Category Archives: Pet Care

Not as good as you think.

Recently the FDA has warned veterinarians that there may be a correlation with Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) and specific ingredients in pet food.   Dilated cardiomyopathy is a disease of the muscles of the heart.  In DCM the muscles weaken, causing the heart to enlarge and not function correctly.  Signs of DCM include lethargy, coughing, difficulty breathing, and episodes of collapse.  Certain breeds such as Cockers, Boxers, Newfoundland, and others are affected due to genetic factors.  However, the FDA has noted DCM in breeds not typically affected.

The common factor in the dogs reported to the FDA – diet.  The dogs were being fed grain free diets with legumes (peas, lentils, etc.) or potatoes as the main ingredients.  Some dogs tested had taurine deficiencies, others did not.  Early reports indicate that the dogs ate these foods as their primary diet for periods ranging from months to years.   The dogs improved when their diet was switched to a balanced diet.  Most of the dogs also needed medication.   At this point the FDA is working with veterinary cardiologists, nutritionists, and manufacturers to determine the underlying cause.

The grain free craze in pet food was started as a marketing plan by certain dog food companies.  There is no scientific evidence that grains cause problems in most dogs.  For the 10% of dogs who have a true food allergy, 95% of those allergies are to a protein source, not a carbohydrate.  If you feel that your dog has a food allergy, please talk to one of our veterinarians so we can develop a plan to address your concerns.  At this point, grain free diets are not worth your dog’s heart.

Ann E. Bastian, V.M.D.

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Is It An Emergency?

Hopefully, you will never have to ask yourself that question!  However, our pets have a way of getting themselves into trouble; so, here is a guideline of things that should prompt a phone call.

  1. Trouble breathing.  This can mean a respiratory rate over 50-breaths a minute, nostrils flaring, sitting with the head extended and elbows out, and gums that are pale, or grey/blue.
  2. Trouble urinating. They may be straining and only producing a few drops or no urine.  They may vocalize when they strain and may try to urinate in unusual locations.
  3. Trouble using their hindlegs or unable to walk.
  4. Seizures
  5. Exposure to toxicities. This includes medication, plants, chemicals.
  6. Everything from an animal fight to being hit by a car, a fall, or hit by an unusual  object (i.e. a remote, baseball bat, golf clubs, a chainsaw). Oh, the stories I can tell from 6 years as a full-time emergency vet!
  7. Collapse
  8. Vulvar discharge if the pet is not spayed.
  9. Non-productive vomiting with dogs.

If you are not sure if your pet has a true emergency, please call and talk to one of our staff.  They can assess the situation over the phone and advise you on the best course of action for your pet.

Ann E. Bastian, V.M.D.

Fire Safety For Pets!

This month we celebrate Fire Safety for Pets Day.  Each year, 500,000 pets are affected by house fires, with 40,000 pets losing their lives in fires each year.  In 2013, fire departments responded to 350,000 house fires (that is one house fire every 85 seconds).  December through January is the peak time for house fires.  Pets are actually responsible for 1,000 house fires each year (3 a day).Never leave your pet unattended with burning candles, portable heaters, open fires, and unsecured electric cords.

You can go to www.gopetplan.com/Firesafety to print a full, customizable pet rescue alert for your window.  It will include the name of your pet, their favorite hiding place, and you can add a photo.  This will help fire fighters know to look for your pet.

Remember, never go back into a burning house trying to save a pet once you have safely exited (leave that to the professionals).  Stay safe!

 

Ann E. Bastian, V.M.D.

HARD TO BELIEVE

A couple of weeks ago my veterinary class celebrated our 25th class reunion.  I couldn’t attend because I was at a horse show, but I started thinking of all the changes that have occurred in veterinary medicine in the time I have practiced.

  1. Pain medicine has advanced greatly, and our understanding of pain has also improved.  25 years ago, dogs rarely got Bute or aspirin, which we now know universally causes stomach ulcers.  Today we have different classes and choices of pain medication.  Infusions of pain medication are routine but underheard of then.  While we are currently struggling with an opioid shortage, we still have many more choices then we use to have.  25 years ago, cats had nothing for pain.  Due to their unique metabolism, we still have only a small amount of choices compared to dogs, but at least we have something.
  2. Drugs available for anesthesia are safer and we have more choices. We also have drugs that allow us to safely sedate your pet in the office and then reverse the drugs and send your pet home shortly after a procedure
  3. Flea control consisted of shampoos, dips, sprays and bombs. Today’s choices include topicals, orals, and collars.
  4. We have a better understanding of the role of diet in our pet’s health. Dog and cat food has better ingredients, made into better formulas.  Dog food companies are now actually changing diets to change the gene expression of animals to control disease.
  5. Veterinary specialists are more readily available and accepted. In my first practice the closest specialty hospital was over 2 hours away.  It only offered limited specialists.  A lot of times, we did things because we were the only option for our clients.  It was fun because it allowed us to stretch our wings and do procedures that we are obligated to refer today.  My first boss told me he felt sorry for me, because he predicted correctly that as my career went along we all would be sending more and more to the specialists.
  6. As I write this, I am on call for our patients. Our hospital is one of the last hospitals in the county that take emergency calls.  24/7 emergency clinics are commonplace now, providing supervised care for patients.  This allows our patients to have the best care possible and allows veterinarians and their staff to have a work/life balance that didn’t exist before.  At the first hospital I worked at, I got 3 days off out of every 14 days.  That schedule was commonplace.
  7. The internet didn’t exist, so our research was limited to books and phone calls to specialists we had a relationship with.
  8. Dental care has advanced, and we understand the relationship of periodontal disease to the health of the rest of the body.
  9. Allergy treatment has improved just in the past 2 years, and as a result we are able to keep a lot of pets comfortable without having to resort to treatments with long-term side effects.

