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Is it time to book a wellness exam? Call us at 805-526-0917. Annual exams and preventative medicine ensure your pet is living his or her best life possible!
Click below on our recommended tips to learn more about the many ways you can keep your pet living a long, healthy and happy life!
Warm weather has arrived! During the spring and summer months, consider the following tips to keep your pet healthy and happy!
Top 5 toxins
The five most fast-acting, lethal summer toxins can be found in nearly every neighborhood:
Methomyl is a potent carbamate commonly found in fly baits. Unfortunately some people also kill pests by adding Methomyl to a tasty food such as soda pop or ground beef. Not only do we see very serious CNS signs (seizures, tremors) but the onset of signs is fast and progresses to death quickly – within an hour – so it is often hard for owners to get a pet medical assistance in time.
2) Sulfonyl Fluoride
Used in warmer climates to treat drywood termites, this is typically used when a house is tented – covered in plastic so the gas can be pumped in and left for up to three days. The biggest concern is when an animal is forgotten in the house or sneaks back into the house after the gas has been added. Neurological signs predominate (ataxia, seizures) but respiratory irritation can also be seen.
Metaldehyde is used to kill snails and slugs. The severity of signs (severe tremor activity) and difficulty keeping the symptoms under control can make this a difficult toxin to treat.
This systemic insecticide for rose bushes is a potent organophosphate leading to SLUDDE signs, tremors, seizures, and bradycardia.
Aldicarb is another potent carbamate. Outside of commercial agriculture use, the most common exposure in pets is from a rodenticide product that is illegal here but imported from South America. It goes by the name "Tres Pasitos" and common signs include SLUDDE signs, bradycardia, tremors and seizures.
Heartworms (Dirofilaria immitis) are parasites transmitted by mosquitoes that can potentially be fatal to your dog or cat. Many people are familiar with heartworm disease in dogs, but are unaware that cats may also contract the parasite (heartworm disease was reported in cats in 38 states by the American Heartworm Society); in fact, cats infested with heartworms often have more severe clinical signs than dogs and a poorer prognosis. Have your dog or cat tested for the presence of heartworms by your veterinarian, and ask about heartworm preventatives. Treatment for this disease can be expensive and risky for your pet prevention is easy and inexpensive. The fact that your dog only goes outside to urinate and defecate, and the fact that your cat does not go outside at all, does not eliminate the risk of disease. Mosquitoes are everywhere!
Normally only adult fleas live on pets, and often they remain there only long enough to feed. Eggs may be laid on the pet, but usually fall off the pet into the environment where conditions are right for them to develop (through a multistage life cycle) into adult fleas. As a result, it is possible to have a substantial flea problem although you have only identified a few or no fleas on your pet. Egg and larval stages can survive in your home all year and in your yard from spring through late fall (all year in warmer climates). Biting and scratching on the lower back, tail, and abdomen are the most common signs of flea infestation and a dermatitis will often flare up in these areas. Flea control involves treatment of the pet and the environment by means of shampoos, sprays, dips, "spot-ons," powders, oral medications, and collars. Your veterinarian can recommend the most appropriate flea prevention/treatment program for your pet. Fleas carry tapeworms, so be sure to have your veterinarian check your pet for these intestinal parasites as well.
Yet another parasite that is a common problem during the warmer months. Ticks are not only an irritant and nuisance to your pet, but may transmit several debilitating diseases, such as Lyme disease, babesiosis, and ehrlichiosis. Many flea prevention/treatment products will also help with control of ticks. Your veterinarian can help you recognize ticks and show you the proper way to remove them from your pet (if you simply try to remove the tick by pulling, you may leave its mouthparts embedded within your pet's skin). Owners whose dogs have substantial exposure to ticks (eg, sporting dogs, dogs that go camping, and those spending time in forest preserves or woods) should also ask their veterinarian's advice about the appropriateness of a vaccination for Lyme disease.
