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Spring is a common time for people to encounter an injured or orphaned wild animal. The first question most would-be rescuers ask is, “What should I do?” Understanding the basics can provide vital guidance when there’s wildlife in need.
Most importantly – if you see what you think may be sick, injured or orphaned wildlife, don’t immediately remove it from its natural habitat. The bird or animal may not need assistance and you could actually do more harm in your attempt to help. Some species leave their offspring alone temporarily, especially during the day. For example, deer and cottontail rabbits spend much of the day away from their well-camouflaged offspring to minimize the chance of predators finding them.
To determine if young wildlife is truly orphaned, check the animal periodically for 24 to 48 hours to see if it is still around. Are parents nearby? Do you see other babies? Do you see a nesting site? Can they be returned to the nest? Keep your distance. Keep cats and dogs away from the area inhabited by the young animal; the adult may not return if it is noisy or if predators or people are close by.
If you find an abandoned or injured animal the best thing you can do is to call your local Animal Control Officer. They are familiar with handling and equipped to care for these animals. The Officers are knowledgeable about the location and hours of operation of wildlife rehabilitators. Do not handle the animal unless advised to do so. REMEMBER these are wild animals and they can bite or injure you. Some animals in this area (who may appear healthy) are carrying Rabies, a fatal disease that can be passed to humans or pets with a tiny bite or scratch. If you cannot safely capture the animal, keep a close eye on it and its location. If you must handle the animal, take care to minimize the risk of injury to yourself and to the animal. Wear protective clothing and equipment, such as very thick leather gloves, to avoid bites or scratches; wash your hands well after handling the animal. If you or one of your pets does get injured by the animal you must call the Health Department of Animal Control Officer immediately to report the injury and have the animal tested for Rabies.
If you decide to help a wild orphan or injured animal, contacting a wildlife rehabilitation facility is the first priority, as many of these are in need of veterinary attention and specialized care if they are to survive. If no rehabilitators are available in your area, contact a veterinarian to seek assistance for the animal.
Safely capture the animal with a towel or blanket. Then place the animal in a cardboard box with small holes poked in it for air or a pet carrier. Place paper towels or newspapers in the bottom. With baby mammals, you can put a piece of fleece material but do not use terry cloth, wash clothes, or towels; as the loops can come loose and strangle the animal. NEVER GIVE FOOD OR WATER! Improperly feeding a baby animal may cause them to inhale water or food which can be deadly. Also, do not try to bandage any injuries!
Place the animal in a quiet environment. It will need a mild heat source. You can make a “sock buddy” by taking an old gym sock, putting rice in it, and microwaving the sock for 30 second intervals until warm. Place the sock buddy next to the baby. Take the animal to a wildlife rehabilitator or a veterinarian within 24 hours of capture.
If you’re the type of person who would be compelled to help injured or orphaned wildlife, investigate your local resources before an emergency arises. Find out who can help you to perform a rescue out in the field and find out where you can take the animal for veterinary care and rehabilitation and keep those agencies’ contact information handy – you never know when you’re going to come across an animal in need!
Kara Ruthberg DVM
It is that time of year again folks. The sun is making itself known, the flowers are coming into bloom, and the birds are starting to sing. Yes, spring is every so slowly returning to our neck of the woods. For many of us this is a time of renewal. It is a time to make a fresh start and enjoy the outdoors again.
I always look forward to getting outside and enjoying Mother Nature more, as the days get longer and the air gets warmer. The outdoors man in me loves the thought of hiking at our many parks, fishing by the sea or at a pond, or just lying in a hammock out back and listening to the neighborhood song birds. So don’t worry readers, I am sure to be out there with you all spring, enjoying the beauty that this great state offers.
Right beside me will be my faithful companion, Frisby. My dear dog loves to sun herself outside and, even at her advanced age, enjoys the occasional jaunt to the beach or through the woods. Since she is my best friend, I have made a commitment to keep her as safe as possible. I know that I have to protect her from the dangers outside while allowing her to enjoy herself. Yes, the dangers! While dogs in New Jersey are at risk of contracting Heartworm disease all year round, the warmer, wetter weather brings even more mosquitoes which increases the risk of infection. Therefore, proper protection is even more important this time of year. Hence, we come to the topic of today’s discussion, Heartworm disease.
I find the best way to discuss this issue is to address questions my clients have posed to me in the past. As such, this blog will be structured in a question and answer format.
What are Heartworms and how do dogs get them? Can other animals or people get them?
A Heartworm is a tiny worm that spends most of it lifecycle in dogs’ blood vessels and heart. These parasites are different than intestinal worms and are spread by contact with mosquitoes. Dogs can not directly infect you or pass these to other animals. However, a mosquito that fed on an infected dog can spread the disease to another unprotected dog or cat. By being consistent with your Heartworm preventative (Trifexis, Revolution, Heartgard Plus, etc.) will protect your pet and will actually protect many surrounding dogs by minimizing the parasite’s ability to spread. A good flea and tick control product with repellent activity, such as Vectra 3D, can help to add extra protection to your pet. Dogs are the intended hosts for Heartworms but other animals, and rarely even people, have been known to contract Heartworms. So your kitty is not safe without protection either. In dogs, the worms can cause asthma like reactions, heart disease, embolus of the lungs and even congestive heart failure. Left untreated, Heartworms are fatal to most infested dogs. Typically, Heartworms cause asthma like symptoms in cats and people. Amazingly, there are still many dogs in this area that are not on year round Heartworm prevention. This unprotected population keeps the disease a constant threat to all dogs and cats that may miss a dose or two of their medicine.
