Besides buying supplies and making your home pet-safe, it is important to bring your new pet to your veterinarian for a complete check-up. Your veterinarian will perform a complete examination to ensure that your cat or dog is healthy and determine if they need any vaccines, diagnostic testing and or preventatives. They will also look for external parasites, like fleas and ticks, and check for internal parasites, like roundworms, and tapeworms. Checking your new pet for medical issues and parasites before you bring them home can save you a big headache in long run. Getting a new pet is exciting. Be sure you get your new friend off to a good start by taking them to your veterinarian right away.
Regular examinations are the best way to detect medical problems early and to insure that your cat is protected against preventable illnesses. Your cat can’t tell you when something is wrong, ant they are masters at hiding illness. So never skip a check-up because your cat looks healthy. Just like us, cats can develop diseases like kidney disease, thyroid disease, diabetes, dental disease, cardiac disease and cancer. During a routine visit, your veterinarian will examine your cat from head to tail. Veterinarians have the tools and training to detect subtle signs of diseases. Remember the goal of annual examinations is to not only prevent disease, but also to catch any illnesses early. The earlier diseases are discovered the better the odds are that your cat can be treated successfully. So remember whether your cat appears healthy or not, all cats should see their veterinarian at least once a year.
Have you ever tried to “pill” you cat? If you answered yes, then you know how challenging it can be. Even the most mild-mannered kitty can turn into a spitting and hissing ball of fury. Besides being no fun, pilling your cat is also stressful for you and your cat. Fortunately there are ways to make the experience more palatable for you and your cat.
- For some cats it may be easier to give them their medication as a liquid instead of a pill. So if your cat hates pills, don’t be afraid to ask your veterinarian to prescribe the liquid version of a medication, if available.
- If a medication only comes as a pill, try using Pill Pockets to get your cat to take their meds. Pill Pockets look like a tasty treat but they have a “pocket” to hide the pill. Pill Pockets work well for most cats, especially cats that like treats.
- For cats that are picky eaters or too smart to be fooled with Pill Pockets, there is still hope. Most veterinary clinics and pet stores sell “pillers,” devices that help you pill your cat without having to put your finger down your kitty’s throat. Although using a piller successfully requires some skill, your veterinarian can show you how to effectively use these little tools.
- If your cat manages to defeat the piller, a compounding pharmacy may offer a solution. Compounding is the process of mixing drugs to fit the unique needs of the patient. Examples are changing the dose of a medication, making drugs that have been discontinued, removing allergenic ingredients, reformulating a medication as a liquid, and adding flavor additives to make the medication more palatable. Many compounding companies are experienced at formulating common cat medications into tasty tuna cocktails most cats enjoy or at the very least tolerate. Talk with your veterinarian to find out if compounding is an option since not all drugs remain as effective when compounded.
- What if your cat manages to spit out anything you put in its mouth? Thankfully, there is still hope for these cats. Many medications can be formulated for transdermal use. Transdermal means the medication is absorbed through the skin. Transdermal medications are commonly used in people to treat a number of conditions, like high blood pressure, chronic pain, heart disease, and even used for smoking cessation and birth control. Transdermal medications are easy to use and produce better results because of improved patient compliance. Who wouldn’t choose putting a patch on their skin instead taking pill everyday? Unfortunately, little is known about the efficacy of many transdermal medications in cats, so they are best used as a last resort.
Whether you pill your cat by using a piller, hide it in a tasty treat or give it to them in a liquid or transdermal formulation, it doesn’t really matter as long as the method you use works for your cat. If you have any problems don’t be afraid to ask your veterinarian for help. After all, a medication is only effective if you can get the patient to take their meds.
You drive a hybrid and bring your own bags to the grocery store. You care about greenhouse gases and your carbon footprint. What about your pet’s carbon pawprint? Is your pet living a green, eco-friendly life? April 22nd is Earth Day. What can you do this Earth Day to make sure that your pets are living green too?
