Winter temperatures, snow, and ice can pose hazards for our pets. But with a few easy steps you can keep your furry, feathered, or scaley friends safe and comfortable and still get out and enjoy the great outdoors.
1. Dress them up
Small and older dogs will probably want to spend less time outside in the cold weather, so let their behavior guide you on your excursions and return indoors if you see shivering or lifting up their feet. Short-coated animals may appreciate a coat when going outside to play or eliminate. Fleece is a good material that holds warmth and dries quickly, and wool stays warm even when wet. If your dog picks up his feet a lot when outside, try booties. Booties will protect their feet from salt, ice, and snow. Avoid shaving your long-haired pet during the colder months of the year. Instead, let their fur grow to allow them to stay warm in a natural way.
2. Wash Those Pads
During the winter, sidewalks, parking lots, and the streets are often covered in road salt and other chemicals to melt snow. These can irritate the skin of the paws, or cause nausea and mouth sores if licked off. Fur can trap icicles between the toes as well. Wash and dry or wipe off paws with a wet washcloth once you come back inside. You can apply petroleum jelly to your pet’s pawpads if they become dry or cracked.
3. Provide shelter
A snug house with straw, heated beds, and heated water bowls provide shelter from the elements to outdoor animals, whether cat, dog, rabbit, or chicken. Check any electric components daily to make sure they're functioning and decrease risk of electrical fire. Outdoor pets may need some extra food to maintain their weight since they're burning more calories to keep warm. Lastly, winter is a good time to evaluate your reptile's habitat - make sure humidity and temperature labels are appropriate for the species and your pet's winter needs. Hibernating or brumating creatures should have their weight checked regularly to make sure their metabolism has slowed correctly.
4. Avoid Antifreeze
Antifreeze has a sweet taste and is very tempting to dogs and cats - but extremely poisonous. It causes kidney failure and death if not treated quickly. Keep pets away from stored antifreeze and avoid any contact with leaked antifreeze until the area is properly cleaned. If you think your pet may have been exposed to antifreeze, seek veterinary care immediately. Signs of antifreeze poisoning include: drunken behavior, wobbling or falling over, lethargy, vomiting, change to urination (too much and then later too little), diarrhea, and depression.
5. Check those cars
Outdoor cats can find their way under the hood of a parked car to seek warmth and shelter. Banging on your hood before you start your car can wake up any sleeping cats and gives them the chance to make a quick exit. Be just as cautious about leaving your pet unattended in the car in the cold weather as in the heat - heat stroke gets all the publicity, but a cold car can cause hypothermia in a small or short-coated pet.
6. Keep up the exercise
Just because it's cold outside doesn't mean you can't have fun! Take walks in wooded areas that are more sheltered from the wind. Play indoor games with your pets, teach them new tricks, find agility or flyball classes, or invite friends with pets over for a playdate. All these will give you and your pet some much needed mental stimulation and can help stave off those winter blues.
By doing what you can to keep your animals warm, protect their feet, and avoid toxins, you can make sure winter is just as enjoyable for your pets as it is for you.
What to expect during a seizure:
- can fall over, paddle limbs, tremble, snap their jaws
- are unconscious and do not respond to your voice or touch
- can vomit, drool, pee, and poop
- focal seizures are less dramatic and can involve just the head
- there can be a period before and after the seizure where your pet acts differently
After the seizure:
If this is a first seizure, look around for any potentially toxic medications, plants, or household supplies your pet may have ingested and seek emergency vet care if you suspect poisoning. If there's no chance of poisoning, make an appointment with your regular vet for a full exam and bloodwork to look for any underlying cause.
For a diabetic pet, carefully drip honey, karo syrup, or maple syrup on your pets' gums in case the seizure is being caused by low blood sugar.
Most young animals who have seizures do not have a specific cause, but it's important to rule out all the diseases listed above so that we can treat them if possible. We call these dogs and cats epileptic.
Most seizures are not actually dangerous to your pet. Dogs with epilepsy who have seizures lasting less than 5 minutes and occurring less than once per month don't usually require medication. We use medications for pets with clusters of seizures, long seizures, frequent seizures, or long side effects after a seizure (like temporary blindness). Medications like potassium bromide, phenobarbital, and levetiracetam can be used to prevent the seizures. Valium is often given in emergencies to stop an ongoing seizure. Some patients can also respond to nutritional management (Purina ProPlan Neurocare) and/or adding in supplements based on cannabis developed specifically for pets (but do not give human cannabis to pets!).
All graphics gratefully reprinted with permission from www.canna-pet.com
Oh no! You just got home and your dog or cat has diarrhea. Don't panic - follow these 3 steps to get some relief after you clean up the mess.
1. Take a good look at your pet and around the house.
Think about anything new or different that Fuzzy might have eaten in the past 24 hours. If you gave a new treat or opened a new bag of food, go to step 2.
See anything potentially toxic or poisonous? Call Poison Control asap and follow their recommendations for care.
If your dog or cat is bright and happy besides having diarrhea, proceed to step 2.