How do you test for this disease?
The easiest method for determining whether your pet has contracted Heartworm disease is to perform a blood test. In dogs, we recommend a test called “Accuplex,” It shows if your dog has been exposed to Heartworms and has produced antibodies against them. It also tests to see if he or she has been exposed to several tick-borne diseases. This is an important and necessary screening procedure to assure that the medication is continuing to keep your pet safe from the diseases that are prevalent in our area. In short, it is an essential part of your pet’s preventative care regimen. We recommend that your dog be routinely tested at his or her yearly physical exam or if there has been a lapse in treatment.
If your pet is showing signs that alert your veterinarian to the possibility that he or she may have contracted Heartworm disease, he or she may recommend some more specific tests in addition to the Accuplex to confirm the presence of the parasite and the extent of the damage that is causing (including directly looking for the worms in blood smears and chest x-rays).
Isn’t there a treatment for this disease?
If caught early enough there are treatment options to address Heartworm disease. However, the treatment course is neither without risk nor inexpensive. Additionally, there is frequently no way to reverse damage that has already occurred to the heart and lungs. The treatment includes injections with a medication that is currently in short supply due to rarity of manufacturers. The delicate location of these parasites additionally requires post-treatment precautions, including at several MONTHS of strict cage rest. If these precautions are not followed, life threatening clots can seed the lungs, further complicating an already damaged essential organ. This is why we strongly recommend prevention with a safe and easy monthly chew treat or pill. By regularly using preventative you will never know how many times it has protected your furry friend. As my mother used to say “I’ve never been hit by a car, but that doesn’t mean I don’t look both ways before I cross the street.” Prevention is always better than having to put your pal through the effects of the disease and the treatment.
So what can I do about this problem?
The best news about all of this is that prevention of Heartworm is very easy. Your pet does not need advanced treatments or even messy baths or dips. He or she does not need to take a daily pill to keep these worms at bay. All that is needed is medicine given once-a-month which is safer for them than taking an aspirin is for you and me. The preventative is not toxic to warm-blooded animals and does not have bad side effects. Currently, there are several products available which are both safe and effective in preventing the Heartworms from infesting your furry friend. For dogs, we now recommend a product called “Trifexis” due to the fact that it prevents not only Heartworm, but also fleas and intestinal parasites. For cats, “Revolution” is our product of choice. We also dispense Heartgard Plus for prevention of Heartworms in dogs and cats. Remember, the best way to treat Heartworm disease is to never get it. Regular use of a veterinary approved preventative is the best way to achieve this.
I’m not sure I can afford preventative.
Ok, so this is not a question, but something that comes up in these difficult times. I would argue that you cannot afford NOT to use preventatives. At our hospitals, we try to make Heartworm prevention as affordable as possible. When used correctly it is guaranteed to prevent infestation. However, if not used and you pet contracts Heartworm disease, the cost of treatment, the emotional toll and the risk to your dog would pay for several lifetimes of prevention. When you add in the fact that the major Heartworm preventatives also eliminate intestinal parasites that can spread to people, you are getting a great deal of value in a small package. Certainly, your pooch or kitty will appreciate the safety to run outside free of risk over a new collar, toy or bed. For that much cost you can truly show your pet how much you love him or her.
Ok, now go enjoy the good weather. If you’d like to review more information please review the American Heartworm society’s website
Zachary Weiner DVM
Lilies can be fatal in your cat
Beautiful flower, right? But did you know this pretty and seemingly harmless plant could actually kill your feline companions with a single nibble? It’s true! Certain types of lilies are among the most dangerous types of flowers for felines, and far too people are aware of this until it may be too late. With Spring slowly starting to make its reappearance and stores full of flowers waiting to make their way into your home, we need to take a moment to discuss this potentially deadly toxicity.
The types of lilies that you need to worry about include:
- Japanese Show
- Any other members of the genus Lilum (“true lilies”)
The toxic compound in lilies is extremely destructive to a cat’s kidneys. It only takes a nibble on a single leaf or stem, drinking the vase water, or ingesting a small amount of pollen from these flowers (as with grooming) to send your cat into acute (sudden and often irreversible) kidney failure and have you rushing them to the nearest emergency room.
The prognosis for acute kidney failure from lily ingestion may be good as long as it is caught early so that aggressive treatment can be started. However, if too much time elapses between ingestion and the start of treatment, the prognosis becomes significantly worse and death from disease or euthanasia is much more likely. Without treatment, acute kidney failure is fatal.
Treatment for lily-induced acute kidney failure involves aggressive IV fluid diuresis, injectable medications, nutritional support, and very close monitoring. If these fail, advanced procedures could be attempted, such as different types of dialysis, however these are quite expensive and are not readily available even at most specialty veterinary hospitals.
