Welcome!

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

Dr. Jay Gottlieb, Dr. Gil Caren, and the staff of Island Trees Veterinary Hospital  are pleased to announce their hospital blog. This fun and fact-filled blog is updated regularly and includes up-to-date information about your pet’s health care. Also included in the blog are fun, pet-related news stories that we want to share with you and photos and information about our hospital and staff members.

We invite you to check our blog often.

Thank you for visiting.

– The Island Trees Veterinary Hospital Team


7 Hypoallergenic Cats for People with Allergies

Thursday, May 24th, 2018

Do love cats, but your allergies do not? People that are allergic to household pets often think that they can’t have a pet without their allergies flaring up. But there are solutions out there for cat lovers with allergies. If you pick the right breed, you won’t have to worry about your symptoms. Our animal hospital in Hicksville discusses here seven breeds are not only cute but have hypoallergenic qualities to potentially help curb sniffles and sneezes!

Here are Some Allergenic Facts about Cats:
1. Adults generate more allergens than kittens
2. Males are usually harsher on allergies, as they produce more allergenic secretions than females.
3. Neutered or spayed cats produce less allergens.
4. Dark cats are prone to produce more allergens that lighter colored ones… and nobody knows why!

What Hypoallergenic Cat Breeds are Out There?
Unfortunately, no cat breed exists that is truly hypoallergenic. All cats generate a few allergens at least, but there are seven breeds that can produce less allergens than other breeds. If you are serious about adopting a cat, this list should not be the only thing that you take into consideration. Consider the other characteristics of the breed, like temperament, and make sure that you are serious and ready to have a cat in your household.

The first three of these seven cats are from the oriental lines: the Balinese, Oriental Shorthair and Javanese. These cats grant several options for fans of the popular Siamese because they have similar characteristics but are low allergen compared to the Siamese.

1. Balinese: This cat is nicknamed the “long-haired Siamese”, it has a longer and silkier coat than the Siamese. This may lead you to think that this cat still produces its fair amount of allergens, but it generates less of the Fel D1 protein than other cats, thus making this cat an easy one for people with allergies.

2.Oriental Shorthair– These cats are very hypoallergenic, although as with any other breed, make sure you groom this breed frequently. Brushing and wiping the cat down will ensure that dander is kept to a minimum.

3. Javanese: This cat is similar to the Balinese in that it has a silky coat that doesn’t mat and has a plumed tail. This breed lacks and undercoat they therefore carry less allergens because they have less fur. The next two cats that comprise this list are “Rex” cats, the Devon and the Cornish Rex specifically. Fortunately for allergy sufferers, both these breeds don’t shed much fur.

4. Devon Rex– Between the two “rex” cats, the Devon Rex has both shorter and less fur. This does not mean that you can sleep on grooming though, the Devon Rex need its paws and ears cleaned frequently to prevent oil buildup. Although unlike its counterpart the Cornish, the Devon does not need to be frequently bathed.

5. Cornish Rex– This long and slender cat is similar to the Devon but this breed requires a bit more maintenance. This cat is more prone to oil build up than the Devon, so make sure to bathe it frequently and to take that fact in account when deciding between the two breeds. One cat on this list doesn’t have any problems with allergens coming from it fur, because it doesn’t have any fur at all. While the remaining cat does have fur but is still hypoallergenic.

6. Sphynx: The hairless Sphynx is the cat that comes to mind to most when it comes to hypoallergenic cats. Despite their lack of hair, there is still some upkeep involved with this cat. The breed needs frequent baths to eradicate the gummy oils that can build up on their skin, and their large ears necessitate frequent cleaning as well.

7. Siberian: Similar to the Balinese at the start of our list, this cat sports a coat that doesn’t look friendly towards the allergy stricken. This cat owes its hypoallergenic status to the fact that it has lower than average enzyme in their saliva. Some people claim that up to 75% of cat allergy sufferers experience no symptoms from the Siberian.

Hopefully this list can steer you in the direction of a feline friend that can cut down on allergens in your home. Please do keep in mind though that many other factors go into adopting a cat and make sure you call our office and consult with professionals to ensure that you can provide a comfortable, healthy and safe living situation for an animal. If you have any questions regarding adopting a cat, please give our office a call today.

