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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Hope everyone is having a great holiday.  We had over 20 inches of snow!  Will be having the first vaccine clinic after the new year on Jan 7-8.  We'll see you then.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Coping with the loss of a pet

Losing a pet is hard, they are the constant companion who listened without censure.  They are the comforter who stayed up with you all night, or when your human companions were ill/away.  They are with us for such a short time, but take up such a large part of our hearts.  Everyone feels differently about their pet and their grief, don't poo-poo anything.  If you're feeling it, it's real.  Take time to be honest about your emotions and validate they exist.  Denial, guilt, anger, and depression are all real reactions to the loss of a pet, and can be overwhelming.  Find an outlet for these feelings, either with good friends or with a professional who can help you work through the pain.  Don't stuff them inside, do activities, talk to pet loss counselors, find a support group, commemorate your pet, do waht it takes to work through waht you're dealing with.  Memorials, volunteering, etc can all help you as you decide where to go.  And don't forget to watch out for your other pets and children, they can grieve as much as you do.  Healthy coping mechanisms must be found for everyone.
The local veterinary group has an excellent pet-loss support group that meets weekly, contact the DAVMS for this info.
There are also excellent reading sources for children and adults alike, most are available through your local library.  The 10 best things about Barney is one of my favorites.  There were so many listed on the site when I searched, that I recommend doing the search and picking out the ones that interest you.  
Should you get another pet is one of the bigger questions I hear also.  The fact is, you can't replace the pet that passed on, but in time you may be ready to share your heart with a new bundle of joy.  Give yourself the time you need to heal, and when you're ready rescue a new best friend.  Then take the time to socialize and learn about this new pet.  Time will eventually heal your painful memories, so that the happy memories of the new good times can be shared.

poison info from the ASPCA website - PLANTS and FOODS; winter, etc
These 2 spots list the variety of plants and foods that our pets cannot get into without sometimes severe consequences.  Most people know some things such as lilies and chocolate, but these lists include sago palms and raisins and other weird stuff.
Fall is also the time for more problems from anti-freeze.   Either because more people are adding it in, or because the spills are the only available "water" the animals can find.  This toxin doesn't take much to destroy the kidneys of animals, so be sure to clean up and get rid of any spills you find.
With winter around the corner, I also need to mention te "salts" used for snow/ice removal.  Be sure to get a pet friendly type, and stay away from any you don't know.  I usually recommend booties to decrease contact, then wash their feet when you get home.  Leave your boots and shoes with toxins on the soles outside/ in the mudroom, or in closed closets also.  Even residues on the carpet can make a pet sick over time, so why take the chance?
Heartworm is off our minds since the musquitoes are decreasing, but don't stop that preventive!!!  The musquitoes have the ability to hibernate, so any that awaken, even in winter, can be infective.  Once an infected source is available, the problems just continues to spread.  We're dry, but we do have musquitoes, and unfortunately some positive dogs.  The preventive is so much easier than the treatment, and so much less expensive too.
Our outdoor water still contains giardia, leptospirosis, as well as some other less common nasties.  Not all water has all infectious diseases, but why take the chance at all.  Pack in water for you and your pets, and get the vaccine for lepto if your dog just can't help himself.  This important zoonotic disease is ugly, so get your dog vaccinated and keep them that way.
Spring is Canine influenze season, the vaccine is available at some area vets, I'm not carrying this one at this time due to the extremely rare prevalence in this geographic area at this time.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Arthritis - a partial overview

