Thursday, December 27, 2012

Bringing Home a New Pet


Did your family get a new pet this holiday season? Here are some tips to make the transition smoother for everyone:


  • Be prepared! Make sure you have everything your new pet will need before they arrive. For dogs this means food, dishes for food and water, a leash and collar with an ID tag, toys, and a crate (if you will be using one). Cats will also need food, dishes, and toys, as well as a carrier. Indoor cats don't need a collar, but some people have their indoor cats wear one, just in case they sneak outside.
  • Make it feel like home. If possible get a small amount of food, some toys, or a blanket from the pet's previous home. The food will allow you to switch gradually to the new diet, which will help prevent gastrointestinal upset. The toys and blanket will have familiar smells, and will help your new pet feel more comfortable.
  • Prepare the welcoming committee. Try to bring your new pet home on a weekend, or when you have a few days off so you can get to know each other. Make sure everyone in the house knows all of the rules and who is responsible for each new duty. For example, if your new pet is not allowed on furniture, everyone in the house should be aware of that. If you already have other pets in the house, prepare to introduce them to their new family member gradually.
  • Meet the vet. Even if your new pet is up to date on all vaccines and blood tests, it's a good idea to bring them to a veterinarian for a check up within the first week. Be sure that any pets already living at home are relatively healthy and fully vaccinated before you bring the new pet home. If the new pet has not been spayed or neutered, be sure to make that appointment as soon as possible.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Benefits of Endoscopy

All of us here at VACC are continually impressed by the endoscope. We have had several patients recently who were not good surgical candidates, either due to age or other medical issues, and the endoscope has been (literally) a lifesaver. 
During an endoscopy a camera is passed down the esophagus, and grasping tools can be used to remove foreign objects or to obtain biopsies. This technology will often eliminate the need for a surgical incision, drastically decreasing recovery time. 
In the video below, Dr. Burns uses the endoscope to remove a rock from a patient's stomach. This particular patient had a low platelet count, making surgery a dangerous option. Thanks to Dr. Burns and the endoscope, our patient is resting comfortably and rock-free!



video




Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Top Rated Animal Charities



If you are thinking of donating to a charity this holiday season, why not give to one that helps animals?
Here are some of the top rated animal charities, according to Charity Watch:


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Holiday Decorations and Your Pets


Everyone at Veterinary Associates of Cape Cod wishes you and your pets a safe and happy holiday season.  All of the things that we bring into the house to brighten the holiday are new and interesting to our curious pets.  Unfortunately, holiday decorations and pets don't mix well, and the combination sometimes results in a visit to the vet.
Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Candles can easily burn curious whiskers or be knocked over by happy tails. Never leave candles burning unattended.
  • Many holiday plants are toxic to pets. Holly, mistletoe, amaryllis, and poinsettia are dangerous if ingested by cats or dogs, and lilies pose a threat to cats.
  • A Christmas tree brings in all sorts of new smells- especially if it is a live tree. 
    • Be sure it is secured properly so it won't be knocked over by your pet. 
    • The water in the tree stand can cause vomiting or diarrhea if your pet drinks too much of it.
    • Pets often mistake Christmas ornaments for toys, so if you have a particularly rambunctious pet, it may be a good idea to hang the ornaments higher on the tree, out of their reach.
    • Tinsel commonly causes linear obstructions in pets and is especially attractive to cats. 
  • Holiday lights are dangerous if your pet chews on them. Make sure to hang lights out of reach and protect any cords that your pet may be able to reach. There are several brands of cord protectors available that will deter your pet from chewing.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

An Endoscopic Retrieval of a Dime



Our Airedale friend came to VACC earlier this week because he wasn't feeling well and was having diarrhea. He was examined by Dr. Burns who ordered x-rays and discovered that he had a foreign body.

As you can see in the video below, Dr. Burns was able to use the endoscope to remove the foreign body, which turned out to be a dime. 
video

The dog is feeling much better and will be able to go home soon. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Safety Tips for Pets


Most of us think of our pets as family members, so we want them to be included in our holiday celebrations. Here are some tips to make sure everyone has a safe and happy Thanksgiving:
  •  Be sure not to allow your pets to overindulge. Pancreatitis has been associated with eating rich, fatty foods, so keep the turkey and gravy treats to a minimum.
  • If you do give your pets small amounts of turkey, make sure it is fully cooked. Raw and under-cooked turkey can harbor several kinds of harmful bacteria (including Salmonella and Campylobacter) that can cause intestinal problems in pets and humans.
  • Turkey bones should never be fed to pets. They can easily splinter and cause tears or blockages in the gastrointestinal tract.
  • If you will be having a large number of visitors and your pet isn't used to so much company, consider confining your pet to a quiet part of the house. This will also prevent your guests from feeding too many treats to your pets.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Meet Pumpkin, Latest Member of the Hero Pet Club!


Pumpkin, a 3 year old guinea pig, came to VACC with a possible urinary infection. As you can see from his x-ray, Pumpkin had a very large bladder stone. Dr. Clayton surgically removed the stone, and Pumpkin has since recovered.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A New Animal Control Law for Massachusetts

An updated animal control law was signed by Governor Patrick on August 2nd and went into effect on October 31st of this year. 


Following are some key points of the new law.
  • Funds will be designated to offset the cost of spaying/neutering and vaccinating pets in shelters and those owned by low income families. The fund will also provide training for animal control officers- something that was not previously required. When Massachusetts residents file their 2012 taxes, they will have the opportunity to donate to this fund.
  • Pets may now be included in domestic violence protection orders. Many victims of domestic abuse do not leave a dangerous situation because they fear that their pets will be harmed. This section of the new law will protect both people and their animals.
  • The dangerous breed dog law has been updated to focus on individual problem dogs and their owners. All previous breed-specific town laws (like those banning pit bulls) have been nullified by the new state law.

You can read the law in its entirety here.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Halloween Safety for Pets


Here are some tips to keep your pet happy and safe this Halloween.


