How to Keep Your Pet Safe in the Heat

 

  • H2O:        Provide plenty of water.
    • Make sure there is lots of water to drink
    • Set up a kiddie pool in a shady area
    • Spray water on your dog’s belly ( in the hot sun, water on the back isn’t a good idea)
    • Even cats will tolerate a spritz from a water bottle and birds LOVE it.
    • Freeze your water in pop bottles that be placed in pools or wrapped in towels for a cool place to lay.
    • Water sprayed on cool, shady cement  can be refreshing provided your pet doesn’t have arthritis.
    • Take Fido swimming at the local watering hole but be sure to use a life vest.
  • Shade:   Any time your pet is outdoors make sure there is ready access to shade.
    • Shade can be a tree, canopy of the shady side of the house.  Just remember that the sun’s position changes throughout the day so shady in the morning may not be shady in the afternoon.
    • Doghouses are not shade.  There is not enough air movement to keep them cool.
    • Don’t forget your basement.  It’s the coolest, safest place for your pet in the heat.
  • Limit exercise: 
    • Dogs can’t sweat like we do.
    • Short coated breeds can and do sunburn.
    • Asphalt can burn tender paw pads.
    • Brachycephalic (short faced) breeds are especially intolerant of heat and too much activity
    • If you keep going, your dog will too, right into heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
  • Keep air circulating with a fan:
    • It won’t make things perfect but circulating air stays cooler.
  • Go high tech:
    • There are cooling gel dog beds available.
    • You may also want to try cooling vests and collars.
  • Keep your pet in the air conditioning:
    • When it’s really hot sometimes the best move is to keep your pet inside until things cool down in the evening.

How safe is Your Backyard?

 

We all try to keep our pets as safe as possible.  We keep them leashed anytime we are away from home. We feed them the best food we can provide. We keep their shots and worming current, we train them, and we love them.   When we’re home they play safely in our fenced backyards.

How about that yard? Is it safe?  When was the last time you took a good look around your back yard with the safety of your pet in mind?  We recommend that you do it every spring and fall. What should you be checking for?  Listed below are some of the hazards that could harm your pet.

The Mulch Pile:       

The backyard mulch pile can be a very attractive and very dangerous place for your pet. Going green is great as long as you do it safely. We recommend that your mulch pile be securely fenced and pet proof.

  1. Mycotoxins   which are found in moldy items like breads, cheese and dog food can make your dog seriously ill.  Signs can range from vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal tenderness to seizures and permanent liver damage.   
  2. Hops used in home brewing can kill your pet if ingested in even small amounts.  The danger is present both before and after brewing.  Signs are panting, rapid heart rate and a rapid increase in body temperature to the point of death.
  3. Macadamia nuts can cause ataxia (lack of coordination), anxiety, increased heart rate, tremors and temporary paralysis. 
  4. Grapes, mushrooms, onions, garlic, tomato plants, black locust tree pods and seeds, any sugar free products containing Xylitol and coffee grounds are all dangerous for your pets as well.  If your pet ingests any of these items call poison control and your veterinarian.

The Backyard Pool:

We all know how attractive and dangerous a pool is to small children but it can be just as deadly to your pets.

 1.   Drowning is an obvious risk to both pets and children. Both may fall in and be unable to get out. 

2.   Pool Chemicals can make your pet very sick. Animals are curious and will often taste whatever happens to be lying around.  Ingesting pool chemicals can cause vomiting, breathing difficulty, seizures and loss of consciousness. 

Poisonous Plants:

Be cognizant of what you plant.  ASPCA poison Control has a complete list of plants that are toxic to animals.  Please visit www.aspca.org/petcare/poisoncontrol/plants for the complete list.  Plants can cause everything from local irritation and drooling to seizures and death. 

Other Animals:

Your first thought may be other aggressive animals.   However, skunks, raccoons and possums can carry infectious diseases that can make you and your pet sick. This is why we preach vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate!  It’s also a good idea not to feed your pets outdoors which is a sure way attract local wildlife.

