Questions and Answers

Are carrots safe to feed my dog?

While carrots are a healthy snack for dogs, it is important to note that they are composed of sugars and have a high glycemic index and therefore contain more calories than we realize.  For this reason carrots should be restricted from dogs that are overweight or on diets.  Additionally, it is generally safe to feed carrots to diabetic pets, but only in moderate amounts.  There have been reports that eating large volume of carrots can cause the skin to turn slightly orange, but do not worry, it is not harmful to your dog in any way.

What is the difference between vomiting and regurgitation?

Basically, vomiting involves the expulsion of stomach and duodenal (first part of the small intestine) contents out of the body, via the mouth.  The vomited ingesta usually is mixed with gastric secretions and bile, giving it a yellowish tinge.  Regurgitation, on the other hand, involves expulsion of ingested material that has only made it into the esophagus, and not yet entered the stomach.  The material is often expelled in the shape of a tube.  It is important to differentiate between these two different processes, because their occurrence can be caused by such different diseases.  Different diagnostic tests and treatment may be needed depending on whether your pet is actually vomiting or regurgitating.

What are the symptoms of a feline urinary tract infection?

Urinary tract infections occur frequently in cats.  The reasoning for this remains quite elusive although diet and genetics play a role.  These infections affect the bladder or the urethra and can be extremely painful.  Most cats with urinary tract infections show remarkably similar signs and symptoms but to varying degrees.  Cats will strain and make frequent and prolonged attempts to urinate, but usually the amount of urine passed during each attempt is quite small or non existent.  Occasionally there will also be blood present in the urine.  Affected cats tend to lick their genital area excessively and can sometimes show discomfort when being picked up due to the pain caused by the infection.  If you notice any of these symptoms in your feline friend, it is important to consult your veterinarian to determine cause and treatment options.

My dog has arthritis - can I give him an aspirin?

The occasional aspirin is fine as long as your dog is not on any other medications and, most importantly, is dosed correctly (you MUST consult your veterinarian for dosage).  However there is a risk of gastric ulceration and further damage to the joints if they are given aspirin.  The reason for this is aspirin is not a selective anti-inflammatory.  Currently we have much better products on the market that are safer, more effective and at a much less risk to your pet.  Besides non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (the class that aspirin falls into) there are a wide range of alternative treatment options for arthritis.  Some of these include joint diets, glucosamine supplements and injections.  It is best to have your dog thoroughly examined by a veterinarian where he or she may perform x-rays to determine the extent of the damage, and advise you of the best treatment option.

Why does my cat wake me up at odd times during the night?

Cats are nocturnal by nature, and therefore, often become more energetic and curious at night.  However, if your cat is deliberately waking you up at night, he/she may actually have an attention-seeking behaviour problem.  By giving your cat attention at night, and allowing it into the bedroom, you are just reinforcing this behaviour and creating a learned response in your cat.  Therefore you unfortunately need to ignore your cat’s behaviour, and possibly shut it out of your room.  Cats can also get stressed over different changes in your house.  The addition of a new spouse, roommate, baby, or pet can increase your pet’s anxiety.  As well, cats like their normal routine, therefore, house renovations, rearranging furniture, or simply moving their food or litter box to another location may cause them stress.  Medical causes also need to be ruled out, however with medical issues the behaviours are more likely seen both throughout the day and night.  Senior cats may start to become senile resulting in an increase in vocalization at night.  It is important to rule out all medical causes for the behaviour change, and begin appropriate behaviour modification treatment if your cat is an attention seeker.  Short term anti-anxiety medications or natural pheromones may aid in reshaping your cat’s behaviour.  Don’t worry, there are solutions to getting another good night sleep!!

How long do cats stay in heat?

The answer to this question is actually quite intriguing.  Cats are considered to be seasonally reproductive.  Ideally, they want to have their kittens when the weather is warm, and the days are long.  Therefore most cats start to come into heat in the spring.  Cats in behavioural heat (estrus) show signs of rubbing, crying, arching, yowling, and urine marking.  Cats are unique in that they come into estrus for about 7 days, and if not bred during this time frame, will stop showing the behavioural signs of heat.  However, this break from heat lasts for 8-10 days, after which the behavioural signs of heat occur again for the next 7 days.  If not bred, the cat will stop the yowling, rubbing, arching, etc., and the cycle will start again.  This is because cats are induced ovulators.  They must be bred in order to ovulate. If mating happens, and ovulation occurs, the cat’s body starts to prepare her for pregnancy.  If she is successful in becoming pregnant, she will carry the kittens for about 63 days.  If the breeding is unsuccessful, she will stay out of behavioural heat for about 35-37 days, before the cycle repeats itself.  This cycle of behavioural heat, no heat, behavioural heat, etc., tends to continue until the fall, when the days are starting to get shorter.  At this time, the cat will become reproductively “silent” until the next spring.  Living with an “in heat” female cat is often motivation for owners to get their cat spayed.  Besides behaviour issues, the medical benefits of spaying cats include decreasing ovarian, uterine, and mammary cancers, as well as the occurrence of pyometras (an infected uterus).  Studies have shown that spayed and neutered cats live longer and healthier lives.

I give my dog a lot of dental chew toys, should I still brush his teeth?

