Wellness = Preventive care
Many of you may have seen the sidebar in our newsletter during the winter promoting a “Winter Wellness Special”, and you think ….my cat or my dog is well and doing fine, I don’t need to be concerned with that. In order to better help you understand what we do with these profiles, we have decided to change our terminology from “wellness” to preventive care”. Read on to find out more.
Preventive care is exactly what it says – care for your pet to help prevent the most common diseases and concerns for which our pets are at risk on a daily basis. As pet owners, we do things every day for ourselves that are considered preventive care – brushing our teeth, bathing/showering, taking vitamins or medication prescribed by our doctor, exercise, etc. – all of these things are basic personal care routines that help us to stay healthy. You may make a yearly visit to your personal physician for a “check-up”. And what do they do? Draw blood, take a urine sample, listen to your heart, take your blood pressure, check your eyes, ears, throat , ask a lot of questions, and so on. Your doctor is looking to establish a normal baseline for you personally. This is what our preventive care profile is all about.
We basically do for your pet what you doctor does for you. Once all the tests are run, we have a solid record of what your pet’s health looks like. This will also help us to detect any negative trends in your pet’s health before it would become a major issue. For example, if your pet has a problem, we can go over our records and maybe check the last blood test or urine sample to see if there is a difference from current tests. This can save much time and stress on your end when you become concerned about a different behavior in your cat or dog.
Common testing done in a Preventive Care Profile is a complete blood count (CBC), biochemistry profile, urinalysis, blood pressure, ECG, and thyroid hormone testing. Other tests may also be indicated based on the current age and health of your pets, such as x-rays or ultrasound to check on the inside.
Since every pet is different, it is difficult to just listen to symptoms over the phone and make recommendations without ever seeing your pet. This is what commonly takes place with “Dr. Google”. But if you already have your pet’s health profile on record, we can work together to solve any suspicious symptoms that you notice.
There are so many variables involved in diagnosing medical conditions in humans as well as animals. Preventive Care Profiles are extremely beneficial in providing a picture of what your pet looks like when well so it will be very recognizable when something is wrong. Our Preventive Care Profiles bundle many different basic tests together in one discounted price to make it as affordable for you as possible. When these are current and on file, we can use these results plus additional testing when a serious condition presents itself.
If you have never had a Preventive Care Profile done for your cat or dog, we would be happy to explain in further detail what is involved and set up an appointment to get you started. We all want our four-legged children to live a long, healthy life with us.
Dog at 1 yr is like a Human at 7 yrs = NO
You’ve probably heard a common misconception that if your dog or cat is 1 year old it is like being 7 years old as a human. Unfortunately, this is not true. Dogs and cats age more quickly at the beginning of their lives and slower as they get older. This is most evident in the fact that they are sexually mature after only one year. They age faster than we do in the first two years of their lives.
Calculating your dog’s age also involves differences in how smaller breeds tend to live longer than larger breeds. So you need to locate a good chart that lists dogs according to small, medium, large and giant breeds.
Generally, at age 1, a dog will be about 15 years in human years. By age 7, the range between small and giant breeds begins to widen considerably, from 44-56 in human years.
So what difference does it make in the grand scheme of things? By the time you reach 44-56 years (7 dog years), how often will your doctor want to see you? And how do you begin to feel at age 56-78 (10 dog years)? Beginning to slow down? A few aches and pains every now and then? A little slower response time?
These are all things that your dog will also be feeling. And while the once a year visit may have been sufficient when your pet was younger, twice a year visits are recommended to keep close track of how your pet is aging. Preventive Care Profiles are usually encouraged to assess your pet’s overall health (read all about these valuable tests in the article on the front page.)
Aging in cats is similar, though outdoor cats will age more rapidly due to health and safety risks. So by the time a cat is 7, the age range is 44-64 years, indoor vs. outdoor. And at 10, the range is 56-88 years, indoor vs. outdoor.
Keeping your pet happy and healthy is our privilege and your responsibility. Let’s work together …. You bring them in, we’ll check them out and do everything we can to kaydekeep them vibrant for many years to come.
Cold Weather, Flea, Ticks and Mosquitoes
When it gets cold here – as it has been at times this winter - it is very tempting to skip monthly parasite preventatives to save a few bucks, because isn’t it true that fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes that transmit heartworm can’t survive in cold temperatures?
Unforuntately, that is not true. Even though we live in an area where temperatures can dip into the 20’s and sometimes in the single digits, the weather is just not predictable and temperatures can fluctuate from day to day. Mosquitoes can be active when temperatures reach 50 degrees. Fleas and ticks do not die during the winter (don’t we wish) but lay dormant in wait. And, they are still very much alive on the woodland creatures that visit our yards here in the mountains.
This is why year-round pet parasite prevention is still extremely important. When your pet is protected year-round, you don’t have to worry about the possibility of your home becoming a warm-weather haven for pests looking to come in out of the cold.
If you stop giving your pet their scheduled preventive too early in the Fall and start up again too late in the Spring, your pet is at higher risk. Some strains of heartworms may need to be exposed to multiple doses of prevention before they actually die. If your pet misses a dose, this deadly parasite is likely to get a foothold. So, rather than playing the guessing game as to what the weather is going to do, where your pet may wander when outside, or what you brought in from the woodpile or on a visit to your friend’s house, the standard of care for your pets is to keep them current on their prevention all year-round.
There is also a new protocol we would like to introduce to all those who own cats. We have and continue to recommend Revolution as the best product for cats to control fleas, heartworm, ear mites and several intestinal parasites. You can now add Bravecto with Revolution to protect against ticks. This is a welcome addition especially to those who allow their cats to go outside.
