Tuesday, April 10, 2018

What You Should Know About Asthma in Dogs

How Asthma Affects Dogs

Asthma is basically a term for difficulty breathing (called “dyspnea”). It usually includes wheezing and shortness of breath due to spasms and constriction of the large upper airways (the trachea and bronchi). Dogs, like people, can develop asthma, although in dogs the disorder typically is referred to as allergic bronchitis. In dogs, this condition is almost always caused by an allergic reaction to something in the environment, which in turn causes an inflammatory response in the upper airways. Most of the time, the allergen is something that the dog inhales. Long-standing allergic bronchitis can damage the tissues lining the respiratory tract, causing the more permanent changes associated with chronic bronchitis. The symptoms of so-called “asthma attacks” can vary widely from occasional breathing problems to severe dyspnea that approaches suffocation. By the time the condition is this severe, it usually has become chronic and irreversible. In very grave cases, the dog may resort to open-mouth breathing, and its gums and other mucous membranes may turn a purplish-blue from oxygen deprivation. When the consequences of asthma become this severe, the dog needs immediate emergency veterinary care to survive.



Symptoms of Allergic Bronchitis

Canine allergic bronchitis tends to affect young to middle-aged dogs, although older animals occasionally are affected as well. The hallmark of allergic bronchitis is a chronic, dry hacking cough, which can come on slowly or suddenly. Other common signs include:
- Respiratory distress (difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, wheezing, dyspnea)
- Open-mouth breathing
- Cough (dry, hacking)
- Pale mucous membranes (blue-ish gums)
- Lethargy
- Exercise intolerance
- Lack of appetite
- Weight loss

Asthma is much less common in dogs than in cats; feline asthma is a well-documented disorder. The observable signs of asthma in dogs can range from mild to severe. Often, the exact asthmatic trigger is never identified. Some dogs become lethargic, stop eating and lose weight due to the discomfort caused by the condition. By the time this happens, the condition usually has progressed to chronic bronchitis, which is progressive and irreversible. In very severe cases, a dog may resort to open-mouth breathing and its gums and other mucus membranes may turn a purplish-blue from oxygen deprivation. When the consequences of allergic bronchitis become this severe, the dog needs immediate emergency veterinary care. Fortunately, allergic bronchitis in dogs is uncommon and normally can be effectively treated with medication. If your dog show signs of difficulty breathing accompanied by a dry, raspy cough, take him to your veterinarian as soon as possible.


Dogs At Increased Risk

Chronic allergic bronchitis, or asthma, is most common in older, small breed dogs of either gender, although large breed dogs should not be overlooked. Dogs exposed to particular environmental allergens are at an increased risk of developing this disorder; those allergens include cigarette or cigar smoke, wood burning stoves, fireplaces, carpet or floor cleaners and deodorizers and air fresheners.


Goals of Treating Asthma

Although canine allergic bronchitis (also called asthma) is uncommon in dogs, when it does happen it can be quite distressing to owners and to the affected animal. Fortunately, a number of treatment options are available to help manage and minimize the consequences of this disorder. The goals of treating asthma are to identify and remove the inciting allergens from the dog’s environment if at all possible; they are usually something that the dog has inhaled. If that cannot be accomplished, a number of different medications are available to treat the condition symptomatically. Once the disorder becomes chronic, complete resolution of the cough is almost never possible. In those cases, the therapeutic goal becomes reduction of the frequency and severity of the cough so that the dog is more comfortable.


Treatment Options

Once allergic bronchitis is suspected, the treating veterinarian will try to identify the underlying cause of the allergy attack so that it can be removed from the dog’s environment. Owners may be asked to keep an “allergy diary,” which records when a dog has an asthmatic attack, the severity of the attack, how long the attack lasted and what potential inhaled allergens the dog was exposed to at that time. The dog’s doctor may carefully question the owner about any possibly relevant changes in the household environment, such as use of new kitty litter, cigarette or fireplace smoke, carpet cleaners or other household items containing perfumes such as deodorant or hair spray, room fresheners, fertilizers, home remodeling products, painting, landscaping, pesticide use, new pets and similar items. Unfortunately, even a detailed owner diary and a thorough veterinary interview may not reveal the precise allergen(s) involved. If it does, the owner can take steps to remove those allergens from their dog’s immediate environment.

Dogs with asthma should be treated aggressively in order to minimize long-term airway inflammation and resulting chronic bronchial damage. The most common treatment protocol is administration of glucocorticoids and bronchodilators to help reduce the number and severity of allergic attacks. Metered-dose inhalers designed to fit a dog’s muzzle are increasingly available to administer bronchodilators and anti-inflammatory medication. In cases of secondary infection, antibiotics that penetrate airway secretions may be recommended as well; incorporation of antibiotic therapy should follow evaluation and culture of airway samples. Finally, cough suppressants are available for prolonged or exhausting non-productive coughs, although they are used cautiously because coughs are a useful and normal mechanism for clearing airway secretions.


Prognosis

The prognosis for dogs with allergic bronchitis is good to excellent with prompt diagnosis and treatment – especially if the inciting inhaled allergen can be identified and removed from the dog’s environment. Long-term treatment will be necessary in most other cases to control clinical signs and permit affected dogs to lead relatively normal, high-quality lives. If the condition becomes chronic, it will be progressive but rarely life-threatening and, with medical management and attentive owners, those dogs too should enjoy an excellent quality of life with a normal life expectancy.

