You are often times the best judge as to when your pet is not feeling well. Assuring your pet's daily well-being requires regular care and close attention to any hint of ill health.
The American Veterinary Medical Association therefore suggests that you consult your veterinarian if your pet shows any of the following signs:
Studies show that by age three, more than eighty percent of dogs and seventy percent of cats have experienced dental and/or gum disease. Bad breath could be an early warning sign of gingivitis, which leads to dangerous periodontal disease.Prevention is the key to helping pets maintain good oral health.
The American Veterinary Dental Society recommends that pet owners follow three important steps:
We must vaccinate our pets to protect them from several highly contagious and fatal diseases. Experts agree that widespread use of vaccines within the last century has prevented death and disease in millions of animals.
Young puppies and kittens are highly susceptible to infectious diseases as their natural immunity acquired through their mother's milk gradually wears off. For the first few months of life, animals should receive a series of vaccinations, usually 3-4 weeks apart, to decrease the risk of infection and to provide optimal protection against disease. Our veterinarians typically administer the final vaccine of the series to 16-week-old puppies and 12-week-old kittens and ferrets.
Traditionally, annual vaccinations were considered normal and necessary for dogs and cats. Through medical advancement, veterinarians have learned more about vaccines and their effect on immune systems; there is increasing evidence that the immunity triggered by some vaccines may provide protection beyond one year. However, other vaccines may fail to stimulate immunity for a full year, depending on exposure risks. Therefore, your veterinarian will tailor a vaccination program specifically for your pet to help maintain a lifetime of infectious disease protection.
Most pets respond well to vaccines, although some do experience adverse reactions. Usually, these reactions are mild and short-term; symptoms include fever, sluggishness, reduced appetite, swelling, and pain at the injection site. Vaccination is not without risk; however, failure to vaccinate leaves your pet vulnerable to lethal, preventable diseases.
Internal Parasites such as roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, whipworms, and heartworms can live inside your pet, rob your animal of vital nutrients, and cause organ disease. This may lead to abnormal symptoms, poor appetite, decreased energy, failure to thrive, serious anemia, organ failure, and even death. Puppies and kittens are especially susceptible to parasite infestation; however, this can be controlled, treated, and prevented.A fecal analysis or blood test may help diagnosis a parasite problem. Some parasites are transmissible to humans, especially children. Your veterinarian can discuss an appropriate, strategic internal parasite prevention program to protect the entire family.
External parasites include those pesky fleas, ticks, lice, or mites, among others. Some can be rather obvious, while others need a microscope for diagnosis.
Fleas are acrobatic pests that jump onto dogs, cats, and even humans. The development of the flea from egg to adult ranges from 14 to 140 days; our cooler Vermont weather extends the life cycle. If you see fleas on your pet, please consult with your veterinarian.There are many flea treatments and preventatives available; they range in effectiveness and some can be lethal. Before beginning any treatment, you should call your veterinarian's office and if it is okay to use, you should take care to follow the instructions exactly. Environmental treatment is an essential part of flea control. Regular, thorough vacuuming and frequent laundering helps to remove eggs, larvae, and pupae from the surroundings. If left untreated, fleas can cause severe skin infections, anemia, tapeworms, and uncomfortable stress.
Ticks, including the tick that transmits Lyme Disease, populate Vermont heavily. Ticks will attach to your pet for days, yet they can be difficult to see at first due to their small size. Ticks can transmit several different diseases. Check your pet daily for ticks or use a tick preventative that your veterinarian recommends. There are many tick treatments and preventatives available; they range in effectiveness and some can be lethal. Before beginning any treatment, you should call your veterinarian's office and if it is okay to use, you should take care to follow the instructions exactly. If you find a tick, consult with your veterinarian for removal, or remove it yourself correctly. It is important not to leave any part of the tick behind, especially the mouthparts. To remove a tick, use a special tick remover device or small tweezers; firmly grip the tick's mouth parts as close to the skin as possible and pull it out straight. You can clean the skin with hydrogen peroxide. Immerse the tick in alcohol to kill it. Save the tick in the alcohol and mark the date you removed it in the event clinical signs of disease occur and identification of the tick becomes necessary. If you notice fever, lameness, lethargy, or anything else unusual or abnormal, please make an appointment with your veterinarian. At Milton Veterinary Hospital, we offer Lyme Disease and Ehrlichia testing with the Heartworm test so we can screen your dog for these serious diseases transmitted by ticks.
Lice are species specific, which means they will not live on any type of animal, including humans, other than the species of animal they are currently residing. There are two kinds of lice: bloodsucking lice and chewing lice. With some practice, you can usually see lice with visual inspection. Lice are well-adapted parasites that are usually more of a nuisance than a threat to their hosts; it takes a large population of lice to drain the vitality of the animal they parasitize. If you examine your pet's hair coat frequently, you should be able to identify a concern and see your veterinarian for treatment before a major problem develops.
Mites are microscopic creatures that live deep within the animal's skin and ears. You cannot see most mites with the naked eye, but they can cause many irritating problems, including mange and ear infections. The most common presentation of an animal infected with mites is intense itchiness. You may also see hair loss, ear debris or discharge, and red, inflamed skin. Humans and other animals may pick up some types of mites; however, there are also mites that are not contagious. These non-contagious mites may indicate an underlying immune problem with your pet. Your veterinarian will need to identify and treat mite infestations.
The Vermont Department of Health provides an excellant fact sheet concerning rabies. Click (here) to access their website.
Heart disease in dogs, as in people, can be either present at birth or acquired, often
developing during middle age. Acquired heart disease is more common, affecting many older dogs.
Chronic Renal Failure:
Kidney disease in dogs occurs when the kidneys cannot adequately clear the blood of
certain toxins. Chronic renal failure, or CRF, is a serious disease usually seen in older dogs.
