Knowing what is Normal for your Pet

Part of being able to determine when an animal is sick or injured is knowing what is normal for that pet.  Owners should monitor their pet’s behavior daily and perform brief physical examinations monthly so they can recognize when something has changed.

  • Run your hands over your pet’s body to feel for any new lumps or bumps that should be checked out by the veterinarian. Also, ruffle your pet’s fur and look at the skin for fleas and ticks, redness, scaling, etc.
  • Look at the color of your pet’s gums. Keep an eye out for dental disease or any masses in the mouth.
  • Examine ears, eyes, nose, nails, feet and the anogenital region for anything unusual that may have developed since your last exam.
  • Weigh your pet monthly and record the information so you can pick up any unexpected weight gain or loss as early as possible.

If you find anything out of the ordinary during your examination, contact your pet’s veterinarian with any questions or concerns.

 

How to Treat Canine Hot Spots

As summer months bring heat and extreme temperatures, it is important to be mindful of ailments that can affect our furry friends. Hot spots can be both painful and unpleasant for dogs; however, with quick and attentive at home care from owners, recovery is a few steps away. In order to provide the proper treatment owners must be mindful and attentive to their pet’s behavior as well as employ proper preventative measures to avoid occurrence and reoccurrence of hot spots. If hot spots do emerge, pet owners can employ a variety of at home treatments from vetdepot to ease pain and discomfort.

Hot spots are usually seen in long haired breeds of dogs as moisture that is trapped close to the skin creates bacteria akin to dermatitis as seen in their human counterparts. Observing one’s pet during the summer month for excessive itching and the emergence of red spots or sores is important to identifying canine hot spots. If your pet is scratching the same spot repeatedly, experiences pain to the touch, or has a spot that is red and irritated or releases pus, then hot spots are most likely the culprit.

If you have a long-haired dog, you might consider a short summer haircut. Regular brushing and baths can keep mats and tangles at bay, which are often the contributing cause of hot spots in long haired dogs. Allergies can also affect hot spots so be mindful of your pet’s exposure to certain outdoor plants.

If hot spots appear, proper care is necessary. First, clip all of the hair in the area surrounding the hot spot. Next, carefully wash the wound with a gentle antibacterial soap and let dry completely to avoid more exposure to moisture. Depending on the severity and quantity of hot spots, you may consider visiting your vet for some cortisone or a topical antibiotic for dogs. Medicated anti-itch powders can also provide comfort for your four legged friend.

It’s important to be mindful of the cause of your pet’s hot spots, whether it be a grooming issue or an allergic reaction. Knowing the cause can help prevent reoccurrence and make the rest of your summer itch free for your lovable pet!

Top Ten Reasons to Vaccinate your Pet

Vaccination has become a hot topic in human and veterinary medicine these days. Choosing which diseases to vaccinate against should be an informed decision owners make with the advice of their veterinarian. Your pet’s health, lifestyle and geographic region may affect which vaccinations are deemed necessary. However, there are many good reasons in favor of vaccinating your pet:

1.)   It’s the Law: It’s mandatory to have your pet vaccinated against rabies in every U.S. state. Even pets kept indoors can potentially be exposed if they get out unexpectedly or an uninvited animal gets in the house (i.e. bats).

2.)   Your Health: Several diseases can be transmitted from pets to humans such as Rabies and Leptospirosis. Vaccinating your pet helps reduce the risk of human infection and is especially necessary if there are young, elderly or immuno-compromised members in your household.

3.)   Boarding and Doggy Daycare: If you ever plan on boarding your dog or dropping them off at doggy daycare, they must have an updated Bordatella vaccination. This vaccine protects against kennel cough, which is highly contagious among dogs. Although kennel cough is usually mild, it can sometimes lead to severe pneumonia.

4.)   Risk of Lyme Disease: Lyme disease is an insidious disease spread by ticks. Lyme disease can cause low blood platelet count, joint disease and pain.

5.)   Risk of Leptospirosis: Bacterial organisms in wildlife cause Leptospirosis, which can lead to liver and kidney failure. This disease can be prevented with regular vaccination.

