With the holidays rapidly approaching, family and friends are making plans to gather together for the festivities. For some pet parents, a trip is no fun if the four-legged members of the family can’t come along. But traveling can be highly stressful, both for you and your animal companions. With thoughtful preparation, you can ensure a safe and comfortable trip for everyone.
Top 10 Tips For Safe Car Travel With Your Pet Planning a road trip? Traveling with a pet involves more than just loading the animal in the back seat and motoring off, especially if you will be driving long distances or plan to be away for a long time. The ASPCA offers the following tips to help you prepare for a safe and smooth car trip:
1. Keep your pets safe and secure in a well-ventilated crate or carrier. There are a variety of wire mesh, hard plastic and soft-sided carriers available. Please make sure to always secure the crate so it won’t slide or shift in the event of a quick stop. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s large enough for your pet to sit, lie down, stand up and turn around in. It is a great idea to get your pet used to the carrier in the comfort of your own home well before your planned trip. There are also specialized seat belt/harness apparatuses available for dogs traveling by car.
2. Get your pet geared up for a long trip by taking him on a series of short drives first, gradually lengthening the time spent in the car. This way you can find out if your pet has any anxiety issues associated with car rides, or any motion sickness. If either of these issues are a problem, please discuss them with your veterinarian.
3. Your pet’s travel-feeding schedule should start with a light meal three to four hours prior to departure. Don’t feed your furry friend in a moving vehicle, even if it is a long drive. If you need to stop for refueling breaks, then you should offer your dog a break as well, by walking him/her on a leash in a safe area, and offering a small amount of water.
4. Never leave your animal alone in a parked vehicle. On a hot day, even with the windows open, a parked automobile can become a furnace in no time, and heatstroke can develop. In cold weather, a car can act as a refrigerator, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death. Designate someone in your travel party to stay with the animal while others rotate bathroom breaks if needed.
5. What is in your pet’s traveling kit? In addition to travel papers, food, bowls, a leash, a waste scoop, plastic bags, grooming supplies, medication and a pet first-aid kit, pack a favorite toy or pillow to give your pet a sense of familiarity and comfort.
6. Make sure your pet has a microchip for identification and wears a collar with a tag imprinted with your home address/phone number, as well as a temporary travel tag with your cell phone, destination phone number and any other relevant contact information. Canines should wear flat collars (never choke collars), please.
7. Don’t allow your pet to ride with his/her head outside of the window. This can subject your pet to inner ear damage and lung infections, and he/she could be injured by flying objects. Please keep him/her in the back seat in his/her crate, or with a harness attached to a seat buckle as previously described.
8. Traveling across state lines? Bring along your pet’s rabies vaccination record, as some states require this proof at certain interstate crossings. While this generally isn’t a problem, it is better to be prepared ahead of time should you have to show proof, or if your pet has an unfriendly encounter.
9. When it come to water, we say BYOB. Opt for bottled water or tap water stored in plastic jugs or water bottles. Drinking water from an area that your pet is not used to could result in GI upset for your pet (e.g. vomiting or diarrhea).
10. If you travel frequently with your pet, you may want to invest in rubberized floor liners and waterproof seat covers, available at auto product retailers.
Top 10 Tips For Safe Air Travel With Your Pet Planning a flight? The ASPCA urges pet owners to think twice about flying their pets on commercial airlines, especially if they plan on checking them in as cargo. Unless your pet is small enough to fit under your seat in a carrier and you can bring him/her in the cabin, the ASPCA recommends pet owners to not fly their animal. If pet owners have already committed to transporting their pets on commercial airlines, the ASPCA is offering the following top ten tips for safe air travel with your pet:
1. Make an appointment with your pet’s veterinarian for an examination, and make sure all vaccinations are current. Obtain a health certificate from your veterinarian dated within 10 days of departure. For travel outside of the continental United States, additional planning and health care requirements are often necessary. Contact the foreign office of the country you are traveling to and the USDA for more information.
2. Make sure your pet has a microchip for identification and is wearing a collar and ID tag with your phone numbers. The collar should also include destination information in case your pet escapes. Flat collars are best for dogs (no choke collars, please). Breakaway collars are best for cats.
3. Book a direct flight whenever possible. This will decrease the chances that your pet is left on the tarmac during extreme weather conditions or mishandled by baggage personnel.
4. Purchase a USDA-approved shipping crate that is large enough for your pet to sit, stand up, and turn around in comfortably. Shipping crates can be purchased from many pet supply stores and airlines.
5. Write the words “Live Animal” in letters at least one inch tall on top of and on at least one side of the crate. Use arrows to prominently indicate the upright position of the crate. On the top of the crate, write the name, address and telephone number of your pet’s destination point. Also, indicate whether you will be accompanying your pet or if someone else is picking him/her up. Make sure that the door is securely closed, but not locked, so that airline personnel can open it in case of an emergency. Line the bottom of the crate with some type of bedding – shredded paper, newspaper, or towels – to absorb any accidents.
6. Affix a current photograph of your pet to the top of the crate for identification purposes. Should your pet escape from the carrier, this could be a lifesaver. You should also carry a photograph of your pet.