  1. Rabies is carried by skunks, raccoons and bats and they all frequent back yards. 
  2. Leptospirosis is transmitted through the urine of infected animals and can be transmitted to people and pets.
  3. Baylisascaris is a parasite that is harmless to Raccoons but deadly to humans due to its propensity to travel to our brains and wreak havoc.
  4. Bites and wounds and infections can occur if your dog or cat tries to defend their home turf from raccoons and other wildlife.
  5. Predation is an unpleasant prospect whether is happens to your pet or your unwelcome visitors. 

Fertilizers, Herbicides and Pesticides:

  1. Read your labels and use chemicals accordingly.  Wait until chemicals are dry or as long as the directions indicate before allowing your pet back in the yard.
  2. Cover any food or water dishes before spraying.  Don’t forget the bird bath.
  3. Store all chemicals safely and out of reach.  Keep the original containers just in case you have an accidental exposure.
  4. Keep slug bait, rat poison and gopher bait well away from any place your pet can reach. Call your veterinarian and/or poison control if you even think your pet may ingested any of these products.
  5. Try to find a natural, poison free alternative whenever possible.

Children:

Dare we say it?  Children are immature, impulsive and often lacking in judgment. 

  1. Kids may think teasing your pet through the fence is fun but the end result may be an over stimulated, aggressive dog and bitten children.  Nobody wants a barking, fence running dog for a neighbor no matter how the behavior was started.
  2. Children may throw food or other objects over the fence that can harm your pet.  It’s a good idea to run a fence check frequently in warm months.
  3. Jumping dogs can catch a collar on the fence top and choke to death.  Yes it happens.
  4. Small pets can be injured and even killed by over enthusiastic and unsupervised children.  Again, yes it happens.
  5. Finally, no matter how safe you keep your yard, it doesn’t matter if your kids forget to close and latch the gate.

This isn’t a complete list of the potential dangers in the backyard jungle but hopefully we’ve got you thinking about pet proofing your property.   Feel free to call us or contact through our web site or face book with any questions.

10 Questions for Dr. Lauren Hughes

 

 

1. How old were you when you decided to become a veterinarian?

Like a lot of my colleagues, I wanted to become a veterinarian ever since I was a little kid, around 5 years old. It was the idea of what a veterinarian actually was that changed for me over the years. When I was in high school, I got to job shadow through the Interact program and Key Club and got a much better idea of what the job entailed and I fell in love with the career. My work as a zoo keeper at Niabi Zoo solidified my want to work with wildlife and exotic species.

2. What is the best part of your job?

As much as I love the work with the variety of species I see on a daily basis, what I love most about the job is giving back to the community and working with the owners of all these pets. Establishing a relationship with my clients and their family and getting to know them is a lot of fun.

3. What’s the most interesting case you’ve ever had?

During my last year of vet school, a large male Rottweiler came into the clinic with a swollen abdomen and we took x-rays, thinking the dog had a twisted stomach. When we began surgery, there was nothing wrong with the stomach at all and everything appear normal within the abdomen. During surgery, the dog’s right hind leg began to swell and he did not recover well from surgery. We ended up having to keep him in the ICU and do several more surgeries and through diagnostic testing and bacterial culture, we discovered that he had flesh eating bacteria, necrotizing fasciitis, and was unfortunately unable to recover. I will probably never see a case like that again in my lifetime.

4. What’s the most difficult part of your job?

Humane euthanasia is always the most difficult part for me. It is such an emotional time for the owners and I’m a crier anyway, so it doesn’t help the situation. The blessing of working with animals is that we have the ability to alleviate their suffering in cases of severe, incurable disease or when it’s time for them to cross that rainbow bridge, but it’s never a happy experience and doesn’t get any easier.     

 

5. Why become a vet when you could have gone into human medicine and made more money?

Because of the variety of species I work with, every day brings something new and challenging. With the exotic animals that I see, as well as the animals from Niabi Zoo, the database of knowledge in some of these critters is extremely limited and brings about my “MacGyver” skills, trying to find new ways to treat patients that have never been done before as well as diagnose their diseases. More money would be nice, but I think I would get bored. I love what I do, so the money really isn’t a factor to me.

