Pet Care

CLICK ON A TOPIC BELOW TO LEARN MORE

Geriatric Pet Care

Who?
All pets 7 years of age or older.
Larger dogs or exotic pets should participate in this program earlier.

What?
Geriatric pet care is a combination of examination and care directed at both healthy and debilitated older pets to keep them at the peak of health.

Why?
As pets age, it becomes more important to detect the beginning of disease as early as possible.
Many times before the problem is noticeable to you or picked up on a physical exam alone, your pet may harbor a serious ailment which can be successfully treated with early detection.

How?
The level of testing and care your pet receives will be determined by you in conjunction with your veterinarian’s advice. Listed below are the individual services that may be offered in this type of program along with a brief explanation of the service.

Physical Exam: A complete hands on examination of your pet from head to toe.
Complete Blood Count (CBC): This test looks for anemia and infection.
Blood Chemistry Profile: This test looks at the health of your pet’s internal organs.
Urinalysis: This test helps check the urinary tract for infection, crystals and certain tumors.
Thyroid (T4): This checks the health of the thyroid (pacesetter of the body).
Electrocardiogram (ECG): This checks the health of the heart.
Radiographs (X-rays): This helps check the heart and lungs and checks for tumors and stones.
Ophthamology exam: This checks the health and function of the eyes and tears.

Guidelines for Prolonged Treatment

If your pet has a disease that requires extensive, prolonged treatment, the aspects and expectations of that treatment should be discussed with your veterinarian.

Important Points in Treatment

A decision to proceed with treatment is based on several factors:

Is the treatment humane? A common statement by owners is, “I don’t want my pet to suffer.” Modern drugs and techniques can effectively suppress pain in most cases. Many prolonged diseases do not produce excruciating pain; however, various degrees of discomfort can be expected. Action should be taken to minimize pain and discomfort according to the pet’s individual needs.

Will the pet have a quality existence? The answer depends on several factors, such as age, types and frequency of treatments and the extent of the pet’s disability.

Estimated length and cost of treatment? It is difficult and often impossible to accurately estimate total cost and time of extended, complex treatment. Pets will show various rates and qualities of response to a given treatment. Therefore, the extent of treatment depends on both your pet’s response and your own personal economic priorities.

Usually your veterinarian will suggest a time shortly after initiation of treatment to give you a medical report and a prognosis (medical forecast), based on your pet’s current status. From such information, you can decide whether it is financially and emotionally feasible to continue treatment until another mutually agreeable evaluation time. If the pet’s condition worsens, or the doctor feels that treatment is to no avail, you should be advised accordingly.

Kitten Care

Vaccinations:

FVRCCP [Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (respiratory), Calicivirus (respiratory), Chlamydia
(respiratory), and Panleukopenia (bowel)] Feline Leukemia Virus (bone marrow/multisystems)
Rabies (central nervous system)

FVRCCP vaccination at approximately 8, 11, 14 and 17 weeks
Feline Leukemia Virus vaccination at 11 and 14 weeks
Rabies vaccination at 11 or 14 weeks (depends on vaccine)

Feline Leukemia Testing:

Feline leukemia is a contagious and deadly disease that all cats should be tested for and vaccinated against. It is preventable!
If you have cats at home, any new addition should test negative before coming in contact with your other cats. If you do not have other cats, testing can be done at the time of initial vaccination.

Intestinal Parasites:

Fecal exams should be done at 8-11 weeks of age and then twice a year.

Feeding:

Up to 6 months of age
-high quality kitten food fed ad lib (may alternate dry with canned)
-fresh water throughout the day
6 months of age and older
-high quality adult food (may alternate dry with canned; follow low end of package range)
-fresh water throughout the day
NOTE: Keep food out of dog’s reach and although dry can be left out, canned should be fresh.

Spay/Neuter: (In the U.S., over one million unwanted pets are destroyed each year!)

Spay/Neuter at 6 months of age
At a modern and well equipped hospital the operation should be safe and relatively painless due to state of the art skills, equipment, materials and care.

