Monday, September 30, 2013
Friday, September 27, 2013
Each year millions of beloved pets end up lost and separated from their owners for various reasons. According to the American Humane Association, less than 20% of dogs and less than 2% of cats are reunited with their families. Most end up in shelters with no identification on them. Our pets cannot talk and tell their rescuers who they belong to or where they live, so it is up to us to provide that information. First and foremost, your pet should always wear a collar with their current dog license tag as well as a tag with your current address and phone number. If you move, be sure to update the information. If a stray pet is found wearing a current license tag, the license number can easily be looked up online through the county’s dog license website. Collars can however, come off, fall off, or be removed. Therefore, in addition to a collar, consider a more permanent form of identification such as a microchip. Microchipping has been gaining in popularity and next to an ID tag, is the most successful in reuniting lost pets with their owners. A microchip is inserted by a veterinarian beneath the surface of the skin between the animal’s shoulder blades. It is about the size of a grain of rice and contains a unique ID code that can be read by a microchip scanner. The procedure is quick and painless, not much different from an ordinary vaccination. The permanent microchip stays with your pet and will last their lifetime. You MUST register the chip with your address and phone number for it to be effective, and if you move, you need to update the information. Studies show that nearly 75% of dogs and cats brought to shelters with microchips are reunited with their owners. The reasons for the ones not reunited are largely due to incorrect or outdated information in the registry. You can use the link on this page to go to the Home Again website to register or update information, they are the most well-known and widely used microchip company. Even if you think your pet is safe in a fenced in yard, or well trained, you never know what can happen. Dogs can easily be attracted by scent or curiosity and can wander off in no time. Gates to the yard can be accidentally left open. And pet thefts are increasing at alarming rates. It’s best to be on the safe side at all times and know that your pet has identification on them. Since the presence of a microchip is only detected through the use of a microchip scanner, it is important to keep your pet's collar and ID tags on at all times. But even if they lose their collar, nearly all shelters, rescues and vets will scan animals found for the presence of a microchip, resulting in much higher chances of them being reunited with you. We offer microchipping here at A Caring Heart Veterinary Hospital for $35.00 call 940-855-0451 to schedule yours today!
Friday, September 20, 2013
Bad breath in pets, particularly dogs, is often joked about, but it is not a laughing matter. Dental disease affects up to 80% of pets over the age of three, and just like humans, there can be serious consequences of poor dental health. How many teeth do dogs and cats have, anyway? Dogs start out with 28 deciduous (baby) teeth, cats start out with 26 deciduous teeth. By six months of age, these baby teeth fall out and are replaced by permanent teeth, 42 in the dog and 30 in the cat. Will I find the deciduous teeth, and what happens when they don't fall out on their own? You may or may not find the teeth as they fall out. As dogs play and chew on toys, you might see a tooth. Likewise, as a cat grooms, you may find a tooth in the fur. If the deciduous teeth don't fall out and the permanent teeth erupt under them, this can lead to problems, such as increased tartar formation, malocclusion problems, and gingival (gum) irritation. When should dental care start with my pet? The earlier the better. With the help of your Veterinarian, be on the lookout for retained deciduous teeth and malocclusion (bad bite) problems. Your Veterinarian can teach you how to care for your pet's teeth and gums early on. How can I tell if my pet has dental problem? Bad breath is often a first indicator of dental disease. Gently lift the lips and check for tartar, inflamed gums, or missing/broken teeth. Cats may exhibit increased drooling. Both cats and dogs can exhibit reluctance to eat or play with toys, "chattering" of the teeth when trying to eat, lethargy, bleeding gums, eroded teeth, and failing to groom (cats). Dental disease progresses in stages -- if caught early, you can prevent further damage and save as many teeth as possible. How is the rest of the body affected by bad teeth? Infected gums and teeth aren't just a problem in the mouth -- the heart, kidneys, intestinal tract, and joints may also be infected. The tartar and any infected areas of the mouth contain a multitude of bacteria than can 'seed' to