Source: http://www.petwave.com/Dogs/Health/Asthma/Treatment.aspx

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

What You Should Know About Heartworm Disease

Heartworm is a preventable, but serious and potentially fatal, parasite that primarily infects dogs, cats and ferrets. It can also infect a variety of wild animals, including wild canids (e.g., foxes, wolves, coyotes), wild felids (e.g. tigers, lions, pumas), raccoons, opossums, and pinnipeds (e.g., sea lions and seals), as well as others. There have been documented human infections, but they are thought to be rare and do not usually result in signs of illness.
How is heartworm transmitted and what does it cause?
Heartworms can only be transmitted from animal to animal by mosquitoes. When a mosquito bites an infected animal, young heartworms called microfilariae enter into that mosquito's system. Within two weeks, the microfilariae develop into infective larvae inside the mosquito; these infective larvae can be transmitted to another animal when this mosquito takes its next blood meal. Unlike dogs, infected cats do not often have microfilariae circulating in their blood, and an infected cat is not likely to transfer the heartworm infection to another mosquito.

The infective larvae mature into adult heartworms in approximately six months. During the first three months, the larvae migrate through the animal’s body, eventually reaching the blood vessels of the lungs. During the last three months, the immature worms continue to develop and grow to adults, with females growing to lengths of up to 14 inches. The worms damage the blood vessels, and reduce the heart’s pumping ability, resulting in severe lung and heart disease. When the animal shows signs of illness due to adult heartworm infection, it is called heartworm disease.

If adult worms (5-7 months post-infection) of both sexes are present, they will mate and produce new microfilariae. The microfilariae can cause the animal’s immune system to mount a reaction; this immune reaction can actually cause damage to other organs. This life cycle continues when a mosquito bites the infected animal and becomes infected by the microfilariae. After development
of the microfilariae to infective larvae within the mosquito (10 days to 2 weeks later) the infective heartworm larvae are capable of infecting another animal. Adult heartworms can survive for 5 to 7 years in dogs and several months to years in cats.
Where are heartworms found?
Geographically, heartworms are a potential threat in every state as well as in many other countries around the world. All dogs, regardless of age, sex, or living environment, are susceptible to heartworm infection. Indoor, as well as outdoor, cats are also at risk for the disease. If you plan to travel with your dog or cat to a different part of the country, or another country, ask your veterinarian about the risk of heartworm infection in the area where you are going to relocate or visit.


What pets should be tested for heartworm?
Because heartworms are spread by mosquitoes, any pet exposed to mosquitoes should be tested. This includes pets that only go outside occasionally. Remember that mosquitoes can also get into homes, putting indoor-only pets at risk as well.


How can I tell if my pet has heartworm infection or disease?

DOGS: If your dog has been recently or mildly infected with heartworms, he/she may show no signs of illness until the adult worms have developed in the lungs and signs of heartworm disease are observed. As the disease progresses, your dog may cough, become lethargic, lose his/her appetite or have difficulty breathing. You may notice that your dog seems to tire rapidly after only moderate exercise.

Blood tests are performed by your veterinarian to detect the presence of adult heartworm infection (> 6 month old infections) in your dog. Antigen tests detect the presence of adult female heartworms, and antibody tests determine if your pet has been exposed to heartworms. The antigen test is most commonly performed, and is very accurate in dogs. Further tests, such as chest radiographs (x-rays), a blood profile and an echocardiogram (an ultrasound
of the heart), may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis, to evaluate the severity of the disease, and to determine the best treatment plan for your dog.

CATS: Signs of possible heartworm disease in cats include coughing, respiratory distress, and vomiting. In some cases, a cat may suddenly die from heartworms.

The diagnosis of heartworm infection in cats is more difficult than it is with dogs. A series of different tests may be needed to help determine the likelihood of heartworm infection as the cause of your cat's illness and, even then, the results may not be conclusive. In general, both antigen and antibody tests are recommended for cats to give the best chances of detecting the presence of heartworms.


How can my pet be treated?
Heartworm is a progressive, life-threatening disease. The earlier it is detected and treated, the better the chances that your pet will recover and have less complications.

DOGS: As with most medical problems, it is much better to prevent heartworm infection than to treat it. However, if your dog does become infected with heartworms, treatment is available. There is substantial risk involved in treating a dog for heartworms. However, serious complications are much less likely in dogs that are in good health and when you carefully
follow your veterinarian’s instructions.

The goal of heartworm treatment is to kill the adult worms and microfilariae present in your dog, as safely as possible. However, when a dog is treated it is important to consider that heartworms are dying inside the dog’s body. While your dog is treated, it will require complete rest throughout hospitalization and for some time following the last treatment. Additionally, other medications may be necessary to help control the body’s inflammatory reaction as the worms die and are broken down in the dog’s lungs.

CATS: There is currently no effective and safe medical treatment for heartworm infection or heartworm disease in cats. If your cat is diagnosed with heartworms, your veterinarian may recommend medications to reduce the inflammatory response and the resulting heartworm disease, or surgery to remove the heartworms.


Can heartworms be surgically removed?
Surgical removal of heartworms from dogs and cats is a high-risk procedure and is typically reserved for severe cases. However, in many cases surgical removal of heartworms may be necessary to afford the best opportunity for the pet’s survival.

Can heartworm disease be prevented?
Heartworm infection is almost 100% preventable in dogs and cats. There are several FDA-approved heartworm preventives available in a variety of formulations. Your veterinarian can recommend the best method of prevention based upon your pet's risk factors and lifestyle. Of course, you have to remember to give your pet the preventive in order for it to work!

