--Jayme, Hillside Veterinary Technician
Have you ever found yourself in a vet clinic in pure shock? That’s exactly where I found myself one afternoon. I brought my dog, Woodrow, in for an examination because he got into the trash can and was experiencing vomiting and diarrhea. I fully expected him to have what we refer to in the veterinary world as “garbage gut”. I already had in my mind that we would probably do some fluid therapy, medications to help his gut, and a bland diet. Boy was I ever wrong. Upon palpation, Dr. Betsy felt “something” in his abdomen, and told me we needed to obtain radiographs for further evaluation of his abdominal cavity. I immediately thought, “Great, I sure hope he does not have a foreign body!”. The first radiograph flashed upon the screen. Having been in this field for quite some time, I knew what I saw was not good. His spleen was very large, and there was also a mass. Often, these masses we find on the spleen are usually not good news, they are aggressive tumors, and many times they rupture and the patient bleeds internally. On the inside, I was devastated and on the verge of tears.
I pushed through, and completed his radiographs. We radiographed his abdominal cavity and his thoracic (chest) cavity. Thoracic radiographs were needed in this situation because of the likeliness that the tumor was malignant. These radiographs allow us to verify if there is any evidence of metastasis (malignant growth secondary to the primary source). Happily, there was no evidence of growths in his chest.
We then switched gears, and prepared Woodrow for an abdominal ultrasound. Due to the highly vascular nature of these tumors on the spleen, we needed to check for any bleeding coming from the tumor. We scanned his abdomen, and there was not any evidence of active bleeding- which was great news! You see, if there was active bleeding, and the tumor turned out to be malignant, all those cancer cells were now spread all over his abdominal cavity. This would make his prognosis very grim, and would also make it an emergent situation for Woodrow’s life.
Still in a state of shock, we collected all the necessary blood work to prepare him for surgery the next morning. Woodrow needed a splenectomy. I was still processing all of this. I thought I would just be giving my dog some medications, bland diet, and fluids. Instead, I was preparing my senior dog, my best friend, for major surgery the next morning.
Surgery morning came fast. I was still in shock that morning, and was in tears. I was not in any position to monitor anesthesia for him, or have anything medically to do with Woodrow’s surgery. That morning, I was just his mom.
Dr. Betsy took him into surgery while Matt monitored his anesthesia. As a nervous mom, in between patients, I would go to our surgery window and check on things. Each time, Dr. Betsy and Matt delivered good news, and kept me calm. They knew exactly what I needed to hear at all the right times. Matt gave me all his vitals at each window visit, and made sure my Woodrow stayed warm, his blood pressure, heart rate and respiratory rate all remained normal. The spleen and tumor were so large, Dr. Betsy needed a surgical assistant to help her retract and hold the spleen up. Luckily, Melissa was available to scrub in, and assist Dr. Betsy. Woodrow’s surgery was two hours long, and finally the tumor was out! Dr. Betsy dissected a few samples to send off for pathology to confirm what type of tumor it was. Now the waiting began for the pathology report.
After the surgery was over, his care did not end there. My teammates made sure Woodrow had nice thick blankets, warming elements, made sure his IV catheter and fluids were still flowing appropriately, all the right post-operative pain medications, and monitored his vitals while in recovery every five minutes until he could sit up on his own and able to maintain a normal body temperature. They all made sure that he was kept comfortable and clean while in hospital that day.
I am so blessed and thankful to work at such a place as Hillside. All my teammates and doctors took such amazing care of my old man. The even more amazing thing is, is that Woodrow did not receive special treatment, or “extra” care because he is my pet. This is the level of care we provide for all our patients. We take such great pride in our profession, and that day I could feel and appreciate it on a different level- as a dog mom. I always knew what excellent care we provide, and how hard all of us work to give everything we have to our patients- which is why I love working at Hillside. Since that day though, I have an even greater and deeper appreciation for what we do each day. I love that we can offer our clients and patients lab work, ultrasounds, radiographs, blood pressure measurements, medications, fluid therapy, etc all in the same day, and often have the results within minutes to hours. There’s nothing worse than being caught off guard by the veterinarian giving you all the possibilities about what could be wrong with your fur kid, but I am so thankful that we have all the needed diagnostic tools that we used in Woodrow’s case to get him diagnosed. Thank you all my co-workers for keeping me calm that day, and for providing Woodrow with the best care possible!
