Is it an emergency?
By DR, REBEKAH FROST – OBSERVER Columnist , Observer Today
Summer is in full swing and fall is just around the corner. This is the busiest time of year for emergencies at my clinic. Pets and their owners are outside more often and dogs and cats may come in contact with trouble more frequently when out and about. Some emergencies without a doubt should be seen immediately by a veterinarian. But there are many times that a pet owner may question what actually constitutes an emergency. Therefore, I am going to discuss what situations should be seen immediately and what can possibly wait until the next day!
1. Breathing/respiratory issues – This may include heavy breathing, heaving sides, open mouth breathing, or heavy panting. Other symptoms that may contribute to the severity of a respiratory disease include a cough, pale, dark red or bluish gums, and other changes in the pet’s attitude such as lack of appetite or weight loss. Unless your pet is just panting on occasion, I highly recommend any respiratory problem be seen by your veterinarian. Conditions that cause difficulty breathing include congestive heart failure, feline asthma, bronchitis, and fluid in your pet’s chest from a mass or an underlying viral disease.
2. Seizures Seizures can occur in your pet starting at about 3 years of age and continuing throughout your pet’s life if the animal has a form of epilepsy. What exactly happens with a seizure? Your pet may experience a wide range of seizure-like activity from mild – such as a muscle tremor – to a full blown seizure where your pet may be on its side violently tremoring, chomping its teeth, salivating, and possibly losing urine and bowel control. Although a seizure may be a scary thing to watch in your pet, it does not constitute an emergency unless it lasts more than 2 minutes or your pet is going in and out of seizures. (This is called cluster seizures.) We recommend your pet be seen if it has never had a seizure in the past or if it is a very unusual occurrence. If your pet has a seizure, put towels or blankets around it to protect the animal from injury and use caution because it could inadvertently bite you. When the animal seems to come out of the worst part of the seizure, calm it down. Then call your veterinarian.
3. Lameness – Any hind or front limb lameness should be seen depending on the extent of the lameness and the cause of the lameness. Any dog that is hit by a car with a lameness associated should be seen regardless of how severely it was hit. Other injuries may be present and can be picked up by a veterinarian. I recommend a limb lameness should be seen if your pet cannot put any weight on the leg and/or is in extreme pain. If your pet can still put some weight on the leg, then your pet can possibly wait until your veterinarian opens again.
4. Wounds – Any wound that is bigger than a puncture or a wound associated with a fight should be seen. Infection can set in fast especially in cat bite wounds and should not wait until the next day. It is important to start your pet on antibiotics and close any wounds while the skin edges are still fresh.
5. Toxin ingestion or foreign body ingestion – If you know your pet has ingested a toxic substance such as rat poison, chocolate, or your own prescription medications, do not wait! Call your vet immediately. Depending on what has been ingested your veterinarian may recommend something to help your pet vomit or they may recommend your pet be seen for detoxification. Also if your pet has swallowed a bone, a ball, or any other foreign object they should be seen before the object causes an obstruction and your pet becomes ill.
6. Urinary issues If your pet is drinking more and squatting to urinate frequently it may have a urinary infection. Provide your pet with plenty of fresh cool water and your veterinarian may recommend a pain medication until your pet can be seen. I recommend your pet be seen immediately if your pet is squatting to urinate and no urine is being produced or if you see any blood in the urine. If your pet is attempting to urinate with no urine production this is a serious emergency and they may have a urinary blockage. Any cat or dog that remains blocked for more than 12 hours may go into acute kidney failure, become severely dehydrated and will not survive unless a urinary catheter is passed and the blockage is relieved.
7. Allergic reactions I get many calls about allergic reactions. This may be mild like slight facial swelling from a bee sting to severe where your pet may go into anaphylactic shock. Mild facial swelling can be controlled with antihistamines and we recommend calling your veterinarian for a proper dose. If your pet is having difficulty breathing, is becoming covered in hives, or has pale mucous membranes call your veterinarian to be seen immediately.
Of course there are many more situations that you may find your pet in that I have not discussed. If ever in doubt, please feel free to call the clinic at 366-7440. We try to make sure we are available evenings and weekends to take your calls or give you other options if we cannot take your call. Our goal at the Dunkirk Animal Clinic is to help provide your pet with the best quality of life and to be prepared for an emergency. Again, don’t hesitate to call with any questions!
Veterinarian Rebekah Frost’s column “For Pet’s Sake” appears monthly in the OBSERVER.
Keep Pets on Your Property
By DR, REBEKAH FROST – OBSERVER Columnist , Observer Today
Responsible pet ownership means providing your pets with the best care you can give them. Care should include providing proper diet and housing, keeping them up to date on vaccinations and preventatives, and containing them in a way that will prevent injury. Being a responsible owner also requires spending time with your pet, giving it the attention the animal requires and deserves.