The preventives do not kill adult heartworms, and will not eliminate heartworm infection or prevent signs of heartworm disease if adults are present in the pet’s body. Therefore, a blood test for existing heartworm infection is recommended before beginning a prevention program to assess the pet’s current heartworm status. Because it is more difficult to detect heartworms in cats, additional testing may be necessary to make sure the cat is not infected.
Testing must then be repeated at appropriate intervals. The next test should be performed about 6 months after starting the preventive treatment, to confirm that your pet was not infected prior to beginning prevention (remember, tests only detect adult worms). Heartworm tests should be performed annually to ensure that your pet doesn’t subsequently become infected with the disease and to ensure the appropriate amount of medication is being prescribed and administered. There have been reports of pets developing heartworm infection despite year-round treatment with a heartworm preventive, so having your pet tested regularly is the best way to keep them protected.


Ferrets and heartworm
Ferrets, even those kept indoors, are also at risk of heartworm infection. The signs are similar to those seen in dogs, but they develop more rapidly. Just one worm can cause serious disease in a ferret. Your veterinarian can prescribe heartworm medication approved for use in ferrets. The American Heartworm Society recommends year-round prevention for ferrets.


Source: https://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/Heartworm-Disease.aspx

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Spring Cleaning Pet Safety

It's that time of year...time to get ready for Spring Cleaning! Be sure to read the following information regarding household cleaning products that could be hazardous to your pets.



Have you ever wondered if a particular household cleaning product or human medication is poisonous to your pets? The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) has provided the following guide for knowing which cleaning products, human medications and cosmetic items to keep out of your pet’s reach. Please remember that this guide is for general information only, and is not intended to help assess or manage animal exposures, or any subsequent time-sensitive medical issues. If you suspect your pet has been exposed to any poisonous substances, contact your veterinarian or call APCC’s hotline at (888) 426-4435 immediately.


Household Products

Bleach
Pet parents are often curious about the risks associated with cleaning their pets’ cages and toys with bleach. The bottom line is this: cleaning your pet’s cage or toy with a properly diluted bleach solution, followed by a thorough rinsing and airing out, is not expected to cause harm. If the odor of bleach seems overwhelming, open windows and use fans to air the room. There are many cleaning products on the market, with a variety of different ingredients for cleaners, with varying degrees of safety. Always follow label directions for usage. After cleaning, please dispose of unused or dirty solutions, and clean and put away cleaning implements like mops. If you have questions about the appropriate selection or application of a product, please contact your veterinarian or the manufacturer before cleaning.

Carpet Fresheners
Proper use of carpet deodorizing products should not cause significant harm or injury to pets. Should your pet accidentally come in contact with the freshly applied powder, we recommend washing the paws with mild soap and water to avoid minor skin irritation.
Minor ingestions of carpet freshener powder generally results in a mild stomach upset. If a small amount is inhaled, minor respiratory irritation may occur, resulting in sneezing, coughing, or a runny nose. Because of this, it is a good idea to continue to keep your dog out of the room until after you have vacuumed up the powder.

Carpet Shampoo 
Most carpet cleaning products can be used in pet households. Allow the carpet to dry before allowing pets into the area. This will help to prevent the risk of skin irritation or gastrointestinal upset.

Essential Oils
Cats are especially sensitive to essential oils, and effects such as gastrointestinal upset, central nervous system depression and even liver damage could occur if ingested in significant quantities. Inhalation of the oils could lead to aspiration pneumonia. There are significant variations in toxicity among specific oils. Based on this, we would not recommend using essential oils in areas where your pets have access, unless pets are supervised or the use of the oil is approved by your veterinarian.

Fabric Softener Sheets 
Fabric softeners contain cationic detergents. These detergents have the potential to cause significant signs like drooling, vomiting, oral and esophageal ulcers and fever. These clinical signs do require treatment by a veterinarian. Oral ulcers can develop if a pet chews on a new, unused dryer sheet. Used sheets have minimal amounts of detergent. If an animal ingests enough sheets, used or dry, an intestinal blockage may occur.

Febreze 
Contrary to rumors alleging that Febreze causes serious illness or death in pets, our veterinary toxicology experts at APCC regard Febreze fabric freshener products to be safe for use in households with pets. As with any product, it is important that you always follow label instructions for use. However, should your pet accidentally come into contact with Febreze when it is still wet, we would not anticipate problems beyond mild skin irritation (which can occur with any product in animals with sensitive skin) or minor stomach upset, if it is ingested.

Grout 
Grout sealers vary widely in toxicity, from non-toxic to alkaline corrosive. Alkaline products, like cationic detergents, can cause drooling, vomiting, oral and esophageal ulcers. Confirm the ingredients in the brand you are using, and call the APCC or your veterinarian if your pet ingests some of the sealer. Dried, or cured, sealer generally only causes a mild upset stomach if ingested.

Swiffer Wet Jet 
Swiffer Wet Jet products do not contain cleaning agents in large enough quantities to present serious health risks to pets. An internet rumor once alleged that these products contained anti-freeze and were responsible for the death of a dog. Our toxicology experts evaluated the product and determined it doesn't contain ethylene glycol from antifreeze, and is appropriate to use in homes with pets. Like any product, however, it's important to read and follow label instructions to avoid unnecessary exposure. As with any number of cleaning products, mild skin irritation or stomach upset may occur if pets walk through a still-wet floor or lick any spilled solution.

Toilet Cleaning Tablets 
Most toilet bowl cleaning tablets would not be expected to cause problems beyond minor stomach upset, should a dog take a drink of the diluted water in the toilet bowl. Bacterial-related gastrointestinal problems could occur from drinking stagnant toilet water, however, so it is still a good idea to discourage your dog from imbibing from the commode.

Vinegar and Water 
A solution of vinegar and water is used as an inexpensive alternative to commercial cleaning agents. Vinegar is typically acidic, and vinegar (depending on the solution concentration) acts as an irritant. Ingesting concentrated, or undiluted, vinegar can cause vomiting, diarrhea, oral irritation and pain. Most cleaning agents can be used safely in homes, as long as label recommendations are followed.


