Summertime Care for Pets
Dr. Frost describes common summer ailments
By Dr. Rebekah Frost – OBSERVER Columnist
Summer is a wonderful time of year to enjoy time outdoors with pets. But the warm weather can lead to some common conditions about which we often receive calls at our hospital. A few of these, listed below, are common ailments that can affect pets this time of year.
1. Bee Stings: As a pet owner, you may not have witnessed the actual bee sting, but you will definitely see the after effects of the sting. Your pet may have swollen lips, swollen eyelids, and a very itchy face. Some dogs can have an anaphylactic reaction to a bee sting. If this happens, your pet will collapse and have difficulty breathing; get them to your veterinarian immediately. If they have just swollen lips, call your vet for a dose of an antihistamine to help alleviate the allergic reaction!
2. Thunderstorm Phobias: This spring was one of the rainiest seasons we have seen here in Western New York. With the rain came the thunderstorms. If your pet has a fear of thunderstorms, there are multiple ways to help it cope. Find a place to which the animal can escape; a quiet dark room with music playing or a fan running that will help drown out the sounds. Try to desensitize your pet to thunderstorm noises by playing nature music that incorporates thunder. Play a little each day with the sound turned down, and then increase the volume and the length of time you play the music. Try a “thunder shirt” for your pet, and if this still does not help, ask your veterinarian for a short acting anti-anxiety medication to help lessen the animal’s fears.
3. Heat Stroke: Never leave your pet outside without shade and water during the hottest times of the day. Dogs and cats can overheat very quickly because they cannot sweat like we can. Never leave your pet in a closed vehicle. During the summer months, it’s best just to leave your pet at home and not risk heat stroke from them being left in the car even for just a short period of time. Any time your pet’s temperature rises above 105, this can lead to multiple organ failure and death.
4. Leg injuries: During the summer months, we are outside more playing with our dogs. One jump in the air to catch a Frisbee or a ball, and your dog can twist and land wrong. I see many ACL tendon knee tears that require surgery. Try to incorporate more controlled exercise when playing with your pet. Swimming, walking, and hiking are all good exercises that won’t put a lot of stress on your pet’s joints.
5. Fight Wounds: If you allow your pets to go outside, they are at greater risk of being exposed to other cats and dogs that may start fights. We see many cat abscesses in the summer which can come from one cat bite and can turn into an infection very quickly. Your pet will have an abnormal swelling and a high fever. These usually require surgical drainage and antibiotics and need to be seen by your veterinarian.
6. Hot Spots: Hot spots are a moist skin dermatitis that can become infected quickly and be very painful. These may start from a bug bite or an allergy and once your pet starts scratching at it, it can turn into a severe bacterial infection. These usually need to be cleaned and clipped and your pet needs to be put on antibiotics and pain medications.
If your pet is affected by any of the above, a call and possibly a visit to your veterinarian may be necessary. We are always available on the phone to answer your questions and give advice. When in doubt, make an appointment for your pet. Above all else, we at the Dunkirk Animal Clinic hope you enjoy the rest of your summer!
Top 10 reasons to adopt a shelter pet
By Dr. Rebekah Frost – OBSERVER Columnist
Princess, a 10- year-old yellow Labrador retriever, was surrendered to the Lakeshore Humane Society January 2013. She was emaciated, infested with fleas, and was hairless on a the majority of her body. She was covered with painful sores, had severe ear infections, and had developed mammary masses from a life of rearing puppies. Despite all of her ailments, Princess very happily wagged her tail and asked for belly rubs during her entire visit. We knew there was something special about this sweet Labrador and she deserved a chance after what appeared to have been a long and neglected life. My thoughts immediately went to one of our employees who had recently lost one of her special rescue dogs. Her other dog Grace had severe anxieties and the loss of her companion had only worsened the behavior. Princess had a positive personality and a calming demeanor and I knew she was meant to be in this home. The Lake Shore Humane Society immediately began treatment for her skin infections, ear infections, and skin allergies. Princess went home to live with Grace shortly after. She began to grow her hair back and gain weight. She was turning into a beautiful dog and settled into her new home perfectly. Eventually she was spayed at our clinic and her mammary nodules were removed. It was also discovered that she had a bladder mass which we were able to shrink down with chemotherapy. She is now being maintained on a medication for her allergies and is doing wonderfully.
