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Protecting Your Pet with Written Prescriptions

In recent months TCVH has made some changes to the way we fill your pet’s prescriptions. These changes were initiated because we observed a greater instance of errors with prescriptions at outside pharmacies.

Pharmacists work hard to make sure that their patients receive the right drug at the correct dose. Unfortunately, pharmacists receive minimal training in veterinary pharmacology. There can be major differences in use, route and dosing of many medications based on species. A physical written prescription allows the pharmacist and client to double check the medication being sent home as the correct drug and dosing for the pet.

In some instances, a generic medication might be available for a brand name product. A pharmacist is legally allowed to substitute a generic medication for a brand name unless a doctor specifies that no substitutions are made. Sometimes these generic medications are not bioavailable (able to be metabolized) in our canine and feline patients. In other instances the generic may contain an ingredient like xylitol that is very safe for humans but is considered a toxin for pets.

Although taking a written prescription into your pharmacy or mailing it to an online pharmacy may seem like an inconvenience, be assured that the TCVH team just wants to make sure that we are providing the highest quality care we can for you and your pet.

Heat Stroke

HEAT STROKE AND HYPERTHERMIA

What is heat stroke?

Heat stroke is a term commonly used for hyperthermia or elevated body temperature, if a pet’s body temperature exceeds 103°F, it is considered abnormal or hyperthermic. Body temperatures above 106°F without previous signs of illness are usually associated with exposure to excessive external or environmental heat. The critical temperature where multiple organ failure and impending death occurs is 109°F.

What causes heat stroke?

  • The most common cause of heat stroke or hyperthermia is leaving a pet in a car or other area with inadequate ventilation. Your pet’s body temperature in this situation can elevate very rapidly, often within minutes. Dogs and cats cannot control their body temperature by sweating as humans do, since they only have a relatively small number of sweat glands located in their footpads, their primary way of regulating body heat is by panting.
  • Being left in a yard without access to shade or water on a hot day.
  • Being exposed to a hair dryer for an extended amount of time.
  • Excessive or vigorous exercise during hot temperatures. Excited or excessively exercised pets are sometimes at risk even if the environmental temperature and humidity does not appear hot.
  • Dogs with a restricted airway such as the brachycephalic breeds (flat faced dogs such as pugs, boxers, and bulldogs) are at greater risk. In these breeds, clinical signs of heat stroke can occur when the outside temperature and humidity are only moderately elevated.
  • Any infection causing fever (pyrexia) can lead to hyperthermia.
  • Seizures or severe muscle spasms can also elevate the body temperature due to the increase in muscular activity.

What are the signs of heat stroke?

Signs of heat stroke are very similar to the signs seen in humans, although dogs pant more in an effort to cool themselves.

  • Panting
  • Hypersalivation (drooling)
  • Warm to touch
  • Red mucous membranes of mouth
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Dry nose
  • Quiet or poorly responsive, may lay down and refuse or be unable to rise
  • Vomiting
  • Blood from mouth or in stool
  • Seizures
  • Muscle tremors
  • Ataxia (staggering)
  • Coma
  • Death

What is the treatment for heat stroke?

Hyperthermia is an immediate medical emergency, seek medical attention for your pet right away. Safe, controlled reduction of body temperature is a priority. Cool water may be poured over the head, stomach, underarms and feet, or cool cloths may be applied to these areas.  Rubbing alcohol may be applied to the footpads to dilate pores and increase perspiration. Ice may be placed around the mouth and anus.

The pet’s rectal temperature should be monitored, and treatment discontinued once the pet shows signs of recovery or the temperature has fallen to 103ºF.

What is the prognosis for heat stroke?

The prognosis depends on how high the body temperature elevated, how long the hyperthermia persisted and what the physical condition of the pet was prior to the heat stroke. If the body temperature did not become extremely high, most healthy pets will recover quickly if they are treated immediately. Some pets may experience permanent organ damage or may die later from complications that developed secondarily to the hyperthermia. Pets that experience hyperthermia are at greater risk for subsequent heat stroke due to damage to the thermoregulatory center.

Dealing With The Loss Of A Pet

With the loss of my own dog earlier this month I was reminded of the strong bond we have with our pets. They are not just an animal in the house; they are a member of the family. To grieve the loss of a pet is okay and it is normal to cry and hurt or feel guilt. Do not think about if you made the right decision or if you could have done more. Allow yourself time to heal, remember the wonderful life you gave them.

