Posts Tagged ‘nutrition’

It’s that time of year again:  When my red car turns yellow, it means the pollen count is elevated and allergy season is upon us.

At our veterinary clinic, we’re seeing dogs and cats with itchy ears, faces, bellies, feet and rumps – not to mention the dreaded “hot spots.” Add dry, flaky skin, fur loss, excessive licking and chewing (especially at the feet), scabs, and fleas and you’ve got one unhappy furbaby. To make matters worse, damaged skin is prone to bacterial “staph” infections, which can be difficult to eradicate.

There are some things you can do at home to ease your pet’s allergy symptoms, especially in the case of allergens which are inhaled or absorbed through the skin (known as atopy.)

1. Keep your pet’s skin moisturized – from the outside. Dry skin allows allergens to more easily pass through the skin barrier and cause itching. Use a rehydrating shampoo (we recommend HyLyt Shampoo) plus a separate conditioning rinse or spray.

Allow the shampoo to contact your pet’s skin for 10-15 minutes. That is forever in dog-bathing time, but that’s what it takes for the shampoo to be effective.

If the shampoo is the non-lather kind (many are) don’t add more; doing so will just make rinsing it out all the more difficult. Which brings us to the next tip:

Rinse your pet’s coat thoroughly, to remove all soap. Follow with a cream rinse or leave-on conditioning spray (such as Dermal Soothe Spray.)

2. Keep your pet’s skin moisturized – from the inside. Ask your vet about powder or capsule-type Essential Fatty Acid (EFA) supplements, like Free Form Snip Tips. Skip the fish oil supplements designed for human use; your pet has its own EFA requirements that can’t be met with a human product.

3. Rinse your pet with plain water to remove allergens, daily if necessary. Most pets won’t need a full-blown sudsy bath daily or even weekly. But a cool water rinse can help take the heat off, as well as physically remove pollens that can cause your pet to itch. If a daily rinse is not realistic, try targeting your pet’s problem areas with a damp cloth, especially after your pet has been outdoors.

4. Apply your pet’s monthly flea treatment every month, even if you aren’t seeing fleas (which means the treatment is working!) For a hyper-allergic pet, a single flea bite can touch off a serious inflammatory response.

For more complex issues, antibiotic and anti-inflammatory medication may be necessary. Your vet may also suggest a six-month elimination diet to rule in or out food allergies. A trip to the veterinary dermatologist may also be in order, especially for young animals that will be dealing with lifelong allergy problems.

If your pet is suffering from allergy symptoms, schedule a vet visit to get recommendations and treatments tailor-made for your dog or cat. There really is no one-size-fits-all approach to treating allergic pets, so be prepared for some amount of experimentation to see which method gives your pet the most relief.

Est. 1973

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NOTE: This article is for general informational purposes only and is not meant to diagnose or treat any diseases, or take the place of a client-patient-veterinarian relationship. If you have questions about your pet’s health, your veterinarian will be your best source of information.

This post originally appeared on August 27, 2013.

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Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Every year, around Turkey Time (that’s Thanksgiving and Christmas), pets are rushed to the emergency room with a sudden onset of illness after sharing the family meal.

So what’s wrong with all those animals?

The answer: acute pancreatitis.

[How do you say that word? Try this: pan-cree-uh-tie-tis.]

The pancreas is a V-shaped abdominal organ that produces digestive enzymes and insulin. (Insulin regulates blood sugar. A lack, or insufficient quantity, of insulin results in diabetes.) 

Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas, in which the organ essentially digests itself via the enzymes it produces.

What causes acute pancreatitis?
Common causes are:

  • high-fat diets (long-term)
  • singular high-fat meal (like meat trimmings)
  • obesity
  • infection
  • blockage of the pancreatic duct
  • abdominal injury or surgery
  • hyperstimulation by certain drugs and venom

Because of the high fat content of many holiday feasts, pets that are fed from the table are at serious risk of becoming gravely ill. In some cases, pancreatitis will be fatal.

