March 7, 2014
Poison Prevention Week (Mar. 16 – 22) was established to help prevent illness and injuries. For this blog, we want to focus on pet poison prevention as our Emergency and Critical Care Specialists treat cats and dogs each month with this condition.
Pets may become very ill after ingesting many common household foods, products, and plants; a thorough inspection of your home—outside areas included—can help reduce the risk. Instinctly, pets are curious creatures—particularly cats—and if a partially empty container with cleaner, alcohol, medications, etc. is left out, your pet may “investigate.” It's not hard to imagine that when a spilled toxic fluid gets on a cat’s paw, she will clean herself with her tongue, ingesting something harmful. Unfortunately, with our pet’s smaller bodies and weight, just a small amount could be fatal.
Common household foods and products. There are numerous human foods which can be toxic to pets. Here are some of them:
- Citrus oil extracts
- Grapes and raisins
- Moldy foods
- Medicine/ supplements
The ASPCA has a more complete list on their website including household cleaning products and health and beauty items, you may access it HERE.
Common house plants known to be toxic include:
- Creeping Charlies
It’s important to note that spring and summer can be particularly hazardous times for pets with lawn and garden chemicals out. Be cautious, read directions carefully, and keep extra supplies out of reach and sealed tightly.
Symptoms of accidental poisoning. Some poisons will result in an immediate reaction for your pet, while others may take several days to manifest symptoms. While there is not one set of exact symptoms to indicate a pet has been poisoned, there are some general symptoms to look for, including:
- · Drooling, vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea
- · Lethargy, weakness
- · Pale or yellowish gums
- · Excessive thirst or urination
- · Nervousness, hyperactivity, muscle tremors, seizures, coma
If you witness your pet ingesting something he/she should not be, safely collect the materials involved. When seeking veterinary care, bring the product’s container with you, this can be helpful for veterinary professionals treating your pet.
If you suspect a pet poisoning, it’s important to seek emergency veterinary care. If your family veterinarian is not available, we offer 24-hour emergency care at WestVet, no appointment is necessary, bring your pet day or night for immediate help.
In addition, the ASPCA has an Animal Poison Control number, (888) 426-4435. Please note, they do charge a consultation fee.
It is our hope that a little prevention and planning will reduce the number of pets accidently poisoned each year.
February 28, 2014
As February draws to a close (already!) we want to acknowledge the 20th year of World Spay Day, recognized earlier this week.
The Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society International and mulitple veterinary professionals, businesses, and rescue groups partner to emphasize the benefits of spay/neuter for pets. They have put together an infograph with some eye-opening facts and figures regarding unaltered pets, you may see those HERE.
Financial assistance available in Ada County. Two options that assist local families with spay/neuter costs are SNIP and Simply Cats.
Spay and Neuter Idaho Pets (SNIP), a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, provides low cost procedures for qualifying Idaho families’ pets. To date, more than 3,400 Treasure Valley families have received financial assistance to spay or neuter their pets. You can get involved with this wonderful mission, SNIP's annual fumdraiser dinner and silent auction is coming up. For more information check out their website HERE or call 208.968.1338.
In addition, if you’d like to volunteer with SNIP, there is information on their website regarding current needs and an application.
Simply Cats, also a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, offers low cost/spay and neuter vouchers for Treasure Valley cat owners. This shelter, launched in the 1980’s with a handful of rescued cats and some amazing volunteers, now enjoys a state-of-the-art adoption center. Simply Cats is dedicated to finding homes for felines in Ada county. You can support their efforts at their annual “Catsino” fundraising evening, coming up in a few weeks. You can register HERE.
Cat owners will find numerous resources on their website regarding training tips, cat health and wellness, and socialization. Simply Cats also welcome volunteers and foster families, if you are looking to make a difference to animals in the Treasure Valley, take a look at the opportunities listed on their website.
