Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Circovirus Identified in Las Vegas Dog

In 2013, there has been nationwide attention on the novel canine virus called Circovirus. The virus is thought to play a role in the illness and deaths reported in Ohio, Michigan and California earlier this year. The disease causes diarrhea and vomiting, both which may become bloody. Symptoms can rapidly worsen and result in shock, bleeding disorders and in some cases death.

Now there is news of a dog staying at a boarding facility in Las Vegas that became sick and subsequently died. The dog tested positive for Circovirus. Although this is a sad loss, it was fortunate that veterinarians were alert enough to send samples in for testing, as this is still a very rare disease.

Current research indicates that Circovirus may act as either a primary or perhaps a co-infection with other pathogens to cause illness. But the virus has been isolated from the stool of completely healthy dogs, so just because a dog tests positive for the virus, it doesn't mean it necessarily will get sick.

Because the virus is so new, much is not known of about Circovirus virus and how it may, or may not lead to disease in dogs. But the good news is that researchers are actively studying the virus, and practicing veterinarians are watchful for suspected cases.

Circovirus Background

What is Circovirus?
Circovirus is a virus affecting dogs that was first identified as recently as June 2012. Although circoviruses are also known to affect pigs and birds, these are distinctly different than the canine Circovirus. As far as we know now, this virus does not affect cats.

What are symptoms of Circovirus?
Vomiting, diarrhea- which may be bloody
Rapidly worsening condition
Shock, fluid accumulation and bleeding problems

How is Circovirus spread?
The specific behavior of the virus is still being studied. But many other gastrointestinal agents are concentrated in the vomit and feces from infected dogs. Direct exposure to feces or vomit can transmit disease or contaminate surfaces or items.

How is Circovirus treated?
Just like Parvovirus in the 1980's, many gastrointestinal viruses have no specific cure but are treated with supportive care including intravenous fluids, antibiotics for secondary infections, and other therapies. Early in-hospital treatment was one important factor believed to improve survival for some earlier cases of suspected Circovirus.

Is there a vaccine?
A vaccine isn't available at this time. This is a new virus, and it should be recognized that it takes years to get a vaccine tested and approved for use in pets.

What should pet owners do if their pet is showing symptoms?
It's important not to panic. There are many reasons why dogs develop vomiting and diarrhea. Dog owners should consult with your veterinarian if your dog develops symptoms consistent with Circovirus.

How can pet owners keep their dogs safe?
Pet owners should use good sense measures- clean up your pets waste, avoid contact with sick animals, and keep up to date on other preventative measures like vaccines and dewormings.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Pancreatitis in Dogs- When Sharing the Thanksgiving Feast Can Be Fatal


Thinking of sharing that Thanksgiving meal with your dog? Many people do, and in many cases the dog happily slurps up the holiday fixings, never to suffer a consequence. But should pancreatitis set in-you’ve got one very sick doggie. That well-intentioned holiday meal could send him to the ER… or even result in a fatal outcome.  

What is pancreatitis?

Pancreatitis is a painful, potentially life-threatening inflammation of the pancreas- the organ producing both digestive enzymes and insulin. Pancreatitis occurs when the pancreas is produces excessive digestive enzymes and these enzymes digest the dog’s own pancreas and leak into the abdominal cavity.
Dogs with pancreatitis display loss of appetite, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, fever or lethargy. Pancreatitis can progress, affecting other systems with gall bladder blockage and liver dysfunction.

What causes pancreatitis?

A risk factor in developing pancreatitis is ingesting a rich or high-fat meal commonly shared with dogs during the holidays. Pancreatitis may also occur at other times without an apparent cause and unrelated to eating people food.
The Schnauzer is a breed at-risk for developing pancreatitis, although other common breeds include the Yorkshire terrier, Miniature poodle and Labrador retriever.

How is pancreatitis treated?