Hopefully it is clear based on all of this information that the best thing you can do is to PREVENT their exposure to lilies. Here are some suggestions for doing this.
- If you have cats in your household, do not have lilies! There is no such thing as “out of reach” for most cats, and even a fallen dead leaf or airborne pollen could be enough to cause toxicity.
- Keep your cats indoors as many people have lilies in their garden.
- If you are buying or sending a bouquet to friends or family members with cats, ensure there are lilies present.
- Share the knowledge of lily toxicity with family, friends, and florists to try to prevent feline exposure. From personal experience, it crucial to share knowledge of toxins with those who may inadvertently bring these plants into the house without realizing the danger. I suggest making a list of toxins for whatever types of animals you have in your home and placing it somewhere important such as on the refrigerator so everyone is aware. You can ask your veterinarian to help with the making of such a list.
Hopefully this entry has helped provide some information to you regarding a dangerous toxicity we see far too often. Happy Spring!
Dr. Jenna Koenigstein
We are well into 2013 now and one may wonder, how well are the New Year’s Resolutions coming along? Some of us may be doing well while others may have let them slide. So, instead of fretting about our own personal resolutions, how about making a few to benefit your pet?
Recently I have been reading some articles about resolutions for our pets and I wonder if any of our readers have made resolutions aimed at making our companions happier and healthier?
I would like to take a moment to share a few resolutions that maybe you can work into your family.
1. Protection. We all protect our pets. Keep them in fenced yards, on leashes or prevent them from escaping outside but is there anything else we can do? Keeping identifying tags on them is another step. Make sure they have current contact information on them too. For those pets (or owners) who don’t like dangling tags there are always the embroidered collars where your info is directly sewn onto it. Microchipping is another way to get extra protection in case your pet goes missing. If your pet is picked up by animal control, brought to a veterinary hospital or a shelter they will be scanned and if chipped they will contact the owner. Already have a chip? Make sure your current contact info is registered with the manufacturer. It is so disappointing to us when we are lucky enough to find a chip in a lost animal only to call the company and find out it has never been linked to an owner. (The Res-Q chips we use have a back-up registry to our hospital.) Since their invention, microchip companies have reunited more than 100,000,000 pets and owners! Keep current copies of vaccine records, documents of any chronic diseases your pet has and medications they are taking in case of emergency.
2. Prevention. Resolve to keep up on preventative care. Yearly physicals (twice yearly for those with chronic conditions or senior pets). Start brushing teeth! We can help you develop a home care program for your pet. Do some early detection blood work. Keep up with monthly Heartworm prevention and flea and tick control. The maker of Heartgard has created a free app to help you remember when it is time to give the monthly tablet. Go to www.heartgard.com to download. Use the reminder to do your flea and tick medicine the same day!
3. Diet and exercise. The category we all hate! Vow to feed well and use portion control. We can get your pet set up with a weight reduction plan if you need one. Hills has just introduced a new prescription diet, “Metabolic Advanced Weight Solution,” for obese dogs and cats that promises easier weight loss with lasting results. Do homework on the foods you feed including treats as there have been too many recalls in the last few years. Resolve to do more walks or play more laser light chasing or whatever gets your pal going.
4. Spend more time with our pets. If given the chance, this is the one I think our pets would choose. Pledge 10 minutes a day to: brush them if they enjoy it, belly rubs, road trips and lots of cuddles in the lap – it’s been shown to reduce people’s heart rate and blood pressure so we can benefit too. Win Win!
5. Get a New Look!
In 2013, give your pet the gift of glam! A regular grooming regimen will make your pet feel proud, pampered and healthy.
Now that we know what we need to do in 2013 for our pets, let’s see what it would look like if our pets wrote their own New Years Resolutions…
It might look like…..
- Don’t get in the trash
- Drink from my bowl not the toilet
- Play more ball, chase more mice/squirrels
- I will go willingly to the vet as they tell me it is in my own best interest
- Perfect my begging eyes
- Improve my manners
- I will come when I am called
- Try to stay off the furniture
Some celebrity pet owners were asked what their resolutions were for their pets. Actress Hilary Swank responded that her two dogs are so great that she vows to take them everywhere she goes including interviews. Bob Barker wishes his rabbit would use his litter box every time not just when it’s convenient! Glee actress Lea Michele says her cat Sheila needs to resolve to stop going into the bathroom and taking all the cotton balls out of the jar and scattering them all over.
I hope this New Year finds all of you and your pets well and happy. Again, if you wish to speak with our staff about teeth brushing, wellness programs, weight loss or micro chipping contact us anytime. Happy Belated New Year!
Let’s keep those pearly whites happy and healthy.
Hello readers. I hope everyone had a great holiday season. This is a great time to focus on our pets’ health as well as our own. After all, I know that you all want to keep Fido and Fluffy happy, healthy, and comfortable for as long as possible. That is the reason that you come to see us regularly and read these informative blogs. Preventative and interventional medicine can both do great things to not only lengthen but strengthen your dear friends’ life. So why not make a resolution for your little one as well as for yourself? Of course, I don’t mean that they should work harder to reconnect with distant friends or lay off the extra cake (although that last one is surely recommended). Rather, the veterinary team, you, and your pet need to take another look at something that we may have been putting off for too long now. Yes gentle readers, it is time to address the pink elephant in the room which in this case is your fuzzy one’s mouth.
