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Merry Christmas…

When Christmas time approaches it’s easy (and fun sometimes) to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of it all. But before you do, it’s a good idea to consider your pets at this time of year, and make sure you’re doing all you can to give them a happy—and a safe—holiday season. We want the holidays to be a happy time for you and your pet, not a time for an emergency visit to your veterinarian.

  • If you plan on having a Christmas tree in your home there are a few things that you should remember. For instance, tinsel should be avoided because your pet may think that it is a toy to play with and they may accidentally swallow and choke on the tiny strings. In addition, do not decorate your tree with popcorn or other food items and remove all edible gifts from under the tree.You should also try to hang small and breakable ornaments out of your pet’s reach. Do not place chemicals in your tree’s water. It may keep your tree fresh longer, but it can prove very harmful to your pets. Do not allow your pet to drink the tree’s water because it can get dirty very quickly  and many pine needles fall into the water dish. A tight-fitting tree skirt over the tree stand may help to prevent this. Always make sure your pet has plenty of fresh water in his/her own dish at all times.
  • Electric window displays and lights are very inviting, not only to you and your neighborhood, but to your curious pets as well. Make sure that all of your electrical connections and outlets are secured and concealed. Tape electrical cords to the walls or floors to ensure that your pet will not chew on them.
  • Holiday plants, such as poinsettias, amaryllis, mistletoe, and holly may add beauty to your home, but they are very poisonous to your pets. If these plants are ingested, they may cause vomiting, diarrhea, or even more serious problems. If you purchase these items for your home, please make sure that they are out of your pet’s reach.
  • After you have had your fill of holiday turkey, ham, chicken, and/or roast beef make sure you throw those bones away – do not give them to your pet! You might think that you are giving them a treat, but actually you may be threatening their health. Bones can splinter easily and cause damage to your pet’s throat and intestines. Bones can also become lodged in your pet’s throat, which may result in your pet not being able to breathe.
  • You should also avoid feeding your pet chocolate, candy, and cookies, which can be toxic to their health. Feeding your pet these products can result in extreme vomiting and can make your pet very sick. If you want to give your pet a special treat then try changing the way you feed them their regular pet food. Adding water or broth to dry food or mixing in canned food makes a great treat and it is much healthier for your pet. Do not feed your pet high-fat foods, such as gravy and dressing, which can cause serious stomach upsets. You should make sure that your guests know not to feed your pet as well.
  • After your gifts are opened, quickly dispose of all plastic wrappings, ribbons, and bows that can be easily swallowed by curious pets.

Cold Weather Tips

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Brr….. It is supposed to be cold outside as winter has arrived in our area. We want to wish you a fun filled time as you bundle up and head out to play in the snow with your pets. Don’t forget your pet can be affected by the cold as well, frostbite doesn’t just happen to people.  Some pets remain outdoors all year round.  Make sure these animals have a draft free shelter with clean, dry bedding they can make a nest in.  The water supply should be checked regularly to ensure it is not frozen and they may need an increase in their food ration when it is really cold outside.

Suggestions For The Cold…

  • Never leave your dog or cat alone in a car during cold weather. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death.
  • Thoroughly wipe off your dog’s legs and stomach when he comes in out of the sleet, snow or ice. He can ingest salt, antifreeze or other potentially dangerous chemicals while licking his paws, and his paw pads may also bleed from snow or encrusted ice.
  • Never let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm—dogs can lose their scent and easily become lost. More dogs are lost during the winter than during any other season, so make sure yours always wears ID tags.
  • Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth. When you bathe your dog in the colder months, be sure to completely dry him before taking him out for a walk. Own a short-haired breed? 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.

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  • Consider keeping your indoor/outdoor cat inside. Outdoors, felines can freeze and sometimes sleep under the hoods of cars. When the motor is started, the cat can be injured or killed by the fan belt. If there are outdoor cats in your area, bang loudly on the car hood before starting the engine to give the cat a chance to escape.
  • 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.
  • 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. More information can be found at ASPC Animal Poison Control Center.

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Lyme Disease and your Dog

Lyme disease is one of the most common tick-transmitted diseases in the world. It is caused by a spirochete (bacteria) species of the Borrelia burgdorferi group. Dominant clinical feature in dogs is recurrent lameness due to inflammation of the joints. There may also be a lack of appetite and depression. More serious complications include damage to the kidney, and rarely heart or nervous system disease.

