Staci’s Journey Into Veterinary Medicine

My name is Staci and I’m a first-year veterinary student at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine. Obviously, getting here was no easy feat but when you’ve wanted something since you were eight years old, you tend to gravitate toward experiences that lead you where you’ve always wanted to be.

I started out by volunteering at the University of Florida Small Animal Hospital in January of 2014. For the following three years, I made my rounds throughout the hospital spending time in Radiology, the Intensive Care Unit, Orthopedic Surgery Receiving, Anesthesiology, and Zoological Medicine. I’d have to say Zoo Med was my favorite because of the number of wildlife cases brought in and the broad spectrum of species that are cared for in that ward. Plus, all of the doctors and technicians are extremely knowledgeable and genuine in their care for their coworkers and the animals.

During Thanksgiving Break in 2015, I started shadowing at River Oaks Animal Hospital. I was fortunate enough that my first day there Dr. Beltran was performing a surgery on a cat and I was invited to watch! The surgery went well and ever since, I’ve been enamored with the precise nature of veterinary surgery. I spent the following Winter and Spring Breaks shadowing there and saw my fair share of excitement and stress.

As an Animal Sciences major at the University of Florida, the required classes revolved around agriculture-based learning. Coming from the suburbs I had no experience in setting foot, let alone handling animals, on a farm. My life was changed when I took a class about dairy cows and the dairy industry and my life has been fuller ever since!

In May of 2016, I was selected as a student intern for the US Dairy Education & Training Consortium in Clovis, NM. It was there I solidified my love for cows and the dairy industry with both classes and hands-on farm tours and evaluations. Shortly after I returned to Florida, I was hired as a Treatment Technician at River Oaks for the remainder of the summer as I was finishing up my applications for vet school. As you can tell, my applications landed me at the best school I could possibly imagine!

With my first day just around the corner, I’ve nervous and excited to finally live out my dreams and I’m so thrilled to have been asked to share my journey to becoming a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine!

-Staci

Canine Influenza: What You Need to Know

Canine influenza (CI, or dog flu) is caused by the canine influenza virus (CIV), an influenza A virus. It is highly contagious and easily spread from infected dogs to other dogs by direct contact, nasal secretions (through barking, coughing or sneezing), contaminated objects (kennel surfaces, food and water bowls, collars and leashes), and by people moving between infected and uninfected dogs. Dogs of any breed, age, sex or health status are at risk of infection when exposed to the virus.

Currently, two strains of CIV have been identified in the U.S. The H3N8 strain of canine influenza was first identified in 2004 in Florida. Since then, it has been found in several other states. In 2015, the H3N2 virus strain was identified as the cause of an outbreak of canine influenza in Chicago. The virus was known to exist in Asia, but the 2015 outbreak was the first report of the H3N2 virus affecting dogs outside of Asia.

Canine influenza can occur year round. So far, there is no evidence that canine influenza infects people.

Canine influenza and cats 

In early 2016, a group of cats in an Indiana shelter ​ were infected with H3N2 canine influenza (passed to them by infected dogs). The findings suggested that cat-to-cat transmission was possible. Cats infected with H3N2 canine influenza show symptoms of upper respiratory illness, including a runny nose, congestion, malaise, lip smacking and excessive salivation.

Canine influenza symptoms and diagnosis

The symptoms of a CIV infection resemble those of canine infectious tracheobronchitis (“kennel cough”).   Dogs infected with CIV develop a persistent cough and may develop a thick nasal discharge and fever (often 104-105oF). Other signs can include lethargy, eye discharge and reduced appetite. Canine influenza infections can cause mild to severe illness in dogs. Some infected dogs may not show any signs of illness, but can still be contagious and able to infect other dogs

Most dogs recover within 2-3 weeks. However, some dogs may develop secondary bacterial infections which may lead to more severe illness and pneumonia. Anyone with concerns about their pet’s health, or whose pet is showing signs of canine influenza, should contact their veterinarian.

