Heartworm Awareness Month!

April 5, 2013

April is National Heartworm Awareness Month!


How can I protect my pet and what should I know about heartworms?

–          Over 250,000 dogs in the U.S. were reported positive for heartworms last year!

–          Mosquitoes transmit immature heartworms from infected dogs, to healthy dogs.  (Even if your pet is inside-only, it is important to keep him/her on heartworm preventative.  There is no such thing as an outside-only mosquito!)

–          Heartworms live in the hearts and lungs of infected dogs and, left untreated, will be fatal.

–          Common signs of heartworm infection in dogs include coughing, difficulty breathing and sluggishness.

–          Recently infected dogs may show no signs of the disease, so it is important to test your pet for heartworms yearly and to keep him/her on a continual heartworm preventative such as Heartgard or Advantage Multi. 


Hazards of the Holidays – How To Keep Your Pets Safe

December 10, 2010

 It’s that time of year again. Admittedly, I love the holidays. I enjoy Christmas music more than most people I know. I love spending extra time with my family, the hustle and bustle of a crowded mall, giving presents, and I even love snow.

With all the extra distractions, parties and time away from home, the holidays can become a dangerous time of year for our pets. Here are some tips to keep your furry family members safe during the holiday season and all-year round.

Dangerous Foods

While table scraps of any type will most likely cause gastric upset, there are certain foods that are even more dangerous.

  • Toxic foods: raisins, chocolate (baking cocoa is the most dangerous), garlic and onions.
  • Rising bread: If consumed while still rising, the bread can continue to expand within the stomach.
  •  Meat drippings: Be very careful about where you dispose of meat drippings as the scent and flavor will often entice dogs to eat things they normally wouldn’t. Example: pouring meat drippings off the side of your deck into a decorative rock bed could result in your prized pooch eating several pounds of rocks.

Decorations and Household Dangers

Space heaters: Be aware of where you place heaters. They not only present a burn danger to pets, but pets can also knock space heaters over resulting in house fires.

Christmas Lights: Pets will often chew on strands of lights. Observe your pets carefully. Place lights in a place where pets do not have access to them, and do not leave your pets alone with the lights plugged in.

Christmas Tree Ornaments and Hooks: Tree ornaments do not make good toys. They are often small and easily eaten. Ornament frequently fall from trees and break -often leading to cuts on the paws and mouth. The hanging hooks frequently end up in the stomach and causing injury to paws.

Tree Tinsel and Ribbons: These objects are often very attractive to cats. Consuming these fabrics can result in an intestinal obstruction. Keep ribbons, strings and tinsel away from cats.

Pine Needles: Consuming pine needles can result cause intestinal obstruction.

Candles: Burn hazard especially to cats!

 Great Gift Ideas For Your Pets

 Don’t forget about your pets during gift giving time.

  • An engraved ID tag: This simple inexpensive gift could be just what’s needed to reunite you and your pet if it’s lost.
  • A microchip: A permanent identification chip can be placed under your pet’s skin. This will nearly ensure a homecoming if your pet escapes or is lost.
  • Dental chews:  Nearly all pets suffer from dental disease. This a great time to provide them with the dental chews needed to help maintain oral health.
  •  A ball or fetching toy: All pets benefit from exercise and it’s a great way to spend time with your pet.
  •  A donation to a local humane society or charitable pet organization in your pet’s name.
  • Start a savings account for your pet. The extra cash will certainly be helpful when your pet needs a dental cleaning or an unexpected surgery.

 I hope this blog finds you, your family, and your 4-legged friends healthy and happy. Enjoy this wonderful time of year!

Pet Obesity – Is Your Pet Overweight?

September 23, 2010

I’m not fat!  I’m just big boned, pleasantly plump, or maybe a little fluffy!

Call it what you want, but your pet being overweight is a BIG problem.

Is Your Pet Overweight?

Is Your Pet Overweight?

Obesity is a raging problem in our pet population. Its effects are difficult to measure because it contributes to the development of so many painful and life-shortening diseases.

Is Your Pet Overweight?

How do you tell?
Your pet should have a waist when viewed from above and the side. Additionally, you should be able to easily feel the ribs, but not see them. Still unsure, stop by and we will help you evaluate your pet’s weight.

Why is your pet overweight?
It is often a combination of many factors including eating an excess of their own dog food, stealing food from other pets in the household, access to table scraps, too many treats, and inactivity.

