Why Does My Dog…

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

Scratch the Grass on the Lawn After Pooping?

Is your lawn a mess because your dog scratches it after every time he or she poops? This may be annoying to those of us who spend our weekends taking care of the lawn, but it’s normal behavior for Rover.

In the wild, canines such as wolves, dingoes and foxes are not only doing this to covering up the mess, it is also a way to mark their territory. All canines have glands in their feet that secrete hormones, and a couple of backward scratches into the earth release the chemicals.

If you’re upset that your dog is destroying your lawn, the solution is to take him for a walk several times a day.

Roll Around in Smelly Stuff?

While we aren’t 100% sure why dogs like to roll in stinky stuff, many pet behaviorists believe this is an attempt to show off their most “prized possessions” to their owners. For a dog, wearing smelly stuff is like wearing the best designer-label scent.

People like smells that are fresh, floral and fragrant while dogs prefer dirty, dead and disgusting aromas.

Forget trying to prevent your dog from rolling around in the smelliest things imaginable. For you, it’s awful; for dogs, it’s heavenly. With thousands of years of practice ingrained, dogs will continue their stinky behavior. The only way to stop the roll-and-stink is to keep your dog on a leash or teach tech him how to come when called.

If you have questions about your dog’s behavior, please give us a call. The staff at Island Trees Veterinary Hospital is always available to answer your questions.

Does Your Senior Cat Suffer From Arthritis?

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

Recognizing arthritis in cats is challenging. Many cats hide their pain very effectively. While we may sometimes see older cat limping or favoring one leg, more often than not arthritic cats simply become less active, sleeping and resting more of the time. They are also reluctant to jump onto surfaces that were easily accessible previously.

It is easy to mistake symptoms of arthritis for normal aging. We assume it’s normal for an older cat to sleep more and be less active without ever wondering whether pain may be playing a part. We may even assume that our arthritic cat is learning manners or displaying better behavior because he no longer jumps onto the counter tops.

If your cat is starting to slow down and exhibits some of these symptoms, a complete physical examination by a veterinarian at Island Trees Veterinary Hospital is recommended. Aside from aging, arthritis can be confused with many other diseases. Blood tests and / or x-rays may be needed obtain a definitive diagnosis.

Possible Treatments and Remedies for Arthritis in Elderly Cats

Joint supplements containing glucosamine and/or chondroitin can help some cats.

Omega-3 fatty acids can help relieve pain from arthritis and other causes.

Adequan is an injectable product that can be used to help relieve arthritis pain and is effective for many cats.

Other medications are available to help relieve your cat’s pain and may be necessary if the previous products are ineffective. These include tramadol, gabapentin, Fentanyl, and others. Your veterinarian will help you determine which medication is best suited for your cat.

Alternative Therapies

For some cats, alternative therapies such as acupuncture, hydrotherapy, and even massage can help ease the pain of arthritis.

For overweight cats, weight loss can help make arthritic cats more comfortable by relieving stress and pressure on sensitive joints. One of the veterinarian at Island Trees Veterinary Hospital will help you establish a safe and effective weight loss plan for your arthritic cat.

Exercise can also keep joints and muscles supple. Exercise can also be effective in burning calories and helping with weight loss where necessary.

Provide your cat with soft bedding in the form of a pet bed or blanket on which to sleep and/or rest.

Make sure the litter box is in an easily accessible location and is easy for your cat to enter and exit. Do not place your cat’s only litter box in a basement or attic far from where your cat spends most of his time. Consider using a litter box with low sides for easy access.

Though arthritis is not a curable condition, the pain it causes can be controlled. However, the first step is recognizing that it exists. Drs. Jay Gottlieb and Gil Caren, the veterinarians at Island Trees Veterinary Hospital, can work with you in developing a treatment regime and strategy to combat the pain your cat may have from arthritis.

If you have any questions, please call Dr. Jay Gottlieb or Dr. Gil Caren at Island Trees Veterinary Hospital. The phone number is 516 735-0090.

Dog Breeds with Short Lifespans

Monday, March 7th, 2016

Choosing which breed of dog to share your home and life with is always an exciting process. You’ll weigh factors such as size, temperament, grooming needs, and activity level, but what about life span?

Larger animals in the wild tend to encounter fewer predators, and as such they usually live longer than smaller creatures. Man’s best friend rarely has to worry about predators, but interestingly, larger dogs tend to have significant shorter life spans than smaller dogs. The smallest dog breeds, such as the Chihuahua, can keep their human caretakers company for 17 years or more, while the largest canines typically live only half as long, or less.

