Thursday, December 1, 2011

Share The Warmth

The cold weather months seem to be creeping upon us, with some of our first measurable snow expected this evening.  Our staff has been spending much of their down time hard at work making no sew blankets that we will be donating to local organizations.  As many of our initial blankets (25 of them!) were either smaller or fun themes, our first drop off will be to HALO women's and children's shelter. 

We are hoping to keep this project moving beyond the holidays and through the winter months.  We have so many here locally in need.  Our next focus is going to be senior citizens who need a little extra TLC.  If you would like help us Share The Warmth, we are looking for donations of  fleece fabrics (2 yards of a print & 2 yards of a coordinating solid).  Thank you for helping us make the dark winter months brighter for those in need.

Amy Ray 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Redirected Aggression

Do your cats like to watch animals in the yard? Are they glued to the windows when you hear rustling outside? Do they ever seem just a little too excited? Sometimes our indoor cats can get a bit worried about outdoor cats. Especially in households with multiple cats, one kitty decides that five (or four or two) cats in the house are more than enough.

Spraying is the most common problem for a territorial cat. (Remember, if your cat eliminates outside the box, your first call should be to the veterinarian to rule out a health problem.) A cat who is marking will almost always spray on a vertical surface. If you find or smell urine around your door or under a window, this is often an attempt by your cat to say “This is mine. Stay OUT!”

An overly excited cat may also unexpectedly turn on the nearest victim, usually his beloved housemate, and savagely attack her. This is known as redirected aggression, and seems to result from a frustration at being unable to reach the intruder. If your cats have an episode like this, separate them by throwing a towel over each cat and moving the aggressor to a dark room. BE CAREFUL when you do this. The aggressor cat is overly stimulated and may violently attack anyone, including you. When your cat has calmed down, slowly reintroduce him or her to the house. Because of the unexpected nature of such an episode, some cats need to be reintroduced as if they were strangers. The aggressor cat needs to realize that this is his lifetime companion, and the victim needs to see that she’s not about to be attacked again.

Although redirected aggression is an extreme example of feline ‘neighborhood watch’ stress, some cats just find the whole thing too exciting. How can we distract and calm the overexcited cat? First of all, restrict access to the windows. Heavy drapes can deter window climbing, and the nature channel can provide a calmer alternative. Most episodes seem to happen around dawn or at dusk when lots of critters are prowling about. Scheduling some feeding or play sessions around these times will provide safer activities for your cats. If you want to let your cats enjoy window time with less risk of property damage, consider giving them a cat tree with a nice scratching post next to the window. Scratching is a marking behavior for cats and this can be a much more acceptable outlet for that instinct than spraying. Finally, consider Feliway.  Feliway mimics the facial pheromones of cats and is designed to reduce the stress level of the cats in a room. When used with the environmental tips above, Feliway can help make your cats enjoy window watching as a calming, casual sport.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Great Orange Hunter

My first cat was a beautiful big orange tabby named Gideon.  He was a very talkative cat, and he would greet me each evening with the full mewing story of his day.  (I still miss that.)  One night, I was awakened by this strange ululating cry.  I shot out of bed and found Gideon crouched excitedly in the middle of the living room with his paws hiding something.  When I finally coaxed him into reluctantly moving his paws, something tiny and grey shot across the living room and into the bathroom.  Realizing it was a mouse, I grabbed a plastic bowl and lid to try to catch it.  After a session of squeaking and jumping back (the mouse was twitchy, too), I finally caught it and took it down the three flights of stairs from my apartment to release it outside.  Then, a very disappointed Gideon and I went back to bed.

At the time, this simply made me look at my sweet boy a little differently now that I saw him as the great orange hunter.  Now that I’m a veterinary technician, this episode always reminds me of the reasons we recommend year-round parasite prevention for all our patients, even indoor-only cats like Gideon.  Apparently, outdoor critters can even get into third-floor apartments.  What Gideon saw as a fabulous toy looks to me like a vector (carrier agent) for fleas, tapeworms, and intestinal parasites.  Now that the weather is getting colder, our basements are looking more inviting to all of nature’s tiny furry inhabitants.  I love to see them outside, but I’m going to make sure I protect my furry family members from anything they might be bringing into my home.

Kelley Wagner, C.V.T.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Maude's Tip of the Day

Maude, our ‘pleasingly’ plump older cat, found an interesting tidbit to share with us today:

 “A recent study showed that playing with cats 10 to 15 minutes three times a day helped cats lose 1% of their body weight in one month without restricting their food intake.”
       Veterinary Medicine magazine, October 2011

Monday, October 31, 2011

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Meet Junior

One of our clients just introduced a wonderful kitten named Junior into her household.  Her three adult cats have been very tolerant, and Junior has settled in to the family nicely.  He is still a kitten though, so he has a lot of energy.  If you’re introducing a new kitten into your household, here are some ideas to help give those older feline ‘siblings’ an occasional break.  As we’ve discussed, scheduling play sessions can give him a reliable outlet for his energy.  If you schedule play sessions for him, he can anticipate future fun instead of having to create his own entertainment at the expense of his housemates. 

Foraging toys filled with bits of food are also very popular with kittens.  These can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make them.  For instance, if you have an empty egg carton, poke a few strategic holes in the top and fill the carton with dry food.  (You don’t even have to invest in special treats.  Kitty’s dry food will be more exciting because he had to work for it!)  If you want to search on-line, you can find foraging toys such as treat balls or treat dispensers for as little as five dollars.  Always remember the simple things such as rotating toys to keep them fresh and fun.  Use your imagination to stimulate kitty’s imagination.

Kelley Wagner, C.V.T.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Power Of The Cat

"Superstitious beliefs persist that cats, and especially black ones, can bring both good and bad fortune- a belief that is often based on geography and ownership.  As Moncrif, the first naturalist to rehabilitate the cat, wrote in his History of Cats (1727): 'the color black works very well against cats in unsophisticated minds; it heightenst he fire in their eyes, which is enough to make people believe they are witches at the very least.'  Black cats were said to be in league with the devil and as a result were often sacraficed.  Later, teh unfortunate black cat became a portent of good luck in Britian when it crossed your path; this was based upon the idea that evil had passed you by unharmed.  In North America this is reversed on the basis that the black cat is an evil spirit: its ere presence is dangerous."

