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Guinea Pigs

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                Guinea pigs are great pets, they are inquisitive and social, are very well mannered, and live around 5-6 years of age (though some can get as old as 8 years!). They originate from South America, and they are found in four different types of coats: Peruvian (long-haired), Abyssinian (with coats in whorls, rougher coat), Smooth coated, or hairless (a.k.a. skinny pigs).

                Male guinea pigs are called boars, with females called sows, just like real pigs. They make many different types of noises, including short chirps and ‘wheeks’ to get your attention or ask for food, to purring noises, something like a cat would make. Check out the Metropolitan Guinea Pig Rescue’s website for various guinea pig sounds.

Nutrition

                Nutrition is extremely important with guinea pigs.  They need to eat large amounts of hay every day, with Timothy hay being the most recommended type.  The hay helps to keep their teeth ground down to a normal level.  If they don’t get enough hay, their molars can easily overgrow. Vitamin C is also very important for guinea pigs, they need a daily source of this important vitamin (such as the Oxbow Vitamin C tablet). They can also eat vegetables in their diet, with certain types being recommended more than others. For example, iceberg lettuce isn’t recommended, since it is too high in water content and guinea pigs can get diarrhea from this type of lettuce.  

Housing

                Guinea pigs need a large amount of floor space to keep them comfortable. While guinea pigs aren’t avid jumpers, having a cage with walls high enough to avoid escape is important (>10 inches).  They can easily get hurt from jumping from a high height, it is best that if they have a second floor to their cage, that it (and the ramp) is enclosed to protect them from injury. The most commonly used caging for guinea pigs is called a C&C (Cube and Coroplast) cage. Having several areas in the cage to hide, such as an igloo, or a box is helpful, since they like their privacy.

                The cage needs to be changed daily, since they are prolific at urination and defecation. Bedding can either consist of shredded paper products or pellets, aspen shavings, or towels/blankets. Do not use pine or cedar shavings, since they have aromatic oils that can predispose to respiratory and skin diseases.

                Guinea pigs are indoor pets, they prefer temperatures between 65-80⁰F (18-26⁰C) for comfort. Ensure there is plenty of water available. They typically prefer a water bottle, but some guinea pigs will only drink out of a heavy dish on the ground.  If you are using a bowl, ensure to clean this water several times daily, it will get dirty very quickly. 

Handling

                Guinea pigs can be skittish, and it takes them time to get used to handling. Bringing them out for play at least once daily can help get them used to being held.  To hold a guinea pig, pick them up with a hand under their belly/chest, and one hand under their rump.  Hold them on your chest, with one hand under the rump, one on their back to prevent jumping.

Nail trimming

                Guinea pig nails can get very long, curling around themselves. Nails should be trimmed about once every month.  Just like with dogs and cats, you want to avoid cutting the blood vessel in the nail.  If you aren’t sure where this is, you’re always welcome to have your veterinarian or a veterinary technician demonstrate how to best hold your guinea pig, and how to trim the nails safely.

When should I bring my guinea pig to the vet?

If your guinea pig’s appetite reduces or they are putting out less feces than normal, they should be seen by a veterinarian. With a guinea pig’s digestive system, they need to continually eat to keep themselves healthy.  A reduction in appetite is a medical emergency.

Otherwise, guinea pigs can develop other health issues just as any other species, such as a runny nose, or blood in the urine.  Proper nutrition and housing can prevent a lot of health problems. Weighing your guinea pig weekly will help to monitor their condition as well.

October is RVT Month

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Registered Veterinary Technicians are wonderful, important members of the Veterinary Team.  They are involved with every part of medicine from birthing puppies, through vaccine appointments and illnesses, through to helping us when we lose a pet family member. They are experts in taking an animal’s blood for wellness profiles, delivering anesthesia to our patients, performing dental cleanings, taking x-rays, administering medications and treatments, as well as delivering compassionate care to each and every creature.