Keep in mind that your family members may all deal with the loss differently. There are many resources out there to help you and your loved ones grieve- support groups and pet memorials are available online and there are many great children’s books if you have young kids at home.

Pet loss is difficult, not silly or trivial and remember you can always call us if you need a shoulder to cry on.

Why Is My Dog Always Pulling?!?!

Have you ever felt the frustration of trying to take your furry friend for a nice relaxing walk only to come home with a sore shoulder from the constant pulling? While we all know that teaching your dog proper leash manners is important, we need to take a step back and look at leash walking from their perspective.

The first thing to keep in mind is that dogs instinctively oppose restraint. If something is pressing against their neck they just naturally want to pull away from it. Over time most dogs will learn to accept the feeling of the collar on their neck with proper training but some dogs will prefer a head halter or harness for their walking.

Another reason for pulling is simply excitement. Going outside can be overwhelming for a dog’s senses. There are new sights and smells all over and they just want to explore them all as fast as they can. Walking with the owner is often slow and boring for a dog. They want to wander left to right and smell all of the exciting things just off the sidewalk while we want them to follow along in a straight line.
So what are some things you can do to minimize the pulling?

• Start with the basics-Enroll your dog in a basic obedience class. Be sure that everyone in the family that plans on walking your dog is available to go to the class. This ensures that all family members are consistent with the training so your dog does not get confused. You may even want to look into private lessons to really focus on just leash walking if your dog is struggling with this task.
• Switch your type of collar-As discussed before, some dogs will respond better to walking when the pressure is taken off of the neck. Ask your veterinarian or trainer about head halters and harnesses that might provide a more comfortable restraint for your dog.

• Exercise before a walk-This may sound a little funny, after all, aren’t you going on a walk for exercise? The truth is that playing a little fetch or practicing some basic commands prior to going for a walk can help them to focus better while out for a walk.

• Keep your walking sessions short-If you try to take your untrained dog for a 3 mile walk right away, everyone will end up frustrated. Just like other training, leash walking sessions should be short and fun filled with lots of positive reinforcement and treats.

With practice and patience, leash walking can be a fun and rewarding experience for both you and your dog. It will make you both want to get out for some recommended exercise.

How to Help Your Cat with Arthritis

WHAT IS ARTHRITIS?
Arthritis or osteoarthritis is inflammation within the joints and the tissues surrounding them. It is one of the most common diseases in cats.

WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF ARTHRITIS?
It can be extremely difficult to know if your cat has arthritis. Cats are very good at hiding their pain and discomfort. In addition, the signs of arthritis can show up slowly over time. Things to look for include:
Limping
Reluctance to move
Hesitating/falling when jumping
Hunched stance
Increase in sleeping
Irritability
Decreased muscle mass
Licking/chewing at painful areas
Missing the litter box/accidents
Decreased grooming
Vocalization Hiding
Sleeping/resting in new locations

HOW DO I HELP MY CAT?
Here are some ways to help your cat stay more comfortable and treat the pain associated with arthritis.
• Pain Management-
-There are some medications that are safe for your pet to take and are available through your veterinarian. Never
give your cat an over the counter pain medication without discussing it with their doctor first.
-There are a variety of joint supplements (both oral and injectable) available that help maintain or support
cartilage repair within the joint space.
-Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects.
-Feeding a prescription diet specifically designed for joint health.
-Alternative pain management options include therapeutic laser and acupuncture.
• Environmental control-
-To make it easier for your cat to get in and out of the box, consider cutting a lower opening in the side of the
litter box.
-Creating stairs for your pet to reach their favorite spot is helpful. Your cats may not use the steps every time,
but if they’re having a bad day, they will.
-Provide plenty of comfy beds for your cat use.
-Long flights of stairs can be daunting for a painful pet. Consider moving litter boxes and food/water bowls to
the same floor of the house that your cat prefers.
• Weight loss-
-Extra weight adds unneeded stress to arthritic joints. Talk to your veterinarian about a safe weight loss plan
for your cat.
Together with your veterinarian, you can help your cat stay comfortable and happy.

