Posts Tagged: pet health
The holiday season is here. We love all the yummy foods that are part of the celebration . Our pets love them too. Unfortunately, all those goodies can also cause pancreatitis.
Pancreatitis is commonly seen in both dogs and cats. It can occur in either an acute (rapid onset) or chronic (slow and subtle) form. Although small in size, the pancreas can cause serious illness. It is very sensitive and if irritated, becomes swollen, inflamed and painful.
It’s fall. Besides the changing colors and cooler weather, Kennel Cough is another thing we expect to rear its ugly head every fall.
What is Kennel Cough?
Kennel Cough is the common name for Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex (CIRDC). It is seen in dogs in group situations such as kenneling, grooming, dog shows, dog parks etc. The symptoms include hacking, coughing, sneezing and retching.
So, what causes Kennel Cough then?
CIRDC can be caused by the following bugs:
Virus: Bocavirus, Canine Adenovirus Type 2, Canine Corona Virus, Canine Distemper Virus, Canine Herpes Virus, Canine Influenza Parainfluenza, Pneumovirus and Reovirus.
Bacteria: Bordetella Brochiseptica, Streptococcus Equi, Mycoplasma spp. and secondary bacterial infections.
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.
There 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…
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…
We talk a lot about Heartworm infection. We urge to you keep your pet on preventives and to test for evidence of heartworm infection year after year after year. The problem is, what we really need to talk about is Heartworm Disease. It is the shadow in the room that both frightens and motivates us. Continue…
It’s National Kid and Pet Day on April 26th! We thought we should celebrate by sharing some of the wonderful things pets do for all of. If you have had a special pet in your life, please feel free to share your stories and photos on our Facebook page.
They keep us healthy!!
Pets help lower blood pressure, ease loneliness and get us out and exercising. They increase self-esteem, elevate mood and reduce stress. They reduce Cholesterol, decrease the development of allergies and extend lifespan after a heart attack. They are a powerful drug with no side effects.
They bring us joy!
Is there anything better than unconditional love? The whole world may be upset with us but not our dog or cat or bunny. They are always there ready to provide love and the reassurance that at least they still think we are awesome.
They make us laugh!
There is a reason why silly cat and puppy videos are ubiquitous on the internet. They make us laugh. They make us smile. They even make us more human.
They give us a sense of purpose.
We all need something to give us purpose. Pets perform that function in many people’s lives. They teach the young what it means to have responsibility for the wellbeing of another living being. As we age they keep us company and give us purpose.
They are a social magnet!!
They give us common ground and ease the awkwardness of meeting new people. It can be hard to come up with small talk when we are one on but add a pet to the mix and we’re instant chatter boxes. This goes double for children with social anxiety. Animals are the ultimate ice breaker.
They serve and protect.
They guide the blind, help the hearing disabled and predict seizures. They sniff out bombs and drugs and tasty mushrooms. They work as soldiers and peace officers. They love us and protect our home and family. They do it all. Yet all they ask in return is just a small place in our hearts and shelter.
There has been a large outbreak of Canine Influenza in the Chicago area. However, there are no reported cases in the Quad Cities at this time. That said we do need to educate ourselves about the virus and understand that it could possibly spread to our area.
Canine Influenza H3N8 is a virus that was previously seen only in horses. The first cases in dogs appeared in 2004. In 2005, H3N8 was officially identified as a new and emerging pathogen in canines. It does not affect humans.
Canine Influenza is spread through the air and on contaminated surfaces such as kennels or clothing. It can survive on surfaces for up to 48 hours, on clothing for 24 hours and on hands for 12 hours. Incubation is generally 2-4 days. Unfortunately it is during this period, when the dog is not showing any clinical signs, that the virus is most infectious.
Because this is a new virus around 80% of the dogs who are exposed will develop the disease. About 20% will not show any clinical signs at all but still be contagious. A small number of symptomatic animals will develop a more severe form of influenza and pneumonia. Overall the mortality rate is low when compared to the rate of infection.
Signs of Canine Influenza can be similar to Canine Kennel Cough but are generally more severe in nature. You may see:
Nasal and Ocular (eyes) discharge
Moist or dry cough
Low grade fever
Anorexia ( lack of appetite)
More severe cases may develop (green/yellow and thick) discharge, a high fever and/or pneumonia.
