The holidays are often a time of coming together with friends and family to celebrate. Keeping your pets safe during the holiday season can be challenging with extra busy schedules and changing routines. The holidays usually increase the accessibility to “Human” food and drinks that may be hazardous to your pets.
Did you know that in addition to food dangers Christmas trees, lights, ornaments, wrapping paper, and other decorations all can also be hazardous to your dogs and cats? Not to worry, though. Below are some often overlooked simple techniques to better pet proof your home for the holidays. Awareness of these potential hazards will make it easier to prevent them as you go.
How to protect your pets from their new “Christmas Tree” toy.
If your dog or cat is fascinated with your Christmas tree and won’t leave it alone, you might consider placing it in a corner where they will have less access to it. If that isn’t an option or they still won’t leave it alone, you may want to place a small wind chime or a similar noise maker on the bottom of your tree so there will be an audible alarm when your pet goes for the tree. This will at least allow you to react quickly and better monitor their behavior so you can redirect them or just make sure they don’t damage the tree or hurt themselves. Another idea is to place a pet playpen fence around your tree to block them from getting to the tree. This might be a good solution while you aren’t celebrating Christmas directly or are away from home with your pets home alone.
Consider not putting lights near the bottom of the tree within your pet’s reach. Dogs and cats have been known to chew Christmas lights and electrical cords.
Pets occasionally eat tinsel which can cause intestinal blockages. These situations usually require surgery to resolve.
Live Christmas trees present a different hazard than artificial trees in that they require water. This standing water in the tree stand can be toxic as it often mixes with harmful sap or contains poisonous fertilizers. To reduce this risk, cover the water reservoir. You can make a shroud out of aluminum foil and cover the reservoir like you would cover a bowl, taking care to work the foil tightly around the base of the tree.
Cats and dogs sometimes view decorative ornaments as toys to be played with and chewed on. As you can imagine, this leads to choking, intestinal blockages, injured paws, and mouths. Hang more pet-friendly ornaments on the bottom of the tree and put the more dangerous ones high up on the tree if possible.
Poinsettia, holly, and mistletoe plants are considered poisonous to cats and dogs. Putting these plants up high out of your pets reach is suggested.
Remember dogs and cats have an amazing sense of smell. When you hang food decorations on your tree such as gingerbread ornaments or popcorn on a string, they will smell it and be attracted to it.
Has your dog or cat ever knocked something off a table with their tail or nose? Lit candles can easily cause a fire when knocked over so it’s a good idea to place them on high shelves out of reach of your pets.
Lastly, when wrapping gifts, keep in mind that dogs and some cats find the wrapping paper, bows, tape, and other wrapping decorations fun to chew on. As with the other Christmas decorations mentioned above, ingesting any of these items can lead to vomiting and/or intestinal blockages
With these tips and techniques in mind, you can make this the best holiday season ever for your entire family!
For more information on foods to protect your pets from this holiday season, check out our previous blog article on holiday safety tips for pet owners.
All of us at Deerfield Vet want to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Thank you for making this another great year by allowing us the privilege of caring for your pets.
Did you realize that 62% of dogs between 8 and 13 years of age have arthritis? And that 20% of all cats have x-ray evidence of arthritis? Some orthopedists believe that osteoarthritis disease (OAD) in dogs is caused by an anatomical defect that places abnormal stress on the joints. Wear and tear arthritis tends to occur in cats much as it does in people. No matter the cause of OAD, alleviating pain is the primary concern. OAD pain signs can include limping, difficulty jumping, sitting or squatting to eliminate, stiffness, reluctance to navigate stairs and overall behavior change. If your pet is demonstrating any of these signs as it ages, it may be time for life improving OAD therapy.
Think of OAD therapy as a triangle. Each leg of the triangle represents one mode of therapy: chondroprotectants, NSAIDs (Non Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) and adjuvant pain relievers. The inner area encompassed by the triangle legs represents weight management which is often a too overlooked part of arthritis control.
Chondroprotectants are substances while help protect cartilage. Joint fluid and cartilage act as shock absorbers for bones. Chondroprotectants help maintain cartilage integrity and help increase joint fluid viscosity. There is only one injectable FDA approved chondroprotectant. All others are nutraceuticals such as glucosamine or dietary supplements some of which are incorporated into the food. There is a wide variation of efficacy in these substances so please consult with your veterinarian about their use.
