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Pet Blog
Welcome To Dr. Pinney's Pet Blog

Dr. Pinney's Pet Blog offers a glimpse into the dynamic and ever-changing world of veterinary medicine and pet health care.

In addition, our pet blog offers money saving advice and tips for the frugal pet owner in all of us!

Wednesday, Dec 24, 2014
Ten Facts You Need To Know About Feline Leukemia (FeLV)
Wednesday, Dec 24, 2014 01:45
1. The feline leukemia virus is a retrovirus that causes immune suppression and cancer in cats.

2. It is estimated that 3% of cats in the United States are infected with the virus.

3. Infection occurs primarily through exposure to virus-infected saliva that enters the body through the mouth and/or nose. Kittens can become exposed when an infected queen licks and grooms them.

4. Some cats can overcome and eliminate an FeLV infection.

5. There is no effective treatment for feline leukemia. Conditions associated with the virus, namely secondary infections, anemia, cancer, and poor immune function can ultimately prove fatal.

6. If properly vaccinated as kittens, indoor-only cats over 2 years of age can forego the feline leukemia vaccine.

7. The average life expectancy of a FeLV positive cat is around 4 years.

8. The vaccine uses a different viral protein than the one screened for in the FeLV test. As a result, false positive test results will not occur because of prior vaccination.

9. Cats less than 2 years of age are at greatest risk of contracting FeLV. As a result, they should not be introduced into a household containing an existing FeLV positive cat. Conversely, all new kittens and cats should be tested for FeLV before introducing to a house containing other kittens or young cats.

10. People cannot get feline leukemia.

Tuesday, Dec 16, 2014
A Reminder List...
Tuesday, Dec 16, 2014 01:16
Here is a short reminder list of those food and beverage items that can prove toxic or detrimental to our four-legged companions:

Alcohol -- Brain damage, coma, death

Avocado -- Vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration

Bones -- Mouth, throat, stomach, and intestinal lacerations

Raisins -- Kidney failure

Grapes -- Kidney failure

Onions -- Anemia

Garlic -- Anemia

Dairy -- Vomiting and diarrhea

Walnuts -- Damage to nervous system and muscles

Macadamia nuts -- Damage to nervous system and muscles

Mushrooms -- Circulatory failure, liver failure, death

Fatty foods -- Pancreatitis, diabetes mellitus

Pork - Pancreatitis

Caffeine -- Vomiting, diarrhea, heart disease, and damage to the nervous system

Chocolate -- Heart and nervous system damage

OTC Pain medications -- Stomach ulcers, liver failure, kidney failure

Sugar-free gum/mints/toothpaste (contain xylitol) -- Seizures, liver damage, death

A new hazard that has appeared in the past year or so are those single dose laundry detergent packs that are so popular these days. These contain highly concentrated chemicals (ethanolamine, alcohol ethoxylate, benzenesulfonic acid) that can be toxic to pets (and to children). Signs of poisoning include nausea, vomiting, breathing difficulties, and stupor. Death can result if enough is ingested.

Be sure to pet-proof your kitchen, eating areas, and laundry room to ensure your pet doesn't get into anything he shouldn't. And finally, keep these two numbers handy in case he does.

ASPCA Poison Control Hotline (888) 426-4435 National Pet Poison Helpline (800) 213-6680

Tuesday, Dec 02, 2014
Break It Down
By Dr.P
Tuesday, Dec 02, 2014 12:39
I saw a Bull Mastiff several days ago suffering from terrible skin allergies. The only thing that hadn't been tried on this dog was a good food allergy trial. The owner had switched food a number of times over the course of the past year, but to no avail.

I suggested feeding a hypoallergenic prescription diet for the next 4 months in order to truly see if food was playing a role in the skin condition. If it didn't work, then we'd know food wasn't the underlying culprit. However, if it did work, then we'd need to figure out a long-term feeding strategy. The only challenge with this approach in the owner's eyes was, you guessed it, the price of the food.