Laboratory tests are available to diagnose both H3N8 and H3N2 CIV. Consult your veterinarian for more information regarding testing for CIV.

Transmission and prevention of canine influenza

Dogs infected with CIV are most contagious during the two- to four- day virus incubation period, when they shed the virus in their nasal secretions but do not show signs of illness. The virus is highly contagious and almost all dogs exposed to CIV will become infected. The majority (80%) of infected dogs develop flu-like illness. The mortality (death) rate from CIV is low (less than 10%).

To reduce the spread of CIV, isolate dogs that are sick or showing signs of a respiratory illness, and isolate dogs known to have been exposed to an infected dog.

Isolate dogs infected with H3N2 canine influenza for at least 21 days​ and dogs infected with H3N8 CIV for at least 7 days.  Practice good hygiene and sanitation, including hand washing and thorough cleaning of shared items and kennels, to reduce the spread of CIV. Influenza viruses do not usually survive in the environment beyond 48 hours and are inactivated or killed by commonly used disinfectants.

Vaccines are available for both the H3N8 and H3N2 strains of canine influenza virus. The CIV vaccination is a “lifestyle” vaccination, recommended for dogs at risk of exposure due to their increased exposure to other dogs – such as boarding, attending social events with dogs present, and visiting dog parks. Your veterinarian can provide you with additional information about the vaccines and whether you should consider vaccinating your dog.

Source: https://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/CanineInfluenza.aspx

Top 10 Cat Emergencies

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Cats often become reclusive and hide when they are not feeling well, which makes knowing when they need to be seen by your veterinarian a challenge. They have unique signs of emergency conditions that often go unrecognized by owners. Some injuries are obvious, such as a cat with an open wound, while others have more subtle signs that can be equally dangerous if left untreated. Knowing signs of illness is crucial in determining when to seek emergency care for your cat. Below is a list of some of the most common cat emergencies and their signs.

 

Urethral Obstruction

This is a condition in which a cat, usually male, is unable to urinate due to a blockage in the urethra (the tube leading from the urinary bladder to the outside environment).

Cats will show a sudden onset of restless behavior, which includes frequent trips in and out of the litter box. They will often attempt to urinate in unusual places such as in a bath tub or on a plastic bag. You may notice a very small stream of urine that contains blood. More often than not, despite a cat’s straining, there may be no urine or even just a drop produced. In later stages of the obstruction, cats may cry loudly, vomit, and become lethargic.

You should consider these signs a serious emergency and seek veterinary care immediately. There are reports of cats developing kidney failure and dying within 12 hours after the onset of signs. Expect your cat to be hospitalized at least 36 hours for treatment of this condition. Veterinary treatments may include a urinary catheter, intravenous fluids, and pain management. Female cats are less likely to become obstructed due to their wider urinary tract.

 

Toxicities (Poisoning)

The combination of their curious nature and unique metabolism (the way their body breaks down chemicals) makes cats vulnerable to toxins. Owners are often unaware that their home contains multiple products that are poisonous to felines. The most common cat toxins include antifreeze, Tylenol, and rat or mouse poison.

The signs your cat displays depends on the type of poison he or she has encountered. Antifreeze will often cause wobbliness or a drunken appearance first, then progresses to vomiting/weakness as the kidneys fail. Tylenol may cause an unusual swelling of the head and changes the cat’s blood color from red to chocolate brown. Rat or mouse poison interferes with blood clotting so you may see weakness from internal blood loss or visible blood in the urine or stool.

 

Breathing Problems

Often, cats hide the signs of breathing problems by simply decreasing their activity. By the time an owner notices changes in the cat’s breathing, it may be late in the progression of the cat’s lung disease. There are several causes of breathing changes, but the most common are feline asthma, heart disease, or lung disease.

 

Foreign Object Ingestion

Many cats love to play with strings or string-like objects (such as dental floss, holiday tinsel, or ribbon), but those strings can be dangerous for your cat. When a string is ingested by a cat, one end may become lodged or “fixed” in place, often under the cat’s tongue, while the rest of the string passes further into the intestine. With each intestinal contraction, the string see-saws back and forth actually cutting into the intestine and damaging the blood supply.