Treatment for a dog with pancreatitis includes hospitalization, withholding food for at least 12 hours, intravenous fluid therapy, pain medications and anti-vomiting medications. Plasma transfusions may be needed if low blood protein levels or clotting issues arise.  Antibiotics may be given if the pet is in shock or has systemic symptoms.

How to avoid pancreatitis during the holidays?

Recognize that you don’t HAVE to share your Thanksgiving feast with your dogs. Giving your pet a special dog treat is a safer alternative.

If you must give your dog something from the holiday table, choose wisely. Try lean turkey breast. Avoid meat skins or fat. Skip the ham, which is high in salt. And forget those rich side dishes.

When should you worry about pancreatitis?

Your dog is vomiting longer than a 12 hours period.
Your dog has vomiting accompanied with abdominal pain.
Your dog has gastrointestinal symptoms after a known ingestion of rich foods or getting into the garbage.
Your dog is a Schnauzer and is vomiting.
If your pet becomes sick with vomiting, loss of appetite and abdominal pain, call your veterinarian. It should be recognized that there are many causes of vomiting in dogs and not all cases are attributed to pancreatitis. Additionally every dog with pancreatitis doesn't display all the mentioned symptoms.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Coyotes Stalking our Neighborhoods

I just saw a scraggly coyote in front of my house this morning- the second coyote sighting in my neighborhood this week. I feared what could have happened if my 15 pound terrier was outdoors alone. Wildlife is beautiful, but when my little terrier, Boss, is in harm's way- my doggie momma protective instincts kick in. While not a threat to be exaggerated, the coyote nonetheless poses a risk to our pet's safety.
Coyotes are increasingly becoming a concern in urban areas- some are displaced by the urban sprawl that consumes their potential habitat. But other coyotes become urbanized- savvy to living, feeding and thriving within city environments. Coyotes are born opportunists and dine on what they find available. They eat small animals like rabbits and rodents, but also consume ample vegetable matter with up to 40% of their diet consisting of seeds, grasses, fruits and flowers.

The most serious coyote concern for pets is injury and predation. As a veterinarian I can recall many a client whose pet was brought in injured by unknown wildlife or whose cat just one day reportedly just vanished. While many might believe their cat was stolen, in reality these cats most likely fell victim to coyote predation. Likewise small to medium sized dogs can be injured or lost to the same fate as their feline counterparts.

Steps to Keep Your Pet Safe

Whether you have pets or not, it’s important not to feed coyotes. Intentional feeding of coyotes makes them dependent on humans and less fearful which increases the chance of an unwanted, dangerous interaction with people or pets. Just leaving unsecured garbage is invitation enough for these opportunists. Secure all garbage in closing containers and avoid leaving bagged garbage at the curb overnight. Pick up uneaten pet food as soon as your pet has finished eating.
Pet owners should take precautions to keep their household pets protected as well. Keep cats indoors and maintain all pets on leash control when outdoors. Ensure your dogs and cats are up to date on their rabies vaccines. Even indoor cats that do not venture outdoors should be current on this vaccine for both pet and human safety.
Besides rabies, keep your pets current on other vaccinations, deworming and preventatives as recommended by your veterinarian. Coyotes are known to harbor carry skin mites, canine distemper virus, canine parvovirus, adenovirus, and heartworm disease. So even if your dog never leaves your yard, there is potential for infectious disease crossover between wildlife and your pet.
These wild canids are masters at adapting to their changing world, and it's unrealistic they are going away on their own. As humans we are the ones that need to change to make urban areas less appealing, removing easy feeding sites, and by raising awareness to the potential crossover between wildlife and pets.
For more information about coyotes visit the Nevada Department of Wildlife- Coyote Info

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Pet Flipping- SevenTips to Safeguard Your Pet

Pet lovers beware of the disturbing criminal trend called “pet flipping”. This is when a person steals a pet or takes ownership of a lost pet, and then sells the animal. Pets are typically sold on the Internet to make a quick profit. The American Kennel Club (AKC) reports a rise in pet thefts with a 27.8% increase between January and May this year, compared to 2012.