Keep in mind that this was a 150lb Mastiff. And a 150lb Mastiff eats LOTS of food. We figured it out: a 25lb bag of this particular prescription food (around $90) would last only two weeks; in other words, his food bill would come in at about $200 per month. Sounds high, doesn't it?

High, yes, but not too bad if you break it down into the "daily cost to feed". In other words, the daily cost to feed this prescription diet to this Bull Mastiff was under $7 per day. Think about it: How much do you spend each day to feed yourself? I bet its more than $7 per day.

In other words, if your veterinarian recommends one of those "expensive" prescription diets for your pet, don't automatically close the door due to the price tag. Figure out the "daily cost to feed". You might be surprised at what you find.

Not only that, many of these diets can greatly improve the quality of life of pets suffering from chronic illnesses and in some cases, help reduce the number of repeat visits you need to make to your veterinarian. And that in itself can save you a ton of money!

Wednesday, Nov 19, 2014
Apple Cider Vinegar and Fleas
Wednesday, Nov 19, 2014 12:47
Did you know that fleas can't stand apple-cider vinegar? That said, a spray containing 50/50 mixture of apple cider vinegar and water can be created and used as an adjunct to your other means of flea control. Notice that I said "adjunct", since by itself, I doubt if it would do the job (especially for these "über" fleas we have here in Texas. But in combination with other products and environmental control, it can help keep those pesky parasites at bay.

Monday, Nov 03, 2014
Bobcat Fever
Monday, Nov 03, 2014 09:51
Ever heard of "Bobcat fever"?

Bobcat fever is caused by the blood parasite Cytauxzoon felis, which infects bobcats and ticks that feed on them. Unfortunately, when these same ticks feed on domestic cats, they can transmit the disease to them.

Symptoms include lethargy, loss of appetite, and breathing challenges. Once the clinical signs appear, the death rate from Bobcat fever is quite high, even with treatment. As a result, preventing exposure to ticks is a must.

Keep the grass and shrubs in your yard trimmed short and keep your yard free of debris. Spray beneath decks periodically to kill off any ticks that may be hiding there.

The disease is seen most commonly from March to September when tick populations are most prolific. Don't worry though: Bobcat fever is not transmissible to people or to dogs.

Sunday, Oct 12, 2014
Financial Assistance for Veterinary Care
Sunday, Oct 12, 2014 10:07
Pet owners struggling with the high cost of veterinary care now have a new resource to turn to, thanks to the American Veterinary Medical Association. A new Web page created by the AVMA touches on topics such as preventive health care, low-cost clinics, working within financial limitations, pet insurance, and payment plans.

The page also lists sources for financial assistance to pet owners, including Red Rover Relief, The Pet Fund, and more. You can access it at www.avma.org/public/YourVet/Pages/Financial-assistance-for-veterinary-care-costs.aspx

Monday, Sep 29, 2014
The Numbers Are Out
By Dr.P
Monday, Sep 29, 2014 09:59
VPI recently released the list of the most common medical conditions afflicting dogs and cats in the U.S. Here they are:

Top Ten Medical Conditions Seen in Dogs

1, Skin allergies 2. Ear infections 3. Non-Cancerous Skin Masses 4. Infections/Abscesses 5. Arthritis 6. Vomiting/Stomach Upset 7. Diarrhea/Intestinal Upset 8. Tooth and Gum Disease 9. Urinary Tract Disease 10. Soft Tissue Trauma

Top Ten Medical Conditions Seen in Cats in 2013

1. Urinary Tract Disease 2. Tooth and Gum Disease 3. Kidney Disease 4. Hyperthyroidism (Overactive Thyroid) 5. Vomiting/Stomach Upset 6. Diabetes 7. Diarrhea/Intestinal Upset 8. Lymphoma (Cancer) 9. Upper Respiratory Infection 10. Skin Allergies

Interestingly enough, you don't see common infectious diseases such as parvo, distemper, and feline leukemia, or parasitic diseases such as heartworms on these lists.

