January 18, 2013
Let’s face it, not everyone has a niece that is a veterinarian that you can call for advice when their pet is not acting right. Many times this happens on a weekend or during evening hours when most veterinary clinics are closed. It is a struggle to decide whether to bring your pet to the veterinarian and how much is it going to cost! When in doubt, it is always better to bring your pet to the veterinarian or emergency veterinarian because a veterinarian’s complete physical exam is invaluable. In the meantime, there are some things that you can do at home that can help you decide whether you need to see a professional immediately or if you can wait.
Temperature: Any thermometer can be used to obtain a rectal temperature – As expected; many pets prefer a flexible tip fast digital thermometer. The normal range is between 99.5 – 102.5 ⁰F (dogs) and 100.5 – 102.5 ⁰F (cats).
Heart rate: The heart rate can be counted by palpating the heart in the most dependent portion mid chest or by feeling the femoral artery located on the inside portion of the mid-thigh. The normal rate can be counted for a full minute or estimated by counting for 15 seconds and then multiplying by 4. The normal rage for heart rate is 60-160 (dogs) and 140-220 (cats).
|Heart Rate (Pulse)
|Table 1 Approximate Normal Ranges for Vital Signs
Respiration: The respiratory rate is counted while the pet is not panting or purring and at rest. Again, count to 15 and multiply by 4 or count the breaths during a full minute. The normal range is 10-30 (dogs) and 24-42 (cats).
Mucous Membranes: The mucous membranes can usually be assessed by lifting your pet’s lip and observing the gums. Note the color of the gums. Normally, the gums are pink in color, indicating good peripheral blood circulation. If they are pale or white it can be a sign of anemia or shock and yellow a sign of liver disease.
CRT – Capillary Refill Time: The CRT is the rate in which blood refills empty capillaries. To perform this test apply light pressure to your pets gums until they become pale and count how long it take for them to return to their original color. Any time less than 2 seconds is normal. This can be a sign or decreased peripheral blood perfusion and dehydration.
Lightly palpating your pet for lumps and bumps on the surface of their skin and/or any discomfort they may have can be helpful. Gently raise your pet’s skin to check the turgor. If it takes longer for the skin to go back into place this can also be a sign of dehydration. Feel your pet’s abdomen to assess if it is tight, soft, uncomfortable, etc. Be aware that your pet could experience extreme discomfort during this process and be careful not to surprise them or cause them pain that could result in them biting someone. If you have any doubts then you need to bring them immediately to the vet.
You know your pet best! You are the best judge of your pet’s behaviors and if they are feeling sick or not acting right. Trust your gut. Additionally, if you have a “fufu” pet then keep in mind they may be feeding off of your worries and responding to your emotions. Is your pet eating, drinking, peeing, and pooping normally? Are they hesitating when offered a treat, not as active, not going up or down the stairs, and getting on the bed? Write your observations down including time and it can help you realize if something is not right.
In conclusion, if your pet is experiencing anything outside these normal ranges of objective parameters (vital signs) or subjective findings (pain, abnormal behaviors) then either call your mobile vet or grab your keys and seek medical attention immediately.
December 28, 2012
I don’t know about you, but after 8 years in Minnesota, I’m done with the cold. I’m done with the chapped lips, and cracked hands, and I’m especially done with the wind that rips across you, leaving nothing but a chilled skeleton in its wake. But, God bless them, my dogs will spend any time they can outside, whether it’s 9 degrees or 90. So what could I do with my dogs inside when I just wasn’t able to drag myself out to into the cold? I wanted to exercise both their minds and bodies, and I have to say, I found some good ideas that I’m excited to share!
The first one is relatively simple; the old “throw it in a blanket and see how long it takes for the dog to realize it’s in the blanket and not in their bowl.” Now, we have both a Jack Russell in our family, and a Bull Mastiff, two polar opposites on many fields- One big, one small, one lazy, one super lazy, one smart, one not so smart. You catch my drift. The premise is simple: all you need to do is get a relatively small blanket, any couch throw blanket will do, and a few treats. Show your dog that you have the treats, and get them excited. Then throw the treats on the floor, and the blanket quickly on top. You may have to have another person hold the dog back at first! Some dogs, like our Josephine, will automatically dig at the blanket, use their nose to burrow, or all of the above until they get the treats they want. Others, like our dear old Piper, will stare at the blanket, and look back up at you as if “and you expect me to do what?” Part of the fun of the game is to see if you can teach them a new skill.