While the following items aren't a part of Spring cleaning, it's important to make sure they're out of your pet's reach:

Human Medications and Cosmetics

Adderall 
Adderall, as well as many ADD drugs, contains amphetamines, which stimulate the central nervous and cardiovascular systems. Amphetamines can be very harmful or even deadly to pets if enough are ingested, potentially causing hyperactivity, tremors and seizures, fever, abnormal heart rate and rhythm, coma and even death. Please consult your veterinarian immediately if your pet has ingested one of these medications.

Petroleum Jelly 
Petroleum Jelly is a laxative. If a sufficient dose is ingested, diarrhea is likely, and in some cases, vomiting may occur. There is a small risk of aspiration pneumonia if the pet inhales some of the product.

Aspirin, Baby Aspirin
We frequently hear from pet parents who are curious to know if low doses of these medications are safe to use on their pets as a joint and general pain reliever. There are medical conditions where aspirin is a recommended treatment. However, overdosing can result in medical conditions ranging from gastrointestinal upset to liver failure. We strongly advise owners to never give their pets any medication without first consulting with their regular veterinarian. Many drugs, including aspirin, can cause serious or potentially life-threatening problems, depending on the dose involved. If you feel that your dog needs pain relief for any reason, we highly recommend that you get in touch with your veterinarian—if you have not already—so that your dog can be evaluated. You vet can direct you regarding the best dose to use or, if necessary, can prescribe a different pain reliever. With advances in veterinary medicine, arthritis and other joint conditions are typically treated with more than one medication and treatment (like lasers).

Avon Skin So Soft 
We’ve received a number of inquiries about whether household items like Skin So Soft are safe alternatives to flea prevention regimens prescribed by a veterinarian. We recommend you consult your veterinarian before trying any household products for flea prevention purposes. A vet-recommended flea prevention product will likely be more effective and safe.

Bar Soap and Face Wash
Most bar soaps and face cleansers contain detergents, which, if ingested, can cause gastrointestinal irritation (including vomiting and diarrhea). If the soap also contains essential oils (such as lavender, for example), it is possible that minor central nervous system depression could occur, depending on the concentration of oils and other circumstances of exposure. Certain soaps are made with glycerin or other emollients, which can have a cathartic effect—causing loose stools or diarrhea. If gastrointestinal signs become persistent, they could lead to dehydration. If a large portion or entire bar of soap were to be ingested, it could potentially lead to obstruction in the animal’s gastrointestinal tract. Because of these concerns, we advise keeping your soaps and cleansers in an area that is not accessible to your dog.

Breath Fresheners 
Human breath mints and breath fresheners are not safe to use on your dog. Certain breath strips contain menthol, which can be irritating to the tissues of the mouth and the gastrointestinal tract. Some breath-freshening products could also contain the sweetener xylitol, which has the potential to cause a sharp drop in a dog's blood sugar, resulting in depression, loss of coordination and seizures; in some cases, this could even result in liver damage. If you wish to control your dog’s breath problem, we recommend talking with your veterinarian to discuss a safe and appropriate oral hygiene program.

Cigarettes and Nicotine Patches
Cigarettes and other tobacco products contain nicotine, which has the potential to produce severe vomiting, depression, an elevated heart rate, decrease in blood pressure, seizures, respiratory failure and, in severe cases, even death. E-cigarette liquid (known as e-liquid or e-juice) is used to recharge the cartridge for an e-cigarette. The amount of nicotine in these bottles could easily kill a dog if the contents were ingested. Often the liquid is flavored, making the product more appealing. As such, we urge pet parents to keep all tobacco products out of their pets’ reach. If accidental ingestion occurs, seek veterinary help immediately.

Grapeseed Oil 
Although we have talked about the safety risks that grapes can pose to pets, we have no data indicating risks from exposure to grapeseed extract or oil. Most nutritional supplements and other products containing grapeseed oil or extract contain relatively small amounts, and we’ve yet to note any serious problems.

Ibuprofen and Naproxen
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) include over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen and naproxen. Pets metabolize and eliminate these drugs differently than humans do. Because of the difference in elimination, even small amounts can cause significant medical problems in dogs, including gastrointestinal ulcers and kidney failure. Please consult your veterinarian before giving any over-the-counter medications for pain.

Kaopectate and Pepto Bismol
These products contain salicylates, which are similar to aspirin. Depending on the circumstances of exposure, large enough doses of bismuth salicylate could cause effects similar to aspirin poisoning. These include gastric irritation or ulceration, bleeding problems, seizures and liver damage. If you suspect that your pet may have an upset stomach, or may not be feeling well, do not administer either of these (or similar) medications without consulting your veterinarian.

Mosquito Repellent 
Pet owners should never use any product on their animal that is not specifically created for them. Certain mosquito repellents that are made for human beings contain DEET (N, N-diethyl-meta-toluamide). The use of DEET on pets is not recommended, as dogs and cats are very sensitive to it and may develop neurological problems (such as tremors, seizures and death) if the product is used on them. If you want to keep mosquitoes away from your dog, we suggest asking your veterinarian for an appropriate product to use.

Pseudoephedrine (and other nasal decongestants) 
Depending on the circumstances of exposure, pseudoephedrine can be very harmful or even deadly to pets, and therefore we would not advise giving it to your dog. Decongestants are frequently found in products that contain antihistamines. If your veterinarian has prescribed an antihistamine, please read the label carefully to be sure that the only active ingredient is the one your veterinarian recommended.

