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Protect Your Pet from Painful Paw Pad Burns

Protect Your Pet from Painful Paw Pad Burns

Have you ever tried to walk across the beach barefoot on a very hot day? After the first few steps, you probably set a new speed record as you sprinted to the water, or maybe you gave in and put on your sandals before taking another step. Your pet experiences the same reaction during summer walks on the sidewalk or road. Despite the common belief that paw pads provide the ultimate protection for your furry friend, your pet’s feet are vulnerable.

Your Pet’s Built-In Shoes

Paw pads protect your pet’s feet just as your shoes protect your feet. They provide traction and act as shock absorbers when your pet jumps and runs. Walking over sticks and rocks isn’t uncomfortable for your dog or cat because the pads distribute weight very effectively over the entire surface of the pad, minimizing discomfort. Although your pet’s paws are very tough, they can be injured by sharp objects or exposure to hot or cold temperatures.

It’s Hotter Than You Think

Concrete and asphalt heat up quickly. On average, these surfaces are 40 to 50 degrees higher than the air temperature. On a 90-degree-day, the temperature of the sidewalk may reach a sizzling 130 degrees. Concrete and asphalt tend to retain heat for hours. Even when temperatures start to drop, it’s still may not be safe to walk your pet. Although both dogs and cats can experience pad burns, the problem is more common in dogs, as most cats don’t spend time going for walks on a leash.

Not Just Pavement

Burns can also occur when your dog walks on the sand or is exposed to hot metal or other hot surfaces on a car or truck. Even riding in the seat of a car that’s been sitting in the sun for hours can cause burns.

Take the Test

One simple test makes it easy to determine if it’s too hot to take your dog for a walk. Place your hand on the concrete and asphalt for at least 10 seconds. If you find it hard to keep your hand on the pavement, it’s best to skip the walk or delay it.

Pay Attention to Your Dog’s Behavior

Dogs want to please their owners and may continue to walk even if they are very uncomfortable. When the street or on the sidewalk is just too hot, your dog may:

  • Hop from foot to foot to limit contact with the pavement
  • Head toward the grassy area between the street and sidewalk
  • Refuse to continue walking after touching a hot surface

Signs of a Burn

If your dog experiences a burn, you may notice:

  • White spots or blisters on the paws
  • Redness or darkening of the pads
  • Chewing or licking the paws
  • A missing part of the pad
  • Limping

How to Prevent Burns and Overheating

Avoiding walking your dog on concrete, asphalt or other hot surfaces is the best way to prevent burns, but there are a few other things you can do to prevent burns and overheating. These tips will help your pet stay safe when the temperatures soar:

  • Walk your dog on concrete when temperatures are cooler to build up calluses. Calluses provide a little extra protection from temperature extremes.
  • Take walks on grassy surfaces when the pavement is too hot.
  • Bring your pet inside when the heat and humidity rises to unsafe levels. Turn on the air-conditioning or use plenty of fans on hot, humid days to prevent heat stroke.
  • Offer plenty of water on hot days.
  • Don’t leave your pet in the car. The temperature in a vehicle can become dangerously high in as little as 10 minutes, even if you keep the car window slightly open.
  • Turn on the air-conditioning in your vehicle and let it run for several minutes before you or your pets enter.
  • Place a blanket or towel on hot car seats to protect your pet from burns.
  • Buy dog booties or socks to protect your pet’s feet if walking on asphalt or cement is unavoidable.

What to Do if Your Pet Experiences a Burn

Use cool water to clean off the pads and apply an antibacterial cream or ointment. Place gauze or a bandage over the burns and make an appointment with your pet’s veterinarian as soon as possible. If you’re concerned that your pet may have experienced paw pad burns, or it’s time for your furry friend’s checkup, give us a call. We’re committed to providing excellent healthcare for your pets.