I don’t feel as if I have been practicing for 25 years (my mother can’t believe she has a daughter that has been a vet for that long either).  I can only imagine what the next 25 years will bring.

Ann E. Bastian, V.M.D.

That Doesn’t Work That Way……

This past week I noticed a trend among our clients.  As part of a pet’s annual exam, I always try to examine the mouth (if Fluffy will let me).  When I mentioned the grade of tartar found on the pet’s teeth, I was told by multiple clients that their groomer cleans their dog’s teeth.  Brushing a dog or cat’s teeth every 6-8 weeks is not enough.  If you are going to brush your pet’s teeth, it needs to be done several times a week, if not daily.  I feel bad for these clients, because brushing teeth every two months is a waste of money.  Please also understand that what your groomer does is not the same as a complete dental performed at our office.  A complete dental involves an examination of all tooth and gum surfaces under general anesthesia, a complete cleaning and polishing, and a fluoride treatment.

If you would like suggestions on how to care for your pet’s teeth so you can get the most bang for your buck, please reach out to our staff.  We have different types of products (chews, additives, food) to work with every pet and lifestyle.

Ann E. Bastian, V.M.D.

A Month of Celebrations

Celebrations this February include Mardi Gras, Valentine’s Day, Ash Wednesday, President’s Day, Chinese New Year (2018 is the Year of the Dog!), Veterinary Dental Health Month, and Spay/Neuter Awareness Month.  Obviously, the last two take special precedence for our practice.

This year we are offering 20% off the dental cleaning until the end of March.  By 3 years of age, most dogs and cats have some evidence of periodontal disease.  The bacteria associated with periodontal disease can spread via the blood stream.  This can lead to infections of the liver, kidney, heart, lungs, and trigger diabetes and autoimmune diseases.  Signs of dental disease include tartar, bleeding from the mouth, excessive drooling, discomfort when touching the mouth, loose or discolored teeth, loss of appetite, and bad breath.  Once we clean your pet’s teeth, there are multiple options to keep the teeth clean.  Our staff can review which option would work best for you and your pet.

Spaying and neutering is also an important step in protecting your pet’s health.  Cats can have litters 3 times a year with an average of 4 kittens per litter.  In 7 years one unspayed female and her offspring can produce 420,000 cats.  An unspayed dog and her offspring can produce 99,000 dogs in the same time.  Seventy thousand puppies and kittens are born in the United States each day (compared to 10,000 babies a day), and 6-8 million dogs and cats enter the shelters each year.  Over half of these animals will not be adopted.  Spaying and neutering can help decrease the chance of cancer (ovarian, mammary, uterine, prostate, testicular), fights, wandering, infections, and unwanted litters.  It really is in your pet’s best interest to spay or neuter.

As always, helping your pet have the healthiest life is always our top concern!

Ann E. Bastian, V.M.D.

They Haven’t Gone Away!

Happy 2018!  Although Berks County has been in the deep freeze for the past couple of weeks, they are still out there!  What am I talking about?  Parasites.

The numbers are in for 2017 with 3.27% of dogs in Berks County having had roundworms (1 in 31).  Hookworms are in at 2.87% (1 in 35), whipworms — 1.07% (1 in 94), and giardia —  4.9% (1 in 21).  Cats fared no better with 3.29% (1 in 30) having had giardia, 1.12% (1 in 90) had hookworms, and 8.79% (1 in 12) had round worms.

So how do you prevent your family pet from being part of the statistics for 2018?  First, check a fecal at your next vet visit.  If you can’t get a sample, ask the technician or veterinarian to get a sample so we can test it while you are at the office.  That way we can address any issues while you are at Willow Creek.  Puppies and kittens should have at least 4 fecals tested in the first year of their lives.  This is due to the lifecycle of the parasites.  Adult dogs and cats should have 1-2 fecals a year depending on their lifestyles and health.