Heartworm:

Start heartworm prevention at approximately 3-4 months of age. Continue once a month prevention year round for life. At 1 year intervals, have your pet tested for heartworm. Breaks in prevention can render your pet infected. If so, treatment should be started prior to clinical signs and damage from the disease. Testing can detect this.

Management of the Diabetic Pet

With the disease diabetes mellitus, your pet does not have enough natural insulin to maintain normal body function. Consequently, you must provide the insulin by daily injection.

At your pharmacy, you should purchase insulin, insulin syringes and needles with the accompanying prescriptions. Insulin should be refrigerated at all times and the bottle must be gently inverted several times prior to withdrawal of the insulin into the syringe. The injection must be given subcutaneously (beneath the skin). Your doctor will demonstrate proper injection technique.

The amount of insulin required may be subject to change depending on various factors such as alterations in diet, exercise, and certain environmental stresses. The amount of insulin required will be determined by measuring the amount of sugar in your pet’s urine each morning prior to insulin administration. Increases in insulin dose should only be made if 3 consecutive days have urine glucose readings greater than 2+. Decreases in insulin dose may be made daily if urine glucose readings are negative. To measure urine sugar, you will purchase urine glucose indicator strips at your pharmacy. The instructions on these tests are simple to follow. Unless otherwise directed by your doctor, the following protocol should be followed:

  • First thing in the morning, obtain a urine sample and determine the amount of urine sugar.
  • Feed your pet 1/2 to 1/4 of its usual total daily food intake.
  • Then administer the insulin dose subcutaneously.
  • In the evening, feed the other 1/2 to 3/4 of its total daily food intake.

NOTE: If your pet is scheduled for two daily injections, administer the second insulin dose prior to the evening feeding.

The following chart will guide you in the amount of insulin required daily.

If urine sugar is 3+ to 4+ ….. increase 1/2 unit (if under 10 lbs) or 1 unit (if 10+ lbs) over previous day’s dosage.

If urine sugar is 2+ ….. increase 1/2 unit over previous day’s dosage.

If urine sugar is Trace or 1+ ….. repeat previous day’s dosage.

If urine sugar is Negative ….. decrease 1 unit (if under 10 lbs) or 2 units (if 10+ lbs) from previous day’s dosage.

Our ultimate objective is to maintain the morning urine sugar at Trace to 1+ level.

Infrequently, your pet may experience an insulin reaction due to marked decrease in its blood sugar. The signs accompanying such a reaction will mimic a drunken state: that is, your pet will be weak and walk with a wobbly, uncoordinated gait. Should this occur, administer Karo Syrup orally (approximately 1 tablespoonful per 30 pounds of animal). If no improvement is seen after 30 minutes, or if the signs worsen, seek veterinary attention immediately.

Should your dog ever become ill or acquire any type of trauma, your doctor should be contacted immediately for proper advice.

Common Problems Frequently Encountered

  • If you attempt to give the insulin injection and your pet gets only part of its dose due to sudden movement causing slippage of the needle from under the skin and the remaining insulin squirting onto the skin . . . do not attempt to approximate its dose by giving another injection. Simply wait until the next scheduled treatment and give the previous day’s dose.
  • If your pet is unable to eat after insulin is given, administer Karo Syrup as above.
  • If vomiting persists after insulin administration, you should seek immediate veterinary care.
Obesity in Dogs and Cats

Obesity is the most common nutritional problem in dogs and cats. It is defined as a body weight in excess of 15 percent over desired weight. Obesity is dangerous to your pet because of the many problems it predisposes them to. These include: heart problems, arthritis, ruptured ligaments, diabetes, heat intolerance, liver disease, exercise intolerance, respiratory problems and an increased surgical and anesthetic risk. Obesity can be caused by medical problems, however, most cases are caused by the pet eating too many calories beyond its needs. Management of this problem requires time, patience and commitment on the part of everyone in the home. The following is a list of recommendations:

  • reduce calorie intake by feeding a nutritionally complete low-calorie, high fiber diet (eg. W/D, R/D, DCO or OM diets)
  • do not feed pet with other pets
  • keep pet out of room when your own food is being prepared or eaten
  • feed pet only the diet and amount recommended by your veterinarian
  • exercise your pet regularly
  • only use low-calorie snacks, and use them sparingly as treats
  • no table food
  • keep a record of your pet’s weight (weigh weekly, preferably at the same time of day each time)
  • DO NOT LET CATS GO MORE THAN 48 HOURS WITHOUT EATING – if this happens call your veterinarian for recommendations.

