Do you know the most common signs of pain in pets?

Learn these six signs to determine whether your pet may be in pain:

 

Decreased activity –
take notice if your pet is not playing as much as usual

Not going up or down stairs –
this could be an early sign of osteoarthritis

Reluctance to jump up onto surfaces –
this especially applies to cats

Difficulty standing after lying down –
is a sign of osteoarthritis

Decreased appetite –
this can signal mouth pain

Over grooming or licking a particular area –
can be a sign of referred pain

If you notice any of these signs,
please Contact Us at Little Creek Veterinary Clinic.

 

Brought to you by International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management

Cats are notorious for hating water. Luckily, bathing a cat is rarely needed. But have you ever wondered why they hate water so much? There are probable behavioral and possibly biological reasons for this.

Hairless cat

Does your cat give you The Look when it’s bath time? Find out why!
[Photo by Natalia Semenkova via Pexels]

Some cats actually like the water!

Cats are funny creatures, some actually do like water! It is not uncommon for some owners to mention their cat’s affinity for it. Splashing and pawing at streams of water probably have more to do with the play on light and shininess of the water than anything else.
Some breeds of cats are actually known for enjoying swimming, such as the Turkish Van, which has been nicknamed “the swimming cat” for that reason.

Three reasons why most cats don’t like the water

1. Behaviorally cats are generally less tolerant of change and new experiences than, say, the dog. A cat that has never been exposed to water probably won’t like the feeling of having their body drenched in it. A cat that has regularly been exposed to water as kitten may be more accepting of it.
2. Cats are also very fastidious creatures. They spend a lot of time grooming themselves and likely aren’t big fans of having anything that doesn’t smell “normal” on their fur. In their eyes, you’re creating more work for them by bathing them.
3. There are likely biological reasons as well. Even though many cats love the taste of fish, they are not ocean or river dwelling creatures historically. The domesticated cats are descendants of felines that typically live in dry arid areas. They have never learned to swim because there was no evolutionary need for it. This behavior, or lack thereof, has stuck around in our modern day cats.

For these reasons, never force your cat to swim if they don’t like it.

Tips if you must bathe a cat

Bathing is rarely needed for cats either. If your cat does need to be bathed for medical reasons, or if they became overly dirty for some reason, there are some ways to make it a little less stressful.

  • Fill the tub first, the sound and splashing of running water will make things worse.
  • Line the tub with a folded towel (which will of course become wet) so they feel like they have something to grip onto. A slippery tub floor will also cause more stress for the cat.
  • Use a container to carefully pour water over, versus using a faucet.
  • Lastly, be really careful around the face and eyes!

By Dr. Fiona, a veterinarian and writer for Pets Best, a U.S. dog and cat health insurance agency, since 2005.

Published on the Pets Best blog here.

October is chock-full of dog-friendly events in Hampton Roads. We’ve listed Pet Blessings already — now get ready for fun runs, costume contests, adoption events, and more!

French bulldog smiling

Hey! Let’s hit the road and have some fun this month! [Photo by Pixabay via Pexels]

Barktoberfest 2019 at Mill Point Park in Hampton 
Saturday, October 12, 11:30 AM – 6 PM
Details here

Pets and Pumpkins Fall Festival at Oozlefinch Craft Brewery in Hampton
Saturday, October 12, 1 PM – 5 PM
Details here

Barks and Brews at Norfolk Botanical Garden in Norfolk
Sunday, October 13, noon – 6 PM
Details here

Canine Carnival at Quarterpath Park in Williamsburg
Sunday, October 13, 1 PM – 4 PM
Details here

Pawchella at Pembroke Mall in Virginia Beach –
Pet costume contest during MALLoween on the BOOlvd
Saturday, October 19, 11 AM – 2 PM
Details here

Pet Day at the Buckroe Market in Hampton
Saturday, October 19, 9 AM – 3 PM
Details here

Mutt Masquerade 5K at 24th St. Park in Virginia Beach
Sunday, October 27, 9 AM – noon
Details here

Is your pet ready to socialize? Contact Us to find out if he or she is up-to-date on vaccinations.

Every effort has been made to accurately list dates, times, and locations for events, but be sure to check for any changes for your preferred event, especially in case of inclement weather.

Pet Blessings taking place at area churches in October 2019

Each year in October, Christian churches in Norfolk and beyond celebrate the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi by blessing your pets. Don’t miss out: choose a church, click the link, and go!

Friday, October 4

*St. Benedict’s Parish (Ch) http://www.stbenedictsparish.org
Blessing of the Animals at 6 PM

Saturday, October 5

*Christ the King Catholic Church (N) http://christthekingnorfolk.org
Pet Blessing at 9 – 9:30 AM in CTK School parking lot. Donations of pet food for the Norfolk SPCA are greatly appreciated.

