Archive for the ‘Pet Health’ Category

Review these tips from the American Veterinary Medical Association on how to let your pet enjoy Halloween safely and happily!

Halloween safety tips
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Does your cat sit and stare at you sometimes? Maybe they are trying to telepathically tell you something of great importance about their health and well-being.

Person high-fiving a grey cat

According to feline health experts, here’s what they may be saying:

  1. The other cat is bullying me and I need my space.

Providing multiple, separate food dishes, feeding areas and litter boxes is one way to reduce aggressive cat-to-cat interactions. Every cat in the household (and you) benefits from separate eating and bathroom areas.

  1. Elevate me.

Cats love high perches so they can easily monitor the space around them. It makes them feel safe and gives them a sense of control over their domain. Build some vertical spaces in your home for your cat. Your cat will thank you!

  1. That lemon-scented plug-in is driving me crazy!

Cats have a keen sense of smell and what we think smells pleasing may be highly irritating to your cat. For example, cats don’t like citrus scents or strong household cleaners, like alcohol or bleach. However, cats do love their own scent and it’s why they rub up against us and the furniture. Do a scent inventory of your house and eliminate smells that may add stress to your cat’s life.

  1. Inside voices, please.

Cats have extraordinary hearing, an adaptation needed as a hunter. They can hear sounds we can’t hear, like the ultrasonic chitchat of mice and rats. So, it’s no wonder that loud sounds can be startling to them.

  1. I want a catio!

If possible, cats should have access to safe, outdoor spaces. Enclosed patios for cats keep them safe from predators, while giving them fresh air and a safe place for bird watching! If a catio is not in your cat’s future, provide them with a room with a view or, if you are adventurous and patient, try leash training them for a safe, outdoor field trip.

  1. Did you know I’m still a predator?

Cat brains are wired to hunt. To keep them from getting bored, provide them with toys that can be pounced on and thrown up in the air to simulate the chase. Also, find ways to play hide and seek with their food, including placing dry food in store-bought feeding balls that mimics hunting. An active cat is a happy cat.

  1. I need a time-out place.

Cats love to hide, especially when they feel threatened. It also gives them a safe and peaceful place to rest outside the hustle and bustle of their human housemates. Give them plenty of hiding options, including boxes, covered carriers or a favorite closet with lots of blankets.

  1. I’ll choose when I want to interact with you.

Always let a cat come to you and signal it wants attention. These signals can be as obvious as jumping in your lap, purring or rubbing up against you. Some cats also are just happy sitting next to you. Cats, just like people, need varying degrees of attention and they’ll let you know how much attention they need to be happy.

  1. I’ve got to scratch.

Most people think cats need to scratch to sharpen their claws. What they are really doing, beside some manicure maintenance, is marking their territory with scent glands in their paws. Provide your cat with scratching posts in areas where they can stretch out and scent away. Cats have different preferences for scratching surfaces so you may need to experiment to find the right fit.

  1. Don’t scold me if I have an accident.

Peeing and pooping outside the box can be a simple matter of the litter box being dirty or using a scented litter your cat didn’t like. But bathroom indiscretions also can indicate a health problem such as kidney disease, diabetes and even arthritis. If accidents become more frequent, it’s time for a cat checkup to make sure there is not an underlying health issue going on.

Providing a comfortable space for your cat, with the resources they need, can dramatically reduce your pet’s anxiety. A more relaxed cat translates into a healthier and well-behaved cat. So, listen to your cat whenever possible. They really are trying to tell you something.

Find out how the Morris Animal Foundation is working every day to improve the lives of dogs, cats, horses, and wildlife around the world.
Click here!


REFERENCES:

Funding a Pressing Need for Feline Behavior Research, Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, April 2020

AAFP and ISFM Feline Environmental Needs Guidelines, Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, February 2013


Photo credit: Snapwire via Pexels

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List of symptoms of pain in cats

List of symptoms of pain in dogs

List of common causes of pain in pets

If your pet is exhibiting signs of pain, contact your pet’s veterinarian (or a veterinary emergency practice) and be prepared to discuss the signs of pain, duration of symptoms (how long have you noticed the signs?), and any recent history or information that may help pinpoint the cause of pain. Your pet’s doctor will take it from there.

