It’s Dental Health Month! | Freddie’s Blog

By Freddie's Blog

Hi! It’s Freddie. Yes, I’ve been away, but now I’m back and ready to tell you about all the things I know.

Well, of course you know that February is dental month at Steeples Veterinary Clinic, but what does that really mean? Read more …

It means that the doctors and staff here are focusing on dental care for all cats and dogs. It means that dental disease is so common that we want to bring it to your attention this month.

The best thing I know about dental care is that you have to be aware of what’s going on inside your pet’s mouth. Have you ever had a good look?

Flip the lip along the side or at the front of the mouth and just look at the teeth and gums. Are they red and swollen? Is there a lot of tartar build up? Do you notice pain or discomfort? How about the breath? Not so good?

These are all signs of significant dental disease and can cause pain and ill health for your cat or dog.

But maybe your dog’s mouth isn’t so bad; maybe your cat has only mild gingivitis. Mild dental disease is the first step toward more severe dental disease, but it’s much easier to treat.

Everyone should have a good check-up once a year, and this includes an oral health exam. If you have any concerns about your pet’s mouth, then take him to your veterinarian.

Either the veterinary nurses or doctors can have a good look, answer your questions, and give you direction on how to help, prevent, or treat dental disease.

That’s what I know about that!

See you next time,

Freddie

Omega 3 Fatty Acids | Freddie’s Blog

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Hello it’s Freddie the cat.

I hope you all had a good Thanksgiving and didn’t over indulge too much! I restrained myself quite well and didn’t get into fatty foods at all. There are some good fats out there that we should be eating, though. I’m sure you’ve heard of them: Omega 3 Fatty Acids.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids, come from fat sources such as meat, seeds, and nuts. The best source to be absorbed and available to pets is from fish oils and these specific fatty acids are known as EPA (eicosapentenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexenoic acid). They are proven to help with the proper development of vision and nerves, and are believed to be very beneficial help control inflammation and the immune system. They are commonly given as supplements for treatment of chronic kidney disease, arthritis, heart disease, cancer, allergies, and itchy skin.

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Being kind of far away from a fishing pond of my own, and knowing that mice are not a good source of fatty acids, what’s a handsome homebody cat to do? There are many brands of fish oils out there. Your veterinarian will have capsules and oils available. Be sure you are giving your cat or dog a form that comes from fish and has a ratio of EPA to DHA of 3:2. That’s right, look on the bottle, or ask your veterinarian.

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How much to give? If you’re using a veterinary product, there will be instructions on the bottle. If not, then make sure the ratios are correct at 3:2, then give about 1000 mg to a cat or small dog daily and 2000 mg to a medium to large dog daily. Be sure to ask your veterinarian if this is okay, because your pet might have an underlying condition or allergy and fish oil may not be a good idea.

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Too hard to get a pill into your cat? Well, I get it. Ask for an oil to pump onto the food. It’s very fishy tasting and I love that. Yum!

 

Omega 3 fatty acids. Who knew? That’s what I know about that.

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Gastroenteritis

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I wanted to talk to you about a common condition the doctors see at Steeples Veterinary Clinic, namely … vomiting and diarrhea or gastroenteritis. I know … not a lovely subject, but I do know a lot about it because animals frequently come here suffering from one or the other or both.

Gastroenteritis means inflammation of the stomach and intestines. It’s usually mild and short-lived, and it seems to be really common this time of year at Thanksgiving and later on at Christmas. When dogs get into the garbage and eat the turkey carcass or the left over bacon or the whole pumpkin pie off the counter … yep, they get sick.

Eating the wrong food or “garbage guts” is common in dogs (not so much in cats, though, as we have more discriminating tastes!). Up comes the offending food along with fluids and electrolytes in the vomit or diarrhea

So what? Well, your pet feels awful, as you can imagine, and both symptoms can lead to dehydration and an electrolyte imbalance that makes everything worse. Your pet is usually lethargic, may have a slightly tender belly, and may have a low grade fever.