*Hidenwood Presbyterian (NN) https://hidenwood.org/
Pet Blessing at 10 AM, outdoors. Please have pets on a leash or in a crate. Exotic and unique pets welcome! Donations of food and money will go to the Peninsula SPCA.

*St. Mary Catholic Church (Ch) http://www.clusterparishes.com/
Pet Blessing Service at 10:00 AM

Sunday, October 6

*St. Andrews Episcopal Church  (NN) http://www.standrews-episcopal.org/upcoming_events
October 6, 1:00 p.m. at the River Road entrance to the church
Join us for this wonderful annual tradition honoring St. Francis’ Day. Bring your animal companion for a special blessing. For everyone’s safety and comfort, please have dogs on leash and cats (and other small critters) in carriers.

*Wycliffe Presbyterian (VB) http://wycliffepresbyterian.org
Bring your pets to this special afternoon service at 4 pm on October 6th. Donations of animal toys, food or other pet-friendly items are welcome and will be taken to an animal shelter. VB Dog Obedience School will demonstrate training for dogs in a variety of situations including protecting, bomb sniffing & military training. Seeing is believing! Rain date: Oct 13

(All animals must be on a leash or in a secure carrier.)

*Emmanuel Episcopal Church (VB) http://beta.emmanuelvb.com
Pet Blessing 3 PM, Side Yard

*Episcopal Church of the Ascension (N) https://ascension-norfolk.org/
Blessing of animals and Holy Eucharist Rite II
11:00 AM
Event will be held outside

*Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd (N) http://goodshepherdnorfolk.org
Pet Blessing and Holy Eucharist Rite II
10:15 AM in the church

Bonus: Click here for a classic post with prayers for pets!

We have attempted to accurately reflect each church’s information for the event, but be sure to check with your preferred church for accuracy and any last-minute schedule changes, especially in the event of inclement weather.

Cataracts are a common disorder of the eyes, often in aging dogs, although young animals can develop them, too. Cataracts are seen less frequently in cats.

A pet owner’s first indication that their dog or cat has impaired vision may be that the pet has difficulty seeing in low light.

What is a cataract? It is an opaque* area of the lens or its outer covering (capsule.)
[*Not allowing light through.] 

A cataract may be a tiny spot or it may cover the entire lens.
A cataract can develop within a few days or over a number of years.

Cataracts can be hereditary and can lead to blindness.

Breeds often affected* include:

  • miniature poodle
  • American cocker spaniel 
  • miniature schnauzer
  • golden retriever
  • Boston Terrier
  • Siberian husky

[*The complete list is much longer.]

Though rare, cats such as the Persian, Birman, and Himalayan have also been afflicted with hereditary cataracts.

Other causes of cataracts include:

  • aging
  • diabetes
  • electric shock
  • exposure to extreme heat or radiation
  • exposure to toxins
  • injury to the eye
  • poor nutrition as pups and kittens
  • retinal degeneration
  • uveitis [a type of inflammation of the eye]

An examination by a veterinarian can help determine whether changes in the eyes are the result of cataracts, corneal damage, sclerosis [a cloudy appearance, but without vision loss], or another cause. In some cases, further diagnostics by an eye specialist [ophthalmologist] will be recommended.

Is surgery an option? It can be. We are fortunate to have veterinary ophthalmologists in our area who are able to evaluate cataracts for surgical treatment. Not all pets will qualify. In fact, if you are considering surgery for your pet, time is of the essence. As the cataract progresses, the retina and lens can become so damaged that the pet will not regain its sight even if surgery is performed.

What kind of medicine will help? Cataracts cannot be treated with medicine. However, the veterinarian may dispense medication for other disorders of the eye occurring at the same time.

What can I do? Dr. Donald Miele, a Norfolk veterinarian, has several recommendations: 

  • Try to keep furniture where it is; your pet has likely learned to navigate it well and any changes in furniture arrangements will lead to painful run-ins with chairs and tables.
  • Help your pet up and down stairs.
  • Follow your dog into the yard to make sure he doesn’t get lost or “stuck.”
  • Monitor his eyes for any changes in appearance and report changes or concerns to the doctor.

******************************************************************
Resources include:
Saunders Comprehensive Veterinary Dictionary
Saunders Manual of Small Animal Practice
The 5 Minute Veterinary Consult

*******************************************************************
A version of this post originally appeared on Sept. 17, 2012.

“Mikey,” a 9-year-old Labrador, refuses to go down the short set of steps to the yard. Instead, he stays inside and urinates and defecates near the back door. 

