Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Common Household Dangers for Pets

Many common household items can pose a threat to our animal companions—even some items specifically meant for pets could cause health problems.

To protect your pet, simply use common sense and take the same precautions you would with a child.

Although rodent poisons and insecticides are the most common sources of companion animal poisoning, the following list of less common, but potentially toxic, agents should be avoided if at all possible.



Dangers just outside your door
Antifreeze that contains ethylene glycol has a sweet taste that attracts animals but is deadly if consumed in even small quantities; one teaspoon can kill a seven-pound cat. The HSUS recommends pet owners use a safe antifreeze in their vehicles. Look for antifreeze that contains propylene glycol, which is safe for animals if ingested in small amounts. Ethylene glycol can also be found in common household products like snow globes, so be sure to keep these things out the reach of animals. Read more about antifreeze hazards »
Cocoa mulch contains ingredients that can be deadly to pets if ingested. The mulch, sold in garden supply stores, has a chocolate scent that is appetizing to some animals.
Chemicals used on lawns and gardens, such as fertilizer and plant food, can be easily accessible and fatal to a pet allowed in the yard unsupervised.
De-icing salts used to melt snow and ice are paw irritants that can be poisonous if licked off. Paws should be washed and dried as soon as the animal comes in from the snow. Other options include doggie boots with Velcro straps to protect Fido's feet, and making cats indoor pets.
Cans and garbage can pose a danger when cats or smaller dogs attempt to lick food from a disposed can, sometimes getting their head caught inside the can. To be sure this doesn't happen, squeeze the open end of the can closed before disposing.
Traps and poisons Pest control companies frequently use glue traps, live traps and poisons to kill rodents. Even if you would never use such methods to eliminate rodents, your neighbor might. Dogs and cats can be poisoned if they eat a rodent who has been killed by poison (called secondary poisoning).
Threats inside the house
Cedar and other soft wood shavings, including pine, emit fumes that may be dangerous to small mammals like hamsters and gerbils.
Insect control products, such as the insecticides used in many over-the-counter flea and tick remedies, may be toxic to companion animals. Prescription flea and tick control products are much safer and more effective. Pet owners should never use any product without first consulting a veterinarian. Read more about potential poisoning from flea and tick products »
Human medications, such as pain killers (including aspirin, acetaminophen and ibuprofen), cold medicines, anti-cancer drugs, anti-depressants, vitamins and diet pills can all be toxic to animals. 
Keep medicine containers and tubes of ointments and creams away from pets who could chew through them, and be vigilant about finding and disposing of any dropped pills.

Poisonous household plants, including azalea, dieffenbachia (dumb cane), lilies, mistletoe and philodendron. See our full list of poisonous plants »
String, yarn, rubber bands and even dental floss are easy to swallow and can cause intestinal blockages or strangulation.
Toys with movable parts—like squeaky toys or stuffed animals with plastic eyes—can pose a choking hazard to animals. Take the same precautions with pets as you would with a small child.
Rawhide dog chews may be contaminated with Salmonella, which can infect pets and humans who come in contact with the chews. This kind of treat should be offered to a pet only with supervision, as they can pose a choking hazard as well.
Chocolate is poisonous to dogs, cats and ferrets. Read more about why chocolate is dangerous to dogs in this FDA PDF »

Fumes from nonstick cooking surfaces and self-cleaning ovens can be deadly to birds. Always be cautious when using any pump or aerosol spray around birds.
Leftovers, such as chicken bones, might shatter and choke a cat or dog. Human foods to keep away from pets include onions and onion powder; alcoholic beverages; yeast dough; coffee grounds and beans; salt; macadamia nuts; tomato, potato and rhubarb leaves and stems; avocados (toxic to birds, mice, rabbits, horses, cattle and dairy goats); grapes; and anything with mold growing on it. See our full list of people foods that might harm pets »
Tools for keeping your pet safe

The HSUS recommends that pet owners use all household products with caution. We also recommend that you put together a pet first aid kit (for dogs and cats) and have a manual readily available.

If all of your precautions fail, and you believe that your pet has been poisoned, contact your veterinarian or emergency veterinary service immediately. Signs of poisoning include listlessness, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle tremors, lack of coordination and fever.

You can also call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center hotline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 888-426-4435 for a fee of $65 per case. If you call the hotline, be prepared to provide the name of the poison your animal was exposed to; the amount and how long ago; the species, breed, age, sex and weight of your pet; and the symptoms your pet is displaying. You'll also be asked to provide your name, address, phone number and credit card information.