The TCVH Difference

At Town & Country Veterinary Hospital we pride ourselves on providing the best veterinary experience for our clients and their pets. What does this mean? You will notice the difference the moment you walk in the door; warm colors and soft lighting help to provide a relaxing atmosphere. We strive to keep the lobby as quiet as possible to minimize stress for your pet. Usually clients are invited into an exam room right away. Here, your pet is welcome to roam the room, sit next to you on the bench seat or stay hidden in their carrier. We offer toys and treats for both cats and dogs to help relieve any anxiety they may feel. We also use natural pheromones in the rooms that can comfort your pet.

While our doctors practice high quality and progressive medicine, what really sets them apart is their compassion and communication with our clients. We want to make sure that when you leave our office all of your questions and concerns have been answered. If you think of something else once your visit is completed, please know that we welcome phone calls, emails and the opportunity to follow up with you. Our recommendations for vaccinations, medication and procedures are all tailored to each individual animal. There are no cookie-cutter packages at our clinic.

At TCVH we know that your pet is a member of your family. As pet owners ourselves, we understand this bond. Our entire staff will treat your pet as one of our own when they are at the clinic. Whether your pet is sick or here for a routine procedure, our staff loves spoiling our patients. Our technicians will snuggle with them while filling out paperwork or even sit next to them while taking our lunch break. You can be sure that when your pet is staying in our hospital that they are in a home away from home. We want to go above and beyond for your furry friend because that is how we would want ours treated.

Allergies in Our Pets

One of the most common reasons we see patients is due to allergies and complications from those allergies. An allergy is an over-reactive response or a hypersensitivity of the immune system to an allergen. There are several types of allergies that can affect our pets:

1. Flea Allergy- An exaggerated inflammatory response to a flea bite, the flea saliva is the most common allergen. Most pets experience minor irritation from flea bites but an allergic animal will react to a single bite with severe local itching. It will bite and scratch itself and may remove large amounts of hair, especially in the tail-base region. A secondary bacterial infection may occur in the broken skin. The area most commonly involved is over the rump in the tail-base region and the hind limbs. Treatment generally includes giving a flea prevention every month. If needed we may prescribe an oral antibiotic to treat a secondary infection and possibly an antihistamine and short term anti-inflammatory to reduce your pet’s itchiness and discomfort.

2. Environmental Allergy- The main environmental allergens are tree, grass and weed pollens, as well as molds, mildew, and house dust mites. Many of these allergies occur seasonally, such as ragweed, cedar, and grass pollens. However, others such as molds, mildew, and house dust mites are year-round. When humans inhale these allergens, the allergy manifests mainly with respiratory signs or “hay fever” – runny eyes, runny nose, and sneezing. But in our pets the result is very itchy skin (pruritis). You may see hair loss, excessive scratching, licking and face rubbing. Most pets that have environmental allergies start showing signs between one and three years of age. Affected animals will often react to several allergens. These allergies can be treated with immunotherapy (allergy injections) as well as antihistamines, essential fatty acids, medicated baths and medications that work to block the body’s itch response, but a permanent cure is not usually possible.

3. Contact Allergy- Contact allergy is the least common type of allergy in pets. It results from direct contact to allergens contained in flea collars, chemicals in the lawn or the grasses themselves and bedding. If a dog or cat is allergic to these substances, there will be skin irritation and itching at the points of contact, usually the feet and stomach. Removal of the allergen (once it can be identified) often solves the problem. In some cases we may need to bathe the patient to rinse the substance off.

4. Food Allergy-Food allergy can develop to almost any protein or carbohydrate component of food, but it most commonly develops in response to the protein portion of the food. Beef, pork, chicken and turkey are commonly associated with food allergies. Food allergy can develop at almost any age. With a food allergy your pet may have itching, digestive disorders or respiratory disorders. Food allergy may occur with other allergies concurrently. Treatment for food allergies begins with an elimination food trial. We will recommend a special hypoallergenic diet to feed to your pet for the next 8-12 weeks to see if your pet’s allergies are due to a true food allergy. If your pet responds well to the diet then we will likely continue them on a hypoallergenic diet for the rest of their life.