Pet flippers most commonly target purebred dogs because they can fetch a high price, but even mixed breed dogs are at risk. Dogs are swiped from porches, fenced in back yards, dog parks, and cars. Some pet scams involve a person advertising as a pet sitter or trainer, who then disappears with your pet. Other scams involve someone who steals a pet and then responds to the lost pet ad, making money on rewards.

Top 7 Tips to Prevent Pet Flipping 

  1. Don’t leave your pet unattended. Avoid leaving your pet unattended, even in your own backyard. Don’t leave your pet outside of stores or coffee shops. Tying your dog’s leash up while you run that quick errand can give a thief the few minutes he needs to snatch your pet while you step away. Keep a watchful eye on your dog when visiting dog parks.
  2. Get your pet micro chipped. A microchip is one of the best tools to reunite lost pets and serves as legal proof of ownership. Be sure to keep your contact information up to date with the microchip company.
  3. Use GPS collars. A GPS collar allows you to track your dog’s movement minute by minute. These units can help you find your pet quickly if lost, but are of little use if a pet flipper removes the collar. I use the Tagg Pet Tracker (http://www.pettracker.com/) for my dog and like that I can locate him to a precise location with my smart phone.
  4. Get your pet spayed or neutered. Dogs that aren’t spayed or neutered are especially prized targets to thieves since they are perceived as a money-making opportunity. Spaying and neutering also decreases the desire to stray and is good for your pet’s health.
  5. Research pet services carefully. Before signing on for pet sitting or dog trainer services, research the business person’s reputation with the Better Business Bureau. Ask your veterinarian for a referral to a reputable pet professional. Request references before using a new pet service.
  6. Buyer beware. Be cautious when buying a pet online and only use reputable breeders. Check out a breeders standing with the AKC and breed clubs. Be wary of individuals that lack documentation of breeding or veterinary health care records.
  7. Sign up for doggie facial recognition apps. High-tech facial recognition technology is now available to identify and track down lost pets with services like Finding Rover. Use your IPhone to download the app at http://findingrover.com/. Upload your pet’s photo in their database, and promptly notify Finding Rover if your pet is ever lost.

Pet flipping is so heinous because it exploits the cherished relationship between family and a beloved pet. Share this information with fellow pet lovers to spread awareness and halt this criminal trend.



Thursday, August 22, 2013

Vegas Bats Positive for Rabies- What's the Risk?

Think your pet doesn’t need a rabies vaccine because it lives indoors? Think again. Bats have been known to fly through open windows or chimneys. Dogs and cats that go outdoors are at risk for rabies exposure through wildlife. Felines that hunt and bring “presents” have added rabies risk.

In May 2013, two bats in Clark County, Nevada tested positive for rabies. One of those bats was actually dropped off at my hospital and later tested positive for rabies. Fortunately no pets or people were identified as exposed to that bat. I just learned of yet another new case of a rabies positive bat reported in the Las Vegas area.

The discovery of these rabies positive bats shouldn’t cause panic, but rather drive the importance of rabies awareness in the community. And with World Rabies Day arriving September 28, 2013, it’s high-time to answer common questions about rabies.

What is rabies?

Rabies is a viral disease causing encephalitis (brain inflammation) that affects all mammals including humans. The disease is almost always fatal. Over 55,000 people worldwide die of rabies every year, but fortunately U.S. human deaths are rare with 1 to 2 reported per year. Pet and farm animal rabies cases do occur in the U.S. though, usually after tangling with wildlife.

How is rabies passed?

Rabies is passed in saliva through the bite of a rabid animal. Less common exposures to rabies include aerosol transmission, mucous membrane contact, or rare cases of organ transplant in humans.

What are symptoms of rabies?

Excessive drooling, aggression, staggering, and seizures are symptoms of rabies in animals. Wild carnivores, like coyotes, that avoid people are suspect if lacking fear and approaching humans. Nocturnal species like bats that are found out during daylight are also suspect for rabies.