  • No candy! Treats made with chocolate and the artificial sweetener xylitol are toxic to pets and other treats can cause an upset stomach.  If you think your pet has eaten something toxic, contact your veterinarian, or the animal poison control center at (888) 426-4435.
  • Be careful that no one slips out the door. With trick-or-treaters in and out all night, a pet can sneak out, so it might be a good idea to confine pets away from the door. Make sure all identification tags are up to date, just in case.
  • Watch out for fire hazards. If you choose to put candles inside your pumpkins, put them in an area where they won't be knocked over by a rambunctious pet.
  • Make sure your pet's costume fits properly.  It shouldn't restrict your pet's ability to see, hear, bark or meow, move, or breathe. Put the costume on your pet a day or two before Halloween for a test run. If your pet seems annoyed or uncomfortable, you may want to consider a different costume, or even a Halloween bandanna.
  • Unless your pet is the most social of creatures, keep them at home during your trick-or-treating adventures. Many pets aren't used to crowds, and lots of kids in costumes can cause anxiety.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Smile, it's the Winter White Special!


According to estimates by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) , most pets (80% of dogs and 70% of cats) will have some form of periodontal disease by the time they reach 2 years of age. Brushing your pet's teeth can help prevent periodontal disease. The AVMA recommends brushing your pet's teeth at least several times a week, but once dental disease is present, the best option is periodontal scaling under anesthesia.
Now at VACC you can take advantage of our Winter White Special. This periodontal package includes the following for only $298 (that's a savings of 36%!):

  • A preoperative exam with your pet's veterinarian
  • IV catheter placement and fluid therapy
  • The safest human-grade anesthetics available
  • Constant monitoring of your pet's vital signs by the doctor/technician team assigned to them
  • Periodontal scaling
  • Teeth polishing
  • Day hospitalization
  • Nail trim
*Preoperative blood work, dental x-rays, and medications are not included, and this offer cannot be combined with any other discount.

If your veterinarian has ever recommended cleaning your pet's teeth under anesthesia, now is the time. Stop by or give us a call at (508) 394-3566 to make an appointment.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Meet Baxter, Our Latest Hero Pet!

Baxter led his owners to his missing brother, Bailey.

Baxter and his brother Bailey got loose on September 25th and were missing for more than a week. As you can imagine, their owners were heartbroken, and did everything they could to find their dogs. After a week and a half of worry, Baxter was found, but Bailey was not with him. His owners brought him back to the place where he was found and he led them right to Bailey, who had gotten his leash snagged in a bush.
Way to go Baxter, you deserve your place in the Hero Pet Club!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Introducing the Hero Pet Club



Our first member of the Hero Pet Club is Tiberius, the Welsh Corgi. Tiberius was recently diagnosed with lymphoma. He has been coming to VACC for chemotherapy treatments and he is a perfect patient. We are all hoping for a speedy recovery for our friend Tiberius.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Take Your Dog Camping


Camping with your dog can be lots of fun. Here are some tips to help you avoid any disastrous situations that may come up.

  • Know the local wildlife. In Massachusetts, animals like bears, porcupines, coyotes, and even rattle snakes can pose potential dangers to your dog- especially if you allow the dog off leash. 
  • Be aware of the rules. Some campgrounds do not allow dogs, and most only allow leashed dogs. Bring a few different leashes with you, and if your dog is crate trained, you may want to bring a crate as well.
  • Don't forget to pack a doggy bag! Bring enough of your dog's own food for the time you will be camping. Remember you will also need food and water bowls, pet waste bags, and any medications that they regularly take. 
  • Make sure all vaccinations and flea and tick medications are up to date before you leave.
  • Check your dog's collar. Make sure rabies and identification tags are current. If your dog should get lost during the trip, this will make it easier for you to be reunited again.
  • Before you leave, look up numbers to local veterinary offices, just in case.
  • Don't expect too much from your dog. If he or she is not used to hiking for miles in the woods don't push too hard. Also, if your dog is anxious in new situations, camping might not be the best idea.
As long as you are prepared a camping trip with your canine buddy can be a great fall excursion.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Teach Your Cat to Use the Toilet



With time and patience most cats can be trained to use the toilet instead of a litter box. The most important thing to remember is to go slow with each step of the training. Don't move on to the next step until your cat is totally comfortable with the current step. An extra toilet that won't be used by people during the training process will be helpful, but isn't absolutely necessary. If everyone in the house will be sharing the same toilet, the two-legged family members will have to remove the training apparatus from the toilet and replace it when they are done. Do not attempt to toilet train a very young or very old cat, or any cat that may have balance issues. Make sure to give your cat plenty of treats after each successful attempt, and remember to be patient. Forcing your cat into any of the steps will only make the whole process more difficult for you and your cat.
  • First, move your cat's litter box close to the toilet you will be training him to use. Leave it there until your cat is used to the new bathroom spot.
  • The next step is to gradually raise the litter box by placing books underneath it. Add one book each day until the box is the same height as the toilet seat. Make sure that the box won't move around as the cat is jumping into and out of it- if your cat knocks the box over, it could be a big setback in the training process. Each day, remove a small amount of litter from the box.
  • Once your cat is comfortable using the box at toilet height, move it over onto the toilet seat an inch or two each day, until it is sitting completely on the toilet. Again, you may need to secure the box to the toilet so it doesn't move when your cat jumps into it.
  • Keep removing litter from the box until there is only about 3/4 of an inch left. Change the litter more often at this point- many cats will avoid a dirty box, and with just a small amount of litter, your cat will consider the box dirty after each use.
  • At this point, as long as your cat is regularly using the box on top of the toilet seat, you can replace the regular litter box with a toilet training box. There are many commercially available toilet training systems, such as CitiKitty, Litter Kwitter, and The Toilet Trained Cat. If you don't wish to buy a training box, you can place a heavy piece of cardboard covered in waxed paper, or an aluminum bowl or pan under the seat, and then close the seat on top of it. Make sure that whatever you use will support your cat's weight if he steps on it. Add a thin layer of flushable litter and make sure to change the litter after each use.
  • The next step is to get your cat to gradually progress to using just the toilet. If you are using a homemade training device, cut a 1 inch hole in the middle. Gradually increase the size of the hole every day or 2 until the training device is gone. If you are using a device that you purchased, remove 1 ring each day or 2. For both methods, gradually remove litter so the cat will get used to eliminating into the water.
  • Check the toilet several times a day, and flush for your cat when necessary. It is possible to teach your cat to flush the toilet, but this is not recommended because many cats will make this into a water wasting game.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Teach Your Cat to Walk on a Leash

