Tag Archives: Pet Health

Tick-Borne Disease in Dogs ( Dr. Danowitz)

In our area of New  Jersey ticks are a concern, both for humans as well as animals.  Of the many diseases that ticks carry, several are transmissible to both species.  Although very small and seemingly fragile, ticks are actually tremendously hardy parasites, capable of surviving through a wide range of climate conditions.  This is one of the reasons that OCVH, FVH & NPVH advocate treating our pets with a flea/tick preventative all year round in our area.

To learn about the tick life cycle, please click here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0g_lt0FcQag

Of all the diseases that ticks can transmit to dogs, four are most prevalent:  Lyme Disease, Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. We have seen cases of all 4 of these conditions at OCVH and our family of practices over the past year, so they are present in our area!

 

LYME DISEASE

Lyme Disease is one of the most common tick-transmitted diseases in the world.  It is caused by microscopic bacteria called spirochetes, which ticks ingest when feeding on wildlife or other dogs that are infected with the spirochete. The tick then spreads the infection to another animal when it bites them looking for its next blood meal. The species of tick that transmits Lyme Disease is Ixodes Scapularis (Deer Tick).

 

Despite all the research into Lyme Disease in both human and veterinary medicine, there are many aspects of the disease that still remain a mystery.  Dogs that are exposed to Lyme Disease can exhibit a variety of clinical signs, ranging from no signs at all to an irreparable kidney failure and death. The most common clinical signs are joint inflammation leading to lameness, fever, and lethargy or depression.  Many dogs test positive for Lyme Disease and never develop clinical signs of the disease. Kidney disease secondary to Lyme Disease seems to be more prevalent in Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers and Burmese Mountain Dogs.

How is it diagnosed?  There are several blood tests that can detect Lyme Disease.  Our heartworm test, called an Accuplex, also screens for exposure to Lyme Disease as well as 2 other tick-borne diseases.  Often if your dog is diagnosed with Lyme Disease the veterinarian may recommend a urine sample to make sure the kidneys are not affected, as well as, other more specific blood tests.  Test results, in combination with any clinical signs that the dog has, is considered before initiating treatment.  The treatment for Lyme Disease is a long course of an antibiotic, typically either doxycycline or amoxicillin.

In some patients it is impossible eradicate the organism from the body no matter what antibiotic is used. Therefore, even with appropriate treatment, the signs of disease may flare-up again in the future.

 

EHRLICHIOSIS

Ehrlichiosis is another bacterial organism transmitted to dogs through a tick bite.  The Brown Dog Tick (Rhipicephalus), the Lone Star Tick (Amblyomma) and the American Dog Tick (Dermacentor) have all been linked to the transmission of this disease.

Clinical signs associated with Ehrlichiosis vary greatly, but can include fever, loss of appetite, weight loss, enlarged lymph nodes, eye and nasal discharge, lethargy, difficulty breathing and swollen limbs.  The disease can progress to the nervous system, causing muscle twitching and other neurologic problems. Long term, blood platelet levels (cells that assist with clotting) may drop to dangerously low level and become life-threatening without treatment. Diagnosis of Ehrlichiosis can be made with the Accuplex blood test, as well as other blood tests available at our laboratory.  Doxycyline for at least 4 weeks is the treatment of choice for this serious disease.

 

ANAPLASMOSIS

Anasplamosis is another type of bacterial disease transmitted by ticks, including both the Brown Dog Tick (Rhipicephalus) and the Deer Tick (Ixodes).  In general, Anaplasmosis causes milder clinical signs when compared to Lyme Disease or Ehrlichiosis.  Clinical signs can include: fever, depression, weakness, lameness, reluctance to move, loss of appetite, enlarged lymph nodes and enlarged spleen. Anaplasmosis can also lead to low platelet numbers, much like Ehrlichiosis.  Diagnosis can be made with the Accuplex blood test. The treatment of choice for animals showing clinical disease is doxycycline, although often this disease is self-limiting and some animals never progress to the clinical state of needing treatment.

 

ROCKY MOUNTAIN SPOTTED FEVER

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) is a potentially fatal disease of both dogs and humans due to an intracellular bacterium called Rickettsia. It is transmitted by the American Dog Tick (Dermacentor), the Brown Dog Tick (Rhipicephalus) and the Lone Star Tick (Amblyomma).  In humans, RMSF is often associated with a rash from the tick bite; however, in dogs a rash is much less common.  Clinical signs of infected dogs include: fever, loss of appetite, lethargy, reluctance to move, stiffness or swelling of joints, enlarged lymph nodes and neurological signs.  Destruction of platelets can lead to bleeding and severe inflammations of blood vessels.  In some dogs the disease is self-limiting, while in others it can become a fatal condition. Diagnosis of RMSF is through a special blood test. The treatment of choice once again for this disease is doxycycline.

 

PROTECTION FROM TICKS AND THEIR DISEASES

So how can we protect our furry companions from these diseases?  There are 2 main ways: vaccination and topical preventative.  The only tick-borne disease that we have a vaccination for is Lyme Disease. The Lyme vaccine that is available, although not 100% effective in preventing the disease in all dogs does dramatically reduce the chances of infection and can minimize the seriousness of Lyme Disease in a large majority of the pets that receive the vaccine before they are bitten by ticks carrying the Lyme bacteria.