Becoming a Veterinary Technician is a choice to become patient advocates, discussing cases with the veterinarians and ensuring concerns are heard.  They are knowledgeable in disease, health, preventive medicine, treatment, communication and of course, their plethora of technical skills. Our technicians have spent hours with clients and patients, ensuring animals are the happiest and healthiest we can make them.

At our clinic, we are so fortunate to have five skilled technicians who devote their lives to such a noble cause as helping to keep our pets healthy and safe. Thank you to: Amy, Briana, Cathy, Kristi, and Sharon for all that you do.  Superheroes can wear scrubs, too!

Remember to thank your technicians!

Online Remedies- Ask your vet!

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The internet can encyclopedic, with great information, but you have to be a skeptic.  Some information can be misinformation, or even harmful to your pets, but it can be difficult to sort out! Also, many times information is anecdotal, without the scientific evidence backing it to prove it is true.  When researching as to whether an item is appropriate or not to use for your pet, give your vet a call. This will likely be the best resource for you, since they know your pet well, and can tell you the safety for that specific animal.  Secondarily, sources such as the pubmed research database, veterinarypartner.com, or lifelearn articles on our website are excellent other resources. I’m going to discuss a few common anecdotally recommended items which are not as helpful as you may think, and some which can be harmful.

 

Tea Tree Oil

There are many websites and product which purport the benefits of using tea tree oil application on the skin, or in shampoos or conditioners.  What many people don’t know is that dogs and cats are much more sensitive to this product than humans, with it being absorbed through the skin into the nervous system, causing varying severity from weakness to paralysis!  All pets are sensitive to the product in the air, it can cause breathing issues.  If ingested, it can be toxic, and pets can have severe reactions and even liver damage with tea tree oil products. Check out the aspca toxicity information on Tea Tree Oil.

Coconut Oil

While delicious as coconut oil is when used for cooking, it does not have the same skin benefits as omega fatty acids.  Coconut oil is a medium chain triglyceride, which if ingested, the body uses as calories- it is broken down well in the small intestines. While omega fatty acids in the correct dosages can be used to treat many inflammatory conditions such as skin and joint issues.

On the skin, coconut oil is still a food- but for bacteria and yeast!  We often see skin issues get worse very quickly when this oil is applied to the skin. Plus, your pet will try to lick it, which also adds more bacteria to the skin!

 

Yoghurt as a probiotic

The type of bacteria in yoghurt is in the genus of Lactobacillus. Since the exact strains and volumes of Lactobacillus vary widely in yoghurt, not being in high enough concentrations to be helpful, and yoghurt can often promote vomiting and diarrhea since dogs and cats can’t digest it well- Yoghurt is not be best probiotic for our pets.

 

Chamomile tea on irritated eyes

Chamomile tea has had some reports of toxicity with dogs and cats, exposed mainly from drinking from an unguarded mug! Chamomile tea has Coumadin inside, which can predispose to bleeding disorders, vomiting and diarrhea.  For some reason, animals seem to be much more sensitive to the Coumadin than humans. So, while chamomile has some properties of reduced inflammation, it isn’t worth the risk of using a tea bag on those eyes.  

Garlic and Heartworm disease or Fleas

There are many safe heartworm and flea medications available through your veterinarian.  The good news is, heartworm preventions have been tested stringently and have been proven to work well.  There are no safe alternatives to heartworm prevention which actually work to prevent heartworm disease.  Garlic is a food which contains sulfur compounds. Enough sulfur compounds can cause a type of anemia called Heinz body anemia. Remember, if we don’t protect our pets from heartworm disease, the treatment for heartworm disease is quite expensive, and can cause them pain, illness, and discomfort. Prevention is safe and effective.

 

Not an all exhaustive list, but at least an overview on the more common home remedies. If you have any questions about whether you should use something with your pet, give your vet a call.

Hookworm

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Dr. Kim Quinn                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Jan 2018

                Dogs and cats get intestinal parasites from exposure to other animal’s feces, eating animals (such as rodents/birds), drinking from puddles, or from their mother (through her feces, milk, or while in the uterus).  This is the main reason why we ‘deworm’ animals frequently, sometimes monthly, depending on their risk.  Another important reason is to prevent the risk to humans of picking up a parasite. 