 

The thing is, these signs, including the vomiting and diarrhea, can also be seen with other diseases and conditions that are more serious than just overeating the wrong food. That’s why it’s important to not wait too long. If your dog or cat is doing a lot of vomiting and diarrhea and has no energy to even get up, get him to your veterinarian.

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They will examine him and may recommend tests to rule out serious conditions. They may also just give your pet some fluids and medications to make him or her feel better until the offending food has left the body. It’s a win-win.

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The best thing is to not let your dog get into the carcass, the garbage, the bacon, the stuffing, the whatever. But dogs will be dogs. And yes, occasionally cats, too. No, dogs won’t BE cats … oh, you know what I mean.

What I do know is that when they get into all those things, and they’re sharing the vomiting and diarrhea experience with you, it’s time to make a call to your other family doctor, your veterinarian!

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And that’s what I know about that. (Too much, really).

Therapeutic Laser Treatment | Freddie’s Blog

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Hi. It’s Freddie here. I want to tell you about something I know: Therapeutic Laser treatments.

There’s a really good treatment available to help you feel better, help your wounds heal, and to help with chronic pain. It’s called Therapeutic Laser.

At Steeples Veterinary Clinic the doctors and animal health technicians use a Class 4 Therapeutic Laser on many conditions. It emits a painless light that penetrates deeply into the tissue and cells and really helps with healing of new and old wounds and with decreasing pain and inflammation in arthritis, injuries, tendon problems, and many other areas.

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Our staff at Steeples Veterinary Clinic have been using the laser on dogs with sore backs, on cats with inflamed bladders, on many puppies and kittens after spay or neuter surgery, on dental extractions sites, and on all kinds of wounds in horses, dogs, and cats.

Laser therapy after a neuter

It doesn’t hurt, it doesn’t take long, and it even feels good! Believe me, I know. It helped my back feel much better.

So that’s what I know about that.

Boston and His Tooth

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Boston is a big black Labrador Retriever with a lot of energy.

Boston’s mom and dad gave him a bone to chew on about three months ago. (Believe me, they really regret that call right now!). Boston gnawed on the bone and… he ended up with a broken tooth on the upper left side of his mouth. It was the big chewing tooth, also called the carnassial tooth.

A broken tooth is painful and it allows bacteria to enter the tooth canal and set up an infection, or an abscess. An abscessed tooth is VERY painful, as you well may know

Pulp exposed

Pulp exposed

The only treatment for a tooth root abscess is to have a root canal procedure or to have the tooth extracted. Boston’s owners chose extraction.

Under general anaesthetic, Boston, had an x-ray taken of his tooth. The broken tooth has three roots and one of them had an abscess at the tip.

The veterinarian injected local anesthetic around the nerve to the tooth to numb the area and prevent any pain. The doctor then made an incision around the tooth and made a gum flap which she gently lifted off the bone. Because of the three roots, three cuts of the tooth had to be made. This was done with a high speed cutting drill.

Injecting local anesthetic

Injecting local anesthetic

Each root was treated as a separate tooth and all three were extracted with a combination of elevation, leverage, enough pressure, and removal of some of the surrounding bone in the socket. Three roots came out clean!

Starting to drill the tooth into 3 sections

Starting to drill the tooth into 3 sections

 

Model of what the tooth normally looks like

Model of what the tooth normally looks like

The 3 roots of the tooth successfully extracted

The 3 roots of the tooth successfully extracted

The sharp bone edges were burred smooth with the drill and the gum flap was put back in place and sutured. The stitches were absorbable material and they will keep the gum tissue in place until it heals; then they will dissolve and fall out on their own.

After all of the sutures were in place, the veterinarian used a Therapeutic Laser to help with inflammation, healing and pain.

Using the Therapeutic laser on the extraction site

Using the Therapeutic laser on the extraction site

Boston has to take antibiotics for about 10 days, and he was sent home with extra pain medication. His owners were instructed to feed him soft food for about a week to allow the tissues to heal.

What will happen next? Boston’s mouth will heal up and he’ll have a gap in his dental pattern on the top left of his mouth. He will be able to eat hard food just fine after a few weeks. He will miss that big tooth and will likely not want to gnaw on things on that side of his mouth anymore.