The most commonly observed signs of this disease are polydipsia (increased water intake), and
polyuria (frequent urination)A diagnosis of chronic renal failure requires a physical exam and
various laboratory tests. Chronic renal failure usually is caused by the normal aging process,
due to the declining function of the kidneys with time.
Diabetes mellitus is often called “sugar diabetes” and it comes in two
types. Type 1 diabetes
is caused by the insufficient production by the pancreas of the hormone
known as insulin. Type 2 diabetes
is a result of an inadequate response by the dog to insulin. High blood
sugar levels (hyperglycemia) develop because the animal’s (and humans)
body is unable to break down and use glucose properly. This inability
causes sugar to appear in the urine (glucosuria) that in turn
causes an excessive amount of urination (polyuria). To compensate
for the increase in urination the dog must drink an excessive amount
(polydipsia). Another common side effect of
diabetes mellitus is weight loss in a dog that has maintained a good
or even increased appetite. Although excessive
drinking and urination are
the most common symptoms, they are in no way the only ones. In addition
to the weight loss, dogs can also develop signs
of poor skin and hair coat, liver disease, vomiting, weakness in the
rear legs (diabetic neuropathy), secondary
bacterial infections and dehydration. They can also develop a life
threatening condition known as ketoacidosis. A dog whose diabetes
is not regulated will often become blind or have
kidney problems develop as well. To diagnosis diabetes a veterinarian
will first do a physical exam, and then run a number of blood and urine
The life cycle of the
heartworm begins when an infected dog, carrying tiny immature heartworms (microfilariae) circulating
in its blood, is bitten by a mosquito. The mosquito takes in microfilariae (larvae) when it feeds.
CANINE DISTEMPER - is considered the most serious viral disease of dogs in the world. Approximately
50% of non-vaccinated,non-immunized dogs infected with CD virus develop clinical signs of
disease and approximately 90% of those dogs infected with CD die. The disease is considered
airborne and is highly contagious. It's more frequent and acutely affects pups under 3 months
of age. Early clinical signs include anorexia, diarrhea, and dehydration. As the disease
progresses, fever, depression, vomiting and bloody diarrhea may be observed, accompanied
by signsof respiratory distress. Coughing, labored breathing, inflammation of tissues
around the eyes and nose, and mucopurulent oculonasal discharge may occur.
Also known as feline distemper, feline panleukopenia is a highly contagious
viral disease that occurs wherever there are cats. Cats at any age may be stricken. Young kittens,
sick cats, and cats that have not been adequately immunized are most susceptible.
Feline Leukemia Virus:
Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) is a usually fatal disease affecting the cat's immune system. This
increases susceptibility to other disease in addition to causing leukemia. Signs of feline leukemia
virus include weight loss, recurring or chronic illness, lethargy, fever, diarrhea, unusual
breathing patterns, and a yellow color around the mouth and the whites of the eyes.
Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Feline Calicivirus, and Feline
Pneumonitis are all diseases of the respiratory tract of cats. Infected animals are highly
contagious to other cats and may show either acute or chronic respiratory signs.
Basic First Aid:
A sick or injured animal is often in a frightened state, so if emergency first aid is necessary protect yourself (even if it's your own pet); cats can be handled with gloves or wrapped in a blanket - a dog can be muzzled. If there's any question of seriousness, follow up your first aid with advice from your veterinarian, whose listing should be kept handy with other emergency phone numbers. Of course, before an emergency ever arises, it's a good idea to learn all you can about first aid techniques and pet health care. Never leave dangerous objects like pins, needles, or fish hooks within reach. And be well aware of your pet's normal behavior, so you can recognize what's not normal. Remember that the objective is to relieve suffering . . . perhaps even to save a life. Emergency first aid is most effective when rendered quickly, but calmly.
"Keep your veterinarian's telephone number handy with other emergency phone numbers."
Family pets (and all animals) risk all kinds of poisoning from all kinds of places. Snakes can poison;
some plants can poison; and hundreds of poisonous materials are used around the home by people every
day — things like pesticides, weed killers, lawn sprays, acids, fertilizers, paints . . . the list is endless.
Heatstroke may kill or seriously injure your pet — but it can easily be avoided.
As a loving pet owner, you'd do anything to prevent your cat or dog
from suffering. After all, they're part of the family. Yet every
year when flea season begins, the suffering sets in. It's like an
old broken record. Fleas bite, and the scratching and chewing starts
again. It's a painful and irritating routine for you and your pet.
But that's just the beginning.
Winter Tips: A "PAWS
for PETS" Feature by: Gail C. Golab, DVM, PhD.
It is best to keep pets indoors during the winter months, but if this is not possible, outdoor pets must be provided with shelter. Their home should be elevated off the ground to prevent moisture accumulation and have a door of some kind to keep out winter winds, sleet, and snow. Shelters should be insulated or heated. Water sources may be heated to permit constant access to unfrozen water; thermal units designed specifically for this purpose are readily available. Outdoor pets require extra calories to keep warm feed your pet according to its needs when the temperature drops. In severely cold or inclement weather, no pet should be kept outside. Indoor pets should have sleeping quarters in a draft-free, warm area with their bed or mattress elevated slightly off the floor.
Roaming cats, as well as house pets and wildlife, may climb onto vehicle engines for warmth during cold weather. Be sure to check under the hood before starting your vehicle and honk the horn to startle any animals seeking shelter inside.
Frostbite and snow removal salt:
Snow and salt should be removed from your pets paws immediately. Frostbitten skin is red or gray and may slough. Apply warm, moist towels to thaw out frostbitten areas slowly until the skin appears flushed. Contact your veterinarian as soon as possible for further care. Snow removal products should be stored out of the reach of pets and small children as their toxicity varies considerably.
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