Resources for Summer Pet Travel

June 4, 2014

traveling dogMemorial Day has passed, school will soon end, and then comes the annual family summer vacation–an event which now more than ever before includes the family pet. Because pets are not always welcome at hotels, parks and on public transportation, planning ahead for your furry friend will help make your summer vacation memorable for fun and not for travel headaches. Here are some tips and websites to help you plan the perfect pet holiday.

General Travel Tips
For a good overview of traveling with pets, try one of these sites:

Public Transportation
During the busy travel months of summer, finding a parking spot for your car can be difficult, making public transportation especially attractive. Petsweekly.com gives information on pet travel on trains and buses

Parks and Recreation
America’s National Parks have been called “our best idea” because they preserve the most spectacular natural wonders for all Americans, except pets. Because of their fragile ecosystems and the risk to pets’ safety from large predators such as coyotes, pets are only welcome in a limited number of National ParksPetfriendlytravel.com has information on the accessibility of state parks throughout the country.

Pet Friendly Hotels
Westin Hotels, W Hotels, Kimpton Hotels and a number of other hotel chains advertise pet friendly rooms. Be sure when you make a reservation to request a pet friendly room and also inquire about additional charges to have the pet stay in your room.

International Travel
Taking your pet on an international vacation requires the investigative powers of Sherlock Holmes and better planning than the D-day invasion of Normandy. Start your investigation with the United States Department of Agriculture’s website.

Pay close attention to the rules for export (taking your pet out of the USA) and import (getting your pet back into the USA). Also check the website of the country you plan to travel to on your vacation. Every country’s entry requirements for pets are different and your pet may need special paperwork, blood tests or vaccinations months in advance of the trip. If your trip stems from a job-related relocation, you may want to use a professional pet shipper to help you interpret and follow the travel guidelines. For more information about international travel with your pets, read our archived blog.

Here’s to safe travels for you and your four-footed companions this summer!


A Compounding Pet Pharmacy Can Be a Lifesaver

September 20, 2011

Tracey required eye drops in a special bottle. Sapphire refused pills she desperately needed. Bailey turned from a fluffy, gray kitty into a man-eating lion every time he needed a thyroid pill. The medication list for Rufus was so long, I was worried about a dosing mistake.

Fortunately for the veterinarians and our patients at The Animal Medical Center, there is a creative group of pharmacists just up the street from us — Best Pet Rx. This week alone, the group solved the medication problems of all four pets above and more.

Not the typical chain drug store you see on every corner or in every strip mall, a compounding pharmacy has specialized equipment to take an existing medication and formulate it into a patient-friendly “compound.”

Tracey has a water fetish, and at one time drank eight liters a day. In humans, this problem is treated with a nasal spray that comes from a special bottle. Dogs do not think nasal sprays are fun. With a water guzzler like Tracey, we take the human nasal spray and use it as an eye drop, except the bottle doesn’t drop, it sprays. The compounding pharmacy has a special sterile area where the medicine can be removed from its spray bottle and be put in an eye drop bottle to facilitate administration. Two drops a day has brought Tracey down to three liters of water a day, which is 50 percent less than she was drinking.

Sapphire is very smart, very beautiful and avoids pills like the plague. The solution to her medication problem was quite simple: Turn the pills into a beef-flavored liquid, easily squirted into the side of her mouth and readily swallowed because of the tasty beef flavor.

Bailey needed a different solution to his medication problem. Lucky for him, his prescription was for thyroid pills. These pills can be compounded into a gel and applied to the inside of the ear, transporting the medication across the skin and into the bloodstream. Not all medications can be compounded into a transdermal gel, but when they can it is a life saver.

The solution to Rufus’ multi-pill problem is my favorite. The pharmacists took his morning and evening pill allotments and placed them into a gelatin capsule. Each capsule delivered an entire morning or evening dose of all medications. Clearly this was much simpler than giving four pills at a time.

If you are having trouble medicating your pet, ask your veterinarian to work with a compounding pharmacy to develop a custom solution to your pet’s medication problem. No veterinary clinic should be without one.

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This may also be found in the “Tales from the Pet Clinic” blog on WebMD.com.

For over a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


Summer Noise Phobias

July 5, 2011

Lovely weather, summer holidays and a relaxed atmosphere make summer everyone’s favorite season – everyone except for dogs with noise phobias. Fireworks and thunderstorms create unexpected loud noises, frightening to many dogs and cats as well. The veterinarians at The Animal Medical Center see dogs and cats injured and lost over the Fourth of July weekend as a result of their noise phobias.

Signs of noise phobia:

Destructive behavior

  • Scratching/digging at door or wall
  • Chewing
  • Loss of housebreaking

Anxious behavior

  • Clinging to owner
  • Drooling
  • Hiding, especially cats
  • Panting
  • Expressing anal glands
  • Dilated pupils

Abnormal behavior

  • Skipping meals
  • Jumping out of windows/running out of doors
  • Shaking
  • Loss of training, i.e., not responding to commands

Home Remedies
Consider trying home remedies for noise phobia. One of my patients with thunderstorm phobia calms down if her owner wipes her fur down with a dryer sheet. Dryer sheets may decrease the buildup of static electricity caused by the impending thunderstorm. I suggest the unscented ones, since dogs don’t like smelling like an ocean breeze. Anxious dogs may feel calmer during storms or fireworks if you apply a dab of lavender oil to their ear tips. The lavender oil fragrance has calming properties and is available at health food stores and on the internet.

Noise Phobia Products

  • Along the lines of the antistatic dryer sheet is the Storm Defender Cape which has a special lining to diffuse static electricity.
  • The Thundershirt is a snug fitting dog T-shirt which some of my dog owners have used for anxiety related to car rides, veterinarian visits, as well as thunderstorms.
  • An interesting product I found is dog ear muffs, but I don’t have personal experience with them.

For additional tips on managing fireworks phobia in dogs read a previous blog, “Fireworks and Your Dog.”

If you need professional help managing noise phobias in your pet, a behavioral consult with a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists can help set your dog or cat on the road to recovery.

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This may also be found in the “Tales from the Pet Clinic” blog on WebMD.com.

