Cats and Summertime

Over the summer months you’ll want to be aware of how to protect your feline friend from sunburn, over-heating and dehydration.  Here are some helpful tips so you and your furry friend will enjoy the summertime months:

  •  White and light colored kitties are most at risk for sunburn – if your cat goes outside apply pet-safe sunscreen to his ears and nose.
  • The hottest parts of the day are between 10am and 4pm.  In the house you’ll want to lower the shades during this time to keep it cooler.  You can also try a UV-blocking film for the windows.
  • Encourage your cat to drink plenty of water with a cooling bowl or water fountain, or add low-sodium chicken broth or tuna juice to your cat’s water dish.
  • If it’s super hot try freezing water in a 2-liter bottle and cover it with a towel.  Your cat may want to cuddle up to it to cool off.
  • Remember – your cat can get sunburned while sunbathing indoors.

We hope you all have a safe and enjoyable summer!!!!!!!!

VACCINATIONS

WHY SHOULD I VACCINATE MY PET?

Experts would agree that within the last century the use of vaccines has prevented disease and death in millions of animals.  They protect your pet from contagious and deadly disease and overall will improve your pet’s quality of life. 

Some reasons to vaccinate are:

  • Vaccines can prevent many illnesses
  • They can help eliminate expensive treatments for diseases that can be prevented.
  • They can prevent diseases that can be passed not only from animal to animal but also from animal to human.
  • Pets that are unvaccinated can be infected by diseases prevalent in wildlife such as rabies and distemper.
  • Many states and counties require certain vaccines of household pets.

WHY DO KITTENS AND PUPPIES REQUIRE A SERIES OF VACCINES?

Because their immune system is not yet fully developed, very young animals are highly susceptible to infectious disease.  While they do receive protection through antibodies that are in their mother’s milk, it is not long-lasting and there may be gaps in protection as the antibodies decrease and the immune system is still maturing.  An incomplete series of vaccines could possibly lead to lack of protection, making kittens and puppies vulnerable to infection. 

To provide the very best protection against disease in the first months of life, a series of vaccines should be scheduled.  These are usually 3 – 4 weeks apart. And for most kittens and puppies, the final set of vaccines in the series will be at approximately 4 months of age.

Please talk with your veterinarian about your pet’s lifestyle including any travel to other countries.  This will help determine your pet’s risk of exposure to a variety of preventable diseases that will help in making a decision for a vaccine program that is appropriate for your pet.

 

 

HURRICANE PREPAREDNESS

We all want to do everything we possible can to protect our pets should a hurricane strike.  To help you prepare we have put together the following checklist:

  1.  Identify pet friendly evacuation locations.  Write them down and keep them with your disaster kit.  Ask friends, relatives or others outside the affected area whether they could shelter your pets.  Make a list of boarding facilities and veterinarians who could shelter animals in an emergency.  Practice loading your pets into carriers and then into your vehicle.
  2. Prepare an emergency kit for each pet.  Stock up on the items you may possible need during a disaster now so you are not unprepared.  Some basic items you should keep in your disaster kit are: A) A one-week supply of food in a water-proof container.  If you use canned food include a manual can opener.   B) Drinkable water, bowls, cat litter/pan.  C) A first aid kit for your pets.  D) Photos of your pet in case you need to make “lost pet” fliers and photos of you with your pet to prove ownership if necessary.  E) Medications that your pets may need and medical records including vaccine history stored in a waterproof container.  F) Carriers and/or leashes for each pet.
  3. Microchip your pets.  This is the single best way to reunite lost pets with owners.  Be sure to keep the microchip registration current and always include at least one emergency number of a friend or relative who resides out of your immediate area.
  4. Plan for temporary confinement.  Physical structures may be destroyed during a disaster.  Have a plan for keeping your pet safely confined.
  5. Know where to search for your pet should he become lost.  Keep a list of the locations and phone numbers of the shelters in your area.
  6. Pet bed and /or toys if easily transportable.

HELP EMERGENCY WORKERS HELP YOUR PETS

Use a rescue sticker alert to let people know that pets are inside your home.  Make sure it is visible to rescue workers and that it includes the types and number of pets in your household and your veterinarians phone number.  If you must evacuate with your pets and time permits write “EVACUATED” across the stickers so rescue workers don’t waste time looking for them.

OUR ONLINE PHARMACY

VetSource is Lake Wales Veterinary Hospital’s Online Pharmacy

Home delivery from your veterinarian allows you to receive your pet’s medication shipped right to your home, in the right dosage, right on time!!  It is the most convenient way to have your pet’s medications, prescription food and many other pet items delivered safely and securely from us to your door.  You place an order through your vet’s website, then your pet’s prescription is confirmed and verified by our licensed pharmacists.  Your pets prescription is checked again and then packaged and shipped to arrive safely at your door.

