Valentine’s Day bring lots of fun for kids and adults, but with the fun it brings one of the most hazardous times of the year for our dogs and cats. Over 98% of the calls to the Animal Poison Control Hotline in mid-February are about chocolate ingestion by dogs!
The kind of chocolate and the amount are what is important if your pet consumes candy or baked goods. If you have the packaging, keep that because it will give your veterinarian the most information possible when trying to calculate toxicity levels based on ingredients. Bitter chocolate and dark chocolate are the worst offenders for our pets. It is really important to keep your Valentine’s candy up and away from your dogs and cats. Thoroughly check your kids backpacks too, that’s a common location that dogs have easy access to! Baked goods, chocolate covered nuts, treats, and coffee beans are also sources of chocolate for our furry friends.
There are a wide range of signs that can be seen after a cat or dog ingests chocolate. These range from vomiting and diarrhea, agitation, thirst, lethargy, racing heart rate, heart arrhythmias, hyperactivity, seizures, tremors and sometimes even death.
If you believe that your pet has ingested chocolate, please call your veterinarian immediately. It will be important to know what exactly they consumed or how much. There are several types of treatments that can be administered based on the toxicity risk. If consumption has occurred recently, inducing vomiting can sometimes be done to reduce the amount of chocolate in the body. Giving activated charcoal helps bind up the substance in the stomach so less is digested. Anti-vomiting medication, hospitalization and IV fluids are sometimes needed in extreme cases. Your veterinarian will be able to help you determine the best route of treatment based on your pet’s situation.
Valentine’s Day is a lot of fun; don’t let this topic scare you! Candy and chocolate are tempting for us and for our pets, but as long as you are careful about where you keep the treats, everything should be ok. If you have questions or concerns about your pets consuming chocolate, please call us at 217-529-4499. Our mission is to provide high quality, compassionate veterinary care with a personal touch. We strive to maintain a friendly and comfortable environment for pets and owners and are committed to building strong, respectful, and honest relationships with our clients. Through teamwork, we are dedicated to ensuring the best care possible and treating pets as if they were our own.
Hopefully everyone knows how hot weather can affect pets, but a lot of people don’t realize the effects of cold weather. Below are a few tips to keep pets safe during the winter months.
Stay inside. The best tip is to keep your dog or cat inside or at least in the garage. A lot of people believe that pets do not get as cold as humans because they have fur, but it’s very untrue. Like people, cats and dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia and should be kept inside. Longer-haired and thick-coated dog breeds, such as huskies and other dogs bred for colder climates, are more tolerant of cold weather; but no pet should be left outside for long periods of time in below-freezing weather. Also, remember in some states or counties it is against the law to leave a pet out in extreme conditions depending on the breed or shelter available.
When going out. You will need to take precautions when your pet does go outside in the cold. First, make sure they are not out too long, frostbite can set in as little as 30 minutes. Make sure you are checking your pet’s paws or ears for evidence of frostbite. Also, make sure you watch out for spots of ice. Especially in older pets who have a hard time getting around. Pets can fall and harm themselves just as people do. Pet safe ice melt is also a necessity. Non-pet safe ice melt can be ingested and cause medical issues. If you aren’t using safe ice melt, make sure you wipe your pet’s paws off after going out or you can purchase a pair of shoes for your dog. Lastly, if your pet is sensitive to the cold or has short hair you can purchase a sweater for them.
Shelter. We suggest you make a place indoors for your pets if the weather is too cold. Shelter needs to be off the ground facing away from the wind or out of wind all together. You can also place hay bales around the dog house to help deter wind even more. When getting your pets shelter ready for winter remember that smaller is better. The bigger the house the more heat it uses to fill up all the unused space. Also having a flap on the dog house keeps the heat in better. If you don’t think your pet will use the door flap, make sure you look up how to train a dog to use the door. If your dog won’t use the door flap, you can remove the flap. Make sure the house is slightly off the ground and use blankets or hay for warmth. Make sure you change bedding out frequently to prevent infections, smells and disease. As far as cats, you can buy a large plastic tote and cut a hole just big enough for your cat to get into the box. You can also look onYouTube about how to insulate your plastic tote.Food, water, and nutrition. Outside pets still need plenty of water and you need to make sure you have a heated bowl or frequently change the water to prevent freezing. Canned foods can also freeze outside. Dry food would be best in extreme temperatures. As far as nutrition, outside pets should be fed well and kept a little fuller in the cold weather months. Being underweight or overweight can make the weather worse on a dog or cat. Please contact your veterinarian if you have questions on what an ideal weight is for your pet.