                Most of us have read the news article about the couple from Windsor who contracted hookworm in the skin of the feet while on vacation in Dominican Republic. While the concentration of hookworm is higher in tropical climates, this IS a parasite we see in the Windsor-Essex County area in dogs and cats.  Dogs and cats acquire hookworms from another animal’s feces, through penetration of the parasite through the skin, from their mother, or in cats, from eating rodents.  The parasite lives in the intestinal tract, ‘hooking on’ to the inside of the intestines.  The worms feed on blood and can cause anemia, which can be fatal if there is a large number of worms present. They can also cause diarrhea and loss or protein from the GI tract.  Good news? It is a parasite which is easily found on fecal sample testing since the adult worms lay eggs which are released in the feces. It is also easily treated with specific deworming medication, but we will ask that you remove any feces from your yard to prevent them from re-infecting themselves (wear gloves!).

 

                How do humans factor in to this picture?  Hookworms are deposited in feces in soil, on sand, etc.  If the area where they are deposited are not exposed to high temperatures from the sun- i.e., shaded sandy soil areas, the parasite can live well.  They wait for a human or animal to walk in the area for the parasite to penetrate through the skin.  Since their normal life cycle involves living in the intestines, being under the skin isn’t a normal place for these worms.  They cause weeping sores which are painful and itchy on the feet.  These can be treated, but it is an awful issue to have to go through.

Foot with hookworm, from cdc.gov website

 

                Life lessons from hookworm:

– Don’t walk on shaded sandy soil without wearing shoes, they can burrow in your skin.  Sunny soil during summer should be fine, since the heat of the sun kills the parasite.

– Perform fecal tests with your pets at least once yearly

– Deworming is so important, because it protects your pet, and YOU!

– Pick up the feces from the backyard after it is defecated, wear gloves

 

 

What to do if Your Pet is Behaving Differently

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If your pet is licking/scratching/chewing/gnawing at an area- there is a problem. If there is a change in their behaviour, such as them rubbing their face on the ground or becoming aggressive when they’ve never done that before, there is a reason for it.

Since we don’t see your pet on a daily basis, it is more difficult for us to know if issues have changed with your pet, you are the best judge of their behaviour.  Giving us information about new behaviours aids us in best pinpointing the problem.  Once you’ve found a new behaviour, writing information on frequency, duration, and type of behaviour can aid in addressing the issue.  If you feel it needs to be dealt with immediately, call your veterinarian right away.

So what could be the problem?

Licking/gnawing/chewing at a spot could mean such a variety of different issues, from allergies, to fleas, to hormonal issues, to parasites, to pain!  What a range of different possibilities!  How do we help determine what the possible underlying causes?  Location can be a big indicator, itching above the tail is more likely to be due to fleas, under the tail would likely be anal glands/allergies, at the vulva may mean a UTI or urinary incontinence, etc.  Also, if they are chewing/biting/licking at multiple locations, the patterns of distribution could be our key.  Depending on other factors such as age, duration, bloodwork status, and history, we may recommended other testing to determine an underlying cause and the most appropriate treatment.

Hormonal issues such as an underactive thyroid gland can lead to weight gain and lethargy, but also skin issues such as dryness, crusting and itching.  This is more common in older dogs, and requires bloodwork to diagnose.

In older animal, arthritic conditions are common, licking at a specific site on a paw may indicate a painful joint.  As they continue to lick the area, it is more likely to become infected, which continues the licking process, and we get stuck in a loop.  Sometimes pain medication may stop the cycle, some animals may need anti-anxiety medication since it becomes a neurological issue.

In a puppy with a poor skin coat, perhaps we are dealing with a skin infection called a puppy pyoderma, requiring antibiotics. Or perhaps, a common parasite called demodex which necessitates anti-parasitic medication.  Both of these diagnoses would be made via microscope.

