Thankful for Our Pets

Are you thankful for your furry friend? Show your pet how much you care by ensuring they are receiving the preventive care they need today. Preventive veterinary care is essential to your pet’s health and wellbeing. It’s as important as feeding them daily or loving them forever and is the best way to keep them healthier, longer!

As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Vaccinations, regular dental care, and heartworm prevention are important components of preventive veterinary care. Veterinarians recommend regular wellness exams and preventive care for the same reason your physician and dentist recommend them—if a problem can be detected in its early stages, it’s more likely to be treated and successfully resolved with less expense and less difficulty.

Our in-depth, medical checkups not only confirm your pet’s current health status, but also help to prevent future problems such as obesity, periodontal disease, and diabetes. They also give us the opportunity to discuss how to keep your pet in good shape and answer any questions you may have.

Litter box issues. Nipping. Chewing shoes. Scratching. Leash pulling. Meowing at night. Urinating on the floor. Are these behaviors just part of being a “normal” dog or cat? Some common behavioral issues are actually due to underlying medical problems and these conditions can be tough to recognize, even for the most observant owners.

We have the expertise when it comes to analyzing, identifying, and resolving behavior issues with your pet. For example, your cat may stop jumping on your lap, not because she’s being unfriendly, but because she has arthritis and jumping is too painful to her joints.

Your if your dog is urinating on your floor, it may be from excitement, but it also can be from a urinary tract infection. Left unchecked, the questionable behavior may worsen as the underlying illness progresses, putting your pet’s health at risk, and compromizing their quality of life as part of your family.

Vaccinations have long been considered one of the easiest ways to help your pet live a long, healthy life. Vaccinations are critical to the health and protection of your pet and serve as a preventive measure to combating viral diseases like Parvovirus, Parainfluenza virus, Canine and Feline Distemper viruses, Leptospirosis, Canine Influenza, Hepatitis, Feline Rhinotracheitis and Caliciviruses, Feline Leukemia virus, and Rabies.

Vaccinating your pet helps prevent a disease by exposing the pet’s immune system to an inactive or small amount of a particular form of bacteria or virus. Proper and timely administration is critical to ensuring optimal protection.

We can suggest a preventive health care program based on your pet’s breed—as some breeds are predisposed to certain health problems, age, lifestyle, and overall health. We’re grateful for your trust in us to recommend what’s best for your pet. Call us today to schedule an appointment—your pet will be thankful, too!

November 9, 2014

Musculoskeletal Disorders

Pets of all ages can be affected by musculoskeletal disease (disease that affects your pet’s joints, muscles, and bones). Our pets can have aches and pains just like we do. Some musculoskeletal disorders are genetic, others occur through injury, and some tend to develop as pets get older.

Movable joints are susceptible to joint diseases or disorders which can affect their membranes, ligaments, cartilage, and bone. Joint disorders have several main causes: trauma to the joint, longterm inflammation, infections, or developmental problems. Traumatic injuries may produce short-term consequences such as joint dislocation. More long-term effects may include arthritis or the rupture of nearby ligaments or membranes.

Arthritis is one of the most common joint disorders. The word itself mean inflammation of the joint. Osteoarthritis, named because the problem is caused by the bones (osteo), is the most common arthritis in dogs and cats. In this condition, a pet’s bones are damaged because cartilage has deteriorated. In a healthy pet, cartilage acts as a cushion to prevent bone from hitting bone as the joint moves.

When the cartilage becomes dry and chips away, bare bones are exposed, which causes the joint to jerk and creak. The body responds by sending white blood cells to the joint but instead of repairing the damage, the white blood cells release enzymes that make things worse.

The fluid that surrounds and lubricates the joints is damaged by the enzymes and loses its efficacy. Eventually, even the capsule that surrounds the joint becomes inflamed and the pet has painful arthritis.

Your pet’s muscles and tendons can also be affected by musculoskeletal disease. Because many systems in the body rely on the muscles, your pet’s ability to breathe, see, urinate, and even chew and swallow may be affected by a muscular condition.

