Ticks and Fleas and Creepy Crawlers!!!!

 

The world is full of creepy, crawly bugs.  They all have a purpose in the eco-system but unfortunately some of them are not so good for our pets.  Below is some more information on one of the more important ones.

 

Although ticks are commonly thought of as insects, they are actually arachnids like scorpions, spiders and mites. Ticks have four pairs of legs as adults and have no antennae.  Ticks are also efficient carriers of disease because they attach firmly when sucking blood, feed slowly and may go unnoticed for a considerable time while feeding. Ticks can take several days to complete feeding.

Ticks can also carry a variety of diseases that can cause problems in our 4 legged friends. One of the most common diseases present in our area from tick attachment and feeding is Lyme Disease.

 

Lyme disease

An infected Ixodes tick (deer tick) transmits the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria through the skin when it bites. Most dogs (as well as people) do not even feel the bite, which is why the tick can remain undiscovered.  After the initial bite through the skin, the tick secretes “cement” to anchor to its host where it is difficult to remove. Then, it begins to take in its blood meal 30 minutes later.

 

Amazingly, unlike most other insect bites, the tick’s bite is painless and non-irritating because its saliva contains:
– An anesthetic to numb and reduce pain
– An antihistamine to reduce allergic reaction or itching
– An anticoagulant to enhance blood flow
– An anti-inflammatory to reduce swelling
– An immunosuppressant to help aid in the transmission of pathogens

 

INFECTION DOES NOT HAPPEN IMMEDIATELY

The deer tick is very slow in transmitting the bacteria to dogs – only after the tick is partially engorged – 24 to 48 hours after attaching to the dog. This slow transmission of the disease shows the importance of checking your dog for ticks after being outside, even in your own backyard.

 

Dogs become infected with Lyme disease from the bite of an infected Ixodes tick called “the deer tick.” The tick must be infected with a specific bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi for your dog to get canine Lyme disease. This bacteria is what actually causes canine Lyme disease – the tick is just the transmitter or “vector” for the bacteria.  Dogs don’t get Lyme disease from other dogs or people. Dogs can get Lyme disease anywhere there are infected ticks, such as wildlife area or their own backyards which is why the Lyme vaccination is so important.

 

Assessing the risk for your dog to get Lyme disease is a combination of where you live, your dog’s lifestyle and your dog’s overall health. While many dogs are at risk in their own backyards because of where they live, others may have hunting or travel lifestyles that put them at risk. Understanding the risk in your local area is important.  https://www.dogsandticks.com/map/2012/

 

The breed of your dog is not an important risk factor. Big or small, couch potato or hunting dog, any dog can be at risk. Whenever and wherever dogs come in close contact with ticks – usually wildlife areas where mice and deer live – the risk of exposure to Lyme disease is great 

 

The second important measure is consistent monthly preventatives against ticks. These products are also available at your veterinarian and include Frontline Plus and Nexgard. Ask your veterinarian which product will work best for you.   The bottom line is by staying proactive in your pet’s care and monthly preventative care, you can decrease the risk of severe disease and tick infestation that could affect them their entire life.

Information for this blog was compiled from https://www.lymeinfo.com,  a great source of information for canine Lyme disease. 

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.

Birds and Biting

 

 

Ask any bird owner and they will probably tell you that the most serious bird behavior problem is biting This is especially true with the larger birds whose strong jaw and hooked bills can inflict considerable damage and pain.  Most biting behaviors can be classified as fear, aggression, territorial, conditioned or mate related.

Fear Biters:

When most birds were wild caught, fear biting was a bigger problem.  Today, most birds are raised in captivity.  However, birds that have been raised with little human interaction in captivity will still have fear problems.  Finally, even birds that are hand reared and more acclimated to human beings can still develop fear related behaviors.  Some, such as African Grays, seem to be naturally more cautious and fearful around humans.

Fear biters can be recognized by their attachment to the cage.  They are unwilling to leave that safe environment and when approached, may run away from or scoot past your hand.  They get very stressed when handled and may squawk, fight, and even pant.  Excessive wing trims and the inevitable clumsiness and falls that accompany them are a good way to create a fear biter.  Careful trims and lots of treats and patient handling can sometimes help a fear biter become more social.

Conditioned Biters:

Birds are highly intelligent and will learn to manipulate their owner quickly.  An owner who withdraws their hand the first time a bird offers to bite will condition the animal to bite to get their way.  Not surprisingly, the bigger the bird, the more common the problem seems to be. As with many other species of animals, if you don’t appear to be in control, birds will be more than happy to take over.