Pawing at the mouth may mean a piece of an object has become stuck, or possibly a dental issue.  Though most animals with dental issues just continue through their daily lives without showing pain or discomfort.  It really is amazing how many of these animals will chew hard food normally, while dealing with dental pain!

Aggression is another wide ranging topic, since an animal can react towards a person touching a painful spot, or even the possibility that the person may be near an area of pain.  If an animal feels ill, they can overreact to situations and put people in danger.  These are issues which need to be dealt with immediately and properly.

This information is here to help educate you on the vast numbers of different diseases which are possible with our patients, the more information which can be brought to your appointment, the better able we will be to determine the underlying cause.  Sometimes an exam may be all that is necessary, often we will need other testing such as bloodtests, skin analysis tests (Skin scrapings, fungal cultures), or occasionally more in depth items such as dental procedures.

Give us a call when your pet has a change, the majority of time it is indicative of a larger underlying issue warranting further action!

Meeting Your Indoor Cat’s Needs

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When thinking of what your pet cat’s daily needs, it is normal to assume just food, water and shelter. Unfortunately, this common misconception often leads to stress, particularly when it comes to indoor cats. The problem is that generally, stress in cats can lead to severe stress-related disease as well as behaviour problems. Cat environmental needs are just as important as food and water in their overall well-being. It is essential to provide them with opportunities to express normal behaviour to reduce stress in their lives (in addition to reducing vet visits for you!). All cats require the same environmental enrichment, regardless of if they are showing signs of stress or behaviour problems as unnoticed stress will, in all likelihood, progress to problems requiring veterinary involvement (over grooming, feline lower urinary tract disease, upper respiratory infections etc.). Here are some ways to implement environmental enrichment for your feline companion in your own home.

Puzzle Feeders

Puzzle feeders are a great way to mimic the natural hunting behaviour of working for a meal. This stimulates your cat to use their senses and wet or dry food can be used. There are many kinds of puzzle feeders available as well as tutorials online to make your own out of household supplies. Another benefit is that feeding with a puzzle feeder will take more time out of the cat’s day to eat. This reduces the amount of food consumed as well as reduces the amount of time to become bored and develop behaviour problems such as over grooming. Each cat should have their own feeding space plus an extra in case.

Recommended:

Cat It Food Tree & Cat It Senses Digger (links to amazon.ca) – “Cat It” carries many other good environmental enrichment products for cats.

Trixie Flip Board Level 2 & Trixie Move 2 Win Level 3 (links to amazon.ca) – Trixie has varied puzzles good for cats and dogs! Different levels to suit different abilities.

Cat Puzzle DIY (links to youtube.com)

DIY Interactive Cat Box (links to youtube.com)

 

Space

Cats need their own space. They tend to be territorial especially when easily accessible resources are lacking. This includes space for feeding, water, litterboxes and scratching as well as vertical space and places to hide.

Water bowls should always be kept away from food as contamination of the water with food particles tends to discourage cats from drinking. Water can also be used as enrichment by adding pet water fountains to drink from as well.

Recommended: Petmate Fresh Flow Fountain (links to amazon.ca)

 

In multi-cat households, each cat should be fed separately to reduce the occurrence of bullying. Cats should also have access to multiple water bowls spaced apart for this same reason.

A general rule for litterboxes is to have a litterbox for each cat, plus an extra. These litterboxes should be spaced out, cleaned consistently and allow for the cat to exit from two directions. This can help to reduce the occurrence of cats not using the litterbox as there will be less conflict in accessing the boxes.

Scratching posts are also an important part of a cat’s wellbeing. Normally, cats scratch to stretch (relieving tension, think of it as yoga for cats.), scent mark and sharpen/wear down claws.  If cats are scratching furniture, it indicates insufficient opportunity to display this necessary behaviour. Supply sturdy posts and mats with different materials to find out what your cat(s) prefer. Additionally, ensure your cat’s nails are regularly kept clipped to reduce the urge to scratch as often.