Signs that your cat has eaten a foreign object may include vomiting, lack of appetite, diarrhea, and weakness. Occasionally owners will actually see part of a string coming from the mouth or anal area. You should never pull on any part of the string that is visible; instead, call your veterinary health care team immediately.

Surgery is usually necessary to remove the foreign object and any damaged sections of intestine.

 

Bite Wounds

Cats are notorious for both inflicting and suffering bite wounds during encounters with other cats. Because the tips of their canine, or “fang,” teeth are so small and pointed, bites are often not noticed until infection sets in, which is usually several days after the initial injury.

Cats may develop a fever and become lethargic 48 to 72 hours after experiencing a penetrating bite wound. They may be tender or painful at the site. If the wound becomes infected or abscessed, swelling and foul-smelling drainage may develop.

You should seek emergency care for bite wounds so your veterinarian can thoroughly clean the area and prescribe appropriate antibiotics. Occasionally, the wounds can develop large pockets called abscesses under the skin that require surgical placement of a drain to aid in healing.

 

Hit By Car

Cats that spend time outdoors are at a much greater risk for ending up in the emergency room. Being hit by a car is one of the most common causes of traumatic injuries, such as broken bones, lung injuries, and head trauma. You should always seek emergency care if your cat has been hit by a vehicle, even if he or she appears normal, because many injuries can develop or worsen over the following few hours.

 

Increased Thirst and Urination

Sudden changes in your cat’s thirst and urine volume are important clues to underlying disease. The two most common causes of these changes are kidney disease and diabetes mellitus.

Your veterinarian will need to check blood and urine samples to determine the cause of your cat’s change in thirst and urine. Having your pet seen on an emergency basis for these signs is important because prompt treatment increases chances for recovery. Exposure to certain toxins, such as antifreeze or lilies, will show similar signs, and delaying veterinary care can be fatal.

 

Sudden Inability to Use the Hind Legs

Cats with some forms of heart disease are at risk for developing blood clots. These clots can sometimes lodge in a large blood vessel—the aorta—where they can prevent normal blood flow to the hind legs. If your cat experiences such a blood clotting episode (often called a saddle thrombus or thromboembolic episode), you will likely see a sudden loss of the use of his or her hind legs, painful crying, and breathing changes.

On arrival at the emergency room, your cat will receive pain management and oxygen support. Tests will be done to evaluate the cat’s heart and determine if there is any heart failure (fluid accumulation in the lungs). Sadly, such an episode is often the first clue for an owner that his or her cat has severe heart disease. In most cases, with time and support, the blood clot can resolve, but the cat’s heart disease will require lifelong treatment.

 

Upper Respiratory Infections

Cats and kittens can experience a variety of upper respiratory diseases caused by a combination of bacteria or viruses. An upper respiratory infections, or URI, can cause sneezing, runny nose, runny eyes, lack of appetite, and fever. In severe cases, it can cause ulcers in the mouth, on the tongue, and on the eyes. More often than not, severe cases are seen in cats that have recently been in multiple-cat environments, such as shelters. Small kittens, or kittens struggling to thrive, are also easily infected and may develop more severe complications, such as low blood sugar.

 

Sudden Blindness

A sudden loss of vision is most likely to occur in an older cat. The most common cause is increased blood pressure (hypertension), which may be due to changes in thyroid function (hyperthyroidism) or kidney disease. There are some cats that appear to have hypertension with no other underlying disease.

Sudden blindness should be treated as an emergency and your veterinarian will measure your cat’s blood pressure, check blood tests, and start medications to lower the pressure and restore vision.