Source: http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/tips/common_household_dangers_pets.html

Friday, January 27, 2017

Common Dental Problems in Pets

Got Something in Your Teeth?

Dental disease is one of the most common diseases diagnosed by veterinarians. Affecting both dogs and cats, it can occur in pets as young as 2-3 years of age. In fact, veterinarians report that the majority of the dogs and cats seen have some degree of dental disease by age three. Fortunately, proper oral care can help prevent your pet from having to experience the following types of illnesses.



1. Plaque and Tartar

Plaque and tartar begin to build up on your pet’s teeth, affecting not only the tooth itself but the tissue around your pet’s teeth. Tartar and calculi appears as tan or brown colored deposits on your dog or cat’s teeth.

2. Periodontal Disease

As your pet’s dental disease progresses, periodontal disease begins to occur and affects the tissues surrounding your pet’s teeth. Gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) is one of the first changes to occur. However, the majority of dental disease occurs below the gumline, where a pet owner is unable to actually see the damage being done to their pet’s teeth.

3. Toothache


Have you ever experienced a toothache? This is likely the type of pain that your pet is experiencing on a regular basis because of dental disease. In fact, the discomfort can be severe enough to cause your pet to stop eating and even begin to lose weight.

4. Systemic Illnesses

Besides being a persistent source of pain for your pet, dental disease can also cause more serious systemic illnesses, such as kidney disease and possibly heart disease.

5. Bad Breath

Bad breath (halitosis) is one of the first signs of dental disease in pets. If your dog or cat has breath that smells as though it could knock you over, it’s time to have your pet checked for dental disease.

6. Retained Baby Teeth

Also known as retained deciduous teeth, retained baby teeth are commonly seen in dogs, particularly in small breed dogs. If these baby teeth do not fall out normally and are allowed to remain in your dog’s mouth, they can cause crowding because of the extra teeth and can even make it difficult or impossible for the permanent teeth to erupt properly.

7. Stomatitis

The inflammation of a pet's oral mucuous membranes, also known as stomatitis, can affect wide portions of the mouth and can be quite painful. Although dogs can suffer from stomatitis, it is more common in cats.

Better Teeth Means Better Health

Proper oral care begins with regular brushing of your pet’s teeth at home. However for pets that simply will not use a toothbrush, there are numerous types of dentrifices available that can help keep the teeth clean. These include chews, special toys, oral rinses and more. Ask your veterinarian for advice about the most appropriate choice for your pet.

Don't Forget the Vet Visits

Proper oral care also means regular examinations by your veterinarian. He or she may be able to do a preliminary examination on your pet’s mouth while your pet is awake. However, in most cases, your dog or cat will need to be sedated or anesthetized for a proper oral examination. This examination may even include X-rays of your pet’s teeth. It will also include a professional cleaning, removing the tartar and calculus from both above and below your pet’s gumline as well as planning and execution of any other dental work that needs to be performed for your pet.


Source: http://www.petmd.com/dog/slideshows/general-health/dental-problems-bad-breath-in-dogs-cats

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Cold Weather Safety Tips

Exposure to winter’s dry, cold air and chilly rain, sleet and snow can cause chapped paws and itchy, flaking skin, but these aren’t the only discomforts pets can suffer. Winter walks can become downright dangerous if chemicals from ice-melting agents are licked off of bare paws. To help prevent cold weather dangers from affecting your pet’s health, please heed the following advice from our experts:



Repeatedly coming out of the cold into the dry heat of your home can cause itchy, flaking skin. Keep your home humidified and towel dry your pet as soon as he comes inside, paying special attention to his feet and in-between the toes. Remove any snow balls from between his foot pads.

Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth. If your dog is long-haired, simply trim him to minimize the clinging ice balls, salt crystals and de-icing chemicals that can dry his skin, and don’t neglect the hair between his toes. If your dog is short-haired, consider getting him a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly. For many dogs, this is regulation winter wear.

Bring a towel on long walks to clean off stinging, irritated paws. After each walk, wash and dry your pet’s feet and stomach to remove ice, salt and chemicals—and check for cracks in paw pads or redness between the toes.

Bathe your pets as little as possible during cold spells. Washing too often can remove essential oils and increase the chance of developing dry, flaky skin. If your pooch must be bathed, ask your vet to recommend a moisturizing shampoo and/or rinse.

Massaging petroleum jelly or other paw protectants into paw pads before going outside can help protect from salt and chemical agents. Booties provide even more coverage and can also prevent sand and salt from getting lodged between bare toes and causing irritation. Use pet-friendly ice melts whenever possible.