Symptoms and Types

Many dogs with Lyme disease have recurrent lameness of the limbs due to inflammation of the joints. Others, meanwhile, may develop acute lameness, which lasts for only three to four days but recurs days to weeks later, with lameness in the same leg, or in other legs. Better known as “shifting-leg lameness,” this condition is characterized by lameness in one leg, with a return to normal function, and another leg is then involved; one or more joints may be swollen and warm; a pain response is elicited by feeling the joint; responds well to antibiotic treatment.Some dogs may also develop kidney problems. If left untreated, it may lead to glomerulonephritis, which causes inflammation and accompanying dysfunction of the kidney’s glomeruli (essentially, a blood filter). Eventually, total kidney failure sets in and the dog begins to exhibit such signs as vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, weight loss, increased urination and thirst, fluid buildup in the abdomen and fluid buildup in the tissues, especially the legs and under the skin.

Other symptoms associated with Lyme disease include:

  • Stiff walk with an arched back
  • Sensitive to touch
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fever, lack of appetite, and depression may accompany inflammation of the joints
  • Superficial lymph nodes close to the site of the infecting tick bite may be swollen
  • Heart abnormalities are reported, but rare; they include complete heart block
  • Nervous system complications (rare)

Treatment

If the diagnosis is Lyme disease, your dog will be treated as an outpatient, unless its health condition is severe. There are a number of antibiotics from which to choose. It is important that you keep your dog warm and dry, and you will need to control its activity until the clinical signs have improved. The recommended period for treatment is four weeks. Your veterinarian is unlikely to recommend dietary changes. Do not use pain medications unless they have been recommended by your veterinarian. Unfortunately, symptoms do not always completely resolve in some animals. In fact, long-term joint pain may continue even after the bacteria has been fully eradicated from your dog’s system.

Prevention

A variety of sprays, collars, and spot-on topical products are available to kill and repel ticks. Such products should only be used according to the label’s directions. In addition there are vaccines available for dogs; talk to your veterinarian about its availability and whether it is right for your dog.

Heartworm Disease and Prevention

Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal condition caused by parasitic worms living in the arteries of the lungs and occasionally in the right side of the heart of dogs, cats and other species of mammals, including wolves, foxes, ferrets, sea lions and (in rare instances) humans.

How Heartworm Happens: The Life Cycle

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First, adult female heartworms release their young, called microfilariae into an animal’s bloodstream. Mosquitoes then become infected with microfilariae after biting an infected animal. During the next 10 to 14 days, the microfilariae mature within the mosquito. After that, the mosquito bites another dog, cat or other susceptible animal, and the infective larvae enter through the bite wound. It takes a little over 6 months for the infective larvae to mature into adult worms. In dogs, the worms may live for up to 7 years. Microfilariae cannot mature into adult heartworms without first passing through a mosquito.

What Are the Signs of Heartworm Disease?

For both dogs and cats, clinical signs of heartworm disease may not be recognized in the early stages, as the number of heartworms in an animal tends to accumulate gradually over a period of months and sometimes years and after repeated mosquito bites. Recently infected dogs may exhibit no signs of the disease, while heavily infected dogs may eventually show clinical signs, including a mild, persistent cough, reluctance to move or exercise, fatigue after only moderate exercise, reduced appetite and weight loss. Cats may exhibit clinical signs that are very non-specific, mimicking many other feline diseases.

How Do You Detect and Prevent Heartworm Disease?

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Heartworm infection in apparently healthy animals is detected with a simple blood tests.  A heartworm tests uses just a few drops of blood and also tests for lyme disease and ehrlichiosis (another tick borne disease). Heartworm prevention is safe, easy and inexpensive. While treatment for heartworm disease in dogs is possible, it is a complicated and expensive process, taking weeks for infected animals to recover. There is no effective treatment for heartworm disease in cats, so it is imperative that disease prevention measures be taken for cats. There are a variety of options for preventing heartworm infection in both dogs and cats, including monthly tablets and monthly topicals. All of these methods are extremely effective, and when administered properly on a timely schedule, heartworm infection can be completely prevented.

Parasites and Your Pet

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For many of us the family pet greatly enhances our lives and is an important member of the family. Just as we want to protect our family from infection and diseases, we naturally want to protect the family pet from internal parasites. Pets can harbor zoonotic parasites that can potentially be transmitted to people. Precautions for preventing the spread of zoonotic diseases are necessary and often are deemed more significant when there are young children in the household. Parasitic larvae can migrate within the human body damaging tissues and possibly result in blindness. Many of the  common internal parasites of dogs and cats are transmissible to people. Children are at the greatest risk for acquiring a zoonotic parasite. This certainly is influenced by their penchant for putting anything and everything into their mouths, playing in the dirt, and lack of concern about washing their hands.