If you notice a change in your cat’s eyes, whether he or she loses vision or not, you should consider this an emergency have your pet seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Disclaimer: This website is not intended to replace professional consultation, diagnosis, or treatment by a licensed veterinarian. If you require any veterinary-related advice, contact your veterinarian promptly. Information at cathealth.com is exclusively of a general reference nature. Do not disregard veterinary advice or delay treatment as a result of accessing information at this site

SOURCE: http://www.cathealth.com/safety/top-ten-emergencies-in-cats

Easter Pet Poisons

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The veterinarians at Pet Poison Helpline receive hundreds of calls this time of year from pet owners and veterinarians concerning cats that have ingested Easter lilies.

“Unbeknownst to many pet owners, Easter lilies are highly toxic to cats,” said Ahna Brutlag, DVM, MS assistant director at Pet Poison Helpline. “All parts of the Easter lily plant are poisonous – the petals, the leaves, the stem and even the pollen. Cats that ingest as few as one or two leaves, or even a small amount of pollen while grooming their fur, can suffer severe kidney failure.”

In most situations, symptoms of poisoning will develop within six to 12 hours of exposure. Early signs include vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargy and dehydration. Symptoms worsen as kidney failure develops. Some cats will experience disorientation, staggering and seizures.

“There is no effective antidote to counteract lily poisoning, so the sooner you can get your cat to the veterinarian, the better his chances of survival will be,” said Brutlag. “If you see your cat licking or eating any part of an Easter lily, call your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline immediately. If left untreated, his chances of survival are low.”

Treatment includes inducing vomiting, administering drugs like activated charcoal (to bind the poison in the stomach and intestines), intravenous fluid therapy to flush out the kidneys, and monitoring of kidney function through blood testing. The prognosis and the cost – both financially and physically – to the pet owner and cat, are best when treated immediately.

There are several other types of lilies that are toxic to cats as well. They are of the Lilium and Hemerocallis species and commonly referred to as Tiger lilies, Day lilies and Asiatic lilies. Popular in many gardens and yards, they can also result in severe acute kidney failure. These lilies are commonly found in florist bouquets, so it is imperative to check for poisonous flowers before bringing bouquets into the household. Other types of lilies – such as the Peace, Peruvian and Calla lilies – are usually not a problem for cats and may cause only minor drooling.

Thankfully, lily poisoning does not occur in dogs or people. However, if a large amount is ingested, it can result in mild gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting and diarrhea.

Other Dangers to Pets at Easter Time

Pet Poison Helpline also receives calls concerning pets that have ingested Easter grass and chocolate.

Usually green or yellow in color, Easter grass is the fake grass that often accompanies Easter baskets. When your cat or dog ingests something “stringy” like Easter grass, it can become anchored around the base of the tongue or stomach, rendering it unable to pass through the intestines. It can result in a linear foreign body and cause severe damage to the intestinal tract, often requiring expensive abdominal surgery.

Lastly, during the week of Easter, calls to Pet Poison Helpline concerning dogs that have been poisoned by chocolate increase by nearly 200 percent. While the occasional chocolate chip in one cookie may not be an issue, certain types of chocolate are very toxic to dogs. In general, the darker and more bitter the chocolate, the greater the danger. Baker’s chocolate and dark chocolate pose the biggest problem. The chemical toxicity is due to methylxanthines (a relative of caffeine) and results in vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, an abnormal heart rhythm, seizures, and possibly death. Other sources include chewable chocolate flavored multi-vitamins, baked goods, or chocolate-covered espresso beans. If you suspect that your dog ate chocolate, call your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline immediately.

Spring is in the air and Easter is a wonderful holiday. Remember that your pets will be curious about new items you bring into your household like Easter lilies, Easter grass and chocolate. Keep them a safe distance away from your pets’ reach and enjoy the holiday and the season.

 

SOURCE: http://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/pet-owners/seasons/easter/

3 Tips for Traveling with Your Pet

Tips for Traveling with Your Pet

Are you getting ready for a road trip in 2016? If you’re bringing your best friend with you, it’s important to be prepared! Some pets travel well, but others may experience anxiety or motion sickness, in addition to the general discomfort that is often associated with a new experience of any kind.

