Spring has arrived in Iowa! With the warmer weather comes flowers blooming, spring cleaning and lots of rain! This means there are potential springtime hazards for your furry companions.
When spring arrives, we know that Easter is not far behind. With Easter comes lilies and candy, items that are very toxic to pets. If ingested lilies can be fatal to our feline friends, even with just a few bites. Chocolate goodies are also toxic to both dogs and cats. The plastic grass in Easter baskets can also cause an obstructed digestive track, causing severe vomiting and dehydration. If you suspect your pet has ingested any of these items, it’s time to visit your Veterinarian.
Rain and Puddles
The rainy and wet season increases the risk of your dog contracting Leptospirosis, a bacterial disease that is spread by wild anim als. Leptospirosis (lepto) can cause liver and kidney damage. It is also zoonotic, meaning we (humans) can also contract lepto. We carry a vaccine that protects your pooch against the 4 most common strains of lepto.
When the weather starts to get warm, we open the windows to welcome the breeze in. Our felines love to lounge in the window sill. Double check to make sure your screens are secure to prevent your cats from falling or jumping out.
Keep those house cleaners and fertilizers away from your pets. Almost all cleaning products contain chemicals that may be harmful to our pets. Store your fertilizers, insecticides and herbicides out of reach of your pets. Follow the instructions on the label carefully to ensure your pet’s safety.
Spring can be a prime allergy time for pets just like us. Pets typically express allergies through their skin. If your pet is itchy, biting at his feet or skin seems irritated, there are many things we can do to help them feel more at ease.
Fleas, Ticks and Mosquitoes, Oh My!
With Iowa weather, we see this pesky critters throughout the year and recommend preventive all 12 months of the years for both dogs and cats. If your pet is not on parasite prevention, now is the time to start!
To set up an appointment to see the doctor, click here.
You can also contact Pet Poison Helpline for immediate assistance.
1. IDENTIFICATION CHECK. Does your pet have a collar and tags with updated info? If your pet is microchipped, have you updated your contact information in the past year? The holidays bring an increase of pets who will sneak out the door unexpectedly and end up in a shelter. If you have guests visiting your home for the holiday or if you are leaving your pet with a sitter, this is an important step to ensure the safety of your pet.
2. SAFE SPACE. Whether guests are coming to your home or you are traveling with your pet, make sure your pet has a safe space away from the activities. This could be a crate or a guest bedroom. Set up your pet with water, a blanket and a favorite toy to help him/her feel more at ease.
3. FOODS TO AVOID. Many foods that are perfectly safe for humans, can be extremely toxic to pets. It’s best to keep them on their regular diet to prevent any illness. Here are some people foods that should be avoided at all costs:
- Fatty Foods. Meat drippings or scraps even in small amounts can cause a life-threatening condition in pets known as pancreatitis. Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas that can result in a trip the veterinarian. Clinical symptoms of pancreatitis are vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite and abdominal pain.
- Desserts. Most desserts contain chocolate which is well-known by most to be toxic to dogs. Remember the darker the chocolate, the more serious the ingestion. Many desserts and candies may also contain an artificial sweetener called xylitol. This is dangerous to pets. It can cause a rapid drop in blood sugar along with liver damage.
- Raisins/Grapes. These can be found in some of our Thanksgiving favorites and can cause acute renal failure even in small amounts.
- Bones. Turkey or ham bones can cause obstructions if eaten, as well as, can make your pet’s tummy upset. It’s best to get a pet- safe bone or goodie for them to enjoy for the holiday.
Fall is the season for football, pumpkin spice lattes, sweaters, boots and ticks.
Yes, ticks! Iowa provides two ideal situations for ticks: cool weather and a high deer population.
So how do you know if your pet is at risk for Lyme disease? Here are some risk assessment questions:
- Have you ever found a tick on your pet? On yourself or a member of your household?
- Does your dog live in a suburban home next to wildlife areas?
- Is your dog’s yard surrounded by tall brush or grass?