For over a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


Cat Food Myths Debunked

June 30, 2011

A few months ago I wrote about cats and “cat salad.” Since we are at the end of Adopt–a-Cat month, I hope there are many new cat owner readers who will be interested in these food myths about cats. These myths have come from conversations with my cat-owning clients at The Animal Medical Center.

All cats like fish.
Partial myth. Cats’ food preferences are strongly influenced by those of their mother. If the mother liked and ate fish, the kittens are likely to crave fish as well. But the food preferences of the finicky feline are not so simply categorized. Despite the daredevil behaviors of young cats – flying from cabinet to refrigerator and scaling bookshelves with abandon – they are not so adventurous when it comes to food. Young cats fed the same diet consistently are often reluctant to eat a different diet if one is offered to them later in life. A cat food with a “good” smell is more likely to be chosen by a finicky feline, and if your cat doesn’t find any of the food attractive based on smell, it may taste several before choosing one. One fun fact about cats’ food preferences is cats probably don’t chose food based on salty or sweet flavors since their taste buds are insensitive to salts and sugars.

Cats should have milk to drink.
This is a companion partial myth to “cats like fish.” Some cats like milk, some don’t. Most cats lack the digestive enzyme, lactase, responsible for digestion of lactose, or milk sugar. A bowl of milk may lead to an upset stomach or diarrhea in cats. This situation can be avoided by treating your cat to a bowl of low fat lactose-free milk or one of the cat milk products available at the pet store. Since treats should comprise only 10% of the daily caloric requirement, keep the amount of milk to about 1/3 of a cup, or roughly 30 calories per day for the average 8 pound cat. Cat milk products have the added advantage of supplemental taurine, an essential amino acid for cats.

Cats can be vegetarians.
This is a myth, and a dangerous one. Nutritionally speaking, cats are obligate carnivores. Everything about their physical structure says “meat eater” from their sharp pointy fangs to their short digestive tract. Veterinarians will discourage owners from preparing vegetarian or vegan foods at home for their cats. Without the input of a specialized veterinary nutritionist, homemade vegetarian and vegan diets for cats are frequently deficient in taurine, arginine, tryptophan, lysine and vitamin A. Taurine deficiency leads to heart failure and a cat fed a diet without arginine may suffer death within hours. Both taurine and arginine are found in meat.

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This may also be found in the “Tales from the Pet Clinic” blog on WebMD.com.

For over a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


Recognizing Arthritis Pain in Your Cat

June 28, 2011

When working with the Animal Medical Center veterinarians participating in our post graduate training programs, I often say, “Cats are not little dogs.” What I really mean is, a particular disease in dogs does not appear the same as the disease does in cats. For example, dogs with heart disease typically have heart failure from leaky heart valves, while cats with heart disease commonly have abnormalities of their heart muscles, not their valves. When it comes to disorders of the thyroid gland, dogs suffer from an under active thyroid and cats from an over active thyroid.

Normal hips in a cat. Arrows point to nice, smooth joint surfaces.

A pet’s behavior in response to arthritis pain is also different between cats and dogs.

Arthritis is a common cause of pain in dogs and owners of arthritic dogs are quick to point out their dog is limping. Despite the fact that x-rays show evidence of arthritis in somewhere between 15-65% of cats, limping is really uncommon in feline patients. 

Cats with arthritis suffer from weight loss, anorexia, depression, urinating outside the litter box, poor grooming and, in some cases, lameness. One of my 21-year-old feline patients had to be moved onto a single floor of the house because he was too painful to use the stairs to the basement to get to his litter box. He got a new litterbox too, which had lower sides since he couldn’t step into his old one with higher sides.

Both hips in this cat are affected by arthritis. Arrows point to roughened edges of joint.

Pain in cats is difficult for both veterinarians and cat owners to assess. From my veterinarian’s viewpoint, if I put a cat on the exam room floor in an attempt to watch it walk, it will immediately run under the desk and hide. It will definitely not limp as it rockets underneath the desk.

In a recent study evaluating pain assessment in cats by veterinary researchers in North Carolina, cat owners reported they found it difficult to identify mild pain in their cats. Cat owners believed they could correctly identify changes in their cat’s function and activity. Dog owners more readily identify how pain interferes with their dog’s activities, possibly because dogs participate more fully in family activities such as ball toss, Frisbee and hiking.

If you notice your cat moving around less, not using the litter box or showing reluctance to go up and down the stairs, see your veterinarian for an arthritis evaluation.

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This may also be found in the “Tales from the Pet Clinic” blog on WebMD.com.

For over a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


Take Your Dog to Work Day

June 20, 2011

Becky (L) & Percy (R) hardly working at The AMC

Friday, June 24th, is Take Your Dog to Work Day. Employees of The Animal Medical Center (AMC) are lucky since every day here is Take Your Pet to Work Day. Not surprisingly, The AMC is a pet-friendly employer.

Although most pets that come to work are dogs, we do have the occasional infant kitten or ancient cat who come to work because of special feeding and medication requirements during the day. The photo below shows Pepe avoiding work by hiding under a chair.

First celebrated in 1999, Take Your Dog to Work Day was created to celebrate the great companions dogs make and to encourage their adoption from humane societies, animal shelters and breed rescue clubs.

Pepe (available for adoption)

Companies, large and small, are recognizing the importance of pets in our social fabric. Some offer their employees pet insurance as one option in their benefits package. Inc.’s series, “Winning Workplaces,” highlights the increased worker productivity and camaraderie of workplaces where dogs are allowed.

Taryl Fultz, copywriter for Trone, Inc., a 70 person marketing firm in High Point, NC, with many pet care clients, including GREENIES® and NUTRO® says, “I absolutely [get more work done] when my sheltie is at work. He is very well behaved, but I feel better when I have him with me. I often stay later, bring my lunch those days and work through at my desk. When people/clients get tours of the office, he is always a featured stop along the way. Pets make most people smile. And can often turn a tense meeting/moment into a better one.”

I emailed with one employee of the marketing firm Moxie. Dogs are welcome at this 300+ person company, but visits must be scheduled in advance and misbehaving dogs are put on restriction. Visiting the office is not all fun and games. One Chihuahua was even pressed into service, when he was photographed wearing a wig and playing the piano for an ad campaign.