We recommend the Lyme vaccination for all dogs in our area.

 

 

Topical tick preventative has become a cornerstone in our efforts to prevent the spread of

these four diseases.  Often these products are also designed to kill and / or prevent flea infestations as well.  Although there are several products on the market that kill ticks, the product preferred by the veterinarians at OCVH, FVH & NPVH for dogs is Vectra 3D.

Vectra 3D, in addition to killing fleas and ticks, has the extra bonus of repelling the ticks, making it less likely that they even attach to the dog.  Please see the video below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lmhth6fKtGQ

Protect your canine companion from these diseases by having them vaccinated annually against Lyme Disease and protecting them year-round from tick and flea infestations by using Vectra 3D.

 

William Danowitz DVM

But Fifi, It’s Cold Outside! (Dr. Weiner)

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            How about this weather folks?  The polar vortex brings back memories of the cold, dark winters of my childhood in northern New England.   The below freezing days and snowy nights remind me of school ski trips, epic snowball battles and warming up with some hot cocoa by the fireplace.   As fun as reminiscing is, I do need to take extra time and care this time of year to keep my loved ones and myself safe.  My pets are an important part of my family and they require special consideration.  Since I’m sure you feel the same way, I will share some important winter safety tips.

            Alas, gentle readers, this arctic weather has really taken a toll on my morning snooze button time.  This time of the year my quick exit strategies to get my son to daycare and myself to OCVH each morning needing major adjustments.  We both have to perform what seems like an epic search for boots, coats, gloves, ice crampons (of course I jest) and other essential winter gear before heading out to the car.  Wouldn’t life be easier if we all had natural winter gear – like a nice fur coat perhaps?  This cold weather should not be any problem for our cats and dogs right?  For some breeds this is true, but most of our furry companions are used to living inside.   Since most dogs and cat spend all year in our warm houses, they often do not develop a full winter coat needed to sufficiently protect them for long periods outside in the extreme weather.  Also, remember that the coat is of limited benefit if it gets wet.   Do not count on your pet’s coat to completely protect him or her from the terrible weather we have been having lately.  Sure those sweaters and booties may look silly, but some breeds need help staying warm.  I would not let my son go outside without a coat and you should not let your Doberman puppy or Chihuahua go out unprotected either.  Also, use common sense about how long your pet is allowed outside. Watch for signs that Fido really needs to come back in, such as shivering, holding up paws, reluctance to move, whining, or scraping at the door.

           Although your dog would never admit it, he or she may be hiding a health condition that could put them at greater risk in the cold weather.  Problems like kidney disease, diabetes or heart disease can compromise the body’s ability to deliver the proper amount of blood to the vital organs in times of stress.  Without proper blood supply these pets have a very hard time keeping themselves warm which puts them at higher risk for having rapid worsening of their disease or developing secondary diseases.  Additionally, older pets with arthritis are sure to have a harder time when the temperatures drop.  Activities like climbing the stairs or walking down the block can be very difficult when it is cold and icy outside.   Monitor your furred senior citizens closely and be aware that there are medical measures that we can take to keep your pet comfortable this winter.   Anti-inflammatory medications, targeted laser therapy with a K-laser and intelligent exercise restriction are all proven methods to keep your older dog or cat enjoying his or her days, even when it cold and nasty outside.

          When bringing your pet outside in the cold, be sure to watch for shivering, whining, decreased response to your voice or command and unwillingness to move.  All of these can be warning signs for hypothermia.  If noted, your pet should be brought to a warm place immediately.   Pets with thin fur coats or minimal coverage of high-risk areas, like the tail or ears, need to be monitored very closely.  Be sure to use common sense and remember that there truly is some weather that is not fit for man NOR beast.

          We have many things that allow us to be more productive and comfortable, even in the worst winter weather.  Unfortunately, we need to be cognizant that some of these comforts can also be health risks to our pets.  Antifreeze is very sweet and may seem like a tempting treat to your furry pal.  However, it is very toxic and the ingestion of even a small amount can be fatal.  While there is an antidote, treatment must be started very quickly after exposure to be effective.  Please make sure any antifreeze is stored safely away from your little ones (furry or otherwise) and that you check your vehicles regularly for leaks.  In addition, certain types of deicers can be toxic or irritating to your pets’ paws.  I recommend using pet safe products only and wiping your dog’s feet off after walking outside during the winter months.  Also, if you have an open fireplace or use candles, be sure that your pets are not left by unattended when they are lit.   No one thinks that their dog would allow their tail to catch on fire or that their cat would really knock over a candle, but it definitely does happen.   Space heaters should be used with extreme caution due to the fire hazard and carbon monoxide risks.

            I have one final animal care tip during these chilly times.   Please be sure to bang on your hood before starting your car engine in the morning.  When it is this cold, a nice warm motor compartment may be a tempting night time shelter for neighborhood cats.  It is better to scare them away than to have them be badly injured by the moving parts.