Why spay/neuter? There are too many homeless pets in every community. It is estimated that 7 million animals enter shelters annually— with barely half being adopted. That means that 3 million pets are euthanized. Spaying and neutering is 100% effective in easing the pet population burdens handled by area animal rescues and shelters. Plus, there are some health and behavior benefits for your pet, too.
A few benefits include:
- A longer life; spaying/neutering increases a dog's life by an average of 1-3 years, and a cat's life by 3-5 years.
- Animals will have less desire to roam; and are less likely to be injured in a fight, or an auto accident. As many as 85% of dogs hit by cars are unaltered.
- Reduced risk of certain types of cancers (and veterinary expenses to treat them).
- An unspayed dog is 12 times more likely to develop mammary tumors; there is a nearly 50% malignancy rate in dogs.
- An unspayed cat is 7 times more likely to develop mammary tumors; there is nearly 90% malignancy rate in cats.
- If spayed/neutered, both female cats and dogs have a reduced risk of uterine cancer and cancers of the reproductive system.
- Neutering decreases prostate disease and eliminates risk of testicular cancer, the second most common tumor in male dogs.
- Behaviors such as being aggressive, urine marking/spraying, and other dominance-related behaviors can be decreased.
Last year, USA TODAY published an article outlining pet longevity in the United States including the effects of spaying/neutering, you may access that story HERE.
Veterinarians recommend the procedure when your pet is still young and has not cycled through “heat” yet. Please speak with your family veterinarian about spaying and neutering. They will answer your questions and concerns and get a convenient appointment for you..
February 21, 2014
WestVet emergency doctors, specialists, and technicians successfully treated a dog suffering from a gunshot wound. Carey's dog “Bella” was discovered by a neighbor, bleeding from her belly. She immediately took Bella to her family veterinarian for treament, after an initial examination by the veterinary team at Critter Clinic, Bella was referred to WestVet for specialized care.
Dr. Dan Hume, Emergency and Critical Care Specialist, treated Bella for shock due to life threatening abdominal bleeding. In addition, she had a severely fractured femur as a result of the bullet exiting her leg. A WestVet surgeon, Dr. Sean Murphy, performed the first operation that saved Bella’s life. During that procedure, two portions of her intestine were removed and major arteries, damaged from the gunshot, were successfully repaired. During her critical surgery, Bella required five blood transfusions.
An additional surgery performed by WestVet Owner and Chief of Staff Dr. Jeff Brourman repaired the femoral fracture of her hind leg the following day.
Due to the severity of her injuries from the gunshot, Bella was very close to death but she has since made an amazing recovery! After showing marked improvements throughout the weekend, Tuesday she was reunited with her owner and discharged to return home. Bella can walk with slight pressure on her damaged leg. Up next, she will pursue physiotherapy at WestVet to regain full use of her leg.
We were all impressed by Bella's gentle nature and determination to heal. She inspired all of us. In addiition, her sweet owner was an amazing lady. She was very attentive to Bella's needs, easy to work with, and willing to help Bella strengthen her leg at home. It was an honor for our team to be part of Bella's recovery.
February 14, 2014
For many dog lovers, the only thing that could go better with your one dog is another one. However, there are important considerations to address before adding a new dog or puppy to your house. You’ll find numerous tips and guidelines on adopting a second (or third) dog through online animal resources and at your local library. For this blog, we have pulled together some basic suggestions.
Take your time. Evaluate your home and situation first—this is not an impulsive decision and your pet may be perfectly happy as “top dog” and not even want a companion. Discuss it with your family and partner—you need your loved ones full support to make this a successful endeavor. Ensure that you have enough space (inside and out), financial means, and free time to spend with an additional dog. Be aware that if your first dog exhibits some behavior issues (such as separation anxiety), adding a new dog can actually make these behaviors worse. Experts recommend that you address and correct negative behaviors with your first dog through obedience training before you adding a new one.