5 Pet Emergency Symptoms

Thursday, May 10th, 2018

We’ve all been there. Something isn’t right with our fur baby. But how do you know when to get help? Here’s a list of the five most commonly overlooked signs that your dog or cat needs help immediately. It is important to call your Hicksville veterinarian as soon as possible with any questions or concerns regarding your pet.

Lethargy/Excessive Sleeping

When it comes to cats, sleeping is a given; they often sleep up to 16 hours a day. That can make lethargy, or excessive sleeping hard to notice at first, especially if you work a nine to five job, or are particularly busy. It’s important to know your pet’s routine. If you have a relatively young cat who is sleeping through greeting you when you come home, or other times when they would normally be awake (i.e. feeding time). It could be a symptom of a problem and should be addressed by a veterinarian immediately.

Fortunately for dog owners, it’s much easier to notice a dog with lower energy than normal, or excessive sleeping. Often, this is the first symptom pet owners catch that something isn’t quite right with their fur baby. Unfortunately, it’s also a symptom that most owners discount as being a serious problem, especially with older pets. Lethargy specifically can be a helpful tool in diagnosing vital organ problems, and even arthritis (which can be crippling) in some cases.

Changes in Diet or Water Consumption

Everyone has an off day; this goes for pets as well. Sometimes you eat to much, or just don’t feel like eating the next day. The same is true for dogs and cats. It’s because of this that many owners tend to overlook diet and water problems. Especially for “finicky” pets. If you have a pet who doesn’t eat at least small portions daily or drink regularly, then you may have a problem. Cat’s are prone to organ failure if they do not eat small amounts daily. If you have multiple dogs or cats in a household, it can be difficult to estimate how much one pet is eating or drinking.

Luckily, you can monitor your pets water intake by doing a simple test. At the base of the neck just above where it meets the shoulder blade is a section of excess skin. In a relatively healthy pet when the skin is lifted in that area, it will snap back into place quickly. The more dehydrated a pet becomes, the slower the skin will return to a normal position. If your pet’s skin takes longer to return to a normal position, they haven’t been drinking enough water. You should seek Veterinary assistance immediately.

Changes to Skin

Your pet walks through your home, and grass with only fur for protection. They have sensitive areas like the pads of their feet, bellies, and thighs which have no protection against these surfaces. It’s important to watch for changes to your pet’s skin in these areas specifically because of this. If the skin seems pink/redder than normal or has any flaking, loss of hair, or odd patterns it’s time to seek help. Changes in your pet’s skin can be extremely uncomfortable. These types of injuries can also lead your pet to harm themselves as they try to get relief from the situation. Or worse, yellow tinged skin can be a sign of organ trouble.

Vomiting or Diarrhea

Vomiting and diarrhea are both severe symptoms for dogs and cats. Both can point to problems caused by eating items or food they shouldn’t, poisoning, viruses, or vital organ issues, and should be taken seriously. If your pet has had either issue more than once in a short amount of time, please seek professional help. Be sure to pay close attention to your cat’s litter box habits. When dealing with arthritis, or pain in cats sometimes they won’t show outward visible discomfort, but they may begin to refuse to use litterboxes.

Abnormal Odors

Loving your pet sometimes means getting used to unpleasant odors. Both cats and dogs are notorious for horrible breath. But odor isn’t something you should overlook. It can mean infection and can be more than just unpleasant. It can affect your pet’s quality of life and the amount of time you get to enjoy their company by causing heart problems or keeping your pet from being able to eat in the case of a dental infection.

If you have a pet whose symptoms are not covered in this list, please consult with your Hicksville veterinarian, Dr. Gottlieb. This list is only a guide, and our staff will answer any pet owner’s questions.

Celebrate a Safe Holiday Season with Your Pet

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

Holiday season adornments are attractive to all creatures. The ornaments, foods, gifts, wrappings, ribbons, lights and plants are all curiosities for pets. Pets investigate new items by sniffing, tossing, chasing and finally by tasting. A few precautions are necessary to avoid the holiday crowds at the veterinary hospital.