What kind of animals carries rabies?

Although pet and human rabies cases in the U.S. are rare, the infection still abounds in wildlife reservoirs. In the Las Vegas area, bats are most commonly carriers, but other wildlife carriers include raccoons, skunks and foxes.

What do you do if you see a sick or dying bat?

Avoid contact with sick or dying bats. Do not take sick bats to the veterinarian. Call Animal Control if any human or pet exposure to sick bat.

Despite the rabies concern, bats do have an important role in our ecosystem by consuming insects and pollinating plants. Not every bat has rabies, and there are other reasons bats die.

What do I do if a person or pet is scratched or bitten by a bat or other wildlife?

If your pet gets into a fight with a skunk or raccoon, or plays with a dying or dead bat, there is potential for rabies exposure and a report should be made. Call animal control to have the bat or other wildlife picked up.

Possible rabies exposure is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Because rabies is fatal, any humans with suspect rabies exposure should make a report to the local health department. Fortunately post exposure treatment for people is very effective in preventing disease, and doesn’t involve painful stomach injections reported of long ago.

What happens to pets after exposure to suspected or known rabies?

Ultimately local rabies ordinances dictate how each case is handled. Pets with current or late rabies vaccinations may be quarantined for 10 days.
A pet that never has had a rabies vaccine may be promptly euthanized and tested for rabies. In other cases of unvaccinated pets, extended quarantine periods up to 6 months may arise.

What can I do to protect my pets and family from rabies?

  • Vaccinate animals for rabies - this includes dogs, cats, ferrets and select farm animals.

  • Teach children never to handle bats.

  • Do not keep wild animals as pets.

  • Spay and neuter your pets to decrease the desire to roam.

  • Maintain control of your pets when outdoors or hiking to avoid accidental exposure to wildlife.

  • Bat-proof your home and garage to avoid nesting sites and close encounters with bats.

  • Report human bites from pets or wildlife to public health and animal control authorities.

Vaccination is key to protecting pets from rabies and offers peace of mind to pet owners. Rabies vaccine is typically inexpensive in the Las Vegas area- for example a rabies vaccine at my hospital for dogs and cats costs just $10.00.  

Rabies vaccination…Just do it!
For more information, visit these websites:
Global Alliance for Rabies Control   http://rabiesalliance.org/
Southern Nevada Health District     http://www.southernnevadahealthdistrict.org/

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Multiple Cats, Stress & Illness

Caring for one cat is easy. Adding a second or third doesn’t take much more work. But how many cats are too many? As the number of cats in a home increase, there is greater risk of behavior and health disorders- partly due to higher stress. Problem behaviors like hissing, chasing and soiling outside the litter box are more common in multi-cat homes. But environmental stress contributes to medical disorders too. That’s right- stress will make your cat sick.

Defining Feline Stress

Crowding within a home zone creates psychological stress for cats. Cats are social creatures, but don’t form social structures like dogs or people. They require room to be away from fellow cats and retreat to their own space. But just having more square footage isn’t enough. Cats require a multi-dimensional environment with vertical perching sites and hiding spots.

Household activity, changes in the home and the presence of outdoor cats nearby can rile up your cat’s stress level. It’s easy for cat owners fail to detect clues of cat stress in the multi-cat household. A majority of cat communication is nonverbal, so even if you don’t hear growling or hissing your cats can be stressed out.

Even mealtime can be stressful. A study of feral cats has shown that cats hunt and eat their prey preferably away from other cats. Feral cats eat up to 10 to 20 throughout the daytime and night. So kibble offered to pet cats in a large communal bowl once to two times a day is contrary to innate kitty dining behaviors.

Cat Stress=Sickness

Just as in people, the mind-body connection is at work in cats too. Higher stress results in higher levels of compounds that result in bodily inflammation and suppress immune responses.

