Saturday, August 31, 2013

Toy Hazards

Things to Remember

  • Sticks and bones can splinter and cause choking or vomiting, or they can perforate the mouth, throat or intestine. Hard bones can easily damage teeth. Instead, use hard, non-splintering chew toys to play fetch or to allow your pet to gnaw.
  • Soft, latex toys can be shredded by a chewing pet. If the toy includes a squeaking mechanism, the squeaker can be easily swallowed or cause choking.
  • Superballs can cause intestinal obstruction if ingested. Other types of balls, such as tennis balls or handballs, may be too small for the pet playing with them and cause choking.
  • Towels, socks, underwear and other similar clothing or materials can be swallowed by a rambunctious pet, causing intestinal obstruction.
  • Some dogs like to chew on or eat rocks-bad idea! Rocks can cause broken teeth and serious intestinal obstruction if swallowed.

Brushing Your Pet's Teeth

Too often we overlook the need for dental care for our pets. Untreated teeth can cause serious problems in the pet's overall health.
Periodontal disease is the number one dental problem in dogs and cats, and cats often develop defects below the gumline which may be hard to detect. As in humans, abscessed teeth or periodontal disease can affect other parts of the body. In dogs and cats, they can cause heart and kidney disease.
A regular veterinary dental checkup can help prevent serious problems and keep your pet healthy. Pet teeth cleaning includes use of a short-lasting anesthetic that allows for gumline probes, removal of tartar and tooth polishing. A good way to remember to schedule a dental exam is to combine it with your pet's annual booster vaccinations.
Equally important to annual dental exams is home dental care, such as brushing your pet's teeth at least three times per week.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Prevent Poisonings in your Pet

If you suspect your animal may have ingested any of the substances on this list or if you pet shows any of the symptoms indicated below, you should consider the situation a medical emergency and should contact your veterinarian immediately. Be sure to bring any containers or the remains of any substance you think your pet may have swallowed with you.
Organophosphates, identified as malathion, diazinon, and fenthion, and carbamates, most commonly known as carbaryl and carbofuran, are neurological poisons found in lawn and garden pesticides and flea and tick products. Signs of toxicity include apprehension, excessive salivation, urination, defecation, vomiting and diarrhea, and pinpoint pupils. If an animal has absorbed enough of any neurological toxin, sudden death may be the only sign.


Pyrethrins and pyrethroids, both natural and synthetic, are also neurological poisons. Natural names include pyrethrin I and II. Synthetic compounds include allethrin, resmethrin, and permethrin. They are found in insecticidal aerosols, dips, shampoos, and house and garden products. Signs of ingestion include excessive salivation, vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, and hyperexcitability or depression.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Cataracts

Cataracts are one of the most common eye problems affecting pets. They can affect all breeds and ages of dogs and cats, but the condition is found more commonly in certain dog breeds, such as Cockers, Poodles, Miniature Schnauzers and Terriers.
The normal, transparent lens in the eye focuses beams of light onto the retina so that your pet can see clearly. A cataract is a disruption of the normal arrangement of the lens fibers that interferes with sight by partially or completely blocking the clarity of the lens. A cataract may be quite small and not significantly interfere with your pet's vision, but if the cataract becomes dense enough, vision may be lost.


It is not unusual for your pet's eyes to become slightly blue-gray as they age. As a normal part of the aging process, the lens becomes thicker, making the eyes appear grayer. This condition, called nuclear sclerosis, usually occurs in dogs over six years of age and typically does not affect their vision. Therefore treatment for this condition is not recommended.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

What is urethral obstruction, and why is it life-threatening?

If your cat is straining to urinate and only produces a few drops of urine or none at all, he needs to be seen by a veterinarian immediately. Your cat could be experiencing urethral obstruction, and if the problem is not solved, he could die within just a couple of days.
The urethra is a tube-like structure that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body. Sometimes, mineral crystals or stones form in the urethra and block the path to the outside. The blockage is called a urethral plug. Because a male cat's urethra is longer and narrower than a female's, urethral plugs are most often seen in males (whether or not they are neutered). Once a plug has formed, urine builds up in the bladder. This is not only painful to the cat, but can quickly cause kidney damage. The kidneys' job is to release poisonous wastes from the body; when kidneys don't function properly, these poisons accumulate in the bloodstream. The final result, if not treated: a painful death.

