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How To Protect Your Pets From Holiday Hazards

How To Protect Your Pets From Holiday Hazards

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.

Naughty kitty playing with a Christmas ornament under a tree

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.

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How To Tell If Your Pet Has Arthritis

How To Tell If Your Pet Has Arthritis

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.

Senhor levando seu cachorro passearThe 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.

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Is Your Pet At Risk For Heat Stroke? Find Out Now…

Is Your Pet At Risk For Heat Stroke? Find Out Now…

Pets in Springfield are still at risk for heat stroke. Learn how to treat and prevent it.

Now-a-days there is enough media warning against Heat Stroke and leaving pets and children in a hot car that most people know by now not to do it. The following chart exemplifies the temperatures of a parked car that is turned off with all the windows up.

Outside Temperature10mins30mins60mins
70F89F104F113F
80F94F109F118F
90F109F124F133F
100F119F134F143F

Cited from Jan Null, CCM; Department of Geosciences, San Francisco State University

Even a person who is “just going to grab one thing real quick” can see that after only 10mins the temperature differential is 19F! Please don’t leave pets or children in cars.

But there are other ways our pets are at risk for heat stroke: leaving them outside to go potty unattended on a hot day, forgetting to fill up their water bucket, lack of shade, going on a long walk in the peak of the day. Activities that all seem harmless and part of our daily routine can quickly turn into a life-threatening problem if we are not mindful.

Particular animals in Springfield who are most at risk for heat stroke include long haired animals, the very young or elderly pets, dogs who have smooshed faces (pugs, bostons, English bulldogs, etc), animals who are accustomed to AC, patients with underlying heart disease or other major organ disease, obesity and previous heat stroke history.

Normal body temperature for a happy healthy dog or cat is 101F – 102.5F taken rectally. At Deerfield Veterinary Hospital, Heat stress is considered when the body temperature is >103F. Other causes could include an infection, recent seizure, toxicities, or cancer so it is important to have your pet evaluated by a veterinarian if you suspect your pet’s temperature is abnormal. At this point, the animal can be easily brought back to normothermic temperatures with minimal intervention and no long term effects on the pet.

A diagnosis of heat stroke is made once the body temperature reaches 106F. Symptoms include panting, hypersalivation, bright red mucous membranes, turning blue, increased heart rate, shock, respiratory distress, changes in mentation and behavior, confusion, difficulty walking or unable to ambulate at all, and seizures.

Once a critical temperature of 109F is reached then coma, cardiac/respiratory arrest and death may occur.

As the body gets hotter the organs will become damaged and start to malfunction. If the heat stress continues permanent organ failure can ensue.

Immediate immersion in water and providing convection cooling with fans is the mainstay of treatment for heat stress, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. If water immersion is not possible then apply alcohol on the foot pads, axilla and groin. Stop the cooling procedure when the body temperature reaches 103F. Avoid ice as this vasoconstricts the peripheral blood vessels and can delay cooling. It can also create shivering which generates more heat.

Bloodwork may be warranted to determine the extent of organ damage and guide any supportive care measures that might be needed for the pet. Supportive care may include oxygen, IV fluids, anti-seizure meds, anti-nausea meds, antibiotics, etc. Antibiotics are needed to prevent bacterial translocation from the damaged intestines into the bloodstream. This could cause sepsis leading to life-threatening bacteremia and coagulation disorders such as DIC (Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation).

It is recommended that a pet needs a minimum of 24 hours hospitalization to monitor for any complications during the cooling down phase and recovery but depending on the severity of the case they may stay longer.

Prognosis is based on how hot the core body temperature became before the intervention was started, how quickly the animal was brought back to normothermic temperatures and if there is any permanent organ damage that remains. Possible outcomes: kidney failure, liver failure, heart failure, and neurological defects.

As any good vet or doctor will tell you…The best treatment for heat stroke is prevention.

Deerfield Tips and Tricks to keep our furry loved ones cool during the heat:

  • Provide adequate outdoor time during the early morning hours or evening hours and avoid the peak hot times of the mid-day.
  • Avoid hot pavement/asphalt as this can burn their paws.
  • Pets who are accustomed to indoor AC AND those specific breeds and categories mentioned above need to be monitored very carefully while outdoors on a hot day, even if they are only out for 5 minutes, do not leave them unattended because it does not take long to get heat stress and exhaustion.
  • Keep water with you just in case your pet gets thirsty or starts showing signs of heat exhaustion.
  • Carry an umbrella with you on a walk to provide adequate shade.

Deerfield Tips and Tricks for our outdoor family members:

  • Provide access to shade and fresh water to drink.
  • Kiddie pool with fresh water. Dogs who do not like the water can be enticed to get in by placing some of their favorite toys or treats in the middle of the pool.
  • Shave down heavy coated dogs. Leave an inch or two to protect their skin from the sun and a small hair coat can help keep them cool as well.
  • Freeze 2L bottles of water and put them on their dog bed outside or in the pool to keep the pool water cooler longer.
  • Fans (securely placed out of the reach of the pet) for air circulation on stagnant days.
  • On extremely hot days consider allowing the pet to have access to AC such as a laundry room, bathroom or day boarding them at a facility that offers doggy daycare.

If you have any questions regarding Heat Stroke in your pet, please contact us at 417-889-2727.  Deerfield Veterinary Hospital is a full-service pet hospital. We provide medical and surgical care as well as boarding and bathing services for your cat and dog. We have on-site lab diagnostics and blood testing, allowing presurgical and senior screenings in our pet hospital. We have both X-ray and ultrasound and the latest and safest anesthetics available for your pet during surgery.

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!