To use our VetSource Online Pharmacy, please go to lakewalesvets.com.  Click on the “Paw” for online store.  If you already have a login you may sign in and start shopping.  Otherwise click on
“register” and you will be able to create a new account.

If you have any problems, please call VetSource at 877-738-4443.

PET OBESITY ON THE RISE

New data from Nationwide, a provider of pet health insurance, reveals that pet obesity is on the rise for the fifth straight year, according to a release.  In 2014, Nationwide members filed more than $54 million in pet insurance claims for conditions and diseases related to pet obesity, a 10 percent growth over the past two years.  Nationwide recently sorted through its database of more than 550,000 insured pets to determine the top-10 dog and cat obesity-related conditions.

The most common obesity-related condition for dogs included 1) arthritis, 2) bladder/urinary tract disease and 3) low thyroid hormone production.  The most common cat obesity-related conditions included 1) bladder/urinary tract disease, 2) chronic kidney disease and 3) diabetes.

In 2014, Nationwide received more than 42,000 pet insurance claims for arthritis in canines, the most common disease aggravated by excessive weight, which carried an average treatment fee of $292 per pet.  With more than 4,700 pet insurance claims, bladder or urinary tract disease was the most common obesity-related condition in cats, which had an average claim amount of $424 per pet.

DENTAL CARE FOR YOUR PET

CANINE AND FELINE DENTAL CARE

 

The veterinary community has stepped up to the “plate” in the last 25 years with an increasing awareness of the importance of dental care in our pets. We always had awareness of the consequences of bad teeth, but the increase in information and awareness has had real benefits for dog and cat longevity.

Our pets have a tendency to develop plaque and tartar on their teeth. As this accumulation builds up, infection is trapped and the gingival tissue becomes inflamed and erodes, allowing the infection to affect the tooth roots. This resulting periodontal infection is in the bone and begins a cycle of bacteria “showering” into the blood stream…straight to the heart, specifically the mitral valve. As this heart valve becomes infected, the body’s response results in scar tissue and “knarling” of the valve edges. This results in an increase in blood pressure in the lung and congestion ( congestive heart failure). We frequently see the small dog come in with bad breath, nasty teeth and a cough.

The best approach to prevent this life shortening issue is prevention. Checking the dog and cat’s teeth and gums should be done routinely. The typical first signs are on the upper pre-molars and molars. The process of doing a “dental”  includes anesthesia with intubation to prevent inhalation of the infection and tartar which is removed with the help of ultrasonic tools. We are performing more dental cleanings than ever with the goal of preventing life shortening heart disease.

While most procedures involve cleaning of the teeth, we often extract loose or root exposed teeth. This may involve oral surgery. The veterinary profession has Board Certified Dentists that can perform the same procedures as human dentists, with root canals and crowns and even orthodontics. The main issue for the dog and cat is to prevent the teeth from shortening the life span. It is interesting that the smaller dogs have significantly more dental issues than large breeds.

In cats, tartar can create similar disease problems as for dogs, but there is also an ulcerative, prolific mucous membrane event ( lymphocytic/plasmacytic stomatitis) that may be in part due to a reaction by the tissues to tartar. Extracting all the teeth in some cats has resolved the disease.

While the cost of performing a dental cleaning/procedure including recommended pre-operative bloodwork may be significant, the benefit in preventing heart disease makes it very “cost effective”.  Prevention is the best plan. Early detection and cleaning is recommended.

There are many products on the market for dental health care. Dental chews, tooth brushes, oral sprays and even special diets to help “remove” tartar. Everything may help, however I usually comment that even daily oral care does not eliminate the veterinarian but it will decrease the intervals needed for healthy teeth.

There have been small dogs ( i.e Yorkshire terriers or Chihuahuas) that have needed dental cleaning as early as 2-3 years of age, and then routinely. Large dogs do not have the same predisposition for dental disease ( we should still check!) as my 110# dog lived to be 15+ years old and never had to have a “dental” .  We usually examine the teeth/mouth when we perform annual exams, but it is beneficial for owners to periodically check for issues and consult with their veterinarian.

 

TBSchotman DVM

“HOT DOGS”

PASSION FOR PETS

 

“HOT DOG’S”

 

 

Every year we have cases of dogs ( rarely cats) presented with hyperthermia. These dogs can present with internal temperatures as high as 110 oF. The normal temperature of the dogs is listed as 100 to 102.5 oF. The temperatures outside have been very hot and with a high humidity, evaporative cooling is minimal. The dog does not have apocrine glands throughout the skin ( some in the foot pads) and does not have the ability to cool off by perspiration. The main cooling mechanism is through panting where the internal heat is exhaled from the upper airways. When the air temperature is high, this cooling technique does not work as well.