Kittens and puppies should be dewormed every two weeks until they are put on a broad-spectrum monthly preventative.  Adult dogs and cats should be on a year-round broad-spectrum parasite control.  The Companion Animal Parasite Council has a great website for guidelines for pet owners about parasites, the risks to people, and how best to protect your family pet.  www.petsandparasites.org

Let’s do our best to keep you and your pets as healthy as possible!

Ann E. Bastian, V.M.D.

All we want for Christmas…….

This is the time of year when people make lists of what they want for the holidays.  So, I decided to ask our staff what they wanted from our clients.  This is what they came up with:

  1. Be polite.  A please and thank you go a long way.
  2. Be on time for your appointments. If you are held up, call us and let us know.
  3. Vaccinate your pets. Vaccines protect against a ton of deadly diseases, are safe, and keep your pet healthy and your family safe.
  4. Keep up with preventative medication for your pets. Flea, tick, and heartworm preventative can help your pet avoid a lot of nasty diseases.
  5. Train your pet. Get your cat use to the carrier and being handled.  Train your dog to walk nicely on a leash, stand on command, and have their feet, ears, and mouth handled.  It is much easier to do a thorough exam on a cooperative animal.  You will also appreciate not having to struggle to treat your pet if you need to medicate them.
  6. Take our recommendations seriously. We only recommend what we truly believe is in the best interest of your pet.
  7. Don’t believe everything you read on the internet. There is some great advice available on the internet, but there is also some horrible advice on there.
  8. Ask questions if you don’t understand something.
  9. Do not give your pet over the counter medicine or human medicine without asking.
  10. Don’t take our equipment. We need our tools for our next patient.

And of course, we all want you, your family, and critters to have a happy and healthy holiday season.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

 

Ann E. Bastian, V.M.D., Duncan, and Rio

Behind The Scenes!

It shows up on your television every Thanksgiving, after the parades, and before the football.  It is the Philadelphia Kennel Club National Dog show.   Held at the Oaks convention center the weekend before Thanksgiving, this show is one of the few benched shows in the country (the handlers and dogs are required to stay the entire day).  With over 2,000 dogs at this year’s show, that means it is a great opportunity for you to see and visit with different breeds.  Here are some highlights.

Dogs are grouped together by breed to make it easier for you to find the breed you are interested in visiting.

Breed rings are scattered throughout the hall so you can observe the dogs in action as well as back in their respective kennel areas.

It is also a chance to see unusual breeds in person; for instance, a Xoloitzcuintli (a Mexican hairless dog).

After the dogs compete in the breed ring, then the winners move on to compete in the group ring, which is what you see on television.

There are also demos and plenty of shopping as well.

If you haven’t taken a trip to the dog show, I would strongly encourage you to join us next year.

Ann E. Bastian, V.M.D.

P.S. My dog Duncan had so much fun showing, meeting, and greeting people he was exhausted when he got home.

Ready…or Not

With the recent devastation in Texas and Louisiana, the wildfires in the west, and Irma lurking in the Atlantic, it is time to review disaster preparedness for you and your pets.  Below is a list of things that are recommended to help you and your pets survive a natural disaster.

  1. Microchip your pet.  It is a permanent, traceable form of identification.  Any animal can be microchipped.  Make sure to update your microchip registration when you move, change phone numbers, or get a new emergency contact.  Also keep collars with tags on all cats and dogs.  In an emergency, there may not be access to a microchip scanner.
  2. Plan for a pet friendly place to stay if you need to evacuate. Consider pet friendly hotels, kennels, or loved ones.  NEVER LEAVE YOUR PETS BEHIND IF YOU MUST EVACUATE. Some shelters are now set up to accept people with pets.
  3. Start a buddy system. Exchange keys with someone who can evacuate your animals if you are not home when disaster strikes.  Give that person your pets’ information and your emergency contact information.  Make sure that person is comfortable handing your pets.
  4. Identify an emergency vet outside of your immediate area.
  5. Plan to have to temporarily confine your pet. If your pet is not use to a crate or carrier, take time to get them use to them.
  6. Know where to search for lost animals.
  7. Take photos of you with your pets so you can prove ownership (this is where microchipping can eliminate this problem).
  8. Assemble a disaster kit.
  9. Food – a one week supply in an airtight, waterproof container.  A can opener and spoon if you feed canned food.  Rotate the food every two months to avoid spoilage.
  10. Water – a one week supply in an airtight container out of direct sunlight. Rotate every two months.
  11. Basic animal first aid kit. One week supply of any medication your pet is on, plus flea and heartworm medication.
  12. Proof of vaccinations and photos to prove ownership.
  13. Collar, leash, harness, crate, collapsible food and water bowls, blanket, toys, and treats.
  14. Paper towels, dish soap, plastic bags, litter trays with litter

You can visit RedRover.org to find more resources for disaster preparedness.  Hopefully you will never need these tips, but it never hurts to be prepared.

Ann E. Bastian, V.M.D.