Why should I have my dog neutered?
Neutering should be considered if you are keeping any male dog as a pet. Remember that Guide Dogs for the Blind, Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, and Dogs for the Disabled are routinely neutered.
What are the advantages of neutering my male dog?
Is neutering performed for any other reason?
The operation may be performed to treat testicular tumors and some prostate gland conditions. It is also used to control hormonal (testosterone) dependent diseases such as anal adenomas.
Neutering may also be used in an attempt to treat certain forms of aggression.
What are the disadvantages?
Most of the perceived disadvantages are false. The most quoted of these are that the dog will become fat, lazy, and useless as a guardian. Obesity is probably the most commonly quoted disadvantage of neutering. Obesity is the result of overfeeding and not exercising enough. By regulating your dog’s diet and caloric intake, you can prevent obesity in neutered or intact males.
Neutering doesn’t cause a change in personality, guarding instincts, intelligence, playfulness and affection.
When should the operation be performed?
Research reveals that neutering a pet at an early age does not cause any increased risk. Most veterinarians recommend neutering at around six months of age.
Is there any alternative to surgery?
There have been some recent advances in non-surgical neutering. These involve injection of a compound directly into the testicle. This is not commercially available at this time
Are there any dangers associated with the operation?
Neutering is considered a major operation and requires general anesthesia. With = modern anesthetics and monitoring equipment, the risk of a complication is very low. It has been said that your pet has a greater chance of being injured in a car wreck than having an anesthetic or surgical complication.
What happens when my dog undergoes this procedure?
Your pet will be examined by a veterinarian and if requested pre-anesthetic blood tests will be performed. If everything is acceptable, your pet will then be anesthetized. Most pets will have an intravenous catheter placed to administer the anesthetic and to provide fluid therapy during the surgery. After your pet is anesthetized, a breathing tube will be placed in his trachea or “windpipe”. This will deliver oxygen and the gas anesthetic, most commonly isoflurane, directly into the lungs. The surgery consists of making a small incision in front of the scrotum and removing the testicles. Absorbable internal sutures are used so that you do not have to return your dog to the hospital to have them removed.
Are there any post-operative precautions I should take?
Rest and restriction of activity are the primary post-operative care you should provide. Most dogs can resume normal activity five to ten days after surgery. Until then, leash walks, no swimming, bathing, running or climbing stairs and lots of rest are the rule.
What is meant by castration or neutering?
Neutering and castration are the common terms used to describe the surgical procedure known scientifically as orchidectomy or orchiectomy. In this procedure, both testicles are removed in order to sterilize a male cat.
Why should I have my cat neutered?
Neutering is very beneficial to the health of the cat, especially if performed at an early age. Following puberty, which occurs at approximately eight to nine months of age, the male cat often develops a number of undesirable behavioral changes. He will become territorial and start to mark areas, even inside the house, by spraying urine. This urine has a particularly offensive odor and is difficult to remove. As the tomcat reaches sexual maturity, he will start to enlarge his territory, straying ever farther from the house, particularly at night. It is for this reason that many of the cats that are hit by automobiles are non-neutered males. By increasing the size of his territory, he increases the likelihood that he will come into contact with other cats and will get into fights for territorial dominance. Inflicted fight wounds can result in severe infections and abscesses. Diseases such as FIV and FeLV, which can cause AIDS-like syndromes and cancers in cats, are spread through cat bites, these cats are most commonly affected by such incurable diseases. Last, but not least, neutering prevents unwanted litters and the needless deaths of tens of millions kittens and cats each year.
The longer a tomcat sprays and fights, the less likely neutering will stop these behaviors.
When should I have my cat neutered?
In most cases, it is recommended to neuter your cat before the onset of puberty. Puberty normally begins between six and ten months of age. The actual age chosen for castration will depend upon the preference of your veterinarian. Many veterinarians recommend castration at around five to seven months of age, although it is becoming more common to perform this procedure at an earlier age, such as two to three months, in an attempt to control overpopulation. Please contact your veterinary hospital for further details regarding their specific sterilization policies.
What does the operation involve?
Your cat will undergo a general anesthetic. You will need to withhold food for twelve (12) hours prior to surgery. However, your pet should have free access to water during most of the pre-operative fasting period. Your veterinarian will advise you how long to withhold water before surgery.
In male cats, both of the testicles are removed through a small incision in the scrotum. Since the incisions are very small, and since stitches may cause irritation of the sensitive skin of the scrotum, it is rare for the incisions to be sutured.
What surgical complications could arise?
In general, complications are rare during castration surgery, however, as with all surgical procedures, there is always a small risk:
It is always possible that any pet could have an adverse reaction following the administration of any drug. Such cases are impossible to predict, but fortunately are extremely rare.
One potential danger arises from the cat not being fasted properly prior to anesthesia. It is essential that all instructions are strictly followed. In addition, any signs of illness should be reported to your veterinarian prior to an operation.
This may occur internally or around the incision wound. In most cases the infection can be controlled with antibiotics.
What adverse affects might neutering have on my cat?
In the vast majority of cases no adverse affects are noted following neutering. In certain cats, notably the Siamese breed, the hair that grows back over an operation site may be noticeably darker, believed to be due to a difference in the skin temperature. This darker patch may grow out with the following molt as the hair is naturally replaced.
Why should I have my dog spayed?
We recommend spaying all female pets. The benefits to your pet’s health and to help reduce the pet overpopulation crisis make this decision easier. It should be remembered that owners of Guide Dogs for the Blind, Hearing Dogs for Deaf People and Dogs for the Disabled routinely have their dogs spayed.
What are the advantages of spaying in the female dog?
Is spaying performed for any other reason?
The operation may be performed for several medical conditions. These include:
What are the disadvantages?
Most of the perceived disadvantages are false. The most quoted of these are that the dog will become fat, lazy, and useless as a guard dog. Obesity is probably the most commonly quoted disadvantage of spaying. Obesity is the result of overfeeding and lack of physical activity. By regulating your dog’s diet and caloric intake, you can prevent obesity in neutered or intact males.
Spaying doesn’t cause a change in personality, guarding instincts, intelligence, playfulness or affection.
When should the operation be performed?
Research reveals that spaying a pet at an early age does not cause any increased risk. Most veterinarians recommend spaying between four and six months of age.
Is there any alternative to surgery?
Not at the present time.
Are there any dangers associated with the operation?
Spaying is considered a major operation and requires general anesthesia. With = modern anesthetics and monitoring equipment, the risk of a complication is very low. It has been said that your pet has a greater chance of being injured in a car wreck than having an anesthetic or surgical complication.
What happens when I leave my dog for this procedure?
Your pet will be examined by your veterinarian and if requested pre-anesthetic blood tests will be performed. If everything is acceptable, your pet will then be anesthetized. Most pets will have an intravenous catheter placed to administer the anesthetic and to provide fluid therapy during the surgery. After your pet is anesthetized, a breathing tube will be placed in her trachea or windpipe. This will allow the delivery of oxygen and the gas anesthetic directly into the lungs. The surgery consists of making a small incision just below the umbilicus and removing the ovaries and uterus. Absorbable sutures are used so that you do not have to return to have them removed.
Are there any post-operative precautions I should take?
Rest and restriction of activity are the primary post-operative care you should provide. Most dogs can resume normal activity seven to ten days after surgery. Until then, leash walks, no running or climbing stairs and lots of rest are the rule.
I am told that letting my dog have one litter will quieten her down.
There is no scientific evidence that having puppies has any calming psychological effect. This is quite honestly more myth than fact.
What is meant by ovariohysterectomy or spaying?
Spaying is the common term used to describe the surgical procedure known scientifically as an ovariohysterectomy. In this procedure, the ovaries and uterus are completely removed in order to sterilize a female cat.
Why should I have my cat spayed?
We recommend that all non-breeding cats be sterilized. Here are several health benefits associated with spaying your cat.
Are there other benefits to spaying my cat?
The most obvious benefit is the prevention of unplanned pregnancies. There is no medical or scientific reason for letting your cat have a litter before she is spayed.
Once a cat reaches puberty, usually at around seven months of age, she will have a heat or estrus cycle every two to three weeks for most of the year, unless she becomes pregnant. She will be “in heat” or receptive to mating for approximately one week in each cycle. During “heat” she may display unsociable behavior such as loud and persistent crying and frequent rubbing and rolling on the floor. This behavior coupled with her scent, will attract male cats from miles around. Removal of the ovaries will stop her estrus cycles.
When should I have my cat spayed?
Spaying should be performed before the first estrus or “heat cycle”. Most cats are spayed between four and six months of age although some veterinarians choose to spay cats at two to three months of age. It is possible to spay your cat if she is pregnant.
What does a spay surgery involve?
This is a major surgical procedure that requires a full general anesthetic. You will need to fast your cat the night prior to surgery. Most cats return home within twelve hours after surgery.
The operation is performed through a relatively small incision made most commonly in the midline of the abdomen, just below the umbilicus. Both ovaries are removed along with the entire uterus. The surgical incision will be closed with several layers of sutures. Absorbable sutures are use under the skin so there is no need to return for suture removal
Are complications common with spaying?
In general, complications are rare during spaying of cats. However, as with all anesthetic and surgical procedures, there is always a small risk. The potential complications include:
It is possible that any individual animal could have an adverse reaction following the administration of a drug or anesthetic. Such cases are impossible to predict, but are extremely rare. Pre-operative blood work is a useful screening test that may detect pre-existing problems which could interfere with the pet’s ability to handle the anesthetic drugs.
It is important that you properly fast your cat prior to surgery according to your veterinarian’s instructions. In addition, any signs of illness or previous medical conditions should be reported to your veterinarian prior to any sedation, anesthesia or surgery.
This can occur if a ligature around a blood vessel breaks or slips off after the abdomen has been closed. This is very rare, and is more likely to occur if the cat is extremely active. Clinical signs include weakness, pale gums, depression, anorexia or a distended abdomen.
This may occur internally or externally around the incision site. In most cases the infection can be controlled with antibiotics. This most commonly occurs when the cat licks the site excessively or is in a damp environment.
Sinus formation or Suture Reaction
Although extremely rare, occasionally the body will react to certain types of suture material used during surgery. This results in a draining wound or tract that may appear up to several weeks after the surgery was performed. Often a further operation is required to remove the suture material.
Will spaying have any affect on my cat?
In the vast majority of cats, there are absolutely no adverse affects following spaying. In certain cats, notably the Siamese breed, the hair that grows back over an operation site may be noticeably darker, believed to be due to a difference in the skin temperature. This darker patch will grow out with the following molt as the hair is naturally replaced. There are many myths and rumors that are not supported by facts or research. Be sure to address any questions or concerns you may have with your veterinarian prior to surgery.
It is unlikely that the offspring will have the same desirable traits as your dog. Even though training and environment mold puppies just like people, it is rare that the puppies are identical to either parent. Spaying and neutering is the right choice for dogs. Five to ten million pets are euthanized in shelters nationwide each year. Since each female dog is capable of having up to twelve or more puppies with each mating and they may mate twice a year, the pet overpopulation problem can only be resolved through spaying and neutering programs. Don’t worry; with the abundance of homeless pets needing good homes, you’ll have no difficulty adopting a pet with the same wonderful qualities when you decide to add to your family.
The cervix is the gateway to the uterus. It remains tightly closed except during estrus. When it is open, bacteria that are normally found in the vagina can enter the uterus rather easily. If the uterus is normal, the environment is adverse to bacterial survival; however, when the uterine wall is thickened and cystic, perfect conditions exist for bacterial growth. In addition, when these abnormal conditions exist, the muscles of the uterus cannot contract properly. This means that bacteria that enter the uterus cannot be expelled.
When does it occur?
Pyometra may occur in young to middle-aged dogs; however, it is most common in older dogs. After many years of estrus cycles without pregnancy, the uterine wall undergoes the changes that promote this disease. The typical time for pyometra to occur is about two to eight weeks after estrus (“heat cycle”).
What are the clinical signs of a dog with pyometra?