While sources vary on the exact order of dog breeds with the shortest life spans, all name Great Danes, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Irish Wolfhounds, and a variety of Mastiffs at the top. These large breed dogs typically live from six to nine years.

Anyone who has ever had a large breed puppy knows how quickly they seem to transform from being tiny balls of fluff to adults. Large purebred dogs are often bred from a limited gene pool, which can result in significant health issues and shorter life spans. Due to their inbreeding, breeds like the Bernese Mountain Dog are more prone to suffering from malignant forms of cancer such as histiocytosis, lymphosarcoma, fibrosarcoma and osteosarcoma.

Although not in the top 10, one smaller breed dog is also known for having an average life expectancy of less than a decade. The English Bulldog was the forth-most popular dog in the United States in 2014, but the breed is prone to a variety of congenital health issues. English Bulldogs aren’t fond of much physical activity and their stubby snouts can lead to breathing problems. They are plagued by respiratory and cardiac diseases, hip dysplasia and skin infections due to their signature wrinkled skin.

As a pet owner of an English Bulldog, Mastiff, Great Dane, Bernese Mountain Dog, Irish Wolfhound, Newfoundland, Saint Bernard, Bloodhound, or other larger-than-average breed, there are steps you can take to extend the time you’ll share with your furry friend. Spaying or neutering is often believed to reduce the risk of some cancers, and providing your pooch with a proper, nutritious diet and exercise is particularly beneficial.

If you own a large breed dog and have questions about his or her health, please call or visit Island Trees Veterinary Hospital today. Dr. Gottlieb and Dr. Caren can advise you on the best medical care to keep your large dog happy and healthy throughout his entire life.

Some Must-Have Mobile Apps for Pet Parents

Monday, March 7th, 2016

There’s an app for everything and pet-related needs and topics are no different. Gone are the days when Google was the sole provider of dog and cat information for pet parents on the go. Apps keep convenient information and tools a finger swipe away – and for minimal cost. Pet parents can download everything from pet-friendly park locators to apps that enable live webcam streaming from your home computer!

Some Must-Have Apps for 2016

1. Pet First Aid by American Red Cross You should always know where to take your pet in the case of an emergency, but some situations call for fast action. With this free app for iPhone, study up on pet first aid through interactive quizzes and videos, or consult step-by-step instructions for the most common pet emergencies when you need them most.

2. PupToxFor all the times you find yourself standing in the kitchen with a fistful of food scraps, wondering if any of them are safe to give to the set of pleading eyes staring up at you, PupTox is the solution. This 99-cent app offers an on-hand list of more than 250 things that are toxic to dogs and cats. Forget having to use Google all the time to see what your pet can’t ingest, this app keeps all the pet dangers neatly categorized and always available.

3. Pet Diary Pet Diary allows you to keep track of all aspects of your pet’s life in one easy-to-use application. Keep track of Fido’s birthday and medications, or stay on top of Whiskers’ weight and overall attitude. Of course, you can also make note of fun adventures you share, new foods your pet tries, and more – for free!

4. Dog Park Finder Plus If you’re often on the go with your pup and want to know where the nearest dog parks are in any locale, this is the app for you. Type in your zip and see thousands of dog parks and dog-friendly restaurants nationwide. The app even fills you in on whether or not there is a park fee, breed restrictions, and more. For $1.99 you get the complete “plus” version, or try the basic Dog Park Finder for free.

5. MapMyDogWalk For the fit pet parents, this app is similar to MapMyRun. For no cost, you can keep track of how many calories you burn during your daily outing, the distance you cover, and even your speed and pace. MapMyDogWalk uses GPS to create an exact map of wherever your adventures take you.

6. BringFido Another must-have for on the go pet parents, BringFido is the best (and most trusted) source for locating pet-friendly accommodations. The free app can also be used to find nearby dog parks, and pet-friendly trails, beaches, and more.

7. iCam At $4.99 this app may be a splurge, but it’s a much cheaper alternative than purchasing a pet video conferencing gadget. This app allows you to remotely access your home computer’s webcam, gaining a sneak peek into what Spot does all day via video streaming. Simply download iCam to your computer at no cost and then purchase the accompanying app for your smartphone. You can even add cameras inside and outside of your home to create a true surveillance system!

8. Perfect Dog & Purrfect Cat Free Ultimate Breed Guides Whether you simply want to expand your knowledge of dog and cat breeds or you want a handy reference for identifying unique pets you encounter, either of these free apps are excellent. Purrfect Cat introduces you to more than 90 popular and rare feline breeds, while Perfect Dog contains more than 3,000 images and information on more than 510 unique canines.