Do you know the muffin man? Because apparently, he’s a dog trainer too! An innovative game known as the “muffin tin game” is both fun and unique. What you’ll need is a muffin tin, some tennis balls, and some treats. Begin by showing your dog the treats being put in the muffin tin, then put tennis balls over some of the treats and let them go at it. Once they’ve realized that there are treats in the tins, there are a couple of ways this can go, either they will knock each tennis ball off like a good puppy, or our energetic friends will go crazy and throw the tin around, making a fun mess with both treats and tennis balls, a great mix. Eventually you can begin not putting treats under each tennis ball, and switch everything up. Our baby Piper is especially fun to play this game with, because her mouth and jowls are so big. She sticks that big lounge of hers inside each little muffin cup, knock balls over all over the place, lift her head up and run over to investigate what she’d knocked over, pick it up, remember the treats, drop the ball, run over, stick her lounge all over the place, and so on and so forth. It was a fun and slobbery mess!
The final game is one you can get the whole family involved in, hide and seek! What you’ll need to do is have 2 family members, one to hide and one to encourage the dog. (Later on you could possibly add a few more people for our advanced players out there!) At first, have your dog watch as one person walks off into another room and “hide” (don’t make it too difficult at first). Have the encourager rile the dog up saying things like “Where’s ____? Find _____! Good dog!” and walk to the room where the dog had seen the person walk into. When the dog finds the hidden person, make sure they encourage the dog a lot, maybe even have treats. Eventually, when the dog gets the concept, you don’t need to let them see what room they’ve hidden in, and let them use that great nose of theirs to find them! Our little one, Josephine, was a surprise tracker, which we found out through this game. It took her only a few practice runs to get the concept, and she was off! Josephine can now find 3 people hiding, and she isn’t allowed to see which room they go to. She sticks her little nose to the ground, and move the toothpick legs protruding from her potato shaped body at speeds we’ve never seen before just to find everyone!
As long as you and your best friend are together and having a good time, that is all that matters. Have fun with it, and be inventive! If you have fun games or ideas to go along with these games, be sure to try them out and come back and share them!
June 20, 2012
Forget About Fleas with the Right Flea Prevention for You and Your Family.
These days there are a number of flea preventatives to choose from including a bath in dawn soap to kill adult to monthly topical and oral preventatives that also prevent heartworms and gastrointestinal parasites. It can be overwhelming, but to simplify how to choose just listen to the fleas themselves they can help you decide:
F – Friendly. Ensure the product is friendly to both the environment and your pet. Avoid preventatives that can create toxicities in your pet. Generally, these are older products with great packaging that can be safe when used carefully, but can have severe neurological consequences if your pet is given an overdose. Additionally, many spot-on products for dogs contain higher concentrations of permethrin, a synthetic pyrethroid. They are derived from Chrysanthemum spp. Natural pyrethrins are less stable and potent than synthetic products. Use caution when using these preventatives on your pet. Additionally, do not use spot on preparations for your dogs on your cats. The two species have differences in their metabolism and will cause severe toxicity. Consult with your veterinarian if you have any questions.
L – Lifestyle. Consider your lifestyle and activity with your pet. Does your pet swim or get bathed frequently? If yes, then an oral preventative rather than a topical flea preventative may the better choice for your family. Are you forgetful or have difficultly remembering if you gave the flea or heartworm? It may be best to give an oral tablet or topical solution that does flea, heartworm and intestinal deworming.
E – Effective. Your flea preventative must kill and prevent fleas in order to work. There are some products that may work better for your environment and flea population than others. It is important to make sure you are applying it correctly and not removing your topical preventative with shampoos that strip the product from your pet’s hair or sebaceous glands.
A – Affordable. There is a wide range of flea preventatives available. Be sure to consult with your veterinarian or veterinary staff to discuss all the options, including those available over the counter. Keep in mind that preventing fleas helps save you money when considering the other illnesses your pet can experience secondary to a flea bite or infestation. These include exposure to tapeworms, which require special costly deworming to eliminate the infection. Multiple trips to your veterinarian for generalized dermatitis or hot spot (skin infections) treatments. Additionally, some pets become ill from blood loss or anemia. Fleas are sucking your pets’ blood by the way. FYI if you are in a bind, a one-time adult flea treatment can be a bath with Dawn dishwashing soap. Keep in mind that this detergent could irritate our pet’s skin.
Overall, flea gives us a great acronym to use to help remember how to prevent and treat for them. It should be FRIENDLY, meet you and your pet’s LIFESTYLE, be EFFECTIVE, and AFFORDABLE. Remember, veterinarians are nice people and we do not mind answering any of your questions about these and other pet health concerns. We are here to help.
