Archive for the ‘Pet Health’ Category

Admit it: your cat has an awesome life. And now that you’ve added food puzzles and the perfect scratching post, your cat’s life is darn near perfect.

But is it possible to improve upon perfection? Your cat says, “Yes!”

Here are 4 more ways you can improve your cat’s life today:

  1. Multiple litterboxes. This is especially important when living with several cats or other pets in the house. Cats often won’t cross a “barrier” created by another cat or pet blocking the litterbox. Having extra litterboxes in different areas of the house (including on each floor of a multi-level home) gives your cats choices and helps prevent accidents.
  2. A safe space. Cats like to hide out and nap in private spots, without worry of being harassed by pets or people. Popular hiding spots include an empty box, dark closet, beneath furniture, and high up on cabinets. If your cat doesn’t have a hiding spot, try to provide one, such as a covered cat bed.
  3. Play time. Cats are natural hunters, so look for toys they can “chase.” Pick up some cat-safe toys that require your involvement, and get silly with your cat.  Bonus: Play time helps your cat bond with you and burn calories.
  4. Calming pheromones. Cats can feel more relaxed and less territorial when they are exposed to pheromones (chemical signals) just like the ones they secrete from glands in their face (which they love to rub on you and everything in their environment.) Try Feliway plug-ins to send a chemical message to your cat that says, “Relax.”

It’s your cat’s home — you’re just living in it!

Tips for this blog post are based on advice by feline care expert Dr. Ilona Rodan, via dvm360 Magazine.

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When the air warms up, dogs and their people head to the dog park for exercise and socializing. Let’s keep it fun for everyone!

Here are seven steps you can take to help your pet have a safe, happy season at the dog park:

  1. Keep your dog current on its vaccinations. Bacterial and viral diseases can be spread through direct contact with other dogs; through contact with contaminated objects; and through contact with other dogs’ feces.
  2. Protect your pet against fleas, ticks, and heartworms with easy-to-give monthly preventatives. Just because another dog brings fleas to the park, that doesn’t mean your dog has to bring them home!
  3. Get your pet’s stool tested for intestinal parasites several extra times a year. Monthly preventatives protect against many kinds of intestinal parasites, but no single product provides complete protection against everything out there.
  4. Know how to recognize signs of aggression — whether in your dog or another — and be sure to remove your pet before things get dangerous. Check out these body language cues that warn of impending trouble:
  5. Train your pet to respond to your commands, such as Come, Sit, Stay, and Leave It. Knowing these basic commands can help your pet get out of a danger zone when you call him.
  6. Check the posted dog park rules. Some parks segregate dogs by size or have other rules. These rules are for the safety of all dogs using the park — including your own.
  7. If your dog is fearful and does not wish to socialize, don’t force it. She may be happiest just hanging out with you — and that’s perfectly fine!

BONUS — Learn more about dog park safety on Little Creek Veterinary Clinic’s blog:

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Your cat has a good life — no doubt about it! Here are two things you can do today to make your cat’s life even better:

Find the perfect scratching post. Cats are naturally wired to scratch objects in their environment — even declawed cats exhibit this behavior.

Scratching serves several purposes, according to feline practitioner Dr. Elizabeth Colleran: “visual signaling [to other cats], conditioning of claws, scent signaling with sebaceous glands of the feet, and stretching.” In short: cats scratch objects because it is good for them. But it’s not so good for your furniture, so finding the right scratching post will help keep the peace.

Look for a scratching post that is taller than your cat when she is stretched to full height, for vertical scratching and stretching; also look for a post that has “scratchable” material as the base, since some cats scratch horizontally. Be sure to either secure the post or look for one that your cat can’t pull over. Place the post (or multiple posts) in your cat’s favorite areas of the house. Reward your cat for using the scratching post (or lure him to it) with treats. [Hint: some cats respond very well to catnip.]

Make feeding time a challenge. Cats are predators that benefit from the mental and physical stimulation of hunting and catching their prey (i.e., food.) Placing a bowl of food in front of a cat short-circuits the hunting instinct, which can lead to boredom. A bored cat can become overweight or exhibit behavior problems.

Food puzzles (also known as foraging toys) can satisfy your cat’s need to “work” for its meal. You can find more information about food puzzles for cats here, and be sure to check out their How To Guide which explains how to successfully introduce food puzzles.

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April is Heartworm Awareness Month, so at Little Creek Veterinary Clinic, we’re making sure you have the information you need to keep your pet protected year-round.

