Thursday, June 27, 2019

Fireworks, Thunderstorms, and Your Pet

Does your dog tremble and cling to you during thunderstorms? Does your cat vanish to their favorite hiding place during fireworks? Your pet is probably suffering from noise aversion. The condition is more common in dogs, and impacts roughly one-third of dogs in the US. Noise aversion is similar to our panic attacks, causing fear and anxiety that could affect your pet’s quality of life. 

Symptoms of Noise Aversion
Noise aversion can come in many forms, with either a mixture of some of the symptoms below or simply one.

- Restlessness (usually seen as pacing; can’t sit still)
- Lip licking
- Trembling or shaking
- Panting, without it being warm
- Hypervigilance
- Cowering or hiding
- Ears back or furrowed brow
- Freezing
- Abnormal clinginess to owners
- Refusal to eat
- Yawning
- Barking at the sounds or whining

Treating Noise Aversion
To reduce or even eliminate noise aversion in dogs or cats, it’s important to identify their triggers first, so you can better prepare for an onset of conditions. Some of the treatments involve:

- Environmental management – before a thunderstorm rolls around or fireworks begin, place your pet in an area of your home that is the most sound proof. This could include your basement, a bathroom, a closet (be sure to remove any chewable items like shoes, first!) or a bedroom.

- Behavior modification – essentially, this involves exposing your pet to sounds that terrify them in a controlled environment (with lots of treats!) so they can get used to the sound and begin to associate positive things with it (like treats—did we mention that?). This option requires guidance from a veterinary professional to ensure the desensitization happens gradually so as not to overly stress out your pet.

- Medications – in some cases, it’s best to use medication to keep your pet calm during thunderstorms, fireworks, or any other noisy event. Sileo is one option that has proven highly effective in dogs.

Talk to Your Veterinarian About Your Pet’s Fears
If noise aversion is severely impacting your pet’s quality of life and your relationship with them, talk to your veterinarian! He or she will be able to help you determine the best plan of action for reducing or even eliminating your pet’s noise aversion. Contact us at (412) 882-3070 to make an appointment!

Monday, May 20, 2019

Summer Tips for Pittsburgh Pets

Tips from Your Pittsburgh Veterinarian: Summer Pet Safety

Making sure your pet is safe doesn’t mean their summer has to be boring. Still, there are many things you as a pet parent need to think about ahead of time to make sure that every day, and every outing, is planned with your pet’s safety as a priority.

As a friendly reminder from your animal hospital in Pittsburgh, take a look at the helpful information provided below.

Heat Safety

One of the biggest concerns in the summertime is the heat. Keep in mind that even a day that is in the 70s can pose risks for your pet.

       •  Never, under any circumstances, leave your pet inside your car while it’s turned off and parked. Even if the windows are open and your car is in a shady spot, the inside of the vehicle will still warm up.
       •  Wherever you go with your pet outdoors, bring a sufficient supply of fresh water.
       •  Don’t take your dog for walks in the middle of the day, when the sun is at its peak. Try going early in the morning or around sunset, when the temperature and the ground have cooled. If humidity is high, consider taking a shorter walk.
       •  If your pet is one of the flat-faced (brachycephalic) breeds, they probably have more difficulty breathing properly. Panting is necessary for helping pets cool off, and if this is hindered by breathing issues, they’ll overheat more quickly.

Parasite Control is a Must

Fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, roundworms, and other parasites love summertime. It’s warm, and there are more available hosts for them to choose from. While parasites can be a year-round threat, summer is when they are most active (and prevalent). If your pet isn’t already current with their preventatives, talk to us about getting them up to date! Your pet might also need to be tested for heartworm and other parasitic diseases.

Thunderstorms, Noise Aversion, and Anxiety

Does your pet become anxious when a thunderstorm rolls in? Severe anxiety due to loud noises is known as noise aversion, and if your dog has it, they’re not alone. Contact our animal hospital to learn about the different calming options that are out there, including Thundershirts, calming medications, supplements, and more.

It’s also important to see to it that your pet is microchipped. Pets that get scared during noise events are also likely to try to escape. If they get lost, they’re much more likely to be returned to you if they have a microchip.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Arthritis in Pets

Arthritis is not an exclusively human condition; it also affects millions of pets, especially dogs. Arthritis comes in several types but osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease, is the most common. Approximately one in five adult dogs suffer from this condition, and age isn’t the only contributing factor. Injuries, obesity, congenital defects, and even metabolic disorders can contribute to the development of osteoarthritis.

How Does Arthritis Occur?
Whether it’s due to age, repetitive activity, or joint deformity, if the cartilage in your pet’s joint(s) starts to wear down, the bones will rub against each other. Cartilage acts as a cushion between bones to prevent this friction, and when it’s gone, there’s nothing to protect the bones from the friction that occurs every time your pet moves. Over time, the bones start to break down. Some pets can even develop bone spurs, which cause additional pain and loss of mobility.

Osteoarthritis generally occurs in the knees, hips, elbows, shoulders, and lower back.