Keep in mind, your pet’s doctor may arrive at a diagnosis that is not found on the list above!


Disclaimer: Information on this site is provided for educational purposes only, and is not meant to diagnose, treat, or cure your pet. Information provided on this site does not take the place of a valid client-patient-doctor relationship, nor does it constitute such a relationship. Your pet’s veterinarian is the best source of information regarding your pet’s health. Your pet may require an examination and testing by a licensed veterinarian in order to provide proper diagnosis and treatment. Neither Dr. Miele nor Little Creek Veterinary Clinic or its staff is responsible for outcomes based on information available on this site. Every pet’s condition is unique and requires the direct care and oversight of its own veterinarian.

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If you feel like fleas are a never-ending problem, it’s because the largest portion of the flea population in your home is in its youth. Over a period of months, these young fleas grow up and head to your pets to eat a meal and to lay new eggs. New groups of fleas are maturing to adulthood all the time — and those are just the ones you see.

Get the flea life cycle timetable here.

On June 23rd, 2012, I scooped some flea eggs and flea feces (aka “flea dirt”, aka baby food for fleas) into a plastic Ziploc bag. Periodically, I checked the bag and photographed the contents as the eggs hatched, larvae squiggled around, and a couple of industrious flea wannabes worked their way toward adulthood.

Check out these photos of the normally unseen world of fleas. 

Flea eggs (on black paper)

Flea eggs on paper; photo by Little Creek Veterinary Clinic

 

Flea eggs (magnified; with “flea dirt”)

Magnified flea eggs and flea dirt; photo by Little Creek Veterinary Clinic

 

Isolated flea egg (magnified; with “flea dirt”)

Flea egg; photo by Little Creek Veterinary Clinic

 

Flea excrement (dried blood from the host animal; also known as “flea dirt”) This will be consumed by flea larvae for fuel

Flea dirt, often the first sign of a flea infestation; photo by Little Creek Veterinary Clinic

 

Flea larva (magnified)

Look closely to see the hairs along the larva’s body; photo by Little Creek Veterinary Clinic

 

Flea pupa in cocoon [left] and larva [right] (magnified)

Flea pupa safe in its cocoon, with larva and flea dirt; photo by Little Creek Veterinary Clinic

 

Immature flea (magnified) This little guy almost made it!

Immature flea, just out of its cocoon; photo by Little Creek Veterinary Clinic

 

Treating your dog? We recommend the Seresto 8-month Flea & Tick collar.

Treating your cat? We recommend Revolution.

Tip: Be sure to treat all dogs and cats in the household, plus your home and yard, to have a fighting chance against fleas.


This post originally appeared on July 23, 2012.

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national_pet_fire_safety_day

I’ll admit, when I began researching information about National Pet Fire Safety Day, I had a particular idea in mind: finding information that helps pet owners keep their pets safe from fire. What I found was different than I expected.

This article by the American Kennel Club and ADT Security Service suggests the purpose of National Pet Fire Safety Day is to raise awareness of how to prevent pets from starting fires.

Yep — you read that correctly. National Pet Fire Safety Day can be all about preventing fires started by pets.

So how might a pet start a fire? We’ve got a few ideas:

  • Cats love to knock things off tables, desks, counters, and other surfaces. Imagine a cat knocking a burning candle or cigarette onto a rug.
  • Dogs occasionally jump up on stoves to get food. A number dogs have knocked stove knobs into the “on” position beneath pots and pans, which have caught fire.
  • Some pets chew on electrical cords, which can create a fire hazard.
  • A pet can grab the cord of a clothes iron or curling iron and pull it down, igniting material on the floor — or the floor itself.

Do those hazards exist in your home? You may need to pet-fireproof your household.

  • Do not leave burning candles unattended, and keep pets out of rooms where there is an open flame. Consider switching to flameless candles.
  • Some stoves have removable knobs to prevent children and pets from accidentally turning on the stove or oven.
  • Put cord covers over exposed wires and cables, or crate your pet so it cannot chew cords while you’re away.
  • Keep pets out of rooms where heated appliances are used.