Dental chew toys are a supplement to dental health however brushing teeth should be the main stay of prevention.  Ideally you should brush your dog’s teeth once a day minimum, for about a minute to a minute and a half each time using a proper enzamatic toothpaste that can be purchased from your veterinary clinic.  The toothpaste will help soften the tartar and the brushing helps remove it.  Never use human toothpaste as it contains fluoride and foaming agents that will upset your pet’s stomach and they do not like the taste.  Ideally start brushing your pet’s teeth at a young age so they get used to a regular routine, however you CAN teach an old dog new tricks therefore starting brushing at any age is recommended.  Please do not start a home care regime on your own before getting advice from your veterinarian - if your pet has swollen, bleeding gums, loose teeth or oral masses, then brushing will be painful and a very negative experience.  With difficult pets dental diets, in combination with chew toys, may help control plaque and tartar formation however they should not be used as an alternative to brushing.  We recommend a visit to your vet clinic where a member of their team can thoroughly go through the technique for brushing.

I have a white dog and there is always a rust colour stain under his eyes - why does this happen?

All dogs have tear ducts in their eyelids, these are the small holes that tears drain into.  If these holes become blocked the tears that your dog naturally makes to lubricate their eyes, do not have anywhere to go.  Instead of the tears draining into these ducts and down into the nose, they then run onto the fur under the eyes and this is what stains the fur.  Usually, to unblock these ducts, a visit to your veterinarian will be required.  A small amount of sedation is required to keep your pet calm and still while your veterinarian works around your pet’s eyes.  They will then use a small needle to unplug the ducts to allow the tears to pass as they normally should.

My cat is 15 years old and stopped using his litter box.

He’s substituting a towel or something else left on the floor for his "business" - why is he doing this?

First of all your cat is considered a senior - he is equivalent to about 76 human years of age, therefore he is at the age where age-related diseases and organ dysfunctions may be occurring.  The first question is whether your cat is producing more or less than normal urine.  Abundance of dilute urine can be a clinical sign of kidney disease, or diabetes.  Small amounts of urine, especially if accompanied by blood, and any howling or vocalizing by your pet may suggest a bladder or kidney infection, stones, or tumour.  At this age, although uncommon, behavioural reasons must also be considered.  Problems may arise if you have changed the type or location of the box, or switched types of litter.  Cats can be very particular.  If the box is too high, or covered, your cat may not want to enter if he is suffering from arthritis or having vision impairments.  Usually, in these cases, we would see both inappropriate urination and defecation.  Your cat needs to be checked out by your veterinarian, and a complete blood panel and urinalysis is required to evaluate for these potential diseases.  Early diagnosis leads to early detection, and therefore treatment.

I think my cat has clawed my puppy’s eye and it is all red now.  What can I do?

This is potentially a very serious problem, and your pet should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.  If your cat has clawed your puppy’s eye, there is a good chance that a scratch or puncture has occurred to the corneal surface of the eye (otherwise known as the corneal ulceration). The cornea is the transparent outer layer of the eye that acts like a windshield for the eye, allowing light to pass through, but keeps out bacteria and debris.  If the cornea becomes damaged, this barrier is breached, and bacteria can actually infect the surface of the eye, and in some cases, this infection can extend into the eye itself.  Anytime your pet has a red eye, it is an indication that something serious may be going on and it is important that you seek medical attention for your pet immediately.  In general, eye problems should not be dealt with at home using over the counter medications, because many of these products can make the condition worse.  Unfortunately, if left without proper treatment, the only eventual solution may involve extensive treatment, surgery or enucleation (removal) of the eye.

Are Flea Collars Effective?

Not all flea collars are composed of the same chemicals; therefore, they have differing degrees of efficacy.  According to studies, the Preventic flea collar has been shown to have the best control over fleas and ticks.  However, in this area of Alberta, fleas are not as big of a concern as other parasites, such as internal worms.  Prevention for these parasites plus fleas can be provided through oral or topical medications.  Although the chemicals comprising the flea collars have not shown to have any effect on humans, I am somewhat concerned with animals wearing these collars and hanging out “nose to nose” with children.  There are much better “flea and tick” medications that can effectively control these parasites.  Veterinary prescribed products have been extensively tested to ensure that adequate control occurs while minimizing any risk to your family or pet.  For specific recommendations for your dog or cat, please contact your veterinary medical staff to assist you in making the proper decisions.

Should Dogs Eat Grass?

This is an interesting question with a pretty basic answer.  The answer is that we just do not know why dogs eat grass, but we do know that it is not known to be harmful.  Studies have been done to try and link grass eating with gastrointestinal disease or dietary deficiencies, but no correlation was found.  It is believed that dogs just eat grass because they like it, and in some cases, it may calm an already upset tummy.  Another reason just may be out of boredom, or curiosity.  Other than making for interesting stools, and the occasional slimy vomit, grass is not harmful to your pup in any way.  To them it may be like adding a “starter” salad to a meal.

What are the benefits of neutering a male cat?

There are both medical and behavioural benefits to neutering male cats.  Neutering, which involves the surgical removal of both testicles, can actually improve the life expectancy of your cat.  Behaviourally, un-neutered cats may be more aggressive, territorial, and are eager to roam outside, therefore they are more susceptible to getting hit by a car, or attacked by a dog or another cat.  Cat fights resulting in cat bite abscesses (infection), can spread fatal diseases to your cat, such as Feline Leukemia Virus and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV).  Roaming cats are at high risk of getting round or tapeworms, which can then be passed on to your family, especially young children.  In humans, these worms can migrate into the eye (causing blindness), through the liver or lungs (causing liver or lung damage), and rarely into the brain.  Un-neutered cats have very foul smelling urine which can linger through your house.  These cats also like to spray in the house (mark urine on vertical surfaces), and this can be one of the most frustrating behaviour problems to treat.  Neutering at 6 months may prevent the occurrence of spraying.  Medically, neutering can decrease the occurrence of cancer, especially testicular cancers.  Neutering also helps control the pet population, thereby decreasing the number of unwanted pets in humane shelters.