Remember to be firm with your pet but be patient. Cats should only be losing 1/4 to 1/2 pound per week. Dogs should lose 1/2 to 1 1/2 pounds per week depending on the size of the dog.

If you would like to set up a personalized weight loss program for your pet, please consult your veterinarian

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy (PT) in veterinary medicine is primarily associated with the musculoskeletal system (ie. muscles and joints). Physical therapy helps pets regain abilities and minimize discomfort associated with surgery and/or disabilities. Post-surgically, it can speed recovery and increase total rehabilitation. Although there are various PT tools including ultrasound, electro-stimulation and laser therapy; the basics are cold therapy, passive range of motion (PROM), massage and swimming.

Cold therapy (eg. cold compresses and ice bags) applied externally reduces swelling and inflammation. PROM is a therapeutic technique whereby an individual’s joints are moved through their normal range by another individual. This reduces and breaks up adhesions, while promoting natural motility. Massage can increase circulation and break down adhesions. Swimming promotes muscle usage and development while minimizing pain associated with weight bearing activities.

Puppy Care

Vaccinations:

[Distemper, Adenovirus (liver), Leptospirosis (kidney), Parainfluenza (respiratory tract), Parvovirus (bowel)]
  • DAPPC at 8, 11 and 14 weeks of age
  • Leptospirosis at 14 and 17 weeks of age
  • Rabies Vaccine at 14 weeks of age

Feeding:

Up to 4-6 months of age:

  • High quality puppy food fed ad lib, 3 times per day for 10-12 minutes; THEN REMOVE ALL FOOD!
  • Fresh water throughout the day

4-6 months of age through adulthood:

  • High quality adult dog food fed at low end of package recommendation
  • Split daily total into 2 feedings

Housebreaking:

-Crate at night when unattended
-Take puppy out first thing in the morning
-Reward all good responses immediately!
-Wisk puppy outside when they start their elimination routine, before elimination
-Do not reward unless the puppy eliminates outside

Spay/Neuter:

  • Over 1,000,000 unwanted puppies are destroyed each year!
  • Spay/Neuter at 6 months of age
  • At modern veterinary hospitals, the operation is safe and relatively painless due to state of the art skills, equipment and materials

Intestinal Parasites:

  • Fecal exams should be done at 8-11 weeks of age and then twice a year.

Heartworm:

Start heartworm prevention at approximately 3-4 months of age. Continue once a month prevention year round for life. At 1 year intervals, have your pet tested for heartworm. Breaks in prevention can render your pet infected. If so, treatment should be started prior to clinical signs and damage from the disease. Testing can detect this.

Behavior Training:

  • Well behaved dogs learn to obey and ask for rewards through positive reinforcement, not aggressive punishment. Never strike your pet! Instead, treat and praise good or desired behavior.
  • Nothing in life is free. Make your dog sit, stay, look and wait for your approval prior to receiving attention, going out or coming in or receiving food. Then immediately praise them. Be consistent! Ask your veterinarian the name of a qualified trainer for fun puppy classes!
Reproduction of Dogs and Cats

Estrus “Heat” (time female is receptive to male and can conceive)

Dog

  • First cycle at approximately 7 months of age.
  • Cycles ever 6-12 months (average 7 months).
  • Each estrus lasts approximately 9 days (may bleed/swell a week or so before).
  • Breed on the 7, 9 and 11th day post bleeding/swelling.

Cat

  • First cycle at approximately 7 months of age.
  • Cycles every 2-4 weeks in the spring (or with 14 hrs/day of light)
  • Each estrus lasts approximately 7 days.
  • Cats act “strange” when cycling (vocal, stiff with butt up, etc.)