Causes

The cause of urethral plugs is not fully known. Plugs could result from a combination of poor diet and highly concentrated, alkaline (low acid) urine. Possibly, some viruses or bacterial infections trigger their formation. Some experts believe plugs may be linked to tumors, masses, or diseases of the prostate gland in some cases.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Fleas - How to control them

Fleas

The flea is a hardy insect with a lifespan of six to 12 months. During that time, a pair of fleas could produce millions of offspring. Fleas have survived millions of years in a variety of environments. Some species can leap 15 to 36 inches high. That's equivalent to a man jumping over the 555-foot Washington Monument.
All that may be admirable, but fleas on your pet or in your household aren't. Fleas can cause reactions in your pet varying from a mild skin irritation to a severe allergic reaction. Because fleas feed on blood, an extreme infestation can cause anemia or even death in animals. All cats and dogs, and other mammals, too, are susceptible to flea infestations, except for some that live in high elevations or in extremely dry environments.


Whether or not you actually see fleas on your pet, they may be there. Scratching, scabs and dark specs, or "flea dirt," found on the skin can all be signs that your pet has become the unwitting host for a family of fleas. Fleas can carry tapeworms, too. If you notice small white rice-like things in your pet's feces or in the hair around his anus, your pet probably has tapeworms, which means he may also have fleas. In extreme cases, an animal may be lethargic and its lips and gums pale.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Allergies

Just like people, animals have allergic reactions because their immune system--the system that protects the body from foreign and potentially infectious substances--overreacts to some material. Almost anything--pollen, dust, an ingredient in pet food, a household chemical, an insect bite--can set off an alarm in the immune system, causing it to pump out large amounts of white blood cells, hormones, and other material called histamines into the bloodstream. The result for animals can be a range of different effects, including itchy, swollen skin--known as pruritis--difficulty breathing, or a disruption of the digestive tract such as vomiting or diarrhea. These symptoms are the animal equivalent of a person's sneezing, runny nose, and watery eyes.


Pets with these kinds of allergic symptoms can be pretty miserable creatures, and unfortunately they can't be cured. Allergies are life-long, chronic problems. The good news is that there's a lot you can do to help your animal "children" feel better. The best way to start is to find out what your pet is allergic to, so you can keep the allergen out of his environment. Animal allergies generally fall under one of four main categories.

Facts about Beagles

Beagles are one of the most popular breeds available today, especially given their friendly and exuberant nature. However, there are several factors about these dogs that make owning one even more interesting. Following are some of the interesting facts about this breed of dogs.
The origin of the Beagles can be traced to Ancient Greece, where the historian Xenophon mentioned the presence of a certain hound, which uses its keen sense of smell in hunting. It was assumed that this hound was the real ancestor of the current Beagle. However, current day Beagle came to existence in the United Kingdom as early as in the fourteenth century, although the name was not yet derived.


Another interesting fact is regarding the name "Beagle", which according to many experts originated from the old French word "bee gueule", meaning loud mouth. An apt name, some would say, given the loud howling of this breed, which make it an impossible addition to an apartment. However, others suggest that this name was derived from words that meant small, like begel in Old English, beag in Celtic and beigh in French. In fact, some of the earlier Beagles were so small that they could fit into your pocket.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Intestinal Parasites

Cats and dogs are the favorite nesting grounds of four principal groups of worms and a few species of microscopic protozoa. The four worms are roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms, and whipworms. Among the protozoa are coccidia, toxoplasma, giardia, and ameba.



Identification

Proper identification is vital. Unfortunately, in the case of parasites, identification isn't always easy because adult worms release their eggs sporadically. Knowing exactly what the problem is, is the first step in finding a solution.
It's very important to bring your pet's fecal sample (bowel movement) to your veterinarian as often as requested up to one year of age. Collect fresh fecal sample within 12 hours of an examination. It is also very important to keep the samples cool or refrigerated. A microscopic examination of the fecal sample will be performed to identify the worm's eggs.
An annual fecal check is also good preventive medicine.

Arthritis

Arthritis is a condition in which an animal's joints become inflamed. It is accompanied by pain, heat, and swelling in the joints, and it usually results in increasing stiffness and immobility. It doesn't have to mean a poor quality of life for your pet, however. There are medications, therapies, and ways you can accommodate your home to help your pet be more comfortable and enjoy her life with you.
The signs may be hard to spot at first: your gray-in-the-muzzle Labrador retriever takes a little longer to get up in the morning, or your fuzzy Persian doesn't jump as high as she used to. As time goes on, it becomes more and more clear that your pet is having a hard time moving, and soon you realize that she is in pain whenever she walks, jumps, or even sits up.