Conditioned biters need to have their wings trimmed both figuratively and literally. In addition, they should never be allowed to ride on the owners shoulder.  One way to prevent this behavior is to place a towel on the shoulder and use that to safely remove the bird if needed.  If you are too afraid to offer a hand, than gloves or a perch should be used to practice step up without biting.  Do not hit the bird on the beak.  Instead, redirect biting behavior by giving another command which can be rewarded when obeyed.  If the owner is unable to establish control, the bird may have to be rehomed.

Territorial Biters:

These are the birds that defend their cage by biting.  Territorial aggression should occur only when the bird is in or on the cage.  Consistent training and handling are an important step in curing this type of biting.  More time spent with the owner and less time in the cage will help as well.  Use of a separate cage for night time sleeping and daytime play can also be helpful.

Bonded Biters:

Many birds bond closely with one person in the family.  They may consider this person to be their mate and behave aggressively if they feel other family members are competing for “their” person.  Again, training and consistent handling by all family members will help to decrease bond related biting.  Unpleasant jobs should be done by the favorite and treats doled out by others. Again, these birds should be kept off the shoulder. Play is good but too much cuddling can be misinterpreted.

Grumpy Biters:

Just like us, birds need to get a good night’s rest.  A bird kept up late watching television, could turn into a tired, grumpy biter.  Birds need to have at least 10 hours a day in a dark, quiet room. Owners need to keep that in mind when deciding where to place their bird’s cage.

Remember, if the biting is extreme, use gloves, perches or towels. Also, changing established negative behaviors requires plenty of time, patience, confidence and consistency on the part of the handler.  In the worst cases, where the owner is unable to establish a safe relationship, a new home may be the best choice for everyone.

An Ounce of Prevention…

 

 

I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work with the entire collection of animals on grounds at Niabi Zoo as well as their dedicated zookeepers and staff at least once a week.   Even though this part of my life is “scheduled,” I never know what my day will entail.   It’s the constant variety of daily tasks in zoological medicine that makes it that much more interesting for me:  the never ending challenge of diagnosis, developing treatment plans, and, most importantly, annual wellness and preventative medicine.  Preventative medical care and annual wellness screening is one of the most overlooked areas of zoological medicine in the public eye.  Not only is preventative medicine essential for the animal’s health and well being, it is also necessary for the safety of the staff and the visiting public.  However, depending on the animal we’re working on in the collection, this may be a challenge.

What does preventative medicine in a zoo entail?

Preventative medicine examinations performed on zoo patients are very similar to those performed on your own four legged friends, and equally important.  Much like our own four legged friends, obesity can affect animals in captivity, so accurate weight logs and body condition assessments are kept by keeper staff and the veterinarian. Many of the animals in Niabi Zoo’s collection are trained with positive reinforcement and operant condition to willing stand or sit on a scale on command to maintain accurate records of their weights. Any major changes can then be reported to the veterinary staff and further measures can be taken. This may seem like a small detail of an exam, but the zookeepers are the eyes and ears of the veterinary department and work tirelessly to help prevent disease outbreaks and illness in the animals they oversee.

Another important area annually assessed is the animal’s mouth. Dental disease is one of the most common pet health problems diagnosed at Animal Family and is also common in zoo collections due to some undesired, stereotypical behaviors. The challenge in a zoological collection is that the animal’s mouth can also be it’s most dangerous weapon! Some of these animals require sedation to have their teeth examined.  Other animals are trained with hand signals and will hold open their mouth open on command for visual examination.  Just like in dogs and cats, the veterinarian looks for tartar, gingivitis, signs of periodontal disease, fractured teeth, or missing teeth, and develops a treatment plan accordingly.

Fecal examination and intestinal parasite screening is one of the most frequent tests performed at Niabi Zoo.  There are several intestinal parasites such as roundworms and hookworms are considered zoonotic, meaning they can pass from animals to people and cause disease. Not only is it important to screen fecals for the health of the animal, but we also screen for the public’s health! The Centers for Disease Control estimates that almost  14% of the population of the United States is infected with roundworms!  If any animal comes back positive, a deworming treatment is developed.  The zoo animals are on similar monthly, year round prevention products like Frontline and Heartgard for treatment of intestinal parasites, fleas, ticks, and heartworm disease.  

Speaking of heartworm and tick-borne disease,  the very same test 4DX Snap Test and Blood Parasite Screen  that is recommended for your domestic animal is used on several animals at Niabi Zoo! Prevention of heartworm disease is key in a zoological collection, especially since the disease can be life threatening and extremely expensive to treat.  Due to the importance of conservation in a zoo collection, a life lost due to heartworm disease could mean a drastic blow to a genetic line under conservation.