The hills of ones youth are all mountains.  Mari Sandoz American writere

     With arthritis, the opposite is also true, it's really hard to physically do the simple things that one enjoys when everything hurts.  A great resource for the basics of arthritis can be found on the AAHA Healthy website.  They even have printable brochures.  Their article on cats and arthritis shows just how far we've come in the recognition of our companions needs. 
     So what can we do for the arthritic pet, and how can we slow down the degradation of the joints so they can continue for many years to enjoy their time with us?  First off, start now.  If you're feeding too much and they are tending to overweight, cut back and maintain them at a healthy weight.  The wear and tear of extra weight on any joints is bad, but it also effects the heart and body in other ways, so it's a serious issue to address.  What to feed?  A good quality, name brand, well-known food like Science diet, Royal canin, ProPlan, Nutro, etc.  Don't go for bulk, store brands, or local fad brands, if the track record is unknown, your pet is the guinea pig.  For pets with clinical symptoms of arthritis, clinical trials have shown Science Diet J/D (joint diet) to ease the pain.  The food has more than some supplements can do, so if it's an option I recommend it.
     As for supplements that actually help, I swear by chondroitin/glucosamine and omega fatty acids (like fish oil).  Some of these supplements also contain MSM or antioxidants, which have been proven to not hurt, and possibly help.  As with any new addition to the diet, watch for a response (usually >3 weeks to see), and allergic reactions (vomition, hives, itchy).  These are all things that are safe in younger dogs, all the way through their golden years.   Recently I've seen a few people advocating vegetables as anti-inflammatories.  I don't see anything wrong with eating vegies, and they can make a dog feel full without eating a lot of calorie-dense food, but be sure to avoid toxins (grapes comes to mind immediately) and only feed well washed samples.  I prefer the frozen kind just because they're easier for me.
     Mild gentle exercise is best all the way around, something like walks or swimming, but if your dog is a sporter, make sure to have him on good surfaces that encourage strong landings without damage.  Wet surfaces that are slick, hills, hard uneven surfaces, and other hazards play havoc on their joints just as they do on ours.
      A good egg-crate bed decreases the pressure points when your pet is sleeping.  There are several models available, though my dog just uses my old ones, and sometimes the new one on my bed as well.
     Medications are a last resort before unconventional methods of pain control associated with arthritis.  I use the weaker NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) at low doses until a stronger dose is required or the pet proves the drug is incompatible with them.  for a run-down on the NSAIDs available, teh site has an animalveterinary/resourcesfor you section that outlines them all.  NSAIDs are strongly discouraged in cats, as they develop life-threatening diseases from them, so we usually still use steroids.  Ketoprofen does work but tastes awful, and robenacoxib is still in the research stage as far as I can see.  Some sources are using tramadol, and that does seem to provide effective and safe pain control in some cats.  I use the tramadol more for it's synergystic effect with the NSAIDs in dogs.  This allows me to use a lower dose of both to achieve longer use of lower doses, resulting in less side effects from the medications (vomition, kidney and liver disease, GI upset). 
     Acupuncture (veterinary certified), laser, massage, ultrasound, stem cell treatments (from fat no less), surgery, and braces are all out there.   Each of these is used in specific spaces and places, and should be on the recommendation of your veterinarian.  They are important in some cases, but not in all, so should be approached with a discerning eye.  I've worked with a few really great acupuncturists over the years, and the dogs (and cats) being treated really seemed to enjoy it.
     This isn't a comprehensive overview of everything available, but hits the most common and most promising available modalities for pain control and arthritis control.  Keeping dental disease, and for that matter any whole body diseases that lead to inflammation, can also help decrease the pain from arthritis.  If you have questions, or wish for an evaluation, give me a call.  303-279-2322

publication notice

All content provided on this site is meant for educational purposes only on healthcare for pets.  This site should not be used to replace professional veterinary care, and it's services do not constitue the practice of veterinary medicine, vet med health care advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A start on puppy and kitten basics.