Housing and Travel:
Soaring temperatures are no more comfortable for dogs and cats than they are for people. Heat prostration is a common cause of summer illness that can, and does, kill many beloved pets each year. If your pet spends a substantial part of its day outside, be sure that you provide a cool, shady spot for it to escape the hot summer sun and plenty of cool, clean water. A sheltered area must also be available so that the pet can escape summer storms. Be sure that areas in which pets are housed are secure and that pets cannot run into busy streets, fall into deep window wells, or become trapped within or under lawn equipment. Some of the worst summer tragedies involve pets that are left in vehicles in the sun with the windows partially or completely rolled up. Temperatures inside a car rapidly climb to more than 100 F and can cause death sometimes in as little as 10 minutes! If you need to leave your pet in a car for any period of time, please do the pet and yourself a favor and leave the pet at home. When traveling with your pet, call ahead to make sure the pet will be welcome at any hotels or homes where you intend to stay. Travel from state to state usually requires a health certificate for each pet, which has been signed by a veterinarian. Travel outside of the country often requires that the pet be quarantined for a specified period of time, so be sure to check restrictions in the country to which you will be traveling. Remember that sometimes the best solution for everyone is to make arrangements for someone to watch the pet in your home, or to bring the pet to a boarding facility designed to provide it with the special care it needs.
Pesticides and lawn care products:
Many of these products are potentially toxic to pets. Be sure to store these items where pets have no access to them. After treating lawns and outside areas, restrict pets from these areas until exposure danger has passed. Remember that many types of summer foliage (among them hydrangea, wisteria, delphinium, foxglove, privet hedge, and monkshood) can be toxic to pets as well, so do your best to prevent your pets from "dining out." For a growing reference to poisonous plants to animals, you can view Cornell University's guide here. Slug and snail bait, rodenticides, and systemic insecticides, if ingested by your pet can be extremely dangerous. Vomiting, diarrhea, excess salivation, coma, and even death can occur. If you feel that your pet has been exposed to these garden treatments, seek help immediately by contacting Valley Veterinary Clinic or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.
For many people, nothing beats lounging in the backyard on the Fourth of July with good friends and family including the four-legged members of the household. While it may seem like a great idea to reward Rover with scraps from the grill and bring him along to watch fireworks, in reality some festive foods and products can be potentially hazardous to your pets. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center offers the following tips:
Never leave alcoholic drinks unattended where pets can reach them. Alcoholic beverages have the potential to poison pets. If ingested, the animal could become very intoxicated and weak, severely depressed or could go into a coma. Death from respiratory failure is also a possibility in severe cases.
Do not apply any sunscreen or insect repellent product to your pet that is not labeled specifically for use on animals. Ingestion of sunscreen products can result in drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst and lethargy. The misuse of insect repellent that contains DEET can lead to neurological problems.
Always keep matches and lighter fluid out of your pets reach. Certain types of matches contain chlorates, which could potentially damage blood cells and result in difficulty breathing, or even kidney disease in severe cases. Lighter fluid can be irritating to skin, and if ingested can produce gastrointestinal irritation and central nervous system depression. If lighter fluid is inhaled, aspiration pneumonia and breathing problems could develop.
Keep your pets on their normal diet. Any change, even for one meal, can give your pets severe indigestion and diarrhea. This is particularly true for older animals who have more delicate digestive systems and nutritional requirements. And keep in mind that foods such as onions, chocolate, coffee, avocado, grapes, raisins, salt and yeast dough can all be potentially toxic to companion animals.
Do not put glow jewelry on your pets, or allow them to play with it. While the luminescent substance contained in these products is not highly toxic, excessive drooling and gastrointestinal irritation could still result from ingestions, and intestinal blockage could occur from swallowing large pieces of the plastic containers.
Keep citronella candles, insect coils and oil products out of reach. Ingestions can produce stomach irritation and possibly even central nervous system depression. If inhaled, the oils could cause aspiration pneumonia in pets.
Never use fireworks around pets! While exposure to lit fireworks can potentially result in severe burns and/or trauma to the face and paws of curious pets, even unused fireworks can pose a danger. Many types contain potentially toxic substances, including potassium nitrate, arsenic and other heavy metals.
Loud, crowded fireworks displays are no fun for pets, so please resist the urge to take them to Independence Day festivities. Instead, keep your little guys safe from the noise in a quiet, sheltered and escape-proof area at home.
Please conact us as soon as possible at 805-526-0917 if you would like to speak to your veterinarian about a prescription for sedatives.