This is because, as a whole, American pet owners are diligent when it comes to preventive health care for their 4-legged families. And to this I say, "Keep up the good work!"

Wednesday, Aug 20, 2014
One Tough Decision
By Dr.P
Wednesday, Aug 20, 2014 12:32
A video made its rounds on Facebook last week. It was called "I Died Today", and for those of us who love pets, it was a tear-jerker. And it brought up a question that all of us who have older or terminally-ill pets will be ultimately be faced with, "When is it time to say goodbye?"

It's never an easy question to answer, but there are four parameters that I use when clients ask me. First, is your pet still eating? Dogs and cats will stop eating as the end approaches; they'll also stop eating if in pain or distress. Keep in mind that pets normally have a high tolerance level to pain (i.e. in my many years as a veterinarian, I've seen dogs and cats with periodontal (tooth and gum) disease so severe that it would land you or I in the hospital begging for pain medications, yet they still go about wagging their tails and crunching on hard food as if nothing were wrong!) Secondly, is your pet seeking seclusion, or does he/she still want to interact with you? Dogs (and, yes, to a lesser degree, cats) are pack animals and don't like to be alone for long stretches. When the end nears for them, they'll do like their wild ancestors and seek out a secluded place to die.

Third, is your pet in obvious pain that just can't be controlled with medications? Chronic pain will lead to the first and second scenarios above, plus may make an otherwise passive pet aggressive. It's our job to make sure no pet has to go through life in severe pain. Finally, you know your pet better than anyone else. Are the bad days simply outnumbering the good days? If so, and your veterinarian determines that there is nothing more that can reasonably be done to improve your pet's quality of life, then it's time to make the decision.

It's never easy, and it's always gut-wrenching, but you need to view it as the final act of love that it is; a decision that should carry with it absolutely no regrets.

Monday, Aug 11, 2014
An Alternative To Boarding Your Pet
Monday, Aug 11, 2014 06:35
The next time you're thinking about taking a trip and need to make accommodations for your pet, consider hiring a pet sitter if you cannot locate a clean, well-managed boarding facility (be sure to tour any boarding facility you are thinking of using) or if your pet gets extremely upset when boarded.

It usually won't cost that much more to do so. Yet it could save you money in the long run. Here's why:

1. Having someone watch your pet at home will be less stressful on your pet than boarding her, since she'll be able to stay in her normal environment. This is especially true for cats, especially when they share a boarding facility with dogs. Also, those dogs that are naturally submissive in nature (i.e not the alpha dog personality) have a rough mental trip when placed in close proximity with strange alpha dogs that may be staying at the boarding facility at the same time.

2. There's less chance of exposure to infectious diseases. Kennels that do not maintain diligent cleanliness and immunization standards can become breeding grounds for infectious diseases of pets. Common diseases that dogs and cats may pick up a less-than clean boarding facility include kennel cough, parasitic disease, and colitis. In addition, the stress of being in a strange place can cause stress-related gastritis, colitis, and laryngitis (secondary to excessive barking or meowing).

By the way, the vaccine to prevent kennel cough only covers a few of the organisms that can cause this disease complex. As a result, even dogs "vaccinated" for kennel cough can come down with respiratory illness.

3. Both your pet-sitter and your dog (and, in some cases, cat) can watch the house for you while you're gone. It's a proven fact that burglars will shy away from homes with a barking dog inside (similar statistics for homes with meowing cats are not available).

So, where you find a qualified pet sitter? The first place to look is online. There are professional, bonded individuals who do pet-sitting both full and part-time; see if there is one in your area. Ask your friends and coworkers if they may know of such a person. Also, consider asking the same folks or their teenage children if they'd be interested in the job. Just make sure the person you choose is reliable. Yet another option is to go to your veterinary clinic and see if there's a veterinary technician who would like the job. Most technicians are always open to making extra cash, especially if the job entails interacting with pets. The obvious advantage of this approach is that this individual has a direct line to your veterinarian in case your pet should become ill while you're gone.

