Q: How do I select a food that is best for my pet?
A: Keep these four factors in mind when selecting a pet food: breed, age, activity level, and overall health. Most commercial diets are tailored to meet a pet’s specific demands.
Q: What are the best pet treats?
A: A gluten-free, novel protein (but no chicken, beef, lamb or fish) that matches the protein source of the diet your pet is currently being fed.
Q: What can I do about my pet’s bad breath?
A: Pet halitosis (bad breath) can be an indicator of many different diseases. Usually, it’s a direct result of a dental condition, but can be an indicator of early renal (kidney) insufficiency or chronic renal failure or neoplasia (cancer) of the oral cavity. In the most extreme cases, severe dental disease is capable of causing endocarditis (infection of the valve leaflets of the heart). Many other diseases of the oral cavity exist, these listed are just the tip of the iceberg. Ideally, pets have an annual examination that includes the oral cavity. If recommended by your veterinarian, a dental prophylaxis (scaling & polishing) should be performed. Once prophylaxis is complete, simple maintenance becomes the key to prevention. Daily brushing, an appropriate diet and the use of treats designed to minimize tartar and plaque are good steps to take.
Q: How do I control fleas on my pets?
A: There are several flea control products available over-the-counter at your local pet retailer, but the best are by prescription: Trifexis (Spinosad/milbemycin oxime, chewable tablet) for dogs and Revolution (Selamectin, topical) for cats. Both are easy to use and highly effective flea and ectoparasite adulticides that provide on-going protection to your pet. An oral solution for your cat, Comfortis (Spinosad; once a month chewable) is also an excellent product. Use these products on a monthly basis, year round.
Q: How do I rid my home of fleas?
A: Fleas, eggs, and larvae live on your pet. Fleas, larvae, and pupae live in your pet’s environment. With effective flea control in place for your pet, use either 20 Mule Team Borax (Boric Acid) or Diatomaceous Earth to sprinkle on your pet’s most frequented areas of travel and sleep (carpet, hardwood floors, etc.), letting it sit for 20 minutes then vacuuming everything up. Repeat daily for a minimum of 7 days. In addition, wash all bedding (pet or human) in hot water on a long wash cycle. These steps should break even the toughest in-home flea infestation.
Q: What can I do about my dog’s separation anxiety?
A: The key to altering a dog’s behavior is to distract them from the source of their anxiety. There are many ways to approach this, here are two examples. First is a Frozen Treat Toy. This can be any chew toy containing compartments or cavities. Fill each compartment with peanut butter and place in a freezer. When leaving your dog alone, confine it to a reasonable space and give it the frozen treat. Use a cue word or phrase to indicate, not only are you leaving but returning as well. The idea is, your dog will be so focused on getting to the treat that your absence will not be an issue. A second option is a citronella collar. The collar is to remind the pet, with a harmless puff of citronella, that barking, baying or howling is bad behavior.
Q: What is “cold water tail”?
A: “Cold water tail”, also known as “limber tail” refers to a dog that develops a flaccid tail hanging from or near the tail base and is known to induce pain. Though the cause is not known, we do know that dogs usually recover within weeks, and often days, with a simple treatment of rest.
Q: How does micro-chipping your pet work?
A: A microchip does not act like a tracking device, or as a GPS device would. Instead, a missing pet would have to be found, taken to a shelter or veterinarian hospital and scanned. If your registration information is current, you should be contacted. If your information is not current, or the microchip never registered, the information associated with the chip defaults to the veterinarian to whom the chip was originally sold, who would have implanted the microchip in your pet.
Q: What are the symptoms of canine influenza?
A: The H3N2 influenza virus causes an upper respiratory infection. Classic symptoms are the same as a typical “flu”: lethargy, inappetence, sneezing, coughing, nasal discharge, etc. Fortunately, a vaccine exists, so dogs can be easily protected.
Q: Why is blood work recommended for my pet before surgery?
A: Blood work is recommended for pets of any age prior to any procedure performed under general anesthesia, so the pet’s liver and kidney functions can be checked specifically, and the rest of the body’s blood parameters generally.
Q: What might cause a dog to drink more water than usual, still be hungry after being fed, and despite the increase in appetite, appear to lose weight?
A: One possible cause is Hyperadrenocorticism. Also known as Cushing’s disease, this malady is brought on either by a benign pituitary gland tumor or a malignant adrenal gland tumor. Should your dog test positive for Cushing’s, an ultrasound will differentiate between the two. Medication to treat Cushing’s exists, and in the case of an adrenal tumor, surgery may be an additional option.
Another possible cause is Diabetes Mellitus which is simply the body’s inability to transport dietary carbohydrates/sugars into the body’s cells, where they are converted to usable energy. If diagnosed, twice-daily insulin injections are an effective treatment.
A third possibility is behavioral, not medical. Were there significant changes recently in your pet’s environment or to you or your pet’s daily routine? Even the slightest alteration can cause a profound change in its behavior.
Regardless of what you may suspect to be the cause, for safety sake, have your pet examined by a veterinarian.
Q: Why does my pet need to fast before undergoing anesthesia?
A: Fasting is required because we do not want any food or ingest (digested food) in an animal’s stomach during a surgical procedure. The risk is that the pre-medications, anesthesia induction agent or inhaled anesthesia may cause vomiting. If an animal vomits while under anesthesia, it can’t necessarily protect itself from inhaling the vomitus and can develop aspiration pneumonia as a result.