Here are the Top Six Heartworm Tall Tails — read the myths, then click the infographic to get the facts.

Myth #1: Dogs catch heartworms from other dogs.

Myth #2: Heartworms are only transmitted in the summer.

Myth #3: Cats don’t get heartworm disease.

Myth #4: My indoor cat doesn’t need heartworm prevention.

Myth #5: My dog is on heartworm preventive, so he doesn’t need to be tested.

Myth #6: Heartworm prevention isn’t worth it.

Now, double-click the image to learn the truth!

Brought to you by PennVet and the American Heartworm Society.

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A quick review of our blog traffic stats revealed what we at Little Creek Veterinary Clinic believe is our most popular blog post of all time. Since folks love it so much, we won’t make you search for it — instead, we’ll present it once again.

Sesame seed or Tapeworm segment?

Since we’re always telling people that dried-up Tapeworm segments (proglottids) look like sesame seeds, we thought we would show the actual comparison.

Photo A:

Sesame seeds or Tapeworm segments?

Sesame seeds or Tapeworm segments? Photo by Little Creek Veterinary Clinic.



Photo B:

Sesame seeds or Tapeworm segments?

Sesame seeds or Tapeworm segments? Photo by Little Creek Veterinary Clinic.



Photo C:

Sesame seeds on the left; Tapeworm segments (proglottids) on the right. Photo by Little Creek Veterinary Clinic.

Sesame seeds on the left; Tapeworm segments (proglottids) on the right.
Photo by Little Creek Veterinary Clinic.


So if you see a collection of these little doodads around where your dog or cat has been sitting, call the vet, because your pet has Tapeworms.

No, Fluffy did not get into the hamburger buns. Those are Tapeworm segments.

No, Fluffy did not get into the hamburger buns. Those are Tapeworm segments.


This post originally appeared on October 28, 2014.

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Warmer days are on the way, and you’ll soon be spending more time outdoors with your pets. That means protecting your dogs and cats from ticks — a little pest that can cause big problems.

Remember: you can protect your dog inside and out with tick preventatives and the Lyme Disease vaccine. (Cats do not receive the Lyme vaccine.)

If your dog is not up-to-date on the Lyme Disease vaccine, Contact Us to schedule a visit.

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Houseplant collections are trending, and pet owners want to add a touch of the outdoors to their interior design. Which plants are considered safe to share space with pets? Renee DiPietro, CVT, has the scoop.

Tip: Portions of the text in italics refer to plants that are not safe for pets — read carefully and research thoroughly before introducing a plant into the household.

Pet Safe Plants: Flora and Fauna Can Coexist!

By Renee DiPietro, CVT, Permitted Wildlife Rehabilitation, Plant Lover
Veterinary Information Specialist

Pet owners worry about keeping houseplants in their homes due to the toxic potential of many plant species. As animal lovers, many of us are drawn to the natural world and to plant life specifically for the many benefits to our home environment that plants can provide. The presence of live greenery in our homes can reduce stress, literally help to clean the air, and provide beauty. All of these attributes can contribute to happiness and quality of life. It is true that many plants do have toxic potential and that it is dangerous to keep them in homes with cats, dogs, birds, or really any pet that has any free range capability around the house. This being said there is also a decent number of plants that can co-inhabit your home without any danger to your animal companions.

Spider Plants:
The spider plant is a common house hold plant that is extremely easy to care for and comes in a few interesting varieties including variegated and curly. These super hardy house plants can grow quite large with minimal care but can also be contained by the size of the pot they are grown in. They are suitable as both hanging and table top plants. They do fine in low light applications or with a little sun. Cats enjoy nibbling on and sometimes outright eating spider plants, so for the plant’s safety, if you have cats you may want to employee the hanging application for keeping this member of the indoor flora family.

True Palms:
There are many varieties of palms that can be safely kept with pets. Some of these varieties include Pony tail, Parlor and Areca palms. If seeking to keep palms in your home, it is essential to make sure that they are the indoor variety and that you avoid anything with the words Sago or Cycad. They Sago palm is a cycad, not a true palm and it is extremely toxic to pets. This plant is meant for outdoor applications, but when purchasing palms for your home it is very important to make sure you are not getting a cycad. True palms do not require much light and with a little investigation into their care can be an easy flora addition to your home.

