Hope Animal Medical Center has once again been named a Southeastern Guide Dogs Veterinarian Partner.
Hope Animal Medical Center is proud to continue our partnership with Southeastern Guide Dogs. We provide these wonderful service dogs with our quality service. If you have any questions please feel free to call us at 706-546-7879. Find out more information on Southeastern Guide Dogs at www.guidedogs.org.
The Importance of Nutrition
Balanced nutrition is an essential part of an active, healthy lifestyle. Your pet needs plenty of fresh water and should be fed good quality food in amounts sufficient to meet energy and caloric requirements. Inadequate or excess intake of nutrients can be equally harmful. The food your pet eats plays an important role in his or her overall health and well-being.
The Difference Between Dogs and Cats
Dogs are omnivores, which means they can eat a variety of foods to meet their energy requirements. Completely balanced vegetarian diets can be fed to dogs without fear of causing any nutritional deficiency. However, cats have always been carnivores. Cats have some unique nutritional needs that a strictly vegetarian diet cannot satisfy. These include: Arachidonic Acid (an essential fatty acid, which is not found in plant sources), Taurine (an amino acid that cats cannot synthesize in adequate amounts), Vitamin A, and Niacin. In addition to these dietary peculiarities, your cat requires a high amount of protein in his diet, about 12 percent in comparison to 4 percent for adult dogs. Unlike you, your cat does very well on a high-fat diet. Fat gives him needed energy, assists the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (Vitamins A and E), and adds taste.
Memorize Our List of Foods to Avoid
Our experts at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center urge you to avoid feeding the following foods to your pet: alcoholic beverages, avocado, chocolate, coffee, fatty foods, grapes and raisins, macadamia nuts, moldy or spoiled foods, onion and onion powder, salt, yeast dough, garlic, and products sweetened with xylitol.
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is an organization that publishes regulations for nutritional adequacy of “complete and balanced” dog and cat foods. Your pet’s food should conform to minimal AAFCO standards.
These nutritional adequacy standards are defined by two nutrient profiles based upon a pet’s stage of life:
1. Adult maintenance, and
2. Growth and reproduction. Pet foods rated for “growth and reproduction” are designed for puppies/kittens and pregnant or lactating females. Every pet food label must contain a statement and validation of nutritional adequacy.
AAFCO regulations allow two basic methods for pet food manufacturers to substantiate claims:
1. Formulation Method — Requires the manufacturer to formulate the food to meet the AAFCO nutrient profiles for dogs and cats. This method is less time consuming and less expensive because feeding trials with pets are not required, only a calculation of the nutrient levels.
An example of an AAFCO statement using the formulation method would be: "Brand ABC Cat Food is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by AAFCO Cat Food Profiles for maintenance of adult cats."
2. Feeding Trial Method — Requires the manufacturer perform an AAFCO-protocol feeding trial using the food as the sole source of nutrition. This is the Gold Standard or preferred method, and it documents the pets' performance when fed the food.
An example of an AAFCO statement using the feeding trial method would be: "Animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate that Brand X Dog Food provides complete and balanced nutrition for maintenance of adult dogs." (From hillspet.com)
An animal’s energy needs are based on its body weight. The daily caloric requirements for an individual animal depend on its physiological state, such as adult maintenance, growth, pregnancy, or lactation. Other determining factors include the animal’s activity and temperament, environmental temperature, and the diet’s digestibility. Less active dogs and cats require considerably fewer calories per day. On any feeding program animals should be weighed at frequent intervals to evaluate appropriateness of measurements and for adjusting caloric intake. Determining energy requirements for cats is easier than dogs because body size of cats varies little.
Pet food labels recommend feeding amounts in a range of cups given at certain ages for a puppy/kitten, maturing to a given weight range for adult pets. This range of cups can vary greatly, and can be quite confusing. It is most important to judge how much to feed by an additional evaluation of the pet’s appearance. The desired condition varies with certain breeds – some tend to be more solid, others more trim. Just remember: Lean pets live longer, healthier lives than those who are overweight.