9. BarkBuddy From the makers of Barkbox, this free app makes pet adoption as easy as online dating. Browse dozens of nearby pups in need of forever homes and share them with your online followers. The more you browse, the more the app learns what kind of dog you’re hoping to find – and the better your chances of finding true puppy love.

10. iClicker Training just got easier with the free iClicker app! Minimize the amount of bulk in your pocket by downloading the iClicker app to use while training your cat or dog. Since it’s in your phone, you’ll almost always have it handy. This no-cost app comes with training tutorials and a supply of additional fun and distracting noises for your pet.

Is Sleeping With A Pet Beneficial Your Health

Monday, March 7th, 2016

A recent study by the Mayo Clinic’s Center for Sleep Medicine in Arizona reported some people may benefit from sharing a bed with a pet. The study looked at 74 pet owners – 56% of whom allow their pet in the bedroom with them. Of those, 41% believe sleeping with their pet is beneficial to sleep.

A good night’s sleep does more than leave you feeling well-rested. It plays an important role in overall immune function, metabolism, memory, learning, and more.

Strengthen Your Bond by Sharing Your Bed

Dr. Ken Tudor, former Veterinary Medical Officer for the United States Department of Agriculture, believes the benefits of sharing a bed with a dog stem from our evolutionary partnership. Domestication of the wild dog undoubtedly included the animals joining “man at the camp fire and later snuggling closely with him for mutual warmth.”

In addition to reporting better sleep, respondents also noted a greater sense of security. This could be from the simple reassuring presence of another warm body or because pets often double as protectors who will alert their owners to intruders. Dr. Tudor emphasizes that being in consistent proximity with an animal fosters bonding and a more intimate relationship.

“Some people find that sleeping with their animal actually helps them feel cozy,” said Dr. Lois Krahn, a sleep medicine specialist at the center. “One woman said her two small dogs warmed her bed. Another person felt her cat who was touching her during the night was comforting and soothing.”

Results May Vary

Although the majority of pet-owning respondents reported sharing their bedroom with their pet, another 20% admitted the bed-hogging, snoring, or moving around can be disruptive.

Interrupted sleep has been linked to preventing slow-wave sleep and a worse mood than non-interrupted sleepers upon waking. The Mayo Clinic advises patients who have sleep concerns to inquire about whether or not their sleep environment should be shared with a companion animal.

“I think from a sleep standpoint, multiple pets increase the risk of bad sleep,” said Krahn.

Happy 2016! Have You Made Any Pet Resolutions?

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

A new year is upon us. With it comes the opportunity to start anew and set some goals for better, healthier and more productive living. As a pet owner, the new year also marks a fresh opportunity to include your pet’s wellbeing in your good-intentioned plans.

Here are five New Year’s resolutions to consider:

1. Resolve to engage in more physical activity and exercise with your pet – It may still be cold outside, but even increasing your daily walk by a few minutes will be beneficial to you and your four-legged friend. Play can also happen indoors. Ward of obesity and behavior issues before they become a problem. Games of fetch, play-wrestling or tug of war all are ways to keep your pup active and engaged.

2. Resolve to feed your pet a healthier diet – You may think feeding your pet human food is a way to show your love, but much of it can be fatty and unhealthy for your dog or cat. Just as you may be resolving to watch your own waistline, your canine or feline companion requires a diet that is formulated to provide all of the nutrients he or she requires. Do some research and invest in a high-quality kibble, canned food or raw diet plan – and be careful, as supplementing that with unhealthy human scraps is a leading contributor to weight gain.

3. Resolve to curb bad behaviors – Being lovingly mauled by your pooch when you arrive home was cute for a while, but maybe the bruises are getting a little out of hand. This year, step up your training game and make it part of your pet’s regular routine. Reward good behavior and stop passively encouraging the bad.

4. Resolve to be the best pet parent you can be – Odds are you probably already pamper your pet quite a bit. In 2016, look for more ways to be an outstanding owner. Maybe this means finally getting around to microchipping your pet, investing in pet health insurance or starting a savings fund, or introducing an adopted brother or sister into your home. You can also endeavor to do things that benefit you and your pet, such as getting him or her a stylish new bed that complements your décor or organizing that overflowing toy bin.

5. Resolve to provide your pet with regular veterinary care – As pets age much faster than humans, a lot can happen with their health over the course of a year. Preventative pet health care is the best thing you can do to ensure your furry friend lives a long, happy and healthy life. Between visits to your veterinarian, take measures to continue care at home. This includes giving regular baths, grooming, and brushing his or her teeth.