Behold! Everything Looks Delicious

The most common problems this time of year are stomach or intestinal disturbances caused by pets eating the holiday feast or other novelties. Scraps from the table can cause gastrointestinal upset and even predispose pets to life-threatening pancreatitis. Bones can get stuck in the mouth or perforate the intestines and should be avoided. Chocolate is poisonous to cats, dogs and birds. Plastic wrap and aluminum foil (coated with good-tasting juices) are enticing but can cause intestinal damage and even blockage if eaten by your pet.

Other sweet treats like gum and hard candies can also make your pet ill. Sugar-free candies and gum are made with xylitol, a sugar substitute that can cause a drop in blood sugar, depression, loss of coordination and seizures in your pet. Xylitol is also linked to liver failure in dogs. Be sure to keep all candies, chocolate and other sweets out of your pet’s reach. If you believe your pet may have ingested chocolate or candy, call your veterinarian immediately.

Be sure to properly dispose of leftovers and wrappers. Feed pets their usual diet. Treats formulated similarly to the pet’s regular diet are generally healthy and safe. Also keep in mind while cooking that pets may not know about hot stoves or to stay out from underfoot. Keep pets away from the stove so they don’t get burned or have hot foods spilled on them.

Holiday Plants and Decorations

Several decorative plants are poisonous. Mistletoe and holly can cause stomach upset with vomiting and diarrhea. The berries of these plants are attractive, easily swallowed and potentially fatal if consumed. Poinsettias, like the leaves of most any plant, can also cause stomach upset. Use artificial mistletoe and holly, and keep other plants out of your pet’s reach.

Make sure Christmas trees are secured so pets can’t pull them over. Omit preservatives from the tree-stand water and cover the tree well so pets don’t drink from it. Don’t spray fake snow on the tree unless it is labeled safe for pet consumption. Angel hair is spun glass and is irritating to both the inside and outside of your pet. Even glass ornaments and ornament hooks have been chewed and swallowed. These objects can cause problems from stomach upset to damaged intestines. Low-hanging ornaments are a real temptation, as are tinsel and electric lights. Decorative lights and electrical wiring can cause shock or burns when chewed, so remember to unplug holiday lights when pets are left unattended.

The Hustle and Bustle of Goings-On

Holidays have lots of activity. Be sure doors are not left open as guests come and go. Indoor pets inadvertently left outside could be injured by frostbite, cars or other animals. Ice-melting chemicals and salt on sidewalks and roads can severely burn foot pads and should be washed off right away. Also, watch that guests don’t leave interesting objects such as chocolate, ribbons, stocking stuffers or other illicit treats, within your pet’s reach.

If your pet does get sick, consult your veterinarian before giving any medications. Many of the over-the-counter drugs such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, Excedrin and ibuprofin), Advil and Motrin, are toxic for animals even though they are safe for us. Don’t wait to see if your pet gets better. If your pet is acting sick, consult your veterinarian immediately.

Holiday Pet Tip: No Sweets For Your Sweet Pet

Monday, December 5th, 2016

For many people, overindulging in holiday goodies may result in a few extra pounds; however, the consequences for our animal companions are much greater if they accidentally ingest cookies, candy or baked goods containing chocolate. In any form ranging from one-ounce baking squares to brownies, chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, both of which can cause stimulation of the central nervous system, an increase in heart rate and tremors. Clinical symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, hyperactivity and increased thirst. Urination and heart rate can be seen with the ingestion of as little as 1/4 ounce of baking chocolate by a 10-pound dog.

Veterinary poison and emergency center across the country seem to receive more calls involving chocolate toxicosis during Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Easter. During one Thanksgiving holiday, an 18-pound cocker spaniel consumed an 18-ounce box of milk chocolate truffles. By the time the owners brought the dog to the veterinary emergency center, she had already vomited several times and was drinking large amounts of water. The emergency clinician worked in conjunction with the dog’s veterinarian to provide emergency treatment, which included activated charcoal, intravenous fluids and medication for her elevated heart rate. She’d recovered by the next morning, but spent the day in doggie day care to make sure she didn’t have further problems.