What are Intestinal Parasites and Where Does My Pet Get Them?

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Intestinal parasites are worms that live in the pet’s gastrointestinal tract. Worms cause disease by robbing nutrients from the pet’s digestive system and leave internal wounds where they attach to the intestinal lining. Some major intestinal parasites are: hookworms, roundworms, whipworms, tapeworms, coccidia, and giardia. Most puppies and kittens are born with parasites or acquire them shortly after birth from nursing. If pets are exposed to contaminated areas (places where fecal matter may be or has been) or other pet waste they could ingest eggs or larvae which can develop into adult worms. Unfortunately worm eggs and larvae are in many places in the outdoor environment. All pets are susceptible to infection with internal parasites.

What are Some Symptoms of Intestinal Parasites?

Not all intestinal parasites/worms are visible in your pets stool.  Depending on the worm load of your pet there may be no recognizable signs of infection.  Overwhelming number of worms living in the intestinal tract could cause vomiting, diarrhea, anemia, pot-bellied appearance, coughing, weight loss, and even death. The best way to determine if your pet has internal parasites is to have a fecal exam performed yearly on your pet.

How Do I Protect My Family?

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  • Regular veterinary examinations and fecal testing for your pet
  • Always wash hands after handling pet or pet toys
  • Avoid contact with pet urine or feces
  • Never eat anything your pet may have licked or had in their mouth
  • Wear gloves when gardening or playing in dirt or sandboxes

Monthly deworming and heartworm preventatives are available and have been proven to be almost 100% effective if administered properly. At a minimum yearly fecal examinations can screen pets and allow for the development of a tailored deworming program.

Why Is A Fecal Exam Recommended? Why Not Just Deworm My Pet?

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Fecal flotations’ are laboratory tests in which the feces is mixed with a special solution and spun in a centrifuge. The solution causes the eggs to float upward and collect on a microscope slide placed on top of the cylinder. A fecal exams reveals which parasites, if any, that your pet has and the number. This allows for development of an effective deworming program to rid your pet of unwanted internal parasites. Certain parasites require your pet be redewormed two to three months later in order to effectively break the egg-larvae-adult cycle. Routine deworming is only recommended in puppies and kittens since they are often born with internal parasites or acquire them soon after birth.

Fleas

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Fleas make pet’s lives miserable, and humans begin to itch just at the thought of them. The adult flea seen on a pet only represents about 5% of the flea population present in the environment. Flea eggs, larvae, and pupae reside in carpeting, rugs, bedding, and grass. Each flea can lay ~50 eggs per day and up to 2000 eggs in its short life causing a rapid increase in the flea population in the environment.

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Excessive scratching may be the first sign that your pet has an annoying flea problem. It is a good idea to check pets for fleas on a regular basis.  When checking for fleas, look for black specks (flea dirt) on your pet or on its bed or the actual fleas. These are easier to find if a fine tooth comb is brushed through the hair coat, especially on the back and rump area of the pet.

Diseases caused by fleas

  • Flea allergy dermatitis – an allergy to flea bites – specifically the saliva of fleas
  • Anemia – fleas feed on the blood of pets. If there is a large flea infestation the fleas can actually severally deplete the animals blood volume.
  • Tapeworms – fleas are one of the tapeworm hosts and infect pets they bite.
  • Rickettsiosis, Plague, Cat Scratch Disease – bacterial infections.

What to do about fleas

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Many flea products are available that have varying degrees of efficacy. Some over the counter products can be toxic to your pet, not just the fleas. Products available from your veterinarian are often the safest and effective. Treating your pet is one step in the process. Since flea eggs and larvae are also in the environment treating your house and yard may also be needed in severe flea infestations. Talk with your veterinarian about the best options for you and your pet.

Everyone knows fleas aren’t fun. However, here are some flea facts that will amaze you!

  • Fleas can jump up to 150 times their own length. To put that into perspective, if a human competed in the Olympic long jump with that ability, that athlete would certainly win the gold medal with a gravity-defying 1,000 foot long jump. So they can easily jump onto your pet from the ground, or from another pet.
  • On average, a flea’s lifespan is two to three months. However, pre-emerged fleas (not living on a pet) can survive undisturbed and without a blood meal for more than 100 days.
  • The female flea can lay 2,000 eggs in her lifetime. That means that if all 53 million dogs in the United States each hosted a population of 60 fleas, the U.S. would house more than six trillion flea eggs. Laid end-to-end, those eggs would stretch around the world more than 76 times! It’s important to kill fleas before they get a chance to lay eggs.
  • The female flea consumes 15 times her own body weight in blood daily.
  • A flea can bite 400 times a day. That’s a rate of 4,000 bites a day if your pet has just 10 fleas.