Anyone who has ever had a pet knows that they create lots of waste. It is estimated that 10 million tons of waste from pets fill landfills yearly. What can you do to help? Instead of using plastic bags to pick up and dispose of your pet’s waste, try using recycled biodegradable pet poop bags. If you want to be even more eco-friendly, get an in-ground waste disposal system. What you might ask? In-ground waste disposal systems are essentially miniature septic systems that allow you to dispose of your pet’s waste right in your back yard. There are several companies that sell kits you can buy to create your own environmentally-friendly dog waste disposal system. If you have a cat, switch from a clay-based litter to a biodegradable litter to cut down on the estimated 2 million tons of clay litter that end up in landfills yearly.
Give A Hoot, Don’t Pollute
Always pick-up after your pet and follow the backpacker’s motto of leaving only footprints (or paw prints) behind. Besides being inconsiderate, leaving your pet’s waste behind can pollute water sources when runoff washes into streams and lakes.
Purchase pet beds, furniture and toys made from recycled or sustainable materials. My dog Oski (and cats) love the Petlinks Supreme Soother bed. In addition to being soft and cozy, it is extremely eco-friendly. The cushion is filled with reclaimed memory foam scraps and the bolster with fiber made from recycled plastic water bottles. Now your pet gets a comfy bed while you keep plastic bottles and memory foam scraps out of landfills. If your cats love to scratch, like mine, they will enjoy Petlink’s Scratcher Choice+. This scratcher is made from recycled cardboard so you’ll love it because its eco-friendly, but your cats will love it because it is actually impregnated with cat nip! The scratcher is basically a big “scratch and sniff” toy for cats. SmartyKat also makes cat toys like the Skitter Critters whose filling is made of recycled bottles and they have the #1 selling organic catnip in the US. As a certified organic product, they use no pesticides or fertilizers that could contaminate the environment – it’s better for your cat, your family and the earth.
The Petlinks Supreme Soother Gel Memory Foam bed, Petlinks Scratchers Choice, Smartykat Skitter Critters, and SmartyKat Organic Catnip are available online.
In addition to buying products made from recycled materials, you can buy products made from sustainable materials. Environmentally friendly hemp can be used to make almost everything, like leashes, collars, beds and toys.
Buy in Bulk
Buying pet food and pet supplies in bulk not only saves money, it also conserves fuel and lowers emissions by saving you extra trips to the store. It also saves time so you don’t have to go to the store as often.
Make sure your pet isn’t adding to the pet over-population problem by having your pets spayed or neutered.
Adopt a Shelter Pet
Don’t forget about your local animal shelter if you are thinking about getting a pet. There are lots of “recycled pets” that need a good home. While adopting one of these deserving pets may not lower emissions or save fuel, it can save a life.
By adopting these simple tips, you and your pet can live green and make the planet a better place.
Getting a new pet is a big deal and everyone knows it’s important to get off to a good start. So besides buying supplies and making your home pet-safe, what else should you be doing if you’re adding a new, furry, four-legged member to the family? As a veterinarian, it’s a question I’m often asked by prospective pet parents. So whether your new pet comes from an animal shelter, rescue or a breeder, I’d like to share important things I believe all new pets should have.
Taking your new pet to the veterinarian is probably the most important thing you should do. Your veterinarian will do a complete physical exam to insure your new pet is healthy or address any existing medical issues. They will also make sure your pet is protected from preventable illness by recommending vaccines and parasite preventatives. Your veterinarian may also suggest microchipping your pet and spaying or neutering them if it hasn’t been done already.
2. FIV and FeLV test
If your new pet is a cat than feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and feline leukemia virus (FeLV) tests are essential. FeLV and FIV are important disease causing viruses in cats. FIV is sometimes called feline “AIDS” because like HIV, it attacks the immune system and makes the host vulnerable to opportunistic infections. FeLV also weakens the immune system, but in addition to predisposing them to infections, it increases their risk of lymphosarcoma, a highly malignant cancer. Testing cats for FIV and FeLV is important for 2 different reasons. If you already have a cat, you want to make sure that your new cat is free from FIV and FeLV. FIV can be transmitted by a bite or scratch from an infected cat and FeLV can be transmitted by sharing food and water bowls or even a litter box with an infected cat. The second reason to test is that knowing that your new cat has FIV or FeLV is important even though there is no cure for either disease. FIV and FeLV are terrible diseases, but they are not death sentences and cats can live with FIV and FeLV. If you know your cat is infected, you can take additional precautions to protect them from infections.