As you prepare for this Halloween, keep in mind the power of the cat!

Excerpt from The Encyclopedia of the Cat by Bruce Fogle, DVM

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Prepare for Pet Safety

Since, it is cold and blustery outside today, I think it's time to talk safety.  Several general precautions should always be taken to ensure that your pet doesn't get into something dangerous.  This goes for both dogs and cats.  Make sure all your pesticides and rodenticides are kept locked up in cupboards high off the ground.  Also, be sure to keep all vehicle fluids, especially antifreeze, locked up and high off the floor.  These products can taste flavorful to animals and can cause irreversible organ damage leading ultimately to death.

In preparation for the winter months, it is important to be as familiar with your pet's ability to tolerate cold weather.  Cats that are kept inside are safe from the elements and the risks of being hit by a car, attacked by a dog, caught in the fan belt of a car, Feline AIDS, Feline Leukemia, target practice and antifreeze poisoning. Dogs who spend a great deal of time outside should have dry, wind-proof shelter out of the elements with fresh, clean water provided at all times.  Precautions should also be taken to ensure warmth.  dogs with short hair and a non-weatherproof hair coat should not be left outside for long periods of time during our harsher winter months.  They may be at risk for frostbite and other health problems.  This is especially true for our geriatric pets.

For those pets that spend most of their time inside, please make sure all electric cords are safely hidden.  Keep holiday decorations out of reach and medications locked up, and all human foods put away.  Winter is the time when we see the most life-threatening illnesses.  Please take the time to ensure that your pet will have a happy and SAFE winter.  Stay warm today and try not to blow away!!

Stephanie Severson, CVT

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

An Acceptable Substitute

One of our technicians here, Kelley recently lent me a couple of cool encyclopedias, one of the dog and one of the cat.  From time to time we will be posting a few interesting tidbits and trivia just to keep you on your toes. :)

"Our evolving relationship with the dog can be followed by examining how it is portrayed in folklore and religion, literature, and art.  The dog's role in past and present cultures and societies can be surveyed by exploring its involvement in our day-to-day activities- in agriculture, sports, defense, and security.  Its roles and activities are many and diverse because its basic physical and psychological design is so superb.  Physically, it is a robust carnivore with sophisticated senses, many of which are superior to ours.  Its body systems are highly adaptable, permitting it to survive on a varied diet.  most important, when we consider its relationship with us, is its profoundly sociable behavior.  Like us, dogs are pack animals.  They enjoy company, and because we communicate in ways that they understand, we make acceptable dog substitutes as companions."  Thank goodness!

Enjoy the amazingly beautiful weather!

Excerpt from: The New Encyclopedia of the Dog

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Everybody Loves a Little T.L.C.

The other day, we had a client say, "You never realize how bad your pet was feeling until they're feeling good again."  When we are sick, we need Tender Loving Care, and we let everyone know about it.  How can our pets tell us?  Here is the first problem:  They don't tell us.  They always try to hide their problems because instinct tells them to do so.  When we would seek out T.L.C., our pets will hide.  We have to look for subtle signs.  Is Fluffy hiding?  Does she seek out warm spots?  Is she taking longer to greet you when you get home?  Does she growl when you touch certain spots?  Does she suddenly seem to have lost five pounds overnight?  Is she drinking more water?  Is she asking to go out all of the time?  Has her litter box been particularly wet lately?

We can combat our pets' natural tendency to hide problems with careful observation and preventive care.  Every time you visit us, we weigh your pet so we will catch gradual weight changes.  We use the annual exam and blood work to detect metabolic and physical changes.  In between visits, if your dog or at is hiding, lethargic, or just generally 'off' his normal behavior, we'd love to see him.  Pets (especially cats) will hide their problems until there is not much we can do to help.  Please don't let them wait too long.

Kelley Wagner, CVT

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tick Removal & Insect Bites

taken from Bing Images

Since we talked earlier this week about Lyme's Disease, I thought this would be a good time to give you some guidelines that come in our Emergency Care handout from the Wisconsin Veterinary Referral Center.

Like people, animals vary in their reactions to insect venom.  The response can range from mild irritation to allergic shock.  Check the area for any remaining stinger or insect, remove them and cleanse the area with soap and water.  Cool wet towels or gauze can be used (for 20-30 minutes) to soothe the area.  Watch your pet for signs of allergic reaction.  Be particularly mindful of difficulties breathing.

When returning from a park or a hike, check thoroughly for ticks by running your fingers through your pet's entire coat, and inspecting paws, pads, between toes and inside floppy ears.  If you find a tick, place a small amount of tick spray (alcohol, mineral oil, or petroleum jelly can also be used) on a cotton ball and hold it over the tick.  Typically the tick will back out in 30-60 seconds allowing you to grab it with a tweezers and dispose of it.  Apply alcohol or an antibiotic ointment to the site of the bite.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Looking Out for Lymes

Lyme's Disease.... can people get it?  Yes, but not from your dog.  The disease is transmitted through a bite from a deer tick.  The spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi is the bacterium that spreads through the body.  Dogs that have been infected present with severe joint pain, stiffness, lack of appetite, lethargy and/or a fever.  The symptoms can come on acutely or sometimes after time (several months to a year) has passed.  Diagnosis of the disease can be determined through a simple blood test and treatment consists of long term antibiotic therapy. 

Is my dog at risk?  Well, ask yourself a few questions.  Are there deer around your neighborhood?  Has Lyme disease been found in any people or animals in your area?  Do you live in a wooded area or near tall brush where ticks breed?  Do you and your furry companion go for walks, hikes, camping, picnicking, hunting or fishing?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should be proactive in preventing the disease.  Use a monthly tick preventive like Frontline Plus, vaccinate your dog against Lyme's disease, and examine your dog checking for ticks regularly.  With these few simple steps you can help to prevent your companion from  this potentially debilitating disease.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

How To Be An Informed Owner

Since we discussed arthritis last week, I thought this would be a good time to remind perspective puppy owners to consider potential problems when interviewing  your breeder.  We all instantly fall in love with that cute little eight-week-old, but we must remember that before we take that pup home, we want to minimize future health issues.  What it all comes down to is researching and knowing the breed you want before you see the puppy.  For breeds that are prone to hip and elbow displasia, you want to ask the breeder for the OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) test results (  If the parents have bad hips, then the likelihood is high that the offspring will also have poor hips.  If the parents have allergies, the offspring have an increased likelihood of developing allergies.

