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April 15, 2015

Canine Influenza Outbreak

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Veterinary School recently confirmed a case of canine influenza in a local dog. Pet owners in the area are taking precautions to protect their dogs. The Chicago area has seen at least 1000 cases of canine influenza with 5 deaths reported so far. Indiana and Ohio have also had cases confirmed. Veterinarians urge dog owners to be cautious about activities that bring their dog into contact with other dogs, such as dog parks, visiting pet shops, and walking trails frequented by others. Vaccinating for influenza is recommended. This influenza virus originated from Asia, and it is not known at this time if the vaccine will be protective. (Wisconsin State Journal)

February 20, 2015

Are you overfeeding your dog?

Treats should be limited to no more than 10% of the recommended daily calorie intake. Seemingly small treats can, in fact, turn out to be the equivalent of a sizable meal. If these calories are not included in your calculation of your dog's daily food rations, there is a serious risk of causing obesity. For instance, 2 oz (2 slices) of ham equals 70 calories or 1 doughnut equivalent for humans.

1 oz of cheese (120 calories) equals 2 doughnuts

1 hotdog (170 calories) equals 3 doughnuts

2 oz of liver treats (199 calories) also equals 3 doughnuts

3 oz of bacon strip treats (297 calories) equals 4 doughnuts

1- 6 oz rawhide bone (667 calories) equals a whopping 10 doughnuts

(Royal Canin)

January 30, 2015

Behavioral Issues

Dr. Colleen Koch is an animal behaviorist at the Mizzou Animal Cancer Care facility in Wentzville. She offers personalized plans for pets and their owners to assist them in treating their animals' problem behaviors, improving the quality of their pets' lives, and restoring the rewarding human-animal bond.

One of the most common complaints of pet owners is that their dogs are destructive or disruptive when left alone. They might urinate, defecate, bark, howl, chew, dig, or try to escape. These problems can be symptoms of distress. When a dog's problems are accompanied by other distress behaviors, such as drooling and showing anxiety, they are indications that the dog has separation anxiety. This is triggered when dogs are separated from their people. Some of these behaviors may result in self-injury and household destruction. When treating a dog with separation anxiety, the goal is to resolve the dog's underlying anxiety by teaching him to enjoy, or at least tolerate, being left alone. There is no evidence showing exactly why certain dogs develop separation anxiety. However, far more dogs adopted from shelters display this behavior problem, therefore it is believed that loss of an important person in the dog's life can potentially lead to this anxiety. Depending on the severity of the behavior problem, treatment may range from desensitization to the use of certain medications. (ASPCA)

January 23, 2015

Eye Health

Your pet's eye shouldn't have to fall out before you pay attention to it. A healthy eye is bright, shiny, looks moist, and the lids are held open. The following are some common eye problems that can occur in both dogs and cats.

Corneal ulcers: A wound on the surface of the eye that can be caused by injury, abnormal eyelashes irritating the surface, lack of tear production, or infections.

Conjunctivitis: Swelling and/or reddening of the eye(s) that can be caused by infection. You might also see a discharge.

Cataracts: The lens show a cloudiness that extends deep into the eyeball. Cataracts can be caused by genetics, diabetes, or trauma.They can potentially lead to blindness.

Glaucoma: Pressure that can cause reddening or enlargement of the eye. It can have a genetic predisposition.

Other abnormalities that pets may experience include vision loss, dry eye, an increase in tear production, eyelids turning inward or outward, swelling of their third eyelid, and bulging eyes.

General causes of eye problems include genetics, age, trauma, or bacterial/viral infections.

People should observe their pets for abnormal winking or blinking, shying away from light, discharge, haziness of the eye, or drooping eyelids. If owners notice anything unusual about their pet's eyes, seek veterinary help. (Animal Health SmartBrief 1/20/15)

January 9, 2015

Guidelines to help you protect your pets when the mercury dips

1) Outdoor cats sometimes sleep under the hoods of cars to keep warm. When the motor is started, the cat can be injured or killed by the fan belt. To prevent your cat from sleeping there, loudly bang on the car hood before starting the engine.

2) Never let your dog off the leash during a snowstorm. Dogs can easily become lost. Make sure your dog always wears ID tags.

3) Thoroughly wipe off your dog's feet, legs, and stomach when coming in from bad weather. They could potentially lick salt, antifreeze, or other dangerous chemicals off of their fur. Snow and ice can cause paw pads to develop sores and bleed.

4) When you bathe your dog in the colder months, make sure you completely dry them before allowing outside access.

