Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Dangers of Smoking Near Your Pets

Common sense would tell us that secondhand smoke is dangerous to pets, and now there are several scientific studies that support this idea. Smoking around your pets also creates the possibility that they may ingest the tobacco product, which is highly toxic.

Many dogs have allergies to tobacco smoke, and secondhand smoke can cause asthma in cats.
Cats who live with smokers are more likely to develop oral cancer, also known as squamous cell carcinoma. Smoke gets trapped in your cat's fur and when he grooms himself, the cells in his mouth are exposed to the carcinogens in the smoke. Cats who live with smokers are also more likely to develop malignant lymphoma. Oral squamous cell carcinoma and malignant lymphoma both have a poor prognosis, and most cats do not survive the first year.

Dogs who live with smokers are also in danger. There is a greater risk for them to develop cancer in their nasal passages. Dogs with short noses, like pugs and bulldogs, are more likely to contract lung cancer.
Pet birds are particularly sensitive to any pollutants in the air, and those who live with smokers have a higher incidence of lung cancer and pneumonia. Birds living with smokers can also develop problems of the skin, eyes, and heart.
If you are a smoker, the best thing you can do to protect the health of your pet, your family, and yourself, is to stop smoking. If that is not an option for you, try to restrict your smoking to one pet-free room, or outside. Be sure to keep all tobacco products out of your pet's reach, and throw your butts in the trash so they can't be eaten.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Meet Yaz, Latest Member of the Hero Pet Club!

Our friend Yaz was having chronic skin infections on his abdomen. Even though his skin was obviously very uncomfortable, Yaz never let that stop his tail from wagging! Antibiotics didn't help, and the doctors here at VACC diagnosed him with an immune mediated disorder. Now Yaz is on medication that is helping to clear up his skin infections. As you can see in the pictures below, Yaz's skin is continuing to improve.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Winter Foot Care

Winter can be rough on your dog's feet. Here are some easy things you can do to protect them.

  • Booties! The best way to protect your dog's feet from snow, ice, and road salt is to put boots on their feet. Introduce your dog to the boots gradually, and make wearing them a positive experience. Many dogs will learn to tolerate boots once they go outside and realize that their feet feel better.

  • Foot wax. Some dogs will absolutely not tolerate boots. If you apply a small amount of vegetable oil, or a commercially available foot wax before your winter walks, your pet's feet will be protected from the elements. Be sure to use a product that is food grade- your dog will be likely to lick it off and ingest some.
  • Trim that toe hair. Dogs with lots of fur between their toes can develop balls of snow and ice that can be painful to walk on. Simply trimming the hair between the toes can prevent this. Trimming your dog's foot hair can also reduce the amount of salt your dog picks up when walking outside.

  • Wipe your feet! When coming in from a winter walk, clean your dogs feet with some warm water and then wipe with a dry towel. This will remove any salt residue and prevent your dog from ingesting it. You should also be sure to wipe the snow off your own boots. Many dogs love to eat the clumps of snow that fall off of your shoes when you come inside in the winter. This can be a problem if there is salt on your shoes.
  • Moisturize! There are many dog paw moisturizers available. Try to avoid using moisturizers for humans, as these usually aren't made with edible ingredients. Moisturizing your dog's paws in the winter can help prevent painful cracking of the pads.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Pet Dental Health Month

February is National Pet Dental Health Month, but Dr. Burns says, "At VACC, every month is dental health month!"
Why not celebrate National Pet Dental Health Month by training your pet to allow you to brush his teeth?
Brushing your pet's teeth will be most beneficial if they do not already have a lot of plaque built up. If your pet will let you, look in his mouth. If the gums look red or inflamed, or if the teeth are discolored, make an appointment with your veterinarian to determine if dental disease is present. Brushing alone will not remove plaque that has already built up, but it will slow additional build up.

Plaque can be removed with an ultrasonic scaler while your pet is under anesthesia.

How to Brush Your Pet's Teeth
Start by getting your pet comfortable with having his mouth touched. If you have never done this before, GO SLOW! You want this to be a positive experience for everyone involved, and if your pet bites you it defeats the purpose. Massage around your pet's muzzle and gently lift his lips while you talk to him in a soothing voice. Give him some treats when you are done. You may have to do this every day for a few days.
Once your pet has learned that having his mouth touched is a good thing, you can start rubbing his teeth and gums with a piece of gauze or a small cloth.

Use the same reassuring voice, and reward with some treats at the end of each session. The next step is to add some toothpaste. Be sure it is a toothpaste formulated for pets- unlike human toothpaste, pet toothpaste is safe to swallow. It is perfectly fine to continue using the gauze or cloth to clean your pet's teeth, but once they are used to it, you can change to a toothbrush.
Ideally, you should brush your pet's teeth once a day, but once or twice a week is better than not at all.