By researching the breed of dog you want, you can learn which diseases to check for and which breeds commonly have tests for them.  As an example, when I looked at a litter of Golden Retriever puppies, I asked about the OFA status of the hips and elbows as well as whether the eyes had been examined by an ophthalmologist to be sure they were free of congenital abnormalities.  Many good Golden Retriever breeders will have the thyroid tested and heart checked for congenital abnormalities.  I also ask about allergies.  These answers will not guarantee health, but will lessen the chances that my little one will develop these problems in the future.  Also, don't forget to consider the mother's behavioral disposition.  A less trusting, fearful mother will likely have cautious pups.  So, enjoy the pup you get, but make sure you try to avoid the common issues your special breed may acquire. 

"What it all comes down to is researching
and knowing the breed you want before
you see the puppy."

Todd Whitney, DVM

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Beauty Of The Safe Room

This month, we’ve been consulting about two cats named Sami and Sadi.  They are beautiful calico kittens who have been together since birth.  Their owner, Virginia, loves them both and, up until recently, they loved each other.  Then, however, the cats turned two and, as all too often happens, they decided they were no longer friends.  They fight and scream and just can’t seem to be together.  Cats reach sexual maturity at two to four years of age and, even if they’re spayed or neutered, they can start to feel a little crowded by the other cats in the household.  In Virginia’s case, Sadi seemed to taking a lot of her frustration out on Sami, who was spending a lot of time running and cowering under furniture.  By the time we talked, Virginia had already used excellent judgement and was separating the cats.  Each cat would spend some time in a closed room with food, water, and her own litter box.  When Sadi was kept in the room, she spent a lot of time meowing and scratching at the door.  As soon as the door was open, she would dart out and start marking everything by rubbing her cheek against furniture, door frames, and anything else she could find.  Basically, it seems Sadi was spending all her time in the room stressing about the rest of her ‘territory’.  She was just in there knowing that Sami was ‘touching her stuff!!’  She needed to mark everything as soon as she was free and then sit high on a dresser to survey her domain. It’s very important for Sadi to keep an eye on her house. 

Sami, on the other hand, didn’t seem to mind being in the room at all.  We discussed reserving the private room for Sami and using it as her ‘safe room’.  Virginia started having Sami stay in this room for the majority of the time and letting Sadi have the run of the rest of the house.  She made sure to give Sami comfy sleeping areas and plenty of toys, and she spends special time with her every day. It’s now been two weeks since Sami started getting primary use of the safe room.  Virginia says she’s calm, quiet, and seems happy in her safe room.  When Virginia checks on her, she’ll see that she’s playing with her toys and seems perfectly content.  Rather than feeling imprisoned, Sami seems happy to have her own space that smells like hers and doesn’t involve any altercations.  Virginia wishes they could live together like a happy family, but for now, it’s more like a family with some teenager issues.  Eventually, Virginia will work on slow, supervised re-introduction.  In the meantime, we’ll let Sadi and Sami be the mistresses of their own, individual safe domains.

Kelley Wagner, C.V.T.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Run and Play to Help Keep Arthritis Away

It's no surprise that most animals will be affected by arthritis at some point in their lives.  This is especially true for large and giant breed dogs.  These dogs are highly susceptible to joint arthritis after the age of seven, but can exhibit signs of arthritis even earlier than that.  It's important that we do our best to prolong healthy joints and/or decrease our dogs' chances of developing arthritis.

First things first... when purchasing a breed that you know is prone to joint disease such as Lab, Golden Retriever, Great Dane or German Shepherd, it is important to purchase from a responsible breeder who screens against diseases such as hip and elbow displasia.  Genetics play an important role in the incidence of arthritis in your dog.

Genetic screening, although important, is still not enough to keep your dog from developing arthritis.  A significant common factor in arthritis is OBESITY!  Dogs that are allowed to become obese are certainly likely to develop arthritis earlier than a fit, trim, athletic dog.  A good high quality diet fed at least twice a day and ample exercise will keep your dog in optimal condition.  As I have said in previous posts, a dog must be fed according to their activity level, NOT what the bag says.  A dog that doesn't exercise doesn't need to eat as much!

This brings me to my next tip:  EXERCISE!!  A daily walk is necessary for good muscle conditioning.  However, this is not an adequate form of exercise to build muscle and maintain optimal condition.  Running is exercise that will actually burn the excess weight off your dog and create strong musculature.  Swimming is another great way to maintain muscle for the older dog, since it is a non weight bearing exercise.  The most important thing  when preventing the clinical symptoms of arthritis is muscle mass.  Without muscle, arthritis will debilitate your dog faster and more aggressively. 

So remember, arthritis will continue to affect millions of pets.  However, it should always be a goal to postpone the development of the disease so your pet can live longer and with minimal discomfort in her golden years.

Stephanie Severson, CVT

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Vegetarian Cats

Does your cat have vegetarian urges?  One of our clinic cats (his name has been withheld to protect the guilty) likes to try to graze on our decorative plants.  This plant now lives in our break room so that he can’t get at it.  (Of  course, if someone accidentally leaves the door open, he’ll be in there snacking.)  If you have houseplants at home, there are a few tricks to keep the cats away.  First, as we’ve done here, restrict access to the plants.  This is especially important if your plant is potentially toxic.  There are a surprising number of decorative plants that can cause problems for our pets. 

The ASPCA has an excellent list at  You can also use sprays such as bitter apple spray on the leaves of the plant to discourage gnawing.  If you want to offer a safe alternative, you can buy ‘cat grasses’ or plant catnip for your little ones.  As with all behavior training, think about harmless deterrents (bad taste, an unexpected spray of water from around the corner) coupled with inviting, safe alternatives such as foraging toys or cat grass.  This way, we won’t have to try to explain to our cats that they’re carnivores.