Tendons do not stretch, so they are prone to injury and may tear if subjected to a large amount of force, thus leading to tendinitis (inflammation of the tendons). Tendons and ligaments have a relatively poor blood supply, so they heal slowly. Injuries to ligaments and tendons require patience and careful long-term rehabilitation.

Bone disorders are a third component of musculoskeletal disease. Most bone disorders are the result of trauma to the bone, either a fracture or a crack. Infections that cause bone tissue to break down and die can also lead to bone disorders. In other situations, diseases of the adjacent ligaments or tendons may cause secondary bone problems.

So what’s the best way to prevent or slow down musculoskeletal disease in your pet? Exercise? Massage? Supplements? The best way to prevent disease is to schedule regular yearly checkups for your pets. Musculoskeletal disease can be hard to spot in its early stages because your pet may look and act absolutely fine.

Your pet appears normal, but what’s going on inside may be very different. Continuing advances in veterinary medicine have brought better techniques for diagnosing and treating musculoskeletal disease.

During your pet’s annual checkup, we can discuss various options to stop the development or slow the progression of joint, muscle, and bone disease. When detected early, the disorders can often be corrected or managed, allowing your pet a return to healthy life. Call us today to schedule your pet’s checkup!

October 5, 2014

Caring For Your Senior Pet

Thanks to improved veterinary care and dietary habits, pets today are living longer than ever before. What a wonderful development! As a result, pets, along with their owners and veterinarians, are faced with a whole new set of age-related conditions. How can you provide your aging pet with the best care for her current life stage?

When exactly is your pet considered a senior? The answer varies greatly depending on breed, diet, and genetics. Did you know that some pets can be considered senior as early as 6 years of age? Check out this chart from the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) to help calculate your pet’s “real” age.

The first step in taking care of your senior pet is ensuring he has regular check-ups with us. These visits are essential for optimum pet health at any age, but become even more important as your pet matures. Significant health changes can occur quickly since dogs and cats age at a faster rate than humans. Age-related diseases can be subtle and symptoms may be easy to miss.

It is recommended that senior pets have check-ups every six months. We can establish a baseline of what is normal for your pet through regular exams, blood and urine tests, and possibly X-rays. By regularly monitoring this information, we are better able to manage your pet’s health problems, thus improving the likelihood of a successful treatment.

Sometimes before medical symptoms become apparent, behavioral changes can indicate that something is changing in a older pet, which may be due to a medical condition. As your pet’s owner and closest companion, you play a critical role in identifying early signs of a possible problem. Because you care for your pet and interact with him on a daily basis, you’re familiar with his routines and typical demeanor. Be sure to contact us if you notice any changes in your pet’s behavior, appetite, or energy level including:

Decreased reaction to sounds Increased anxiety
Increased vocalization Confusion
Increased aggressive/protective behavior Disorientation
Decreased self-hygiene/grooming House soiling
Decreased interaction with humans Repetitive activity
Increased irritablilty Change in sleep cycles
Decreased response to commands Increased wandering

Elderly dogs and cats may develop arthritis or other joint problems, which can inhibit their mobility. You can help at home by providing ramps to help them move about the house, climb on the bed, or get outside. Make sure your cat’s litter boxes are convenient and easy to access. Orthopedic pet beds, with or without heating elements, may relieve pressure on joints and help keep your pet comfortable.

Choosing the correct diet for your aging pet is another important step toward optimal health. If your older pet has become less active, he will need fewer calories. We can help you determine the appropriate amount of food your pet needs.

Over half of American pets are overweight, and excess weight contributes to many diseases and puts more stress on your pet’s joints, so be sure to limit portion sizes to the recommended amount at mealtime. There are special prescription foods available to manage joint, kidney, or liver diseases . We may prescribe one of these specialized diets or recommend a nutritional supplement, if needed, for your pet.