How to Help the Car Sick Dog

Does your dog get car sick or anxious in the car? Motion sickness occurs when certain parts of the inner ear that control balance become overstimulated. It can happen with any dog but is more common with puppies since these same parts of the inner ear are not fully developed yet. Some signs of motion sickness include whining, pacing, drooling, panting, digging, vomiting and diarrhea. These physical feelings can lead to anxiety in dogs and they will start to have symptoms of motion sickness at even the sight of a vehicle. Keep in mind that car rides often lead to stressful places like boarding, grooming and veterinary visits which can result in anxiety as well. Here are some tips and tricks to help your dog become your little copilot.

Some immediate things you can do to help your pup would be to

• Withhold food 12 hours before travel- an empty stomach helps decrease nausea.
• Use a carrier or dog safety harness– many dogs view their crate as a safe place and may feel more comfortable in it. A harness buckled into the seatbelt will keep a nervous dog in place and prevent them from becoming a driving distraction.
• Include a blanket that has the scent of home on it.
• Keep the car cool and quiet- play soft music to help drown out the noises of the road and other vehicles.
• Consider using a natural pheromone spray in the car such as Adaptil.

To help your dog in the long term you will need to desensitize them to the car rides. Each of these steps may take several hours, days or weeks to accomplish. If you notice signs of stress or anxiety, stop and restart on a different day.

• Start off slow, just give small treats or play with a favorite toy near the car.
• Next, put treats inside the car and encourage them to get in on their own.
• Once in the car, stay for several minutes in the garage or driveway.
• Start the car and back down the driveway then pull back in.
• Go for a short ride around the block.
• Try to work up to a longer drive.
Be sure to use a lot of delicious treats and praise during each step of the process.

Some dogs will need more help and you may need to discuss various medications with your veterinarian. If your pet vomits on more than 1-2 occasions in the car, talk to your veterinarian right away about anti-nausea medications for their motion sickness. There are also anti-anxiety medications that can be used during the desensitization process to help your pet become a great travel companion.

Essential Oil Safety

There has been a recent increase in the use of essential oils in the home. It is important, if you are using essential oils on yourself or diffusing into the air, that you are aware of the potential health risks to your pets.

Any essential oils in their concentrated form can cause health concerns in our pets. Whether they have had the oils directly applied to their coat (never recommended), had it dripped on their coat, ingested the oils or simply walked through, they are at risk. Symptoms vary depending on the type of oils but can include: skin irritation, drooling, decreased heart rate, low body temperature, unsteadiness, paralysis, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy and liver failure.

One of the most common essential oil toxicities we see is from tea tree (Melaleuca) oil. Over the counter tea tree oil shampoos are often marketed for pets with varying skin conditions. While the concentrations of the oil in these commercial preparations should not be enough to cause any ill effects, it is never recommended to use pure tea tree oil directly on a pet. As little as 7 drops of pure tea tree oil can result in severe poisoning of your pet.

What about diffusers?

A diffuser should be placed in a secure area where it will not be knocked over or ingested by your pet. Avoid running the diffuser in the areas that your pet frequents. If your pet already has respiratory problems they may worsen with exposure to any strong fragrances, watch for any signs of coughing, wheezing or labored breathing including panting. It is not recommended to use a diffuser in a home with birds as their respiratory tracts are very sensitive and essential oils can cause serious problems.
If your pet encounters essential oils, immediately move them to an area with fresh air, if they have the oils on their skin, bathe them with liquid dish soap and always contact a veterinarian right away.

Respiratory Rate Monitoring in Dogs and Cats

Did you know that your pet’s respiratory rate can tell us a lot about their heart and lungs? An increase in the resting respiratory rate (RRR) or their sleeping respiratory rate (SRR) may indicate a trip to your vet before their next annual appointment.

How can I get an RRR or SRR at home? A breath consists of a full cycle of chest movement in and out. You will want to count how many of these cycles occur in a 30 second time frame and simply multiply that by 2. The RRR should be done while your pet is calm and has not had any physical stimulation for at least 30 minutes. For the SRR, your pet needs be sleeping for at least 15 minutes and not twitching or “running” in their sleep. You never want to check a respiration rate when your pet is panting.

What is normal? A normal range for the sleeping respiratory rate in dogs is 6-25 breaths per minute while the range for a resting respiratory rate is 14-35 breaths per minute. Cats differ a little with both their SRR and RRR at 8-35 breaths per minute. Respiratory rates should be checked at least twice a week around the same time each day. A consistent elevation in respiratory rates should be further examined by your veterinarian. It could be an indicator of disease in your pet.