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Monthly Archives: March 2013

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For years the health benefits of fish oil supplements in people have been touted but did you know that dogs and cats can benefit from fish oils too? In addition to therapeutic diets and medication, fish oils are helpful in treating skin disease and kidney disease in dogs and cats. The omega-3 fatty acids in cold water fish work as a natural anti inflammatory. With allergic and inflammatory skin disease this means decreased itching and less skin lesions. Fish oil can also help the quality of a dog or cat’s hair coat, especially when the coat is dull, dry or flaky. And for animals with kidney disease, fish oil can help protect the kidneys from damage and can slow down the progression of the disease. It is important when placing a pet on fish oil, or any supplement, to consult with your veterinarian as too little can be ineffective and too much can be harmful. For more information on fish oil supplementation in pets go to: http://www.healthypet.com/blog/post/Something-Fishy.aspx

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Most people will agree that cats that go outside are definitely exposed to more hazards than indoor cats. There’s the ever looming threat of cars. In addition to neighborhood cats, coyotes, hawks and other wildlife are always willing to mix it up with our feline pets. And let’s not forget about the many nasty things they can get into like rat poison and antifreeze. But indoor cats aren’t immune to danger either. They can get into their owner’s medication or food leading to serious illness and even death. One of the bigger threats to cats is toxic houseplants. Aloe leaves can cause gi inflammation and tremors. Lilies, depending on the species, can cause a variety of symptoms ranging from oral irritation to kidney failure and even death.  Even Begonias can upset a cat’s system.

If you are bringing a plant or even flowers into your house you should just assume that if your cat can get to them she will. Fortunately the ASPCA poison control center has a comprehensive list of toxic and non toxic house plants on their website. To read more go to: http://www.aspca.org/Pet-care/poison-control/plant-list-cats

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Here it is, straight from the Pet Poison Helpline, the top 10 Canine Poisons of 2012:
1) Chocolate
2) Mouse and Rat Poisons
3) Vitamins and Minerals
4) NSAIDS (Non Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs like aspirin, ibuprofen, etc…)
5) Cardiac Medications
6) Insect Bait Stations
7) Cold and Allergy Medications
8) Antidepressants
9) Xylitol
10) Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
Now that you are aware of these substances that are dangerous to dogs you can take action to prevent your dog from ingesting them. But what if your dog does get into these or other potentially toxic substances? Here are some tips to handle the situation:
1) Contact your vet with the following information (What was ingested? How much was ingested? When was it ingested? How is your dog acting?)
2) Have the number of a local veterinary emergency clinic available if if occurs after business hours
3) If you have it bring the container of the product with you to the vet’s office (Last week I had a patient that ingested batteries from a hearing aid. Since this is not a common occurrence we needed to call the ASPCA animal poison control center to consult with a veterinary toxicologist. Not only was it helpful to have the precise information but the manufacturer of the battery ended up paying for the consult)
For more information on substances that are poisonous to pets check out: http://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/
Stay tuned for future blog entries on cats and toxic houseplants.

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I’m sure many of you have become accustomed to your vet lecturing you about your pet’s weight issues year after year. You’ve heard our spiel about how being overweight or obese can increase the risk of diseases like diabetes and arthritis. But when is weight loss bad? Unlike explained weight gain, which most of us are familiar with, unexplained weight loss can be concerning.  Because pets, especially cats, can sometimes hide their illness weight is a big indicator of overall health. If the weight loss is mild, the only action taken may be serial monitoring. If it appears to be stable and the pet is not underweight then no action needs to be taken. As animals age there is some degree of muscle atrophy and this is taken into account. A significant downtrend in weight warrants further investigation.

Usually your vet will start with general screening tests including blood, urine and stool testing to rule out more common causes of weight loss like diabetes, kidney disease and parasites. Thyroid levels may be checked too. Hyperthryoid, or an overactive thyroid gland, is an important cause of weight loss in cats.  If blood tests and urine tests are normal then your vet may decide to either do further testing or do a dietary trial. As some pets age they become less efficient at digesting and absorbing nutrients. A dietary trial consists of putting the pet on a highly digestible diet and monitoring the weight.

As I mentioned before pets can hide their illness so it is important to take them in for regular checkups. Some pets have long hair and it is difficult to assess their body conditions. Some examples would be a Persian Cat or a Samoyed. So if your pet looks or feels bony either make an appointment to have her checked out or at the minimum stop by your vet clinic for a weight check