6. We know you have to like animals for this job but what are the other unique requirements?

Communication skills, creative thinking, and flexibility. Not every patient presents the same way, even if they have the same disease and not every owner has the same budget so approach do disease treatment and animal management is always different.

7. How has veterinary medicine changed since your parent’s time?

The view of animals in the home has changed significantly over the years. Pets are now much more part of the family than ever before, so the care for them has definitely changed and improved.

8. Even though both jobs require the same amount of education; how does veterinary medicine differ from human medicine beyond the obvious question of species?

Many veterinarians “do everything” still, even though we have specialists. There are so many general practitioners in the veterinary world that act as surgeon, dentist, nutritionist, physical therapist, Chiropractor (wink, wink Dr. Meredith), radiologist, and many more. Your role changes so frequently based on your patient and it’s needs. This is much different than practitioners in the human world.

9. What do you think the new horizons for veterinary medicine will be?

Holistic medicine is becoming more prominent, as well as animal nutrition. Owners are becoming much more aware of the nutritional needs of their pets and asking a lot more information about appropriate diets.

10. If someone gave you a magic wand and you could go back and do it over again, would you still become a vet?

Yes, but I’d never want to do vet school again!

The Importance of Socializing Your Pet

 

All dogs can bite.  We like to think that we can avoid any difficulties with our pets by simply choosing the “right” breed; not so.  Although you may not actually cause behavior problems in your pet, you can unknowingly reward them.  Since we know that it is always easier to prevent rather than change an established behavior: developing ways to make your pet a good family member and citizen should be an important part of pet ownership.

Biting is not the only thing we complain about.  Barking, jumping up, digging, house soiling, chewing on inappropriate items, food aggression and fear of strangers are just some of the things we don’t like.  Can these behaviors be prevented?  Of course they can.  Sometimes it is simply a matter of management.  Others require an active effort on your part to train and socialize your pet. Here are some ideas for keeping making your pet a good citizen.

  1. Teach your dog to sit.  This should be the first thing a puppy learns.  Any pup old enough to go to a new home is capable of learning to sit.  It’s OK to teach the command by using a treat.  The ASPCA has a great site that will show you how to teach a sit.  The importance of this command in your relationship with your pet is that sitting quietly is a prerequisite before any kind of interaction with you. That means that you don’t unthinkingly pet your dog should they bump or rub against your hand. Believe it or not if you are consistent about requiring a quiet sit first and socializing second, it will set a solid base from which to build your relationship with your new dog. 
  2. Better yet, try an obedience classThere are very few dogs that won’t benefit from obedience training.  It doesn’t have to be a competitive obedience class and it doesn’t have to involve harsh methods.  Look for something that will help you with basic commands and routine maintenance such as nail trimming, tooth brushing and socialization with other pets and people. The key is to establish good communication with your pet from the beginning.
  3. Get your pet out in the world.  You can’t expect your dog to comfortable in the world if they never get beyond your backyard.  Once your pet is properly immunized, wormed and protected from fleas, get them out to parks, for car rides and long walks.  If your schedule is extra busy, consider putting them in doggie daycare but please don’t just lock them in the backyard.
  4. Spay or neuter your pet.  This can’t be said often enough.  The reasons for keeping a dog intact are very few indeed.  Hormones will always get in the way of training. Worse, they can cause dog to dog aggression and lead to health problems later in life.
  5. Children and dogs should always be supervised.  Obviously this is not only important for the safety of the child but for the pet as well. Children can’t read animal body language.  They are often at eye level with a pet and may be seen as lower in social ranking than adults.  Children need to be taught to how handle their pet gently yet assertively.   Even when pet and child are both trained, they never be left alone together.
  6. Take your pet to the vet for something other than vaccines.  If you happen to be driving by the vet’s office, stop in.  Bring the dog inside for some treats.  Let the staff pet them and then go home.  You will be surprised how much more relaxed your pet will be if you do this a few times. 
  7. If you run into a problem you can’t handle, call a professional.  There is nothing wrong with asking someone more experienced to help you with your pet. The key is to go for help before a problem gets out of hand.

This is only meant to get you started thinking in the right direction.  Talk to your veterinarian about trainers in your area if you’re unsure where to go.  Just remember to have fun and always keep your pet social.