Garage for the winter. As we discussed earlier, it’s best to move your pet into your house or garage. When placing your pet in the garage, you also need to pet proof it before leaving your pet alone. Make sure you put up all chemicals and check for leaks under your car. Also remember garages still can get cold enough to freeze. You can put a heater or heat lamp out with them. Make sure you are careful using either of those as a heat source. At the very least, use plenty of blankets that are off the ground and offer fresh water and food.
A few little things to remember. When starting your vehicle make sure you are loud and make a lot of noise. Stray cats will get on top of engines because of the warmth. Make sure you have a emergency kit with medicine, food, water and a blanket in case of an emergency. Keep your pets current on yearly exams and medications, especially pets with arthritis. Pets that currently have arthritis will experience more stiffness and pain during the colder months.
Our mission is to provide high quality, compassionate veterinary care with a personal touch. We strive to maintain a friendly and comfortable environment for pets and owners and are committed to building strong, respectful, and honest relationships with our clients. Through teamwork, we are dedicated to ensuring the best care possible and treating pets as if they were our own.
Written by: Josh K, information from AVMA
Curious pets may get into mischief and hurt themselves while investigating new decorations around the house. Cats may try to climb Christmas trees and both cats and dogs may try to ingest pieces of the tree, ornaments, and tinsel which can result in gastrointestinal upset or obstruction. Chewing on lights and electrical cords may result in burns. Holiday plants, such as Amaryllis mistletoe, pine, cedar, poinsettias, and holly can be dangerous or toxic if ingested. You can look up specific plants to see if they are toxic on the ASPCA webpage.
We enjoy many tasty foods and treats during the holiday season, but that doesn’t mean they are safe for our pets. Chocolate, grapes, raisins, and onions are all considered toxic to pets and any dish containing them should not be fed to your pet. In fact, you should avoid giving any table scraps or people food to your pets at any time because they can cause pancreatitis, even in small amounts. Pancreatitis can be life-threatening and causes severe diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration, and abdominal pain after a pet eats rich/fatty foods or any food he/she is sensitive to. Xylitol is another toxic food hazard for pets and has been linked to liver failure and death in some dogs. Xylitol can be found in some baked goods, candy, gum, and even some brands of peanut butter. The safest strategy this holiday season is to continue feeding your pet’s regular diet, avoid sharing your yummy holiday food and treats, and make sure your pet can’t get into the trash!
Although holiday parties are fun for us, they can be a source of stress for our pets because of new people and noises. You should set aside a private, quiet area where your pets can go to get away from all of the commotion. An example would be a room with a crate and some favorite toys. If you know your pets will be stressed during a particular event, you may want to put them in their private space or crate before people arrive. Make sure your pets have a collar with identification and/or microchip and watch your pets closely so they don’t escape when people are coming and leaving. If you feel like your pet has severe anxiety during these situations, you can call us to discuss trying situational anxiety medications.
As always, please monitor your pets very closely this holiday season. If they get into anything that concerns you, please call us right away, 217-529-4499. Our mission is to provide high quality, compassionate veterinary care with a personal touch. We strive to maintain a friendly and comfortable environment for pets and owners and are committed to building strong, respectful, and honest relationships with our clients. Through teamwork, we are dedicated to ensuring the best care possible and treating pets as if they were our own.
Written by: Dr. Lyndsey Houmes
Obesity in Pets
Over half of today’s pets are overweight. It is a trend that we are seeing more often at the vet clinic as the years go by. Weight can be an awkward conversation to have with pet people. Chunkiness in dogs and cats is often seen as an endearing look and we all tend to love our pets by giving them treats and good things to eat. We, as veterinarians, are not trying to offend anyone by bringing awareness to weight but are trying to be your pet’s advocate for the future in order to prevent the myriad of diseases that are linked with obesity. Recently we posted the top ten conditions related to obesity in both cats and dogs on our facebook page. The most commonly diagnosed diseases secondary to being overweight are osteoarthritis, diabetes, urinary tract disease/cystitis, hepatitis/liver disease, heart failure, asthma, and kidney disease. Many of these illnesses are preventable with weight management.
How do you know if your pet is overweight?
Most veterinarians will do a body condition score of your pet at each visit. These assessments will put your pet into a category of under-weight, ideal weight, over-weight, and obese. See the chart below. Based on the body condition score, your veterinarian will make a recommendation regarding exercise and diet.
How do you get your pet to lose weight?
