Your Cat Needs You: How To Support Feline Health and Understand Signs Of Illness

AFVC_iStock_000045883022_Large (1)Since the moment your cat’s paws padded softly into your life, you probably started cataloguing the many traits that not only make him or her a true individual, but the special cat you love and care for. Paying close attention to your cat’s personality, behavior, and appearance is undoubtedly a satisfying experience for you, but astute observations of any changes could even save your pet’s life. Continue…

National Kid and Pet Day

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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!!

caption thisPets 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!

cute bulldog puppyIs 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!

summertimeThere 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.

SAM_0185We 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!!

kids and dogThey 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.

Open House Photos 025 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.

 

 

10 GOOD Reasons Why Your Next Pet Should Come From a Shelter

puck and santaIn the spirit of giving this holiday season we thought we would remind you why your next pet should come from one of our local shelters.

 

  1. You know what you are getting.

    Unlike a puppy, if you adopt an adult animal, he/she will already have a fully developed personality. In addition, most shelters temperament test their animals before putting them up for adoption so there is little chance of bringing home an unstable animal.

  2. Some animals receive extra training and socialization.singing beagle

    How great is it to get a pet that is already house trained! Even better, if you adopt through an agency that utilizes foster care, your pet may have received some basic obedience training as well. Shelters will generally be willing to help you should problems develop post adoption.

  3. Your new companion wants and appreciates the chance to bond with you.

    Ending up in a shelter is a scary process. Pets may arrive there due to the death of a previous owner, financial difficulties, or simply because they got lost. These are usually great animals who just need a second chance and will be forever grateful to their new owner.singing dog 3

  4. Shelters are a better option than a puppy mill.

    You have no idea about the breeding, or socialization of animals that come from a puppy mill. You may pay a large amount of money for a pet that has spent its entire life in a small kennel with little human contact. When profit is the main motivator, you can be sure that little attention is paid to preventing inherited disorders either

  5. You are saving lives.

    When you adopt a pet from a shelter you are not only saving the pet you bring home but making room for another animal in that facility or foster program as well. It feels pretty singing dog 5good to save one life but it’s even better when it’s two.

  6. You are helping your community. When you adopt from your local humane society the fees you pay help to fund all of their programs. Most shelters also provide community education, patrol for strays and lost pets and ensure animals they adopt out are spayed or neutered.

  7. You will have help finding the right animal for your family.

    Shelters want their placements to work and they will work hard to help you find the right animal for your home environment. Unlike buying from a pet store, you get to know ahead of time if your dog or cats prefers children or other pets.singing dog4

  8. Yes, you can find a purebred animal.

    A surprising number of purebred dogs and cats can be found at your local humane society. Being a purebred does not make them immune from circumstances that can land them in a shelter.

  9. Shelters also have puppies and kittens and ferrets and rabbits and birds .

    If you really love having a baby in the house, shelters usually have young animals up for adoption too. They can also be a great place to find your next rabbit, guinea pig or ferret.

  10. Your pet may already be spayed or neutered.sing along

    Because all shelters are concerned about pet overpopulation, your pet will most likely already be altered. If you adopt an animal that is too young most provide vouchers for later spaying and neutering. That’s one less thing for you to worry about.

Here are links to our local shelters:

Humane Society of Scott County

Quad City Animal Welfare Center

K-9 Kindnessprince and Santa

King’s Harvest

Rock Island County Animal Shelter

Animal Aid

9 Ways to Help Your Pet Live Longer

  • Spay and neuter:

    • Spayed females have a greatly decreased risk of ovarian and breast cancer and zero chance of an infected uterus.  The earlier you spay, the greater the benefits.

    • Guess who gets hit by cars??  That’s right…intact males.  The urge to breed is strong and can put your Romeo in harm’s way.   Neutered males don’t develop testicular cancer either.

    • Every puppy that isn’t born makes the chance of a shelter pet finding a new home that much greater.

  • Good dental care makes for a longer life:

    • It’s a fact.  Bacteria from the mouth can harm the heart, kidney and liver.

    • Painful dental disease can lead to weight loss and poor body condition.

    • In people periodontal disease has been linked to poor control of Diabetes.

  • Preventative vaccines save lives:

    • Every year thousands of pets die from diseases such as Parvovirus and Distemper which can easily be prevented by a vaccine and let’s not forget Rabies which kills almost without exception.

  • Heartworm disease causes permanent damage to the heart:

    • Preventatives can save your dog or cat from the devastating effects of Heartworm disease.  Congestive heart failure, pulmonary clots with concurrent damage to the lungs, liver enlargement, weight loss and eventual death are all the results of untreated Heartworm disease.

    • In cats, just one or two worms can cause death.