The dog typically has a hair coat that acts as an insulation to the cold AND heat, but if the inside or core temperature exceeds what the animal can regulate via panting (or drinking!) then the body temperature can steadily go up. I call this ( from what I learned in pig medicine) malignant hyperthermia. As the temp goes up, tissues are damaged which results in more elevation of body temp…and on!. When the temperature gets high, damage to tissues including the brain, can result in permanent damage and even death.

Treatment is determined by the status of the patient. Sometimes just bringing the temperature down results in a normal response. Sometimes intravenous fluids, cortisone and other medications are needed. Cool water rinsing is generally adequate, while topical rubbing alcohol has been used ( it evaporates fast to enhance cooling). Caution should be used with the alcohol as it it toxic if too much is absorbed, and too rapid of a “cooling” event may result in hypothermia ( low temperature). I have seen this especially in small patients.

Common sense prevails when I recommend that prevention is the best approach!!! For the first advice— DO NOT leave your pet in the car under any circumstances. Most of the animals that have died from hyperthermia have been left in the car … even on a moderate day the sun can cook the inside of the car. Since activity elevates the core body temperature, it is best to allow exercise during the early or late parts of the day when it should be cooler. Having fresh cool water available is very important. Even a small pool may help with some animals. I recommend body clipping certain breeds of dogs to prevent insulating the heat within.

In the dogs that have too much body fat ( an additional insulator) it is wise to plan a weight loss program. Even when we do everything to prevent hyperthermia, it can still happen. Excitement can result in behavior that raises the body temperature… prevent the event.

If the patient loses responsiveness, mobility, coordination or is panting at a stress level, it is best to present it to the veterinarian as soon as possible. A rectal thermometer is usually best for gauging the body temp. Too high if a temperature can result in permanent damage or even death… be aware of the possibilities. Prevention is the best measure for “hot dogs”.

 

TBSchotman DVM

ALLERGIES

Spring in Florida is full of sun and beautiful, warm weather. It’s the perfect season to be outside. Unfortunately, it’s also the perfect season for allergen-producing foliage and pollens. Florida’s allergy season is longer and stronger than most of the United States. So, as we are all wheezing, sneezing and sniffling, dogs are scratching, licking and chewing at their skin.

Allergies in animals is termed Atopic Dermatitis. Atopic dermatitis is an inflammatory skin disease brought on by normally harmless substances like grass, mold spores, house dust mites and other environmental allergens. Dogs normally show signs of the disease between 6 months and 6 years of age, though atopic dermatitis can be so mild the first year that it is not clinically apparent. Often symptoms associated with atopic dermatitis are more apparent during certain seasons of the year but can progressively worsen with time and end up being year round. The most commonly affected areas on a dog include ears, face (particularly around the eyes), paws, underarms, and groin.

Serologic allergy testing may be performed by taking a blood sample to see what specific allergens are leading to the itch. The blood is tested for the presence of IgE antibodies against specific allergens. If it contains a high number of these IgE antibodies, an allergy is presumed to exist. Intradermal testing, whereby small amounts of test allergens are injected in the skin and wheal (a red bump) response is measured, may also be used to identify the specific allergen. This type of testing is more commonly performed at specialty dermatology veterinary hospitals.

Once specific allergens have been determined, it may be possible to desensitize the pet to these offending allergens. A specific allergy serum is produced according to the results of the allergy tests and is either given in a series of shots or as a liquid preparation under the tongue. The principle behind desensitization or hyposensitization is that the controlled amounts of offending allergens will “reprogram” the pet’s immune system and lessen its clinical response to that allergen. For about half of the treated pets, hyposensitization will result in significantly reduced itching and secondary skin disease.

If allergy testing and hyposensitization cannot be performed or does not improve the pet, then anti-inflammatory drugs including corticosteroids and antihistamines will often bring relief from itching. An oral form of the drug cyclosporine can also aid in decreasing the itch. In addition, certain omega 3 fatty acids (or fish oils) and prescription diets may provide some relief for many pets with allergic skin disease. Antibiotics may also be required as secondary bacterial skin infection is often noted in pets that are constantly licking, chewing, scratching. Unfortunately, these products treat only the clinical signs, not the underlying allergy.