Like coolant, antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle, and consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol.

Pets burn extra energy by trying to stay warm in wintertime. Feeding your pet a little bit more during the cold weather months can provide much-needed calories, and making sure she has plenty of water to drink will help keep her well-hydrated and her skin less dry.

Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts. A cozy dog or cat bed with a warm blanket or pillow is perfect.

Remember, if it’s too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your pet, so keep your animals inside. If left outdoors, pets can freeze, become disoriented, lost, stolen, injured or killed. In addition, don’t leave pets alone in a car during cold weather, as cars can act as refrigerators that hold in the cold and cause animals to freeze to death.

Source: http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/cold-weather-safety-tips

Friday, December 2, 2016

Keeping Fleas, Ticks, and Mosquitoes Away… Even in the Winter


For those of us with pets, we look forward to winter as a time of respite from the bugs that torment us and our pets. We look forward to a break from the sprays and gels and powders and medicines … all the things we try on our pets and in our home to keep the blood suckers at bay. However -- and we hope you are sitting down as you read this -- winter does not necessarily spell the end of bug season. Consider the following …




A New Housemate: Fleas and Ticks

The flea is a very persistent and resilient pest with a very complicated life cycle. It is even capable of surviving in outdoor temperatures as low as the upper 30s. As long as an adult flea can find a suitable host to feed from (such as wild animals or your pet), it can stay warm and healthy through the cold season. Their pupae remain settled in their cocoons until it is warm enough to come out -- as long as they have been placed in a location where they are protected from freezing cold (for example, a garage, covered patio, or basement).

Flea pupae can remain dormant for over a year until the surroundings have reached ideal temperatures. Once conditions are ideal (either inside or outside), the pupae will complete their development and emerge from their cocoons en masse, resulting in a surge of activity both on and off your pets.

Generally speaking, 65-80 degrees Fahrenheit with 75-85 percent humidity is the ideal temperature range for growth and reproduction of fleas. All they need is a warm place in which to settle and lay their eggs. For the majority of pet owners who keep their homes at a consistently warm temperature throughout the winter season, this can mean that a flea population, once settled indoors, can remain active all year long.

For residents of the southern states of the U.S., where the winter season may only go as low as the 30s, fleas will often stay active throughout most or all of the winter season. Only sustained cold (less than 30 degrees) and low humidity levels will kill off outdoor eggs, larvae, and adult fleas.

The best time to fight fleas is during the winter, when there is the best chance that they will become less active and fewer in number. Regularly vacuuming the areas where your pet spends time and continuing regular flea treatments throughout the winter season are the best ways to combat them before the next flea season is in full swing.

Ticks are also capable of surviving winter temperatures when they are able to find a host to feed from or a warm location to hide in during the coldest weather months. Generally, adult ticks will still be a threat when temperatures hover around 45 degrees Fahrenheit.

For this reason, if your pet spends time outdoors in the winter, tick prevention is still a good idea. And since most medications are designed to thwart both fleas and ticks, it's a good idea to use preventive medications through the year.

Year-Round Heartworm Treatment

While most geographical areas do enjoy a seasonal respite from mosquitoes, the southern climes are still captive to their buzzing, blood-sucking schemes -- even in the winter. Mosquitoes, of course, are carriers of the heartworm parasite, a life threatening nematode that can cause severe disease and even death. (Note: the heartworm actually takes up residence in the lungs. Read more about the symptoms of heartworm infection in dogs and cats.) Even in areas where residents do not have to worry about mosquitoes during the winter, their return in the spring and summer months can catch you off guard. It is best to be pre-prepared.

To safeguard your dogs and cats against heartworm infection, veterinarians suggest using heartworm prevention medication year-round. This is a much easier method of prevention, since you won’t have to remember when to star, or find yourself rushing to get the medication, and you won’t have to worry about having your pet tested for heartworms before beginning a new round of medication in the spring.




The final word on avoiding parasitic infestations of any kind is to use preventive techniques. Remember that while fleas, ticks and mosquitoes may seem to be merely nuisance pests, they are actually capable of causing severe health problems, from the above mentioned heartworm infection, to skin disorders and infections, to anemia. As the old axiom goes: It is better to be safe than sorry.