Many cat owners choose to keep their cats indoors to protect them from things like cars, coyotes, or other cats. Indoor cats can safely experience the outside world if they are trained to wear a harness and walk on a leash.
As you can see from the video below, cats may take time to get used to wearing a harness.
video

If you are interested in training your cat to walk on a leash, the first step is to buy an appropriate sized harness. Measure your cat's chest behind the front legs. This measurement will help you choose the right size at the pet store. A cat should not be walked on collar, as this can cause neck injuries or strangulation if the cat bolts quickly while you are holding the leash. A lightweight leash is also important. If your pet store doesn't carry a leash made specifically for cats, choose one made for a small dog.
The next step is to get your cat used to wearing the harness. Put it on the cat just before meal time so she will associate it with something positive. If your cat really doesn't like the harness, this might be a good time to give some special treats.
Once your cat is comfortable wearing the harness you can attach the leash. The great outdoors can be a scary place for a cat who has lived its whole life inside, so don't bring your cat outside until she is comfortably wearing the harness with the leash attached.
When you do venture outside together, hold onto your cat's leash- loud noises, dogs, or even other people may be frightening to your cat. Even if you are only going outside for a few minutes at a time, be sure your cat is up to date on all vaccinations and flea control.
With a little patience and some positive reinforcement, you'll be walking your cat in no time!


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Max Laid an Egg!

One of the first things you'll notice when you come to VACC is our mascot, Max.  She is a blue and gold macaw and last week she was not acting quite right.  Dr. Burns ordered some x-rays, and this is what we saw:

Max has a history of egg binding, a condition where the bird is unable to pass the egg.  Egg binding is serious and often fatal, so we watched Max closely for symptoms. We suspected that she may have an egg because she was shredding the paper at the bottom of her cage more than usual.  In addition to this normal nesting behavior an egg bound bird may exhibit labored breathing, straining, ruffled-looking feathers, abdominal swelling, constipation, and sitting on the floor of the cage.  Any bird showing these symptoms should immediately see a veterinarian.
Fortunately, Max was not egg bound this time. A few hours after the above x-ray was taken, she passed the egg with no problems and a second egg came 3 days later!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Empty Nest Syndrome


Summer is almost over, and lots of families will be sending children off to college. This can be a big adjustment period for everyone in the family- even your pets.

Signs of empty nest syndrome, or separation anxiety, include:

  • Pacing
  • Whining or barking
  • Hiding
  • Destructive behaviors such as frantic digging in inappropriate places or chewing inappropriate objects
  • Decrease or loss of appetite
  • Urinating or defecating in the house
  • Excessive licking or chewing, sometimes resulting in hair loss
  • Sleeping more
To help your dog cope with the new routine, make sure they are getting enough exercise. About an hour of romping a day is usually enough for most breeds. You can also incorporate games and training into your dog's exercise by teaching them an agility course.
Chasing a laser beam or playing with other toys for 30-40 minutes per day will help your cat deal with an empty house. Cats will also appreciate watching a fish tank or bird feeder to pass the time.
A visit from a pet sitter can help both cats and dogs deal with an empty nest.
In severe cases, your veterinarian may prescribe anti-anxiety medications. If your pet has a history of separation anxiety, you may want to consult your veterinarian before the big change.
Empty nest syndrome can be very challenging for pets and parents alike. Fortunately for your pets, the remedy can be as simple as a little extra activity every day. This can also be helpful for those human family members that may be missing their college student. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Flea Control

Temperatures were very mild over the winter, so this year has been a very bad one for fleas. This summer at VACC, we are seeing more fleas than usual. Most of the time, people are surprised when they hear that their pet has fleas. Even pets who only go outside for very brief periods, and those who don't go outside at all, are at risk. In warm areas, and during years with mild winters, it is a good idea to use a flea preventative year round.


Does your pet have fleas?
If you see one flea on your pet, you can be sure there are lots more. Scratching is often the first sign that people notice, as the fleas' saliva causes an allergic reaction which is very itchy to your pet. If you think your pet may have fleas you can check for "flea dirt." Flea dirt is the excrement the fleas and contains dried blood. Have your pet lay on top of a white piece of paper or a paper towel. Brush your pet and let any dirt collect on the paper. Add some drops of water to the dirt. If it turns a reddish color, it is very likely flea dirt and you should treat your pet for fleas.

How to get rid of fleas
There are many different options for controlling or preventing the fleas that live on your pet. No matter which product you choose to use, make sure you read the directions and dosage information carefully. Certain flea medications can be dangerous to cats, so be sure you have the right medication before you apply it.
Our website has more information on specific flea control for cats and dogs.

If there are fleas on your pet, then there are also fleas in your home. Only a portion of the flea's life cycle is spent on your pet- immature fleas live in the surrounding environment. Vacuuming several times per week and washing your pet's bedding weekly (in combination with topical or other medication for your pet) should be sufficient to get rid of of a flea infestation in your home, but severe or outdoor infestations may require insect spray or foggers.