Vertical space is a great way to add space to your cat’s territory. Indoor cats need this space especially as it is not comparable to that of a natural outdoor cat’s territory. In multi-cat/animal households, it also gives space to avoid conflict and get away. This is necessary to enable your cat to calm down after a stressful encounter. Also, cats often enjoy watching the room/out the window from a high place where they can feel secure – another way to alleviate boredom.

 

Places to hide are essential to increase an anxious cat’s sense of security. Boxes with a hole cut out are a cheap, effective way to incorporate hiding places into your household. Tunnels and cat hideaways are also available from pet stores. Cat towers add places to scratch, vertical space and can have cubbies to hide in. These are highly recommended to enrich your cat’s environment. No matter how confident your cat may seem, places to hide are important. Not having sufficient places to hide can cause a lack of a sense of security thereby likely leading to reduced confidence, stress and eventually, possible stress-induced disease.

 

cat treeCat Trees/towers are great for providing places to hide, vertical space as well as a scratching post.

Although it may seem logical to get more cats to give your cat more stimulation, it is often detrimental to the cats’ wellbeing unless raised together from a young age. All cats are capable of living alone, some cats will accept social contact with another of their species but most will avoid it. If your cat is not bonded, it is far better not to have more than one cat. If you have more than one cat, even if bonded, ensure that the resources mentioned above are adequate. See “further information” section for signs of bonded cats.

 

Interaction

Interaction is important to reduce boredom and its associated problematic behaviours. Cats that are bored, have excess energy and not enough stimulation tend to use their energy and focus on unwanted behaviours (over grooming, destruction of furniture, etc.). They often become stressed.

Cats naturally enjoy pouncing, it releases endorphins similarly to humans when exercising. This in turn makes them happier. It is recommended to engage in play with your cat with toys on sticks and toy mice for them to chase and pounce on. This mimics natural behaviour.

Contrary to popular belief, cats can be trained. This is an ideal way to interact with your cat as well as stimulating them to think. Most cats are food driven so training should be done with treats. With calorie restricted cats, instead of feeding with a puzzle feeder, the cat can be fed their food as treats daily.

Another way to enrich their lives is to play cat DVDs (sold online and in pet stores). These DVDs include sounds and sights that fascinate the cat for hours. However, this doesn’t entice all cats but it worth trying out with your own. Outdoor bird feeders by accessible windows are similar in effect and often work with all cats.

RecommendedMovies For Cats – The Audio-Visual Cat Toy (links to amazon.ca)

 

Further Information:

Indoor Cat Initiative – Ohio State University

The Body Language of Feline Anxiety (Poster) – Dr Sophia Yin

5 Signs of Bonded Cats

Feuding Felines – Dr Sophia Yin

Covered or Uncovered Litterboxes? – Dr Sophia Yin

Tips for Dealing With Urine Spraying – Dr Sophia Yin

Dog park safety

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Every morning and evening we take my dog for a walk.  Walking is one of my favourite forms of exercise, especially in the morning since it helps to clear my mind and prepare me for another day.  For my dog, it burns off some of her excess energy and gives her an extra reason to nap after her breakfast.  Depending on where you live, there are different pathways available for walking your dog.  Some people live near dog parks, which can be a great place to give your dog some exercise, but many come with a list of dangers.  Addressing some of the potential dangers in dog parks can help to hopefully avoid negative situations.

Giant Breed

Intestinal Parasites

Parasites can be easily picked up from the dog park when a dog either sniffs or licks another dog’s feces, the area where another dog’s feces has been, or water sources.  These parasites can also be acquired from many other sources such as sniffing or licking another animal’s rear end, drinking from puddles, eating the intestines of deceased rodents, or ingesting fleas, just to name a few. We recommend sending away our pet’s feces at least yearly for parasitic testing, since many of these parasites are microscopic and cannot be seen with the naked eye.

Important tip: Help your dog avoid other dog’s feces by being aware while on a walk.

 

Transmissible Diseases

Bordetella is a bacteria otherwise known as Kennel Cough which can cause a severe hacking cough in dogs.  Since this bacteria is most often transmitted in areas where other dogs are present, the dog park is a high-risk location.  Vaccination for Bordetella can help to decrease the risk and severity of this disease.