Kelley Wagner, C.V.T.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Chronic Medications and Monitoring

When your pet's condition can be successfully treated with medication, you want to make sure the medication is truly helping your pet- not causing any side effects.  That's why we recommend testing to reduce the risk that your pet will respond negatively to a prescribed treatment.  Testing can be done quickly, providing us with the answers within minutes to overnight.

For example, if your pet requires medication for arthritis, we can offer a number of medications to ease their discomfort.  However, those medications may come with side effects, including risk of kidney and/or liver problems. Our staff will do the following to make sure your pet receives the proper treatment.

:: Test your pet before prescribing a drug to be sure that organ function is normal and the prescription is the right one for your pet's age, breed, size, and physical condition.

:: Test your pet once the course of treatment has begun to see how they are responding to the medication and uncover any hidden reactions.  Should a problem arise, we can alter the treatment plan immediately.

:: Test your pet periodically during treatment as recommended to make sure that the continued use of the medication has not triggered any adverse reactions.

These simple steps helps us to ensure quality care for your pet and peace of mind for you!

**excerpted from Idexx Laboratories client information brochure

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Grandma and the Teenager

This month, one of our clients was considering adopting a sweet kitten named Mitzi.  He called to ask advice about introducing Mitzi to his 20-year-old cat Ella Mae.  We discussed all of the recommendations for introducing new cats like providing a safe room for the new kitten and introducing the cats very slowly under supervision so everyone can get to know each other without negative interactions.  We also discussed a few tips specifically for senior cats like Ella Mae.  We discussed that, at twenty years of age, Ella Mae is like a 100-year old person.  Imagine telling a 100-year-old grandma that she’s getting a new teenage roommate.   It takes some special consideration. 

First, we checked to see that Ella Mae had been in for recent blood work an exam, and vaccines (she is current on vaccines, and she had a blood panel drawn in February of this year).  We recommend that all cats and dogs be examined once a year, and this is especially important for our senior furry family members.  Many of our pets (especially cats) will hide problems as long as they can.  As we’ve discussed before, I find this frustrating because it makes it hard to catch problems early unless they get regular exams and blood work.  To me, it seems that these animals are balancing on a wire until some stressor (like a new kitten) tips them off balance, and a cascade of problems becomes apparent.  Luckily, Ella Mae’s blood work was clean as a whistle.  Still, her owner will be careful to minimize the stress on Ella Mae since she is such a senior girl and she’s used to her quiet routine. He’ll make sure he brushes her every morning as he’s always done and lets her sleep on his bed at night.   He’ll make sure he watches the interaction of his feline friends so that they’ll hopefully become lifelong friends.

Kelley Wagner, C.V.T.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Preventing Zoonotic Diseases

Here are some quick steps to best protect your family from zoonotic diseases (that is, disease that can be passed from pets/environment to you).

1.  Schedule annual or biannual veterinary visits for your pet, which should include fecal examinations.

2.  Keep your pet on year-round monthly parasite prevention, as recommended by your veterinarian.

3.  Keep pets indoors or supervised to discourage hunting, and do not feed pets raw or undercooked meats.

4.  Wash your hands frequently, especially after handling animals and working outdoors.  Be sure your children wash their hands after playing outside.

5.  Wash any wounds, even small nicks and cuts, promptly and thoroughly.

6.  Clean cats' litter boxes daily, wearing gloves, and always wash your hands immediately afterwards.  (though, if you're pregnant, you should avoid cleaning litter boxes altogether.  Have someone else do it for you.)

7.  Avoid approaching, touching, or handling stray animals.

8.  Cover children's sandboxes when they're not in use.

9.  Always wear gloves when gardening.

10.  Protect yourself from ticks by covering your body with a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, and a hat.  Check for ticks after hiking, playing, or working in tick-infested environments.  Also consider using repellents.

Source:  firstline magazine * * April 2011

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Litter Tip

Litter box tip of the day:  Sometimes it’s not the cat missing the box who has the health problem.  If an older cat such as Maude is having kidney problems or diabetes, she will be urinating larger amounts more often.  Another fastidious cat may object to the perpetually wet litter box and start looking for a cleaner, dryer place to eliminate.  You may need to take both cats to see your veterinarian.

Kelley Wagner, C.V.T.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dog Park Etiquette

  1. Always keep your eyes on your dog.  Mischief can happen quickly.
  2. Never leave your dog unattended.
  3. Be sure your dog is current on vaccines and has a valid license.
  4. Always clean up after your dog.
  5. Do not take more than three dogs to the park at one time.
  6. Do not take puppies younger than four months of age.
  7. Keep your dog on-leash until you get to the off-leash area.
  8. If your dog becomes unruly or plays rough, leash the dog and leave immediately.
  9. If you take children to the dog park, supervise them closely.
  10. Always observe all of the rules posted at the dog park.
  11. Make certain your pet has proper I.D.
These tips compliments of the Wisconsin Veterinary Referral Center (WVRC)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Cat Scratch

Prince is the king of his ‘castle’.  You can tell by the scratch marks on Nikki’s couch, her chairs, even a few areas of the carpet.  She sometimes feels like her house looks a little too cat friendly.  Does your kitty have all of his claws?  Does he wreak havoc on your furniture?  Maybe these tips can help.

First, remember that scratching is a natural cat behavior.  Your cat is sharpening his claws, of course, but he’s also marking with his claws and with scent glands around his pads.  With this in mind, we need to provide a scratching location that is in a prominent area of the home (like the legs of the couch).  He also wants to stretch to his full length so everyone can see his mark, and we don’t want the covering of the post to shred when he scratches.  Instead of stashing a short, carpet-covered scratching post in the corner of the room, try a sturdy, sisal-rope covered post next to the couch.  (Don’t worry.  Once he starts using the post, we can gradually move it a little more out of the way.)  If he doesn’t run right over and start using the post, you can place his paws on it or even sprinkle a little catnip on the post to attract his interest. 