It is best to consult with your veterinarian about what methods will work best for your pet’s weight loss journey. Certain health conditions may restrict exercise or diet changes that can aid in weight loss. Weight loss techniques that we typically discuss with our clients are measuring the amount of food that is given daily, reducing the quantity of treats that are fed, increasing the amount of exercise that your pet gets, and sometimes switching to a lower calorie food or prescription diet. Again, it is necessary to speak with your veterinarian because they will be able to best guide your journey based on your pet’s specific needs.
Our mission is to provide high quality, compassionate veterinary care with a personal touch. We strive to maintain a friendly and comfortable environment for pets and owners and are committed to building strong, respectful, and honest relationships with our clients. Through teamwork, we are dedicated to ensuring the best care possible and treating pets as if they were our own. Call us today if your pet needs a weight loss intervention, 217-529-4499!
When searching for a new pet, you should ask yourself why should I shop for a pet when I can adopt?
There are hundreds of sweet, loving, and friendly companions who are stuck in shelters all around the United States. They are eager to please and just hoping to find a good, loving home.
Within 50 miles of Springifled, IL there are at least 865 animals available for adoption today, according to petfinder.com. Many of these animals don’t even understand what home is and now they face uncertainty, massive amounts of stress, and for the unlucky few, even death.
Here is an excellent resource for more information on Pet Adoption.
So what’s stopping you from saving a life today? Don’t shop, adopt!
Written by Steve S, West Lake Animal Hospital Veterinary Assistant
Litter box problems are the number one issue that we see cats for at West Lake Animal Hospital in Springfield Illinois. Typically when we examine at cat that has urine issues we hear from the client that the frustrating feline has been urinating and sometimes defecating outside of the litterbox. Some cats will go to the same spot repeatedly, others have certain objects they are going on like clothing, towels, and rugs, and a small percentage are going in random spots.
The first step is to have your veterinarian do a full exam to be sure your furry friend is otherwise in good shape and healthy. At West Lake Animal Hospital in Springfield we then collect a urine sample to run a urinalysis. How does one “catch a urine sample” on a cat? It’s not easy! Frequently we let them hang out at the clinic for a while with some special non-absorbable litter. A cystocentesis can be performed if necessary, and will be performed if a sterile sample is needed.
The urinalysis checks for infection, pH, specific gravity, crystals, blood, and a few other parameters that indicate the overall bladder health. If we find abnormal results that indicate infection, we will treat with antibiotics. Other treatments for diseases that involve inflammation or crystals may include prescription diets. If your cat has frequent cystitis (inflammation of the bladder) or urinary tract infections, there are some environmental changes that you can make to help prevent symptoms. It is advised to have one extra litter box than you have cats in your household. Encourage your cat to drink water by providing a water fountain and offering canned food as part of the diet which provides more moisture in the diet. We recommend rechecking urine samples two weeks after antibiotics to be sure the issue has been resolved.
If you have a cat that suffers from urine issues at home, it’s best to talk to your veterinarian about it. There are definite medical conditions that cause this in cats or sometimes it can be behavioral which your veterinarian can also discuss with you. Please call us if you have any questions regarding your cat’s health, 217-529-4499.
Ear infections in dogs are very common, especially this time of year because of allergies. Environmental or food allergens cause inflammation within the ear canal in allergic pets. The inflammation causes changes within the canal that promote bacterial and yeast overgrowth and infection. Signs of an ear infection include inflammation, itching, pain, swelling, odor, and brown or yellow discharge. Pets usually come into the clinic because they are shaking their heads and scratching at their ears.
If you notice any of these signs, please schedule an exam for your pet. We will examine the ears by looking down into the ear canals and assessing the ear drum. If necessary, a sample of the ear discharge will be taken and stained so we can look at it under the microscope to check for bacterial and yeast infections. Once an infection is diagnosed, the proper topical treatment will be prescribed. This only treats the secondary infection, so for dogs experiencing chronic ear infections, strategies to address the underlying allergy or other primary disease will be discussed. Even though allergies are the most common cause of ear infections, ear conformation (long, pendulous ears, narrow canals, or large amount of hair), water in the ear from grooming or swimming, and thyroid problems can cause ear infections too. We always keep these in mind when evaluating your pet!
So how do we treat ear infections? Ear drops, systemic medications, hypoallergenic food, therapeutic laser, ear flush/wipes for ear canal health, and addressing underlying causes are among some of the treatment options available for ear infections. Treatment is customized for each individual pet!
We frequently answer a lot of behavior questions from our clients who are frustrated about particular things their pets do. Our technician, Josh, is interested in behavior and has a lot of helpful hints for you in different situations. Josh has learned a lot by following Cesar Millan and the advice that he gives. Keep reading to learn where this behavior comes from and how to prevent it.