Q: My cat has been urinating outside her litter box. Could she have a urinary tract infection?
A: A urinary tract infection has the potential to cause cats to urinate outside of their litter box, but there are multiple issues that may cause inappropriate elimination. Chronic kidney disease, renal failure, diabetes mellitus, hyperthyroidism, behavioral symptoms and feline lower urinary tract diseases are possibilities as well.
Q: Why is it necessary to have my pet’s anal sacs expressed on a monthly basis?
A: Cats and dogs posses a pair of glands or “sacs” located just inside an animal’s anal sphincter. On occasion (primarily in smaller breeds and sometimes cats) the sacs will not empty properly. Lack of regular emptying can lead to an anal sac impaction and abscess. The worst case scenario being an anal sac abscess rupture which may require surgery. So if you witness your dog “scooting” (dragging its behind against the ground) this may be a sign for you to consult with your veterinarian.
Q: What are the potential holiday dangers or my pets?
A: Any dish served during a holiday meal, especially those fed in an unusually high quantity, has the potential to cause great harm to our pets: vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, inappetence, lethargy, anemia, or even renal failure. Fatty foods can cause pancreatitis. Onions and garlic can cause the red blood cell of the dog to lyse. Nuts contain a toxin to dogs. Salty foods can cause renal disease and electrolyte imbalances. Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine both of which are cardiotoxic to dogs. Xylitol, a common artificial sweetener, is also known to be cardiotoxic to dogs. Grapes and raisins pose can cause acute renal failure in dogs. Do not feed your pets at the table, ever. A well-meaning act that could lead to an animal’s toxicosis can easily be avoided.
Q: Do oral conditions influence the overall health of my pet?
A: Absolutely. A healthy oral cavity contributes to an animal’s overall feeling of well-being, energy level, playfulness and interaction with its family.
Q: How often does my pet need its teeth cleaned?
A: Generally speaking, a dog or cat should have a dental prophylaxis (routine scaling & polishing) performed on an annual basis. Some animals, however, require it more frequently, and others less.
Q: What is the proper way to brush my pet’s teeth? What can I do if they do not let me? How often should I be brushing them?
A: Proper brushing technique for your pet’s teeth is the same as we use on ourselves. If your pet resists, at the very least spreading the paste over the tooth surfaces is better than nothing at all. Ideally, teeth should be brushed on a daily basis.
Q: Can dental disease be reversed in animals?
A: We are not able to reverse dental disease in animals. However, with proper treatment dental disease can be slowed and managed.
Q: Why does my pet need antibiotics after dentals?
A: Post-dental antibiotics are recommended for the very worst mouth conditions. Tartar on teeth contains bacteria and when a pet’s teeth are cleaned its gums may bleed and bleeding gums become an entry point for bacteria into an animal’s body. Post-op antibiotics are prescribed to stop this process before it can occur.
Q: What are signs my pet has gingivitis and periodontal disease?
A: Gingivitis describes inflammation of the gums, while periodontal disease is the actual condition of the gums being inflamed. Symptoms of either condition include: decreased appetite, decreased energy, decreased interaction with the pet’s family, halitosis (bad breath) or a general overall feeling of malaise.
Q: Is there a safe product I can give my dog to help maintain healthy teeth in between cleanings?
A: There are several excellent retail products available to help maintain the optimal health of your dog’s oral cavity between regular teeth cleanings. They range from special veterinary diets to healthy chew treats, post-meal rinses, and water additives, to toothbrushes and toothpastes.
Q: What can I do about my pet’s extremely dry skin?
A: An animal’s skin is both its largest organ and primary protective barrier, so it’s vital to maintain its integrity. One of the easiest, most effective ways to do this is by supplementing your pet’s daily meals with additional amounts of Omega 3s, Omega 6s and flax seeds (an excellent source of Omega 3s; be sure to avoid yellow flax as it’s lower in this short-chain fatty acid). Daily pet dietary supplementation with these fatty acids has been shown to strengthen the skin, increase the overall health of an animal’s fur or coat, and may reduce the symptoms of a pet’s allergic dermatitis.
Q: Is it okay to bathe my pet with a shampoo meant for humans?
A: Many pet shampoos tend to be less rough on an animal’s skin and less antigenic in nature. If you wash a dog or cat using shampoo meant for humans, an excellent rule of thumb is to choose one designed for children. These tend to be milder than those made for adults.
Q: How do I select a pet shampoo?
A: The primary consideration when choosing an appropriate pet shampoo is whether or not a specific health issue (fleas, atopy, bacteria, yeast, etc.) is being addressed, and whether or not the shampoo plays a role in its treatment. When a health issue is a concern, consult with your veterinarian in order to choose an appropriate product.
Q: How often can I safely give my pet a bath?
A: Unless an animal has a health issue for which it’s currently being treated, bathing your animal no more than once a month is best. An animal’s skin (the integument) is its largest organ, and whose function is to protect. Washing an animal can reduce important proteins (phytostignines) that comprise part of the dermal matrix. If removed, so too is an element of protective function, potentially making an animal more susceptible to environmental allergens.
Q: My pet is nearing the end of its life. How does one know exactly when to say goodbye?
A: Knowing when to say goodbye is one of the most agonizing decisions for any pet owner. Consider the following: what is your pet’s quality of life? Does it have more good days than bad? How is your pet’s quality of life ultimately impacting your family’s quality of life, and you? These questions and the thoughtfulness they provoke are the best guidelines to help a pet owner decide on the right time to say goodbye.
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