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Car Travel with Your Dog - by Lexy Marcellus, (RVT) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brian Adam   
Thursday, 09 May 2013 20:07

Beautiful weather is finally here!  I know I'm looking forward to going on trips, being outside and travelling with my companions. For most people a car trip with their beloved family dog is something to look forward to.  But for others, it can be a dreaded event causing anxiety to both pets & their owners. Hopefully these tips will make it more enjoyable for everyone. 

OUR #1 MOST IMPORTANT TIP ABOVE ALL OTHERS: NEVER LEAVE YOUR DOGS OR CATS ALONE IN THE CAR!

The temperature can quickly rise to a dangerous level causing heat stroke, even on cool days!  Before taking my dog on a long car trip, what should I do?

Many dogs have trouble adjusting to journey in the car, long or short. It can be a bad experience if they're not properly prepared, or their needs are neglected during the trip.  It's always best to start off at a young age.  Little trips to the park & short outings can be positive experiences, instead of the usual rides to the vet!  That way they can associate a car ride with a good thing.  Same goes for those not used to being in the car.  Again, it's best to take them on short rides - always before a meal rather than soon after. Also, don't forget to reward your dog(s) with a treat or meal as soon as the trip is over.

How can I avoid car sickness?

Car or motion sickness is the result of the effect of irregular motion on the balance mechanism of the middle ear. Signs are restlessness, salivation and vomiting. Waiting at least six hours between the last meal and travelling will help. In severe cases of motion sickness, your veterinarian can prescribe medication to be given before a journey depending on the cause of anxiety or motion sickness.

What can I do to make my dog more comfortable when travelling?

Have them ride inside the car, rather than in the back of a pick-up or inside a camper.  Don’t allow them to run and jump in the car, especially not near the driver (a seatbelt would help keep everyone safe in these cases).

Make sure there's plenty of fresh air and that the temperature isn't too hot towards the back, where you dog will likely be. If you need to open a window, make it so the dog cannot stick its' head out.  This helps reduce the risk of injury due to flying insects, gravel or other flying objects.

Frequent bathroom breaks are recommended.  Every 2 to 4 hours gives your pets a chance to exercise, relieve themselves & have a drink of water. NOTE: Please leash your dog before you open the door - as the last thing you want is for it to get lost, in an unknown city or wilderness.

Here's a list of items, you shouldn't leave home without: a Pet First Aid Kit; fresh water & bowls to drink from; leash, poop bags, towels and/or paper towels for any unexpected accidents. (Not to mention their favourite Blanket or Toy/Stuffed animals for longer trips.

Should you have any other questions please consult your veterinary team.  Happy Wagging Tails & Travels to ALL! smiley J Lexy

Last Updated on Thursday, 09 May 2013 20:32
 
Noise Phobias - by Lexy Marcellus, (RVT) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brian Adam   
Saturday, 09 March 2013 10:51

NOISE PHOBIAS are very common in dogs.They often experience fear in response to loud noises and/or percussive sounds such as thunderstorms, firecrackers and gunshots.  Common in herding breeds and hounds, dogs with inadequate socialization, or those that have lived through a traumatic event; are living with other phobic dogs, or have separation anxiety issues are prone to Noise Phobias.

SIGNS INCLUDE:  Increased activity/agitation & restlessness, in response to noises. They may pee, vocalize or jump against windows or doors.  Others chew, dig, tremble, salivate, pant, eliminate inappropriately, have increased heart rates, and constantly seek to be close to their owners. In some, the fear reaction is dramatic and can lead to destructive activities to their surroundings or themselves.

Is there any way to diagnose these issues?

Yes.  Diagnosis is based on the presence of clinical signs & exclusion of other behavioral causes.  Your Vet's diagnosis will be based on a physical exam, medical history & lab tests to rule out other medical problems such as urinary, gastrointestinal, hormonal, metabolic or seizure disorders.

Most phobias are easy to diagnose.  However, if only the dog hears the sound or if the sound is not recognized by the owner, it may appear as if they're having a spontaneous panic attack. With thunderstorm phobias, it's common for them to act fearful, before people are aware of an approaching storm.