75% of my patients are dealing with atopic dermatitis; some with just a mild itch and others with hair loss, ear infections, and crusts all over the skin.  Allergies can make your pet miserable. As with us, pets have to live with allergies and will never be 100% cured but lots can be done to help improve their quality of life. Please be sure to see a Veterinarian to discuss your options if your pet has itchy skin.

ARE YOU PREPARED?????

ARE YOU PREPARED???

June 1 marks the official start of hurricane season in the United States.  Hurricanes can be very frightening but with some thought and preparation, you can make things safer and a little easier for you and your pets.

  • MAKE A PLAN – Be prepared. Decide ahead of time on a plan of action and make sure you can implement it at a moment’s notice. Have your supplies set aside in an easily accessible and safe place.
  • STICK TO IT- Stick to your decision. Otherwise you may place you and your pets in danger. If you decide you are going to leave town at the first warning, then do so. Don’t dilly-dally!!! Changing your mind or your plans can lead to unnecessary accidents.
  • EMERGENCY KIT – Make sure you have your emergency kits ready. Enough water for three days, non perishable food (include a can opener), a solid carrier, litter, litter box, puppy pads, plastic bags, medicine and medical records for you and your pet in a waterproof container, extra leash and a picture of your pet in case you get separated. Tags and microchipping your pet will also make it easier to recover in the event you get separated.
  • STAYING IN – If your plan is to stay at home, keep your pet in its carrier or on their leash. You never know when you might need to evacuate and you don’t want to be tracking down a petrified pet during the storm. Secure your pet before the storm hits!!!!!
  • GOING OUT- Make sure you stay turned to the news. If you are told to evacuate, do so at the first warning. It will help you tremendously if you have everything ready to go. A backpack that holds all the essentials for you and your pet is recommended. Know ahead of time exactly where all the shelters are and know how to get to them.
  • STAY CALM – Whether you leave, stay or are required to evacuate due to the severity of a storm, remember to stay calm. Your pet can sense if you’re upset so a calming demeanor can lead to a less-panicked pet. Speaking to your pet in a calm, soothing voice will help too.

HOT WEATHER TIPS FOR YOUR PET!!!

HOT WEATHER HAS ARRIVED – HERE ARE SOME TIPS TO KEEP YOUR FURRY CHILDREN HAPPY AND WELL THROUGH THE SUMMER MONTHS.

*PETS CAN GET DEHYDRATED VERY QUICKLY SO IT’S IMPERATIVE THAT THEY HAVE ACCESS TO FRESH, CLEAN WATER.  BE SURE THAT THERE IS A SHADY PLACE FOR THEM TO BE ABLE TO GET OUT OF THE SUN.  AND WHEN IT’S EXTREMELY HOT THE BEST PLACE FOR THEM IS INDOORS.

*DO NOT LEAVE THEM UNSUPERVISED AROUND THE POOL.  SOME DOGS ARE NOT GOOD SWIMMERS.  IF YOU TAKE THEM ON YOUR BOAT OR KAYAKING, MAKE SURE THEY WEAR FLOTATION DEVICES.  IF THEY GO IN YOUR POOL BE SURE TO RINSE THEM WELL WHEN THEY GET OUT.  THIS WILL REMOVE CHLORINE OR SALT FROM THE FUR.  YOU ALSO WANT TO KEEP YOUR PET FROM DRINKING THE POOL WATER AS THIS CONTAINS CHEMICALS THAT COULD RESULT IN AN UPSET STOMACH.

*BE AWARE OF THE SYMTOMS OF OVERHEATING SUCH AS DIFFICULTY BREATHING, EXCESSIVE PANTING, DROOLING AND INCREASED RESPIRATORY RATE.  THIS CAN ALSO INCLUDE BLOODY DIARRHEA, VOMITING AND ELEVATED BODY TEMPERATURES OF OVER 104 DEGREES.

*WHEN THE TEMPERATURES CLIMB DON’T LET YOUR DOG LINGER ON THE HOT ASPHALT.  THEIR SENSITIVE PAWS CAN BURN.  A GOOD RULE OF THUMB IS IF IT’S TOO HOT FOR YOU TO BE BAREFOOT IT’S PROBABLY TOO HOT FOR THEIR PAWS.

*IT’S A GOOD IDEA FOR YOU TO TRIM LONGER HAIR ON YOUR DOG.  BUT NEVER SHAVE THEM.  THE LAYERS OF THEIR COATS PROTECT THEM FROM SUNBURN AND OVERHEATING.  BRUSHING CATS MORE OFTEN THAN YOU NORMALLY WOULD  CAN PREVENT PROBLEMS THAT CAN BE CAUSED BY EXCESSIVE HEAT.