Dogs who aggressively bark at the doorbell could be caused by you! If you yell, grab or scream at your dog, you might be making the situation worse. Try to understand it from your dog’s point of view. When the doorbell rings they are thinking, “my human will attack me (verbally or by grabbing me) when the doorbell rings,” and that is not the idea you want them to have.
Use the doorbell as a practice tool with other family members or friends, but you want to associate it with something calm and pleasant for your dog. If your dogs are already trained to sit calmly before receiving treats from you, you’re halfway there.
What you need to do is get them to sit calmly for a treat first, and then ring the doorbell. If they do not react to it, they get the treat. If they do react, redirect them with the smell of the treat (but don’t give it to them yet), get them to sit calmly and wait, then repeat the process. In this way, you will teach them that the doorbell equals treat, but only if they sit calmly. You’ll also want everyone in the house to have treats on them at first, so that when the doorbell rings at random they can reward the dogs that comply right away. When you are unable to control this situation when people are coming over, then don’t allow them to practice failure and just simply put them in another room or outside. Remember consistency is the key!
Eventually, you’ll be able to do away with the treats. Finally, if you have more than one dog; focus on the most dominant one in the training; this will help you in training more than one dog at once.
Information adapted from Cesar’s Way (www.cesarsway.com)
Jack’s view as to how and why he became a Therapy Dog
Jack is owned by Carol, one of our fabulous West Lake receptionists. She helped him write this article!
From the day I was adopted from the Sangamon County Animal Control Unit, I knew I was destined to become a therapy dog because I loved all people and other fury friends. I just had to convince my new mom.
Together as a team, we started obedience classes. Wow, I needed those classes!! During our classes we could hear other people talking about their training to become therapy dogs. It sounded like a great adventure and such a rewarding experience because who doesn’t want to make people laugh and smile. During our training, we met a lady named Rose who has a group of people who take their dogs to visit nursing homes in Springfield. We joined up with the group so we could determine if this was something I could do. After a few test runs, my mom was convinced that I could become a therapy dog because she saw how I loved to visit people and she saw how happy it made the residents. From there, I finished my obedience classes, passed my Canine Good Citizen test and then I was in class learning how to become a certified therapy dog. The training took time (because I’m not the most focused guy). After training, we took our test to become a certified therapy dog with Therapy Dogs International (www.tdi-dog.org). The test was challenging but we did it.
Our first visit was to St. Joseph’s home in Springfield. I was so excited I could hardly contain myself. Everyone was reaching out to pet me and hug on me and WOW you should have seen all of the smiles. It was a great day!! Now I visit other nursing homes in Springfield and throughout central Illinois. I even get to travel to Decatur and visit patients at Decatur Memorial Hospital. Plus, as you may have seen recently in the State Journal Register, I also get to have children read books to me at the library. That is so fun because the kids laugh and giggle and after reading they get to play with me for a little bit. I love my job being a Therapy Dog. It is very rewarding and the joy it brings to people cannot be measured. I am happy to say that I have received my Active Outstanding Volunteer Certificate from Therapy Dogs International because I have completed over 150 therapy dog visits. That is a lot of awesome hugs, kisses and tail wagging great times!!!
Read about another one of our patient's, Gabbie, who also loves books!
The early indications of failing kidneys (chronic renal or kidney failure) include a marked increase in water consumption and in urination, weight loss, decreased appetite, and in some cases, occasional vomiting. If these signs are observed, the owner should have the cat seen by their veterinarian immediately. Typically these signs are seen in an older patient (greater than 10 years of age).
When you take your cat into the veterinarian, the doctor will perform a physical exam and a blood test to diagnose kidney disease. Depending on the results, a treatment plan will be formed. Kidneys remove toxins from the body, and when kidneys are not functioning properly, your cat will start to show the above the clinical signs.
There is no cure for kidney disease, but there are several treatments that can be done to help control clinical signs and improve the quality of life. We often treat our kidney failure cats with fluids under the skin, appetite stimulants, and a low protein diet. Sometimes gastroprotectants will be used to help with nausea caused by the increased toxins in the body. Each cat will respond differently to treatment depending on the stage of disease they are in at diagnosis and what is causing the disease.
If you think your cat is showing signs of kidney disease, please call your veterinarian today to make an appointment. The earlier treatment is started, the better your cat will feel and more can be done to suppress the disease into earlier stages. Our mission is to provide high quality, compassionate veterinary care with a personal touch. We strive to maintain a friendly and comfortable environment for pets and owners and are committed to building strong, respectful, and honest relationships with our clients. Through teamwork, we are dedicated to ensuring the best care possible and treating pets as if they were our own.