Feline interstitial cystitis, also referred to as feline idiopathic cystitis (FIC), is an inflammatory problem of the bladder typified by frequent urinations, straining to urinate, and bloody colored urine. The cause of FIC isn’t completely known, but stress is believed to contribute to its development. Cat owners are shocked to learn that those bloody urine accidents may have nothing to do with bacteria, and everything to do with stress.

Other stress related health problems include excess grooming behaviors, obsessive compulsive behaviors and obesity. Cats in high-density living situations may be prone to upper respiratory outbreaks even if residing solely indoors. Stress and an indoor lifestyle have also been implicated in contributing to obesity, hyperthyroidism, diabetes, and dental disease.

What to Do

It’s not that you can’t have multiple cats, but you need ensure you can provide the environment for more cats. Consider the feline perspective with living space, feeding, and interaction with other animals and people.

Add cats to the home that share similar personalities. A rowdy cat gets along best with other rowdy cats.  A timid cat may be stressed out and fail to thrive in a home where fellow cats are outgoing or rambunctious cats.

Work toward household harmony by following the basic guidelines in resources. Provide ample resources to avoid competition, and therefore stress. Provide one more resource than the number of cats in the home. For two cats you should have three litter boxes and three feeding/watering sites.

Vertical height equals safety to cats, so provide ample perching sites for cats, such as cat trees and window perches. Stick to the rule for one more perching site than kitty in the home. Provide hiding spot like paper bags or cardboard boxes.

Promptly address feline behavior problems when they arise by consulting with your veterinarian or a veterinary behaviorist.

For more information on enriching your indoor cat’s environment, visit the Indoor Pet Initiative’s website: http://indoorpet.osu.edu/cats/ This resource is provided by the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Know a Kid That Wants To Be a Vet? Check out Boiler Vet Camp

Do you know a young budding veterinarian? If so then I’ve got a summer camp that will beat hanging out by the pool, will top playing summer baseball and will even trump a vacation at the lake. Boiler Vet Camp is an educational, fun-filled camp for kids that have interests in becoming a veterinarian or veterinary technician. Kids are exposed to laboratories, demonstrations, tours, and hands-on experience as they learn the varied roles and opportunities in veterinary medicine.

This past weekend, I made the trek back to my Alma matter, Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. The purpose for my visit was for more than stopping off at an old watering hole or a walking down memory lane. My nephew was fortunate to be accepted into this year’s Junior Vet Camp, and I was among several relatives serving as spectator and cheerleader to this accomplishment.

What is Vet Camp About?

Each summer Purdue’s veterinary school holds two separate week long vet camps that give kids an inside peek into veterinary medicine. Junior vet camp is for kids due to enter 8th and 9th grades and Senior Vet Camp is for students entering 10th through 12th grades. Camp attendees spend a week living in a college dorm, get hands-on experience with animals, and learn about modern veterinary medicine.

Junior camp attendees learn about various animal species, while Senior Vet Camp attendees focus their efforts on small animal medicine and surgery. Just a few of the activities in Junior Vet Camp included observing a horse treadmill session used to evaluate its breathing, dissecting organs, visiting a dairy farm, learning about dog blood banks, watching a post mortem exam, handling piglets at a pig farm, learning about a zoo vet’s day at the Indianapolis Zoo and much more. At the end of the week the students give a presentation on a veterinary case that they solved. Also on the last day of Vet Camp, the attendee were recognized for their week of learning and received a certificate of completion along with an official Vet Camp doctor’s lab coat.

The list of activities had me wishing they had this camp when I was a kid. Who wouldn’t like giving a cow a pill, peering at blood samples on a microscope or dissecting a fish’s innards! If you know a kid that likes science and is attracted to veterinary medicine, then I can highly recommend the Purdue Vet Camp experiences.

How to Sign Up?

You should know that competition is tough to gain acceptance into Vet Camp. Prospective attendees must submit an application which includes an essay. This year, 650 applicants vied for the 50 spots in Junior Vet Camp and 40 seats in Senior Vet Camp. The fee for the Junior Camp is currently $950 and Senior Camp $1500. Financial aid is available as well.