3. Heartworm testing
When most people think of heartworms, they think of a disease that only affects dogs. In reality, heartworm disease can also affect cats, although less frequently.
Heartworm disease is a potentially fatal condition caused by a type of worm that lives in the heart and the arteries of the lungs. It is transmitted by mosquitos and is found in every state, although it is more prevalent in the South. The best treatment for heartworm disease is prevention. Before starting preventative treatments, it is recommended that pets are tested for heartworm disease because serious complications can develop if an animal is already infected.
4. Fecal flotation
Internal parasites can affect both cats and dogs. Examples of internal parasites include tapeworms, roundworms, whipworms, hookworms and protozoa like toxoplasma and cryptosporidia. Internal parasites can be detected by testing an animal’s stool with a fecal flotation test (also called a fecal float). It’s important to test for internal parasites because they can be transmitted to other pets and some can even spread to people.
5. Screening blood tests
If you are adopting an older cat or dog, it is always a good idea to get screening blood tests. By definition, a screening blood test is a test done to detect disease before it shows manifestations and becomes symptomatic. So even if the cat or dog you are adopting looks healthy, it is ideal to get a screening blood test to make sure they don’t have problems like diabetes, kidney disease or thyroid disease. Screening tests are also important for animals of all ages if they will be undergoing surgery.
Depending on where your animal came from, some of these tests may have already been done. For example, most animal shelters routinely test for FIV and FeLV before placing a cat in their adoption program. However, never assume and always check your pet’s medical record to find out what has already been done. This is another reason why taking your newly adopted pet to the veterinarian is important: they will review your pet’s medical records to determine which tests or vaccines have been done and what if anything still needs to be done. Following these recommendations can help insure a healthy start for your new animal friend.
As it warms up, these fuzzy little guys are buzzing all over the place. Just like in humans, bee stings can cause severe reactions in certain dogs. If your pet gets stung and has any swelling or breathing problems, see your veterinarian right away.
The Vernal Equinox is not just the start of spring, but also the start of the allergy season. Allergies don’t just affect people. Just like us, pets can also be allergic to grasses and pollens. Pets can also have food allergies or intolerances to certain grains commonly found in pet food. Unlike humans with allergies, who typically sneeze, cough, or develop runny noses or watery eyes, pets typically develop itchy skin. This may be observed as biting, licking or rubbing at their feet, face or muzzle, ears or belly. Chewing and licking can lead to hair loss, skin irritation and infections. Animals with food allergies may also develop gastrointestinal signs like diarrhea and flatulence. Treatment for allergies depends considerably on the type of allergy and severity. Food allergies or grain intolerances may improve simply by switching your pet to a grain-free diet (always transition to new food slowly). More severe allergies may require a combination of oral and topical medications, as well as prescription shampoos.
Be careful of all the holiday treats. Chocolate eggs, bunnies and coins for Easter and Passover are no-nos for pets. Most people know that chocolate is toxic to pets, but xylitol, a sweetener found in many sugar-free gums and candy, can also be deadly to pets. So be sure to keep all these holiday treats out of reach of your four-legged friends.
During the holidays, people often give Easter lilies and flowers as gifts. Remember to look-out for toxic plants. Lilies can be deadly to curious cats that nibble on their leaves. Lilies are highly toxic and can cause kidney failure and death. If you have cats, keep these out of your house and be sure to check any bouquets you get for these and other toxic flowers.
Unfortunately, people and pets aren’t the only ones that enjoy warm weather. Bugs do too! So make sure you pets are on flea, tick and heartworm prevention. Year round parasite prevention is best. See your veterinarian to find out what parasite preventatives are best for your pet.
As a primary care veterinarian, ear infections are one of the most common problems I encounter. Although some animals go to the vet to have an ear problem addressed, many ear infections are discovered incidentally during a routine physical exam. Ear infections can be painful, and if untreated, they can become chronic, lead to hearing loss, and aural hematomas due to head shaking and scratching. In order to avoid these potential problems, I want everyone to know how to recognize an ear infection.
