Thursday, December 30, 2010

Annual exams in 2011

As we welcome in 2011 now is a good time to make sure your pets are up to date on vaccines and check when their next annual exam is due.  Regardless of age all pets should see a veterinarian every year for an exam.  At this appointment we will perform a complete physical exam that includes:
  • ·      Evaluating your pet’s teeth to look for dental disease
  • ·      Listening for a heart murmur which could indicate underlying heart disease
  • ·      Assessing weight and body condition
  • ·      Manipulating joints to check for arthritis

Based on the results of the exam and the history you give us we can discuss recommendations to keep your pet as happy and healthy as possible. 

Dogs and cats over the age of nine are considered seniors and for these guys we recommend that owners have a complete blood count (CBC), chemistry panel and urinalysis performed yearly as part of their senior pet’s wellness exam. These tests not only alert us to diseases that may already be present but also serve as a base line for problems that may occur in the future.

I often find that people will decline, and instead opt to wait, reasoning that “Fluffy seems healthy, I’m not concerned”. I know it is expensive and more often than not everything is normal, but if we catch something early then perhaps we can start treatment now before it becomes a problem.

One pet that recently benefited from early detection is Sox, a perfectly healthy-seeming 10-year-old cat whose owners elected to do senior blood work during his annual exam. We found mild elevations in kidney values accompanied by dilute urine indicating decrease in kidney function. Since this was caught early we can switch Sox’s diet and start medications to protect the remaining kidney function that is present.

Catching diseases we can manage or treat early will ultimately lead to a longer and healthier life for your pet, which is what we all want.

Happy New Year and best wishes for a wonderful 2011!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Santa Paws for WHS

Frank and I attended a lovely Fashion for Paws event last night at Vineyard Vines in Georgetown.  Guests enjoyed cocktails and sweet treats while shopping and posing for pictures with Santa.  Vineyard Vines was kind enough to offer a discount to shoppers as well as donate ten percent of revenue from the night to the Washington Humane Society.  I was also able to pick up a Fashion for Paws Super Model Calender featuring Sparkle for the month of July.  After mingling last night Frank is very excited for his runway debut at Fashion for Paws in April.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Holiday Dangers

The holidays are here and everyone’s favorite time of the year has many hidden dangers for our pets.

Christmas Tree
The Christmas Tree itself is not really a problem but how we decorate it can be deadly to dogs and cats.  Tinsel and ribbon on presents are a favorite for kitties to chew on and if ingested can created what is called a linear foreign body.  This occurrence is usually considered a surgical emergency as the intestines can perforate rapidly causing a systemic bacterial infection and possibly death.  It can also be dangerous if your curious dog or cat chews on the cord of the Christmas Tree lights resulting in an electric burn or nasty shock.  Ornaments are an enticing, dangling foreign body just waiting to happen.   It is common to use chemicals in the tree water to preserve the life of the tree.  If you have pets in the house it is usually best to stick to sugar water and try to prevent them from drinking it.

Lilies and other plants
Lilies of any kind are extremely dangerous for cats as even a tiny amount of a leaf or petal can quickly result in kidney failure.  Other common holiday plants such as Christmas cactus, English Holly, Paper Whites or Amaryllis are also toxic so please be careful.  Poinsettias and American Mistletoe can cause stomach upset but are not considered deadly if ingested.  If you receive a plant as a gift or plan on giving something to a cat owner please visit the ASPCA Poison Control website and make sure it is not toxic to cats.

Photos Courtesy of ASPCA Website

Fruit cake
I’m not sure if anyone actually gives out Fruit Cake anymore but this or any other holiday treat with raisins or currents may cause kidney failure if ingested by a dog.

A few years ago I had a client bring in her Labrador after he ate all the chocolates she had left in her children’s shoes as a traditional gift for Saint Nicholas.  Chocolate candy and baking with chocolate are everywhere this time of year.  Keep an eye on your dog and make sure he doesn’t enjoy these treats with you.  Dark, bittersweet or bakers chocolate are the most dangerous and always warrant a trip to the veterinarian.

Table scraps
Whether you give your dog table scraps or he helps himself to the trash, fatty meats or bones can cause serious gastrointestinal upset.  Keep treats to a minimum and stick to lean meats or vegetables such as carrots or green beans.

House Guests
With a house full of family or friends your pet may have access to substances that are not normally around.  Many over the counter and prescription drugs are toxic to dogs and cats.  Sugar-free gum made with Xylitol can cause liver disease, low blood sugar and seizures.  Make sure houseguests keep these safely out of reach.

I hope these tips help you and your pets enjoy a safe and healthy holiday season.