- Does your dog go walking, hiking, picnicking, fishing or camping in wooded areas?
- Does your dog frequent areas with lots of deer?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, talk to your veterinarian about Lyme disease. You can also check out this prevalence map to see what tick-borne diseases you should be concerned about in your area.
Lyme disease is a growing concern because the disease is increasing in number and expanding geographically. It is a potentially serious illness transmitted to dogs by the deer tick. Symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs are:
- Not eating
- Joint Pain/Swelling
Lyme disease in dogs is largely preventable by using a tick preventive and an annual Lyme vaccine.
Has your dog or cat been itchy and uncomfortable lately?
Pets can display these symptoms any time of the year, but we tend to see an increase during this time of the year. Thankfully, there are many things we can do as pet owners to help our pets find relief!
First things first: Are all pets in the home protected against fleas?
Even if your pets are 100% indoors, they all need to be protected. We can carry fleas in just as easy as they can pick up fleas outdoors. The cooler weather should not be an indicator that it’s okay to stop a preventive. The fleas are still out in full force and ticks actually thrive in the 50-60 degree weather so tick protection is important as well during this time of the year. Click here for more info on flea and tick symptoms and preventive care. If you see any of these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.
Allergies: Pets can get them too.
While humans sneeze and have a runny nose, dogs and cats express their allergies through their skin. If you notice your pet starting to itch a little more than normal, one thing you can do at home is give him a bath. Make sure to use cool water and an oatmeal based pet shampoo for best results. For dogs, you can wipe off his feet with a washcloth or baby wipe after going outside to eliminate some of the pollen he picks up outside.
If you pet is causing open sores from scratching or unable to settle down to rest, he should see a veterinarian. There are a wide variety of medications that a veterinarian can prescribe to provide relief for your pet.
School has officially begun! Whether you are pushing your kids out the front door or still wishing summer could last a little longer, the change in our schedule is inevitable. A change in routine can cause some stress on our furry companions, so it’s our responsibility to help them adjust. Here are a few tips to make things easier for them while they wait by the door for the family to get home!
1. Establish Play Times. Schedule play times before school and after school with the kids to ensure your pets are getting enough activity. If you have a dog, plan an evening walk with the whole family. Walks are great for both exercise and stimulation for your dog.
2. Turn On Some Tunes. Play some slow and soothing music for your pet while you are gone. This will take away the quiet and help them feel more at ease.
3. Enroll In A Training Class. When things get busy, it’s easy to get lax on the rules. A training class is both good for our pup and us, as well. It helps us establish boundaries with our pets and reminds them what they can and can’t do.
4. Use Adaptil (for dogs) and Feliway (for cats). These are synthetic pheromones designed to mimic those released by a mother to her offspring to help them feel more comfortable in potential stress situations. These products are available in diffuser form and a spray for your convenience.
5. Purchase A New Toy For Your Pet. Your pet deserves to be spoiled every once and a while, right? While the kids are getting school supplies and new sneakers, pick up a new interactive toy for your pet to spice things up! Your pet will thank you!
The Fourth of July is a fun-filled summer holiday filled with barbecues, camping and of course, fireworks. While it may seem like a fun idea to take your pooch along to these festivities, dogs are more sensitive to noise than we are and don’t associate the noise and flashes of fireworks with celebrations. Dogs can be nervous of fireworks and may even panic at the loud bangs they produce.
If your pet is scared of fireworks, there are several things you can do:
1. Keep your pet at home. More pets go missing on the Fourth of July than any other day of the year. This is usually caused when pets panic from the noise of fireworks and dart to get away from the noise, winding up lost, injured or worse. Also, make sure your pet is microchipped. A microchip is a permanent form of identification for your pet. It increases the chance of a missing pet being reunited with his family dramatically.
2. Make a safe, quiet space for your pet. Put their bed and a favorite toy in a quite corner or bedroom in your house. If their crate is a safe spot, drape a blanket over the top to protect them from any bright lights of the fireworks. Give them a special treat or bone when they are in their safe spot to help positively reinforce their safe spot.