Its not just about bad breath or aesthetics anymore.
Combating dental disease is not just about fighting bad breath or making them look pure white. Certainly, these are desirable effects of a healthy mouth and important to consider. After all, who would not prefer to be licked by a pleasant smelling dog mouth? Also, who does not want their little one to look as brilliant as possible? That being said, if it was just about looks and smell, I could understand how one could see the procedure as an elective or cosmetic procedure. The thing is, though, that maintaining oral health is so much more important than that. In dogs and cats, halitosis can not simply be attributed to dietary habits. Rather, when your pet’s breath smells bad it is almost always due to significant oral infection. First and foremost, this infection eats away at the bone around the teeth and causes a great deal of pain. Keep in mind that all dogs and cats will eat even if they are in pain. In the wild, hiding pain kept them alive, but in our homes it can make the disease harder to recognize. For this reason, it is important to have your friendly veterinarian evaluate your pet’s teeth at least once a year even if you have not noticed any problems. Our pets can try to hide their discomfort until the dental disease becomes irreversible. However, if we are vigilant your pet will enjoy a pain free and healthy mouth for all of his or her days. Since bacteria from the mouth can infect the kidneys and heart, removing the infection will keep the rest of the body healthy as well.
In her companion blog article, Dr. Ruthberg will elaborate on the benefits and proper method of a full oral evaluation and treatment. For the purpose of this article though, keep in mind that “cosmetic” cleanings without anesthesia are dangerous and do not address the true source of dental disease. For more information, please refer position statement by the American college of Veterinary Dentists: http://www.avdc.org/dentalscaling.html. Just as in human dental care, there are no shortcuts to good oral health. Proper home care, regular prophylactic cleanings, and surgical intervention are all critical to keep those mouths happy and healthy.
Consider the following facts:
Subtle signs like decreased self-grooming in longhaired cats can be early indications of oral pain and infection.
1) At the tender age of 3 years old, 80% (Yes that’s 8 out of 10) dogs have gingival disease. If left untreated, this will lead to irreversible bone destruction leading to tooth loss. The moral of this story is it’s never too early to get on top of your dog’s oral care. Cats are not much better off with 70% having clinically significant gingival disease by the same age.
2) There are several diseases that can only be diagnosed and treated by a trained veterinary professional. In cats, these include inflammatory swelling of the gums and mouth, irreversible bone loss and gingival infections, and cavity-like resorptive lesions. Dogs can also develop bone loss and gingival infections as well as tooth fractures.
3) Our teeth have a full 3 millimeters of enamel for protection but dogs only have 1.5 millimeters, one half the amount. This lack of protection puts them at higher risk for external damage. Additionally, for many breeds their jaws can produce an enormous amount of force while chewing (250-350 pounds per square inch compared to 150 for a human). It is not hard to see why so many dogs fracture their teeth when chewing on bones, rocks, ice cubes and hard toys.
4) Sneezing and nasal discharge may be due to an infection of the upper tooth roots. The infection may lead to an opening between the mouth and the nasal cavity. This is called an oronasal fistula, and treatment requires surgical repair. This is especially common in dachshunds, greyhounds, and cats.
5) Facial swelling below the eye is usually due an infection of the fourth upper premolar. This is the main chewing tooth in a dog’s mouth, which makes it susceptible to fracture. Its position in the back of the mouth also makes it difficult to keep this tooth clean with home care alone. The treatment for this abscess is oral surgery.
6) Small dog breeds are more likely to develop gingivitis and periodontal disease than large dogs because the teeth of small dogs are often too large for their mouths, according to veterinary dentistry experts.
Keeping all that in mind, let us help you keep your pets’ teeth healthy for years to come.
I want to share with you the story of Chloe, a 2 year-old, spayed, female Swiss Mountain Dog, who was rather mischievous one afternoon while her owners were out of the house.
Chloe’s owners had left for the afternoon, and she was allowed to roam the lower level of the house (as is usual for her). On this particular day Chloe went “counter-surfing” and was able to locate a large pack of Ice Breakers gum pushed to the back of the countertop. With her long reach she was able to capture the pack of gum, and ingested all the pieces (including wrappers!).
When Chloe’s family arrived home several hours later they were alarmed to find that their 109-pound family member could not walk straight, almost as if intoxicated. Panicked, they searched the house for any toxic chemicals that Chloe could have gotten access to, but found only the outer wrapper to the aforementioned pack of Ice Breakers gum. They called Ocean County Veterinary Hospital (OCVH) , and we immediately advised bringing Chloe down right away, as this emergency can become a life-threatening situation.
Some flavors of Ice Breakers Gum (along with many other brands of sugar-free gum) contain the artificial sweetener, Xylitol. Xylitol is used worldwide, mainly as a sweetener in chewing gums and pastilles, but is also found in pharmaceuticals and mouthwash. The fluoride supplement that my children take each day contains Xylitol as a flavoring agent. In human literature, Xylitol is praised for being a “dental-friendly” sugar substitute, and is a far superior option for diabetic people than table sugar. Although very safe for humans, Xylitol is extremely toxic to dogs.