The clinical signs depend on whether or not the cervix is open. If it is open, pus will drain from the uterus through the vagina to the outside. It is often noted on the skin or hair under the tail or on bedding and furniture where the dog has laid. Fever, lethargy, anorexia, and depression may or may not be present. If the cervix is closed, pus that forms is not able to drain to the outside. It collects in the uterus causing distention of the abdomen. The bacteria release toxins that are absorbed into circulation. These dogs often become severely ill very rapidly. They are anorectic, very listless, and very depressed. Vomiting or diarrhea may be present. Toxins from the bacteria affect the kidney’s ability to retain fluid. Increased urine production occurs, and the dog drinks an excess of water. This occurs in both open- and closed-cervix pyometra.
How is it diagnosed?
Dogs that are seen early in the disease may have a slight vaginal discharge and show no other signs of illness. However, most dogs with pyometra are not seen until later in the illness. A very ill female dog that is drinking an increased amount of water and has not been spayed is always suspected of having pyometra. This is especially true if there is a vaginal discharge or painful, enlarged abdomen.
Dogs with pyometra have a marked elevation of the white blood cell count and often have an elevation of globulins (a type of protein produced by the immune system) in the blood. The specific gravity of the urine is very low due to the toxic effects of the bacteria on the kidneys. However, all of these abnormalities may be present in any dog with a major bacterial infection. If the cervix is closed, radiographs (x-rays) of the abdomen will often identify the enlarged uterus. If the cervix is open, there will often be such minimal uterine enlargement that the radiograph will not be conclusive. An ultrasound examination can also be helpful in identifying an enlarged uterus and differentiating that from a normal pregnancy.
How is it treated?
The preferred treatment is to surgically remove the uterus and ovaries. This is called an ovariohysterectomy (“spay”). Dogs diagnosed in the early stage of the disease are very good surgical candidates. The surgery is only slightly more complicated than a routine spay. However, most dogs are diagnosed when they are quite ill so the surgery is not as routine as the same surgery in a healthy dog. Intravenous fluids are often needed before and after surgery. Antibiotics are usually given for two weeks after surgery.
What is obesity?
Obesity is defined as weighing 30% more than the ideal weight. With humans, this is fairly straightforward and can be determined by consulting weight and height charts. Dogs and cats are often diagnosed as obese by a combination of weight charts and body scoringIf my dog is overweight, will his behavior change? Most overweight or obese dogs are less active and do not play as much as normal dogs. These pets may be reluctant to climb stairs or jump into cars and often pant excessively after very minor exertion.
What is the cause of obesity?
Obesity is the accumulation of excess energy stored as fat. It occurs when your pet receives more calories then he needs and expends. Hypothyroidism is another cause of obesity and weight problems. Any overweight dog should be tested for hypothyroidism before beginning a weight loss program. I had my dog neutered. Do you think this caused the problem? It is very unlikely that neutering caused your pet’s weight problem. There is no scientific research that concludes that neutering causes obesity in dogs. My dog can’t be obese because he only eats a small amount of food every day. Obesity often develops insidiously. We think we are feeding our dogs only small quantities of food but tend to forget the treats and table foods. These treats add calories and result in weight gain. Even a few calories can add up over time.
What can I do?
With today’s advances in nutrition, weight loss has never been easier. Your veterinarian will design a safe and effective weight loss program to meet your dog’s lifestyle. Encourage brisk, thirty-minute walks twice daily. Discontinue feeding table foods and treats. Instead, offer carrots, broccoli or veterinary-approved low-calorie treats. Most pets can lose weight if you adhere to these recommendations. Weight loss in pets and humans is made up of an interaction between reduced caloric intake (eating less) and increasing caloric expenditures (more physical activity). The great news is that weight reduction is about 60% diet and 40% exercise. Weight loss is often a matter of diligence and persistence. Remember that the reason you are doing this is to help your pet live as long and healthy a life as possible. Who knows, you both may benefit from this diet!
Obesity in cats is associated with hepatic lipidosis. This is a severe form of liver failure in cats. It typically occurs in cats that are obese and have undergone a brief period of “stress” which causes anorexia. The “stress” may be as simple as a change of house or a change in diet. When it first became recognized, Hepatic lipidosis was an almost universally fatal disease in cats. Fortunately, with improved, aggressive and prolonged therapy about 80% of affected cats can now be successfully treated. However, because of the risk for this potentially fatal disease, weight loss programs for obese cats need to be done cautiously and always under the care of a veterinarian.
What causes obesity in cats and how should it be treated?
Many factors contribute to obesity in cats, and not all of them are clearly understood. Some are probably genetic, while others are related to diet and environment. It is important for the cat owner and veterinarian to keep these factors in mind when treating the obese feline patient. Prevention is better than treatment, but this is not always easy. Indoor cats are more prone to obesity, perhaps because they eat more out of boredom, but also because they have less opportunity to stay trim through exercise. Remember that everybody should run and play, including cats!
Once a cat becomes obese, the challenge for owner and veterinarian alike is to safely promote weight loss to reach optimum weight. In the long run it is better to set realistic goals for weight reduction rather than attempting to force the cat down to a “normal” weight. Usually a 15-20% reduction in weight is a good target that can easily be achieved! Rapid weight loss should be avoided, since it puts the cat at risk for development of severe liver disease. Weight that is lost slowly is more likely to stay lost! There are no drugs or magic pills that can be used safely or effectively. Commercial “restricted-calorie” and weight loss diets are available from veterinarians and provide the basis for a successful weight loss program. However, they are more effective when combined with additional exercise. This also has the advantage of providing more time for interaction between the cat and the family, which we know provides enjoyment and is beneficial for the health of both. With some patience and extra care, obese cats can be treated safely and effectively, with the ultimate goal of prolonging a healthy happy life!
What type of play behavior should I expect from a healthy puppy?
It is very important that you provide stimulating play for your puppy, especially during the first week in its new home. Stalking and pouncing are important play behaviors in puppies and are necessary for proper muscular development. Your puppy will be less likely to use family members for these activities if you provide adequate puppy-safe toys. The best toys are lightweight and movable. These include wads of paper and rubber balls. Any toy that is small enough to be swallowed should be avoided. We can help you choose the safest toys for your pet loved one.
How do I discipline a puppy?
Disciplining a young puppy may be necessary if its behavior threatens people or property, but harsh punishment should be avoided. Hand clapping and using shaker cans or horns can be intimidating enough to inhibit undesirable behavior. However, remote punishment is preferred. Remote punishment consists of using something that appears unconnected to the punisher to stop the problem behavior. Examples include using spray bottles, throwing objects in the direction of the puppy to startle (but not hit) it, and making loud noises. Remote punishment is preferred because the puppy associates punishment with the undesirable act and not with you.
When should my puppy be vaccinated?
There are many fatal diseases of dogs. Fortunately, we have the ability to prevent several of these by vaccinating your pet. In order to be effective, these vaccines must be given as a series of injections. Ideally, they are given at about 6 to 8, 12, and 16 weeks of age, but this schedule may vary depending on your pet’s individual needs. The core vaccination schedule will protect your puppy from several common diseases: distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza virus, parvovirus, and rabies. The first four are included in one injection that is given at 6 to 8, 12, and 16 weeks old. Rabies vaccine is given at 12 to 16 weeks of age. There are two other optional vaccinations that are appropriate in certain situations. Your puppy should receive a kennel cough vaccine if a trip to a boarding kennel or groomer is likely or if it will be placed in a puppy training class. Lyme vaccine is given to dogs that are likely to be exposed to ticks because Lyme disease is transmitted by ticks. Please advise us of these needs on your next visit.
Why does my puppy need more than one vaccination?
When the puppy nurses its mother, it receives a temporary form of immunity through its mother's milk. This immunity is in the form of proteins called maternal antibodies. For about twenty-four to forty-eight hours after birth, the puppy's intestine allows absorption of these antibodies directly into the blood stream. This immunity is of benefit during the first few weeks of the puppy's life, but at some point, this immunity fails and the puppy must be able to make its own long-lasting immunity. Vaccinations are used for this purpose. As long as the mother's antibodies are present, vaccinations do not have a chance to stimulate the puppy’s immune system. The mother's antibodies interfere by neutralizing the vaccine.
Many factors determine when the puppy will be able to respond to the vaccinations. These include the level of immunity in the mother dog, how much antibody has been absorbed, and the number of vaccines given to the puppy. Since we do not know when an individual puppy will lose the short-term immunity, we give a series of vaccinations. We hope that at least two of these will fall in the window of time when the puppy has lost immunity from its mother but has not yet been exposed to disease. A single vaccination, even if effective, is not likely to stimulate the long-term immunity, which is so important.
Rabies vaccine is an exception to this, since one injection given at the proper time is enough to produce long-term immunity.
Do all puppies have worms?
Intestinal parasites are very common in puppies. Puppies can become infected with parasites before they are born or later through their mother's milk. The microscopic examination of a stool sample will usually help us to determine the presence of intestinal parasites. We recommend this exam for all puppies. Even if we do not get a stool sample, we recommend the use of a deworming product that is safe and effective against several of the common worms of the dog. We do this because our deworming medication has no side-effects and because your puppy does not pass worm eggs every day so the stool sample may not detect worms that are present. Additionally, some of these internal parasites can be transmitted to humans. Deworming is done now and repeated in about three weeks. It is important that it be repeated because the deworming medication only kills the adult worms. Within three to four weeks, the larval stages will become adults and need to be treated. Dogs remain susceptible to re-infection with hookworms and roundworms. Periodic deworming throughout the dog's life may be recommended for outdoor dogs.
Tapeworms are one of the most common intestinal parasite of dogs. Puppies become infected with them when they swallow fleas; the eggs of the tapeworm live inside the flea. When the dog chews or licks its skin as a flea bites, the flea may be swallowed. The flea is digested within the dog's intestine; the tapeworm hatches and then anchors itself to the intestinal lining. Therefore, exposure to fleas may result in a new infection. Tapeworm infections can occur in as little as two weeks.
Dogs infected with tapeworms will pass small segments of the worms in their stool. The segments are white in color and look like grains of rice. They are about 1/8 inch (3 mm) long and may be seen crawling on the surface of the stool. They may also stick to the hair under the tail. If that occurs, they will dry out, shrink to about half their size, and become golden in color. Tapeworm segments do not pass every day or in every stool sample; therefore, inspection of several consecutive bowel movements may be needed to find them. We may examine a stool sample in our office and not find them, and then you may find them the next day. If you find them at any time, please notify us so we may provide the appropriate drug for treatment. You will need to treat both the worms and use a preventative for fleas to prevent reinfection
How important are heartworms?
Heartworms are important parasites, especially in certain climates. They live in the dog’s bloodstream and cause major damage to the heart and lungs. Heartworms are transmitted by the bite of mosquitoes. Fortunately, we have drugs that will protect your dog from heartworms. These drugs are very safe and effective if given regularly. We can help you choose the best product for your pet’s needs and lifestyle. Heartworm preventatives are dosed according to your dog's weight. As the weight increases, the dosage should also increase. Please note the dosing instructions on the package.
There are lots of choices of dog foods. What should I feed my puppy?
Diet is extremely important during the growing months of a dog's life. We recommend a VETERINARY RECOMMENDED NAME-BRAND FOOD made by a national dog food company (not a generic or local brand) and a diet MADE FOR PUPPIES. This should be fed until your puppy is about twelve to eighteen months of age, depending on its breed and size. We recommend that you only buy food that has been certified by an independent organization as complete and balanced. In the United States, you should look for food that has been certified by AAFCO, an independent organization that oversees the entire pet food industry. It does not endorse any particular food, but it will certify that the food has met the minimum requirements for nutrition.
Feeding a dry, canned, or semi-moist form of dog food is acceptable. Any of the formulations is acceptable as long as the label states that the food is intended for growth (or is a puppy food), and is “complete and balanced”. This means that the food is nutritionally complete and meets the needs of growth and development. Each of the types of food has advantages and disadvantages. Dry food is definitely the most inexpensive. It can be left in the dog's bowl without drying.
Semi-moist foods may be acceptable, depending on their quality. The texture may be more appealing to some dogs, and they often have a stronger odor and flavor. However, semi-moist foods are often high in sugar. Canned foods are a good choice to feed your kitten, but are considerably more expensive than either of the other forms of food. Canned foods contain a high percentage of water, and their texture, odor, and taste are very appealing. However, canned food will dry out or spoil if left out for prolonged periods of time; it is therefore more suitable for meal feeding rather than free choice feeding. Table foods are not usually recommended. Because they are generally very tasty, dogs will often begin to hold out for these and not eat their well-balanced dog food. If you choose to give your puppy table food, be sure that at least 90% of its diet is good quality commercial puppy food.