If your pet is overweight, the kindest gesture you can provide as a loving pet owner is to help them lose weight. This will take excess weight off of their stressed joints, helping to prevent ligament damage that often requires surgery. You pet will also experience decreased fatigue and pain from arthritic joints-allowing your them to become more active furthering the weight loss. Being overweight can also contribute to other diseases including diabetes and liver disease-especially in cats.

We often view feeding our pets and giving them treats as a sign of affection, but in excess, we will shorten their lifespan and promote the development of unnecessary diseases.

To help your pet lose weight, you must be committed to the goal. Begin by weighing your pet and taking a “before” picture. We love to help our patients lose weight so please stop by anytime and use our scale in the lobby-no appointment necessary.

Dogs and cats can safely lose 1-2% of their body weight each week.  We can help you develop an individualized weight loss plan for your pet.

Look at your pet’s food bag. It will give you specific feeding quantities based on weight. Feed the amount of food for your goal weight, not the current weight. It is very important to MEASURE the amount of food given to your pet daily.  In general, pets are not good at self-regulating, so it is important we do that for them.

There are also prescription weight loss foods that help ensure your pet receives adequate nutrition while reducing calories. Most dog treats are very high in calories and can add up quickly. Choose treats that are low in calories and limit your pet to 1 or 2 treats a day. Good treat options include baby carrots and ice cubes.

We just received a shipment of a great new treats called Meaty d’Lites – each treat has just 10 calories and are a great option for all dogs. There is currently a special that allows to you try a bag for FREE!

Purina d'Lites

Table scraps must be eliminated. Scraps are not only high in calories and fat, but also are simply not good for your pet. Small amounts of human food have a HUGE impact on your pet’s weight.

Increase your pet’s activity level. Start with a 15 minute walk twice a day and slowly increase the time/distance your pet exercises each week. This is a great bonding experience for you and your pet.

Swimming is a super exercise for dogs that enjoy water. Fall is a great time of year to get outside and moving. Winter will soon be here, making activity outdoors a challenge-let’s get started now!

Cats can exercise too. Laser lights and toys are great ways to get your cat up and moving. Some cats can be trained to walk on a leash and really enjoy the time outdoors.

These pet weight loss tips provide a great start for getting you and your pet started on the right track. If you have specific questions concerning your pet’s weight, please contact us.

Until next time-enjoy your four-legged family members! Spoil them with love, your time, and good health-not treats.

I Don’t Really Need to Use Flea Preventative during October, Right?

September 15, 2010

Wrong, wrong, wrong! We recommend using flea preventative all-year round. This is our recommendation because that is what is required to maintain a flea-free pet.

Adult fleas(the ugly little black bugs you can see on your pet) are only a small percentage of the fleas present in your pet’s environment. Flea eggs, larvae and pupae are baby fleas and account for 95% of the fleas in the environment. Additionally, fleas can survive inside your home year-round. Indoor pets, while at a lesser risk, certainly suffer from flea infestation. Fleas are able to gain access into our homes through small openings and can be transported indoors on humans and other pets.

Where do fleas come from?

Adult Flea

Adult Flea

Fleas come from many sources including wild animals and unprotected pets in your neighborhood. It only takes a few moments for a flea-infested animal to infect your yard with fleas-resulting in those fleas hopping on to your unsuspecting pet. It is impossible to avoid all of the possible scenarios that will result in your pet becoming infested with fleas; this means prevention is your best option.

The significance of your pet having fleas is much greater than a few bites here or there. Many pets are allergic to flea saliva causing a full body allergic reaction and intense itching from a single flea bite. Your pet can cause significant damage to himself/herself when they scratch/bite at the fleas. This can lead to a severe bacterial skin infection that will require antibiotics.

Fleas also transmit tapeworms. Tapeworms are passed when your pet consumes a flea. Tapeworms lead to significant weight loss and a decline in overall health of your pet. Tapeworms are also a zoonotic risk (meaning humans can become infected!!).

The answer to this very real risk of constant flea exposure is using a high-quality flea control product every month, year round. It is important to choose a product that has action on not only adult fleas, but also the immature stages. I advise you choose from one of the high-quality flea control products available through your local veterinarian. These products are not only very effective, but are much safer than supermarket brands.