Is there an age at which exercise is not beneficial? Just as with humans, exercise is valuable for your senior pet. Staying active helps maintain a healthy body weight and helps to slow joint degeneration that’s caused by arthritis.

Daily walks are excellent exercise. If your pet isn’t used to regular exercise, start slowly with short walks – 10 to 15 minutes each – then gradually increase the time little by little. Listen to your dog and if he seems tired, it’s time to stop. Our loyal dogs will try to keep up with us even if they’ve reached their limit.

Aging dogs and cats may experience loss of sight and/or hearing. If this is the case for your pet, take special care to keep her out of harm’s way. Removing dangerous objects from her path and using pet gates can create a safer space for your pet when you are not able to oversee her activity.

Teaching your old dog (or cat) new tricks is an excellent way to keep his mind sharp. “Puzzle toys” stimulate the mind and require your pet to actively solve the puzzle to get the food treat inside. For both dogs and cats, have plenty of toys available and engage them in plenty of interactive play to keep their minds and bodies healthy.

As your pet ages, physical contact is more important than ever. Nothing tells your pet that you love him like a good belly rub or scratching behind the ears. Some pets find it increasingly difficult to groom themselves as they age and will benefit from extra brushing. Every moment together with your pet is precious and the increased physical connection between you will strengthen your bond immeasurably.

Wishing you and your pet many happy years together!

September 2, 2014

You “Mite” Not Realize What’s Causing Your Pet’s Scratching…

One of the more common reasons for veterinary visits involves some sort of skin or coat complaint. You’re probably familiar with fleas and ticks causing itching and scratching for your pet, but did you know there are other parasites that can also be the culprit?

Mange mites live and breed on a dog’s skin and some types can cause severe problems if left untreated. Some mange mites are normal residents of your dog’s skin and hair follicles, while others are not. Mites can cause mild to severe skin infections if they multiply.

Mange mites burrow into the skin and therefore can’t typically be seen with the naked eye. Detecting the mites usually requires a visit to your veterinarian who will use a skin scraping and microscope to diagnose the problem. One of the more common types of mange, called Sarcoptic mange, is highly contagious and intensely itchy. Dogs can cause themselves painful and possibly permanent skin damage from scratching and biting. These mites breed incredibly quickly and can eventually cover your whole pet if left untreated.

Another type of mite that may affect your pet is ear mites. Ear mites live in the ear canals and cause itching, irritation, a dry crusty discharge, frequent head shaking, and ear scratching. Ear mites can be transferred from one animal to another, so if you have more than one pet, you may need to treat them all.

Your pet’s skin is his largest organ so it’s important that it’s healthy. If you suspect any type of skin problem with your pet, give our office a call. Whether it’s hot spots, allergies, fleas, or mites, we’ll help your pet’s skin to be at its very best.

August 10, 2014

Helping Your Pet Achieve a Healthy Weight

A healthy weight for your pet helps decrease the risk for arthritis, heart diseases, many forms of cancer, and diabetes. A physical exam by a veterinarian is an important first step to rule out diseases, such as hypothyroidism, that may be causing your pet to plump up. If your pet does not have a medical condition related to its extra weight, these steps can help your pet shed the extra pounds:

  • Make sure your pet gets adequate exercise
    Exercise is important for all pets, so it’s great to maintain a regular exercise schedule. The more active your pet is, the higher his metabolism will be even when resting. Walks are a great way to have your pet stay active and so are visits to the dog park. Playing fetch with a ball launcher or using a laser pointer with your cat are fun ideas that are sure to keep you and your pet entertained and active.
  • Avoid overfeeding
    Give your pet the recommended amount of food daily. Overfeeding is one of the main causes of overweight pets. If you’re unsure how much your pet should be eating each day, give us a call and we’ll help you figure it out.
    Extra tip: Dogs tend to be less hungry when they are fed both in the morning and evening. Divide your dog’s daily recommended food amount between day and night; for example 2/3 in the morning and 1/3 in the evening.
  • Reduce the amount of treats
    Reduce the amount of snacks and treats you feed your pet. When feeding a treat, give one that is healthy instead of fatty cheeses or processed meats.

