Friday, August 29, 2014


Cats in Bread

One of my favorite silly hobbies is to follow all the animal related humor on the internet, from humorous memes to hilarious youtube videos.  For those of you that have never seen this phenomenon, “cats in bread” here is a sampling.  I am not sure how this started or why, but I do get a chuckle out of these silly internet cats....ENJOY!!


Breed Focus: Maltese

A small white bundle of energy is an apt description of the Maltese breed. They are a charming member of the Toy Breed category in the AKC. Their small size and loveable personality make them a very common dog in today’s society. Portable and friendly they could make an excellent addition to many homes if owner’s are prepared for them!
One thing to keep in mind with their luxurious coat is that it will need regular upkeep. This will include daily brushing and routine trips to the groomer. Getting them accustomed to these two things at young age will greatly help decrease any stress that can occur when not properly socialized. Another characteristic to bear in mind is that they can bark frequently. They are good at alerting owners of any company that comes over but at times this may grow tiresome if you are not expecting such a big voice from such a small dog.
There are several health conditions to be aware of prior to adopting this breed. Toy breeds in general seem to have more severe dental disease than larger dogs, so preparing for routine dental care at home is a good idea! Smaller dogs can also struggle with trachea collapse. This occurs when their tracheal rings are not strong enough to support themselves at times of excitement and can collapse in making it difficult to breathe. Many times they need to be on harnesses rather than regular collars. Young puppies also need to be monitored for low glucose levels so that they do not get too low. Making sure they are fed meals throughout the day can help keep those levels in a normal range!

Overall the Maltese are friendly and happy breed. Their small size can make them adjust to most home environments well. If you are willing to take on some extra grooming this may be a good fit for you family. For more information visit the AKC website here or vetstreet here.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Help, Fluffy has FLEAS!!!

Help, Fluffy has FLEAS!!!

Despite numerous technological advances, fleas continue to represent a potentially lethal plague upon our pets. Current products are effective so there is little reason for this; the problem seems to be one of understanding.

There are over 1900 flea species in the world. Pet owners are concerned with only one:the cat flea. This is the flea that we find on our pets (cats, dogs, rabbits, and other species) in 99.9% of cases and in order to understand how to control the damage caused by this tiny little animal, you should learn all you can about it.

What Kind of Damage Can Fleas Cause?
It would be a grave mistake to think of the flea as simply a nuisance. A heavy flea burden is lethal, especially to smaller or younger animals. Conditions brought about via flea infestation include:
• Flea Allergic Dermatitis (fleas do not make animals itchy unless they have a flea bite allergy)
• Flea Anemia (your pet is loosing blood every time a flea feeds)
• Feline Infectious Anemia (a life-threatening blood parasite carried by fleas)
• Cat Scratch Fever/Bartonellosis (does not make the cat sick but the infected cat can make a person sick)
• Common Tapeworm infection
Fleas can kill pets.

Myths Veterinarians Hear Nearly Every Day:
• My pet cannot have fleas because he lives entirely indoors.  Actually, the fleas really like living inside your home, and it is not at all hard for them to get there.

• My pet cannot have fleas because if there were any fleas they would be biting me. However, fleas do not prefer human blood, and won’t start biting you and your family unless they have to.
This dog has flea allergy dermatitis: or an allergy to flea bites

• We do not have fleas because we have only hard wood floors.  But really, Fleas love to develop in the cracks between the boards of hard wood floors.

• My pet cannot have fleas because I would see them.  This is the hardest truth!! Your pet grooms the fleas off by biting and chewing and consuming them.  You will only see evidence there were fleas by the skin infection in a majority of cases.  If you are seeing the fleas on your pet, he has way more than he can groom off!!
Cats also get flea allergy dermatitis

Fleas are adaptive and their life cycle is always active: eggs are laid, larvae are developing, pupae are growing, etc. The environmental temperature controls how fast this occurs. If you want to eradicate the flea population in a specific home, it is best to attack when numbers are low in the winter. It is a mistake to stop flea control products in the winter as it will be much harder to gain the upper hand in the spring and summer when the populations are rising.

The Flea Life Cycle
There are four life stages of the flea and it is important to know how to break this life cycle in more than one place. This two-step approach provides the most rapid control and the least resistance to flea control agents in future flea generations.

The Egg
At any given time about one third of the flea population in someone’s home is in the egg stage. The adult female flea lays up to 40 eggs daily. The eggs are laid on the host where they fall off to hatch in the environment. 

The Larvae
At any given time about 57% of the fleas in someone’s home are in the larval stage. Larvae are like little caterpillars crawling around grazing on the flea dirt that is generally in their vicinity. Flea eggs and flea dirt both fall off the host. When the eggs hatch, there is a bounty of food prepared lovingly by all the host’s fleas waiting for the hatchlings. This is the stage that picks up tapeworm eggs, which are likely to be in the vicinity, as they graze.
The larval stage is capable of cocoon formation and hang around as pupa indefinitely until conditions are right.