Feed your pet its own food prior to mealtime, to make it less likely to beg.
Move your pets to a separate area of the house during mealtime and after-dinner cleanup, if you or your guests are tempted to share food with Fluffy and Fang.
Let your guests know that your pets are on a strict diet and cannot have table food. If you want to – blame the vet! We’re always happy to play wet blanket when it comes to giving pets unnecessary – and even harmful – treats.

Symptoms of pancreatitis
Watch for:

  • abdominal pain
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • fever
  • weakness
  • depression
  • collapse from shock

How do you know if a pet is experiencing abdominal pain?
Look for these signs:

  • restlessness
  • panting
  • trembling
  • hunched-up posture
  • “praying” posture
  • resting on cool surfaces
  • vocal or physical response to touch (on the belly)

Which types of dogs or cats are most at risk of pancreatitis?
Normally, in this type of article, I list the age span, breeds, and gender of dog or cat most commonly affected by the disorder. I am not going to do that in this post for one specific reason: I do not wish to give any pet owner the impression that his or her pet is “safe” from pancreatitis and can join in the family meal. We just don’t recommend it for any pet.

Take Action
If you believe your cat or dog may have pancreatitis (even at a non-holiday time of year), take him to the nearest Veterinary Emergency Hospital. Immediate intervention in a critical care setting will give your pet the best chance at recovery.

Remember: some cases of pancreatitis can be deadly, so prevention and early intervention are key to your pet’s good health.

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Resources for this article include:
Instructions for Veterinary Clients
Saunders Comprehensive Veterinary Dictionary
Saunders Manual of Small Animal Practice
The 5 Minute Veterinary Consult
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This article was originally posted on Nov. 12, 2012 and Nov. 20, 2014.

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Many owners of aging pets want to know whether their pet might be suffering from arthritis, a degenerative joint disease that is treatable in its early stages.

Take note of whether your pet does any of the following*:

  • Tire easily
  • Lag behind during walks
  • Limp or appear stiff after exercise
  • Act reluctant to climb stairs or jump up
  • Exhibit difficulty rising from a resting position
  • Prefer lying to sitting or standing
  • Exhibit difficulty bending to reach its food and water dishes
  • Collapse or exhibit shaky legs
  • Break housetraining
  • Suddenly stop using the litterbox (cats)

Now consider:

  • Have you noticed changes in your pet’s behavior?
  • Has your pet been injured in the past?
  • Has your pet been diagnosed with elbow or hip dysplasia?

Answering “yes” to any of these questions should prompt a visit to your veterinarian to have your pet evaluated for arthritis.

Treatment may consist of targeted pain medication, cartilage-boosting nutritional supplements or joint health diets, and physical therapy.

The sooner treatment is begun, the sooner a pet’s pain can be managed. Arthritis becomes more severe if left untreated — and more difficult to treat in the later stages. For instance, once cartilage has completely eroded from a joint, it will not return.

If you suspect your pet is having pain or difficulty moving due to arthritis, Contact Us to schedule an examination and consultation today.

*Keep in mind that some symptoms of arthritis mimic those of other diseases. This list is not comprehensive and is not meant to diagnose your pet.

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For Tips 6-10, click here.

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5. Provide your pet with fresh water at all times, cleaning the bowl daily.

4. Feed a pet food that is appropriate for your pet’s age, nutritional requirements, activity level, and special health needs.

3. Choose a pet wisely based on your schedule, budget, and living environment. Consider the pet’s physical and behavioral needs.

2. Establish a preventative health care program with your veterinarian, including regular checkups, dental care, vaccinations, parasite control, and reproductive options.

1. Discuss the responsibility of pet ownership with your veterinarian before you obtain a pet or as soon as possible after bringing a pet home.

Bonus Tip 1: Ask your veterinarian to microchip your pet as a way of providing proof of ownership and permanent pet ID.