Dogs that ingest products containing Xylitol can show signs of toxicity within 30 minutes. Once ingested Xylitol causes a rapid release of the hormone insulin, which can produce to the following clinical signs:
● Ataxia (uncoordinated movements)
● Hypokalemia (decreased potassium)
● Liver Problems
● and, if a large enough amount is consumed, and untreated, death
Dogs that present to our hospital with Xylitol ingestion / toxicity are treated as very serious, life-threatening emergencies. If the ingestion was thought to have been within 2 hours, vomiting can be induced to remove any yet-undigested material. As with many poisonous substances, inducing vomiting before complete digestion has occurred greatly increases the chances for a dog’s survival. Therefore, going to the veterinarian as soon as possible after suspected ingestion of any toxic substance is very important! If more of the Xylitol-containing product is suspected to be further along in the digestive tract of the dog then a product called activated charcoal (or Toxiban) is sometimes administered. Activated charcoal is a thick, black tarry substance that when ingested coats the stomach and intestines, effectively blocking any further absorption of the toxic material (in this case Xylitol) into the bloodstream.
Now getting a dog to EAT activated charcoal can be a very tricky, and very messy, process – as any veterinary technician will tell you! Frequently, the use of a stomach tube is required.
Any dog that is suspected to have ingested Xylitol must have their blood sugar (glucose) level checked immediately upon admission to the hospital. If hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) is present, treatment is immediately initiated to raise the blood sugar with intravenous and oral medications in order to avoid the toxic symptoms listed above. Depending on the amount of Xylitol ingested, when it was ingested, and the success of clearing the digestive track after inducing vomiting and / or using activated charcoal, some dogs require referral to a 24-hour care facility to receive treatment for hypoglycemia for an additional 24-48 hours.
The second dangerous effect of Xylitol toxicity in dogs is a delayed liver failure. Sometimes liver values in a dog’s blood work do not start to rise until days after the Xylitol ingestion, so daily monitoring of a dogs blood work for 3-14 days may be recommended by the veterinarian.
Back to Chloe, our 109-pound Swiss Mountain Dog: Chloe’s blood sugar was already dangerously low at the time of admission to our hospital, and treatment to raise the blood sugar was started immediately. Activated charcoal was administered to her. After she was stabilized, Chloe was referred to a specialty hospital in our area where she remained for 3 days, to monitor and control her blood sugar. Even after discharge from the hospital, Chloe returned to our hospital twice over the next 2 weeks to recheck her liver values. I am happy to report that she has achieved a full recovery and is back to her normal self! Chloe is grateful that her owners were observant and acted so quickly when they discovered she was not feeling well.
Most people know about many of things that are toxic to dogs, including chocolate, grapes, raisins and onions… but so many people are unaware of the dangers that sugar-free gums containing Xylitol present to their dogs. How many of you have a pack of gum in a purse or on a counter in your house?
First of all, I hope that all of you have had a wonderful and fulfilling holiday season. As we start this brand new year, I can’t help but reflect back on the events of this past one. Personally, there is no doubt that the most important event for me was the birth of our first child, a son. As you can probably imagine, there is no shortage of animal companions at my house. For us, it was not just when two become three but rather when nine become ten. Yes, dear readers there were several different personalities that would need to adjust to our new noisy, bossy, little friend. Luckily, in this small area of new parenthood at least, we were well educated in making this introduction as smooth as possible. It only seems fitting that I pass on some of this wisdom to you in this blog entry.
The main concern of course should be for the safety of your new baby and your pets. We are lucky in that our animals tend to be pretty accepting of any new rescues that tend to come through the door. That being said, some pets can be fearful, unpredictable, anxious or even aggressive when a new baby is brought into their home. It is important to be honest and aware of your pets’ personality. Is your dog fearful around new people or reactive to loud noises? Does your cat soil outside the box when stressed? Do you have a curious critter that may be a little destructive with new household objects? Do you have an older pet that may be less patient with having their ear or tail pulled? Knowing how your pet may react will help you to prepare. There is no way to predict every outcome perfectly, but the more prepared you are, the better. If you have any concerns that your pet may act out in an aggressive or destructive manner, please bring up your concerns with your veterinarian. Your vet may be able to discuss specific training techniques, medications or even refer you to a certified behavioral specialist if necessary.
That being said, I promised specific words of advice so here we go.
1) Use your pets’ curiosity to your advantage: Cats tend to be curious about everything new in their environment. Even if it scares them at first, they want to explore, smell, and generally check out any new thing that may alter their life. Many dogs feel the same way. In general, the more time you give a pet to adjust, the better that transition will go. As such, I recommend allowing your pets to explore the nursery once it is set up. In addition, ask for an extra set of hospital clothes that was worn by your newborn during his or her stay (or just an extra hat). Have a family member or friend leave the clothing in a conspicuous area of the house before you bring your bundle of joy home. Your pets are sure to smell the clothing and thus be more familiar with you baby before the big day.
I would also recommend, if possible, allowing the pets to greet your child during a quiet time on their terms. Do not put the baby in their face or corner them while holding the baby.