At East Lake Animal Clinic, River Oaks Animal Hospital, and Pet Care Center of Apopka, we make your pet’s needs our priority and we have a few tips to help you keep your pet safe and happy while road tripping.

  1. If your pet is experiencing motion sickness or anxiety (which is often the cause of car sickness) in the car, talk with us about how to handle it before your trip. This way, you can practice using medications or other anxiety intervention options and make sure that your pet is comfortable and happy for their trip!
  2. Give your pet their own space in the vehicle. Generally, a travel crate is the preferred option for most traveling pets as they get to have their own familiar space. Pet owners often prefer crates too because then their pet can’t wander all over the vehicle. Just make sure they are secured in the event of an accident!
  3. Pack for your pet’s needs. Be sure to have enough food, medication, water, etc. for the duration of your trip. If your pet needs preventive medicines during the trip, make sure you bring those with you also. It can be helpful to have a copy of your pet’s medical records and their microchip identification number available in the event of any emergencies on the trip.

 

Is your road trip coming up? Be sure to think about your pet as you plan your vacation. Talk with our team if you have any questions or concerns about your pet’s safety and enjoyment. We want your whole family to have a great—and safe—time!

 

Have a Safe Holiday Season with Your Pet

Holiday Pet Safety Tips in Longwood, FL

During the holiday season, there are so many dangers our pets may encounter, but if a few extra precautions are taken, you can keep your best friend safe. The team at our animal hospitals want to help you make sure that everyone in your family is safe and happy all season long.

Top 5 Most Common Holiday Dangers for Pets

These are some of the most common dangers that our team often sees at our animal hospitals during the holiday season:

  • While we can handle having a few drinks in celebration of the season, our pets cannot. It’s important to always keep alcoholic beverages out your of your pet’s reach to ensure that they’re safe from the danger of alcohol poisoning.
  • Christmas trees. It isn’t the holiday season without a festive tree! However, these lovely decorations can also cause a few hazards in the home. Christmas trees can be knocked over by overly adventurous and curious pets, causing damage to the home and injury to the animals!
  • Electrical cords. Does your best friend like to chew? The sight of all those new cords under the tree may be too appealing for your pet, so we recommend disguising and hiding electrical cords to prevent your pet’s curiosity. It’s also important that they never be left unattended around the decorations!
  • Holiday meals and sweets. You hear all year round that there are foods your pet should never consume, but during the holiday season we have so much more of those dangerous foods around the house! Traditional holiday meals contain so many of those dangers, like poultry bones, onions, garlic, grapes, and more. In addition, we often do a lot of baking during the holidays, introducing our pets to even more potential dangers with chocolate, sugar, macadamia nuts, raisins, and more. Keep those foods and treats out of your pet’s reach at all times!
  • Poinsettias and other holiday plants. For some odd reason, the most popular plants to bring inside the home at the holidays are toxic to your pet! Poinsettias, amaryllis, and lilies of all kinds are dangerous and we recommend keeping them out of your pet’s reach at all times so that your pet doesn’t have access to the leaves or berries that may fall off. You may also want to consider purchasing silk flowers for the look of the festive plant without the dangers.

If you have any questions about your pet’s safety and well-being this holiday season, please contact us. That’s what we’re here for! Have a happy and safe holiday with your pet this year.

Holiday Safety Tips

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The holiday season is upon us, and many pet parents plan to include their furry companions in the festivities. As you gear up for the holidays, it is important to try to keep your pet’s eating and exercise habits as close to their normal routine as possible. Also, please be sure to steer pets clear of the following unhealthy treats, toxic plants and dangerous decorations.