“Jester,” a 14-year-old Siamese cat, no longer runs to the kitchen at the sound of the can opener. He sleeps during the day and spends most nights howling outside his owner’s bedroom door.

“Ginny,” a 12-year-old Cocker Spaniel, spends hours staring at the wall and has no interest in retrieving her favorite toy.

What do these three senior pets have in common? They may be suffering the usual effects of aging: arthritis for “Mikey;” hearing loss for “Jester;” and blindness for “Ginny” — or they may all have Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome.

Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS) is the result of degenerative brain aging that leads to lost or reduced memory, ability to learn, attention span, and understanding. For comparison, CDS is thought to be similar to Alzheimer’s Disease.

What are the signs? Typical behavior in pets with Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome are divided into categories labeled DISH.

  • Disorientation: the pet wanders, seems lost or confused and may not recognize familiar people; doesn’t respond to his name; he may get “stuck” in corners or behind furniture; he may stare into space or at walls
  • Interaction changes: the pet may walk away while being petted, doesn’t greet her owners, and seems aloof or detached
  • Sleep and activity changes: the pet may sleep more during the day, but stay awake at night, and no longer wants to play; he may wander or pace and have less purposeful activity
  • Housesoiling: the pet doesn’t signal the need to go out and has accidents in the house

    Is he lost in thought – or just lost?

What’s next? The veterinarian will check your pet for other medical issues that may be related to aging, such as arthritis, loss of vision or hearing, incontinence, or a disease process (kidney disease or diabetes, for example.) Some symptoms may be the result of medications that the pet is taking. Changes in the pet’s environment can also cause behavioral problems. Of course, a pet can have age-related problems at the same time he is experiencing the effects of brain aging.

Is there a cure for Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome? There is no cure, but nutritional and medical intervention can slow the progression of the disorder and return some cognitive function.

What are the options? Treatment may consist of a diet change. For instance, Hill’s Pet Nutrition has formulated its b/d Diet to address brain aging through the use of antioxidants that protect brain cells from destructive free radicals. [Learn more about free radicals here.]

Another option is Anipryl, a prescription drug that enhances dopamine production, allowing brain cells to better communicate with each other. Anipryl is not right for every dog, though, and certain endocrine function tests must be performed first, to determine suitability. Also, Anipryl is not recommended to treat aggression in dogs.

For cats, mental stimulation can help with cognitive function. Keep your cat busy climbing, exploring, searching for treats, and using its natural hunting instincts.

Where do I start? If you suspect your pet has Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome, schedule a physical exam for her. Keep a journal of the pet’s behavior leading up to the visit. Contact us and ask to receive a Behavior History Form to help track your pet’s activity. Bring the form with you to your pet’s appointment.

*********************************************************************************************
Resources:
“Brain Health and Behavioral Changes in Dogs,” a Hill’s Pet Nutrition publication;
Anipryl brochure, a Pfizer Animal Health publication;
“Senior Pet Care and Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome,” by David Merrick and Dr. Gary Landsberg

A version of this post originally appeared on Sept. 5, 2012.

Service dogs are life-savers for the people who depend on them.

Woman and dog seated at table

Can you train a dog to change someone’s life?
[Photo by Cottonbro via Pexels]

Have you ever wondered where guide dogs and service dogs come from? The answer is: homes like yours!

Before heading off to their new job of assisting people with disabilities ranging from impaired vision to autism to physical limitations, puppies must be extensively trained and socialized. People just like you raise these pups with professional guidance from organizations such as Leader Dogs for the Blind and Service Dogs of Virginia.

Trainers take on this task expecting a bittersweet ending: saying “good-bye” to the graduate pup, but knowing that it will make a difference in someone’s life.

If you are interested in raising and training a pup for an assistance organization – even if you already have a pet of your own – click the links above. You can learn more about where to acquire a pup, who pays the vet bills, and even fill out an application online.

Canine Companions for Independence has been providing assistance dogs, free of charge, to people in need since 1975. CCI assistance dogs help disabled people live more independently — in a sense, acting as the person’s extra set of hands.

The assistance dogs are trained to retrieve items, turn lights on and off, open doors, shut drawers, help with clothing, and more. CCI dogs can also be trained to help the non-hearing, assist disabled veterans, and work in healthcare or education facilities.

[CCI dogs are not trained for health/medical alerting, guiding the blind, etc. More information can be found on the FAQ page.]

You may not ever need a CCI assistance dog, but if you’d like to be involved with their program, check out www.cci.org/GiveADogAJob. You’ll find options for donating funds, raising a puppy, and participating in Dog Fest Walk’N Roll.