May 23, 2012
What Are Allergies?
Just like people, dogs can show allergic symptoms when their immune systems begin to recognize certain everyday substances—or allergens— as dangerous. Even though these allergens are common in most environments and harmless to most animals, a dog with allergies will have an extreme reaction to them. Allergens can be problematic when inhaled, ingested or contact a dog’s skin. As his body tries to rid itself of these substances, a variety of skin, digestive and respiratory symptoms may appear.
Symptoms of Allergies in Dogs?
• Itchy, red, moist or scabbed skin
• Increased scratching
• Itchy, runny eyes
• Itchy back or base of tail (most commonly flea allergy)
• Itchy ears and ear infections
• Snoring caused by an inflamed throat
• Paw chewing/swollen paws
• Constant licking
Allergic dogs may also suffer from secondary bacterial or yeast skin infections, which may cause hair loss, scabs or crusts on the skin.
Which Dogs Are At Risk for Getting Allergies?
Any dog can develop allergies at any time during his life, but allergic reactions seem to be especially common in terriers, setters, retrievers, and flat-faced breeds such as pugs, bulldogs and Boston terriers.
Please note that food allergies may show up in dogs at any age.
What Can Dogs Be Allergic To?
A few common allergens include:
• Tree, grass and weed pollens
• Mold spores
• Dust and house dust mites
• Cigarette smoke
• Food ingredients (e.g. beef, chicken, pork, corn, wheat or soy)
• Fleas and flea-control products (The bite of a single flea can trigger itchiness)
• Cleaning products
• Insecticidal shampoo
• Rubber and plastic materials
Can Dogs Be Allergic to Food?
Yes, but it often takes some detective work to find out what ingredient is causing the allergic reaction. Dogs with a food allergy will commonly have itchy skin, ear infections, breathing difficulties or gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea and vomiting, and an elimination diet will most probably be used to determine what food he is allergic to. If your dog is specifically allergic to chicken, for example, you should avoid feeding him any products containing chicken protein or fat.
How Are Dog Allergies Diagnosed?
If your dog’s itchy, red or irritated skin persists beyond initial treatment by a veterinarian, allergy testing, most often performed by a veterinary dermatologist, is needed. The diagnostic test of choice is an intradermal skin test similar to the one performed on humans.
The only way to diagnose a food allergy is to feed your dog a controlled, limited ingredient diet. The importance of not feeding your dog anything but the diet cannot be emphasized enough—that means no treats, table food or flavored medication. This diet will be free of potential allergy-causing ingredients and will ideally have ingredients your dog has never been exposed to. He’ll remain on the diet until his symptoms go away, at which time you’ll begin to reintroduce old foods to see which ones might be causing the allergic reaction.
How Can Dog Allergies Be Treated?
The best way to treat allergies is to remove the offending allergens from the environment.
• Prevention is the best treatment for allergies caused by fleas. Start a flea control program for all of your pets before the season starts. Remember, outdoor pets can carry fleas inside to indoor pets. See your veterinarian for advice about the best flea control products for your dog and the environment.
• If dust is the problem, clean your pet’s bedding once a week and vacuum at least twice weekly—this includes rugs, curtains and any other materials that gather dust.
• Weekly bathing may help relieve itching and remove environmental allergens and pollens from your dog’s skin. Discuss with your vet what prescription shampoos are best, as frequent bathing with the wrong product can dry out skin.
• If you suspect your dog has a food allergy, she’ll need to be put on a limited ingredient diet. Once the allergy is determined you can introduce new foods to their diet as long as they do not contain the allergen.
Are There Allergy Medications for Dogs?
Since certain substances cannot be removed from the environment, your vet may recommend medications to control the allergic reaction:
• In the case of airborne allergens, your dog may benefit from allergy injections. These will help your pet develop resistance to the offending agent, instead of just masking the itch.
• Antihistamines such as Benadryl can be used, but may only benefit a small percentage of dogs with allergies. Ask your vet first.
• Fatty acid supplements might help relieve your dog’s itchy skin. There are also shampoos that may help prevent skin infection, which occurs commonly in dogs with allergies. Sprays containing oatmeal, aloe and other natural products are also available.
• An immune modulating drug may also be helpful.
• If the problem is severe, you may have to resort to cortisone to control the allergy. However these drugs are strong and should be used with caution and only under the guidance of your veterinarian.