  • Parasites rob your pet of more than just food:

    • Roundworms absorb nutrients, interfere with digestion and can damage the lining of your pet’s intestines.

    • Hookworms can cause anemia and severe diarrhea.  Small puppies can and do perish from Hookworm infestation.

    • Giardia and Coccidia cause diarrhea and poor body condition.

    • Fleas and ticks not only feed on your pet’s blood but also carry dangerous diseases such as Plague, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted fever, Ehrlichia and Anaplasmosis.

  • Obesity kills:

    • Excess weight damages joints, the heart, liver and kidneys.  Many diseases such as diabetes are closely correlated to obesity.  Yes Virginia, you can love your pet to death.

  • Yearly blood profiles can spot problems before they become serious:

    • By the time many problems are visible through decreased activity or other behavior changes your pet may be very sick.  They can’t tell you that they don’t feel well but blood work can speak for them.

    • Blood work can catch changes in body systems early in the disease process before major damage has been done. The earlier we treat a disease such as diabetes or kidney failure, the better the chance to extend the quality and length of your pet’s life.

  • Obedience Training  Saves Lives:

  • Having a good “down” on your dog can save them from becoming a “Hit by Car” statistic.

  • Well behaved pets receive better medical care because we can examine them more closely.

  • Good manners make rehoming a pet much easier should the need ever arise.

  • Dogs that bite put themselves and others at risk of injury and death.

Adopt, Don’t Shop!

 

This seems like a pretty straight forward concept: “Adopt, Don’t Shop.” If you take it at it’s most literal sense, it means adopt or rescue your pets, don’t buy them from a store. Seems pretty logical to me. The majority of pet stores, unfortunately, don’t have the best background work on who they’re getting their pets from. Some larger stores cannot even dictate what comes in their door, they just have to take on whatever corporate deems appropriate. Occasionally this means that if you are purchasing a pet from a store, you are inadvertently supporting puppy mills or inexperienced breeders who are not going through the appropriate steps of care for the puppies or their parents. These irresponsible breeders then profit from your purchase and the vicious cycle continues. Instead of appropriately investing these dollars back into the health and well being of their pets, they keep it for themselves. If a breeder is responsible, that is not the case. If you’re adopting a pure bred puppy (or purchasing) you should be able to see the facility where the puppy was bred and meet both parents as well as have access to background information and important medical conditions of both. This is not the case with pet store puppies.

 

There is so much more involved in this phrase than what I’ve just explained. By adopting and not shopping you not only get to rescue a pet, but you get to save the life of another. Every adoption that occurs from rescues and/or shelters makes room for another animal to take it’s place that may have not had a chance. Every year, 3-6 billion pets are euthanized because there simply isn’t room for them in shelters or rescue organizations.

 

You may be asking yourself, but what if I want a puppy or a purebred animal?  Not to worry! Many shelters see purebred dogs all the time and there are also rescue organizations dedicated to specific breeds of dogs! Many shelters will even set you up in a ‘match’ program and with a little patience, they can find a breed or age range you are looking for.  In fact, my purebred monster, Baloo, a Great Pyrenees, was adopted from a rescue organization in Bloomington, IL that only rescues Pyrenees!

 

Another reason some people may shy away from adoption is that you cannot be sure of the animal’s past. Although some animals from rescue situations are slow to warm up, or have some obedience problems, this isn’t the norm. Several dogs from rescue organizations are actually well trained and now basic commands!

 

One of the most gratifying things about adopting is that feeling of saving. You got to save a life. Anyone who has ever adopted a pet can relate to that underlying feeling of gratitude that your new companion has. They seem to know that you saved them.  In the end though, it becomes so much more obvious that they saved you instead.

 

Interested in adopting a pet.  Check out these facilities in our area by clicking on their links below:

 

Humane Society of Scott County

K-9 Kindness

King’s Harvest

Quad City Animal Welfare Center

Rock Island County Animal Shelter

 

 

10 reasons Why Your Pet Should be on Flea Prevention

 

We love creatures of every different type at our clinic!  We love the barkers, the meowers, the squawkers, the rodents and the bunnies and the snakes and the lizards.  That said, there is one creature that we all hate. The flea!  Unfortunately, we have been seeing way too much of Ctenocephalides canis and felis lately.  Yes it’s spring and THEY”RE BACK!   It’s time to get your pet on parasite preventatives if they are not already on it.

 

  1. Fleas make their living by biting other animals and feeding on their blood.   When fleas bite they inject saliva into the skin of their host which can cause inflammation, itching, allergic dermatitis and hair loss.  Even worse, if the host is small enough or the number of fleas’ large enough, anemia can result from blood loss.