To our clients, from all of us at Hillside, we thank you for trusting us and allowing us to care for your fur kids. It is an honor and privilege to provide medical care for the furry members of your family.
OH! Woodrow’s pathology report came back, and I am happy to report that his tumor was benign! He is still enjoying life, and living it to the fullest…… on the comfy bed!
Things That Go Bump in the Night
Has this situation ever happened to you? It's a quiet night at home when suddenly your dog starts panting, drooling, and whining. He/she starts pacing around the house, looking for a place to hide. You wonder what is going on. A few minutes later you hear the first rumble of thunder. As the storm rages, you try to comfort your dog. Despite your efforts, he/she is visibly shaken and in distress. Even after the storm has passed, your dog has a difficult time settling down. Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence in many households.
Studies have shown that at least 30% of all dogs suffer from some level of noise aversion, but only 40% of pet parents seek help from their veterinarian. The fear can be directed towards storms, fireworks, or any other loud and sudden noise. It can range anywhere from mild anxiety to an extreme phobia in which they become destructive of their surroundings. Most pet parents do their best to comfort their dogs during these events, offering over the counter calming devices and treats. While this is a great start, in many cases these alone are not enough to help ease their pet's anxiety.
Environmental Enrichment and Training
One of the most important things you can do is provide a safe place for your pet to retreat to during these times of stress. This could be a closet, bathroom, basement, or wherever he/she feels comfortable. If the area has a window, draw the curtains or blinds to help block the flash of light which is a predictor of the scary sound that follows. Turn the lights on in the room, making the sudden flash of lightning or fireworks less startling. Providing white noise, such as a fan, or music will aid in drowning out the scary sounds. If using music, play songs that have a have strong bass beat as they tend to mask the noises more effectively. Place soft bedding on the floor and bring in toys to make it a more inviting space. Prior to any stressful event, you can help your dog make positive associations with the space by playing or feeding occasional meals in the area. The goal is to teach them that it is a happy and safe place to go to when things become stressful.
Training your dog to relax is also very beneficial. There are many ways to do this, so having professional guidance will set you up for success. An excellent training tool is Through A Dog's Ear. This is a series of CDs that are tailored to specific sounds your pet may be fearful of. They aid in desensitizing your dog to these noises by presenting the scary sound at a very low decibel, then slowly increasing in volume. All the while you are teaching your dog to remain calm and focused on you. This series includes a training guide full of helpful tips. You can find Through A Dog's Ear at positively.com.
Natural and Over the Counter Products
Once the safe place has been established, adding over the counter products can help relax your pet. Thundershirts are an excellent option. This compression vest applies gentle pressure in key places which in turn releases endorphins. The physiological response to these endorphins is relaxation. We encourage our clients to buy the Thundershirt brand name, as opposed to similar products, for several reasons. First, they offer a money back guarantee. If you do not feel it works for your pet, you will receive a full refund. Second, the company donates all returned shirts to shelter pets across the country. Another product proven to reduce anxiety in animals, as well as people, is Lavender. Diffusing pure lavender oil or placing a few drops on the bedding or a Thundershirt can be beneficial. Adaptil, a pheromone product, can also be very useful in decreasing anxiety in dogs. Pheromones are naturally occurring substances in the body that promote relaxation. Adaptil is available in three forms: a spray, a collar, and a plug in diffuser. Calming treats are beneficial because they contain Chamomile, L-Tryptophan, and/or L-Theanine (a green tea extract). These naturally occurring substances also have been proven to help increase relaxation. Many dogs need multiple products to be able to cope with stressful events. In severe cases, dogs will need pharmacological help in addition to these over the counter products.
The Science of Stress and How Medications Can Help
When exposed to a stressful stimuli, neurons in the brain are activated. Cortisol, commonly referred to as a stress hormone, is released into the body causing blood flow to be shifted to the vital organs. The instincts of fight or flight will kick in as the brain determines the severity of the situation. When they are repeatedly exposed to a stressful stimuli, neurons fire at an abnormally high rate and can remain in that state even after the stimuli is no longer present. Cortisol levels increase over 200% and can stay elevated for at least 40 minutes after the stressful event has passed. This only reinforces your pet's fear. Fortunately, your veterinarian can help. There is a product that is the first and only FDA approved medication to treat this fear called Sileo. It is a very low dose of a commonly used sedative in veterinary medicine that blocks the neurons from firing. It is easy to administer and starts working in about 10-20 minutes. Other medications can also aid in helping your pet relax. Many of these are classified as anxiolytics, meaning their purpose is to reduce anxiety. These products are available through your veterinarian. It is important to have your pet examined and weighed regularly to be sure any medications your are administering are effective and dosed properly.
