We live in an age of almost instantaneous information. 24-hour news stations, talk radio, and the Internet have revolutionized the way we think and educate ourselves. It is easier than ever to research a topic and make decisions about almost any subject, even the medical care of our families and our pets. But how do we decide what is the best advice on caring for our four legged family members?
For most pet owners their veterinarian is their primary source for advice. In fact, veterinarians consistently rank in the Top 5 of America’s most trusted professions. Despite these warm feelings of trust, the urge and desire to save money on our pet’s care is a big factor in who pet owners will turn to for advice. One example would be the increase in chat rooms, blogs, and other media sources that highlight pet “experts” other than veterinarians. Anyone can post information on the Web. There is no requirement that the person actually be an expert. And while much valuable information can be found, there is also much that is inaccurate or just plain incorrect or dangerous.
When it comes to understanding how all aspects of a pet’s environment, genetics, physical health, and even mental and emotional health are related, your family veterinarian, with his or her years of intensive post-graduate training in medicine and surgery, is still the best choice to provide you with the answers you need. Veterinarians have either a D.V.M. or a V.M.D. degree. This Doctor of Veterinary Medicine designation is your assurance of proper training and the completion of a university accredited curriculum. Just like your doctor, some veterinarians become specialists, focusing on internal medicine, dermatology, or even family practice.
Knowing this, a good place to start to find accurate and up-to-date information on animal health care, is your veterinarian’s web site. Most veterinary sites have links to pre-approved veterinary medical sites, such as www.veterinarypartner.com or sites associated with the nearest veterinary teaching hospital. The best part about visiting your family veterinarian’s web site is the comfort of knowing it comes from your pet’s doctor – who knows your pet and your family best.
Other trustworthy sites might include the website for the Companion Animal Parasite Council (www.petsandparasites.com), the kennel club website (www.akc.org) and even some manufacturers (www.merial.com). The huge pipeline of information that is the Internet is an incredible resource at your fingertips. But frankly it should come with a warning label – “Caution, the information you receive or the products you buy may or may not be correct. For the health care of your special pet friend you, your veterinarian and your pet are the best team to ensure your pet lives a long and healthy life.
Why You Should Not Order Your Pet’s Meds from an Internet Source, Including Those Advertised on T.V.
Major manufacturers of veterinary pharmaceuticals do not supply medications to internet pharmacies.
There is no regulatory agency overseeing internet pharmacies.
Therefore, manufacturers will not guarantee a medication or cover any medication failure or adverse reaction if the product came from an internet source.
Internet pharmacies may get their supply from illicit sources within the US. Some come from overseas where the product may, or may not be equivalent.
The FDA did a study where it took pharmaceutical drugs shipped into the US and sent them to a laboratory for analysis. Only 10 % met FDA standards.
80% of Canadian pharmacies are not actually located in Canada.
Counterfeit medications are a large issue in other countries and the problem is seeping into the US.
The EPA had a warning about counterfeit, name brand flea medicine sold on the internet.
When medication is counterfeited, they also counterfeit the packaging.
Ordering medicines from an internet source is a potentially dangerous and expensive way to obtain medications.
Your home is a haven and a place of safety for you and for your pet. But, inside every house are poisons, dangers, and hazards that can injure your dog or cat. Here are some helpful tips to help keep your pet safe and out of the emergency room!
According to consultants at PetProTech pet safety products, most pet emergencies result from ingestion of toxins, ingestion of non-digestible materials leading to intestinal blockages, and accidents causing fractures or soft tissue trauma. The ASPCA Poison Control Center urges pet owners to search every room of the home and try to look at it from a toddler’s perspective. If the toddler can reach it, so can the new puppy or kitten.
Puppies chew to help explore their world as well as relieve stresses. Remember that puppies will often view anything on the floor as fair game. It is important to pick up potential hazards such as batteries, tobacco products, coins, and many household plants. Although new kittens are not prone to chew like puppies, houseplants, especially in the lily family, can be extremely poisonous to cats. To keep your kittens safe, keep dangerous plants out of reach, or, better yet, outside. For both types of pets, it is extremely important to put away all medications, both yours and theirs. A single acetaminophen caplet can kill an adult cat and many dogs will eagerly over consume the beef flavored pain relieving drugs created for them, leading to potential stomach ulcers, bleeding, or kidney damage.
Trash cans and garbage bags are often irresistible to both dogs and cats. The aroma of foods and other apparently “delicious” items is often too much for even a well trained pet. To the pet, getting into the garbage is its own reward when tasty leftovers and treats can be found. Keep food scraps, especially cooked bones, in a secure container, preferably behind a locked or child-proof door. Simply placing the trash can up on a counter will not always assure safety. Besides making a mess, garbage can raiding can lead to stomach upsets, vomiting, diarrhea, or even obstructions and perforations of the intestinal tract.