To monitor your pet’s progress, weigh him every 1 to 2 weeks. Overweight or obese dogs should lose approximately 1% to 2% of their body weight each week. If your pet is not losing weight, a further reduction of daily calories may be required. Also, make sure no one in the house is cheating by giving extra food or treats!

Once your pet’s ideal weight is reached, the amount of food your pet needs to eat daily will likely increase. It’s important to continue weighing and monitoring your pet for any future changes in weight. A simple log can be helpful for this task. By keeping a record of your pet’s weight, you have the information to know when adjustments are needed to maintain an ideal weight throughout the life of your pet.

Obesity shortens lives and, unfortunately, an estimated 54% of dogs and cats in the United States are overweight or obese. Obesity in pets results in a decreased life expectancy of up to 2.5 years. Take advantage of the beautiful summer evenings and get outside and play with your pet – his health and his waistline will thank you.

July 5, 2014

Parasite Prevention

Summertime has arrived…and with it are so many opportunities to enjoy the beautiful outdoors with your friends, family, and pets. As you prepare for your summer activities, don’t forget to take steps to help protect your pet against fleas and ticks.

Fleas live outdoors in warm weather, but they can also live indoors year-round in any climate (even in a really clean home). Fleas will gladly hitch a ride on your pet into your house. Just one flea bite (specifically the flea’s saliva) can set off a full-blown allergy. Your pet may scratch its skin or lick its paws until they become red and painful.

Ticks are tricky. Even when you check your pet for ticks they can be tough to find because they’re small and hide well in fur. It’s crucial to find ticks and remove them quickly because some ticks carry organisms that cause disease. Just one undetected tick bite can infect your pet. Left untreated, your pet can become very sick and develop serious problems.

Flea and tick preventatives can do more than just eliminate your pet’s itchy fleas and prevent allergic reactions. The following are benefits of using monthly flea and tick preventatives on your pet:

  1. Reduced skin allergies, infections, and hot spots
    Many pets are allergic to flea saliva, which can trigger allergies. Persistent itching and scratching can result in hot spots and other skin infections.
  2. Preventing tapeworms
    Flea preventatives also reduce your pet’s risk of tapeworms. These parasites are often transmitted by fleas.
  3. Preventing tick-borne diseases
    Using a preventative that kills ticks can reduce your pet’s risk of Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Tick Paralysis, Erlichiosis, and others serious diseases.
  4. Preventing flea infestations in your home
    Nobody wants fleas in their home! It’s unhealthy living with fleas, not to mention the tedious cleaning required to get rid of them. It is much easier to prevent a flea infestation than to treat an existing one. Using a flea preventative reduces the likelihood of fleas not only on your pet, but also inside your home.
  5. Preventing bubonic plaque
    This serious disease can infect pets as well as humans. It is transmitted by fleas from squirrels, prairie dogs, and other small rodents.

If you’re feeling a bit itchy from all this flea and tick talk, there is good news. We can help you navigate the flea and tick problem. Our hospital staff is knowledgeable about flea allergies as well as flea and tick prevention. Prevention is simple and affordable. Schedule your pet’s annual physical and we’ll discuss the best options for keeping the whole family (both furry and human) free of these parasites.

June 7, 2014

Celebrating Our Pets

There’s no question pets improve our lives. Whether confidant, comedian, companion, or protector, our pets are always there for us and don’t ask much in return. National Pet Week is May 4-10, 2014 and is an excellent time to ensure that you’re doing your part to promote a happy, healthy life for your pet. Started in 1981 by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), National Pet Week honors the important roles pets have in our lives and promotes responsible pet ownership.

Wellness exams are a great way to provide the best possible care for your furry friend. Pets should undergo a wellness exam by their veterinarian at least once a year. Dogs and cats age faster than humans, so their diseases can progress fairly rapidly by comparison.