Vaccines - every 3-4 weeks from the age of 2 months to 4 months, we use this to see your new pet and look for issues before they develop.  They require at least 2 boosters, so that the vaccine actually results in protection from the disease being vaccinated against.  The first rabies is given on or after the 4 month visit.  These important vaccines will them be boostered again a year later and as recommended after that (usually yearly for DALPP and bordetella and 3 year for current rabies nowadays).  No animal is ever "done" with vaccines except in extremely rare cases.
Deworming - every 2 weeks for 2 doses in low count areas (CO and other dry states), these liquid dewormers are often pre-empted into Heartworm preventives each 4 weeks.  Make sure something is being given, as these parasites can cross species and cause some serious illness.
Heartworm - "more important" to canines (puppies and adults), this vector-borne disease (from musquitoes) can infect cats as well.  The preventives are usually pretty easy to give and very effective.  Ask your vet about them, as some breeds and areas have different preferences and needs.  After 6 months of age all pets are tested to prove a negative status before starting a preventive.  The most recent guidelines recommend year-round administration even in seasonal areas to decrease parasite resistance and spreading of the disease by sub-clinical carriers.
Socialization - This is in it's simplest form touching and introduction of people, pets, and others that the pet will not always be around but needs to get used to.  Obviously, some of this is within the family, but much is outside of it.  Puppy classes are a great way to start and interact with many animals and people.  An unsocialized pet is often fearful, noisy, and aggressive to strangers.  Working through certain pet issues will often require a trainer or behaviorist so that the inappropriate behaviors aren't reinforced.  Catching it early and correctly is the best strategy.  Any behavior that you wouldn't want in the adult, should be trained out from teh pup.  Positive reinforcement is the best in all species, since the young want to please and get good feedback from interactions.  Everyone in the family and around must be on the same wavelength when training.
Grooming - start early, start slow, and repeat often.  Under 3 months do only sections of less than 1/3 of the pet.  Whether brushing, trimming or bathing this keeps them from being overdone and stressed.  Mutiple short sessions will allow the youngster to develop good habits and a life-long ability to be properly handled.  Touch everywhere, even though you may never trim the nails, clean the ears, etc.  It is much better to touch everything and have them allow it, then to have a disease or need and have them fight you all the way. 
This isn't a complete list by any means, so stay tuned for more.

Dental care 101: Yes pet teeth brushing works.