My dog is “scooting” its bum on the floor - what does this mean?

The most common cause of “scooting” are anal glands that are too full.  Anal glands are located on either side of the anus and contain a foul smelling material that is released when your dog defecates or is frightened.  When these glands get too full, they do not empty when your dog defecates, instead they continue to build up causing discomfort.  This can easily be resolved by having your pet’s anal glands expressed.  Your veterinarian can manually drain the anal gland fluid to make your dog feel much better.  Full anal glands tend to happen more often in smaller dogs than in larger dogs.  It may only happen once and, after draining the anal glands, this problem may never happen again.  If your dog’s anal glands continue to fill up then repeated draining may be necessary.  An increase in the amount of fiber in your dog’s diet may help to decrease the number of times the anal glands need to be drained.

Lately my dog doesn’t want to eat his food?

This is a very difficult question to answer, because there are many factors that may be influencing why your dog does not want to eat.  Depending on the age of your dog, conditions such as dental disease, organ disease or failure (eg. kidneys, liver, adrenal glands, etc.), inflammatory bowel disease, and finally cancer, are a few examples of serious problems that can decrease appetite in pets.  It is very important that you have your pet examined immediately if this decrease continues, since with early diagnosis and treatment, there is a better chance in curing the problem.  Finally, depending on what quality of food you are feeding your pet, it is important to know that although dog food labels can appear similar between brands, the quality of the ingredients that make up the food is not always the same.  Also, lower quality foods may, in fact, differ in ingredients from bag to bag.  Therefore it is important to feed your pet a high quality diet that has been scientifically designed and balanced, and meets high quality assurance protocols.  Your best bet is to speak to a member of your veterinary staff, who has been trained in nutrition, to make the appropriate diet recommendation.  Unfortunately, in rare cases, dogs can get spoiled with table scraps, become bored with their diet, or turned off their food if it is stored improperly and the food has spoiled.  In these cases, you can try another diet, but if eating does not resume immediately, you should seek veterinary care for your pet.

My dog has small lumps on its body - what could they be?

There is a good possibility that your dog may have papillomas’s (warts).  These are benign (non-cancerous) tumors that can be “cauliflour-like” in shape.  These warts usually do not cause any problems however if they grow, bleed, or get in the way of combs or clipper blades while grooming then we recommend you have them checked by your veterinarian.  A thorough examination will determine whether the lumps should be removed and, should this be necessary, sedation would be required for surgical removal.  Any lumps or bumps on the skin should always be checked by your veterinarian especially if they grow or change in size.  Lumps that are black in color should be seen as soon as possible as they may be more serious than warts.

My dog is shaking his head - why would he be doing this?

There is a very good possibility that your dog has an ear infection and this can be caused by many different organisms (yeast, bacteria). There are several indications of an infection and these range from a strong unpleasant odour, redness or swelling and sometimes a black or yellow discharge as well. An ear infection will require a visit to your veterinarian who will take a swab of the ear to see what kind of organism might be causing the infection. If this is confirmed, there is a good possibility that your dog will go home with medication to put in his ear and there may also be antibiotics to take orally. If this happens, instructions on how to keep his ears clean at home will be given to prevent further infections. Dogs who swim, have allergies or who have hair in their ears may be more prone to getting ear infections. A good plan for home care is a must, and your veterinarian will be able to advise you on this.

What is feline immunosuppressive virus?

Feline immunosuppressive virus (FIV) is a virus, related to the HIV virus, which affects domestic cats. The virus is spread from cat to cat usually through bite wounds and occasionally during fetal development. Outdoor male cats are more at risk, because of the increased incidents of territorial fighting. Once infected the virus replicates in the lymph tissues resulting in suppression of the immune system. Consequently the infected cat becomes more susceptible to secondary infections, and therefore the cat may exhibit various clinical signs. These may include upper respiratory signs (sneezing, runny eyes, nasal discharge) or kidney disease. These are a few of the more common clinical signs. Specialized blood tests are required to identify FIV positive animals. Treatment is focused on dealing with the secondary infections. Vaccinations for FIV is still controversial, and only believed to be 60-80% effective. The best treatment is to prevent contact with a positive animal through testing and quarantine.

Lately I have caught my dog eating his own feces. Is he lacking something or why is he doing this?

This practice of eating feces, termed copraphagy, is a repulsive, but common canine behavior that devastates most owners. Copraphagy has not been linked to dietary insufficiencies, but rather is a natural instinct for many dogs. Mother dogs consume their puppies’ feces to keep their nest clean, while most young puppies explore everything by placing it in their mouths. Normally, after puppies begin to grow up, they “grow out” of this habit. A few pups are persistent stool eaters, and the following factors may contribute to this compulsive nature: a high protein, low residue puppy food, irregular feeding schedules, and inadequate feeding amounts, constant opportunity to ingest feces, inadequate supervision, and boredom. Addressing these factors and trying a remedy for copraphagy may be required for these persistent snackers. Adding a product called “Forbid” to the diet for a few days to a few weeks may break the habit. Other suggestions include, adding Tabasco to each stool, immediately picking up all stools, or escorting the dog to and from the bathroom. It is important that your dog receives plenty of exercise, a good quality diet, and is involved in many interactive games such as fetching, agility, obedience, fly ball, etc. If copraphagy persists, please contact your veterinarian for suggestions, and to rule out any medical causes that may be contributing to this behavior.

My dog requires a lot of exercise, what alternative exercise can you suggest for indoors?