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Strategies for Pet Weight Loss

 

Once you have determined that your pet is overweight what is the next step? First you need to determine what weight your pet should be. We can help with that at the clinic. There is an actual measuring system that will provide an accurate result.

  • Decrease caloric intake
    • For real weight loss to occur, your pet must eat at least 30% fewer calories than what it would take to maintain their ideal weight not their current weight.
    • Keep your pet out of the kitchen and away from the dining table.  This will decrease begging and you will be less likely to cave in to big, sad eyes.
    • If your household has more than one pet be sure to feed them separately.
    • Meal feed.  Don’t leave food down all the time.  There is no way to keep track of intake
    • If your pet seems hungry in between meals, divide the same amount into smaller portions and feed more frequent smaller meals.  Just remember begging is simply a learned response to getting, not requiring food.
  • Feed a diet that is formulated for weight loss.  Diets have become much more advanced and feeding the right diet can be a huge help. Science Diet recently added Metabolic Diet to their line of weight loss foods.  Our clients who have tried it have been pretty happy with the results so far.
  • Increase Activity
    • Take your dog for a walk.  It’s good for both of you!  Don’t just stay on the street. Try varying the surfaces.  Use sand, water or even snow, in the winter, for resistance.  Add some obstacles like logs, hills or ditches.
    • Try introducing fetch, fly ball or agility to your routine.  It’s fun, great exercise and a wonderful new way to bond with your dog. 
    • If you have access to water, try swimming.  However, please be careful with the strong current in the local rivers.  Stick to areas that are safe for both of you.
    • Don’t forget Day Camp.  This provides plenty of activity for your pet while you are at work.  It’s the best cure for working owner’s couch potatoes we have come up with in a long time.
  • What about cats? 
    • Cats are problematic.  Most are indoors and many also very thrifty when it comes to calories. 
    • Pay attention to what you feed.  Yes, cats can be meal fed and they generally don’t require near as much food as you think. Again we have had very good results with Hill’s Metabolic Diet.
    • Cats do better with canned food.  It is generally higher in protein and lower in carbohydrates than most dry kibble.
    • But…stay away from canned foods with gravy. They are almost always higher in calories.
    • Use a food specifically formulated for weight loss in cats.
    • Never, ever starve your cat to induce weight loss.  They are particularly susceptible to fatty liver disease and not eating for more than 24 hours or too rapid of weight loss can cause this syndrome in cats. 1% or 0.2 to 0.4 pounds per week is plenty for a 20 pound cat.
    • Weight loss and cats is tough and cats are way harder to induce into activity.  It may be that the best exercise for a cat is simply adding another cat.
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Pet Obesity-Are We Loving Our Pets to Death?

 

Has the U.S. become the nation of too much?  When it comes to weight, yes we have!   Pet obesity has become a huge, no pun intended, health issue for both dogs and cats in this country.

How to Tell if Your Pet is Over Weight

1)    Run your hands down the side of your pet with medium pressure.  You should be able to feel ribs under a thin layer of subcutaneous fat.  If you can’t your pet is probably too heavy.

2)    If you feel your pet is too heavy bring them in for a more precise body measurement.  This set of measurements can determine exactly how over weight your pet is and what a good target weight is.

Causes of Obesity

1)    Sometimes obesity is just a matter of too much food and too little activity. 

2)    However, obesity can also be rooted in other issues. 

  •      Hypothyroidism
  •      Cushing’s Disease
  •      Diabetes:  Diabetes can be caused by too much weight but can also be the                 cause of weight gain if an animal develops non-insulin dependent diabetes.  Confusing but ultimately weight loss will help both.
  •     Any disease process that affects the hypothalamus or pituitary gland:  The hypothalamus regulates appetite and the pituitary gland regulates most hormone production in the body.
  •   Breed:  Beagles, Labs, Bassets, Cattle dogs, Cockers, Chihuahuas, Dachshunds, Golden Retrievers and most cats to name a few.
  •   Age: Just like us as pets age their metabolic rate slows and the tendency to become over weight increases.
  • Neutering and Spaying: When they are not hormone driven animals will put on weight more easily.  That said the benefits of altering your pet far outweigh the negatives.
  •  Activity level:  Too many pets spend all their time inside with too little activity.  This is a particular challenge for cat owners.
  • Food quality:  The quality of food we feed has improved.  Pets need less to stay fit and healthy.  Conversely if you have a finicky pet who has trained you to only feed them high caloric “junk food” they will quickly become overweight.
  •     Medications:  Glucocorticoids, Anti-seizure drugs and  tranquilizers can all contribute to weight gain.