Signs Your Pet May Have Arthritis

Common signs of arthritis include:

Decreased activity
Weight gain
Difficulty standing and walking (“slowing down”)
Decreased appetite
May seem more irritable, especially when touched
Sleeping more often
Unable or unwilling to jump into the car or up onto the couch (if this is the norm at your home)
Having accidents in the house

Treatment is Available

It isn’t easy to see your pet in pain and struggling day to day, but their condition can be improved. Arthritis is not uncommon and therefore, we have treatment options available. It’s important that we examine your pet first to see what areas are affected, and we need to understand their health history to ensure that any treatment we choose will be safe for them.

Arthritis treatment often includes multiple modalities, such as oral medication, joint supplements, and laser therapy. We’re pleased to offer laser therapy to our patients, because it is safe, non-invasive, and gentle, and it produces results.

Your pet does not need to live out their life in pain. Contact Always Compassionate Veterinary Care for more information and to request a consultation.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Why Year-Round Heartworm Prevention is a Must

Due to an increase in pets traveling with their owners and unpredictable weather changes, it’s highly recommended that your pet receive their heartworm preventatives year-round, and not just during the warmer months. Furthermore, heartworm disease is becoming much more prevalent throughout the U.S., and because heartworm disease can be challenging to treat (and fatal), prevention is the best way to keep your pet healthy.

What Does Heartworm Prevention Actually Do?

Believe it or not, your pet’s heartworm preventatives do not actually prevent the initial heartworm infection from happening. Also, preventatives cannot kill adult heartworms*. What preventatives CAN do is eradicate larval infections that have occurred in the past month, which prevents them from maturing into adults.

This is why heartworm preventatives need to be given monthly—the medication itself does not stay in your pet’s system for a month; it contains active ingredients that kill larvae that have been inside your pet for the last 30 days. And larvae need more than 30 days to reach their adult stage.

*Adult heartworms are the real problem. The females can grow up to 12 inches long, and as the heartworms propagate, they start blocking the arteries leading to the heart and lungs. 

How Easy is it for Pets to Become Infected?

Very easy! While mosquitoes generally go dormant when the temperature reaches freezing, they can spring back up again at the first thaw. All it takes is one bite from a female mosquito that has ingested heartworm larvae from a previous host to infect your pet.

With year-round heartworm protection and yearly heartworm testing, there is very little concern that your pet will fall victim to heartworm disease. Heartworm treatment is possible, but it is very expensive (much more expensive than a year’s worth of heartworm preventatives) and can be stressful for your pet, too.

Is Your Pet Behind on Their Heartworm Prevention?

Call our hospital or stop in to talk to our team about what you need to do next. Your pet may need to be tested for heartworm before we can prescribe preventatives, or they might just need a refill. Let us know—we’re happy to help you!

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Spring Pet Safety Tips and Poison Prevention

With spring finally starting to show itself, many of us become energized to conquer some spring cleaning and home improvement projects, as well as enjoy all that spring has to offer. Yet before we dive into tearing up the bathroom tile or deep-cleaning the kitchen with bleach, it’s important to consider our pets’ safety! They are often very sensitive to many of our cleaning and home improvement products, and their curiosity could put them in danger of getting irritating chemicals on their skin, or even ingesting them! At Always Compassionate Veterinary Care, we want to give you springtime tips to keep your pet safe this cleaning season!
Household Cleaners
Plenty of the household cleaners we use seem harmless to us… but we know better than to touch it with our bare skin or lick it up! Pets are not so discerning, so it’s very important to make sure that the products we use are either safe for them to be around, or we practice extreme caution when using them in our homes. Here’s a list of some common cleaners and how safe (or unsafe) they are for pets:
- Bleach – this effective cleanser is entirely safe for pets, when used properly. When cleaning their cage or toys, use a diluted solution, rinse it thoroughly, and air it out before allowing pets access to it again.
- Carpet fresheners and shampoos – both of these are relatively harmless. To reduce the risk of any minor skin irritation or gastrointestinal upset, make sure to keep pets out of the room until the powder is vacuumed or the carpet is dried.
- Swiffer Wet Jet – Luckily, this product does not contain cleaning agents in a large enough quantity to cause any serious harm. Yet, like carpet cleaners and bleach, you can save your pet from any irritation or stomach upset by using the product according to its label—that often means letting it dry before allowing pets back in the room.
- Toilet cleaners – Tablets and other toilet bowl cleaners are unlikely to cause any major issues if your pet should drink the diluted toilet water. However, stagnant toilet water is actually a bit more dangerous, as it could cause bacterial problems in their gastrointestinal tract.

In conclusion, most household cleaners are completely safe as long as label directions are followed. If your pet does ingest significant quantities, or undiluted solutions, you can call ASPCA’s poison control at (888) 426-4433.