If your pet gets anxious, keep an eye out for worsening of symptoms when your baby gets fussy. If this really upsets your furry companion, you may be able to distract him or her with a treat during loud times or perform a temporary separation until things quiet down. Never leave your child unsupervised with your dog no matter the size or your level of trust. This is as much for you dogs’ protection as your baby’s (especially during the toddler years). Mother’s should also be sure to pay close attention to how your pets react when you are alone with the baby whether you are nursing, soothing or simply sitting with him or her. Some pets will get protective of mother and baby. This needs to be taken into consideration especially by a well meaning father bringing in coffee or tea late at night. Others may elicit social confusion symptoms towards the baby (often mistaken for jealousy), which will need to be recognized and addressed as soon as possible. As time goes by, you will learn how comfortable your pets are with the baby and which areas still need work.
2) Have methods to separate your pet and baby safely: As I mentioned previously, we had MANY cats and two dogs who would be sharing space with our little man. Even though I wanted them to know he was coming and be comfortable with that, I also wanted a safe and clean space just for my son. As such, we installed iron safety gates at the doors and a monitor so we could shut the door at night to keep the cats out of the room.
While I am a firm believer that the fear of cats smothering sleeping babies is nothing more than an urban legend, it is better if they find other areas of the house to sleep. Alternatively, there are some owners will install screen doors at the nursery entrance to allow their pets to see and smell the newborn but still maintain a barrier.
This is pretty cool if you have the resources for such a thing. Since our cats, like many feline friends, will try to make a bed out of anything, we did strategically cover certain objects like the bassinet and changing table with towels or blankets to minimize cat hair and debris on the furniture. Our personal choice in the household is to not worry too much about hair on the furniture (“denial” is not just a river in Egypt ), but we try to be a little stricter for the baby. If members of your family are especially sensitive to pet hair or dander, the use of a HEPA air filter may also be helpful.
3) Do not try to “make it up” to your pets: One of the most common mistakes that owners make during this transition time is to try to shower their pets with extra love and affection when the baby is not around. It is easy to see how this happens. A new mom or dad feels guilty that Fido is not getting as much attention. To counteract this, the well-meaning owner gives extra treats or pats/hugs after the baby is asleep or away. The goal is to reinforce to the pet that he or she is still very much loved, which is noble. Unfortunately, that is not how your dog (or less often cat) sees it. From his or her
perspective it is very simple. When this new loud creature is gone I get treats, love and life is amazing. When the crying new addition is around I get nothing. This leads to a very real and sometimes dangerous conclusion in your pet’s mind; when baby is around life is bad. I am certainly not recommending that you ignore your pets when your baby is asleep. Rather be sure to reward them and praise them when the baby is around ESPECIALLY if they are being friendly or quiet. This will lead to a conclusion that the little addition means rewards, which make him or her great!
4) Parasite control and zoonotic risks:
Parasite control is also very important. Dogs and cats (even if indoor only) can acquire intestinal parasites, fleas, and heartworms. Did you know that about 15% of all potting soil used for indoor plants contains eggs for roundworms? My cats love to dig around our plants constantly, how about yours? Intestinal worms such as roundworm and hookworm are zoonotic (which means they can be passed to people) and fleas can bite people or carry diseases that your baby may have trouble fighting off. Therefore, all of our cats are given a medication on their skin called Revolution every month to prevent the infestations mentioned above. Similarly, our dogs are given a heartworm pill (to prevent intestinal worms, flea eggs, and heartworm) and a topical solution to kill ticks and adult fleas every month. I have heard many owners voice concerns about applying chemicals to their pets, especially in the presence of children. I understand this concern now more than ever. The medications that we are using, however, are extremely safe and they are not harmful to people when applied to the pet correctly. There are many over-the-counter flea/tick medications that are dangerous, though, so I recommend sticking with what is recommended by your veterinarian. There are real risks for a child to acquire roundworm, hookworm, tick-borne diseases or flea-borne diseases. These diseases are easily prevented, however, with proper medication and hygiene. So do not surrender your beloved furry companion just because you will have a little one crawling around, just be sure that everyone in your house is protected.
In summary, bringing a new baby can be a busy time with a lot of new worries and concerns. Hopefully, by planning ahead and considering the advice provided, some of these can be alleviated. Of course, if anything comes up or you have specific questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact us at the hospital. As your veterinarians, we are dedicated to ensuring that the bond you share with your pets strengthens in the new phase of your family’s life and that your children get to enjoy your pets as well.
Zachary Weiner, DVM
Now that we are all stuffed to the gills from our Thanksgiving feasts and looking forward to more gluttony next month, I’m going to take a moment to refresh you on those foods to avoid giving to your pup. In addition to those listed below, it is also important to remember that giving table food to your canine companion can cause gastrointestinal upset and obesity, which can predispose them to other health issues. Yummy human food can also cause them to become more finicky about eating their usual dog food.
Alcohol – While it may seem funny to some to give Fluffy some beer and watch him act silly, don’t do it. Alcohol can cause not only intoxication, lack of coordination, and slowed breathing, but potentially even coma or death.
This is what NOT to do.