Regardless of who you choose for the job, be sure you leave them with your emergency number and make sure your pet is wearing proper identification at all times.

Tuesday, Jul 29, 2014
If You Want To Control Fleas In Your House...
Tuesday, Jul 29, 2014 12:55
We all know how tough it can be to control fleas on our pets. Even with the advent of great new flea products to use on (or in) pets, we still need to practice good premise control to achieve a flea-free environment. That said, here are three tips to help you do just that:

1. Invest in a dehumidifier and a humidity monitor for the home. Keep the relative humidity in your home below 50%, at least until the fleas are brought under control. Flea larvae cannot survive in such conditions.

2.Vacuum weekly beneath chair and sofa cushions. This is a HUGE method of controlling fleas in your house (you wouldn't believe how many flea eggs and larvae are attached to these cushions! Note: be sure to place mothballs in the vacuum bag to kill the stuff you vacuum up.

3. Purchase a KSU Intermittent Light Flea Trap at Amazon.com and follow the instructions that come with it. This is a handy tool to help you monitor whether or not you have (or still have) a flea problem in your house.

Sunday, Jul 20, 2014
Guidelines For Administering Eye Medications
Sunday, Jul 20, 2014 03:46
If you own a pet with dry eye (KCS) or another chronic disease involving the eyes, you know how expensive that eye medication can be. Well, here's some news you can use. Dr. David Maggs, a noted veterinary ophthalmologist, has recently released some new guidelines on exactly how much medicine we should be putting in the eye(s) when we do it. And here they are:

If using eye drops, administer no more than one drop into the affected eye(s). If using ointment, use no more than ¼ inch strip of the medication in the affected eye(s).

Here's why.

The conjunctival pocket in the eyes of both dogs and cats can only hold around 16ul of fluid. Each drop or 1/4" strip of an eye medication is equivalent to about 50ul. As a result, by administering just one drop (or ¼" of ointment) , we are more than "flooding" the eye with medication and using more is just a waste of time (and money).

But there's more: If we go ahead and apply that second drop or pile on more ointment, reflex tearing in the eye will occur, which will dilute or wash out the medication we've already put in there and decrease its effectiveness. As a result, healing can be delayed.

Tuesday, Jun 24, 2014
Watch Out For That Interest!
Tuesday, Jun 24, 2014 07:17
CareCredit is a large company that offers credit lines to pet owners who may need financial assistance with their pets' veterinary bills. Many veterinary clinics offer CareCredit to their clients; some don't. You still have to qualify for a loan through CareCredit, but they seem to be pretty flexible when it comes to the approval process.

They've been around for while. Before they tapped the pet market, CareCredit was utilized in other professions such as dentistry to help customers pay for these services. In fact, when all three of my kids needed braces, I used CareCredit to help finance my orthodontist's bill (and his new Corvette!).

Aye, but there's a rub! CareCredit can be the best thing on earth, or it can be the worst financial decision you ever make. You see, if you get the "deferred interest" loan through CareCredit (the most common type offered), all is rosy if you pay it off in the time allotted to you by the company, which is usually a year. In fact, if you do pay it off before the "due date", the loan is interest free. If you don't, however, (even if you miss the due date by a day), you'll owe the principal PLUS a year's worth of interest at a rate as high as 26.99%! And if you find you can't pay it off right away, get ready to fork over a bunch of money!

The lesson here: Before taking out a CareCredit loan, make sure you pay it off before the due date. To be safe, I'd plan on paying it off a few weeks ahead of that date. That way, you can be sure you don't get hit with an unexpected financial uppercut.