other parts of the body. With regular dental care, you can prevent some of these more serious side effects. Where should I start? With a new puppy or kitten, talk to your Veterinarian at the vaccination appointments on how to initiate a good dental care program at home. Most Veterinarians are happy to provide brushing lessons, and many carry brushes and toothpaste specifically for dogs and cats. (NOTE: do not use human toothpaste on your pet!) If your pet is an adult over 3 years of age, it would be wise to schedule a dental check up with your Veterinarian. If a dental cleaning is necessary, it is advisable to do pre-anesthesia blood work to make sure your pet does not have any underlying problems. My pet needs a dental cleaning -- what is involved with that? As mentioned above, pre-dental blood work is recommended. This is a check on the overall health of the pet to make sure that liver, kidneys, and blood counts are within normal ranges and to reduce any risks possible prior to the anesthesia. Many pets with bad teeth will be put on an antibiotic a few days prior to the dental to calm the infection and reduce possibility of complications. Your pet will be fasted from the evening before for the anesthesia. The dental itself is similar to a human dental cleaning - tartar removal, checking for cavities, gingival (gum) pockets, loose teeth, any growths on the gums or palate, removal of diseased teeth, and finally, polishing. The polishing is to smooth the tooth after tartar removal, as the tartar pits the tooth. A smooth tooth will not encourage tartar formation as easily as a roughened tooth. Click here for a photo essay on a dental cleaning in a cat. With good dental care, your pet can enjoy a long and healthy life.
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Overview Some dog owners consider clipping their pet's nails an uncomfortable and unnecessary chore. But there are a number of reasons why nail trimming should be made part of a dog's grooming routine. Unlike humans, a dog walks and runs on its toes. Dogs that regularly walk on concrete, gravel or other hard or rough surfaces will "buff" their nails naturally. Those that run on carpeting or get little exercise will require a regular pedicure. Health Effects-when a dog's nails become too long, they interfere with the dog's gait and as the dog's nails continue to grow, walking will become awkward and painful. If nails are left to grow too long, they can split and bleed or cut into the pad of a dog's foot. Dewclaws- The dewclaws grow on the inside of a dog's paw and don't touch the ground as it walks. If left untrimmed, they can curl up and pierce the footpad, causing pain and infection. Time to Trim- Healthier Dogs recommends a dog's nails be checked and clipped once or twice a month or when you can hear its nails clicking on the floor. Our September special os a nail trim for $7.00 call 940-855-0451.
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Most dogs love food, and they’re especially attracted to what they see us eating. While sharing the occasional tidbit with your dog is fine, it’s important to be aware that some foods can be very dangerous to dogs. Take caution to make sure your dog never gets access to the foods below. Even if you don’t give him table scraps, your dog might eat something that’s hazardous to his health if he raids kitchen counters, cupboards and trash cans. For advice on teaching your dog not to steal food. Avocado leaves, fruit, seeds and bark may contain a toxic principle known as persin. The Guatemalan variety, a common one found in stores, appears to be the most problematic. Other varieties of avocado can have different degrees of toxic potential. Birds, rabbits, and some large animals, including horses, are especially sensitive to avocados, as they can have respiratory distress, congestion, fluid accumulation around the heart, and even death from consuming avocado. While avocado is toxic to some animals, in dogs and cats, we do not expect to see serious signs of illness. In some dogs and cats, mild stomach upset may occur if the animal eats a significant amount of avocado flesh or peel. Ingestion of the pit can lead to obstruction in the gastrointestinal tract, which is a serious situation requiring urgent veterinary care. Avocado is sometimes included in pet foods for nutritional benefit. We would generally not expect avocado meal or oil present in commercial pet foods to pose a hazard to dogs and cats. Bread Dough Raw bread dough made with live yeast can be hazardous if ingested by dogs. When raw dough is swallowed, the warm, moist environment of the stomach provides an ideal environment for the yeast to multiply, resulting in an expanding mass of dough in the stomach. Expansion of the stomach may be severe enough to decrease blood flow to the stomach wall, resulting in the death of tissue. Additionally, the expanding stomach may press