Selecting the right dog. Just as when you adopted your first dog, consider what canine characteristics fit best into your home and lifestyle. Researchers tell us that dogs of opposite genders generally work best together. Sometimes same gender dogs will have dominance and submission issues which may result in fighting and injury, not to mention stress for the dogs. In addition, there are some breed-specific recommendations for adopting a second dog—do some research, speak with your veterinarian, and/or a reputable dog behaviorist first. At WestVet we do treat dogs that have been injured by a housemate occasionally, and it is always devastating for owners and for both pets. Veterinary Partner has an extensive article on selecting the right dog, you can read it HERE.
Your current dog’s temperament and general behavior around other dogs as well as the size and age differences of a potential new dog should all be considered. An exuberant puppy with a senior dog can be challenging, you may need to protect your older dog from roughhousing.
Neutralize the introduction. The smoother the beginning of the relationship is, the better for all the pack members. A “play date” before you’ve made your final decision could be an invaluable tool.
Once you have made the decision to proceed with adoption, have your new potential pet siblings meet away from your home. Meeting at a park and going on a walk together can help alleviate territorial behaviors. As the dogs meet, keeping them on loose leashes enables them to meet and greet and you to intervene if necessary. For an inside meeting, utilize two crates which will allow the dogs to safely take turns sniffing one another through the crates.
It is important that you do not leave the dogs alone or unsupervised until the new dog has adjusted to your home, and this could take several days/weeks. A few “disagreements” may arise as they settle into their new roles and routines, a growl or a snarl is not uncommon. As they become more comfortable with each other, these behaviors should diminish. If the relationship does not stabilize and improve, seek help with dog behaviorists and trainers. Indoor Pet has a list of other tips, read those HERE.
Making it work. You’ll have a few adjustments with routines and schedules when a new dog joins the family. In the beginning, separate the dogs at feeding time to ensure that there are no food competition issues. Share treats with both dogs, and hold off on special rewards like bones or rawhides until the two of them have exhibited calm food behaviors. You may need some extra toys, your long-time dog may not want to share and this could cause lead to a fight. Give both dogs individual and regular attention daily.
Many people have successfully integrated a new dog (or two) into their homes and lives. It just takes a little preparation, time, and training to help the process along. Occasionally, two dogs just are not a good fit. In these instances, if time and training are not easing the tension, you will want to find a good, safe home for your new adoptee. Both dogs deserve a home where they can thrive, enjoy life and most of all, be safe. Local rescue organizations may offer some support if needed.
Please visit with your family veterinarian with additional questions and concerns.
February 12, 2014
Pet owners take note—February is National Pet Dental Health Month. It might seem like your pet’s pearly whites represent an insignificant health risk, but according to the American Veterinary Dental Society, more than 85 percent of dogs and cats show signs of oral disease by age four.
Similar to humans, the main culprit is food particles and bacteria building up in the mouth, resulting in plaque, tartar, and gingivitis. From there, things may deteriorate if not treated. Gingivitis can progress to periodontal disease, tooth decay, bleeding gums, and in severe cases, tooth loss. To make matters worse, the bacteria from periodontal disease can travel into a pet’s bloodstream affecting the lungs, heart, kidneys, liver and nervous system—which could result in fatal organ failure—all treatable and preventable when caught at an early stage!
All pets are at risk for developing dental problems, so take time to have your furry friend’s smile examined annually by your family veterinarian. You’ll be pleased to note that during February, all around the Treasure Valley, many veterinarians offer discounts on dental exams, care and treatment. Call your primary care veterinarian today for an appointment and with any questions.
In the meantime, here are some warning signs of developing dental problems:
- Bad breath
- Tartar buildup on the teeth
- Swollen, receding or bleeding gums
- Fractured or abscessed teeth
- Change in eating habits
Dental care of dogs and cats is one of the most commonly overlooked areas of pet health care, but with some simple effort, this trend can change, resulting in happier and healthier pets and owners.