     Your dentist has you brush your teeth, floss your gums, and hopefully even rinse with flouride to keep your pearly whites beautiful; so what's a pet owner to do?  Brush, BUT NO FLOURIDE, supply good dental toys & food, and keep an eye out for when the next surgical dental will need to be done. 
     Your veterinarian will check your pets mouth each time you go in.   Visits are recommended each 6 months since your pets age 5-7 years for our 1.  We are looking for red and inflammed gums, bad breath, nasty tartar buildup, and other proof of dental disease.  All pet mouths have some disease once the adult teeth have erupted, but when it starts to damage the structures then we recommend a deep cleaning and polishing.  Often, this will also require tooth removal to keep the rest of the body healthy.  Bacteria from the dental caries are absorbed into the blood stream and cause myriad issues to the lungs, liver, and kidneys. 
     Going back to brushing, even an old pet can learn to allow it, but it's easiest to start when they are very young.  Pets have deciduous teeth until 6 months of age, by then the adult teeth have erupted and each set of baby teeth has fallen out (if all goes as planned).  Starting with gentle stimulation of the gums, using gauze/finger toothbrushes/large soft toothbrushes, the pet is introduced to the concept of something foreign in their mouth.  You want your pet to get used to this different touch and "invasion" of their space, without making them nervous or hurting them.  I am not brushing the "bite" between the teeth or on the inside surfaces where the tongue motion helps keep them clean.  Using a flavor of NON-FLOURIDE toothpaste that they appreciate (poultry, apple, biscuit, vanilla, etc) can help with this transition.  There are also gels, liquids, and powders available, use whatever is easiest for you.  You start by "wiping" the canines, these big pointy prominent teeth stay in till 6 months, are easy to reach, and are pretty easy for a beginner to get used to.  Over time the gentle wiping motion is extended back into the corners of the lips, I don't lift the lips, but slide my finger or the brush up under to the molars, premolars, and incisors.  During the eruption phase of the youngster I usually avoid the spaces left by missing deciduous teeth until the new tooth shows, however my kitten enjoyed the stimulation of these areas and wanted me to touch them.  Older pets start the same way, but may require more time before moving into all the teeth getting brushed.  Everytime I finish they get a treat, either a crunchy dental treat or a rawhide.
     For best results, do short sessions at first and extend the time as your pet gets used to it.  Puppies and kittens are usually just wiggly, whereas adults may be protective of their mouths.  Work within the constraints of your pet, not putting yourself in danger if they truly will NOT allow this.  Once daily brushing is the best, but any is better than none, and if once a week is doable, do it.
     Dental toys are great if you have a pet who uses them safely and willingly.  These toys vary in their uses, and different pets will use or abuse different types of toys.  Introduce any toy when you will be there to watch, play with your pet to see how it works, and dispose of any worn or dangerous ones immediately.  The incisors are for picking up and nipping, not for grinding, so most toys don't help keep these teeth and gums clean.  The canines are for grasping and puncturing, so soft toys and striated toys or treats work well.  Premolars and molars are for grinding, so chew toys and striated toys and treats work well for them as well.  Make sure stuffing, soft strips, small pieces, rawhide pieces, etc are not being removed and ingested.  Tatters on toys usually mean it's time to get a new toy, or consider one that doesn't split apart so easily.  Striated type toys and treats are those that have oriented strips to clean the teeth and get between and down to the gums.  Ropes, dental treats, and dental foods like Science Diet T/D all can have this oriented strand that cleans as they penetrate the kibble.  The ropes, as long as not being ingested, also act like floss in the right patient.  Real bones are no longer recommended for chewing, as too many of our pets were breaking their large (carnassial) premolars, resulting in a need for surgical removal of this important tooth.   The best toys and chews are hard, but not so hard as to damage the enamel (protective layer).
     Once periodontal disease (gum reddening and swelling, smell, bleeding), cavities (feline resorptive lesions, canine wear or cracks), and infection (tartar, plaque, bleeding, smell) set in it is time for a dental.  Even with good, daily burshing, this tartar will build up over time; that's why we get cleanings each 6 months at the dentist.  Dentals clean, polish and remove painful teeth and foreign material, allowing the gums and teeth to recuperate and heal.  They also decrease the bacterial load, ease your future cleaning of the shiny surfaces, and make eating and drinking more enjoyable again.  Most dental patients will require antibiotics and pain medications after the procedure.  Depending on their genetics and temperament they will also need dentals each year or so after the first one.  Talk to your veterinarian today about this important health care option.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The rainy season, musquitoes, puppy website.

I'd swear the hungry little pests are everywhere since it's been raining every day.  I have more welts than I care to admit, and that's with the bug spray I've been using (and normally don't have to).  So on that note, make sure to give the heartworm preventive monthly, the more musquitoes, the more likely we'll pass heartworm and increase our pets risk.  An important reminder also, don't use human products on pets, they are toxic and can result in severe and life-threatening reactions.  The flea and tick preparations for dogs are great for them and work for the full 30 days.  Obviously, the more parasites in your environment the more likely to find a live one, still check your pet on a regular basis.  If you have small critters around your pets they are at more risk than an indoor or isolated pet.
On a different note, I found a new puppy site for people thinking of adopting.   They talk about breeds, things to watch for when buying a puppy, and other tidbits that are a must-read for first time and "re" adopters.  The site is and is headed by a veterinarian.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

It's too hot!

