Make Surgery More Safe and Less Scary

Maine Coon kitten

Oh wow! Anesthesia can be so scary! How do you know your pet is going to be ok? Will they wake up? How does a pet owner make certain their pet is receiving the safest surgical care possible?

What you should look for:

  • Take a tour of the facility. Check out the surgical suites. Do they have up to date anesthetic machines, monitoring and warming equipment?
  • Do they stress the importance of pre-surgical bloodwork? Pre-anesthetic testing is what determines if your pet has health problems that would make anesthesia unsafe or if they require special anesthetic drug protocols.
  • What type of anesthesia is used? There is a huge difference between cheap injectable first generation anesthetics and the newer generation of drugs and inhalants that can be specifically tailored to an individual animal’s needs.
  • What kind of staff do they employ? Are the surgical staff highly trained Veterinary Technicians or poorly paid lay persons who learn their trade on the job and with your pet? The best equipment in the world is no good if there is no one who understands what the readings mean.
  • Do they have complete monitoring systems in place? This should include heart rate, blood pressure, carbon dioxide levels, oxygen levels, respiration, body temperature.
  • Do they employ intravenous catheters, IV fluids and endotracheal tubes needed to control blood pressure, oxygen and anesthetic delivery? Or do they use an injectable anesthetic and hope for the best?
  • Do they keep their staff up to date through continuing education? Technology is improving and changing all the time. Make sure the clinic you use keeps their staff current and well trained.
  • Is it clean? Does the clinic smell clean? Believe it or not there are clinics that will use the same surgical pack on more than one animal. Are all the instruments, including those used in dentistry sterilized after each procedure?
  • Is there a good pain management protocol in place? Or will your pet lay in a kennel with no relief once surgery is complete.

What you can do to make anesthesia safer for your pet:

  • Make certain that your veterinarian is aware of all medications, supplements and over the counter drugs your pet is receiving. Then follow their instructions about how and what to administer before anesthesia.
  • Don’t feed your pet if your veterinarian tells you not to. Ignoring this can cause vomiting and aspiration pneumonia. Conversely, if you have an exotic pet, feed them if you are instructed to do so. They have different requirements than dogs and cats.
  • Tell your veterinarian if your pet has ever had any reaction to any type of medication. If your pet has a seizure disorder or is diabetic, please make sure to share this information. This is especially important if you are new to the practice.
  • Don’t let your pet become overweight. It makes anesthesia much less safe.
  • Make sure your pet stays healthy by staying up to date on all routine health care.
  • Don’t wait too long to spay or neuter. Large, overweight females that have been through several heat cycles are every veterinarians least favorite surgical patient. Everything is bigger, with more surrounding fat, more friable, harder to ligate and more prone to bleeding.
  • If you’re not sure, ask questions. We don’t mind.

Feelin’ Hot, Hot, Hot: Summer Pet Safety 101

Summer pet safety should involve giving your dog skate boarding lessons.

The dog days of summer are in full swing. For some of us, the summer heat brings on the urge to spend as much time outdoors as possible, swimming, grilling, or just goofing around in the yard, while others prefer to spend the hottest days inside with the air conditioner at full blast.

Whether you spend your summer out and about, indoors, or a little of both, it’s important to remember to consider your pet’s health and summer pet safety as temperatures rise. Continue…

The Truth About Cats

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Cats. Kot, Katt, Gato, Got, Kissa, Felis catus. They domesticated themselves, of course, 3500 years ago but have been around our periphery since prehistoric times. Whether you love them or hate them, cats maintain a kind of tolerant interdependence with mankind. They are neither master nor slave and though they may love us it is only on their own terms.

Our domestic relationship with cats evolved because it was mutually beneficial to us both. They were attracted to the rats and mice near human grain stores and we enjoyed the rodent control cats provided. They slowly became accustomed enough to us to grudgingly move inside our homes. Today while there are some fancier breeds of cats out there by and large they remain unchanged.

How amazing are cats? Check it out.

  • Cats are a true carnivore. That means that unlike humans or dogs they cannot survive on a vegetarian diet. They require active vitamin A, arachidonic acid and taurine all of which are derived from animal tissues. If cats could talk they would tell us they want meat baby meat.

  • Cats don’t have a fixed clavicle which means they can fit through any opening large enough for their head.

  • Cats are especially agile. Their highly flexible vertebrae allow them to rotate their spine up to 180 degrees. This and their righting reflex is what allows them to always land on their feet.

  • Cats have the same number of vertebrae as us until you add their tail which is comprised of 30 more.

  • Cats can jump! As in up to 5 – 6 times their own height.

  • If you are a cat lover or fancier you are an Ailurophile.

  • Speaking of Ailurophiles, the ancient Egyptians loved their cats so much that they dressed them in jewels. If a cat died, the grieving family would shave their eyebrows. Mourning continued until all the hair grew back.  Cats were also often mummified and placed in tombs alongside nobility.

