Category Archives: Pet Safety

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.

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.