 Health risks associated with obesity

1)    Diabetes:   When food intake and body mass out strip the body’s ability to make insulin, Diabetes Mellitus develops.

2)     Heart and blood pressure disease:  The heart has to work much harder in overweight pets.  That leads directly to high blood pressure and heart disease.

3)    Bone/Joint damage:  Extra weight leads to increased stress on bones and ligaments. Almost all of our cruciate repairs could use a little weight loss.

4)    Respiratory problems:  Too much fat makes for a greater work load and puts extra pressure on the lungs and trachea. If you own a dog or cat with a shortened, also known as brachycephalic, facial structure this can cause serious health problems.  Likewise, many of our collapsing trachea dogs show improvement with weight loss.

5)    Increased anesthetic risk:  What happens if you have a lot of fat and your anesthetic is fat soluble?  You wake up more slowly.  How much harder is it to perform surgery in an abdomen that is full of fat?  A lot harder.  Has obesity been shown to decrease resistance to bacteria?  Yes.

6)    Decreased lifespan and quality of life:  Everything mentioned above will shorten your pets’ life.  It will also seriously impinge on their ability to enjoy the life they have.

On the next blog we will talk about strategies for weight loss.

Taking the Pain Out of Pain Management

 

We have already established that pain is, well, a pain! Webster’s defines pain as: localized physical suffering associated with bodily disorder and a basic bodily sensation induced by a noxious stimulus received by naked nerve endings…  That’s painful to even read!

If you read our last blog you know how important it is to control pain.  Left untreated, pain negatively affects the wellbeing, health and longevity of our pets. The question is how can we help once we know our pets are suffering .

  • Drugs:  Drugs are generally the first line of defense in pain management.  We use anesthetics, analgesics, muscle relaxants, steroids and even antidepressants to treat pain. Local anesthetics are also used to treat site specific pain or as nerve blocks in dental and surgical procedures.

 

  • Nutraceuticals:  Cosequin/Dasuquin:  The ingredients in these drugs work together to maintain the structure of joint cartilage while slowing the enzymes that break it down. They work well. Just make sure you use products that have verified ingredients and molecular weight.  There are many on the market and they are not all equal in ingredients or effectiveness.

 

  • Chiropractic: Chiropractic can help increase an animal’s range of motion, help alleviate back and joint pain, optimize neurologic function and help reduce the need for long term drug treatments. Improved function and decreased pain will all help to provide an overall higher quality of life. Improved neurological function may also lead to improved function of other organs and systems.

 

  • Acupuncture:  Acupuncture is used for many reasons but pain management is one it’s moist important applications.  It is believed to have a healing affect through the stimulation of specific points on the body. By inserting a needle in these points acupuncture stimulate nerves, increases circulation, relieves muscle spasms and causes the release of endorphins that ease pain. It has been used in people for over 4,000 years but is relatively new to veterinary medicine.

 

  • Massage:  The CVMA defines Medical massage as a practice “that targets conditions based on a veterinarian’s diagnosis; it involves specific techniques with the goal of producing measurable responses from the patient. Medical Massage for Animals brings a scientific perspective to massage therapy for dogs, inspired by the core connections of structure and function. It takes into consideration underlying medical conditions, with the goal of optimizing patient wellness, safety, and comfort by incorporating insights from osteopathic manipulative therapy and acupuncture.”

 

  • Cold Laser:  Cold laser is a non-cutting laser which works by stimulating cells and increasing blood circulation. At the correct wavelength, pain signals are reduced, nerve sensitivity decreases and endorphins released. Cold Laser is used in wound healing, ulcers, burns, wounds, cruciate ligament injury, sprain, strain, shoulder lameness, arthritis, elbow dysplasia, hip dysplasia, lick granuloma, head shaking, back pain, back injury, disc disease.