Last, but not least, the animals at Niabi Zoo also undergo an annual vaccination routine, which is extremely important due to the exposure of these animals to wildlife and the public. Animals in the collection are routinely vaccinated for Rabies and Distemper annually since their risk of exposure is so high. These vaccines can be done every three years in our domestic dogs and cats.

The bottom line is preventative medicine is the most important medicine and can save your animal from having to suffer from illness long term. For some of our pets and the zoo collection, this means every year we need to make a thorough assessment, nose to tail, to keep our animals as healthy as possible.

 

Animals in the Service

 

 

 

In honor of all the military related festivities in the month of November, like the USMC 238th Birthday and Veteran’s Day, I felt it only appropriate to discuss some of the unique ways animals have also helped to preserve our nation’s freedom. We are all familiar with many a battle on horseback in our nation’s history, but did you know horses and canines are not the only animals who help our brave men and women?  Listed below are some of their unique roles today.

Dolphins and the U.S. Navy

Dolphins have been serving in the U.S. Navy for more than 40 years as part of the Navy’s Marine Mammal Program, and they were used during the Vietnam War and Operation Iraqi Freedom. These highly intelligent animals are trained to detect, locate and mark mines — not to mention suspicious swimmers and divers.

What happens if a dolphin finds an intruder? The dolphin touches a sensor on a boat to alert its handler, and the handler then places a strobe light or noisemaker on the dolphin’s nose. The dolphin is trained to swim to the intruder, bump him or her from behind to knock the device off its nose and swim away while military personnel take over.

Sea Lions

Trained sea lions, another part of the U.S. Navy’s Marine Mammal Program, locate and tag mines just like dolphins, but that’s not all these “Navy Seals” do — they also cuff underwater intruders. The sea lions carry a spring clamp in their mouths that can be attached to a swimmer or diver by simply pressing it against the person’s leg. In fact, the sea lions are so fast that the clamp is on before the swimmer is even aware of it. Once a person is clamped, sailors aboard ships can pull the swimmer out of the water by the rope attached to the clamp.

These specially trained sea lions, part of the Navy’s Shallow Water Intruder Detection System, patrol Navy bases and were even deployed to protect ships from terrorists in the Persian Gulf.

Honeybees

Honeybees are natural-born sniffers with antennae able to sense pollen in the wind and track it down to specific flowers, so bees are now being trained to recognize the scents of bomb ingredients. When the bees pick up a suspicious odor with their antennae, they flick their proboscises — a tubular feeding organ than extends from their mouths.  Watch them in action at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_T7d0bze4kM

A honeybee bomb-detection unit would look like a simple box stationed outside airport security. Inside the box, bees would be strapped into tubes and exposed to puffs of air where they could constantly check for the faint scent of a bomb. A video camera linked to pattern-recognition software would alert authorities when the bees started waving their proboscises in unison.

Pigeons

Homing pigeons were widely used by both American and British forces during World War II. The U.S. Army had an entire Pigeon Breeding and Training Center at Fort Monmouth, N.J., where the pigeons were trained to carry small capsules containing messages, maps, photographs and cameras. Military historians claim that more than 90 percent of all pigeon-carried messages sent by the U.S. Army during the war were received.

The birds even participated in the D-Day invasion because troops operated under radio silence. The pigeons sent information about German positions on Normandy beaches and reported back on the success of the mission. In fact, homing pigeons played such an important military role that 32 were awarded the Dickin Medal, Britain’s highest award for animal valor. Recipients of the medal include the U.S. Army Pigeon Service’s bird, G.I. Joe, and the Irish pigeon known as Paddy.

As you can see, a wide variety of creatures have participated in military efforts and are active in service today.  My sincerest thanks and gratitude to all the brave men, women, and animals who selflessly protect our nation’s freedom.

Majority of information for blog came from https://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/photos/10-ways-animals-have-served-the-military/in-the-army-now

 

 

Pumpkin!

 

 

Hello Fall!

 I don’t know about you, but fall is my favorite season: The changing leaves, the cool, crisp breeze at night which is a perfect excuse for bonfires and s’mores, and most of all, PUMPKIN!!!  I’m sure I’m not the only one who waits for Pumpkin flavored EVERYTHING to hit the shelves, but did you know that pumpkin can actually have some great health benefits for our pets? 