Call the vet right away if:
2. Don't feed.
This GI tract is on overdrive right now and any new food is going to shoot straight through. Hold off food for 12-24 hours to give those guts a chance to rest. Make sure to keep water available at all times.
3. Reintroduce bland food.
Once 12-24 hours have gone by offer a small amount (1/4 of the normal food volume) of lean protein (cooked chicken, cooked ground beef with the fat drained off, scrambled eggs) and an easily digestible starch (canned pumpkin, cooked sweet potato, cooked rice). A spoonful of plain yogurt on top can add in some probiotics. If that doesn't trigger any diarrhea, offer a larger volume of food 6-12 hours later and then continue to feed twice daily. Once the stool firms up, gradually mix your bland food with the original diet and slowly transition your pet back to their regular diet. Note - this diet is not complete and balanced, so should be used short term only. There are several complete and balanced diets like Hill's I/D formula for dogs and cats with GI problems that are safe for long term use.
When to seek veterinary help:
What about human medications?
Some websites recommend giving PeptoBismol or Immodium to dogs with diarrhea. These can be safe to use in certain dogs (not for cats!), but always call your vet first. PeptoBismol contains an ingredient that can cause GI bleeding and turns the stool black, which then masks the bleeding. Immodium can be helpful at slowing down the diarrhea, but dogs with diarrhea from a toxin should not take it because it causes the toxin to stay longer in the body and potentially do more harm. Also, it is not safe to give immodium with certain other medications, so call your vet first.
Probiotics are safe to use in both dogs and cats with diarrhea. Proviable and FortiFlora are made for dogs and cats, and are extensively tested and researched. Equine Probios gel is a good source of probiotics for pet rabbits.
Some cases of diarrhea can be mild and managed at home with these steps. For severe watery diarrhea or diarrhea that persists, seek veterinary care for the most rapid relief for your pet.
How much food should you give your pet? Here's a hint: it's a lot less than what's printed on the bag!
First thing to do: use your eyes and hands to find out your dog or cat's body condition score. Use the picture below to compare your pet's body shape.
Now, is your pet underweight, ideal, or overweight? We'll be happy to assess for you if you're unsure. While highly athletic pets can be healthy at underweight, very thin pets are ill and need to be checked out as soon as possible. All overweight and obese pets need to be helped to lose the excess weight - you will lengthen their life by as much as 2 years for a large dog and decrease painful arthritis.
Your next step is to grab a measuring cup. Find out how much food you are currently giving in a day, and then find the calories/cup on the label. Some foods contain around 300 cal/cup, but others can be as high as 600! Next add in all the treats and snacks your pet receives. It can take some work to find out how many calories are in each treat, but the manufacturer can tell you if you call them (and if they can't, you probably shouldn't be feeding it to your pet). For example, a small milkbone has 20 calories, and a large one has 125.
Your individual pet may need more or less depending on activity level, but here's a rough guideline to calorie needs:
Approximate Daily Caloric Needs for Indoor Pets
Treats should total no more than 10% of your pet's daily calories. The secret to success is portion control - choose the tiny size milkbones (7 calories), or break larger treats into tiny portions. Green beans and baby carrots (3 calories) make great treat alternatives.
If your pet is overweight, a good starting point is to decrease the amount of food and treats by 25%, and then reassess in 2 weeks. For example, if you currently feed 1 cup of food per day, you would go to 3/4 cup per day. You can add green beans and carrots as healthy fiber if your dog seems hungry.
For weight loss, your pet will need to consume fewer calories than he or she is using. Increased exercise in combination with decreased food and treats will be the most effective. The best tool for cats are food-dispensing toys. Portion the day's kibble into several toys and let your cat chase them around the house. Meals will take longer so your cat will be more satisfied, and he will be exercising while he eats. No more food bowl required!
If you have more questions about what and how much to feed, give us a call. We can talk about your specific pet's needs and come up with a plan together.
Wellness - to keep your pet healthy for the next year:
Lastly, if the primary caregiver is not the one coming to the appointment, a written list of questions, diet, and medications is very helpful and avoids extra office visits for missed concerns. Be your furry friends' advocate and help us give your pet the care he or she deserves!
Nothing is more frustrating than finding smelly cat urine on your furniture. Here are 3 tips to keep your feline friend peeing and pooping in the litterbox.
1. Rule out medical problems
2. Make it available
3. Keep it clean
Following these tips and treating any medical problems can greatly decrease the chance of your cat peeing or pooping outside the box - and make your home a happy place for both you and your cat!
Dog owners be aware: there's a new outbreak of canine flu slowly spreading towards our area. We were last hit with the H3N2 canine influenza in the summer of 2015, and many dogs were sickened with severe breathing problems.
What it does:
Flu can cause a lengthy illness that can vary from mild coughing and sneezing to full blown pneumonia requiring hospitalization and oxygen therapy. Most dogs initially get very lethargic with little appetite, then the coughing and sneezing show up a day or two later.
