Pet Advice

Time To Say Goodbye?

As our companion dogs and cats begin to age, they may develop illnesses or diseases which can begin to affect their quality of life. In some cases, early detection blood screening is helpful in catching these diseases early and postponing progression. There are other illnesses though such as cancer or heart disease that can develop slowly under the radar and may not be noticeable until your pet’s quality of life begins to decline.

When I have an owner bring their pet to me with concerns over quality of life, I certainly examine the pet, but more importantly, I discuss with the owner the pet’s behavior at home. There are three criteria I consider in evaluating a pet’s quality of life. First, is your dog or cat still acting as a companion and coming around to be scratched and given affection to? Second, is your cat or dog willing to eat regularly and if so, able to keep food down without vomiting? Finally, is your dog or cat able to go to the bathroom (posture) without falling or having to sit in their own waste? If any of these are questionable, I would begin to consider medical intervention and if that is unsuccessful, humane euthanasia.

Many pet owners struggle with the decision to end their pet’s life by humane euthanasia. I explain to pet owners in this predicament the process of euthanasia to help them in their decision making. In my experience, it is a peaceful process where their dog or cat will fall asleep first in their lap or on a soft blanket and then their breathing and heartbeat will stop after they have lost consciousness. I also explain that I consider it our gift to our companions to end their suffering peacefully. Most owners usually find comfort in knowing these details


What's Best For Your Dog While You Are Away?

Many families plan on summer vacations this time of year. If your destination is not pet friendly or your pet is not a good traveler (most cats fit into this category) they must be left behind while you travel. Two options exist for making sure your dog or cat is well taken care including finding a pet sitter to watch your pet in your home or booking a stay at a boarding facility.

Most cats do very well when left in their normal environment. A pet sitter should be hired to provide fresh food and water to your kitty and to clean the litter pan regularly. Some dogs also do better staying home in their familiar setting especially if they develop stress induced diarrhea or have aggression toward other pets. In my case, with three dogs and two cats, it is financially more feasible to hire a pet sitter to come to my house than to pay boarding fees for five pets. I leave specific instructions on my pet’s feeding schedule, medication routines, and emergency numbers for the pet sitter to have available.

Some dogs love socializing with other pets and see boarding facilities as their own resort to have fun at. You should ask for referrals to a boarding facility from your friends or veterinarian. I would advise meeting the staff at the facility and taking a tour to check the cleanliness and safety of the operation. Most places require your pet to be up to date on vaccines. Reservations are also necessary at most facilities. When you drop your pet off, you may want to leave a blanket or t-shirt with your scent on it. Bring all of your pet’s medication (in their original prescription bottles) and food (if allowed to) to avoid any gastrointestinal upset that can occur with changing diets. The main goal of your vacation is to relax. Making sure your pet is well cared for means one less worry to be concerned with.


Does "Fido" Have a Fear of Fireworks?

The Fourth of July is a time of celebrating the Independence Day of America with fireworks representing the defeat of the British with “the rocket’s red glare and bombs bursting in air.” For the pet owner who has an animal that is frightened by the booms and blasts though, the circumstances can be defeating to them.

A few tips may be helpful in reducing your dog’s anxiety related to fireworks. First, create a comfortable place for your dog to lie down in an interior room of the house away from the windows. Preferably, use his or her crate as a den. Cover it with a thick blanket or comforter to help muffle out the sound of the booms. Second, create a distraction from the firework noise by playing the radio or a sound machine in the vicinity of where your dog will be.

Finally, there are holistic options and prescription medications that can work to reduce anxiety in your dog. One option is DAP (dog appeasing pheromone) which mimics the soothing scent of a mother dog. This is available as a plug-in diffuser or a collar at major pet stores or through Trusty Vet’s online pharmacy. An alternative is Anxitane which is a newly available oral supplement purchased from your veterinarian that has a derivative of green tea in it to produce a feeling of calm and relaxation. The “Thunder Shirt” has shown to reduce anxiety associated with thunderstorms and would have the similar effect of a hug from a concerned pet owner in the case of firework induced fear. Prescription sedatives are the last resort to managing fear behavior in pets but are available on a case by case basis after evaluation of your pet’s general health. The best method of controlling your dog’s fear of fireworks may be to stay home so that you can offer them security with your loving presence.