One more tip:  If you have more than one cat, a few scratching posts can help everyone to express their need to mark without feeling the need to mark in other, less acceptable ways or locations.

Kelley Wagner, C.V.T.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Did you know that~

::Getting lost is the #1 cause of death for pets.

::1 in 3 pets goes missing during it's lifetime.

::Without ID, 90% of pets never return home.

Pretty sad statistics.  Now, did you know that~

::  Microchipping is as simple as a vaccine visit.

::  That shelters and veterinary hospitals all have microchip scanners.

::  That the HomeAgain microchip network recovers 10,000 lost pets each month.

Is your pet microchipped?? 

For more information just ask us!  You can go to HomeAgain to find out more details.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Fourth of July!!

art from

The Doctors and Staff of
Belle City Veterinary Hospital
wish you and yours
a safe and happy
Independence Day!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Newer, Better?

Last week, we talked about thinking of our cats when we buy a litter box.  Now, let’s talk about the litter in the box.  Just as with litter boxes, you have many choices.  We have sandy litter, scoopable litter, crystal litter, and fresh-scented litter.  We have litter made from wheat, clay, and recycled newspaper.  How are we ever supposed to choose?  Newer is better, right?  Well, not always.  As with all things, cats are often traditionalists when it comes to their litter.  They often prefer a soft, sand-like substance such as a clumping litter.  They often seem to like a litter depth of about two to three inches, and it’s nice to give them a large, shallow box so they can dig and cover without flinging litter all over your room.  That being said, if your cat is fine with a newfangled litter, this is great.  We send home Yesterday’s News litter (made from recycled newspaper) with our declawed cats after surgery, and most cats have no problem with it. 

 Just remember to look at the litter with a cat perspective.  A flowery scent designed to make things smell better to us may be overpowering to a cat.  (I think of the look on my dad’s face when he walks into a Bath and Body Works store.)  Avoid lemon scented cat products since citrus is a cat deterrent.  If you want to try a new litter, remember that cats don’t like quick changes.  If a new cat litter catches your eye, invest in a new litter box.  Fill the new box with the new litter and place it next to the old litter box with your old litter.  If your cats are intrigued, they’ll try it.  If they like it, they’ll use it and you can transition to the new litter.  If you find a new kind that works, let us know.  We love the feedback, and we’ll pass it on to other clients.

Kelley Wagner, CVT

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Fourth of July Safety

The Fourth is right around the corner.  I don't know about you, but I have been hearing fireworks going off every night now as people warm up for the big event.  With all of the excitement involved with finally having wonderful warm weather, party planning etc, don't forget your furry family members!

Fireworks, like thunder, can be very unexpected and scary for our canine (and feline) companions.  Even though the kids love to watch the fireworks and run around with sparklers, don't think that Fido will be as excited.  Resist the urge to have him join you at the park or in the yard for the festivities.  Keep Fifi in the house, possibly even the lower level where her sensibilities will be protected from all of the revelry. 

The ASPCA has a great list of do's and don'ts when it comes to Summer festivity preparation, fireworks, and your pet's safety.  Check it out!!

Have a safe and happy holiday weekend!!

~Amy Ray

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Monday Funny

div style="width:340px">Cartoon #6293 - One more thing  Luckys not coming in today. Warm nose.An Andertoons Cartoon

A day late, well....Happy Tuesday! :)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Litterbox 411

The other day, I was looking up a product for a client on a pet store website.  As I strayed into the litter box area, I saw fuzzy boxes, covered boxes, rotating boxes and boxes with stairs.  Some were cool, some were weird, and a few were a bit bizarre.  I was quickly reminded of the fact that, while these products are for our cats, they’re marketed for us.  Many of these boxes are designed to be easily disguised in our homes and to keep the odor inside.  Unfortunately, cats often prefer an open, clean litter box.  When you’re shopping for your next box (at least once a year, right?), keep your cat in mind as well as your décor.  If your cat uses a covered litter box, make sure you clean at least once a day.  If we don’t want to deal with the smell, imagine how they feel with their much more sensitive noses.  When you disguise your litter box so guests won’t see it, make sure it’s still easily accessible for your cat.  If she really has to go, we want her to be able to quickly get to the right spot.  The next time you’re looking at litter boxes, either at the store or in your own home, try to think like your cat.

Kelley Wagner, CVT

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Violet and the Loud, Scary Litter Box Area

Violet, being a very shy kitty, can be pretty skittish.  If something scares her, she’s off like a shot and you won’t see her again for a long time.  Violet does not like unpredictable things.  Her owner Nikki needs to be aware of this when she’s setting up Violet’s living space.  Her food and water should be in an open area where Violet can see all around her and watch out for the other house cats.  Her litter box area(s) can be in quiet areas for privacy, but they should ideally have multiple access routes.  We don’t want another cat to be able to block access to the litter box or ambush her when she’s trying to leave.  Also, if she’s startled, she needs to get out quick.  If Violet does not feel safe in her litter box area, she will find somewhere else to go where she feels safe.  A very popular location for litter boxes is the laundry room.  This is fine unless you have a skittish cat.  I have known cats who avoid the laundry room for weeks after being startled by a pair of sneakers tumbling in the dryer.  If you have a cat who jumps at shadows, slinks around the edges of rooms, and disappears when you have company, be aware that she or he is a very sensitive soul.  If this cat feel safe,  we’ll all lead a much more comfortable life.

Kelley Wagner, C.V.T.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Need Another Reason?

Why does Butch pull my arm off when I take him for a walk??  Why does Rover urinate on EVERYTHING?  Why doesn't Fifi pay attention to me when I give a command outside our home?  Why do Fido and Fluffy keep escaping my yard and running away?

If you have asked yourself any of the above questions, then perhaps it's time to re-examine the reasons why you have not yet had your dog spayed or neutered.  Not only does spaying or neutering your pet cut down on reproductive diseases, it also can have a major influence on your pet's ability to remain obedient.  Intact (non-spayed/neutered) pets are more hormonally driven when not properly trained, and the properly trained pet has a higher attention span when she/he is spayed or neutered.  Make sense?