Source: http://www.petmd.com/dog/seasonal/evr_multi_flea_tick_mosquito_care_during_winter

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Leptospirosis


Leptospirosis is a disease caused by infection with Leptospira bacteria. These bacteria can be found worldwide in soil and water. There are many strains of Leptospira bacteria that can cause disease. Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease, which means it can be spread from animals to people. Infection in people can cause flu-like symptoms and can cause liver or kidney disease. In the United States, most cases of human leptospirosis result from recreational activities involving water. Infection resulting from contact with an infected pet is much less common, but it is possible.

Leptospirosis is more common in areas with warm climates and high annual rainfall but it can occur anywhere.




Risk factors for leptospirosis

Dogs are most commonly affected. Leptospirosis in cats is rare and appears to be mild although very little is known about the disease in this species. Common risk factors for leptospirosis in dogs residing in the United States include exposure to or drinking from rivers, lakes or streams; roaming on rural properties (because of exposure to potentially infected wildlife, farm animals, or water sources); exposure to wild animal or farm animal species, even if in the backyard; and contact with rodents or other dogs.

Dogs can become infected and develop leptospirosis if their mucous membranes (or skin with any wound, such as a cut or scrape) come into contact with infected urine, urine-contaminated soil, water, food or bedding; through a bite from an infected animal; by eating infected tissues or carcasses; and rarely, through breeding. It can also be passed through the placenta from the mother dog to the puppies.

Signs of leptospirosis


The signs of leptospirosis in dogs vary. Some infected dogs do not show any signs of illness, some have a mild and transient illness and recover spontaneously, while others develop severe illness and death.

Signs of leptospirosis may include fever, shivering, muscle tenderness, reluctance to move, increased thirst, changes in the frequency or amount of urination, dehydration, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, lethargy, jaundice (yellowing of the skin and mucous membranes), or painful inflammation within the eyes. The disease can cause kidney failure with or without liver failure. Dogs may occasionally develop severe lung disease and have difficulty breathing. Leptospirosis can cause bleeding disorders, which can lead to blood-tinged vomit, urine, stool or saliva; nosebleeds; and pinpoint red spots (which may be visible on the gums and other mucous membranes or on light-colored skin). Affected dogs can also develop swollen legs (from fluid accumulation) or accumulate excess fluid in their chest or abdomen.

Leptospirosis may be suspected based on the exposure history and signs shown by the dog, but many of these signs can also be seen with other diseases. In addition to a physical examination, your veterinarian may recommend a number of other tests such as blood tests, urine tests, radiographs (x-rays), and an ultrasound examination.

Treatment and prevention

Leptospirosis is generally treated with antibiotics and supportive care. When treated early and aggressively, the chances for recovery are good but there is still a risk of permanent residual kidney or liver damage.

Currently available vaccines effectively prevent leptospirosis and protect dogs for at least 12 months. Annual vaccination is recommended for at-risk dogs. Reducing your dog’s exposure to possible sources of the Leptospira bacteria can reduce its chances of infection.

Although an infected pet dog presents a low risk of infection for you and your family, there is still some risk. If your dog has been diagnosed with leptospirosis, take the following precautions to protect yourself:
 - Administer antibiotics as prescribed by your veterinarian
 - Avoid contact with your dog’s urine
 - If your dog urinates in your home, quickly clean the area with a household disinfectant and wear gloves to avoid skin contact with the urine
 - Encourage your dog to urinate away from standing water or areas where people or other animals will have access
 - Wash your hands after handling your pet

If you are ill or if you have questions about leptospirosis in people, consult your physician. If you are pregnant or immunocompromised (due to medications, cancer treatment, HIV or other conditions), consult your physician for advice.


Source: https://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/Leptospirosis.aspx

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Top 10 Signs of Cancer in Pets


Cancer is the #1 Disease-Related Killer of Pets

Many people do not realize that cancer is not just a human condition; it affects our pets as well. In fact, cancer is the number one disease-related killer of dogs and cats. According to Dr. Lorie Huston, she tells her clients to be on the lookout for the following signs. While these symptoms are not purely indicative of cancer, if a pet begins to exhibit them you should visit your veterinarian immediately. Just like with people, the earlier cancer is caught the better.





#10 Lumps and Bumps

Not all lumps and bumps on or under your dog or cat’s skin will be cancerous, but there is no way to know for sure without getting your veterinarian involved – this is especially important if the lump is not resolving itself or is growing in size. A needle biopsy is commonly done and a veterinary pathologist can let you know if the cells are cancerous or not.


#9 Abnormal Odors

Offensive odors from your dog or cat’s mouth, ears, or any other part of your pet’s body, should be checked out. Oftentimes cancers of the mouth, nose, or anal regions can cause such foul odors.