Body Condition Scoring
Veterinarians typically use a measurement called a body condition score to assess whether a pet is underweight, overweight, or just right (healthy). Your veterinarian can use this scale to show you the proper way to assess your pet’s weight. If you’re unsure what your pet’s optimum weight should be, perform this simple test: Place your hands on your pet’s rib cage with your thumbs on the back.
Your pet is a healthy weight if: 1. You can easily feel its ribs, 2. It has a tucked abdomen and no sagging fat deposits, and 3. You can see its waist from above.
Your pet is overweight if: 1. You can feel fat between the skin and ribs or you have difficulty feeling its ribs, 2. It has a large abdomen that hangs down, and you can grab a handful of fat, and 3. It has a broad, flat back and no visible waist.
Battle the Bulge
“As more Americans confront their own weight issues, furry housemates increasingly struggle alongside them. Data from 2011 indicates that the problem is reaching epidemic proportions, with more than half of U.S. dogs and cats now overweight or obese. “ [From WSJ.com (Wall Street Journal)] Many owners view an overweight pet as simply a cosmetic issue. They do not understand the health risks involved with excess weight. Diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, osteoarthritis, liver disease and skin issues are more common in obese animals. Overweight pets also face increased risk during anesthesia and surgery. Studies have revealed that obese dogs have a shorter lifespan than their normal weight counterparts.
What’s the best way to tip the scales in your pet’s favor? Gradually decrease her food intake while increasing her activity level. You can switch to a reduced calorie food or make a cutback in the portion size of her regular food. We recommend a gradual reduction of 10 to 25 percent for cats, and 25 to 33 percent for dogs – but it’s always a good idea to check with your pet’s veterinarian first. Avoid treats that are high in fat and calories, such as cheese, hot dogs, and peanut butter. Raw vegetables and some fruits make excellent low-calorie treats, as do air-popped popcorn, and ice cubes. With careful dietary management and oversight by your veterinarian, changes in diet and lifestyle can lead to a much more productive life. There are prescription diet formulations available from your veterinarian that can make dieting easy for you and your pet. Not enough exercise and too much food will cause any animal to gain weight – especially pets, who rely on you to regulate nutrition and activity levels.
Not only will daily exercise keep your pet physically fit and mentally healthy, it helps channel aggressive and destructive behaviors. Regular activity also burns up calories and increases muscle mass and cardiovascular strength. When it comes to canines, individual exercise needs vary based on breed, sex, age and level of health, but a couple of walks around the block every day is probably not enough – especially if your pooch is an adolescent or a member of the sporting, herding, hound or terrier breeds. And if your cat has fallen into bad exercise habits (i.e. sure, she can run – to her food dish!), you will have to engage her in supervised fun and games. Lots of cats love chasing after laser pointers or crinkle-noise-making toys. Always start slow, though, and limit beginning sessions to five minutes or so.
We proudly carry Hill’s Veterinary Prescription Diets and Royal Canin Veterinary Diets here at Hope Animal Medical Center. Hill’s Prescription Diet pet foods are specially formulated to help manage pets with health problems. Backed by extensive clinical studies, Hill’s offers the most reliable and trusted range of therapeutic pet foods. Hill’s manufacturing facilities follow strict sourcing and production processes to ensure premium wellness and therapeutic pet nutrition. Advanced technology allows for efficient handling, blending and processing, resulting in safe, highly nutritious and palatable pet foods. Royal Canin was created in 1967 by a veterinarian, Dr. Jean Cathary, with a focus on developing preventive and therapeutic nutrition for companion animals. Royal Canin also has strict criteria for quality of raw materials during each stage of food production and food safety. Royal Canin was one of the first pet food manufacturers to become ISO-certified, a designation that means they meet international standards for their manufacturing process. All Hill’s and Royal Canin pet foods come with a 100% Guarantee for quality, consistency, and taste.
