Winterize your pet…..

Frequently we as humans forget that we have to winterize our pets.  While some pets are better suited than others for living outdoors others are not and should be kept indoors.  There is a common misconception that dogs will be "fine" if left outside. This is not true! All animals need shelter and insulation against cold weather.  Frostbite and hypothermia are possible for our furry friends as well.  Geriatric and young animals are high at risk so special care should be given to them. 

Dog Houses:  If you are going to keep your dog outside you must provide it with an adequate house.  The house should have a heat source, dry bedding and be situated in a place that is protected from the wind.  Bedding could be straw or blankets but be careful if your pet is prone to chewing.  There are many heat sources available at pet supply stores like heated mats or lamps to be used with animals.

Food and Water:  Fresh water should be available at all times.  Heated dishes are great for those really cold climates.  During the cold spells animals will need more food for energy and maintaining body heat.

Foot Care:  Dogs with longer hair may develop ice balls between the pads of their feet causing limping.  Be sure to clip the hair to prevent this from happening or use booties like Muttluks.  If you are walking your pet on sidewalks or roads make sure you wash their feet when you get home with a warm wet cloth as people will have "salted" or "de-iced" their walks.

Anitfreeze:  Antifreeze for vehicles is a sweet substance that many pets will enjoy lapping up but just a few licks can be fatal.  Make sure that any containers are locked up and any spills cleaned up immediately.

Seeking Heat:  Many animals will seek the warmth of a car engine.  Before you start your car take the time to honk the horn or knock on the hood to scare off any animal that has possibly crawled up into your engine the night you brought your vehicle home.

The ASPCA has a good list of things to help winterize your pet.  As well a call to your veterinarian may help give you some pointers.

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October 31, 2006. Uncategorized. 6 comments.

Obestiy A Pet Epidemic Too!!

Did you know that approximately 45% of pets brought to veterinary clinics are overweight?  It’s true.  These are some guidelines that I follow when determining if a pet needs to go on a diet…

1.  Feel your pets rib cage.  You should be able to feel individual ribs.  If not your pet is overweight.

2.  Stand over your pet.  Does it have and hourglass figure?  If not your pet is overweight.

3.  Look at your pet from the side.  Is there a tuck at the abdomen?  If not your pet is overweight.

These are some quick things that you can do to see if your pet is overweight.  Now as for putting your pet on a diet that is another issue.  First switch your pet (slowly over a week or two) to a reduced calorie diet.  Two of my favorites are R/d by Hill’s or Calorie Control by Royal Canin.  Take your pet to your veterinary clinic, talk to the staff there and weigh your pet.  Both of these companies offer pamphlets that help to determine what your pet should be eating to lose weight. 

Some other tips to help lose the weight are exercise, small frequent meals (so your pet feels full all day instead of being a voracious eater at one meal and hungry the rest of the day), feed carrots or low calorie treats and exercise.  Some people ask how can I get my cat to exercise…..sure its easy for the dog people they just have to walk the dog but what about my cat.  I offer the following suggestions……

Put the food bowl up or downstairs so your cat has to do the "stair" workout.  Use enticing toys like laser pointers, feathers on strings or flicking sticks to get your cat to move around.

Just like with humans it is important to lose the weight at a decent rate.  Most will agree that 10% a month in weight loss is a steady rate.  I also encourage people to take their pet into their veterinary clinic once a month to get weighed and talk with the staff with regards to any questions you may have or to adjust the amount of food that your pet will get daily.

Remember, losing weight is never easy for humans or pets but with perseverance and the assistance of a good diet and the help of your veterinary staff you can do it and so can your pet.

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October 30, 2006. Pet Information. 4 comments.

Scardy Cats and Dogs…..Halloween is Scary for Pets

Things to Watch For on Halloween

Halloween is a fun time for kids and many adults, but can be a frightening and stressful time for your pets. As a pet owner, you know your pet best, but here are some points to consider for your pet’s safety.