If you have any questions about fleas or flea control, fell free to contact us here at (508) 394 3566.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Dr. Burns Gives Some Great Summer Pet Safety Tips

Check out this article with quotes from our own Dr. Burns!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

When Your Cat Won't Eat


Cats have a reputation for being picky eaters, but a loss of appetite for more than one day can be a sign of a more serious condition. Not eating can also cause more problems- cats can develop liver disease if they don't take in enough protein, so it is important to take them to a veterinarian as soon as possible to determine the reason for their loss of appetite.
Only a veterinarian can make an official diagnosis, but here are some medical issues that may cause a loss of appetite:

  • Nausea- Signs that indicate nausea in cats include licking the lips, drooling, and backing away from the food dish. There are many conditions that can cause nausea in cats. Your veterinarian can use information from an examination and laboratory tests to diagnose and treat your cat's illness.
  • Foreign body obstruction- Cats like to chew on string, hair ties, ribbon, and plants. All of these items can cause an obstruction, which may make your cat lose her appetite. If diagnosed early enough, this condition can often be remedied using endoscopy. If the obstruction is allowed to move into the intestines, your cat may require a more invasive surgery, so it is important to seek veterinary attention as soon as you think your cat may have ingested something she shouldn't have.
  • Pain- Often cats will stop eating when they are in pain. It is a good idea to check your cat for wounds or other injuries if she suddenly loses her appetite.
  • Old age- As cats get older they have an increased risk of developing conditions like constipation, kidney disease, cancer, or heart disease- all of which can decrease hunger. Dental conditions can also cause a lack of appetite and tend to be more common in older cats.
  • Changes in routine- Many cats do not like changes to their daily routine, so something as minor as changing the location of the food bowl can cause them to stop eating. Other household changes like adding a new family member (2 or 4-legged), older children leaving for college, or moving to a new home can also be reasons for loss of appetite.
Some things you can do to entice your cat to eat include heating the food (not too hot- microwaves can heat unevenly and cause burns!), hand feeding, feeding soft food, or adding chicken baby food to the cat's normal diet. Remember that these solutions should only be used temporarily until the cat can be seen by a veterinarian. If there is an underlying condition causing the loss of appetite, it is always best to diagnose it as soon as possible.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Grow a Garden for Your Pet

Gardening for Cats


If you have cats, try growing some catnip (also called cat mint) for them. You can give it to them fresh or dried. Some people even give their cats catnip tea. Cats also love to graze on wheat or rye grass, both of which are easy to grow outside or near a sunny window. If there are unwelcome cats in your garden, try planting a patch of catnip and wheat grass away from the garden. This will encourage them to stay out of your flowers or vegetables.

Gardening for Dogs


Fresh fruits and veggies aren't just good for humans- dogs can benefit too! Orange foods like carrots, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin are all easy to grow and good for your dog to eat. Green veggies like celery, green beans, spinach, and broccoli are also good plants for your vegetable garden that you can share with your dog.  Feed broccoli in moderation- too much can alter thyroid function.
Most of these foods (like carrots, green beans, celery and broccoli) can be fed raw and unprocessed, but for your dog to get the most nutrients from them they should be lightly steamed, or processed in a blender first. Add blended veggies, pumpkin, or sweet potato to homemade dog cookies to give your dog some extra fiber and nutrients during snack time.
Try this recipe from Rodale:


Vegetarian Dog Treats
Substitute just about any fruit or vegetable in this great vegetarian dog-treat recipe to add variety. This recipe uses an egg as a binding agent, but if you want to make these treats vegan, just mix the dough longer and omit the egg.
Ingredients:
2½ cups flour
¾ cup dry milk powder
½ cup vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 vegetable bouillon cubes, dissolved in ¾ cup boiling water
½ cup carrots, green beans, apples, or blueberries
1 egg (optional)
Directions:
In a large bowl, mix all ingredients and form into a ball. On a flour-dusted cutting board, roll out the dough to about ¼-inch thick.
Cut with bone-shaped cookie cutter or any cutter shape your pet will like.
Dehydrate at the highest setting—145 to 155 degrees—until done, approximately 6 to 8 hours.
These treats should be very dry, so add time as necessary.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Blue-Green Algae

Blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria, is often present in fresh water ponds and lakes. Some types of cyanobacteria can produce toxins when they are present in large numbers. An overgrowth, or bloom, of blue-green algae looks like pea soup floating on top of the water.
These blooms are caused by many factors, including a high nutrient content and warm weather. There is no way to visually distinguish between blooms of blue-green algae that are safe and those that are toxic.
Drinking or swimming in water with toxic algal blooms can be especially life-threatening to dogs.
Symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning include the following:

  • Vomiting, diarrhea, or black tarry stools
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness or lethargy
  • Pale or yellowish color
  • Excessive drooling or tearing of the eyes
  • Muscle tremors or stiffness
  • Inability to walk
  • Difficulty breathing or blue gums
If you suspect your dog has been exposed to blue-green algae toxins, see your veterinarian immediately or come see us here at VACC. There is no antidote for these toxins, so the sooner you seek medical help, the better the prognosis. In this case, prevention really is the best medicine, so make sure to take a look at the water before your dog jumps in. Click here for a list of ponds and lakes on Cape Cod that have blue-green algae advisories. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Garden Hose Hazards


In the summer we all spend more time outside with our pets, and many of us let our dogs drink from the hose, or use the hose for bathing our dogs.
An article recently published in the magazine Veterinary Medicine suggests that during hot days, using the hose for bath time can be dangerous. As the hose sits in the sun, the water inside can heat up enough to cause second or third degree burns. During one experiment, on a day when the temperature reached 94 degrees, the water inside the hoses reached 120 degrees after 2 hours in the sun. If you suspect your dog has been scalded by the hose, see your veterinarian or come see us here at VACC. It has also been suggested that the water sitting inside a hose can contain dangerous chemicals like BPA, and lead.
The safest thing you can do when using the hose with your dog is to let the water run for a few minutes before you start the bath or fill the bowl. Click here for more warm weather safety tips.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Thank You for Voting Us #1!