The 2013 Vet Camps are already spoken for, but it’s never too late to look ahead to 2014. For science minded kids that have their sights on a career in veterinary medicine…the Purdue Vet Camp experience is an absolute “must do”.

For more information on Purdue Vet Camps visit the Purdue website at Boiler Vet Camp



Monday, May 20, 2013

When Pet Food is Medicine


Proper pet nutrition is more than just diet choices for the healthy pet. It’s even more important to properly feed the sick pet or those with chronic diseases. What you put in your pet’s food bowl can help, or harm his ability to cope with illness.

Peek into your average veterinary office and you’ll likely find one or more brands of therapeutic diets- foods created to manage pet specific pet health conditions. Veterinarians prescribe therapeutic diets to help pets with kidney disease, diabetes, pancreatitis, weight loss or heart disease. Special digestive diets may focus on hypoallergenic ingredients, fiber content or fat levels.  Some diets prevent or dissolve mineralized stones in the urinary bladder. There are even diets to keep the spring in your arthritic dog’s step, and diets to aid in treating pets with cancer.

The grandfather of veterinary nutrition was Dr. Morris who in 1940 designed a diet to improve longevity of his dog, Buddy, who was a seeing-eye dog battling kidney disease. His efforts led to the introduction to Hill’s K/D diet, a favorite diet used today for dogs and cats with kidney dysfunction. Today many more diets and conditions are addressed by companies such as Science Diet, Royal Canin, Purina and Iams.  

As a veterinarian I recognize the value that therapeutic diets lend to managing my patients’ health. But my strongest testament to their value is as a doggie momma who feeds a therapeutic diet to my own dog, Magnum.

My Labrador Magnum suffers from food allergies with frequent facial skin infections, bad skin odor, scratching, and unpleasant gastrointestinal signs with diarrhea and flatulence. After several diet trials with various hypoallergenic diet approaches, he now thrives on a rabbit based therapeutic diet by Royal Canin. His doggie kisses are sweeter smelling now, he’s content, and he isn’t a walking gaseous explosion anymore.

But be prepared to dig deeper in your wallet for therapeutic diets. The research behind these foods will cost the consumer more than average pet foods. Just look at the example of Magnum’s food- this diet runs $86 for a 25 pound bag of dry food. This sure isn’t cheap. But the investment can pay off in lower medical costs and fewer veterinary visits, justifying the additional cost.  In Magnum’s case, we are able to avoid continued treatment of skin infections, thereby avoiding medication use, and he is spared incessant itching.

Some pet owners turn to home cooked diets in order to avoid the costs of therapeutic diets. Without guidance and veterinary nutrition analysis, pet owners may risk shortchanging their pet’s nutrition. One research study identified that over 90% of home prepared diets for sick pets failed to be nutritionally adequate. Quality ingredients aren’t cheap and a well-produced home cooked diet often ends up costing far more to prepare than commercially produced therapeutic diets.

If your veterinarian recommends nutritional management with a therapeutic diet, discuss all the options with your doctor. Inquire about different brands and sizes of food packages available as many options are available. Get your money’s worth on these diets by following your veterinarian’s recommendations. Avoid mixing therapeutic diets with regular foods- this only hinders your pet’s results and give you a false sense of saving money by making the food last longer.

As for Magnum, I choose to feed him his therapeutic diet and avoid popping pills into him. That’s my gauge of a therapeutic diet success- food that serves like medicine in the doggie bowl, but without the hassles.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Ticks Hitchhike on City Dogs Too

Dr. Debbie & Kane

Ticks are common parasites known to infect people, pets and spread disease. Over 850 tick species exist worldwide, although fewer than a dozen species are of risk to pets in the U.S. But here in Las Vegas, pet owners often dismiss the existence of ticks with the likes of Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster. Think ticks are only a problem for pets that travel or visit the mountains? Think again.

