Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Pets as Christmas Presents

Sometimes it may seem like a cute idea to give someone a pet as a Christmas present, but it’s important to give that some extra thought before you do it. Most pets that are given up lose their home because their owner loses interest in them or is unprepared for the responsibility of pet ownership. This is a huge problem seen among pet owners who receive their pets as “gifts.” Children especially are given the mistaken idea that pets are all fun and games, but they are not fully ready to take on the responsibility of feeding, walking, cleaning, and training their pet.

Instead of giving pets as presents, we recommend getting acclimated to the idea of bringing a new pet into your home. Bringing your children to volunteer at an animal shelter or babysitting the pet of a friend or family member can help. Children and potential pet owners (no matter their age!) need to be reminded that pets aren’t just cute; they are also hungry, need to exercise, and need to use the bathroom. They can be messy when they aren’t fully trained, and the training process can be difficult too.

Please, don’t adopt until everyone in your family is READY. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Pets and Garbage

If your pet’s nose goes in the trash on a regular basis, be extra careful during the holidays! The trash will be extra interesting when filled with holiday scraps, but it will also be more dangerous. Keep those garbage can lids on tight!

Monday, September 9, 2013

AKC Responsible Dog Ownership Month

This month is AKC Responsible Dog Ownership Month. Responsible pet ownership encompasses a number of different areas, from feeding your dog a nutritious diet to training them properly.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Time to Clean Your Pet's Ears?

Veterinarians see a lot of patients with ear infections. In fact, it's the second most common reason for a client visit, according to pet health insurer, VPI Pet Insurance. With ear problems prompting so many trips to the vet, should ear cleaning be a necessary part of grooming your pet?

Generally, cleaning a dog's ears on a routine basis is not necessary, according to Leonard Jonas, DVM, MS, DACVIM, a veterinarian with Wheat Ridge Animal Hospital in Wheat Ridge, Colo. That's because animals have a naturally occurring self-cleansing process.
"I've had pets my whole life," Jonas said. "I don't remember ever routinely cleaning out their ears."
However, that doesn't mean pet owners should never take notice of their dog's ears. Certain breeds, lifestyles and physical characteristics will make a dog more prone to what Jonas calls "abnormal situations," in which the pet's normal homeostasis is disrupted. This is when something, either systemically or locally in the ear, interferes with the normal surface barrier defense system and the normal cleaning process that keeps bacteria and yeast under control.
There are signs to watch for if your pet is having an issue with its ears. These, according to Jonas, include:
  • Shaking its head
  • Flapping its ears
  • Rubbing at its ears, either with a paw or by rubbing against furniture or carpet
  • Self-massaging the ear to ease itch, pain or irritation
  • Debris and/or redness inside the ear
  • Sores inside the ear
  • Odor in the ear due to abnormal oils and bacteria
"If you [the pet owner] look in the ear, you can see sometimes a lot of debris," said Jonas, explaining what an ear with an infection or problem may look like. "Then [you] see redness on the ear flaps (inside) or sores developing. And then there's also odor that occurs when you have an abnormal ear."
Breeds to watch
There are certain breeds of dogs—such as Shar Peis, bulldogs and poodles—that have narrow ear canals and have a higher chance of incurring ear issues. Poodles, especially, have more hair in the canals, Jonas explained. "The hair itself is not a problem, but if they've got something abnormal with their whole defense system, all that extra hair in there makes it difficult."
Cocker spaniels are notorious for ear problems, Jonas added.
When to clean your pet's ears
According to Jonas, it's best to consult your veterinarian before going forward with an ear-cleaning regimen. Unlike cleaning the teeth, cleaning the ears does not need be done regularly. If a pet owner suspects that something may be wrong with the ear, it's advised to visit the veterinarian and establish whether the dog's ear needs to be cleaned by the owner either routinely or for an instructed period of time.
Cleaning the dog's ears without first seeing a veterinarian is not a good idea, Jonas said, "because you don't know what's going on inside. You don't know if there has been a ruptured ear drum; you don't know if there's a stick or a stone or something stuck down inside the ear that needs to be fished out by a veterinarian."
A veterinarian can diagnose the problem and make the proper recommendations, which may be cleaning and/or medication.
Typically, there are two situations for which a dog's ears would need to be cleaned regularly. The first is when a veterinarian instructs for it to be done, and the second is when the dog is frequently in water. "Water in their ears disrupts the normal defense barrier system in that ear, and can make them prone to getting infections and irritation and inflammation," Jonas said.
If there needs to be ear cleaning
A veterinarian should show the owner how to properly clean the dog's ears because "there are a lot of different techniques, and it depends on what the problem is," Jonas advised.
There are a couple of precautions to always remember, according to Jonas. First, never use a Q-tip, because it tends to push the wax and debris further into the ear. Second, be sure a groomer does not pluck the hair out of the dog's ears, unless that hair is contributing to an ear problem; Jonas believes that doing so may cause irritation.
One thing pet owners should also consider is that if the dog has an ear infection, it could be very painful for them. Forcing the dog to get its ears cleaned or putting medication in them can be a dangerous situation for the owner and the dog.
"If your pet doesn't want you to do it, don't, because it hurts," Jonas said. "You're just going to create a problem, and you need to look to alternatives."