So the answer to the question-yes, your pet needs protection from fleas every month of the year!

Need more information about protecting your pets from fleas? Contact me at New Haven Vet Clinic.

What’s Up With The Water Bowl?

September 10, 2010

I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself. My name is Kacie Ulhorn.  I am originally from Macon, Missouri. I received a Bachelor of Science from Missouri State University and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Missouri-College of Veterinary Medicine. I currently live in Berger with my husband, Tim, and our two labs, Petey and Maggie. I hope to use this blog as a forum to discuss health issues concerning your pets, life as a veterinarian and occasionally a little veterinary medicine humor.

Do you know how much your pet drinks? Do you know how much they should drink? Is it a big deal if the amount they are drinking suddenly changes?

Dogs and cats normally drink between 9-31mL/lb/day. There is of course, normal variation between individuals. This means, you should know an estimate (Ex: Maggie drinks 3 bowls/day, her bowl holds 2 cups = Maggie drinks about 6 cups each day) of how much your pet drinks on a daily basis. If that quantity changes either slowly over time or abruptly, a visit to your veterinarian is necessary.

As a general rule if your pet is consuming more than 45 mL/lb/day, they should be examined by a veterinarian.  **For calculation purposes, 1 cup = 236 mL**  

**MATH HELP: Number of cups of water your pet drinks daily x 236= Number of milliliters your pet drinks daily. Divide that number by your pet’s weight in pounds. That equals mL/lb/day. Compare that number to the guide numbers above. **

While your pet’s water bowl may seem like nothing more than a daily chore to you, a change in water consumption is often the first sign there may be a problem.  

Decrease In Water Consumption:
Dogs and cats will often stop drinking when they are ill or feel nauseous. Some pets are finicky about the quality of their water-always ensure the water bowl is clean and the water is fresh and clean.

Increase in Water Consumption:
An increase in water consumption is a vague symptom of many disease processes within the body. Many of these diseases have to do with changes in the endocrine system.

The endocrine system is comprised of several different glands that release various hormones/chemicals into the body. These hormones are responsible for regulating nearly every process in the body.

Diabetes mellitus, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, and Cushings disease are examples of endocrine diseases that could cause and increase in water consumption.  Urinary tract infections and kidney disease are two other possible causes for an increase in water consumption.

The good news is nearly all of these diseases are manageable with medication-especially when diagnosed early. 

It is important to know how much your pet drinks, take note when that volume changes, and communicate with your veterinarian if you notice changes in water consumption.

I look forward to communicating with all of you through this forum. If you have suggestions about topics you would like to see written about in the future, please leave them in the comments section.

Dental Care For Your Pet Shouldn’t Be Like Pulling Teeth

March 15, 2010

As a responsible pet owner, you know how important quality nutrition and regular veterinary care are to the health of your pet. But did you know that dental health plays an important role in helping to ensure a long and healthy life?

Dogs and cats get plaque on their teeth just like humans do. This is formed by bacteria multiplying on the surface of the teeth. Toxins produced by the bacteria will irritate the gums, causing an infection.

When the plaque hardens it forms tartar. This progresses until the gums pull away from the teeth and leaves pockets that harbor more bacteria and infection. This can cause painful dental abscesses and malodorous breath. If left untreated, the bacteria can enter the bloodstream.

This is where it becomes dangerous! Once the bacteria and infection enters the bloodstream, they can travel to major organs and begin infections in the heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, and the nervous system.

To prevent this from happening, check your pet’s gums once a month; a good time to do this is when you give once-a-month heartworm preventative.

Additionally, and most importantly, your pet’s oral health should be assessed at least once a year by your veterinarian; older pets should have their teeth cleaned annually after the age of 5 to 7 years; some individuals may need to begin regular cleanings even sooner.

However, if you notice any bad breath, yellow or brown tooth deposits, red gums, or drooling, you should talk to you veterinarian immediately.

Dental care should not stop after your dog or cat has her teeth professionally cleaned by your veterinarian. Home care is VITAL to prevent gum disease from starting or progressing.

There are several products you can use at home to help keep your pet’s mouth healthy. Specially formulated chews such as Greenies and Hexa-Chews along with a special dental diet will promote healthy chewing and oral cleansing.

Ask our professional veterinary team which products would be best for you and your pet. Leave a comment or email michelle@newhavenvetclinic.com