At Hillside Animal Hospital, we are devoted to your pet's physical as well as mental health. If your pet suffers from any form of anxiety, we encourage you to contact us at 314-645-2141. I am happy to provide consultations in which we can discuss your concerns about your pet's behavior. If needed, we can refer you to excellent trainers as well as a veterinary behavior specialist. Along with our veterinarians, we can devise a plan tailored to your pet's individual needs. Call us today!
Carolyn, RVT, Fear Free Certified Professional
Ah-Ha!! We are here to bring you an "ah-ha" moment. Did you know that Hillside Animal Hospital is AAHA (said "ah-ha") accredited?
AAHA is an acronym for American Animal Hospital Association. In 2015 Hillside joined the elite 12-15% of companion animal hospitals around the country in becoming an accredited member of this association. We were evaluated on approximately 900 rigorous veterinary standards. There are a total of 3700 hospitals in the U.S. and Canada that are held to a higher standard of excellent care. We are proud to be an AHHA-accredited hospital.
Every 2 years Hillside is evaluated to ensure that we are continuing to be a thorough, responsive, sanitary, and safe hospital for your pets. Being thorough means that your animal will get a complete physical examination during their visit and if they are in the hospital for a procedure, all of their vital signs will be carefully monitored throughout anesthesia. Beingresponsive means that Hillside is ready for emergencies with appropriate medications and tools that are in an easily accessible location. Being sanitary means that we take every precaution to prevent the spread of disease with disinfectants and thorough cleaning. Being safe is very important to everyone involved in a visit, especially your pet. Hillside has appropriately trained staff to humanely handle your 4-legged friend.
AAHA has a list of guidelines for behavior, dental care, weight management, nutrition, pain management, and feline life stages. These recommendations for quality care are closely followed by accredited hospitals, but are also good guidelines for pet owners. Hillside's goal is to work with owners as a team to allow their animal companions to lead long, healthy lives. The American Animal Hospital Association website aaha.org can be a resource for veterinary/client team to stay up to date on the latest guidelines and to find relevant articles on animal health and care.
So, if you are saying, AAHA, then you have found the right practice to take care of your furry friends.
--Dr. Claire Beckmeyer, Hillside Veterinarian
--By Dr. Claire Beckmeyer
Just when you think you have your male cat figured out, there he is standing there, squatting in the middle of your bedroom floor and staring oddly at you. "Boots, what has gotten into you?", you say as you cock your head and stare back at him. Then he meows in a strange tone and leaves a drop of blood on the floor. You follow him to his litter box where he continues to strain with little to no urine production. If this is a scene you have never before witnessed, but if you have a male cat, be warned. This scenario is actually an emergency situation! Boots likely has a urethral obstruction. At some point between his urinary bladder and the outside world is something creating a blockade in his urethra, which will not allow urine to pass through. Urethral obstructions are more common in male cats than you may think. If left untreated this condition can ultimately lead to death due to severe dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.
What causes this to happen?
The urethra can be obstructed due to a bladder stone(s), an accumulation of urinary crystals, scarring, or simply muscle spasms and/or swelling. When an obstruction occurs we may find that underlying reasons are related to environmental stress (recent move, construction on the house, interactions with other household cats, ect.), obesity, and/or lack of adequate water intake.
What do I do if this happens?
Call a vet. Right away. Even if it is the middle of the night. Someone is always available to help. Remember, this is an emergency. Your cat needs to be evaluated and if obstructed, he will need a urinary catheter placed to allow urine to flow freely again. Once in place he will need this catheter to stay in for approximately 24- 48 hours, or until the urine becomes a clear yellow. Your veterinarian will also ensure that he is rehydrated and comfortable by administering fluids intravenously and that he is given medication to relieve his pain. After his stay in the hospital you will need to closely monitor Boots at home to make sure that he is producing an adequate amount of urine in the litter box. Your veterinarian will likely discuss altering his diet and/or lifestyle to prevent this from happening again.
Urinary issues in cats are common and do not always lead to an obstruction, but should be addressed with a veterinarian as soon as they are noticed so that your veterinarian can start treatment before his issues lead to an obstruction.