Sources:

PetMD: If You Can’t Stand the Heat, 07/28/11

http://www.petmd.com/blogs/fullyvetted/2011/july/burnt_pad_denial_in_dogs-11436

Pet Sitters: How Hot is That Sidewalk?

http://www.petsitters.org/docs/How%20Hot%20is%20That%20Sidewalk.pdf

American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation: Keeping Dogs’ Paws Healthy, 11/19/12

http://www.akcchf.org/canine-health/your-dogs-health/caring-for-your-dog/keeping-dogs-paws-healthy.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/

At Risk for Rat Bite Fever?

At Risk for Rat Bite Fever?

Rats have made numerous appearances on the screen and the page as you’ve watched theater movies with your children, read popular children’s books or relaxed while checking out family films with your home’s technology system.

Movies have made the rodents popular in the world of children. Popular children’s books and stories have increased interest about the rodents. Their new popularity has increased their presence in the lives – and homes – of children. The Harry Potter movies and Disney’s Ratatouille are examples.

The focus in movies, videos and stories is about fun, interest and delight in these small creatures. They do not tell about the risks of rats in the lives of children. Those risks could put your child in harm’s way or cause injury.

Rat bite fever (RBF) is a risk. RBF is an infection that a person can receive from a rat’s kiss or small scratch. There is often no malice involved in RBF, just fun playtime and gentle holding of the pet. Even healthy rats can carry the bacteria that causes the infection. The infection spreads through direct contact with the rat’s mucous membranes.

The infection is a full body infection and doctors consider it a systemic infection because it does not remain in only the area of the kiss, scratch, scrape or bite. The infection needs to be treated and without treatment can be life threatening.

“Diagnosing the disease remains very difficult,” says Montreal pediatrician Karine Khatchadourian in The Rise of the Rats: A Growing Paediatric Issue. “It can easily be confused with various viral or bacterial infections such as meningococcemia, Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever.”

Dr. Khatchadourian advised that children treated all had a wide range of symptoms such as high fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, severe headaches, diarrhea, stiffness and pain in the neck, wrists, hips, knees, as well as hemorrhagic pustules on the hands and feet. After diagnosis was effectively made the children were cured with a simple penicillin treatment.

When you think you want to indulge your family and incorporate a rat into your household as a new pet remember to talk with your veterinarian for guidance. Your veterinarian will be able to provide pros and cons of this rodent as a family pet. Your vet can also help you talk with your pediatrician about the benefits and risks a rat could present to children living in or visiting your home.

Calcium is Not Always Good

Calcium is Not Always Good

When examining a blood panel, a veterinarian may report to the owner that a pet has hypercalcemia, which is an elevated level of calcium in the blood. The owner often then wonders if there is too much calcium in the pet’s food or in the vitamins or supplements the pet is taking.

Ingesting calcium in food or canine nutritional supplements will not cause an excessive blood level. There are some diseases, though, that can cause hypercalcemia. The first thing your veterinarian will do though is to repeat the calcium test as sometimes there are false positive tests. If the second test is normal, the pet does not have a problem.

The most common cause of a high calcium level is cancer. In about half of the cases of hypercalcemia in dogs the cause is lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system. Lymphoma most often causes lymph nodes to swell, but it may localize in the liver, intestine, spleen, heart, brain, spinal cord, or kidneys. Tumors of the anal glands, and less frequently, other tumors, can also cause high calcium levels. Blood tests can determine if the calcium problem is due to cancer.

Disease of one or more of the small parathyroid glands in the neck can cause hypercalcemia. A small benign tumor on a parathyroid gland can cause too much hormone to be produced, which then causes the calcium level to be too high. It is possible for a skilled professional to find these small masses on an ultrasound.

About one-third of Addison’s Disease cases have high calcium levels. Addison’s is a disease where too little cortisol is produced. These dogs usually act sick, with weakness, vomiting, and diarrhea often seen.

Excessive Vitamin D or similar compounds can cause a high level of calcium. These can be found in human vitamin supplements, some rat baits, and psoriasis medication made for people. Dovonex and Taclonex are brand names for prescription psoriasis creams that are especially dangerous to pets as even a small amount can cause death in pets when ingested.