Indoors or out, it's too hot for our friends to be without shade and water.  Make sure they have a hide away spot that gets them out of the sun, and if possible cooled off.  Even the pocket pets are drinking more during this.
Don't leave an animal in a car, even with the windows open in the shade.  15 minutes in a parked car in 70 degree weather can exceed 100 degrees in the car.  Heat stroke is fast and deadly, whether due to heat extremes or exercise in the heat. 
Be careful of crossing the street on really hot days, since the blacktop can hurt their paws.  Be aware of metal strips also, they get seriously painful and can cause blistering.
For more, has a great article.  Also a lot of the vet schools have great, and correct, information.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

recalled cat foods as of early July due to Salmonella

Cat Chow Naturals Dry Cat Food in 6.3 lb bags with "Best By" date of Aug 2012; Production code 10331083 13; UPC 17800 11320
Friskies Grillers Blend Dry Cat Food in 3.15 lb bags; "Best By" date of Aug 2012; Production code 10381083 06; UPC code 50000 08450
Friskies Grillers Blend Dry Cat Food in 16 lb bags; "Best By" date of Aug 2012; Production Code 10381083 06; UPC 50000 57578

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

cat exams and vaccines

     The national trend in veterinary medicine is for less cat visits, while dog visits are the same or up.  Why the change?  Most authorities cite the economy, a lack of understanding why they need to be seen, the difficulty of getting the cat into the carrier and then to the vet, the stress associated with that visit in a strange place, and just plain lack of time.  What's the answer to this trend, I consider home visits the best answer, though others are working on newer ways to ease the stress of your pets also.  Both can be used to ease the visit, and to get puss-in-boots their annual check-up.  
     First, let's hit on why the annual exam.  With a solid history in the making, your cat's weight trends, health issues past and present,  and some future risks can be assessed.  What do I mean?  A slowly increasing weight over the years suggests a need for less food, more exercise, and maybe even a change to a senior diet to keep weight associated diseases lower (diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, etc).   Coat changes can point to internal parasites, external parasites, lack of proper nutrition, chemical imbalances, stress/behavioral issues, and mouth problems.  A good palpation can find masses on, and sometimes in, the body.   Eye changes can point to chemical imbalances, high blood pressure, or infections.  This isn't an exhaustive list, just a suggestion of all the things we try to rule out when examining your pet, young or old. 
     At the same time as the exam we can recommend needed maintenance issues.  Brushing the coat more, adding supplements or changing foods to balance the chemistries, checking the teeth for cleaning or extractions (cats get a nasty form of cavity that breaks off the teeth straight across), nail trims, etc.  Vaccines are still recommended, just on a case-by-case basis, and on a longer cycle than previously.  The rabies is still the only officially required vaccine, but the upper respiratory is recommended for most, and the FeLV is recommended for outdoor and multi-cat households.  FeLV/FIV testing is a very good idea if your cat gets out on a semi-regular habit, or if any wounds have been inflicted by a "stranger" cat.  If you live in a high musquito area the heartworm preventive is strongly recommended, since the tests for feline heartworm aren't quite as accurate as the dog and the treatment can be as dangerous to cats as the disease.  Dewormings on a regular basis (monthly for tapeworms if your cat hunts) are a protection to your cat and your children.  Topicals to ward off fleas and ticks are a great idea in some areas, especially if you have lots of rodents(fleas) or wildlife (ticks).  
      So, what can be done to make it easier on the feline population to be seen by their veterinarian?  I suggest home visits, obviously, since I'm a mobile vet.  however, getting the cat used to the carrier by leaving it out, using it for feeding and catnip breaks, adding vanilla and other calming scents around the area, and keeping your own stress down about the visit (yes they are that attuned to your vibes) can help.  The American Association of Feline Practitioners has a full paper on how to calm the kitties so they get seen.  I always found that just taking them around in the care when they were younger helped the most.  My older cats took a while to adjust to this arrangement (taking them on short jaunts to nowhere and then back home), but even they got the hang of it over time.  I usually started with accomodating them to the carrier over a period of time (2-3 weeks or longer), then to the car (same thing), and then to the car running, and then moving.  Each step can take time depending on the cat.  The newest kitten never took any time at all, she liked the warm purr the car made and fell asleep immediately (score!).
     As you can see, there are lots of things that can be addressed at an annual exam, on top of any new problems or issues you may bring up while there, so it is a worthwhile endeavor to go at least once a year (new quidelines recommend twice).  Watching your pet for subtle changes such as increased drinking, increased urination, decreased appetite, lack of activity, hiding, aggression, and etc may find a disease long before it turns serious.   This can allow for diagnostics to find the disease early and lead to longevity and health.  Dental disease treated early can lead to a happier and less smelly pet, not to mention the health benefits.  Make an appointment with your veterinarian sooner rather than later, and make your companion a well taken care of pet.  For the mobile services I provide - 303-279-2322.  The office visit includes the trip fee for the month of July.  Multi-animal discounts apply, as well as senior discounts.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Kitty boredom: videos or a new kitten