April 27, 2012
- PRE-ANESTHETIC BLOOD WORK – the internal organ function blood tests gives your veterinarian a glimpse of how your pet’s internal organs are functioning – liver, kidneys, etc. Once your veterinarian reviews the results, they can make important decisions on the anesthesia protocol they will use and make changes it accordingly. For instance, if your pet has slightly elevated liver values indicative of sub-optimal liver function, your veterinarian can use this information to select an anesthetic drug that is metabolized less in the liver. Your veterinarian also could postpone any elective procedures if they feel your pet is too high of a risk for anesthesia. Many times your veterinarian may allow you to decline this test – but there is risk involved. Furthermore, you can opt for more extensive blood work to include additional internal organ values and a complete blood cell count. This more extensive blood work is recommended yearly after your pet is 2 or 3 years of age.
- INTRAVENOUS CATHETER AND INTRAOPERATIVE FLUID THERAPY – having an intravenous (IV) catheter is important for your pet when they have IV medication given and for routine maintenance IV fluid therapy. If there is any unusual anesthetic events during the procedure it is helpful to have an IV catheter already in place, therefore any drugs needed for arrhythmias or life threatening situations can be administered immediately. IV fluids allow for the maintenance of your pets fluid volume and blood pressure.
- MONITORING – during the procedure your pet should be monitored for proper heart rate, oxygen saturation, blood pressure, and temperature by a trained assistant. Additional monitoring devices including a pulse oximeter, capnograph, esophageal heart monitor, and / or Doppler or automated blood pressure monitor will enhance the monitoring capabilities while you pet in under anesthesia.
- MANAGEMENT / EXAM –Your veterinarian should examine your pet before and after the procedure and determine if your pet is fully recovered from the procedure. Additionally, your pet may need additional drugs before, during and after the surgery. This can range from pre-operative antibiotics and/or pain medications, including nerve blocks, or epidural injections, to intra-operative and post-operative medications. Many veterinarians do not allow for owner’s to opt out of additional pain medications if needed. There may be an additional charge involved.
- EDUCATION – A good veterinarian – patient – client relationship is essential and will help you understand what to expect for your pet during and after anesthesia and surgery. Often this is explained as the discharge instructions and is given by a veterinary technician or assistant. Although discharge instructions are often clearly written and very helpful, it is best to ask any questions before an unexpected problem arises at home so that you know how to react quickly. For example, many pets can experience nausea after general anesthesia – so offer your pet a small amount of water when you get home first and if they keep it down then you can offer a small amount of food. If they keep that down, then they most likely are not having symptoms. If they do vomit, then they need more time and wait to introduce anything for 2 more hours. If vomiting continues or your pet has not eaten, or seems to have not fully recovered for any reason within 24 hours, you will need to contact your veterinarian immediately.
OVERVIEW – Anesthesia has risks, but these risks can be minimized with additional steps that are not considered an option in human medicine. Ask your veterinarian for more information.
April 17, 2012
- Make coming to you the best thing in the world! Use lots of enthusiasm and praise with a happy voice tone.
- Make sure you have their attention before you use the word Come.
- Only use the word Come once then go get him right away and cheerfully lead him back to where you called him from. Give him LOTS of praise when he comes, even if you’ve had to go three blocks to get him!
- Never call him to you to punish him or do something unpleasant such as clipping nails. He will only remember that he was punished when coming to you. If you use an angry tone, he will naturally hesitate or not come.
- Only use your Come word when you are sure you can go get your dog if he chooses to ignore you.
- If your dog does ever run away, he might come back if you kneel down, flop on the ground, or run the other way.
Teaching the Come Command
- Make it a fun game to chase you for a few feet.
- Turn and say Come as he approaches.
- Praise profusely as you give 1 treat at a time for a total of 10 treats.
- Do this exercise four times each session 1-2 times per day for 2 weeks.
- Then maintain a reliable Come by reviewing 1-2 times per week.
- When he comes reliably, start weaning off the treats. Sometimes he gets a couple, sometimes none, and sometimes a jackpot so he never knows when it might appear! However, always maintain by practicing 1-2 times per week.
- If he ever ignores you, either show him what he missed out on and give it to another dog or throw it in the trash in front of him, or get him to chase you.
Good luck and have fun!
April 07, 2012
Is the word ‘Holistic’ marketing hype when it comes to pet food? The short answer is that it can be. There is no legal definition for the term ‘Holistic’ so companies can use it as they wish. What you need to do is read into the label and past the title to find out what holistic means for that particular product. For me, the term Holistic represents the philosophy that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
What I want in a Holistic pet food is:
- Only natural ingredients are used. No chemicals or artificial anything. No antibiotics, hormones, pesticides or dyes.
