Friday, November 25, 2011

Giving Thanks

In the spirit of Thanksgiving (although a day late), this blog will be dedicated to a few of the many reasons to be thankful for our pets. Pet ownership is a challenge in the beginning, often unexpected. Puppies and kittens will tear through the house leaving a path of destruction in their wake, but when the dust settles, the love that they give you in the years to come is worth more than any carpet, any favorite shoe, any glass vase, or anything and everything else you may have lost to their innocent, playful ways.

10 Reasons I'm Thankful for My Pet

  1. Drop your dinner on the floor? At least you don't need to clean it up. Rest assured that every last drop or crumb will be taken care of.

  2. Just in case you didn't hear it, a dog will always let you know when someone is at the door.

  3. Even when you're by yourself, you are never alone. No matter how you look, or what you're mood, all they care about is being with you.

  4. Any piece of paper, string, or sock can be a toy. If it's small and it's within reach, it's likely to be batted around or pounced on.

  5. Pets will never waste an opportunity to enjoy life. If there's even a chance for a walk, to eat, to play, or to sleep, they will go after it with gusto.

  6. Pets will forever inspire forgiveness. Despite all the trips to the vet, the baths, the nail trims, the punishments, they will still treat you with love and devotion.

  7. Pet's lower your blood pressure! It's true! Just ask the CDC...

  8. Pets will greet you like they haven't seen you in twenty years, even if it's only been twenty minutes.

  9. Pets can sense our emotions. If you are excited, they are excited, if you are sad, they try to comfort you.

  10. Pets just make us better people. Like the saying goes, "I aspire to be the kind of person my dog thinks I am." So True.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and all your furry family members.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pancreatitis And Your Pet

The Pancreas is a small but very important organ responsible for producing enzymes that help with food digestion as well as hormones such as insulin. Normally, digestive enzymes produced by the pancreas are activated when they reach the small intestine. Sometimes those enzymes are activated pre-maturely in the pancreas, resulting in inflammation and a disorder called pancreatitis.

The exact cause of pancreatitis is not known. In dogs, it is often associated with eating a rich, fatty meal or administration of corticosteroids, however these associations have not been found with cats.

Clinical signs of pancreatitis include nausea and vomiting, fever, abdominal pain and diarrhea. However, these clinical manifestations can also be associated with other diseases. This is why it's important to do blood work and x-rays or ultrasound to ensure a proper diagnosis of pancreatitis.

To successfully treat pancreatitis depends most on early diagnosis and medical treatment. It's important to "rest" the pancreas from it's role in digestion by withholding oral fluids and food. Your pet will need to be hospitalized on intravenous fluids to maintain a normal fluid level and electrolyte balance; they will also need to receive pain medication by injection because it is a very painful condition. Most pets with pancreatitis are hospitalized for two to four days and food is gradually re-introduced.

Generally patients suffering from acute pancreatitis will make a full recovery with no long term effects. However, it is important to note what can happen if your dog or cat goes too long without receiving medical treatment.

Sometimes if a significant number of cells that produce digestive enzymes are destroyed, a lack of proper food digestion may follow. This is known as exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) and can be treated with daily administration of enzyme replacement. If a significant number of cells that produce insulin are destroyed, diabetes mellitus can result. A few dogs that recover from acute pancreatitis may continue to have recurrent bouts of the disease called chronic relapsing pancreatitis. The result of this chronic inflammation allows digestive enzymes to spill into the abdominal cavity causing secondary damage to the liver, gall bladder, bile ducts, and intestines. In severe cases, untreated pancreatitis will result in shock, depression, and even death. However these cases are rare because most people seek treatment before their pet gets to this point.

Prevention of pancreatitis is not entirely possible given we don't know it's exact cause. In dogs you can at least reduce their odds of getting pancreatitis by not feeding them human food or really fatty rich foods. It is important to keep this in mind especially with Thanksgiving just around the corner. Our four legged friends will be sure to hide under the table for as many scraps as they can get. Feeding them in that moment may be satisfying, but the long term risk may not be worth it.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Declawing Your Cat

Declawing is a surgical procedure performed on cats in which the toenail and portion of bone from which the toenail grows is removed. The most important thing to understand about declawing is how it will affect your cat and how to care for him or her if they are declawed. Declawing is essentially an amputation, five toes on each front limb, therefore appropriate pain management must be used. Often your cat may need to stay overnight for more than one night to ensure that he or she stays quiet and continues to receive regular pain medication.

Here at Veterinary Associates of Cape Cod, declaws are performed with a surgical laser. The laser works by producing a small but very strong beam of light that works by vaporizing tissue. It seals off nerve endings significantly reducing pain, as well as blood vessels and lymphatics reducing bleeding and swelling. The sanitizing affect of the laser beam also reduces the risk for infection. If you are thinking about declawing your cat, laser surgery is strongly recommended. Even with the laser, your cat should still go home with antibiotics and pain medication for a week or or more following surgery. Special kitty litter, or shredded newspaper, must be used at least one week post operatively in place of your regular kitty litter. Regular litter can stick to your cats paws and get imbedded in their incision increasing their risk for infection.

A cat that is declawed must remain an indoor cat for the rest of it's life. When you remove a cat's claws they lose one of their main lines of defense. Cats use their claws not just for scratching but climbing and gripping as well. Without their claws cats will have very little to protect themselves against all of the predators that live outdoors. There is speculation that cats without claws may bite more than cats who have claws. It could be that cats bite more because they are declawed, or that cats are declawed because they are aggressive, we aren't sure what the exact correlation is. However, cats who are declawed are much easier to find homes for. Homeowners and landlords prefer a cat who is not going to damage their home by scratching. There are so many great cats that need homes currently living in shelters. If being declawed means they can find a home, many people feel declawing is worth it.

If you're thinking about declawing your cat, talk to your veterinarian. They can help you come up with a plan to properly care for your cat, declawed or not. If your veterinarian does not have a surgical laser, we are happy to take referrals here at VACC. Simply give us a call at 508-394-3566.