step to reducing stress for both you and your cat when bringing them to the clinic. If the only time your cat sees the carrier is when you’re trying to catch them to take them to the vet, they’re not going to be too happy to see it. But if you keep the carrier out all the times, your cat will get used to it. If you don’t want to leave it out all the time, try getting the carrier out for about a week before your appointment.

Teaching your cat to love their carrier is the second step to make a trip the vet less stressful. This can be achieved by training your cat to associate good things with their carrier. Food is an excellent motivator. Just let your cat associate meals and yummy treats with their carrier. Start by feeding your cat right outside of the carrier. Over the next few days, slowly move the food further into the carrier. You’ll know that your cat is comfortable when they’re eating their food in the carrier without hesitation.

There are calming pheromone sprays, like Feliway, that can help as well. You can spray a towel, blanket, or even the carrier itself. Do this about twenty minutes before you plan on leaving the house.

Since you’re going to the vet, chances are your cat is going to get some vaccines. Towels may be used during the exam to help comfortably restrain your cat. You can train your cat to get used to this at home. You can also train your cat to get used to having their skin handled similar to how you trained them to like their carrier. Associate treats or food with light handling of their skin.

Now that your cat isn’t running away at the sight of carrier, it’s time to go to the vet! If you’re not able to go into an exam room right away, try to keep your cat away from scary situations in the waiting room. There are all sorts of strange smells and sounds in waiting room that could make your cat anxious. Try to keep other animals away from the carrier. Other animals may want to investigate the carrier, but this could upset your cat. You could cover the carrier with a towel to help prevent this.

Once you’re in the room, let your cat get used to their new surroundings. Open the carrier door and let them investigate. Don’t dump your cat out of the carrier or try to pull them out of it. This will just upset your cat and set a bad tone for the rest of your cat’s visit. Most carriers can be disassembled or opened in different ways. You can also use treats or catnip to make your cat feel more comfortable in the room.

Training your cat to love their carrier and helping them get used to being handled will help you and your cat have a more enjoyable, stress free visit to the clinic.