Exercise is very important in maintaining a balance in a dog’s lifestyle. Dogs thrive in routine, therefore when cold weather changes their regular habits, your dog may begin to seek out trouble. Fleece-lined jackets and boots may help your dog battle the cold, however, on those bitter winter days indoor exercise is the only alternative. Allowing supervised play for your dog with other vaccinated animals is a fantastic means of providing exercise. Provide an area large enough, and free from any hazards, for this playful romp. If this is not possible, a game of fetch with a ball or rope toy makes for a good workout. Incorporating stairs to fetch increases the intensity of exercise. Avoid using too small a ball or a tennis ball since the fuzz coating can cause havoc on the teeth. Tug of war is not a good game because it can increase aggressive behavior, and potentially damage the teeth or jaws. Hide and seek with your dog is a fun way to involve the whole family. Using lots of praise, this game can provide both exercise and positive interaction. Training sessions teaching obedience or tricks can also provide connections with your dog. If these suggestions are not feasible inside the house, you may want to consider doggie daycare, indoor agility, or obedience to help your pup burn off some steam. These activities help promote an active lifestyle for you and your pet.

I worry about my dog’s feet freezing in the winter time. Is there anything I can do?

Many pets still enjoy going outside in the winter whether it is a quick bathroom break, walk, run, or a ball game. Providing extra protection from the elements using booties (Muttluks) is recommended for those dogs that will accept them. It always takes some time to get pets used to these garments. Put the booties on while in the house and do a fun activity using lots of treats to reward your dog. Every time the booties are on, the dog should be having fun. Now you are ready to take your dog for a walk. If your dog will not wear these, keep the hair trimmed under the pads to prevent snowballs from sticking to the feet. Remove snowballs immediately, and dry the feet very well after returning from the outside to prevent infection. If you think your dogs feet are VERY cold, and possibly frostbitten SLOWLY warm them up by placing them in a lukewarm water bath, or apply moist heat applications. If the skin is discolored, please seek immediate veterinary attention. In Canada the winters can be brisk, so warmly dress your whole family, including your pet, to protect everyone from the elements.

I changed my cat’s food about 2 months ago and now he is having more hairballs. Is it the food?

My concern is the quality of diet and the reason for switching your cat in the first place. If you have chosen a senior cat food, I assume your cat is reaching his/her senior years. Problems like kidney disease, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, thyroid problems, and cancer may initially show signs of vomiting or inappetance. Any cat over the age of 7 years old exhibiting signs of vomiting, should be examined and blood work taken to rule out any of the above. Foods used to control hairballs have extra lubricants in the diet to help pass extra hair through the gastrointestinal system. Additional hairball remedies may still be required depending on the cat. Cats with increased amounts of hairballs may indicate an intestinal motility problem. Care must be taken when changing diets. Although pet food labels may indicate the same level of protein, fat, and carbohydrates, it is the quality of these sources that determine the quality of the food. Quality is not specified on a label. If your cat is having problems with his/her diet, it is recommended you consult your veterinarian to rule out underlying concerns, and discuss proper dietary recommendations.

How can I tell if my pet has worms?

Dogs and cats may show various signs when infected with worms. Commonly pets may exhibit weight loss or failure to thrive, abdominal distention (pot-bellied), diarrhea with or without blood and mucous, a dry hair-coat, itchy “bum”, and/or vomiting (vomits may include the worms). Kittens and puppies contract roundworms from the mother before they are born (through the uterus), or through the milk during suckling. Tapeworms are common in cats and dogs that eat feces, or kill birds, mice, and other rodents. Hookworms and whipworms, although less commonly seen, can also infect our pets. Many of these parasites can be passed from pets to people (often children) causing severe illness or blindness. Since many affected pets may be subclinical (do not show any of the above signs) fecal examination is really the only way to truly rule out parasites in pets. It is recommended that any pet that is potentially at risk, be placed on an appropriate deworming schedule. Please contact your veterinarian for advice.

I have been advised my dog has swollen lymph nodes in her neck. What does this mean?

My dog is coughing a little. What could be the problem?

Any abnormally enlarged or swollen lymph node warrants further workup. Since the lymph nodes act as centers of filtration, inflammation of organs or tissue may result in an enlargement of these nodes. Allergies or systemic infections with bacteria, viruses, fungi and protozoa may cause a reaction and multiplication of lymphocytes (cells comprising the lymph node) in response to disease. Dental disease and abscessed teeth can cause enlargement of the lymph nodes within the neck area. Oral examination, dental cleaning, extraction of affected teeth and appropriate antibiotics are required to treat dental disease. Neoplasia (cancer) of various organs and tissues often spread to the lymph nodes and lungs presenting as an enlargement of these glands. Lymphosarcoma is a malignant tumor that can infiltrate and proliferate within the lymph nodes, bone marrow and various organs. Due to the diversity of causes, it is important that your dog be thoroughly examined, checking all other lymph nodes, aspirating all affected lymph nodes and performing any necessary blood work, x-rays or ultrasounds to discover the underlying cause. The coughing may be a result of direct pressure from these enlarged nodes on the trachea (windpipe) or a result of underlying disease. It is my advice that your dog be examined as soon as possible.

Is there anything you can use to help your dog be protected from our nasty Alberta mosquitoes?

The summertime is a great time of year, but the mosquitoes can be bad for both people and their pets. It is always best to try and avoid mosquitoes by staying away from stagnant water and heavily treed areas. Unfortunately this is not always possible, so there are a few products that can be used to help reduce the number of mosquito bites. One product that can be purchased at your vet clinic is Active 3. It can only be used on dogs. It is a liquid that is placed on your dog’s neck and it last about 3 weeks. Another product is using a topical mosquito repellant on your hand and then rub through your pets coat; the areas with less hair need the most protection (belly, nose, groin and feet). You can also try putting a t-shirt on your pet; the less skin exposed the less area for the mosquitoes to bite.