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9 Ways To Keep Your Pet Fear Free On July 4th

9 Ways To Keep Your Pet Fear Free On July 4th

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:

  1. 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.veterinarian-springfield-mo-frightened-cat-feature-image
  2. 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.
  3. 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.veterinarian-springfield-mo-through-a-dogs-ear
  4. 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.veterinarian-springfield-mo-thunder-shirt
  5. 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.
  6. 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.veterinarian-springfield-mo-adaptil-feliway
  7. 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.
  8. “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.
  9. 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.

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Healthy Pets & Healthy Teeth Go Paw in Paw

February was National Pet Dental Health Month, but your furry friend’s oral health should be a priority all year long! According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, more than 70% of cats and 80% of dogs have oral disease by 3 years of age.

Springfield MO veterinarian Dr. Denise Roche provides pet dental care at Deerfield.

Merle Waggard here knows smart puppies start brushing early to guard against dental disease.

Dr. Denise Roche, a Springfield, Mo veterinarian, and the Deerfield staff want to remind you good oral hygiene is crucial for the overall health of your lovable four-legged companion. In fact, periodontal infections in dogs or cats cause far worse than bad breath. Such infections can spread harmful bacteria to the heart, liver, and kidneys. To avoid those life-threatening consequences, pet owners can take precautions against two especially common issues that will eventually leave pets at risk for dental disease: gingivitis and periodontitis.

Gingivitis in dogs and cats occurs when plaque along the gum causes inflammation. Without regular cleaning, the teeth and gums develop a thin film of protein—from food, saliva, and dead cells—that leads to bacterial plaque build-up. Left untreated, gingivitis will escalate to periodontitis, an irreversible but controllable infection. Periodontitis develops when deposits of calcium salts react with bacterial plaque, forming a hard brown or yellow tartar, which leads to inflammation, infection of the deeper tissues, bleeding gums, and eventual tooth loss if not treated by your veterinarian.

How Do I Know if My Pet Has Dental Disease?

Let’s hope your pet’s teeth and gums are tip-top. Better yet, let’s help you guard against the dreaded dental disease. This handy checklist should make it nice and easy to knowledgeably check your pet’s teeth at least once a week:

  • Bad breath is bad news for more than just your own nose, especially if it returns within one or two months of a professional cleaning.
  • Broken or discolored teeth should sound the alarm.
  • Red or swollen gums is a sure sign of irritation.
  • Keep your eyes peeled for bleeding in your pal’s dishes or on chew toys.
  • Lumps or bumps in or around the mouth, especially swelling on one side, are cause for concern.
  • Listen for chattering jaws when eating.

Changes in feeding and chewing behavior can also indicate a problem. If your pet turns away from food, paws at the mouth, drools excessively, or resists having its teeth brushed, it’s time to see your Deerfield vet.

How Is Dental Disease Treated?

A professional cleaning can help reverse, or stop the progression of, oral disease. Should your pet require gingival surgery or tooth extractions, we’ll perform the procedure during the dental cleaning to avoid multiple uses of anesthetics. Feline or canine tooth extraction is not fun for you nor your pet, but sometimes it’s the best option for avoiding further damage from periodontal disease.

How Can I Protect My Pet from Dental Disease?

Proactive care, including regular preventive cleanings and good hygiene at home, can help prevent oral disease in your dog or cat.

Pet Dental Care at Deerfield

Your Deerfield vet can remove bacteria that attack your pet’s gum line. General anesthesia is required for both dog and cat dental cleanings, and safety precautions include pre-surgical blood work on older pets as well as monitoring EKGs and oxygen levels. After polishing your friend’s teeth, we’ll walk you through all you need to know for excellent at-home care.

Pet Dental Care at Home

Good oral hygiene at home is as important for your cat or dog as it is for you, and it begins with a consistent brushing routine. You can remove harmful plaque by brushing your pet’s teeth either daily or every other day. Here’s how:

  • First of all, be both gentle and persistent. Chances are you know from experience that brushing your pet’s teeth can prove challenging, but your patient determination is an act of love.
  • Never use human toothpaste on animals, as it can upset your pet’s stomach. Your Deerfield vet can help you choose a toothpaste your pet will enjoy—yes, actually enjoy. A good pet toothpaste is non-foaming and comes in flavors that are appealing to dogs and cats. Introduce the toothpaste by using it as a treat, placing it on your finger as a reward.
  • Ask us about toothbrushes designed especially for dogs and cats. Once your furry friend accepts brushing movements with your finger, switch to a small, soft-bristled toothbrush. Pointing the bristles at about a 45-degree angle to your pet’s teeth, use small circular strokes and focus on the outside of the teeth.

If your pet resists the at-home dental cleaning at any point, never outmuscle it to force the brushing. The animal may not recognize your concern and could instinctively bite due to fear of the toothbrush. You may also use a soft, clean piece of gauze. If your pet is unable to accept toothbrushing, which does happen sometimes, your Deerfield vet can recommend effective toys, treats, chews, and pet foods that aid your dental cleaning efforts at home. Another option is to choose gels, rinses, or sprays that promote oral health in both cats and dogs.

Tartar removers should always bear the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) seal of approval, so you can be confident they’re safe for your pet. Visit the VOHC website for a list of approved products like the popular Greenie chew. Finally, ask your Deerfield veterinarian about nutritional options we recommend to promote healthy teeth, such as Hills Prescription Diet T/D.

National Pet Dental Health Month makes February a busy time at Deerfield Veterinary Hospital, and it was great to see so many pets for their dental checkups. Now that the month has past, we want to remind pet owners to keep that loving attention to dental care going strong throughout the year. With consistent hygiene at home and regular cleanings, your pet will enjoy clean teeth and better overall health for years to come!

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