Trone, Inc. employees, from the VP for human resources to copywriters, have wonderful work stories about their pets. One 65 pound mutt works on stealing stuffed toys from other dogs, small children or co-workers’ offices. Another dog likes to work in a private space – behind the credenza — only she doesn’t quite fit and all her owner can see is the back half of a dog sticking out. Owen, a Plott hound, likes work because of the availability of GREENIES. One weekend Owen didn’t come when he was called. Finally he came running with a large mailing box where his head should have been. Owen had grabbed one of the mailing samples, which had a Greenie affixed to it. He was so excited to bring to his owner and then rip it off of the package.

If your office is going to be dog-friendly, you might want to consider establishing office etiquette guidelines. Our friends at the ASPCA have some useful suggestions.

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This may also be found in the “Tales from the Pet Clinic” blog on WebMD.com.

For over a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


Potty Training Your Cat: Are You Kidding?

June 16, 2011

Toilet-trained cat

A cat and dog owning client of The Animal Medical Center called about a month ago wondering if I had heard of toilet training for cats. I guess he hasn’t seen Jinxy, the potty trained cat of the “Fockers” movie series. I had also seen the CitiKitty products in November 2010, when I attended the No Place Like Home Pet Products Showcase, which had included CitiKitty in their list of exhibitors.

CitiKitty is just one of several cat toilet training kits available. The concept seems simple. The device attaches to a toilet seat and you put litter on the device at the same time you take away the litter box. Gradually you remove the rings in the device until the entire device is removed and your cat stands on the toilet seat while eliminating in the toilet. An automatic flusher is even available to facilitate cleanup!

After that initial call, I didn’t hear from the owner for a while. Then a couple of weeks ago he and I had a good laugh about what had happened next. Uli, his Chartreux cat, performed brilliantly with the CitiKitty device, successfully using it on the first try. Tonka, his dog, looked at the CitiKitty device as a buffet option and ate all the cat litter, resulting in a severe case of tummy upset and diarrhea.

Photo: Tonka and Uli, courtesy of the family

The next part of the plan included a baby gate to allow Uli in and keep Tonka out and the training started again. Because Tonka is a French bulldog, he could not jump over the gate and Uli could. Uli used the training device until too many training rings were removed. Then he rebelled by using the bathtub as a litter box.

So what went wrong? My friend called the CitiKitty helpline and after some discussion with them, thinks he possibly rushed Uli by taking the rings out too fast. He is going to try again when his travel schedule allows him to be home to monitor the situation. Perhaps Uli should have had more positive reinforcement with a special tasty treat during the training process, as CitiKitty recommends.

But why all this fuss? What’s wrong with an old-fashioned litter box? In places like New York City, space is tight and having your cat use the toilet means you don’t need a litter box taking up valuable space in your apartment. Pregnant women should not scoop cat litter and this is an easy way to eliminate that task from the to-do list. Clay litter is very dusty and may contribute to respiratory problems in some cats and definitely contributes to landfills, making a potty trained cat a green cat.

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This may also be found in the “Tales from the Pet Clinic” blog on WebMD.com.

For over a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


Keeping Your Cat Young

June 9, 2011

For those families adding a feline member during Adopt-a-Cat Month this June, keeping your cat young and in good health is a priority. Here are The Animal Medical Center’s top six tips to achieving purrfect health and maintaining a long life for your feline family member.

1. Give your cat a routine. Research has shown changes in feeding schedule or in caretaker can result in “illness behaviors” such as having a poor appetite, vomiting and not using the litter box. Basically, cats don’t like surprises.

2. Provide your cat with an interesting environment. Cats need climbing structures where they have a good view of the room and a window with an outdoor view. The perch should be comfortable for resting. Leave a radio on tuned to quiet music when you are away.

3. Encourage your cat to hunt. Not outdoors, but indoor hunting. Use food dispensing toys such as the FunKitty line. Keeping your cat’s brain active by having her “hunt” for her food will keep her engaged and active longer.

4. Cats may have a “hands off” personality, but when it comes to healthcare you need to be hands on, and the hands should be those of your cat’s veterinarian. Visit your cat’s veterinarian for routine health checks at least once a year and twice a year if your cat is 10 years of age or older.

5. Clean your cat’s teeth regularly. The American Veterinary Dental College and the AMC Dental Service recommend daily tooth brushing and annual cleanings under general anesthesia.

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This may also be found in the “Tales from the Pet Clinic” blog on WebMD.com.

For over a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


Name This Puppy!

May 25, 2011

The adorable West Highland White Terrier pictured here is in search of a name. His new family is considering Harper, a name of Scottish origin that also belonged to a famous Southern American author, Harper Lee, or Henry because of the puppy’s regal bearing and royal personality. Or perhaps my readers have a better suggestion. Go to the Animal Medical Center’s Facebook page and join in the discussion about this puppy’s name. Below are some of my thoughts on memorable patient names to help you start thinking. We would also like to hear the story about how your pet got its name.

During the course of my career as a veterinarian, I have heard lots of unusual pet names. To write this blog, I reviewed my personal patient archives to remind myself of some of the colorful names my patients have. Unlike human baby names, which are recorded by the Social Security Administration, and reported on websites like parenting.com, there is no registry of pet names.

Popular culture influences baby names, and 2010 was no exception. The Twilight Saga gave us the top boy and girl names of 2010: Jacob and Isabella.

Popular culture also influences pet names. Over the years I have noticed an evolution in Rottweiller names. For example, a common name in the 1980’s was Mr. T. Tyson became popular in the 1990’s, and more recently Kruger or Hannibal.

Remember the movie Milo and Otis? Milo was an orange cat. Every veterinarian will tell you orange cats named Milo increased dramatically after this movie was released and The AMC has over 300 cats named Milo in its patient database.

Here are some more fun names of pets, in alphabetical order so no one will be offended.

Abie – A West Highland White Terrier owned by a pianist. The name was a truncation of the Composer Alexander Nikolayevich Scriabin.

Barbara, Diana and Mary – An entire litter of three female miniature black poodles named after the Motown group, The Supremes.

FSBO – (pronounced fizz-bo) A real estate acronym which stands for For Sale By Owner. This dog’s family worked in the real estate business.