My outdoor cat was diagnosed with worms and was given medication that did not clear it up?

Roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms are the most common worms affecting cats. Many kittens can acquire roundworms from their mothers, either in utero, or through milk during suckling. In general, most kittens should be routinely de-wormed every 2 weeks from ages 6-12 weeks. Some worm eggs can survive in the soil for long periods of time therefore making them a threat to all outside cats. “Hunting” cats are more at risk of contracting tapeworms through consumption of infected rodents and birds. Certain worms can be transmitted from pets to humans. Due to children’s play habits, proper hygiene, sanitation of toys and play areas, and supervision of pets should be encouraged. For the safety of children, it is important as pet owners to routinely test and or de-worm all “at risk” pets to ensure a reduction in the number of worm eggs being deposited in the environment. A fecal examination will aid in an appropriate diagnosis of worm types. Most de-wormers are weight dependent and also need to be repeated within one month to ensure that all life stages of the worms are killed. To prevent treatment failures, proper diagnosis, and the use of a veterinarian recommended de-wormer and de-worming regime is advised.

At what age should you neuter your dog? I heard that it is actually good for your pet. Is that true?

Most veterinarians recommend spaying and neutering pets at approximately 6 months of age. Male dogs usually reach sexual maturity anywhere from 7 months to 1 year of age. As hormone levels increase, behavior changes, such as aggressiveness, urine marking, wandering from home (usually in search of an in-heat female) and inter-male fighting can develop. Neutering may often prevent these undesirable traits. On the medical side, neutering before sexual maturity can reduce the development of testicular cancer, torsions, abscesses, and prostate cancer. Your veterinarian may recommend early neutering, prior to 6 months, for severe behavioral or medical issues.

I have an 18-year-old cat that is set in her ways. Would it be difficult introduce a kitten?

You will definitely meet some resistance from your older cat, but often the addition of a young furry feline can bring out some spunk in your older cat. I can guarantee that your older cat will greet this new bundle of joy with some hostility. Over time this hostility may cease and your cat may learn to be tolerant of the new family member. They may even bond and spend the days relaxing on the couch together, grooming each other, and playing games of tag. The initial greeting is very important. I often recommend having the new kitten in a crate in the middle of the floor and allowing your cat to approach the kitten at her own pace. You may need to repeat this scenario over a number of days. Another approach is to place the kitten in a contained room and have them sniff each other under a closed door. As the introductions continue it is important that your older cat not feel neglected. Spend time giving TLC, cuddling, brushing and petting your older cat. Do not expect your cat to share food bowls, sleeping areas, and litter boxes. Allow her to have a “time out” from the kitten by containing the kitten in a room. This will allow your cat to “rule her roost” once again.

We have a cat that has been in our family for years. We just got a puppy. How to introduce them?

Dogs and cats can become the best of friends; however this will take time and patience. It is important to make sure your cat has clear escape routes at all times. Cats tend to become more aggressive if cornered. On initial introduction, keep the puppy in a crate and place it in the middle of the floor. Since cats are very curious, she will slowly come and explore the crate’s contents. Alternatively, place the crate in her room and allows the two to sniff each other through the door. If your puppy is very energetic, make her drag a leash to avoid injury to either pet. Discourage cat chasing immediately. Placing towels in each pet’s sleeping area, and then switching the towels, allows each animal to get used to the other’s scent. Provide your cat with a separate feeding area, usually elevated out of harm’s way. Keep the litter box in a private area to discourage any elimination problems. At night, confine your pup to a crate or a room to allow your cat free exploration to find new hiding spaces and get accustomed to the presence of your new pup. All introductions should be done under strict supervision.

What is Parvo Virus?

Parvo is a very serious viral disease specific to dogs and puppies. Thankfully it cannot be transmitted to other species of pets or humans. The virus attacks the lining of the digestive system and intestinal lining killing “rapidly dividing cells” which stops the absorption of liquids or nutrients. In certain cases Parvo can also attack a puppy’s heart causing congestive heart failure. The virus is transmitted by other infected dogs through excreted feces, and the risk of contamination is very high. This disease is highly contagious and very resilient; it can withstand extreme temperatures and almost all cleaning products. If another animal or person steps in dog excrement it can be brought into your home via the soles of your shoes and even on car tires. In the event your pet contracts the Parvo virus, they will start to show signs of lethargy, loss of appetite, high fever and depression, progressing quickly to vomiting and bloody diarrhea. This disease can be fatal so it is extremely important to get your pet to your veterinarian if they exhibit any of the above symptoms.

My dog is always scratching around her neck. What could be the cause and what is the cure?

To begin with, it is important to look back on the history of your dog. Has she been in contact with any other dogs? Out camping? At any parks or wooded areas? New collar? Is it to tight? Recently bathed? Rinsed and dried properly? Any matts in her coat? External parasites, such as fleas, ticks, mites, and lice, can cause your dog to be extremely itchy. Mites are microscopic and cannot be seen by the naked eye. A thorough examination and possibly a skin scraping performed by your veterinarian may be required to establish a diagnosis of external parasites. Treatment may involve medicated baths or dips, injectable topical or oral parasiticidals. Some dogs, especially those with thick hair coats, can develop “hot spots” (Pyotraumatic Dermatitis) around the neck area. This is initially caused by some trauma or irritation to the site. The end result of the vicious circle can be a large weeping (sticky) lesion. This area needs to be clipped, cleansed with an antibacterial soap, topical ointment applied, and possibly the administration of oral antibiotics. Allergies (contact, food, inhaled), ear problems, or endocrine skin disorders (thyroid, adrenal) may also cause excessive scratching. If the cause is not evident, please seek prompt veterinary attention.