Why Do We Care if the Calcium is High?

It can be very dangerous as it can cause mineralization of blood vessels, the stomach lining, and the kidneys. The kidney disease can be so severe it leads to failure.

Your veterinarian will do blood tests, and possibly chest x-rays and an abdominal ultrasound to determine the cause of the high calcium. Treatment will be directed at the underlying cause. If lymphoma is the cause, chemotherapy may be started which should lower the calcium level. If there is an anal gland tumor, surgery is indicated. Addison’s Disease is treated by supplementing the hormone that is low; this may be by a daily pill or by an injection that is given every 25 days.

If the high calcium persists, or an underlying cause cannot be found, the general treatment for hypercalcemia is hospitalization with intravenous saline fluid, Lasix, and sometimes steroids.

The prognosis for hypercalcemia depends on the severity of the underlying cause. Addison’s Disease can usually be well controlled. Lymphoma dogs respond to aggressive chemotherapy for an average of one to two years. If an anal gland tumor can be caught very early, surgery may be curative. Your veterinarian will investigate and determine the cause of the high calcium and discuss the prognosis and treatment plan with you.

Sources:

“Hypercalcemia Diagnosis in Dogs”. Pacific Tide Newsletter, Vol 10, Issue1, Oct 2012

Pet Poison Helpline, http://www.petpoisonhelpline.com

Can PBDEs Harm Your Pet?

Can PBDEs Harm Your Pet?

The Environmental Protection Agency indicates that polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) have a negative impact on your health and environment. These chemicals in your home environment may be causing harm to your pet without your knowledge.

In the body, PBDEs are found in breast milk, blood and the blood of umbilical cords. These chemical compounds persist in the environment and accumulate in wild animals. They are thought to cause brain damage, birth defects, and contribute to disease of the liver and thyroid.

PBDE chemical compounds are used as flame retardants in industries that produce electronics, furniture and foam. These products have a propensity of giving off airborne particles that build up in your home’s dust. Seventeen pet dogs who live primarily indoors participated in an analysis at Indiana University. The analysis found their PBDE concentration levels to be five to 10 times higher than that of humans.

“In the U.S., we the have highest levels of flame retardants in our dust and in our bodies,” indicates Arelene Blum, Executive Director of the Green Science Policy Institute. Pollution in People asserts that these toxic PBDE industrial chemicals have been used for more than 30 years in the manufacturing of mattresses, furniture and consumer-used electronic plastics.

Household furniture is frequently produced with flame retardant chemicals and materials before it is shipped to consumers. Furniture that is made with organic cotton stuffing or wool padding will be free of the hazards of PBDE. This means when shopping for sofas, loveseats, easy chairs, mattresses and other furniture with seat, arm or back padding, it will be important to ask the contents. Ask if flame retardants are used and if there are alternate choices. Request that organic cotton or wool padding be provided as a condition of your purchase. The use of flame retardant materials varies from state to state. Its use will depend on governmental laws and regulations that are in effect.

It is estimated that approximately five percent of the weight of the petroleum-based fill known as polyurethane foam is flame retardant chemicals. Polyurethane foam is used in nearly all sofas, easy chairs, loveseats and mattresses manufactured.

“PBDEs are an important, but generally unrecognized, persistent organic pollutant,” advised Robert C. Hale in Nature. Hale is a professor at the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences. Persistent organic pollutants can remain in our environment for many years without breaking down. Body fat in animals and humans become the storage zones for these pollutants.

”There is an enormous need to act quickly when there is a problem with a chemical that is not only toxic but is persistent and accumulates,” says Gina Solomon, Natural Resources Defense Council senior scientist.

Talk with your veterinarian about the impact of these industrial chemicals on your pet’s health and wellness. Your veterinarian will guide you in reducing the negative impact on your pet’s health.

Sources:

Environmental Protection Agency.

Green Science Policy Institute.

Hale, Robert. Nature.

Main, Emily. Flame retardant furniture: Unhealthy, and doesn’t stop fires.

Natural Resources Defense Council.