Sorbitol 
Sorbitol is a plant-based sugar alcohol that’s used as a sweetener in many products, including sugar-free foods, laxatives and other medications. Due to its laxative capabilities, loose stools or diarrhea can occur if consumed in large doses. However, the amount of sorbitol in pet toothpaste used for brushing your pooch’s teeth is not likely to be an issue.

Topical Creams/Ointments 

As with lotions and oils, pet parents should use caution after immediate application of topical creams and ointments to their own skin. Always read the label so you know which ingredients are included. Some ingredients found in creams and ointments can cause serious, even life threatening, clinical signs. The following are ingredients that can cause serious clinical signs requiring medical intervention: baclofen, flurbiprofen, diclofenac, ketamine, lidocaine, dibucaine, 5-fluorouracil, calcipotriene as well as others. In some cases, small exposures (such as a pet licking the owner’s skin after recent application of the product) have resulted in severe clinical health and gastrointestinal issues. When applying these products, keep your skin covered and wear gloves during application or wash your hands thoroughly following use.

Source: https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/poisonous-household-products

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The Importance of Puppy Socialization & Obedience Training

Dogs grow up rather quickly and are only considered puppies for a short amount of time. By the time dogs reach four and a half months of age, they are no longer classified as a puppy. A failure to begin training in those formative stages could make the entire process significantly more difficult. After all, it is hard to teach an old dog new tricks.


The process of learning for dogs begins early as there are several stages that puppies go through during their first few months of life. Training can begin when puppies are just five weeks old as that is when their brain waves are equivalent to that of a fully mature dog. It is also a time to introduce socialization with people and start positive reinforcement training.

A big part of early training is that it eliminates the potential for future aggression. Dogs exhibit aggressive behavior mostly because of fear. However, that fear can be removed when they are puppies. The first step is to introduce common things that normally induce fear in dogs. Then, it is important to couple those things with positive reinforcement, like food and praise. This teaches puppies to release their fear, thus reducing their tendency to show aggressive behavior. It is also a way to acclimate them to much of what they will see in the outside world.

Aggressive behavior is not the only product of neglecting to train a puppy. Dogs can also develop traits of shyness when early training is ignored. This stems from failing to take advantage of such an instrumental time for learning.

Puppy training does not have to be extensive, but done in increments. Some of the training will be forgotten, although the fundamentals will remain. This is also an important time to introduce socialization with other dogs. Joining a puppy training class will teach puppies how to communicate with other dogs while also showing them necessary social cues.

Socialization is key among puppies and it is the equivalent to sending children to a pre-school so that they can develop the necessary skills to successfully transition from childhood to adulthood.

Those who welcome a puppy into their home in hopes of having an adult dog for a companion cannot overlook the importance of socialization in their early training. Puppies who are exposed to interaction with humans and other dogs learn how to adapt to their environment. Those things become customary early on and will not bring about fear or aggression later in their lives. It is all a matter of getting a puppy used to the world they will be living in.

It is also important to remember that, unlike humans, puppies do not have hands to grab things they can use for experimentation. Puppies use their mouths for experimenting and that means just about everything goes in their mouths. This is an opportune time to teach them what is not acceptable in terms of biting or nipping. This is also a pivotal time when it comes to a dog’s mouth behavior as good and bad habits are learned when they are puppies.

Dog obedience training is available for dogs of all ages, although it is better to begin the process when dogs are most impressionable. That means finding the time to train puppies when they are young.

Not all puppies live in the most learning-friendly environment as some are left alone for extended bouts of time and that can do irreparable damage to their development. Then, later on in a dog’s life, owners attribute behavioral problems to the dog when, in fact, it is the owners who are actually at fault. A failure to utilize the most instrumental learning time in a dog’s life can actually be considered a form of negligence on behalf of the dog’s owner. It creates a world where fear and aggression continually dictate a dog’s behavior.

Source: https://www.veterinarianedu.org/2017/03/dog-obedience-training-and-the-importance-of-puppy-training/

Monday, November 13, 2017

Winter Pet Safety

You’re probably already aware of the risks posed by warm weather and leaving pets in hot cars, but did you know that cold weather also poses serious threats to your pets’ health?



Here are some tips to keep your pets safe during cold weather:

Winter wellness: Has your pet had his/her preventive care exam (wellness exam) yet?  Cold weather may worsen some medical conditions such as arthritis. Your pet should be examined by a veterinarian at least once a year, and it’s as good a time as any to get him/her checked out to make sure (s)he is ready and as healthy as possible for cold weather.

Know the limits: Just like people, pets’ cold tolerance can vary from pet to pet based on their coat, body fat stores, activity level, and health. Be aware of your pet’s tolerance for cold weather, and adjust accordingly. You will probably need to shorten your dog’s walks in very cold weather to protect you both from weather-associated health risks. Arthritic and elderly pets may have more difficulty walking on snow and ice and may be more prone to slipping and falling. Long-haired or thick-coated dogs tend to be more cold-tolerant, but are still at risk in cold weather. Short-haired pets feel the cold faster because they have less protection, and short-legged pets may become cold faster because their bellies and bodies are more likely to come into contact with snow-covered ground. Pets with diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, or hormonal imbalances (such as Cushing’s disease) may have a harder time regulating their body temperature, and may be more susceptible to problems from temperature extremes. The same goes for very young and very old pets. If you need help determining your pet’s temperature limits, consult your veterinarian.

Provide choices: Just like you, pets prefer comfortable sleeping places and may change their location based on their need for more or less warmth. Give them some safe options to allow them to vary their sleeping place to adjust to their needs.

Stay inside: Cats and dogs should be kept inside during cold weather. It’s a common belief that dogs and cats are resistant than people to cold weather because of their fur, but it’s untrue. Like people, cats and dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia and should be kept inside. Longer-haired and thick-coated dog breeds, such as huskies and other dogs bred for colder climates, are more tolerant of cold weather; but no pet should be left outside for long periods of time in below-freezing weather.