Be Careful with Seasonal Plants and Decorations

  • Oh, Christmas Tree: Securely anchor your Christmas tree so it doesn’t tip and fall, causing possible injury to your pet. This will also prevent the tree water—which may contain fertilizers that can cause stomach upset—from spilling. Stagnant tree water is a breeding ground for bacteria, and your pet could end up with nausea or diarrhea should he imbibe.
  • Avoid Mistletoe & Holly: Holly, when ingested, can cause pets to suffer nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal upset and cardiovascular problems. And many varieties of lilies can cause kidney failure in cats if ingested. Opt for just-as-jolly artificial plants made from silk or plastic, or choose a pet-safe bouquet.
  • Tinsel-less Town: Kitties love this sparkly, light-catching “toy” that’s easy to bat around and carry in their mouths. But a nibble can lead to a swallow, which can lead to an obstructed digestive tract, severe vomiting, dehydration and possible surgery. It’s best to brighten your boughs with something other than tinsel.
  • That Holiday Glow: Don’t leave lighted candles unattended. Pets may burn themselves or cause a fire if they knock candles over. Be sure to use appropriate candle holders, placed on a stable surface. And if you leave the room, put the candle out!
  • Wired Up: Keep wires, batteries and glass or plastic ornaments out of paws’ reach. A wire can deliver a potentially lethal electrical shock and a punctured battery can cause burns to the mouth and esophagus, while shards of breakable ornaments can damage your pet’s mouth and digestive tract.

Avoid Holiday Food Dangers

  • Skip the Sweets: By now you know not to feed your pets chocolate and anything sweetened with xylitol, but do you know the lengths to which an enterprising pet will go to chomp on something yummy? Make sure to keep your pets away from the table and unattended plates of food, and be sure to secure the lids on garbage cans.
  • Leave the Leftovers: Fatty, spicy and no-no human foods, as well as bones, should not be fed to your furry friends. Pets can join the festivities in other fun ways that won’t lead to costly medical bills.
  • Careful with Cocktails: If your celebration includes adult holiday beverages, be sure to place your unattended alcoholic drinks where pets cannot get to them. If ingested, your pet could become weak, ill and may even go into a coma, possibly resulting in death from respiratory failure.
  • Selecting Special Treats: Looking to stuff your pet’s stockings? Stick with chew toys that are basically indestructible, Kongs that can be stuffed with healthy foods or chew treats that are designed to be safely digestible. Long, stringy things are a feline’s dream, but the most risky toys for cats involve ribbon, yarn and loose little parts that can get stuck in the intestines, often necessitating surgery. Surprise kitty with a new ball that’s too big to swallow, a stuffed catnip toy or the interactive cat dancer.

Please visit our People Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pets page for more information.

Plan a Pet-Safe Holiday Gathering

  • House Rules: If your animal-loving guests would like to give your pets a little extra attention and exercise while you’re busy tending to the party, ask them to feel free to start a nice play or petting session.
  • Put the Meds Away: Make sure all of your medications are locked behind secure doors, and be sure to tell your guests to keep their meds zipped up and packed away, too.
  • A Room of Their Own: Give your pet his own quiet space to retreat to—complete with fresh water and a place to snuggle. Shy pups and cats might want to hide out under a piece of furniture, in their carrying case or in a separate room away from the hubbub.
  • New Year’s Noise: As you count down to the new year, please keep in mind that strings of thrown confetti can get lodged in a cat’s intestines, if ingested, perhaps necessitating surgery. Noisy poppers can terrify pets and cause possible damage to sensitive ears. And remember that many pets are also scared of fireworks, so be sure to secure them in a safe, escape-proof area as midnight approaches.

 

SOURCE: https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/holiday-safety-tips

Thanksgiving Pet Safety Tips

Beagle dog try to scrounge a fish from the table

‘Tis the season for friends, family and holiday feasts—but also for possible distress for our animal companions. Pets won’t be so thankful if they munch on undercooked turkey or a pet-unfriendly floral arrangement, or if they stumble upon an unattended alcoholic drink.

Check out the following tips from ASPCA experts for a fulfilling Thanksgiving that your pets can enjoy, too.

Talkin’ Turkey
If you decide to feed your pet a little nibble of turkey, make sure it’s boneless and well-cooked. Don’t offer her raw or undercooked turkey, which may contain salmonella bacteria.