  • Continual doorbell ringing and people at the door (in costume, no less!) can be stressful for a pet. Some pets may experience stress-related diarrhea or potentially injure themselves if crated or otherwise contained. Keep your pet in a quiet and safe place on Halloween.
  • Watch your pet around strangers in costume — some animals may become unexpectedly aggressive or fearful, even normally friendly pets.
  • Candles and Jack-O’-Lanterns within a pet’s range are a fire hazard. Wagging tails and frightened cats zooming through the house can easily tip over a candle or carved pumpkin, causing burns or a fire.
  • Candy – many pets have a sweet tooth. General overindulgence, chocolate, and plastic/cardboard candy-filled toys can cause added problems if ingested.
  • Keep your pets indoors on Halloween night, especially black cats. Animals are at risk for cruel treatment by some Halloween pranksters. Many adoption agencies and humane societies will not allow adoption of black cats around Halloween for this reason.

Look at all of that candy!
For many people, Halloween = candy. Please warn children not to share their goodies with the family pet.

Chocolate is poisonous for pets. Granted, a 50 pound dog would have to eat about 50 ounces of milk chocolate (but only 5 ounces of baking chocolate) for a toxic dose, but much smaller amounts can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Signs of chocolate toxicity include tremors, nervousness, vomiting, diarrhea, increased heart rate, and in severe cases, seizures and death. If you suspect that your pet has eaten chocolate, consult your veterinarian.

Other candies, such as lollipops and those with plastic components, pose a danger if ingested. Lollipop sticks and plastic parts can cause intestinal obstruction and potentially rupture the intestines, which is a life-threatening emergency.

Look at the variety of pet costumes! How can I resist?

  • While viewed as fun and adorable for some pet owners, caution is advised when putting a costume on a pet. A pet in costume should NEVER be left alone and unsupervised.
  • Tight elastics on the costumes can get lost in the pet’s hair, potentially causing owners to overlook them, leading to swelling and pain in the area of the elastic.
  • Some pets, if left alone in costume, may chew it up and ingest it. This could cause intestinal obstruction if more than small shreds of material are consumed.
  • If the costumed pet escapes or is frightened away, the costume could entangle the pet on trees, fences, etc.

Play it safe and have fun
With a little caution and some common sense, Halloween can be a fun time for kids and pets alike. If any acts of animal cruelty are seen or suspected, please call your local shelter or animal authorities. Happy and safe Halloween to everyone.

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October 29, 2006. Uncategorized. 2 comments.

Pet cloning company shuts its doors.

Genetic Savings & Clone, a biotechnology company that sold cloned pets, sent letters to its customers last month informing them it will close at the end of the year because of little demand for cloned cats. The company had recently reduced the price from $50,000 to $32,000.  Associative Press

Well thank goodness for that!

"It’s no surprise the demand for cloned pets is basically nonexistent, and we’re very pleased that Genetics Savings & Clone’s attempt to run a cloning pet store was a spectacular flop," said Wayne Pacelle, head of the Humane Society of the United States. "It’s not just a bad business venture, but also an operation grounded on the misuse of animals."

I know it is very difficult when you lose an animal, in fact one of my future posts will deal with the human animal bond, but cloning your pet that is just going a little too far??  What do you think of cloning? Leave a comment.

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October 12, 2006. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

What is wrong with the SPCA?

A school principal has resigned and could face felony firearm charges after he shot and killed two orphaned kittens on school property last month.

Wade Pilloud, who resigned as principal of the K-12 Indus school, 40 miles west of International Falls, said he shot the kittens to spare them from starving to death after their mother was killed in an animal trap. Associated Press

Amidst all the school shootings a principal decides that shooting 2 kittens is a good idea.  What was this man thinking?  And what is wrong with taking these 2 kittens to the local SPCA where they could be reared and adopted out? 

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September 15, 2006. Pet Information. Leave a comment.

Hypoallergenic Cats…..is it true?

A small California biotech company says it is ready to deliver the Holy Grail of the $35 billion pet industry: a hypoallergenic cat.  New York Times

In October of 2004 a company called Allerca out of San Diego began a project to produce kittens that do not produce the protiens that most humans are allergic to.  These so called "lifestyle" cats are available at cost of $4000.  While some may think that this is outrageous others from around the world are hoping to be able to purchase one of these cats.  Orders are being taken and the wait time can be a year to two depending on where special homes are found. 

Would you pay this amount for a pet?  Bets are on the company making a sizable profit.

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September 15, 2006. Pet Information. 1 comment.

Yet some more nature on Pender Island…..

Yes we get to see whales and these little darlings…..

You can certainly visit my other blog for more info on where I live and some of the nature that I run into here.

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August 11, 2006. Pet Information. Leave a comment.