Here’s a photo of a typical tick, born and bred in Las Vegas and recently extracted from one of my Shih Tzu patients named Kane. Kane never leaves the state, doesn’t hike in the mountains, and enjoys the comforts of a house-dog lifestyle. A tick was discovered on Kane after a day of supervising his owner's yard work and shrub trimming.

The Tick Tale

Ticks are parasites known to infect mammals, reptiles and birds and feed on their host’s blood. Although of tiny size, ticks ingest 200 to 600 times their weight in a blood meal.

Ticks are attracted to a host’s movement, body warmth or exhaled carbon dioxide and then latch on. Through this feeding behavior they can transmit diseases to pets such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Ehrlichia, Babesia and Tularemia. Disease transmission takes some time and may occur after 36 to 48 hours of feeding behavior.

Some ticks can live months or up to a year off its host without a feeding, so year-round prevention is important for pets at risk for continued exposure.

Battling Ticks

There are many topical tick control products available for pets. Speak with your veterinarian for an product that is effective and safe with your pet's individual health in mind. Cats are sensitive to some ingredients, may develop toxicity, and should never be treated with a product labeled only for dogs. Additionally, pet owners using multiple products on their pet should first consult with their veterinarian to ensure safe use of combined products.

In addition to topical tick control, environmental treatment with foggers, sprays or pest control service should be considered for heavy infestations. Limit tick habitat zones by maintaining landscaping, avoiding overgrown grass and keeping shrubs and plants trimmed.

Pet Screening

Perform daily tick checks during tick season. Examine your pet for ticks in areas that the parasites hang out- around the head, behind ears, armpits and between toes.
When removing a tick, avoid handling it directly. Wear gloves or handle with Kleenex since ticks can pass infections to people as well. Grasp the tick with tweezers close to the skin. Extract the tick by pulling straight out of skin. Don’t squeeze, twist or leave any legs behind. Disinfect the area and dispose of ticks in rubbing alcohol.

Maybe Kane's story will be an eye-opener for city dwelling pet owners. Pet parasites like fleas, ticks and mosquitoes still lurk in that urban jungle.

Visit the Dogs & Ticks website for more information ticks, diseases and prevention. http://www.dogsandticks.com/

Monday, April 1, 2013

Get Your Pet To the Vet Safely with No Escapees

A frightening situation occurred the other day at my veterinary hospital.  Working inside my office, I could hear a woman’s shrieks coming from the parking lot. I ran outside to find a woman with one dog on a leash, and the other dog skittering about the parking lot- the result of a slipped collar. The owner would approach the panicked dog and he’d retreat, darting under nearby cars. Those familiar with our hospital location understand its proximity to a busy intersection. Should the dog run in the wrong direction, he’d meet up with 45 mph traffic.
My staff was outside in moments to assist the owner in retrieving her dog and safely escorted everyone into the building. Thankfully my client’s few minutes of terror ended uneventfully. But that’s not always the case. I’ve seen dogs run straight into the road, cat’s leap from a family member’s arms, and owners dive into oncoming traffic trying to catch an escaping pet.
The lesson is simple. Don’t underestimate your pets’ fears. Fear of car travel, new places or the veterinary office can cause a pet to behave in unpredictable ways. If you know your pet to be nervous with new people or new situations, be especially vigilant when transporting your pet in a vehicle.

Identify your pet

Use two methods of identification for best insurance your pet is returned to you if lost. Permanent identification with a microchip is a must, and should be complimented with a collar and ID tags.

Restrain pet in vehicle

Keep your pet secure during travel and when the car door opens by using a doggie seatbelt. Small dogs and cats should be housed in a pet carrier which is secured with seatbelt to avoid undue carrier movement during travel. Do not allow cats and small pets to roam freely in the car. Cats have been known to take cover under car seats which may require sedation or seat removal to extract kitty from her hiding place.