What are some of the common causes of ear infections in pets?
- Ear mites
- Foreign bodies like plant awns
- Polyps or tumors
- Conformation: Large floppy ears cover the canal, trap moisture and decrease airflow creating the perfect environment for bacteria and yeast.
How do you know if your pet has an ear infection?
Rubbing or scratching at ears
Painful sensitive ears
Ear discharge or debris
What should you do if you think your pet has an ear infection?
If your pet has any of these symptoms, take them to your veterinarian. Your vet will check your pet’s ear canals and do a thorough otoscopic exam to look for foreign bodies and make sure that the tympanic membrane (ear drum) is still intact. They may also check for bacteria, yeast and mites.
The goal of treatment is to clean the ear, decrease inflammation, treat pain, and ultimately address the underlying cause. Depending on the cause, your veterinarian will dispense the appropriate medications and of course remove any foreign bodies that may have caused the inflammation and secondary infection.
How do you prevent ear infections? Unfortunately, there is no magic pill that prevents ear infections in pets. However, there are some steps you can take to decrease the chances your pet will develop an ear infection.
- Keep your pet’s ears clean. Certain breeds of dogs are prone to ear infections and benefit from having their ears cleaned regularly. Always use a pet ear cleaner; never use water, alcohol or peroxide. Ear cleaners are gentle and formulated for use in the ear. Next time you see your veterinarian ask them to show you how to properly and safely clean your pet’s ears at home.
- Keep your pet’s ears dry. Excessive moisture predisposes pets to ear infections. So try not to get water in your pet’s ears when bathing them and try to limit swimming if your pet has a history of ear infections. You can also speak with your veterinarian about medications to help dry the ear canal after swimming.
- Catch and treat ear infections early. Become familiar with the symptoms of an ear infection. If your dog is shaking their head, scratching at their ears, or has foul-smelling discharge from their ears, take them promptly to your veterinarian to avoid the problems associated with chronic infections.
No one likes to go to the dentist, and dogs are no exception. But like humans, pets also need routine dental care. Imagine what your teeth would look like if you never brushed them. According to the American Veterinary Dental Society (AVDS), 80% of dogs over the age of three already have dental disease, making it the number one health issue in pets. While cavities are common in humans, dogs primarily develop tartar. Tartar doesn’t just lead to bad breath, it can lead to tooth loss, painful tooth root abscesses, difficulty eating, and other serious health problems.
So how does dental disease occur in pets? The combination of food, saliva, and bacteria leads to plaque formation. If this isn’t removed by brushing it mineralizes and becomes tartar. Tartar accumulation promotes bacterial infections below the gumline, which results in gum recession and destruction of the tooth’s support structures. Unless treated, tooth loss and pain occur. Bacteria can also enter the blood stream and spread to distant organs, like the kidney, liver and heart.
If your pet already has dental disease a complete dental cleaning is necessary. This involves an evaluation of the oral cavity and cleaning not only the surface of the teeth, but getting under the gumline where the majority of bacteria and tartar are found. After the teeth are cleaned, they are polished to smooth the roughened surfaces that were created by the cleaning. Without polishing, these rough surfaces allow bacteria and plaque to adhere easily and accelerates the recurrence of dental disease. Next an antibacterial solution is flushed below the gumline to remove any debris that has collected after the scaling and polishing. Lastly the entire mouth is checked again and dental x-rays may be used to assess the extent of the dental disease and the need for tooth extractions or additional work. While most humans can sit still and tolerate this type of thorough dental cleaning, most pets won’t. The only way to accomplish all of these necessary steps in animals is by using general anesthesia.