Hillside Animal Hospital's veterinarians and staff are happy to announce that they recently enrolled in the the American Veterinary Medical Foundation’s Veterinary Care Charitable Fund.
This program was created to support veterinarians who provide medical services to the lost, neglected and abused animals that find their way into our hospital. The program also allows us to care for animals in our community when their owners face extraordinary hardships.
By partnering with the AVMF's fund, we're able to offer supporters a tax-deductible, convenient way to donate and support our efforts to help pets in extreme need.
We invite you to support us in this new endeavor by making a donation to the AVMF to support our charitable work. The AVMF is the charitable arm of our professional membership organization, the American Veterinary Medical Association. The AVMF has been helping veterinarians help animals for more than 50 years.
Your tax-deductible donations to the AVMF on behalf of our hospital will help us help animals. Click on the AVMF donate button to make your tax deductible donation today!
Thank you in advance for your donation. All gifts, no matter the size, are greatly appreciated. Please
watch for additional messages that will share exciting and heartwarming stories of the animals that are
helped through your generosity.
Spring is on the way. After a long winter, we all want to get out and enjoy the warmer weather. For many of us, that means we are starting to think about our travel plans. When making arrangements, do you find yourself not including your dog because he or she has a difficult time with car rides? Does your dog simply not like traveling? Does he or she become physically ill? Imagine being able to share more experiences with you canine friend without the stress.
Car rides can be an overwhelming experience for dogs. The smells, sounds, and movement can create a perfect storm of sensory overload. These can all lead to motion sickness, a common affliction in our canine friends. Studies have shown that 1 in 5 dogs suffer from this ailment. Unfortunately, most pet owners do not recognize the signs. Do you know what to look for? It can present in a variety of ways in dogs. The most common physical signs to look for are drooling, heavy panting, excessive lip licking, vomiting, pacing, shaking, and whining (visit cerenia.com for a comprehensive list of symptoms). Luckily there is something that can help alleviate their discomfort. It is the first and only FDA approved medication to prevent vomiting due to motion sickness. Studies show it is successful in up to 93% of dogs. Call your veterinarian to talk about your dog's symptoms to see if he or she would benefit from the medication.
Many dogs do not display physical signs of motion sickness, however they simply do not like car rides. In these cases, treating the behavioral aversion to the experience can be beneficial. The process will require some patience, but will be helpful in the long run. To do this you first need to make positive associations with the car. This is known as counter conditioning. Some people will feed their dog in or near the car, or play with their favorite toys around the vehicle. Every time they approach the car or jump in willingly, you should reward that behavior with treats or praise. Once they are comfortable hopping into the car, go for very short rides. In some cases, simply backing the car down the driveway, or just a short ride around the block, is all you need to do. The goal is to get them acclimated to the process. Sometimes playing soothing music in the car and talking in calm, reassuring tones will be helpful as well. Many people have had success with the assistance of the Adaptil spray, a pheromone that has proven to help ease anxiety in dogs. A Thundershirt can also assist in reducing their anxiety in multiple situations. Make sure it is always a positive experience. If your dog appears anxious, discontinue for the day and start at the beginning the next time. Slowly build on the length of time spent in the car until your are able to drive longer distances with no signs of stress.
Now that your dog is more comfortable in the car, you can start planning a fun outing. Before leaving, it is always a good idea to do a little research. Look up the route you are planning to take to be sure there are plenty of rest stops you can make with your dog. Also make sure you find pet friendly hotels and restaurants along the way. In some cases, a health certificate issued by your veterinarian is required for travel. In order to obtain this document your pet will need to be examined by your veterinarian, be current on all vaccines, and be in good health. It is always a good idea to bring your pet's veterinary records and a picture of them with you in case of an emergency, especially if they have a specific medical issue. If your pet is on medications, make sure you have enough for the trip as well as a little extra in case your plans change.
Traveling with your dog doesn't have to be an ordeal. Call us at Hillside Animal Hospital today and together we can come up with a plan to make the ride more enjoyable for everyone. Safe travels!
At Hillside Animal Hospital, we are dedicated to ensuring all of our patients receive the best care possible. We tailor our approach to fit the needs for specific age groups, as well as identifying specific needs for the individual pet. Companion pets age at a much faster rate in comparison to humans. For this reason, it is important to have an established senior wellness protocol to help an aging companion live a longer, healthier, and a more comfortable life. Our goal is to provide the best medical care that our knowledge, experience, and state-of-the-art diagnostic tools can provide.