We enjoy a variety of things to eat in our diet. However, most dogs actually prefer not to change from one food to another unless they are trained to do so by the way you feed them. Do not feel guilty if your dog is happy eating the same food day after day, week after week. Commercials for dog food can be very misleading. If you watch carefully you will notice that commercials often promote dog food on the basis of TASTE. Nutrition is rarely mentioned. Most of the "gourmet" foods are marketed to appeal to owners who want the best for their dogs; however, they do not offer the dog any nutritional advantage over a good quality dry food, and they are far more expensive. If you read the labels of many of the gourmet foods, you will notice that they do not claim to be “complete and balanced”. If your dog eats a gourmet food very long, it will probably not be happy with other foods. If it needs a special diet due to a health problem later in life, it is very unlikely to accept it.
How often should I feed my puppy?
There are several “right” ways to feed puppies. The most popular method is commonly called “meal feeding.” This means that the puppy is fed at specific times of the day. A measured amount of food should be offered four times per day for five to twelve week old puppies. What is not eaten within thirty minutes is taken up. If the food is eaten within three to four minutes, the quantity is probably not sufficient. Puppies fed in this manner generally begin to cut back on one of those meals by three to four months of age and perhaps another one later. If a certain feeding is ignored for several days, it should be discontinued. “Free choice feeding,” means that food is available at all times. This works well with dry foods and for some dogs. However, other dogs tend to overeat and become obese. If there is weight gain after the optimal size is reached, this method of feeding should be discontinued.
How do I housebreak my new puppy?
Housebreaking should begin as soon as your puppy enters his new home. How long the training must continue depends on both the puppy and you. Some pups learn sooner than others. Your dog wants to please you. But a puppy's memory is short, so your patience is important. A home with a poorly trained puppy is not a happy home for you or the puppy. The puppy's bed may be a box, open at one end and slightly larger than the puppy. If the bed is too large, the puppy may defecate or urinate in a corner rather than go outside. If the bed is smaller, the puppy will do its "business" outside rather than soil its bed. Enclose the bed in a small area, such as a laundry room. Cover this area with newspapers to be used at night, or when your pup is left unsupervised.
A common housebreaking technique is creating a “scent post”. A scent post is created when your puppy has an "accident." The problem becomes one of locating the scent post in the place you want it. To create a scent post, leave a smear of stool from the last "accident" or wet paper on the clean paper in the place you want it, and coax or scoot the puppy to that area. The same is true of an outside scent post, but without the paper, in an out-of-the-way place in the yard. This will solve the "mine-field" problem.
The first thing in the morning, the puppy should be scooted to the scent post. This is so he can learn his way to the door and the scent post. Let him sniff about. The moment he has relieved himself, pat him on the head and immediately bring him into the house. Do not let him play about. The toilet period and play period should be definitely separate in the puppy's routine. The puppy should then be fed. In a short while the puppy will become uneasy and walk in circles sniffing at the floor. The puppy should then be scooted and coaxed to the scent post as quickly as possible.
This routine should be repeated every hour or two throughout the day, especially after meals and naps. When the puppy is taken out to play, it is wise to leave the house by another door and avoid taking him near his scent post. Never play with your pup until after he has been taken out and has eliminated. There will of course be some "accidents" in the house. Never let one of these slip by unnoticed; punishment five minutes after the offense is too late. Scold (not whip) the puppy and rush him to the scent post. Then scrub the area of mishap thoroughly until all odor is gone. Your veterinarian will recommend cleaning products that will help neutralize any scent from urination or defecation. Positive reinforcement of proper urine and bowel habits is just as important as properly applied discipline. When your puppy urinates or defecates in the correct place, spend several minutes stroking and praising him.
How do I insure that my puppy is well socialized?
The socialization period for dogs is between four and twelve weeks of age. During that time, the puppy is very impressionable to social influences. If it has good experiences with men, women, children, cats, other dogs, etc., it is likely to accept them throughout life. If the experiences are absent or unpleasant, it may become apprehensive or adverse to any of them. Therefore, during the period of socialization, we encourage you to expose your dog to as many types of social events and influences as possible.
What can be done about fleas on my puppy?
Fleas do not stay on your puppy all of their time; occasionally, they jump off and seek another host. Therefore, it is important to kill fleas on your new puppy before they can become established in your house. Many of the flea control products that are safe on adult dogs are not safe for puppies less than four months of age. Be sure that any flea product you use is labeled safe for puppies.
We will provide you with age and weight-specific flea control products that are safe for your pet and highly effective at keeping your pet flea-free. There are newer products available that prevent heartworm disease as well as preventing fleas.
My puppy seems to be constantly chewing. Why does this occur?
Chewing is a normal puppy behavior. Almost all of a puppy’s 28 baby teeth are present by about four weeks of age. They begin to fall out at four months of age and are replaced by the 42 adult (permanent) teeth by about six months of age. Therefore, chewing is a puppy characteristic that you can expect until about six to seven months of age. It is important that you do what you can to direct your puppy’s chewing toward acceptable objects. You should provide puppy-safe items such as nylon chew bones and other chew toys so other objects are spared.
My puppy has episodes of hiccuping and a strange odor to its breath. Are these normal?
Yes. Many puppies experience episodes of hiccuping that may last several minutes. This is normal and will not last but a few weeks or months. All puppies have a characteristic odor to their breath that is commonly called “puppy breath.” It is also normal and will last only until the puppy matures.
Can I trim my puppy's sharp toe nails?
Puppies have very sharp toe nails. They can be trimmed with your regular finger nail clippers or with nail trimmers made for dogs and cats. If you take too much off the nail, you will cut into the “quick” and bleeding and pain will occur. If this happens, neither you nor your dog will want to do this again. Therefore, a few points are helpful:
If your dog has clear or white nails, you can see the pink of the quick through the nail. Avoid the pink area, and you should be out of the quick.
If your dog has black nails, you will not be able to see the quick so only cut 1/32" (1 mm) of the nail at a time until the dog begins to get sensitive. The sensitivity will usually occur before you are into the blood vessel. With black nails, it is likely that you will get too close on at least one nail.
If your dog has some clear and some black nails, use the average clear nail as a guide for cutting the black ones. When cutting nails, use sharp trimmers. Dull trimmers tend to crush the nail and cause pain even if you are not in the quick. You should always have styptic powder available. This is sold in pet stores under several trade names, but it will be labeled for use in trimming nails.
What are ear mites?
Ear mites are tiny parasites that live in the ear canal of dogs (and cats). The most common sign of ear mite infection is scratching of the ears. Sometimes the ears will appear dirty because of a black material in the ear canal; this material is sometimes shaken out. The instrument we use for examining the ear canals, an otoscope, has the necessary magnification to allow us to see the mites. Sometimes, we can find the mites by taking a small amount of the black material from the ear canal and examining it with a microscope. Although they may leave the ear canals for short periods of time, they spend the vast majority of their lives within the protection of the ear canal. Transmission generally requires direct ear-to-ear contact. Ear mites are common in litters of puppies if their mother has ear mites or if they are in a dirty environment.
Ear mites are much more common in cats than in dogs
Ear infections are the most common cause for the production of a dark discharge in the ear canals. of dogs. It is important that we examine your puppy to be sure the black material is due to ear mites and not infection. Please do not ask us to just dispense medication without having the opportunity to make an accurate diagnosis.
Why should I have my female dog spayed?
Spaying offers several advantages. The female's heat periods result in about two to three weeks of vaginal bleeding. This can be quite annoying if your dog is kept indoors. Male dogs are attracted from blocks away and, in fact, seem to come out of the woodwork. They seem to go over, around, and through many doors or fences. Your dog will have a heat period about every six months.
Spaying is the removal of the uterus and the ovaries. Therefore, heat periods no longer occur. In many cases, despite your best efforts, the female will become pregnant; spaying prevents unplanned litters of puppies.
It has been proven that as the female dog gets older, there is a significant incidence of breast cancer and uterine infections if she has not been spayed. Spaying before she has any heat periods will virtually eliminate the chance of either. If you do not plan to breed your dog, we strongly recommend that she be spayed before her first heat period. This can be done anytime between four and six months of age.
Why should I have my male dog neutered?
Neutering offers several advantages. Male dogs are attracted to a female dog in heat and will climb over or go through fences to find her. Male dogs are more aggressive and more likely to fight, especially with other male dogs. As dogs age, the prostate gland frequently enlarges and causes difficulty urinating and defecating. Neutering will solve, or greatly help, all of these problems that come with owning a male dog. The surgery can be performed any time after the dog is six months old.
If I choose to breed my female dog, how old should she be?
If you plan to breed your dog, she should have at least one or two heat periods first. She will then be more physically mature allowing her to be a better mother. We do not recommend breeding after five years of age unless she has been bred prior to that. Having her first litter after five years of age increases the risk of complications during the pregnancy or delivery. Once your dog has had her last litter, she should be spayed to prevent the reproductive problems older dogs have.
Can you recommend something for pet identification?
The most widely recommend pet identification device is the microchip. This tiny device is implanted with a needle much like administering an injection. A special scanner can detect these chips; veterinary hospitals, humane societies, and animal shelters across the country have these scanners. A national registry assists in the identification and return of microchipped pets throughout the United States and Canada. We strongly recommend microchipping all pets.
How should I introduce my kitten to its new environment?
A cat is naturally inclined to investigate its new surroundings. It is suggested that the kitten’s area of exploration be initially limited so that you can supervise its activities. After confining the cat to one room for the first few days, you should slowly allow access to other areas of the home.
How should I introduce my new kitten to my other cat?
Most kittens receive a hostile reception from other household pets, especially from another cat. The other cat usually sees no need for a kitten in the household and these feelings are reinforced if it perceives that special favoritism is being shown to the kitten. The existing cat must not feel that it is necessary to compete for food or attention. The new kitten should have its own food bowl and it should not be permitted to eat from the other cat’s bowl. Although it is natural to spend time holding and cuddling the kitten, the existing cat will quickly sense that it is being neglected. The new kitten needs lots of love and attention, but the existing cat should not be slighted. In fact, the transition will be smoother if the existing cat is given more attention than normal.
The introduction period will usually last one to two weeks and will have one of three possible outcomes:
The existing cat will remain hostile to the kitten. Fighting may occasionally occur, especially if both try to eat out of the same bowl at the same time. This is an unlikely occurrence if competition for food and affection are minimized during the first few weeks.
The existing cat will only tolerate the kitten. Hostility will cease, but the existing cat will act as if the kitten is not present. This is more likely if the existing cat is very independent, has been an only cat for several years, or if marked competition occurred during the first few weeks. This relationship is likely to be permanent.
Bonding will occur between the existing cat and the kitten. They will play together, groom each other, and sleep near each other. This is more likely to occur if competition is minimized and if the existing cat has been lonely for companionship.
What type of play behavior should I expect from a kitten?
Encouraging appropriate play activities is very important from the first day in your home. Stalking and pouncing are important play behaviors in kittens and have an important role in proper muscular development. If given a sufficient outlet for these behaviors with toys, your kitten will be less likely to use family members for these activities. The best toys are lightweight and movable. These include wads of paper, small balls, and string or ribbon. Kittens should always be supervised when playing with string or ribbons because these items can cause serious intestinal problems if they are swallowed. Any other toy that is small enough to be swallowed should also be avoided.
Can I discipline a kitten?
Disciplining a young kitten may be necessary if its behavior towards people or property is inappropriate, but harsh punishment should be avoided. For most kittens, hand clapping and using shaker cans or horns can be intimidating enough to inhibit undesirable behavior when you are present. However, remote punishment is preferred. Remote punishment consists of using something that appears unconnected to the punisher to stop the problem behavior. Examples include using spray bottles, throwing objects in the direction of the kitten to startle, but not hit, and using booby traps that make loud noises. Remote punishment is preferred because the kitten will then associate punishment with the undesirable act and not with you.
When should my kitten be vaccinated?
There are many diseases that are fatal to cats. Fortunately, we have the ability to prevent many of these by the use of vaccines. In order to be effective, these vaccines must be given as a series of injections. Ideally, they are given at about 6-8, 12, and 16 weeks of age, but this schedule may vary somewhat depending on several factors.