The 2012 Reader's Choice Awards have been announced, and Veterinary Associates of Cape Cod was voted number 1 animal clinic in Cape Cod, and in Yarmouth! Thanks to all who voted!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Therapeutic Laser


At Veterinary Associates of Cape Cod, our doctors have the option to prescribe therapeutic laser treatments to their patients. Laser therapy is pain-free and non-invasive, and can often reduce or eliminate the need for pain medications. The laser penetrates deep into the tissue of the patient and often results are immediate.

The therapeutic laser we use at VACC is the same one used in human medicine, and provides the following benefits for our patients:
  • Pain relief
  • Reduction of inflammation
  • Acceleration of healing through tissue repair
  • Improved circulation
  • Reduction of scar formation
  • Improved nerve and immune function
  • Stimulation of acupuncture points
Laser therapy has a cumulative effect, but many owners report improvement after the first session. At VACC, we routinely use laser therapy immediately following certain procedures, like ACL repair.  Post surgical therapeutic laser treatment is also part of our laser surgery package. In addition to acceleration of post surgical healing, the laser can be used to treat the following conditions:
  • Arthritis, hip or elbow dysplasia, or degenerative joint disease
  • Neck or back pain
  • Wounds
  • Chronic ear infections, hot spots, or other skin conditions
  • Muscle, ligament, or tendon injury
If your pet is suffering from a chronic condition, or is taking regular pain medications, you may want to consider non-invasive, side effect- free, laser therapy. To make an appointment to consult with one of our veterinarians, call us at (508) 394-3566.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Laparoscopic Neuter at VACC

At Veterinary Associates of Cape Cod we are proud to offer our patients some of the highest quality care in the area. Our surgeons have a variety of options when deciding how to approach each procedure, including the use of laser and laparoscopic equipment. Recently a patient came in for a cryptorchidectomy with Dr. Burns (this is a neuter where one or both testicles are retained). In this case, one of the dog's testicles had not descended into the scrotum. Normally this would be a major abdominal surgery with a very large incision, but because we have the ability to perform procedures laparoscopically here at VACC, Dr. Burns was able to find and remove the retained testicle in a minimally invasive way.
In the video below, you can see the part of the procedure where the doctor locates and secures the retained testicle for removal.
video

Just after the video, doctor Burns used a piece of equipment called the LigaSure to detach the testicle from the body. The LigaSure is a device that uses a combination of energy and pressure to seal blood vessels as it cuts through tissue. When our surgeons use the LigaSure there is no bleeding, and no sutures are needed.
Laparoscopic procedures require more equipment, and therefore more training for our surgeons and technicians, but we feel that the benefits to our patients are worth it!




Thursday, July 5, 2012

Feline Nutrition

Here is a video from our friends at the CATalyst Council with information on feline nutrition and tips on dealing with feline obesity. As always, if you have any questions about changing your cat's diet or exercise routine, contact your veterinarian, or come see us here at VACC.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Laboratory at VACC

Here at VACC we are very proud of our laboratory.  We have the equipment to quickly diagnose many disorders, often before the client is finished with their appointment.

This picture shows some of our laboratory equipment.
Some of the in-house diagnostics we are capable of include things like: ear infections, urinary infections, internal or external parasites, as well as more complicated systemic issues.

These white blood cells indicate infection.

Our resident cytologist is also capable of diagnosing more serious conditions, like mast cell tumors. This is an advantage because most animal hospitals need to send samples to an outside laboratory to make this diagnosis, which can take up to five days. In the case of a mast cell tumor, a quick diagnosis is very important because this type of tumor can spread, so it should be removed as soon as possible.  There are also special precautions the surgeon would take with this type of tumor, like treating the patient with Benadryl before the surgery to reduce the histamine response.

This picture shows mast cells, the most common type of cancer in dogs.
 At VACC, we strive to give your pets the best care possible. In the unfortunate event that your pet becomes ill, you can rest assured that our doctors have access to many diagnostic tools, including an in-house cytologist, that will assist them in making your pet feel better as soon as possible.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Hot Weather Tips for Pets


It's the first day of summer and it finally feels like June weather outside.  Even healthy pets are susceptible to overheating.  Here are some tips to keep your pet happy and healthy this summer.

  • Never leave your pet in the car on hot days, even with the windows rolled down.
  • Keep all of the windows in your house without screens closed, or install screens.  Make sure the screens in any open windows are secure. Cats can fall out of higher story windows, and they don't always land on their feet.
  • Give pets plenty of fresh, clean water to prevent dehydration. Remember they may need more than usual on hot days.
  • If you are spending time outdoors this summer, make sure your pet has access to a shady area.
  • Limit your pet's exercise on very hot days.
  • Be safe around pools and other bodies of water.  Not all dogs are good swimmers!  When out on a boat, dogs should wear life jackets too.
  • Be careful of hot pavement or asphalt.  On very hot days, paw pads can burn on the hot ground.  
  • If your pet is afraid of thunder or fireworks, and you are interested in using an anti-anxiety shirt, now is the time to train them to wear it.
  • Know the signs of overheating. They include: excessive panting or difficulty breathing, drooling, seizures, stupor or collapse, increased heart rate, and bloody diarrhea or vomit. If you suspect your pet is overheating call your veterinarian right away, or come see us here at VACC.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Cats and Canine Advantix

Fleas and ticks are already a big problem this year, so it's a good idea to keep up on your pet's monthly preventative. It is very important to remember that permethrin, the active ingredient in many canine flea and tick products, is toxic to cats.  Medications that contain permethrin include Advantix, Adams Spot-On, and Hartz flea and tick products for dogs.
The cat in the picture below is being bathed after his owners accidentally applied K9 Advantix to his back.