Bonus Tip 2: Enroll your pet with a pet insurance company, like Pet’s Best, as soon as possible, to keep premiums low and to avoid pre-existing conditions denials.

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Tips borrowed from Purina’s The Pet Owner’s Checklist.

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It’s that time of year again:  At our veterinary clinic, we’re seeing dogs and cats with itchy ears, faces, bellies, feet and rumps – not to mention the dreaded “hot spots.” Add dry, flaky skin, fur loss, excessive licking and chewing (especially at the feet), scabs, and fleas and you’ve got one unhappy furbaby. To make matters worse, damaged skin is prone to bacterial “staph” infections, which can be difficult to eradicate.

There are some things you can do at home to ease your pet’s allergy symptoms, especially in the case of allergens which are inhaled or absorbed through the skin (known as atopy.)

1Keep your pet’s skin moisturized – from the outside. Dry skin allows allergens to more easily pass through the skin barrier and cause itching. Use a rehydrating shampoo (we like Hydra Pearls) plus a separate conditioning rinse or spray.

Allow the shampoo to contact your pet’s skin for 10-15 minutes. That is forever in dog-bathing time, but that’s what it takes for the shampoo to be effective.

If the shampoo is the non-lather kind (many are) don’t add more; doing so will just make rinsing it out all the more difficult. Which brings us to the next tip:

Rinse your pet’s coat thoroughly, to remove all soap. Follow with a cream rinse or leave-on conditioning spray (such as Dermal Soothe Spray.)

2. Keep your pet’s skin moisturized – from the inside. Ask your vet about powder or capsule-type Essential Fatty Acid (EFA) supplements, like Free Form Snip Tips. Skip the fish oil supplements designed for human use; your pet has its own EFA requirements that can’t be met with a human product.

3. Rinse your pet with plain water to remove allergens, daily if necessary. Most pets won’t need a full-blown sudsy bath daily or even weekly. But a cool water rinse can help take the heat off, as well as physically remove pollens that can cause your pet to itch. If a daily rinse is not realistic, try targeting your pet’s problem areas with a damp cloth, especially after your pet has been outdoors.

4. Apply your pet’s monthly flea treatment every month, even if you aren’t seeing fleas (which means the treatment is working!) For a hyper-allergic pet, a single flea bite can touch off a serious inflammatory response.

For more complex issues, antibiotic and anti-inflammatory medication may be necessary. Your vet may also suggest a six-month elimination diet to rule in or out food allergies. A trip to the veterinary dermatologist may also be in order, especially for young animals that will be dealing with lifelong allergy problems.

If your pet is suffering from allergy symptoms, schedule a vet visit to get recommendations and treatments tailor-made for your dog or cat. There really is no one-size-fits-all approach to treating allergic pets, so be prepared for some amount of experimentation to see which method gives your pet the most relief.

Est. 1973

***********************************************************************************
NOTE: This article is for general informational purposes only and is not meant to diagnose or treat any diseases, or take the place of a client-patient-veterinarian relationship. If you have questions about your pet’s health, your veterinarian will be your best source of information.

This post originally appeared on August 27, 2013 and on April 17, 2014.

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NPWM 009

In recognition of National Pet Wellness Month, we present the

Top Ten Ways to Keep Your Pet Healthy:

  1. Twice a year examinations
  2. Protective vaccinations
  3. Pet health insurance
  4. Microchipping
  5. Spay/neuter
  6. Internal parasite control
  7. External parasite control
  8. Dental care
  9. Proper diet
  10. Exercise

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“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.

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.

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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

This article was originally posted on September 5, 2012.

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What is hyperthyroidism?
The thyroid gland, located in your cat’s neck, uses dietary iodine to make thyroid hormones (thyroxine) that help regulate important body functions, including:

  • Metabolism
  • Body temperature
  • Blood pressure
  • Heart rate
  • Gastrointestinal function

When a cat has hyperthyroidism, its thyroid gland is enlarged and it produces excessive amounts of thyroid hormone.

