March is our Lyme Disease Prevention and Awareness Month! Like people, dogs are susceptible to lyme disease that can have long lasting impact on their health long term. The bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi, is the causative infectious agent of Lyme disease. The deer tick, Ixodes scapularis, is the only tick that carries and transmits the bacteria known as Lyme disease!
In Virginia, 1 dog out of every 12 is likely to test positive for Lyme disease. In the graphic below, dogs in Fauquier County are at a high risk for becoming infected with Lyme Disease.
If a tick carries the bacteria, the tick will have to be attached to an animal for 48 to 72 hours in order to transmit. The bacteria must undergo pathogenic changes in order to be ‘ready’ to infect a susceptible animal. Once the bacteria is transmitted to a host, it will take about 70 days for clinical signs to appear; this occurs in 5-10% of infected dogs. Clinical signs include: fever, 0enlarged lymph nodes, lameness, and joint swelling. In very few dogs, approximately 1-2% of cases, they will develop acute renal failure and this can be fatal. A mainstay of treatment is antibiotics. Some cases may need additional supportive care.
We recommend EVERY dog to have yearly testing done since the majority of dogs never show clinical signs of the disease!
The first and best step towards preventing disease is to have pets on effective flea and tick preventatives. Prevention should be YEAR LONG, not seasonal! We still see ticks in the winter! Talk to you veterinarian about which preventative is right for your animal.
There is a lyme vaccine available that can improve protection for dogs against lyme disease. We recommend ALL dogs to be vaccinated for this disease since it is so prevalent in our area! If your dog tests positive, our doctors will discuss with your options which could include further testing and/or medications.
Enjoy a 10% discount off of Lyme disease vaccination and testing to start the vaccine at all our hospitals! Help us help you protect your dog against Lyme disease this spring!
There are days we like to give our furry friends a little extra kibble at dinnertime or a tasty treat to show them how much we care. However, go overboard and you might end up with an overweight pet, or worse, an obese one. Obesity is one of the most common medical conditions affecting 60% of cats and 56% of dogs, according to the Association of Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP). Similar to humans, excessive body fat can lead to a host of problems: joint disease, predisposition to metabolic disorders or a state of chronic inflammation. Furthermore, these obese animals typically are less energetic and tend to have shorter life spans.
Estimating the weight of our furry friend can be difficult, and we, as humans, usually tend to underestimate how much our pet has gained. Thankfully, a weight dog/cat chart, or Body Condition Score (BCS), can help reduce some of the mystery behind your pet’s ideal weight. It is imperative to monitor your pet’s weight because excessive fat in dogs and cats does have its consequences.
Studies show that excessive fat may lead to reduced life expectancy, chronic inflammation, skin disorders, orthopedic disease, respiratory disorders, kidney dysfunction, and metabolic/endocrine disorders. Veterinary behaviorists have suggested that some obese dogs and cats are clinically depressed. Their daily activity is often limited to taking brief jaunts in the yard or to the litter box for bathroom breaks. The first step to helping your pet lose weight is by speaking with your veterinarian. Here at Catlett Animal Hospital, we can provide guidance about the right diet for your pet including type, amount, and frequency of feedings. Additionally, we can discuss exercise.
This month, we are focusing on weight loss. If you feel your pet is overweight and want to take the first step in helping him/her lose that weight, then speak with us about the Hill’s Weight Loss Challenge. It is as simple as signing up and starting your pet on a weight loss diet. Weight checks happen every two to three weeks and at the end will decide the winner by the overall most percent of body weight lost. There will be one cat and one dog winner which will earn them three months of free, healthy food. Speak with one of our veterinarians today about details on participating in this weight loss challenge!
Here’s the details:
Who?: One cat and one dog winner (and of course there will be a prize for both the pets and their owners)
When?: January 1st to March 31st
How?: Sign up and have your pet weigh in at one of our locations (Elkwood Animal Hospital, Compassion Animal Hospital, or Catlett Animal Hospital). You will then receive your first bag of food and treats for free and will have the option to sign up for shipments of the food to your door, or you can come to the clinic to pick some up as needed.
-Canine Metabolic and Mobility
-Feline Urinary and Metabolic
-Three months of free food for the cat and dog winner (based on percentage of body weight lost)
-Prize for the owner too!!
It’s that time of the year again, bringing in your beloved feline companion for his or her annual wellness exam. Many cats dislike going to the veterinarian’s office, and their dislike starts with the difficulty of getting them into the carrier at home. For many owners, this elicits a feeling of stress and can be more stressful than the actual appointment! Many of us are all too familiar with this routine. You’ll bring out the carrier and your furry friend will turn around and run in the opposite direction. Soon you find yourself chasing them around the house trying to catch your cat to put them into the carrier. This ordeal can be very stressful for both yourself and the cat. If this step can be made easier, the entire veterinary visit can be less stressful.