First Step You Have to Take
The first step in caring for your pet with arthritis is making sure the disease is diagnosed correctly. The symptoms of arthritis can be hard to distinguish—animals can't complain about their aching joints, so all that pet "parents" see is a response to pain. Animals with arthritis might avoid the activities they used to enjoy, stop jumping onto the furniture, or they might nip or seem upset when touched.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Ear Infections

Ear infections are very common in dogs, although less so in cats. Two types are most often seen: otitis externa, infection of the external ear canal, and otitis media, infection of the middle ear. Although any dog or cat can get an ear infection, some breeds appear to be more prone than others. Dogs with pendulous ears, like Cocker Spaniels and Basset Hounds, or dogs with hairy inner ear flaps, like Miniature Poodles and Schnauzers, tend to have a higher occurrence of ear infections. In cats, the Persian breed seems to be more prone to such infections.
Most ear infections are easily and successfully treated. But if left untreated, they could result in serious damage.

 Causes

Bacteria or yeast are most often the culprits of otitis externa. Other causes include an accumulation of wax, thick or matted hair in the ear canal, debris, a foreign body, a tumor or impaired drainage of the ear. Sometimes, infections of the external ear canal are a secondary result of some other bodily infection or ear mite infestation.
Otitis media usually results from the spread of infection from the external ear canal to the middle ear. Also, foreign bodies, debris, ulceration or improper ear cleaning can rupture the eardrum and allow infection to reach the middle ear.



Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Dry Skin in Pets Things to Remember

Dry Skin in Pets

Shiny coat is a sign of healthy pet. Dogs can have all sorts of skin problems, and they vary in severity from mild to severe. As temperatures begin to fall, you may notice a new behavior with your dog. He may be constantly scratching, biting or licking his fur. As it gets colder every day, his behavior becomes worse. Cold temperatures cause dry skin on dogs. Like us, dogs need good skin care to prevent itching and flaking. Dry skin on dogs is common in high altitudes.



Help for dogs with dry skin
Take these steps to take care of your dogs hair and skin:
  1. Bathe your dog as little as needed to keep its coat clean.
  2. Brush your dog often to remove dead hair and dander.
  3. If bathing is necessary, use a moisturizing shampoo made for dogs. Their pH is different from ours, so don't be tempted to use a human shampoo- it is much to harsh for their skin.
  4. Follow a bath when necessary with a moisturizing rinse made for dogs and their special needs.
  5. Don't forget that healthy hair and skin comes from within. Use a good quality, name brand food and consult with a veterinarian about the addition of fatty acid supplements which can make for healthier, glossier hair.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Skin Problems in Pets

Skin Problems in Pets

                                 Dogs and cats suffer from many problems, which affect their skin. It is important to understand that the skin is an organ, just as the liver and kidneys are organs. The skin functions as a barrier to protect the body from infection, caustic substances, ultra violet light and dehydration. Good health and proper function of the skin is dependent on the health and function of the other organs which make up our pets bodies.Diseases which effect the skin can be placed into one of two categories: primary and secondary skin disease. Primary skin diseases are those which effect the skin directly, such as mange or flea and tick hypersensitivities. Secondary diseases are those which initially involve other organs and thereby effect the skin, such as hypothyroidism.The diagnosis and treatment of skin diseases can be difficult and time consuming. The following are some of the common diseases and conditions effecting the skin and a brief description of their diagnosis and treatments.

Allergies

Humans with allergies usually react by sneezing, but your pet reacts by scratching. Both you and your pet are reacting to an allergen, which is a substance that causes sensitivity. Most allergens are inhaled, but a few are the contact type, such as an allergy to wool. Some allergens are found in food, most commonly corn, wheat, soy, beef, and dairy products. The first signs of allergic reactions are scratching, licking, biting, or rubbing the skin. This can lead to infection characterized by red bumps and pimples. Because of the discomfort, it is important to get professional help as soon as possible.


Bloat A Life-threatening Condition

 Bloat A Life-threatening Condition
                                                       It's true--animals can get bloated too. It's a little different than with people, though, and a lot more dangerous. Most often dogs and cats get bloat because they swallow excess air. It can also occur when the valve at the bottom of the stomach is blocked and the gas and other material produced by the digestive process can't exit the stomach.Bloat happens very rapidly and can be fatal in 30 minutes, when it's severe. If your pet's abdomen is distended and/or you notice nausea, vomiting, attempts to vomit, sudden weakness, or collapse, contact your veterinarian immediately. Bloat is a life-threatening condition.
In dogs, gas accumulation in the stomach is usually associated with volvulus of the stomach, which prevents gas from escaping. Deep-chested breeds are especially at risk. Mortality rates in dogs range from 10 to 60 percent, even with treatment. With surgery, the mortality rate is 15 to 33 percent.