National Pet Fire Safety Day is also about protecting your pets from fires in the home:

  • Check smoke detectors in the home at least every 6 months to be sure they are working. Change the batteries at those times, also.
  • Affix an “Animals Inside” cling to windows or doors to alert first responders that pets inside will need rescuing.
  • Keep pets carriers and leashes near the door, for a quick evacuation.
  • Keep identification on your pets in case they escape or are brought to a shelter following a house fire. Consider a HomeAgain microchip — a permanent form of pet identification.

By following these tips on National Pet Fire Safety Day and every day, you and your pets can be safer at home.

Bonus: Order your free “Animals Inside” window cling from the ASPCA —  just click here!


This article originally posted on July 14, 2016.

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Note: This post contains images that may be alarming to some.
These photos were taken many years ago,
with the pet owner’s gracious permission,
to be shared for educational purposes.

 

Rodent ulcer 1

Rodent ulcer in a 16-year-old cat, pre-treatment. Photo by Little Creek Veterinary Clinic.

If your cat shows up with a fat lip and she hasn’t been in a fistfight lately, she may have a rodent ulcer. Rodent ulcers (like the one shown above) typically appear on the upper lip, usually as a small swelling. Over time, and with frequent licking, the area can enlarge and ulcerate.

Rodent ulcer 2

Rodent ulcer, 13 days after beginning treatment. Photo by Little Creek Veterinary Clinic.

Rodent ulcers, also known as eosinophilic ulcers, are the result of eosinophils gone wild. An eosinophil is a type of white blood cell that releases biochemicals in response to an allergy or the presence of parasites. Sometimes, the biochemicals released by the “eos” attack the cat’s own tissue instead of an invading foreign body. The target area of the eos’ action becomes inflamed and sore.

Rodent ulcer 3

Photo by Little Creek Veterinary Clinic.

Rodent ulcers can be difficult to resolve, according to Dr. Donald Miele, a Norfolk veterinarian. Anti-inflammatory medications may be called for. Recently, some veterinarians have begun using allergy medication with limited success. The patient in these photos was treated with a combination of medications, including an allergy drug, with immediate results. The patient’s ulcer reduced in size and the lip swelling decreased.

Rodent ulcer 4

Photo by Little Creek Veterinary Clinic.

Stubborn cases of rodent ulcer may require biopsy (to rule out cancer) and further study, including parasite treatments and food trials.  

If you notice a sore or swollen area on your cat’s lips or tongue, have your veterinarian check it out. Early treatment may help prevent permanent disfigurement.

Tip: remove plastic food and water bowls and plastic toys, as they can be irritants to cats sensitive to plastics.


This post originally appeared on January 14, 2016.

Disclaimer: Information on this site is provided for educational purposes only, and is not meant to diagnose, treat, or cure your pet. Information provided on this site does not take the place of a valid client-patient-doctor relationship, nor does it constitute such a relationship. Your pet’s veterinarian is the best source of information regarding your pet’s health. Your pet may require an examination and testing by a licensed veterinarian in order to provide proper diagnosis and treatment. Neither Dr. Miele nor Little Creek Veterinary Clinic or its staff is responsible for outcomes based on information available on this site. Every pet’s condition is unique and requires the direct care and oversight of its own veterinarian.

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Clients often ask us which vaccines their dog really needs.

The answer depends on the pet’s lifestyle.

Small brown and white dog runs with green ball

Keep the fun going all summer — vaccinate your dog to protect him from common diseases.

We divide canine vaccines into several groups: core vaccines, social vaccines, and lifestyle vaccines.

Core vaccines include:

  • Rabies vaccine — this is the one vaccine required by law, because the Rabies virus kills people and pets.
  • DHPPv or DA2PPv (distemper/hepatitis/adenovirus/parainfluenza/parvovirus) — all dogs should receive this vaccine combination which protects against dangerous, common, and highly contagious diseases.

Social vaccines include:

  • Coronavirus — dogs that are around other dogs and other dogs’ feces (such as at dog parks, daycare, or going for walks, etc.) should receive protection from this disease that, when combined with parvovirus, often proves deadly.
  • Bordetella* — this highly contagious respiratory disease is notorious for spreading in shelters and boarding kennels; but if your dog visits the dog park, daycare, or groomers, she can be exposed to Bordetella there, too.
    *In many places, Bordetella is also considered a core vaccine, meaning it is recommended for all dogs.
  • Canine Influenza combo (CIV) — yes, dogs get the flu, too; and this one spreads from dog to dog wherever they congregate [just like Bordetella]. What makes Canine Influenza so sneaky is that infected dogs are often shedding the virus when they appear perfectly healthy, so your dog can be exposed while playing with them.