Although chocolate toxicosis is more common in dogs who have been known to eat candy and trays of brownies and fudge accidentally left out, it can be a potential problem with any species. Take care this holiday season and keep candy out of your pets’ reach – and don’t let them in the kitchen unsupervised when you’re baking. If you suspect your pet has eaten chocolate, call your veterinarian immediately.

November is Pet Diabetes Month

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

November is National Pet Diabetes Month, but with more than 50 percent of the nation’s cats and dogs overweight or obese, raising awareness of the common endocrine disease has been extended to pets – rather than just their human caretakers. It is estimated that one in every 200 cats may be affected by diabetes, being the most common endocrine condition found in felines. The numbers for dogs are similar and only expected to increase.

Diabetes results when a pet’s body doesn’t produce enough insulin (Type I DM) or doesn’t process it properly (Type II DM). When your pet eats, carbohydrates found in his or her food are converted into simple sugars, one of which is glucose. Glucose is then absorbed into the bloodstream through the intestines and travels to cells throughout the body. Inside cells, insulin typically helps turn the glucose into fuel. However, when there isn’t enough insulin, glucose can’t even enter the cells to be converted into energy and instead just builds up in the bloodstream.

Symptoms of Diabetes in Cats and Dogs

• Lethargy

• Excessive thirst

• Frequent urination

• Always hungry, yet maintains or loses weight

• Thinning, dry and dull coats in cats

• Cloudy eyes in dogs

At-Risk Pets

• Those with genetic predispositions

• Those with other insulin-related disorders

• Those who are obese and/or physically inactive

• Dogs who are between 4- to 14-years-old

• Unspayed/intact female dogs are twice as likely to suffer from diabetes

• Dog breeds with greater risk for development: Cocker spaniels, dachshunds, Doberman Pinschers, German shepherds, golden retrievers, Labradors, Pomeranians, terriers and Toy Poodles

Although diabetes can’t be cured, it can be managed so that symptoms are reduced or eliminated entirely. Your veterinarian will decide which treatment options are best for your pet. Often, changes in diet and lifestyle, combined with or without daily insulin injections, can help your pet live a happy, healthy, active life.

If you’ve noticed any of the above symptoms in your pet and suspect he or she may have diabetes, contact Island Trees Veterinary Hospital today. Veterinarians are the only professionals who can accurately diagnose your pet and provide proper health management. Diabetes can affect a pet differently over time, even if your pet has experienced a long period of stability. The sooner your pet is diagnosed, the better, and the less likely you’ll incur the cost of an expensive emergency visit for diabetic complications.

Thanksgiving: What You Can Safely Share with Your Pet

Thursday, November 3rd, 2016

Thanksgiving is a holiday meant for gathering around the dinner table with family and friends to share in your thanks for all that you have and all that you’re about to consume. For many pet owners, Fido and Mittens are valued members of the family and saying ‘no’ to their pleading eyes may be something you skimp on given the special occasion.

You may already know of the Thanksgiving foods to avoid feeding your pet, for various health and safety reasons. Those foods include raw or bone-ridden bits of turkey, raw bread dough and cake batter, walnuts, mushrooms, onions and garlic, sage and nutmeg, and, of course, chocolate. There are, however, some foods which should be perfectly safe to share with most pets.

Turkey – In small amounts, and without bones or excess skin and fat, cooked turkey is just fine to feed your pets under the table.

Pumpkin – Again, in small amounts, pumpkin is safe for pets and can even quell an upset stomach if they’ve overdone it on other tasty Thanksgiving fare. With a bounty of beta carotene, vitamins and fiber, pumpkin also helps with digestion. And, if you’re trying to help your pet slim down, it’s low-calorie!

Sweet Potatoes – If your pets are at your feet during meal preparation, a taste of sweet potato won’t hurt them. Just be sure it’s before you add any of the sweet deliciousness, as pets will have a hard time digesting it. Cooked and plain is the way to go.

Veggies – Most pets enjoy the satisfying crunch of raw vegetables. Carrots and broccoli are packed with beneficial vitamins.