Dogs who are spayed or neutered tend to be more loyal and devoted to their owners, more obedient, and far less likely to run off than intact animals.  In our experience, as many as 80-90% of the dogs and cats hit by cars are intact.  Intact animals are also at higher risk for aggressive tendencies.  75% of dog bites to humans are from intact dogs.

This is not to say that intact animals are incapable of being well-behaved.  I can personally vouch for that, since I am an exhibitor at dog shows.  However, the pet owner who finds his/her dog incapable of walking NICELY on a leash without pulling, wandering, sniffing everything, marking everything, and mounting other dogs regardless of sex, age, or hormonal status, should take a serious look at other factors (besides lack of training) that may be  inhibiting your dog's ability to be a canine good citizen in public. 

Although the outrageous pet population is a major factor influencing recommendations to neuter by veterinarians and their staff, it is certainly not the only reason.  First and foremost, it's due to the health benefits.  The second reason is population control.  In the end, it will make it easier for you to raise a calm, obedient family member.

Stephanie Severson, CVT

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Stay Cool, Avoid Heat Stroke

Ain't summer great?!!  It offers all those wonderful outdoor activities that our pets can join in with us!  However, I would like to be sure you are aware of the dangers hot weather can pose, as well as a few special situations that you may not have considered.

There are two categories of dogs (and cats, although, due to lifestyle, cats are generally at lower risk than dogs)  I would consider at increased risk for heat stroke by man's design.  Bracheocephalic dogs (you know, the ones whose eyes are even with the end of their noses) are not as efficient at dissipating heat through their respiratory system (panting).  Panting is the major mechanism in cooling a dog's body.  The second category is that of the dogs bred to tolerate cold climates.  These animals have thick, heavy coats.  Dark colored coats will also enhance heat absorption.

The very young or very old pet is certainly more sensitive to extremes in temperature.  Young animals do not have fully developed thermoregulatory mechanisms.  Those at the other end of the age spectrum do not generate or lose heat as readily.

The health status of an animal will contribute significantly to its ability to tolerate heat.  Examples are respiratory tract disorders, cardiovascular (heart) disease, obesity, previous episodes of heat stroke, hyperthyroidism, neurological disorders, certain medications, and obesity (I know I mentioned obesity twice, but there are so many overweight pets!)  If you think your pet fits any of these criteria, consult your veterinarian for advice.

Most importantly, in our humid climate, we have to consider the environment.  First and foremost, cars and hot weather are a deadly combination.  If the mercury climbs above 70 degrees and Fido must stay in a parked car, leave him at home.  While at home, if your dog is the outdoorsy type, provide free access to fresh water and well-ventilated shade.  Remember, just because an area is shady in the morning, it is not necessarily so in the afternoon, and vice versa.  High humidity can contribute to heat stress as well.  Your dog also needs proper acclimation to the heat.  Activity should be in the early morning or late evening, especially if your dog is not in good physical condition.

Finally, any combination of the aforementioned risk factors increases your pet's risk, so if your companion is a 14-year-old obese Pekingese with a cardiac condition who has an affinity for sleeping twenty hours a day on a sofa, beware!

I hope this information is useful and helps make our warm Wisconsin summer more tolerable for man and beast.  If you are concerned about your pets' particular situation, contact your veterinarian.  Be cool and safe.

Brian C. Ray, DVM

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Games Sparky Plays

To Sparky, everything is a toy - bottle caps, cardboard boxes, slippers, paper towel rolls, and/or any of his fellow housemate cats.  Sparky's a kitten, so he has boundless energy.  Have you ever watched kids tear around a kitchen after dinner?  Somehow six bites of chicken, one 'no-thank-you bite' of carrots and a piece of bread sends a child into hyper drive.  Kittens (and puppies) are like this all the time.  While it's not at all exhausting for them, it can be very tiring for any of their older animal housemates.  How can we find more interesting 'toys' for our kittens than their unwilling feline friends?

This week's idea involves you as the owner (or perhaps your kids).  Cats and dogs are smarter than we think they are, and they get in trouble when they're bored.  If we devote just five minutes a day to playing with our cats, they'll look forward to this session which will relieve some of the frustration caused by boredom.  This can be anything from swishing a 'bird' on a string toy in front of your cat to winding up a mechanical toy to throwing balled up pieces of paper to playing "chase the dot" with a laser pointer.  (If you play the laser game, be aware of possible side effects.  After a play session, my sister-in-law's cat will spend the next twenty minutes staring at the last spot on the wall where he saw the red dot!) 

For the young cat like Sparky, these sessions expel some frantic energy.  For the plump cat like Maude, play time gives a little much-needed exercise and stretching of the muscles.  For a shy cat like Violet, this provides vital one-on-one time with you, her loving owner.  If one toy doesn't interest your cat, try another.  One of my cats loves feathers on a string.  Another loves toys with bells.  (I put the toys away between sessions so they're always fresh and exciting.  Also, every time I open that drawer, I'm instantly joined by my eager feline friends - a great way to find them in a pinch.)  If one of your cats dominates play time, have a play session with your other cat(s) in another room while that cat is distracted with food or another toy.

In addition to the joy of laughing at his/her acrobatics, actively playing with your cat once a day gives you the benefit of 'touching base' with your cat once a day.  Observing kitty will help you notice if she's less active than usual or limping on a back leg or losing fur on her belly.  Waking up to play with your cat is a great way to start your day, and unwinding with a play session before bed can help all of the day's frustrations to evaporate.  Our cats think we're here to take care of them, but really, we know they take care of us.

Kelley Wagner, C.V.T.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Weight Loss For Kitty

Last week, we talked about Maude, our slightly plump older cat.  While Maude knows she’s perfect just the way she is, we as owners know our overweight cats would lead longer, healthier lives if they could take off a few pounds.  As with any creature (dog, cat, human J), the best way to take off pounds is to reduce calories and increase exercise.  Now that the weather is finally improving, we have the desire to be outside and move around a little.  Maude can see the outside just fine from her comfortable window seat, thank you very much.  She thinks watching you weed your garden is as close as she needs to get to exercise. 