Home Improvement Products
In addition to cleaning, home improvement projects often occur in the spring. The ability to open the windows and work with a breeze is too good to pass up. However, take these safety tips for your pet to heart to avoid any unnecessary harm.
- Many paints, mineral spirits, and solvents are toxic to pets, causing severe irritation, chemical burns, or gastrointestinal problems if ingested. Keep pets out of the room until the materials have dried and the room is aired out.
- Be cautious of nails, staples, blades, power tools, and insulation, which could all cause serious injury to curious, unsuspecting pets. Make you sure you thoroughly remove all these hazards before allowing your pet back into the area.
- Lawn care products such as fertilizers, insecticides, and herbicides are all dangerous to pets if ingested. Store these products safely out of paw’s reach and use them with care.

Other Springtime Tips
Cleaning and home improvement aren’t the only things that pet owners need to be cautious of in spring. Other pet safety tips include:
- Open windows. Cats especially are apt to jumping or falling out of open, unscreened windows, so make sure all windows are securely screened.
- Traveling in cars. It may seem fine to allow your dog to hang their head out the window, but debris and bugs pose a risk. Insects and debris can damage sensitive eyes, ears, and even cause lung infections. Always make sure your pet is secured in a crate or seatbelt harness.
- Springtime plants. Lilies, Azaleas, and Rhododendrons, among others are highly toxic to pets if eaten. Keep these plants out of your home and garden where your pet has access.

If you have any questions or concerns about springtime pet safety, please call us at (412) 882-3070.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Reasons to Make Your Pet’s Dental Health a Priority

The condition of your pet’s mouth is directly linked to their overall health, inside and out. When they begin having problems with their teeth and gums, it can lead to a variety of other health issues, including:

Dental disease
Tooth loss
Systemic disease (heart, liver, kidneys)

Additionally, poor oral health can be painful, in turn limiting your pet’s ability to eat, drink, play, and simply enjoy life in good health.

Preventive Care Options

What can you do to prevent or delay the progress of plaque buildup and the potential onset of dental disease?

Brushing: While brushing your pet’s teeth every day might seem like a hassle, it’s actually one of the best ways to control plaque and tartar formation. Ideally, you should start your dog or cat on their brushing routine when they’re still young and have time to get comfortable with the process.
Make sure to use pet-friendly toothpaste and focus on brushing in gentle, circular motions along your pet’s gum line. For best results, try brushing their teeth once or twice a day.

Special diet: Certain prescription diet foods are formulated to help control the buildup of plaque and tartar on the teeth. They’re a great way to supplement brushing and yearly teeth cleanings at our hospital.

Dental chews: Substitute your pet’s regular treats with dental chews recommended by your veterinarian. When chewed, OraVet chews “brush” debris off the teeth and form a barrier to block bacteria and reduce plaque and tartar formation. Dental chews are also an excellent supplement for your pet’s dental routine.

Your pet’s oral health begins with you. If they currently do not have a dental care routine that includes daily at-home treatment, contact us at (412) 882-3070 to learn more!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Keeping Our Furry Friends Cozy with Cold Weather Pet Safety

It’s easy to think that pets can keep themselves warm in the cold days of a Pittsburgh winter – that’s what a fur coat is for, isn’t it? However, not all pets tolerate the cold the same. Short-haired and small breeds are likely to get chilled more quickly, while larger, longer-haired breeds are warmer, but tend to collect ice, snow, and worst of all, rock salt on their fur, all of which can severely dry out and irritate the skin. Meanwhile, outdoor cats face some different dangers altogether. Keep your furry family safe this season with our cold weather pet safety tips! 
Pet Safety Tips for Winter 

Both indoor and outdoor pets need protection from the cold. Take these tips into consideration this winter season!

- Despite the cold, dogs still need their daily dose of exercise. While long-haired cold weather breeds will tolerate a walk just fine, a short-haired breed such as a Greyhound, Boxer, or Chihuahua will need a doggie jacket or sweater to keep them warm. Keep in mind that smaller breeds are even more susceptible to cold than larger breeds!

- While on your walk, you’ll likely run into salted sidewalks and some lingering ice, too. Make sure to protect your pet’s paws with a healthy dose of petroleum jelly or get them booties to wear. Ice and salt alike can get lodge between toes and cause severe irritation.

- Always wipe your pet’s paws, legs, and belly after each walk to remove any snow, ice, and salt from their fur.

- Don’t leave your pet outside for extended periods of time. Even thick-coated breeds can get hypothermia if left to the elements.

- Whenever your pet is outside, make sure they have plenty of unfrozen water to keep them hydrated.

- Cold weather usually means more energy is burned trying to stay warm. Talk to your veterinarian about increasing their amount of food to account for the extra energy.

- Outdoor cats are resourceful, sometimes to a fault. They will often crawl into a car’s engine for warmth, so make sure to knock on the hood of any car parked outside before you start the engine.

- Antifreeze is very useful in the winter, but don’t let your pets near it. The sweet-smelling liquid is too tempting and too toxic! Clean up any spills promptly and store the container well out of paw’s reach.

Do you have any questions or concerns about cold weather pet safety in Pittsburgh? Let us know by giving us a call, or asking at your next appointment!