Even though it’s Thanksgiving, remember: everything in moderation, especially for your pets. If your kitty or pooch does overindulge, they could develop a serious upset stomach, diarrhea or an inflammatory condition of the pancreas. Try to keep your pets on their regular diets through the holiday and supplement the above Thanksgiving goodies only as small treats.

Did You Know? 25 Fascinating Feline Facts

Friday, October 21st, 2016

National Cat Day is October 29. And yes, if you have a cat you’ll know everyday is considered cat day in your house, but did you know some of these amazing facts? Read on to learn more about your favorite household furball, your cat.

• Common household pain relievers (like Tylenol or Advil), caffeine (whether coffee, tea or soda) and and raisins are poisonous to cats.

• The ancestor of all domestic cats was once believed to be the African Wild Cat, but a new study suggests that the Near Eastern Wildcat became domesticated some 5,300 years ago by farmers in China.

• In ancient Egypt, cat owners would shave off their eyebrows to show their grief after their beloved cat died.

• Cats use their whiskers to help them navigate the dark and the space around them.

• Cats can rotate their ears up to 180 degrees and move them separately.

• Today there are about 100 distinct breeds of the domestic cat.

• Isaac Newton is credited with inventing the first cat door.

• Like birds, cats have a homing ability that uses its biological clock, the angle of the sun and the earth’s magnetic field.

• Hunting is not instinctive for cats. Kittens born to non-hunting mothers may never learn to hunt.

• Cats can make over 100 types of vocal sounds while dogs can only make 10.

• Cats will snack on grass to help with digestion and rid their system of any fur (those pesky furballs!).

• Among other tasks, cats can be taught to use a toilet, come, sit, beg, eat with their paws, heel, jump through a hoop, play a piano, play dead, roll over, open a door, hide food in boxes, shake and fetch.

• Domestic cats spend about 70 percent of the day sleeping and another 15 percent of the day grooming.

• In Great Britain and Australia, black cats are thought to bring good luck.

• Besides smelling with their nose, cats can smell with an additional organ called the Jacobson’s organ, located in the upper surface of the mouth.

• Cats can’t taste sweets.

• Like person’s fingerprint, the surface of a cat’s nose is as unique identifier.

• Studies have shown that owning a cat can reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack by a third.

• Forbes might not have a list of the world’s richest cats but there’s one in particular who would definitely make the list — An Italian heiress left her cat, Tommaso, $13 million after she passed away.

• A large majority of white cats with blue eyes are deaf. White cats with only one blue eye are deaf only in the ear closest to the blue eye. White cats with orange eyes do not have this disability.

• Cats don’t have sweat glands, they sweat through the pads of their feet.

• Neutering a cat extends its life span by two or three years.

• Hard to believe, but only 11.5 percent of people consider them “cat people.”

• The inventor Nikola Tesla first became fascinated in learning more about electricity after being zapped as a child by static electricity thanks to his cat, Macak.”

• It might be hard to believe when they’re such great couch potatoes, but house cats can run 30 miles per hour. That’s faster than Olympian Usain Bolt.

How to Celebrate a Safe Halloween with Your Pets

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

When witches, princesses and superheroes take to the streets in search of treats this Halloween, they’ll have some furry friends by their side. According to a survey by the National Retail Federation, total spending for Halloween is expected to reach $8.4 billion this year, an all-time high since the survey began 11 years. With nearly 171 million Americans celebrating Halloween, it’s estimated 16 percent of households will not only pick out costumes for themselves, but for their pets as well. Superheroes and mermaids are the top choices for pet costumes, with bees, sharks and Stars Wars-themed garb rounding out the list.

If you plan on letting your pet don a devilish disguise, there are a few safety tips to keep in mind. First, make sure your pet wants to wear a costume. While some animals may not mind being outfitted with a pumpkin suit, others may experience extreme discomfort and stress while in costume. Try putting the costume on your pet in advance of the big night to make sure he or she is comfortable with the idea. And while your pet is out trick-or-treating, don’t forget about the pets that may be coming to your house – keep a few dog treats by the door to hand out to any four-legged companions accompanying trick-or-treaters.