Easter treats and decorations keep Easter lilies and candy bunnies in check—chocolate goodies are toxic to cats, dogs and ferrets, and lilies can be fatal if ingested by our furry friends. And be mindful, kitties love to nibble on colorful plastic grass, which can lead to an obstructed digestive tract, severe vomiting and dehydration. Moreover, while bunnies, chicks and other festive animals are adorable, resist the urge to buy—these cute babies grow up fast and often require specialized care!
Many pet parents welcome the breezy days of spring by opening their windows. Unfortunately, they also unknowingly put their pets at risk—especially cats, who are apt to jump or fall through unscreened windows. Be sure to install snug and sturdy screens in all of your windows. If you have adjustable screens, make sure they are tightly wedged into window frames.
While every pet parent knows dogs love to feel the wind on their furry faces, allowing them to ride in the bed of pick-up trucks or stick their heads out of moving-car windows is dangerous. Flying debris and insects can cause inner ear or eye injuries and lung infections, and abrupt stops or turns can cause major injury, or worse! Pets in cars should always be secured in a crate or wearing a seatbelt harness designed especially for them.
Spring cleaning is a time-honored tradition in many households, but be sure to keep all cleaners and chemicals out of your pets’ way! Almost all commercially sold cleaning products contain chemicals that are harmful to pets. The key to using them safely is to read and follow label directions for proper use and storage.
Home Improvement 101
Products such as paints, mineral spirits and solvents can be toxic to your pets and cause severe irritation or chemical burns. Carefully read all labels to see if the product is safe to use around your furry friends. Also, be cautious of physical hazards, including nails, staples, insulation, blades and power tools. It may be wise to confine your dog or cat to a designated pet-friendly room during home improvement projects.
Let Your Garden Grow—With Care
Pet parents, take care—fertilizers, insecticides and herbicides keep our plants and lawns healthy and green, but their ingredients aren't meant for four-legged consumption and can be fatal if your pet ingests them. Always store these poisonous products in out-of-the-way places and follow label instructions carefully. Check out our full list of garden care tips.
Time to let your garden grow! But beware, many popular springtime plants—including Easter lilies, rhododendron and azaleas—are highly toxic to pets and can easily prove fatal if eaten. Check out our full list—and pics!—of toxic and non-toxic plants for your home and garden.
Like their sneezy human counterparts, pets can be allergic to foods, dust, plants and pollens. Allergic reactions in dogs and cats can cause minor sniffling and sneezing as well as life-threatening anaphylactic shock. If you suspect your pet has a springtime allergy, please visit your veterinarian as soon as possible.
While you are busy making your festive plans for Halloween and Thanksgiving, please don't forget to include your pets. The holidays are a time for giving, but there are some things you should not share with your little best friends. Once you know the hazards, a little precaution and prevention will make holidays a happy time for everyone.
Keep all pets indoors during both Halloween day and night.
Carefully consider taking pets along while trick-or-treating. They can easily become frightened or lost.
Beware of pets near a lit pumpkin. Their curiosity may run the risk of them getting burned.
When opening the door for trick-or-treaters, be careful that your cat or dog does not dart out.
Make sure pets are wearing a collar and proper identification in case of accidental escape.
Confine your pet if the sound of the ringing doorbell or the sight of costumed visitors makes the pet overly excited or aggressive.
Do not feed Halloween goodies to your pet. They can make the animal very sick or, in some cases, prove toxic.
Properly dispose of candy wrappers, which can be hazardous if swallowed by pets.
If you own a black cat, be aware that your pet could be the victim of a cruel Halloween prank. You may want to keep your black cat indoors a few days prior to and following Halloween.
Costume Safety Tips
Dress rehearsal: Try on all costumes well before the big night. If your pet seems distressed or shows abnormal behavior, consider a bandana or no costume at all.
Does your pooch have sensitive skin? Even those with hearty coats can have allergic reactions to synthetic materials found in many costumes.
Tangled up: Make sure the costume doesn't limit your pet's movement, hearing, vision or ability to breathe or bark. Ill-fitting outfits can get twisted on external objects or your pet, leading to injury.
Additional hazards: Avoid costumes with lots of sequins or other dangling parts that your pet could eat or choke on.
Bones:The holiday turkey or chicken will leave a lot of tantalizing bones, but don't feed them to your pet. Beware of steak bones, too. Small bones or bone chips can lodge in the throat, stomach, and intestinal tract.