What is a senior?
Pets age at a faster rate than humans do. To determine if a pet is considered a senior pet, there are different parameters that are considered. The weight and breed of the pet may help determine when we would consider a pet to be a senior. In addition, a patient’s medical history is also considered. On average, most dogs and cats would be considered a senior around 7-8 years of age. Keep in mind it may vary for the smaller and larger breeds. If it is determined your pet is considered a senior, we have a specific protocol that we follow to provide medical care and recommendations for these patients.
There were guidelines set forth by American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) in 2004 to help veterinarians provide the highest quality of care to their senior patients. For this group of patients, we would like to see them for wellness visits every six months. Performing a comprehensive blood panel, complete urinalysis, and intestinal parasite exam yearly is also recommended. For comparison purposes, seeing a senior pet every 6 months for wellness exams is roughly equivalent of every 2-3 years in human years. Likewise, running yearly lab work is roughly equivalent to every 4-5 years in human years.
During our senior wellness exam we evaluate many body systems. You will see our veterinarians examining eyes, ears, auscultating the heart and lungs, monitoring vital signs compared to previous visits, palpating the abdomen, observing body condition, and feeling the motion of joints, amongst other things. Our senior blood work panel consists of a complete blood count (CBC), chemistry, electrolyte, and thyroid testing. This blood panel looks at many different body systems, which evaluates liver, kidney, and thyroid function. The urinalysis will identify any abnormalities such as white blood cells, glucose, crystals, and even malignant cells. Utilizing the results from the blood work, in conjunction with the complete urinalysis, can help determine if there are any issues that need to be addressed. We recommend these diagnostics, even if the patient is not showing any clinical signs of disease. We like to think of it as an “internal physical exam.” If we are able to detect early signs of disease, we can intervene, and hopefully provide medications, supplements, and/or even a simple dietary change to promote a healthier, longer life.
If there are abnormalities, our veterinarians may recommend further diagnostics to help aid in a diagnosis. At Hillside Animal Hospital, we have the capabilities of performing radiographs, blood pressure, and ultrasounds in our hospital. Our veterinarians and technicians have gone through extra training, and passed an examination to perform ultrasounds. We also are able to send images to a board certified radiologist for interpretation.
What to watch for?
As our pets age, even the smallest of changes can signify an issue. Since our patients cannot talk, the history you give us is extremely valuable. Paying close attention to their behaviors can provide much needed information. Signs and symptoms to watch for, even subtle changes: bathroom habits, eating and drinking habits, mobility, foul odor and/or bleeding from the mouth, sleeping habits, cognitive function, persistent diarrhea, and persistent coughing. Any difference, whether it’s an increase or decrease, an examination by the veterinarian is warranted.
We value the importance of providing excellent medical care, physically and emotionally for our patients. We strive to provide great quality care for our patients, as well as, our clients. We understand having an aging pet can be very emotional at times for the owners. We are here to answer any questions, and hopefully alleviate any concern you may have.
--Jayme, Hillside Animal Hospital Veterinary Assistant
Oral health and dentistry is an area of medicine that our veterinary hospital is extremely passionate about. This is for good reason too. It has been suggested that as much as 80% of pets have some form of dental disease. Many pet owners are unaware of the negative effects oral health disease can have on a pet’s overall health. Often, it can be shocking to pet owners when their veterinarian comments on their pet’s poor oral health. Luckily, there are products, preventative measures, and procedures that can help in preventing oral disease. By discussing the importance of oral health and dentistry, together as a team, the veterinary staff and pet owners can work together to determine the best treatment plan for your pet.
What is poor oral health and why is it a cause for alarm? Oral health can be described using many different terms. Vocabulary used to describe infections of the oral cavity are: Gingivitis meaning inflammation of the gum tissue, plaque and calculus are both types of buildup that accumulates on the surface of the tooth that leads to infection, and periodontitis which is a term used for disease of the oral cavity. Having an infection in their mouth can lead to long lasting adverse effects on the rest of their body. The bacteria living in the mouth gives off toxins. These toxins in the mouth can enter the pet’s bloodstream. Blood is filtered through several organs such as the kidneys, liver, and heart. While the blood is being filtered through these organs, the toxins can cause damage to these tissues. These oral infections can progress mostly due to owners not being aware of what to look for.