           Stay warm and safe everyone.  Let’s all think warm thoughts and hope Punxsutawney Phil wasn’t totally right!

Zach Weiner DVM

Shining A Light On Your Pet’s Pain Relief (Dr. Pearlman)

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If pets could talk, many would probably ask for K-Laser therapy and to have those treatments done at OCVH, of course!  Class 4 (the most advanced) therapy Lasers are used to treat arthritis, fractures, ear infections and many other conditions that affect our pets. Laser treatments have been used in human medicine in Europe for over 20 years and were approved for use in the United States about 10 years ago. Medical doctors, chiropractors and physical therapists all use the K-Laser to help their patients. Professional sports teams have also started using this healing modality.

 

Laser treatments work by delivering energy in the form of light waves past the fur and skin into deeper tissues where healing is needed – for example, an arthritic hip joint in an older dog. Arthritis occurs because hip joint has lost much of its joint fluid for lubrication and some of the cartilage has been replaced by bone. Why K-Laser?  All of these changes lead to one thing – pain!!  The Laser helps the body heal more quickly and dramatically reduce pain at the source.  Some dogs with arthritis or back pain that needed assistance to get into the clinic for the first few Laser sessions and have been able to walk on their own again.  The Laser also has many other uses such as wound healing, soft tissue sprains, infections, gingivitis and more.

 

At OCVH we like use the K-Laser because it is a pain-free, drug-free treatment option for many degenerative conditions in our pets. Typically a Laser session takes around 5 minutes for each area to be treated. For a chronic condition like arthritis, pets would likely need to have treatments several times each week for the first 2-3 weeks, and then the frequency of visits decreases. Some pets continue to have treatments on an as needed basis to maintain their comfort. During therapy you will be with your pet and you get to wear fancy, protective safety goggles.  Pets very quickly learn that the Laser does not hurt and actually helps them feel better. My own dogs love the extra TLC. It feels good!

 

I have been able to witness the beneficial effects of this treatment on my very own dogs. Ginger, Sara, and Ernie have all gotten K-Laser treatments and are still doing well. Ginger, is 11 years and weighs 90 pounds.  She tore one of the cruciate ligaments in her knee – this is the most common orthopedic injury in large dogs. She had surgery on her knee over a year ago. We used the K-Laser on her injured leg as part of her rehabilitation program. She is able to walk normally now, and still gets the treatments once per week. Sarah, our 8 year old German Shepherd dog has one of the worst cases of hip dysplasia (her hips have been this bad since she was the age of 5 when we first rescued her), yet she is able to run and play without any arthritis drugs. Ernie came to us with a broken back and although he is still paralyzed in his back legs, he is pain free and we are hopeful that he will walk someday – with the help of the K-Laser.  Thanks to the K-Laser my dogs are living a better quality of life with more walks, more play, and lots more happy pain-free time.

 

There is hope, if your pet is in pain he or she may be helped by Laser therapy. Contact one of our staff members to schedule an appointment for a consultation to get started with K-Laser therapy. Your pet will thank you!

Laurie Pearlman DVM

Keep your Feline on the Mainline to Health! (by Dr. Iaquinto)

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As humans, it is recommended to see your family physician once a year for your annual check up. Now imagine only seeing your doctor every 4-7 years! Do you think some medical problems would have easily been prevented or managed better with more frequent visits? That’s the concern with our feline family members. Since cats age more rapidly than people and are very good at hiding ailments, it is recommended they have twice yearly visits.

 

Twice yearly visits to OCVH, FVH or NPVH allow our veterinarians to examine your cat’s mouth and thoroughly examine her teeth. By three years old, 85% of cats have some form of dental disease. We can give you a detailed assessment of her dental health and give you recommendations on how to maintain it. We will listen to her heart and lungs. We will identify any murmurs (abnormal blood flow) or arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms). This is very important as cats may not show any signs of heart disease until it is very advanced and then are at risk of sudden death. We will palpate her abdomen to assess organ size and any pain.  Lower urinary tract (bladder) disease is more prevalent in cats age 1 through 10, whereas upper urinary tract (kidney) disease is more prevalent in cats over 8 years old. We will check her weight and address any signs of obesity or weight loss. Overweight cats are more prone to diseases such as arthritis, diabetes mellitus, heart disease, constipation, and more. Weight loss may indicate metabolic disease, over active thyroid disease, or cancer. We will also assess her body condition, skin, coat, eyes, ears, lungs and neurologic health. Surprisingly 90% of cats over age 12 have some degree of arthritis! Most owners simply chalk it up to “slowing down” or “getting older” when actually these cats are experiencing pain. Many conditions are treatable with timely diagnosis and medical management.

During the physical examination the doctor will make recommendations for vaccines based on your cat’s lifestyle. The doctor may make recommendations for blood tests in senior cats or those that show changes from their previous visit. These tests allow us to address problems before they become too advanced or reduce your cat’s quality of life.  It gives us a chance to be proactive in preventing the complications frequently associated with medical problems. By investing twice yearly in exams, you may dramatically extend your cat’s lifespan and comfort.