 

  • Heat/Cold Therapy:  Heat and cold therapy has been around forever.  Cold is effective in reducing swelling and inflammation and heat improves circulation. Both are readily or available, free and they work. 

 

  • Lifestyle Changes:  Sometimes it’s the little things that help.  Changes as simple as changing to a therapeutic bed, decreasing food intake for weight loss, ramps, non-slip flooring and other modifications can increase quality of life for older, painful pets. 
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Benefits of Pet Ownership

 

Puppy is sleeping on the couch and shedding hair with each snore.  Kitty just knocked over the potted plant for the third time this month.  Then there’s the vet bills, the food, the groomer.  Geez!   After all, what has Fido or Kitty done for you lately?  We like to think that we are the hero in our animal/human relationships but the truth is animals give back plenty.  Want some reminders of why we benefit from pet ownership?  Read on.

  • Pets make our children healthier.   
    • The Journal of Pediatrics found that kids with pets are less likely to develop eczema. 
    • Another study found that infants with pets developed fewer respiratory infections.
    • Multiple studies have found that Infants with pets also develop fewer allergies.
  • Pets make our children happier.
    • Pets provide unconditional love and help build self esteem and reduce loneliness.
    • Pets can provide a bridge for shy children to interact with others.  They give them something to talk about with other children and make it easier for peers to approach them.
  • Pets help us get out and exercise.
    • The American Journal of Public Health tells us that both children and adults with dogs spend more time in physical activity.
  • Pets help us live better and longer.
    • Multiple studies have shown that pet owners make fewer doctor visits, have lower blood pressure and are less depressed than no pet owners.
    • Pet ownership provides companionship and comfort to seniors.  It also encourages mobility and improves overall mood in the elderly.
  • Pets can be trained to help in amazing ways.
    • Dogs can sniff out, bombs and cancers. They can detect illegal drugs and let us know when we have low blood sugar.  Dogs can be taught to alert us to an impending seizure, and they can help guide the blind.  They will pick up a pencil for the paralyzed, hear a doorbell for the deaf or help locate a lost child.  Dogs will search a collapsed building or a snow slide.  They will provide company for our children and protection for home.  They entertain, comfort, protect, guide, carry, pull, swim or whatever else we ask of them.  Our pets improve our lives over and over in so many ways and most of the time we don’t even realize it.  In return we give care, love and shelter. Is it a fair trade?  Definitely!     

 

Keeping Your Pet Safe and Healthy This Winter

 

 

Doesn’t it seem like everything gets a little more challenging in the winter months. Our cars start harder, the footing becomes slippery, we keep layering on sweaters, jackets, boots and it is dreary more than sunny.  Winter definitely presents a unique set of challenges.

For pets, which rely on us for their safety and comfort, the winter months can be especially hazardous, sometimes even deadly.  Fortunately there are steps we can take to make winter safer for our pets.