7. The night before your flight/trip, make sure you’ve frozen a small dish or tray of water for your pet. This way, it cannot spill during loading, and will melt by the time your pet is thirsty. Tape a small pouch, preferably cloth, of dried food outside the crate. Airline personnel will be able to feed your pet in case he gets hungry on long-distance flights or a layover.
8. Tranquilizing your pet is not usually recommended, as it could hamper his breathing and delay his reflexes in case of an emergency. Always check with your veterinarian if you have any questions or concerns.
9. Tell every airline employee you encounter, on the ground and in the air, that you are traveling with a pet in the cargo hold. This way, they’ll be ready if any additional considerations or attention is needed.
10. If the plane is delayed, or if you have any concerns about the welfare of your pet, insist that airline personnel check the animal whenever feasible. In certain situations, removing the animal from the cargo hold and deplaning may be warranted.
If you are planning on traveling with your pet, and need to schedule an appointment for an examination, or to discuss any concerns you may have about traveling, please call us at 706-546-7879. Our friendly staff would be happy to assist you, as we all wish you a safe and happy holiday season.
If you are planning to travel, but need to find accommodations for your pet, we offer boarding here in a temperature-controlled, secure and well-staffed facility. Please let us know how we can help you. We greatly appreciate you and love all of your pets as if they were our own.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes Mellitus (DM) is a chronic condition in which a deficiency of the hormone Insulin impairs the body’s ability to metabolize sugar. It is one of the most common endocrine (hormonal) diseases of cats and dogs. There are two types of diabetes mellitus: Type I DM occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin; therefore insulin injections are required to control the disease. Dogs nearly always (99%) have the type I variety while approximately 50 to 70% of cats are diagnosed. Type II DM occurs when the pancreas produces enough insulin but something interferes with its ability to be utilized by the body. Type II DM is less common and is identified in approximately 30% of cats. It is treated with dietary management, weight control, and oral drugs.
Diabetes mellitus usually affects middle-aged to older cats and dogs. It is most common in female dogs and neutered male cats. Juvenile-onset diabetes may occur in cats and dogs less than 1 year of age. Any breed of cat or dog can be affected. Dog breeds at increased risk include: Australian terriers, Samoyeds, Schnauzers (miniature and standard), Bichon frises, Cairn terriers, Keeshonds, Spitzes, Fox terriers, and Poodles (miniature and standard). Risk factors for diabetes mellitus include: obesity, recurring or previous pancreatitis, Cushing’s disease, and drugs such as glucocorticoids and progestagens that antagonize insulin.
In order to understand the problems involved in diabetes mellitus it is necessary to understand something of the normal body’s metabolism. The cells of the body require sugar (glucose) as food and they depend on the bloodstream to bring glucose to them. They cannot, however, absorb and utilize glucose unless a hormone, Insulin, is present. Insulin is produced by the pancreas.
Glucose comes from the diet. When an animal goes without food, the body must break down fat, stored starches, and protein to supply calories for the hungry cells. Proteins and starches may be converted into glucose. Fat, however, requires different processing which can lead to the production of ketones rather than glucose. Ketones may be detected in the urine of starving animals as massive fat mobilization is required for ketone formation.
In the diabetic animal, there isn’t enough insulin. The cells cannot receive glucose from the blood because there is no insulin to permit it to be absorbed and utilized. The body is unable to detect the glucose present in the blood and is fooled into thinking starvation is occurring. Protein, starch, and fat breakdown occur as in starvation. Yet, all along there has been plenty of glucose in the blood; in fact, by now, there is a large excess of glucose in the blood as all resources have been mobilized. The normal kidney is able to prevent glucose loss in urine. In the diabetic animal, there is so much glucose in the blood that the kidney is overwhelmed and glucose spills into the urine and is lost. In severe cases, ketones are also found in the urine, a more complicated diabetic emergency, known as Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA). Glucose is able to draw water with it into the urine. This leads to excess urine production and excess thirst to keep up with the fluid loss in excess urine production. Clinical Signs/What to Watch For:
- Increased thirst/Excessive drinking
- Increased frequency and/or amount of urination
- Weight loss despite a good appetite
- Poor body condition/poor haircoat
- Weakness in cats – especially in rear legs
- Sudden blindness due to cataract formation in dogs
*Note: In dogs, sugars can enter the lens of the eye causing rapid cataract formation. Because cats’ lenses are different, this phenomenon only occurs in dogs.
*Another common issue with diabetes mellitus is urinary tract infection. All the sugar in the urine makes the bladder an excellent incubator for bacteria. Antibiotics are often necessary to clear up any infections and some future monitoring is advised to help detect them.