The routine vaccination schedule will protect your kitten from five diseases: feline distemper, three respiratory organisms, and rabies. The first four are included in a combination vaccine that is given at 6-8, 12, and 16 weeks old. Rabies vaccine is usually given at 12-16 weeks of age. In addition, Feline leukemia vaccine (FeLV) is strongly recommended if your cat does or will go outside or if you have another cat that goes in and out. Many veterinarians will advise its use in all cats since this disease is deadly. It is usually transmitted by direct contact with other cats, especially when fighting occurs. A vaccine is also available for protection against feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), an uncommon disease that is most likely to occur in groups of cats. Your veterinarian will discuss the available vaccinations and what is best for your cat based on lifestyle needs.
Why does my kitten need more than one vaccination for feline distemper, upper respiratory infections, and leukemia?
When the kitten first nurses its mother, it receives a temporary form of immunity through colostrum, or the milk that is produced by its mother for a few days after birth. This immunity is in the form of proteins called maternal antibodies. For about twenty-four to forty-eight hours after birth, the kitten's intestine allows absorption of these antibodies directly into the blood stream. This “passive” immunity protects the kitten during its first few weeks of life, while its immune system is maturing, but, at some point, this immunity fails and the kitten must produce its own, longer-lasting “active” immunity. Vaccinations are used for this purpose. As long as the mother's antibodies are present, they will cause interference and prevent the immune system from responding completely to the vaccines.
Many factors determine when the kitten will be able to respond to vaccines. These include the level of immunity in the mother cat, how much of the antibody has been absorbed by the nursing kitten, and the general health and nutrition level of the kitten. Since we do not know when an individual kitten will lose its short-term passive immunity, we give a series of vaccinations. We hope that at least two of these will fall in the window of time when the kitten has lost the immunity from its mother but has not yet been exposed to disease. A single vaccination, even if effective, is not likely to stimulate the long-term active immunity that is so important.
Rabies vaccine is an exception to this, since one injection given at the proper age and time is enough to produce lasting immunity.
Do all kittens have worms?
Intestinal parasites are common in kittens. Kittens can become infected with parasites almost as soon as they are born, since one of the most common sources of roundworm infection in kittens is the mother's milk. A microscopic examination of a stool sample will usually detect the presence of intestinal parasites. This test, which detects the presence of worm eggs, should be performed on a stool sample from every kitten. Many veterinarians will routinely treat kittens with a broad spectrum deworming product that is safe and effective against almost all of the common worms of the cat. These products must be repeated once or twice during a three to four weeks because they only kill adult worms. Most intestinal worms take three to four weeks for maturation from their larval stages into adults. Cats remain susceptible to reinfection with hookworms and roundworms. Periodic deworming throughout the cat's life is recommended for cats that go outdoors.
Tapeworms are one of the most common intestinal parasites of cats. Kittens usually become infected with tapeworms when they swallow fleas. The eggs of the tapeworm live inside the flea. When the cat chews or licks its skin as a flea bites, it often swallows the flea. The flea is digested within the cat's intestine. The tapeworm then hatches and anchors itself to the intestinal lining. Each exposure to fleas may result in a new infection, which can occur in as little as two weeks. Cats may also get a tapeworm infection by eating mice or birds; the life cycle of these tapeworm species are similar to that of the flea tapeworm.
Cats infected with tapeworms will pass small segments of the worms on their stool. The segments are white in color and look like grains of rice. They are about 1/8 inch (3 mm) long and may be seen crawling on the surface of the stool. They may also stick to the hair under the tail. If that occurs, they will dry out, shrink to about half their size, and become pale yellow in color.
Tapeworm segments do not pass every day or in every stool sample; therefore, inspection of several consecutive bowel movements may be needed to find them. We may examine a stool sample in our office and not find them, and then you may find them the next day. If you find them at any time, please notify us so we may provide the appropriate drug for treatment. Ideally, you should bring in the worm segments so that we can identify them.
There are lots of choices of cat foods. What should I feed my kitten?
Diet is extremely important for growth, and there are two important criteria that should be met in selecting food for your kitten. We recommend a NAME-BRAND FOOD made by a national cat food company (not a generic brand), and a form of food MADE FOR KITTENS. This should be fed until your kitten is about twelve months of age. We recommend that you only buy food that has been certified by an independent organization as complete and balanced. In the United States, you should look for food that has been certified by AAFCO, an independent organization that oversees the entire pet food industry. It does not endorse any particular food, but it will certify that the food has met the minimum requirements for nutrition. In Canada, look for foods approved by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA).
Cat foods are available in dry, canned, and semi-moist formulations. Any of these formulations is acceptable, as long as the label states that the food is intended for growth (or is a kitten food), and is “complete and balanced”. This means that the food is nutritionally complete to meet the needs of growth and development. Each of the types of food has advantages and disadvantages.
Dry food is definitely the most inexpensive and can be left in the cat's bowl at all times. If given the choice, the average cat will eat a mouthful of food about 12-20 times per day. The good brands of dry food are just as nutritious as the other forms. .
Semi-moist foods may be acceptable, depending on their quality. The texture may be more appealing to some cats, and they often have a stronger odor and flavor. However, semi-moist foods are usually high in sugar, and if they are fed exclusively, can cause the cat to develop a very finicky appetite.
Canned foods are a good choice to feed your kitten, but are considerably more expensive than either of the other forms of food. Canned foods contain a high percentage of water, and their texture, odor and taste are very appealing to most cats. However, canned food will dry out or spoil if left out for prolonged periods of time; it is more suitable for meal feeding rather than free choice feeding.
Table foods are not recommended. Because they are generally very tasty, cats will often begin to hold out for these and not eat their well-balanced cat food. If you choose to give your kitten table food, be sure that at least 90% of its diet is good quality commercial kitten food. We enjoy a variety of things to eat in our diet. However, most cats actually prefer not to change from one food to another unless they are trained to do so by the way you feed them. Do not feel guilty if your cat is happy to just eat one food day after day, week after week.
Commercials for cat food can be very misleading. If you watch carefully you will notice that commercials promote cat food on one basis: TASTE. Nutrition is rarely mentioned. Most of the "gourmet" foods are marketed to appeal to owners who want the best for their cats; however, they do not offer the cat any nutritional advantage over a good quality dry food, and they are far more expensive. If you read the label of many of the gourmet foods, you will notice that they do not claim to be “complete and balanced”. If your cat eats a gourmet food very long, it will probably not be happy with other foods, and may develop nutritional deficiencies. If it needs a special diet due to a health problem later in life, it is very unlikely to accept it. Therefore, we do not encourage feeding gourmet cat foods.
How do I insure that my kitten is well socialized?
The prime socialization period for cats occurs between two and twelve weeks of age. During that time, the kitten is very impressionable to social influences. If it has good experiences with men, women, children, dogs, other cats, etc., it is likely to accept them throughout life. If the experiences are absent or unpleasant, it may become apprehensive or adverse to any of them. Therefore, during the period of socialization, we encourage you to expose your cat to as many types of social situations and influences as possible.
What can be done about fleas on my kitten?
Fleas do not spend their entire life cycle on your kitten. Occasionally, they will jump off and seek another host. Therefore, it is important to kill fleas on your new kitten before they can become established in your house. Many of the flea control products that are safe on adult cats are unsafe to use on kittens less than four months of age. Be sure that any flea product you use is labeled safe for kittens. And many of the products that are safe in dogs can be fatal to cats
There are several flea control products that are administered once per month, and which are safe for use on kittens as young as six weeks.
Can I trim my kitten's sharp toenails?
Kittens have very sharp toenails. They can be trimmed with your regular fingernail clippers or with nail trimmers made for dogs and cats. If you take too much off the nail, you will get into the quick, which will be painful and may cause bleeding. If this happens, neither you nor your cat will want to do this again. Therefore, a few points are helpful:
If you look closely at your cat’s nails, you will be able to see the quick, or nail bed, which is a pinkish area at the base of the nail As long as you stay at least 1/32” (1 mm) in front of the quick, you will be okay. When cutting nails, use sharp trimmers. Dull trimmers tend to crush the nail and cause pain even if you are not in the quick. You should always have styptic powder available. This is sold in pet stores under several trade names, but it will be labeled for use in trimming nails.
What are ear mites?
Ear mites are tiny insect-like parasites that live in the ear canal of cats and dogs. The most common sign of ear mite infestation is scratching of the ears. Sometimes the ears will appear dirty because of a black material in the ear canal; this material is sometimes shaken out. The instrument we use for examining the ear canals, an otoscope, has the necessary magnification to allow us to see the mites. Sometimes, we can find the mites by taking a small amount of the black material from the ear canal and examining it with a microscope. Although ear mites may leave the ear canals for short periods of time, they spend the vast majority of their lives within the protection of the ear canal. Transmission generally requires direct ear-to-ear contact. Ear mites are common in litters of kittens if their mother has ear mites.
Why should I have my female cat spayed?
The correct term for spaying is ovariohysterectomy, and refers to the complete removal of the uterus and the ovaries.Spaying offers several advantages. The female's heat periods, which usually begin at five to six months of age, occur every two to three weeks unless she is bred. She will be receptive, or “in heat” for part of this time each cycle. Mating behavior in female cats can be annoying, and neighborhood male cats may be attracted from blocks away, fighting or marking their territory outside your house while she is in heat. In many cases, the urge to mate is so strong that your indoor cat will attempt to escape outdoors to breed. Despite your best efforts, it is very likely that your cat will become pregnant. Spaying prevents unplanned litters of kittens.
It has been proven that as the female cat gets older, she will have a signifant risk of developing breast cancer or a uterine infection called pyometra if she has not been spayed. Spaying before she has any heat cycles will virtually eliminate the chances of developing breast cancer. If you do not plan to breed your cat, we strongly recommend that she be spayed before her first heat period. This surgical procedure can be done anytime after she is five months old.
Why should I have my male cat neutered?
Neutering or castration refers to the complete removal of both testicles in a male cat.
Neutering offers several advantages. Male cats go through a significant personality change when they mature. They become very possessive of their territory and mark it with their urine to ward off other cats. The tomcat's urine develops a very strong odor that will be almost impossible to remove from your house. They also try to constantly enlarge their territory, which means they will fight continually with other male cats in the neighborhood. Fighting results in severe infections and abscesses in cats, and makes for conflict with neighbors. We strongly urge you to have your cat neutered at about six to nine months of age. If he should begin to spray his urine before that time, he should be neutered immediately. The longer he sprays or fights, the less likely neutering is to stop it.
My kitten is already becoming destructive. What can be done?
There are four options that you should consider: frequent nail clipping, nail shields, surgical declawing, and tendonectomy.
The nails may be clipped according to the instructions above. However, your cat's nails will regrow and become sharp again within a few days. Therefore, to protect your property, it will be necessary to clip them one to two times per week. There are some commercially available products that are called nail caps. These are generally made of smooth plastic and attach to the end of the nail with special glue. The nails are still present, but the caps prevent them from causing destruction. After two to four weeks the nails will grow enough that the caps will be shed. At that time, you should be prepared to replace them.
Surgical declawing is the removal of the nail at its base. This is done under general anesthesia. There is very little post-surgical discomfort, especially when it is performed on a kitten. Contrary to the belief of some, this surgery does not cause lameness or psychological damage. Actually, a declawed cat will not realize the claws are gone and will continue to "sharpen" the claws as normal without inflicting damage to your furniture. This surgery can be done as early as twelve weeks of age or anytime thereafter. It can also be done the same time as spaying or neutering. Once declawed, your cat should always live indoors since the ability to defend itself is compromised.
Tendonectomy is the surgical removal of a small part of the tendon on the bottom of each toe. This tendon is needed to make the nail extend. The cat retains its nails, but it cannot extend them for sharpening and scratching. The only disadvantage of this procedure is that the nails continue to grow and may grow into the pads. Therefore, the nails should be clipped every seven to fourteen days.
Can you recommend something for pet identification?
The latest in pet identification and retrieval is microchipping. This tiny device is implanted with a needle so the process is much like getting an injection. Veterinary hospitals, humane societies and animal shelters across the country have microchip scanners used to detect the presence of a microchip and your cat’s unique identification. A national registry assists in the return of microchipped pets throughout the United States and Canada. We strongly recommend that all pets be microchipped.
Are certain pets more likely to get tapeworms?