We offer a wide variety of dog and cat foods that can help specific issues from preventive health (e.g. oral/dental, digestive, and skin health), to chronic disease management (e.g. arthritis, kidney and urinary tract disease, diabetes, and heart disease). We even have a new diet for dogs with anxiety (Royal Canin CALM). Come visit us at Hope Animal Medical Center, call us at 706-546-7879, or visit our website at www.hopeamc.com for more information.
Dr. Jenifer Hope Gustafson
Dr. Sherri Turick
Dr. Angela Dodd
Dr. Lisa Stacy
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:
*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.
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!
TUMORS OF THE MAMMARY GLAND CAN OCCUR IN DOGS AND CATS. SPAYING YOUR PET EARLY IN LIFE HAS PROVEN TO HAVE THE MOST HEALTH BENEFIT IN REDUCING THE RISK FOR MALIGNANT TUMORS.
The mammary system is comprised of the mammary glands or breasts and is present in all mammals. Mammary glands are typically arranged in two parallel rows extending from the underside of the chest to the groin area, along the outside of the body wall. The mammary glands are joined together in a chain on each side. Dogs usually have five mammary glands whereas cats usually have four. In males, mammary glands exist in a rudimentary state. The chief function of the mammary glands is to provide milk and nourishment to the newborn. Common diseases of the mammary system in dogs and cats include: mastitis (inflammation/infection), galactostasis (abnormal accumulation of unexcreted milk), agalactia (failure to produce and excrete milk), galactorrhea (excessive or inappropriate production and release of milk), and mammary gland tumors. Mammary gland tumors are a cancer of the breast tissues. These tumors are similar to breast cancer in women, and can be lethal in dogs and cats.
Mammary gland tumors are the most common tumor developing in female dogs, particularly those not spayed. They are rare in males. Approximately 50 percent of these tumors are malignant (they can spread to the adjacent glands and lymph nodes) and 50 percent are benign (they do not spread elsewhere in the body). Mammary gland tumors occur in cats but are less common. They usually develop in older cats that have not been spayed and may also develop in cats prescribed progesterone medications. Siamese cats appear to have an increased risk for these tumors. Approximately 90 percent of these tumors are malignant.
The timing of an ovariohysterectomy, the removal of the ovaries and uterus, significantly impacts development of mammary gland tumors in dogs and cats. Dogs and cats spayed prior to their first estrus cycle (heat cycle) have less than a one percent risk, those spayed between the first and second estrus have an 8 percent risk, whereas those spayed after their second estrus cycle develop these tumors as commonly as dogs and cats that are not spayed. Spaying your dog and cat early in life can prevent these tumors.
If your pet develops a mammary tumor, it is best to do a full work-up or staging to thoroughly evaluate your pet’s health and determine if there are any underlying problems or evidence of metastasis. Treatment of mammary tumors can include:
We will be going PASSIONATELY PINK during the week of October 17th thru October 22nd in support of breast cancer awareness for 2011! We will be wearing PINK, and accepting any donations to contribute to the cause.
WEBSITES TO CHECK OUT:
Please call us at 706-546-7879 if you are interested in having your dog or cat spayed for these health benefits. Spaying your dog or cat eliminates the risk of uterine and ovarian cancers and infection (pyometra), and decreases the risk of mammary gland tumors as well.
Rabies is a highly fatal viral infection of the nervous system that affects all warm-blooded animal species, including people. The rabies virus is shed in saliva and transmitted most often from one animal to another through bite wounds. It then travels up through nerves, the spinal cord and eventually the brain. Once in the brain, the signs of rabies occur and death usually occurs within 10 days; it can take weeks to months for the virus to reach the brain, however. Throughout the world, 35,000 people die each year from rabies. In the United States, about 3 people succumb each year to rabies.
Signs of rabies infection include:
Once signs of rabies develop, there is no cure and the disease is fatal. There is no treatment for those animals in the final stages of the disease. If your pet is showing the signs of rabies, euthanasia and testing is recommended. If your pet is euthanized or dies for reasons not related to rabies and has bitten someone within 10 days before its death, testing is required by law. People exposed to rabies can receive injections to reduce the risk of rabies infection but these injections have not been extensively tested in animals. For information about human testing of advanced rabies, consult your family physician. Due to the serious risk of transmission to humans, animals that have been bitten by another animal with confirmed rabies should be euthanized. For these reasons, reducing the potential risk of rabies in our companion pets is very important.