How do we encourage Maude to take off a few pounds?  First of all, take it slow.  Don’t deprive a cat of food or try to reduce intake too quickly.  Starting a diet program should always be discussed with your veterinarian.  It’s not healthy for a cat to lose too much weight too quickly.  If you’re switching to a lower calorie food (or any new diet), gradually wean your cat(s) onto it over a 5 to 7 day period.  “He’ll eat when he’s hungry” does not work in cats.  If your cat turns his nose up at food for more than a day or two, he can develop serious health problems.  If your cat doesn't want to eat the mix with the new food, back off to a mix with more of the old food.  If the new diet is absolutely unacceptable, see if another diet might work better.

There are a few tricks of the diet trade to help manage kitty's food intake.  First, feed kitty for the weight you want her to be, not the weight she is now.  Second, make sure you have a measuring cup to accurately measure food.  When you actually measure the makeshift serving cup you use, you may find that it holds a lot more food than you thought.  You can also use a kitchen scale for even more accurate measurements.   Also, consider feeding your cat a few times a day rather than letting her forage all day.  This way, you can keep track of what she's eating.  This may also help you notice more quickly if she ever starts to lose her appetite-one of the few signs cats give us when they're ill or injured.

Now for the fun bits:  If you want get a little creative, you can kill two birds with one stone.  Consider fashioning 'foraging toys' for your plump cat (and maybe a few for your overactive kitty).  Foraging toys are simply toys that help our cats work a little more for their dinner.  This provides mental stimulation, excitement, and that much-needed exercise.  A foraging toy can be made out of something as simple as an old egg carton.  Sprinkle some dry food inside the container and then poke a few paw-sized holes in the top.  Your cat will do the rest.  For more ideas, read this article on feline foraging. 

Finally, here’s a simple answer for a frustrating challenge.  What if I have more than one cat?  How can I let my thin cat(s) have food without my overweight cat acting as a self-appointed cleanup crew?  First, you can have several different feeding stations (which will also cut down on intimidation around the food bowls for cats like Violet).  You may also consider feeding your thinner cats on a counter the overweight cat can't reach.  What about the motivated fat cat who can spring amazingly well?  Try a box with a hole cut in the side through which only your thinner cat can fit!

Kelley Wagner, C.V.T.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

My Constant Companion

So, why does Fluffy have to leave the exam room when it's time to get her blood drawn or her nails trimmed?  Will she be OK without me?

We often get asked these questions by our clients.  You bring Fluffy to the veterinarian anticipating that she'll be traumatized by the whole ordeal.  Then, you're asked to allow her to leave your side when she needs you most, right?  The fortunate truth of it all is that nine out of ten pets are far calmer and easier to handle while not face to face with their owners.

Being a loving owner, there is a certain amount of anxiety that goes along with taking Fluffy to the veterinarian - an anticipation of how frightened Fluffy is going to be.  What we don't realize, as pet owners, is that this fear and anxiety is transferred to your pet through body language.  This raises the level of anxiety for your dog or cat.  By removing the stimulation, Fluffy is actually able to calm down, which makes her veterinary visit more enjoyable and less scary. 

From a technical perspective, things such as blood draws and nail trims are able to be accomplished more quickly with the assistance of other technicians in the treatment area.  We all want to think that our pets are incapable of hurting anyone, but sometimes we have to do things to them that may not be comfortable.  As animals, they only have a few ways to let us know that that wasn't cool, so proper, yet gentle restraint by another trained technician helps everyone stay safe.  If Fluffy is still stressed or needs a potentially painful procedure, we will recommend sedation.  With this option, Fluffy comes to see us, takes a nap, and then goes home.

Our favorite part is bringing Fluffy back to you when treatments are done since our pets love their owners better than anything else in the world, and it's the best treat we can give them!

Stephanie Severson, CVT

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Maude's Long Journey

In our imaginary family, Maude is our oldest cat.  Life has been pretty easy for Maude.  She has food readily available, she can always find a warm spot to curl up, and she’s mellow enough to find Sparky the kitten to be only moderately annoying.  This life of ease has led Maude to become a bit plump, and she’s a bit slower to get up from naps due to some developing arthritis.  When Maude has to use the litter box, it can be a bit of a challenge for her because she has to make it all the way from her sleeping spot in the family room to the basement steps where she creaks her way downstairs and around the corner to the litter boxes.  Once there, she has to step over the high side of the box to get inside and maneuver into a good spot to eliminate.  This seems to get more challenging every year, especially since Maude now seems to have to urinate more often.  It’s easy to imagine a time when Maude doesn’t quite make it to the litter box before she absolutely has to find another spot to ‘go’.

     How can we make it easier for our older cats to use the litter box?  Here are a few ideas.  First, it’s great idea to have a litter box on every level of the house.  This way, our older (or larger) cats don’t have to deal with stairs every time they have to use the litter box.  Also, our older cats can sometimes deal with declining eyesight and hearing as well as mental confusion (much like our older relatives).  We want to make it as easy as we can to find a litter box.  If you have a litter box with higher sides, it might be nice to cut a ‘doorway’ into the side of the box so the cat can simply step into the box rather than having to climb in.  Finally, note whether the boxes seem to need to be cleaned more often than usual.  Kidney disease, diabetes, and other conditions can creep up on our pets.  A wetter litter box may be one of the few signs we have to warn us that kitty needs to see her veterinarian to diagnose an underlying medical condition (and perhaps discuss some arthritis medication).  We’ll work to make sure our ‘Maude’ kitties have comfortable golden years.

Kelley Wagner, C.V.T.

Next week: Weight loss?  Who needs it?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Seminar Recap

There are any number of continuing education opportunities out there for our technical staff.  Here is a review of a recent one that our technician assistant Sue attended...

Working as a registered nurse for the past 13 years, I have been to numerous seminars and conferences.  Some have been very informative and educational, while others have proved less than stellar.  Now that I am working as a veterinary technician assistant, I felt that continuing education in this field is just as important as in human health care.  I attended a seminar presented by the Veterinary Specialty Center located in Buffalo Grove, Illinois.  I must say, it was one of the finest seminars that I have ever attended. 

