The Rain Brings out the Ticks

 

Ticks are found in abundance in the San Lorenzo Valley. They are most prevalent in early spring and fall, but are well adapted to live throughout the year. Ticks live in grassy areas or in brush and dark, moist areas where they wait for a host to walk by. They then crawl onto your pet and bite, attaching for up to several days while they feed.

 

Following bouts of rain, ticks may be out and about in greater numbers. A tick can only quest up on vegetation for hosts when the humidity is high enough for them to absorb sufficient water from the air.

– Larisa Vredevoe, Ph.D., professor of biological sciences , Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

Tick bites can be painful and irritating, and can even become infected. But of more serious concern are the diseases that can be transmitted by a tick bite. These include:

Ehrlichiosis
Babesiosis
Rocky Mountain spotted fever
Lyme disease
Anaplasmosis

These diseases can be serious, complicated, and painful and can affect your pet’s health for months or even years. Many of them also affect humans, so it’s important to test your pet regularly for tick transmitted disease to know if you may also be at risk.

Luckily, flea and tick prevention for your pet is easy, safe, and affordable. We recommend a monthly preventive and offer both topical or chewable alternatives or a high quality long acting collar. Talk to us about your pet’s lifestyle at their next preventive care exam, and together we can form a plan of attack.

Don’t make the mistake of letting your pet’s parasite preventives lapse or fall away. This is one of the easiest and most affordable ways to keep your pet healthy and happy. If you’ve let things slide, give us a call and let us help you get back on track. We’re here to help!

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: Not All Dental Chews Are Created Equal

dog chewing on treat

Many of us love to give our pets a daily dental chew or treat. After all, we like to give them treats (and see their eyes light up with love) and we like to do something good for their teeth and oral health. But did you know that some of the very commonly advertised “oral health” products on the market are either unhelpful, unsafe, or downright bad for our pets?

 

At Felton Veterinary Hospital, we looked into this recently and found that not all dental chews and treats are created equal. And we bet you can’t wait to hear what we found out!

At Home Dental Care

First things first. There are many, many dental products on the market today. Some of them even advertise that they can take the place of brushing and dental cleanings. But the evidence shows that your first and best defense against bad breath, swollen gums, plaque, and periodontal disease is a dental exam and cleaning with your veterinarian, coupled with daily toothbrushing. Dental chews and treats can be a good addition to your pet’s daily oral health routine. But they shouldn’t be used in place of tooth brushing and regular professional dental cleanings.

Dental Chews and Treats

We mentioned that not all dental chews and treats are created equal. Luckily, there is an organization that has given it’s seal of approval to some of the treats and chews available today. The Veterinary Oral Health Council is an organization that evaluates pet products to see if they meet standards for reducing plaque and tartar. Make sure the dental chew or treat you offer your pet has their seal of approval.

 

However, be aware that although veterinary dentists find the VOHC approved products safe and effective, the VOHC does not test specifically for safety. Don’t leave your pet alone with any chew or treat, and be aware of risks when giving anything to your pet.

Precautions With Dental Chews and Treats

There are some dental health treats advertised which are downright unsafe, or full of fat and unwholesome ingredients that are bad for your pet. Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a dental treat for your pet. If you have questions, call us.

 

Rawhide bones — these can be effective against plaque and tartar, but can also be swallowed in large chunks by some dogs, putting them at risk for gastrointestinal obstruction – and possibly a surgery. Rawhides are also quite high in fat, so watch your pet carefully, make sure they actually chew them, and limit calories in other places if you give one.

 

Avoid dried pig ears and hard bones — in addition to high fat content (which could push some dogs into pancreatitis), hard chews, hard plastic bones, sterilized beef bones or cow hooves are likely to cause tooth fractures and other problems.

 

Cooked bones — these are too hard and unyielding to offer any plaque prevention, and they could cause a tooth fracture or a gastrointestinal perforation or obstruction.

