BBQ Dangers

As summertime BBQ time heats up we just wanted to take a moment to warn dog owners against feeding their pets corn cobs.
The area in the green box is an obstructed corn cob.While corn on its own is not toxic or generally harmful, leftover corn cobs can be dangerous for dogs to eat since they do not digest and many times get stuck somewhere in the digestion tract causing partial or complete obstruction.

While at times the cob may pass uneventfully in larger dogs medium and smaller dogs are at great risk. Corn cobs do not digest at all in a dog’s stomach and if left will try to pass down the intestines causing blockage and possible perforation. Once obstructed the intestines can be damaged and surgery is the only way to correct the problem.

Corn Cobs are listed among the top 10 items swallowed by dogs so resist the temptation to give them one. Keep garbage cans covered and locked after a party to keep your pet safe. If your pet accidentally swallows one keep a close watch on them and seek medical help as soon as possible.

Heatstroke and your pet
Animals with pushed in noses are particularly susceptible

With the summer heat upon us we must do all we can to prevent Heatstroke in our dogs and cats. Our furry friends do not tolerate heat as well as humans. Animals with pushed in noses (Brachycephalic) such as Pugs and Boxers, the very young or old or overweight animals are particularly susceptible. Heatstroke is a very serious medical condition and can rapidly lead to brain damage, kidney failure and even death. Animals cool themselves by panting but in times of high heat and humidity panting becomes ineffective.

Signs of heatstroke:

  • Heavy panting
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Vomiting
  • High Temperature (> then 103.5°F taken rectally)
  • Disorientation
  • Listlessness
  • Restlessness
  • Seizures( if left untreated)

Preventing heatstroke:

Read moreHeatstroke and your pet
Ear Mites -- They're Creepy and They're Crawly
Ear mite - Otodectes cynotisEar mite - Otodectes cynotis

One of the most common problems seen in cats is ear mites. Ear mites are tiny crab like parasites that live on the surface of the skin in the ear and feed on ear debris and tissue fluids. Almost 90 percent of cats become infested with ear mites at some point in their life. Ear mites can infest cats of any age.

Mites are most frequently seen in kittens. Adult cats tend to tolerate the mites better. This tolerance can mask the symptoms, making regular examination and attention by you more important.

Ear mites are highly contagious. They are easily passed from the mother cat to the kittens or they can also infest dogs, rabbits and rodents in the same household. This mite is not zoonotic; it cannot be transmitted from animals to humans.

Symptoms. Affected animals will scratch their ears and shake their head. The ear canal may be filled with dark discharge that resembles coffee grounds. The amount of discharge depends on the severity of the infestation. The irritation can lead to secondary ear infections, which further complicate the situation. If the problem is left untreated, severe damage to the ear canal and eardrum can occur, possibly resulting in permanent hearing loss.

Mites can spread. When infestation is severe and untreated, mites can spread to other body parts causing skin irritation. Common areas include the neck, rump, and tail. This is due to the curled position that cats assume while sleeping.

Diagnosis of the problem is easily done by a veterinarian. A good history and physical exam is needed. Microscopic visualization usually confirms the mites.

Treatment includes cleaning the ear. Once the ears are cleaned, examination of the canal is needed to determine the amount of inflammation and damage the ears have. A commercial ear product is then applied to the cat to kill the mites. This product will need to be applied every 2-4 weeks for 3 treatments. Daily ear cleaning and topical antibiotics may also be needed if a secondary infection is present. Re-examination by your veterinarian is essential with this problem.

Once the infestation is cleared, a monthly preventative is recommended. Examination and treatment of all household pets should be done at the same time to prevent transfer to other pets or reinfestation.

If you see your cat scratching his ears frequently or see dark discharge in the ears, see your veterinarian as this problem can be very uncomfortable and harmful to your cat.

Supplements...They're Not Just For People Anymore

For several years now people have been benefiting from the use of Fatty Acid supplements. Now, veterinarians have joined in. Let's review Fatty Acids (FA) and some of the benefits our companion animals get from the daily intake of these supplements.

Fatty Acids are a specific type of polyunsaturated fat. There are two main groups; Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids, based on their molecular structure. Animals can produce some FA, but not all of them, so they must be added to their diets. Those that need to be added are called Essential Fatty Acids.

FA in food are easily destroyed by overcooking, improper storage or a sub-optimal amount of antioxidants in the food. As a result, daily supplementation is recommended.

Fatty Acids come from various sources. Beef fat has a small amount of FA. Greater quantities are found in many plants and cold water fish. The appropriate ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 FA is also important. The use of a good, reputable formula is highly recommended. Your veterinarian can assist you in choosing an appropriate product.