3. Increase your dog’s sense of security by using the product Adaptil. Adaptil is a pheromone that mimics the natural pheromone released by a mother dog to reassure her puppies. This product can help reduce your pet’s stress level and help them feel more at ease. Adaptil comes in a collar, diffuser, or spray.
4. Set up an appointment with your Veterinarian. There are additional treatment options available if needed, to help your pet feel at ease during firework season.
We hope you all have a safe and fun holiday, and encourage you to take these 4 easy steps to help comfort your pets!
LEPTOSPIROSIS: What is it?
Leptospirosis (lepto) is a disease caused by a spiral shaped bacteria. Both humans and animals can be infected with the bacteria. It is most commonly contracted by drinking contaminated water, including rivers, streams, and even puddles. The number of canine lepto cases has dramatically risen in recent years. Today, it is considered the number one infectious cause of acute kidney failure in dogs.
What animals get leptospirosis?
Lepto does not discriminate. It has been diagnosed in all types of dogs and all breeds and sizes are at risk. Common carriers include raccoons, skunks, squirrels, opossums, rats and livestock.
How can my pet get leptospirosis?
Leptospirosis is spread through the urine of infected animals, which gets into water or soil and can survive for weeks to months. Animals become infected when they come in direct contact with the contaminated areas. The bacteria enters through cuts in the skin, through eyes, nose or mouth, as well through ingestion of contaminated water or soil (eat or drink it). The bacteria can also be inhaled.
How does leptospirosis affect my animal?
In dogs, leptospirosis can cause fever, vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite, weakness, stiffness, and muscle pain. Each patient is different when it comes to leptospirosis. Some have very few signs and others become very sick. Kidney and liver damage can also occur from this disease. As mentioned before, it is the number one infectious cause of acute kidney failure in dogs. In general, young animals tend to be severely affected then older animals.
Can humans get leptospirosis?
YES! Humans can become infected with leptospirosis in ways similar to animals. In addition to touching, inhaling or ingesting contaminated water or soil, humans can also get leptospirosis by coming in contact with infected urine from animals (including dogs).
*** In a recent research study, leptospirosis was found to be one of the top diseases spread from pets to people (this is called a zoonotic disease).
How do I protect my pet and myself from leptospirosis?
Avoiding contact with contaminated areas is one main way to prevent disease, but far too often we cannot know when an area is contaminated. Discourage your dog from drinking from standing water.
Vaccination is one of the best ways we can help prevent disease. The vaccine protects dogs from the 4 most common serovars (types) of leptospriosis. It is a series of 2 vaccines (3 weeks apart) for the first year, then annually after that. This is one of the best ways to protect you and your pet from this nasty disease!
Proper litter box care is an essential part of proper care for your feline friend. If your cat is eliminating outside of the litter box, this means there may have an underlying medical condition and you should take your feline to your veterinarian. If a medical condition is ruled out, there are many things you can do at home to make sure you have the right set up to ensure your cat will use the litter box.
How many litter boxes should I have?
The ideal number of litter boxes is one per cat, plus one. So if you have 2 cats, you should have three litter boxes. If you have 4 cats, you should have five litter boxes, and so on.
Where should I place my litter boxes?
Litter boxes should be placed in at least two different locations. If you have multiple levels in your home, consider placing a litter box on each level of the home. Locations should be private and have easy access. Avoid noisy appliances and doors that are opened frequently. Boxes should not be placed next to one another, as cats will only see this as one giant litter box.
What type of litter should I use?
Most cats prefer a fine-grained, unscented litter (e.g., clumping litter). Many cats prefer a litter depth of approximately 1.5 inches. Preference may vary by cat.
How often should I clean the litter box?
Boxes should be scooped 1-2 times daily. Litter should be completely changed once a week or more often if a multi-cat household. Wash litter box with warm, soapy water and dry well before adding new litter.