Remember, too, that as with any disease, prevention is much less costly than treatment. There are many different products on the market to use for year-round protection. We would be happy to help you sort through the offerings to choose what will work best for you and your pet. The most important factor is that once you choose, stick with it for the entire year, not just when you can “see” the creepy crawlies because they know where to hide and how to survive.
What it Takes to be a Cat-Friendly Hospital
I’m a cat person. Don’t get me wrong, I like dogs. We had Ruby for 16 years before she succumbed to heart failure, but I just tend to warm up to cats more. And, because of that, I notice things here at the office pertaining especially to cats. Here are a few things you may not know:
• We have a separate area in the waiting room for cats to help reduce the anxiety they may feel over being stuffed in a box, placed in a noisy machine that moves and makes their belly feel sick, and brought into a strange building that is NOT home. This area is located to the left as you enter the door. If you look above the front desk, you will see two giant pictures – one of a cat with an arrow pointing left, and one of a dog with the arrow pointing right. Also, on the cat side you may see kittens playing or sleeping in a large cage. We have allowed [Wholly Cats], an area cat rescue group, to house pairs of kittens for 2 weeks at a time in order to give our clients the opportunity to adopt these cuties and give them a furr-ever home. We also have a dedicated “cat” exam room to the far left on an outside wall which is mostly devoid of strange doggie smells and noises.
• Handling a cat takes skill and patience. All of our technicians and assistants are schooled in the proper technique for causing the least amount of interference when the doctor is doing an examination. However, they are also alert to any changes of temperament in the cat that would indicate the need to apply more gentle restraint. When your kitty has to spend the night here, our cat condos offer separation from our K-9 boarders and offer a “bird’s-eye” view of the bird feeder just outside the windows. (By the way, we do have a few “cat whisperers” here at LCAH )
• I’m not the only cat lover here , so your precious cuddle-buddy gets lots of loving – if that is something they like. We realize that cats are very territorial and uncomfortable outside familiar surroundings. So we try to reassure them that all is well with the world and “Mommy & Daddy” will be back soon to take them home.
• What about the “problem child” you ask? Yes, we do have cats that do not want to be here under any circumstances, and they can protest that very sentiment with enough volume to make you think they are dying. At LCAH/TCAC, we pride ourselves on using a professional fear free approach to minimize your cat’s stress. We will do what needs to be done as quickly and efficiently as possible and return them to you, their carrier or their cage. We don’t want your cat to be stressed and we work hard to that end to make their visit as pleasant as possible. We also use feline friendly pheromones such as Feliway to help calm your cat.
All these things allow us to provide the best care for your precious feline because it is just as important for cats to have regular check-ups as it is for dogs. It is just a bit more of a challenge on your part to get them here. But know that once you have arrived, we will take the lead and make sure that you and your kitty get the best care and attention necessary to attend to your baby’s medical and physical needs.
SPRING CLEANING ANYONE?
We can get some crazy weather swings here in the North GA/SW North Carolina mountains. Lately we’ve had temps in the low 30’s at night and mid-60’s during the day. It still feels like winter but with a hint of spring to come.
What do you think about when anticipating spring – besides the warm sun? Spring cleaning, time in the garden, birds singing through the open window…..? For those of you with pets that go outside what’s on their mind? Have you ever seen a dog go bonkers outside after being cooped up in the house? They will race around in circles, possibly run with their head to the ground and then fall over and roll on their backs over and over. (Ever wish you could do that and not get strange looks from your neighbors?)
Well, spring is coming and will soon be here. So while you’re thinking about all the things you’d like to do, let me ask that you direct your attention to your pets.
1. What are their physical needs? I’m sure that you take care of basic needs like food and water. You should also consider bringing your pet in for a physical exam. We will give your cat or dog their own “spring cleaning”, with a nose to tail examination, making sure that everything is in ship-shape order. While you’re here, we can update any vaccinations that are due and recommend or replenish your supply of heartworm, flea and tick control to be ready for the “spring bloom”. It’s always best to look toward prevention rather than treatment after the fact.
2. Hair is EVERYWHERE! Yes, when the weather warms up our pets begin to shed…..more. It will be to your advantage to include brushing/combing as part of your pet’s daily routine. Usually, they love it, and it helps to keep the coat clean and the skin conditioned. While you’re at it, you can check to see if nails need to be clipped. If you find this hard to do, we can do it for you.
3. Let me see that SMILE - Remember the phrase “BAD BREATH IN DOGS”. More often than not, it is caused by teeth than are in desperate need of cleaning. We can hook you up with options for your dog or cat to help control plaque build-up, including instruction in brushing their teeth. If the condition has progressed too far, it may be necessary to start off with a dental cleaning first and then continue to maintain dental health with products that work for you and your pet.
4. Check the toys – Go through the toy box and toss out anything that is broken, too worn or not used. If washable, clean with a non-toxic cleaner or just plain soap and water, rinsing thoroughly, and hang in the sun to dry. And don’t forget to clean the container itself!
5. Pet equipment – Leashes and collars need a once over as well. Clean them with mild, soapy water and rinse thoroughly. Check for weak spots or broken clasps. It wouldn’t do for you to be out for a walk with your dog when a squirrel darts across your path and the collar or leash breaks as he lunges forward in anticipation of a good chase. Also remember to clean food bins, bowls and drinking containers.
6. Know your pet’s favorite spots – Clean and disinfect bedding on a regular basis to stay ahead of any possible nesting area for flea eggs or other creepy crawlies. To stay ahead of the game, wash or change bedding at least every 2 weeks – more often if warranted. If bedding is stuffed with cedar chips, consider dumping out the old, washing the cover and add fresh chips back in. Then watch the reaction of your pet when he/she comes to lay down – pure contentment.
Though our pets can’t help us when it comes to spring cleaning, they are very appreciative when we take the time to see to their needs, keeping them fed, watered, comfortable and pest-free.