I admit I'm an aurilophile, in other words a cat lover.  At my worst I had 9 cats on 6 different prescription diets.  The youngest was 2 days old, and the oldest was 25 years.  Last year around July, I found myself in the unique situation of having only 1 cat.  Unfortunately, he was a bored cat, and his answer to boredom was to pester me for food.  So, to the drawing board for ways to entertain him without feeding him.  Toys that involved the kids or I pulling or throwing lasted at maximum about 15 minutes, then either we or he would walk away.  The kitty videos interested him if they were birds or small rodents, but I got sick of all my knick knacks going flying when he attacked the TV or surroundings looking for those same critters off-screen.  What to do?  What to do?  I finally succumbed to my weakness and adopted another kitten.  This one a 4 week old 1 pound waif from the middle of a street in Sterling.  The kind samaritan who brought her in couldn't afford another cat and just wanted her to have a safe home.  Problem solved, well almost, first I had to clear her parasites, get her vaccinated, and set a spay date.  While doing all that I kept her isolated in my upstairs bathroom.  This worked great until the day she broke out.  After a panicked search all over the house we found her, and my 2 year old male, engaged in mutual cuddle and cleaning in the cat scratcher apartment.  Okay, love at "first" sight!!!  No more begging at all hours, no more whining to play, no more bored kitty.  Now we have 2 speed demons who knock over everything and anything at full tilt.   Life is back to normal, and the dogs just stay out of the way.  They know better than to be in the middle of any floor, as that means they are fair game for tag or pounce.
Moral of this story, get any new pet vetted (check up, vaccines, deworm, spay or neuter), and take time to allow the "isolated" animal to integrate into the household.  (They fell in love under the door.)  There are pheromones, training systems, etc to help with the introduction of new animals to a household.  If you plan ahead and nothing is working, take the time to call a professional and have an evaluation. 
On a side note, this kitten is microchipped, we don't want to lose her ever.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Eww, what's that? Or, the things you need to know but may not want to.

