Monday, October 27, 2014

Like Cats and Dogs

An interesting thing happened today at the hospital that brought to mind the fact that many people do not understand the complicated relationship between a cat and a dog.   While they can be best friends if properly introduced, it can be dangerous to introduce them too quickly or in an inappropriate environment.  This scenario has played out twice in the last few weeks at Warren Woods Veterinary Hospital.  We have several adult cats that are up for adoption, living at our hospital.  One of them has already "bounced back" because proper time and process was not put into introducing family pets.

Dogs have an innate prey drive and cats will fight if cornered, so when trying to introduce them to the same household, time and patients is the key to success.  It will often times take months to form a close bond.

Let's assume that we have an adult dog that has never had a cat in it's household and we are trying to bring in a new cat.  In this situation it is best to assess the dog's prey drive before any cat is obtained.   If your dog chases squirrels or rabbits in the yard and neighborhood cats, it is likely that he will chase a cat that is brought into your home.  Some dog's have such strong prey drive that they will kill the animal when they catch it.  If you have a dog that has strong prey drive, you must be extremely cautious with your introductions.  You will want to muzzle your dog when you are first introducing him to the cat.

The best way to introduce any cat into a new home is by starting with a "safe room" that the cat can have all to himself.  His litterbox, food and water should all be there within easy access and quiet places should be provided for him to hide and take shelter.   People can visit, but other pets must stay on the other side of the door and pets are allowed to get aquainted only through the door.

Once the cat is acclimated to the new home (at least 2 weeks with most cats),  the door to the isolation room can be opened with the dog on a leash and sitting quietly while the cat explores.  The dog should not be introduced off leash to the cat until they can co-exhist in the same room with out fear or focus.  Focus means that they are too worried about each other to relax.  If they get to the point of quiet tollerance, then and only then are they allowed to be loose together.  They should be introduced (not forced)  in an area where the cat is near the "safe room" so it can get away and hide from the dog, if the dog decides to chase.  If you get into a chase situation, you will need to back up and start over with the supervise leashed incounters or more time in the safe room.  If there are too many of the chase scenes, you may lose the trust of the cat, forever.

 It often takes weeks or months to properly introduce an adult dog and cat, but if you take your time and use your common sense, it can be accomplished safely and create a lasting and loving cat/dog relationship.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The "Kennel Cough" Vaccine is for every dog!

If your dog likes to go for neighborhood walks, frequents the dog parks, visits the local doggy day care or gets bathed at the groomer, your dog needs a Bordetella vaccine every 6 months.  The vaccine against Bordetella is important to protect your dog against the hacking cough that is easily spread from dog to dog.

Bordetella bronchiseptica is a bacterium associated with the upper respiratory infection and cough that is commonly called "Kennel Cough" or canine infectious tracheobronchitis.  The bacterium may also affect cats and rabbits.  Bordetella is easily transmitted though the air or direct contact.  It may also live in the environment for some time.  In puppies or adult dogs with underlying health problems, Bordatella may cause severe infections and pneumonia.  In adult dogs, infections are usually treatable and will run its course in 10-14 days.

The vaccine that we use to prevent Bordetella is simple to administer as it comes in an oral form so it doesn't hurt at all!   The vaccine can be easily given by one of the doctors or technicians at Warren Woods Veterinary Hospital. Most dogs take the oral vaccine easily.  Be sure to ask the veterinary team at Warren Woods Veterinary Hospital if your dog has had a Bordatella Vaccine.

 Call us today.  586-751-3350.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

4th of July - A dog's worst nightmare

The Independence day holiday is an exciting summer ritual for families.  Warm weather, outdoor cooking, family gatherings and to cap it all off, fireworks.  What could be better, right?  The family dog does not think so.  The weeks leading up to the fourth and the dreaded day itself brings fear and panic to many family dogs.  The loud fireworks are insulting to the dog's sensitive ears and the company coming and going, is a canine nightmare.  There are some things that you can do to help your pet cope with the holiday.

Don't take your pet to a public fireworks event.  You may think that your pet wants to be involved in the family celebration, however a crowded, hot and noisy event will not be enjoyable to your dog.