Tuesday, Jun 17, 2014
Adding Fiber To Your Dog's Diet
Tuesday, Jun 17, 2014 10:36
Increasing the fiber in your dog's diet can be helpful for a number of conditions, including constipation, fiber-responsive colitis, chronic anal sac issues, and obesity. That said, there are several ways to accomplish that mission. The first would be to simply switch to a food that is higher in fiber. These include most "weight control" or "less active" formulas on the market.

I prefer to simply supplement extra fiber in the diet. That way, you can control amounts given based on response. Here are several sources of fiber that you can use (dosages are based on 25lb dog).

1. Metamucil -- start with one teaspoon, mix it with a small amount of water, and put it on your pet's food. Use the type that has real sugar in it; not artificial sweeteners.

2. Post Grape Nut flakes -- start with three tablespoons and adjust up or down based on response.

3. Carrots -- carrots can be an excellent source of fiber; however, avoid feeding baby carrots, as dogs can choke on those.

4. Canned Pumpkin -- about a tablespoon in the daily ration will usually do the trick.

Friday, Jun 13, 2014
Another Great Reason To Give Your Cat Hairball Laxative
By Dr.P
Friday, Jun 13, 2014 10:53
I've always been a big proponent of giving hairball laxative paste to cats (i.e. Laxatone; Petromalt) on a routine basis. The main reason for me recommending this is that all cats get hairballs to some degree, owing to the nature of their raspy tongues and their grooming habits. Most cats do not throw up hairballs, but rather pass them in their stools. Regardless of how they get rid of them, hairballs, when left to themselves, tend to irritate the gut and slow things down in there. And that's the purpose of the Laxatone or Petromalt -- to speed things up again!

But now apparently it's even more important to give hairball laxative on a routine basis.. Research has shown that chronic irritation to the walls of the intestines can lead to thickening of those walls, which can predispose to intestinal lymphoma (cancer). In other words, hairballs can predispose intestinal cancer in cats over time.

To speed the passage of hairballs and to reduce their irritating effects on the intestinal lining, I recommend giving a teaspoon of Laxatone or Petromalt to your cat at least twice weekly just to keep things moving along. The stuff is cheap and can be found anywhere that pet supplies are sold.

Monday, May 19, 2014
Tips for Buying Pet Health Insurance
By Dr. P
Monday, May 19, 2014 10:31
As most of you know, I'm not a big proponent of pet health insurance. Instead of paying those monthly premiums, I prefer directing that money into a savings account that is designated specifically for vet bills. That said, I've had several clients ask my advice about purchasing a high deductible policy until the balance in their pet's health savings account builds up enough to cover unexpected veterinary expenses.

Not a bad idea. If you choose to go this route, here are some tips to keep in mind:

1. Shop around. There are all sorts of colors and flavors out there in terms of pet health insurance.

2. Pick a high-deductible plan that is broad in coverage and low enough in monthly premium to allow you to contribute to your pet's health savings account as well.

3. Read a sample policy closely before you buy -- verify what is covered, deductibles, out-of-pocket expenses, etc.

4. Have the insurance company review your pet's medical records before you sign up to tell you in writing if there are pre-existing conditions that are not covered.

5. Look for policies that allow you to file claims and receive reimbursements electronically. That way, you get your money faster.

Tuesday, Apr 29, 2014
One Charge You Can Do Without
By Dr.P
Tuesday, Apr 29, 2014 07:36
If your veterinarian wants to hospitalize your pet overnight, be sure to ask if there will be somebody at the hospital throughout the night to monitor your pet's condition.

If not, there is no need for you to incur overnight hospitalization charges (which can sometimes exceed $50 per night), since no one is going to be present to watch over your pet anyway. In these instances, take your pet home and assume the role of playing overnight nurse yourself (request detailed instructions from your veterinarian on how to do this).

It will certainly be less stressful on your ailing pet to spend the night in familiar surroundings and most importantly, if your pet's condition happens to turn critical overnight, you'll be right there to get him/her to an emergency clinic quickly.