His mom and dad will need to brush the tooth below carefully and watch for build-up of plaque in that area from now on. Most importantly, Boston should stay away from chewing on really hard objects like bones, rocks, and antlers. He doesn’t need another broken tooth!

I know this isn’t easy. Dogs like to chew bones. Chewing keeps their teeth clean and gives them something to do. But teeth can only take so much and then they will break.

Give dogs safe alternatives to chew: dental chews, soft rawhides, soft rubber balls (NOT tennis balls though).

And have a look in your dog’s (and cat’s) mouth once a week. Flip the lip. Have a good look around, including the back teeth.

That’s Boston’s story. He’s back to eating and running around … and he’s definitely banned from chewing on bones!

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Deworming Your Pet

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Does Your Pet Need De-Worming?

Internal parasites, such as worms, are just a fact of life in pets that spend time outdoors.

As well as being gross, robbing animals of nutrition, and perhaps making them sick, intestinal parasites can also put you or your family at risk. Some types of roundworms may shed eggs that can be ingested by young children. The eggs become larva, and then these young worms can migrate in the human body and cause disease in humans.

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Here are some questions to ask:

  • Does your cat or dog have fleas or has she had fleas in the past 6 months? (Fleas can carry certain worms to your pet).
  • Is your pet younger than one year old or older than 10 years?
  • Does your cat or dog spend time outdoors? Hiking? Hunting? Traveling?
  • Does he hunt and catch mice, rats, rabbits, or consume other wildlife feces?
  • Do you have more than one pet?
  • Do you have a baby or young child in your home?
  • Has your cat or dog had a parasite identified in the last 6 months?

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If you’ve answered yes to most, you have a high-risk household and it’s time to think about deworming your cat or dog. First, collect a fecal sample and take it to your veterinarian for analysis. Most high-risk pets should have feces checked and be dewormed 3-4 times per year.

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If you’ve answered no to most of the questions, and your pet rarely goes outdoors, you have a low risk household. Have your pet dewormed once or twice a year, and a fecal exam is usually unnecessary.

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Well, as cat who likes to hunt for mice, I know a thing or two about worms. They are certainly unwelcome guests. Take the time to assess your pet’s risk and treat for them regularly!

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Ticks

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Hello.

This time I’m going to write about ticks. You know those flat little blood-suckers that attach, suck your blood, engorge up and fall off? They give me the creeps.

But this is tick time of year. I want to talk to you about ticks: what they do and what you can do about them.

This is what I know…

Ticks, otherwise known as wood ticks, are small little arachnids that hang out on the long grasses and branches in the spring and summer waiting to catch a ride. When your dog or cat brushes by the little bug, it jumps right on. Then the tick travels to somewhere warm on the animal’s body. Ticks like the head and neck area, as there is a lot of warmth and good blood supply.

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They latch on with special mouth parts and start sucking blood. Eeeww!

Well, other than the gross factor, what harm do ticks do?

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Transmission of Disease

 

The most common tick in our area, the East Kootenays, is the wood tick, also called Dermacentor andersoni. This tick does not carry Lyme disease, but it can carry some toxins that cause “Tick Paralysis”. This disease causes extreme weakness and paralysis in pets and livestock, but the signs go away once the tick is removed.

The tick that carries Lyme disease, an Ixodes tick, is very rare in this area.

There are other blood-borne diseases that ticks can carry, although they are quite rare. If you notice your dog or cat is ill and you know he has had a recent tick bite or still has a tick, always take your pet in to the veterinarian. If there are no signs of illness or weakness, get busy and remove that tick!

 

How to Remove a Tick from your pet

Removing ticks can be tricky. Try to remove the tick with tweezers, grabbing the tick as close to the head as possible and pulling with gentle pressure. If you don’t get all of the mouth parts the first time, don’t panic: get out as much as you can and your pet’s immune system will take care of the rest. You can always consult your veterinarian if you’re still concerned.

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Don’t use a flame or a hot poker on the tick; you’ll only end up burning your pet’s fur or skin.