Check for proper fit


A proper fitting collar allows 2 finger widths between the collar and pet’s neck. (See above picture) Allow more than, and should your pet put on the brakes, he’ll easily slip out of the collar.  (example below)

Poor fitting harnesses are just as dangerous and allow gap room which allows a back-peddling pet to wiggle out. (see below) Not sure if the collar is too loose? Snug the collar up one fitting in anticipation of your trip to the vet.

Try other collar styles

Even if you don’t normally use a choker or pinch collar, consider using one when going to the vet’s office. For thick necked dogs with smaller head size, try the Martingale collar, a fabric and metal combo collar that snugs down should your dog try to back out. Boisterous dogs that jump and leap when on leash may benefit wearing a head collar that fits over the muzzle. Ensure your collar choice is properly fitted, since any of these styles can fail if improperly fitted or used incorrectly.

Call ahead

If you anticipate difficulties getting your pet to the vet’s office, call ahead. Veterinary staff members are on the ready to help ensure your pet’s visit is a safe one.

So, take a few minutes to consider your pet's travel safety before heading out on that next car trip, whether it is to the park, groomer, or veterinary office. Your four legged friend will thank you, but may pout on the way there.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Prevent Pet Poisonings

March 17th through 23rd is Pet Poison Prevention Week, and an important time to look out for your pet’s safety. As a veterinarian I see all types of pet toxicities, but it is through my own foolish Labrador’s “toxic adventures” that I've experienced the anxiety and worry of a pet toxicity. My male Labrador, Magnum, has eaten a full bottle of of urinary continence medication, and another time suffered from the worst case of chocolate toxicity I've ever seen.

Magnum loves to eat anything and everything. He doesn’t discriminate with his ingestions, and has savored every type of animal excrement, ingested deceased rodents, gobbled on loaves of bread, destroyed jars of nuts, and slurped up rocks like Beggin-strips. Learn from my experience, on both sides of the exam table and heed Dr. Debbie’s “must know” tips to avoid pet poisonings.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Don't Litter- Spay or Neuter Instead!


Spay Day is February 26, 2013

Do you believe your beautiful pedigreed pooch just has to be bred, or that your cat can’t possible get outside to become pregnant, or that you long to have just one litter from Fluffy? If so, listen in to the unified pet health message of Spay Day. Shelter staff, veterinarians, and animal advocates all join together to encourage spaying and neutering. It’s the right thing to do for your pet’s health, and is a step forward in addressing pet overpopulation issues. With approximately 4 million dogs and cats euthanized at U.S. shelters every year, pet owners can do their part to avoid unintended and unnecessary breeding.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Dangers of Doggie Dragon Breath

Does your dog’s breath cause you to gag and turn away? Are your pet’s kisses unwelcome due to fetid breath? Many dog owners recognize that distinctive smell which is often accepted as a condition of dog ownership. But stinky dog breath, while common, is actually a symptom of illness and should not be ignored. Doggie dragon breath, just like a blinking traffic light, is a sign of danger ahead. Don’t ignore dog breath for what it is- an indicator of oral infection that if left unchecked will impact your dog’s health and shorten his lifespan.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Dogs Get The Flu Too- Canine Influenza

Can you give your dog the flu, or catch it from him? No way. But dogs can become infected with their own strain of canine influenza. With much attention on the tough human flu season, it’s a good time to talk about the differences, and similarities, between human and canine influenza.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Year's Resolution for Cat Owners - Don't Forget Kitty

Cats 30% less likely to receive veterinary care than dogs

Patty cringes at the idea of taking Muffin, her 12 year old Persian cat to the veterinarian. She envisions the ten minute wrangle to catch her, the acrobatics placing Muffin in the pet carrier, and the ear piercing protest on route to the hospital.  Patty observes Muffin lounging contently on the couch, considers her cat’s healthy appetite, trouble free litter box use, and indoor lifestyle. Patty puts the carrier away declaring, “Why would I want to go through the hassle taking her in to the vet when I can see she is perfectly healthy.”