Sep 25

The Health Benefits of Having a Pet

Golden RetrieversMost people think of pets merely as furry playmates and companions. This is especially true for those who have never owned a pet or feel somewhat antagonistic towards animals. But ask any pet owner how their furry friends have impacted their lives and they will give you almost similar answers – very positively.

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Sep 25

Be a Responsible Pet Owner – Get Pet Insurance!

IPet Insurancen all my years as a vet, one problem stands out among pet owners – lack of pet insurance. Most pet owners think of pet insurance merely as an unnecessary expense. I will tell you right now that it is not. In fact, I always encourage my patients’ owners to consider taking out pet insurance for their furry companions.


How Can You Benefit from Pet Insurance?


There are a lot of ways you, as a pet owner, can benefit from pet insurance. However, its main benefit is the peace of mind you can get by knowing that your pet will be taken care of no matter your financial situation. Another benefit is the fact that you are protected from spending thousands of dollars on veterinary bills in case of emergencies.

Let me tell you a little story.

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Sep 25

Exotic Pets in Southeast Asia

Cotton Top TamarinsA couple of months ago, my wife and I took a couple of weeks off from our daily lives to travel to Southeast Asia. I asked my parents to stay at our house to take care of the kids and my assistant to come in everyday to help with tending to our pets. I also hired a housekeeper to make things easier for my parents.

Now before we booked our trip, I told my wife that I really wanted to experience the local culture of the countries we would be visiting. That meant, I didn’t want to stay at some fancy hotel that had all the amenities you could ever need because frankly, I had no plans of staying indoors. My wife suggested we book our accommodations through AirBnB so we could get a dose of the true local hospitality. After doing some research, I agreed.

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Dec 18

How to Keep Your Dog Happy if You’re at Work All Day

Having pets is a bit of a chore all on its own, especially if you live alone or, as most of us do, in an urban environment. Animals like cats and dogs are meant to be outside, and as a result it can take a bit of effort on behalf of their owner to ensure that they are healthy and happy and can adapt easily to an urban lifestyle.

Whilst we publish a lot of pet advice on this blog I’m often asked for real world case studies involving real people describing how they cope with pets and full time jobs. So this post will center around a professional couple, Pete, who works as an electrician, and Sally, who works as a pharmacy technician full-time in a local clinic. The couple were left in a bind after a move to the city, they owned two Labradors prior to their move who were are already high-maintenance, but they had been able to manage the dogs before their move due to the fact that they worked different shift patterns. Unfortunately their move to the city also meant their shifts synchronised so they had to come up with new solutions in order to look after their dogs.

So how did Pete and Sally ensure their house was in one piece when they get home?

They trained their dog to be alone

This might seem really obvious but it’s surprising how many people overlook this step. Having some trial periods of leaving your animal alone can be a good way to get them accustomed to having the house (or apartment) to themselves. Start off by leaving your dog alone for thirty minutes. Then an hour. Then four or five hours. Slowly, your dogs will start to understand and get used to your absence.

They bought their dogs some toys

Just like a child, your pets are likely to cause you less problems if they are occupied so it’s a good idea to get them a toy or toys to play with. Lots of pet shops sell cheap plastic chew toys or other items that can keep your pet occupied while you’re away. For cat owners, investing in a scratching post or some sort of ‘hideaway’ can also help to keep them out of trouble and from clawing up your leather sofa.

For those who are particularly worried, hiring a ‘dog nanny’ can also be an option – in bigger cities, these professionals can be anything from dog-walkers who give your pet some much needed exercise, to actual care-takers that will keep your animal company either at your home or another facility.

As Pete and Sally were short on finances following their move they didn’t go via the full nanny route, although they did hire a local dog walker to walk the dogs twice a week. This meant that the couple were still able to spend some time with their dogs, but it also gave them some extra time to sort their lives out following their move. I think this was a particularly smart thing to do, it’s always worth remembering that your dogs are likely to be more relaxed if you’re happy and not stressed!

Dec 01

Pets & Paintballs: A Toxicity Issue

Outdoor games are becoming more popular in today’s active society and one of the most popular is paintball; a game where participants shoot opposing team members with pellets of paint in an effort to eliminate them and win the game. Unfortunately, all though this game is fun many pet owners don’t know that their paint filled pellets can be harmful to their animal companions.