Leptospirosis…..how can my dog contract this?

Leptospirosis is a disease of worldwide significance that infects both animals and humans. The scientific name of the infecting organism is Leptospira interrogans sensu lato. While cats can be infected, they rarely show signs of disease. The disease is much more of a problem in dogs, people, and livestock.

Transmission

Leptospirosis is transmitted between animals through contact with infected urine; veneral and placental transfer; bite wounds; or the ingestion of infected tissue.  Indirect transmission occurs through exposure of susceptible animals to contaminated water sources, food, or even bedding. Stagnant  water provides a suitable habitat for Leptospira. As a result, disease outbreaks often increase during periods of flooding. In dry areas infections are more common around water sources.

Freezing greatly reduces the survival of the organism in the environment. This explains why infections are more common in summer and fall and why the infection is more prevalent in temperate areas.

Infection

Leptospira bacteria penetrate mucous membranes or abraded skin and multiply rapidly upon entering the blood system. From there they spread to other tissues including the kidneys,liver, spleen, nervous system, eyes, and genital tract. As the body fights the infection, the organism is cleared from most organs, but they may remain in the kidneys and be shed for weeks or months in the urine.

Symptoms

In acute infections a fever of 103-104°, shivering, and muscle tenderness are the first signs. Then vomiting and rapid dehydration may develop. Severely infected dogs may develop hypothermia and become depressed and die before kidney or liver failure has a chance to develop.

In subacute infections, the animal usually develops a fever, anorexia, vomiting, dehydration, and increased thirst. The dog may be reluctant to move due to muscle or kidney pain. Animals with liver involvement may develop a yellowing of the skin. Dogs that develop kidney or liver involvement may begin to show improvement in organ function after 2 to 3 weeks or they may develop kidney failure. Despite the possibility of severe infection and death, the majority of leptospiral infections in dogs are chronic or subclinical. Dogs that become chronically infected may show no outward signs, but may intermittently shed bacteria in the urine for months or years.

Diagnosis

A positive diagnosis can be made through a blood test.  Acutely infected or chronically infected dogs will most likely be shedding Leptospira organisms in their urine. It is possible toculture a urine sample and get a positive diagnosis. However, because of intermittent shedding and bacterial contamination this is not always the best way to diagnose the disease.

Treatment

Treatment consists of antibiotics, fluid replacement, and controlling the vomiting and the problems associated with the corresponding kidney or liver infections. Penicillin, or one of its derivatives is the antibiotic of choice for treating the initial infection. IV fluids are given to rehydrate the animal and help with the damage done to the kidneys.

Vaccination and Prevention

Prevention involves keeping pets out of contact with contaminated water sources, or wildlife reservoirs. Humans can contract leptospirosis and any potentially infected animal should be handled very carefully to avoid human exposure.

There are currently many different vaccines available on the market.  The ones currently available for dogs are chemically inactivated (killed) whole culture vaccine, which unfortunately, make them much more likely to cause vaccine reactions as opposed to most viral vaccines.

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August 11, 2006. Dog Diseases. 21 comments.

Whale Watching

When I first started writing the Pet Blog it was going to be about pets only but then I thought maybe because I live on Pender Island that I would include some animal related posts from my other blog Yada Yada Yada.  Here is one I recently wrote about whale watching.

Watching the whales go by is a favorite past time of many people on Pender Island but sadly every time we see many boaters breaking the law when it comes to approaching these magnificent animals.  As I was reading the August issue of the Pender Post I was reminded of these rules and thought I would put them up on this blog site.

The Wildlife Regulations Act includes the following offences which are under the Criminal Code which can carry a maximum of 5 years in prison:

27 (3) Harass wildlife with vehicle, boat, aircraft or other device

33.1 (1) Feed dangerous wildlife

There are strict guidelines to watching marine wildlife.

1.  Be cautious and courteous.

2.  Reduce speed to less than 5 knots when within 400m of the nearest animal

3.  Approach and depart from the side parallel to the direction that the animal is taking.

4.  Stay on the offshore side of the animal if it is close to shore.

5.  Never position your vehicle within the 400m area in the path of the animal.

6.  If your vessel is unexpectedly within 100m stop and shut off the vehicle immediately and allow the animal to pass.

If you see anyone who is not adhering to these guidelines make sure to try and get the registered name of the boat, the number of people on board, the time of the offense, color and length of the vehicle and contact Fisheries and Oceans Canada at 1-800-465-4336.  In the case of immediate danger call the RCMP with your descriptions and location.