Be sure that your pet has proper identification in the event that they escape during the stressful fireworks.  A well fitting collar with an ID tag and a microchip should be in place.  Also, check the yard and secure the fences and gate so that your pet can not escape if he gets startled.  Don't leave your pet outside after dark when the fireworks will be in full display.  Try to get them out before hand so that they can stay safely inside during the noise of the celebration.   Create a safe place for your pet to hide indoors if they are fearful.  A place in the center of the home with a dog bed or crate may make the dog feel safer.  Having music or a TV playing in the evenings with the fireworks are booming may help distract from the sounds outside.  You can also engage your dog in play to keep their minds off of the sounds outside.

Exercise will help your pet diffuse some of the fear energy that they build up.  Take your pet on a long walk  in the late afternoon and get them very tired.  It will help them cope with the stress of the evening.  

If you have a fearful dog, try keeping your pet leashed with you in the house.  You may need to contact your veterinarian to see if you can get some calming medication for your particularly skittish pet.  Your veterinarian will help you to decide whether your pet needs some form of medication to help them cope with the stress of the day.

Enjoy your 4th of July celebration and remember to consider your pet.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Flocking to the Motor City Bird Breeders Show

We spent the better part of Saturday gathered with like minded bird admirers at the Motor City Bird Breeders Show.  The show is a room with a variety of avian species including many parrots, canaries, finches, budgies and even a few fish.   Yes, fish were there also.  Just a few tables filled with plastic bags of fish that were for sale, so I guess it was the bird and fish show.

There was a parade of interested patrons walking through the hall browsing the different tables buying birds, toys, cages and accessories.  There was an awesome raffle of donated items including a few small birds for the raffle participants to attempt to win.  I was accompanied by two of my wonderful technicians, Nicole and Beth.  We handed out business cards, pens, informational handouts and answered many questions about our hospital and about various pet bird issues.  We had a great time bird and people watching.

The show is held twice each year so if you missed the show Saturday you can join us again in October.

  Watch our Facebook page and website for information.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Worms in the heart? Yes, that's Heartworm Disease.

It sounds terrible to have live worms residing in your heart doesn't it?  If you think it sounds terrible how do you think it feels?  I guess you wouldn't know unless you were one of the many dogs, cats or ferrets diagnosed with heartworm disease each year.

Heartworm disease is a serious condition that results in severe lung disease, heart failure, other organ damage, and death in pets. It is caused by a parasitic worm called Dirofilaria immitis.  The worms are spread from pet to pet through the bite of a mosquito. The worms are called “heartworms” because the adults live in the heart, lungs, and associated blood vessels of an infected animal.

The disease is very common and has been reported in all 50 states.

For both dogs and cats, clinical signs of heartworm disease may not be recognized in the early stages, as the number of worms in an animal tends to accumulate gradually over a period of months and sometimes years and after repeated mosquito bites.

Heartworm infection in apparently healthy animals is usually detected with a simple blood test.  A small amount of blood is all that is needed for a heartworm test. This test should be done once a year by your family veterinarian to diagnose the infection early.

Heartworm prevention is safe, easy and inexpensive.

There are a variety of options for preventing heartworm infection in both dogs and cats, including monthly tablets and chewables, monthly topicals and a six-month injectable product available only for dogs. All of these methods are extremely effective, and when administered properly on a timely schedule, heartworm infection can be completely prevented. These medications interrupt heartworm development before adult worms reach the lungs and cause disease.

While treatment for heartworm disease in dogs is possible, it is a complicated and expensive process, taking weeks for infected animals to recover. There is no effective treatment for heartworm disease in cats, so it is imperative that disease prevention measures be taken for cats.

This is a picture of heartworms in the heart of a dog.   Please ask your veterinarian how you can prevent heartworm disease in your pet and keep them on that preventative year round.  It is so important!  Call us at Warren Woods Veterinary Hospital for more information, or to get  heartworm preventative for your pet.  586-751-3350

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Why should I have blood tests done on my pet?

Do you believe in preventative health care for you and your family members?

Annual physical examinations, cholesterol level checks, blood pressure monitoring and healthy living are very important for your well being.   Why would it be any different for your pets?  Having your doctor examine you every year is important, but you can talk!  Just think of the things that we miss because our pets can not verbally communicate with us.  The awareness of early warning signs of illnesses,  routine physical examinations and blood testing will help you to keep your pet around for many years.   