How often can we safely shampoo our dog? Can I use a human shampoo on him?

In general, I recommend shampooing a dog no more than once a month. This allows the dog’s normal oils to be distributed throughout the hair coat. However, dogs will be dogs, and it is better to have clean skin and hair than to wait the month to bath. Therefore, if your dog is dirty, do not hesitate to wash him off, or use shampoo. If you need to bath your dog frequently, watch the skin for evidence of drying out. Using a dog conditioner may help to combat the dryness. I recommend using a pet shampoo over a human shampoo because of the pH level of a dog’s skin is different than that of a human’s skin. Therefore human shampoos are not ideal for our canine friends. Many dogs have various skin problems and may require different bathing schedules and shampoos. Please contact your veterinarian if your dog has skin concerns.

Is there anything you can do to reduce your dog’s shedding?

Shedding can be a normal response to certain times of the year. However, there are products that can improve the overall skin condition. Daily brushing is important to remove any loose hair. Poor nutrition can be reflected in the skin and coat condition; therefore a dietary change may be required. Supplements such as Omega fatty acids can improve the condition of the skin and hair coat. Internal parasites can absorb nutrition from the body and deprive the skin and hair coat of the essentials. External parasites such as lice and fleas can also result in excess shedding. Certain metabolic diseases such as adrenal disease and thyroid problems can also affect your pet’s hair coat. Please consult your veterinarian for a full physical exam to determine the cause and discuss the possible treatment to help control your dog’s shedding.

What do I do if my dog has been sprayed by a skunk?

A commercial product called “Skunk Off” is very effective in dealing with the eye-watering smell of a skunk, however this situation often occurs when you are not near an animal supply store. A home remedy using a 16-ounce bottle of hydrogen peroxide, a box of baking soda and 3 tablespoons of dish soap is very effective. Rub thoroughly into your dog’s coat and do not rinse the dog off. Allow this remedy to dry on the dog for one day, followed the next day with regular bathing using a pet shampoo. Always be careful of your dog’s eyes. Artificial Tear Gel works great to protect the eyes during shampooing.

How do you stop your dog from snoring?

Snoring is an upper airway noise usually caused during inspiration. Either tissue or secretions that partially obstruct airflow cause the sound. In order to stop a dog from snoring we need to identify the reason behind the snoring. In brachycephalic breeds (squished-in faces), a common cause of snoring is an elongated soft palate that collapses down and flutters with every breath he/she takes. These dogs frequently also have narrow (stenotic) nostrils that may restrict the inflow of air, resulting in extra secretion in the nasal areas. Occasionally an obstruction or inflammation of the larynx (opening to the windpipe) can result in a snore, but more commonly it results in a higher pitch sound. Surgical correction can be done to widen the nostrils and shorten the soft palate. Please contact your veterinarian to identify the cause of your dog’s snoring.

My dog&‘s feet really smell. Why does this happen, and what can I do about it?

My first concern with this dog would be to check if it has an infection between the toes or pads of the feet. Accumulation of hair between the toes can trap sweat and debris and lead to a smell, or worse, an infection. If possible, carefully clip some of this hair away and spread the toes to check for any redness or discharge. Secondary yeast infections can result in quite a stench. You can try carefully washing the feet with a good antibacterial soap or shampoo. Be sure to rinse and dry the feet very well. You may want to get in the habit of washing your dog’s feet nightly after his/her walk. If you do notice redness or discharge between the toes, I recommend consulting your veterinarian immediately.

Can dogs get sunburnt?

Absolutely. We know how painful a sunburn can be so it is vital that we take precautionary measures to prevent our pets from getting sunburnt. Like humans, some dogs can burn in 10 minutes, others in 30 minutes so it is important to limit your pet’s exposure to the sun. Dogs with light fur, short fur, pink noses and light colored skin are more susceptible to burning and I would recommend purchasing a “pet sunscreen”, from your veterinarian or local pet store. The areas which require extra sun protection are their noses, ear tips, paws, the fur along their head and back and even their abdomen (as their coat is thinner in this area and extra sunlight can reflect up from the sidewalk or hot sand). A few additional suggestions to help prevent sun burn are: a t-shirt fitted on their body which will keep their back and abdomen protected and “muttluks” (dog boots) can protect their paws from hot asphalt or sand.

My dog’s feet really smell. Why does this happen, and what can I do about it?

My first concern with this dog would be to check if it has an infection between the toes or pads of the feet. Accumulation of hair between the toes can trap sweat and debris and lead to a smell, or worse, an infection. If possible, carefully clip some of this hair away and spread the toes to check for any redness or discharge. Secondary yeast infections can result in quite a stench. You can try carefully washing the feet with a good antibacterial soap or shampoo. Be sure to rinse and dry the feet very well. You may want to get in the habit of washing your dog’s feet nightly after his/her walk. If you do notice redness or discharge between the toes, I recommend consulting your veterinarian immediately.

Is it possible to give your dog too much exercise?

Definitely. Dogs are no different than people when it comes to exercise. If your dogs is overweight or not used to exercise, a slow training program is needed. Usually I recommend to start with a short easy walk of ten minutes 3-4 times per day. Good nutrition and proper water intake is also required to feed your dogs body during this increased exercise demand. Overweight animals also benefit from a diet program designed especially for them by a veterinarian. Just like with people, small multiple feedings and regular exercise keeps your pet in the best health possible. Overdoing exercise can result in muscle soreness, ligament damage, and sometimes future arthritis for your furry friend. As your dog gets fitter, you can increase the exercise program to include some trotting, running and hills. In the summer, swimming is a great way to increase exercise, and is especially good for overweight animals. Any breed or size of dog with the proper training program can be trained to do various exercise and sports, such as agility fly ball, retrieving, or distance running. However, care should be taken before starting these programs in young growing animals so that damage to their bones and joints do not occur. Please contact your veterinary health care team for the proper advice, and enjoy this summer with your pet.