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August 3, 2006. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Canine Parvovirus

Although vaccinations have decreased the number of dogs seen with this sometimes fatal disease this is a reminder to everyone who went through the 70′s and 80′s massive outbreaks of this disease and why vaccines do help control these outbreaks.

Parvovirus is a highly contagious virus that attacks the intestines and causes sloughing of the inner layers of the intestine.  The most common symptoms of this disease (the “intestinal form”) are vomiting and diarrhea.  Another less common form, the “cardiac form”, occurs in very young pups (less than 8 weeks of age) and attacks the heart muscle, often resulting in sudden death.

Parvovirus is contagious to dogs only—not to cats or people.  Any age, breed, or sex of dog could be affected by parvovirus.  However, infection with parvovirus does not automatically mean illness.  Several factors such as age, environment, stress, parasites, and general health status of each individual dog infected could affect the severity of the disease.  The degree of illness could range from very mild to unapparent to very severe, often resulting in death.  The disease is usually more severe in young dogs (less than 6 months of age), old dogs, and for some reason black and tan dogs like rotti’s or shepherd or dobermans. 

Fecal/oral transmission is how this disease is spread.  Now this doesn’t mean that your pet actually has to go outside and eat another dogs stool.  Your dog could just walk in the park, contact the virus on the grass and then lick his paws when he gets home.  Or you could bring it home on your shoes or hands and your dog could lick those.  Parvovirus is very difficult to "kill" in the enviroment and can infect susceptible dogs for as long as 6 months once shed in the stool.

Clinical signs:

Cardiac form (less than 8 weeks of age):  

  • Sudden death  

  • Crying, difficulty breathing, gasping for breath  

  • Extreme depression  

  • Weakness  

  • Unwillingness to nurse

  •  Irregular heartbeat

Intestinal form (any age dog affected, but more severe in puppies):  

  • Depression  

  • Loss of appetite  

  • Fever (usually above 40C)

  • Vomiting with or without blood  

  • Diarrhea with or without blood (more serious if blood present)  

  • Low white blood cell count (due to immunosuppression)

Treatment is aimed at maintaining the normal body composition and preventing secondary bacterial infection.  Because this is a virus, there is NO CURE.  Death from parvovirus results from dehydration, overwhelming secondary bacterial infection, blood loss from intestinal hemorrhage, or heart attack from invasion of the heart muscle by the virus. 

Early FLUID THERAPY is the most important factor in treating dogs with parvovirus infection.  The body is normally about 80% water.  Life is NOT possible when 12-15% of the normal body fluids are lost.  Intravenous fluids both rehydrate the body and nourish the sick dog.

Additional treatment includes prevention of secondary bacterial infection and drugs to control vomiting and diarrhea.  No food or water is given while the dog is vomiting.  Repeated laboratory tests are often necessary to monitor your pet’s white blood cell count and state of hydration.

Prevention/Control of parvovirus by sanitation measures alone is extremely difficult because the virus is such a resistant, hardy organism and because it is so easily spread.  Contact with other dogs,and especially their stool, should be minimized.  Bleach diluted one part to 30 parts water can be used to clean kennels, floors etc in a house or yard that had a dog infected with parvovirus.  Vaccinating your dog at the proper intervals will help to minimize risk and contraction of the disease as well.

Guidelines for young puppies:

1.     Do not take the puppy to the front yard, park, for a walk around the block, or to pet stores.  These are all places where infected dogs have been or presently are.

2.     Only have the puppy around adult dogs that YOU KNOW are current on vaccinations.  There should be no contact with stray dogs or dogs that you are not sure of.

3.     Do not let the puppy be exposed to any other puppies.  These pups could be incubating the disease (and therefore be contagious) without showing signs of illness.

4.     Always wash your hands after handling any dog.

Vaccinations are the most effective preventive measure for canine parvovirus disease.  A properly immunized dog will have circulating antibodies in the blood that will destroy parvovirus following exposure.  Dogs remain HIGHLY SUSCEPTIBLE  to parvo until 2-4 weeks after the last injection of the immunization series.

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July 22, 2006. Dog Diseases, Pet Information. 3 comments.

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