Our pets have a much shorter lifespan than their human companions.  Because they age faster, things can change dramatically from year to year.  That is why many veterinarians are recommending two examinations (with blood work) per year as your pet gets older.  Blood work provides us with a valuable picture of the health of your pet. Blood can help us to monitor the health of the internal organs (the things that we can not see) and blood tests are frequently the first recommendation that a veterinarian makes when a pet is sick or in an emergency situation.  

Routine blood testing usually consists of a CBC (complete blood counts) and chemistries. The CBC will check for things like anemia, infection, inflammation, leukemia, hydration and clotting problems.  The chemistries may detect things like, liver disease, kidney disease, diabetes, pancreatitis, dehydration, and some cancers.  Most pets tolerate a blood draw very well and it can be done quickly by your veterinarian or technician. 

Be sure to ask about routine blood testing for your pet the next time you see your veterinarian  and call Warren Woods Veterinary Hospital if you have any questions.  586-751-3350

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Do you brush your pet's teeth?

Did you know that dental hygiene is just as important for your pet as it is for you?  It is one of the most overlooked areas in your pet's health care. Studies done by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) show that two out of three pet owners do not follow the dental care recommendations made by their veterinarian.

Why don't pet owners follow our veterinary recommendations?  Think about it and read the information below to learn about periodontal disease in your pet. 

What is periodontal disease?   

Periodontal disease starts with a bacterial film that builds up on the teeth called plaque.  The bacteria die (yuck) and become hardened to the teeth with saliva.  This build up of dead bacteria and saliva becomes tartar, which provides a rough surface for more bacteria to attach to and continue to build up.  Early on when plaque is soft, it can be removed with a toothbrush or by chewing hard foods and toys. (all those dental products out there for pets to chew)  As the tartar builds up it becomes hard and builds up along the gum line causing inflammation and infection of the gums (gingivitis).  The gums will become red swollen or bleed easily.  The plaque then works its way under the gum line along the tooth root. In the final stages of periodontal disease, the tissues surrounding the tooth are destroyed, the bony socket holding the tooth erodes, and the tooth becomes loose and may fall out. This is a very painful process for your four-legged friend, but these problems can be averted before they start with proper dental care.

The smell that comes from that cute little mouth is the smell of bacteria building up on their teeth and causing infection in their gums.  Can you imagine going months or years without taking a toothbrush and paste to your mouth?  That is what happens with our canine and feline friends in most households.

It is advisable to have your pet's mouth evaluated by your veterinarian or veterinary technician at least annually and to have those teeth cleaned professionally at the first sign of tartar buildup or gum redness. 

Pet's teeth are cleaned just like your teeth are cleaned by your dental hygienist.  They are scraped and polished with similar instruments that are used on your teeth.  Animals usually have to be anesthetized in order to clean their teeth properly because most pets will not sit in a chair with their mouths open.  Most veterinarians will handle your pet's dental cleaning just as if they were a person going under anesthesia for a routine outpatient procedure.  Blood tests will be done prior to anesthesia to insure the health of the pet's kidneys, liver and immune system.  An IV catheter will be used to deliver medication and fluid and to insure safety during the procedure.  The teeth will then be cleaned, polished and x-rays will be taken to evaluate the tooth roots.  Therapeutic laser therapy can also be used to decrease gum inflammation and infection.  Once your pet returns home (most procedures take about 1 hour, so most pets return home in the early afternoon) you will be encouraged to follow up with proper brushing to keep up with the now healthy, clean mouth.  

How do you properly brush your pet's teeth?

Use a soft toothbrush or wrap your finger in gauze and hold it at a 45-degree angle to the teeth. Using small, circular motions, work in one area of the dog’s mouth at a time. Be sure to get to all the teeth including the ones in the back of the mouth. You may have to start with one or two teeth at a time until your pet becomes accustomed to your brushing routine.  Since the most tartar builds up on the tooth surfaces that touch the cheek, concentrate on those areas and finish up with a downward stroke on the teeth to remove tartar. 

You play an important role in your animals’ oral health. Regular teeth brushing at home, coupled with regular dental check-ups can help your pet live a longer, healthier life.