For noise phobias, treatment includes:

  • Ignoring the fear behavior; Avoiding both punishment and reassurance during that time
  • Establishing a safe, dark place where sounds are muffled
  • Providing pleasant/calm experiences there (most dogs gravitate towards the bathroom)
  • Playing music with similar tones to mask the sounds, can be effective
  • Consider behavioral modification  techniques such as  desensitization and counter-conditioning
  • Anti-anxiety medications may be beneficial, but no drugs are specifically approved for this condition
  • Non-pharmaceutical anti-anxiety products: DAP, Anxiety Wrap, Storm Defenders, Thunderband, Zylkene, Mutt Muffs

As not all dogs are the same, more than one therapy may be recommended. Similar to separation anxiety, it’s a good idea to keep a log of the events, so that that you & your veterinary team can ensure everyone stays happy & healthy. 

Remember: When it comes to the animals we love, we're always here to help! heart Lexy

Last Updated on Saturday, 09 March 2013 11:39
 
Separation Anxiety in Dogs - by Lexy Marcellus, (RVT) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brian Adam   
Saturday, 02 February 2013 12:01

Separation Anxiety is one of the most common issues for dog owners. A fear of being left alone and/or separated from 'the pack', is a psychological, behavioral & emotional reaction to stimuli that animals encounter.

What causes separation anxiety?

There are many risk factors for separation anxiety. Thru include: coming from an adoption shelter, rescue group, or prior home.  Prior life as a stray, having a noise phobia, moving to different locations or changes in the people/pets that surround them.  It's important to note that bad behaviour your dog exhibits, is not caused by spite - but is in fact a  reaction to their current situation.

Signs of separation anxiety include: anxiousness as the owner prepares to leave, excessive vocalization, digging, chewing, and/or rearranging household objects.  Some dogs may aggressively growl & bite in an attempt to prevent people from leaving.  Self-injury, especially broken teeth, cuts in the mouth, and broken nails, may occur from escape attempts.  While others also urinate, defecate, salivate, pant, tremble, or do not eat or drink (while the owner is away).

Diagnosis?

Separation anxiety can be very challenging to diagnose, because of its' many possible causes.  Your veterinarian needs a medical history, physical exam  and sometimes lab tests to rule out possible contributing conditions - such as urinary tract, gastrointestinal, hormonal, metabolic, or seizure disorders.

TREATMENT for separation anxiety includes:

  • Increased exercise & play, even Obedience & Agility Training to build up confidence
  • Encouraging independence; discouraging constant close contact
  • Ignoring pestering and demanding behaviors; reinforcing calm behaviour

Make arrivals and departures low-key; ignore the dog for 30 minutes before leaving.  Stop punishment, as this increases the dog’s anxiety level.  Consider alternative measures, such as pet-sitters, doggy daycare, or taking them along if possible.

Consider behavioral modification training outlined by your vet.  Anti=anxiety medications are often beneficial, as well as nutraceuticals in foods &/or supplements.  You may even try non-pharmaceutical antianxiety products such as Anxiety Wrap (a stretchy body suit) and DAP (a synthetic calming pheromone).  Unfortunately, there's no quick fix and it may take several weeks to months before you can see any results.  By maintaining records of occurrence and its severity, it can really help your veterinary team make the best decisions for your dog. heart Lexy

Last Updated on Saturday, 02 February 2013 23:52
 
Wellness Bloodwork for your Pets - by Lexy Marcellus, (RVT) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brian Adam   
Wednesday, 02 January 2013 23:08

Ever wonder what your veterinarian's chart full of letters & numbers means, after your Pet's had bloodwork?  Here's a comprehensive rundown for you:

A complete blood count (CBC) can be used to detect anemia, infection, inflammation, stress, leukemia, inability to fight off infection, hydration status and some blood clotting problems.  Microscopic examinations of the blood may also reveal the presence of abnormal cells, parasites, or even toxicities.

Red Blood cells (RBCs) are the most numerous and longest-living of the different types of blood cells; they typically make up almost half the blood’s volume. RBCs contain a special protein called hemoglobin (HGB) that binds oxygen as it travels through the rest of the body.

Reticulocytes: These are immature RBCs that increased during times of red cell production, such as blood loss, or immune-mediated anemia.  White Blood cells (WBCs) are primarily responsible for fighting infections. There are 5 different types and each perform specific functions.  Platelets play a critical role in preventing bleeding.