When looking for a pet to adopt, consider all the benefits of adopting a pet from a shelter. Most of my pets are shelter pets or pets that were dropped off and left behind. Many of these pets are surrendered for human reasons such as a move, a divorce, or an owner’s death. They may also be a stray or abandoned pet that never had the love and the attention they deserve. Here are the top 10 benefits to adopting a shelter pet:
1. You are providing a loving home for a stray, abandoned, neglected, or just homeless pet.
2. You may be adopting a pet that would have been euthanized. It is a fact that over 27 million pets are euthanized every year in shelters alone.
3. You are creating an opening at the shelter for another disadvantaged pet to have a chance to be adopted.
4. You are supporting a great charitable organization and the adoption fee you give to the shelter will help feed and care for other pets.
5. For the majority of these pets, you don’t have to go through a difficult puppy or kitten training phase.
6. Most of these pets are already house trained or litter trained
7 . Because many of these pets have been neglected or abandoned, they very easily transition into a new home and are very appreciative of the love that is being given to them.
8. Most of these pets are already spayed or neutered or can be adopted with a voucher toward the cost of spaying and neutering.
9. Most of these pets are up to-date on their vaccines and have been de-wormed.
10. You are helping with the problem of pet overpopulation!
Consider giving one of these animals a chance and a loving home forever! I have never been disappointed with the pets I have brought home from the Chautauqua County Humane Society and the Lakeshore Humane Society. I see many wonderful pets every day from these organizations and also the Northern Chautauqua Canine Rescue and the Westfield Stray Cat Rescue. If you cannot adopt a pet, consider giving of your time or your resources to help support our local shelters!
Loving Dad teaches love for animals
By Dr. Rebekah Frost – OBSERVER Columnist
During the fall of 1972, my parents met in the registration line at the Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. They both wanted the same thing – to get married and start a family – and they both shared a great love of animals. They became instant friends and started dating after they car pooled back and forth to their homes in Pittsburgh together.
That same year my mom had been given a tiny orange tiger kitten named Copper. She tried to keep the kitten in her dorm room, but one of the girls turned her in for not following the rules. The men’s’ dorm, however, was a different story. The men tended to pat each other on the back when the rules weren’t followed. Therefore, my dad took the kitten and kept him in his dorm room.
Copper grew to be a large handsome orange kitty. During this time, he would ride around on my dad’s shoulders when he walked across the campus. Eventually, he became too big to ride on my dad’s shoulders, and learned to follow my dad along the sidewalks of the campus. If he happened to wander off, my dad just had to whistle and he returned promptly to his side. Everyone on campus knew Copper and the rules were allowed to be broken because everyone loved the campus kitty!
A couple years later, my dad became a resident assistant, and he knew he couldn’t keep Copper any longer. Copper decided to hitch a ride home that summer to Coraopolis to live with my grandparents Nicolas and Alice. Copper instantly became attached to Grandpa Nick, also an avid animal lover, and he lived out his years happily in the Pittsburgh suburb as my grandpa’s best buddy.
Growing up, my family always had animals. My parents bought a small farm and we raised goats for meat and milk, chickens for eggs, and had horses for riding. I attribute my work ethic, my love for animals, and my success in my career as a veterinarian to my parents for exposing me to animals at such a young age. I feel having pets provides children with a sense of responsibility and a respect for other living things.
When looking for the man who would eventually become father to my children, I had three criteria. This man had to go horseback riding with me, he had to do chores with me, and most importantly he had to have a love for animals as my own dad had.
My husband Daryl fit the above criteria, and we’ve been together for almost 18 years now!
I warned him before he committed to our relationship, that he was marrying a future veterinarian and that there would be many pets that would most likely come into our lives.