     When I take my dogs out for their walks, or to the park to play, I don't like to think about what they're finding out there.  So I was really thrilled (not) when I found a 7 page article on all the cool things you and your dog can catch at the local park.  Some are mild (the old style kennel cough), and some are ugly (parasites, viruses, etc), but all are out there and some smart risk management can help.  The list included viruses (distemper, parvovirus, influenza, rabies), parasites (ticks, fleas, lice, mites, intestional worms, cryptosporidia), infections (fungal, bacterial, tick-borne, musquito-borne), heatstroke and bite wounds, and toxins (plants, pesticides, chemicals, etc).  Researching the active ones that are worst in the area you are going to be is a good place to start.  For instance, Leptospirosis is rare but occurs in isolated water bodies in Colorado; Rabies is active in some counties; plague has re-emerged in the fleas of wildlife; distemper often occurs in raccoons; ask your local veterinarians or officials.  Not every pet is at risk for every disease everytime they step outside!!!, just plan ahead and ask to keep your companions safe.
     Risk management is having your pets vaccines up-to-date (esp Rabies, DAPP, and bordetella), regular check-ups with your veterinarian, and parasite prevention (heartworm and intestinal, and in some cases topical).  Parasite prevention includes keeping your pet away from other animals excrement (read poop), socializing your small puppy with a few pre-vetted companions until they get some immunity built, getting regular dewormings, and avoiding obviously ill pets and their owners.  I also recommend bringing your own snacks and water with bowl.  Sharing bowls is just like sharing glasses, if done at all it's reserved for your closest companions, not the entire world.  Avoiding injuries and bites can be a little harder, but having your dog under full control, being able to call them away from anything, following the rules of the park, and sometimes even using the "shy" fenced off area can all help.   If you see something you aren't comfortable with, don't stick around, you are the final decision maker.  Just like a child your pet depends on you for their safety in this new world of running free and interacting with others; and just like a child some pets will be gung-ho about the experience, while others need more time and training.
      Bringing up the subject of children, before bringing them to a dog park, make sure they are also up-to-date on how to make contact (or not) with the other dogs in the area.  The proper safety training for them is just as important as for your pet.  Not all dogs like children, not all dogs like to be petted, not all are approachable, and some are down-right unfriendly.  Don't go near wildlife, don't go into the water (or even just play in it with your hands) and remember the insect repellant and sunscreen.  You and your children can also pick up interesting things (called zoonotic infection) from a pet or wildlife or insects.  Multiple regulated websites have great lists of these annoying pests.  I prefer a source with some credentials behind them like the CDC, the CSU-Veterinary teaching hospital, your local veterinarian, or the AVMA. 
      With all that said, should you hide from the summer and keep yourself and your pets isolated?  NO!, just employ common sense, research the possibilities out there, and be an informed consumer of all those wonderful sunny parks and recreation areas.  Oh yeah, and keep a first aid kit and your veterinarian's number with you in case of need.  Never hurts to know the number of the nearest emergency vet too, especially when traveling, but that's another posting.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

9 PetCheck

    9News and the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association are getting together again this year to do vaccine clinics for pets who might otherwise not receive a check-up and rabies.  This a serious issue to me, I think rabies in Colorado can be very under-vaccinated, and we are in the middle of an outbreak once again this year.  The virus isn't into the Denver metro area yet, but since it IS in the surrounding areas, I strongly recommend looking at your dog's tag or papers and getting an update if they're overdue.
     Microchips and spay/neuter are also issues dear to my heart, so if your pet isn't done yet, set up that appointment.  I have multiple vaccine clinics and microchips clinics setup, and spay/neuter organizations exist in the Denver area.  (DDFL LuLu Mobile, Harrison Memorial, and spay Colorado come straight to mind.)  The 9News one is for low-income, but the others are open to anyone.  The next will be at the Arvada Sunflower Pet Fair, June 25, from 11am to 2pm.  See you there.

Canine Influenza

     I had a few questions from owners about canine influenza, it's vaccine, and how it relates to humans.  First off humans do not get this form of the influenza virus, that said it can be a very mild to very severe disease for dogs.  The influenza virus A strain H3N8 is the culprit, and at this time very limited immunity exists in our dog populations.  First noted around dog tracks, it has spread due to direct contact (licking and nuzzling); through the air (coughing or sneezing); and through touch (owner's hands or clothing).  The cough at first mimics any other respiratory disease (kennel cough), but in some dogs can develop into fever, runny nose, severe lack of energy/appetite, and in severe cases pneumonia.  The pneumonia is the worst because it is usually a mixed bacterial infection, and thus harder to fight off.  However, at this time no active outbreak is apparent.
     The recommendations for this vaccine at this time are mostly limited to dogs in multiple-dog environments, such as kennels, shelters, dog parks and events, training, and grooming regularly.  Keeping your dog in good health with the usual good food (not generic or bulk), clean water at all times, good housing, and great care will also help them to fight this virus.  At this time, though the virus is real, I am not advocating this vaccine for most of my patients.  In the future this may change, depending on whether a large outbreak once again threatens.   More info is available at, if interested.
     For the nonce, with no major signs of it and a conditional vaccine in a world of many vaccines, I'm much more worried by rabies, DAPP (and Lepto if you have a water loving dog), and bordatella (kennel cough).  These are much more prevalent and also serious diseases. 
     Don't forget parasite prevention through the entire summer months, and into the winter for heartworm. 
     Keep your pet out of the car during summer also, since 15 minutes in a "cool" car (70 degrees outside) can produce life-threatening temperatures inside that glass-encased cage in the sun.  You can get out or open the door when you get too hot, they can't.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Heartworm in Colorado