Ticks have very hard body shells, so if you’re trying to kill the tick sometimes just stepping on it isn’t enough. You have to squish them very hard or separate the head from the body in order to kill them.

How to prevent ticks from biting your pet

There are medications that will kill ticks once they start sucking blood. There are also treatments that repel ticks and prevent them from biting in the first place. These anti-parasite treatments are usually given topically and used once a month. There are also new flea and tick collars that are useful to prevent the ticks from settling down to bite and suck blood.

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Some of these treatments are very poisonous to cats, so be sure you talk to your veterinarian first and read all labels.

Some of these treatments are very poisonous to cats, so be sure you talk to your veterinarian first and read all labels.

A chemical free way to deal with ticks is to check your cat or dog every day. Look carefully around the head and neck, part the hair, comb through and look for the un-engorged tick so you can stop it before it bites.

Avoiding long grasses and keeping your own yard mowed and free from leaves and weeds will help keep ticks at bay.

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Well, I think we all agree on how much we don’t like ticks and don’t ever want to see one latched on to our bodies. Not cats, not dogs, not people, no one. But if you find one … be brave and just deal with it!

Taking Your Cat to the Vet

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Hello again! I see a lot of pets coming into Steeples Veterinary Clinic and I know how hard it can be for you to bring your cat for a trip to the veterinarian. Many cats don’t like the carrier and they don’t like the car ride, so heading in for an annual check-up can sometimes be a stressful occasion!

I have some ideas for you on how to make your cat’s trip to veterinarian much calmer for everyone. This is what I know…

How to make trips to the veterinarian with your cat a whole lot easier

Picture this: every time the cat carrier comes out of the closet, you grab your cat and stuff him in and whisk him off in a car ride to the veterinarian.

We cats are sensitive and smart and soon the cat carrier becomes associated with very unpleasant times.

Instead, follow these tips on making the carrier your cat’s friend:

Leave the carrier out at home with the door open so your cat can sniff it, mark it with facial rubbing, and go in and out at will. That’s how he or she gets to feel comfortable with something new: it’s like it belongs to a cat once they get to know it.

Put a soft towel or fleece blanket inside so the carrier is very cozy. Cats like to hide in spaces and have a comfy place to watch the world go by or have a nice snooze.

Put cat food or treats in the carrier. If your cat gets to eat a meal or a favourite treat in the carrier, he soon won’t think it’s such a bad place after all

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Try using a pheromone product. These are synthetic feline facial pheromone sprays that can help calm cats during stressful events. Spray a little onto the towel or toy in the carrier before you go on a car ride.

Once your cat is at the veterinary hospital, leave her in the carrier until she goes into the examination room. Set the carrier on the floor, open the door, and let her sniff and come out on her own.

Regular veterinary visits for cats are crucial for keeping them healthy, but getting there can sometimes be a real challenge. Try these ideas to make the next visit a much happier time for everyone!

And that is what I know!

Finn’s Story about Addison’s Disease | Freddie’s Blog

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How A Happy Yellow Labrador Retriever Lost His Bounce

Hello. It’s Freddie again. Every day I see dogs and cats and rabbits and reptiles and horses and cows. It’s just part of my life living at Steeples Veterinary Clinic.

I wanted to tell you about Finn. He’s a big goofy Labrador Retriever. He was always a pretty typical Lab: you know, running around and chasing sticks and bouncing in the snow. Then he seemed a little off, and he suddenly wasn’t so bouncy anymore.

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His owners took him to Steeples Veterinary Clinic because something was very wrong. Finn had no energy and he couldn’t even hold his head up let alone stand. He wasn’t normal at all.

Finn was examined by Dr. Marie-Eve Fradette. She found that his body temperature was low, he was weak and lethargic, he had diarrhea with blood, and his heart rate was quite slow. After Dr. Marie-Eve examined Finn, she made up a diagnostic and treatment plan.

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The first step was to run some blood tests, start giving Finn intravenous fluids, and get him warmed up. The veterinary technicians collected his blood into little tubes and then they tested the blood in machines in the laboratory area.