Monday, Apr 21, 2014
"Vegetable" Therapy
By Dr. P
Monday, Apr 21, 2014 09:46
I'm sure you are aware that in human medicine, low dose aspirin therapy has been shown to decrease the incidence of certain types of cancer, including those that can affect the GI tract. Aspirin does this by inhibiting inflammatory enzymes within the body. Now inflammation in itself can be beneficial on a short-term basis, but if it persists long-term, cancer risk increases. Low dose aspirin therapy helps reduce this chronic inflammation and thereby helps reduce cancer risk.

So what about pets? Can they benefit from low dose aspirin therapy? The answer: They could if they could tolerate long-term aspirin use. But giving aspirin to a dog long-term can lead to serious GI, kidney, and liver issues. And aspirin is highly toxic to cats, so aspirin should never be given in any amount to this species.

The good news though is that there is an alternative to low dose aspirin therapy that can be used in pets to reduce chronic inflammation that leads to cancer. That alternative is in the form of cruciferous vegetables. According to board-certified veterinary oncologist Dr. Gerald Post in the Feb. 2014 issue of Dog Fancy Magazine, compounds contained within kale, broccoli, and other yellow/red/orange vegetables have been shown to decrease chronic inflammation and may decrease the risk of cancer in certain dogs.

Before making any adjustments to your pet's diet, talk with your veterinarian. But "vegetable therapy" seems to provide the same benefits as low dose aspirin therapy, yet without the risks.

Tuesday, Apr 08, 2014
Blue-Green Algae and Tylenol
By Dr. P
Tuesday, Apr 08, 2014 12:02
Does your dog like to swim in stock tanks, small lakes, or other semi-stagnant water sources? If so, he could be at risk of blue-green algae toxicity. It's not so much of a problem this time of year, but come springtime when temperatures begin to warm, algae blooms can appear. Keep in mind that dogs won't hesitate to swim in or drink from water sources that we would avoid at all costs. Consumption of high levels of blue-green algae can lead to loss of appetite, vomiting, weakness, lethargy, and irreversible liver failure. As a result, be diligent and keep your pet away from algae-infested tanks and water sources.

While on the subject of liver failure, I recently listened to an NPR news program discussing the dangers of giving acetaminophen to children and how giving only a slightly larger dose than what is recommended can cause liver failure, especially in tiny infants. I wrote a blog on the dangers of acetaminophen a few years back, and it's worth repeating.

Of course, acetaminophen should never be given to dogs and cats, but you need to reconsider its usage for your own (and your family's) fevers, aches/pains, and headaches. Did you know that dosing margin of error for acetaminophen is so narrow that by just taking a few more tablets above what is recommended on the bottle can blow-out your liver? Or that if you drink alcohol and take acetaminophen, it could kill you?

I don't mean to be dramatic here, but it's true. A big problem is that because acetaminophen is hidden in so many over-the-counter cold remedies, people inadvertently overdose by taking one of these products along with Tylenol or another pure acetaminophen product. And it doesn't take much to cause irreversible damage.

So take of yourself, do your research, and be selective about what over-the-counter medications you put into your mouth. Your pet needs you here!

Friday, Mar 21, 2014
To Spay or Not to Spay
By Dr. P
Friday, Mar 21, 2014 01:44
There's been a lot of online discussion lately as to whether or not a pet should be spayed or neutered. Well, when it comes to pet longevity, there really isn't anything to discuss.

A 2013 comprehensive study just released by the Banfield Corp. has demonstrated a correlation between longevity and spaying/neutering pets.

The study, which supports the findings of researchers at the University of Georgia (who followed more than 40,000 dogs from 1984-2004), showed that neutered male cats live 62% longer than unneutered male cats, spayed female cats live 39% longer than unspayed cats, neutered dogs live 18% longer than unneutered dogs, and spayed female canines live 23% longer than their unspayed counterparts.