 

It is generally accepted that chews and treats that are soft and allow the teeth to sink in are the most effective against periodontal disease. Give us a call if you have any questions about your pet’s dental care and health. We’re here to help make sure your pet stays healthy and happy!

 

In With the New: New Year’s Resolutions for Pet Owners

cat & dog resting

Have you made any New Year’s resolutions yet? 2017 has wound down, and with 2018 just beginning it’s a great time to look ahead and think about what we want to do differently this year. Maybe you want to eat better, hit the gym more frequently, and enjoy life more? Well, why not include your pet in some of your new year’s resolutions? Not sure where to start? The team at Felton Veterinary Hospital has you covered. Below are some ideas for New Year’s resolutions for pet owners, to get the New Year started off right for your pet.

 

Feed the Best Quality Diet You Can

Is one of your resolutions to eat better? Our pets are no different! Feeding a high quality, balanced diet can do so much to lengthen their lives and help keep them healthy and feeling great. There are so many diet options out there, but each pet is an individual. So, talk to us about your pet’s nutrition needs at your next preventive care appointment.

 

Extra credit: Measure your pet’s food each and every time you feed, to prevent unwanted weight gain. Ask us for a free pet food measuring cup!

 

Establish a Daily Grooming Routine

Not every dog and cat needs a daily brushing (although some do!), but establishing a daily rub down or brushing has many benefits. Of course, one is that removing loose hair means fewer hairballs across your living room floor!

 

But grooming has other benefits too. During these daily sessions, you’ll become familiar with your pet’s body, and any lumps, bumps, or changes will be more easily noticed. The sooner you can have your veterinarian check things out, the sooner action can be taken, and early detection of disease can often mean a better prognosis.

 

Stay on Track with Preventive Care

The old adage “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is absolutely true in veterinary medicine. At Felton Veterinary Hospital, preventive care is tailored to the individual pet, but our preventive care exam will include discussion with you about the following:

 

  • Comprehensive, nose-to-tail physical exam
  • Monthly flea, tick, and heartworm prevention
  • Early detection diagnostic tests as warranted by your pet’s age and condition
  • Dental health grading, oral health and regular teeth brushing
  • Body condition scoring and nutrition

 

Make sure to schedule your pet’s annual or biannual preventive care exam. And, January is a great time to also schedule your pet’s monthly preventives in your iCal, or whatever calendar system you use. It’s so easy to set reminders nowadays, that keeping track of your pet’s monthly dose of flea, tick, and heartworm preventive is literally push button. It might feel like an investment, but keeping up to date on preventive care can save you money in the long run.

 

Update their tags

Unfortunately pets do get lost. If you have moved or changed phone numbers, take the time to update your pet’s tags with your current contact information. Make sure your pet’s microchip is registered with the correct information as well. A microchip is the single best way to ensure a reunion with you if your pet is ever lost, but only if the registration information is accurate!

 

Carve Out Time to Play

Play is so important for all of us! Kittens and puppies as well as adult dogs and cats thrive on daily play, and there are so many ways to do that in our area. Why not teach your dog a new trick, or combine your workout routine? Cats can also learn new tricks and thrive on new and fun toys and games. Get creative, and see how good it makes you feel to play, too!

 

So, there you have them – our top ideas for New Year’s resolutions for pet owners. And these goals aren’t just good for your pets – strengthening the bond between you is good for you, too. If you have any questions or want more ideas, give us a call. We’re always ready to help you keep your pet healthy and happy!

Happy New Year, and cheers!

 

Outfox Foxtails – Protecting Your Dog against Foxtails

Foxtails

Does your dog hike or run with you in grassy open areas? Or do they love to go sniffing in overgrown areas in your yard or neighborhood?  Uh oh, foxtail season is HERE. Here’s how to recognize, and more importantly, prevent these nasty weeds from hurting your dog.

What is a foxtail?