If we haven’t seen your pet during the past year, please call Island Trees Veterinary Hospital for an appointment with a veterinarian. Prevention is the best care for your pet and the least expensive for you.

Virginia Police Department K9s are Safer Thanks to CNN News Anchor

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

Krijger, a Belgian Malinois with the Norfolk, Virginia police department, served his last day as a police K9 on January 11. It was a Monday and Krijger had responded to a violent barricade situation at a home with his handler and other Norfolk officers.

Fifty-eight-year-old Keith Richardon refused to leave his home despite pleas from negotiators. Richardson’s wife, who told emergency responders that he had a gun, was being held hostage. After a seven-hour standoff, Richardson exited the home, but began firing at the police; Krijger was hit and later succumbed to his injury.

Had Krijger been wearing a bulletproof vest, he may have survived.

After Krijger’s death, an unlikely good Samaritan stepped up to the task of outfitting the department’s entire K9 force with the costly vests after becoming aware of the need on social media. Retired Navy SEAL and military dog handler Jimmy Hatch runs a Norfolk-based charity dedicated to helping military and police dogs. Hatch developed a friendship with CNN news anchor Anderson Cooper after being interview by him last year. When Hatch launched an online campaign to raise the funds needed for the vests – which cost roughly $2,200 each – Cooper took notice.

Although how much he donated wasn’t released, the journalist’s charitable gift was enough to cover the purchase of 18 vests for the Norfolk K9s, plus several more for other area units. The donation served as Cooper’s speaking fee for an upcoming lecture at Chrysler Hall in Norfolk.

The police department tweeted: “We are at a loss for words. Following the passing of K-9 Krijger earlier this week, CNN’s Anderson Cooper has donated enough money to get a vest for every K9 at the Norfolk PD. Truly amazing.”

A Salty Danger: Keeping Your Pet Safe this Winter

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

With the winter months upon us, pet owners should be aware of the dangers posed by rock salt, also known as “ice melt.” Used to combat slippery sidewalks, steps, and walkways, rock salt contains a mixture of many minerals which pose unique problems for pets – who, unlike us, walk around bare-pawed all winter!

Pet Paws & Stomachs at Risk

Walking on rock salt-laden ground can lead to local irritation of your pet’s feet. Paws feature mucus membranes which are sensitive to contact with the harsh, drying minerals found in rock salt. Prolonged exposure can lead to cracked paw-skin and, once the sensitive underlying tissue becomes exposed, can be quite painful for your pooch or kitty!

Your pet may want to cleanse his or her feet of the troublesome, yet tasty, substance by engaging in some extensive licking once back indoors. Ingesting the salt in this way, or from treated snow or melted puddles, can cause drooling, painful sores or swelling inside the mouth, and oral discomfort. It can also lead to upset stomach, nausea and vomiting. The ASPCA Poison Control Center reports vomiting followed by diarrhea as the most common symptoms of rock salt ingestion in 30% of related calls.

However, if your pet decides to eat a buffet of rock salt cubes it could be toxic and cause lethargy, tremors, disorientation, increased water consumption and seizures. In extreme cases, excessive ingestion can be fatal!

Tips for Cold-Climate Pet Owners

• Keep bags/containers of rock salt out of reach
• Don’t over-salt areas where your pet routinely walks
• Kitty litter works as a safe substitute
• Keep your pet from overeating salty snow or drinking from puddles
• Rinse or towel off your pet’s paws after walks
• Monitor paws for excessive dryness, cracking or irritation
• Vaseline can be used as a salt barrier when applied to your pet’s paws
• Consider pet booties!

If you suspect your dog or cat has ingested a fair amount of rock salt, call Island Trees Veterinary Hospital right away. This is an emergency and your pet should see one of the veterinarians immediately.

Senior Pets Face Same Obstacles As Senior Citizens

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

At Island Trees Veterinary Hospital, our understanding of your pets’ needs have come a long way. The combination of improved nutrition, preventative vaccines and care, and cutting-edge technology to treat chronic diseases and injuries has markedly increased the life expectancy for your pets. Cats and dogs now often reach birthdays marking 16 or more years of life.

However, just as in humans, old age in pets is burdened by an increased risk of arthritis, cancer, heart disease, and even dementia. Known as canine cognitive dysfunction, “doggie dementia” can cause senior pets to exhibit symptoms similar to those documented in human Alzheimer’s patients.

Hard To Diagnose

Your pet can’t tell you when something is wrong. His or her actions are what you rely on to get a sense of whether they feel well or if something has changed. If your older dog is experiencing doggie dementia, among other symptoms, he may begin to have bathroom accidents indoors, become lost or disoriented in familiar places and stare blankly at walls. Unfortunately, the symptoms of canine cognitive dysfunction can be confused with or mistaken for other conditions.