Consequently, there may be a shorter window of opportunity for disease detection and treatment and it’s vital that your pet is receiving an annual comprehensive examination. There are times when pet wellness exams should be given more frequently. For example, pets who are geriatric patients or that have certain medical conditions should visit their veterinarian several times a year for examinations.

There have been so many advances in veterinary medicine that many diseases which may have greatly shortened your pet’s lifespan in the past can now be managed (if detected early) so that your pet can live a longer, happier life.

Your pet may not show outward signs of illness, but hidden ailments have serious consequences if left untreated. When a pet sees its veterinarian on a regular basis, the doctor can help avoid some preventable illnesses and diseases. Plus, your pet will not have to suffer from pain that could be treated or prevented by the veterinarian.

In honor of National Pet Week, treat your pet to a wellness examination so you can be certain you’re providing your best friend with all it needs for a happy, healthy life every week of the year.

May 2, 2014

April 2014: National Heartworm Awareness Month

What is heartworm disease?
Heartworm is a serious, but preventable disease. It is caused by parasitic worms that take up residence in arteries of the lung and in the right side of the heart. Any age and breed of dog or cat is susceptible to infection. Pets contract heartworm disease through a bite from an infected mosquito. It is not contagious from one pet to another.

How does the heartworm parasite work?
Heartworm disease is caused by a tiny larva, called a microfilaria, which is the offspring of an adult, female heartworm. Microfilariae are taken up into a mosquito when it bites and removes blood from an infected dog.

When that infected mosquito then bites an uninfected dog, some of the microfilariae are passed into the pet’s body. The pet’s blood carries the microfilariae to the heart and pulmonary blood vessels, where the tiny larvae are protected and able to mature into adulthood. These adult heartworms grow to several inches long and reproduce, creating new microfilariae which are then present throughout the pet’s bloodstream. When this dog is bitten by a mosquito the cycle begins all over again.

How is heartworm dangerous to my dog?
As adult heartworms mature in a dog, they begin to obstruct the pulmonary vessels and heart. This can cause a cough, fatigue, lethargy, loss of appetite, and weight loss. These symptoms intensify as the disease progresses and can eventually lead to congestive heart failure.

Is there a treatment/cure for heartworm disease?
Successful treatment for heartworm disease in dogs does exist. However, the treatment is expensive and the recovery is long and complicated. Unfortunately there is no treatment available for heartworm disease in cats. It is much better to prevent heartworms from occurring in your pet than to attempt to treat an infection once it has occurred.

How can heartworm disease be prevented?
While treating heartworms is an intense and exhaustive process for both pet and owner, heartworm disease is preventable. There are many forms of preventive medications available. One of the easiest (and tastiest if you ask your pet) is a chewable pill administered once a month that can prevent heartworm from ever infecting your pet.

It’s best to give preventive medication all year long since it’s hard to predict exactly when mosquito season will start in the spring or how long those pesky insects will be lurking around until the weather turns colder in the fall. Even one mosquito bite can be deadly for your pet. The majority of heartworm preventatives also provide protection against some intestinal parasites which can occur year round, so there is always a benefit to your pet.

I cannot stress enough the importance of having your dog tested for heartworm and put on a year round prevention. Heartworm prevention requires an annual test and a prescription because the medication has the potential to harm a pet that is already infected with heartworms.

Heartworm prevention always costs less than heartworm treatment. Preventing heartworms for an entire month is about the cost of a couple of cups of specialty coffee. Using heartworm prevention is better for your pet’s health and also for your budget.

Before the end of April, make it your goal to protect your pet from heartworms. In just a few short weeks, mosquitoes will be on the prowl and your pet may be at risk.

April 1, 2014

Focusing on Eye Health

Dog lovers have long been won over by that sad-eyed puppy look dogs have mastered, but did you know that dog’s eyes are just as sensitive and delicate as human eyes? Canines and humans are susceptible to many of the same eye diseases, such as conjunctivitis, glaucoma, and cataracts. However, your furry friend is unable to shout for help when he’s having trouble with his vision.