Pollution in People.

Practically Green.

Dangers of Rodent Bait

Dangers of Rodent Bait

There are several general classifications of rodent poison (rodenticide) available over the counter. The most common is one that prevents blood clotting called an anticoagulant; D- con being the most easily recognized in light of the recent bans on second generation anticoagulant rodenticides.

Anticoagulant rodenticides can come in many forms from liquid, to pellets, to blocks. They are made to be palatable, thus the increase in risk to pets. When they are ingested the active ingredient is absorbed and begins blocking Vitamin K. Vitamin K is not a vitamin in the traditional sense, instead it is a molecule used by the blood during the clotting process.

Poisoning Symptoms

Unfortunately, signs of sickness begin days after ingestion. Usually signs start with weakness, tiredness and then progress to coughing. Nearly 100% of cases of anticoagulant poisonings start with bleeding into the lungs.

Treatment for Poisonings

Treatment of these anticoagulant poisonings often lags behind the initial poisoning resulting in dramatically reduced survival rates. This is often because pets do not act sick after ingesting the poison and therefore owners either are unaware it happened or believe the pet will be fine.

Treatment of these poisonings depends on how soon the pet is brought in for treatment as well as the severity of that pet’s illness. The prognosis and survival rate is dependent on early recognition of signs and treatment.

If an owner is aware that their pet ate the poison, vomiting can be induced to remove as much of the poison as possible and the pet can be started on a Vitamin K supplement until all the poison leaves the body. This reduces the risk of bleeding and the pet has an excellent prognosis with appropriate monitoring.

If a pet is already suspected to be suffering from the signs of poisoning and is bleeding into its lungs or other tissues the treatment is very different. Diagnosis is usually through a blood test that determines how long it takes for the pet’s blood to clot – these times are longer in poisoned pets. Xrays can show how severe the bleeding is into the lungs as well, providing more information for prognosis. The pet is started on Vitamin K and will often need a plasma or whole blood transfusion. The transfusion is important not only to replenish blood volume but also provides the pet with the blood clotting factors the poison is blocking.

Prevention

As with most poisons, owner awareness is critical to saving the life of the pet. Knowing what poisons are on the property and ensuring that pets do not have access is the first step in prevention of poisonings. Then, making sure to check those poisons regularly so if it is ingested, early treatment can be started.

Hidden Dangers of Over-the-Counter Medications

Hidden Dangers of Over-the-Counter Medications

There are many medications available over the counter (OTC) at pharmacies and grocery stores that we consider to be safe, their use to be routine. We don’t think twice about picking up medications to help with pain or flu symptoms. What many people don’t consider is that these same medications can be very dangerous and even fatal for our pets.

As mammals, humans, dogs, and cats metabolize many medications the same way. Your veterinarian will often prescribe medications that were developed for people for use in your pet. However, there are several classes of medications that don’t work the same way for humans as they do for our pets.

NSAIDs

The most common class of medications that is very dangerous and easily fatal for pets are non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs). These medications are what people think of as OTC pain relievers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), naproxen (Aleve), ibuprofen (Advil) and many others.

We see commercials for them all the time that exclaim how effective and safe they are for everyday use. Because of this, owners feel that they must be helping their pets by giving them these medications for injuries and arthritis.

Unfortunately, in dogs and cats, these medications are not metabolized the same way, and, in our pets, toxic chemicals are created in the body. These toxic chemicals can cause kidney failure, liver failure, stomach ulcers, and even keep the blood from being able to carry oxygen.

With known ingestion, it is important to get your pet to the vet immediately. If too much time has passed and the pet has absorbed the medications or is already showing signs of poisoning, very aggressive therapy is needed and is not always successful.

Because human NSAIDs cannot be used for pain management in pets, animal pharmaceutical companies have been successful in developing very effective NSAIDs for dogs and cats that have a lower risk of side effects. These medications are available from any veterinarian.

As with any medication, prescription or OTC, it is important to discuss with your veterinarian what medication you want to give your pet and possible side effects to be aware of.