Category Archives: Pet Safety

It Matters.

The cat was sick.  He was flat out on the table with a low body temperature and diarrhea just running out of him.  The history was that he had been vomiting and having diarrhea for a couple of days.  The bloodwork would tell the tale.  He only had 100 white blood cells, instead of the normal 12,000.  It was Panleukopenia and there wasn’t a whole lot I could do for him.  He was humanely euthanized.  The saddest part is that this didn’t need to happen.  It was totally preventable.  He never received his full set of vaccines, which would have protected him.

In this age of anti-vaccines, this case is a stark reminder of why we vaccinate in the first place.  The diseases that are covered in the core vaccines are still lurking out there, waiting for a drop in your pet’s immunity or lack of vaccines to strike.  They are often deadly diseases.  The reason we don’t see these diseases anymore is precisely because of the vaccines most of our pets receive.  As of the end of March, we already had 77 cases of rabies diagnosed in Pennsylvania this year.  Herd immunity (the immunity around your pet from other vaccinated pets) does provide a small degree of protection, but to achieve full immunity you need to vaccinate your individual pet.

The most frustrating part of the anti-vaccine movement is that the original article that started this movement was totally false.  In 1998 Dr. Wakefield published an article in the Lancet linking the MMR vaccine and autism.  Since it’s publication, Dr. Wakefield has admitted that he falsified all the data.  The article has been rescinded, and he has lost his license.  However, the damage was done.  Now a portion of the public doesn’t trust vaccines.  That is sad because vaccines have literally been a lifesaver.  Yes, nothing is perfect.  Which is why we tailor our recommendations to your pet’s lifestyle, and the frequency of vaccines has changed.  However, that doesn’t mean that you can totally skip vaccines.  Vaccines are safe and can prevent a whole lot of heartache.  Do you really want to take that chance?

 

Ann E. Bastian, V.M.D.

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SPRING!

SPRING!!!

Yah, it’s that time of the year.  Baseball season (Gooooo Phillies!!!).  Oh yeah, and it’s also time for ticks.  Any time we have weather above 45 degrees, ticks can start to be active.  Which means, while we had a colder than normal March and 1st day of April, they will be out in force later this week.  Unless your pet spends 100% of their time indoors (going outside to go to the bathroom counts as going outside), you need flea and tick control in this area.  We have different options – collars, oral products, and topicals. As a nudge for you to start your pet’s tick control, here are some fun facts.

  1. In this area we have the American Dog tick, Black Legged tick, Brown Dog tick, and the Lone Star tick.  The new arrival, the Asian Longhorned tick is in the northeast area of Pennsylvania.
  2. Ticks can survive the winter by going dormant, latching onto a host, or going underground.
  3. The CDC lists 12 diseases that are carried by ticks in the United States. In this area, ticks carry Tularemia, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme, Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis, and Babesia.
  4. Ticks have 4 life stages. They are more closely related to spiders and scorpions than other insects.  A female tick can lay 3,000 eggs.
  5. In Berks County your dog has a 1 in 8 chance of getting Lyme disease, a 1 in 15 chance of getting Anaplasmosis, and a 1 in 24 chance of getting Erhlichia.

So, how is your tick control?

 

Ann E. Bastian, V.M.D.

TIS THE SEASON

Thanksgiving is over, and now comes the push towards the next set of holidays! Whether it is Hanukkah, Christmas, or Kwanzaa here are some things to keep in mind for the furry members of your family.

• Changes in schedules and décor around the house can be disconcerting to
some pets. Try to keep your pets’ schedule the same as much as possible
to avoid adding to the stress.
• Remember potential toxins that may show up at your house. Imported snow
globes have been found to contain antifreeze, which is appealing and toxic
to pets. Antifreeze causes renal failure. Salt dough ornaments when
eaten can cause vomiting, diarrhea, trembling, weakness, and seizures.
Chocolate has 2 compounds that are toxic. Depending on the type and
amount of chocolate ingested, symptoms can range from mild
gastrointestinal signs to more serious seizures, tremors, and cardiac
symptoms. Grapes and raisins are known to cause vomiting, diarrhea, loss
of appetite, seizures, tremors, and comas. Macadamia nuts cause vomiting,
weakness and muscle incoordination, and hyperthermia. Alcohol, raw dough
and alcohol pastries cause hypoglycemia, low blood pressure, and
hypothermia. Artificial sweeteners can cause hypoglycemia and liver
failure. Lilies cause renal failure, while holly berries and mistletoe
cause vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy. Poinsettias are usually only
mildly toxic.
• If your pet ingests anything, please contact our office. Another resource
is the ASPCA’s Poison Control at 1-888-426-4435.

Need ideas on what to purchase for a family pet or friend’s pet? How about a new leash or collar with a new ID tag or Poop Bags (no explanation needed)? Please be careful with gifting treats and toys, though. Every pet is different with their dietary needs or what they can safely play with. Avoid treats made in other countries, as they have been problematic in the past. A health insurance policy for their pets can literally be a life saver. A donation to a local shelter or national animal welfare group in their honor is very special. Gift certificates to the local pet store or their favorite veterinarian also make great gifts. Whatever you choose, our furry family members deserve to be included on the gift list for all the unconditional love they give us year-round!

On behalf of the staff at Willow Creek Veterinary Center, I want to wish you, your family, and your pets a happy and healthy holiday season!

Ann E. Bastian, V.M.D.

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.

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.