Parvovirus is a virus spread via contact with feces, typically from ingestion.  Depending on the level of vaccination of your pet, parvovirus can cause either a mild diarrhea to a potentially fatal form of bloody diarrhea by killing the cells lining the intestines.  Keeping your pet up-to-date on their vaccinations can help protect them from this terrible disease.

 

Aggressive Encounters

Always remember that not all dogs are friendly. Always ask for the dog owners’ permission before having your dog’s interact.  Keep both dogs on a leash at first, so if you see any signs of aggression or discomfort, the dogs can be taken apart from one another.

If the encounter escalates and a dog becomes wounded, pull the dogs apart via their leashes.  Do not get in the middle of a dogfight, they will not recognize you as being their owners when their adrenaline is pumping. Many people have gotten severely injured by getting in the middle of a fight.

We commonly see bite or laceration injuries from dogs in a dog park, some are mild and require some antibiotics, but they can be quite severe, leading to broken bones, lung punctures, or death.  With any issue, please bring your dog to their vet as soon as possible.

 

Leash Types

Halter-type leashes are great for walking, and to give a good hold of your dog if you needed to grab them quickly.  Wonderful to use in the car, since many have seat belt buckles to help hold your dog in place.

Gentle Leader Collars work by the same principle as nose-leads for horses.  If you control the direction the head is pointing, you control where the animal is walking.  These collars are great to help control animals on a walk and guide them, gently, with less pulling and tugging than with traditional collars.

 

Yellow Ribbon Initiative

This newer symbol instructs pet owners that yellow ribbons tied on a dog’s leash mean they need space.  There can be many reasons they need space: recovering from a recent surgery, being fearful of other dogs or people, or even being aggressive, but this is a rule that should be followed for everyone’s safety.

 

Understand Dog Body Language

Just because their tail is wagging, doesn’t mean they are excited and happy- there is so much more to understanding dog behaviour. Check out the Dog Decoder App which helps to evaluate dog behaviour, as well as Dr. Sophia Yin’s great poster on evaluating dog posture. https://drsophiayin.com/tag/body-language-of-dogs/

 

Children- The Be a Tree Program

Yearly, 1-2 people are killed in a dog attack, and children are at a higher risk than adults.  Teaching children how to appropriately approach an animal, or what to do if a strange dog approaches them, can help to reduce the risk of injury. The ‘Be a Tree’ program is offered by our clinic, where a Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT) can come to a classroom and teach children to evaluate how to act around a strange dog.  Give us a call if you would like more information.

 

As a general rule, if your dog is not friendly with other dogs, keep them away from dog parks, and keep them on a leash.  Train your dog to come on command.  Always ask permission prior to engaging with any other pets at the park.   Stay safe!PuppyTraining

Ear Infections

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Many pets have had an ear infection at some point in their lives.  Some pets seem to have chronic issues with their ears, which can range from uncomfortable to unbearable.  While ear infections are most common in the spring and fall months, they can occur at any time of the year.  It is also one of the most common reasons for pets to be brought into the clinic!

What does an ear infection look like?

The most common ear infection is the red inflamed ear with brown discharge.  Infected ears can also contain yellow or black discharge, they may not even appear inflamed.  Over time, the ear canals will become so inflamed that the opening towards the middle ear will narrow.  It all depends on the organisms involved, the duration of the infection, and any underlying predisposing causes.

How would I know if my pet has an ear infection?

Scratching at the ears or shaking the head are some of the more common signs pets will show.  Some animals may cry or whimper if their ears are touched, or not let their ears be touched at all.  If your pet is showing any of these signs, we highly recommend they be brought into your Vet for the ears to be seen and evaluated.  If an ear infection is not treated, the head shaking can lead to blood vessels rupturing in the ear, causing a hematoma (blood pocket) under the skin of the ear.  These hematomas can require medication to surgical treatment for repair.  It is always best to treat an ear infection as soon as possible.