- The pet food uses whole grains, fruits and vegetables. No processed parts or by-products of ingredients.
- The ingredients chosen for the recipe are selected to benefit the animal. They are not there to make the food more appealing to the pet owner or to entice your pet to eat something they normally would not.
- The food contains enhanced vitamins and chelated/proteinated minerals.
We all know the benefits of eating a healthy diet. Make sure to read the label and not just go for the best sounding name or prettiest bag!
March 17, 2012
Do you have problems with your dog lunging at passerbys, dogs, squirrels, joggers, cars, etc.? Here are suggestions to eliminate/minimize the behavior before it escalates into major problems.
1. Don’t allow your dog access to the entire yard where he can practice barking, lunging, etc. at people near your property. This behavior can eventually turn into territorial aggression. Fix your fencing so your dog is unable to practice the behavior, or only place fencing in the back where he can’t see passerby’s, or cut off the sides of your house so you control both the front and the back of your property.
2. Use shrubbery to block off vision and prevent constant barking/lunging.
3. Allow your guests to be able to drive up and walk up to the front door without being greeted by an over exuberant or problematic pooch. Some humans are terrified of any dog, even calm or small ones.
4. Don’t leave your dog unsupervised with underground fences. Anyone can walk up and steal your dog or tease your dog. And other dogs can access your yard.
5. If you have a fence jumper, you can place an underground fence a few feet before your actual fence, install coyote rollers at the top or get a professional trainer to help you prevent the behavior.
6. Place chicken wire fencing stapled into the fence and dug into the ground for dogs that dig out of fences.
7. Install springs on the gates so they close automatically to prevent lost dogs.
I hope this helps!
February 21, 2012
6 Key Signs of
- Bad breath / odor
- Redness of gums
- Discomfort chewing
- Tooth loss
Similar to your own teeth, normal eating activities will result in plaque and tartar build-up on your pet’s teeth. If left for a long period of time, tarter will continue to build-up on the surfaces of the teeth and can physically grow into the gingiva (gums) causing inflammation and pain. The real problem begins when the associated bacteria proliferate, produce toxins, and begin to destroy normal gingival structures inciting even more inflammation and pain. In some cases, this inflammation can cause bone loss which leads to loose teeth and necessary extractions. In fact, it is common that bacteria can be absorbed into the blood supply within the gingiva. In severe cases, this can cause systemic disease, including infections in the heart, liver and/or kidneys.
Key signs of dental disease that you may notice include discoloration on your pet’s teeth, redness of the gums, drooling, and/or bad breath. In addition, your pet may experience discomfort or difficulty chewing and eating and may even lose teeth. Routine home care through the form of brushing, chewing devices that help your pet brush their own teeth and/or special treats or diets are necessary to reduce this build-up. In many cases, a yearly dental cleaning by your veterinarian is necessary to remove all the plaque and tartar build-up, reduce inflammation and pain, and thus help provide the best health for your pet. Furthermore, annual dental cleaning has the added benefit of getting rid of “doggie” breath. February is National Pet Dental Health Month. Please contact your veterinarian for more information and the importance of your pet’s dental health.
February 20, 2012
Heather Moeser, MS, DVM
We are delighted to announce a new addition to our Pet Pantry family, Dr. Heather Moeser, MS. DVM. Doctor Moeser will be sharing her considerable experience and wisdom with us all on our new web site blog.
The most exciting thing for us is that Dr. Moeser also has an advanced degree in pet nutrition. You will be able to ask Dr. Moeser questions and get answers right here on the Pet Pantry blog!
There is one more thing that we really appreciate about Dr. Moeser – like the Pet Pantry, she delivers high quality veterinary care RIGHT TO YOUR DOOR! That’s right, Dr. Moeser is “The Downtown Mobile Vet.” So, visit her web site and give her a call! We’re sure she’d appreciate it.
Dr. Moeser is best known for her compassionate care and “down to earth” approach to veterinary medicine. She works with you and takes the time to answer all of your questions and concerns about your loved ones. She understands that takes a partnership between your family, your pets, and your veterinarian to provide the best care for your pet. Dr. Moeser has a Master’s degree in Animal Nutrition from The University of Georgia and received her veterinary degree from North Carolina State University – College of Veterinary Medicine in 2005.
Please join us in welcoming Dr. Heather Moeser. Visit her at “The Downtown Mobile Vet.” or call her at 919.917.8312 and let her know you much you appreciate her.