Canine Influenza is a virus and as such treatment is primarily supportive in nature. Fluids, nutrition, rest and isolation will help the dog mount its own immune response. This is particularly important in those animals with a severe form of the virus. When pneumonia or purulent nasal discharge is present antibiotics may also be used to treat the secondary bacterial infection. Most dogs will recover within 2 – 3 weeks.
Canine Influenza cannot be diagnosed on clinical signs alone. Laboratory testing is the only way to confirm an infection with H3N8. This may be done by nasal/throat swab or blood testing.
You can protect your dog by:
Canine Influenza vaccine. Vaccination may prevent or most certainly decrease the severity of the disease. It requires 2 vaccinations 2 – 4 weeks apart. Maximum protection can be expected 10 days after the second shot.
If the virus is in your community, keep your dog from group situations where you do not know the vaccination status of other pets.
At this time, use considerable caution if you travel with your pet to the Chicago area.
Remember to wash your hands after coming into contact with other dogs.
If your dog develops clinical signs, please isolate them from other pets and call your veterinarian.
Dispose of antifreeze safely:
Even so-called pet safe antifreeze can be toxic to your pet.
Ethylene Glycol ingestion causes incoordination, disorientation and lethargy progressing to vomiting, kidney failure and death.
Treatment must begin as soon as possible. Call your veterinarian. Early intervention and treatment is imperative to a good outcome.
For more information:
As the snow melts do a safety walk through your yard. You never know what may have been dropped or thrown over the fence. This small precaution can keep your pet safe from injury and poisoning.
Spring cleaning products:
Spring clean-up often involves chemicals that can be caustic to the sensitive tissues of the eyes, mouth and paw pads. Others may be toxic if ingested. Remember to keep cleaning materials and rags safely out of the way.
With spring so come all of Mother Nature’s creeping, crawling and flying creatures. Make sure your pets are up to date on both flea and tick preventatives.
A sudden swelling of the face and muzzle and/or bumps under the hair can be an indicator of an allergic reaction to bee or spider bites. These can become severe and require treatment by a veterinarian.
Parasites like spring too:
Parasites of all types appear with increasing temperatures. Make sure your pet is current on their intestinal and heartworm tests.
Remember the mosquitos that carry heartworm become active in temperatures as low as 50 degrees. It’s just one pill a month and parasites are so much easier to prevent than treat.
Leptospirosis is transmitted through urine and is spread through the water and other warm, moist environments. The disease can cause joint pain, lethargy, loss of appetite, jaundice, vomiting and other symptoms. Most importantly, Leptospirosis can be shared with you.
Canine Parvovirus is incredibly hardy and able to survive long periods in the environment. Parvovirus causes, lethargy, severe vomiting, bloody diarrhea, rapid dehydration and if left untreated death.
They are all preventable. VACCINATE.
The doors we open to let spring in also let pets out:
Get your pet microchipped. You will be happy you did because unlike collars, microchips can’t be lost. They have helped reunite many pets and owners over great distances and time.
Many of the spring bulbs we plant in our gardens are toxic to pets.
The same goes for fertilizers and herbicides. Please use care around children and pets.
For a complete list of Toxic plants go to:
The following is a reprint from a Quad City Times article written by Barb Ickes. Doctor Lauren Hughes of Animal Family Veterinary Care Center also cares for The Niabi Zoo animals. Most of our clients have an active interest in the zoo so we wanted to make sure you all had a chance to read the article.
COAL VALLEY — The zookeepers at Niabi hope to soften the blow.
Death may not be imminent, but it will come. And it is time to prepare.
Several of Niabi Zoo’s residents would be in nursing homes by now if such an option existed. It doesn’t, so the keepers are doing their best to make their seniors comfortable and content as age and nature conspire against them.
Mufasa, a lion born at Niabi, will be 21 years old this year. His life expectancy in the wild would have expired six or seven years ago. His large, keen eyes are fogging with cataracts, and his appetite is waning. He moves more slowly than before, and he shows little interest in going outdoors.