Twice yearly visits also provide you with the opportunity to discuss any concerns you have with the doctor. It gives you a chance to share information with us as it pertains to your cat’s health and behavior. We value your insight! You are our eyes and ears in the home setting. By incorporating your observations with our medical findings and expertise we can help your cat live a longer and healthier life.

 

Erika Iaquinto DVM

 

 

An Alternative Approach to Vaccinations (By Dr. Lorri Mitchell)

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Vaccination is a controversial subject in both the human and animal world. The dangers of an unprotected individual succumbing to disease need to be balanced against the risk of infrequent side effects from an approved vaccine. We have valid concerns about what vaccines should be administered and how often they should be given.

 

At Ocean County, Fischer and New Prospect Veterinary Hospitals we strive to stay current with the ever-changing world of vaccine recommendations for your pet. In past years, adaptation to new research and guidelines has resulted in several changes to keep our patients safe and protected. These include:
-moving to a three year interval for adult dogs getting the Distemper combination vaccine as new research showed they did not always need it yearly
-similarly, adult cats also get their Distemper combination vaccine every three years now
-we now use an improved Rabies vaccine for cats that has less additives and is therefore less reactive for them

In addition to the above, we recognize that each pet is unique and evaluate them at their yearly well-visit to determine which vaccines are best recommended for them. For example, an outdoor barn cat will have different risks than a strictly indoor-only solo cat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Or a toy poodle that lives alone in a city setting will have different risks than a beagle or retriever who hikes and hunts. OCVH, FVH & NPVH veterinarians want to know the lifestyle your pet leads so we can help you make the right decisions for their well care.

Some of you may be familiar with the term “vaccine titer” (pronounced “tighter”) test. These tests have been around for a while but more and more pet owners are having these tests performed instead of boosting vaccines annually. They are available for some vaccines but not all. Most commonly, titers are run for dog Distemper, Parvovirus and Adenovirus (Infectious Canine Hepatitis).

What is a titer test?

A titer test is a simple blood test that allows us to measure how much antibody (a protein produced by the body in response to a foreign material, either natural disease or a vaccine) is in the animal’s bloodstream. From research we know what levels of antibodies are needed for protection. Animals with protective levels in the bloodstream will be able to successfully fight off the disease without the need for revaccination that year. This gives us an alternative to repeatedly vaccinating pets when they actually do not need it.  Research has shown that many adult dogs can maintain protective antibody titers to Distemper, Parvovirus and Adenovirus for more than four years and in some dogs even longer. The problem is we don’t know which dogs can do that and which dogs need more frequent boosters.

We are excited that we are now able to offer this alternative to the Distemper/Parvovirus/Adenovirus vaccine for your dog at our facility. We will be running the tests weekly and will call you with results. If your pet has a positive titer then there is no need to give the vaccine. If your pet has a negative titer then we will recommend a vaccine booster.

For more information on the test go to www.vaccicheck.com.

Other uses for the Vaccicheck test would be to test your puppy two weeks after they complete the puppy series to determine whether they have mounted adequate immunity or whether they need an additional booster. Or if you adopt a dog and are unsure if it had received the Distemper vaccine you could titer test them to see if one is needed.

Titer tests are not available for Bordetella, Leptospirosis or Lyme vaccines. These diseases are not viral and so create a different immune reaction. These vaccines continue to be recommended yearly for protection, if your pet’s lifestyle warrants it.  Rabies vaccine titers are available at outside labs but in NJ dogs are still required to have the vaccine by law. Even if they have a positive titer to the Rabies vaccine, it will not be recognized as equivalent to the proof of current vaccine by the animal control authorities.

What about cats? The same company that offers the titer test for dogs that we use will be coming out with a similar one for cats shortly. We hope to be able to offer it for your feline companion soon.

The lifestyle of each pet is different and all of our doctors are prepared to tailor your pet’s care to their individual needs for maximum protection and comfort.

 

Lorri Mitchell DVM

You CAN manage arthritis in your pet! (By Dr. Jenna Koenigstein)

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Nikki’s story

This lovely lady is Nikki a patient at Ocean County Veterinary Hospital (OCVH) . She is a very happy 11 month old lab who loves to eat and swim but is otherwise a bit lazy.  One day a few months ago, she was outside playing with her “sister” and suddenly started limping badly on her right front leg.  X-rays of her legs showed that she had an inherited condition called Elbow Dysplasia in both of her elbows, and sadly was already developing arthritis.  Although surgery removed the congenital defects in her elbows and helped her tremendously, it could not reverse or prevent the early arthritis which will continue to get worse with time.

Stories like this are common, but not what most people think of when they think of arthritis.  The sad truth is that many young dogs are at risk for developing arthritis, whether from developmental conditions like hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia or injuries like torn ligaments (ACLs) in the stifles (knees).  For pets that are in pain and having difficulty getting around, medications like NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, for example, Rimadyl) are needed to make them feel better.  Fortunately, for long-term management of arthritis, there are many other things that can be done to improve the overall comfort and slow the progression of arthritis in both young and old dogs, particularly when the arthritis is diagnosed in its early stages.  Unfortunately, many times it is not addressed until the arthritis has reached the point where the pet is consistently limping.  The true goal of arthritis management should be focused on preventing pain and slowing progression of the process.  Here are some ways to achieve this goal.