Luckily, this cat's owners realized their mistake right away. They washed him off and brought him right to us at VACC, where he was bathed again several times. He was fine, but very fortunate that he didn't need further treatment. If his owners hadn't realized their mistake as soon as they did, he may have suffered from symptoms as mild as trembling or ear flicking, to more severe full-blown seizures. Cats also occasionally groom their dog friends, so it is important to keep your cats separate after applying a flea and tick medication containing permethrin to your dog.
If you suspect your cat has accidentally received a dose of Advantix, or other permethrin containing product, get them to a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Cat Carriers and Your Cat


Many cat owners have a hard time getting their cat into the carrier.  Sometimes this can be so difficult that it can even keep the cat from making regular visits to the veterinarian.  It is important for your cat to be in a carrier during any trip in the car, for the cat's safety as well as your own.  Regular visits to the veterinarian are the best way to give your cat a long and healthy life, so getting your cat used to being in the carrier and riding in the car is one of the most important things you can do for him.
Below is a video from the Catalyst Council with tips on choosing the proper carrier for your cat, training your cat to tolerate the carrier, and to remain calm during car rides.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Smartphone Apps for Pet Lovers


If you have an iPad, iPhone or other smartphone, there are lots of apps you can download to keep your furry friend happy and healthy.
If you don't have a pet, you can use the Petfinder app to find the perfect adoptable pet for you.
Petcentric, and Local Doggy will both help you find pet friendly places, and Eukanuba's Unleashed will help you find an off leash dog park.
Animal Age will use the size and age of your pet to calculate his age in human years.
Pet Acoustics has music that is designed for the hearing sensitivities of animals.  This soothing music uses species specific frequencies, volume, and rhythm to calm your pet. This app is available for cats, dogs, and horses.
If you bring your dog to Camp Bow Wow, you can download an app that will let you watch your dog playing with her friends, and DogiDuty will help your pet sitter or dog walker keep in touch with you.
There is also an app that will remind you when your dog's heartworm medication is due.

In the unfortunate event that something goes wrong with your pet, there are lots of apps to help.
Cat Symptoms and Dog Symptoms cover thousands of pet health topics and Veterinary Terms will help you understand some of the medical terms your vet might use.
ICE for Pets keeps all the important information about your pet in one place so you don't have to worry about finding paperwork or directions to the vet's office during an emergency.Pet First Aid and PetTech Pet Saver are both full of information on how to care for your pet during a medical emergency.
Pet Poison Help has information about hundreds of household products that may be toxic to your pet, as well as what you should do if your pet is exposed to a toxic substance.
The Small Animal Diagnostic Imaging Atlas is useful when you need some help understanding your pet's diagnosis.



Thursday, May 24, 2012

Heartworm Prevention




For many of us, remembering to give our dogs their monthly heartworm pill can be a challenge.  There are stickers for the calendar to help us remember when the dose is due, but with so many other things going on in such a busy life, by the end of the day it is easy to forget what you did in the morning.
There is also an app for your phone that will remind you when it is time for your dog's heartworm prevention dose.

Now there is another option that guarantees your dog will have six full months of heartworm protection after only one visit to the veterinarian. ProHeart 6 is now available at Veterinary Associates of Cape Cod. This injection, given by a veterinarian, slowly releases medication over a six month period. This medication prevents heartworm infection as well as hookworm infection and is comparable in cost to the monthly chewable preventative.

If you need heartworm pills, or are interested in ProHeart 6, come see us here at VACC or call us at(508) 394-3566.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Vitamin Supplements for Senior Dogs


As a general rule, a dog that is 7 years old or older is considered to be senior.  At this stage of life, it is usually recommended to start feeding a food that is formulated for older dogs. If you have an older dog in your family is also a good idea to discuss dietary supplements with your veterinarian. As dogs age they tend to absorb fewer vitamins.  Some animals also tend to eat less when they get older.  Whether this is caused by dental disease or just a general decrease in appetite, the result is lower nutrient intake. Feeding the dog more is generally not a good idea, as weight gain can be a problem for dogs later in life. A dietary supplement will provide the dog with the vitamins and minerals he needs to help him combat the aging process, without the extra calories.
Even if you don't notice anything different about your older dog, that doesn't mean that there aren't changes taking place. It is best to prevent any problems before they happen, and one way to do this is to provide a nutritional supplement. Ask about our Golden Years supplement for dogs during your next visit to VACC. If your dog has a blood clotting disorder, diabetes, or a history or urinary stones it is important to speak with your veterinarian before starting any supplements.
Unfortuantely we all have to get older, but we can make it easier on our pets by providing the proper care.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Post Surgical Care

Recently a client came to pick up her puppy after the dog's laparoscopic spay.  Both the client and her dog were so excited to be together again.  As we were discussing post surgical care, it was clear that she was distracted.  She had spent the day worrying about her baby, and she just wanted to take her home.  It is common for people to be so eager to get their pet home after a surgical procedure, that they forget everything they talked about during the discharge. If your pet had a procedure here at Veterinary Associates of Cape Cod, we would send home printed instructions on post surgical care. If you misplace this sheet, or have any questions at all, feel free to give us a call at (508) 394-3566.

Here are some basic things to remember when caring for a pet after surgery (laparoscopic or otherwise):
  • Check the incision daily for swelling, pain, odor, or discharge.
  • Make sure your pet doesn't drink too much water when you get home.  They can be fed their normal diet the same evening, but don't be alarmed if they don't want to eat right away.  Call the hospital if your pet doesn't eat for 2 days in a row.
  • If your pet starts to lick or chew at the incision, put an e-collar on them as soon as possible.
  • Restrict activities like running, jumping (this includes jumping into the car), playing roughly with other animals, and climbing stairs for 7-10 days.
  • No bathing or swimming for 10 days.
  • If your pet's incision has internal sutures they will eventually dissolve on their own, but this could take several months.  Don't worry if you can feel the sutures under the skin.  If your pet received external sutures, you will need to come back to the hospital to have them removed  in 2 weeks. 
  • Make sure to start any medications as directed by your veterinarian.  These are prescribed to help speed up your pet's healing process.
  • Call the hospital if you notice any of the following:
    • Loss of appetite for more than 2 days
    • Refusal to drink water for more than 1 day
    • Weakness or depression
    • Vomiting of diarrhea after the first 24 hours
Post surgical complications are rare, but unfortunately they do sometimes occur.  If you are unsure about any aspect of your pet's care after a surgery, call your veterinarian.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Things to do with your dog on Cape Cod