When paintballs are consumed, it can result in severe poisoning in dogs, but rarely in cats and ferrets. It occurs most often with dogs due to their in-discriminant eating habits Although paintball poisoning doesn’t happen often, when it does, it has the potential to be deadly. This is due to the components that make up a paintball that have the ability to pull water into the intestinal tract. This results in severe electrolyte and salt imbalances which, when left untreated, can be fatal.

Symptoms of Paintball Toxicity

Symptoms of paintball toxicity usually occur within an hour of consumption. Some of these symptoms include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • Walking drunk
  • Tremors
  • Decreased level of consciousness
  • Weakness
  • Fever
  • Hyperactivity
  • Elevated heartbeat
  • Seizures
  • Blindness

Treatment of Paintball Poisoning

Firstly, it is important to note that most animals treated for paintball toxicity recover and return to normal with one or two days of treatment. The treatment that your pet receives is entirely dependent on the severity of the clinical signs and may include intravenous fluid therapy and medications that help control vomiting, reduce heart rate, and or treat seizures. Occasionally, enemas may be needed to facilitate the movement of the paintballs through the gastrointestinal tract. In addition, blood work may be needed to monitor changes in electrolyte labels.

If you cannot get to a vet right away, you will have to induce vomiting by oral administration of hydrogen peroxide. Once this is completed, you must do what you can to reduce gastrointestinal distress and other symptoms. Once the nausea is gone, your pet must be placed on a bland diet. In addition, be sure to watch for seizures, hyperactivity, or tremors. Also, if your pet isn’t drinking or eating and or has persistent vomiting and diarrhea, consult your vet for additional recommendations.

Additional Considerations

The instances of paintball poisoning are increasing, so if you suspect that your pet has ingested paintballs, call your pet poison helpline or veterinarian immediately for advice that can save the life of your furry companion.

When dogs eat paintballs they tend to eat a lot and although it’s not clear how many must be consumed to cause ill effects, studies suggest that even the ingestion of a few pellets can cause sickness.

Paintballs have the ability to cause a positive blood test for the deadlier poison antifreeze. You must make sure that your veterinarian is aware of this when you bring your pet in for treatment.

Because of the toxic potential of paintballs, it is not recommended that pets be allowed to accompany their owner during paintball games. When I grab my Tippmann A-5 ( paintball marker and head to a game, I leave my dog safe at home. In addition, pellets must be stored in areas that are out of the reach of your beloved pets.

Nov 28

How to keep fit with your dog

Man’s best friend can easily be trained into an effective workout partner. Dogs are natural runners and are best known for their loyal, steadfast personalities. Your pooch will stick by you during any tough workout, leaving little room for excuses.

First and foremost, your biggest concern should always be your dog’s health. An untrained dog, like any human runner, needs time to build strength and ability. If your dog is overweight or has health issues, you will want to consult your vet before beginning any workout regimen. You should not be training heavily with a puppy younger than 18 months, as this can lead to joint damage and negatively impact bone growth. Again, only your veterinarian can give you the proper advice specific to your pet.

Take the time to research your breed. Some dogs are better suited to different types of training. Unfortunately if you have a pup like a miniature chihuahua or English bulldog, your exercise options will be much more limited. Dogs in this category should engage in plenty of play and brisk walking, but extended jogging is not recommended. Any dog with a short muzzle will have more difficulty breathing during  heavy exercise, especially in hot weather. Larger breeds like retrievers and shepherds tend to make for sturdy running partners, and many of your smaller sized terriers and herding breeds are strong enough to go the distance. Generally, any breed of working dog should adapt quickly and enjoy the challenge.

There are several factors you must monitor closely during training. Your dog’s breathing, gait, and energy level can give you clues to how they are feeling. Is he slowing down? Frothing at the mouth? Limping as he runs? Dogs will often show minimal signs of discomfort when they sustain an injury. Stop regularly, every mile in the beginning, and do a 4 paw check for caught debris, swelling, or blisters. Be sure to monitor your dog the following day for signs of soreness or pain.

Paws are important and your chosen running surface is a major contributor to your dog’s comfort level. In the beginning, their pads will be more delicate and require your regular attention. Be aware that concrete and sharp gravel tracks can be very harsh on your dog’s feet. Dog booties and wax based paw creams do exist and can be a viable option, especially in the extreme cold and heat. For moderate weather, build up to those long distances and run on a more forgiving surface, like grass or dirt.