Cats also experience many of the same eye disorders as humans. While dogs use multiple senses including sight, hearing, and smell to determine their surroundings, cats depend mostly on their vision for hunting and stalking. As a result, eye problems can severely affect your cat.

Preventive care is an important part of caring for your pet’s eyes and regularly examining them at home is a significant first step.

  1. A gentle wipe with a damp cotton ball will help to keep your pet’s eyes gunk-free. Use a fresh cotton ball for each eye and always wipe away from the corner of the eye, being careful not to touch his eyeball as you don’t want to scratch the cornea. Please do not use eye washes or eye drops unless they have been prescribed for your pet.
  2. Using clippers or scissors with rounded tips, carefully snip away any long hairs that could be blocking his vision or poking his eyes. Please be extremely careful when doing this.
  3. Face your pet in a well lit area and look him in the eyes. They should be clear and bright, and the area around the eyeball should be white. His pupils should be equal in size.

Common symptoms of an eye problem in your pet include eye discharge, redness, excessive blinking, squinting, and pawing at the eye. A change in color or appearance of any part of the eye or surrounding tissue can also signify a problem. Dogs and cats have an extra eyelid at the inner corner of their eyes known as the third eyelid, or nictitating membrane.

This membrane may protrude in response to pain or infection. The protrusion appears as a whitish or opaque film that moves over the surface of the eyeball. It can also occur in response to foreign bodies or irritants that lodge in the eye. If your pet has any of these eye-catching symptoms, a thorough opthalmologic exam should be done as soon as possible. Undiagnosed and untreated eye diseases can lead to vision impairment or blindness.

If you have ever wondered how your cat or dog sees the world, take a moment to view the video posted below. Created with the help of a veterinary ophthalmologist, this video simulates the vision of five different species. I think you’ll appreciate a glimpse of the world through your pet’s eyes.

March 2, 2014

Seeing through an animal’s eyes

March 2, 2014

February is Pet Dental Health Month!

Do you know just how crucial oral care is for your furry family members? The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) estimates that 80% of dogs and 70% of cats show signs of oral disease by the age of three.

Dental care is key in maintaining your pet’s overall health. Bacteria in the mouth can get into your pet’s bloodstream and spread into other organs, causing infections that can potentially lead to serious problems. The organs most often affected by oral diseases are the lungs, heart, kidneys, liver, and even the nervous system.

Following three simple guidelines will greatly improve your pet’s oral health:

  1. Schedule a dental health examination for your pet. Pets should have a routine veterinary examination, including a careful examination of the teeth and gums, at least once a year.
  2. Start an at-home regimen. Ask us for suggestions of nutritional supplements and a regular teeth brushing schedule. Specially formulated foods proven to help remove plaque and tarter from your pet’s teeth are also available.
  3. Schedule dental cleanings. Done under general anesthesia, this procedure allows for a more thorough examination of your pet’s teeth, gums, and mouth. The teeth are then scaled both above and below the gum line to remove tarter from all surfaces of the teeth. If necessary, other oral procedures such as extractions/wound closure or biopsy/mass removal are then performed. Finally, all teeth are polished.

In honor of Pet Dental Health Month, Ridgewood Animal Hospital is offering the following promotion:

Save $50 off any dental cleaning and polishing procedure
during the month of February 2014

Between regular check-ups, watch for the following warning signs of gum disease:

  • Bad breath
  • Red and swollen gums
  • Yellow-brown crusts of tartar along the gum lines
  • Bleeding or pain when the gums or mouth are touched

Your pet’s dental health is just as important as your own. If your pet shows any of these signs, call our office to schedule an appointment as soon as possible.

Pets can lead longer and healthier lives with good dental care. Studies show that proper dental hygiene can extend a pet’s life by as much as five years! Pets need dental care, too and we’d love to give your pets the healthy mouths they deserve.

February 2, 2014

How to brush a dog’s teeth

February 2, 2014

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