Whether your pet is dressed like a spider or a dinosaur, make sure the costume allows for easy movement and is not restrictive or confining. However, also be on guard for costumes that drag on the ground. These costumes can get caught in doors or snag on other objects. If your pet’s costume includes a mask, modify the eye holes so they are big enough to accommodate your pet’s peripheral vision. A pet that can’t see may experience increased stress and could become aggressive as a result.

When the trick-or-treating is over and the treats are ready to be had, be sure to keep chocolate away from your dog. Any amount of chocolate is harmful to your pet, so keep the treats out of their paws, no matter how much they beg. Those cellophane and foil wrappers left behind after the treats are gone are also a potential health hazard for your pet. The wrappers can be caught in your pet’s digestive track and cause illness, severe discomfort and even death if the problem is left untreated.

Additional pet safety tips to keep in mind this Halloween:

• Jack o’lanterns and lit candles may look spooky, but they can pose problems for your pet. Rambunctious pets can knock lit pumpkins over and start fires, and wagging tails can easily get burned by open flames. Keep lit pumpkins and candles up on a high shelf to avoid accidents.

• If you’re hosting a Halloween party, keep your pet in a separate room, away from all the hustle and bustle. Too many strangers in odd costumes may cause your pet stress. This will also prevent your pet from sneaking out through an open door and darting out into the night.

• Keep your pet indoors during the days and nights around Halloween. Pranksters and vandals have teased, injured, stolen and, in rare cases, killed pets on Halloween. Keeping your pet inside will keep them from becoming a target.

• With all the Halloween festivities, it’s a great idea to make sure your pet has proper identification if they escape from your house or become lost while out trick-or-treating.

Halloween can be a fun time for you and your pet. Following the above safety tips will make sure the only scares you experience are all in good fun.

Rabies — Some Frequently Asked Questions

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

World Rabies Day is observed tomorrow (September 28) worldwide to educate and prevent the spread of the rabies virus. If you have additional questions, or would like to protect you and your pet from rabies, call the veterinarians at Island Trees Veterinary Hospital today.

Q: What is Rabies?
A: Rabies is a virus that infects the central nervous system in warm-blooded animals.  The disease is invariably fatal if left untreated; however, effective vaccines are available to protect people and pets.

Q: How do you contract rabies?
A: Rabies is passed along through contact with an infected animal’s saliva and is almost always transmitted when an infected animal bites an uninfected animal or person. People usually get rabies from the bite of a rabid animal. It is also possible, but quite rare, that people may get rabies if infectious material from a rabid animal, such as saliva, gets directly into their eyes, nose, mouth, or a wound.

Q: Why should I be worried about rabies in wildlife?
A: Rabies is a serious public health concern because if left untreated it is always fatal. Costs associated with detection, prevention and control of rabies exceeds $300 million annually. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 90 percent of reported rabies cases in the United States are in wildlife.

Q: How can I tell if an animal has rabies?
A: The test to determine if an animal has contracted the rabies virus requires them to be euthanized to test the cells of the brainstem. Some of the visible signs of a rabid animal could include any of the following symptoms: aggressive behavior, attacking for no reason, lethargic, walking in a circle, confused, and drunk-like. Wildlife should never be approached at any time. If you have any questions about wildlife, please contact USDA’s Wildlife Services at 1-866-4-USDA-WS (1-866-487-3297).

Q: What should I do if I am bitten by an animal?
A: Wash the wounds thoroughly with soap and water as a first aid precaution. Call your doctor or local health department immediately. If it is a domestic animal, get the name and address of the animal’s owner. If it is a wild animal, contact your local health department, animal control, or professional wildlife officer for assistance. If the animal is dead, wear gloves or use a shovel to move it. If testing is necessary, put the carcass into a heavy plastic bag and place it in a cold area away from people and other animals. Clean the area where the animal was found with one part bleach to ten parts water. Call your local health department for further instructions.