5) Never leave your dog or cat alone in the car during cold weather. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold and allowing your pet to freeze to death.

6) Puppies and kittens do not tolerate the cold as well as adults. Some senior pets also are sensitive to cold. If your dog is susceptible to the cold due to age, illness or breed type, take him outdoors only to relieve himself.

7) If your dog spends a lot of time engaged in outdoor activities, make sure to increase her supply of food (calories) to keep her in tip top shape.

8) Dog houses should be situated out of the wind, be insulated, and slightly larger than the dog's body to help retain heat close to the pet. Bedding should not be blankets or towels. Wet pets will leave water on the material which will then freeze as soon as they leave the dog house. Now their bedding is an ice cube. Instead, use a thick bed of straw or shavings.

9) Antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Be especially careful when adding antifreeze to radiators and thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle. (ASPCA)

December 5, 2014

Pet safety tips for the holidays

1. Pet-proof the Christmas tree. Secure the tree to prevent the dog or cat from toppling it. Use only non-breakable ornaments, not glass ornaments. Prevent pets from drinking out of the water reservoir - bacteria or chemicals in the water can make pets ill.

2. Safeguard lights and extension cords. Chewing on wires can cause mouth burns, difficulty breathing and cardiac arrest.

3. Tinsel and ribbon hazards. Keep tinsel and ribbon out of reach of your pets. Swallowed, they can cause choking. If they make it to the intestinal tract, they can tear delicate tissues or cause blockages that require surgery to repair.

4. Holiday meals: for people only. Many holiday  foods such as fatty meats, gravy, poultry skin and bones, onions and garlic can cause dog and cat illnesses ranging from vomiting and diarrhea to pancreatitis and other toxic reactions.

5. Avoid chocolate, coffee and caffeine like poison - they are! Note that darker chocolate is more dangerous than milk chocolate.

6. Danger in sweet treats. Candies, gum, and baked goods made with xylitol are toxic to dogs and cats. This sugar substitute causes a rapid drop in blood glucose that can be fatal.

7. No grazing on holiday plants. Lillies, holly and mistletoe are highly toxic to pets.

8. When in doubt, call your veterinarian or nearest emergency clinic.

November 21, 2014

The importance of disclosing all medications to your veterinarian

Most doctors ask if there have been changes or additions to medications that the owner may be giving to their pet. Most owners may not realize that "natural" or "herbal" supplements fall into this category. Some may even be reluctant to admit that they are giving their pet one or more of these products. What owners don't know is that these "all-natural" products, which seem safe, can have serious side effects when combined with some medications. For example, St. John's Wort is advertised for use in dogs with anxiety, phobias, and depression. This particular herb increases the elimination of certain drugs such as those used for anesthetic procedures. Potentially, this could lead to a very poor level of sedation and anesthesia. Other herbs may increase bleeding during surgery. The lack of regulatory oversight and product standardization increases the risk of adverse drug/herb interactions. It is important to let the veterinarian know what is being given at home in order to safely meet the needs of your pets.  (Veterinary Practice News, Sept. 2014)

November 12, 2014

There's xylitol in that too?

Hidden sources of this sugar could mean big trouble for your pet. Xylitol is a natural sugar that causes dangerously low blood sugar and liver damage in dogs. It appears in products you'd never suspect. Nasal sprays, sleep aids, multivitamins, prescription sedatives, antacids, stool softeners, smoking-cessation gums and some foods (such as certain pudding snacks, jams, candies, ice creams, etc.) may contain unexpectedly large amounts of xylitol. It is frequently used as a sugar substitute in gum, breath mints, and dental products. Also, xylitol is sold in bulk as a substitute for table sugar for in-home use. It may be helpful to use the location of xylitol within the food ingredient list to estimate its quantity in the product. The ingredient that weighs the most is listed first, and the ingredient that weighs the least is listed last. For most chewing gums, the amount of xylitol is often insignificant if it's listed as the fourth or fifth ingredient. If it's listed in the top three, the pet should immediately be seen by their veterinarian. Most chewing gums and breath mints typically contain an amount of xylitol that would result in low blood sugar in a ten pound dog consuming just one piece.  (Firstline April 2014)

October 31, 2014

Seven Vampires that aren't Bats

Biologists have unearthed a variety of organisms that drink blood for food.

1. Vampire flying frogs, found in Vietnam, have a red body and sharp, black fangs. They are more likely to be a cannibal than a vampire.