The thought of general anesthesia in our beloved canine companions can often be scarier than a trip to our own dentist. So what about a non-anesthetic dental cleaning? It is important to know that it is currently illegal for anyone other than a veterinarian or a supervised and trained veterinary technician to perform a dental cleaning. Even when done by a trained professional there are risks. Animals with dental disease often have painful mouths and may be uncomfortable or experience pain without anesthesia. The mechanical and manual instruments are quite sharp and therefore dangerous if an animal jerks or reacts suddenly to pain or mere manipulation. But the biggest issue with non-anesthetic dental cleanings is the fact that they typically only clean the surface of the tooth and are therefore only cosmetic, not able to really correct or address the underlying dental disease. For these reasons, both the American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC) and the AVDS do not recommend non-anesthetic dental cleanings.
So how can you make the anesthetic dental safer? Pre-anesthetic bloodwork and chest x-rays are used to screen for underlying medical issues. Although anesthesia can never be risk free, the use of modern gas anesthetics such as sevoflurane and isoflurane, sophisticated monitoring equipment, as well as intravenous catheters and IV fluids have greatly improved the safety of general anesthesia. Your veterinarian will need to look at your dog’s individual risks versus the benefits of dental care and advise you appropriately.
Once your dog’s teeth are clean, routine dental care will maintain oral health and minimize the need for professional dental cleanings. Pets should have their teeth brushed daily using pet-safe toothpaste. While nothing beats regular brushing, oral rinses, dental diets and dental treats can help reduce the bacteria and plaque that lead to tartar formation. No matter what you choose, be consistent and see your veterinarian regularly for check ups. Remember early diagnosis and treatment are the best defense against serious dental
If you have any questions about dental disease in pets speak with your veterinarian. Don’t forget they are your best resource when it comes to your pet.
Chocolate and candy are the number one gift for Valentine’s Day every year! I mean, who doesn’t love getting sweets for Valentine’s Day? Unfortunately for dogs, chocolate is toxic to them. So what can you give them instead? Give them something yummy and healthy. My dog loves Vita Bone Artisan Inspired® Biscuits. They are made with real meat, veggies, and fruit, and are available in several irresistible flavors like barbeque chicken, maple bacon and blueberry, and cranberry turkey. And for dogs and cats on a grain-free diet, Supreme Source® Grain-Free treats make a great Valentine’s Day gift. They are made from all-natural ingredients and contain no artificial flavors and colors. Choose from gourmet biscuits (chicken or lamb) or soft treats (turkey or salmon). All of these treats are available at your local grocery store or you can order Vita Bone Artisan Inspired® Biscuits from Walmart. And if you’re feeling really creative, you can make a Valentine’s Day treat box for your pet by filling a heart-shaped box with some their favorite treats!
What better way to show your pet that you love them than by giving them something fun? HERO dog toys are fun, innovative, and durable. Designed by dog enthusiasts, HERO dog toys inspire play and stimulate your dog’s mind. Many HERO dog toys are designed to dispense treats and reward your dog for their foraging behavior and focused play. Remember, a busy dog is a happy dog. HERO dog toys are made in the USA and all purchases support veterans through their HEROs4Warriors donation program. They are available at pet stores nationwide and Amazon. If you’re feeling lucky, you can also enter their “Free HERO Dog Toys for a Year Sweepstakes.”
Everyone wants to look good on Valentine’s Day. Is it a coincidence that Fashion Week happens to be at the same time? I think not. Why not give your pet an adorable outfit that not only looks fabulous, but also keeps them warm on a chilly February outing? Glamour Mutt is an online pet boutique store with a wide assortment of fashion-forward outfits from the top pet designers. From fancy to casual, sparkly to cozy, you are guaranteed to turn heads. Glamour Mutt brings the haute couture of the catwalk to your next dog walk.
They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but who doesn’t love getting jewelry on Valentine’s Day? Could you imagine Valentine’s Day without some bling? Rhinestone Dog Collars.net has a wide selection of super fashionable collars for your pampered pets. From flower collars to rhinestone studded collars they have something for every furry diva. Their collars are all hand-made and best of all they are affordable. And they are offering my fellow pet fans an exclusive savings of 35% off all orders purchased through the end of March (use the savings code “foxandfriends”).