A foxtail is a grass-like weed that blooms every spring and releases barbed seed heads. These barbs can work their way into any part of your dog’s body- including eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and even directly into the skin. Because of their barbed nature they tend to be very difficult to remove, and even worse, they can travel beyond sight very quickly.

Where does foxtail grass grow?

If you’re out and about with your dog you’ve probably seen this weed growing everywhere. It can be found in grassy areas, in yards, and even in the sidewalk cracks! Because of heavy rains this winter, foxtails are on the rise this season due to the heavy rains this past winter.

 

Why are they dangerous?

The danger of foxtails goes beyond simple irritation. The seed heads don’t break down in the body, so an embedded foxtail can lead to a serious infection for your dog. Like an arrow, they only travel one way – deeper into your pet’s body – and don’t come out on their own. If caught early they are relatively easy for your vet to remove. But if left untreated they can cause infection, and in serious cases, can travel through the body to your pet’s internal organs and even cause death.

How do I tell if my pet has a foxtail?

Foxtails are most commonly found in the nose, ears, eye, or between the toes, but can enter the body anywhere. Here are the most common symptoms to look for.

Nose: Nasal discharge and/or sudden onset of violent sneezing can indicate a foxtail in the nose.

Ear: If your pet is shaking his head, tilting it to the side, or scratching at the ear incessantly this could be an indication of a foxtail in the ear canal. They are usually so deep that you can’t see them and your veterinarian needs to take a look with a special scope.

Eyes: Discharge, redness, squinting, and swelling all could indicate a foxtail in the eye.

Feet: Foxtails love your pet’s feet and can get lodged in between toes in particular. If you notice limping, swelling, discharge or tenderness of the feet, a foxtail could be the problem.

scope/tools to remove foxtails

Tools used to remove foxtails from your dog’s throat.

Outfox the foxtails- tips for prevention

What can you do during foxtail season to make sure these nasty weeds don’t prevent your outdoor fun? Examine your pet’s coat after outdoor time, especially if you have gone walking in open fields. Check your pet’s face and ears carefully, as well as their mouth, paws, and in between toes. Brush your pet as necessary, paying special attention to feathery, thick, or curly fur.  Use tweezers to remove any foxtails you can easily get to, but remember that foxtails won’t come out on their own, so if you see any deeply embedded or if the area is red or swollen, call your veterinarian right away.

If you have what we lovingly refer to as a “foxtail magnet,” consider trimming your pet’s fur during foxtail season, and keep your dog out of overgrown, grassy areas.

Our own adorable foxtail magnet is Bugsy!

Bugsy is a lovable  2 yr old Staffordshire Terrier mix who came in to see us not once, but TWICE within 2 weeks for the removal of foxtails from his tonsils. Ouch! His owners Chelsea and David brought him in the first time after a night of intermittent gagging.

Dog with Foxtail

Bugsy AKA  foxtail magnet

In order to see what was going on and provide Bugsy with a calm, non-threatening experience, Dr Keil sedated him with a safe anesthetic. She then used a special scope to get a good look at what was going on. She found green foxtails embedded in his tonsils, along with tons of redness, swelling, and bleeding. Poor guy! Dr Keil removed the foxtails, Bugsy recovered well from the sedative, and he was then sent home feeling much better. Needless to say, after this event, Chelsea & David removed all foxtails from their yard!

But our little Bugsy was not to be deterred!  Two weeks later, he escaped from his yard. He was found in a neighbor’s yard eating foxtails! This time Chelsea and David did not wait for symptoms and brought him right in for sedation and scoping. Once again, fearless Dr Keil sedated and scoped to get a look. Again we found foxtails in addition to spiny oak leaves . Double ouch! Once again the plants were removed and Bugsy recovered well.

No more escaping for Bugsy, and hopefully, no more foxtails in the throat.

foxtails removed from dog's throat

Foxtails removed from Bugsy’s throat.