If you, like many of us, think of your pets as family members, consider including your dog the next time you plan a vacation or day trip.  Remember to keep your pet's individual personality in mind.  Some pets would rather stay at home with a pet sitter, but some love to go to new places.
Many Cape Cod hotels and campgrounds allow dogs, although some do require an extra fee for pets.  Click here for a list of  pet friendly lodging on Cape Cod.
Most Cape Cod beaches allow dogs during the off season, but during the summer months the rules change.  Leashed dogs are allowed on some beaches during the summer, including the Cape Cod National Seashore, and the town beaches of Provincetown.  From 6 am to 9 am during the summer in Provincetown, you can let your dog run off leash.  Provincetown is also home to an off leash dog park, the Pilgrim Bark Park.
If you think your dog might enjoy a boat ride, consider a whale watch, or a Cape Cod Canal cruise.  If shopping is your thing, the Black Dog General Stores in Chatham, Falmouth, and Provincetown, and Hot Diggity in Mashpee and Osterville allow well-mannered, leashed dogs. 
Cape Cod is also home to several outdoor restaurants including Cobie's Outdoor restaurant in Brewster, and P.J.'s Family Restaurant in Wellfleet.
Remember to check with your destinations beforehand to make sure your dog is welcome, and be a responsible pet parent.  Always have control of your dog, and clean up after them.
Have a great summer from everyone at VACC!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Eco-Friendly Cat Litter


Cat litter can be a significant part of the cost of owning an indoor cat.  Litter made of clay, whether clumping or not, has a much higher cost to the environment.  The clay that goes into cat litter is the product of strip mining.  This process destroys the soil and vegetation of the area, and leaves behind land that is barren for generations.  Clay cat litter also takes up space in our landfills.
Fortunately, there are alternatives.  The following plant-based litters are all made from renewable resources, and are probably the most environmentally friendly options available.
World's Best Cat Litter is made from corn.  This clumping litter is biodegradable as well as flushable.  For those who wish to avoid using products that contain GMOs, this litter may not be the best choice, as corn is one of the most common GM crops.
Swheat Scoop is a clumping litter made from wheat.  The naturally occuring enzymes in the wheat neutralize odors.  Currently there are no GM varieties of wheat being grown.
Feline Pine comes in clumping and non-clumping formulas.  This litter is made from the pine shavings that are a byproduct of the lumber industry.  This company has a "Pine Perks" program that allows customers to collect and redeem points that they can exchange for things like donations to the ASPCA or reforestation programs.
Blue Naturally Fresh comes in clumping and non-clumping varieties, both of which are made from walnut shells.
Yesterday's News is a non-clumping litter made from recycled newspaper.

Being conscious of where your cat's litter comes from is a big step toward going green, but is just as important to think about where the litter goes after your cat is done with it.  If you choose to compost your litter, make sure it is far away from your vegetable garden.  Be careful about flushing the litter as well.  Currently there is a problem in California with sea otters becoming infected with toxoplasmosis.  This is thought to be a direct result of flushed cat feces.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Is it Safe for Dogs to Eat Grass?

Those new shoots of grass that are popping up this time of year are very tempting for some pets. No one is really sure why cats and dogs eat grass. Some do it when they aren't feeling well, and some just seem to like it as a snack. Whatever the reason, it is generally not a good idea to allow them to graze on the lawn.
The biggest danger is the artificial fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides that are sprayed on many lawns. Lawn chemicals have been linked to malignant lymphoma, and bladder cancer in dogs, and hyperthyroidism in cats. Ingestion of these chemicals can also affect your pet's nervous system and cause symptoms such as dilated pupils, lethargy, and tremors. If you suspect that your pet has been poisoned by a lawn chemical or anything else, immediately contact the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.
Another hazard of eating grass is the possibility of infection with intestinal parasites like roundworms.

If you just can't say no to that adorable face, try using a pet safe, OMRI approved product on your lawn, or you can grow some grass for them inside using wheatgrass seeds.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

It's Flea and Tick Season

As warmer weather approaches, people are spending more time outside with their pets. This means there is an increased chance of flea and tick bites. Because we don't have very long periods of freezing temperatures on Cape Cod, your pet is still at risk of picking up fleas and ticks even during the colder months. For this reason, the doctors at VACC recommend year round flea and tick prevention. If your pet has not been on these preventatives all year, now is the time to start back up again.
Not only can fleas make your pet itchy and cause anemia, but they can carry diseases like Bartonella (also known as "cat scratch disease"), and parasites such as tapeworms. Ticks harbor many diseases as well, including Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
At VACC we recommend monthly treatment with Canine Advantix II for our canine friends. This product not only kills fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes, but it repels them too, so most of the time they don't even get a chance to bite. For our feline friends we recommend Revolution. While this product is not 100% effective against ticks, we feel it is the best option because it prevents fleas, feline heartworm, ear mites, roundworm, and hookworm.

If you have any questions or concerns about fleas and ticks, ask your veterinarian, or contact us here at VACC.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Think Twice Before Buying a Pet for Easter



Many people are tempted to bring home a new pet for Easter. Rabbits, chicks, and ducklings are hard to resist when they are babies, but it is important to remember that these animals will require years of care and attention. Every year shortly after Easter, animal shelters across the country are overwhelmed with unwanted rabbits, chickens, and ducks. Unfortunately, many of these animals are euthanized due to lack of space in the shelters.


Here are some things to keep in mind before you buy that cute Easter pet:


  • Rabbits require a lot of space to run, dig, and play. They will not thrive if they are living in a hutch 24 hours a day.