Chocolate/Fat: Chocolate may be delicious to us, but toxic to your pets. Those wonderful potato latkes (watch the hot oil!), gravies, and poultry skin can cause severe gastrointestinal upset as well.
Normal routine: Increased activity and visitors over the long Thanksgiving holiday can upset your pet's routine. Try to keep your pet on his regular schedule for feeding and exercise. Provide a quiet place with a blanket and fresh water for your cat or dog to go to when the festivities get too stressful.
Stress and Company: With everyone coming and going, watch out for open doors and sneaky pets. Make sure your pets have collars and tags on in case of escape. Ask guests to keep an eye out for pets under foot and remind them that sometimes your normally friendly dog or cat may be less than willing to deal with enthusiastic children and rooms full of unfamiliar people. provide a special quiet place with a blanket and fresh water for your pets to retreat to when the festivities get too stressful.
Pets as Gifts
Holidays are not the best time to introduce a new pet to the household. All the excitement, noise and deviation from the normal routine could make it difficult for a new pet—and any existing pets—to make the adjustment. Consider seriously the choice to give a pet as a gift. One of the main reasons animals are abandoned or taken to shelters is because they are unwanted. Don't contribute to this situation by giving a pet to someone who may not want it or be able to care for it. If you do choose to give a pet as a gift, allow the recipient(s) to select the pet so that they can find one that is right for them.
Food, Alcohol, Chocolate & Treats
Keep holiday treats and candies out of your pet's reach as they can make your pet quite sick. Candy wrappers can cause digestive upset if eaten.
Holiday fruitcake with ingredients such as grapes, raisins, currants and alcohol should be kept away from pets.
Because alcohol is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream, it affects pets quickly. Ingestion of alcohol can cause dangerous drops in blood sugar, blood pressure and body temperature. Intoxicated animals can experience seizures and respiratory failure.
Chocolate, particularly unsweetened, dark, bittersweet and baking chocolate, can be toxic to pets, especially dogs, who are more prone to eat it. If your dog eats chocolate, call your veterinarian or an animal poison control center immediately, as treatment may need to be rendered immediately. Symptoms of toxicity include excitement, nervousness, trembling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst or urination, muscle spasms and seizures.
Keep gum, candy or breath fresheners containing the sweetener xylitol away from your dog. When a dog eats even a small amount of xylitol, it causes a surge of insulin, and the animal's blood sugar may drop quickly and dangerously. Cases of liver damage have also been associated with ingestion of xylitol. If your dog ingest xylitol, contact your veterinarian or an animal poison control center immediately.
Potentially harmful foods include: coffee grounds, tea, alcohol, hops, salt, onions and onion powder, grapes and raisins, avocado, garlic, and macadamia nuts.
Don't feed your pet holiday turkey or chicken, as the small bones or fragments can lodge in the throat, stomach, or intestinal tract. Fatty leftovers such as turkey skin can trigger inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), a life threatening disease. At the very least, too much human food may give your pet an upset stomach.
Guests & Stress
Pets can become overexcited, confused or frightened by holiday guests. Keep pets in a quiet part of the house. When guests are over, watch for open doors and make sure your pets have ID tags and/or microchips in case they do get out. Remind your guests that your normally friendly pet may want to be left alone.
The holidays can be a stressful time for everyone, even your pets. Even though your routine might change, try to keep your pets on their normal routine of feeding and exercise.
Make sure your tree is well secured. Avoid adding preservatives, aspirin or sugar to your tree's water, or keep the water covered. Tidy up around your tree and wreaths as sharp pine needles can puncture your pet if ingested.
Holiday decorations such as breakable ornaments and dreidels should be kept out of reach of pets, as should tinsel, string, and ribbon. If your pet ingests any of these items, it could experience serious internal injuries, or worse.
Light strands, loose wires and electric cords can be a serious hazard to your pet, especially puppies, who may chew them.
Snow globes may contain antifreeze (ethylene glycol). As little as one teaspoon of antifreeze when ingested by a cat or a tablespoon or two for a dog (depending on their size), can be fatal. Signs of early poisoning include acting drunk or uncoordinated, excessive thirst, and lethargy.
The ingredients in liquid potpourri can cause burns to a pet's skin, eyes, or digestive tract.
Never leave candles unattended, especially around puppies and kittens.