Fiber

 Pumpkin contains nearly three grams of fiber per one cup serving. Fiber promotes a sense of fullness and can potentially enhance weight loss by reducing the urge.   Additionally, fiber can help with feline constipation. As cats mature into their adult and geriatric years, constipation is a serious problem. The primary emphasis of treatment is placed on diet. Increasing fiber levels helps increase motility through the colon by creating a bulkier amount of stool, which stimulates the colon wall to contract thereby helping your pet eliminate waste appropriate.

 Increased dietary fiber can also help pets suffering from diarrhea (opposite of constipation). Both cats and dogs are prone to different forms of diarrhea, but most often the primary offender is changes in diet or eating something the animal is not supposed (dietary indiscretion, aka our garbage lovers).

 Diarrhea is can be classified as large or small bowel diarrhea, depending on a number of characteristics of the patient and their feces. Large bowel diarrhea comes from the colon and is also known as colitis. The nature of large bowel diarrhea appears vastly different from its small bowel counterpart and may have one or all the following characteristics: mucus, blood, urgency to defecate, flatulence, and large or small volume.  Small bowel diarrhea relates to the small intestine, which is the part of the digestive tract that connects the stomach to the large intestine (colon). Small bowel diarrhea often takes on a pale appearance, lacks urgency in its production, and has a mushy consistency.

 Moisture

 Pumpkin can add a healthy amount of moisture (water content) to any cat or dog diet, but especially those that consume highly processed and dehydrated kibble. According to the University of Illinois Extension’s article, Pumpkin Facts, this healthful fruit (yes, it’s a fruit and not a vegetable) is composed of 90% water. Adding pumpkin to each meal or serving it separately as a snack can promote a pet’s improved state of hydration and reduce heat in the body.

 Miscellaneous, Healthful Benefits of Pumpkin

 

Pumpkin provides a natural source of many beneficial substances involved in the day to day cellular functions, especially potassium. Pumpkin even has more potassium content than a banana!  Potassium is an electrolyte essential for muscular contraction and recovery from activity. Pumpkin is also rich in Vitamin C, as one cup contains at least 11mg. Vitamin C is a substance vital for its antioxidant and immune system supporting effects. Additionally, pumpkin is a great, whole-food source of carotenoids, such as beta-carotene.

If you don’t want to go through the efforts of carving, cooking, and pureeing/mashing your pumpkin, then purchase the canned or glass bottled version to give your pet. Avoid pumpkin pie filling due to fat, sugar, and other ingredients (spices, flavorings, or other preservatives) that could cause digestive tract upset. Below is an easy, fun fall dog treat recipe involving pumpkin that you can try out for your furry friend!!!

Peanut Butter and Pumpkin Dog Treats

Ingredients:

2 ½ cups whole wheat flour

2 eggs

½ cup canned pumpkin (NOT PUMPKIN PIE MIX)

2 tablespoons peanut butter

½ tsp salt

½ tsp ground cinnamon

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Whisk together flour, eggs, pumpkin, peanut butter, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl. Add water as needed to make the dough workable, but the dough should be dry and stiff.
  3. Roll dough into a ½ inch thick roll. Cut into shapes or ½ inch pieces.
  4. Bake in preheated oven until hard, about 40 minutes.

 

Here’s a link for healthy pumpkin treats for people.

 

Much of this information was compiled from an article written by Dr. Patrick Mahaney.

Reptile Husbandry Series

 

As much as we love our four legged, furry friends, sometimes it’s fun to go off the beaten path in our pet ownership journey. You’re heading to the pet store to pick up some food for Fido when you run into the Herps/Reptiles section and see this adorable pile of bearded dragons or the cutest little snake in the corner (yes…snakes can be cute).  You think to yourself, “How freakin’ awesome would it be to have a little dinosaur of my own? How hard can it be…they just hang out in their cage and bask on rocks!” While I’m in full agreement with the dinosaur love, it’s also important to know what you’re getting yourself into! As a new reptile owner (proud new owner of an adorable ball python named Kreacher), I began to delve into the depths of reptile husbandry and realized that information isn’t as easy to find as one may think. I decided for the next few blog entries to give some us scale lovin’ folks some direction. 

Let’s start out with one of my favorite, docile, legless friends, the ball python.

Natural history: Ball pythons (Python regius) can be found in the forests of Central and Western Africa, on the ground or in the trees. Typically they are active at dawn and dusk (Crepuscular). They earned their name from their tendency to curl themselves up into a tight coil when they’re nervous, hiding their heads in the center of the coil. There are several different morphs or color patterns, but you may need to find a reputable breeder if you’re looking for a very specific type!