Handsome – An aptly named, fabulously handsome Pug with velvet black lips.

Pugsley – When I first met this dog I spent a lot of time in the waiting room looking for a Pug or a Puggle, but I just found a brown, mixed breed dog. Turns out the owner just liked the name and its choice had nothing to do with the dog’s appearance.

Quay – A dog rescued from a drug dealer and previously known as Quaalude.

Sapphire – This cat should have been named Spitfire. No veterinarian could get within a mile of this cat without risking life and limb.

Simon – A Morkie, was thought to look British in a photo sent to a family member and he immediately became Simon.

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This may also be found in the “Tales from the Pet Clinic” blog on WebMD.com.

For over a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


The Second Annual NYC Pet Show

May 19, 2011

Dr. Ann Hohenhaus with Meteorologist Ron Trotta & Scmitty the Weather Dog

If you are in the New York metropolitan area, I have a great weekend activity tip for you: check out the NYC Pet Show at the Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 West 18th Street, from 12 noon-5 pm on both Saturday and Sunday.

This event is fun for the whole family, including the furry members of the family. Leashed pets are welcome and will have a great time testing all the latest pet products. The humans attending will love listening to the expert speakers in addition to having a great opportunity to network with other dog and cat lovers. Schmitty, the weather dog, who was at The Animal Medical Center to broadcast with me on Monday will have her own booth.

During the course of the show there will be expert presentations throughout the course of the afternoon. On Saturday, my friend Charlotte Reed will give her view on “What You Need to Know to Have a Pet in NYC” and Bill Berloni, of Theatrical Animals, will let you in on his secrets training animals for Broadway shows.

Sunday yours truly will present “Why is the vet pushing on my pet: Demystifying the Wellness Exam” at 12:15. My presentation will be followed by members of Rescue Ink who will talk about the animals they have rescued. Rescue Ink’s members are tough talking tattooed bikers with a big soft spot for animals. While I like their mission, I am partial to the temporary tattoos offered by my friends at Angels on a Leash — a cute little purple dog with a heart of gold. One of my dog patients is a volunteer with this great organization.

In addition to seeing new products, attendees will be able to see some pet products I have highlighted in previous blogs. Both Pioneer Pet Products and GoPet will be at the NYC Pet Show. I highlighted the Feng Shui water fountain and the self powered exercise wheel in my holiday gift blog. CityKitty, who makes tasty low calorie bonito tuna flake treats will also be there for those pets watching their weight.

If I have convinced you to go attend the NYC Pet Show, “Tales from the Pet Clinic” and AMC blog readers will receive a $5 discount on their tickets by using the special promotional code AMC, when buying their tickets online. See you at the show!

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This may also be found in the “Tales from the Pet Clinic” blog on WebMD.com.

For over a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


Pet Resolutions for 2011

December 30, 2010

This time of year everyone is making New Year’s resolutions. Our pets are so much a part of our lives that when making resolutions for ourselves this year, why not consider a resolution or two that will help both you and your pet get a fresh start in the new year. Here are some possibilities to consider.

Choose healthy snacks in 2011.

Keep the amount of calories to 10% of your pet’s daily calorie requirement. Your veterinarian can help you assess how many calories this is. Choose healthy snacks like the 5 calorie baby carrot or the 50 calorie ½ apple. CittiKitty now markets Tuna Treats, premium bonito flakes for treating your cat, but a fish loving dog will find them tasty too. Because the tuna is dried and flaked paper thin, one cup has 35 calories. Using 10 flakes a day as a treat will contribute minimal calories and the taste will be a huge hit with your cat.

Get down to and maintain an ideal body condition.

Weight loss is on almost everyone’s New Year’s resolution list. Because pets come in so many sizes and shapes, it is hard to say your cat should weigh 5 or 10 or 15 pounds. What matters is maintaining an ideal body condition. Veterinarians commonly assess this during an annual examination. It is based on your pet having a waist and skeletal features you can feel with your hands. If your pet doesn’t have these, he/she is likely overweight. To see the dog and cat body condition scale, visit:

Take your pet to the veterinarian at least once a year.

Comparing 2001 and 2006, a decrease of 1 million veterinary visits was recorded and visits have fallen further due to the Great Recession beginning in 2007. This means pets are medically underserved and small problems can quickly become big ones. Preventive healthcare prevents potentially fatal infectious diseases and difficult to treat disorders such as heartworms. Senior pets may need twice yearly visits as a pet’s lifespan is compressed into fewer years than ours are.

Give to less fortunate dogs and cats.

Local animal shelters and rescue group are always in need. Cleaning out your old and shabby towels? Call your local shelter and see if they could use them to give a homeless pet a place to curl up. Check with your local rescue group or food pantry about pet food donations. People without enough to eat may also have pets in the same situation. Offer to walk dogs or brush cats at your local shelter. I am sure any help you offer will be more than appreciated.

Spend quality time with your pet.

We all lead busy lives. It is often very easy to overlook spending good quality time with that four-legged, furry member of your family. Instead of just walking your dog to the corner and back, vow to take him to the park, play fetch or check out the new dog run in the neighborhood. Change your cat’s toys frequently to prevent boredom. By giving your pet this quality time once a day or even once a week, your pet will return the favor with love and devotion. And, guaranteed it will improve your own quality of life!

This blog may also be found in the “Tales from the Pet Clinic” blog from WebMD.

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For nearly a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


Collars and Chips for All Cats

November 29, 2010

kitten with collarWithout research into disease mechanisms, new diagnostic tests and better treatments, there would be no advances in the medical care of either animals or people. Yet some folks think all animal research is bad. Let me tell you about some recently published research that just might save your cat’s life. The Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association has published a study “Evaluation of collars and microchips for visual and permanent identification of pet cats.” Since cats are now more popular pets than dogs are, this research is really important to those of us who love cats.

The lack of identification — either by a collar or microchip — is the main reason a cat’s owner cannot be found. Both indoor and outdoor cats can be lost and end up in a shelter so this study applies to all pet cats. Unfortunately, when cats end up in a shelter they are frequently euthanized if the owner cannot be found, making the question asked in this study, “What is the best method of identifying a lost cat, is it a collar or a microchip?” a matter of life and death.

