Have an indoor pet? Most of us do. Whether your cat is strictly indoors and you live in a high rise apartment building, or your dog leads a pampered life and spends most of his day lounging on the sofa, living inside instead of outdoors comes with special benefits and challenges. While indoor cats have a longer life expectancy, they are also more prone to weight gain, stress, and boredom. Ohio State Indoor Pet Initiative is a resource highlighting the of unique behavior and developmental needs of indoor pets and ways to help enrich their lives. Check it out for podcasts, articles, tips and more!
Fleas, ticks, and the diseases they carry have been out in full force as the weather cools down this fall. Remember that our homes are heated so parasite prevention is important year-round. The Companion Animal Parasite Council has a very comprehensive website where you can learn about common tick-borne diseases and their prevalence in our area.
Dental disease is the most common condition seen in dogs and cats. As the saying goes, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." The same is true for oral health. Teaching your dog or cat to let you brush their teeth is the single most effective way to decrease the build up of tartar and plaque which can lead to periodontal disease. Here is a link to the American Veterinary Dental College recommendations for home dental care. We emphasize that you do NOT need to open your dog or cat's mouth. Simply lift the lips and gently massage a soft child's toothbrush along the outside surface of the teeth. Use a toothpaste that is formulated for animals (does not contain foaming agents since our pet's cannot spit). We are happy to discuss this with you or show you how to do this at your pet's next visit.
A veterinarian demonstrates proper tooth brushing technique in this youtube video.
Can't brush? Here is a list of products approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council to slow the build up of tartar and/or plaque.
The new oral flea and tick preventive, Nexgard, is now labeled for the deer tick and lone star tick!
Please call us to discuss whether this is the right product for your dog and your family.
We found this doctor's take on modern medical care to be an interesting perspective.
Montgomery County Maryland Lost Pets publishes a blog full of valuable information and resources for pet owners that have lost — or found — a pet. It includes places to look, links to recently found shelter animals, and ideas for how to get the word out. Find it at mcmdlostpets.blogspot.com.
Their Facebook page also regularly posts photos and information for recently lost or found animals.
It is important to treat our dogs and cats for osteoarthritis before significant symptoms of pain or discomfort are observed. These symptoms include animals who have difficulty going up or down stairs or into vehicles, difficulty getting up from rest or circling excessively before lying down, trembling limbs, panting excessively (dogs), urinating or defecating just outside the litter box if it has high sides (cats), stumbling, reduced interest in walks and inability to sleep through the night. Clients often describe their animals as “slowing down.” The following treatments are designed to alleviate discomfort/ pain in the joints and improve their function and to help build/maintain muscle mass in the affected limbs.
1) PLEASE control your animal’s weight! Obesity is a significant factor in the early onset of osteoarthritis and its development can be delayed if the dog or cat’s weight is maintained at or slightly below normal.
2) Arthritic patients should be kept mobile and not allowed to become sedentary. Please keep going on walks or playing with them in the home.
3) Joint supplements such as Dasuquin for dogs and cats in combination with an omega 3 fatty acid for animals are helpful in treating the inflammation in their joints, thereby improving their comfort. We are happy to discuss the various products and their reliability.
4) There are diets that are specifically formulated to promote improved joint health such as Hill’s J/D or Royal Canin’s Mobility Diet.
5) There is a series of injections that can be given in the muscle twice a week for eight weeks that also improves the joints through increasing joint lubrication and reducing production of enzymes that harm the joints. The cost of the full treatment is $160.
6) Since most osteoarthritis in our cats and dogs occurs in the rear limbs, it is important to support the patient and prevent them from falling on surfaces with reduced traction such as wood or tile floors. This can be accomplished by using booties, especially on the rear paws. One brand we recommend is ULTRA PAWS.
7) Another problem dogs with osteoarthritis encounter is the inability to posture normally to urinate and defecate. They can be easily supported without causing discomfort to their human if a five-point harness is utilized, thereby making it much easier to support the dog as they lower themselves down. These harnesses are available from ruffwear.com
8) It may be helpful to use ramps for these patients to get into vehicles, on stairs or for access to favorite pieces of furniture so they can ascend and descend without engaging the uncomfortable joints as much.
9) Placing a heating pad over the affected area for 10 minutes one-two times a day may also help the patient.
10) There are other modalities of treatment such as acupuncture/chiropracty which have demonstrated a positive result in some patients. Dr. Jordan Kocen at South Paws (703-752-9100) is a veterinarian I highly recommend for this.
11) Physical therapy can be very helpful to build up the muscles in the affected limb. The weaker the limb due to poor muscle tone, the less likely the animal is to use it, thereby exacerbating the osteoarthritis---remember, they need to keep moving! We can refer you to specialty clinics with sophisticated physical therapy treatment centers. However, you can also do simple exercises at home, such as putting the animal’s front limbs on a chair or couch while their rear limbs support them on a surface with traction. Start with a few seconds several times a day and work up to longer periods of time. You can also lift one limb off the ground and hold it next to the body while the other limb supports the animal. Then repeat with the opposite limb. Again, start with short duration lifting (several seconds), then progress to longer sessions, 2-3 minute at a time. As the muscles get stronger, you may find that you don’t need to do these exercises because the animal is moving around with more strength, flexibility and vigor. Swimming is also excellent for patients with osteoarthritis.
12) There is an herbal product called Yucca Intensive that has anti-inflammatory corticosteroidal-like effects without the adverse effects of those drugs. It should be started at half-strength and mixed with the food. Another botanical product with anti-inflammatory effect is turmeric. Please consult with us as to the dose.
13) There are pharmaceutical products which are indicated for relief of pain/discomfort. Two of these are Tramadol , an opiate-like pain reliever, and Gabapentin, an anti-convulsant drug which acts as an analgesic through poorly understood mechanisms.
14) Other pharmaceuticals fall into the category of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin, ibuprofen etc. These human medications can potentially cause serious adverse effects when used in our patients so canine only versions have been developed, such as Deramaxx, Metacam, Rimadyl and Previcox. These drugs can still potentially cause problems in dogs such as gastrointestinal bleeding or kidney/liver problems so the patient will need an exam and bloodwork prior to their use and careful monitoring once they start taking them. However, they are potent analgesic/anti-inflammatory drugs and can truly help patients who have reached any level of pain/discomfort due to osteoarthritis. As of yet, we do not have a safe long-term non-steroidal for use in cats.
We look forward to working proactively with you and your dog or cat to minimize the discomfort and pain caused by osteoarthritis.