The holidays and pets
By Dr. Rebekah Frost – OBSERVER Columnist
The hustle and bustle of the holidays is fast approaching. Family get-togethers, holiday traveling, parties, and Christmas shopping are all part of the festivities. People may not realize that this time of year can be very stressful for family pets. Below I will discuss some recommendations to protect pets and reduce their stress during this busy time of the year.
Hide that candy! With three young kids in my home, we have an over abundance of sugar following Halloween. Make sure the kids are not leaving candy where pets can get it. Chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, can be toxic to pets if ingested.
Watch those table scraps! Thanksgiving is a common time of year for our cats and dogs to come down with gastroenteritis or inflammation of the stomach and intestines. This usually comes from eating Thanksgiving feast table scraps that come their way either intentionally or unintentionally. Be sure to get rid of turkey carcasses. If your pup finds those turkey bones, it could lead not only to vomiting and diarrhea, but pancreatitis, a severe life threatening disease brought on by eating a high fat meal.
Provide an escape plan. By this I mean a place for your pet to escape away from company visiting, or holiday parties. Company can be very stressful for a pet, especially cats.
Cats are very routine pets that do not like any disruptions in a normal schedule. When a stranger comes into the pet’s territory, or the home is invaded by noise and commotion, it can be very upsetting. Be sure to provide a quiet room with food, water, and litter box, or a crate away from the noise where your cat may be more comfortable.
Consider boarding your pets for the holidays. This may be a good option if you are traveling and cannot adequately care for your pets. Check for reputable boarding facilities Stay away from ones that do NOT require vaccines and that house the pets together. These facilities are not safe for your pet, as animals may be exposed to dangerous diseases. Housing pets together or playing together in a common area, may lead to fights and serious injuries. We provide boarding at the Dunkirk Animal Clinic. What better place to board your pet than where a veterinarian is available when needed.
Keep those holiday plants out of reach. Holiday plants including mistletoe, holly, poinsettias, and lilies can be toxic to pets. From just stomach upset to kidney failure, it’s not worth the risk to your cat or dog. Keep the plants up high, or do not purchase them at all.
Use caution with holiday tinsel, ribbons, and ornaments. Cats have an affinity for string-like items. Ribbons, tinsel, garland and other items used to wrap presents or decorate a tree may be enticing to cats and, if ingested, cause an intestinal blockage.. Pick up loose pieces immediately and always watch those feline friends around the Christmas tree. Also be careful with glass ornaments that look like just a ball to play with to your dog. Put those at a level the pet cannot reach.
Give pets the attention they need. Let’s face it, this time of year people are so busy, many are slack in giving animals what they need: love and attention. Be sure to still provide a pet with a play time or a walk. Do not completely ignore a pet during the holidays or it may act out in an unsatisfactory way.
I hope you and your pets have a wonderful holiday season. For this Thanksgiving, I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to write these articles for the OBSERVER and to provide readers with advice and information regarding care for their pets.Thank you for being wonderful pet parents and if there are ever any questions regarding any of the material written in my articles, don’t hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy Holidays from the Dunkirk Animal Clinic!
Breast cancer awareness for pets
By Dr. Rebekah Frost – OBSERVER Columnist
As I drive through my small town, I cannot help but notice the warm glow of the pink light bulbs coming from my neighbors’ porches. I turn on the television and see pink shoes covering the football field. Pink ribbons are everywhere for a reason – it is breast cancer awareness month. Many people are affected by this disease in one way or another. Many have relatives or have known close friends affected by breast cancer. We may have even lost a close friend or relative to this terrible disease. Did you know that animals can also be affected by breast cancer and ovarian cancer?
“Stella” came to the clinic in March as a rescue Mastiff dog being fostered by her now current owners. She was severely underweight and had been having intermittent urinary tract infections . She also had a large mammary mass. At one of her checkups, she had an abnormal discharge, which warranted doing an ultrasound on her abdomen. A large mass was noted in her abdomen, and it was recommended she immediately be taken to surgery. When Dr. Culverwell opened up Stella’s abdomen, to our surprise, she had a large ovarian tumor about the size of a volleyball. It had multiple large blood vessels supplying it, and was adhered to her abdominal organs. Her intestines were completely pushed off to the side.
Hours later and with two doctors’ hands working vigorously, the large ovarian mass and the mammary mass had been removed. Months later, Stella has gained 25 lbs, is living with her owners and looks like a brand new dog!
“Mama” an older female tortoise shell kitty, came to the clinic a couple weeks ago with a large ulcerated and infected mass in one of her mammary glands. On further examination, she had multiple growths affecting more than one gland, and the tumors were extending into her lymph nodes. She had been found as a stray cat, and had birthed kittens before her owner had acquired her. She had been spayed since then, but still developed breast cancer. We took her to surgery a week later, and removed three of her mammary glands and a chain of lymph nodes. The surgery was extensive and took multiple staples to close her incisions. Her blood results showed severe anemia and an increased white blood cell count from the infection in the tumor. She is recovering well and will be seen soon for her staple removal.
Because these pets were rescued pets, the owners had no choice in the decision about when to spay them. However, pet owners often can make that decision in order to decrease the likelihood of breast or ovarian cancer in a pet.
The risk of breast cancer in cats and dogs can reduced if the pet is spayed before the first or second heat cycle. The chance is the lowest if spaying is done before the animal goes through any heat cycles. I usually recommend spaying between 4-6 months of age. People who acquire a pet should be aware of the costs associated. Spaying a pet can be costly especially in larger breed dogs. In addition, there may be differences in the cost of a spay for multiple reasons. Blood work, intravenous catheters, pre-anesthetic pain injections, a tracheal tube and oxygen, and a licensed technician monitoring the pet while it is under anesthesia are all things included in the cost of spaying.
Be sure to ask a veterinarian what all is included in the cost of the spay. In all cases, a pet owner not only be save money by spaying at a young age before any complications arise, but may be save the pet’s life!
Remember that October is breast cancer awareness month for pets as well as humans.
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!