Our pets are beloved members of our family and it can be heartbreaking to see them unwell. Unfortunately, there are some illnesses that pets are unable to recover from. In the case of terminal illness and/or debilitating pain or suffering, one of the kindest things that we can do for them is to relieve them of that burden by making the difficult decision to put them to sleep.
How do I know if it is the right time to consider euthanasia?
Your veterinarian is the best person to advise you when it is time to consider euthanizing your pet. However there are also some signs and symptoms that your pet is no longer experiencing a good quality of life, and if you notice these then it would be advisable to contact your veterinarian to determine if euthanasia would be the most humane course of action. These signs include:
Chronic labored breathing, breathlessness and/or coughing
Chronic pain that cannot be controlled by medication (your veterinarian can advise if this is the case)
Frequent diarrhea and/or vomiting that leads to dehydration or severe weight loss
Inability to stand or move around
Disinterest in food or eating
Incontinent to the stage where they are frequently soiling themselves
No interest in communication with family members, treats, games, or other previously enjoyed activity
Zest for life is non-existent
Euthanasia has the small benefit of allowing family members the time to say their final goodbyes to your pet. This is an emotional time and giving them the opportunity for final displays of love and affection with their pets will help ease them into the grieving process. It is especially important to prepare young children as this may be their first experience of bereavement.
Many veterinarians will allow you to be present during the euthanasia procedure so that you can comfort your pet as they enter their final journey. This is a personal decision, but it is recommended that young children are not present during this time.
When a person or animal is unwell, external symptoms and blood test results may only tell a small part of the story. Advances in medical technology mean that it is now possible to see what is actually happening inside you, and one of these procedures is known as an endoscopy.
An endoscopy can be used to view and analyze many parts of a horse including the upper respiratory tract, and parts of the gastrointestinal, reproductive and urinary tracts. This helps veterinarians to make an accurate diagnosis and recommendation for treatment for a wide range of health problems.
Types of endoscopy
There are two main types of endoscopy available in the equine veterinary field. These are:
This is the most common type of endoscope used for investigative surgery in horses. The endoscope is made up of a bunch of optical fibers that are enclosed within a waterproof rubber tube. The tube is passed into the horse’s body either through a natural body cavity or a surgical incision. The area is illuminated by a light source that passes through the fiber optics and then examined using an eyepiece that is attached to the external end of the fiber-optic cable.
This more advanced version of the endoscope has a tiny microchip video camera on the end of the scope which relays live feedback to a television screen in the room. This means that multiple people can view the feed, and it can be recorded and played back at a later time.
How to Adopt a New Pet
A new pet can be very exciting! But do you know where to find the pet that's right for you? Choosing which pet you'd like can be hard, and not just because you have to choose between one kitten or puppy and another.
We've got the tips to help you make the right decision — for you, and for the animal.
Things to keep in mind
Deciding to adopt a new animal is a big decision and one that shouldn't be made impulsively. Pets need to be cared for and loved like any other member of the family, and that takes time, effort, and money. Do you have a yard large enough for a goat to live comfortably? Do you have time more than once per day every single day to walk your dog? Do you have enough money to buy fresh litter for your cat regularly?
Only adopt an animal if you feel confident in your ability to care for them. This includes being able to care for animals you buy for your kids. By their nature, children will want to participate in all the fun parts and have trouble consistently remembering or even wanting to do the dirty work. If you won't be able to care for the animal when your kids can't, that leaves the pet as the one that's hurt or neglected.
But we understand that sometimes things change! If you can no longer care for your animal, contact the shelter or organization you adopted the animal from, or feel free to come in and talk to us about potential options. Please, never abandon your pet!
Basic Pet Bird Care
They may not be as common as dogs and cats, but birds make very interesting and rewarding pets. As with any animal, as a conscientious and compassionate owner, it is your responsibility to make sure you are covering all aspects of your bird’s care, from her environment and nutrition to her grooming. Whether this is your first bird, or you are a more experienced aviary owner, there is always something new to learn or to refresh your memory about.
To help you give your feathered friend the best life possible, here is our brief guide to basic pet bird care.
It goes without saying that your bird will need to live predominantly in a cage. However, as with most pets, it is important that you provide her with as much space as possible. This means buying the biggest cage you can afford and have space for. She should be able to flap her wings without hitting any of the sides and there should be at least 2/3 perches for her to fly between. There also needs to be room for plenty of toys and water and food dishes.
Choose a cage that has bars that are too close together for her to get her head stuck between them and opt for one with a powder-coated finish since these are easier to clean and shouldn’t rust. Ensure it is secure and can be locked. Place her new habitat in a bright area of your home or yard, but not in direct sunlight.
You should line the bottom of the cage with newspapers, paper towels or other plain cage line paper. These are the most sterile and are the easiest to remove on a daily basis when cleaning out her cage. Substrates like sand or wood chippings easily grow fungus and bacteria, which could lead to your bird becoming sick.