2. Vampire finches, found in the Galapagos, have extremely sharp beaks that pluck and peck at other birds to draw blood to drink. They will also scavenge for dead baby chicks and unattended eggs.

3. Vampire squirrels live in the forests of Borneo. This nimble tiny predator is vicious. It can take down a muntjak deer with a bite to the jugular causing it to bleed to death so it can consume its heart and liver. (According to local legend.) It actually has the fluffiest squirrel tail in the world.

4. Vampire squid are neither vampire nor squid. The name actually comes from its dark red body and glowing eye spots, which give it a fearsome appearance.

5. Vampire fish (Lamprey) have lots of teeth and attach to other fish with its suction cup like mouth, slurping up blood while swimming along. They are considered an invasive species.

6. Vampire bacteria suck the life out of other bacteria. The microbe latches onto the bacterial cell wall and swallows the host's proteins, nutrients and DNA.

7. Vampire moths, living in Siberia, generally are fruit-eating but occasionally drink blood from cattle and other large mammals, including humans. (TheSmithsonian.com)

October 14, 2014

Obesity is taking its toll on our pets

The number one health issue facing our pets today is obesity. More than half of the dogs and almost two thirds of the cats in this country are overweight, says Dr. Ernie Ward founder of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. These fat cats and dogs have more medical problems, very similar to what happens to us when we pack on the pounds. Type 2 diabetes, crippling arthritis, breathing problems, high blood pressure, and certain kinds of cancers are directly related to excess fat. Two things that owners can do to help their pets are to cut the calories and boost the exercise. Substitute healthy treats for those loaded with fat and calories and get the pets up and moving. It is recommended to play with your cat several times a day and take your dog for a brisk 20-30 minute walk everyday. Both pets and their humans will benefit. (KOMO TV in Seattle)

September 9, 2014

Environmental Enrichment

Environmental enrichment can be defined as enhancing the health and welfare of captive animals by modifying their environment. While cats are  not commonly considered to be captive animals, many cats and dogs in North America are housed exclusively indoors, effectively living in captivity. Environmental enrichment lowers the incidence of "sickness behaviors" (non-specific signs that may include vomiting/diarrhea, decreased food/water intake, elimination outside the litter box, lethargy, decreased activity and grooming, and decreased social interactions). The basic approach to enhancing indoor cats' environment is straight-forward. Ensure that all cats in the household have unrestricted access to basic resources and as much control and predictability of the environment as possible. Basic resources include: (1) Provision of a food container, water source, and litter box in a safe, low-traffic area. (2) Accessible materials that can be scratched and climbed on. (3) Uninterrupted rest areas. (4) Opportunities to play and interact with other animals, including humans, on the cat's terms. (5) In multiple-cat households pay special attention to the prevention of "resource guarding" by ensuring plenty of everything, and to the quality of interactions between cats. (NAVC Clinician's Brief, Sept. 2011)

August 20, 2014

Buyer Beware

"Discount pet drugs - no prescription required" may appeal to pet owners surfing the Web, but FDA experts say it may be risky to buy drugs online from sites that tout this message and others like it. Some of the Internet sites that sell pet drugs represent legitimate, reputable pharmacies. But others are fronts for unscrupulous businesses operating against the law. Pet owners who purchase drugs from these companies may be short-changing their pet's health and putting its life at risk.One big concern is that pet owners are going online to purchase two commonly prescribed drugs - nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and heartworm preventatives. Both of these drugs require monitoring and Internet pharmacy veterinarians are unable to draw blood from the animal to run the necessary tests. If there is no veterinarian-client-patient relationship, this is a dangerous practice. (FDA Consumer Health Information)

August 13, 2014

Top 10 Toxins for Dogs

1) Chocolate: Bakers and dark chocolate are the most toxic, but milk chocolate can be dangerous if ingested in large amounts.

2) Xylitol: This sweetener is found in sugarless gum, some candies, medications and nasal sprays. It causes a rapid drop in blood sugar and liver failure.

3) NSAIDS: Ibuprofen, naproxen, etc found in Advil, Motrin and Aleve, can cause stomach ulcers and kidney failure.

4) Over-the-counter Allergy Medications: Those that contain acetaminophine or decongestants, such as pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine, are particularly toxic.

5) Rodenticides (Rat/Mouse poisons): These may cause internal bleeding or brain swelling even in small amounts.

6) Grapes and Raisins: These are harmless for people but can cause kidney damage in dogs.

7) Insect bait stations: These rarely cause poisoning but may cause bowel obstruction when the plastic is swallowed.