Gestation (length of pregnancy)

Dog – Average 63 days.

Cat – Average 66 days.

*Do not give additives (esp. calcium) other than a multivitamin.

**During the last 1/3 of pregnancy, bring in for ultrasound and add puppy (dog) or kitten (cat) food to meals to increase calorie intake by approximately 50%.

Whelping (dog)/Queening (cat)

Give them a clean, warm, quiet box to “nest” three weeks prior birthing so they get used to it. Line box with newspaper for easy cleaning. Watch from afar (DO NOT DISTURB THEM). They may “nest” and mammary glands enlarge 1-2 days before giving birth. Rectal temperature falls 1-3o F approximately 12-24 hours prior to giving birth. May “push” for first offspring up to 12 hours (if more than 12 hours, call your veterinarian). Also call if dark discharge and no pup after 1 hour. Time between pups/kittens usually decreases with each delivery. Watch from afar. Only remove sac from nose of puppy/kitten if mom hasn’t within 20 seconds.

Post Partum

  • Keep birthing box clean/dry.
  • Check several times a day that all puppies/kittens are eating and that teats are producing milk.
  • Pups/kittens should gain weight daily. Double birth weight by 8 days of age.
  • Bring mom and offspring to your veterinarian within 48 hours for mom’s checkup and post partum shot, +/- ultrasound/x-ray for other fetuses and pups’ dewclaw removal and/or tail docking if desired.
  • Continue to check mom for weakness, etc. which might indicate eclampsia; and teat redness, soreness and pus which might indicate mastitis (with any problems, let your veterinarian examine her – better safe than sorry!).

Feeding Mom/Pups and Kittens

  • While nursing, continue feeding puppy(dog) or kitten(cat) food (need approx. 30% increase in calories per offspring). Add calcium source to meal each day (crush a calcium tab in food and/or give milk and/or cheese, etc.)

Weaning

  • Start offspring on moistened puppy (dog) or kitten (cat) food at 4-5 weeks of age. Moisten food with Esbilac (dog) or KMR (cat) which your veterinarian can supply.
  • Once eating well, take offspring from mom for increasing periods of time (up to several hours per day).
  • Wean 2 weeks after offspring are eating substantial amounts of solid food.
  • Pups/kittens should go to your veterinarian for checkups and vaccinations at 6 – 8 weeks of age.
Restraint Collars (Elizabethan collar, cervical collars)

Preventing self-inflicted injury is an important part of home care for sick pets. Pets may harm themselves by rubbing, scratching or chewing their wounds or surgery sites. The Elizabethan collar is a type of collar shaped like a lamp shade and the cervical collar is like a padded tube that goes around the pet’s neck. Both are used to prevent self-injury of various body parts until healing is complete. Pets can eat, drink and sleep with either collar on and most pets, though they may object to it at first, adapt very well. You can keep either collar clean by wiping it while it remains on the pet or it can be removed if necessary but replaced promptly.

Seizures: Useful Information Regarding Seizures
  • Seizures are non-painful.
  • Seizures rarely impair a pet’s “thinking ability.”
  • Seizures rarely change a pet’s responses to owner.
  • There is a minimal chance of death during a seizure.
  • A normal life span is expected for most idiopathic canine epileptics.
  • The major therapeutic objectives include:
  • Reduce the frequency, severity and number of seizures per cluster.
  • Avoid status epilepticus (continuous grand mal seizure).
  • To attain a seizure frequency tolerable to owner.
  • Idiopathic epilepsy cannot be cured, only controlled.
  • Anticonvulsant side effects include changes in appetite, water consumption, activity and liver function. Re-evaluations at 6 month intervals are recommended.
  • Accurate, descriptive records of seizure frequency and character will provide information for drug dose adjustment.
  • Seek veterinary care if seizure activity lasts longer than 10 minutes.
  • Oral medications take several days to have effect when treatment has begun. Seizures are common during this initial period.
  • Medications must be given consistently on schedule or seizure activity may result.
  • The longer an animal has had a seizure disorder, the better the prognosis.
  • If a dog has had no convulsions for 1 year, your veterinarian may slowly decrease the dose of medication over months. Only a few dogs may be eventually weaned off medication.
  • Avoid the use of phenothiazine derivative drugs as they may precipitate seizures in epileptics. Most of the antihistamine tranquilizers and motion sickness drugs are phenothiazine derivatives.
  • In some dogs, hormones can precipitate seizures. Estrogen levels are elevated during heat in bitches and some seizures may be observed at this time. Ovariohysterectomy is a logical corrective measure.
  • Epileptics should not be used for breeding.
Why Neuter?