A Biochemistry Profile looks at the organs in the body.

Liver enzymes (Albumin, ALT, Alk. Phos, AST, Bilirubin, Bile acids, GGT and Cholesterol) These tests indicate how well the liver is working , and provide information about liver damage, inflammation, dehydration, abnormalities from long-term medications or bile blockage

Kidney enzymes (Urea/BUN, Creatinine, Phosphorus, and Potassium) Kidney disease causes urea and creatinine levels to rise, often with changes in phosphorus and potassium. Changes can indicate early renal disease, renal failure, infection, stones, cancer or abnormalities resulting from long-term medications. Kidney testing is frequently combined with a urinalysis, as urine plays a big part in how well the kidneys are functioning.

Pancreas enzymes (Amylase, Lipase, Glucose, and TLI) Diabetes mellitus, inflammation of the pancreas, and pancreatic failure are serious diseases; fortunately they can all be detected with simple blood tests.

Muscle and Bone enzymes (AST, CPK, Calcium, and Phosphorus) Increased levels of AST and CPK can signal muscle injury or inflammation. Calcium and phosphorus are indicators of bone health and abnormal levels suggest the presence of disease.

Electrolytes (Na, K, Cl, tCo2, Anion gap) Are all critical to body function & must be maintained in very narrow limits.  Dehydration is a common cause of electrolyte imbalance, despite how effective the body is at regulating levels.  Further testing may be involved if any abnormalities are found. Your veterinary team can always answer any further questions.

Testing your pets’ blood on a regular basis (every 2 years for healthy adults, every year for seniors) is recommended to keep all animal members of your family healthy. heart Lexy

Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 January 2013 23:34
 
The importance of "BLOOD WORK" - by Lexy Marcellus, (RVT) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brian Adam   
Sunday, 04 November 2012 09:55

Yearly vet visits are an excellent way to monitor your pet’s health.  You may be asked if you would like bloodwork done, for many different reasons. 

When is blood work necessary?  When your pet is sick or during emergency situations, it provides you with an invaluable picture of their health and is often the first step towards treating it. It also helps the veterinary team make immediate decisions. 

Pre-anesthetic blood work is recommended for animals of any age, that are about to undergo general anesthesia. It allows them to know if anesthesia is safe for your pet and helps them make adjustments to their protocols, should they notice anything abnormal. It's often performed the same day (or day before) any surgery, making it easier for your pet, as it reduces the need for them to fast more than once, and reduces the number of trips to the hospital.

Wellness screening blood work is recommended as part of their annual exam. Signs your pet is sick, are not always obvious upon a physical examination; blood work allows the team to see how the organs are functioning - and often times, wellness screening not only uncovers disease before it's too late - but can also help avoid significant medical expenses and risks to your pet's health.

Similar to humans, some medications have side-effects on the body; so it’s always a good idea to monitor their level of medication as well as the body’s organs. Periodic blood work while your pet is being treated can find these problems early, and allow your vet to make necessary changes.

What tests might my veterinary run?  A complete blood count (CBC) can show signs of infection, inflammation, or if your pet’s anemic.  A biochemistry panel - gives you information on kidney and liver function, signs of diabetes, and an overall look of how the body’s organs are functioning.  An electrolyte panel - Assesses hydration in your pet.  If abnormalities are detected, they may recommend further testing to treat your pet properly.

How soon can I get my results?  Many routine tests can be performed in-clinic - providing results quickly and allowing for immediate treatment. In-clinic blood testing also lets you be more involved in petcare - since you can discuss test results, while you are still at the clinic.  Normal results can rule out certain diseases immediately, lessening your worry.  If results are abnormal, your vet can make fast decisions about which next steps to take.

Unfortunately, pets can’t say how they're feeling, so it’s usually how they ACT or LOOK that tells you something's wrong. You play an important role in their lives - that's what helps keep them happy and healthy. Awareness of the warning signs and regular preventative health screens, including a physical exam and blood work, are the best ways to ensure they live a long, healthy, and happy life. heartLexy

Last Updated on Sunday, 04 November 2012 10:12
 
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