Illustration from Hill's Pet Nutrition pamphlet on Feline Thyroid Health.

Illustration from Hill’s Pet Nutrition pamphlet on Feline Thyroid Health.

Hyperthyroidism is most often diagnosed in cats older than 10 years. Untreated hyperthyroidism can have serious — even fatal — effects on organs such as the heart and kidneys.

What are the signs of hyperthyroidism?

  • Weight loss
  • Increased appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Increased thirst
  • Poor skin and coat condition
  • Hyperactivity

Because some of these same symptoms can appear as a result of other diseases, such as diabetes or kidney failure, your cat will need tests such as a blood profile and urinalysis to determine the actual problem.

Did you know? An over-active thyroid is more common in cats than in dogs, and an under-active thyroid is more common in dogs than in cats.

How is hyperthyroidism treated?
There are four types of treatment available today:
1. Daily nutrition: limiting intake of dietary iodine reduces thyroid hormone production. One such food available to cat owners is Hill’s Prescription Diet y/d.
2. Daily medication: anti-thyroid drugs inhibit the production of thyroid hormones. Such drugs must be administered with caution, so that the person giving the medication does not accidentally absorb the drug.
3. Radioactive iodine therapy: radiation to treat abnormal thyroid tissue. This procedure is performed by a veterinary specialist, available through a referral by your regular vet. Treatment is considered highly effective, though it can be expensive if the pet is not covered by pet health insurance.
4. Surgery: removal of diseased thyroid tissue. Surgery is often successful, though some cats may afterwards require thyroxine replacement therapy either short-term or long-term.

Can I purchase Hill’s Prescription y/d at the store?
Y/d is available only through veterinarians. Because it is designed to act on thyroid hormone production, the food is not appropriate for all pets in a household; for this reason, it is not sold as an over-the-counter product.

Illustration from Hill's Pet Nutrition pamphlet on Feline Thyroid Health.

Illustration from Hill’s Pet Nutrition pamphlet on Feline Thyroid Health.

Why does the veterinarian recommend y/d?
In tests, y/d (when fed alone, without treats or other foods) improved thyroid health in 3 weeks. Also, when properly fed, the food is designed to eliminate the need for anti-thyroid drugs. Y/d also provides the daily nutrition your cat needs to stay healthy.
And remember what we said about hyperthyroidism affecting kidney and heart health? Y/d addresses those issues, too. Y/d contains carnitine and taurine for the heart and reduced sodium levels for kidney health.

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Sources of information for this article:
Feline Thyroid Health, pamphlet by Hill’s Pet Nutrition available at our clinic
Saunders Manual of Small Animal Practice
Saunders Comprehensive Veterinary Dictionary

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This is the final installment of the National Pet Wellness Month series, and I’ve rounded out the Pet Wellness Plan to 10 items.

Here are the Top Ten Ways to Keep Your Pet Healthy:

  1. Twice a year examinations
  2. Protective vaccinations
  3. Pet health insurance
  4. Microchipping
  5. Spay/neuter
  6. Internal parasite control
  7. External parasite control
  8. Dental care
  9. Proper diet
  10. Exercise

We already know that obesity is a big problem among pets. In fact, 54% of pets in America are overweight. In an otherwise healthy pet, the two greatest contributors to obesity are poor diet and a lack of exercise. The good news is, these are two areas you can control