Make some noise: A warm vehicle engine can be an appealing heat source for outdoor and feral cats, but it’s deadly. Check underneath your car, bang on the hood, and honk the horn before starting the engine to encourage feline hitchhikers to abandon their roost under the hood.

Check the paws: Check your dog’s paws frequently for signs of cold-weather injury or damage, such as cracked paw pads or bleeding. During a walk, a sudden lameness may be due to an injury or may be due to ice accumulation between his/her toes. You may be able to reduce the chance of iceball accumulation by clipping the hair between your dog’s toes.

Play dress-up: If your dog has a short coat or seems bothered by the cold weather, consider a sweater or dog coat. Have several on hand, so you can use a dry sweater or coat each time your dog goes outside. Wet sweaters or coats can actually make your dog colder. Some pet owners also use booties to protect their dog’s feet; if you choose to use them, make sure they fit properly.

Wipe down: During walks, your dog’s feet, legs and belly may pick up deicers, antifreeze, or other chemicals that could be toxic. When you get back inside, wipe down (or wash) your pet’s feet, legs and belly to remove these chemicals and reduce the risk that your dog will be poisoned after (s)he licks them off of his/her feet or fur. Consider using pet-safe deicers on your property to protect your pets and the others in your neighborhood.

Collar and chip: Many pets become lost in winter because snow and ice can hide recognizable scents that might normally help your pet find his/her way back home. Make sure your pet has a well-fitting collar with up-to-date identification and contact information. A microchip is a more permanent means of identification, but it’s critical that you keep the registration up to date.

Stay home: Hot cars are a known threat to pets, but cold cars also pose significant risk to your pet’s health. You’re already familiar with how a car can rapidly cool down in cold weather; it becomes like a refrigerator, and can rapidly chill your pet. Pets that are young, old, ill, or thin are particularly susceptible to cold environments and should never be left in cold cars. Limit car travel to only that which is necessary, and don’t leave your pet unattended in the vehicle.

Prevent poisoning: Clean up any antifreeze spills quickly, as even small amounts of antifreeze can be deadly. Make sure your pets don’t have access to medication bottles, household chemicals, potentially toxic foods such as onions, xylitol (a sugar substitute) and chocolate.

Protect family: Odds are your pet will be spending more time inside during the winter, so it’s a good time to make sure your house is properly pet-proofed. Use space heaters with caution around pets, because they can burn or they can be knocked over, potentially starting a fire. Check your furnace before the cold weather sets in to make sure it’s working efficiently, and install carbon monoxide detectors to keep your entire family safe from harm. If you have a pet bird, make sure its cage is away from drafts.

Avoid ice: When walking your dog, stay away from frozen ponds, lakes and other water. You don’t know if the ice will support your dog’s weight, and if your dog breaks through the ice it could be deadly. And if this happens and you instinctively try to save your dog, both of your lives could be in jeopardy.

Provide shelter: We don’t recommend keeping any pet outside for long periods of time, but if you are unable to keep your dog inside during cold weather, provide him/her with a warm, solid shelter against wind. Make sure that they have unlimited access to fresh, non-frozen water (by changing the water frequently or using a pet-safe, heated water bowl). The floor of the shelter should be off of the ground (to minimize heat loss into the ground) and the bedding should be thick, dry and changed regularly to provide a warm, dry environment. The door to the shelter should be positioned away from prevailing winds. Space heaters and heat lamps should be avoided because of the risk of burns or fire. Heated pet mats should also be used with caution because they are still capable of causing burns.

Recognize problems: If your pet is whining, shivering, seems anxious, slows down or stops moving, seems weak, or starts looking for warm places to burrow, get them back inside quickly because they are showing signs of hypothermia. Frostbite is harder to detect, and may not be fully recognized until a few days after the damage is done. If you suspect your pet has hypothermia or frostbite, consult your veterinarian immediately.

Be prepared: Cold weather also brings the risks of severe winter weather, blizzards and power outages. Prepare a disaster/emergency kit, and include your pet in your plans. Have enough food, water and medicine (including any prescription medications as well as heartworm and flea/tick preventives) on hand to get through at least 5 days.

Feed well: Keep your pet at a healthy weight throughout the winter. Some pet owners feel that a little extra weight gives their pet some extra protection from cold, but the health risks associated with that extra weight don’t make it worth doing. Watch your pet’s body condition and keep them in the healthy range. Outdoor pets will require more calories in the winter to generate enough body heat and energy to keep them warm – talk to your veterinarian about your pet’s nutritional needs during cold weather.

Source: https://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/Cold-weather-pet-safety.aspx



Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Holiday Pet Dangers

There are a million and one tasks we need to tend to near the end of the year, and it's easy to forget about our furry friends in the process. To help keep your pet-besties safe, healthy, and out of the hospital, avoid these common holiday dangers.



1. Small Christmas Decorations and Wrapping Essentials

Cats and dogs love to play, and when they see shiny objects like ornaments and tinsel, it's game on. While tinsel — which is particularly attractive to cats — isn't toxic in itself, it can cause other problems in your pet's system, like getting tangled up in the intestines. Ornaments, on the other hand, can be swallowed whole, or the pieces could get gobbled up when broken. In this case, glass is especially dangerous as it can cause cuts in your pet's mouth, throat, and digestive system.

"Swallowing stuff that's not meant to be eaten can cause very serious problems and be extremely hard to diagnose," says Dr. Phil Baxter, chief veterinary officer at Vet on Demand, a pet care app that allows you to FaceTime with a vet when a problem arises (a great resource when your normal vet is on his or her own vacay, by the way). "Unless you see it being eaten, it's a tough diagnosis. Monitor yours pets that have a tendency to chew."