#8 Abnormal Discharges

Blood, pus, vomiting, diarrhea, or any other abnormal substance being discharged from any part of your pet’s body should be checked out by your veterinarian. In addition to that, if your dog or cat’s abdomen becomes bloated or distended it could be a sign of an accumulation of abnormal discharge within the body.


#7 Non-Healing Wounds

If your pet has wounds or sores that are not healing, it could be a sign of infection, skin disease, or even cancer.


#6 Weight Loss

Cancer is among the list of diseases that can causeweight loss in a pet. If you notice sudden weight loss in your dog or cat (and it is not currently on a diet), along with other signs from this list, be sure to mention it to your veterinarian.


#5 Change in Appetite

Dogs and cats do not stop eating without a cause. While a lack of appetite does not automatically indicate cancer, it is still something to be discussed with your veterinarian. Oral tumors can also cause difficulty or pain when eating or swallowing.


#4 Coughing or Difficulty Breathing

Coughing or abnormal breathing can be caused by heart disease, lung disease, and also cancer. Cancer can metastasize through the lungs and cause these symptoms.


#3 Lethargy or Depression


If you notice your pet is not acting like itself – sleeping more, less playful, less willing to go on walks or to exercise – this can also be a sign of cancer. Once again, lethargy or depression is not a symptom confined to cancer, but an accumulation of any of these signs is reason enough to speak with your veterinarian.


#2 Changes in Bathroom Habits


Changes in your pet’s urinary or bowel habits – difficulty using the bathroom, frequent bathroom use, blood in urine or stool – these are all potential signs of cancer.


#1 Evidence of Pain

Limping or other evidence of pain while the pet is walking, running, or jumping is mostly associated with arthritic issues or joint or muscle diseases, but it can also be a sign of cancer (especially cancer of the bone).

If your pet is experiencing any of these symptoms, please give us a call at (412) 882-3070.


Source: http://www.petmd.com/dog/slideshows/general_health/top-ten-signs-of-cancer-in-pets 


Monday, September 12, 2016

7 Signs Your Dog or Cat May be Suffering from Arthritis

By Lorie Huston, DVM

Arthritis is one of the most common ailments seen in middle-aged to older pets. Even younger dogs and cats, under the right circumstances, can suffer from arthritic changes. Arthritis causes changes within the affected joints that are painful for the affected pet. This pain is responsible for many of the signs associated with arthritis. Here are seven of those common signs.



1. Limping

You may see your pet limping or favoring one or more of his legs, depending on which legs and which joints are arthritic. In some cases, the limp may seem worse when your pet first rises and become less noticeable as your pet “warms up” by moving around.

2. Difficulty Moving

Your pet may also become reluctant to do things that were previously easy for him to accomplish. For instance, your dog may find it difficult to get into and out of the car or may have difficulty going up and down stairs that were previously easily manageable. Arthritic cats, on the other hand, may stop jumping onto counter tops, perches and other high areas because of the pain and discomfort.

3. Spinal Issues

Arthritic changes can occur not only in the legs but also in the various parts of the spine. These changes may result in a sore neck, an abnormal posture with a “hunch” in the back, or lameness of one or both hind legs.

4. Tiredness

Your pet may tire more easily. For dogs, this may mean that walks become shorter and more painful for your pet. Your pet may spend more time sleeping and/or resting.

5. Irritability

Arthritic animals may become irritable. They may snap and/or bite when approached or handled, particularly if the petting or handling takes place in a manner that increases their pain.

6. Muscle Atrophy

Arthritic pets often develop muscle atrophy or dying off of the muscle tissue due to inactivity and decreased use of the muscles. A pet with atrophied muscles in their legs will have a leg which looks thinner than a normal leg.

7. Licking, Chewing, & Biting

Pets affected with arthritis may also begin to lick at, chew or bite at body areas that are painful. This may even reach the point of causing inflamed skin and hair loss over affected areas.

Arthritis Treatment for Dogs and Cats

Though arthritis cannot be cured, there are various remedies and procedures that can help ease the pain for your pet. Consult your veterinarian for advice if you believe your dog or cat is suffering from arthritis.

Arthritis in cats can be particularly hard to spot. Many arthritic cats simply become less active. Often, this change in behavior corresponds to the cat becoming older and a cat owner may simply assume that the change is normal when, in fact, your cat may actually be decreasing his activity level because he is in pain due to arthritis.


Source: http://www.petmd.com/dog/slideshows/care/7-signs-of-arthritis-in-dogs-cats