Originally published by Healthy Pet.

Monday, July 22, 2013

ASPCA Guide to Pet-Safe Gardening

ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) experts field tens of thousands of calls each year
involving animal companions who’ve had potentially hazardous contact with insecticides, weed
killers and pet-toxic plants.

"Keeping animals safe from accidental poisonings should not end once you've stepped outside,"
says Dana Farbman, APCC pet poison prevention expert. "Protecting your pet from potential
hazards in your yard is just as critical."

While gardens and yards are lovely for relaxing, they can also prove dangerous for our animal

Our experts recommend you watch out for the following:

Poisonous Plants
When designing and planting your green space, it's a good idea to keep in mind that many
popular outdoor plants—including sago palm, rhododendron and azalea—are toxic to cats and
dogs. Sago palm and other members of the Cycad family as well as mushrooms can cause liver
failure, while rhododendron, azalea, lily of the valley, oleander, rosebay, foxglove and kalanchoe
all affect the heart. Please visit our full list—and pics!—of toxic and non-toxic plants for your

Just like you, plants need food. But pet parents, take care—the fertilizer that keeps our plants
healthy and green can wreak havoc on the digestive tracts of our furry friends. Ingesting large
amounts of fertilizer can give your pet a good case of stomach upset and may result in lifethreatening gastrointestinal obstruction. Be sure to follow instructions carefully and observe the
appropriate waiting period before letting your pet run wild outside.

Cocoa Mulch
Many gardeners use cocoa bean shells—a by-product of chocolate production—in landscaping.
Popular for its attractive odor and color, cocoa mulch also attracts dogs with its sweet smell, and
like chocolate, it can pose problems for our canine companions. Depending on the amount
involved, ingestion of cocoa mulch can cause a range of clinical signs, from vomiting, diarrhea
and muscle tremors to elevated heart rate, hyperactivity and even seizures. Consider using a lesstoxic alternative, such as shredded pine, cedar or hemlock bark, but always supervise curious
canines in yards where mulch is spread.

Like fertilizer, herbicides, insecticide baits, sprays and granules are often necessary to keep our
gardens healthy, but their ingredients aren't meant for four-legged consumption. The most
dangerous forms of pesticides include snail bait with metaldehyde, fly bait with methomyl,
systemic insecticides with the ingredients disyston or disulfoton, mole or gopher bait with zinc
phosphide and most forms of rat poisons. Always store pesticides in inaccessible areas—and
read the manufacturer's label carefully for proper usage and storage.
You're doing the right thing for your garden and Mother Earth—you're composting! Food and
garden waste make excellent additions to garden soil, but depending on what you're tossing in
the compost bin, they can also pose problems for our pets. Coffee, moldy food and certain types of fruit and vegetables are toxic to dogs and cats, so read up on people foods to avoid feeding
your pet.

