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.
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)
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.