Fall Safety Tips

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The brisk fall weather is here and there has even been a touch of snow to warn us that winter weather is fast approaching. The cooler weather is a relief from the hot summer days, but as the days shorten and cold weather approaches don’t forget to help keep your pet safe and warm as well. This is still a great time to get outside and enjoy a walk with your pet or spend some quality time outdoors.

  • Rodent Watch!The use of rodenticides increases in the fall as rodents seek shelter from the cooler temperatures by attempting to move indoors. Rodenticides are highly toxic to pets—if ingested, the results could be fatal. If you must use these products, do so with extreme caution and put them in places inaccessible to your pets.
  • Back To School!It’s back-to-school time, and those of you with young children know that means stocking up on fun items like glue sticks, pencils and magic markers. These items are considered “low toxicity” to pets, which means they’re unlikely to cause serious problems unless large amounts are ingested. However, since gastrointestinal upset and blockages certainly are possible, be sure your children keep their school supplies out of paw’s reach.
  • Car Coolant!Many people choose fall as the time to change their car’s engine coolant. Ethylene glycol-based coolants are highly toxic, so spills should be cleaned up immediately. Consider switching to propylene glycol-based coolants—though they aren’t completely nontoxic, they are much less toxic than other engine coolants.
  • Mushroom Danger!Fall and spring and are mushroom seasons. While 99% of mushrooms have little or no toxicity, the 1% that are highly toxic can cause life-threatening problems in pets. Unfortunately, most of the highly toxic mushrooms are difficult to distinguish from the nontoxic ones, so the best way to keep pets from ingesting poisonous mushrooms is to keep them away from areas where any mushrooms are growing. Contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center immediately if you witness your pet eating a wild mushroom.
  • Trick or Treat: No chocolate for dogs! There are several foods that you should never feed your dog. Number one on that list is chocolate, which is toxic and can lead to severe illness and sometimes death. Instruct your kids and any visitors that they are not to give chocolate to your dog. Keep the candy and goody bags out of reach of the dog.
  • Thanksgiving Feast! Holiday meals can pose a medical threat for your pet. Chicken and turkey bones can get stuck or can pierce holes in any portion of the digestive tract. Rich foods can cause sudden pancreatitis or bloat. Keep holiday meals, leftovers and table scraps out of reach of your pet.

Have A Happy Thanksgiving With Your Pet

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We hope you have a happy holiday season with your pets! ‘Tis the season for friends, family and holiday feasts—but also for possible distress for our animal companions. Everyone wants to make sure their pets feel included in the holiday along with everyone else. However pets won’t be so thankful if they munch on undercooked turkey or a pet-unfriendly floral arrangement, or if they stumble upon an unattended alcoholic drink. Eating to many treats or table scraps can make your pet seriously ill as well.

Talkin’ Turkey
If you decide to feed your pet a little nibble of turkey, make sure it’s boneless and well-cooked. Don’t offer them raw or undercooked turkey, which may contain salmonella bacteria.

Sage Advice
Sage can make your Thanksgiving stuffing taste delicious, but it and many other herbs contain essential oils and resins that can cause gastrointestinal upset and central nervous system depression to pets if eaten in large quantities. Cats are especially sensitive to the effects of certain essential oils.

No Bread Dough
Don’t spoil your pet’s holiday by giving them raw bread dough. When raw bread dough is ingested, an animal’s body heat causes the dough to rise in the stomach. As it expands, the pet may experience vomiting, severe abdominal pain and bloating, which could become a life-threatening emergency, requiring surgery.

Don’t Let Them Eat Cake
If you’re baking up Thanksgiving cakes, be sure your pets keep their noses out of the batter, especially if it includes raw eggs—they could contain salmonella bacteria that may lead to food poisoning.

Too Much of a Good Thing
A few small boneless pieces of cooked turkey, a taste of mashed potato or even a lick of pumpkin pie shouldn’t pose a problem. However, don’t allow your pets to overindulge, as they could wind up with a case of stomach upset, diarrhea or even worse—an inflammatory condition of the pancreas known as pancreatitis. In fact, it’s best keep pets on their regular diets during the holidays.

