Wednesday, December 21, 2016

16 Tips For Keeping Your Pets Safe On New Year’s Eve

Just because New Year’s Eve means a fun party for you, your family and friends, the extra company, loud music and laughter, and subsequent neighborhood fireworks can prove stressful and fear-inducing for your pets.

Help your cats and dogs stay safe and relaxed during the holiday parties by following some of our tips listed below.

1. Keep your pets inside! Many animals find that fireworks, crowds of people and the sounds of partying can be overwhelming, leaving them anxious and frightened. If your dog or cat prefers to spend time indoors quietly playing couch potato, allow her to stay at home on New Year’s Eve where she feels safe.

2. If you must take your pet outside, keep her securely leashed or confined in a crate. Some animals are curious and may want to get at the crowds or the source of the noise. Others will run away from strange people and loud booming sounds. If your dog or cat doesn’t have a secure harness and you think she might easily slip out of a collar and leash, it is probably best she be left safe at home.

3. If you’re travelling, partying away from home and your pet must come with you, find a “safe place” for your animal away from strangers, loud music and chaotic festivities.

4. Make sure your pet is unable to partake of any liquor-soaked foods or sip any type of leftover alcoholic beverages. According to the Pet Poison Helpline, alcohol can be toxic to both dogs and cats resulting in symptoms such as drooling, dry heaves or vomiting, distended abdomen, low blood pressure, weakness and collapse, and possible coma and death. See your vet immediately if you suspect your animal has ingested any kind of alcohol.

5. Watch out for fatty foods (ham, beef and chicken fat and bones, for example) that your furry companion can mistake for an especially tasty treat. Fatty foods can create digestive problems for your pet causing her to suffer from vomiting, diarrhea and bloating. Additionally, when torn apart by teeth, cooked bones have been known to result in torn intestinal, stomach and esophageal tissues. Bones can also get stuck around the teeth and jaws, in the esophagus, stomach and intestines and end in blockages that need surgical intervention to save the life of your animal.

6. Beware of New Year’s decorations, including all of those shiny streamers, noisemakers, bright balloons, and crinkly tinsel. Animals use their mouths and tongues to examine strange new objects and it is too easy and too inviting to swallow those items causing the same kinds of digestive issues noted with bones.

7. Keep your pets’ microchips and vaccination tags up-to-date. Parties mean doors getting opened a lot. Even if you’ve thoughtfully hung a sign on your bedroom door saying ‘Do Not Open,’ or if you have your pets safely contained in a crate inside the bedroom, accidents happen. Make sure your pet ID tags and microchip information has your current address and phone numbers.

8. Keep your animal to her usual feeding, sleeping and elimination schedule. The more closely she adheres to a regular timetable, the less likely she is to feel anxious.

9. Use holistic calming therapies for your pets. Lemon balm, chamomile, lavender, and valerian are natural herbs that can be safely added to your pet’s meals to relax the nerves and allow your pet to feel more tranquil. The Thundershirt ® and Dog Appeasing Pheromones (DAP) have been shown to calm anxious dogs. Feliway® diffusers, similar to DAP, contain synthetic cat pheromones that communicate to your cat in her language and reassure your pet that all is well in her world.

10. Talk to your veterinarian about giving your pet anti-anxiety medications during the holiday. There are several different types of drugs available for animals. Benzodiazepines (usually Valium®) are fast-acting and can be used on an as-needed basis, or combined with longer-acting drugs for a quicker response and when a little more help is needed. There are also over-the-counter meds (particularly diphenhydramine, or Benadryl®) that can be effective. Please note: Do NOT attempt to dose your pet with any type of medication without first consulting with your vet.

11. Exercise or play with your dog or cat during the day to release any excess energy and help her remain calm after dark. The extra workout can also help your pet rest easier and fall asleep faster.

12. House your pet in a quiet room away from the partygoers. Parties can cause excess stress, which could induce accidents, and less than positive behavior that can harm your pet and your belongings. If your cat or dog is more comfortable – or feels safer – in her crate, allow her to spend the evening resting with her toys, games or other distractions. Make sure your pet has free choice water and your cat access to a litter box during her stay in the kennel.