on the diaphragm, resulting in breathing difficulty. Perhaps more importantly, as the yeast multiplies, it produces alcohols that can be absorbed, resulting in alcohol intoxication. Affected dogs may have distended abdomens and show signs such as a lack of coordination, disorientation, stupor and vomiting (or attempts to vomit). In extreme cases, coma or seizures may occur and could lead to death from alcohol intoxication. Dogs showing mild signs should be closely monitored, and dogs with severe abdominal distention or dogs who are so inebriated that they can’t stand up should be monitored by a veterinarian until they recover. Chocolate Chocolate intoxication is most commonly seen around certain holidays—like Easter, Christmas, Halloween and Valentine’s Day—but it can happen any time dogs have access to products that contain chocolate, such as chocolate candy, cookies, brownies, chocolate baking goods, cocoa powder and cocoa shell-based mulches. The compounds in chocolate that cause toxicosis are caffeine and theobromine, which belong to a group of chemicals called methylxanthines. The rule of thumb with chocolate is “the darker it is, the more dangerous it is.” White chocolate has very few methylxanthines and is of low toxicity. Dark baker’s chocolate has very high levels of methylxanthines, and plain, dry unsweetened cocoa powder contains the most concentrated levels of methylxanthines. Depending on the type and amount of chocolate ingested, the signs seen can range from vomiting, increased thirst, abdominal discomfort and restlessness to severe agitation, muscle tremors, irregular heart rhythm, high body temperature, seizures and death. Dogs showing more than mild restlessness should be seen by a veterinarian immediately. Ethanol (Also Known as Ethyl Alcohol, Grain Alcohol or Drinking Alcohol) Dogs are far more sensitive to ethanol than humans are. Even ingesting a small amount of a product containing alcohol can cause significant intoxication. Dogs may be exposed to alcohol through drinking alcoholic drinks, such as beer, wine or mixed drinks (those with milk, like White Russians and “fortified” egg nog, are especially appealing to dogs), alcohol-containing elixirs and syrups, and raw yeast bread dough (please see the above section on bread dough). Alcohol intoxication commonly causes vomiting, loss of coordination, disorientation and stupor. In severe cases, coma, seizures and death may occur. Dogs showing mild signs of alcohol intoxication should be closely monitored, and dogs who are so inebriated that they can’t stand up should be monitored by a veterinarian until they recover. Grapes and Raisins Grapes and raisins have recently been associated with the development of kidney failure in dogs. At this time, the exact cause of the kidney failure isn’t clear, nor is it clear why some dogs can eat these fruits without harm, while others develop life-threatening problems after eating even a few grapes or raisins. Some dogs eat these fruits and experience no ill effects—but then eat them later on and become very ill. Until the cause of the toxicosis is better identified, the safest course of action is to avoid feeding grapes or raisins to your dog. Dogs experiencing grape or raisin toxicosis usually develop vomiting, lethargy or diarrhea within 12 hours of ingestion. As signs progress, dogs become increasingly lethargic and dehydrated, refuse to eat and may show a transient increase in urination followed by decreased or absent urination in later stages. Death due to kidney failure may occur within three to four days, or long-term kidney disease may persist in dogs who survive the acute intoxication. Successful treatment requires prompt veterinary treatment to maintain good urine flow. Hops Cultivated hops used for brewing beer have been associated with potentially life-threatening signs in dogs who have ingested them. Both fresh and spent (cooked) hops have been implicated in poisoning dogs. Affected dogs develop an uncontrollably high body temperature (often greater than 108 degrees Fahrenheit), which results in damage to and failure of multiple organ systems. Dogs poisoned by hops become restless, pant excessively, and may have muscle tremors and seizures. Prompt veterinary intervention is necessary to prevent death in these dogs. Macadamia Nuts Although macadamia nut toxicosis is unlikely to be fatal in dogs, it can cause very uncomfortable symptoms that may persist for up to 48 hours. Affected dogs develop weakness in their rear legs, appear to be in pain, may have tremors and may develop a low grade fever. Fortunately, these signs will gradually subside over 48 hours, but dogs experiencing more than mild symptoms can benefit from veterinary care, which may include intravenous fluid therapy and pain control. Moldy Foods A wide variety of molds grow on food. Some produce toxins called tremorgenic mycotoxins, which can cause serious or even life-threatening problems if ingested by dogs. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to determine whether a particular mold is producing tremorgenic mycotoxins, so the safest rule of thumb is to avoid feeding dogs moldy food. In other words, if you wouldn’t eat it, neither should your dog. Promptly remove any trash or moldy debris (road-kill, fallen walnuts or fruit, etc.) from your dog’s environment to prevent him from eating it. The signs of tremorgenic mycotoxin poisoning generally begin as fine muscle tremors that progress to very coarse total-body tremors and, finally, convulsions that can lead to death in severe cases. Left untreated, these tremors can last for several weeks. Fortunately, they usually respond well to appropriate veterinary treatment. Onions and Garlic All close members of the onion family (shallots, onions, garlic, scallions, etc.) contain compounds that can damage dogs’ red blood cells if ingested in sufficient quantities. A rule of thumb is “the stronger it is, the more toxic it is.” Garlic tends to be more toxic than onions, on an ounce-for-ounce basis. While it’s uncommon for dogs to eat enough raw onions and garlic to cause serious problems, exposure to concentrated forms of onion or garlic, such as dehydrated onions, onion soup mix or garlic powder, may put dogs at risk of toxicosis. The damage to the red blood cells caused by onions and garlic generally doesn’t become apparent until three to five days after a dog eats these vegetables. Affected dogs may seem weak or reluctant to move, or they may appear to tire easily after mild exercise. Their urine may be orange-tinged to dark red in color. These dogs should be examined by a veterinarian immediately. In severe cases, blood transfusions may be needed. Xylitol Xylitol is a non-caloric sweetener that is widely used in sugar-free gum, as well as in sugar-free baked products. In humans, xylitol does not affect blood sugar levels, but in dogs, ingestion of xylitol can lead to a rapid and severe drop in blood sugar levels. Dogs may develop disorientation and seizures within 30 minutes of ingesting xylitol-containing products, or signs may be delayed for several hours. Some dogs who ingest large amounts of xylitol develop liver failure, which can be fatal. All dogs ingesting xylitol-containing products should be examined by a veterinarian immediately.
Monday, September 16, 2013
Just like in humans, vaccinations are the element of the preventative care of your dog. Vaccines protect dogs from a wide variety of diseases and help them to live longer, healthier lives. Veterinarians used to recommend that dogs get vaccinated every year, but recent research shows that some vaccinations last much longer than that and do not need to be re-administered annually. In addition to protecting your dog from illness, vaccines also raise group immunity. Group immunity is the resistance of a population of dogs to a particular pathogen. A high group immunity raises the chances of the eradication of the pathogen from the dog population, and greatly reduces the likelihood that un-vaccinated dogs will be exposed. Vaccinations Your Dog Needs According to the American Animal Hospital Association, there are two classes of vaccines: core and non-core vaccines. Core vaccines are typically recommended for all dogs because they protect against serious and fatal illnesses that are easily transmitted between animals. Non-core vaccines target less virulent pathogens and are generally recommended for dogs with high-risk lifestyles or immune deficiency. Types Core vaccines include distemper, parovirus, rabies and adenovirus. Noncore vaccines include kennel cough, leptospirosis and lyme disease. A puppy receives a large number of antibodies from his mother. These maternal antibodies can block the action of many vaccines. Because of this, veterinarians often recommend puppies reach at least 6 weeks of age before administering vaccinations. When Should Puppies Be Vaccinated? The window of susceptibility can vary from litter to litter, and even from puppy to puppy. For this reason, veterinarians recommend a series of vaccinations in the first year of life, to make sure the puppy is protected from pathogens. Vaccinations are typically given at 6 weeks, with boosters every three weeks until about 16 weeks of age. Vaccination Risk According to the American Animal Hospital Association, vaccine reactions are extremely rare. Most reactions that do occur are minor and involve local swelling and pain. Sometimes, however, an allergic reaction to the compounds in the vaccine can occur. When this happens, emergency treatment is recommended. As with all medical procedures, the benefits should be weighed against the risks. Statistically, the risk of disease is much greater than the risk of adverse vaccination reactions.Call Today to make sure your family member is protected at 940-855-0451.