Carnivore keeper Jessica Lench Porter is Mufasa’s primary keeper, but her position requires more than doling out doses of high-protein horse meat and daily medications.
One of the most valuable skills Porter and the other keepers have to offer their geriatric menagerie is knowing them well enough to recognize a natural decline.
For Mufasa and several others, the decline has begun.
‘Mufasa is an icon here’
Niabi’s two female lions, Savanna and Nala, are about half Mufasa’s age.
One has been spayed, and the other is on birth control. Although the nearly 21-year-old male remains capable of fathering their cubs, he lacks the paperwork to prove he would be a good candidate.
“Part of his genetics are unknown,” zoo Director Marc Heinzman said. “We don’t want to accidentally interbreed.”
Mufasa did, in fact, sire two cubs. One had to be put down after it was seriously injured in an enclosure-door malfunction, and the other died of natural causes. It is impossible, zoo officials said, to know whether genetics played a role in the latter fatality. Heinzman said the pregnancy occurred before he was zoo director, and he does not know why it was permitted.
But the point is moot now, anyway.
Mufasa lives separately from the two females that occupy Niabi’s main lion exhibit. He has been bunking for two years with the jaguar and leopards that live in the large cat area. All three lions were moved there in 2012, when work was being done on the lion exhibit. Although Savanna and Nala have been returned to the lion house, he is not going back.
Some controversy has surrounded the decision to keep Mufasa sequestered from the other lions. Members of the public have complained that he should remain with the pride because of lions’ social nature.
But it is best, keepers say, for Mufasa to live out his life right where he is. His eyesight is too poor to hope that he could manage the transition.
“He wouldn’t know his surroundings,” Porter said. “We’re not going to set him up to fail.”
As it is, Mufasa is experiencing enough failures. He has become increasingly stubborn and less motivated by food. His usual daily feeding of nine pounds of raw meat has been reduced to seven pounds, and he often leaves some behind.
All four of his thumb-sized canine teeth are chipped from wear, and the last time he was sedated for a medical procedure, it took him days to recover.
“In the wild, he’d have been kicked out of the pride because of his age,” Porter said. “The best thing we can do is look out for him.”
To give proper care, the keeper continues old training routines that keep Mufasa in a cooperative spirit. With daily reminders of what is expected of him, the old male usually complies when Porter makes her demands.
“If I can get him to stand up, I can see his underside,” she said. “He can present both sides, and he can follow the command to open his mouth, so we can see his teeth.
“But it’s also very important that I know what’s going on with him in other ways. I need to know, for instance, if he’s favoring one side when he chews his food. I need to spot any changes in him.”
Niabi’s house veterinarian, Dr. Lauren Hughes, said the keepers are her “eyes and ears” when she is not on the grounds.
“Because they work with the collection every day, they are able to see sudden changes in normal behavior, which can include a decreased appetite, loss of body condition or even something as simple as not coming out of their hiding places or dens as frequently,” she said. “Although these changes may all seem subtle, we have actually been able to catch illnesses very early in several animals in the collection due to their keen observations.”
Porter also can spot personality quirks.
In Mufasa’s case, he finds a bellowing territory call to be necessary throughout the day. A once-or-twice-a-day call is sufficient for most male lions, but Mufasa throws back his mane and produces a chest-vibrating series of roars at least once an hour.
The scale that he agreeably steps onto every two weeks shows he is down 38 pounds from his maximum weight of 410.
“He still has good body condition,” Porter said. “He’s giving us no reason to euthanize him. He’s just in that geriatric stage. Mufasa is an icon here. People come just to see him.
“The day will come when he isn’t here. In the meantime, he’s in the only place he’s ever known. He knows what to expect from me, and he is well fed and cared for. I’ve been here for 13 years, and you obviously form an attachment, but you also have to keep a distance.
“Old age comes to wild animals just like it does for people. You accept it.”
Jackson the jaguar
Sometimes, when Porter pushes the big-cat scale into his enclosure, Jackson the jaguar takes off with it. If someone told him the four-foot-long metal scale is not a toy, Jackson wasn’t listening.
Turning 20 this year, the jet-black jag also is well beyond his prime. Big cats in the wild are lucky to survive into their early-to-mid-teens, Porter said.