The owners of 538 pet cats in Ohio, New York, Florida and Texas gave permission for their cats to participate in this creative study. All cats had a microchip placed for permanent identification and each cat wore a collar. To determine which collar would stay on the cat and provide the best opportunity for a cat’s owner to be identified, three different collars were evaluated in the study: a plastic buckle collar, a breakaway plastic buckle safety collar and an elastic stretch safety collar. Owners were surveyed at the beginning and the end of the 6 month study.

cat with microchip readerAs you might expect, the microchips performed extremely well. All but one was working well after 6 months, providing a ready method of cat owner identification. This information reinforces the need for every cat (and by the way, dogs too!) to have a microchip placed. But because this study identified a microchip failure, all cat owner’s should have their cat’s microchip function confirmed during an annual examination. This takes barely a second or two.

Not surprisingly, collars were less reliable than microchips, but they were still effective in identifying a cat. Just over 70% of cats wore their collars successfully for the duration of the study, underscoring the importance of the microchip as a backup method of identification. Owners frequently had to replace all types of collars, but the plastic buckle collar stayed on the best. No collar related injuries were identified, although 3.8% of cats did get the collar caught on an inanimate object or a body part such as their leg or mouth.

Cat owners, this is your call to action. Researchers have provided you with the tools to save your cat’s life. All you need to do is get your favorite feline a collar and a chip.

What kind of collar does your cat like best? Post your response in our comments section below.

Source: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 2010:237:387-394. Evaluation of collars and microchips for visual and permanent identification of pet cats. Lord LK, Griffin B, Slater MR, Levy JK.

This blog may also be found in the “Tales from the Pet Clinic” blog from WebMD.

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For nearly a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit http://www.amcny.org/. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


Hitting the Road with Fluffy and Fido: Traveling with Pets

November 22, 2010

A recently published survey of pet owners throughout the world, found most 61% of pet owners take their pets on holiday more than once a year and travel more than 50 miles from their homes. Because so many pet owners who come to The Animal Medical Center ask a variety of questions about traveling with their pets, The AMC has two previous blog posts about travel to help address the common questions that arise. One post is devoted exclusively to international travel.

In addition, to help you prepare for any upcoming trips, I searched the Internet to compile a list of useful websites for the traveling pet and his owner. It is important to remember that the regulations for international travel are not standardized between countries and change frequently. So remember, your only source for pet travel information should be the country’s website and their consulate. The US Department of State has links to various countries’ consulates.

If you are bringing an animal into the USA from another country, importation is regulated by the Centers for Disease Control. This applies to American pets who are returning home as well as to foreign born pets entering for the first time.

General Travel Information

Pet Travel Clubs

These websites provide travel information for their members:

  • “Take Your Pet” offers a free pet travel newsletter to those who register. To access lists of pet friendly hotels, lists of pet related services and message boards, the fee is $1.95.
  • “Pets On The Go” is another membership travel website. To access their newsletter and concierge service for pet travel questions, the fee is $15/year.

Pet Shipping

Vacation is not always the reason for travel. When families relocate for business, moving the family pet can be challenging. To find a pet shipping service check the website of the Independent Pet and Animal Transportation Association International (IPATA). For a pet shipper to be a member, they must be legally registered to conduct business and provide animal shipping services. In the United States, shippers must be USDA certified to handle animals.

Pet Travel Products

  • Check out the Pet Travel Store for all your pet’s travel needs: collapsible bowl, disposable litter trays and a nifty hotel door hanger to remind the housekeeping staff you have a pet inside.
  • Life jackets for the boating dog and collapsible cat playpens may be just the vacation items your pets needs. They can be found online at J-B Wholesale Pet Supplies.

Be prepared. Do all that you can to ensure a safe and comfortable trip for everyone.

Have you taken your pet on vacation or traveled more than 50 miles with him? Share your experiences below in the “comments” section.

This blog may also be found in the “Tales from the Pet Clinic” blog from WebMD.
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For nearly a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


Fireworks and Your Dog

June 30, 2010

The fourth of July is rapidly approaching and with it comes fireworks. Fireworks are a major cause of noise phobia in dogs. Why? Dog hearing is better than human hearing. Your dog probably hears more and louder noises than you do. Your dog’s nose is better too, and maybe the smell of the fireworks is unpleasant. Additionally, fireworks are an uncommon noise, and from your dog’s point of view, an unpredictable event. Your dog never has a chance to get used to the sudden, loud noises accompanied by flashes of light. Dogs with noise phobia pace, run, scratch at the door, shake, drool and can be very destructive. Verbal reprimand or physical cuddling will not help in this case because your dog cannot understand why she should not be afraid of the fireworks.

If your dog is noise phobic, here are some tips on managing the upcoming holiday weekend:

• On July 4th, plan extra exercise for your dog during the day so she is tired and will want to hit the sack early.

• Provide a safe and familiar environment for sleeping. The safest place is his crate. In the room where the crate is located, close the windows and drapes to keep out both noise and flashes of light. Provide some background noise, the TV, radio or air conditioner, to drown out the booming fireworks.

• Aromatherapy is also worth a try. Rub lavender oil on your dog’s earflaps or use one of the pheromone products designed to mimic the comfort signals a mother dog sends to her puppies, such as Comfort Zone.

• Internet testimonials suggest the Anxiety Wrap lessens anxiety in noise phobic dogs. The wrap is made of a lightweight fabric and uses acupressure and maintained pressure to decrease undesirable behaviors associated with stress and anxiety.

• If your dog won’t take a nap, distract him with other activities such as a game of indoor fetch or a feeding toy. These toys slowly dispense pieces of food as your dog plays with them.

• Finally, you can consider desensitization of your dog. This involves playing a commercially available CD with recorded fireworks noise while engaging your dog in a fun activity. The volume is gradually increased while your dog becomes used to the noise. If you need help with this endeavor, you should consider a consultation with a veterinary behavior specialist. This project requires time, and you have plenty of time to start now for next year.

Every year we hear about dogs frightened by fireworks, they escape from home and run away. Be sure your dog is microchipped and has up to date tags on his collar. Also make sure you have a recent photo of your dog in case you need to make a lost pet poster.

