Thursday, December 29, 2011

There's an App for That!

Last year Merial launched the Heartguard dose reminder app. Due to the success of the application, Merial is introducing the same app for Android users and an updated app for the iPhone. The updated features allow pet owners to set individual reminders for each dog, share accounts between phones, use the phone's camera to assign pictures to reminders, and add custom dog barks. In addition, the app will tell you how much you have remaining on your current prescription (or heartworm medication) and prompt you to contact your vet when you need more. When it's time for your dog's medication, his or her picture will pop up and bark to remind you. And the best part? The app is free! It's a fun and easy way to remember your pets medications and doses. The Android version can be downloaded via the Android Market online or on the phone, the iPhone version can be downloaded through iTunes for the App store on your smartphone. Happy Shopping!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Holiday Plant Hazards

December has come upon us fast, and with it comes all those wonderful holiday decorations. While they make our home pretty and festive, they may also be a temptation to our four legged family members! Cats will climb the Christmas tree and chew the branches, dogs will eat the tinsel and garland. Gastro-Intestinal obstruction is a fairly common occurrence here at VACC, but so is toxicity. There are three very popular holiday plants that, when ingested, are quite toxic to dogs and cats.

Peace Lillies are a lovely plant and a favorite around the holiday season. Unfortunately, they can cause a lot of problems if eaten by your pet. The most common symptoms are GI related symptoms. Peace lillies cause significant swelling of the oral tissues and intestines. Most often we will see excessive drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea. In rare cases tongue swelling, trouble swallowing, and difficulty breathing may also occur. Sometimes they may also cause acute kidney failure in cats. Treatment will depend on the severity of the reaction and ingestion, but your pet may need to be hospitalized on intravenous fluids and monitored for any signs of respiratory distress.

English holly, also known as Christmas holly, is another festive holiday plant that is toxic when ingested. Like the peace lily, clinical signs include excessive drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea. However in rare cases with holly if the berries are ingested seizures or tremors may be seen.

Mistletoe may be a fun Christmas tradition with your sweetheart, but it should be kept high and out of pets reach. Also causing gastro-intestinal upset, mistletoe when ingested can lead to a drop in blood pressure and low heart rate. Depending on the amount ingested and the severity of the reaction, pets will need to be treated for dehydration from vomiting and diarrhea. In very severe cases seizure, coma, and death can occur.

If you know or even suspect that your pet has ingested a potentially toxic plant call poison control immediately, followed by your veterinarian. The pet poison helpline number is 1-800-213-6680. If you have any further questions about toxic plants, the ASPCA website,, is a valuable resource of information!

Happy Holidays to you, your family, and of course your pets from all of us here Veterinary Associates of Cape Cod!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Flu Fever

The holiday season has brought with it an influx of patients getting the Canine Influenza vaccine. Now that most boarding kennels are requiring it, dog owners are rushing to get their pets up to date, but many don't know much about the disease.

Canine influenza is a newly emerging infectious disease caused by a flu virus. The strain is known as H3N8 and it is highly contagious between dogs. It is spread the same way as the human flu; direct contact, sneezing or coughing, or through contaminated surfaces. Symptoms of canine influenza include persist ant cough, low-grade fever, nasal discharge, lack of energy, and loss of appetite. In about 20% of dogs more serious signs may occur like high-grade fever and pneumonia, however most dogs will only get a mild form of the disease.

Diagnosing canine influenza can be difficult because it has similar symptoms of other diseases such as kennel cough. Owners don't usually suspect the disease until the symptoms become severe or last an unusually long time. Like most viruses, canine influenza should eventually run it's course. Some dogs may need the help of intravenous fluids to keep them hydrated or may develop secondary infections and need antibiotics. Whatever you do, do not use human medications in your dog unless directed by your veterinarian.

The best way to avoid canine influenza is to get your dog vaccinated. The first vaccine should be boostered within three to four weeks, followed by an annual revaccination. If you have any further questions, your veterinarian is the best person to answer them, however you can also check out this website, Thanks for reading!