Weight management

The single most important thing you can do as a pet parent with an animal with arthritis is keep their weight under control.

Extra pounds will not only make it even more difficult for dogs to get up and down but can also speed up the progression of arthritis.  Decreasing caloric intake, whether by decreasing the quantity fed or by switching to a diet food (either lower calorie or prescription) and increasing exercise will help you to see results at home.  Often the amount that your pet needs to eat to meet their metabolic needs is far less than you think they should be eating.  The feeding recommendations on the bags of food are just generalizations and do not take into account individual variation in metabolism, and may be far too much for your individual pet, especially if they are not very active. What is your pet’s body condition? See the chart below. Ask your veterinarian for special diets that can help your pet lose weight more easily.

Adequan

Adequan in a unique injectable medication the helps prevent the cartilage in joints from wearing away.  The goal of this treatment is to keep the cartilage healthy and intact so that the bones in the joint cannot rub on each other.  It is initially given twice a week for 4 weeks and then as needed.  Owners can be taught to give the injections at home (very easy!).  Most owners have noticed a drastic improvement in their pet’s mobility after starting Adequan and many have been able to decrease or altogether stop giving oral pain medications.

Oral Supplements

There are numerous oral supplements on the market that can help to improve mobility.  Glucosamine and chondroitin are the most popular supplements on the pharmacy shelves and many owners have noted improvement in their pet’s comfort while on these.  There are many companies making these supplements, which can be purchased both at veterinary hospitals and over the counter (OTC).  Caution must be exercised with OTC products as they frequently do not have the levels of glucosamine and chondroitin that are claimed on the label, and some contain potentially harmful components such as salicylic acid (metabolite of aspirin) which increases the risk of stomach ulceration. We recommend using Cosequin or Dasuquin.

Another supplement recommended in animals with arthritis is Duralactin.  This contains Microlactin, a dried milk protein from hyper-immunized cows that works at a cellular level to reduce inflammation and prevent subsequent tissue damage.   It can be used in conjunction with a glucosamine and chondroitin supplement such as Dasuquin to reduce inflammation and improve overall mobility.

Rehab/exercise

Proper exercise is essential for the arthritic pet, as it is crucial to maintain as much muscle mass as possible to support the abnormal joint.  Massage and gentle flexion/extension exercises may also help.   In later stages of arthritis, facilities specializing in canine rehabilitation and physical therapy can develop an exercise plan for your canine companion.

 Nikki walking on the underwater treadmill.

 

Physical Analgesia

Laser therapy utilizes the benefits of photobiomodulation to promote tissue healing and reduce inflammation.  We have had a lot of success at OCVH with the K-Laser not only in managing arthritis, but also with infected wounds, soft tissue injuries, and post-operative healing.

Several other methods of promoting pain relief have been used in management of arthritis in pets, including acupuncture, transcutaneous electrical stimulation (TENS), shock wave therapy, and many others.  Ask your veterinarian if you are interested in pursuing these alternative methods of reducing inflammation and pain associated with arthritis.

When pets with evidence of early arthritis are managed with the long-term goal of slowing down progression of the disease rather than simply immediate pain relief, we have the chance of giving them a better quality of life for much longer.  As for Nikki, since her surgery she has been on a diet (3.6 pounds down so far!), and has  started both Adequan and K-Laser therapy in addition to a glucosamine and chondroitin supplement (Dasuquin).  Despite being in the early stages of arthritis, taking these steps now should significantly slow down the progression of the disease and keep her happy and comfortable for a long time to come.

 

 

Protect What Counts! (By Dr. Kara Ruthberg)

 

Pet insurance?! Who needs that?” You do! Keep reading to learn how pet insurance can benefit you and your pets.

What is pet insurance? Every year more than 1 in 3 pets falls ill or is injured. No one wants to have to choose between their pet’s health and their bank account.  Pet insurance helps you pay for your pet’s care in the event of a costly accident or illness, which can quickly run into thousands of dollars.

 

What does pet insurance cover? There are lots of pet insurance plans available but they vary a great deal. There are differences in what they cover, what they exclude, what they cost, their level of customer service, and how they pay claims. While budget is always a factor, don’t just pick a plan because it’s the cheapest. You get what you pay for!  Our veterinarians have reviewed the information from the most common pet insurance companies and confidently recommend TruPanion Pet (www.trupanion.com) as one of the best insurance carriers for your pets. Pet insurance plans can cover:

  • Treatment for accidents, illnesses and diseases
  • Treatment for allergies
  • Emergency kenneling
  • Cancer and chemotherapy
  • Theft
  • Surgery, hospitalization and nursing care
  • Laboratory and diagnostic tests including X-rays and MRI scans
  • Medications

      Some pet insurance plans also cover:

  • Genetic/hereditary conditions
  • Alternative therapies such as acupuncture, hydrotherapy, holistic and homeopathic medicine
  • Chronic and recurring conditions that last more than one policy period, such as allergies, diabetes and hyperthyroidism
  • Behavioral problems
  • Prescription diet food