  • Cats are smart too. They meow for our benefit alone. They use different vocalizations to communicate with each other. Cats have a surprisingly large vocabulary too, containing of up to 100 varied sounds.

  • Cats hearing is much better than humans or dogs. They also have superior night vision but people can see a wider variety of colors. At least we win at something.

  • A group of cats is called a clowder or a pounce. The first is probably just a variant on the word clutter.

  • A cat’s brain is more similar to a human’s than a dog.

  • Cat’s purr when they are happy but also when they are frightened or in pain. One researcher found that purring may actually promote healing and aid in pain relief.

  • A Bobcat can purr but not a lion.

  • According to legend, Noah was alarmed by the number of mice running around the ark and prayed for guidance. God told him to rub the lion’s nose. This produced a sneeze from the lion which contained two cats. Later legends would say that knowing he came from the lion is what made the cat so vain.

  • Cats have 30 adult teeth, humans have 32 and dogs have 42.

  • One unaltered queen can produce 100 or more kittens in her lifespan. Her kittens and their kittens can produce up to 400,000 kittens. Cats are wonderful but if they reproduce without control we can’t provide homes for them all. Please spay and neuter your cats.

Storms, Fireworks, and Other Causes of Noise Anxiety in Pets

Maine Coon kittenFrom the sudden rumble of thunder to the hiss-pop-and-bang of local fireworks, noise anxiety in pets is a common concern for many pet owners.

During the spring and summer months, noise from thunderstorms and those celebratory post-ballgame and Fourth of July fireworks can present more of a problem for noise-sensitive pets.

Although most pets can be frightened by noise, in some it becomes a chronic condition or phobia that can create health issues and an increased risk of escape.

Since it is impossible to shelter a pet from all noises, the question is what can be done to help your fur friend better cope with the ensuing clamor. Continue…

Amazing Facts about Animal Anesthesia!!

e-collar dog

Anesthesia scares lots of people but in fact is safe and has a long and very cool history.  Check it out!

  • The truth is we have been trying to find ways to ease pain for a really long time but we have not always been very good at it.

  • Anesthesia for animals didn’t happen as fast as it did for people because it was thought that putting an animal under was painful. So they just restrained them instead. Bad idea.

  • Opium was a popular drug in early anesthesia because of its numbing properties. It has many properties that make it useful in medicine and is still employed today.

  •  During World War II many Jews escaped from the Nazis through the use of rabbit blood soaked rags with a cocaine top dressing. The dogs noses were numbed which dulled their sense of smell and their brains were addled enough to make them lose focus. Pretty smart and harmless to the dogs.

  • Spinal blocks were discovered by accident. In 1885 a doctor studying neurological problems accidently injected cocaine into a dog’s spine. The great news came when he saw that the neural block reversed on its own over time. Ask any mother who had an epidural during delivery how great a discovery this was.

  • The really worst idea for surgical analgesia was a sock to the jaw which made the patient unconscious and a hopefully very rapid surgery. Yes they actually did this

  • The man who popularized inhalant anesthesia was unable to patent his method and died penniless and bitter

  • In animals we need to look at age, size and weight, Sex (some boys need more), species (VERY important), Physical health and condition, pre surgical drugs that have been administered and the type of procedure to be performed. An overweight animal has a much greater risk of complications. Yet another reason not to feed table scraps.

  • Anesthesia free procedures were performed up into the 20th century. Ether was around but was not widely used. Think about how very painful surgery that must have been. Something to remember when someone tries to sell you on the idea of anesthesia free procedures. Dentals are surgical procedures.

  • In 1733, Rev. Stephan Hales developed invasive blood pressure measurements by introducing glass pipes into the femoral arteries of horses.

  • Anesthesia also produces amnesia and that’s always a good thing when you’re having surgery.

  • One of the hardest things we do after surgery is to determine if an animal is in pain or dysphoric. Dysphoria is a state of unease which causes vocalization and restlessness.  It can be caused by the surgical drugs we use. Unlike people animals can’t tell us how they are feeling so we monitor our surgical patients closely to minimize any discomfort.

  • It is possible to have an aware anesthesia where you can’t move but  it’s not at all common.  Thank goodness!

  • This is for the redheads out there. You really don’t need more anesthesia. That’s a myth.

How To Read A Pet Food Label

AnimalFam_iStock_000084005055_LargePart of being a responsible pet owner is providing your pet with a nutritious diet. For most of us, this nutritious diet is probably going to come in the form of a commercially produced pet food. Easy, just run to any store, grab the first bag of food you see, and you’re all set, right?

Not so fast. It’s safe to say that most pet owners give a little more thought to the food they buy for their furry friends. Unfortunately, choosing a food amidst the seemingly endless varieties and the ever-present marketing claims that pet owners are bombarded with can be a daunting task.

Choosing the right food for your pet is much easier when you have a basic understanding of how to read a pet food label. Continue…

Socialization or How to Raise a Good Dog

cute bulldog puppy

 

We love spring at Animal Family. It’s not just the warm weather either. It’s the appearance of all those cuddly puppies we see every year.   After all, what’s much more adorable than a 7 week old puppy? The owners are great too. Generally kind and caring people who want to do everything they can to give their new friend the best possible start in life.  That includes socialization.