6.)   Risk of the Deadly Parvovirus: Parvovirus is a severe, life-threatening infection that causes bloody diarrhea and vomiting to the point of shock and even death. Parvo is extremely contagious and puppies are most at risk. This awful infection is almost 100% preventable with vaccination.

7.)   Risk of Distemper: Distemper can cause severe neurological, dermatologic and respiratory disease. Most Dogs that contract distemper are euthanized due to the progressive nature of the disease. Distemper can be prevented with vaccination.

8.)   Risk of Contracting Hepatitis:  This virus can cause severe liver disease and is nearly 100% preventable with appropriate vaccinations.

9.)   Risk of Rabies:  Contraction of this disease nearly always results in death due to euthanasia or neurological problems in animals and people.  This disease is preventable with vaccination.

10.)  Vaccinating can Save Money: Most veterinary vaccinations are relatively inexpensive. Vaccinations are definitely substantially less expensive than the cost of treatment for the diseases they protect against.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  Many dangerous diseases seen in dogs and cats are completely preventable with the right vaccinations. Vaccinating gives pet owners peace of mind and helps pets lead safe and healthy lives.

 

 

The Deadly Danger of Parvovirus

Parvovirus is a very serious condition that most commonly occurs in young dogs or dogs that haven’t been fully vaccinated. Common clinical symptoms of parvovirus include vomiting, diarrhea (especially with blood), retching, lethargy, inappetence and fever. The virus affects the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, which leads to vomiting and diarrhea. Parvo also attacks the body’s white blood cells, which decreases the animal’s ability to fight infection. When a dog becomes ill with parvovirus, the diarrhea and vomiting can be so severe that the animal can quickly become dehydrated and go into a stake of shock. Parvo is extremely deadly if left untreated.

Treatment of parvo usually involves intravenous fluids, anti-vomiting medications and antibiotics. Affected animals are not able or willing to eat to maintain normal hydration. There is no specific cure for parvovirus, the veterinarian and owner will just need to help the dog through the crisis as the virus runs its course.

Parvovirus is ubiquitous in the environment, which means is can basically be found anywhere. Parvo is transmitted through fecal-oral contact, so a dog can become infected through sniffing or licking feces on the ground or direct contact with an affected dog. The virus is highly contagious, which means areas with high a concentration of dogs (dog parks, shelters, etc.) are especially dangerous. Rottweilers and Pill Bull breeds are may be more susceptible to the disease than others, but parvo can affect any breed.

You can basically eliminate your dog’s risk of acquiring the parvovirus by making sure they’re vaccinated. Your dog’s veterinarian will know how many vaccinations are necessary and how far apart. A dog that’s received plenty of its mother’s milk also has a lower risk of being affected because this boosts their immune system. Until a puppy has completed their vaccinations, owners may want to limit contact with other dogs. Most puppies complete their vaccinations at about 16 weeks of age.

Veterinarians can easily test for parvo using a “snap test” on a fecal sample. Older dogs that have been vaccinated are typically not affected by parvovirus, but some rare cases of extremely aggressive strains have been reported.

 

Is Pet Insurance Right for You?

More owners are looking into and purchasing health insurance for their pets.  Choices range from very inexpensive policies that provide some financial help when dealing with an unforeseen illness or accident to more comprehensive plans that cover preventative care and have high coverage limits.  Of course these latter policies also have higher premiums, but with a little research most pet owners can find a pet insurance plan is a good fit for them.

Here are a few things to remember when considering health insurance for your pet:

  • No policy covers all your veterinary expenses.  You will still need to have savings and/or credit available to cover deductibles, copays, and costs that exceed or are excluded from your policy.  Primarily think of insurance as a way to help deal with unexpected expenses.  Routine purchases like vaccines, heartworm prevention and flea and tick control can be budgeted for and purchased from online retailers such as vetdepot.com.
  • Know what you are buying.  All policies have exclusions, so check the fine print.
  • Preexisting conditions will not be covered, so if your dog or cat has already been diagnosed with a disease, the cost of treating it (pet medication refills, rechecks, etc.) will come out of your pocket.  Consider getting insurance when your pet is young to avoid the pitfalls associated with preexisting conditions.