13. Protect your pet from the sounds of fireworks and other loud noises that can cause fear and anxiety. Use positive white noise in a quiet room (wave/rain sounds, classical music) to distract and calm your pet during the loud time of the evening. If your cat or dog watches television, turn on her favorite show to keep her occupied.

14. You might want to consider leaving the neighborhood for the evening and traveling to someplace quieter. If you know for sure that none of the tips here will help your pet’s severe anxiety, pack up the travel crate and all of the other things you will need for an overnight away from home and then take off to a calmer part of town. Do you have friends or family who live in a more relaxing place? If nothing else, you can find an out of the way, pet-friendly hotel to crash in for the night, where you and your little furry one can rest comfortably and noise free.

15. Comfort your dog or cat as needed. Pet and hold your companion, brush her if that makes her feel better, and allow her to sleep under the covers if that allays her fears. You can also teach yourself simple massage techniques that will help keep your pet tranquil.

16. If you decide to go out of town for the holidays and want to leave your pet at home, schedule a pet/house sitter. A qualified sitter is trained to care for your cat or dog and knows the best ways to calm fearful animals.

By: Cate Burnette

Friday, December 2, 2016

Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is a condition commonly seen at veterinary clinics in warm weather. My own dog, Ziggy, scared me on a hot day last summer, when we were at a dog park. He was so excited to play with the other dogs; he overexerted himself and developed heat stroke. Thankfully, I recognized the signs and was able to cool him down without any problems. I hope the following information can help prevent heat stroke in your own pet.

What is heat stroke?
Heat stroke is a term for hyperthermia (elevated body temperature above 103oF). A dog’s normal body temperature is 100.5-102.5oF. A dog’s primary method of regulating body temperature is by panting. Heat stroke can happen at any time during hot weather, but most commonly it can occur during excessive or vigorous exercise, when left in cars with too little ventilation, or when left in a yard without access to shade. 

Any dog may be affected by heat stroke. Brachycephalic dogs (flat faced dogs), such as Pugs, Bulldogs, and Boxers, may be at a greater risk of heat stroke. Overweight dogs are also at a higher risk. Cats can also develop heat stroke. 

What are the signs of heatstroke?
Possible warning signs include:
  • Heavy, rapid panting
  • Salivating, drooling
  • Anxiety, restlessness
  • Lethargy, exhaustion
  • Confusion
  • Stumbling, staggering
  • Bright red gums
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Collapse
  • Unconsciousness

What can I do when I think my pet has heat stroke?
Heat stroke is a medical emergency, as it can cause organ damage, and can be a life threatening condition. Immediate action can help prevent complications. 

Take the animal to the shade or a cooler location. Pour cool water over the pet, with a focus on the pet’s stomach, armpits, neck and feet. Rubbing alcohol can be placed on the paw pads. Avoid cold water or ice, as this can cool the pet too quickly and cause complications. Small amounts of drinking water may be offered, but do not force water into your pet’s mouth. Air conditioning and fans are also helpful ways of cooling your pet.  
Once initial cooling measures are started, seek veterinary care as soon as possible. Call your veterinarian or emergency clinic to let them know you are on your way. Your veterinarian will assess your pet and their body temperature, and will continue cooling methods.  Intravenous fluids, sedation and oxygen therapy may also be a part of the treatment plan. External cooling will be discontinued once your pet’s body temperature is within a normal range. Your veterinarian may want to monitor your pet for complications, depending on the severity of heat stroke. 

How can I help prevent heat stroke?

  • Monitor pets for signs of heat stroke during hot days
  • Avoid excessive exercise on hot days, or exercise animals during the cooler parts of the day (early morning or evening)
  • Provide frequent breaks during exercise
  • Ensure adequate shade and fresh cool drinking water is available 
  • Keep pets in the cooler indoors during hot days 
  • Avoid leaving your pet in the car in warm weather
  • Pets that have experienced heat stroke may be at greater risk of heat stroke in the future

Dr. Denise Lukacs

In Home Lymph Node Exam

In Home Lymph Node Exam:

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Unfortunately, many diseases pets suffer from go undetected until progression is severe enough to produce harmful clinical signs -- and an equally scary hospital bill. In the interest of saving their pets (and their pocket books!), owners often ask me for simple measures they can take to identify early signs of disease. I give them two words: Lymph. Nodes. While there’s no way to completely avoid every health problem out there, frequent lymph node exams can tip owners off to subtle changes in their pets’ health. Not only do these exams offer owners the chance to detect inflammation, infection, and cancer, they also encourage owners to become more familiar with what’s normal for their animals.