A few words about diet: 
*Feed your pet more than once a day. Three small meals a day are ideal.
*Give your pet more of your attention, not more food.
*Choose a respected brand, like Hill’s Science Diet. Hill’s has an active website, e-mail newsletter, and a Facebook page, all of which can be used to communicate with pet owners.
*Choose an age-based diet. Your pet will transition from puppy (or kitten) food to adult food to senior food over its lifetime. Each diet is formulated for the nutritional needs of the particular lifestage.
*Your vet can direct you to an adult pet diet based on other health concerns, such as activity level, weight regulation, skin or digestive conditions, and more.
*Beware the risks of raw food diets, which may contain harmful pathogens such as Salmonella, Listeria, E. coli, and more. Humans can also be sickened through handling raw foods or by exposure to an infected pet. Read more on the American Veterinary Medical Association’s policy regarding raw food diets. The American College of Veterinary Nutritionists has published their opinion on raw food diets under their FAQs page.
*Keep abreast of pet food/pet treat recalls. It seems like they’re everywhere these days. Type “pet food recalls 2012” into a search engine and look for results from the FDA.

A few words about exercise:
*Aside from staving off numerous health problems, exercise can relieve anxiety due to boredom. Dogs and cats that are bored may act out by destroying objects in their environment or through self-harm, like excessive licking and chewing.
*Pets bond with their owners through exercise and playtime. Even solitary cats like to exercise their predatory skills once in a while!
*Look for the pet exercise app from Petmobi (coming soon – sign up for more info).
*Check out pet exercises from Hill’s Pet Nutrition.

 

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October is National Pet Wellness Month, whether your pet is a dog, cat, rabbit, ferret, or mountain lion (let’s hope not). We’ve listed 5 ways you can keep your pet healthy and safe. They are:

  1. Twice a year examinations
  2. Protective vaccinations
  3. Pet health insurance
  4. Microchipping
  5. Spay/neuter

But is that all there is? Heck, no! There are three Mondays left in the month (including today), so we have to keep going with this theme!

        6.  Internal parasite control
        7.  External parasite control

An internal parasite lives inside the host body (your dog or cat.)

An external parasite lives on the surface of the host body.

Parasites not only rob your pet of blood and nutrition, they often carry diseases and other parasites which get passed on to your pet for an added whammy. People may also be affected, as in the case of fleas that transmit plague and Bartonella (also known as cat scratch fever) and ticks that transmit Lyme disease.

Common internal parasites in our region include:

Common external parasites in our region include:

  • fleas
  • mosquitoes
  • ticks
  • lice
  • mange mites
  • ear mites (even though they live in the ears, they are considered external parasites)
  • ringworm
  • maggots 

Flies lay eggs at the site of open wounds; maggots hatch out and feed on the decaying flesh. Pets that live outdoors and are rarely tended to are at greatest risk.

Protect your pet from parasites with these steps:

  1. Use a veterinary-approved monthly heartworm and intestinal worm preventative. Revolution for cats also protects against fleas and ear mites.
  2. Use a veterinary-approved monthly flea control product. Regular monthly application is the key to reducing the flea population on your pet.
  3. Do not allow your pet to contact or ingest feces or garbage.
  4. Brush or comb your pet daily, if possible. Check for visible bugs like fleas, ticks, and lice. If you find maggots in a wound, take your pet to the vet ASAP for treatment. Look for changes in the skin that may signal microscopic bugs. You may see patches of fur loss; red, flaky skin; “dandruff” that walks; lesions; and raised red rings. 
  5. Bathe your pet at least monthly (more often if it is a dirt-lover). Keep the skin free of dirt and fur mats that can provide shelter for parasites. Fur mats that are left untended can also lead to sores, which then become a target for flies ready to lay eggs.
  6. Inform your veterinarian of changes in your pet’s skin or coat condition. Those changes may be due to parasites or to food allergies or an under-performing thyroid, so an exam and tests may be necessary to properly diagnose the problem.
  7. Gently swab your pet’s ears with a drop of baby oil on a cotton ball. Some yellowish to brownish ear wax is common – it protects the ears from dirt and bugs. If you see crumbly black debris, pus, or drops of blood, your pet may have an infection or ear mites. Have your vet check it out.
  8. Keep your pet on a high-quality food appropriate for its lifestage and activity level. Malnourished pets are at greater risk for becoming overrun with mange mites.

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