Do you have to trim cat’s nails?

There is no rule that requires a cat’s nails to be trimmed. Trimming, however, can provide many benefits. Cat’s routinely keep their nails tailored by sharpening their claws, hopefully on a designated scratching post and not on your couch. By clipping nails, it may decrease the destruction of rugs, furniture, drapes and possibly keep your Christmas tree standing upright. Cat’s often like to scratch during play, therefore by keeping the nails short, it may protect children and other pets from being injured. Sometimes cats will also get their nails caught on rugs or blankets and can injure or rip their nails. As cat’s age, the nails can sometimes grow excessively, and curl around and into the paw. This can be very painful, leading to infected paws, and it can interfere with walking. Although nail trimming is not required, there are obvious benefits that may be advantageous to some clients.

Is it true that pregnant women should not handle kitty litter?

This is correct, a parasite called toxoplasma gondii causes a disease known as toxoplasmosis. While there are many ways of contracting this, it is a fact that cats can become infected with this disease by eating infected prey or by eating infected raw or undercooked meat. This parasite is then transmitted through a cat’s feces. While a healthy person’s immune system usually keeps the parasite from causing illness, pregnant women should be cautious as it could cause serious health problems to their unborn child. A few simple measures can help to reduce the risk of infection. Have someone else change your cat’s litter box daily as the parasite found in cat feces needs one or more days after being passed to become infectious. Ensure that they use detergent and hot water to clean out the litter box. If this isn’t possible, wear gloves and clean the litter box every day and ensure you wash your hands thoroughly. Make sure you keep your cat indoors at all times to avoid them from getting toxoplasmosis from the soil or small infected animals that they try to catch or eat. Try to keep your home bug-free because cat feces is a favorite of flies which can spread the disease onto food and other surfaces. If you have any concerns about the risk of toxoplasmosis please speak with both your doctor and veterinarian.

What causes vomiting and what should I do if my pet vomits?

Vomiting can be a clinical sign of many different problems. Isolated events of vomiting may be caused by your pet eating inappropriate things that do not agree with their intestinal systems. This is often termed dietary indiscretion or “garbage guts”. Inflammation of the intestinal system, known as gastroenteritis, can occur by suddenly switching a pet’s diet, inflammatory bowel disease, food allergies, or by various bacterial or viral infections. Foreign bodies can get lodged within the gastrointestinal tract and require surgery to remove. Common foreign bodies include pieces of toys, bones, blankets, and string (especially in cats). Metabolic diseases such as diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease, adrenal disease, thyroid problems, and cancer often exhibit vomiting as one of the early signs. If the vomiting has just started and your pet still seems bright and alert, you can try fasting him/her for 12-24 hours, followed by administering very small amounts of a bland digestible diet and water frequently throughout the day. These diets are best found at your veterinary clinic, however, in a pinch, cooked lean ground hamburger and rice will work as a substitute. If your pet is lethargic, there is blood in the vomit, the vomiting is persistent, there is weight loss over time, or your pet seems in pain, please do not wait, and take them to your veterinarian immediately. Diagnostic tests that further assess the vomiting include blood work, x-rays, and in some cases ultrasound. Vomiting can be serious, so please contact your veterinarian.

I was thinking of putting my dog on a vegan diet. Do you think it has benefits?

This is not an easy question to answer. The simple answer is yes, vegan diets do have some benefits. The complicated answer is that vegan diets can be fed to all dogs if their diets are properly nutritionally balanced. To put everybody on common ground, vegan diets are foods that contain no animal by-products. There are commercial diets that fall under this category and these are the ONLY vegan diets that should be fed. Homemade diets are almost always nutritionally incomplete and can pose serious health threats to your pet. Also vegan diets CANNOT be fed to cats as cats require animal protein for heart and eye health. Young, growing dogs require increased protein and carbohydrate levels and vegan diets cannot satisfy their needs. That said, vegan diets can benefit dogs that have allergic conditions such as skin or bowel problems. The culprit in these conditions is usually some form of animal protein, therefore, by feeding a vegetarian formula there is no allergen to react to. These commercial diets can be fed to a “normal” dog but they provide no added benefit versus feeding a good quality food with animal by-products. Vegetarian diets do not always help allergic dogs but they may provide some relief. You should always consult your veterinarian before switching to any diet, especially when that diet is vegan. (Written by Dr. Bev. Wolney)

What is kennel cough? If my dog is vaccinated for this, can he still catch it?

Kennel cough, or Infectious Tracheobronchitis, is a highly contagious respiratory disease affecting dogs. It is typically caused by a bacteria known as Bordetella bronchiseptica, however other infectious agents such as mycoplasma bacteria, herpesvirus, parainfluenza and coronavirus have been identified to cause similar signs. Dogs affected with kennel cough can exhibit signs from a dry, hacking cough to a moist productive cough, gagging, fever and a decrease in appetite, and in rare cases kennel cough can result in pneumonia. Dogs frequenting kennels, dog parks, dog schools, dog shows and grooming facilities are at a greater risk of contracting this due to it’s highly contagious nature. Vaccination against Bordetella bronchiseptica is the best way to aid in the prevention of kennel cough in high risk pets, however, no vaccination is 100% effective. There is always the chance that the strains of Bordetella may mutate from the strain involved in clinical disease, similar to what happens with the human influenza (flu) virus and this is why kennel cough may be diagnosed in some dogs despite a recent vaccination history. That said, it is still believed that an annual vaccination will decrease the occurrence of the disease. If you suspect your furry friend may have kennel cough, please seek veterinary attention immediately.