The Pupae
By this life stage most young fleas have been killed off by an assortment of environmental factors. Only 8% make it to the pupal stage but once they have spun cocoons they are nearly invincible. The cocoon is sticky and readily picks up dust and dirt. Inside the developing cocoon, the pupa is turning into the flea that we are familiar with. They are especially protected under carpet, which is why carpet has developed such a reputation as a shelter for fleas.
The pupa can remain dormant in its cocoon for many months, maybe even up to a year as it waits for the right time to emerge.

The Unfed Adult Flea
After the pupa develops, it does not automatically emerge from its cocoon. Instead, it is able to remain in the cocoon until it detects a nearby host. The mature pupa is able to detect the vibrations of an approaching host, carbon dioxide gradients, and sound and light patterns. When the mature pupa feels the time is right, he emerges from the cocoon, hungry and eager to find a host.
A common scenario occurs when a dog is boarded during the owner’s vacation. The owner picks up the dog from the boarding kennel and returns home. The mature pupae have been waiting for a host and when the dog enters the home, a huge number of adult fleas emerge at once and attack the dog creating a sudden, heavy infestation. Often the boarding kennel is blamed for giving the dog fleas. What really happened was that the pupae waited to emerge while there was no host present and then they all emerged suddenly when the host arrived.
An unfed flea is able to live for months without a blood meal but during that time it is aggressively using all its powers to locate a host. Once it finds a host, it will never purposely leave the host.

The Fed Flea
After the adult flea finds a host and takes its first blood meal, metabolic changes occur that alter the flea forever. The flea is now called a fed flea and, if separated from its host, will die in only a few weeks without a blood meal. The female flea begins to produce eggs within 24 to 48 hours of her first blood meal and will lay eggs continually until she dies.
The average life span of the adult flea is 4 to 6 weeks, depending on the grooming abilities of the host.


adapted from VIN's Pet Health Library
By Wendy C. Brooks, DVM, DipABVP 
Educational Director,

Doodle Days #14

I am one lucky pup! My people got me another new toy!

They visited a family member that owns a pet store with a bakery! I got some yummy treats and this fun toy!

I love it! I love chasing the squirrels and trying to get them out their hiding spots!

I think I might be done with new toys for awhile...but it was fun while it lasted! I think these will keep me entertained for quite some time!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


How to successfully feed your cats for optimal health

With our first Feline Focus, we discussed how to adjust your cat’s feeding schedule and amount to achieve an optimal weight.  However, we often see client’s with multiple cats that are unsure how to have their cats on different diets, different feeding amounts, etc.

Meal Time feeding!!

Meal time feeding, versus free-feeding (i.e. leaving out a bowl of food all the time) is important for your feline’s health for so many reasons.  First of all, if you are feeding each cat a meal at a given time everyday, you will know so much more about your cat’s health and well-being.  You will easily be able to answer important health questions like “How much does your cat eat each day?”, “Have there been any changes in appetite?”, and  “How long has your cat not been eating?”.  Cats often have changes in eating and drinking habits when they are feeling ill, and knowing these changes are happening quickly can more efficiently target a health problem. 

Secondly, having meal times means you can easily adjust each cat’s portion size if needed, and their type of food if needed.  This can come into play not only for a diet and weight loss plan for an overweight kitty, but also cat’s with diseases and allergies related to food that need to be on a specific diet.  If your cats are already used to having mealtimes, there is no adjustment period if someone were to need a change in diet or feeding allotment.

Third, it gives you 1 or 2 golden opportunity moments to see all of your cats, everyday.  For shy cats, or reclusive cats, you will see them, see how they are acting, and notice if someone is hiding or having mobility issues, or not feeling well as usual.  If, for some reason, one of your felines needed medicine, you would know where to find them at least twice a day.

In conclusion, mealtime feeding makes caring for your feline family more convenient and leads to well-being and good bonding.  If your feline friends are not on a mealtime schedule, transitioning is easy.  Start, by getting an idea of how much food is in the bowl when you leave it out each day.  Split this amount into two portions.  Start leaving out a portion in the morning, and pick up what’s left over.  Offer a portion at dinnertime, and remove what’s leftover.  In this way, you pet will become accustomed to mealtime feeding, and you will get a better understanding about how much your cat is currently eating each day.

