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 d├ęcor.  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.