Do we have heartworm in Colorado?  Unfortunately, with a resounding yes, we do.  Although we are still a dry state, and thus have less than areas such as Florida, we do have the mosquitoes that carry the larva, and thus adult infestation in dogs and cats.  We usually cite the American Heartworm Society for the 1-2% incidence in Colorado, though that varies in imported pets from higher infection states.
How are you protecting your pets?  We recommend testing for the infection yearly, and keeping your pet on preventative for 9-12 months of the year.  Both dogs and cats are at risk for the infection, inside or outside, because mosquitoes are highly mobile.  It requires an infected dog to pass the infection on to the mosquito creating a reservoir; and only 30% of our dogs are tested and on the medication. 
Due to the safe and easy nature of most heartworm preventatives, we do strongly recommend this medication be added to your monthly regimen of care in both dogs and cats.  In this case, the expense of the preventative monthly (usually between $15-20) is worth the expense of the cure (usually in the thousands due to hospitalization and testing). 
There is much information out there about the life cycle and other issues surrounding heartworm, remember to go to trusted sites, such as the Cornell University, UC-Davis, and CSU Veterinary sites.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Rats are great pets, but

I've had rats and kids for 4 years now, and no problems have ever cropped up between them, so I was surprised to find an article warning about the risks of kids having rats.  Basically a pediatrician in Montreal is advocating for banning rats from being sold because they can carry a bacterium in there mouths that cause a serious illness.  He's worried about rat bite fever, a zoonoses (transmissible to humans from animals) caused by Streptobacillus moniliformis, transmitted from rat bites or mouth to mouth contact with your pet (yes, kissing). 
The disease sounds ugly, but the transmission sounds rare, and a ferret can also spread it.  My rats were well socialized when young, and have never even offered to bite, and I don't recommend kissing animals.  I've also always advocated for washing after handling any animals, especially the smaller "exotics", anyhow.     Zoonoses exist in ALL animals, it is far better to find out what is out there and educate yourself on how to decrease your risk.  Especially now, when hantavirus (from mice), west nile virus (from birds), etc are all in the news. 
Final word?  Have your pets seen by your vet, ask questions about what they can carry and what you can do to decrease the risks, and follow through with good hygiene anytime dealing with pets.
Have a great weekend. jec

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Easter lilies, bunnies, and other thoughts

Easter is just around the corner, this weekend.  I believe a few tips from the pet perspective are in order.

Lilies (all parts) are toxic to pets, even just a little nip can result in an emergency visit to the vet for kidney failure.  Please keep them behind glass doors or just out of the house if you  have an inquisitive or new pet.

Easter bunnies, and other live animals, are cute and wonderful - - - in the petting zoo, in the movies, or in a picture.  Please don't buy a real, live animal unless you're ready for all the work they require.  Bunnies are wonderful pets, but need litter, litter boxes, hay, proper housing and food, and lots of attention.  They can live up to a decade (or longer), and some varieties get large.  Be sure you're in for the long haul, too many end up at the shelter.  This goes for all the other cute baby animals too, chicks, etc.  They are living creatures who need the basic requirements of life to flourish.  A stuffed toy, a visit to the zoo, volunteering at the shelter, helping the neighbor, are all much better alternatives if you're not ready yet.

Holidays also mean visitors, don't forget to let the pets have a quiet space to themselves.  This will decrease their stress with all the goings-on, and allow you to pay attention to your guests.  Rich foods, even just plain human food is rich to pets, can cause an upset stomach or worse.  Trauma from accidental foot steps, bites from over-stimulation, etc all can be avoided with a little forethought.

Hope you have a great and safe holiday.
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