“At the end of December, tests showed he’s in early kidney failure,” she said. “His appetite also is diminishing. These are things we want people to know. Instead of reacting when we have a death, we want the public to know what’s going on.”
For now, Jackson is holding his own.
“He’s definitely still got it,” Porter said. “He’s still agile. He’s not one to pace. He’s a stalker. He sits there and thinks things through.”
He also has his quirks, including a fascination with his medicine-ball-like toy, which is made of tightly wound fire hose.
“That’s one of his favorite things,” she said. “He drags it everywhere.”
He also sucks on his tail.
“I’m not alarmed by it, because he’s done it for at least 10 years,” she said. “I have no idea why.
“We can’t convey enough how important it is that we know their behaviors, so they don’t suffer in any way. I think of it this way: If you’re getting older, and your eyesight is going, kidneys failing and appetite diminishing, don’t you want care?
“We have all these bottles with different scents — even some spices and extracts. We hide these things in their enclosures, changing up smells and toys. Mental stimulation is hugely important to quality of life, and people forget to apply that to animals, too.
“We want the end of their lives to be comfortable.”
Even though their enclosure is small, cotton-top tamarins Eddie and Goose are not easy to spot.
Among the smallest of all primates, the two are similar in size to squirrels. Frequently spending their time side-by-size in their new exhibit in the zoo’s main entrance, they are easily dwarfed by their roommate, a two-toed sloth.
Now in their golden years, the tamarins are empty-nesters.
The life expectancy for tamarins in the wild is 13. Eddie will be 14 this year, and Goose will turn 13.
“They’ve had many babies,” Porter said. “They’ve been here most of their lives.”
The tiny primates are new charges for Porter, who is learning to care for and train the pair.
“I’m not 100 percent confident with primates, so I don’t hand-feed them,” she said as she slipped through a small door and into their enclosure last week. “Training them to go into a crate is important, so they don’t have to be captured.
“Also, with these guys being geriatric, we need them to get on a scale.”
The two, especially Eddie, are showing no signs of letting up on their food motivation.
As Porter entered their enclosure with a plastic cup of meal worms, Eddie made his move. The tamarins have been trained to expect their food after touching a “target.” In their case, the target is a wand-sized stick with a green bulb at one end. When they touch the bulb, Porter blows on a small whistle, and they are permitted to reach in for a meal worm.
In his excitement, Eddie emits frequent bird-like chirps and reaches repeatedly for the target.
“They really like insects,” Porter said. “They’re easy for them to eat, too. We have to cook some of their food to make it easier. We soften the potatoes that are added to their Primate Diet food.”
After spending decades with big cats and Niabi’s now-relocated elephants, Porter said she is enjoying the challenge of learning more about the petite primates.
“You definitely get their personalities,” she said. “They have a very complex vocalization system. They have an ear-piercing alarm call. I was doing an educational tour in this room recently, and I got out one of the snakes. The tamarins screamed their heads off.”
The ongoing training with Eddie and Goose, along with close and frequent observation, make it possible for them to survive several more years. But their continued longevity is not guaranteed.
“If you come one day and enjoy seeing them, and they’re not here on the next visit, you have to understand: They’re getting up there,” Porter said. “We have to face it
From the zoo’s vet
“In regards to the senior animals in our collection: It is a testament to the hard work and care of the zoo staff that their longevity is even an issue, and as frustrating as this may be, it is a great issue to have.
“Due to the high quality of care for these animals, they are well outliving their expected survival rates in the wild. That being said, this presents a new series of challenges similar to those that people face with their domestic pets.
“For example, renal disease is one of the most common diseases of geriatric felines. The same holds true for exotic felines in zoo collections.
“In a domestic setting, we can manage these animals by changing their diets, modifying their care plans to include extra means of hydration like fluids under the skin, and monitoring their blood pressure. In a zoo collection, all of these options are not always possible due to safety reasons with these large, apex predators.
“Their diets are already optimized to the highest protein possible, and there isn’t always an ability to administer fluids or monitor blood pressure without compromising staff safety or using sedatives, which isn’t always the safest option for the animal in question or their underlying illnesses.