There are many medical and behavioral benefits in having your male pet neutered (castrated).

  • Convenience to owner
  • Usually stops tomcats from “spraying” foul-smelling urine in the house.
  • Reduces the annoying and embarrassing urge of male dogs to “mount” the legs of people.
  • In many localities reduced annual dog license fees for neutered pets will quickly recover operation costs.
  • Reduces aggression toward other animals decreasing fights and related veterinary bills and aggravation.
  • Better health for your pet.
  • Eliminates your pet’s desire to seek out a female and therefore reduces the risks involved with a free-roaming animal (car accidents, etc).
  • Helps decrease the overpopulation problem.
  • One male running loose for just a few hours can impregnate many females, adding to the serious problem of unwanted puppies and kittens.
  • Eliminates sexual frustration.
  • A male, sensing a nearby female in heat, can break down doors and jump fences in his desire to mate.
  • Let your pet relax and enjoy being a part of the family.

Myths

  • Neutering will take away protective instincts.

Not true. Neutering your dog does not reduce his ability as a watchdog. He will be as protective of his territory as he was before surgery.

  • Neutering makes pets fat.

Not true. Neutering does not make your pet fat or lazy. Too much food and not enough exercise are the main causes of obesity.

  • Neutering will hurt him.

Not true. Neutering is a safe and relatively painless operation when performed by a competent licensed veterinarian. Your pet will appreciate the freedom from sexual frustration.

  • Neutering will make him look and act differently.

Not true. Neutering a male after he is full grown will not change his male appearance or his personality.

Why Spay?

There are many medical and behavioral benefits in having your female pet spayed (ovariohysterectomy).

  • Convenience to owner
  • Eliminates estrus or “heat” periods and bloody discharge.
  • Eliminates the scent that annoyingly attracts males.
  • No need to confine your female due to being in heat.
  • Eliminates the frantic pacing and crying by the female while in heat (especially cats).
  • Many localities reduce annual dog license fees with spayed pets enabling the quick recovery operation costs.
  • Better health for your pet.
  • Eliminates all the problems and potential risks involved in pregnancy and birth.
  • Eliminates the common problem of infections of the uterus as the pet gets older.
  • Decreases the possibility of mammary tumors.
  • Helps decrease the overpopulation problem.
  • By not bringing more unwanted puppies and kittens into the world.
  • Rids the worry of what to do with unplanned litters of puppies or kittens.
  • Eliminate sexual frustration.
  • Decreases your pet’s desire to roam in search of a mate, decreasing the problems involved with a free-roaming animal (car accidents, etc.).
  • Lets your pet relax and enjoy being a part of the family.

Myths

  • Spaying will make my pet fat.

Not true. Spaying your pet will not make her fat and lazy. Too much food and not enough exercise are the main causes of obesity.

  • She should have one litter first.

Not true. It is actually better for her not to have a litter or a heat period before being spayed. Dogs and cats can be spayed at 5-6 months of age or older.

  • Spaying will hurt her.

Not true. Spaying is a safe and relatively painless operation when performed by a competent licensed veterinarian. Your pet will appreciate the freedom from sexual frustration or repeated litters.

  • I will find good homes for my puppies or kittens.

Not true. You may be able to place your puppies or kittens, but are they all “good” homes? And remember each time you place one of your puppies or kittens, somewhere else an animal is being killed because there was no home for them. Right now in the United States alone 10 million animals are being euthanized each year!