The spiny and leathery leaves of Christmas or English holly can result in significant damage to the stomach and intestines of dogs and cats. The holly’s berries have mildly toxic properties, but are fairly tolerable in most pets.
Mistletoe & Poinsettia
While not toxic, American mistletoe leaves/berries and poinsettia plants can cause gastrointestinal upset if eaten.
Over the next few winter months, cold weather can affect your pet. Be sure to take the necessary precautions to ensure your pet stays warm and healthy.
1. Keep your cat inside. Outdoors, felines can freeze, become lost or be stolen, injured or killed. Cats who are allowed to stray are exposed to infectious diseases, including rabies, from other cats, dogs and wildlife.
2. During the winter, outdoor cats sometimes sleep under the hoods of cars. When the motor is started, the cat can be injured or killed by the fan belt. If there are outdoor cats in your area, bang loudly on the car hood before starting the engine to give the cat a chance to escape.
3. If you take your dog to the mountains, never let it off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm—dogs can lose their scent and easily become lost. More dogs are lost during the winter than during any other season, so make sure yours always wears ID tags.
4. Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth. When you bathe your dog in the colder months, be sure to completely dry him before taking him out for a walk. Own a short-haired breed? Consider getting him a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly. For many dogs, this is regulation winter wear.
5. Never leave your dog or cat alone in a car during cold weather. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death.
6. Puppies do not tolerate the cold as well as adult dogs, and may be difficult to housebreak during the winter. If your puppy appears to be sensitive to the weather, you may opt to paper-train him inside. If your dog is sensitive to the cold due to age, illness or breed type, take him outdoors only to relieve himself.
7. Like coolant, antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle, and consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol. Visit the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center more information.
8. Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts. A cozy dog or cat bed with a warm blanket or pillow is perfect.
It is estimated that 80 percent of people brush their teeth every day, but far fewer pet owners do the same for their pets. Pet Dental Health Month, celebrated every February, teaches pet owners proper dental hygiene is equally as important for their pets.
"Most people have no idea that dental health is so important to their pets, and that's why Pet Dental Health Month is such a great idea," explains Dr. Larry Corry, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). "In fact, veterinarians report that periodontal disease is the most commonly diagnosed problem in dogs and cats. This can lead to painful infections of the mouth, and in severe cases these infections can spread and become life-threatening conditions. During Pet Dental Health Month, the AVMA is encouraging all dog and cat owners to regularly brush their pet's teeth and regularly see their veterinarian for checkups."
"Periodontal disease, an infection of the gums, is incredibly common in pets, and it can be quite serious," explains Dr. Niemiec, a board certified veterinary dental specialist. "It's estimated that by the age of two, 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats have some form of periodontal disease. Periodontal infections have been linked to diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, kidney disease and other life threatening disorders. The best way to prevent periodontal disease is by regularly brushing your pet's teeth and by regularly visiting your veterinarian."
Call Valley Veterinary Clinic at 805-526-0917 if you would like to schedule an appointment to evaluate your pet's teeth.
Be a Responsible Pet Owner:
Avoid impulsive decisions when selecting a pet.
Select a pet that's suited to your home and lifestyle.
Keep only the type and number of pets for which you can provide appropriate food, water, shelter, health care and companionship.
Commit to the relationship for the life of your pet(s).
Provide appropriate exercise and mental stimulation.
Properly socialize and train your pet.
Recognize that pet ownership requires an investment of time and money.
Make sure your pet receives preventive health care (vaccinations, parasite control, wellness exams, etc.), as well as care for any illnesses or injuries.
Budget for potential emergencies.
Clean up after your pet.
Obey all local ordinances, including licensing, leash requirements and noise control.
Don't allow your pet to stray or become feral.
Make sure your pet is properly identified (i.e., tags, microchips, or tattoos) and keep its registration up-to-date.
Don't contribute to our nation's pet overpopulation problem, please limit your pet's reproduction through spay/neuter.
Prepare for an emergency or disaster, including assembling an evacuation kit.
Fleabites may be more than an itchy annoyance to some dogs and cats. They can cause flea allergy dermatitis—an allergic reaction to proteins in flea saliva. And a pet’s constant scratching can cause permanent hair loss or other skin problems. Fleas feasting on your pet’s blood can lead to anemia and, in rare cases, death.