Q: What can I do to prevent rabies?
A: Avoid contact with all wild animals. Make sure your pets are vaccinated in accordance with state and local laws. Report any suspicious acting animals to USDA’s Wildlife Services at 1-866-4-USDA-WS (1-866-487-3297) or to your local police or animal control.  Do not relocate wildlife.

Help Protect Your Pets and Family from Rabies

Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

Launched in 2007, World Rabies Day (September 28) aims to raise awareness the health impact of human and animal rabies. According to Dr. Charles Rupprecht, former chief of the rabies program at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Your local veterinarian plays a key role in controlling rabies.”

So what can you do to help protect your pets and family? Vaccination is key.

Rabies is a fatal disease of the nervous system. It is caused by a virus that can infect all warm-blooded animals, including humans. The virus attacks the brain and spinal cord, causing severe nervous system dysfunction and eventually death. While instances of rabies infection are lower than ever, the disease remains a continuing problem. Vaccinating your pet against rabies is a key prevention method.

The most common way to contract rabies is through a bite from an infected animal. When a rabid animal bites, the rabies virus in its saliva passes through the broken skin of the victim. Rabid cats can also transmit rabies through their scratches if they have saliva on their paws.

Skunks, bats, coyotes, foxes, and raccoons are very susceptible to rabies. Cats, dogs, cattle and horses usually contract rabies through encounters with rabid wildlife.

Raccoons are highly susceptible to rabies.

Raccoons are very susceptible to rabies.

The symptoms of rabies can be quite varied. In general, the disease shows three stages that occur in succession. (NOTE: not every animal will display these signs, so any animal behaving abnormally should be regarded with suspicion.)

  • Stage 1 – Attitude Change: The animal may show nervousness, shyness, aggression or other changes in its normal personality. May show a lack of fear of humans.
  • Stage 2 – Furious or Excitable Phase: Animals may become extremely agitated, or behave erratically. Animals may bite and snap at anything. Wild animals may wander into unaccustomed areas and attack livestock, people or pets. The tone of an animal’s voice may change as its vocal cords become paralyzed. Seizures may occur.
  • Stage 3 – Paralysis: Victims become progressively paralyzed. Animals may be unable to move their hind limbs and unable to swallow, resulting in choking and frothing at the mouth. This phase ends in death, usually from paralysis of the respiratory muscles.

Rabies cannot be diagnosed with certainty based on symptoms alone. The suspicion of rabies can only be confirmed by testing samples of an animal’s brain tissue.

Vaccination is an inexpensive, effective means of protecting your animals from rabies. All pets should be vaccinated regularly against rabies.

You can minimize the risk of rabies by avoiding close contact with wildlife. Remember, rabid animals often lose their fear of humans and may appear unusually friendly. Ensure that your house is unattractive to wild animals by keeping garbage bins securely fastened and sheds and garages closed. If your domestic animals are bitten or scratched by a wild animal, consult the veterinarians at Island Trees Veterinary Hospital.

Vaccinate your pet against rabies!

Vaccination is key to preventing rabies in your pet.

If you think you’ve been exposed to rabies, prompt medical attention is essential. If you’ve been bitten by any animal, clean and disinfect the wound thoroughly, then contact your physician or local health authority immediately. If the biting animal can be confined without further danger, it should be kept in a secure area while waiting for public health authorities to arrive. Depending upon the circumstances, the health authorities may choose to quarantine the animal for monitoring, or euthanize it for testing. The animal’s vaccination status influences this decision.

Remember – rabies is a fatal disease in humans! Every biting incident should be investigated, even if the animal in question appears healthy.

If rabies exposure cannot be ruled out, people who are bitten are usually treated with a series of injections. There is no treatment for animals that have been exposed to rabies. In both humans and animals, the disease is almost always fatal once symptoms of nervous system dysfunction appear. For more information about rabies, contact your local veterinarian or public health official.

Prevention is the key to combating rabies. Make sure pets and high-risk livestock are vaccinated properly. Ask the veterinarians and medical team at Island Trees Veterinary Hospital about the best vaccination protocol for your pets or livestock. Keep away from wild animals, no matter how friendly they appear. Keep wild animals away from your home by securely fastening garbage bins and closing garages and sheds.

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