What causes ear infections?

Some breeds of dogs seem to be prone to ear infections, especially breeds with large and floppy, and/or hairy ears such as Cocker Spaniels, poodles or sheepdogs.

Ear infections can be caused by abnormal anatomy, an underactive thyroid gland, or allergies.  The most common allergy to lead to an ear infection is a food allergy, though environmental allergies can also be a predisposing factor.  Food allergies are typically reactions to specific proteins in food, (for example, chicken or beef) to which the body responds with sending out inflammatory cells.  This causes the skin barrier in the ears to be abnormal, leaving gaps between the ear cells, allowing organisms such as bacteria and yeast to settle and replicate, causing infections.  For dogs with chronic allergies, this abnormal skin cell barrier will need to be controlled, or the ear infections will continue to recur.

What happens when I bring my pet to the vet?

At the clinic, we examine the ears with an instrument called an otoscope.  This allows us to see deep in the ear canal, in order to visualize the ear drum (tympanic membrane).  Certain medications cannot be applied in the ear if the ear drum is perforated, so we need to visualize the ear drum to determine the appropriate medications for use.

We also perform swabs of the ears, placed onto a microscope slide.  After the slide is stained and visualized under the microscope, we will be able to determine the organisms involved in the ear, also aiding in selection of the most appropriate treatment.

The ears are cleaned of debris at the clinic, and we demonstrate how to perform this procedure at home as well. If the ear canals are narrowed, or there is a predominantly bacterial infection, we may proceed with oral medication as well as topical medication in the ears.

Recheck appointments are very important to ensure the ears are healing well and to determine if further treatments are necessary.  Ear infections can change over time, sometimes needing changes in medications!

 

While ear infections can be frustrating, the relief our animals feel when the infections have been treated is immense.

Give us a call if your pet seems to be having any ear issues, we’re here to help.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nails! How do I trim those? And what if it is broken?!

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Written by: Dr. Kim Quinn

We all have these lovely, keratin-based structures- but dog and cat nails are different from ours.  Here are some of the top questions about pet nails we receive on a daily basis.

How often should I trim my pet’s nails?

With cats and dogs, trim their claws about once monthly.  Depending on what they do in a day, some animals will wear their claws down more or less quickly, thus altering how often they need those claws trimmed.
nail-diagramOf course, cut the white portion of the nails, don’t trim back into the blood vessel (otherwise known as ‘the quick’).  There are ways to hold cats to help reduce their anxiety.  For example, wrapping them in a towel, or using an appealing treat can help.

Check out renowned animal behaviourist, Dr. Sophia Yin’s great article on how to train a cat to enjoy nail trims:

https://drsophiayin.com/blog/entry/the-case-of-finn-the-cat-whos-afraid-of-toenail-trims-and-the-vet/

And for our dog owners, here is a great article about training a dog to tolerate nail trims:

https://drsophiayin.com/blog/entry/counterconditioning-for-toenail-trim-aggression/

If you are nervous about trimming your pet’s nails, we are more than happy to provide this service for you.  If you would like to see how we perform this task, we can teach you as well.

 

What happens if my pet breaks their nail? 

Our pet owners often notice a broken nail when their pet is licking at the nail, and/or if blood is on the floor, depending on the nail break severity.  If the nail is bleeding excessively, perform first aid treatments to try to stop the bleeding.  If you can wrap the foot with gauze or a towel, using slight pressure to stop the bleeding, this is preferable.  Bring your pet into a clinic as soon as you can for the area to be evaluated.

Broken nails are painful, and the more the area is rubbed against the ground, the more likely the pain, inflammation, and bleeding is going to continue.  So many owners attempt to treat a broken nail on their own, but the problem will magnify over time, leading to infection.

What do we do? After giving pain medication, then numbing the area with local anesthetic, the nail is clipped off at the base.  The bleeding is quickly stopped with styptic powder, then a bandage is applied with an antibiotic ointment.  Our pets are sent home with pain medication as well as antibiotics to help prevent any infection from ascending into the adjacent bone to a bone infection.