What kind of litter box should I buy?
Cats prefer litter boxes that are at least 1.5 times the length of their bodies. Commercial litter boxes are too small for larger cats! Sweater storage boxes, cement mixing tubs and small dog litter pans all make excellent cat litter boxes.
Are my cat’s potty habits normal?
The average cat urinates twice daily (+/- 2) and defecates once daily. Some will sniff and cover their eliminations; others don’t. Both are considered normal behavior.
Eliminating outside the box often signals an underlying medical condition. The earlier the problem is corrected, the better the chance for the cat to return to their litter box.
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is the insertion of fine needles into specific points on a patient to produce a physiological response. It is an ancient Chinese medical technique that has been used for over 3,000 years. It is known to have therapeutic effects in a wide variety of animal diseases and is a valuable tool in veterinary medicine.
How does it work?
Acupuncture is the stimulation of specific points on the body located along pathways that correspond to specific organs. In traditional Oriental medicine, acupuncture is based on the flow of energy, or “Chi”, running through channels called meridians. These can be thought of as rivers of energy. These rivers can become blocked like a dam and acupuncture releases the obstruction.
In modern scientific terms, placing needles in designated points on the body will lead to the release of chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord, and brain, which can stimulate healing. It has been shown to increase blood and lymphatic flow to tissue, stimulate nerve function, increase the release of neurotransmitters and pain modulators, influence inflammatory responses and help release hormones.
Acupuncture is typically used in conjunction with traditional western veterinary medicine.
Common conditions that respond well to acupuncture include:
- Musculoskeletal problems (osteoarthritis, intervertebral disc disease)
- Neurological problems (nerve injury, degenerative neurological conditions)
- Immune system disorders (allergies, skin conditions)
- Systemic diseases (bladder problems, chronic kidney disease, liver disease)
To set up an acupuncture treatment for your pet click here
A pet can be a very rewarding and positive experience for children. It teaches a child compassion and responsibility and they also gain a companion. Research indicates that children growing up with well-cared-for dogs have mental and emotional advantages that extend throughout life. As a parent, you must be the one to decide the appropriate time to introduce a pet to the family. This decision should be based on your child’s age, maturity, behavior and interest.
No child under school age should be left alone with pet. They are not yet at the age where they understand that their actions can hurt an animal. Even older children may test the boundaries of what they can get away with when adults aren’t watching. The best thing you can do is teach both your children and your pets what is appropriate behavior.
Some things you should never allow a child to do in your home:
- Pulling on ears, feet or tail
- Poking eyes or messing with their mouth
- Swing objects toward or near a pet
- Chase the pet
- Tug or otherwise compete with the pet for toys, food or other items
- Disturb a pet while they are sleeping or eating
- Enter a private area (crate or special room) designated as a child-free zone
- Put significant weight on a pet (“ride a dog like a horse”, etc)
- Suddenly get in a pet’s face
- Touch a pet that is in pain or afraid
Here are some tips on how to properly interact with pet.
- Ask! Teach your child to ask before petting a new or unfamiliar dog. If the owner says “no”, respect their decision as it may be in everyone’s best interest and safety.
- Petting: Stroke along the neck, back and sides (avoid the face and head)
- Act Like A Tree: Teach your child not to run if approached by a strange dog, but rather stand still and stare straight ahead until the dog leaves. Running away can provoke the dog to chase and attack.
- Chores: Having a child brush the dog or cleaning out the cat litter box (wearing gloves and washing properly afterwards). This will allow your child to bond with your pet and also teaches them responsibility.
- Training: Involve your child when teaching your dog commands. This is a rewarding experience for both the pet and the child.
Children are by far the most common victims of dog bites. Most bites occur doing everyday activities and with familiar pets. If we teach our children and our pets how to properly interact with one another, we can prevent bites from happening and ensure the human-animal bond.
For more information on proper ways for kids and pets to interact, visit Dr. Sophia Yin’s Webpage.