Ticks can also harm your pet, transmitting infections such as Lyme disease. And pets can bring ticks into the home, exposing you and your family to illness from a tick bite.
Hundreds of pesticides, repellents, and growth inhibitors are available to protect your pet from flea and tick bites. Some of these products are available only from a veterinarian; others can be bought over the counter.
Flea and tick products range from pills given by mouth to collars, sprays, dips, shampoos, powders, and “spot-ons,” liquid products squeezed onto the dog’s or cat’s skin usually between the shoulder blades or down the back. A few spot-on products are available for flea control in ferrets, and fly and tick control in horses.
Pet owners need to be cautious about using flea and tick products safely, says Ann Stohlman, V.M.D., a veterinarian in the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Veterinary Medicine. “You need to take the time to carefully read the label, the package insert, and any accompanying literature to make sure you’re using the product correctly.”
It's best to treat your pet at the beginning of flea and tick season, says Stohlman. The length of flea season, which peaks during warm weather months, varies depending on where you live. “It can last four months in some places, but in other places, like Florida, fleas can live all year long,” says Stohlman. And fleas can live inside a warm house year-round no matter where you live.
Ticks are found in some places year-round. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that in most parts of the United States, the greatest chance of infection by a tick bite is spring and summer.
Read the label carefully before use. If you don't understand the wording, ask your veterinarian or call the manufacturer. “Even if you’ve used the product many times before,” says Stohlman, “read the label because the directions or warnings may have changed.”
Follow the directions exactly. If the product is for dogs, don't use it on cats or other pets. If the label says use weekly, don't use it daily. If the product is for the house or yard, don't put it directly on your pet.
Keep multiple pets separated after applying a product until it dries to prevent one animal from grooming another and ingesting a drug or pesticide.
Talk to your veterinarian before using a product on weak, old, medicated, sick, pregnant, or nursing pets, or on pets that have previously shown signs of sensitivity to flea or tick products.
Monitor your pet for side effects after applying the product, particularly when using the product on your pet for the first time.
If your pet experiences a bad reaction from a spot-on product, immediately bathe the pet with mild soap, rinse with large amounts of water, and call your veterinarian.
Call your veterinarian if your pet shows symptoms of illness after using a product. Symptoms of poisoning include poor appetite, depression, vomiting, diarrhea, or excessive salivation.
Do not apply a product to kittens or puppies unless the label specifically allows this treatment. Use flea combs to pick up fleas, flea eggs, and ticks on puppies and kittens that are too young for flea and tick products.
Wash your hands immediately with soap and water after applying a product, or use protective gloves while applying.
Store products away from food and out of children's reach.
Source: FDA and CDC
11 things you can do to make travel safer for you and your pet
1. Ask yourself if taking your pet with you is the right thing to do (for your pet and your family). If the answer is "no," then make suitable arrangements (pet sitter, boarding kennel, etc.) for your pet. If the answer is "yes," then plan, plan, plan!
2. Make sure your pet will be welcome where you're heading – this includes any stops you may make along the way, as well as your final destination.
3. If you're crossing state lines during your travel, you need a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (also called a health certificate). You'll need to get it within 10 days of when you plan to travel. Your veterinarian will examine your pet to make sure it doesn't have any signs of infectious disease and that it has the appropriate vaccinations (e.g., rabies). This certificate can't be legally issued without a veterinary exam, so please don't ask your veterinarian to break the law.
4. Make sure you know how you can find a veterinarian quickly if there's an emergency on the way to or after you've reached your destination. The AVMA's MyVeterinarian.com site (www.myveterinarian.com) allows you to search for a veterinary practice by zip code or city/state, even in an emergency.
5. Prior to travel, make sure your pet is properly identified in case they become lost. Your pet should be wearing a collar with an ID tag (with accurate information!). Microchips provide permanent identification and improve your chances of getting your pet returned to you, but make sure you keep your registration information up to date.
6. Properly restrain your pet with an appropriately-fitted harness or in a carrier of the appropriate size. "Appropriate size" means that they can lay down, stand up and turn around, but it's not so big that they will be thrown around inside the carrier in case of a sudden stop or a collision. No heads or bodies hanging out the windows, please, and certainly no pets in laps! That's dangerous...for everyone.