Sunday, Feb 02, 2014
Does Your Pet Have Itchy Skin?
By Dr.P
Sunday, Feb 02, 2014 09:34
Here is a mental chalkboard that many veterinarians use when presented with an itchy dog or cat.

• Sudden onset? Think fleas or other skin parasites. • Gradual onset? Think pollen allergy or secondary skin infection. • Is the itching severe with or without obvious skin lesions? Think scabies (mites). • Is it seasonal? Think pollen allergies or fleas. • Does the itch develop into a skin rash? Think pollen allergies, skin parasites, and secondary skin infections. • When you scratch your pet's ear, does his/her back leg begin a scratching motion? Think scabies (mites). • Does it respond to steroid therapy? Think pollen allergy or flea allergies. • Are fleas present (even one or two)? Think flea allergy. • Is the itching accompanied by vomiting or diarrhea? Think food allergy. • Does it not respond to steroid therapy? Think skin parasites, food allergy, or flea allergy. • Is the pet under a year of age? Think skin parasites.

Determining the underlying cause of a skin condition is obviously important in obtaining satisfactory treatment results. Keep in mind that some skin conditions may not be accompanied by itching.

The most common of those include ringworm, Demodex mange, and metabolic disturbances such as hypothyroidism. Either way, be sure to enlist your vet's help to determine the cause and to formulate a treatment plan that will bring comfort to your pet.

Monday, Jan 27, 2014
Nutrition Facts & Fallacies
By Dr. P
Monday, Jan 27, 2014 01:34
If you've ever consulted Dr. Google concerning questions about pet nutrition, you've no doubt been exposed to a variety of viewpoints on the subject. While there is a bunch a good information out there, there is also a bunch of crazy stuff (in my opinion), so you need to be discerning. Here are a few things I've found on the web regarding pet nutrition...try to guess which ones are fact and which ones are fallacy (answers below).

1. Flaxseed is a good source of fatty acids in dogs and cats. 2. Grain-free diets are the better than diets that contain grain. 3. Animal by-products in foods are not bad. 4. Pet foods labeled as "Natural" are superior to those that are not. 5. Price is a poor indicator of quality in pet foods. 6. Commercial foods contain euthanized animals.

And the answers are…

1. Fallacy. Dogs and cats have trouble converting the fatty acids found in flaxseed to EPA and DHA, two important omega-3 fatty acids (these must be obtained via fish oil).

2. Fallacy. While there is nothing wrong feeding a grain-free diet to an otherwise healthy pet, they can't be considered "better" than those foods that contain grain. For suspected food allergies, grain-free is not the way to go, as the meat source of a food is usually the culprit in a food allergy, not the gain source. Also, grain-free diets may contain more fat, which can promote obesity or cause issues in those pets prone to pancreatitis.

3.Fact. By-products like bones, feet, beaks, collagen, cartilage, and viscera all contain healthy nutrients for pets. If you think about it: In the wild, dogs and cats consume these items (often first, before they even start eating muscle meat) from prey they may hunt and kill.

4. Fallacy. Depends on how they define "natural". Lead is a "natural" substance, so is cyanide. To say "natural diets are superior is a tall order.

5. Fact. Just because a pet food is pricey doesn't mean it's necessarily better. It usually means that the company making it is smaller and must charge more to survive. It also means that those same companies are not able to devote the millions of dollars on quality testing and R&D like bigger companies such as Hill's, Purina, and Nutro do.

6. Fallacy. This I a good one. Not only is there no evidence for this, but for a large pet food company to risk a shut down or loss of market share by doing such a thing is absurd.