What doesn’t pet insurance cover? Pet insurance plans usually will not pay for:

  • Pre-existing conditions – These are conditions that your pet had, was diagnosed with, or showed signs of before enrolling or during the waiting period. This is one of the most important things to consider and why you should insure your pet as soon as possible when they are healthy
  • Cosmetic, elective or preventative procedures such as de-worming, tail docking, ear cropping, and declawing (except where medically necessary)
  • Veterinary costs related to pregnancy, breeding or whelping
  • Orthodontic or endodontic procedures such as root canals or crowns

 

So, how much does it cost? The cost of pet insurance varies based on a few factors – the pet’s species, breed, age, gender and location. On average you can expect to pay around $30 per month for dogs and $20 per month for cats. Adding on wellness coverage (such as vaccines and dentistry) typically costs a little more. Pet Insurance companies also may offer discounts for things like:

  • Enrolling multiple pets
  • Paying annually for your policy instead of monthly
  • Being full-time in the military
  • Enrolling a service pet (like a guide dog for the sight impaired)

The most important thing to remember is that pet insurance is something you can’t get when you need it the most. If your pet is sick or injured it is too late to purchase a new insurance policy to help you with expenses. Planning ahead and doing your homework on pet insurance now are essential to getting the best, most comprehensive coverage for your pet before something happens. Please ask one of our doctors or staff members for more information.

The Obese Pet. (Dr. Billy Danowitz)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Has one of the veterinarians at OCVH, FVH or NPVH said that your beloved pet is overweight?

Did you know that 55% of dogs and 54% of cats in theUnited Statesare considered overweight or obese?  That is a tremendous number!  So while your veterinarian may make a passing comment about “Rex

eating a few less treats” or “we need to get Fluffy a treadmill”, there are real medical reasons why we are concerned for your furry family member!

 

PRIMARY RISKS OF EXCESS WEIGHT IN PETS:

  1. Osteoarthritis
  2. Diabetes Mellitus
  3. High Blood Pressure
  4. Heart and Respiratory Disease
  5. Cranial Cruciate Ligament Injury
  6. Kidney Disease
  7. Decrease life expectancy (up to 2.5 years)

These are very real medical problems that could potentially shorten an overweight pet’s lifespan up to 912 days.  That is a lot of quality time missed!  No one wants to hear that their pet is overweight, but we as veterinarians are responsible for making the patient our number one priority.  With the exception of a few medical problems that can slow metabolism and some medications that enhance appetite, the most common cause of pet obesity is the owner themselves.  Food is love, right??  NO!  Let’s find another way to show it!

WHAT TO DO IF YOUR PET IS OVERWEIGHT

The first step towards helping your furry friend battle a weight problem is to admit that there is a problem to begin with.  Schedule an examination with your veterinarian, and ask them candidly about what “Cuddles’ ideal weight should be”.  During the history part of the examination we will ask about any medications that the pet may be taking.  Corticosteroid medications (such as prednisone, Vetalog, and Temaril-P) notoriously increase appetite and can have an influence on weight gain.  If there has been unexpected weight gain, your veterinarian will likely recommend some baseline blood tests, to make sure that there is no medical cause for weight gain, such as hypothyroidism.

If blood work does not reveal any causes for weight gain, then it is time to examine the diet. To put it simply, an obese animal is taking markedly more calories than they are burning off, leading to the weight gain.  There are two factors that we as the human owners have direct control over:

1)      How many calories they eat

2)      Exercise

DIET (And I mean everything, not just the dog food)

When I ask an owner what their pet is eating, I often hear “Science Diet Healthy Weight”, or something of the like.  I usually follow that up with “…is that all?” More often than not is followed up with a list of “small amounts of daily treats and food off of the table.” I would say that the great majority of overweight dogs we treat at our hospitals are fed table food supplementing their dog food.  Pet owners do not realize that these small amounts of treats and table food are adding a surprising number of calories!  Another problem with diet is portion size.  The average pet owner puts food in the bowl without measuring exactly how much is going in.  When I ask how much of a particular food someone is feeding, I often hear “2 cups” or something similar.  Often this is not a measuring cup that is being used, but some other sized-cup that can frequently be at least 2-3 cups on its own.  Our hospitals are equipped with FREE pet food measuring cups to assist you in providing the correct amount of food to your dog or cat, pick one up next time you come to visit!

Cats often have a different type of problem leading to obesity.  Unlike dogs, who can typically be trained to become “meal feeders” (eating their meal in one sitting), cats are often “free feeders” or “grazers” that pick and choose as they please.  In multiple cat households it often becomes virtually impossible to provide a certain amount of calories to any one particular cat, since the community food bowl is never empty.  This is a challenge as veterinarians that we encounter often.

The bottom line with pet food, treats and table food is that often changes need to be made.  The hardest change is often changing the perception as an owner that you are “depriving” your beloved friend from a well-deserved treat.  As a caretaker you must take the approach of “I want to have you around and healthy as long as I can, so your doctor thinks we need to make some changes”.  Speak to your veterinarian about some healthy treat ideas, such as baby carrots or frozen green beans, or some management changes that may prevent Bella from begging at the table while your family is eating.