Sage Advice
Sage can make your Thanksgiving stuffing taste delish, but it and many other herbs contain essential oils and resins that can cause gastrointestinal upset and central nervous system depression to pets if eaten in large quantities. Cats are especially sensitive to the effects of certain essential oils.

No Bread Dough
Don’t spoil your pet’s holiday by giving him raw bread dough. According to ASPCA experts, when raw bread dough is ingested, an animal’s body heat causes the dough to rise in his stomach. As it expands, the pet may experience vomiting, severe abdominal pain and bloating, which could become a life-threatening emergency, requiring surgery.

Don’t Let Them Eat Cake
If you’re baking up Thanksgiving cakes, be sure your pets keep their noses out of the batter, especially if it includes raw eggs—they could contain salmonella bacteria that may lead to food poisoning.

Too Much of a Good Thing
A few small boneless pieces of cooked turkey, a taste of mashed potato or even a lick of pumpkin pie shouldn’t pose a problem. However, don’t allow your pets to overindulge, as they could wind up with a case of stomach upset, diarrhea or even worse—an inflammatory condition of the pancreas known as pancreatitis. In fact, it’s best keep pets on their regular diets during the holidays.

A Feast Fit for a Kong
While the humans are chowing down, give your cat and dog their own little feast. Offer them Nylabones or made-for-pet chew bones. Or stuff their usual dinner—perhaps with a few added tidbits of turkey, vegetables (try sweet potato or green beans) and dribbles of gravy—inside a Kong toy. They’ll be happily occupied for awhile, working hard to extract their dinner from the toy.

 

Source: http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/thanksgiving-safety-tips

Missing the litter box

A tabby cat walking away from his litterbox.

 

You have a problem. Your cat is thinking outside the box, and not in a good way. You may be wondering what you did to inspire so much “creative expression.” Is your cat punishing you? Is Fluffy just “bad”? No, and no. House soiling and missing the litter box is a sign that your cat needs some help.

According to the Winn Feline Foundation, house soiling is the number one complaint among cat owners. The good news is that it is very treatable.

An accredited veterinarian can help you determine if the problem is medical or related to social or environmental stressors. In addition to a complete physical exam, the doctor will ask you specific “where and when” questions.

Health factors

Tony Buffington, DVM, PhD, a specialist in feline urinary disorders at The Ohio State University, and founder of the Indoor Cat Initiative says that many veterinarians recommend a urine test for every cat with a house soiling problem. The urinalysis will determine if blood, bacteria, or urinary crystals are present — signs that your cat might have feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD).

FLUTD is very common and can cause painful urination. Cats that begin to associate the litter box with pain will avoid it. Other medical possibilities include hyperthyroidism, kidney disease, diabetes, and arthritis and muscle or nerve disorders that might prevent your cat from getting to the litter box in time.

Environmental factors
If there is no medical cause, the next step is to look at environmental factors. Start with the litter box. Your cat might be avoiding the litter box because it is not cleaned well enough, you’ve changed the type of litter you use, or there is only one box for multiple cats.

Another possibility is that your cat is “marking” — spraying urine, typically on vertical objects such as walls and furniture, or in “socially significant” areas near doors or windows. Both male and female cats mark. The most common offenders are cats that have not been spayed or neutered.

Buffington says that stress can cause elimination problems too. For example, subtle aggression or harassment by other house cats or neighborhood cats may be an issue.

Even unremarkable changes in your home can make your cat anxious or fearful. Look around. Did anything change right before your cat started having problems? Did you get a new pet? A new couch? Maybe you just moved the old couch to a different part of the room, or had a dinner party. Cats are sensitive creatures and changes that seem small to you can throw your cat off his game. Check with your veterinarian about finding solutions that work for both you and your cat

SOURCE: https://www.aaha.org/pet_owner/pet_health_library/cat_care/behavior/missing_the_litter_box.aspx

Time to Clean Your Pet’s Ears?