If these suggestions don’t seem to help, see your veterinarian to discuss using a tranquilizer on the 4th of July. Remember, your veterinarian will want to see your dog, get an accurate weight and determine the appropriate medication to prescribe.

For some additional tips from Animal Planet, visit: http://ht.ly/24Luc.

The Animal Medical Center
For 100 years, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit http://www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


Pet Food Recalls

June 10, 2010

Yesterday, the Iams Company voluntarily recalled Iams ProActive Health canned cat and kitten food – all varieties of 3 oz & 5.5 oz cans (date on the bottom of the can is 09/2011 to 06/2012). The Iams Company quality assurance team identified a deficiency of vitamin B1, also called thiamine, in this line of cat food. Cats can easily become thiamine deficient. If your cat is eating any of the recalled foods and appears sick in any way, please see your veterinarian immediately. Thiamine deficiency can easily be treated if recognized early. For more information, visit the Iams website.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates pet food. Regulations indicate pet food should be sanitary, safe for consumption and truthfully labeled. Unlike FDA approved medications for your pet, food does not have to undergo a pre-market approval process. The FDA regulates pet food labels in two ways. First, pet food must be correctly identified: what’s in it, who makes it, where is it made. Second, the FDA reviews specific health claims of pet food such as “promotes urinary tract health” or “prevents dental tartar.”

A recall can be one of three different types. The most common is a voluntary recall, and this recall is just that type. During a voluntary recall, the manufacturer realizes the food or medication is in some way unsafe and issues a recall. Distributors are alerted to remove unsold product from stores. As a service to consumers, a press release is posted on the FDA website. Less commonly, the FDA can request a recall if their investigation identifies a safety issue with a food or medication. And finally, the FDA has statutory power to mandate a recall.

Pets and humans share a common environment, food and often the same diseases. A human food recall could affect our pets if they were sharing our hamburger that gets recalled. A pet food recall can directly affect us as well. Recalled food can be risky for those handling the food, not just those eating it. For example, pet foods are at risk for being contaminated by a bacterium called Salmonella. Pets eating the food can get sick, and humans who prepare the food for their pet without properly washing their hands after handling the contaminated food could contract Salmonellosis too. Since humans are not eating this food, this particular recall is of consequence only to our cats. The recalled cat food poses no safety issues for the humans in the family.

Here are some suggestions to protect yourself and your pet against food-borne illnesses. Always wash your hands thoroughly after handling any food, especially raw meat. Wash your pet’s food and water bowls daily in hot, soapy water to remove any microorganisms. If your pet’s food smells strange or looks different than it usually does, discard it. Proper storage will protect food against spoiling. Opened wet food should be refrigerated and dry food should be stored in a tightly closed container at less than 80oF to preserve freshness. And finally, always save the label from the food you are feeding as a resource in case the food your pet is eating undergoes a recall.

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For nearly a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


Feline Oral Cancer

February 22, 2010

February is National Pet Dental Health Month and complete oral health involves not only dental hygiene, but also monitoring the oral cavity for other problems such as cancer. Oral cancer accounts for 3% of all cancers in cats, a rate comparable to that in humans. Oral cancer is an important cause of morbidity and mortality in both humans and cats. Cat owners often ask me what they can do to prevent this deadly disease in their cats, so in keeping with this month’s theme of oral health, here are my suggestions for the cat owner.

Similar to oral cancer in humans, oral squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the most common oral cancer seen in cats. Use of tobacco products and consumption of alcohol are known risk factors for the development of oral SCC in humans. Most cat owners are unaware that research has shown cats living in a household with smokers are victims of second hand smoke exposure. There appears to be a relationship between exposure to second hand smoke and the development of oral SCC in cats.  If you smoke and can’t quit for yourself, then quit for your cat.

Cats should be seen by a veterinarian at least once a year and twice a year as they move into the American Association of Feline Practitioners “mature” life stage. Mature cats are 7-10 years of age and the average age for cat to develop oral SCC is 10 years, so the mature cat is at the target age for early detection of this tumor. During a scheduled wellness examination your veterinarian will assess the oral cavity and determine the need for dental cleaning or the presence of an abnormality requiring biopsy.

During National Pet Dental Health Month, pet owners will be reminded to brush their pet’s teeth daily. As a cat owner, you need to start early and teach your kitten to allow brushing. But don’t stop there, practice opening your kitten’s mouth to allow a visual examination of its oral cavity. Starting early will get your kitten used to having its mouth manipulated and make home monitoring of the oral cavity and vet visits easier for everyone. An added benefit of teaching your kitten to allow you to open its mouth will be less resistance to medication administration if required when your kitten is older.

When you look in your cat’s mouth, look everywhere. Oral SCC can occur anywhere in the oral cavity including on the tongue, under the tongue, gums or either the upper or lower jawbone. The tumor appears as a lumpy, reddening of the surface of the oral cavity, but this tumor can be devious. There may be nothing visible in the oral cavity, but the observant owner will notice swelling near one of the eyes, discharge from only one eye or reluctance to chew on one side of the mouth. Any of these changes should provoke a visit to your cat’s veterinarian.

Regular veterinary visits are vital to keeping your pet healthy. Our pets are experts at hiding things from us, including various illnesses; this is why routine veterinary care is so important.

The Animal Medical Center is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and is available for routine, specialty and emergency care. For more information or to make an appointment, please call (212) 838-8100 or visit www.amcny.org.


Broken Teeth

February 8, 2010

Like people, our pets are prone to dental disease. Pet Dental Month, in February, focuses on the importance of controlling and preventing dental disease in our cats and dogs. Untreated dental disease is associated with both infection and pain. Recent studies in people and dogs show that untreated infection in the mouth has also been linked to infections in other parts of their bodies.

Many pets present to the veterinarian with broken teeth. Traditionally, a veterinarian might say, “it’s not bothering the dog or cat so we’ll leave it alone.” If my own dentist told me that regarding one of my own teeth, I’d be looking for a new dentist.

Identifying the Issue
How do we know if a broken tooth is painful? Dogs and cats don’t have the ability to communicate that, but often their teeth hurt in the same way that our teeth can. There are several things we can do to access the viability of a tooth that has been broken. First, if there is obvious pulp exposure, then we know that tooth is dead or is dying, depending upon how long it’s been broken. Pulp is a combination of nerves and blood vessels that live within the center of a tooth. Once the pulp is exposed to the outside world, it rapidly becomes infected and that tooth will die over several weeks to months.