8) Prescription ADD/ADHD medications: Drugs such as Adderall, Concerta, Dexedrine, and Vyvanse can cause tremors, seizures, cardiac problems and death.

9) Glucosamine joint supplements: Overdoses of tasty products typically only cause diarrhea, however in rare cases, liver failure can develop.

10) Oxygen absorbers: Iron containing oxygen absorbers found in food packages like beef jerky and pet treats can cause iron poisoning.(dvm360)

July 25, 2014

Ticks, and other parasites, encroaching on new territories

The Companion Animal Parasite Council is warning of expanding tick territories and a a higher risk of diseases in previously less susceptible pet populations. They are urging owners to use year-round parasite prevention for pets. Here are some of the nationwide trends predicted for 2014:

Ticks that spread Lyme Disease are expanding their territory into areas of the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic states.

The risk of ehrlichiosis will be very high from Virginia to Texas and as far west as Texas.

Heartworm disease is also expected to be a substantial threat, with Texas, the Southeast and Pacific Coast areas from Northern California to Washington state seeing higher than normal levels of infection.

(dvm360)

July 18, 2014

"Cats have only 473 taste buds, compared with about 9,000 in people."

"Like people, cats are either right-handed or left-handed, though some are ambidextrous. Females are more likely to be right-handed while males are more frequently left-handed."

"The CIA's 'Acoustic Kitty' operation in the 1960s tried to use cats to obtain secret recordings at the Kremlin and Soviet embassies."

"Unsinkable Sam, a black and white cat also known as Oskar, survived the sinking of 3 ships during WW2: Bismarck, HMS Cossack, and HMS Ark Royal."

"Cats today live almost twice as long as they did 50 years ago."(dvm360)

July 7, 2014

"The special receptor in taste buds needed to recognize 'sweet' is lacking in cats."

"Self-grooming can eliminate as much of a cat's body fluid as urination. Cats spend nearly a third of their waking hours grooming."

"A cat's field of vision is 285 degrees, compared with 210 in people."

"Cats recognize their owners' voices, but may still ignore them."

"Cats have a unique way of walking - they first move both left feet then both right feet." (dvm360)

June 27, 2014

"The scientific term for a hairball, trichobezoar, comes from the Persian word for 'antidote'. Hairballs were once thought to cure epilepsy, plague, and poisoning. During the Middle Ages, they were set in gold."

"Domestic cats have a top speed of 29.8mph."

"Disneyland keeps 200 feral cats on hand to rid it of rodents at night."

"Domestic cats can jump up to 5 times their own height."

"An average cat can make around 100 vocal sounds."(dvm360)

June 20, 2014

Fun Cat Factoids

"81% of cat owners say their cat is in excellent health. But only 37% of cat owners have visited in the last year for a wellness exam. (How do they know?)"

"A cat lover is called an ailurophile."

"Although cats sleep up to 16 hours a day, three-quarters of that sleep is snoozing, not deep sleep."

"Cats respond more readily to names ending in '-ie' or '-y'. "

"The loudest purr by a domestic cat was 67.7 decibels, achieved by Smokey in the UK in 2011." (dvm360)

June 11, 2014

Don't Leave Pets in Cars!

Even well-meaning pet owners are potentially putting their animals in serious danger when they leave them in a parked car. Temperatures inside the vehicle rapidly increase, putting pets at risk for heatstroke and death. At just 84 degrees outside, the inside of the car can reach 98 degrees in a matter of minutes. Leaving the windows open and providing water aren't enough to alleviate the danger. Signs of heatstroke include heavy panting, glazed eyes, rapid heart rate, difficulty breathing, lethargy, profuse salivation, vomiting, seizures, unconsciousness, and death. Passers-by that notice a pet in a parked car should call 911 and immediately report the incident. Police or animal control officials will be sent to free the animal and owners will face steep fines. The Star Press (Muncie, IN)

May 29, 2014

11 pets suggested for allergy sufferers

An environmental consulting firm released their list of the top allergen-friendly pets. Making the cut were the Bedlington terrier, Devon Rex cat, Irish water spaniel, Italian greyhound, Javanese cat, Labradoodle, Labrador retriever, Maltese, Schnauzer, Yorkshire terrier and iguana. No breed of dog or cat has been proven to be truly hypo-allergenic, but studies suggest some may be more allergen-friendly than others. These breeds singled out tend to be smaller, shed less, and possess shorter coats or fur. Labs made the list because they love to swim and their frequent dips limit allergen concentrations in their hair. Reptiles are suggested because they don't produce any allergens.

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