Cat & Dog Wine
Why should your pet feel left out when you’re enjoying a glass of wine or a cold beer on Valentine’s Day? Apollo Peak makes dog and cat beverages that are designed to look like your favorite alcoholic beverages, but without the alcohol. So toast your dog with their Twisted Tail Ale Dog Beer, and cheers to your kitty with their Pinot Meow this Valentine’s Day. Apollo Peak pet beverages are available online at:
Pets know the value of relaxation. Whenever they have any down time, they’re likely to be taking a nap. That’s why your pet will enjoy a comfy, new pet bed for Valentine’s Day. Consider getting a shag dog bed, that’s not only adorable, but also luxuriously soft so your dog or cat will love it! It’s available in a several fun colors. Use the coupon code “DRRUTH” for 15% off orders.
Doggy (or kitty) spa
Give your pet the gift of beauty and pamper them with a trip to the groomers. Or treat them to a spa experience at their own home. Just be sure to use products specifically designed for pets and not humans. Pets grooming products are gentle and pH balanced for their skin, and are tear-free.
Let’s face it, our pets love spending time with us. Bring them along with you wherever you go with a fun, fashionable carrier or doggy sling. Choose from tons of styles, including fun pink purse-type carriers designed to be fashion forward, or comfy cross body slings. Use the coupon code “DRRUTH” for 15% off orders.
Lastly, give your pet the ultimate gift of love: good health. Don’t wait until your pets get sick before taking them to the veterinarian. Your pets should have regular checkups, at least annually, and every 6 months for pets older than 7 years. These examinations allow your veterinarian to ensure your pet is protected against preventable diseases and helps your pet stay ahead of potential health problems. In the long run, regular checkups not only save you money, but also, ensure that your pet will live a long and healthy life. And what’s more important than the gift of good health?
When you are thinking about what to get for your loved ones this Valentine’s Day, don’t forget about your four-legged friends. Show them how much you value and appreciate their unconditional love and companionship.
Unfortunately, like us, our feline friends can get colds too. In fact, a cold or upper respiratory infection, is one of the most common illnesses seen in kittens. Cold are especially common in settings where many cats live together, like pet stores, shelters and breeding facilities. Like kids in daycare, kittens in pet stores or shelters are more likely to develop upper respiratory infections (URI’s) due to their naïve immune systems and their close proximity to other cats.
What is a URI?
Upper respiratory infections are infections of the nose, pharynx, and larynx caused by either viruses or bacteria. The most common viruses are calicivirus and herpes, and the most common bacteria are mycoplasma, chlamydia and bordetella species. Several of these agents are spread through a process known as aerosolization. When a sick cat sneezes, countless minute droplets containing the infectious agents are released into the air. These droplets are small enough that they can remain airborne for extended distances and can infect cats some distance away. It is easy to understand why upper respiratory infections can spread so quickly in large cat populations. It only takes one sick cat to spread an upper respiratory infection throughout the entire cat population. Infections can also spread through direct contact, or indirectly through fomites. Fomites are inanimate objects that spread disease when they become contaminated and covered with infectious agents. Examples of fomites are bedding material, towels, or food bowls. It turns out that your mother was right when she reminded you to cover your nose when you sneeze and told you to wash your hands with soap!
Signs and Symptoms of a Cold
Most cats will only develop mild symptoms, such as sneezing, a runny nose, and watery eyes, which often resolve without any treatment. Vulnerable cats, such as the very young, very old, or already sick, can develop more severe infections. Cats with severe upper respiratory infections may develop a fever, thick, yellowish nasal or eye discharge, loss of appetite, dehydration and may become lethargic.
Treatment of upper respiratory infections depends on the severity. Although the symptoms are annoying, many mild uncomplicated URI’s are self-limited, and like the common cold, they often resolve without any treatment. More severe infections may require oral antibiotics and/or eye medications depending on the primary symptoms. Cats that are not eating or drinking may also require additional treatments like subcutaneous fluids, appetite stimulants and even hospitalization. The best way to determine what treatment your particular cat needs is to call your veterinarian. Based on your cat’s signs and overall condition your veterinarian will determine whether your cat needs to be examined right away and whether they need medications.
For more information about upper respiratory infections and ways to prevent them speak with your veterinarian.