So you’re probably wondering what lymph nodes are and how you can examine them. Most people are familiar with blood vessels and nerves, the highways of blood and synapses, respectively, that keep our bodies oxygenated and integrated. Less familiar are our lymphatic vessels, which transport certain types of immune cells. If lymphatic vessels are highways, lymph nodes are the cities they connect. These metropolises are masses of tissue that generate certain immune cells and serve as epicenters of immune cell activity. They are located throughout the body and named for their anatomical locations; peripheral lymph nodes may be felt externally, while internal lymph nodes are deep within the body. Peripheral lymph nodes occur in right/left pairs. Veterinarians assess these lymph nodes as part of their routine physical exams, however, owners can learn to do this at home on a more frequent basis. The lymph nodes that should be routinely felt on both sides of your pet are: the submandibular nodes, the prescapular nodes, the axial nodes, the inguinal nodes, and the popliteal nodes.

How you do it: If you aren’t fond of anatomy jargon, you aren’t alone! You can see a demonstration of each of these sites in the labeled images. To assess a lymph node, roll it between your thumb and index finger. For pets that are overweight you may have a tricky time locating the lymph node, as they are often surrounded by fat. Lymph nodes are kidney shaped and vary in size by species and breed, but generally small breed dogs have chickpea-sized nodes, medium breeds have pecan-sized nodes, and large breeds have brazil nut-sized nodes. Outside of these relative ranges, lymph nodes may be considered enlarged and you should have a veterinarian assess your pet. 

What it means: Lymph nodes become enlarged when they generate more immune cells and increase the flow of lymphatic traffic. This is associated with swelling and heat at the site of the lymph node. It may be happening as a response to infection or, rarely, a cancerous change. Your veterinarian will take a sample from the lymph node using a needle and analyze it under a microscope. A special veterinarian known as a Veterinary Clinical Pathologist is often consulted to interpret the findings. Lymphoma, cancer of the lymph nodes, is the most common cancer found in dogs and often presents with enlarged nodes. Additionally, lymph nodes are often sites of early spread for other types of cancer. Early detection is very important! Providing your pet with diligent exams increases their chance of early disease detection and early treatment!

Dr. Matthew Schexnayder

Anesthesia Free Dentals- know the facts!

Anesthesia Free Dentals- know the facts!

You might have heard about anesthesia free dental cleanings at a local pet store, by word of mouth, or even from some veterinarians. Although this may seem like a great option for your pet, is it important to understand the risk and limitations of the procedure. 

What happens during an anesthesia free dental?
While your pet is awake, the surface of the teeth are scaled (scraping with an instrument) to remove plaque. The sharp metal instrument leaves tiny grooves and a rough surface on your pet’s teeth, providing a perfect environment for adherence of more bacteria. This is usually prevented by polishing after scaling, however, polishing is rarely performed during an anesthesia free dental. 

Without anesthesia, your pet must be physically restrained in order to remove plaque from the teeth. While some pets may tolerate restraint better than others, this can still be an uncomfortable and stressful event for the animal.

Will an anesthesia free dental help to prevent periodontal disease?
No. Anesthesia free dentals have no way of removing bacteria below the gumline where periodontal disease occurs.  There is also no way to look below the gumline to identify problems before they become painful or expensive to treat. It is not possible to perform a thorough oral exam or dental radiographs during an anesthesia free dental. Whiter teeth after the procedure can create a false sense of security that your pet’s mouth is clean and healthy, leaving periodontal disease undetected and untreated. In order to truly prevent and detect periodontal disease, dental cleanings must be performed under anesthesia.

For more information about periodontal disease and the American Veterinary Dental College’s stance on anesthesia free dentals visit

Dr. Lauren Vezzosi