Fatty Acids have many effects on the body. One of the main functions is assisting the body to fight inflammation. The Omega-3 FA decrease the production of inflammatory substances in the body which results in less inflammation. Some diseases which benefit from this effect are allergic skin disorders, autoimmune conditions, arthritis, renal failure, colitis and inflammatory bowel disease. Nether conditions which benefit from FA are dry, dull hair coats and yeast infections. Dry coats are usually indicative of a deficiency of FA in the skin.

Studies have shown that yeast growth is slowed with FA supplementation in both dogs and cats experiencing skin and ear problems.

Omega-3 FA also provides cardiovascular benefits. Evidence suggests it decreases ventricular arrhythmias and has been shown to reduce blood pressure in dogs. 
In higher doses it can have an anti clotting effect on platelets, decreasing the risk of thromboembolisms (blood clots).

Due to their anti-inflammatory properties, Omega-3 FA have a beneficial place in the treatment of cancer. They have also been shown to slow down metastasis. On the other hand, higher dosages of Omega-6 FA can actually stimulate tumor development. This is one of the reasons that a quality product, with the correct ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 FA, should be chosen with your animal's specific needs in mind.

Fatty Acids are also good during pregnancy for both the mother and her neonates to strengthen their immune systems. They benefit retinal and brain development as well.

When there is a medical problem, FA alone may not alleviate most clinical signs. The supplement in conjunction with other treatments is necessary. Many times the use of FA can decrease the dose of steroids needed to treat a problem such as pruritus, the itching associated with skin allergies.

The side effects associated with FA supplements are rare and few. One is pancreatitis, which causes pain, vomiting and diarrhea. This is very rare but it is serious should if occur. Other side effects can include diarrhea, weight gain and fishy breath if a fish oil based supplement is used. Start the supplement at a low dose and increase it gradually to prevent diarrhea. Diet adjustment may be needed if a high dose of FA is required.

Again, your veterinarian can assist you in choosing a supplement in the best formulation, dosage and Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio for your animal's needs.

Timing. Fatty Acids do not have an immediate effect. Pets often need to be treated up to 6 weeks before the positive effects become evident. Don't be impatient, studies have shown this supplement to be very beneficial to your pet's well being, overall health and appearance.

To Neuter or Not To Neuter?
That is the question!

Myths and facts. Making the decision to spay or neuter a pet is very difficult for some people. There are many myths about these procedures.

Facts. Spaying a female pet and neutering or castrating a male pet are surgical sterilization procedures. They are done to prevent the unwanted birth of animals by removing the reproductive organs. The procedures are done under general anesthesia so your pet does not feel pain or discomfort.
Age. Spaying and neutering are usually done when the animal is at least 6 months old.
Surgery. The surgery takes from 20 to 60 minutes. Your pet likely will spend one night in the hospital for monitoring and rest.
Home care is minimal.

Read moreTo Neuter or Not To Neuter?
Food For thought

It's been several months since tainted pet food was recalled, but we still receive many questions about it. Let's review facts about the contamination and then look at renal failure, which is the medical condition caused by the contaminated food.

Gluten and melamine. Wheat gluten was blamed by many as the culprit, but wheat gluten is a high-quality protein found in most pet foods as well as in people food. The problem was caused by a substance found in the gluten: melamine, a chemical used to make plastics. Melamine, when ingested, is toxic to the kidneys, resulting in renal failure.

Read moreFood For thought
Look at those pearly whites
By: Angelica Bialek, DVM

Brushing at least every 2 days is recommendedOral hygiene is an important part of pet care. But many owners don't realize that they need to brush their pet's teeth. Ask your veterinarian to show you the proper technique and to offer suggestions on how to get your pet accustomed to brushing. Poor oral health can lead to other health conditions including heart failure.  According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, more then 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have dental disease by age 3.

Symptoms of dental disease vary. Some animals have bad breath (halitosis), and some have mouth pain or swelling under the eye. Some pets stop eating. Others have no symptoms. If you notice any of these conditions, an exam by your veterinarian should be done to determine the extent of dental disease and treatments.

Read moreLook at those pearly whites
Overweight Pet?

By: Angelica Bialek, DVM

Diet??Is your dog overweight? Canine obesity is a growing problem. At least 25 percent of all dogs are overweight. Many owners think that a dog in the recommended weight range is too thin and that a plump dog is just right. Wrong.

How to measure what's overweight.   Considering the animal's weight in just pounds and ounces is not an ideal way to measure fitness.  Different breeds have different ideal weights.  A better method of measurement is to touch and to look.
Examine your dog's ribs and waist.  On a dog at the correct weight, individual ribs can be easily felt and the abdomen is slightly sucked in when viewed from the front and side. Your veterinarian can assist you with this assessment.

Read moreOverweight Pet?

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