Lifestyle vaccines:

  • Leptospirosis — this bacterial infection is commonly spread in neighborhoods by raccoons, squirrels, and roof rats when they urinate in water, soil, and mud. Leptospirosis can be fatal to pets and people. If your pet spends time outdoors, including at campsites or hiking trails, they can be at risk for this disease.
  • Lyme Disease — this bacterial infection is spread by black-legged ticks (aka deer ticks), wherever ticks are found — including your own yard. If your pet spends time outdoors, goes hiking or camping with you, its risk for Lyme Disease increases.

Carefully consider your pet’s lifestyle, exposure to other animals, and habits when working with the veterinarian to determine which vaccines are recommended. Does your pet stay indoors with zero exposure to other animals? Does he travel out of state with you? Does she visit the dog park for exercise? Have you brought home a new pet that is more active outdoors than your current pet? The more information you can provide, the better your pet can be protected.

Questions? Contact Us!


Photo credit:  Matthias Zomer via Pexels


Disclaimer: Information on this site is provided for educational purposes only, and is not meant to diagnose, treat, or cure your pet. Information provided on this site does not take the place of a valid client-patient-doctor relationship, nor does it constitute such a relationship. Your pet’s veterinarian is the best source of information regarding your pet’s health. Your pet may require an examination and testing by a licensed veterinarian in order to provide proper diagnosis and treatment. Neither Dr. Miele nor Little Creek Veterinary Clinic or its staff is responsible for outcomes based on information available on this site. Every pet’s condition is unique and requires the direct care and oversight of its own veterinarian.

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All owners of newly adopted puppies should be aware of Parvovirus, a serious and potentially fatal disease that can attack pups before they’ve completed their series of “distemper-combo” vaccines.

Winking brown and black puppy

Keep an eye out for signs of Parvovirus in your new puppy.

What is it? “Parvo” is a highly contagious viral disease of dogs that attacks the intestines, heart, and white blood cells.

How is Parvovirus spread? Parvo is spread through direct contact with other dogs and dog feces. However, other animals and people can carry the virus on themselves (through contact with feces) and transmit it to dogs.

What are the signs of Parvovirus?

  • Bloody diarrhea, often with a distinctive foul odor
  • Vomiting
  • Depression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever 
  • Dehydration

Which dogs are most at risk?

  • Unvaccinated dogs
  • Puppies between weaning and 6 months old
  • Certain breeds, such as Rottweilers, Dobermans, English Springer Spaniels, pit bull terriers, and black Labrador retrievers
  • Dogs living in high-density housing, such as boarding or breeding kennels, animal shelters, and pet stores
  • Dogs that visit dog parks

What is the treatment? After a special fecal test is used to confirm a positive diagnosis of Parvo, the pet will be hospitalized in an isolation ward (to protect other patients from exposure.)

Since viruses cannot be killed through the use of antibiotics, the pet will receive supportive therapy, aimed at reducing the incidents of vomiting and diarrhea, and replenishing fluids and nutrients.

In many cases, pups with Parvo also have parasites (such as Roundworms or Hookworms), which can worsen the pet’s condition. In those cases, treatment will include worming.

Antibiotics may also be given to prevent the onset of opportunistic bacterial infections.

What are the odds of survival?

Dogs diagnosed with Parvo have the best chance of survival with immediate and intensive care. Due to the life-threatening nature of the disease, it cannot be adequately treated in a home environment.

Dogs that survive the first 3 to 4 days of illness have a good chance of recovery.

Pups less than 4 months old are at highest risk for severe illness. Less common these days is sudden death due to inflammation of the heart (myocarditis.)

It is important to note that even with appropriate treatment, Parvovirus can cause death, especially in young dogs. No veterinarian can guarantee a positive outcome.

Dogs that recover from a bout of Parvo may have permanent damage to their intestines and possibly the heart.