Tuesday, Dec 24, 2013
Why You Should Routinely Deworm Your Outdoor Pets
Tuesday, Dec 24, 2013 02:12
Outdoor cats that hunt can easily pick-up some nasty parasites from the stuff they eat, including tapeworms (Hymenolepsis nana, Taenia taeniaeformis, Echinococcus) than can infect humans, especially kids. All cats that hunt and go outdoors should be dewormed with Drontal at least once per year (twice is better) to protect them and their owners. It's probably a good idea to routinely deworm dogs that hunt or have been known to eat rodents or dead things with Droncit.(Remember: Their heartworm medicine takes care of roundworms and hooks, but not tapeworms.)

Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013
Using Benadryl in Pets
By Dr.P
Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013 02:36
Benadryl (diphenhydramine) is an over-the-counter human medication that is given to pets quite often for a variety of conditions or circumstances. But as with any medication, one can't assume it is safe to use 100% of the time. Here are some instances where diphenhydramine should be avoided or used cautiously:

Pets with eye disorders (diphenhydramine can exacerbate glaucoma) Pets with urinary conditions, especially dogs taking the drug Proin Pets with high blood pressure (i.e. cats with hyperthyroidism or kidney disease; dogs with heart disease) Pets that suffer from seizures or epilepsy

As always, if you have doubts, it's best to contact your vet before giving it.

Monday, Nov 25, 2013
Stay Informed
By Dr.P
Monday, Nov 25, 2013 06:22
Most of us are aware of the fact that if we get bitten by a raccoon, skunk, or bat, or even by a stray dog or cat, we may need to receive rabies prophylaxis injections, especially if the animal cannot be found and tested. What you may not know is that rabies prophylaxis medications may not be readily available at a hospital near you due to supply shortages or due to the infrequency of their use.

This is unfortunate, because time is critical when bitten by a rabid animal. If a person does not receive the anti-rabies injections soon after exposure (visit the World Health Organization's website at http://www.who.int/rabies/human/postexp/en/ for a complete post-exposure treatment schedule), there is a good chance they'll contract the disease and die.

As a result, stay informed in the rare event that you're ever faced with this challenge. The Centers For Disease Control offers e-mail alerts to the public regarding rabies outbreaks and the availability of treatment supplies in the U.S. Their website is www.cdc.gov/rabies/resources/availability.html.

Over 80,000 people have already subscribed to receive these alerts and updates, and you should too.

Wednesday, Oct 30, 2013
Heart Health and Respiratory Rate
By Dr.P
Wednesday, Oct 30, 2013 10:31

Heart disease is a common development in older dogs, especially in those smaller breeds like Chihuahuas, Toy Poodles, and Yorkshire Terriers. These pets may not show any clinical signs if the diseased heart is still able to keep up with its blood-pumping duties, but once it can't, the heart disease will progress into actual heart failure, also known as congestive heart failure (CHF). Characterized by a build-up of fluid in the lungs and/or abdomen, CHF leads to coughing, weakness, exercise intolerance, abdominal bloating, and/or breathing distress. Left untreated,  death will eventually result.


The good news is that if heart disease is detected soon enough, it's progression can be slowed with medication. The bad news is that detecting heart disease in its early stages (before clinical signs appear) can be difficult and expensive, often requiring pricey diagnostic tests such as radiographs and  ultrasonography.


That said, here's a money-saving tip that can alert a pet owner to the presence of early heart challenges in his/her dog without all those fancy tests. Get ready, because this is complicated stuff:  It involves watching your dog's breathing pattern while your dog is sleeping. Yep, that's all there is to it. Simply watch your dog's ribcage rise and fall.


The normal  respiratory rate for a dog at sleep should be under 25 breaths per minute. If underlying heart disease is present, this rate will slowly begin to increase over time. In other words, if your dog's sleeping respiratory rate begins to creep towards 30 breaths per minute, it should alert you to a potential problem and prompt you to contact your veterinarian.



If your dog's respiratory rate while sleeping is already over 30, a heart evaluation and blood pressure screen are warranted to determine if your pet is a candidate for medication.  Of course, there are occasional exceptions to this "sleeping respiratory rate" model, but as a rule, its a good indicator of overall heart health in dogs.