Fleas are the intermediate host for the Dipylidium caninum. In other words, the tapeworm is unable to complete its life cycle without the presence of fleas in the environment. Regardless of whether the owner may have seen fleas, the pet must have ingested a flea in order to have tapeworms. Consequently, tapeworms are more common in environments that are heavily infested with fleas. Lice are also reported as intermediate hosts for tapeworms but they are relatively uncommon parasites of cats and dogs.
How do dogs and cats get tapeworms?
First, tapeworm eggs must be ingested by flea larvae, an immature stage of the flea. Contact between flea larvae and tapeworm eggs is facilitated by contaminated bedding or carpet. Adult fleas do not participate in this part of the tapeworm lifecycle. The infected flea larvae will mature into adult fleas. Next, the pet chews or licks its skin as an adult flea bites and swallows the flea. As the flea is digested within the animal’s intestine, the tapeworm hatches and anchors itself to the intestinal lining.
What are the clinical signs of tapeworm infection?
Tapeworms are not particularly harmful to the pet and few clinical signs are attributed to their presence. Usually, the pet is presented because of the owner’s aversion to the presence of the crawling proglottids. Rarely, tapeworms may cause debilitation or weight loss if they are present in large numbers. A cat will occasionally scoot or drag its anus across the ground or carpet due to the anal irritation caused by the proglottids. However, this behavior is much more common in dogs than cats. And this behavior can be for other reasons such as impacted anal sacs.
In puppies, heavy tapeworm infestation can be more serious. Lack of growth, anemia and intestinal blockage can occur.
Rarely, the head of the tapeworm or scolex detaches from the intestinal wall. The worm can then be passed either in the feces or vomited.Occasionally, a tapeworm will release its attachment in the intestines and migrate to the stomach. When this happens, cats may vomit an adult tapeworm several inches in length.
How are tapeworms diagnosed?
Most commonly, owners recognize that the pet has tapeworms and bring this to the attention of the veterinarian. When terminal segments of the tapeworm break off and pass into the pet's stool, they can be seen crawling on the surface of the feces or around the anus. These proglottid segments look like grains of cooked white rice or cucumber seeds. Each of these proglottid capsules contains up to twenty tapeworm eggs.
When these proglottids are released into the environment, they dehydrate and harden. becoming smaller and taking on a golden hue. Eventually, they break open and release their contents . Be aware that tapeworms are not readily diagnosed with routine fecal examinations. Because of this, you should notify your veterinarian when tapeworm segments are found in your pet’s stool.
What is the treatment for tapeworms?
Tapeworm treatments are safe and effective. The deworming medication called an anthelmintic may be given as a tablet or an injection. After treatment, the tapeworm dies and is usually digested within the intestine, so worm segments don’t usually pass into the stool. Side-effects, such as vomiting and diarrhea, are rarely reported with the newer tapeworm medications.
Flea control is the cornerstone of preventing tapeworm infection. With the new and exciting flea control products that have become available, this is now much easier than ever before. Depending on the type of product you use and the presence of other pets in your home, youmay also need to treat your house and yard for fleas. With some of the newer products, environmental control of fleas may not be needed. Circumstances vary, however, so be sure to talk to your veterinarian.
If the pet lives in a flea-infested environment, tapeworm infection can become re-established within a few weeks. This is very rarely due to treatment failure; in most cases, reappearance of tapeworms represents reinfection of the pet. Additional recommendations include:
1. Prompt treatment when tapeworms are detected.
2. Appropriate disposal of all pet feces, especially in public parks, yard, or playgrounds.
3. Strict hygiene practices for children after playing outdoors.
What is the prognosis?
New medications are safe and effective. The prognosis for successful treatment is excellent. Prevention is a successfully accomplished by using a monthly flea preventive.
Are dog and cat tapeworms a danger to me or my family?
Humans can become infected with tapeworms, although infection is rare because it is requires ingestion of a flea. Most reported cases have involved children. The risk for human infection with Dipylidium caninum is quite small but does exist.
Most cases of tapeworms in people are from eating improperly cooked meat and it is a different species of tapeworm.
What are the other tapeworms that can infect my pet?
The other common tapeworms that can infect a cat are members of a group called Taenia. The intermediate host of these tapeworms is mice, birds, or rabbits. In a similar manner to Dipylidium transmission, cats acquire Taenia infestations by eating infected mice, birds, or rabbits.
Another less common group of tapeworms called Echinococcus is of increasing concern as a threat to human health. These tapeworms cause serious, potentially fatal, disease when humans become infected. Infection with this parasite is harder to diagnose than Dipylidium because the segments are small and not readily seen. Trappers and hunters in the north central United States and south central Canada may be at increased risk for infection with this worm when strict hygiene is not practiced. Foxes and coyotes and the wild rodents upon which they prey are important in the life cycle of this parasite. Dogs and cats may also become infected if they eat rodents carrying the parasite. When eggs of Echinococcus are passed in the feces of the dog and cat, humans are at risk for infection. Free-roaming cats and dogs may need to be periodically treated with tapeworm medication. Rodent control and good hygiene are important in preventing the spread of this disease to humans. As with the more common tapeworm, infection with Echinococcus is infrequent yet possible.
My child has pinworms. Did they come from my pet?
Tapeworms and pinworms look very similar. However, contrary to popular belief, pinworms do not infect cats or dogs. Any worm segments seen associated with cats are due to tapeworms. Children who get pinworms do not get them from cats or dogs.
What is “immunity”?
Immunity is a complex series of defense mechanisms by which an animal is able to resist an infection or, minimally, resist disease and the harmful consequences of the infection. The main components of these defenses are the white blood cells, especially lymphocytes and their chemical products, antibodies and cytokines such as interferon. All infectious disease organisms (viruses, bacteria, protozoa, fungi, etc.) have specific components called antigens. These antigens cause lymphocytes to respond in a specific way such that each antigen stimulates the production of a mirror-image antibody as well as non-antibody responses called cellular immunity. Immunity has memory, so that a subsequent exposure to the same antigen results in a much more rapid response. This rapid "boost” of immunity usually stops the new infection before it can cause illness. The animal is then said to be "immune" against this infection. Such immune memory can fade with time, sometimes quite rapidly, depending on the specific antigen-antibody relationship.
Immunity is not absolute. Immunity can sometimes be overcome when there is an overwhelming exposure to a high dose of a virulent or particularly harmful strain of the microorganism or when the animal is unduly stressed or its immune system is otherwise depressed known as immunosuppression by other infections or certain drugs.
What is a modified-live vaccine?
In a modified-live or live-attenuated vaccine the causative organism (virus, bacterium, etc.) has been altered so that it is no longer harmful or virulent but upon injection or other administration it will stimulate protective immunity.
What is a killed vaccine?
The organism has been killed or inactivated to render it harmless. Killed vaccines often need a helper or adjuvant included in the vaccine to stimulate a longer-lasting immune response.
Which is better: a live or killed vaccine?
Both have advantages and disadvantages. Your veterinarian takes many circumstances into account in making the choice.
Why are vaccines administered by injection?
Some vaccines are given locally, for example into the nose, but most require injection so that the maximum take-up of vaccine by the white cells and stimulation of the immune system is achieved. Some vaccines are injected subcutaneously or just under the skin, others are injected into the muscles or intramuscularly. Injections look easy but there are a number of precautions a veterinarian is taking.
Which vaccines are needed in dogs?
Depending on your locality some infections may be more or less likely. Your veterinarian will assess the relative risks based on your circumstances and advise you accordingly. The range of vaccines available includes: rabies, distemper, adenovirus/ infectious canine hepatitis, parvovirus, leptospirosis, parainfluenza, coronavirus, Lyme disease, and Bordetella bronchiseptica (see Kennel Cough). For details on these diseases see the specific topic. These vaccines are often available in combinations given in one dose. These combination vaccines are convenient and avoid extra injections for your dog, but sometimes separation of vaccines is advisable. Your veterinarian will advise you on the appropriate vaccines for your pet based on your dog’s specific lifestyle requirements.
“Core” Vaccines – Recommended for all puppies and dogs by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) Canine Vaccine Task Force
Canine distemper virus
“Non-Core” Vaccines – Recommended for puppies and dogs in special circumstances, dependent on the exposure risk of an individual dog by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) Canine Vaccine Task Force
Borrelia burgdorferi or Lyme disease
Canine parainfluenza virus
Bordetella bronchiseptica or “Kennel Cough”
What is maternal immunity?
Newborn animals have not yet had a chance to make their own immunity so they need protection against infections present in their environment. They receive this immunity from their mother, partly across the placenta while in the uterus with most of the maternal antibody transferred to them in the first milk or colostrum. Maternal immunity is only temporary. It declines steadily over the first few weeks of life and is largely gone by twelve weeks. The rate of decline is variable depending on many factors.
Why is more than one dose of vaccine given to pups?
There are two reasons. First, without complicated testing it is impossible to know when a pup has lost the immunity it gets from its mother called maternal immunity. An early decline in a puppy’s maternal antibody can leave it susceptible to infection at a very young age but a strong maternal immunity can actually interfere with early vaccination (see Vaccination Failure). Second, particularly with killed vaccines, the first dose is a “priming” dose, and the second dose is needed to boost the response to a higher, longer-lasting level of immunity.
Why does my dog need to be revaccinated?
In most properly vaccinated dogs, the immunity should last more than a year, and often several years. However, immunity does decline with time and this decline rate varies with individuals. To maintain the best immunity in a reasonable way, revaccinations have proven very successful. Because improvements are continuously made in the vaccines we use, some do not need to be given so often, depending on individual circumstances of the pet. Most dogs with low-risk lifestyles will be vaccinated every three years with the “core” vaccines and then as needed for any “non-core” vaccines. Your veterinarian will discuss the need and frequency of booster vaccinations for your dog based on your pet’s needs and lifestyle.
How long does it take for a vaccine to produce immunity?
Within a few hours of vaccination the earliest phases of the immune response are being stimulated. It usually requires ten to fourteen days before a reasonable level of protection is established. Killed vaccines may not provide adequate protection until after the second dose. Also in young puppies maternal antibody may hinder protection until later in the vaccine series. Therefore it is advisable to keep a recently vaccinated pup away from dogs or pups of unknown vaccination history until it has finished its vaccination course.
What happens if my dog is sick when vaccinated?
The veterinary check-up prior to vaccination and sometimes blood tests pre-vaccination help prevent this situation. In most cases it would not have disastrous consequences, but it is important that an animal is healthy when vaccinated, to ensure proper development of immunity.
Will vaccination make my dog sick?
It is not unusual to detect some lethargy in the day or so after vaccination. In the case of killed vaccines containing an adjuvant, some thickening or lump formation may occur at the vaccination site. If this is painful or persists for more than a week or so with no decrease in size, consult your veterinarian. A few dogs will develop more severe reactions that are forms of hypersensitivity (allergy). These will usually occur within minutes but may be delayed for a few hours. The dog may have difficulty breathing, salivate, vomit, and have diarrhea. In these situations consult your veterinarian immediately.
Do vaccines provide 100% protection?
Vaccines have been highly successful in protecting the majority of dogs against diseases such as distemper that were once common but now rare, but there are situations in which the immunity conferred by a vaccine may be overcome and a vaccinated dog may still develop disease. In such cases the disease is generally milder than it would have been had the dog not been vaccinated. Some causes for apparent “vaccine failure” are:
Maternally derived antibodies – As mentioned above, when a puppy is born and after it suckles its mother, it acquires a proportion of any antibodies that the mother has. So a well-vaccinated female will confer antibodies to the diseases she has been vaccinated against and any others she has acquired naturally to her puppies. Such antibodies protect the pup against those diseases for the first two or three months of its life, the most critical period of its life. However during this same period the maternally derived antibodies can block the effects of vaccination of the pup. This blocking effect decreases as the maternal antibody gradually disappears over those two to three months. A point in time is reached when vaccination can be successfully given. Unfortunately this point varies between pups, mainly because the amount of maternal antibodies that each pup receives is variable. This is part of the reason that two vaccinations are usually given, two to four weeks apart, in the puppy vaccination program. Maternal antibody interference has been a particular problem with canine parvovirus vaccination.
Incomplete immune response– There is variation between dogs in their immune system. Some respond less well to vaccination, so immunity may be incomplete or shorter-lived than normal. Certain breeds and genetic lines have a tendency for such problems.