How it spreads:
The virus is highly contagious dog-to-dog, and cats are susceptible as well. We can accidentally bring the virus home to our pets through our hands, clothing, and shoes. Dogs can shed the virus for several days BEFORE they show any signs of illness, so it's impossible for even the most responsible owners to prevent contact. Once the dog becomes ill, they will shed the virus intermittently for the next 3-4 weeks and are contagious during that time.
How to protect your pet:
The good news - there is a new vaccine available to protect your pooch. 2 summers ago we had to use the older vaccine (against a different strain of the flu) and hope for some cross-protection, but not anymore. Ask your vet if your dog has received the H3N2 flu vaccine (or better yet, the bivalent vaccine that gets both strains). Your pet needs 2 immunizations 2-4 weeks apart for first-time protection, then a yearly booster.
Aside from vaccination, decrease contact with other dogs or areas where flu has been found. This may mean avoiding dog parks during an outbreak.
What to do if your pet is ill:
If your pet shows signs of respiratory disease or is sluggish with decreased appetite, give us a call. Mild cases only require supportive care at home, but severely affected dogs can need to be hospitalized. Keep your pet away from all other animals for 4 weeks to limit the spread of the flu, and decrease activity to give those lungs a rest during the recovery period. Expect the coughing to last several weeks, though it should improve steadily after the first 3-5 days. If at any point your pet's breathing is labored or they are taking more than 40 breaths per minute at rest, seek veterinary care without delay.
2017 is a banner year for ticks here in Cincinnati after our very mild winter. We've seen two dogs living right here in the Kenwood area come in with ticks on them this week alone! So here's what you need to know to protect your pets:
1. Ticks can be tiny. Check out these deer ticks lined up on a finger - and then imagine trying to find that poppyseed-sized nymph tick in your pet's fur.
2. Ticks carry diseases. Sure, there's the pain of the bite and the 'ick' factor, but far more dangerous are the bacteria ticks can inject. Lyme disease, rocky mountain spotted fever, and ehrlichiosis are just a few of the possible consequences of a tick bite. We have them here in Hamilton County, and the surrounding areas are at risk too.
How to protect your pet:
Every cat and dog that goes outside needs protection. It can be topical or oral (for dogs).
The oral options for dogs are monthly Simparica and Nexgard, or Bravecto given every 12 weeks. These are a relatively new class of medication that are extremely safe, kill fleas and ticks, and also kill the mites that cause mange.
Good topical options for dogs include Frontline, Advantix, and Vectra 3D. Beware of the generic "just like Frontline" that are available in many pet stores - while they often contain the same insecticide, they usually lack the special molecules needs to ensure that they are absorbed into your pets' skin and then re-secreted every day for the full month.
The Seresto tick collar is another effective product as long as it is applied tightly enough to be in contact with your pets' skin. Again, beware of the imitation products here.
For cats, monthly Frontline or topical cat Bravecto every 12 weeks protects your cat from ticks as well as fleas. Most cats groom themselves fastidiously and will rarely allow ticks to attach and transmit disease, so topical Revolution is a good option to protect against fleas, heartworm, and intestinal parasites even though it lacks the tick protection.
We'd be happy to discuss which exact product is right for your family by phone (513) 791-7912.
If you do find a tick on your pet, DON'T reach for the rubbing alcohol or matches. Simply use tweezers to grasp it firmly as close to the skin as possible and pull straight backwards to dislodge it. Then save the tick for later identification.
I'm speaking from personal experience here - my own dog has gotten into the pantry and tried to poison himself - twice - with raisins. Each time I've had to make him vomit with hydrogen peroxide, take him to the clinic, and give him activated charcoal and lots of extra fluids. Thankfully he's fine, but learn from my mistakes: keep all these items well away from your pets!
1. Chocolate (and coffee) - the darker the bar, the more toxic. Chocolate can cause vomiting/diarrhea, agitation, and seizures. It becomes most dangerous in large quantities, so smaller dogs are most at risk for the toxic effects (or large dogs who eat entire bars).
2. Raisins/Grapes/Currants - not all dogs and not all raisins, but they can cause fatal kidney damage so need quick treatment. We don't know exactly what the toxic compound is and we can't predict which dogs will be affected, so the safest course is to decontaminate as quickly as possible and support the kidneys with fluids.
3. Onions - cause damage to the liver and red blood cells. Avoid both cooked or raw onions.
4. Xylitol (found in sugar-free gum, baked goods, and some peanut butter) - causes our pets' blood sugar to drop dangerously low because they release a flood of insulin in response to the xylitol. It can lead to coma and even death. Exposure often requires hospitalization and IV dextrose support until the blood sugar returns to normal.
So, what to do in case of exposure?
If you know your pet has eaten any of these items recently, induce vomiting at home with hydrogen peroxide (ask us for a dose before this happens so you know what to do in an emergency). Then call us so we can get your pet the treatment needed as soon as possible to hopefully prevent serious injury. Remember - an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure - keep these away from your pets!