Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Winter Pounds

Winter is truly upon us!  That means warm cozy fires, lots of good holiday food and treats, and lots of time spent indoors.  What about Fido?  Will you still be taking him for his daily walks or runs when it's 20 degrees outside?  Some of us enjoy the cold weather along with our dogs, but what about those who just don't fancy these cold winter months?  What about fluffy, when you have to practically drag her off of your couch to get her to go outside to potty in the snow?

The truth for most pet owners during these long winter months is that our pets' daily routines become more sedentary.  So what does this mean?  Well, generally we tend to see a drastic increase in our pet's weight during these months.  So how do we avoid this without suffering in the cold, icy weather?  It's simple- it's time to decrease Fido's food intake to make up for the lack of calories burned.  Too much time spent indoors during these months shouldn't be a reason to allow our pets' body conditions to worsen especially those of our senior pets.  For them, winter is tough enough on those old bones without the added weight put on during the winter, as this makes it all the more difficult to lose it again in the spring.  Decreasing the amount of food given or switching to a low calorie diet during these harder months will help keep your pet fit and trim.

On the other end of the spectrum are those who have dogs that live outside during the winter.  The opposite is true for them.  They need more calories to keep warm, as well as all of the other assumed resources such as a DRY, wind-proof shelter and lots of fresh water.  Switching to a puppy food that's higher in calories or feeding a bit more each meal time will help keep your pet warmer without burning the basic amount of calories needed to sustain good body condition.  It's vital to remember that with every season and change in lifestyle, our pet's nutritional needs change.  So keep your pet fit and healthy even during the winter and remember to readjust come spring!

Stephanie Severson, CVT

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

The Doctors and Staff of Belle City Veterinary Hospital
wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Stick to Real Food, Kitty

I used to work at a Cat Clinic, so I've seen a lot of cute Christmas cards showing cats drinking from a saucer of milk and kittens rolling around with balls of yarn. They are all adorable! As a technician, I still see these as cute, but I also know that feeding milk to adult cats can cause stomach upset. Playing with yarn (or string or dental floss or tinsel) leads to eating yarn which leads to intestinal obstruction which leads to exploratory surgery. How do we find safe toys for our cats?

First, we want to discourage our cats from chewing on anything inappropriate, most particularly plants, as many household plants can be poisonous for cats. Cayenne pepper,'bitter apple' spray from the pet store, or lemon extract can be spread on surfaces to discourage kittens. If you sew, you should know that we often see cats (even adult cats) who have swallowed needles and thread. Offer appropriate toys so your cats can find something better for playtime.

Cat toys with feathers or sparklies on the end of a string are some of the best toys for cats to play with under supervision. They stimulate natural predatory play and provide exercise for even the fattest lap cat. Even these toys, though, are best used only when supervised. Fun toys often end up in pieces after a very short time, and some of those pieces can need to be surgically removed from your cat. We once had a client arrive home to see her kitten tangled up in a springy toy hanging from a door. Luckily, her kitten was O.K., but that toy came right down. If you keep a fun toy hidden until playtime, it seems new and exciting every time! Last but not least, actively playing with your cat strengthens your bond.

Kelley Wagner, CVT

Monday, December 20, 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ready to Adopt a Sweet Little Furball?

So you want to get a new puppy or kitten?  Sure, who doesn't?  Have you done your research?

When you choose a new family member, it is important that you sit down and define your lifestyle.  Active families are suited for active dogs.  Quiet and reserved families are suited for less active dogs.  What about size?  Do you have a big enough house and yard for a larger breed dog such as a Saint Bernard, or do you have an apartment suited for a smaller breed like a dachshund?  Breed research is the key to deciding which breed of dog would best be suited for your family.

With kittens, most of us adopt from a shelter or a private home.  If this is the case, how active is the kitten when you view it?  Does it appear unhealthy?  Is it sneezing, eating, etc?  Even sick puppies and kittens need a home, but are you prepared to provide the proper care that kitten or puppy will need once you adopt or purchase it?

If you do not wish to adopt a dog in need from a rescue organization or a shelter and want a specific breed, please be aware of that breeds health predisposition and insist on health certifications of the parents in the form of OFA/PennHip/CERF certificates.  The same recommendations apply for pure bred cats-research the breed.  Certain cat breeds are known to be reclusive; others can be very social.  Some breeds, such as Maine Coons, have friendlier and calmer tendencies, while some Abyssinian's may be extremely vocal and flighty.  Conducting your research before acquiring a dog or cat can help to ensure that this new family member remains a family member in good standing for its lifetime. 