African Violets: These squat fuzzy little beauties brighten up a home not only with their beautiful dark green leaves but also with their bright flowers that come in many colors and also in single or double formation. African violets pose no risk for toxicity to pets. They are a little more temperamental than some house plants. They like to have their feet wet but their heads dry and to have just the right amount of bright sunlight. With a little research and experimentation you can keep these diminutive cuties happy. They are often grown in small clay pots that are easily knocked over by cats. I use heavier pots or put stones in the bottom of pots to keep them weighted down.

Bamboo: This versatile plant can have many fun applications in your home. It can grow happily in soil or even just in water in decorative vases or fish tanks. Lucky or Curly Bamboo is a popular variety and can be grown woven into intricate designs.

Boston Fern: This beautiful cascading plant can be kept both as a hanging plant or on a table top. It can grow quite large if well cared for. These plants are a challenge to keep, as being naturally a forest plant they require moist soil and higher humidity than is found in many homes. Hats off to those of you who can keep a Boston Fern happy year round. I have yet to achieve this goal but they are such a splendid plant that I intend to keep trying.

Cast Iron Plant: This is not a plant I have ever had the pleasure to keep. Though a member of the lily family, this plant is non-toxic to cats and dogs. The beautiful dark green leaves add a tropical element to the home and this plant is also suitable for outdoor planting in warmer climates. Small purple flowers that can appear at the plant’s base are a hidden gem. This plant is very easy to care for and even tolerant of neglect.

Bromeliads: Speaking of tropical flare, Bromeliads are brightly colored and relatively easy to care for if you pay attention to their needs. Many of them are epiphytes, meaning that they don’t grow in soil but rather attached to a substrate and actually extract water and nutrients from the air. These are very interesting, beautiful, non-toxic house plants and well worth a try.

Christmas Cactus: Another fun and colorful plant, I love Christmas Cactuses and have a few of them. Given their name for their habit of blooming prolifically in early winter they are easy to care for, non-toxic, and when blooming show off cascades of red/orange, violet, pink or white flowers. They can grow quite large but will also live happily with tight roots in a smaller pot. Even though this plant is considered to be non-toxic to pets, ingestion can cause mild GI distress (vomiting, diarrhea). While no systemic toxicity is expected, who wants an upset tummy? Or to have to clean up after an upset tummy? Depending on how sensitive your pet’s GI tract is, some cases of GI distress could require veterinary treatment. If you think your pet is inclined to chew on your Christmas Cacti, it would be best to keep these plants out of reach.

Phaleaenopsis Orchid: Also called the Moth Orchid, this drop dead gorgeous flowering plant is one of my very favorites and several grace my kitchen counters, coffee table and office window sill. They are easy to care for if their bright light and careful watering requirements are provided. They bloom reliably with large cascades of flowers and their blooms can last for months before dropping from the plant. This plant does require some fertilization with orchid specific products. I recommend removing the plant from your cat’s or dog’s reach for a day or two after fertilization to avoid your pet licking the fertilizer. Like the Bromeliad, this plant is an epiphyte and not grown in soil but rather a substrate such as bark.

Succulents: Succulents are all the rage these days for both home and commercial plantings. Some varieties such as Haworthia, Peporomia and Burrow’s tail are non-toxic to pets, but others such as Kalanchoe can be very toxic. If you plan to keep succulents with your pets, I recommend thorough research and identification of the varieties you want to keep before bringing them into your home.

Swedish Ivy: This is a beautiful green cascading plant with lovely round, softly serrated leaves and small bluish-purple flowers. Non-toxic to pets and easy to care for, it makes an ideal house plant. It likes bright indirect light and loamy soil. Make sure you are buying a Swedish Ivy, not another type of Ivy such as Devil’s Ivy (Pothos) which is toxic to pets.

Lipstick Plant: This colorful flowering plant is interesting and easy to care for. Bright red flowers that bloom in winter brighten up cold grey days. It likes short periods of bright light, well aerated soil, and a little boost in humidity to honor its tropical origins.

So, have your fauna and your flora too! A home with pets and plants is a pleasure for many people. There are other non-toxic plant varieties beyond this basic list. Do your research on toxic potential for pets before bringing any new plant into your home. If you have existing plants that your pets have never bothered it is a good idea to go through them, see what you have and ensure they are all non-toxic even if your pets have never touched them. It only takes one toxic exposure to have sick pet. Also take a little time to research the plant’s care requirements to ensure you can keep your new plant friend happy and healthy too. Most of all, enjoy all the wonderful moments that both your pets and your plants bring you.

This article was published by the Pet Poison Helpline and is posted here by permission.

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