I knew he had a love for animals when I saw how he interacted with his own dog Dutch, the beagle. Dutch was a bull-headed beagle that never listened to me, but he loved his dad and Daryl loved him. We had that dog through many of life’s hurdles that Daryl and I experienced together. When Dutch was 17, we had to say goodbye to him.
We now have three beautiful children together and many other pets just like I told Daryl we would have. Daryl is a wonderful father to my children and to all the pets we bring home. Every spring he incubates a group of our chicken eggs and hatches chicks on his own. He makes quite a good daddy to these chicks and it is heartwarming to see him tenderly caring for the eggs and then the chicks once they hatch. He takes on the animal responsibilities and is my true partner in life.
As Father’s Day approaches, I am grateful every day for being raised by a wonderful caring father and for marrying a wonderful man who is the best father to my children and to my animal children as well. As we celebrate Father’s Day, be sure to let that special father know that he is appreciated whether he is a human daddy or a pet daddy! Happy Father’s Day from the Dunkirk Animal Clinic!
Laser therapy for pets
By Dr. Rebekah Frost – OBSERVER Columnist
In recent years, our society has become more concerned about the food we eat, the medications we take and give to our pets and children, and what we are exposed to in the environment. There has been some mistrust of traditional medicine and people have looked for other ways to treat both their ailments and their family’s ailments. Many of these treatments fall into the category of alternative medicine. I believe there is a place in human and veterinary medicine for both traditional and alternative medicine; in some cases a combination may be best for a pet.
As a veterinarian, my goal is to recommend what is best for a pet. I do not want to put an animal on a medication that may harm it or perform a surgery that may put it through unnecessary stress and pain. I always try to recommend the best treatment and then offer alternatives. For example, the best treatment for an older pet with arthritis may be an anti-inflammatory medication. However, a particular animal may be sensitive to the medication and develop stomach upset or an increase in liver values. I might first offer a joint supplement and a joint therapy diet as an alternative therapy for the arthritis, and use the anti-inflammatory pills only as needed.
A recent addition to my practice gives pet owners another option to help treat their pets’ ailments. I now offer laser therapy for pets. Laser therapy has been used in human medicine for making precise surgical incisions, for treating dermatological conditions, for treating certain cancerous conditions, and for helping perform various other surgical procedures.
Laser therapy is light that is emitted at a certain wavelength in a concentrated beam. The laser therapy offered in my practice is from a lower intensity laser used in physical therapy in human medicine. It can be used for a number of conditions in veterinary medicine.
Laser therapy works by stimulating the metabolism and improving the health of the body’s cells. Stimulating the cells metabolism helps to promote healing, decrease pain, decrease inflammation, improve circulation, reduce scar tissue, improve nerve function, and stimulate acupuncture points.
The only risk laser therapy poses is if the pet looks directly into the beam of light. To prevent this, both the person administering the laser and the pet receiving the treatment wear protective eyewear.
This mode of therapy is a noninvasive treatment for various conditions. With every surgery that is performed at my clinic, including routine spays and neuters, the treated animals will now receive complimentary laser therapy treatment of the surgical incision prior to going home. Other conditions that may benefit from this treatment include hot spots, ear infections, skin infections, wounds, cuts, abscesses, allergic skin conditions, burns, ACL tears, hip dysplasia, back and neck pain, osteoarthritis, and paralysis. The practice is offering a package deal for older animals that are having issues with arthritis. The recommendation is for a pet to receive laser therapy every other day for six treatments followed by maintenance treatments based on the severity of the condition.
I have seen major improvements in some of my patients undergoing this therapy. Two different dogs that were brought in for neck pain were almost back to normal the next day after a laser treatment. One little dog that received laser therapy on post ACL repair and knee cap surgery is healing very quickly and ahead of the normal expected schedule. Another elderly female dog with long term hip dysplasia and osteoarthritis is now able to get up and down from a lying position with much less effort. I have already seen some major improvements in many pet’s conditions. Call the clinic at 366-7440 for more information about laser therapy. It is a simple, inexpensive form of therapy that has major benefits for a pet!
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 in 1981 by the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Auxiliary to the American Veterinary Medical Association.