It is so important that vaccinating your pet for rabies is required by law. The best way to prevent rabies exposure is to have your pet appropriately vaccinated. All states agree that the first rabies vaccine should be given when a pet is around 4-6 months of age. A booster injection 1 year later is necessary. After that, laws vary and some areas require annual rabies vaccination, whereas other areas allow vaccination every 3 years. The vaccine must be administered by a veterinarian. The purpose of the rabies vaccination is to help your pet fight off a rabies infection if it should be exposed to the virus. The vaccine is not a cure for rabies and pets vaccinated against rabies can still become infected with the virus. After initial vaccination, it takes about one month before peak levels of rabies antibodies are reached and the pet is considered immunized for rabies. If you adopt an adult dog or cat without an accurate vaccination history, initial rabies vaccine should be administered with a follow up vaccine one year later. After that, local laws regarding frequency of vaccination apply.
It is also important to reduce your pet’s risk of exposure to wildlife. This is done by keeping your cats indoor and your dogs confined or leash walked only. Allowing your pets to roam will only increase the risk of exposure to rabies. In the United States, rabies is most commonly found in skunks, raccoons, foxes, coyotes and bats. Despite their bad rap, rabies in ferrets is quite uncommon. Recently in the United States, cats have become the number one domestic animal diagnosed with rabies. It is suspected this is due to more cats being kept as pets and allowed to roam their neighborhoods. Both indoor and outdoor cats are required by law to be vaccinated against rabies. Every state and county requires every pet to be vaccinated for rabies. Even indoor cats could be at risk of getting out and being bitten by a rabid animal. An additional benefit is that IF your cat ever does bite someone, you and your cat will be in compliance with the law since your cat will have had all of the required rabies vaccines.
Rabies perpetuates because of the wild animal reservoirs. Foxes, raccoons, skunks, coyotes and bats have high rates of rabies infections and exposure to these animals is the primary method rabies is spread to our pets and us. In people, the current US cases of rabies have been associated with bat exposure. Bats have tiny sharp teeth. You may have been bitten but do not know it and may not find any marks. Children and incapacitated people may be unable to tell if a bite occurred. Consult your physician immediately if: A. you were sleeping and woke to find a bat in your room, B. a bat is found in a room with an unattended child, mentally challenged individual or intoxicated person, or C. if the bat is not available for testing, many physicians will recommend rabies exposure treatment.
If a person is bitten by an unvaccinated dog or cat, euthanasia and testing is recommended. Another alternative is to isolate the animal for 6 months. If after 6 months no signs of rabies appear, the animal can be vaccinated and released from quarantine.
If a person is bitten by a vaccinated dog or cat, the animal is observed for 10 days. If signs of rabies develop, the animal should be euthanized and tested for rabies. The reason for the 10 day quarantine is that if the animal was shedding the virus when he/she bit the person, he/she would be dead from rabies within 10 days. If the animal appears normal after 10 days, then he/she was not shedding the virus at the time of the bite. It does not, however, mean the animal is free from rabies. The virus may not have reached the brain yet. (If this is the case, the animal was still not contagious when he/she bit the person). Contact your physician for human treatment guidelines and recommendations. Every animal bite should be reported to your local rabies or animal control center.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011 is World Rabies Day!
World Rabies Day Mission: The mission of World Rabies Day is to raise awareness about the impact of rabies in people and animals, how easy it is to prevent it, and how to eliminate the main global sources. Even though the major impact of rabies occurs in regions of the world where many needs are present, rabies should no longer be neglected. The tools and technology for human rabies prevention and dog rabies elimination are available.
World Rabies Day events have educated 150 million people and vaccinated 4.6 million animals worldwide!