The next triangle leg is the NSAIDs- the largest group and mainstay of OAD treatment. NSAIDs block the cyclo-oxygenase (COX) pathway. The COX pathway is responsible for prostaglandin production. There are two primary COX pathways- COX 1 & COX 2. The COX 1 pathway synthesizes beneficial, “housekeeping” prostaglandins that aid in maintaining gastrointestinal mucosa, kidney blood flow and platelet aggregation which helps blood clot. COX 1 is known as the “good COX”. The COX 2 pathway produces inflammatory prostaglandins which cause inflammation and pain. Some inflammation is good and helps the body repair damage, but chronic inflammation isn’t beneficial to the body. COX 2 is “the bad COX”. The newer, more potent NSAIDs inhibit the COX 2 pathway while mostly sparing the COX 1 pathway making these new class of drugs much safer. Aspirin and corticosteroids work by inhibiting both the COX 1 and the COX 2 pathways. Aspirin’s action of interfering with gastric protection prostaglandins predisposes dogs and people to gastrointestinal ulceration. This side effect is rarely seen with the selective COX 2 inhibitor NSAIDs such as Rimadyl, Deramaxx, Metacam and Previcox. There are side effects associated with this group of drugs so your pet will need to have periodic, monitoring bloodwork done. I also recommend doing baseline bloodwork prior to initiating therapy since often we are using these drugs in our older patients which may have other, underlying, hidden health issues.
A reminder note: In general, NSAIDs are toxic to cats. NSAIDs such as Tylenol (Acetaminophen) and Advil (Ibuprofen) can induce fatal liver failure in your cat. NEVER give your cat NSAIDs.
The third leg of the OAD treatment triangle is pain relievers other than NSAIDS. Narcotic and narcotic-like drugs represent a large portion of this group. These drugs make up the mainstay of OAD control for cats. Unlike NSAIDs, narcotics can be used safely in cats under close supervision of a veterinarian. In canine patients, adding a narcotic or narcotic like drug into the treatment regimen along with the NSAIDs will allow us to use the lowest NSAID dose possible. Lowering the NSAID dose reduces the potential side effects of the NSAID. Moreover, many dogs with severe OAD require this multi-modal pain relief therapy to achieve pain control. A common drug now used to treat the pain of canine OAD is tramadol. Many of you know this drug as Ultram.
Lastly, weight management is the overall key to controlling OAD. That is why it is represented as the center of the triangle. Additional body weight stresses joints. A higher fiber, low fat diet will help your pet lose weight, decrease joint pain and hopefully decrease the overall doses of medication needed. Weight loss will also help your pet move more easily and this in turn will aid you with implementing a moderate exercise plan. Regular controlled exercise can improve joint mobility and strengthen supporting muscles which can improve your pet’s quality of life. Physical therapy is a new and upcoming area of treatment for patients with OAD.
Did you know that the 4th of July weekend is the #1 weekend for lost pets taken to shelters in Springfield, MO and nationwide? Does your dog or cat have a noise phobia and become fearful, anxious, or stressed to loud noises such as thunderstorms, fireworks, etc? Are you making their anxiety worse or better? Here are some tips to try and create a more “Fear Free” holiday for everyone to enjoy:
- Remove your fearful pet from the environment if possible. It may be less stressful to take your pet to a friend or family member’s house that is away from the fireworks and noise. If that is not possible, check with your veterinarian or boarding facility to see if they have room to lodge your pet for the night or weekend.
- Create a sound-proof room or safe haven for your pets. Keep your pet in the interior most room in the home with no doors or windows to the exterior of the home. Basements make a great retreat as they are usually darker, well-insulated, and lack exterior doors or windows preventing a possible escape attempt which could lead to injury. If your pet is crate-trained, then place them in the crate with their favorite toy or blanket for reassurance. Then cover the crate with a thick towel or blanket to darken the environment and to also help buffer loud noises. Your pet will hopefully feel safe in this comfortable environment.
- Provide a musical distraction using sound therapy. Playing the radio or keeping the TV on can help muffle the sounds to outside fears and stressors. http://throughadogsear.com/ is a website that has an assortment of calming music for a variety of anxieties such as fireworks, thunderstorms, car rides, etc.
- Swaddle their fear away. Similar to swaddling infants, a thunder shirt ( www.thundershirt.com ) applies a gentle, constant pressure to help relieve stress and anxiety. It is a drug-free way to safely, effectively, and inexpensively calm your pet.