  • Bang on the hood before starting your car on cold winter days.  A warm engine is like a magnet to cats when it’s cold.  Many suffer serious damage when caught in a moving fan belt.  One perfect example is “Faceless Kitty’ aka “Jacks” who was a victim of a horrific fan belt injury.  “Jacks” survived with intensive care.  Not every cat does.
  •   Resist the urge to warm up your car in a closed garage.  If you keep your pets in the garage during the cold months, be careful. Carbon monoxide can build up quickly in an enclosed space and will rapidly overcome dogs and cats.
  •  Be careful not to leave pets outdoors too long in freezing temperaturesHypothermia and frostbite are a common winter problem. Ears and feet are particularly vulnerable to frostbite. Keep in mind that cold that never affected your 6 year old pet may cause rapid hypothermia in a 10 or 12 year animal and short coated breeds are always susceptible to cold weather.  Many pets need blanketing to stay warm.  The truth is few are really made to live outdoors. We have bred that out of them.  Even large double coated northern breeds require an insulated dog house and unfrozen water to survive life outdoors. Finally, while we all like to think cats are indestructible and are not bothered by the cold.  It’s not true, they are.
  • Aches and pains are worse in the cold.  Cold can aggravate arthritis and old injuries.  Keep a close eye on older pets during the winter.  If you see signs of increased stiffness and discomfort, it may be time to introduce products such as Cosequin, Dasuquin and non steroidal inflammatory medications to their winter maintenance routine. 
  •  Antifreeze is deadly.  Yes, many manufacturers have added bitter agents to their product which is wonderful, just remember, not all of them have.  Always dispose of products properly and if you suspect exposure get your pet to the veterinarian immediately. 
  •  Salt and other de-icing chemicals irritate paws and tummies.  Try to avoid walking your pet on salty walks but if you must, be sure to clean sensitive paws once you get home.
  •  Ice can slice open fragile toe pads.  We treat our share of pad injuries at Animal Family.  Freezing weather can make ice shards sharp as a knife.  Boots can be protective to those pets who tolerate them. 
  •  Thin ice on ponds and rivers can be deadly.  Every winter we see heart wrenching news coverage of people and animals that have fallen through the ice.  In our area, where temperatures can vary from the teens to the thirties and higher in a single week, thin ice is a real risk.  Just add this to the many reasons you should keep your pet on a leash.
  •  Don’t forget inside hazards.  Fireplaces and space heaters can cause severe burns in a matter of seconds.  Just like children, pets need to be kept a safe distance from open flames.

 Yes, winter can be a challenging time of year.  The good news is that by remaining aware of the hazards it presents we can keep our pets happy, healthy and ready for spring. 

Taking the Mystery Out of Pilling Your Pet

 

A while back there was a particularly funny e-mail circulating about pilling a cat.  What made us laugh was the rather large kernel of truth within the humor.  Who hasn’t experienced the frustrations of trying to get a pill inside your pet first hand…only to have it end up on the floor or wall.  This is a rerun of an earlier post but we could all use the refresher.

The easiest and most time honored way to give a pill remains hiding it in something else If you can get your pet to take a pill this way and he/she is not on any food restriction this is still the best method.  One of our favorites at Animal Family is Pill Pockets made by Greenies.  They are a meat flavored soft treat that molds around the pill.  A large number of both dogs and cats will happily take their medications in a Pill Pocket.  Other choices are peanut butter, cheese, yogurt and canned food.  Just make sure your pet doesn’t spit the medication out.

If your pet either won’t eat a hidden pill or eats around it, you may have to do it the old fashioned way.  Even then, it is possible to make the process easier.

  • Make sure your pet is in a safe area.  For dogs we recommend either having their butt in a corner where they can’t back away.  Small dogs and cats should be placed on a counter or other raised surface.
  • Stand to the side of your pet.  Cats and small dogs should be placed in the crook of your elbow.  Don’t approach your pet from the front. 
  • Coating the pill with butter will give it a slippery and yummy tasting coating.
  • Tilt your pets head back.  For large dogs you may just place your fingers behind the canines and pull upward.  A gentle squeeze at the corner of the jaws works best for smaller pets.
  • Once their mouth is open you will need to get the pill far back in the mouthThis is the scary part for most owners so we recommend that you use a pet piller.  This can literally take the bite out of pilling.
  • In one smooth motion, place the piller so the tip is at the back of the mouth and depress the plunger to release the medication.
  • Leaving the head tilted backwards, immediately close your pet’s mouth and blow into their nose.  Return the head to a normal position and gently rub the throat until you see swallowing…  Be careful not to get in your pet’s face.  Make sure you are above and to the side or back of the pet’s mouth when you blow.  If your pet is aggressive…don’t get close to his/her face.
  • Make sure your pet has swallowed before releasing him/herLook for swallowing or licking of the lips.

What happens if your pet is like the cat in the funny e-mail?  If you absolutely can’t get pills down your pet there is another option…Compounding.  Most medications can be compounded into taste tabs, liquid suspensions or topical gels.  It may involve some additional cost but can be a life saver with a non-cooperative animal.  Be sure to ask your veterinarian especially is your pet is on maintenance medications

Remember, if you don’t feel confident, please don’t attempt this without help from your veterinarian.