Veterinary care should include diagnostic tests to determine the underlying cause of any clinical signs you are seeing in your pet. Your veterinarian will ask questions about your pet’s medical history and perform a thorough physical exam. Routine bloodwork can help screen for any metabolic disease, and also help diagnose diabetes. A CBC (complete blood count) and Chemistry panel (serum biochemical analysis) can determine the blood glucose concentration and exclude other potential causes of the same symptoms. A urinalysis is also done to check for glucose and any evidence of a urinary tract infection. Other diagnostic tests, such as abdominal radiographs (x-rays) or abdominal ultrasound (US) may be done if complications or concurrent diseases, like pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), are suspected. Treatment
Most dogs and cats will require twice daily injections of insulin to control their blood glucose. These injections are given under the skin using a small needle. Most dogs and cats become readily accustomed to the treatments. Your veterinarian’s office will train you thoroughly in the proper use of insulin and subcutaneous injection techniques. Proper weight management, and regular exercise, in combination with therapeutic diets can aid in the control of diabetes. Ovariohysterectomy (spaying) is indicated in female diabetic animals to reduce the effects of estrogen on diabetes and insulin.
Complications such as urinary tract infections may require additional medications, but certain drugs (e.g. steroids like prednisone) should be avoided in diabetic patients. Prepare for frequent adjustments to therapy early in the course of treatment. Veterinarians prefer to start with a low dose of insulin initially and adjust upwards slowly to avoid overdosing. Your veterinarian may recommend hospitalization to measure the blood glucose every few hours (this is known as a glucose curve). Insulin overdose may cause low blood glucose (hypoglycemia), potentially resulting in disorientation, weakness, or seizures (convulsions, tremors). If you notice any of these symptoms in an otherwise responsive cat or dog, offer food immediately. If the cat or dog is unconscious, Karo syrup can be applied to the gums. In either case, call your veterinarian as soon as possible.
While there is no way known to prevent type I diabetes mellitus, proper weight management can reduce the likelihood of your dog or cat developing type II diabetes (which is the most common).
Please call us at 706-546-7879
if you are interested in having your pet screened for diabetes. You can also visit our website at www.hopeamc.com
for more information. We here at Hope Animal Medical Center hope you have a very Happy Thanksgiving!
Do you have questions about dental care for your dog?
Here are some common questions asked about pet dental health:
Q: I’ve heard dental problems are common in dogs. How will I know if my dog has a dental problem?
A: Dental disease is the most common disease in dogs. About 70% of dogs over the age of 3 are affected with dental disease. Check for redness or bleeding at the gum line, as well as tartar accumulation on the teeth. Also look out for signs of discomfort or foul smelling breath. If any of these symptoms are noticed, contact your veterinarian for a dental check-up.
Q: What is tartar and why is it so bad?
A: Bacteria naturally inhabit yours and your pet’s mouths. If allowed, it will breed on the surface of teeth to form an invisible layer of plaque. Plaque accumulation will eventually mineralize and thicken around the base of the tooth at the gum line and become visible tartar. Tartar begins to irritate the gums, causing inflammation known as gingivitis. If not removed, this process will continue and gums will become even more inflamed, leading to infection known as periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is a serious condition which can lead to gum recession and eventually loss of teeth. Infections from periodontal disease can spread to other parts of the mouth, as well as internal organs such as the heart, liver and kidneys.
Q: What can I expect when I bring my dog in for a dental exam and cleaning?
A: A dental exam will include examination of the mouth, teeth, and gums, as well as a full physical examination to rule out any underlying health issues. If it is determined your pet would benefit from having tartar and plaque removed, your veterinarian will perform a dental cleansing and polishing. Plaque and tartar can only be removed by those specially trained and is performed under anesthesia. Blood work is needed to determine adequate liver and kidney function to ensure that anesthesia can be given safely during a dental cleaning. It may also be determined that your dog be started on antibiotics prior to a dental cleaning. During the cleaning, careful attention is made to remove the tartar above and below the gum line. Gum recession can occur when tartar accumulates below the gum line. If a diseased or loose tooth is found, an extraction may be necessary. Fluoride applications may be given to strengthen tooth enamel, along with antibiotics given to treat any bacterial infection. In addition, polishing the teeth creates a smooth surface which deters bacteria from accumulating. Polishing is an important part of preventative care because plaque and tartar naturally begin to form on teeth in as little as 6 hours after a dental cleaning.
Q: What about special dental diets and treats?
A: Special dental diets can play a role in reducing the accumulation of plaque and tartar formation. There are veterinarian approved diets that have tartar reducing ingredients or have larger kibble which are textured to aid in plaque removal. In addition, there are also special canine chew toys and treats that have tartar controlling ingredients. Many products such as oral rinses and water additives are also available that cut down on bacteria or have plaque reducing enzymes. Your veterinarian can give you specific dietary and dental aid recommendations that will help guide you in your pet’s dental health program. Daily brushings are the best form of tartar prevention in between dental cleanings.
Q: How do I go about brushing my dog’s teeth?
A: As important as the cleaning and polishing is to remove hardened deposits on the teeth, the prevention of plaque build-up is just as important. A dental program should include daily brushings using a veterinarian approved toothpaste and toothbrush. This helps maintain good oral hygiene and prevent build-up of disease causing plaque and tartar. Be sure to choose toothpaste made for dogs, which comes in a variety of canine-friendly flavors. Human toothpaste should NEVER be given to your dog, as it may contain harmful ingredients.
When it comes to your dog's dental health, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
Schedule your dog's dental evaluation today!