Your dog should always be in accordance with local leash laws. A leashed dog will learn to run at your side if you provide him with time and patience. Gentle corrections and generous treats should be given to keep him on track when you  begin training. Retractable leashes are not recommended because they limit your level of control on a wayward pup. Your dog should run at most on a 5 to 6 foot leash  by your side. Water should be readily available before and after a run. If the run is lengthy,  more than a couple miles, taking a water source for you and your dog is the best decision.

After taking care of your dog’s necessary gear, it’s important to remember yourself. Consider your own needs before beginning a new training program. Weather appropriate, comfortable apparel and a suitable pair of sneakers are necessary for beginners and experts alike. Consider the type  and amount of running you will be doing. What do your arches look like? Do you require extra support for high arches or do your flat feet require more motion control? Are you looking for speed with a very light shoe or do you want comfort over long distances with something more cushioned?

There are a number of helpful websites that offer reviews and comparison guides.I compete in triathlon and crossfit events, so I require a pair of cross training shoes.Take a look at this guide to crossfit shoes click here or if you know what brand and style of shoe you require simply go to amazon or Ebay for the best prices online.

Many fitness stores with a large shoe selection will have staff on hand that can help you determine what kind of shoe is best for your gait. Utilizing proper gear and paying attention to a consistent and correct form can reduce your risk of injury. Know your limitations and know your dog well enough to understand his potential limitations. This will make for the best possible scenario so you and your pooch can enjoy regular exercise together.

So hit the trail and wear yourselves out. Any dog owner can tell you; a tired dog is a happy dog.

Nov 24

Veterinarians Must Be Many Things

People often get angry when speaking with veterinarians like myself. “Oh, that procedure costs far too much money!”, “I bet all you are interested in is the contents of my bank account!”, “You clearly don’t care about animals at all!”.

Have people ever stopped for a moment to consider their veterinarian’s job? Veterinarian’s wear many hats, and we must perform many jobs and roles. We try to do this with a good heart and attitude for our patient’s that we treat (and equally importantly their owners too).

We have to be grief counselors. We are always there to hold your hand, pat you on the back, offer countless tissues, while listening to your stories about Snowflake when it is time for Snowflake to go. We often hear stories about the human tragedies too – this beloved pet belonged to your mother who recently passed away, and Snowflake is all you have left of her. Or this cat belonged to your daughter, who died tragically at 22 the other week in a car accident.

We have to help owners through the sorrow of having to watch the light in their beloved pet’s eyes dim, and we must watch the dimming of the light in the owners eyes as they watch it happen. We can feel awful, holding that evil syringe of pink liquid. We feel just as helpless as the owners do, unable to stop death, we grieve with them too. Even though we move onto other patients and other situations and scenarios, a tiny part of our hearts went with their pet.

We must also be financial counselors. Helping to guiding you through the countless decisions involving a pet’s expenses and care. We frequently try to discount or won’t charge for services so we can make sure that, that “special” pet get better. We try to trim down surgery times, even though in reality it took us over an hour to remove that chewed up sock from your dog’s intestines. We stay late if we have too, just to help make finances manageable for you.

We need to be relationship counselors and mediators between couples who start a war over the decisions of Snowflake’s pet care. We take phone calls from each individual pet owner, sometimes within minutes of another call, having to answer the same difficult questions over and over. We always do this with a generally good attitude and patience. We try to soothe agitated couples and suggest possible recommendations with tact. We always try to make sure that both pet owners leave the hospital or phone call happy. We’ve also recently had set up a new virtual pbx for emergency purposes so owners can contact us a little easier. It’s a much better system, however, I wish it warned us when someone on the other end was in a bad mood.

At the end of all this, we ARE doctors. Not just one kind of doctor either. If you ever had to visit your MD, he would look at your skin lesion and would then refer you to a dermatologist. We must skin scrape your pet, before culturing the lesion, then start your pet on a course of appropriate treatment.

I wear many hats as a veterinarian, both at home and at work. Remember that when you next see your veterinarian. Remember that he or she is a person too, with hobbies, a family, dreams, sadness and tragedies, just the same as you do. Much like you, they are all working hard and trying to do the best that they can each and every single day.