Declining immunity – Without booster vaccinations, or without natural boosting of immunity by sporadic exposure to the infectious agent in nature, immunity to the specific organism declines over time, particularly in older age. There may come a time when if there is a particularly heavy dose of the organism from the environment the declining immunity may be insufficient and overwhelmed, disease resulting.
Immune suppression – Certain infections and some drugs, such as anti-cancer drugs, may cause a suppression of the immune system so that an otherwise well-vaccinated dog becomes susceptible to infection and disease if exposed.
New strains of organism-Some infectious agents exist in different strains or new strains evolve, that are not directly covered by the vaccines given. There may be some ‘cross-protection’ but it may not be complete.
The above are not the only reasons for vaccination “failure” but they are the most likely explanations.
If you feel your dog has contracted an infection for which it has been vaccinated then let your veterinarian know so tests can be undertaken to try and establish why vaccination has failed to be protective.
“Core” Vaccines, as recommended by the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) for all kittens and cats:
How do vaccines work?
Vaccines work by stimulating the body's defense mechanisms or immune system to produce antibodies to a particular microorganism or microorganisms such as a virus, bacteria, or other infectious organism. The animal’s immune system is then prepared to react to a future infection with that microorganism(s). The reaction will either prevent infection or lessen the severity of infection and promote rapid recovery. Thus, vaccination mimics or simulates the protection or immunity that a pet has once it has recovered from natural infection with a particular infectious agent.
The immune system is complex, involving interaction of various cells and tissues and organs in an animal. The main cells involved in an immune reaction are the white blood cells and the main tissues are the lymphoid tissues such as the lymph nodes.
One of the most important functions of the immune system is the production of specific protein molecules called antibodies. A specific microorganism, such as Feline Panleukopenia Virus, has components called antigens that induce the immune system to produce antibody that specifically binds and neutralizes that organism and no other.
Antibodies work together with other white blood cells such as lymphocytes that are able to identify and kill cells that have become infected by the microorganism. The activity of lymphocytes and other immune system cells is called cell-mediated immunity.
After vaccination, just as after recovery from natural infection, the body 'remembers' the particular antigens so that when they are encountered again it can mount a rapid and strong immune response preventing the cat from developing the disease. The duration of this response varies with the disease, the type of vaccine and other variables. The likely duration will determine the recommended revaccination date.
It is important to realize that most vaccines work by preventing your cat from becoming ill during a subsequent exposure to specific disease-causing organisms, but vaccination may not prevent the cat from becoming infected. In such cases the cat, while itself protected against disease, may shed the organism for a period of time after exposure and be capable of infecting other susceptible animals. This is not a major consideration in the pet cat but may be important in the breeding colony.
What is the difference between the various types of vaccine?
Three major types of vaccine are produced for use in cats.
When should my kitten be vaccinated?
Generally kittens are vaccinated for the first time at between six and eight weeks of age and a second dose is given at ten to twelve weeks. A kitten will not be fully protected until seven to ten days after the second vaccination. Under specific circumstances your veterinarian may advise an alternative regime.
How often should booster vaccinations be given?
Booster vaccination has generally been carried out yearly, but as vaccines and knowledge change, recommendations for frequency of boosters evolve. The appropriate interval for boosters will vary with individual circumstances. Your veterinarian will discuss this with you. All cats should be examined and appropriate vaccines administered regularly. Senior cats are particularly susceptible to these infections as they grow old and their immune system becomes less efficient.
Many adult cats that have been vaccinated as kittens will be vaccinated every one to three years based on lifestyle risk assessment. That is, if your cat is at higher risk for realistic exposure to a disease, the frequency of vaccination may be increased. It is important to thoroughly discuss your cat’s lifestyle with your veterinarian and determine the appropriate vaccinations and vaccination schedule for your cat.
The AAFP vaccination guidelines recommend that low-risk adult cats be vaccinated every three years for the “core” vaccines and then as determined by your veterinarian for any “non-core” vaccinations. It is important to note that feline leukemia virus (FeLV) vaccine is recommended by some AAFP members to be a “core” vaccine while other experts classify it as a “non-core” vaccine. Your veterinarian is the ultimate authority on how your cat is vaccinated
Will vaccination always protect my cat?
Vaccination will protect the vast majority of cats but under some circumstance vaccine breakdowns will occur. Reasons for such breakdowns or apparent ‘vaccine failure’ include:
Variations between different strains of viruses – This is particularly a problem for example with FCV infections, where, like the “common cold” in people, there are a large number of different strains. Available vaccines may only partially cross-protect against some of these strains.
Maternally derived antibodies – When a kitten is born and after it suckles its mother, it is acquires a proportion of antibodies from the mother. A well vaccinated queen cat will pass on some antibodies to the diseases she has been vaccinated against, and any others she has acquired naturally. Such antibodies protect the kitten against those diseases for the first two or three months of life, arguably the most critical period. However, during this same period, the maternally-derived antibodies can block the effects of vaccination of the kitten. This blocking effect decreases as the maternal antibodies gradually disappear over those two to three months. A point in time is reached when vaccination can be successfully given. Unfortunately, this point varies between kittens, mainly because the amount of maternal antibodies that each kitten receives is variable. This is part of the reason that vaccinations are usually given two to four weeks apart in the kitten vaccination program.
The cat was stressed or not completely healthy at the time of vaccination – Stress can prevent a good response to vaccination. For this reason it is better to let a kitten settle into its new home for five to seven days before a vaccination is given. A physical examination is always given before vaccinating to help ensure the cat is healthy at that time.
The cat has been exposed to an excessive challenge dose of virus or bacteria in its environment and this has been sufficient to overwhelm the immunity. The immune system of the cat is under-performing or incompetent because of some other disease, or complications associated with advanced age.
These are not the only reasons for vaccination failure but they are the most common. If you feel your cat has contracted an infection for which it has been vaccinated then let your veterinarian know so tests can be undertaken to try and establish why vaccination has failed to be protective.
What are the risks of vaccination?
There are very few risks to vaccination. Your veterinarian will be able to advise you on specific details concerning your pet. You may notice your cat has a temporary loss of appetite or is less lively a day or two after a vaccination, but this should resolve within twenty-four to forty-eight hours. A very few cats may be allergic to one or more components of the vaccine and have more serious side effects such as difficulty in breathing, vomiting or diarrhea. If these signs occur, let your veterinarian know immediately. A rare form of soft tissue sarcoma has been associated with a reaction to vaccine or vaccine components in a very small number of cats. This association is controversial, and studies are in progress to investigate whether the association is real. The benefits of vaccination greatly outweigh these small risks in most situations.
Which are the most important vaccinations to have?
This is a difficult question and will depend on individual circumstances, including the area you live in and the lifestyle of your cat. As mentioned before, certain vaccines are more routinely given and are regarded as “core” vaccines. Others may or may not be advised depending on the particular situation of your cat. Your veterinarian will be able to advise you of the most appropriate vaccination schedule for your cat.
Feline panleukopenia infection – FPV or FPV
This is an uncommon disease today because of widespread vaccination, but the risk remains widespread. It is still seen in shelters in unvaccinated cats. When disease occurs it is a severe and often fatal gastroenteritis, with profound depression, dehydration and collapse. It is very contagious to other cats. Vaccination provides a high level of long lasting protection.
Feline respiratory virus infection
Disease is caused by FVR virus (FHV-1) or the caliciviruses (FCV) - sometimes simultaneously. The syndrome is commonly termed Upper Respiratory Infection (URI) or sometimes, erroneously, “Cat Flu”. While not usually very serious, except in young kittens, it is a very common infection in unvaccinated cats and can cause long-term problems. Vaccination is only moderately effective as solid immunity to these viruses is not long term, and may be overcome by a high dose of virus in the immediate environment. Vaccination does significantly reduce the severity and duration of URI.
Feline chlamydial infection
This tends to be a particular problem in colony cats or in certain geographical locations. Chlamydiosis is a bacterial infection causing a painful inflammation and swelling of the conjunctiva or the membrane around the eye as well as upper respiratory infections. It has also been associated with infertility in queens. Infection in colonies of cats can last for long periods because protection against re-infection (immunity) is relatively short lived. Vaccination can help to prevent infection becoming established in a colony and can be used in conjunction with treatment where infection is already present.
Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) infection
This virus is widespread and infection of outdoor cats or cats in infected catteries is common. The vast majority of persistently infected cats will die either from tumors or as a consequence of the immunosuppression caused by the viral infection. Current vaccines provide a good level of protection and do not interfere with routine testing for the virus in breeding colonies. Because the virus tends to take many months before it causes disease, infected cats can appear completely normal and healthy. For this reason your veterinarian may suggest your cat have a blood test to make sure it is not infected before vaccination. Despite vaccination, a few cats will still become infected with the virus.
Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)
FIP is caused by a coronavirus. Infection with the causative or related viruses is common, but the disease is uncommon, although cases occur from time to time almost everywhere. We do not understand why some infections lead to fatal disease whereas the majority of infections cause only minor illness. Vaccines are advised in some high-risk cases. Discuss usage with your veterinarian.
This is such an important disease because of the almost 100% fatality rate of cases once symptoms occur, and because of its potential transmission to people by bites from infected animals. Rabies vaccination is an essential part of the vaccination program for all cats. Your veterinarian will discuss the frequency of booster vaccinations needed for your cat.
What is the life cycle of the tick?
Ticks have four distinct life stages:
Male hard ticks usually mate with one or more females and then die, although some may live for several months. Females die soon after depositing their eggs in protected habitats on the ground. The life cycle requires from as little as 2 months to more than 2 years, depending on the species.
After the egg hatches, the tiny larva (sometimes called a “seed tick”) feeds on an appropriate host. The larva then develops (“molts”) into the larger nymph. The nymph feeds on a host and then molts into an even larger adult. Both male and female adults find and feed on a host, and then the females lay eggs after feeding.
How can my dog or cat pick up ticks?
Ticks wait for host animals from the tips of grasses and shrubs. Ticks are not commonly found in trees. When brushed by a moving animal or person, they quickly let go of the vegetation and climb onto the host. Ticks can only crawl; they cannot fly or jump. Some species of ticks will crawl several feet toward a host. Ticks can be active on winter days if the ground temperatures are above 45 degrees Fahrenheit (7.2 degrees Celsius).
What are the different types of ticks?
There are two groups of ticks, sometimes called the “hard” ticks (Ixodidae) and “soft” ticks (Argasidae). Hard ticks, like the common dog tick, have a hard shield just behind the mouthparts (sometimes incorrectly called the “head”); unfed hard ticks are shaped like a flat seed. Soft ticks do not have the hard shield and they are shaped like a large raisin. Soft ticks prefer to feed on birds or bats and are seldom encountered by dogs or cats.
Although there are at least 15 species of ticks in North America, only a few of these species are likely to be encountered. They include the:
American Dog Tick
The American dog tick attacks a wide variety of hosts, including humans, dogs and occasionally cats, but rarely infests homes. Adults are chestnut brown with white spots or streaks on their backs. Unfed adults are about 1/8-inch long. Engorged females become slate gray and may expand to a length of 1/2-inch. Larvae and nymphs feed mostly on small rodents, while adults feed on dogs, cattle, other animals and humans. These ticks are widely distributed throughout the North America and are especially prevalent in the southern United States and in coastal and other humid areas. They are attracted by the scent of animals, and humans most often encounter them near roads, paths, trails and recreational areas. Although present the year round, American dog ticks are usually most numerous in the spring.
The female dog tick lays 4000-6500 eggs and then dies. The eggs hatch into seed ticks in about 36-57 days. The unfed larvae crawl in search of a host and can live up to 540 days without food. When they find a small rodent or mammal, the larvae attach and feed for approximately five days. The larvae then drop off the host and molt to the nymphal stage. The nymphs crawl in search of a rodent host, attach to a suitable host, and engorge with blood in 3-11 days. Nymphs can live without food for up to 584 days. That’s over a year-and-a-half!
Adults crawl in search of dogs or large animals for a blood meal. Adults can live for up to two years without food! American dog tick adults and many other species can be found along roads, paths, and trails, on grass, and on other low vegetation in a "waiting position." As an animal passes by, the tick will grasp it firmly and soon start feeding. The males remain on the host for an indefinite period of time alternately feeding and mating. The females feed, mate, become engorged, and then drop off to lay their eggs.