Many pet owners are unaware of the signs of oral and dental disease in their pets. Therefore, when it is mentioned there is an infection in their pet’s mouth, it can catch them by surprise. Signs that are most common when there is an infection are: foul odor from the mouth, loss of appetite, blood coming from the mouth, drooling, and if you can examine your pet’s mouth, discoloration of the teeth. Fortunately, advances have been made in veterinary dentistry allowing for the most current standard of care.
Think of it this way: What condition would your teeth be in if you never brushed, or only brushed your teeth occasionally? It is the same for your pet. Many pet owners are unaware that their pet’s teeth need daily attention. It is recommended by the American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC) to brush your pet’s teeth daily. Brushing their teeth can really benefit your pet, and not to mention, your pocket book! Professional dental cleanings can range in price, but generally in the $400.00 to $1,000.00 range depending on the severity of the disease and infection, and if they would require extractions. If extractions are needed, they would receive extra pain medication and possibly antibiotics. It is never too late to incorporate a daily brushing routine with your pet! There are several youtube videos you can watch, or a staff member at Hillside would be happy to show you the proper way to brush your pet’s teeth. If brushing is absolutely, out of the question, there are other options available. There are chews and oral rinses that we carry that can be used to help prevent dental disease. While they are not as effective as brushing, they certainly will help. Even animals that have their teeth brushed daily, at some point may require a professional dental cleaning. A professional dental cleaning requires anesthesia. Here at Hillside Animal Hospital, we use the standard of care when we approach a dental plan for our patients. We always perform a physical examination and run lab work before proceeding with a professional dental cleaning. Once under anesthesia, we will perform a full oral cavity exam to look for any abnormalities, as well as, a full set of dental radiographs. Radiographs are extremely important in veterinary dentistry due to 2/3 of the tooth laying below the gum line. If there are issues, we will be able to address them.
As you can see, dentistry is a vital role in your pet’s overall health. Infections in the mouth can lead to other medical issues and even cause damage to other organs. By knowing and understanding what signs you should look for, will help you determine if you need to take your pet into the vet for an oral health screening. Utilizing options available to do preventative care at home will pay off in a big way. Being proactive in regards to the oral health of your pet, you can help them live a longer and healthier life. If you are at all concerned about your pet’s oral health, or if you have questions on what you can do at home, we would love to help you. We offer FREE oral health screening with one of our technicians. Together, we can develop a treatment plan that is tailored to your lifestyle and that would best benefit your pet.
(Pet) Food for Thought
--Matt, Hillside Animal Hospital RVT
Choosing the right pet food for your pet can be a daunting task. You are expected to make an informed decision on a diet that is healthy, palatable, and cost effective for your pet. All of this while trying to balance your already busy schedule. “Which brand should I buy?” “Is canned or dry food better?" “What ingredients should even be in the food?” All of these are common questions that pet owners have to ask themselves. Hopefully we can answer these questions and any other questions you may have!
Emotional vs. Educational Decisions
As a consumer and a pet owner you should be wary of any statements that try to illicit an emotional response. Pet food companies are in the business to sell food (obviously), and they will use advertising slogans to trigger an emotional response. These are often ingredient-focused claims such as “Chicken as the first ingredient,” “Real Beef,” or “Grain-Free.” Pet owners often see quality in ingredients because they are tangible. You can picture “Beef” with ease, but “Beef Meal” can conjure some rather strange images to owners. Also we are told certain foods, such as grains, can be “bad” in our diets, so why not our furry friends?
A much better way to judge is based more on nutrition and safety. This will be making an educational decision instead of one based on emotion. Foods that fall in this category will have an AAFCO seal and be either formulated or will have gone through a feeding trial. A formulated diet will meet certain requirements established by AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) such as, but not limited to percent protein, carbohydrates, and fat. A diet that has gone through a feeding trial has met these requirements AND has been fed to animals that they are intended for. This is considered the “gold standard” of diets because it has been proven safe for animals to eat. As an owner, you should also look into a company’s practices. You want to know if there is a veterinary nutritionist on staff, how the food is processed and stored, and what research has been done on the food. All of this information could be found by calling the company’s customer support located on the food container.
Homemade Diets: A Recipe for Success or Disaster?