The blood tests were to give information about red blood cells and white blood cells and about enzymes and electrolytes. The intravenous fluids were to provide hydration and electrolytes and to help keep the blood pressure up where it should be.

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The testing gave Dr. Marie-Eve a lot of valuable information and made her suspicious of a condition called Addison’s disease. To confirm her suspicions, she had the technicians collect more blood and sent it to an outside veterinary laboratory to do an ACTH stimulation test.

Well, her suspicions were correct. Finn was diagnosed with Addison’s disease.

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What is Addison’s Disease?

Addison’s disease is also called hypoadrenocorticism. It is a disease of the adrenal glands: two small glands located near each of the kidneys. If they are not working well, there is no longer enough production of the body’s natural corticosteroids or mineralocorticoids. We need corticosteroids to help our bodies deal with stress and to manage metabolism. We need mineralocorticoids help regulate electrolytes in the body. Finn’s adrenal glands just weren’t making these important hormones any more.

Long term treatment for Finn

Addison’s disease is treatable with medications and generally has a good prognosis. The medications must be given regularly, either by injection or in pill form, and finding the right dose and arriving at the correct levels means a lot of testing and follow up visits, especially at the beginning. Highly stressful times can still be hard on Finn, but his owners know to watch for this.

The good news? Finn recovered very well. He will always have Addison’s disease, but he’s taking his medication, he’s getting follow-up care, and he got his bounce back!

And that’s what I know about that!

Arthritis in Cats | Freddie’s Blog

By Freddie's Blog No Comments

Hello, it’s Freddie.

As promised, I’m going to tell you about arthritis in cats this week. Arthritis is way more common than you realize because cats hide their problems well.

And, as you know, I’m a senior cat myself, so I can really relate to this one. Sometimes I just ache all over and hardly feel like jumping up on the counter to catch some sunlight. Let me tell you what I know …

Arthritis means inflammation of the joints and tissues around the joints.

It also means stiffness, achiness, and … reluctance to get up and go!

What are the signs of arthritis in cats?

Our hips and elbows are most commonly affected on both sides, so we often don’t limp.

But what you might notice in your cat:

  • Trouble using the litter box and, therefore, accidents near the box
  • Decreased grooming
  • Reluctance to be combed
  • Withdrawing and hiding
  • Jumping and moving less
  • Sleeping more.

The symptoms come on so slowly that most people think “it’s just old age”.

How is it diagnosed? The veterinarian will be suspicious of arthritis based on your observations of your cat, a physical exam, blood tests to rule out underlying medical issues, and sometimes x-rays.

How is arthritis treated in cats?

Environmental control. There are many easy ways to alter your cat’s home to help reduce arthritis pain. Cut a low opening in the litter box so your cat doesn’t have to jump in/out. Make a set of steps for your cat to get to his or her favourite spot. Provide soft well-padded beds in your cat’s favourite spots. In general, older arthritic cats LOVE sources of heat, like a warmed up grain bag or a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel. If you use a heating pad, be sure it is at a low setting and not going to cause burns.

Pain medication. There are some safe pain medications available from the veterinarian, which can be given at low doses daily, which will make your cat more comfortable. Blood testing first is very important to make sure there isn’t a problem with the kidneys already. The medication is available in a tasty liquid that is easily given by mouth. Some pills or flavoured medications can also be specially made for the fussiest of cats.

Joint supplements. These are believed to have a positive influence on cartilage health by altering cartilage repair and maintenance in the joints. These joint supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin are “nutraceuticals” and many cats benefit from them.
Essential Fatty Acids (DHA and EPA), the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids have been shown to have marked anti-inflammatory effects in cats. They come in a fishy-tasting oil or little capsules.

Weight loss. If your cat is overweight, it stresses the arthritic joints even more and contributes to the pain. Talk to the health care team at Steeples Veterinary Clinic and together we can work with you to come up with a plan for weight loss for your cat.

Yes, it’s not fun getting old. I’m really young for my age, but some days I just have the aches all over.

I’m glad that many of these treatments are available, so then I can get back to normal around here.

I have to wander around and listen and learn. That’s how I became a cat that knows!