We look forward to meeting your new cat or dog soon!

Stephanie Severson, CVT

Monday, December 13, 2010

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Here, Kitty Kitty...

We have come across some concerning statistics. 
As many as 50% of all cats are never seen for annual exams. 
Many cats are hiding early asymptomatic problems that
may be easily detected on examination. 
 This simple step can catch a problem before it becomes severe,
and lead to a  healthier life for your kitty. 
 If you are one of our loyal doggie clients
and you have a kitty cat at home,
please bring him in to see us!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Winter Tips~~ Part IV

Welcome to our final installment of the winter tips!  This weeks tips deal with paws and skin health....


*  Provide boots when playing/walking in cold weather.
    (frequently lifting of paws and whining= uncomfortably cold paws).

*  Monitor for formation of ice balls between he pads and toes-especially for dogs with long fur.  Ice ball   formation is painful, and dogs may whine, chew at paws, and stop walking.

*  The application of Vaseline (petroleum jelly) may be helpful in preventing ice ball formation.

*  WIPE PAWS after being outdoors to remove snow, ice, and salt from pads.

*  De-icing salt used on sidewalks and roads can be very irritating to paws.

Winter's Decrease in Humidity Brings Dry Skin.

*  Bathe only when needed, and thoroughly dry your pets before they go outside.

*  Add moisturizing oils to the bath water.

*  Provide Omega Fatty Acid supplementation.

We hope that you have found these tips helpful and wish you and your furry family members a safe winter season!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Everybody Loves a Little T.L.C.

We've been reading new studies about the role of stress on the health of our cats.  External stress may contribute to feline idiopathic cystitis which often leads to urinating out of the box.  A cat-friendly home may be even more important than ever.

What makes a house a cat-friendly home?  Sometimes it's not other cats.  We all love all of our cats.  Some of our cats might not be so fond of each other.  We like to think our cats see each other like brothers or sisters.  I've come to think of it as more like a roommate situation.  In the college dorm lottery, you got who you got.  Hopefully, it was a life-time kindred spirit.  If not, well, at least you only had to tolerate each other for a year.  Since our cats are together for a lifetime, we need to help them cohabitate in peace.

Cats practice a sort of 'zoning defense' when it comes to resources.  This is why two cats who can crowd up cheek-to-cheek on your warm lap in the wintertime will avoid each other at all other times.  Warm laps, food, litter boxes, high perches, and safe sleeping spots are all important resources for our cats.  Why do we recommend a litter box on every level of the house?  So that one cat can't restrict access by lurking around a corner to pounce or by casually sitting on the top basement step and blocking access to the all important litter box area.  This is sort of like a grade-school bully leaning up against the bathroom door.  Either you hold it or you find somewhere else to go.  If you have more than one litter box area, a less confident cat can use a different litter box rather than look for a 'safer' area (like the quiet, out-of-the-way dining room).

If one cat (perhaps a young, active whippersnapper) spends a lot of time harassing an older housemate, we can enrich both of their lives in a few simple ways.  The young cat is brimming with energy and looking for anything and everything that can be a toy.  While an older housemate who runs away, hides under the table and hisses is very entertaining, we can come up with better toys.  Kong toys are virtually indestructible and can be filled with bits of kibble so a cat has to work for his treats.  Rotating toys is always a great idea.  If twenty toys are always out, they're boring.  If a toy goes away for  few days and then reappears, it's new and exciting!  If he starts crouching and wriggling in anticipation of a good pounce on you or another cat, give him a squirt with a water pistol and toss a small toy to redirect his energy.

As for the older cat(s), make sure he/she has a safe area that the younger cat thinks is boring.  This area should have access to food, water, a litter, box and good sleeping spots.  The simple addition of some blankets or beds on high spots can make everyone happy.  A cat tree with multiple perches can help several cats hang out in close proximity.  Last but not least, consider a breakaway collar with a bell for a younger cat.  The 'ding-a-ling' approaching lets everyone know to get out of the way!

Is you house a cat-friendly home?  E-mail us a picture for our web-page at