It is very important to keep close watch of your pets and keep them on your own property. People today are very protective of their property. Property owners may worry about invasion of privacy, damage to their property or injury to their livestock and their own pets. In this “sue happy” world we also need to be concerned with people or pets getting injured on our property. When you let your pets outside, whether intentional or not, you may be compromising their health and putting their lives at risk. Some of the possible mishaps include:
1. Injuries: Motor vehicle accidents, fights with other animals, injuries from traps intended for a wild animal, and shotgun or BB injuries are just a few. In my own small neighborhood, I have had to amputate a dog’s leg that was caught in a coyote trap and I have seen dogs shot and killed for being a nuisance and a possible threat to a neighbor’s dairy cows. As a veterinarian I have treated many fight wounds in cats and dogs and have seen many pets that do not survive being hit by cars. Recently we treated an older cat with an eye injury. She was found as a stray by one of our clients. She was very sweet but was in a significant amount of pain. We were unable to save her eye and when she underwent an enucleation (eye removal) surgery, we discovered a BB shot lodged in her eye.
2. Dietary Indiscretion: Roaming pets may pick up and ingest just about anything. They may find a toxic substance like rat poison or antifreeze. Your pet may also get into garbage, which can lead to a number of problems from mold toxicity to inflammation of your pet’s pancreas. Both of these conditions can be fatal.
3. Risks to pets that are not neutered: Ninety percent of animal car fatalities are to pets that aren’t neutered. These pets tend to roam more and get into trouble. If you have a female pet that is not spayed she will quickly find a mate leading to an unwanted pregnancy.
4. Parasites: Both indoor and outdoor pets can pick up parasites, but pets that are roaming are at a higher risk. These parasites include intestinal parasites, heartworms, fleas, and ticks.
What can an owner do to protect their pets? Many people feel that containing their pet is cruel and that their dog should be able to run in the great outdoors. A simple solution is to install an underground or wireless containment fence system. You can find whole systems for under $100 that are easy to install. Hardware stores may even rent a special machine to bury the wire for an underground fence. If you have a smaller yard, there are wireless containment systems that transmit a signal in a diameter around the central box. All that is required is turning the box on and a small amount of training your pup. There are also other simple fencing set-ups that do not require a shock collar. Ask your local hardware store what is available for fencing systems. Train your pet to a leash! If your pet is difficult to walk, a pressure harness or a halti both work great.
Keep your pet on preventatives against parasites. These include a monthly heartworm preventative and flea/tick control medications. Spay or neuter your pet. Your pets will be more likely to stay home without the urge to go find a mate.
Obey your town’s leash laws. These laws were put in place for a reason to protect people’s private property and to protect your pets. Call your town clerk to ask what is required for owning a dog.
Finally give your pet the attention it deserves. Play with the animal or walk it on a daily basis. Giving pets love, exercise, and play time will help keep them home where they belong and out of trouble!
Tales of a ‘Pet Mom’
Veterinarian highlights animals she has nurtured
By DR, REBEKAH FROST – OBSERVER Columnist, Observer Today
“Emmy” I was only a teenager when you were born 23 years ago. We stayed out in the barn all night long sleeping on bales of hay waiting for you to come. You were born in the early hours of the morning. You had long gangly legs and splotchy red and white spots all over your body. I spent every day getting you used to wearing a halter and being handled. You were the first Tennessee Walking Horse baby born in our barn. I trained you to ride by walking you down to the pond every day and climbing on your back in the water. You would swim around with me and splash in the water. You were my baby then and you are still my baby now 21 years later. Despite your arthritis you now take care of my 4-year-old daughter letting her gain confidence riding you on our weekly trail rides. I love you with all my heart and dread the day I have to say goodbye to you!
“Rose” I came home from work and heard a tiny meow in our garage. I saw a skinny black and white cat with no hair down her back pop her head out from behind the wood stack. My kids went right over and started petting you. I ignored you for the first few days hoping you would go back to where you came from! But you didn’t. You came right inside with the kids and made yourself at home. You had to have treatments for your skin and needed surgery to repair two hernias that you had. But when you came home, you went right back to the kids, taking turns sleeping with each one of them on their pillows at night. You now greet us with your meow every day when we come home from work. You are a very special kitty!
“Jake” I was 8 months pregnant with my third baby. We were out in Amish country buying a toy box for our family room. On the wall I saw a poster with five fluffy Border Collie pups. I couldn’t resist “just taking a look.” Pregnancy hormones took over when those five puppies came bounding out of the house and began running around my legs, jumping up, and licking my face all over. It’s a wonder I didn’t take more than one home with me! But you stood out. You came right over and climbed in my lap. You ran around my older kids’ feet yipping and wanting to play. I knew you would love my family and fit right in. My kids named you Jake from “Jake and the Neverland Pirates.” You were a troublemaker right from the start and you were plagued with separation anxiety when away from me. You finally found comfort in staying with Maizy our Golden Doodle while I was away at work. Every morning you make your rounds and wake us all up for school and work. You love to run in the woods, herd the horses, and fetch your ball. You are always by my side and the most loyal dog. You are a part of the family!
As a “pet mom,” the above stories are about just a few of the special animals that I am proud to call my “pet children.”