The majority of broken nails are just caused by a bad step or an area of weakened keratin.  A few pets may have other underlying issues such as abnormal keratin formation in the nails, or a cancer in the nail which makes it more prone to breakage.  These are just a few of the other issues which we evaluate when looking at the broken nail.

As always, give us a call if you have any questions or want a nail trim on your pet!

Pets As Presents? Lets talk about it.

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AS PER:
Sabrina Klepper, LVMT, University of Tennessee
Veterinary Team Brief

The holidays are right around the corner and, once again, some people will think a pet is the perfect gift for a family member or friend. As a veterinary professional, you may be asked for recommendations or advice, which gives you a unique opportunity to provide client education about the commitment of pet ownership.

A pet may represent many wonderful things in life, but it is important to emphasize that the gift is a live animal whose welfare is the most important consideration. This requires thorough and careful planning, rather than acting on impulse. Counsel your clients to think about these key factors:

Pet’s Age:
A young pet requires dedication and patience, which must be impressed upon potential owners or gift givers. Days and nights can be long because of housetraining challenges, inappropriate chewing, scratching, and biting, and whimpering. On the other hand, older pets likely have some training, they know what is expected, and they often fit right into families and live very comfortably; however, they can present their own set of challenges (eg, unknown histories, unresolved medical conditions, unwanted behaviors).

A pet is for life—not just the holidays.

Recipient’s Age:
While pet ownership can enrich anyone’s life, the recipient’s age must also be considered; for example, children and the elderly can have limitations. Young children may not be responsible enough to adequately care for their new pet, so the parents must be willing to accept the responsibility. Older adults reap many benefits from pet ownership, such as companionship, but they may be limited physically (eg, driving restrictions, impairing medical conditions).

Recipient’s Lifestyle:
Successful gifting of a pet includes matching its lifestyle with the owner’s. Pets usually need daily exercise as an outlet for their energy and possibly to decrease undesirable behaviors,1 and even well-intentioned parents may have busy lives that do not include time for exercising the family dog. Older owners may not physically be able to walk any dog, small or large. What follows—the guilt he or she feels because he or she cannot provide proper care—is even worse. However, keeping a pet that someone cannot care for adequately is unfair for both the person and the animal.

Life Span:
A pet is a lifelong commitment. A dog’s average life span is roughly 8–16 years; for indoor cats, it is 13–17 years. Children grow up and move away from home and sometimes cannot take their childhood pet. Elderly owners, though we hate to think about it, often pass away, leaving their pet behind.

A pet’s transition to a new environment can take time and should not be rushed.

Living space:|
Pets need space for themselves and their belongings (eg, a yard for safe play, a bed, toys). Keep in mind that some apartments and rental homes will require extra fees for pets and may have breed restrictions. 

Schedule:
A pet’s transition to a new environment can take time and should not be rushed, because spending time to bond, train, and set expectations is crucial. During the holidays, it is especially important to think about schedules, which may be so busy that there is no time to acclimate a new pet to its environment. On the other hand, some people may have more time during the holidays. Future events such as a new baby or travel plans that may conflict with the addition of a new pet should also be considered.

 Other Pets:
Just like humans, not all pets get along. If there is already a pet at home, a “meet and greet” is recommended before introducing a new one. This should be considered before giving a new pet as a surprise that cannot be returned.

No matter the time of year, an open, honest discussion between those involved should take place before a pet is added to a household. Do the recipient and the animal a favor by asking beforehand if a pet is wanted—a donation to the local shelter or a volunteer opportunity may be all the recipient really wants. Gift certificates for a shelter pet are increasing in popularity because they allow the recipient to choose a pet when the time is right.

A recent American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals study found no direct correlation between receiving a pet as a gift and an increased rate of relinquishment. However, as veterinary professionals, we are responsible for helping to nurture the human–animal bond. By considering all these factors, we help our clients do just that.

Simply speaking, a pet is for life—not just the holidays.