A proper diet is essential for all species of animal including birds. The easiest way to feed your feathered pal is to use commercially formulated diets created specifically for pet birds. This ensures that she will get all of the nutrition she needs from one meal, rather than you trying to choose and balance foods.
Did you know that despite doing all we can to keep our animals safe, approximately one in three pets in the United States will become lost at some point during their lifetime? This is a scenario that no caring and the committed owner wants to think about, but by understanding that it is something that could happen, we can take prepare for the eventuality. One of the best ways of doing this is by microchipping your pet.
Why should I microchip my pet?
Many owners are quite content with using collars and tags as identification for their beloved animal. While microchipping isn’t intended to replace this traditional and highly successful practice, it can complement it. Microchips are placed under your pet’s skin and, at the same size as a grain of rice, they are impossible to locate precisely once they have been inserted. This makes them tamper-proof and accident-proof. While conventional tags and collars can be removed by thieves or can fall off, microchipping is permanent.
Studies have shown that microchipping is also a much more effective and efficient way of reuniting pets with their owners and animals who are microchipped are significantly more likely to make it back home. Since many animals look alike, ownership disputes are a fairly common occurrence in neighborhoods where there are a number of pets of the same type and breed. However, microchipping can also prove invaluable when it comes to proving who the rightful owner of your pet is. Although having your details on the chip is not proof of ownership, disputes nearly always go the way of the person who registered with the microchip provider.
Best flea treatments for dogs and cats
As pet owners you will know that unfortunately, fleas are an extremely common and annoying occurrence and it is important to treat your dogs and cats for worms and fleas on a regular basis. However, with 95% of flea and egg larvae living in your environment rather than on your pet, it is equally if not more important to treat your home too, otherwise the infestation will return time and time again.
How do I know if my pet has fleas?
It is not uncommon to be able to spot fleas jumping off and on your pet’s body, but they are very small and very fast. They are flat-bodied, dark brown or black in color (unless they are full of blood in which case they can be lighter) and usually less than an eighth of an inch big. However, typical behavioral symptoms include restlessness, and chewing, scratching or licking certain parts of his body more often than usual. If you suspect that your dog or cat has fleas, you can check his skin and coat for signs of them or ‘flea dirt’ which looks like regular dirt but is actually flea faeces. If you aren’t sure if it is actual dirt rather than flea dirt, put some on a paper towel and add some water. If it is flea dirt, then it will turn a reddish brown as it will contain blood that the flea has ingested and then excreted.
Finding the right treatment
With so many different flea treatments available on the market, finding the right one can be tricky. We have put together this list of some of the best and most effective flea treatments for dogs and cats to get you started, but discovering which works best for you and your pets may require some trial and error.
Frontline® Flea Spray for Dogs and Cats
Frontline® sprays do not contain the potentially toxic insecticides found in many pet store sprays, and this one is a one-stop-shop for any household that has both cats and dogs. It is also safe to use if you have kittens or puppies in your property, and is water-resistant so it is still effective even if you like in an area with a high rainfall.
Frontline® Plus for Dogs and Cats
A topical version of Frontline®, this formula will repel fleas and other pests at all life stages for a full 30 days. This helps to prevent re-infestation and keep your home clear of fleas for a month at a time. Like other Frontline® products, it is free of potentially harmful insecticides and water-resistant.
Dental Hygiene and Oral Care
Don't ignore your pet's bad breath! Dental hygiene is often the cause of stinky breath, and it may indicate other important problems with your pet's health. We understand how easy it is to miss. Many of the problems that stem from poor hygiene occur where you can't see them - below your pet's gum line.
The first line of defense is always home care. But while some animals (especially dogs) tolerate their owners handling their mouths and brushing their teeth, most (especially cats) will struggle or act out. That can always make oral care difficult at best, and ineffective at worst.
The best way to ensure your pet's oral health is to have regular cleanings at our office. Discuss how often you ought to come in as well as a home hygiene regimen with your vet. This will also prevent dental issues from progressing to larger (and potentially deadly) internal issues, such as dysfunction or disease in the heart, kidneys, liver, or lungs.
In the wild, hiding pain, illness, or other weaknesses are survival instincts. Many times, your pet will have the same instincts, even in the safety and comfort of your loving home, so always keep an eye on your pet's eating habits and behaviors. Recognizing the difference between normal changes in mood and red flags can be difficult sometimes.
What you interpret as a persistent grumpiness may actually be a sign that your pet is in pain.
New irritability, shying away from being touched (especially on the face and around the mouth or throat), sluggishness, loss of appetite or difficulty eating, and lethargy are all behavioral signs which may indicate illness.
However, if you note any of the following physical changes, contact your vet immediately:
Red and swollen gums
Bleeding gums, especially when eating or when having teeth brushed
Swelling around the mouth
Loose or missing teeth
Crusted build up at the edge of the gums
Persistent bad or fetid breath
Remember, preventing oral infections and disease will help your pet live a longer, healthier life. Furthermore, caring for your pet with regular cleanings now will save you money later. In 2013, VPI Pet Insurance priced the cost of treatment for dental diseases at more than $530 on average. Our prices for regular cleanings are much less than that!