A Feast Fit for a Kong
While the humans are chowing down, give your cat and dog their own little feast. Offer them Nylabones or made-for-pet chew bones. Or stuff their usual dinner—perhaps with a few added tidbits of turkey, vegetables (try sweet potato or green beans) and dribbles of gravy—inside a Kong toy. They’ll be happily occupied for awhile, working hard to extract their dinner from the toy.

* Information courtesy of the ASPCA Website: http://www.aspca.org

Vaccines and Your Horse

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A “standard” vaccination program for all horses does not exist. The American Association of Equine Practitioners has developed a list of Core or recommended vaccines for each horse. Other vaccines are administered on a case by case basis depending on the risk of exposure to theses diseases.

Core Vaccines

  • Tetanus – an often fatal disease caused by a potent neurotoxin  from the anaerobic, spore-forming bacterium, Clostridium tetani.
  • Eastern/Western Equine Encephalitisa neurologic disease caused by a virus which can be transmitted by mosquitoes. Typically 90% of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) cases die from the disease.
  • Rabiesan infrequently encountered neurologic disease of horses.  While the incidence of rabies in horses is low, the disease is fatal and has considerable public health significance.
  • West Nile VirusA neurologic disease of horses typically spread from one infected animal to another by biting flies or mosquitos. Horses represent 96.9% of all non-human mammalian cases of WNV disease.

Non-Core Vaccines

Equine Influenza (Flu), Rhinopneumonitis (Rhino), Strangles, Potomac Horse Fever, Botulism

There are risks with vaccination and each individual situation requires evaluation based on the following criteria:

  • Risk of disease (anticipated exposure, environmental factors, geographic factors, age, breed, use, and sex of the horse)

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  • Consequences of the disease
  • Anticipated effectiveness of the selected product(s)
  • Potential for adverse reactions to a vaccine(s)
  • Cost of immunization (time, labor and vaccine costs) vs. potential cost of disease (time out of competition; impact of movement restrictions imposed in order to control  an outbreak of contagious disease; labor and medication if, or when, horses develop clinical disease and require treatment, or loss of life.)

A good vaccination program is always recommended, however, it is important to realize that:

  • Vaccination alone, in the absence of good management practices directed at infection control, is not sufficient for the prevention of infectious disease.
  • Vaccination serves to minimize the risks of infection but cannot prevent disease in all circumstances.
  • The primary series of vaccines and booster doses should be appropriately administered prior to likely exposure.
  • Each horse in a population is not protected to an equal degree nor for an equal duration following vaccination.
  • Protection is not immediately afforded the patient after administration of a vaccine that is designed to induce active immunity. In most instances, a  priming series of multiple doses of a vaccine must be administered initially for that vaccine to induce protective active immunity.
  • All horses in a herd should be vaccinated at intervals based on the professional opinion of the attending veterinarian

February is National Pet Dental Health Month

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It is National Pet Dental Health Month, but your pet’s dental health should be addressed every day of the year, not just in February. If your pet has bad breath, that odor might signify a serious health risk with the potential to damage not only your pet’s teeth and gums but the internal organs as well.

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It is estimated that by the age of two, 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats have some form of periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is an infection of the gums. These infections have been linked to diabetes, heart problems, blood clots, kidney disease, and other life threatening disorders. The best way to prevent periodontal disease is by having a regular dental regime for your pet coupled with regular oral exams by your veterinarian. Unfortunately once a large amount of tarter has developed on a pets teeth, a routine dental cleaning is often necessary. Once the tarter has been removed and the teeth cleaned and polished it is important to start an at home program to help prevent tarter and gingivitis from reoccurring.

At home dental care for your pet

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  • Brushing your pets teeth is still considered the best way to prevent dental disease. Special pet toothpaste should always be used to brush your pets teeth as human toothpaste has to high a fluoride content if your pet swallows it. If your pet has not had its teeth brushed before, it may require some time to teach your pet to allow you to brush their teeth.
  • Special dental diets are available to help prevent tarter buildup. Many of these diets have enzymes that work against tarter and are a larger, coarser nugget of food which works similar to a toothbrush on the tooth when chewed.
  • Special dental chews are available to help prevent tarter buildup. Enzymes in these chews work against tarter buildup .
  • There are also water additives and dental gels which aid in the prevention of tarter.

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Bring your pet in for a dental examination and we can help you decided the best oral health regime for you and your pet. Sometimes a combination of different oral health products will work the best for your pet.