- Nutraceuticals to calm the fear away. Products that contain L-Theanine, L-tryptophan, and/or melatonin have been shown to provide a calming effect to pets. It’s better to start these products 1-2 weeks beforehand as these sometimes take time in order to reach therapeutic levels.
- Aromatherapy. Lavender and Chamomile can provide a calming effect when diffused into the room, but it is important to remember to never apply any essential oils topically to your pet without first consulting your veterinarian as some can be toxic to your pet. Feliway (www.feliway.com) and Adaptil (www.adaptil.com) are pheromones used to naturally reduce stress and anxiety in your pet and can be used for a variety of stressors. They are available in diffusers, sprays, and collars and have worked wonders for many of our patients with mild anxieties. These work best when paired with behavioral modification techniques and given for a longer period of time.
- Anxiolytics and other behavioral modification drugs. Sometimes, no matter what you do, it simply is not enough to help relieve fear, stress, and anxiety in our furry companions and that’s when you need to talk to your veterinarian about prescribing a medication to prevent the situation from escalating out of control. There are many short-acting medications that can be used such as Trazadone, Alprazolam, and Diazepam that can be given within a few hours of the anticipated events to safely reduce anxiety and will not have long lasting side-effects. We have used Trazadone for many of our boarding patients when they have become fearful of being away from home and it has helped tremendously with decreasing and/or eliminating stress-induced colitis resulting in bloody diarrhea. Talk to your veterinarian in advance as sometimes these medications need to be compounded in order to get cats to easily take them.
- “Ace” for your pet? Acepromazine was once commonly prescribed for thunderstorm and fireworks phobia because it is a great sedative. However, it may do little for the actual anxiety with noise phobias. In fact sometimes, it could make your pet more fearful and reactive to the situation. This medication is no longer recommended as a first-line therapy for anxiety and noise phobias. However when behavior modifications, nutraceuticals, and anxiolytic medications fail then it may be time to use this tranquilizer. This medication will help control vomiting as well so if your dog vomits in response to firework situations then this medication may be appropriate or another anti-emetic medication can be prescribed by your veterinarian.
- Collars, ID tags, and microchips. If all of the above fail and your pet does manage to get free and run away, make sure they have proper and up to date identification with your contact information so you can be quickly reunited. Microchips are a permanent identification that is placed under the animal’s skin so in the event if the pet’s collar or ID tag fall off or are not on your pet when they escape they can still be properly identified and returned safely home.
We hope this helps you and your pets to enjoy a safe and Happy 4th of July!
If you have any additional questions or concerns regarding your pet’s health or behavior, don’t hesitate to ask us. We are here to help!
Information for this blog post was gathered from the following websites: http://drmartybecker.com, http://throughadogsear.co/, www.thundershirt.com, www.feliway.com, www.adaptil.com, and the Fear Free certification program offered through www.Vetfolio.com.
In order to help promote awareness to Heartworm disease, here are some interesting facts:
- It only takes one bite from an infected mosquito to spread heartworm disease.
- Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal disease in pets in the United States and many other parts of the world. It is caused by foot-long worms (heartworms) that live in the heart, lungs and associated blood vessels of affected pets, causing severe lung disease, heart failure and damage to other organs in the body.
- Heartworm disease affects dogs, cats and ferrets, but heartworms also live in other mammal species, including wolves, coyotes, foxes, sea lions and—in rare instances—humans. Because wild species such as foxes and coyotes live in proximity to many urban areas, they are considered important carriers of the disease.
- More than a million pets in the United States have heartworm disease.
- Heartworm disease has been diagnosed in all 50 states.
- Both indoor and outdoor pets are at risk of developing heartworm disease because infected mosquitoes can come inside.
- Dogs can harbor several hundred worms in their body whereas cats typically just have one to three worms and many cats affected by heartworms have no adult worms.
- There is no approved treatment for heartworm disease in cats, but supportive care can help manage complications.
- Once mature, heartworms can live up to 7 years in a dog.
- It takes at least 6 months for a dog to test positive after it has been infected with heartworms. This is why annual testing is recommended for earliest detection of the disease.
- Once tested positive, a dog must be kept in strict confinement and have restricted activity for a period of 5-6 months during and after treatment of heartworm disease to try and decrease potential complications associated with eliminating adult heartworms.
- Prevention is safe, effective, and cost effective.
- You can buy 7 years of heartworm prevention for less than the cost of treating your dog one time for heartworms.
- To date, the national average is one out of every 73 dogs will test positive for heartworm disease.
