‘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.
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 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.
Unfortunately, the only thing normal about noisy breathing for dogs with “pushed-in” faces is that it is an expected response to a shortened upper jaw, which creates excess soft tissue in the back of the throat.
Some dogs are affected to the point where they experience brachycephalic (the scientific term for breeds with pushed in faces) obstructive airway syndrome or BOAS. If left untreated, problems can get worse to the point where an animal can collapse due to a lack of oxygen.
Owners of affected dogs may be putting them at risk if they do not recognize the problem and seek treatment, according to researchers Rowena Packer, Dr. Anke Hendricks and Dr. Charlotte Burn of the United Kingdom’s Royal Veterinary College.
In their 2012 study, the researchers discovered that owners of such dogs as pugs, English bulldogs, Pekingese, French bulldogs, Boston terriers, Cavalier King Charles spaniels, Shih tzus and others were not aware of the signs of BOAS. In fact, 58% of surveyed owners said their dogs did not have breathing problems even when more than two-thirds of the dogs showed difficulties during exercise.
What to watch for
According to Packer, while it is not yet known which are the best predictors of BOAS, signs to look for include:
Increased and abnormal breathing noise that sounds like snoring, both when the dog is awake and asleep
A shortness of breath while exercising or playing
Effortful, labored breathing with obvious abdominal movements
Interrupting exercise, play or eating to catch their breath
Inability to exercise for reasonable periods of time without becoming out of breath
Difficulty cooling down after a walk; panting for long periods
Physical collapse while exercising
Difficulty sleeping and/or periods where the dog stops breathing during sleep
Restlessness and difficulty getting comfortable at rest, stretched out head and neck position, forelegs spread and body flat against the floor
Gastrointestinal (GI) problems, such as difficulty swallowing, and bringing up food, stomach content or a lot of saliva.
“If you notice these signs, take your dog to your veterinarian for an assessment to learn whether they are compatible with the disease or due to a different problem,” says Hendricks.
“If left to develop,” says Burn, “BOAS can lead to secondary problems due to the effort required to breathe—putting pressure on the voice box, digestive system and heart. In addition, the more severe the breathing problems, the greater the severity of GI signs. They may reflect inflammation of the esophagus, stomach ulcers and, in some cases, hiatal hernias, when part of the stomach can become displaced into the chest cavity during breathing.”
Option for severe BOAS
If your veterinarian believes the dog may have BOAS that requires treatment, he or she may refer you to a veterinary surgical specialist. There, the dog’s airway is likely to be examined under general anesthesia to assess whether it shows the abnormalities associated with BOAS—an elongated soft palate, collapsing voice box and narrowed nostrils.
If present, these abnormalities would be surgically corrected, says Packer. That could mean, for example, that excess tissue in the nose and throat would be removed.
Surgery may improve clinical signs, she says, but the dog may never be “normal,” because of the head structure and is likely to remain susceptible to heat stress.
For severely affected dogs, where significant secondary problems have occurred—for example, severe laryngeal collapse—then treatment choices may be limited. In some cases, either permanent tracheostomy or euthanasia may be recommended.
“That is why it is vital,” says Hendricks, “that owners recognize the clinical signs of BOAS and perceive them to be a ‘problem’ as early as possible, so that these secondary changes can be avoided by early intervention.”
Options for mildly affected dogs
For all dogs, including those that have had surgery or have been determined by a veterinarian to only be mildly affected, owners can help with some lifestyle changes, says Burn. Owners should do the following:
Closely monitor the dog to keep it at a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese can exacerbate the condition.
Use body harnesses rather than collars on walks so the airway is not compressed by a neck collar if the dog pulls at the leash.
Avoid walking on hot or humid days. On particularly warm days, keep dogs calm and indoors in a cool, aerated room with access to water.
Avoid having dogs in particularly stressful or exciting situations.
At River Oaks Animal Hospital, East Lake Animal Clinic, and Pet Care Center of Apopka, we have been vaccinating for canine influenza for three years, ever since this virus became a cause for concern. All around the country the news is reporting canine influenza epidemics, especially in the Midwest, and we hope that just by watching the news you will start to understand why it’s so important to have your pet protected from this!
With all the media coverage of canine influenza right now, we want to set the record straight about a few things. All over the news and the internet, we keep seeing high prices quoted for this vaccine and we want to make sure that our clients aren’t skipping this critical preventive care due to those quoted costs! We’ve seen national news sites quoting costs of $100+ for vaccines, but at our animal hospitals, we offer the vaccine for:
$40 for the first time the vaccine is given – comes in a package of 2 for first administration and then a booster 3 weeks later, for no additional cost.
$28.55 for an annual booster every year following.
Our veterinary team believes firmly that every dog should be vaccinated against the canine influenza virus, without exception. This is not a situation where you can determine the need of the vaccine based on where your dog goes or what they do. No matter what, an unvaccinated dog is at risk because they have no immunity to this potentially fatal virus.
Get Your Canine Influenza Vaccine
If your dog has not been vaccinated against canine influenza, please contact us today to schedule their vaccine appointment. This vaccine is so important to everyone’s health. Please, act now.
Pets aren’t always easy to take care of, and they often require a substantial time commitment (something you’re all too aware of at, say, 3 a.m., when Bing Clawsby is finally ready to go outside and do his business). But pets provide an amazing return on that time investment, especially when it comes to your health. Case in point: According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pet owners tend to have lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels than non-pet owners. But that’s not all. Pets also model many surprisingly healthy behaviors that humans would do well to emulate. Here are just a few, according to veterinarians, dog trainers, and other pet experts.
They focus on what matters most. You may get grumpy after a bad day at the office, but your pooch never does. “Companion animals mostly care about food, love, and shelter (not always in that order). As long as they have those things, they don’t need much else,” Mary Gardner, DVM, a veterinarian and cofounder of Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice tells Yahoo Health. “Pets also don’t complain much at all. People believe they hide their pain; I simply think they manage it differently.” If humans could model these behaviors, Gardner adds, we’d be healthier, happier, “and more people would want to be around us.”
They practice portion control (even if not by choice). Snowball might not want to limit her kibble intake any more than you want to limit your tortilla-chip intake. Nonetheless, she typically eats reasonably sized helpings of nutritionally balanced food — and never gets to eat straight out of the bag. Follow her lead. “Both animals and people need structure and regulation when it comes to portion size,” says Jme Thomas, executive director of Motley Zoo Animal Rescue based in Redmond, Washington.
They know how to de-stress. Your pooch doesn’t pour a glass of cabernet when the going gets rough (though, yes, it would make a very popular YouTube video if she did). She may, however, start begging for a walk or to play a game. Smart dog! “Actively seeking healthy activities — that function as de-stressors when stress levels are high — helps to reset people as well as dogs, and bring us back to a productive and functional status, from which many things feel a lot more ‘do-able,’” Marisa Scully, a certified dog behavior specialist in Philadelphia, tells Yahoo Health.
They hit the hay. People don’t get enough sleep: According to a 2014 survey by the National Sleep Foundation, 45 percent of Americans said that a lack of sleep had impaired their activities at least once in the previous week. Learn from your cat or dog, who knows just how important it is to get enough shut-eye, says Jeff Werber, VVM, president and chief veterinarian of Century Veterinary Group in Los Angeles. “Whether it’s a lazy dog day afternoon, or a quick cat nap, you won’t find them burning the candles at both ends.”
They stretch! There’s a reason one of the most common yoga moves is named downward dog. Dogs (and cats) stretch constantly — and we should do the same, notes certified dog behavior consultant Russell Hartstein. Why? Stretching can improve flexibility and reduce your risk of injury.
They’re open to new things. Animals are naturally curious. “Open a box or empty a bag and before you know it, your cat will have climbed in to investigate. Walk your dog past a gardener planting flowers and chances are she will check it out before moving on,” Werber says. “And they’re always up for some fun. A game of catch, a walk, a visit — bring it on.” Since research has found that seeking out new experiences can keep people feeling young and healthy, we’d do well to follow suit.
They’re comfortable getting zen. Numerous studies have found a correlation between mindful meditation and reduced stress, decreased heart disease, and a stronger immune response — and that’s something your cat already knows how to do instinctively. “Each morning I sit on the sofa with my cat, Turtle, while I drink my first cup of coffee,” says Kristen Levine, a pet living expert. “We spend about 10 minutes together, her getting neck and head rubs, me enjoying her purring and having a few meditative moments at the start of the day.It sounds simple, and it can be, but depending on the activity, it can have a powerfully relaxing or invigorating effect for both human and critter.”
Science is proving what pet owners have long believed: Dogs understand what we’re feeling. Specifically, dogs can recognize the difference between a happy and an angry human face, a study published Thursday in Current Biology suggests.
It’s the first research to show definitively that dogs are sensitive to our facial expressions, says coauthor Ludwig Huber, head of comparative cognition at Messerli Research Institute at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna.
In the Austrian study, 20 pet dogs of various breeds and sizes were taught to play a computer game through a series of exercises. In the first, the dogs were shown two touch screens, one with a circle and one with a square. Through trial and error, they learned that a treat would appear if they chose the right geometrical figure.
Eleven of the 20 dogs were able to catch on to rules of the game and make it to the next phase, where they were shown photos of faces. Half the dogs were rewarded for picking a happy expression and half for choosing an angry expression. The interesting catch: the dogs were shown only the upper half or the lower half of a face.
It was easier to teach the dogs to choose a happy expression than an angry one, suggesting the dogs do indeed understand the meaning behind the expression, Huber says.
As a test, the dogs were then were presented with:
the same half of the faces they saw during the training, but from different people
the other half of the faces used in training
the other half of new faces
the left half of the faces used in training
In the vast majority of cases the dogs chose the right answer 70 to 100 percent of the time.
Dogs who had been trained to recognize an expression of anger or happiness on the upper part of a face could identify the same expression when shown only the lower part, and vice versa, Huber says, adding “the only possible explanation is that they recall from memory of everyday life how a whole human face looks when happy or angry.”
Dog owners know their pets not only recognize emotions but also feel empathy.
Delilah, a 3-year-old Chihuahua, always seems to know when her owner Eva Shure is having a bad day.
Delilah knows when her owner is having a bad day.
Making eye contact and cocking her head to the right, the little dog will stare at Shure’s face as if trying to assess her feelings. “It’s weird, I can see her thinking and processing,” says Shure, a 35-year-old New York City business owner. “I’ll say, yeah, it’s not a great day and she’ll come up and sit next to me.”
Beverly Levreault, 57, says her 6-year-old Australian Cattle Dog mix is always tuned in to her moods. “If I’m not feeling well, like when I have the flu, Lacey is definitely lower key and will not leave my side, ” says Levreault, a graphic designer from Williamstown, New York. “If I take her for a walk, she’s not as rambunctious as she usually is.”
Lynette Whiteman says she’s not sure that her 5-year-old Yorkie-Maltese cross is using facial expressions to gauge how she feels. “But she definitely reads my emotions,” says the 58-year-old from Toms River, New Jersey. “I run a therapy dog program and the dogs are just amazing. They go into a room and immediately pick out the person who needs help.”
Behavioral experts say the new findings, while important, wouldn’t surprise anyone with an intimate knowledge of dogs.
Coco and Lynettte
“This new work continues to build the case for just how sensitive dogs are to our subtle behaviors,” says Dr. Brian Hare, chief scientific officer at Dognition and an associate professor of evolutionary anthropology at Duke University. “This is the strongest evidence yet that dogs are even reading our facial expressions.”
That sensitivity may be the result of generations of selective breeding for a true partner, says Dr. Carlo Siracusa, director of the behavior service at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. “We have selected animals that are able to perceive our emotions and communicate with us at a level that no other animal can,” Siracusa says.
Dogs may not talk, but they are very good communicators, says Dr. Nicholas Dodman, a professor in the department of clinical sciences at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University and director of the animal behavior clinic at Cummings.
“Just as we are masters of the spoken word, dogs are experts at reading body language,” Dodman says.
“It’s almost impossible to hide your feelings from a dog.”
Turns out, reading facial expressions isn’t the only thing dogs have in common with us.
They can be bitten by the computer gaming bug. “They can really become freaks for it,” Huber says with a chuckle. “They don’t want to stop playing. It’s incredible. They’ll play till they are exhausted and fall asleep.”
Holly, Jolly and Oh-So-Safe! Of course you want to include your furry companions in the festivities, pet parents, but as you celebrate this holiday season, try to keep your pet’s eating and exercise habits as close to their normal routine as possible. And be sure to steer them clear of the following unhealthy treats, toxic plants and dangerous decorations:
O 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.
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.
No Feasting for the Furries
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 fur kid 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.
Looking to stuff your pet’s stockings? Choose gifts that are safe.
Dogs have been known to tear their toys apart and swallowing the pieces, which can then become lodged in the esophagus, stomach or intestines. 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—and tons of play sessions together.
Forget the 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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Cruciate Ligament Ruptures are among the most common injuries that dogs experience, but they are also serious and often painful as well! The veterinary teams at our Central Florida Vets animal hospitals—River Oaks Animal Hospital, Pet Care Center of Apopka, and East Lake Animal Clinic—are equipped to provide specialized orthopedic care for our patients who have experienced a cruciate ligament rupture or other serious knee injuries. The majority of our critical care cases are handled by our River Oaks Animal Hospital location as this facility is one of only a few hospitals in our area that has an oxygen chamber for post-surgical recovery.
What is a Cruciate Ligament Tear?
The cruciate ligament is the connective band of tissue, or the ligament, that connects the thigh bone with the lower leg bone and helps the knee to bend in a straight line. This can be disrupted, either stretched or torn, due to a genetic disposition toward this injury or because of an athletic activity that results in unstable footing or quick pivoting. It can also be caused by repetitive actions, and obesity is sometimes a factor in this type of injury as well.
Just one week after surgery to repair a torn cruciate ligament, Sasha is walking well and weight bearing! Good job, Dr Greer. We so love this dog, who is so gentle. Nothing is more exciting than to see a dog come out of the cruciate ligament, or ACL, surgery, successfully and embark on a smooth recovery. Remember, each pet is an individual and their treatment and recovery from this type of condition will be different for everyone. We’ll be happy to discuss your pet’s personalized care with you. Please contact us with your questions!
At our Central Florida Vets practices, we are often asked about ongoing, at-home pet care. One of the most common concerns has to do with a healthy pet weight. Our most recent question was:
Why is my dog so fat when I really don’t feed him very much?
We are so glad that you’re looking to maintain your pet’s weight. Just like with humans, obesity has become a leading health issue for pets. When determining your pet’s dietary needs, it’s important to understand that:
Each brand of dog food will have a different caloric value per pound and you should know what yours is on the brand of food your pet eats.
Some foods may be higher in fat content. These will be the foods that your pet is more likely to like better. This is similar to the human desire for fast food!
Other factors that must be considered in dietary management are your pet’s:
Once you understand these parts of your pet’s lifestyle, it’s important to evaluate the amount of food they eat daily and the amount of exercise they get. If your pet is not overeating and is getting adequate exercise and still looks like a football on legs, there may be another issue that is causing the weight gain. A metabolic disease can be the cause of this, but a condition of this type must be diagnosed through examination and blood tests. Weight issues can be caused by conditions such as an underactive thyroid or Cushings disease.
A River Oaks Animal Hospital Case Study
Our veterinary team is currently working with a pet named Bonzo who is experiencing weight management issues. He is currently 67 pounds, but his healthy weight is only 15 pounds.
Bonzo’s case addresses another problem: how to lose weight. In this case, there is an underlying disease, so we use medication and diet control. Bonzo’s food is strictly regulated and we have now started an exercise program. With this amount of excess weight, we are aiming to boost the metabolism by splitting his meals into four portions and making sure that he walks before eating. In other words, no energy input without energy output. We are aiming for a weight loss of about 1 to 2 pounds every ten days.
So far, we are on track and after a few days, Bonzo has been able to double his exercise. The owner is committed to winning, and that is another important facet. Ignore the comments and stares you may get taking a very overweight dog to the dog park. You are doing the right thing. Overweight dogs have a higher chance of developing diabetes and joint disease.
Is Your Pet Overweight?
If you are a pet owner with an overweight pet, talk to us. We would love to work with you to help determine the root cause, and more importantly, the treatment options available to get your pet back to their healthy weight. Remember, a healthy weight is essential for a long life!
Introducing our brave patient Buster! Just look at that sweet little face.
Buster recently was diagnosed with a tumor under his eyelid. Eyelid tumors are common in older dogs, and while the majority of these tend to be benign, or non-cancerous, it is important for them to be professionally evaluated. These tumors generally develop in the glands that line the eyelids. Often these tumors don’t cause a lot of problems, but they can be irritating to pets. If they are, removal is recommended.
Eyelid Tumor Removal
Generally, there are two different methods used for eyelid tumor removal, and the choice between one method and the other depends on the tumor itself. Veterinarians will often use a local anesthetic to remove as much of the tumor as possible, and then follow up with cryotherapy to remove the remainder of the tumor cells. The second method is often used when a tumor or growth is more aggressive and this involves sedating the patient and removing the tumor surgically.
After having a surgical removal of his eyelid tumor, Buster is doing well! His Mommy, who practices alternative therapies in her own workplace, has been using them on him to help him feel good as new and to speed up his healing process. We’re so glad Buster’s prognosis is looking good!
Two major national pet stores are pulling all dog and cat treats made in China off of their shelves as years of complaints to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration pile up that jerky treats from Chinawere possibly making pets sick. Vice President of Merchandising for Petco John Sturm said they are voluntarily removing these products after consumers voiced concerns.
Another major pet food retailer, PetSmart, is pulling Chinese-made jerky treats from its stores in the U.S. and Canada. The treats have been linked to more than 1,000 dog deaths and nearly 5,000 other pet illnesses. The FDA said it’s still working to determine the exact causes of the illnesses.
While the products won’t actually disappear from PetSmart shelves until March of 2015, Petco plans to pull the products by the end of this year.