During the holidays, many people become soft-hearted and give “just one treat” to the begging pet. Unfortunately, too many treats, or the wrong types, can cause severe stomach upsets and may lead to an emergency visit to the veterinarian. Bones, fatty foods, onions, and alcoholic beverages should not be on your pet’s holiday menu. Thanksgiving can be especially difficult and many emergency rooms report higher than normal number of pancreatitis cases and intestinal blockages during this time. Chocolates, especially dark or baking chocolates, should never be given to pets. Even seemingly harmless treats, such as grapes or raisins, have caused deadly kidney damage to dogs. Ask your guests to honor your holiday wish and restrain from giving holiday food to your pet.
Other holiday dangers can include ingestion of mistletoe, holly, or the water from the live Christmas tree. All of these have the potential to make your pet seriously ill. If your cat is very inquisitive, it may be necessary to keep the tree behind a closed door. The tree’s decorations are also a potential for causing an emergency visit due to ingestion or lacerations from broken ornaments.
Read the labels of insecticides well to insure that your pets will not be harmed by their use. Place rat, mouse, or ant traps and poisons in locations unlikely to be found by your pet. Pet safety experts say that granular pesticides are much safer than pellet pesticides because the pet is less likely to eat the granules. Anti-freeze is a well-known poison to pets, but other garage items, such as gasoline, oils, and fertilizers can be dangerous as well. Keep these items out of pet’s reach and wipe up all spills as they happen.
The number of items in our homes that can hurt a dog or cat are just as numerous as items that can harm a child. Being proactive and preventing the pet from eating the wrong item or getting into a situation that can harm him or her is the best way to avoid injuries. If you suspect your pet has ingested something toxic or potentially been injured by a household object, contact us immediately. For more ideas on how to pet proof your home, please contact us.
Christmas time advertisements often picture a happy family with a bright eyed, ribbon adorned puppy licking the children’s faces. But, is giving a pet as a gift likely to create a winter wonderland or a potential blue Christmas?
It may be an honored and even adorable holiday tradition, but animal experts and animal lovers alike all agree that puppies and kittens should not make an ideal gift for the season.
Although giving a pet as a present is often portrayed in movies, art, and literature as a thoughtful, even romantic gesture, groups such as the Humane Society of the United States and even many veterinarians point out a variety of reasons why animals do not make good gifts.
Animal behaviorists point out that a crucial socialization period for puppies and kittens often happens between seven and twelve weeks of age. Fears and avoidance behavior learned at this time can be difficult to overcome. It is easy to see that the chaos of holiday noise, seldom seen relatives, and even, irregular hours for the family could potentially be a scary situation for a new puppy recently removed from his familiar mom and siblings.
Besides the effects on the pet, animal experts point out that the Christmas season provides many other detriments to giving a puppy or kitten as a gift. Limited hours by many veterinarians, weather related concerns, and even the short attention span of some children can all have a negative effect on the pet and its relationship with the family. Statistics quoted by humane groups show that a large percentage of holiday pets will not live to see a second Christmas.
Choosing to give a pet as a holiday gift is a tradition that many animal groups would like to see disappear.
Ask your family veterinarian to talk about what he or she has found inside the stomachs of dogs and you will be in for an afternoon of stories. For a variety of reasons, our canine pets seem to enjoy gobbling up the oddest things! Recently, a leading manufacturer of veterinary x-ray products held a contest to find the oddest objects. Some of the winners included another Labrador with 14 golf balls in his stomach, a Boxer with 208 rocks of various sizes, a Pit Bull puppy who swallowed an 11 inch steak knife, and a Pug with expensive taste. The 7-month old pup had swallowed his owner’s 2-carat diamond ring! The winner of the dog category though went to the Samoyed who had 8 batteries of differing sizes, from a “D” cell all the way down to AAA, a plastic raccoon, 7 rocks, a marble, 2 broken light bulbs, machine parts, and a variety of staples. Many of these pictures can be seen below.
Most amazingly, from the follow up reports, everyone of these pets has done fine and most left their veterinarian’s hospital the next day wagging their tails and anxious to head home.
What perplexes many owners, and many veterinarians, is why the dogs are eating these objects in the first place. Some items can be obvious, for example, pieces of glass from a broken spaghetti sauce jar could easily end up in the abdomen of a dog hurrying to finish off the tasty treat. Others, such as the sticks and rocks, are less obvious as to why they were eaten and even more curious is how many of these dogs swallow items without damaging themselves and why they continue the habit.
Keeping the voracious dog from eating all manner of things can be a challenge in itself as well. To keep your pet from making an emergency trip to the animal hospital, veterinarians recommend the following:
Keep all garbage behind a secure door or cabinet.
Use baby gates or closed doors to create “off-limits” areas for your dog.