Next Time on Felines in Focus: Challenges in Mealtime Feeding in a Multiple Cat Household

Vaccine Spotlight: Parvovirus

Parvovirus is another condition that can be managed or prevented with a vaccination. This is another virus that is most commonly seen in young puppies. Every species (cats, dogs, even humans) have their own form of parvovirus which cannot be transmitted to other species. The reason many people may know about parvovirus is that it can actually be deadly. Vaccines are becoming increasingly more important as parvovirus is considered to be found EVERYWHERE, meaning it is impossible to prevent exposure. We can however prevent contracting the condition by following a vaccine protocol laid out by a licensed veterinarian. Although vaccines can be found over the counter it is HIGHLY recommended have vaccines given by a veterinarian to ensure the timing and administration area all appropriate. It could quite literally be the difference between life and death of your puppy.
Symptoms can start simply as a lack of appetite. They then progress to vomiting and diarrhea, usually with blood in them. Parvovirus likes to attack rapidly dividing cells with the most severely affected being those of the lining of the intestines. Without the lining of the gut functioning there is no way for the patient to absorb nutrients. This can get out of hand very quickly which is why identifying the virus early is imperative. If you have a puppy with unknown vaccine history or has only had 1-2 boosters and they begin to vomit and have diarrhea they need to get to a veterinarian immediately. While there are other causes of these symptoms in puppies, parvovirus needs to be addressed as quickly as possible.
If positive, the ideal treatment plan would involve hospitalization on intravenous fluids and injectable medication. This will help prevent dehydration from occurring and allow the gut to rest so it can try to heal. Even with aggressive therapy, some puppies still do not make it. The earlier they are caught the better chance they have at surviving. When finances are an issue, at home treatment can be attempted, but again is not always successful. Another challenge of at home treatment includes disinfecting the areas the puppy has been. Bleach is the only cleaning product that can kill this virus. It must be diluted with 1 part bleach to 30 parts water. There are however many surfaces at home such as carpets and lawns that do not lend themselves to being bleached. Which makes a clinic an excellent place for treating these patients. For more recommendations on contamination you can visit this website.
This is only a brief summary of a very serious condition. More information can be found at in their parvovirus center. Vaccinations from a licensed veterinarian are essential to helping prevent this condition. If you are concerned that your patient may have parvovirus it is strongly recommended to contact your veterinarian immediately and they can assist you with diagnosis and treatment protocols. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


Toxoplasmosis is a tiny little protozoa that can cause a lot of trouble for both humans and animals. Controversy has always surrounded Toxoplasmosis and the ownership of cats. One of the main reasons that Toxoplasmosis can become a very hot topic is because it poses a great risk to unborn human children. If their mother is infected whenever she is pregnant and she has never been exposed to Toxoplasma before, there is a good chance the child will be affected. This can include a miscarriage, eye problems as they get older or even developmental problems once born. For that reason it is important to be aware of the risks and try to prevent exposure.
There are many ways that animals and people can be infected with Toxoplasma. Cats are a natural host of this organism and are therefore blamed for the majority of exposures. However it is more common for humans to become infected after eating undercooked or improperly prepared meat. They can also contract it from the soil when gardening. Another source of human exposure is definitely the stool of animals currently shedding the organism. To help prevent some of these occurrences it is best to never sample meat until it is FULLY cooked and remember to wear gloves when gardening or cleaning litter boxes. By practicing good hygiene and trying to clean litter boxes once or twice daily, this will prevent the organism from becoming infective to humans.
While not the main source of infections in people, it is still important to monitor cats closely especially if there is a pregnant women in the house. This does NOT mean pregnant women cannot have cats as pets, but they should practice caution especially around the litter box. If possible having someone else clean the boxes can alleviate some of the exposure. Cats with an active infection can shed the organism at anytime, and most of the time may not demonstrate any symptoms of illness. Unfortunately, the symptoms can look like many other conditions. Generally they will lie around a more, not be interested in food and just have no energy. In severe cases there can be GI upset or liver disease but typically this is seen in the very young kitten or an immuno-compromised cat.

There are tests that can be run to determine if cats are currently infected and if their symptoms are mild treatment can be started. Many times since symptoms are very generic treatment may be initiated prior to an official diagnosis. If the condition progresses to more severe signs treatment is not always successful.
Due to the risk Toxplasma poses to unborn children it is very important for pet owners to be aware of the condition and take necessary steps to keep everyone safe. There is a lot of great information out there that can provide more details on this condition. You can visit the CDC website here or veterinary partner’s page here and finally Cornell’s website here.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Breed Focus: Basset Hound