This is the time when we talk about core vaccinations, worming and getting puppies on parasite preventatives. We go over food choices and house training. We also discuss socialization. Our owners are encouraged to enroll in puppy classes and maybe Camp Canine as well. All of this is great but is it enough?

When it comes to socialization, the answer is no. Developing a healthy, well rounded dog is long term commitment.

Are there perfect dogs? Are some dogs born unsocial? Much like people, dogs are born with predispositions for shyness, reactivity, fear and other traits. Still, even the best dog can be improved and poorly socialized dogs are not always a lost cause. Nurture can influence nature. That’s why careful, ongoing socialization is so important.

Socialization begins the moment a puppy is born. Littermate interaction teaches canine social skills while handling and controlled exposure to stress by a knowledgeable breeder helps make puppies even more stable and accustomed to human interaction.

Puppies need to see as many different types, races and ages of people as possible. They need to be exposed a wide variety of objects too. Show them everything from umbrellas to hats to cars, bells, livestock and bunnies. Don’t put the dog away when there is company. Have them meet everyone but try to keep it as nonfrightening as possible.

As soon as it’s safe, dogs really need to meet other species as well. Cats, rabbits, rats, horses, llamas and everything else that’s not poisonous. Be sure supervise to keep interactions safe but the more new things the better.

Remember, that even if your dog did well as a puppy they can develop problems as a young adult if they end up confined to the backyard at 5 months. A well rounded dog needs continued trips to dog parks, day camps and additional training. If you walk your dog, try taking a different route every time. Bring along a bag of treats and have helpful souls feed your dog so new people are associated with good things.

Even if your dog doesn’t go to camp, bring them with you to pick up food or medications. They enjoy seeing us when we give them a treat instead of a vaccination.

Remember your reaction can influence any canine to canine meeting. Please, don’t let the end of a tight leash be the way you introduce your pet to other animals. Try using a head halter (Gentle Leader) instead of a regular collar during walks. They discourage straining forward which can lead to excitement and aggressive behavior.

If your dog barks or growls, don’t punish them. It’s not the end of the world. Get some distance from the other dog and distract yours with a treat.   The next time may go better. It can take time. Remember that even if you all you achieve is a dog who can pass another animal and ignore them that’s still great!

If your dog is able to do well at the dog park or day camp, even better. Just make sure you use a camp that temperament tests and groups dogs by activity level and sociability.

Finally, before you bring home a new puppy, research breeds and what their original use was. Compare and contrast breed traits with your personality and lifestyle. Recognize that there are variations within the breeds. There are aggressive Golden Retrievers and there are bully breeds that love every little creature, right down to tiny hamsters. Don’t forget to look closely at who you get your pup from. Puppy mills do not socialize.

So what if you do everything right and your dog still becomes, fearful, aggressive or overly anxious? It’s not hopeless. Consult with your veterinarian and have them recommend a trained animal behaviorist who can help you achieve a healthier pet.

Canine Careers:  Working Dogs and Their Jobs

Young Girl Being Visited In Hospital By Therapy DogIf you are like most adults, you probably punch the clock in one form or another. Working can be a pain, but it brings us a source of income, a feeling of fulfillment, and a sense of purpose. Believe it or not, many of our canine friends are no different. Keep reading to learn more about working dogs and what type of jobs they have beyond being loyal friends.

Working Dogs Who Help the Public

Public service is a place where our working dogs excel. They are a natural at many of the jobs asked of them. Dogs who work in the public sector may work with the military or law enforcement and often specialize in particular areas such as: Continue…

Fit as a Fiddle: Why Pet Wellness Matters

Woman veterinarian listens dachshundThere are various obstacles that prevent owners from bringing their pets in for regular wellness visits. Some have financial concerns; others only schedule an appointment when their pets are sick or injured. And let’s not forget how resistant some felines can be to any travel at all.

However, there are just as many compelling reasons (if not more) to commit to routine pet wellness. Tending to your pet’s health goes far beyond saving money on costly emergency visits; you could actually end up extending the life of  your furry pal. Continue…

Why do we have animals?

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There once was a man. He did not have a dog. He did not have a cat. He did not have a bird or a fish or even a rat. He lived an uncomplicated life.

The man lived in a house that was always clean. There were no muddy footprints on the carpet nor clumps of hair collecting in the corners. There were no bowls to trip over nor containers of pet food clogging up the cupboards. Not even once was there a single shoe chewed up. Not anywhere. Not ever.

The man was completely free to do whatever he wanted when he wanted. He could travel. There were no kennels to worry about nor pet sitters to arrange. There were no lists to make of puppy needs nor times to remember for veterinary care. And, best of all, absolutely never, not once, had there ever been two little eyes peering out from under a sofa to unnerve a date he brought home. Continue…