What is Canine Parvovirus?
Also known as CPV, Canine Parvovirus is a highly contagious viral illness that can be debilitating and even fatal. It has two main forms, the more common intestinal variety, and the less common cardiac variety. Puppies aged between 6 weeks and 6 months old are most commonly affected, but early vaccinations can significantly reduce the risk of contracting CPV.
CPV is resistant to the majority of cleaning products and household bleach is the only known way to eradicate it.
What causes CPV?
The CPV virus is mainly transmitted through direct contact with an infected animal, or indirectly through contact with the stools of an infected dog which contains a heavy concentration of the virus. This contact can include inhalation as well as touch. The virus can also live in the ground for up to a year where it can be brought into contact with a dog by way of shoes.
Certain breeds of dogs are more susceptible to CPV. These are Alaskan Sled Dogs, Dobermans Pinschers, English Springer Spaniels, German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, Pitbulls, and Rottweilers. Dogs that take immunosuppressant medication or have not had adequate vaccinations are also more likely to contract CPV.
As with most contagious diseases, animal shelters and kennels are much more likely to be contaminated.
Symptoms of CPV
The intestinal variety of CPV affects an animals’ ability to absorb nutrients from their food. This means that an infected dog will rapidly become dehydrated and weak.
The primary symptoms of intestinal CPV include but are not limited to:
Anorexia / severe weight loss
Pain, particularly if the abdomen is touched
Wet tissue of eyes and mouth becomes red and inflamed
In rare cases of CPV a dog may exhibit symptoms consistent with hypothermia rather than a high fever. Cardiac CPV is extremely rare and usually only seen in very young puppies where it attacks their heart muscles. Cardiac CPV almost always results in death.
Homeopathy for Animals
What is Homeopathy?
Homeopathy is a medical philosophy and practice based on the theory that using the right natural substances, the body can heal itself. Homeopathic remedies are used by more than 200 million people around the globe to treat a wide range of conditions.
The underlying principle is that the same substance in a large dose that causes the symptoms in the first place could also cure those symptoms if administered in a small dose. The trick is in getting the symptoms to match the remedy.
Holistic medicines are derived from entirely natural substances such as minerals, plants and animal matter which stimulate the immune system and promote natural self-healing.
Is homeopathy safe for my pet?
Yes, homeopathic remedies are completely natural and safe for the majority of humans and pets alike. Your veterinarian will be able to advise you if there is any reason why homeopathy may not be suitable for your pet.
Homeopathy in animals has had so many success stories that an increasing number of veterinarians are studying, gaining qualifications and practicing the principles.
What conditions can homeopathic remedies help to treat?
Homeopathy has had proven results in an extensive range of chronic and acute conditions including:
Digestive and endocrine diseases
Fleas, skin and coat disorders
Heart and kidney diseases
Bone and joint disorders
Ears, eyes, nose and mouth problems
Immune system disorders
Mood and behavior problems
Reproductive system problems
Viruses and acute infections
Healing and recovery
Not everyone is lucky enough to live in a State with relatively consistent weather and temperatures. Just as humans change their behavior and diet with fluctuations in temperature, so do most animals. Here are our guidelines for seasonal care for your pets.
If temperatures plummet and your pet usually likes to spend most of its time outdoors try and persuade them to stay indoors in the warm instead. If circumstances mean that your pet has to be kept outdoors then take steps to ensure that they are as warm and comfortable as possible. This means providing them with a dry and draft-free shelter with plenty of extra blankets. You should also regularly check their water supply to ensure that it hasn’t frozen.
If the ground is covered with snow, ice or just extremely cold then you may want to consider animal booties. These are widely available from most pet stores.
Be prepared to see a change in your pet's eating habits. Outdoor pets tend to require extra food. They burn this extra food to help keep them warm. Indoor pets are likely to eat far less as they conserve energy by sleeping more.
Keep your pets away from antifreeze. Unfortunately, it smells and tastes delicious to dogs and cats, but even the smallest sip can be deadly. Keep pets out of garages and outbuildings and clean up any spillages as soon as they happen. Speak to your neighbors about the dangers and ask them to ensure that any antifreeze they have is securely stored and that they too clean up any spillages that may occur. If your pet acts as if they are drunk or begins to convulse then take them to a vet immediately.
Check under the hood of your car before starting the engine. Many cats like to sneak under the hood of a vehicle once you have gone inside so that they can curl up against the warm engine. If you are unable to open the hood then a firm tap on it should be sufficient to wake any sleeping cat.
Ensure that rabbit hutches are brought inside. If this isn’t possible then ensure that you put extra newspaper in for insulation. Again, check their water source to ensure that it isn’t frozen.