 

 

TREATMENT AIDS FOR OBESITY:

  1. Stop table food and excessive treats.  Make sure you are not over-feeding your pet.
  2. Therapeutic Diets.  There are several prescription diets that are designed for weight loss. Unlike commercial “light” or “healthy weight” formulas, the      prescription foods have an even greater calorie restriction, or in the case of onefood can up-regulate the gene for metabolism, which in turn “burns more calories”.  Hills      Prescription Diet R/D and W/D are both calorie-restricted and can be used to promote weight loss while inducing satiety.  Hills Prescription Metabolic Diet is a relatively new food that up-regulates the gene for metabolism. Higher metabolism means weight is accomplished by burning more calories.  Please contact your veterinarian for more information about these diets and which one would be best for your pet.
  1. Slentrol. Prescription medication that makes a dog to be “less hungry,” allowing the owners to feed less calories without the pet seeming hungry all the time.
  2. More exercise!  You can look into dog parks, of course, but even more frequent or longer walks could make a big difference.  Not only are you improving the medical state of your beloved companion, but you can also increase your bond with them. Of course, you will get the added health affect of exercise too!  Don’t forget about swimming for dogs, as well. With cats, try using a laser-pointer to get them to chase around the house.

 

 

 

 

 

William Danowitz DVM

Road trip! Traveling safely with your pet. ( Dr. Zach Weiner)

The weather is getting hotter and hotter by the day, folks.  Summer is the time for barbeques, beach days and for some of us lucky ones, a vacation trip.  What about Fido or Fluffy though?  Do you have plans for your pets while you travel?  Of course, we would love to see them at our lovely boarding facility where they will be kept safe and happy while you enjoy your vacation.  Our friendly animal care staff will see to your little buddy’s every desire during his or her stay and can even notify a compassionate veterinarian if a medical need arises.  That way you can enjoy yourself with the peace of mind that your companion is safe and sound at Ocean County Veterinary Hospital.

That being said, some owners are able to take their pets when traveling.  If your buddy is a good copilot, a vacation can be a great bonding experience.  Just like everything in life though, there are measures that should be taken to make the adventure as safe as possible.

Anything can happen on a trip.  Your dog could decide that he really needs to explore something really curious at a rest stop, your cat may find a way to break out of her carrier at just the wrong moment in a parking lot, or a loud trucker’s horn can scare your ferret out of your daughter’s hands during a picnic lunch.  These are just a few examples of how your pet can be lost far away from home.  Like it or not accidents happen, and the easiest way to ruin a vacation is to lose your pet in a strange place.  New sounds, smells, people, and events can all cause even the most stalwart companion to act uncharacteristically.  As good custodians of their welfare, we need to protect them from themselves as much as anything else.

Pets should be properly restrained during car travel in an approved carrier or seatbelt. It is a state law in New Jersey that all pets must be properly secured during travel, not just for their safety but for yours as well.  So be sure when you buckle up that they do too.  In addition, be sure that your pets have at least two forms of identification.  No, good readers, I am not joking and I do not expect that you will be taking them to any adult drinking establishments.  However, if they get lost you will be happy your pet has a microchip and identification tag so that he or she will not need to make an Incredible Journey to get back to you. Having your pet micro chipped by one of our doctors is the easy, affordable and permanent way to identify it as belonging to you. It is also a good idea to have a few pictures, possibly on your smart phone, of your buddy with you just in case.   You will be glad you have all of these tools if your pet gets lost or just to brag about how awesome your little one is to others.

 

Before you hit the open road or airways please make sure that your pet is up to date on all vaccinations, you have proper travel documentation and that you have copies of all of his or her medical records.  No one expects a midnight visit to the emergency room on vacation, but if it should be necessary, the vet will have a lot easier time if they have your records handy.  In addition, some states or countries require health certificates and proof of vaccinations for travel.

International and flight travel require very specific documentation with stringent requirements and time frames.  Some airlines require health certificates to be issued within a week of the trip and have specific vaccine requirements.  International travel is even more stringent and the approval process can sometimes take up to six months depending on which country you wish to travel too.  All in all it can be a lot to remember, but is very important to assure that your vacation goes smoothly.  You do not want to be shocked and disappointed when your pet is denied access to your flight. Luckily, we are here to help and assist you in navigating travel regulations.  Please do not hesitate to contact our office if you need records, a health certificate, or must booster any vaccines before traveling.  As with everything, you do not want to wait until the last minute. Plan ahead to assure that you have everything you need to legally and safely travel with your little one.

 

I always recommend bringing your own supply of food for your pet.  This is important for two reasons: 1) it gives them a source of comfort and a feeling of home and 2) they are less likely to get an upset stomach if you cannot find their regular food and need to switch brands.  Don’t forget any medications that he or she is regularly taking, including heartworm and flea/tick preventatives! A familiar toy or treats are also recommended.  My dogs used to love to travel within their beds.  They curled up and were happy as could be during even the most epic drives.  However, if your little one is nervous or nauseous, we can help with that.  While we do not routinely prescribe sedatives for travel, in certain cases they are indicated.  If you think your little one will need one, please call well in advance of your trip, so that an appropriate medication plan can be discussed with your doctor.  We also have a safe and effective once a day car sickness medication called Cerenia, which can be very helpful if your buddy is queasy during long or short car rides.