  2. Fleas don’t just bite your pet.  They bite you.  They bite your children.  Everybody gets itchy.

  3. A single female flea can lay up to 50 eggs each day and up to 2000 eggs in her short life time!!!  Of course by the time you discover that your pet has fleas, there are most likely eggs and larva throughout your home.Fleas act as a transport vehicle for the aptly named “Flea” tapeworm.    Pets ingest fleas as they groom.  Once the flea is in the digestive system, the larva breaks free and finds a home in your pet’s intestines. An adult tapeworm can grow up to 75 cm (29.5 inches).  According to CPAC (Companion Animal Parasite Council), “Infections of children with D. caninum following ingestion of an infected flea are occasionally reported. The disease induced in the child is generally mild, confined to the intestinal tract, and readily treated, but can still be distressing to the family.”

  4. Fleas carry the Plague – the Bubonic Plague.  This is particularly important in the Rocky Mountain States.

  5. Fleas carry Typhus and yes it can be transmitted to humans.  According to Pubmed Health, “Typhus is caused by one of two types of bacteria: Rickettsia typhi or Rickettsia prowazekii.” The form of typhus depends on which type of bacteria causes the infection. Murine typhus occurs in the southeastern and southern United States, often during the summer and fall. It is rarely deadly. Risk factors for murine typhus include:

    a.  Exposure to rat fleas or feces

    b.  Exposure to other animals such as cats, opossums, raccoons, skunks and rats

7.   Fleas can help to transmit “Cat Scratch” disease from one cat to another.  We humans get Cat Scratch Fever when we are scratched by an infected feline.

 8.  Fleas can transmit hemoplasmas, a blood borne parasite that can cause damage to the red calls which results in anemia in your pet.

 9.  Even if your pet never goes outdoors, you can carry fleas into the house on your pants legs. Fleas can survive the winter just fine as long as you continue to heat your home. 

 10. Once there is an established flea infestation, it can be time consuming and expensive to resolve.  Like so many other problems fleas are much easier to prevent than alleviate.

 I don’t know about you but I’m going to go make sure my dog is up to date on his flea prevention.

Is Your Pet Ready for Spring

  • Is your pet current on vaccines? 

    • Dogs: Rabies, Distemper, Leptospirosis, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus, Hepatitis and if there is a concern, Bordetella and Lyme.

    • Cats: Rabies, Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calici virus, Panleukopenia and where there is a concern, Feline Leukemia.

    • Exotics: Rabies and other vaccines recommended by your veterinarian.

  • Has your pet had their Heartworm or Feline leukemia Tests.

  • Are your pet’s current on their parasite testing and protection?

    • Dogs: Intestinal and Heartworm prevention

    • Cats: Intestinal and yes, Heartworm prevention

    • Exotics: Absolutely, intestinal parasite prevention

  • Has your pet been spayed or neutered?

    • Spring is the time for love and that cute kitten or puppy you got around Christmas is ready for reproduction.  Are you?

  • Have you cleaned up the rodenticide that you put out last fall? 

    • You may have forgotten about any poisons you put out in the fall but rest assured your pet will find them. 

    • Accidental poisoning is a common and preventable year round problem

  • Properly dispose of antifreeze when you drain your radiator.

    • This deadly poison takes lives every spring.

  • Once the snow melts check your yard for items that could be hazardous to your pet.

    • Glass, nails and other items can become buried in the snow and forgotten.  Be sure to do a sweep of your yard every spring.

  • Mend your fences.

    • Fences can be damaged over the winter and it may not be visible until the snow melts.  Check gate latches as well.

  • Did your pet slow down over the winter?  Spring is a great time to work on getting winter weight off.  The great news is it works for both of you.

    • Start any exercise program slowly and watch your pet for signs of arthritis or injuries that may go unnoticed during the sedentary winter months.

  • Don’t forget the leash!  Everybody has cabin fever by the end of winter.  Make sure your pet is safely under leash and not able to follow the urge to wander.

Trick Or Treat, Smell My Feet… please don’t let Scruffy steal chocolate treats! (and a few other Halloween safety tips)

 

  Halloween is one of my favorite holidays BY FAR! Who doesn’t love an excuse to slightly over indulge on lovely chocolate and sweet treats, especially anything with peanut butter (Reese’s are my true weakness)!  As much fun as the chocolate can be for us, it is extremely dangerous for our pets and the calls to animal poison control centers increase for chocolate ingestion now more than any other time of year!  Listed below are several other potential dangers for your pets during All Hallows Eve. If we become more informed about all of the potential issues, this can save major headaches (and cash money) over the holiday season.