Rabies in humans is 100% preventable through prompt appropriate medical care. Yet, more than 55,000 people, mostly in Africa and Asia, die from rabies every year - a rate of one person every ten minutes. The most important global source of rabies in humans is from uncontrolled rabies in dogs. Children are often at greatest risk from rabies. They are more likely to be bitten by dogs, and are also more likely to be severely exposed through multiple bites in high-risk sites on the body. Severe exposures make it more difficult to prevent rabies unless access to good medical care is immediately available. This major source of rabies in humans can be eliminated through ensuring adequate animal vaccination and control, educating those at risk, and enhancing access of those bitten to appropriate medical care.
Checkout: http://www.worldrabiesday.org/ and http://www.worldrabiesday.org/EN/world_rabies_day_mission.html for more information.
We here at Hope Animal Medical Center want to keep you and your pet protected. Please call us if you are in need of updating your pet’s rabies vaccination status. We offer 1 year rabies vaccinations as well as 3 year rabies vaccinations (if previous vaccination has been sufficient).
Hot summer temperatures can often change your daily routine with your pet. Depending on where you live, it may be too hot to take your pet outside during the day. Pet owners must take precautionary steps to make sure their pets are adequately hydrated and not overheating when playing outdoors during the summer.
PREVENTING HEAT STROKE
Be a Cool Owner: Don’t Let Your Pet Overheat
Working up a good sweat in the hot summer months may be good for you, but it can lead to heat stroke in your pet and kill him in a matter of minutes. Heat stroke is a dangerous condition that takes the lives of many animals every year. Your pet’s normal body temperature (dogs and cats) is 100 to 102.5F. It if rises to 105 to 106 degrees, your pet is at risk for developing heat exhaustion. If the body temperature rises to 107 degrees, your pet has entered the dangerous zone of heat stroke. With heat stroke, irreversible damage and death can occur. It is more common in dogs but can occur in cats as well.
Here are some harsh but true summer facts:
1. The temperature in a parked car can reach 120 to 160 degrees in a matter of minutes, even with partially opened windows. It only takes ten minutes on an 85-degree day for the inside of your car to reach 102°F, even if the windows have been left open an inch or two. Within 30 minutes, the interior can reach 120 degrees – and even when the temperature is a pleasant 70 degrees outside, the inside of your car may be as much as 20 degrees hotter than the air outside. Parking in the shade offers little protection, as the sun is constantly shifting throughout the day.
2. Any pet exercising on a hot, humid day, even with plenty of water, can overheat. Overheating often leads to heat stroke. When humans overheat we are able to sweat in order to cool down. However, your pet cannot sweat as easily; he must rely on panting to cool down. Dogs and cats breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth, directing the air over the mucous membranes of the tongue, throat and trachea to facilitate cooling by evaporation of fluid. They also dissipate heat by dilation of the blood vessels in the surface of the skin in the face, ears and feet. When these mechanisms are overwhelmed, hyperthermia and heat stroke usually develop. Heat stroke is a condition arising from extremely high body temperature (rectal temperature of 105°F to 110°F), which leads to nervous system abnormalities (such as lethargy, weakness, collapse or coma). Abnormally high body temperature (also called hyperthermia) develops after increased muscular activity with impaired ability to give off heat due to high heat and humidity or respiratory obstruction.
3. Pets who have a thick hair coat, heart and lung problems or a short muzzle are at greater risk for heat stroke.
Others at risk include:
Heat stroke is a life-threatening emergency. Check your pet’s temperature rectally if you suspect heat stroke. If it is over 105°F, remove your pet from the heat source immediately and call your veterinarian.
If your pet is overheating, he will appear sluggish and unresponsive. He may appear disoriented. Other symptoms include excessive panting and drooling. The gums, tongue and conjunctiva of the eyes may be bright red and he will probably be panting hard. He may even start vomiting. Eventually he will collapse, seizure and may go into a coma.
If your pet exhibits any of these signs, treat it as an emergency and call your veterinarian immediately. On the way to your veterinary hospital, you can cool your pet with wet towels, spray with cool water from a hose or by providing ice chips for your pet to chew (providing he is conscious).