 

Lastly friends, be sure that you are mindful of your furry friend’s needs during your adventure.  Especially with good travel companions, it can be easy to forget that they need time to stretch their legs, go to the bathroom, and get some food and drink in the middle of long car trips just like the rest of us.  Many travel stops have designated pet walking areas to safely do this.  Even if they do not, I have found as long as you clean up after your little one there is most always a small patch of green for a little break at most rest stops.  Never leave your little one in a hot car while you stop to eat lunch.  Studies show that cracking the windows is useless on hot or sunny days and opening the windows too far is asking for trouble as we previously discussed.  Even a few minutes can be gravely dangerous, especially during these hot summer months.  It’s best to skip the long lunch or shopping detour until your pet is safely set up at your destination.

 

Alright, that’s it for now folks.  Have safe and fun travels this summer!

 

 

 

Zachary Weiner DVM

BEAT THE HEAT: How to keep your pet safe this summer ( Dr. Lorri Mitchell)

Help Your Pet Avoid Heatstroke!

Ahh, summertime. We have already weathered one heat wave and we can be sure there are more to come. This time of the year there are always warnings about heat stroke, and keeping pets inside on those hot days. We have all heard the precautions about leaving pets in cars but what is the real risk?

Heat Stroke occurs when a warm blooded animal is no longer able to self-regulate their body temperature due to environmental conditions. For our furry pets that are not able to sweat, this means the outside world is too hot for them to cool themselves down by panting. It cause hyperthermia (their body temperature gets too hot like a super fever!). What quickly follows is internal organ damage and that can lead to death or long term health problems if not immediately and aggressively treated.

At our hospitals we usually see several cases of heat stroke per season that range from a pet being forgotten in the car to a pet exercising in the heat when they were not used to it. Sometimes, just lying outside in the heat and humidity can lead to heat stroke.

Risk Factors for Heat Stroke

Pet Risk Factors:

–  The very old and the very young (just like us!)

–  Overweight pets

–  Sudden exercise of pets not conditioned for physical activity (even at moderate   temperatures)

–  Underlying medical issues such as heart or respiratory disease

–  Short nosed breeds (pugs, bulldogs, pekes or mixes of these) whose respiratory systems are less able to cope with extreme temperatures

Environmental Risk Factors:

–  High temperatures especially when coupled with high humidity

–   Lack of shade, water or ventilation

And of course, the CAR!

Leaving your pet in the car in the warm months is never a good idea. Even at moderate outside temperatures the inside of a car is much hotter. We posted this chart on Facebook recently but here is another look.

How do I recognize that my pet is overheated?

Signs that you need to take action, including calling us right away are:

–  Excessive panting even at rest

–  Dark or bright red tongue and gum color instead of salmon pink

–  Sticky or dry gums

–  Extreme lethargy, staggering or appearing unaware of surroundings

–  Bloody diarrhea or vomit

–  Seizures

What do I do?

–  Call us right away to let us know you are coming with an emergency

–  If you are delayed in transport move the pet to a cooler environment or at least shade. Use COOL water (NOT ICE WATER) to cool your pet. Using towels or cloths soaked in COOL water are best. Wrap around feet and head.

–  Offer ice cubes or small amounts of water but do not force drinking

 It is important to remember that even if your pet seems to recover from an over-heating episode you cannot assume that all is well. Their organ systems may have been affected and will need blood tests to evaluate their health. They may require a hospital stay for intravenous fluids and other medical support. With immediate treatment, heat stroke patients can be saved and live normally. Unfortunately, some do experience terminal changes to their brain or other organs causing them to lapse into coma and death despite the best efforts. The outcome is affected by factors such as how high and how long the pet’s internal temperature was elevated and how quickly aggressive medical treatment is started.

So how do we enjoy summer with our pets then?

–  Avoid activity at the hottest part of the day

–  On hot/humid days play indoors

–  If pets will be outside ensure they have shade and lots of water

–  Leave your pet at home when you go shopping or try to shop at pet friendly stores. If your pet must run errands with you, do not leave them in the car alone for more than a minute. Use solar shield blankets and shades for windows or kennels with portable fans and keep the air conditioning running. If you don’t have AC in the car, park in the shade, open all (not just one) windows at a safe level to allow a cross breeze. When you arrive home bring the pet in first before unloading the car.

–  For the techie, there are thermometers you can mount in the car with a radio transmitter to your central locking/alarm key fob and will trigger an alarm when temperatures rise in the car. But, you must be close by to rescue the pet before the temperature becomes excessive.

–  Some pets love to swim and even kiddie pools will help keep them wet and cool.

–  Dog friendly beaches can be a fun way to stay cool and there are some in NJ. Check out www.bringfido.com to find some!

Have a great summer and stay cool!