Best Friends Pet Care : The Dog Dish
Best Friends Pet Care : The Dog Dish

ARCHIVE

2016

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Best Friends Pet Care : The Dog Dish

Tag Archives: tips

So you have a new puppy – now what?

Golden Retriever Puppy

Is there anything better than a warm, wiggly, cuddly puppy? A new bundle of joy always brings smiles but also, responsibility. Making sure your new fur baby is healthy and well cared for now, will save you time and money down the road. So, what now?

First, schedule a visit with your family vet within the first week of getting your new pup. Be sure to bring in any paperwork you have about vaccinations, wellness checks, or medications they have been given. The purpose of this general check-up exam is to make sure your puppy doesn’t have any obvious health problems or birth defects. For example, your veterinarian will check the mouth for a cleft palate, listen to the heart in case of a heart murmur, check for an umbilical hernia, etc. This exam is also a good time for you to discuss anything you have noticed at home that you are concerned about. Is your pup not eating well? Have you noticed any vomiting or diarrhea? Have you noticed a runny nose or watery eyes?

It is important to remember that even if your new fur baby is not showing any signs of a health problem at the time of their visit to the vet, they may still be incubating an illness. Diseases such as parvovirus or distemper can take 7 to 10 days to start causing symptoms, so be sure to keep an eye out for any signs of a problem.

During your visit, your veterinarian will also recommend getting a poop sample to check your new puppy for intestinal parasites and discuss a deworming schedule. Pups are often born with intestinal parasites and, even if they have already been dewormed, will often need more than a single dose of deworming medication.

Vaccinations (shots) are critical to keeping your puppy healthy and can help them avoid common puppy illnesses such as parvovirus and distemper. During your initial visit, your veterinarian will go over a vaccine schedule for your new pup. The first set of shots should happen at around 6 to 8 weeks of age with boosters given every 3 to 4 weeks until they are about 16 weeks old. Remember, until your pup is fully vaccinated, be sure to keep him/her isolated from other dogs. This means no boarding, no dog parks, pet stores, etc.

This initial visit is also a good time for you to talk to your veterinarian about microchipping. This means inserting a chip about the size of a grain of rice under the puppy’s skin that contains your contact information. If your dog is ever lost or separated from you in an emergency, a veterinary clinic or shelter will be able to scan your pet and contact you. Inserting the chip is easy (it’s just like getting a vaccine) and the cost is typically low.  Even if your pet is chipped however, they should still wear a collar with their name and your contact information.

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask questions at this (or any) vet visit! This is the time for you to ask about anything you are concerned about. Your Best Friends veterinarian and the entire veterinary team are there to help you be the best pet parent you can be and to make sure that life with your new pup gets off to a safe and healthy start!

Tags: Best Friends Spotlight, Dogs, Pet advice, Pet behavior, Puppies, Puppy, Tips

Heartworms 101: Part 3

Border Collie

So how is heartworm infection treated?

So your dog or cat has been diagnosed with heartworm disease, now what? For dogs, there are approved medications and well established guidelines about how to treat depending on the severity of their disease. For cats, things are a bit trickier since there are no approved treatments for heartworm infection in cats. This is why prevention is so critical.

Let’s cover the basics of treatment for each species individually.

Dogs

Once a diagnosis has been made, your veterinarian will want to perform some additional tests to get a better idea of how much, if any, damage has already occurred. The reason behind this approach is that the severity of the changes can help gauge the risk for complications. However, even dogs with mild changes can develop complications and will need to be monitored closely. One the most important things that you can do as a pet parent once your dog has been diagnosed with heartworm disease is restrict their activity.  Exertion can increase the risk for further damage and increase the chance of complications either before or during therapy.

Heartworm disease in dogs is typically classified as:

Mild No clinical signs or minimal clinical signs
Moderate May have a cough or exercise intolerance, abnormal lung sounds during physical exam
Severe Cough, exercise intolerance, anemia, abnormal lung sounds during physical exam, enlarged liver, or fluid in the abdomen
Caval syndrome Sudden onset of severe weakness, collapse, discolored urine

Prior to heartworm therapy, your veterinarian will prescribe an antibiotic called doxycycline or minocycline. This medication helps eliminate a bacteria carried by the heartworms that can cause complications during therapy. Your veterinarian may also recommend a medication at this time to begin to kill off any baby heartworms (microfilariae) as well.

Therapy to kill the adult heartworms will involve a medication called melarsomine which is given as a series of 3 injections over the course of 1 month. Your dog will get one injection then another 2 injections, 24 hours apart, 30 days later. In addition to STRICT EXERCISE RESTRICTION, your veterinarian may also prescribe an anti-inflammatory medication during this time to help decrease inflammation that may occur as a result of the dying worms.

About 6 months after treatment, your veterinarian will perform a blood test to confirm that all of the adult worms have been eliminated.

Cats

There are no approved drugs to treat cats with heartworm infections. Unlike in dogs, the goal of therapy in cats is not to eliminate worms, but to manage the clinical signs and try to reduce further damage. For cats with clinical signs such as coughing or wheezing, your veterinarian may prescribe an anti-inflammatory medication called prednisolone to help reduce inflammation in the airways.

Radiographs (x-rays) of the chest will also be important to determine the severity of the changes in the lungs and assess progression.

Cats can sometimes overcome a heartworm infection on their own over time so blood tests should be performed every 6 to 12 months in heartworm-positive kitties to see if the infection has cleared.

Tags: Ask the Vet, Best Friends Spotlight, Cats, Dogs, Health, Pet advice, Pet behavior, Pet health, Pet info, Tips, Vet

What are the recommended daily servings for my pet based on?

Dog with lots of dog foodNot only is the type of food that we feed our furry family members important but, it is also critical to know HOW MUCH we should be feeding. We are often asked, “How much of this food should I be feeding my pet per day?” and the answer is, “It depends.” We aren’t trying to be difficult, we promise. The reality is however, that a lot of different factors go into determining what the right amount of food is for your pet.

Most commercial dog and cat foods offer feeding recommendations on the label that are specific to that diet. This is because the calorie content can be quite different from one diet to the next so, 100 calories may be 1 cup of one food but 2 cups of a different food.

So what are feeding recommendations based on? We know from years of research that, just as in people, dogs and cats have resting metabolic requirements and researchers have developed simple formulas to determine what these daily calorie requirements are. This amount is based predominately on the pet’s weight. From there, other things such as age and activity level are considered.

For example, senior pet foods take into account that these pets are not going to be as active as a 1 or 2-year-old so their energy (calorie) requirements will be less. A puppy, on the other hand, needs more calories in the growing phase of their life so their energy requirements will greater than those of an adult dog.

The label recommendations on the can or bag are meant to be used as guidelines. This means they are a good place to start but your pet may need a little more or a little less based on the factors listed above. The good news is that there are easy to use calculators that you can find online that will help you determine the ideal amount of food you should be feeding based on your individual pet’s needs. For an example of one, click here. You will need to know your pets weight (or ideal weight if you are trying to promote weight loss) and the calories per serving in the diet you are feeding.

This can all seem very daunting but remember, if you have ANY questions about what you are feeding your furry family members or how much you should be feeding, your veterinarian is a great resource. Don’t be afraid to ask to ask for their advice!

Tags: Ask the Vet, Diet, Dogs, Health, Pet advice, Pet Food, Pets, Tips, Weight
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