Fleas and Ticks
Since fleas and ticks lurk in tall brush and grasses, it's important to keep those lawns mowed and
trim. Fleas can cause excessive scratching, hair loss, scabs, hot spots and tapeworms as well as
anemia from blood loss in both cats and dogs. Ticks can cause similar effects and lead to a
variety of complications from tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain
spotted fever and Babesia.

Garden Tools
Unattended garden tools may seem like no big deal, but rakes, tillers, hoes and trowels can be
hazardous to pets and cause trauma to paws, noses or other parts of a curious pet's body. Rusty,
sharp tools caked in dirt may also pose a risk for tetanus if they puncture skin. While cats don't
appear to be as susceptible as dogs to tetanus, care should be taken by storing all unused tools in
a safe area, not haphazardly strewn on the ground.

Allergy-Causing Flora
Ah-choo! Like their sneezy human counterparts, pets have allergies to foods, dust and even
plants. Allergic reactions in dogs and cats can even cause life-threatening anaphylactic shock if
the reaction is severe. If you do suspect your pet has an allergy, please don't give him any
medication that isn't prescribed by a veterinarian. It's also smart to keep your pet out of other
people's yards, especially if you're unsure of what kinds of plants or flowers lurk there. Keeping
your pet off the lawn of others will make for healthy pets and happy neighbors.

Originally published by the ASPCA.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Ack—My Pet Ate Garbage!

Why worry? Because people food is not safe for animals. And food isn’t the only risk—animals will eat the most unexpected things. It’s important to guard that garbage can.

“You don’t want your dog to pig out on chocolate or leftover pizza, chicken or turkey—anything with a high percentage of fat can lead to pancreatitis (inflammation and swelling of the pancreas, which can cause permanent damage and be fatal)," says Martha Gearhart, DVM, owner of Pleasant Valley Animal Hospital, Pleasant Valley, N.Y. “Raw bones are digestible, but their sharp points are dangerous, and cooked bones are very brittle and can shatter [once eaten].”

The odor of food or blood attracts animals to garbage, sometimes with tragic results—Gearhart’s brother’s dog ate the plastic wrap and Styrofoam tray from a package of meat, killing the dog. “It didn’t show up in the X-ray, but the points from the Styrofoam punctured the lung,” she recalls.

Boredom and separation anxiety can make animals explore trash cans or pounce on decorations, Gearhart says. “Some dogs have a passion for salty, smelly socks!” she notes. “I had one dog that enjoyed knocking down glass ornaments and biting on decorative balls.”

Cats eating tinsel is so common that tinselitis is a veterinary term. “Cats won’t eat tinsel from the garbage can, but will be attracted to tinsel on a tree,” warns Gearhart.

I discovered that myself—my own cat once ate tinsel. I found out when she eliminated it, tangled in balls of poop that she dragged around the apartment. I was lucky to get her to the veterinarian in time for treatment.

Dogs may eat used tampons or sanitary pads, which cause dangerous internal obstructions, Gearhart says.
There is string in a roast or bird, and string is severely dangerous—it causes internal damage. Cats are more likely to eat string than are dogs, notes Gearhart.

Prevention First
Prevention is the best way to protect animals from garbage:
  • Rinse wrappers, containers and packaging before pitching them.
  • Lock garbage under the sink or on the porch.
  • Use trash cans with tight-fitting lids (heavy, self-closing cans for households with large dogs).
  • Move garbage from indoors to well-secured outdoor containers.
  • Put tinsel and breakable decorations high up, out of reach.
  • Put a decorated tree in a room with a door—and keep it closed.
  • Keep dogs away from dangerous and tempting situations.
As Gearhart notes, “I’m all for crate training. They feel better and more secure.”

Protective Measures
If precautions fail, the best thing to do is call your veterinarian, who might have you come in to get a vomit-inducing drug. Or, they may encourage you to induce vomiting, unless the animal ate something sharp, acidic or caustic.