When an animal is under anesthesia, there are radiographic changes that may be seen in a non-vital (dead) tooth. As we age and our teeth mature, the body constantly produces new layers of dentin along the outer walls of the “pulp chamber.” As an animal ages, the pulp chamber diameter becomes smaller and smaller. A tooth with a dilated pulp chamber as seen on x-rays indicates that that particular tooth is non-vital. Also, over time, a dead tooth may develop changes around the root of the tooth seen on x-rays called a periapical lucency (see image on left). This is an area seen around the root tip that usually represents and infection from bacteria that has invaded into the pulp chamber of the tooth, or a cyst developing from inflammation associated with the dead pulp leaking into the bone around the root of the tooth.

Any teeth with pulp exposure, dilated pulp chambers or a periapical lucency should be treated and there is a likelihood that this tooth may be painful to a pet. There are multiple treatment options, although “leaving it alone,” is not in the pet’s best interest.

Saving the Tooth
The option to save the tooth involves endodontic or root canal therapy. First the tooth is evaluated to make sure there is no concurrent disease of the tooth. This includes periodontal disease, fractures below the gum line or advanced destruction of the tooth root. The tooth root must also be mature enough to be treated with endodontic therapy. Endodontic therapy involves cleaning out the pulp chamber of the tooth with a combination of filing and flushing with a disinfectant. Next the tooth is filled with a sealant to prevent the leakage of bacteria through the canal of the tooth. Finally, a filling, or “restoration,” is placed on the opening of the tooth to also prevent bacterial leakage into the pulp chamber. If performed correctly, endodontic therapy is highly effective at salvaging broken teeth with pulp exposure. Endodontic therapy does require follow up care with dental x-rays to make sure the therapy is successful and that the restorations remain intact.

If a fractured tooth is immature, the root is not fully developed, and the fracture is very recent, then a broken tooth may be treated with a procedure called a vital pulpotomy and direct pulp capping. The goal of this procedure is to keep the tooth alive long enough to allow the tooth to mature to a point where endodontic therapy can be performed. If the fracture is not very recent, then a procedure called apexogenesis may be performed to encourage enough maturation of the tooth root to perform endodontic therapy.

Extracting the Tooth
The other treatment option is extraction therapy. This involves removal of the affected tooth. This may be relatively simple or may involve surgery, depending upon which tooth is involved. After the extraction of broken or non-vital teeth, pets are often much happier than those with these teeth left in their mouths. Extraction therapy means the function of that tooth will be lost, but once the extraction site is healed, there should be no residual pain.

Making the Right Decision
The most important issue is that our pets do not need to live with painful teeth and/or broken teeth, and therefore these decisions should not be neglected. The decision whether to perform endodontic therapy or extraction therapy should be made in consultation with a veterinarian and is often based upon several factors including the overall health and age of the patient, the ability of the patient to safely undergo anesthesia, the extent of damage to the tooth, which tooth is involved and the cost of the procedures. Leaving a fractured tooth with pulp exposure in a pet’s mouth is not considered a humane option, however.

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About Stephen Riback, DVM
Dr. Riback received his veterinary degree from the New York State College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell in 1985. He was a general practitioner from 1985 until 1999 and owned the Oakdale Veterinary Hospital from 1989 until 1999. Dr. Riback has worked at the AMC since 1999, first in the Community Medicine dept. and then from 2003 in the Dentistry dept. where he studied dentistry under the mentorship of Dr. Dan Carmichael, who is the only board certified veterinary dentist in New York City.

The department of dentistry is the only full service veterinary dental practice in New York City and operates Monday through Friday at the AMC. Dr. Carmichael works on Mondays and Dr. Riback is in Tuesday through Friday. Dental procedures and oral surgeries are performed Monday through Friday.


New Year’s Resolutions for Pets

January 5, 2010

When you’re drawing up your New Year’s Resolutions for 2010 don’t forget to take your pet into account. The seven simple tips below from Dr. Ann Hohenhaus of The Animal Medical Center, New York City’s largest non-profit facility for veterinary care, research and education, will keep your dog or cat, and others in your community happy and healthy the whole year through!

1. Get your dog certified as a therapy dog and then start visiting hospitals, nursing homes or group living facilities. Organizations offering certification include: Bright and Beautiful Therapy Dogs, Therapy Dogs International and Delta Society.

2. Have your dog help a child learn to read! Join the R.E.A.D. (Reading Education Assistance Dogs) program at your library. This program improves children’s reading literacy using dogs as impartial listeners.

3. Don’t equate love with food. Those extra treats don’t build your bond with your pet, they only build love handles on your pet. In 2010 resolve to base your relationship with your pet on fun, not food. For a treat throw a ball to your dog or scoot the laser pointer up and down the wall to entertain your cat. Remember that cats have short attention spans so vary the activities in each play session.

4. Help your pets lose the love handles they already have by feeding them healthy snacks such as carrots, apples or air popped popcorn. And make sure that only 10% of their daily calorie requirement is fed as snacks.

5. Quitting smoking may already be on your list of New Year’s resolutions, and you should follow through on it not just for you, but for your pet! Veterinary researchers have documented that dogs and cats living in a household with a smoker do passively inhale smoke because they have elevated levels of nicotine metabolites in their urine. In cats, second-hand smoke has been also been associated with a greater risk of developing lymphoma and oral squamous cell carcinoma.

6. In the New Year don’t skip routine preventive healthcare for your pets, especially your cat. Over the past few years, the average number of times a cat visits the veterinarian per year has decreased to less than once annually. Regular veterinary care will help keep your cat or dog healthy.

7. Resolve to spend your pet’s budgeted dollars wisely. When visiting the veterinarian, make a list of questions to keep your appointment on track to get all your questions answered. Evaluate the feasibility of pet insurance with coverage for routine healthcare. ___________________________________________
For nearly a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


Does Getting Older Mean Getting Slower?