The American dog tick requires from three months to three years to complete a life cycle. It is typically an outdoor tick and is dependent on climatic and environmental conditions for its eggs to hatch.
Lone Star Tick
Adult lone star ticks are various shades of brown or tan. Females have single silvery-white spots on their backs and males have scattered white spots. Unfed adults are about 1/3-inch long, but after feeding females may be 1/2-inch long. Larvae and nymphs parasitize small wild animals, birds and rodents, while adults feed on larger animals such as dogs and cattle. All three stages of the Lone star tick will bite dogs and humans. These ticks live in wooded and brushy areas and are most numerous in underbrush along creeks and river bottoms and near animal resting places. Lone star ticks are present throughout the year, but peak adult and nymphal populations may occur from March to May. A second nymphal peak may occur again in July or August, while peak larval activity is reached in mid-June or July.
Deer or Blacklegged tick
All three active stages of the deer or blacklegged tick will feed on a variety of hosts including dogs and people. After the eggs hatch in the spring, the very tiny larvae feed primarily on white-footed mice or other small mammals. The following spring, the larvae molt into pinhead-sized, brown nymphs that will feed on mice, larger warm-blooded animals and people. In the fall, they molt into adults that feed primarily on deer, with the females laying eggs the following spring. Adults are reddish-brown and about 1/8-inch long (or about one-half the size of the more familiar female American dog tick).
These ticks are usually found in wooded areas along trails. The larvae and nymphs are active in the spring and early summer; adults may be active in both the spring and fall. The deer or blacklegged tick can transmit Lyme disease and possibly ehrlichiosis to dogs and humans.
Brown Dog Tick
The brown dog tick (also known as the kennel tick) is found through most of the United States. This tick feeds on dogs, but rarely bites people. Unlike the other species of ticks, its life cycle allows it to survive and develop indoors. The brown dog tick is found primarily in kennels or homes with dogs where it may be found hiding in cracks, behind radiators, under rugs and furniture, and on draperies and walls.
The adult is reddish-brown and about 1/8-inch long, and usually attaches around the ears or between the toes of a dog to feed. After feeding, a female may engorge to ½-inch long. She then drops off the dog and crawls into a hiding place where she may lay as many as 3,000 eggs. This tick is tropical in origin and does not survive long, cold winters outdoors.
How can ticks be prevented?
There are many different types of tick preventatives available in the marketplace. Some require less effort on the part of the owner than others. Some products are available over the counter, while others are only available through your veterinarian. There are effective monthly preventatives that are applied to the skin at the back of the neck and represent a convenient method of control for these ectoparasites. Your veterinarian will make specific recommendations to keep your pet parasite free.
What should I do if I find a tick on me or my pet?
Use blunt tweezers or disposable gloves to handle the tick. If your fingers must be used, shield them with a tissue or paper towel. Infectious agents may be contracted through mucous membranes or breaks in the skin simply by handling infected ticks. This is especially important for people who "de-tick" pets because ticks infesting dogs and other domestic animals can carry Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis or other diseases capable of infecting humans.
Grasp the tick as close to the skin surface as possible. This reduces the possibility of the head detaching from the body upon removal.
Pull the tick out straight out with a steady, even pressure. Do not twist or jerk the tick as this may cause the mouthparts to break off and remain in the skin, increasing the chances of infection. Continue applying steady pressure even if the tick does not release immediately. It may take a minute or two of constant, slow pulling to cause the tick to release.
After removing the tick, thoroughly disinfect the bite area and wash your hands with soap and water. Home remedies such as applying petroleum jelly, grease, or a hot match to the rear of the tick are not recommended and do not work. These practices cause the tick to salivate and can actually increase the chance of getting a disease.
After removing the tick, you may wish to preserve it in rubbing alcohol. Be sure to label the container with information about the time and place where the tick bite occurred. This activity will help you to remember details of the incident if the rash or other symptoms associated with Lyme disease appear later. This information will also be of help to a veterinarian or physician diagnosing an illness.
Are there other types of stones?
Gall stones are in the gall bladder, and kidney stones are in the kidney. They are not the same as bladder stones. Although the kidneys and urinary bladder are both part of the urinary system, kidney stones are usually unrelated to bladder stones.
What are the clinical signs of bladder stones?
The two most common signs of bladder stones are hematuria or blood in the urine and dysuria, which is straining to urinate. Hematuria occurs because the stones mechanically irritate the bladder wall, causing bleeding from its surface into the urine. Dysuria occurs when stones obstruct the passage of urine out of the bladder or inflame the bladder walls and cause pain and swelling. Large stones may cause a partial obstruction at the point where the urine leaves the bladder and enters the urethra. Small stones may flow with the urine into the urethra and cause an obstruction there.
When an obstruction occurs, urine cannot pass out of the body and the abdomen becomes very painful. Your cat may cry in pain, especially if pressure is applied to the abdominal wall.
When there is no obstruction, hematuria and dysuria are the most common signs seen in cats with bladder stones. It can be assumed that bladder stones are painful, based on the fact that after bladder stones are removed surgically, many owners tell us how much better their cat feels and how much more active it has become.
How do bladder stones form?
There are several theories of how bladder stones form. Each is feasible in some circumstances, but there is probably an interaction of more than one of them in each cat. The most commonly accepted theory is called the Precipitation-Crystallization Theory. This theory states that one or more stone-forming crystalline compounds are present in elevated levels in the urine. This may be due to abnormalities in diet or due to some previous disease in the bladder, especially infection with bacteria. When the amount of this compound reaches a threshold level, the urine is said to be supersaturated. This means that the level of the compound is so great that it cannot all be dissolved in the urine, so it precipitates and forms tiny crystals. These crystals stick together, usually due to mucus-like material within the bladder, and stones gradually form. As time passes, the stones enlarge and increase in number.
How quickly can they form?
Growth will depend on the quantity of crystalline material present and the degree of infection present. Although it may take months for a large stone to grow, some sizable stones have been documented to form in as little as two weeks.
How are bladder stones diagnosed?
Many cats will have uncomplicated bladder infections a without forming bladder stones. These cats will often have blood in the urine and will strain to urinate. Therefore, we do not conclude that a cat has bladder stones based only on these clinical signs.
Some bladder stones can be palpated or felt with the fingers through the abdominal wall. However, failure to palpate them does not rule them out because many are too small to be detected in this manner.
Most bladder stones are visible on radiographs (x-rays) or an ultrasound examination. These procedures are performed if stones are suspected. This includes cats that show unusual pain when the bladder is palpated, cats that have recurrent hematuria and dysuria, or cats that have recurrent bacterial infections in the bladder.
Some bladder stones are not visible on radiographs. They are said to be radiolucent. This means that their mineral composition is such that they do not reflect the x-ray beam. These stones may be found with an ultrasound examination or with ‘contrast radiographs’ that are made after placing a special dye or contrast material in the bladder.
How are bladder stones treated?
There are two options for treatment. The fastest solution is to remove them surgically by opening the bladder through an abdominal incision. Following two to four days of recovery, pain and dysuria are resolved. The hematuria may persist for a few more days and then stop. Surgery is not the best option for all patients; however, those with urethral obstruction and those with bacterial infections associated with the stones should be operated on unless there are other health conditions that prohibit surgery.
The second option is to dissolve the stone with a special diet. This avoids surgery and can be a very good choice for some cats.
However, it has three disadvantages:
It is not successful for all types of stones. Unless some sand-sized stones can be collected from the urine and analyzed, it is not possible to know if the stone is of the composition that is likely to be dissolved.
It is slow. It may take several weeks or a few months to dissolve a large stone so the cat may continue to have hematuria, dysuria, and recurrent infections during that time. The risk of life-threatening urethral obstruction is present during the dissolution process.
Not all cats will eat the special diet. The diet is not as tasty as the foods that many cats are fed. If it is not consumed exclusively, it will not work.
Can bladder stones be prevented?
Prevention is possible in many cases. There are at least four types of bladder stones in cats, each based on their chemical composition. If stones are removed surgically or if small ones pass in the urine, they should be analyzed for their chemical composition. This will permit us to determine if a special diet will be helpful in preventing recurrence. If the stones formed because of a bacterial infection, it is recommended that periodic urinalysis and urine cultures be performed to identify recurrences and determine if antibiotics should be prescribed.
Are these the same as gall stones or kidney stones?
No. Gallstones form in the gall bladder located near the liver, and kidney stones form in the kidney. Although the kidneys and urinary bladder are both part of the urinary system, kidney stones are usually unrelated to bladder stones.
What problems do bladder stones cause?
The two most common symptoms of bladder stones are hematuria (blood in the urine) and dysuria (straining to urinate). Hematuria occurs because the stones irritate and damage the bladder wall causing bleeding. Dysuria occurs when stones obstruct the flow of urine out of the bladder or inflame the bladder walls, causing pain and swelling. Large stones may cause a partial obstruction at the point where the urine leaves the bladder and enters the urethra while smaller stones may flow with the urine into the urethra and cause an obstruction there.
When an obstruction occurs, the bladder cannot be emptied resulting in extreme pain, especially if pressure is applied to the abdominal wall. If the obstruction is complete, the bladder may rupture, which is a life-threatening emergency situation.
When there is no obstruction, hematuria and dysuria are the most common signs seen in dogs with bladder stones. It can be assumed that the condition is painful, based on the fact that many clients remark about how much better and more active their dog has become following surgical removal of bladder stones.
Why do they form?
There are several theories of how bladder stones form. The most commonly accepted theory is called the Precipitation-Crystallization Theory. This theory states that one or more stone-forming crystalline compounds has become present in elevated levels in the urine. This may be due to dietary factorsor due to some previous disease in the bladder, especially infectionwith bacteria. Sometimes the condition may be due to a problem with the body’s metabolism. When the amount of this compound reaches a threshold level, the urine is said to be supersaturated. This means that the level of the compound is so great that it cannot all be dissolved in the urine, so it precipitates and forms tiny crystals. These crystals stick together, usually due to mucus-like material within the bladder, and stones gradually form. As time passes, the stones enlarge and increase in number.
How fast do they grow?
Bladder stones can develop in a period of weeks to months. Speed of growth will usually depend on the quantity of crystalline material present and the degree of infection present. Although it may take months for a large stone to grow, some sizeable stones have been documented to form in as little as two weeks.
How are bladder stones diagnosed?
The symptoms of bladder stones are similar to those of an uncomplicated bladder infection or cystitis. Most dogs that have bladder infections do not have bladder stones. Therefore, we do not conclude that a dog has bladder stones based only on these common clinical signs. Some bladder stones can be palpated (felt with the fingers) through the abdominal wall. However, failure to palpate them does not rule them out. Some stones are too small to be felt in this manner, or the bladder may be too firm to allow palpation.
Most bladder stones are visible on radiographs (x-rays) or a bladder ultrasound examination. If your veterinarian suspects bladder stones, one or both of these procedures will be recommended. They should be performed on dogs that show unusual pain when the bladder is palpated, dogs that have recurrent hematuria and dysuria, or dogs that have recurrent bacterial infections in the bladder.
Some bladder stones are not visible on radiographs. They are said to be radiolucent. This means that their mineral composition is such that they do not reflect the x-ray beam. These stones may be found with an ultrasound examination or with a radiographic contrast study, made after placing a special dye or contrast material in the bladder.
How are bladder stones treated?
There are two options for treatment. The fastest treatment solution is to remove them surgically by opening the bladder through an abdominal incision. Following two to four days of recovery, most patients rapidly improve. The hematuria will often persist for a few days after surgery before resolving. Surgery may not be the best option for patients that have other health concerns. However, dogs with urethral obstruction require surgery as soon as possible to minimize other complications.
The second option is to attempt to dissolve certain types of bladder stones with a special dissolution diet. This avoids surgery and can be a very good choice for some dogs. However, it has three disadvantages:
1.It is not successful for all types of stones. Stone analysis is necessary to determine if it is the type of stone that can be successfully dissolved. This may not be possible in all cases.
2.It is slow. It may take several weeks or a few months to dissolve a large stone so the dog may continue to have hematuria, dysuria, and recurrent infections during that time. The risk of urethral obstruction remains high during this period.
3.Not all dogs will eat the special diet. If it is not fed exclusively, it will not work.
Can bladder stones be prevented?