 Kitten with dilated Abdomen 

Gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV)

Often, when the stomach becomes enlarged (or dilated), it then twists somewhere between a quarter and a full turn; the twisting is called volvulus. When an animal has gastric dilation and volvulus (GDV), the openings at the top and the bottom of the stomach twist, blocking all materials from entering or leaving. As the digestive process continues, the stomach will swell more and more. As the stomach gets larger, it can press against blood vessels and decrease circulation. This can eventually lead to death of the tissue in the stomach walls. It can also take up some of the room the diaphragm needs to expand, which makes it hard for the animal to breathe. If left untreated, the circulation and breathing problems caused by GDV and bloat can cause infections, bleeding disorders, heart failure, and even sudden death. GDV is most often found in larger dogs that have eaten a large or abnormal meal.
                         X-ray from the underside of a dog with severe intestinal GDV. The dark area is the build up of gas.

What should I feed my kitten?

What should I feed my kitten?

Kittens are essentially baby carnivores with specialised needs. Kittens naturally wean off their mother's milk at around 8-12 weeks of age. In the wild, when young cats are old enough (around 8 weeks old) they start to eat food on their own whilst simultaneously decreasing the amount of milk they suckle from their mother.

Basic Kitten feeding guide:

  • Feed a high quality balanced premium commercial kitten food that is appropriate for the life stage and health status of your kitten.
  • You can offer some natural foods to provide some variety
  • Natural foods include human-grade raw meat such as diced up raw lamb meat, pieces of raw chicken meat. Raw food offered to cats should always be fresh. Avoid feeding too much raw meat until the kitten is 20 weeks of age (unless the meat is on the bone e.g. raw chicken wing.) This is important to help avoid certain nutritional deficiencies during growth.
  • Choose human-grade raw meat and raw meaty bones because some pet meat/pet mince/pet rolls/pet meat and bone products can contain preservatives that can be detrimental to the kitten's health (e.g. sulphite preservative induced thiamine deficiency which can be fatal). However avoid human sausages, sausage meat and cooked manufactured meats as these can contain sulphites.     
  • Provide some moist foods in the diet regularly e.g. wet can food
  • Cooked meat such as boiled chicken can also be fed occasionally. Please ensure there are no cooked bones, onions/onion sauces or other toxic substances present (see below)
  • Between four to six months of age kittens cut their permanent teeth and grow rapidly
    • Introducing raw meaty bones such as raw chicken necks and raw chicken wings, at around 12 weeks of age ensures they are chewing actively around the time their permanent teeth are erupting.
    • This chewing is important to alleviate "teething" issues and also provides several important health benefits including healthy teeth and gums
    • Bones must be raw
    • Raw bones should be introduced gradually. The bone must be large enough so that the kitten cannot fit the whole bone in it's mouth or swallow the bone whole.
    • Too many raw bones can cause constipation. One raw bones per week is generally well-tolerated
    • Always supervise your kitten when eating raw bones.
    • Avoid large marrow bones, large knuckle bones or bones sawn lengthwise as cats may crack their teeth on these
    • Never feed cooked bones as these may splinter and cause internal damage or become an intestinal obstruction
    • Please check with your vet that raw bones are suitable for your particular kitten (e.g. some kittens with misshapen jaws may have difficulty chewing on raw bones) 
  • Different types of fish such as tinned sardines in springwater, tinned tuna and tinned salmon may also be offered as a treat occasionally (care with any fish bones). Please avoid feeding fish constantly.
  • A small amount of vegetable matter may be offered
  • Provide access to grass (avoid chemically treated grass and toxic plants) - kittens will sometimes eat grass which may be a source of vegetable matter and nutrients.
  • Calcium powder supplements should not be given (unless directed by a veterinarian)
  • Please ensure fresh water is available at all times
  • Kittens should be offered food at least 4 times per day
  • Take care not to overfeed or underfeed your kitten. Your vet will be able to weigh your kitten, assess your kitten's body condition score and provide advice
  • Do not feed the following (note this is not an exhaustive list): onions, garlic, chocolate, coffee or caffeine products, bread dough, avocado, grapes, raisins, sultanas, currants, nuts including macadamia nuts, fruit stones (pits) e.g. mango seeds, apricot stones; fruit seeds, corncobs; tomatoes, mushrooms; fish constantly, cooked bones, small pieces of raw bone or fatty trimmings