Long ears and a droopy face have drawn people to basset hounds for a long time! While all puppies are cute, Basset hound puppies tend to catch a lot of attention as they can frequently be tripped by their long ears. They were originally bred for hunting in a pack or alone, so overall they tend to be quite a social breed.
Although their long ears are quite cute, the do require a little extra maintenance. Air flow is not great in the longer eared dogs which pre-disposes them to ear infections. It is extremely helpful to get them accustomed to having their ears played with at young age. Also getting them used to routine cleaning can hopefully prevent infections from occur. Drooling is also common in this breed so before committing make sure you are prepared for this possibility. They may also be a little more vocal than some breeds, especially when excited! Apartments may not be the best option for them especially if you have more than one and they can really start howling!
As with most breeds there are certain health issues (other than their ears) that owners need to be aware of prior to purchasing. Certainly paying close attention to their joints is advisable. They have very short legs and very long bodies. Elbow dysplasia is not uncommon in this breed and should be screened for if any limping occurs. While there is no screening for back issues, it is not uncommon in the longer backed dogs (i.e. basset hounds and dachshunds) to have inflammation that can flare up occasionally. There is also a blood condition known as thrombopathia which can be seen in Basset Hounds. This leads to bleeding disorder that can be seen throughout life. It is now possible to screen for this condition with a simple blood test. Prior to purchasing or adopting a puppy it is recommended that the parents have been tested.
Overall Basset hounds are a very well loved breed and have done well in obedience, show rings and tracking. They can make a great addition to any family and usually can entertain anyone with their comedic antics. If you think a Basset Hound may be a good fit for your family there are several good websites available here, here and here.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Doodle Days #13

I was so good with my little friend last week my people took me on a special trip to get some new toys!

I absolutely love new toys and have been playing with them non stop.

When I am not playing with them I like to snuggle with them.

I like going to the pet store especially when it means I get to come home with some new treasures!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Vaccine Spotlight: Feline Leukemia

Feline Leukemia is another virus that has a vaccine available to help prevent its spread. This, as the name suggest, is only a concern in our cat patients. Patients at the highest risk of infection are those that are outside and have contact with other cats. Typically the leukemia virus is spread from contact with secretions form an affected cat. This includes nasal discharge, grooming of other cats or sharing litter boxes and food bowls. They can also be spread by an affected mother to her the fetuses she is carrying.  
If your cat has been exposed or you have recently taken in a stray cat or kitten it is best to get them tested by your veterinarian. There are specific tests that can determine if they are carrying the virus. The timing of the test is very important and sometimes they may have to be retested if they were a stray and therefore at an even higher risk of contracting the virus. While vaccinating does decrease the risk of the virus, it does not completely eliminate it. Ideally all new animals introduced into a home will be quarantined until you can determine they are not carrying any contagious diseases.
Vaccine Location: Source
Symptoms of Feline Leukemia can look like just about anything. Patients of are FeLV positive may not show any signs for awhile. However once they start to have active infections their life span is dramatically decreased. You can see anything ranging from lethargy, inappetance to symptoms of liver disease such as yellowing of the skin. Feline leukemia weakens the host’s immune system making them more likely to have serious conditions such as lymphoma or kidney disease.
If you have a feline leukemia positive patient it will be very important to establish routine care with your veterinarian. When active infections are occurring patients can become very ill and may need supportive care in a hospital. It is crucial when taking on care for a FeLV positive patient that you understand it will be a life long condition that will predispose them to other health concerns. There is a lot of great information out there and can be found on the following websites here, here and here.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Giardia in Pets

Giardia is a protozoa that can affect both dogs and cats. Humans can also contract Giardia but typically not from domestic animals. It is very uncommon for humans to become infected from their pets. Typically it is spread in the stool of animals carrying the protozoa. Contaminated drinking water is likely the biggest culprit in infecting animals. However they can also pick it up from ingesting feces contaminated soil.
Diarrhea is the most common symptom seen in animals. Other signs may include simply lack of energy or not acting right if the patient is not receiving enough nutrients or becoming dehydrated from the diarrhea.

Diagnosis is sometimes challenging. Giardia are hard to find in stool samples and typically have to be run using a specific technique or substrate. Sometimes it is even necessary to send a sample off to the lab, and even then if they are not shedding it may be missed. Sometimes veterinarians will have to treat on suspicion if a diagnosis cannot be reached. Treatment is by an oral medication typically given anywhere from 5-7 days. Symptoms will typically be resolved by the end of medication.
Medication is not the only consideration when treating an affected animal. The environment must also be addressed. It is not uncommon for patients to re-infect themselves. Bleach can easily kill the protozoa in a 1 part bleach to 32 part water ratio. However if the area cannot be bleached it is best to avoid these areas for quite awhile. In some cooler climates or times of year it may be necessary to avoid contaminated areas for up to 7 weeks. Bathing affected patients is also recommended. Giardia can stick to the fur and can be ingested again by the patient or fall off and contaminate the environment. It is best to make sure the animals themselves are clean prior to bringing them back into a treated area.

While humans can get giardia, it is again not typically from our pets. Humans, as with their animals, tend to get it from contaminated environmental sources OR from eating under-cooked meat. It is still extremely important to practice good hygiene if you have an outbreak of giardia in your household pet population. For more information on giardia you can visit the CDC (center for disease control) website here  or veterinary partner website here