Perks of Pet Insurance

As a consumer that utilizes pet insurance for my own dogs, I feel that I can honestly provide you with an inside look into the perks of having pet insurance for your own dog or cat. Just the other day, a friend and client was faced with the decision on whether to proceed with a multi-thousand dollar surgery procedure for his dog’s blown knee. The reality of the situation was that his child’s need for braces was a more important monetary need. So while his dog will be managed for its pain, the surgery was simply cost prohibitive.

Pet insurance allows you to make that difficult decision an easy one. I pay my pet insurance premium once a year, and in the majority of years that I have been a policy holder, I have seen a full return on my premium with the benefit payouts that I have received. You also have to consider pet insurance to be more like car insurance rather than human medical insurance. First, you pay for the veterinary services up front and submit a claim for re-imbursement. Second, you never have to want to use it, but it is there if an unexpected illness or injury occurs. Illnesses can range from skin infections (pyodema) or cough (tracheobronchitis) to a more severe anemia or liver disease (hepatitis.) My particular pet insurance will even cover back surgery in the event that one of my dachshunds herniates a disk.

Many large employers (i.e. national companies) have discounts set up with the major pet insurance companies. There are also multi-pet discounts and ones for pets that are micro-chipped or fed a prescription diet depending upon which company you choose. I’ve observed the biggest mistake people make when submitting claims is neglecting to have the veterinarian participate in the claims process. An appropriate diagnosis (not symptoms-see above) in needed so that you receive the proper payout. The choice for which company to choose will involve research and consideration of coverage levels, but ultimately the best choice is to purchase pet insurance to provide your pet a good quality of life.


Rabbit Nutrition

Information for this blog was obtained from www.veterinarypartner.com. This is an excellent source for husbandry information for all small mammals. Rabbits are the third most popular pet behind dogs and cats. Rabbits require a large percentage of fiber in their diets to maintain gastrointestinal health. In general, any diet modifications should be made slowly over a period of at least one week. Oftentimes, rabbit owners make the mistake of overfeeding commercial pellets that are high calorie. Commercial pellets designed for adult rabbit maintenance should contain 18% or higher fiber, 13-14% protein, and fat content of no more than 3% and should be fed at no more that ¼ cup per 4 pounds of body weight per day.

Two especially important sources of nutrition for rabbits are an unlimited supply of timothy grass hay and fresh leafy greens at a maximum of 1 cup of packed greens for every 2 pounds of body weight. The timothy hay provides essential fiber necessary for dental and gastrointestinal health as well as proteins, vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates. For rabbits that have only been fed commercial pellets, introduce the timothy hay first and once your rabbit is eating the hay well for at least four weeks, add in the leafy greens. Introduce one green at a time and wait three days before introducing a new one. Greens should be washed thoroughly to remove pesticides. Offer three different types of greens including red and green cabbage, carrot tops, parsley, romaine lettuce, endive, radicchio, collard greens, kale, and mustard greens daily once your pet has been introduced appropriately.

Fruits and vegetables are considered “treat” foods and should be fed at a maximum of 1 tablespoon total per 2 pounds of body weight. Ideal fruits and vegetables include carrots, apples, strawberries, pears, peaches, squash, tomato, papaya, mango, blueberries, and raspberries. Avoid starchy foods such as bananas, grapes, beans, corn, peas, and potatoes. Find at least one treat food that your rabbit likes and feed a small amount daily to check on how good your rabbit’s appetite is. If they will not eat the treat food, there may be something that needs veterinary attention.