So, get to your veterinarian every 6-12 months and have your pet's mouth examined.  If a dental cleaning is in order, be sure to follow up in a timely manner.  Once your pet's mouth has been deemed healthy, be sure to brush your pet's teeth at least once per week.

If you have any questions or would like more information about dental care for your pet, call Warren Woods Veterinary Hospital at 586-751-3350.

The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) has published the following guidelines for pet's dental health.

Oral Examinations: AAHA recommends that veterinarians evaluate puppies and kittens for problems related to deciduous (baby) teeth, missing teeth, extra teeth, swelling, and oral development. As pets age, your veterinarian will examine your pet for developmental anomalies, accumulation of plaque and tartar, periodontal disease, and oral tumors. The veterinarian can perform a basic oral examination while pets are awake. However, short-lasting anesthetic is required for a more complete examination.
Dental cleanings: Guidelines recommend regular examinations and dental cleanings under general anesthesia for all adult dogs and cats. These cleanings should take place annually starting at one year for cats and small-breed dogs, and at two years of age for larger-breed dogs.
Other guideline recommendations
  • Pre-anesthetic exam–Your veterinarian should examine your pet to ensure it is healthy enough to go under general anesthesia. This examination may include:
    • Blood tests
    • Urine tests
    • Electrocardiography
    • X-rays
  • Anesthesia monitoring–When your pet is under anesthesia, its vital signs (such as body temperature, heart rate, and respiration) should be monitored and recorded. This helps ensure your pet’s safety while under anesthesia. 
  • Dental radiographs–X-rays of your pet’s teeth are needed periodically to evaluate your pet’s oral health. X-rays also help veterinarians detect abnormalities that cannot be seen through physical examination alone. They can also confirm the need for tooth extraction when teeth are loose or badly infected. 
  • Scaling and polishing–Using instruments much like human dentists, veterinarians remove plaque and calculus from your pet’s teeth. Polishing with a special paste smoothes out scratches to the tooth enamel. 
  • Fluoride/sealants–By applying an anti-plaque substance, such as a fluoride treatment and/or a barrier sealant, the veterinarian helps strengthen and desensitize teeth and discourage the development of future plaque.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

One lump or two?

You are sitting on your sofa watching the Golden Globe Awards and the dog is curled up next to you watching, as you eat your popcorn.  One hand shovels the popcorn into your mouth, while the other is petting the dog.  Suddenly you feel something that you know does not belong on your pet.  A lump, soft and squishy, the size of a pea, under the skin of your dog's chest.  The dog does not seem to notice that it has a lump as you try to feel it and figure out where it came from.  

What should you do at this point?  Ignore it? Put down your popcorn and run to the veterinary emergency clinic?  Neither.

Lumps can develop in and on pets, just like they do in their human counterparts.  There are many different types of lumps, bumps or masses that develop in dogs and cats at all stages of life.  The most important thing to do when you discover a lump on your pet is to take note of it.  Try to remember where it is and how large it feels when you first notice it.  Write it down to be sure that you don't forget about it.  If there are more than one, count them and take notice of the location and whether or not they are changing. 

Now, step two is to take your pet into your favorite veterinarian for a visit.   You don't need to rush, but don't waste time either. You need to get this lump checked out.  Don't ever ignore the lump and hope that it will go away.  It may be something harmless or it could be something serious; you may need to act fast.   Either way it is best to know the proper course of action and your veterinarian is trained to help you make this decision. 

Your veterinarian will ask you some questions about the lump and palpate it.  Your veterinarian will then recommend a fine needle aspirate.  This test is simple to do with your dog awake and will require only a short amount of time to perform.  The veterinarian will insert a small needle into the lump to extract some cells.  The cells will then be transferred to a microscope slide and stained.  Once the cells are stained, your veterinarian will be able to look at them under a microscope and tell you whether this lump is benign, or is something more sinister.     

 The needle aspirate will not always be completely diagnostic,  but it can often give your veterinarian an idea whether the mass needs to be watched or if further testing needs to be done to determine a diagnosis.  Often times if the needle aspirate looks suspicious your veterinarian will advise you to have the mass removed surgically and biopsied.  Surgery is often the recommendation to remove and cure a cancer before it can spread to other parts of the body and cause more severe disease. 

So, eat your popcorn and pet your dog (not with the same hand) and call your veterinarian when you feel a lump.