Some pet owners may feel more comfortable feeding their pets a homemade diet. As a society we equate food with love and a way to share memories. Why not spread this love to our pets as well! Homemade diets can be a viable option as long as certain precautions are taken. If you choose to prepare your own diet for your pet, you should make sure that it is complete and balanced. This can be done by using an online nutrition site or meeting with a veterinary nutritionist. Sites such as BalanceIt.com can be used to both provide supplements and use the online diet generator to form your own diet. This generator is as simple as plugging in a protein, carbohydrate, fat, vegetable, and/our fruit choice and then following the quantity listed on the site. This method works great as long as there is no “diet drift” Diet drift is when owners start to substitute the original ingredients for similar ones (ie: chicken for turkey or barley for rice ). This changes the nutrient profile as well as calories and can unbalance the food. It is best to make a new diet on the generator if you wish to change ingredients. Owners can also meet with a veterinary nutritionist to create a custom diet. The nutritionist will meet with owners and discuss what ingredients to use and their quantity as well as what supplements to add to the diet to keep them balanced. This generally is the best option since there will be follow up visits to ensure that the animals are tolerating the diets and changes can be made to avoid nutrient deficiencies. If a diet is not balanced it can cause nutrient deficiencies and can start to affect your pet’s health. If you have any questions you should always consult your veterinarian.
So, What Do We Recommend?
At Hillside Animal Hospital we recommend that our clients choose an over-the-counter diet that is produced by a larger, well-known company such as Purina, Hills, Iams, and Eukanuba. These are companies that employ veterinarians/veterinary nutritionists, perform quality research, and will often put diets through a feeding trial. They also will diminish their reputation if there is a problem with any of their diets. Customer service with these companies will also be easier for pet owners to use, and they often have staff trained to answer any questions that owners may have. Of course, if you have any other questions you should always consult your veterinarian or veterinary staff.
For many cats and their owners, a trip to the vet is a stressful experience. According to a 2013 survey, 44.9% of cat owners did not take their cats to the vet the previous year. One of the reasons cited was that owners believed their cats, especially indoor cats, became stressed when leaving their home environment. Does this sound like your feline friend?
It is vitally important that your cat receives regular veterinary care throughout their lifetime. Recently veterinary medicine has begun to understand the implications stress can have on them. The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), as well as experts in the field of feline behavior, have created a set of guidelines for veterinary practices to follow. These guidelines are meant to help alleviate stress. As a team, you and your veterinary professionals can help make your cat's visits less fearful, ensuring thorough exams. In order to achieve this, try these simple tips at home to help you and your cat have a more enjoyable visit.
Prior to your appointment:
At least 1 week prior to your appointment, pull out your cat’s carrier and place it somewhere your cat spends his or her time (experts recommend leaving the carrier out all the time so as to minimize fear). Leave the door to the carrier open, or take the top off, and place a soft blanket inside. Use calming or pheromone products, such as Feliway, to make it more pleasing for the cat. If they are afraid of the carrier, consider feeding your cat nearby or inside the carrier in order to make more positive associations with it.
Also turn on the radio at regular intervals. Studies have shown cats respond well to classical or soft pop music. There is also a CD called Through A Cat’s Ear available online that studies have shown relaxes cats.
Day of your appointment:
Do not feed your cat prior to leaving for the vet. Some cats may become nauseous from the car ride and a big breakfast will only make them feel worse. Also, we like to use treats as rewards to make the visit a more positive experience.
When it is time to leave for your appointment, start the car in order to get it to a comfortable temperature. Turn the radio on to soothing music, preferably the kind of music you have played at home. Place treats or toys in the carrier and place your cat inside. Place a towel over the carrier. Again, using pheromone products can be helpful as you can spray the towel and your car.
When you place your cat in the car, be sure the carrier faces the back of the seat. Keep the towel over the carrier to minimize stressful stimuli. While driving to the vet, try not to talk to your cat. Many will meow loudly, but experts say it is better not to reinforce the fear.
When you arrive at the vet, check with the front desk if there are any potential stressors in the front lobby (you can call them or run in to check). When ready, carry the carrier from underneath, not by the handle, to ensure stability. If you have to wait in the lobby, place the carrier on a high surface (a bench or counter-top). The towel should be kept over the carrier the entire time.
Once in the exam room, open the carrier and encourage your cat to explore the room. Use toys or treats to help them relax before the veterinary staff comes in.
We at Hillside Animal Hospital strive to provide the best possible veterinary care. If your cat is stressed by the time he or she enters the hospital, it will decrease the likelihood of us being able to provide proper care. Anything that can keep them calm prior to walking in our doors will pay off in the long run. If you have any questions, please call our office at 314-645-2141.