  • Rabbits, and especially chickens, and ducks all crave social interaction with others of their own kind. If you are adding just one animal to your family, be sure you have enough time to play and interact with him or her.

  • Rabbits can be expensive to own. Their diet should consist of hay, and fresh vegetables as well as rabbit pellets. Veterinary care will often be more expensive than it would for a cat or dog because many animal hospitals consider them to be exotic pets.

  • While rabbits can be trained to use a litterbox, chickens and ducks will eliminate where they happen to be standing when they get the urge.

  • Rabbits do not always make good pets for children. Younger children may not understand the proper way to pick up their pet rabbit, and may accidentally injure them.

Should you decide that a new pet is the right choice for your family this Easter, please consider adopting from a local shelter or rescue.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Understanding Canine Vestibular Syndrome

The vestibular system is the sensory system that provides the brain with information about spatial orientation and movement. Using the information from the vestibular system, the brain then tells the eyes and extremities how they should move. A healthy vestibular system is essential for an animal's sense of balance. Canine vestibular syndrome is a disorder of the vestibular system that usually affects older dogs, but can sometimes occur in middle aged dogs as well. Dogs with a history of chronic ear infections may have an increased chance of developing vestibular syndrome.


The symptoms include a sudden loss of balance, head tilt, nystagmus (eyes moving side to side, or up and down), and dysfunction in the facial nerves. It can be heartbreaking for an owner to see their dog with these symptoms. Fortunately, the condition often resolves within a few weeks. Other conditions such as stroke, tumors on the cerebellum, head trauma, inner ear infection, meningioencephalitis, or other problems can cause similar symptoms, so it is important to bring the dog to a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis.


Dogs with vestibular disease will need assistance with feeding and mobility until the symptoms subside. If the dog is unable to stand on its own, a towel can be used as a sling to hold up the rear of the dog, as shown in the picture below.





Massaging the neck of vestibular patients has been shown to be helpful as there are acupressure points in this area that may speed recovery time when activated. Some owners even elect to bring their dog to physical therapy to help with recovery.


Should your dog develop vestibular syndrome, we are here for you at VACC to help with the recovery process.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Calming Clothing for Anxious Pets





The weather is getting warmer and summer will soon be here. For many pets summer can be a scary season filled with thunderstorms and fireworks. Often pet owners will turn to medication to combat noise-induced anxiety, but in the case of a storm, the thunder may be over by the time the medication starts to work.


Fortunately, there is an alternative. A shirt that uses constant, gentle pressure to relieve anxiety has helped many dogs and cats cope with fearful situations. The Thundershirt, and the Anxiety Wrap are two widely available brands that both use the same calming pressure to help anxious pets. Both brands are comparably priced and have been shown to be effective for more than 80% of dogs.


In addition to helping with noise related anxiety, these shirts can also be used to treat separation anxiety, travel anxiety, leash pulling, veterinary visit fear, and more. Most animal behaviorists recommend that owners acclimate their pets to the shirt before attempting to use it during the fearful event. One suggestion is to offer food to the pet, using the shirt as a "dish". This will help to create a positive association with the shirt. The next step of the acclimation process is to put the shirt on the pet during a stress-free part of the day, such as mealtime. Once the pet has adjusted to wearing the shirt, it can be used during any anxiety causing situation.


Some pets will still require medication in addition to the pressure wrap, but many are sufficiently calmed with the pressure wrap alone. Remember to always consult your veterinarian before altering any of your pet's medication doses.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Toxoplasmosis

What is Toxoplasmosis?

Toxoplasmosis is an example of a disease that can be transmitted between animals and humans, also known as a zoonotic disease. The disease is caused by the single-celled parasite Toxoplasma gondii. Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that as many as 60 million people in the United States are infected with this parasite. Fortunately, most Toxoplasma gondii infections are kept under control by the immune system, provided that the infected person is otherwise healthy. People with compromised immune systems and children under 5 are particularly at risk of developing more serious symptoms and should seek medical treatment if toxoplasmosis is suspected. Women who are pregnant should also be especially cautious because toxoplasmosis can be dangerous to the unborn fetus.

As illustrated in the diagram below, the parasite that causes toxoplasmosis is commonly carried by cats, rodents, and other animals. Cats can become infected by eating infected rodents, or undercooked meat that is infected.



Humans can also become infected by eating undercooked meat. Additional hazards include accidental ingestion of cat feces (from the litter box or garden soil), blood transfusion, or organ transplant.


How Can I Avoid Toxoplasmosis?


To avoid toxoplasmosis, make sure to wash your hands with soap and warm water after handling raw meat or cleaning your cat's litter box. It is also important to wash your hands well after gardening, and to make sure fresh vegetables are thoroughly washed before consuming them. Avoid eating undercooked meat, and do not feed undercooked meat to your cat. Keep cats and other animals out of children's play areas. If you have a sandbox outside, keep it covered when not in use. Clean the litter box daily as Toxoplasma gondii does not become infectious until 1 to 5 days after it is shed in the cat's feces. If you are pregnant or immunocompromised do not clean the litter box. If no one else is available to do the chore, wear disposable gloves and wash your hands well with soap and warm water. It is also a good idea to keep your cat inside and avoid holding new cats or kittens if you are at higher risk for toxoplasmosis.


Will Toxoplasma Make My Cat Sick?


Like humans, most cats do not show symptoms following an infection with Toxoplasma gondii. If your cat becomes infected, the parasite will be shed in your cat's feces for a few weeks, after which time the infection should resolve on its own. If your cat is already infected with another disease such as feline leukemia, feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), or feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) it will be at greater risk of developing more serious symptoms of toxoplasmosis. These cats should be kept indoors to avoid a concurrent Toxoplasma infection. If you are concerned about your cat's health, see your veterinarian, or come see us here at Veterinary Associates of Cape Cod