I define a mother as someone who cares for those that are dependent on her. She is loving and compassionate. She makes sacrifices for her children to give them the best life that she can. She feeds them, nurtures them and protects them from harm. Whether you have human children or not, you can still celebrate Mother’s Day because you will always be mom to your pet. Pet moms are some of the best moms I know and we are grateful for all of you who care for those pets that need us most. My many pet children are an important part of our family and they make our lives complete!
Happy Mother’s Day from the Dunkirk Animal Clinic!!
Join us as we celebrate National Pet Week from May 4-10. What can you do? It’s easy — cherish your pet, celebrate that special bond between you and show your pet some love with the gift of good health. Just as people rely on annual checkups, proper nutrition and dental care, your pet does as well – with help from your furry friend’s family doctor – your Veterinarian!
National Pet Week was created 33 years ago by the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Auxiliary to the American Veterinary Medical Association.
BUT WAIT… There’s more…..
Part of the National Pet Week yearly celebration includes a poster and creative writing contest. The 2014 theme for each contest is “Celebrate a Healthy Pet.” Children from all over can enter and win. The national winner of each contest will receive a $100.00 cash award! But hurry….. The deadline for submissions is May 10th.
For official info:
Creative Writing Contest 2014 Submission Guidelines and entry form, go this page: http://www.avmaaux.org/npwcontest.html
Poster Contest 2014 Submission Guidelines and entry form, go this page: http://www.avmaaux.org/postercontest.html
Grooming Tips for Pets
By DR. REBEKAH FROST , Observer Today
Grooming is an important part of the overall care and health of your pet. It is especially important this time of year when animals are shedding their winter coats. Because of the frigid temps this year, local dogs and cats have grown a much thicker coat and undercoat which they will be shedding over the next few weeks as the weather warms. Getting your young dog or cat used to good grooming habits will not only help them bond with you, but will help them learn to behave when it comes to being groomed at the groomers or veterinarians’ office.
You should bathe your pet monthly to every other month unless they are like my Border Collie Jake who very much enjoys a good roll in the horse manure or a dead animal! Bathing helps to condition the coat, removes unwanted odors, and removes dead skin cells and excessive oils. Bathing more than once monthly is important when a pet has an underlying skin condition such as allergic dermatitis or pyoderma (skin infections). Ask your veterinarian what is best for your pet and what shampoo should be used for different conditions.
Brushing can be done on a daily basis especially for long haired animals that are shedding excessively this time of year. This prevents matting and also helps get rid of dead hairs and skin cells. There are many different brushes available – from undercoat combs to slicker brushes that just fluff the coat. Consult your pet store or groomer when purchasing a brush in order to buy the correct brush for your pet’s particular coat.
I rely on my groomer friend every eight weeks to help me with this. My Golden Doodle Maizy has a non-shedding coat that continuously grows like human hair. She turns into quite the hairbag if not shaved on a regular basis. Her hair coat is also very curly which tends to absorb mud and grabs any sticks, prickers, and burdocks outside. Because my family is active outdoors, it is very important to keep her trimmed regularly. There are many good groomers in our area that can help you. If you would prefer to groom your dog yourself, I recommend buying a good pair of clippers from a pet catalog or pet store. Make sure to buy different sized blades to keep your pet’s coat the desired length. If it is summer, do not shave your pet completely to the skin because this may lead to sunburn. Always leave some coat to protect the pet from the sun. It is important during the hotter months to trim thicker coated dogs. It is a misconception that these dogs are actually better protected with longer coats. These dogs can very easily overheat which is a life-threatening condition that calls for an immediate visit to the veterinarian
Toenail trims should be done at least monthly. This helps prevent unwanted curling or breaking of the toenails. It is very painful when your dog tears a toenail and exposes the sensitive nerve under the nail. If this happens, take your pet to the veterinarian because the torn toenail may die and need to be surgically removed. The pet may also need special bandaging, pain medications, and antibiotics.
Ear cleaning should be done weekly with cotton balls or cotton swabs and a veterinarian prescribed ear cleanser. Do not use water because this can bring moisture into the ear canal leading to yeast or bacterial infections. If a dog’s ears are painful or have odorous debris or pus in them, the animal should be tested at your veterinarian’s office. Underlying infections can lead to ear drum rupture and can be very painful. Your pet may need anti-yeast or antibacterial medications prescribed by your veterinarian to treat common ear infections.
Other parts of grooming your pet may include anal gland expression. This should only be done by a professional, preferably a veterinarian who has the proper medical training to express impacted or infected anal glands and diagnose problems associated with these glands. I have seen many anal gland expressions done improperly, which led to internal rupture, fistulous tracts, scarring, and even herniations in the muscles surrounding the glands. Your dog should normally express their anal glands when they defecate. If your dog is having a problem, they will be licking or scooting their hind end or may show discomfort when defecating. In any of these cases, have the dog checked by your veterinarian ASAP!
The Dunkirk Animal Clinic, staff offers baths, pedicures, and simple groomings. We also offer medical groomings for dogs and cats that may be difficult to handle and require sedation or elderly pets that have very frail skin. For the month of April we are offering a free pedicure with any of these groomings.