What is heartworm disease?

Heartworm disease is a serious, and potentially fatal, condition caused by parasitic worms living in the right side of the heart, and also in the lungs, of dogs and cats (and in rare instances, humans). It is transmitted by mosquitoes when a mosquito carrying infected heartworm larvae bites another animal and transmits the infection. Once a pet is infected, the larvae will first move into their tissue and then the heart where they grow and reproduce. Although heartworm is not common in Alberta, it is in neighboring provinces and across much of Canada, therefore if your pet is traveling out of province it is essential to protect against heartworm. Preventative treatment comes in several forms - tablet and topical medication (liquid drops) which are given once a month during the spring and summer seasons. If your pet has traveled out of province and they are showing signs of coughing, tiredness, anemia or does not want to exercise then you must seek medical advice from your veterinarian. A simple blood test can confirm whether or not they have heartworm disease and in the event that they test positive, and it is detected early, treatment is available.

Why do cats go crazy with catnip?

Catnip is the common name for a perennial herb in the mint family. It contains a chemical within the stem and leaves called nepetalactone which causes approximately two thirds of adult cats to have an amazing reaction. Although it is not actually known what happens in a cat’s brain, the chemical nepetalactone in catnip triggers a euphoric response, but don’t worry as this herb is harmless and non-addictive. Most commonly, dried catnip will be found inside cat toys causing them to rub at it, roll over it, kick at it and generally go crazy for a few minutes. Once a cat acclimates to the scent it can take a few hours away from the catnip before the reaction occurs again. However, not all cats are affected by catnip, for those that aren’t you should try giving them a toy which is filled with honeysuckle because this can have a similar reaction and if your cat looses interest over time try moistening the honeysuckle which will refresh the scent.

I have a scratching post for my cat but she insists on using the furniture and carpet.

This is one of the most frustrating problems that cat owners can be faced with. My best recommendation is to provide your cat with many scratching opportunities. Different types of scratching posts, kitty condos, vertical wooden surfaces covered in carpet remnants, or cardboard scratching pads sprinkled with catnip will help keep your cat interested. These scratching pads should be placed in “prime” locations that are easily moved around the house, and can be quickly hidden when company comes over. Frequent nail trimmings will aid in reducing the degree of destruction. Physically blocking the access to the furniture can be achieved by covering the corners and backs with tinfoil or placing two-sided sticky tape on the area. A positive reinforcement using treats or clicker training when scratching in the appropriate spots is recommended. Finally artificial nail covers called Soft Paws are an excellent way to minimize the destruction. If these methods fail to help the situation, please contact your veterinarian for other behavioral or surgical options.

Is chocolate poisonous to dogs?

Chocolate, which is made for human consumption, can definitely be poisonous to both dogs and cats. It is not actually the chocolate itself that is poisonous but theobromine which is a naturally occurring compound found in chocolate. Theobromine is a diuretic as well as a cardiac stimulant, both of which can be dangerous. The level of theobromine in chocolate varies depending on the type of chocolate, and the higher the concentration the greater the risk. For example, dark chocolate has a higher concentration than milk chocolate but the worst is bakers/bitter chocolate which has the highest concentration. Each different type of dog will be affected in different ways and this will depend on their sensitivity, size and health issues. For example, a smaller dog will be affected more than a larger dog who eats the same amount and dogs that suffer from epilepsy are at a greater risk than healthy dogs as theobromine can trigger epileptic seizures. It can also cause stomach ulcers, heart arrhythmias and even a heart attack which could be fatal therefore it is very important to keep any human chocolate out of reach. If you suspect that your pet has eaten chocolate it is very important that you contact your veterinarian immediately.

Do I need to brush my pet’s teeth?

February is National Pet Dental Health Month, a great opportunity to celebrate all the great care owners provide to their pets all year long. That includes daily tooth brushing. Our pet’s mouths are not unlike our own, they contain millions of active bacteria and plaque forms each and every day. When the plaque is allowed to accumulate, over time it hardens into tartar. The tartar is very irritating and causes gingivitis. When the gums become red and inflamed bacteria travels under the gum line and can cause severe infection, resulting in pain and eventually tooth loss. Severe bacterial infections can also pass to internal organs such as the heart, liver, and kidneys and cause disease. The only way to prevent such infections is with daily brushing. With a little patience and lots if positive rewards, any pet can learn to enjoy having its teeth brushed, all it takes is commitment on your part, commitment to your pet’s better oral health and well being. Join us at Tudor Glen Veterinary Clinic, we would be happy to help you select the right tooth care products for your pet will enjoy. We can even provide a brushing demonstration to help you get started.

How do I stop the bleeding if my pet cuts itself? Can I use a tourniquet?

The most preferable way to stop the bleeding is by applying pressure with a clean cloth or gauze over the wound. If blood soaks through the compress, do not remove the gauze. Instead, apply additional layers over top of the existing pad. If bleeding is severe, attempt to apply additional pressure above and below the wound to decrease blood flow in the area. Elevation of the injured area above the level of the heart may also help decrease the bleeding. Remember to always maintain direct pressure on the wound itself. Tourniquets should only be used in life threatening hemorrhage in which the appendage is not expected to be salvageable. Tourniquets are very dangerous and will likely result in a severe disability or amputation of the limb or tail. Attempt to keep the animal as calm as possible through any emergency and take him/her immediately to your veterinarian. For more information or to participate in one of our Pet First Aid Courses please contact the clinic at 458 - 6051.

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