August 24, 2009

Oftentimes the owners of my older patients dismiss changes in their pet’s behavior by saying, “Well, you know he is 13.” I would like to caution all of us to think critically about the changes we are seeing in our older pets and examine the potential causes of these changes.

The American Association of Feline Practitioners classifies a senior cat as one that is older than 11 years of age and the American Animal Hospital Association defines a senior dog as one older than 6 or 7 years of age. There is great variability in the expected lifespan of dogs compared to cats and your veterinarian may not consider your dog to be senior until 9 or 10 years of age, depending on the breed. Panels of the American Association of Feline Practitioners and the American Animal Hospital Association recommend the senior pet be seen biannually.

Weight Gain
fat-dogOlder pets tend to pack on the pounds as they age. Your Dalmatian may be sluggish because she is carrying around too much weight for her slender frame.  Pet owners who are successful with a weight loss plan often comment on how much more active their pets are after they reach an ideal body weight. Veterinarians can help you to design a safe weight loss program which includes both diet and exercise for your pet. Obesity not only slows your pet down, but is a risk factor for diabetes, arthritis, respiratory disease, urinary tract disease and, worst of all, a shortened lifespan.

Arthritis
Slowing down may be a clinical sign of arthritis. Arthritis brings to mind the limping Lhasa or the achy Afghan, but did you know arthritis is commonly under-diagnosed in cats? Diet change, weight loss and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, specifically developed and tested in pets, can completely revert your arthritic pet’s personality back to normal.

Dental Problems
persian-catTooth problems can also slow your pet down too. When a pet experiences pain, it often causes a pet to be quieter than usual and dental pain is no different. An oral examination should be part of a complete physical examination. Removal of plaque build up, extraction of diseased teeth and treatment with antibiotics may be necessary to bring your Persian with a pout back to its usual vigorous self.

Cancer
When some types of cancer occur in a senior pet, the only clinical sign seen by the pet owner is a general decrease in activity. The decrease in activity may be due to pain or may be due to the growth of the cancer. Internal cancers, such as those of abdominal organs, lungs or nasal passages are types that can progress undetected, with the only sign being general malaise in your pet. Your veterinarian my recommend diagnostic imaging, such as x-rays, an ultrasound or CT scan to detect a possible cancer.

So remember, age is not a disease. Be sure to have your senior pet checked on a regular schedule and whenever your Abyssinian is apathetic.

To make an appointment for your pet, please call The Animal Medical Center’s appointment desk at 212.838.7053.
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For nearly a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts.  Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


Summer Travel with Your Pet Made Easy

August 10, 2009

To quote George Gershwin, “Summertime and the livin’ is easy,” but travelin’ with your pet requires more than just hopping in the car with your furry family member and heading off on a road trip. Here are some tips about travel for the pet-owning family.

Which pets should travel?
pet-travel1Travel is not for every pet. If you are going to be gone only a few days or less, it maybe better for your pet to stay home with a pet sitter, especially if you have a large dog and the trip involves air travel as cargo. (Read more on air travel in the “How to get there” section.) Geriatric animals may not be the best travelers either. Just like grandma, changes in schedule, water and nap time may not be the older pet’s idea of fun. Pets with chronic health conditions such as kidney disease or heart disease may decompensate from travel stress, so check with your veterinarian about the feasibility of traveling with your older pet.

How to get there
Pet owners are limited to travel by car or airplane since long distance trains and buses typically do not allow pets. Local buses and trains may allow small pets if they are confined in a carrier.

Car – If you are traveling by car, your pet needs to be restrained to protect your pet if you stop quickly and to protect you from being distracted by their antics. Seatbelts can attach to a special harness or you can use the existing seatbelts to curtail any movements of the pet carrier during quick stops.

pet-travel2Air – An excellent resource for the pet owner planning an airline trip is PetFlight.com. This site has travel tips, airline information and travel alerts. Each airline has its own rules about pets on flights, so be sure to check with your carrier well before your planned trip. Make sure your pet and its carrier meet the airline’ regulations, and you have the appropriate travel certificate from your veterinarian.

New to the world of pet travel is Pet Airways the only airline focused on transporting your pet as a passenger, not as cargo. The airline launched July 14, with flights between New York, Denver, Los Angles, Chicago and Washington, D.C.

What to pack
pet-travel3Although bulky, taking your pet’s regular food is likely to prevent a serious case of stomach upset and save you from having to find an emergency clinic and a new source of your pet’s regular food. Abrupt changes in food often set off a bout of vomiting and diarrhea. Litter is bulky too, but a necessity if you are traveling with a cat. Be sure to carry a copy of your pet’s most recent vaccinations. If your pet has health problems, ask your veterinarian for a summary letter explaining your pet’s condition in case you need veterinary care when your regular veterinarian’s office is closed. Be sure the letter lists your pet’s current prescriptions and most recent blood test results.

In addition to packing your pet’s medical information and food and bowls, you need to pack a leash/harness/collar and a backup set all with current ID tags. If your pet has not been microchipped, have your veterinarian implant one so your pet can be identified if it slips its collar.

If you will be staying in one location for more than a week, you might want to ask your veterinarian for a recommendation of a veterinarian in that area. You could also identify a veterinarian using the American Animal Hospital Association’s accredited hospital locator. Finding a veterinarian in advance will save time in an emergency.

Where to stay: finding a pet friendly hotel
pet-travel4The American Automobile Association has an advanced hotel option which allows you to search for hotels which allow pets. The website DogFriendly.com is also a good resource for all things dog friendly. If national parks are your destination this year, the website www.nps.gov can serve as your resource guide for parks and park lodging friendly to your pet.

Always follow good “petiquette” when staying in hotels with your pet. Cover the furniture with a sheet or blanket to protect it from hair. Crate your pet if you leave it alone in the hotel room while dining out and put the “do not disturb” sign on the door so hotel staff will not inadvertently open the door and let your pet escape. When walking your pet, keep away from the building and be sure to pack enough plastic bags to properly dispose of waste. Cats present a different set of problems in a hotel room. Picture yourself trying to get your “scaredy” cat out from underneath the hotel bed. Cats might be better confined in the hotel bathroom or in their travel crate.

While traveling with a pet may present some challenges, being well prepared can help to alleviate stress on you and your pet. ______________________________
For nearly a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit www.amcny.org.


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