According to Melissa Bain, a UC Davis veterinarian who specializes in animal behavior, pets who stand still and stare blankly may be suffering from a minor seizure rather than dementia; those that seem detached may be in pain; and changes in bathroom habits could be a sign of kidney disease. The diagnosis, therefore, tends to be a process of elimination.

Not An Isolated Occurrence

Research suggests that nearly 70% of dogs and 50% of cats 15 and older exhibit signs of cognitive dysfunction or decline. Brain autopsies of older cats and dogs have shown internal changes similar to those found in seniors with Alzheimer’s disease. This includes loss of neurons, plaquing or calcification, and atrophy. These conditions are linked with memory loss, confusion, and detachment.

There are no good ways to predict, prevent or cure Alzheimer’s disease or canine cognitive dysfunction. Instead, the condition is most often managed through diet, supplements, and mental stimulation.

If you have noticed odd behavioral or bathroom changes in your pet, please contact Island Trees Veterinary Hospital and make an appointment with a veterinarian. The earlier the condition is caught, the better it can be treated and managed.

Vaccine Available for New Dog Flu Strain

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

A vaccine protecting against a relatively new – and sometimes deadly – strain of Canine influenza, or “dog flu,” has just been released by two major veterinary pharmaceutical companies.

The strain, known as H3N2, had been limited within Korea, China and Thailand since 2006. However, an outbreak in the Chicago area occurred earlier this year which prompted fast action. Beginning in mid-April, more than 1,000 dogs in and around Chicago were identified as being infected. H3N2 then spread to Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin, New York, Texas and California. Of the 2,000 confirmed cases, most dogs recovered; however some dogs died.

The U.S.-based H3N2 strain is 99% identical to the Asian one and, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, there have been rumors that it was imported from Asia through rescued dogs.

“Unlike human influenza, this virus is not seasonal, so it can be contracted at any time of the year,” said Dr. Susan Nelson, a clinical associate professor at Kansas State’s Veterinary Health Center. “Dogs that are at greatest risk for exposure to this disease are those who frequent areas where lots of dogs are in one place, like kennels, dog shows, shelters and doggie day care facilities.”

The History of H3N2

Vaccinations against the more common H3N8 dog flu strain have been available for years. However, none existed for the new and highly contagious strain when the outbreak occurred.

“There are differences in the genetic sequences of the two strains that suggest that [H3N8] vaccines would be poorly effective or ineffective in protecting dogs against the H3N2 virus infecting dogs in the Midwest,” said Dr. Colin Parrish, of Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, in April.

Now, pet owners can protect their pooches and other pets from the pesky flu. Cats, guinea pigs, and ferrets can possibly pick up the flu from their canine housemates, but it cannot be spread to humans. The virus can, however, be spread for up an “unusually long period” of up to 24 days and can live on a person’s hands for approximately 12 hours.

Symptoms of Canine Flu

Canine influenza is an extremely contagious respiratory infection. If you notice your dog is coughing, sneezing, or has a runny nose you should not shrug it off as a little cold or even allergies. The early signs of canine influenza are coughing or gagging. Clinical symptoms such as coughing, runny nose, lethargy, depression, and a fever as high as 103-107 degrees typically appear within 7 to 10 days post exposure. The severe form of canine influenza can lead to viral pneumonia.

While highly contagious, the good news is that the virus is easily killed by soap and water, disinfectants and 10 percent bleach solutions. Transmission can be prevented by isolating all suspected dogs, thorough cleaning of all cages and exposed surfaces such as floors, kennels food dishes and bedding.

Almost all dogs exposed to canine influenza become infected; about 80 percent fully develop the illness, while about 20 percent do not. Most dogs recover quickly; however, some dogs may contract pneumonia due to a secondary infection.

While the death rate for canine influenza is low, secondary infections and other complications can sometimes lead to death. Recently, two Philadelphia animal shelters were quarantined due to the death of six dogs from canine influenza. It is spread wherever dogs are in close contact with one another. Dogs that stay at home or have limited contact with other dogs are at low risk.

Treatment for Canine Flu

Like the flu that you contract, canine influenza is mostly treated by providing supportive care while the virus runs its course. Antibiotics may be used if secondary infections develop. The canine influenza vaccine is a is recommended for dogs at high-risk of contracting the virus.

Canine influenza does not infect humans. Call Island Trees Veterinary Hospital today if you believe your dog has contracted canine influenza or if you’d like to make an appointment for the vaccine.

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