7. Make sure your pet is accustomed to whatever restraint you plan to use BEFORE your trip. Remember that road trips can be a little stressful on your pet. If your pet isn't already used to the harness or carrier, that's an added stress.
8. When traveling with your dog(s), make frequent stops to allow it/them to go to the bathroom, stretch their legs and get some mental stimulation from sniffing around and checking things out.
9. Take adequate food and water for the trip. Offer your pet water at each stop, and try to keep your pet's feeding schedule as close to normal as possible.
10. When traveling, keep a current picture of your pet with you so you can easily make "lost" posters and/or use the picture to help identify your pet if it becomes lost.
11. Make sure you take your pet's medications with you, including any preventives (heartworm, flea and tick) that might be due while you're traveling.
Vaccines are products designed to stimulate protective immune responses in pets and prepare them to fight future infections from disease-causing agents. They can lessen the severity of future diseases and certain vaccines can prevent infection altogether. Today, a variety of vaccines are available for use by veterinarians.
Pets should be vaccinated to protect them from many highly contagious and deadly diseases. In some cases (rabies, for example), vaccinating your pet can also protect you from disease. If an unvaccinated pet develops one of these diseases, treatment can become very expensive and many of these diseases can be fatal, even if your pet received prompt and appropriate treatment. Rabies vaccination is required by law in many states and counties.
Not all pets should be vaccinated with all available vaccines. "Core" vaccines are recommended for most pets in a particular area because they protect from diseases most common in that area. "Non-Core" vaccines are reserved for individual pets with unique needs. Your veterinarian will consider your pet's risk of exposure to a variety of preventable diseases in order to customize a vaccination program for optimal protection throughout your pet's life. Talk with your veterinarian about your pet's lifestyle including its expected travel to other geographic locations and/or contact with other animals (such as exposure at kennels, obedience classes, shows, and dog parks) since these factors impact your pet's risk of exposure to certain diseases. For older pets, make sure your veterinarian is aware of any previous adverse reactions to vaccines.
There are risks associated with vaccination, but they are usually outweighed by the benefits. The most common adverse responses are mild and short-term, including fever, sluggishness, and reduced appetite. Pets may also experience temporary pain or subtle swelling at the site of vaccination. Although most adverse reactions will resolve within a day or two, any excessive or continued pain, swelling, or listlessness should be discussed with your veterinarian. Rarely, more serious adverse reactions can occur. Allergic reactions appear within minutes or hours of a vaccination and may include repeated vomiting or diarrhea, whole body itching, swelling of the face or legs, difficulty breathing or collapse. Contact your veterinarian immediately if any of these symptoms are seen. In very rare instances, death could occur from an allergic reaction. There are other uncommon but serious adverse reactions, including injection site tumors (sarcomas) in cats, which can develop weeks or months after a vaccination. The best advice is to always tell your veterinarian about any abnormalities you notice after your pet has been vaccinated.
Obesity is as much a problem in pets as it is in humans, and it can cause many of the same health problems. There are many reasons why our pets become overweight, but the most common cause is overeating – that is, the pet consumes more calories than he uses. Other contributing factors to obesity in pets are heredity, breed, body type, and certain medical conditions. Spaying and neutering are often blamed for causing pets to become overweight. This perception seems to be derived from the fact that altered pets do tend to be more calm and relaxed, and to be more content to stay close to home (which are good things). But, a calmer animal doesn’t cause weight gain – overeating does.
Do you know the ideal weight for your pet? Your veterinarian can help you with this. The ideal weight of dogs varies tremendously – from Chihuahuas, who weigh about 6 pounds, to St. Bernards, who can weigh as much as 165 pounds. And what about mixed breeds? There will be many variations, based on such factors as bone structure, body type, sex, etc. Most cats should weigh between 8 and 10 pounds.
If you’re not sure if your pet is overweight, try feeling her rib cage. Put your hands on the rib cage with your thumbs over her spine. If you can easily feel the ribs, then your pet is probably a normal weight. If you can see the ribs, then your pet is too thin. If you can feel fat between the skin and ribs, or if the ribs are difficult to feel, your pet is overweight. If you cannot feel the ribs at all, your pet is obese. In cats, a large abdomen that hangs down and swings when the cat walks indicates obesity.