The facts and stats:

  • Body length: 36-48 inches
  • Body weight: Variable with length, age
  • Maximum life span: 50 years
  • Average captive life span: 20-30 years
  • Daytime temperature: 80-85 F
  • Nighttime temperature: 75 F minimum
  • Humidity: 60-80%
  • Hot spot (basking area): 90 F

Unique features:  Pythons (and boas) are equipped with anal spurs near the cloaca. These are said to be remnants of hind limbs that snakes lost during their evolution from lizards. The cloaca is a common exit of the urinary, digestive, and reproductive tract. In the wild, ball pythons consume a variety of prey including amphibians, lizards, other snakes, birds, and small mammals. Young ball pythons will typically grow a foot during the first there years. Snakes only have 3 chambers in their heart (us humans have 4) and one main functional lung (the other lung is present, but doesn’t work as hard as its partner!).

Husbandry: What do I need and why?

  • Smaller, young snakes tend to do well house in 10 or 20 gallon aquariums. As your snake grows, he/she may need an upgrade to a larger enclosure. Many owners custom build enclosures as their snake gets larger. Pet stores tend to have example set ups for you to see, or you can come in and visit our corn snake, Checkers, to check out her enclosure!
  • Bedding material should be easy to clean and nontoxic to your snake. Newspaper, butcher paper, paper towels, or Astroturf are recommended. When using Astroturf, buy 2 pieces and cut to fit in the bottom of the cage, this way you’ll always have a clean piece to change out.  Clean soiled areas with soap and water or other mild cleaners (ask your veterinarian for cleaning advice!).   AVOID SAND, GRAVEL, WOOD SHAVINGS (CEDAR, ASPEN, PINE).  These can be ingested when your snake is going to feed and CEDAR shavings are toxic to reptiles!
  • Young ball pythons enjoy climbing and exploring, so natural branches can be a great addition to the cage. Ideally, the branch should slope from the bottom of the enclosure to the top and allow the snake an area to bask if it chooses.
  • Hiding places are necessary for many reptiles and should be readily available. There are many logs, rocks, or even plastic pet bowls that work well for hiding spots in the cage.
  • A heat source is necessary for the majority of reptiles, which are ectothermic (cold blooded) and need a range of environmental temperatures to regulate their internal body temperature. Ideally, you want to create a gradient in the cage with one end being warmer than the other, this way your snake has a choice for their personal temperature regulation. It is important to place your heat source outside the cage so the snake doesn’t burn itself. Hot rocks should be avoided for this reason. At night, heat isn’t necessary as long as temperatures remain 65-70 F. You can use lamps or heating pads for your heat source. There are a wide variety of heat sources available and you can consult with your veterinarian about which may work best for you.
  • UV light is constant topic of debate for snake owners since they consume whole prey for their diet, making it more nutritionally balanced. It won’t hurt to add this lighting to your enclosure, but it may not be necessary
  • Some of these little guys are stronger than you think, so securing your top screen with cage clips is a must, especially if your husband is worried the snake is going to get out and eat the dog like my husband is! (My ball python is 73 grams and my dogs are 80 pounds PLUS just for some perspective…)

Wait….you said WHOLE PREY!??!?

That’s right. You now own a predator! Snakes eat whole prey items including mice, rats, gerbils, and hamsters. Larger snakes are capable of eating whole rabbits! Since snakes eat entire prey items, this makes things much simpler for the owner and can help decrease the likelyhood of dietary related diseases that we can commonly see in other reptiles. Ideally, your snake should be provided a thawed (previously frozen) prey item or a freshly killed one. It isn’t recommended to feed live prey to snakes for several reasons. Prey knows it’s prey unless killed and eaten immediately, so you’ll be stressing out your feeder animal in the process if not previously killed! Amazingly, even a small mouse can cause major injury to the snake itself if the snake isn’t hungry! For humane reasons, strongly consider feeding previously killed prey.

How often you feed your snake totally depends on the age and size of the pet. Smaller snakes usually eat twice a week and larger snakes eat once every week to every few weeks. Ask your veterinarian for guidelines and feeding advice! Although snakes can go a long time without feeding, too long can be a sign of serious disease and you may want to seek veterinary advice as soon as possible.

WATER!

Fresh water in a crock or bowl that won’t easily tip over should be available at all times. Snakes will not only drink from the water bowl but will often bathe in it as well. Make sure the water stays clean since many snakes feel this is their personal toilet!

Coming up next…

I think I’ve given you all a great place to start if you’re interested in our legless friends!  Next blog we’ll be discussing common diseases of pet snakes so get your learning eyes and ears in gear!  And don’t forget, if you have any questions or would like some one-on-one advice before you go snake hunting, feel free to stop in and visit Dr. Kathy or Dr. Lauren!

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!