Heat-related illness is typically diagnosed based on physical exam findings and a recent history that could result in overheating. Your veterinarian may perform various blood tests to assess the extent of vital organ dysfunction caused by overheating. Intensity of treatment depends upon the cause and severity of the heat illness. Treatment can vary from fresh water, cooling devices, and careful observation to aggressive fluid therapy, oxygen supplementation and other medications.
To prevent heatstroke in animals, NEVER EVER leave them in the car. Make sure they are in a well-ventilated area at all times and out of direct sun. If you are uncomfortable in that area or room, your pet probably is too. Also, make sure your pet always has access to plenty of fresh clean water and shade. Outings should be kept shorter and walks should be done during the early morning hours when it is still cooler outside. Pets with thick coats, short muzzles and heart and/or breathing problems are at greater risk for heat stroke and should remain indoors with air conditioning during extremely hot days.
Avoid pavement in hot weather. Your pet has very sensitive paw pads, and the hot asphalt during the summer months can burn them. Instead, opt to walk your pet on grass or plan your walks during the early morning/late evening when the pavement is not as hot.
Refill pet medications and combat fleas & ticks. If your pet takes special medications for heart and/or lung disease, make sure to continue his medications consistently. Insect populations increase during the summer months, escalating the chances that your pet will come into contact with fleas, ticks and mosquitoes. Make sure that your pet is up-to-date with their annual heartworm testing, and once monthly year-round heartworm prevention. Also, refill their flea and tick control products and use them once monthly year-round.
We all hope you enjoy the rest of your summer! Remember, it’s hot out there, so drink plenty of fluids and stay cool! Please call us at 706-546-7879 if you have any questions or concerns.
Help Your Pet(s) Have a Fabulous Fourth
As the holiday approaches, take some time out to consider the safety and comfort of your pet(s). While the Fourth of July is a time for fireworks and celebration, for many pets and their owners it can be a nightmare. As many pet lovers know, fireworks and thunderstorms can cause a great deal of stress and anxiety for some animals. Fear of loud noises such as fireworks, thunder, and gunshots is called noise phobia. Nervous behaviors include: shaking, trembling, whimpering, panting, excessive drooling, howling, barking, refusing to eat, trying to hide or get into/out of the house/fence/or other enclosure, losing control of bladder or bowels or experiencing stress diarrhea. Your anxious pet cannot control its reactions in these situations. Fortunately, many therapies are available to help with this condition. Behavior modification techniques alone work well for some pets, while others may need medications or other supplemental therapies in addition to behavior modification to stay safe and not injure themselves trying to “escape” the noise. As always, the staff at Hope Animal Medical Center is happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have regarding noise phobias in your pet.
Here are a few safety tips regarding fireworks and other noises:
April is Heartworm Awareness Month
Heartworms are transmitted to dogs and cats by mosquitoes . Heartworm disease develops when a dog or cat is bitten by a mosquito carrying microscopic heartworm larvae (juvenile worms) of a parasite called Dirofilaria immitis . As a mosquito feeds, these larvae are deposited on the pet’s skin and quickly penetrate the skin to begin their migration into the pet’s bloodstream. The larvae migrate through the bloodstream and tissues, eventually reaching the heart and lungs. Adult heartworms can grow 10 to 12 inches in length and make their home in the right side of the heart and pulmonary (lung) arteries, often causing lung disease and heart failure.
Heartworm disease is a major health problem for dogs living in the United States and throughout the temperate and tropical regions of the world. Once thought to be only a disease of dogs and other wild canids (foxes, wolves, and coyotes), recent studies indicate that heartworm infection in cats is more common then ever believed. Without the protect ion of a heartworm preventive, your pet could get heartworm disease – a potentially deadly illness of the heart and lungs. While there is treatment available for dogs that get infected with heartworms, treatment can be expensive, difficult and can lead to serious side effects. However, there is no approved treatment for feline heartworm infection. Therefore, heartworm prevention given to your pet once monthly year-round is strongly advised to protect your pet from contracting this potentially fatal disease.