The answer is a qualified "yes." There are at least four types of bladder stones common in dogs. If bladder stones are removed surgically or if some small ones pass in the urine, they should be analyzed for their chemical composition. This will permit your veterinarian to determine if a special diet will be helpful in preventing recurrence. If the stones formed because of a bacterial infection, it is recommended that periodic urinalyses and urine cultures be performed to identify recurrences and determine if antibiotics should be prescribed. Periodic bladder x-rays or ultrasounds may be helpful in some cases to determine if bladder stones are recurring.
Early recognition may allow your veterinarian to resolve the problem before your pet requires surgery.
How is the microchip put into my dog?
Before insertion, the sterile microchip is scanned in the package to confirm that the identification code of the transponder is the same as that shown on the package bar code label. The needle containing the microchip is loaded into the application gun or syringe, and the pet is positioned for the injection. For dogs and cats, the standard site for microchip placement is in the subcutaneous tissue along the dorsal midline (the spine) between the pet’s shoulder blades. For correct placement, the pet should be either standing or lying on the stomach. Some of the loose skin between the shoulder blades is gently pulled up, and the needle is quickly inserted.
The applicator trigger is depressed, injecting the transponder or microchip into the tissues. Once the chip is inserted, the pet is scanned to ensure that the chip is reading properly and the identification number is checked. It is now a permanent and tamperproof method that cannot be lost.
Does it hurt to insert the chip?
The procedure is fast, safe, and appears to be relatively pain-free in most pets. The chips are usually inserted without incident, even in the tiniest kittens and puppies. The application needle is quite large, and some clients will choose to have the microchip implanted at the time of sterilization, so that the pet can be anesthetized for the injection. However, this is not necessary, and the microchip can be implanted at any time that is convenient.
Is there anything I have to do?
Once your pet is microchipped, you must register him or her with the appropriate agency. Your veterinarian will provide you with the relevant documents and contact information and will tell you if any fees are required. Failure to register your pet’s microchip identification will render the entire process useless. If you move or change your contact information, be sure to update your pet’s microchip information. If your pet is lost and recovered, this information will be used to reunite you with your pet.
How is the microchip detected?
The microchip can be ‘read’ with a microchip scanner, which detects the specific electronic code embedded in the chip, and displays the identification number on the scanner’s screen. Since the occasional microchip may migrate, or move out of position, the microchip reader will be passed over the entire body of the pet in order to ensure that the chip will be detected if present.
Most, if not all, humane societies and animal shelters now have microchip readers, and routinely scan all stray and injured animals. Steps are being taken to standardize the readers and develop databases that can be readily accessed.
My dog always wears a collar with identification tags. Isn’t this enough?
Unfortunately, collars and tags can break, be lost or be removed. When the tags are new, they are easy to read. However, as they get old and worn, it can become challenging to make out all the information that is on them.
My dog has a tattoo already. Why should I microchip him?
Unfortunately, tattoos can be difficult to read. They are commonly placed in the flank area, where they can be obscured by hair. Even when they are in the ears, they can become faded over time. They can also be readily altered. Even when they are readable, the information about the pet and its owner can be difficult to obtain. Microchips cannot be easily misread, and the identification number is tamper-proof. The information about the pet and owner is usually readily retrievable.
If your dog persists in spitting out the pills or if dietary restrictions prevent you from hiding the pills in an appealing treat, you will need to administer the pill directly into your dog’s mouth.
Place your dog in a safe and comfortable area where it can be easily handled. Have the pill ready and easily accessible.
Make sure that you have carefully read the prescription label and understand the dosing instructions. Lubricate the pill with a very small amount of margarine or butter so that it doesn’t stick in the pets mouth or throat. Hold the pill between your thumb and index finger (use your dominant hand – for example, if you are right-handed, use your right hand).
Gently grasp your dog’s muzzle from above with your other hand, by placing your thumb on one side and your fingers on the other side behind the canine teeth.
Once you have a firm but gentle grip, tilt your dog’s head toward the ceiling. The lower jaw will usually drop open. If not, open the mouth by placing the last two fingers of the hand holding the pill between the two lower canine teeth and pushing downward.
Quickly place the pill as far back over the tongue as possible. The pill is most likely to be swallowed if you place it beyond the hump of the tongue at the back of the mouth. Try not to place your hand too far back to avoid stimulating a gag reflex.
Close the dog’s mouth and hold it closed while you return the head to a normal position. Gently rub the dog’s nose or throat, or blow lightly on the dog’s nose. This should stimulate swallowing. The dog will be most cooperative if this procedure is performed quickly, in one smooth motion. Make sure you give plenty of praise throughout the procedure and offer a treat or extra playtime after giving the medication. This will make the experience more positive and make it easier to give the medication the next time.
Prepare a safe place to handle your cat. Have the pill ready and in a place where it will be easily accessible. If you are administering the medication on your own, you may find it easiest to place your cat in your lap. You may need to have someone assist you in restraining your cat by wrapping it in a blanket or towel with only the head exposed. Make sure you have carefully read the label and understand the dosing instructions.
Lubricate or “grease” the pill with a very small amount of margarine or butter so it doesn’t stick in your cat’s mouth or throat and will be easier to swallow. This is very helpful with the administration of capsules.
Place your dog in a safe and comfortable area where it can be easily handled. Have the medication prepared and easily accessible. It is easiest to give liquid medication if you have a second person available to help you. Make sure you have carefully read the prescription label and understand the dosing instructions. Most liquid medications should be gently shaken or mixed prior to drawing them into the dosing syringe.
Gently pull your dog’s lip away from the teeth and create a “pouch” along the side of the mouth. Place the tip of the syringe in the side of the mouth, just behind one of the canine teeth and advance the syringe so that it is in the mouth just past the tooth line.
Slowly squeeze the syringe to dispense the liquid medication. Make sure you do this slowly so the dog has time to swallow the liquid and breathe normally.
Most dogs will spit out some of the medication. DO NOT re-medicate unless you are certain that NONE of the medication was taken.
Make sure you give your dog plenty of praise throughout the procedure and offer a treat or extra playtime after giving the medication. This will make the experience more positive and make it easier to give the medication the next time. Rinse the dropper or syringe thoroughly with water and refrigerate the remaining medication if necessary.
Prepare an area where you can safely handle your cat. Have the medication ready and in a place where it will be easily accessible. If you are administering the medication by yourself, you may find it easiest to place your cat in your lap. It may be advisable to restrain the cat by wrapping it in a blanket or towel with only its head exposed. The first few times, it may be helpful to have someone else hold the wrapped cat while you administer the medication. Make sure you have carefully read the prescription label and understand the dosing instructions. Verify that you are administering the correct drug and amount. Shake the medication gently if required prior to drawing the medication into the syringe or dropper.
Hold the syringe or dropper containing the medication with your dominant hand. First, allow the cat to lick the medication from the tip of the syringe as you slowly depress the plunger. The cat may accept the medication more readily if it is warmed to room temperature.
If your cat is not interested in licking the liquid, gently take the cat by the scruff of the neck and pull the head back. The mouth will then open slightly.
Place the tip of the syringe in the side of the mouth, just behind one of the canine (“fang”) teeth. Advance the syringe so it is placed in the mouth just inside of the teeth. Be sure to angle the syringe slightly to the side. You do not want to forcefully inject the liquid straight into the back of the throat. This can increase the risk of the cat inhaling or aspirating the liquid.
Slowly squeeze the syringe to dispense the liquid medication. Make sure you do this slowly so the cat has time to swallow the liquid and breathe. Most cats will spit out some of the medication. DO NOT re-medicate unless you are certain that NONE of the medication was taken.Rinse the syringe thoroughly with water and refrigerate the medication if necessary.
There are two bands of fibrous tissue called the cruciate ligaments in each knee joint. They join the femur and tibia (the bones above and below the knee joint) together so that the knee works as a hinged joint. They are called cruciate ligaments because they “cross over” inside the knee joint. One ligament connects from inside to outside the knee joint and the other outside to inside, crossing each other in the middle.
Humans have the same anatomical structure of the knee. Cruciate ligament rupture is a common knee injury of athletes. The term anterior cruciate is used to describe the identical anatomical structure in humans.
How does a cranial cruciate injury occur?
The knee joint is a hinged joint and only moves in one plane, backwards and forwards. Traumatic cruciate damage is caused by a twisting injury to the knee joint. This is most often seen in dogs and athletes when running and suddenly changing direction so that the majority of the weight is taken on this single joint. This injury usually affects the anterior or cranial (front) ligament. The joint is then unstable and causes extreme pain, often resulting in lameness.
The injury also occurs commonly in obese dogs, just by stumbling over a pebble while walking. A more chronic form of cruciate damage can occur due to weakening of the ligaments as a result of disease. The ligament may become stretched or partially torn and lameness may be only slight and intermittent. With continued use of the joint, the condition gradually gets worse until rupture occurs.
How is it diagnosed?
With traumatic cruciate rupture, the usual history is that the dog was running and suddenly stopped or cried out and was then unable to bear weight on the affected leg.
Is other joint damage common?
Inside the knee joint are pieces of cartilage called menisci. The menisci act as shock absorbers between the femur and tibia. Many times these cartilages are also damaged when the cruciate ligaments rupture. They are usually repaired at the same time as the ligament surgery.
Is an operation always necessary?
Dogs under 10 kgs (22 lbs.) may heal without surgery. These patients are often restricted to cage rest for two to six weeks. But many do not and all will develop serious arthritis. Dogs over 10 kgs (22 lbs.) usually require surgery to heal. Unfortunately, most dogs will eventually require surgery to correct this painful injury.
What does surgery involve?
There are various techniques available to replace the action of the cruciate ligaments. These surgeries most often involve the placement of artificial ligaments along the outside of the knee joint. There is a newer surgical technique available called tibial plateau leveling osteotomy (TPLO) that is especially beneficial for larger, more athletic dogs. Your veterinarian will discuss with you the best treatment option for your pet.
Is post-operative care difficult?
It is important that your dog have limited activity for six to eight weeks after surgery. Provided you are able to carry out your veterinarian’s instructions, good function should return to the limb within three months. Unfortunately, regardless of the technique used to stabilize the joint, arthritis is likely to develop in the joint as your dog ages. Weight control and nutritional supplements such as glucosamine / chondroitin may help delay the onset of arthritis in your pet. Many dogs will receive physical therapy after the surgery to speed recovery and reduce complications. Your veterinarian will discuss your pet’s recommended post-operative care with you prior to surgery.
Is obesity such a problem?
Obesity can result in cruciate ligament rupture. If your dog is overweight, the recovery time will be much longer. Obesity also increases the risk of injury to the other knee. Weight loss is as important as surgery in ensuring rapid return to normal function.
What causes a patellar luxation?
The muscles of the thigh attach to the top of the knee cap. There is a ligament, the patellar ligament, running from the bottom of the knee cap to a point on the tibia (the bone in the lower leg) just below the knee joint. When the thigh muscles contract, force is transmitted through the patella and patellar ligament to a point on the top of the tibia,. This results in extension or straightening of the knee. The patella stays in the center of the leg because the point of attachment of the patellar ligament is on the midline and because the patella slides in a groove on the lower end of the femur (the bone between the knee and the hip) called the trochlear groove.
The patella usually luxates because of one or both of two reasons. Firstly the groove that the patella sits in is too shallow so it does not have a “track” to ride in. Secondly the point of attachment of the patellar ligament may not on the midline of the tibia. It is almost always located too far medial (toward the middle of the body). As the thigh muscles contract, the force is pulled medially or to the inside of the knee. After several months or years of this abnormal movement, the inner side of the trochlear groove in the femur wears down. Once the side of the groove wears down, the patella is then free to dislocate. When this occurs, the dog has difficulty bearing weight on the leg. It may learn how to kick the leg and snap the patella back into its normal location. However, because the side of the groove is gone, it dislocates again easily.
Does a luxating patella cause any long-term problems for my dog?
Some dogs can tolerate this problem for many years, even for all of their lives. But ith advancing age, arthritic changes may take place in the joint, causing pain.
However, this weakness in the knee predisposes the knee to other injuries, especially torn cruciate ligaments. This is often the case when a dog that has tolerated a luxating patella for many years suddenly becomes lame.
Can a luxating patella be corrected?
Surgery should be performed if your dog has a persistent lameness or if other knee injuries occur secondary to the luxating patella.
Surgical repair can involve three steps: