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Archive for the ‘Pet Health’ Category

Last Thursday, we posted an article about aggression in cats, written by a Michigan veterinarian. The post focused on multi-cat households. In today’s post, the focus turns to understanding feline body language and how to respond to an agitated cat.

In the Summer 2017 issue of BluePearl’s Companion, Dr. Jill Sackman, DVM, DACVS, PhD, of BluePearl in Michigan writes,

How Can You Tell When Your Cat is Upset?
“Unfortunately, humans don’t do a great job reading feline body language in order to de-escalate a stressed or aggressive cat. Understanding feline body language can help with avoiding conflict, its escalation and aggression.
“Cats use a combination of visual, olfactory [sense of smell] and audible communication to communicate and to avoid confrontation. Threatening feline body postures include hissing, piloerection [fur standing on end], arching of the back and side presentation. Ear position is also a helpful stress barometer. Cats that are restricted in movement (i.e. cages, transport boxes) may choose to fight when unable to flee. The ability to get away, hide under something or jump up high can influence the expression of the aggressive responses.”

What To Do About An Aggressive Cat?
Try Understanding:
“The most frequent basis for aggression from cats to people revolves around fear, anxiety*, frustration and misdirected predatory behavior. Fearful cats learn that aggressive stances are effective at maintaining distance between them and people, and the behavior can evolve to a preemptive strategy.”

[*See more about anxiety in pets here.]

Try a Time-Out:
“Play-based aggression may arise from predatory play, which is an integral part of feline behavior and learning. Treatment is focused on finding outlets for play and directing the cat toward appropriate activities and toys. Playing with hands should be discouraged.
“Redirected aggression occurs when a cat faces an agitating circumstance and is unable to vent aggression. Stimuli include loud noises, odor of another cat, unfamiliar people or environments, and pain. Agitated cats† should be placed in a darkened room with food, water and litter box and left there with the door closed. If the aggression was directed at another unsuspecting feline, very SLOW reintroduction must be done.
“Punishment is contraindicated [i.e. not recommended] in all cases as this will lead to a worsening of the behavior.”

Dr. Miele notes that picking up or otherwise handling an angry cat can result in injury to the owner or handler. If you cannot safely remove the cat from the room, consider removing all people and other pets from the room, instead.

Dr. Sackman stresses that an aggressive cat should have a medical check-up to look for health problems that may lead to aggressive behavior. She also recommends evaluating the home environment to look for triggering circumstances that can be addressed appropriately.

Note: Your veterinarian is the best source of information on dealing with aggression in cats. An examination and testing may be necessary to discover underlying physical problems that may be at the root of feline aggression. To avoid injury to yourself or others in the household, talk to your pet’s veterinarian, or ask for a referral to an animal behavior specialist.* (*Not available in all areas.)

 

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If you have a multi-cat household, you may have witnessed aggression (sometimes mild, sometimes wild) between the cats, even if they get along most of the time. Is there anything you can do about it? Dr. Jill Sackman, DVM, DACVS, PhD, of BluePearl in Michigan, believes there is.

In the Summer 2017 issue of BluePearl’s Companion, Dr. Sackman writes,

“By nature cats prefer not to fight! Domestic cats are solitary hunters. Social behaviors have evolved in cats to avoid conflict; this strategy is very different from humans and dogs. Once cats are aroused, they have very poor skills for resolving conflict, unlike dogs.

“Passive avoidance is a cat’s first response to an uncomfortable situation; just leave the room. Setting a household up for peaceful feline living includes enriching the environment with an abundance of toys, resting places, litter boxes, food and water bowls distributed throughout the house; there is no need for anyone to fight over anything.
[Emphasis added for this blog.]

“When dealing with feline behavioral health, always ask, ‘Am I meeting the needs of this animal based upon his/her behavioral evolution and natural needs?’ The answer is often ‘no.’ Many home environments are often sterile and non-stimulating for cats. Treatment of aggression in cats frequently includes environmental enrichment, providing opportunities for cats to exercise their predatory behavior with acceptable toys, etc.

Environment Enrichment
“To ensure healthy behavior and treatment for many forms of aggression in cats, it is important to first look at the home environment. Start by making the cat’s indoor space more like a natural space. Suggestions include visual stimulation with fish tanks, bird feeders outside windows, even robotic prey-like toys (www.Hexbugs.com). Add perches and cat trees; introduce novel toys (wand toys are particularly interesting); and satisfy the predatory needs of cats. Hunting instincts can be satisfied by putting dry food in puzzle feeder balls or tubes instead of dishes.”

Note: Your veterinarian is the best source of information on dealing with aggression in cats. An examination and testing may be necessary to discover underlying physical problems that may be at the root of feline aggression. To avoid injury to yourself or others in the household, talk to your pet’s veterinarian, or ask for a referral to an animal behavior specialist.* (*Not available in all areas.)

Coming up next week: More from Dr. Jill Sackman about cats and aggression. Watch your inbox!

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Ceva has introduced an affordable topical flea control for dogs and cats, called Combiva II.

Combiva II is available at Little Creek Veterinary Clinic for cats 8 weeks and older, weighing at least 5 pounds, and for dogs 7 weeks and older, weighing 3 – 55 pounds.

Affordable effective topical flea control

Combiva II for cats

Affordable effective topical flea control for dogs

Combiva II for dogs

Combiva II has the same active ingredients (imidacloprid / pyriproxyfen) as Advantage II.*

Why does Dr. Donald Miele, a Norfolk veterinarian, recommend Combiva II?

Because Combiva II:

  • Effectively kills adult fleas and prevents further re-infestation
  • Kills re-infesting fleas within 2 hours
  • Breaks the flea life cycle and prevents flea eggs and larvae from developing into adult fleas
  • Provides effective once a month flea protection
  • Is waterproof after application
  • Is an affordable option for topical flea control

Questions? Contact Us!

*Combiva II is not manufactured by Bayer. Advantage is a registered trademark of Bayer.

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You probably already know that topical flea control works best when applied directly to your pet’s skin — not on top of the fur.

But did you know that there’s an important step you can take to help the flea control product spread properly, every time? 

It’s brushing! Brushing or combing your pet will remove old, loose fur and clear the path for the topical flea control product to spread over your pet’s body at the skin level, as intended.
(Bonus: removing old, loose fur also keeps skin healthy and prevents fur matting.)

Even pets that appear to have a short, smooth coat can have a sneaky layer of last season’s fur hiding underneath. For this post, I used a metal flea comb and a wire brush to remove old fur from Curly’s coat.

Why grooming your cat before applying flea control products is important

Curly, showing off his handsome coat, after grooming. Flea control application will be much easier now.

 

Removing old loose fur from your pet's coat makes it easier to properly apply flea control products.

Curly’s fur, removed by combing and brushing. (Shaving not required!)

 

Topical flea control spreads at the skin level more easily after old loose fur has been removed.

Removing the thick loose fur makes it easier to apply flea control directly to the skin.

 

This cat has fun playing with the old loose fur that's been taken out of his coat to allow flea control products to be applied directly to his skin.

Curly enjoyed being reunited with his old coat.

Enjoy this video of Curly playing with his fur!

Bonus tip: keep your pet active for at least 30 minutes after applying topical flea control, which helps the product spread faster and more evenly over your pet’s body.

 

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Baked bean? Nope – it’s an engorged, dead tick, thoughtfully preserved for the enlightenment of future generations of pet owners. Photo by Little Creek Veterinary Clinic.

Can we all agree that ticks are disgusting? Yes? Good!

Now, let’s talk about how to remove ticks from your pet. There are right ways and wrong ways to remove ticks. You’re going to want to do it the right way.

Do This to Remove Ticks:

  • Check for and remove ticks as soon as possible, to help prevent the transmission of disease.
  • Wear gloves, to avoid transmission of disease from the tick.
  • Use tweezers or a tick removal device to do the job.
  • Grasp the tick firmly, as close to the pet’s skin as possible, and pull back slowly and steadily.
  • Clean the area with soap and water after the tick has been removed.
  • Place the tick (or ticks) in a small container and bring it to your pet’s doctor for examination. Different ticks carry different diseases, so tick identification is an important part of treatment.

…But Don’t Do That:

  • Don’t try burning or heating up the tick. You are more likely to injure your pet this way.
  • Don’t try to “smother” the tick with petroleum jelly or fingernail polish. It’s a time-waster, and time is critical in preventing the transmission of tick-borne diseases.
  • Don’t crush or yank the tick, and don’t twist it. Doing so could increase your pet’s risk of exposure to disease.
  • Don’t fret about not removing the mouthparts. Some ticks have very long mouthparts that are cemented in place for the feeding. It’s not worth the hassle of going in after them, according to Dr. Glen Needham, an expert on ticks who recently spoke on the subject with Norfolk veterinarians.

In the Future:

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Now is the perfect time to start your dog on flea and tick control, according to Dr. Donald Miele, a Norfolk veterinarian at Little Creek Veterinary Clinic. Fleas and ticks have been spotted on Hampton Roads-area pets already this Spring, and the bugs will multiply rapidly as the hot, humid summer climate sets in.

Dr. Miele advises starting pets on flea and tick control early — because seeing even one flea is the tip of the iceberg. When you see evidence of fleas (such as flea “dirt” or the adult fleas, themselves), keep this pyramid in mind:

That’s what is living in your house!

Right now, and for a limited time, Little Creek Veterinary Clinic is offering 3-pack NexGard chewables for dogs 4-10 lbs at a price so low that not even the top online pet pharmacies can beat our deal!

Contact Us at 757-583-2619 to get more information on NexGard for your dog.

Click to enlarge.

NexGard is sold by prescription only, so if we haven’t seen your dog recently — or ever — it must come in for a check-up first, just like with any other prescription medication. Dogs that are seizure-prone or have a history of seizure activity should not take NexGard.

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Dr. Miele, a Norfolk veterinarian and owner of Little Creek Veterinary Clinic, attended a lecture on the role of veterinarians in emergencies and natural disaster response.

He learned that the major challenges pets face after a widespread disaster (such as hurricane, flood, tornado) are: lack of adequate food and shelter, lack of access to medical care, the increased rate of infectious diseases, and the exacerbation of existing disease.

Disaster clean-up and recovery efforts can take a minimum of 2 to 3 weeks to effect change, and often take longer. For those people displaced, life may not return to normal for 4 to 6 months, according to Dr. Jenifer Chatfield, an expert on emergency response. What will happen to chronically ill pets during those 4 to 6 months? More on that, later.

In an emergency, veterinarians may volunteer to assist with recovery efforts in their community, or they may work to re-open their medical practice as soon as possible, to provide for pets’ healthcare needs. At the community level, human needs for food, clean drinking water, shelter, and medical care are met first. Then care can be extended to pets. Knowing that a hierarchy of assistance exists will help you make better disaster planning decisions.
Challenges for Pets During Disasters
*Infectious diseases may spread more rapidly.
-Leptospirosis is contracted through contaminated water and displaced wildlife
-Rabies is spread through displaced wildlife, which comes into more frequent contact with homeless pets
-Distemper, Influenza, and Parvovirus spread among pets kept in close quarters, such as at shelters
*Parasites increase in number
-Fleas, gastrointestinal parasites, and heartworms spread more easily when pets do not receive their regular doses of preventative
*Existing, chronic diseases are left untreated and worsen
-Diabetes, congestive heart failure, kidney or liver failure, pancreatitis, and more, worsen when drugs and special diets are no longer available to treat them. This can happen when people are trying to get life back on track and pet care may not be given high priority.

Not all disasters can be foreseen, but when you have advance warning, be sure to have a plan in place.

*If you evacuate, where will you go and how soon will you leave?
*If evacuating — whether to a shelter, hotel, or another home — will you be able to bring your pets?

*When preparing supplies, such as food and drinking water, include your pets’ needs in the calculations.
*When severe weather is forecast, find out from your pet’s veterinarian if you can stock up on prescription drugs and diets, to last through several weeks of recovery.
*If evacuating, bring your pet’s flea and heartworm preventatives.
*Be certain that your pet’s vaccinations are up-to-date, or schedule an appointment with the veterinarian to bring all vaccines and preventative treatments current.

More information
Learn about Norfolk’s emergency shelter for pets and people here.
Get a helpful planning guide from Little Creek Veterinary Clinic.
Get facts on infectious diseases for dogs and cats, including Rabies.

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