The good news is that heartworm disease is essentially 100% preventable! Various heartworm preventives are available, including monthly oral and topical formulations. Heartworm preventives are effective when given properly and on a timely schedule. All heartworm preventive medications work by killing heartworm larvae acquired during the previous month and do not continue to protect pets from future infection. This is why it is important to administer heartworm preventives to your pet once every month year-round. All approved heartworm preventives are highly effective, safe, easy to use, relatively inexpensive, and often provide treatment for additional parasites. Please remember, it is your responsibility to faithfully maintain the preventive program you have selected in consultation with your veterinarian. The best way to eliminate the risk of heartworm infection in your pet is to institute a year-round prevention program. Prevention is always more safe and affordable than treating dogs with adult heartworm infections.
Clinical signs of heartworm disease in dogs and cats can vary. Recently infected dogs may show no signs of the disease. Some common signs of heartworm infection in dogs include coughing, difficulty breathing, exercise intolerance, decreased appetite, weight loss and lethargy. Left untreated, heartworm disease may be fatal to your dog as it can cause “caval syndrome”, a sudden obstruction of blood flow through the heart and lungs, or development of heart failure. Signs of heartworm disease in cats range tremendously, from mild and subtle in appearance to severe and life threatening. Symptoms of feline Heartworm Associated Respiratory Disease (HARD) can mimic many common diseases of cats such as hairballs, asthma, or pneumonia . Signs of disease may include loss of appetite, sluggishness, intermittent vomiting (not associated with eating), coughing, wheezing, and respiratory distress. The presence of just one heartworm may result in permanent damage – or even death – to a cat or kitten. In fact, sudden death may be the first and only sign of heartworm infection in some cats.
Detecting heartworm disease in both dogs and cats involve simple blood tests; however, heartworm disease in dogs and cats do have some differences. Numerous blood tests are available for detecting heartworm infections in dogs, and your veterinarian will perform the test most appropriate for your dog. Tests cannot consistently detect infection until heartworms are at least six to seven months old. Moreover, tests are unable to detect infections if only male worms are present or if there are only one or two female worms. All dogs more than six months of age should be tested for heartworm infection before starting a preventive program. Annual heartworm testing is recommended for monitoring the success of any heartworm prevention program in dogs. If your dog tests positive for heartworm disease, then your veterinarian will need to perform a thorough physical examination, blood tests (e.g. a CBC and chemistry profile), and radiographs to assess your dog’s level of risk and stage of disease. To reduce complications, your veterinarian will educate you in great detail before beginning treatment. While the heartworm medication melarsomine dihydrochloride (Immiticide) is extremely effective in eliminating adult worms, some dogs will not be completely cleared with a single course of treatment. Testing is recommended six months after treatment to ensure all heartworms were killed. If tests are positive, additional adulticidal treatment may be indicated.
For the feline population, two blood tests are currently available to assist in diagnosing heartworms in cats . Unfortunately, test results do not always produce clear answers, even with professional interpretation. Positive tests indicate heartworms were present, but do not necessarily mean the pet is still infected. Moreover, since tests cannot diagnose very early infection or those infections cause by only one or two worms, negative test results are not always accurate. Even when heartworm disease is highly suspected, confirming a diagnosis through testing in the cat can be difficult. Multiple blood tests along with chest x-rays and ultrasound imaging of the heart and lungs are often needed to make a diagnosis. Since no safe treatment exists for the elimination of heartworms in cats, the best option is the routine use of heartworm preventives to inhibit development of infection.
All dogs are at risk for heartworm disease no matter where they live. Cats are at risk wherever dogs are at risk. The prevalence of heartworm disease has increased steadily since it was first identified. It now affects dogs in all 50 states. Even indoor cats can get heartworm disease. Some people think that indoor cats are safe from heartworm disease, but mosquitoes can get indoors, and cats can get out. Please visit the website of the American Heartworm Society ( www.heartwormsociety.org) for more in-depth information regarding prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of heartworm disease.