Understanding Cat Behavior
Cats prefer a consistent daily routine and going to the veterinary’s office disrupts this routine. They are most comfortable with the familiar and need time to adjust to things that are unfamiliar. Cats do not learn from punishment or force, and they can sense our anxiety and frustrations. It is important to remain calm and patient with them.
Choosing The Right Carrier
Of additional importance is your cat being safely transported to the veterinary office. A carrier facilitates this process. A carrier also helps the veterinarian team work safely with the cat during the appointment. Remember to choose one that will be easy for you to carry.
An ideal carrier should have:
- Hard-sides that are sturdy and stable
- Open from both the top and front
- Can be taken apart in the middle.
An easily removable top allows a fearful or anxious cat to say in the bottom half of the carrier for exams.
Acclimating Your Cat to the Carrier
Usually cats only see the carrier once or twice a year when they go the veterinarian’s office, so they learn to associate the carrier with stressful situations. It is important to change this association by creating positive experiences with the carrier. Remember, it will take time for them to trust and become comfortable, so it is important to remain patient during this period.
Here are a few steps you can take at home to help:
- Leave the carrier in a familiar place at home by having it where your cat spends a majority of their time
- Keep the carrier out at all times
- Put his or her favorite toys, soft bedding, and treats inside the carrier
- Reward your kitty for sitting calmly near or in its carrier with treats, play, or affection.
Getting Your Cat Ready to Go to the Vet’s Office
If your cat is already in the carrier – great!
If not, move the carrier into a small room with few hiding places. Spray some Feliway (a synthetic feline pheromone) inside the carrier 30mins prior to transport to help calm the cat. Move the cat into the room and close the door. If the cat does not walk into the carrier, do not chase them into the carrier. Instead, open the top of the carrier and place your kitty in the bottom.
We look forward to seeing your kitty during the month of November for our feline wellness month! If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our office!
Have you ever been relaxing on the couch with your pet and noticed a foul smell coming from their mouth? Upon looking in their mouth, you find thick, brown material stuck to their teeth? This is dental tartar. Periodontal disease is the most common clinical condition occurring in both dogs and cats, but it is entirely preventable. By three years of age, over 80% of dogs and cats have some evidence of periodontal disease. Dental disease differs in humans and pets. In people, the most common problem is tooth decay, caused by loss of calcium from the tooth enamel that results in painful, infected cavities. In animals, tooth decay is rare. The most common dental problems seen in dogs and cats are periodontal disease and fractured teeth.
Periodontal disease begins when the bacteria of the mouth forms a substance called plaque. Plaque sticks to the surface of the teeth followed by minerals in the salvia hardening the plaque into dental calculus (tartar) and firmly attaches it to the teeth. The tartar that you are able to see above the gum line is not necessarily the cause of disease. The real problem develops when this plaque and dental calculus spreads under the gum line. The bacteria in this “sub-gingival” space secretes toxins that damage the supporting tissue around the tooth, eventually leading to the loss of the tooth. When left untreated, the infection can spread from the oral cavity into the nasal passages weakening the jaw bone which results in a bone infection (osteomyelitis) that causes jaw fractures. This bacteria can also enter the bloodstream and be carried throughout the body. Studies have shown that periodontal disease is associated with microscopic changes in the heart, liver, and kidneys.
Four stages of periodontal disease (see image):
Our pets cannot tell us, as owners, when they are suffering from a toothache; however, there are some signs you can look for in your pet. If you notice any of these signs, you should contact a veterinarian. 1) bad breath – this is a byproduct of the bacterial metabolic process. “Doggy breath” or “tuna breath” is not normal; 2) altered behavior – chewing on one side of the mouth, dropping food, crying when yawning, acting “grumpy”, or not eating anymore; 3) bleeding from the mouth – look for thick, ropey saliva or blood coming from the mouth; 4) a swelling on your pet’s face that may indicate a possible abscess. If you notice any of these symptoms, contact a veterinarian for a physical examination.
If your pet has tartar and/or large amounts of plaque present, a professional dental cleaning is required. This includes a thorough oral examination, scaling, polishing, and possible extractions. The veterinarian will record any abnormalities, extractions, and/or missing teeth on a dental chart. After the procedure, most patients are back to normal the next day. This is when home oral hygiene will help prevent the tartar from coming back. Home oral hygiene can improve the periodontal health of your pet, decrease the progression of the disease, and decrease the frequency of professional dental cleanings. There are many options for home oral care – come in today to discuss the options with a veterinarian!