Baby food – Some varieties contain onion powder, which is harmful to dogs (see below under Onion). Otherwise not harmful for dogs, but does not provide a balanced diet.
Bones – Intact bones can cause choking or gastrointestinal obstruction. Splintered bones can cause damage to the lining of the GI tract and even possible perforation.
Cat food – Too high in protein and fat to be a primary diet for dogs. Occasional consumption is not harmful and is often unavoidable
Chocolate, coffee, tea - This is probably not new information for you, but be sure to avoid chocolate for your pup. It contains caffeine, theobromine, and theophylline, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea and, in more severe cases, is toxic to the heart and nervous system. The darker the chocolate, the worse for your pet.
Corn on the cob - A common cause of intestinal obstructions every summer. Make sure to dispose of garbage well so that your pup can’t go dumpster diving to find a prize.
Fat trimmings – Can cause GI upset and occasionally pancreatitis.
Grapes and raisins – Grapes contain a toxin that can cause acute kidney failure. Some dogs seem more sensitive to the toxin than others, but best to avoid altogether.
Hops – One of the main components of beer, hop consumption by your dog can cause panting, an increased heart rate, fever, seizures, and even death.
Macadamia nuts – These contain a toxin that can cause weakness, depression, tremors, vomiting, and hyperthermia.
Milk and dairy products – Dogs are naturally lactose intolerant, so large amount of dairy products can cause diarrhea.
Moldy food – If you wouldn’t eat it, don’t give it to your pup.
Mushrooms - Just as the wrong mushroom can be fatal to humans, the same applies to dogs. If your pup eats an unknown mushroom outside, seek veterinary care immediately.
Onions and garlic – In all their forms (raw, cooked, powder, etc), they contain disulfides and sulfoxides, both of which can damage red blood cells and cause anemia.
Persimmons, peaches, and plums - Persimmon seeds and peach and plum pits can cause intestinal obstruction and enteritis.
Raw eggs – The most obvious concern is salmonella, which is why mom always said not to eat the cookie dough. But raw eggs also contain the enzyme avidin, which inhibits the absorption of Biotin (a B vitamin) that your dog uses to keep a healthy coat and skin.
Salt – Excessive intake can lead to electrolyte imbalances.
Sugar - Avoid sweet snacks in your pet. Just as with people, sugar can lead to obesity, which may predispose your pet to diabetes.
Tobacco - The nicotine in tobacco can damage your pup’s digestive and nervous systems, increase their heart rate, lead to coma, and ultimately result in death.
Yeast dough – Yeast can expand and produce gas in the GI system, causing pain and possible rupture of the stomach or intestines.
These by no means are the only things to avoid in your dog, but keeping these in mind can help your pup to have a happy and healthy holiday season. If you ever have any question as to the safety of something your pet has eaten, call us anytime.
As the holiday season approaches and you prepare for the festivities please remember to keep pet safety in mind. Pets are part of our family and they too will be in the midst of all the celebrations. Here are some simple safety tips to consider during this holiday season:
Keep all ornaments, ribbons, garlands, tacks and potpourri out of reach. Avoid using tinsel. Cats love to play with tinsel and often ingest it. Don’t leave your pet alone in a room where they have access to decorations. Anything ingested can potentially cause an intestinal obstruction or may be toxic.
Don’t change your pet’s diet. Any change in diet can result in diarrhea. Foods high in fat can trigger pancreatitis so avoid those fatty meat scraps. Do not feed bones to pets, this can result in some serious gastrointestinal emergencies. Feed only the safe foods and treats that your pets are used to eating. Secure the garbage can. Move foods out of reach on counter tops and tables. Make sure your pet does not have access to foods intended for people. Many things are toxic to pets that may seem harmless such as : chocolate, any food containing xylitol (artificial sweetener), macadamia nuts, grapes or raisins, onions, alcoholic beverages.
Plants can add beauty to our homes and are very decorative but many plants are toxic if ingested. Keep all plants out of reach. Check out the ASPCA toxic and non toxic plant list at www.aspca.org
Warmth and light
All of the things used to keep our gathering spaces warm can pose a danger to pets and people. Block off fireplaces with appropriate safety barriers. Avoid using candles where pets can reach them. Keep all electric cords out of reach or secured to prevent access by curious pets. They may try to chew on the cords resulting in electric shock or burns and if ingested may require surgical care.
All the noise and activity may be stressful for pets. Consider setting up a safe, quiet area in your home away from the holiday bustle. With visitors coming and going pets are more likely to slip out. Guests often can not resist sharing holiday foods with cute little critters. Remind them not to share anything except safe treats that you provide.
Identification and vaccinations
Collars and identification tags should have current contact information. Because collars can be lost if your pet escapes or more commonly not put back on a pet especially after a bath, microchips are very important. Microchips are a permanent form of identification. All veterinarians, animal control officers and animal shelters have microchip scanners and will scan found pets in hopes of reuniting a lost pet with an owner. Microchips are an inexpensive ticket home for a lost pet. If you haven’t already gotten one for your pet please consider calling us to get one for your furry friend today! Guests will often bring visiting pets as well. Make sure your pets are up to date on their vaccinations. Never leave pets alone that are not accustomed to being together.
We wish your family and pets a safe and happy holiday season!