Monitor your dog while walking. Many pets will find irresistible treats, such as corn cobs and walnuts, while enjoying the day in the park.
Being proactive and picking up leftover food, utensils, and other items after eating can help to curb the dog’s desire as well.
While some of the pictures in this article are amusing and the stories have all ended happily, it is important to remember that these pets underwent painful surgeries. Their owners likely suffered anguish and worry as their dogs were at the veterinary hospital and the retrieval of these items likely cost more than $1000 at each occurrence.
According to a survey of pet owners by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), more than 53% of dog and cats will travel with their owners. With the upcoming busy travel season, what are the best ways of traveling with your best friend?
It has been said that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. For pet owners preparing to travel by plane or car, a few ounces of preparation and time will prevent future heartaches and frustrations on the trip. First, make sure that your pet has proper identification on him or her at all times. This can be something as simple as an ID tag on his collar, but a more permanent solution would be the use of an implantable microchip. Next, make sure you have copies of vaccination records and needed medications easily accessible during the trip. You might even ask your family veterinarian for a recommendation of an emergency hospital near your destination. And finally, do your homework. Some airlines and travel sites may require a health certificate for your pet. This document must be dated within 10 days of the start of your travels.
For pets who will be flying with their owners, good communication with the airlines is a must. In all cases, your four legged friend needs to be over 8 weeks old and weaned for at least 5 days. Most airlines will require the above mentioned health certificate and all recommend arriving at the airport early to insure the smooth check-in of your pet. Kennels that will be checked into the cargo area must be non-collapsible, large enough to allow the pet to stand and have a leak-proof bottom covered with absorbent material. Be sure to check the weather at home and at your destination. Some specific breeds and individual pets may not do well, especially during the warmer temperatures of summer. Airlines may refuse to transport pets if the temperature exceeds 85 degrees in the cargo hold or is less than 45 degrees anywhere along the itinerary. American Airlines, for example, requires a veterinarian’s statement that the pet is acclimated to cold weather if the temperature drops below 45 degrees.
Many owners are very worried about the safety of their pets in flight and during boarding procedures. According to the website, www.dryfur.com, the majority of accidents and injuries that happen to pets are the result of poor quality carriers or kennels that are missing pieces. Again, a few moments of preparation by the owner can avoid a loss or death of their pet. And for those owners who have contemplated sedation for their pets, the answer is a resounding NO! The AVMA, and the American Humane Association both agree empathically that sedation during flight is a risk pet owners should not take.
Traveling by car may be less complex than air travel, but due to the longer time frames, owners need to plan rest stops and exercise times for their animal companions. The AVMA recommends that you keep a jug of fresh water in the car to avoid times when reliable water sources may not be available. Pets will travel better with small amounts of food and water in their system frequently rather than allowing the pet to eat his or her normal ration. Cats should be kept in carriers or cages during travel to avoid potential accidents if the pet gets “underfoot” of the driver.
When you reach your destination, be sure that you are aware of pet-friendly hotels and campsites in the area. Also, veterinary and animal experts recommend owners to be “considerate” and have a kennel or crate available. There are many sites online that can help you find lodging that allow pets. At www.petswelcome.com, over 25,000 hotels and other locations that allow pets are listed. For owners who will be camping with their dogs, veterinarians recommend the application of a topical flea and tick preventative to help avoid bringing home any unwanted guests.
So, as the busy travel season gets underway, remember that many problems and potential injuries can easily be avoided with a little bit of preparation and homework.
Winter is a time of cold weather festivals, holiday parties, and changing weather. For pets and pet owners, this season can bring its own unique set of challenges and hazards. Keeping your pet safe during this time of year will require some preparation and homework.
Family gatherings and get togethers can be a potential trial for pet owners. With so many strangers and so much food, many pets will take advantage of this situation to the fullest. Be sure to tell your party guests to avoid feeding the four-legged vacuum cleaner. Many of the traditional holiday foods can possibly be dangerous or even deadly to your pet. If your dog or cat will not behave, you may have to relegate them to their room for the duration of the festivity.
Holiday plants, such as mistletoe and holly, have been known to cause severe stomach upset to dogs and lilies of any sort are almost certainly deadly to cats. Artificial decorations pose their own threats. Glass ornaments can cut, electric cords can burn if chewed upon, and the traditional strands of tinsel often end up causing an obstruction in the belly of a cat.
Outside, the situation might actually worsen. A very common poisoning during the winter months is car antifreeze. Antifreeze has a very sweet taste and most dogs and cats will readily consume it. If you suspect your pet of drinking antifreeze, you must act immediately and contact your veterinarian or local animal emergency hospital.
The colder temperatures can be rough on older pets, especially those with arthritis. Bring outdoor pets inside.
Pets and people can enjoy the beauty that winter has to offer, but it always pays to be prepared.