There are many health risks associated with obesity. Overweight dogs and cats have a higher incidence of heart and lung problems, diabetes and arthritis. They’re at an increased risk for complications should they need to be anesthetized for surgery. Overweight pets can have problems with their skin as well.
The treatment for weight loss is (you’ve heard it before) reduced caloric intake and increased energy output. Less food, more exercise. A reduced caloric intake can best be accomplished by feeding your pet a high-fiber, low-fat diet, which allows your pet to continue to eat approximately the same volume of food as before and still feel full and satisfied. Feeding lesser amounts of a regular diet can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and your pet’s hunger won’t be satisfied. You should cut down on treats or eliminate them altogether. To reduce begging and sneaking of snacks, keep your pet out of the room when the family is eating. And make sure your pet doesn’t have access to the garbage can or the neighbor’s dog or cat food!
Your veterinarian should be the final judge of your pet’s weight status. Make an appointment with him or her to determine if your pet is truly just overweight and not suffering from signs of heart, kidney or glandular disorders. At your visit, after a complete physical exam and blood work, your pet’s dietary needs can be established. Remember, you can give your pet a longer and happier life by providing the proper diet, exercise, and regular veterinary care.
Foxtails are arrow-shaped plant awns, or seeds, that are produced by some types of grasses. As the weather warms, the plants dry and turn golden brown. The pointy awns are then released and can become caught in your pet’s fur. Microscopic barbs along the surface of the foxtail along with the foxtail’s arrow-like shape cause the awn to propel forward, often embedding into the pet’s skin or orifices.
The foxtail’s structure and ability for invasion of virtually every area of the body cause a multitude of frustrating and difficult-to-treat medical issues.
Common locations for foxtail entrapment include the webbing between the toes, the ear canal, the nose, the eye, and the penis or vulva. They may lodge around the teeth or behind the tonsils. Left untreated, foxtails have the potential to continue migration into the trachea, chest cavity, abdominal cavity, and even the brain.
Removal of foxtail plants in your yard is best done early in the green phase of growth before the plants can dry and seed.
Pets with any exposure to foxtails should be inspected carefully on a daily basis, especially between the toes and under the ear flaps. Foxtails can cling to and begin migration into any location on the pet’s body. Some owners choose to trim the coats of dogs with thick fur in order to spot and remove foxtails more easily. Pets with matted coats are especially prone to foxtail invasion.
Foxtails embedded in or under the skin often cause redness, pain, swelling, and fluid drainage from the site. The pet will usually lick the affected area which may result in hair loss. A foxtail embedded in the foot may cause limping.
Foxtails in the nose usually cause violent sneezing, often with blood and/or mucus from one nostril.
Foxtails in the eye cause pain, swelling, and discharge. The pet will usually squint the affected eye or hold the eye tightly closed.
Foxtails in the ear usually cause head shaking, scratching and/or pawing at the ear, and the pet will often hold the affected ear tilted downwards. A foxtail in the ear cannot typically be seen with the naked eye; a veterinarian must examine the ear with a special instrument to view the entire canal. An ear infection may develop, and the eye on the affected side may begin to appear abnormal.
Foxtails lodged in the mouth often cause a foul odor which may be accompanied by a dry cough, gagging, and/or frequent hard swallowing.
Foxtails in the vulva or penis usually cause excessive licking as well as redness and discharge.
Until removed, embedded foxtails typically result in chronic infection and irritation often accompanied by chronic draining sores. In the eye they can cause ulcers and infection. Foxtails in the ear can cause infection as well as ear drum penetration that can result in hearing damage and/or neurological problems. Foxtails that migrate deep into the body can travel to areas including the lungs, heart, or other internal organs which can result in severe illness and even death.
If a foxtail can be located, removal is the most effective treatment. Depending on location, sedation and/or anesthesia may be necessary for search and removal of foxtails.
In many cases, foxtails are very difficult to locate. Foxtails also can split into several pieces or fragment during removal, making it difficult or impossible for the doctor to determine if the entire foxtail has been successfully removed. Antibiotics are often prescribed to treat infections that have been triggered by foxtails.
After a foxtail is located and removed, most symptoms resolve rapidly. Persistent symptoms may indicate the presence of additional foxtails or foxtail fragments. When a foxtail is suspected but cannot be located and removed, further treatment will likely be necessary.
In some cases, procedures for search and removal of foxtails must be repeated several times.