Pick Your Poison:

Chocolate.   Everybody’s favorite, and the one that typically leads to the most calls to veterinarians this time of year. As many of you know, chocolate is problematic to cats and dogs. The darker the chocolate, the more toxic, and the smaller the quantity necessary to see effects. For pets with pre-existing heart disease or seizure conditions, the concern is even higher, as these are two of the big ‘target organs’ for the toxic effects of chocolate.

Raisin toxicity. Known to be a problem for some dogs (and possibly some cats), raisins may be found in your child’s candy bag as part of certain chocolate bars, or on their own from well-intentioned neighbors trying to provide healthier Halloween treats. We don’t know which pets will be sensitive to the toxic effects of raisins, nor the number of raisins that must be ingested before problems are seen. It’s best to play it safe and take the necessary precautions to prevent all of your pets from ingesting any quantity of raisins. (Grapes and currants have the same toxic potential as raisins, and so should be similarly avoided.)

The actual treats in your kid’s Halloween bounty aren’t the only potential problem for your pets either. Candy wrappers that are eaten by your pet can also lead to digestive system inflammation and/or obstruction, resulting in episodes of vomiting and/or diarrhea, as well as an unplanned trip to the veterinarian, and possibly the surgery table. Keep candy well out of reach of all your pets. Hang your children’s candy bag high-up on a wall hook or coat rack, and don’t leave the trick-or-treat candy you are planning on distributing sitting out on the coffee table while waiting for the neighborhood kids to start arriving.

It’s bird, it’s a plane…it’s UNDERDOG!:

I don’t know about you all, but I love any chance for an embarrassing photo opportunity for my pet. Case in point…my little Underdog and her look of disgust below.  When it comes to costumes for our furry friends, keep these tips in mind:

  • Avoid loose pieces of fabric and dangling small objects (such as bells). Pets may be tempted to chew off such objects. And if swallowed, you could be looking at a veterinary bill in excess of $1,500 to have it removed from their stomach or intestines since many of these objects will not pass on their own.
  • Avoid masks on pets. Masks can obstruct your pet’s vision and/or their ability to breathe. If your pet can’t see well they’re at greater risk of traumatic injuries – such as broken bones from stepping in holes or falling off curbs, as well as from being struck by a passing car. Broken bones require expensive surgeries to repair, and hit-by-car injuries can result in prolonged intensive care hospital stays and/or death.
  • If you plan on taking your pet with you around the neighborhood for your night of Halloween fun, be sure to include some reflective or self-illuminating material on your pet’s costume. The earlier it gets dark out, the less visibility cars have overall so anything you can do to increase your pet’s visibility to passing cars will help to ensure that they won’t wind up getting hit by one of them. Also consider putting a flashing light on their collar for nighttime walks, at Halloween and throughout the year.

Leashes save lives!

While we’re on the topic of trick or treating, for pets that will join you around the neighborhood, keep them on a leash the whole time. A leash will not only keep your pet from darting in front of a passing car, but it will also help you prevent them from eating dropped candy which could be potentially toxic.  Leashes also prevent dog fights and keep spooked dogs from running off. Little children in costumes can set up a potentially terrifying situation for some of our more anxious pets. Importantly, don’t let a young child be the only one holding on to your pet’s leash during the walk. This is good advice throughout the year, but even more so on Halloween when passing trick-or-treaters are an additional factor that can cause pets to slip their collars or pull away from their leash.

Keep your cats inside on and around Halloween. Aside from all the normal dangers that outdoor cats face daily, Halloween (and the even more dangerous ‘Mischief Night’ that precedes it) potentially carries with it the additional dangers of twisted kids (and sadly, adults too) intentionally traumatizing, mutilating, or otherwise torturing cats on these nights, especially black cats. Though such incidences sadly occur throughout the year, there may be an increased risk associated with this holiday. Don’t take the chance – keep ‘em inside.

The constantly opening doors associated with gobs of tiny trick-or-treaters also pose a significant danger to pets. Pets with access to opening doors may take advantage of the opportunity to bolt out of the house, not only putting them in danger of the typical outdoor hazards unrestrained pets face, but also of having a paw, tail, or other part of their body caught in the door as they make their escape. Such traumatic events can cause injuries significant enough to warrant an expensive orthopedic surgery or a prolonged hospital stay. Confine your pets to a ‘safe area’ of the house to prevent their access to open doors. Use pet crates, baby gates, or closed doors to do so. Providing them with food, water, litter boxes, and anything else that will be necessary to minimize their stress (perhaps an interactive food toy or a turned on television or radio) will also help to decrease the likelihood of destructive behaviors or loud barking.

With a little effort, our pets have the potential to have just as much fun as their people this Halloween season. As long as we take the necessary precautions to keep our pets safe, there’s no reason we all

 have a HOWLING good time!  Happy Haunting everyone!

 

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.

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. 
  •