Category Archives: Puppies

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.

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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.

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.

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.

Does Your Pet’s Microchip Work?

August 15th is Check The Chip Day!  This is a day to remind people to have their pet’s microchip checked to make sure it is working properly.  1 in 3 pets will get lost in their lifetime.  Without proper identification, 90% will not return home.  According to the American Humane Association, only 17% of lost dogs, and 2% of lost cats will find their way back to their original owners.  Four million pets are euthanized each year at nationwide shelters.

Microchips are inserted between the shoulder blades with a needle and is a relatively painless procedure.  Microchips are tiny transponders made of a special plastic or surgical glass.  They are encoded with a unique set of numbers and letters that when read by a scanner can be traced back to the owner through the company’s registration.  Most microchips read for about 25 years.  The reports that microchips are the cause of cancer are false.

Please remember to register your pet if you have a microchip, and update the information with the chip company if you move or change phone numbers.  Unfortunately, I have encountered several animals that could not be returned to their rightful owners because the chip was never registered or had outdated information on the registry.

Our staff will be happy to scan your pet’s microchip at your next visit to make sure everything is working.

Keep your pet safe – chip them!

Ann E. Bastian, V.M.D.

How Many Worms Would YOU Tolerate?

How many worms, ticks, viruses, or fleas on your pet are OK with you?  Ten? One hundred? One thousand?  I am going to bet that your answer is zero.  Unfortunately, parasites are a constant threat to our pets.  Most parasites are microscopic, so the threat goes unnoticed.  It is amazing how many people decline an annual fecal exam because “they don’t see anything in their pet’s stool”!

There is a very interesting website (www.capcvet.org) that breaks down the incidence of parasites in all the counties in the United States and Canada.  The following are the current statistics for Berks county:

Lyme disease – 18.9% (1 of 6 dogs test positive)

Erhlichiosis – 1.81% (1 of 56)

Anaplasmosis – 8.36% (1 of 12)

Roundworms – 3.11% (1 of 33)

Hookworms – 2.46% (1 of 41)

Whipworms – 1.11% (1 of 90)

Giardia – 4.95% (1 of 21)

Heartworm – 0.04% (1 of 157)

FeLV – 1.97% (1 of 51 cats)

FIV – 5.7% (1 of 18)

In our practice, we diagnose dogs with Giardia on a regular basis.  Currently we have 2 dogs that are undergoing heartworm treatment.  So, the threat is real.  Please bring in a fecal when your pet comes in for their annual exam.  Our staff is ready to answer any questions about the threat of parasites to your pet, and will help you formulate a plan to lessen the risk to your pet.

Ann E. Bastian, V.M.D