To prevent these hazards, keep the tinsel to a minimum or forgo it altogether. As for ornaments, hanging them out of reach of pets is ideal, but that's not always practical. Instead, limit your use of glass ornaments and ornaments with toxic paints and embellishments. Wrapping essentials, like ribbons and bows, can be problematic as well. When you're done wrapping and decorating, clean the area, discard scraps, and put everything else out of the animal's reach.



2. Hazardous Holiday Plants


Similar to those fun, shiny ornaments, your pets may find your holiday plants interesting enough to investigate by chewing or eating. This is a big no-no, however, as some plants are poisonous or even deadly.

"If your pet is a plant chewer/eater, position the plants out of reach of your pet. Remember to pick up fallen leaves/needles, limbs, and berries," Dr. Baxter suggests.

Veterinary Pet Insurance also details a few specific plant hazards:

Pine needles from Christmas trees and around your property can result in oral irritation, vomiting, lethargy, trembling, and posterior weakness.

Holly plants and their sharp-edged leaves can cause intense vomiting, diarrhea, and depression if ingested.

Mistletoe can cause significant vomiting and diarrhea, difficulty breathing, erratic behavior, hallucinations, or even death.

Poinsettias, as pretty as they are, can irritate your pet's mouth and stomach and sometimes lead to vomiting.

For more information on hazardous holiday plants, check out VPI's toxic plant guide.



3. All That Holiday Lighting

One of the most hilarious parts of everybody's favorite funny holiday flicks, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, is when the cat becomes a smoking, black cat-shaped spot on the carpet because it decided to make a meal out of the Christmas lights. While this gives us chuckles when we're cuddled up on movie night, it's a very real danger that could seriously injure or kill your pet. Before stringing lights, inspect the strands to ensure there are no frays or bite/chew marks, and use three-pronged extension cords for added safety.

"Electrocution and electrical burns do happen, so if you have a chewer, beware of any cords that might appear attractive to your pet," Dr. Baxter says.

Make certain you pick up any loose bulbs, too. Those extra pieces are easy to lose, and your dog or cat won't think twice about swallowing them.


4. Candles and Open Flames

Animals typically stay away from fire, but pleasant scents may draw your pets to holiday candles, and they're dangerous for a couple reasons. First of all, obviously your pets can get burned if they get too close, but they also can burn themselves if they accidently spill the hot wax and get it on their paws and skin. This is especially important to remember with cats. The biggest hazard with pets and candles, though, is that they can knock them over and start a fire. Thus, it's important to practice common fire sense like never leaving an open flame unattended, and keeping them away from small hands and feet.


5. Revolving Doors That Lead Outside

If you'll have visitors coming and going this holiday season, you run the risk of your animal getting out of the house, which exposes them to many more dangers, including weather, traffic, capture, and other hazards. To prevent this, remember to take extra caution when opening and closing your home's exterior doors.

Rover, a service that helps match pet sitters with pet parents, offers several helpful tips:

Ask someone to sit in a closed bedroom with your dog. If you can spare someone to bring a laptop into a bedroom and sit with your dog, we highly recommend it. Especially if the dog experiences anxiety, this will help keep them calm.

If your dog has a crate, let them chill in there. It'll help them feel comfortable while also keeping them safe.

Place a second barrier (like a baby gate) around doorways to the outside. Front door, back door, side door… all doors to the outside.

Put a sign on the door that says, "Escape artist inside. Please knock, and I'll come answer the door." Greet your guests at the door and make sure you close it behind you.


6. Prolonged Exposure to Winter Weather

It's important to remember not to keep your pets outdoors for long periods of time even when "monitored," in the winter weather. Canine owners, especially, are used to letting the dog out back to play and relax for a while, but in cold weather — even if it's not freezing or below — dogs can become uncomfortable, cold, and even develop hypothermia.

If you have a lot of things going on inside, it's easy to forget about your buddy outside. If you'd rather not have the pet around at that time, think about hiring a pet sitter, or put them in another room where they'll be comfortable.


7. Melting Salt During Snowstorms
The salt we throw down on ice and snow during winter-weather events is very painful to dogs' paw pads. You can buy plastic booties to cover their feet from your local pet store, but some dogs don't like them and/or have a hard time walking with them on. There are other preventative measures you can take, like de-icing products and protective waxes, according to Petfinder.


8. Stolen Food or Treats From Guests

Probably the most common holiday danger of them all to pets (and to humans) is food. There are an abundance of foods on the table this time of year that animals should not eat because they can pose digestive problems or choking hazards.

"As a practicing house call veterinarian for 20 years, I've noticed that my phone rings more often during the holiday season," says Dr. Jeffrey Levy, a holistic house call veterinarian in New York City. "I'm frequently called to see pets with digestive upsets caused by both human foods commonly eaten during the holidays, and/or stress related to changes in routine at this time of year."

The list of human foods that are truly toxic to pets is relatively short, but many more can cause digestive problems or pose choking hazards, according to Levy. Be vigilant in keeping away from your pet away from these foods:

Garlic and onions, even in small amounts;

Chocolate (the darker the chocolate, the higher the potential toxicity);

Fat trimmings;

Bones, especially those prone to splintering like chicken and pork;

Nuts, especially macadamia and moldy walnuts, which can be life-threatening;

Nutmeg, used in holiday baking, can be toxic to your pet;

Alcohol;

Raisins and grapes;

Dairy products (adult dogs are often lactose intolerant);

Xylitol, an artificial sweetener found in vitamins and other human ingestibles, including sugar-free baked goods and gum.