Everything was first class.  The presenters and material presented enhanced my knowledge and left me feeling very positive about my career change.  Lectures were informative and addressed many of the diseases seen on a daily basis here at Belle City.  Topics that were covered included: osteoarthritis in dogs and cats, performing the initial assessment, infectious disease, ECG interpretation, wound care, skull radiographs, lymphoma, and the difference between Cushings and Addisons diseases.  As you can see the topics were varied and the Cushings vs Addisons presentation was extremely helpful as we frequently see both diseases at our hospital.

The staff at the Veterinary Specialty Center was very prepared and presented the material in an organized and efficient manner.  Everything about this seminar was impressive and our breakfast and lunch were included.  The entire seminar was FREE and after attending this year, I would gladly go again.  It was a wonderful opportunity to increase my knowledge and I would highly recommend any veterinary technician attend if at all possible.  I am looking forward to next year's seminar!

Sue Trefny

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Your Pet Should Use Heartworm Preventative

Why do veterinarians and staff always recommend heartworm testing and prevention?  After all, have you ever seen it?  Maybe your pet has never had problems.  Why is it important for all pets?  Let's start at the beginning.

Heartworm disease is caused by a parasite that grows in the heart and lungs of dogs and cats.  This parasite is spread by mosquitoes, so every dog and cat is susceptible, even indoor cats.

Most infected pets show no signs at all, so it is important to test periodically.  For those dogs that do show signs, coughing and exercise intolerance are most common.  For cats, coughing and vomiting are the most common signs.  Both dogs and cats can also suddenly die because of heartworm disease.

IF your dog tests positive for heartworm, it can be treated.  However, treatment is much more expensive than a monthly preventative.  It is also more risky in terms of side effects.  There is no accepted treatment for cats that develop heartworm disease.

Thankfully, we have wonderful preventatives available.  Administering one preventive a month will keep your dogs and cats free of this terrible disease so they can live longer, happier lives.

Todd Whitney, DVM

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Monday Funny on a Tuesday!

Raising Duncan Classics

Because sometimes a Tuesday can feel like a Monday! :) 
Happy Tuesday!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Check Into It!

There seems to be a disturbing rumor out in the world that every house cat has an ‘expiration date’.  Many clients have told me that they have been told every cat will eventually start peeing around the house, and then they will have to get rid of the cat.  While this seems ridiculous, it cannot be denied that a problem with ‘behavior’ is still far and away the number one cause for euthanizing or relinquishing cats in this country.  I’ve been writing about behavior issues, and many of these involve the litter box.  We make all of these recommendations in the hopes of preventing problems. 

I’d much rather talk about the ideal litter box than try to solve a problem of unknown duration.  If your cat is eliminating outside the box in any way, the first step is always the same:  Take your cat in to your veterinarian to rule out medical issues.  We all want to think it’s a ‘naughty cat’ situation that can be solved with a phone call, but even behavior issues often start with a physical problem, and that requires a visit to your veterinarian.  This is always the first line of every behavior book because no amount of behavior counseling will solve a physical problem.  Whether the problem is a bladder stone or a true behavior issue or something in between, we want to help.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Is There A Right Time For An Emergency?

This is probably a surprise to most of you, but we occasionally get very busy here at Belle City Veterinary Hospital.  The walk-in nature of our practice has in effect made us a day-time animal E.R. for Racine and the surrounding communities.  We tend to get a feast-or-famine flow (or lack of flow) to the day.  Recently, during a particularly large rush of sick patients, one of our Veterinary Technicians opined that clients must gather at the Walgreen's parking lot across the street until the numbers are sufficient for an overwhelming assault!  So far, we have kept just ahead of the crush, thanks in large part to your patience, and we do appreciate your patients.

If you have experienced one of these particularly busy times, you may have noticed that the order is mostly- but not always- first come, first served.  The reason for the departure may simply be that Fifi is only here for a nail trim or a booster shot or a pre-arranged drop-off for a test, etc.  Often, thought, a patient moving to the front of the line is a triage decision.  Triage is the decision to treat in a certain order based on need or urgency.  Conditions that will garner this most immediate attention are, in somewhat decreasing order; cardiac or respiratory arrest, respiratory distress, hemorrhage, active seizure, trauma, sudden collapse, etc.  We also expedite euthanasias to help decrease the stress of this difficult time; emotional triage, if you will.

Always remember that if your pet is experiencing a crisis, we will make that our first priority and thank you for your understanding when someone else is going through an emergency with their companion.  If possible, please notify us en route with the nature of your emergency and an ETA to help us prepare; sometimes seconds do count.

Brian C. Ray, DVM

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Cat Tree

In our imaginary cat home, Nikki has invested a lot of time and money in providing a happy environment for her cats.  She’s particularly fond of the ‘cat tree’ she has next to her front window.  It has three levels for perches, the base is wrapped in sessil rope, and it’s covered in carpet.  (If she squints, she can convince herself that the carpet kind of matches her furniture.)  She bought it at a discount store, and her cats love it!  It serves a different purpose for each cat.  Prince, of course, claims the top level to survey his domain.  Maude thinks it’s worth the effort to spring up to the second level and bask in the morning sun.  Sparky likes to scamper up to the first or second level where he can watch the world or chirp at the birds outside or bat at Maude or Prince’s tail as it lazily waves back and forth.  Even Violet will use the sisal rope at the base of the tree to scratch out some of her inner frustrations.
A cat tree can be a very useful tool for a multiple cat household – especially if you live in a small space.  It’s a way to ‘cheat’, if you will.  It makes more effective use of your vertical space without  occupying any additional floor space.  That being said, I’ve seen as many great cat trees as I’ve seen prohibitive prices.  If you can’t afford a fancy cat tree, try to think of other ways to provide cat perches around your house.  If I leave the room when I clean out my linen drawers, I invariably find a cat in the drawer the moment I return.  If you can place a blanket or pillow in a secluded drawer in a closet or entertainment center, a shy cat like Violet will be able to watch the world without being seen.  Be creative.  Look for good perches and then create a cat spot that blends with your décor.  If you have great ideas, send us some pictures.  We’ll post them and inspire others!