Before I start my topic I want to extend thoughts and prayers to those affected by Hurricane Sandy. On our end everyone is safe and luckily we were able to open ourLakewoodoffice almost immediately afterward. For animals that were in the building some of our staff braved the storm to come in and take care of them, some even staying and weathering the storm in the building so the animals would not be alone. We hope everyone is ok and if we can help with your pets please let us know.
It may seem like an old topic but fleas have been around long time and recent weather conditions have made flea numbers explode.
We have all likely seen fleas and maybe have battled, or are currently battling an infestation. Not only are they annoying to us and the pet but they can cause health issues too. They can cause anemia (low red blood cells), transmit diseases from pet to pet, tapeworms come from fleas and some animals are allergic to the fleas which causes them great discomfort.
Flea infestations can happen very quickly and can be difficult to get rid of. Why? First we have to understand the flea and what their game plan is.
- It starts with a female flea that jumps onto your pet (or you!). Once they are on an animal host they stay, life is good there.
- The flea settles in and starts feeding. They are basically little vampires and eat up to 15 times their body weight in your pet’s blood daily. Within 24 hours that flea is laying eggs. Up to 40 or 50 eggs per day and they live up to 3 weeks. Numbers add up fast!
- These eggs laid in your pet’s hair coat will roll off and land in the environment. Your pet is now a salt shaker. Everywhere they walk and jump (beds/furniture) they are shaking eggs into the home and out side. To add to the population, if you have wild life that come through your yard or neighborhood untreated pets they are also shedding eggs. When you are working hard to end an infestation that can be one of the reasons it isn’t working.
- Alright, the eggs have now landed somewhere, inside or outside. Within 2-10 days (depending on environmental factors) these eggs hatch. It’s a quick thing. Now they are larvae. Within 7-21 days they become pupae and form a cocoon. This is where they can stay dormant for 200 or more days or can hatch into fleas within a week.
So, now that we know how they operate let’s talk about a few myths and facts.
Fact: if you see fleas on your pet there are already flea eggs, larvae, pupae and emerging fleas in your home or outdoors.
Fact: remember pets are living salt shakers. This helps with environmental cleanup.
Fact: after applying the flea product recommended by your veterinarian adult fleas on your pet will be dead within 4 to 36 hours. BUT expect to see live fleas for up to 3-8 weeks as the lifecycle plays out to extinction in the environment.
Fact: when using monthly flea products, if you miss a dose or are late with a dose (even a day or 2) the fleas will survive and the lifecycle starts over. You are back at the beginning.
Fact: you have to treat EVERY PET with fur (exception: tiny pocket pets like hamsters usually are ok). That means the dogs, the cats, the rabbit, the ferret. You will fail if you do not do this. Ask us for the appropriate treatment for the non dog/cat furry kids in your house.
Fact: not only do you have to treat everyone, you have to do it for a long time, every 30 days, without fail. That may mean year round. Which brings me to a myth: it is getting cold now/summer’s over so I don’t need to worry about fleas. When the temperature starts to dip the fleas become desperate. This is when they jump on people to get into the house to find a host.
Myth: my dog got fleas from the dog next to me at the vet office/groomer. Fleas rarely, if ever, jump from pet to pet. They get a flea from newly hatched fleas as the pet walks by.
Fact: with the current monthly flea products available you do not always need to treat the environment but doing so will greatly decrease the time it takes to get rid of your infestation.
Myth: I don’t need to use flea products because my cat/rabbit is indoors only OR my dog only goes out in the yard. Your dog can pick up a flea as they are in your yard from wildlife, fleas can jump on us to use us as a ride indoors to your pet.
I will share my recent flea experience with you. Yes, I had a flea problem. This is how it happened for me. We (my family, including 1 dog, 2 cats and 2 hamsters) were set to move. Our beloved dog passed away from liver cancer just before the move. He was my reminder to flea/tick protect the others each month. So, when we moved I got forgetful. I got behind a few months on protection since no one was going outside. I knew better but yet there it was. Next was a perfect storm. We moved and I believe the house we moved to had dormant pupae in the carpet/floor cracks. And, it was getting cooler out so fleas were hopping on warm bodies (the humans) to get in the house. And I had not been faithful with my 30 day applications on the cats. And there they were…Fleas! In the vet’s house!! I launched a full blown attack. Applied my monthly product to the pets. Washed and dried everything that could be washed every day for a week. Vacuumed (and emptied the canister outside so no eggs would hatch inside) and swept every day. Luckily I got it under control fairly easily and didn’t need an exterminator. I also found out through that time that the hamsters were not likely going to be a problem. I checked them often and never saw anything on them. Phew! Now I mark the calendar and apply to the cat and rabbit (new kid in town) year round.
We are happy to chat with you about what flea products to use or help you get through your own severe infestation. With a coordinated effort, the proper products and time you will be able to get the situation under control. If you would like to know about particular flea products or what might be best for you, please call or write to us. There are so many good ones to choose from now. We urge you to call us and ask about over-the-counter products before you buy them because there are many inferior, and some potentially dangerous, products that are being marketed at major local retail stores. Remember, prevention is the key and it is very easy once you know the facts.