9. Wobbly Christmas Trees

Anchor your Christmas and holiday trees that aren't firmly planted in soil. Cats and dogs like to play in that area — especially when there are presents! — and you want to avoid the tree toppling over and hurting your pet.


10. Toxic Snowglobes

Like candles, you'll want to keep snow globes out of reach and off the edge of tables to prevent them from being dropped on the floor and bursting open. Some of them contain water or glycerin, which isn't too harmful, but others may contain ethylene glycol, which is very toxic to pets, and people.


11. General Neglect


Listen, we all want to enjoy the holidays — and that goes for your pets, too. As a pet parent, it's your obligation to provide the best care you can, even when you're extremely busy. If you can't spend time doting on your dog or cat all day every day, that's okay. But if you're gone for extended periods of time, like shopping all day or going away to visit family for a few days, you need to provide proper care for your pet. Make sure your fish and reptiles are fed, your cats have clean litter boxes and water (and someone to stop in from time to time), and that your dogs are with someone you trust to love them while you're away as much as you do when you're home. Otherwise, take them with you, because they'll totally love that, and so will you.

Source: http://www.wisebread.com/11-holiday-pet-dangers-to-avoid

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Pet Obesity - The Causes and Solutions


Definition:
Obesity (the storage of excess fat) is usually caused by excessive food intake and insufficient exercise.

- Estimates show that 40% to 50% of dogs are overweight and 25% of dogs are obese.
- Dogs can develop many obesity-related health problems.
- By examining your dog, veterinarians determine whether he or she is overweight or obese and help you create a weight-loss program.
- The most effective weight-loss plans involve increasing activity and feeding fewer calories.



Causes:
Obesity (the storage of excess fat) is typically caused by excessive food intake and insufficient exercise. According to estimates, 40% to 50% of dogs are overweight and 25% are obese. Obesity is more common in older, less active pets. Dogs that are fed homemade meals, table scraps and snacks are more likely to be overweight than dogs eating only a high-quality commercial pet food.

Obesity-related problems:
- Heart disease
- Reduced life span
- Knee problems (ruptured ligaments)
- Labored or difficult breathing
- Fatigue
- Greater risk for heatstroke
- Diabetes
- Joint problems, including arthritis
- Immune system problems
- Pancreas problems


Diagnosis and treatment
There are many obesity-related health problems, and some medical conditions can lead to obesity. So it’s important to take your dog in for annual checkups. Remember, you can’t judge if your dog is overweight merely by putting him or her on a scale. By examining your dog, veterinarians can use weight, overall body condition, and other indicators to tell you whether he or she is overweight or obese, what the probable cause is, and what the best weight-loss regimen is.

Don’t feel bad if you are told your dog is too heavy. Everyone knows that dieting can be challenging. But losing weight can help your dog live longer, avoid disease and feel better, so it is well worth the effort.

Get veterinary advice before changing your dog’s eating and exercise habits. Veterinarians are trained to recommend an appropriate diet and exercise program for safe weight loss. When helping your dog lose weight, slower is safer. “Crash” diets or intense workouts aren’t appropriate for inactive dogs. If your dog gained the weight slowly, he or she can lose it slowly.

The most effective weight-loss plans involve increasing activity and feeding fewer calories. The more convenient you make it, the better the chance of sticking with it.

When on a weight-loss program, your dog should lose 2% or less of its initial body weight per week. For example, a 100-pound dog should lose no more than 2 pounds every week. A successful weight-loss program may take a year or longer.


Diet:
There are several dietary strategies for helping your dog lose weight. One or more of the following may be recommended by your veterinary hospital. For all of these methods, it’s important to use an actual measuring cup (not an old coffee mug or drinking cup) to keep track of how much you’re feeding your dog.

Feed your dog smaller meals more often. This helps your dog burn more calories and should help minimize begging for food. However, don’t feed more food per day. Instead, divide your dog’s daily ration into three or more feedings.

Feed your dog less of its regular food per day. This strategy is most effective with increased activity. But check first with your veterinarian to ensure that your dog will receive the right amount of nutrients.

Instead of feeding your dog less, gradually switch him or her to a lower-calorie food recommended by your veterinarian. The change should be gradual; a sudden switch could upset your dog’s stomach. Combine the new food with your dog’s usual food in larger and larger proportions over several weeks until you are only providing the new food.

Give treats only on special occasions, such as birthdays, holidays, or good visits to the veterinarian. Offer low-calorie treats and limit or eliminate fattening ones.

Low-Calorie Dog Treats
- Apple slices
- Banana slices
- Carrot slices
- Green beans
- Lean meat (cooked)
- Melon chunks
- Packaged treats (low-calorie or formulated for a smaller dog)
- Pear slices
Do not feed your dog (or cat) grapes or raisins because they have reportedly caused kidney problems in pets.


Exercise
You can help your dog become more active and lose weight by scheduling regular play times and walks. Consult your veterinarian before beginning an exercise program for your dog. Not all games/exercise are appropriate for all breeds or medical conditions. For walks, start out slowly to give your dog a chance to adapt to an exercise routine. Work up to a brisk 10- to 20-minute walk or jog once or twice a day. On hot or cold days, go easy or rest. If you don’t have time to walk your dog, hire a dog walker. Doggy day care centers can also help ensure that your dog gets plenty of exercise throughout the day.

Here are some calorie-burning activities for your dog:
- Fetch
- Keep away
- Playing with other pets
- Walking or jogging
- Running off leash in a restricted area
- Swimming (great for arthritic dogs)
- Tricks for low-calorie treats
- Tug of war

Source: https://www.aaha.org/pet_owner/pet_health_library/dog_care/diseases_conditions/obesity.aspx