Woman veterinarian examines ear of a dachshund dog

Veterinarians see a lot of patients with ear infections. In fact, it’s the second most common reason for a client visit, according to pet health insurer, VPI Pet Insurance. With ear problems prompting so many trips to the vet, should ear cleaning be a necessary part of grooming your pet?

Generally, cleaning a dog’s ears on a routine basis is not necessary, according to Leonard Jonas, DVM, MS, DACVIM, a veterinarian with Wheat Ridge Animal Hospital in Wheat Ridge, Colo. That’s because animals have a naturally occurring self-cleansing process.

“I’ve had pets my whole life,” Jonas said. “I don’t remember ever routinely cleaning out their ears.”

However, that doesn’t mean pet owners should never take notice of their dog’s ears. Certain breeds, lifestyles and physical characteristics will make a dog more prone to what Jonas calls “abnormal situations,” in which the pet’s normal homeostasis is disrupted. This is when something, either systemically or locally in the ear, interferes with the normal surface barrier defense system and the normal cleaning process that keeps bacteria and yeast under control.

There are signs to watch for if your pet is having an issue with its ears. These, according to Jonas, include:

  • Shaking its head
  • Flapping its ears
  • Rubbing at its ears, either with a paw or by rubbing against furniture or carpet
  • Self-massaging the ear to ease itch, pain or irritation
  • Debris and/or redness inside the ear
  • Sores inside the ear
  • Odor in the ear due to abnormal oils and bacteria

“If you [the pet owner] look in the ear, you can see sometimes a lot of debris,” said Jonas, explaining what an ear with an infection or problem may look like. “Then [you] see redness on the ear flaps (inside) or sores developing. And then there’s also odor that occurs when you have an abnormal ear.”

Breeds to watch
There are certain breeds of dogs—such as Shar Peis, bulldogs and poodles—that have narrow ear canals and have a higher chance of incurring ear issues. Poodles, especially, have more hair in the canals, Jonas explained. “The hair itself is not a problem, but if they’ve got something abnormal with their whole defense system, all that extra hair in there makes it difficult.”

Cocker spaniels are notorious for ear problems, Jonas added.

When to clean your pet’s ears
According to Jonas, it’s best to consult your veterinarian before going forward with an ear-cleaning regimen. Unlike cleaning the teeth, cleaning the ears does not need be done regularly. If a pet owner suspects that something may be wrong with the ear, it’s advised to visit the veterinarian and establish whether the dog’s ear needs to be cleaned by the owner either routinely or for an instructed period of time.

Cleaning the dog’s ears without first seeing a veterinarian is not a good idea, Jonas said, “because you don’t know what’s going on inside. You don’t know if there has been a ruptured ear drum; you don’t know if there’s a stick or a stone or something stuck down inside the ear that needs to be fished out by a veterinarian.”

A veterinarian can diagnose the problem and make the proper recommendations, which may be cleaning and/or medication.

Typically, there are two situations for which a dog’s ears would need to be cleaned regularly. The first is when a veterinarian instructs for it to be done, and the second is when the dog is frequently in water. “Water in their ears disrupts the normal defense barrier system in that ear, and can make them prone to getting infections and irritation and inflammation,” Jonas said.

If there needs to be ear cleaning
A veterinarian should show the owner how to properly clean the dog’s ears because “there are a lot of different techniques, and it depends on what the problem is,” Jonas advised.

There are a couple of precautions to always remember, according to Jonas. First, never use a Q-tip, because it tends to push the wax and debris further into the ear. Second, be sure a groomer does not pluck the hair out of the dog’s ears, unless that hair is contributing to an ear problem; Jonas believes that doing so may cause irritation.

One thing pet owners should also consider is that if the dog has an ear infection, it could be very painful for them. Forcing the dog to get its ears cleaned or putting medication in them can be a dangerous situation for the owner and the dog.

“If your pet doesn’t want you to do it, don’t, because it hurts,” Jonas said. “You’re just going to create a problem, and you need to look to alternatives.”

 

Originally published by Healthy Pet.