In some instances, your veterinarian might have you wait—it can take up to 5 days for elimination. Regardless, work with your veterinarian to find the best “cure” for your pet.
Here’s to a safe diet, and holiday season, for your animals!
Readers: Tell us what your pet has gotten into by e-mailing the editor at ann.everhart@aahanet.org.

Originally published by AAHA.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Pet Appreciation Week

This week is Pet Appreciation Week, a time set aside for pet owners to show their pets how much they mean to them. Are you doing anything special for your pet this week?

Friday, May 24, 2013

Memorial Day

Happy Memorial Day this Monday! Remember the men and women who dedicated their lives to our nation’s freedom.

Monday, April 8, 2013

April is Prevent Lyme Disease in Dogs Month!

 Did you know that Lyme Disease is a deadly illness passed by ticks? April is Prevent Lyme Disease in Dogs Month! It’s important to always keep your pet protected from tick bites in order to prevent Lyme Disease! Ask us for details about our tick preventative options.

Monday, February 4, 2013

February is Pet Dental Health Month at Towne Square Animal Clinic

Poor dental hygiene in pets can lead to gingivitis and periodontal disease which can cause other complications in your pet such as liver, heart and kidney disease. February is Pet Dental Month and the team at Towne Square Animal Clinic wants your pet to have a healthy smile! Bring your pet in for a dental cleaning this month to keep your pets mouth fresh and disease free. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

6 Common Cat Health Problems

Cats are good at self maintenance, but even your fastidious feline can't prevent some of the more common cat diseases and health issues. To help you care for kitty, here's a brief overview of six of the most common cat health problems.

Common Cat Health Problem: VOMITING

Vomiting is a very common cat health problem, with causes ranging from eating something poisonous or inedible, to infection, urinary tract disease or diabetes.

Symptoms are usually obvious and include drooling and abdominal heaving. Vomiting can quickly leave your cat dehydrated, so if kitty continues vomiting or acts ill, call your vet right away. And, because between vomiting and regurgitation, collect a sample of your cat's vomit and take it with you to the vet.

Common Cat Health Problem: Feline Lower Urinary Tract Diseases (FLUTD)

About 10% of cats brought to the vet have feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD), which is actually a group of feline diseases with multiple causes.

Female and male cats can get FLUTD, and it often occurs in cats that are overweight, unfit or who eat dry food.
FLUTD Symptons include:

  • Straining to urinate 
  • Bloody urine 
  • Urinating in unusual places 
  • Crying with urinating
  • Licking around the urinary area 
  • Depression
  • Dehydration
  • Lack of appetite
  • Vomiting
It's ALWAYS an emergency if your cat can't urinate. Call your vet immediately if you suspect your cat has a urinary tract problem. 

Common Cat Health Problem: Fleas 

Fleas are a very common external feline health problem, but one you can treat easily. Signs your cat has fleas include: 
  • Flea Dirt on their skin
  • Constant scratching
  • Frequent licking 
  • red skin 
  • hair loss 
  • skin infections
Fleas can live for more than a year and your cat risks anemia if the problem becomes serious. 

One of the most common feline health problems inside your cat, tapeworms, live in kitty's small intestine, sometimes growing as long as two feet. 

Symptoms of a tapeworm infection can be subtle, but may include vomiting and weight loss. 

Common Cat Health Problem: Diarrhea 

Many things can cause diarrhea in cats, including hairballs, spoiled food, allergies, infection, liver disease, cancer, and more. 
If your cat has diarrhea, offer kitty plenty of fresh, clean water to prevent dehydration, then remove kitty's food for no more than 12-24 hours. 
Take your cat to the vet if he/she still has diarrhea after a day or if you notice vomiting, dark or bloody stools, fever, lethargy, lack of appetite. 

Sources: American Veterinary Medical Association 
"External Parasites," What is Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease?" 

Humane Society of Memphis & Shelby County: "About FLUTD 

Suevet.com "Cat Vomiting" 

ASPCA: "Fleas," "Worms" "Diarrhea," "Top Tips for Keeping Kitty's Eyes Healthy."