- One out of 56 dogs tested positive for heartworm disease in Greene County, MO thus far for 2016.
- Deerfield Veterinary Hospital in Springfield Missouri has diagnosed 7 heartworm positive dogs since January 2015, however we have a higher compliance rate of dogs receiving monthly preventative than compared to more rural areas. More rural areas can have as many as one heartworm positive dog diagnosed each week.
- Preventatives work by killing the microfilaria and early larval stages of heartworms that your pet has picked up the previous month. If you stop giving it in the fall or early winter, the parasites might remain and cause infection.
- Adult dogs over 7 months of age and previously not on a preventive need to be tested prior to starting heartworm prevention.
- Annual testing is necessary, even when dogs are on heartworm prevention year-round, to ensure that the prevention program is working. Heartworm medications are highly effective, but dogs can still become infected. If you miss just one dose of a monthly medication-or give it late-it can leave your dog unprotected. Even if you give medication as recommended, your dog may spit out or vomit a heartworm pill-or rub off topical medication. Heartworm preventatives are highly effective, but not 100 percent effective. If you don’t get your dog tested , you won’t know your dog needs treatment.
- There are three different types of preventative available for use to protect your pet: once-a-month chewable, once-a-month topical, or twice-a-year injection.
- There is only one drug approved by the FDA for treatment of heartworm disease called melarsomine and it is administered by injection only by a veterinarian. Additional medications may be prescribed by your veterinarian to help improve the chances of treatment success and reduce the incidence of side effects associated with the death of adult heartworms.
As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure. Remember to “Think 12.” Test for heartworm disease every 12 months and give heartworm preventative 12 months a year. Deerfield Veterinary Hospital offers a variety of preventatives to help protect your pet. Let us help you decide which preventative is best for your pet, lifestyle, and budget.
The information used for this blog was obtained from the American Heartworm Society website, Companion Animal Parasite Council website, and medical records from Deerfield Veterinary Hospital. For more information about heartworm disease, please visit the American Heartworm Society’s website at https://www.heartwormsociety.org/ and the Companion Animal Parasite Council’s website at http://www.capcvet.org/.
Vets in Springfield know ticks are becoming an increasingly worrisome problem as average temperatures rise yearly and as white tail deer population increase. The lack of a really cold winter means that ticks do not die off completely as they otherwise would during prolonged freezing temperatures. Ticks are usually in wooded areas or un-kept grassy areas where wildlife live or frequent. Ticks are most active between April and July but this time frame is becoming longer each year.
Ticks will hang out over the edge of grass, leaves or brush and when they sense exhaled carbon dioxide, body odors, vibrations and light changes of passers-by they will extend their front pair of hook-like legs and catch on to their prey. This is called questing.
Tick eggs hatch into 6-legged larvae called seed ticks. After it has its first meal, which is usually a small rodent, it drops off and molts into an 8-legged nymph. It then attaches and feeds from a second host and then drops again and transforms into an 8-legged adult. After that they feed and mate then die. When the female dies thousands of eggs are released into the environment.
Ticks transmit diseases to dogs, cats and humans. They do not discriminate. A tick on your dog is a health threat to your entire family.
The most common ticks in Springfield Missouri.
The American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis)
Description: Newly hatched larvae are yellow, adults are brown and blood engorged females are grey
Vector of: Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and tularemia (Rabbit fever). Less likely is Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis and Ehrlichia. They can also cause tick paralysis. This is when a neurotoxin transmitted from the tick as it feeds enters the blood stream and can cause muscle weakness and paralysis.
The Black legged tick/Deer tick (Ixodes scapularis)
Description: Legs and upper body are all black/dark brown. It loves to parasitize white tail deer, lizards, mice, birds, etc. as well as humans, dogs and cats.
Vector of: Lyme disease, Babesiosis, Anaplasmosis, Powassan virus.
The Lone Star Tick (Amblyomma americanum)
Description: Females have a white dot in the center of the back. Males have white dots or white streaks along the edge of their bodies
Vector of: Ehrilichia/Sennetsue Fever, Tularemia, southern tick-associated rash illness, in rare cases Lyme disease, tick fever, heartland virus, meat allergy. Cat specific disease called Cytauxzoon felis (Bobcat fever)
Tick Related Illnesses
If you or a family member or your pet has known tick exposure and you experience any of the following symptoms then call a doctor to seek immediate treatment. Early intervention tickborne illness cases can make a difference in the prognosis.
Table of Tick Borne Illnesses