How can I protect my dog from Parvovirus?

  • Make sure your pet receives its annual Parvo vaccine (often contained within the distemper-combo shot.)
  • Because not every pet will develop the proper immunity to disease after vaccination, be cautious about letting your dog around other pets.
  • Do not let your dog sniff or come in contact with other dogs’ droppings, and always dispose of your pet’s waste.
  • Pay attention to bulletins warning about Parvo outbreaks in city dog parks.
  • If possible, keep dogs under 3 months of age away from other dogs altogether.

What if my dog has been infected already?

  • Assuming your pet is in treatment at a hospital or has unfortunately passed away, now is the time to disinfect the home environment.
  • Parvovirus can live outside the host animal for many months. Dr. Donald Miele, a Norfolk veterinarian, typically recommends against bringing new animals into the household for a period of at least 6 months.
  • To disinfect the home, mix 1 part bleach (5% sodium hypochlorite) to 30 parts water and thoroughly clean the areas where the pet lived. Be aware that the bleach solution may alter or damage certain materials.
  • Discard food and water bowls, toys, collars and leashes.
  • If the pet is deceased, arrange for cremation. Do not bury the pet in your yard.

Resources for this article:
What you should know about Canine Parvovirus Infection, an AVMA publication.
The 5 Minute Veterinary Consult, Canine and Feline, Larry P. Tilley, DVM and Francis W. K. Smith, Jr., DVM
Saunders Manual of Small Animal Practice, Stephen J. Birchard, DVM and Robert J. Sherding, DVM
Photo credit: Dominika Roseclay via Pexels.com


This article was originally posted on August 8, 2012.

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We’re off to a hot, humid start of June in Norfolk, Virginia Beach, and elsewhere in Hampton Roads — and it isn’t even officially summer, yet. The combined heat and humidity makes it risky for people and their pets to spend much time outdoors. Heat stroke under these weather conditions is a real and present danger.

Dr. Donald Miele, a Norfolk veterinarian, recommends restricting pet exercise to cooler hours of the day and night; keeping pets in air conditioned areas during the day; and providing plenty of cool water to drink.

Here are some handy reminders on how to protect your pets from hot cars and hot pavement:

[Hint: NEVER leave your pet in the car!]

Source: ASPCA — Click or double-click to enlarge

www.aspca.org

 

Source unknown

Keep in mind that asphalt can retain heat even after air temperature drops, so check the pavement as suggested below:

 

Source: Nationwide — Click or double-click to enlarge

www.petinsurance.com


Originally posted July 18, 2019.

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Warmer days are here, which means reptiles are ready to have their day[s] in the sun. This means that your dog or cat could get up close and personal with a snake while sniffing around outside. 

Copperhead snake in leaf litter

This copperhead snake blends in well with the leaves at York River State Park.

Cities in Hampton Roads (including Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, and Portsmouth) are home to a variety of venomous and non-venomous snakes.

Non-venomous snakes can certainly bite if threatened and the bite can be painful. Local types include the garter snake, rat snake, watersnake, greensnake, and more.

Venomous snakes, which pack a powerful dose of toxin in their bite, include the copperhead, canebrake (or timber) rattlesnake, and the cottonmouth (aka water moccasin). Their bite is dangerous and is considered an emergency.

The copperhead, canebrake rattlesnake, and cottonmouth are known for their patterns of brown, tan, and black colors — but did you know that other snakes have similar coloring, especially when young?

When attempting to identify a snake, it can be helpful to look for a triangular-shaped head, which indicates a venomous snake — but not everyone wants to get that close.

The Virginia Herpetological Society maintains a list of snakes found in the state, along with maps of their common habitats across Virginia, and photos to help with indentification. Check it out here:
https://virginiaherpetologicalsociety.com/reptiles/snakes/snakes_of_virginia.html

For information on what to do if your pet is bitten by a snake and how to help prevent encounters with snakes, visit https://www.petmd.com/dog/care/evr_dg_snake_bites_and_dogs.

If you believe your pet has been bitten by a snake, contact your local veterinary emergency hospital right away!

Do not attempt to handle a snake yourself. Call a critter control company to safely remove snakes from your home or yard.


Photo credit: Virginia State Parks / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)

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