Linda Ryder, D.V.M.

Helpful Tips

image 014 200 300Here you will find helpful tips from Dr. Ryder for your dog or cat.

Just as flowers and people are coming out and about, enjoying the nice weather, so are more and more dogs. People are taking their K9 companions for frequent walks, and out to public events like the farmer’s markets. It seems like a good time to offer a few reminders about dog bites, and more importantly, how to avoid them.

According to the AVMA, over 4.5 million people a year are bitten by dogs in the U.S. and more than 800,000 of them require medical attention. Children are the most common victims with more severe injuries. Dogs will bite if provoked, scared, or feel a need to be defensive (to protect their territory or their human family). So what should we do?

One resource available to us all is simply watching the dogs’ body language. Often dogs will bark or put their ears back to show they are concerned or worried. They might tuck their tails if they are frightened. By the time they growl or snarl, they are fervently expressing their desire to be avoided and therefore left alone--immediately.

To help children avoid dog bites, it’s wise to remind them: to leave dogs alone when they are sleeping or eating; never pull a dog’s tail or take their toys or treats; and to avoid agitating a pup by yelling, running, or hitting.

This advice truly applies to people of all ages.

Some breeds are generally more “friendly” than others, but the dog’s upbringing is the most essential factor. Like us all, they are creatures of their environments.

If you decide to approach a pup, first ask the owner for permission to pet the dog. Once given permission to introduce yourself, slowly offer the back of your hand to the pup as a form of handshake. If the dog sniffs, the pup may very well be your new friend. If the dog doesn’t seem interested, it might be best to smile and give the dog his or her own space or “safety zone.”

What’s the latest hot topic with pets?  I am afraid it’s the same issue with humans: obesity.

According to the Association for Pet Obesity, an estimated 59% of cats and 54% of dogs are overweight or obese.  Obesity is defined as weighing more than 20% above one’s ideal weight.  The good news is that this issue can typically be resolved with relative ease.  How?  I recommend a reduction in caloric intake as the first step in correction.  It’s easier to do for our pets than ourselves, of course, as they must accept the portions we deliver to them.  On the other hand, we can easily reach and repeatedly open the refrigerator door! (Smile) As a general rule, dry pet foods are higher in calories than wet foods.

We must take responsibility to avoid overfeeding our furry friends.  Consider the following chart derived from www.petobesityprevention.org:

DAILY CALORIC INTAKE NEEDS

WEIGHT/PET:                                     CALORIE RANGE:

10 lbs. of cat weight                          180-200 calories

10 lbs. of dog weight                         200-275 calories

In comparison, humans should consume an average of 2250 calories a day.

Your pet should have ribs that are easily felt and no sagging tummy!  Sometimes we get so accustomed to seeing our pets that we fail to notice weight gain in a timely manner.  It’s best to check your pet’s weight regularly and keep an eye on their physique.  Contact your vet if you need assistance. 

I was recently reading an article in the New York Times titled “Pets on Pot: The Newest Customer Base for Marijuana.” I always try to keep abreast of current trends in veterinary medicine, so I read further. I was skeptical, but want to always stay on top of treatment options.

The article revealed that while most states have NOT legalized marijuana for medical use, many states that have legalized its use (such as California) are applying the drug via edible oils to treat various medical symptoms in their pets. For example, the author discussed a 12 year- old cat that was treated with marijuana for arthritis. A medical card was used to obtain the pot oil.

Cannabis oil has also been used to treat seizures, swelling, pain, and anxiety. It is important to note, however, that the FDA has NOT yet approved the use of cannabis for pets. Limitations in research indicate that further study is needed.

I will comment further as research is presented. In the meanwhile, I will opt to use traditional treatments that I know are successful.

Most of my clients enjoy this kind of relationship with their pets. The U.S. Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook by the American Veterinary Medical Association states that 63.2% of pet owners consider their companion animals to be members of their family. Many researchers agree that human-animal interaction has a positive influence on the mental and physical health of both two and four-legged friends. Numerous studies have shown that quality time with pets results in lower bold pressure, calmer breathing, and decreased stress.

How do you feel when you are greeted by a wagging tail or a welcoming purr? There is just something about being around our furry friends that makes us smile instantly and feel so at peace.

One of the recent discoveries about pets in the military veteran population is that they help greatly with PTSD. Soldiers returning home from deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, for example, have experienced relief from war-related symptoms by interacting with cats and dogs.

Our pets can be more than friends; they can become cherished parts of our family.

Are Jerky treats safe for your dog and cat? Of course, not all Jerky treats are unsafe, but there has been a considerable volume of evidence recently that suggests an association with their consumption and illnesses such as salmonella. Not only is salmonella a risk to your pets, but it’s a risk to you as well. Pets have human-like symptoms including cramping, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. A routine sampling by the Colorado Department of Agriculture Feed Program recently found Woofers Dog Treats to be contaminated. The items were recalled.

According to the Animal Health Foundation, other kinds of treats were recently recalled as well and they include Nature’s Deli Chicken Jerky Treats, Yoghund Frozen Yogurt Dog Treats, and Boots and Barkley Pig Ears.
Should you suspect contamination in your pet’s treats, you may report a complaint to www.fda.gov. The Food and Drug Administration is the authority in such cases.

We wish you all happy holidays! To keep them happy, please consider the following tips:

  1. Snow Globes contain a highly toxic substance, ethylene glycol, that is like anti-freeze in our cars. This is very sweet and appealing to our pets. It may be fatal causing kidney failure. Place them cautiously in your home, out of reach of your pets.
  2. Various holiday foods such as chocolate, bread dough, and fruitcake are prevalent at this time of year. So is alcohol. All may cause illness when ingested. Keep all of these items out of paws' reach.
  3. You never know what's contained in wrapped presents or gift bags. Remember that pets have a much greater sense of smell than their humans. Be careful placing gifts under the tree and in other pet accessible places.
  4. Guests may bring their medications to your home and leave them out-- not realizing how deadly they may be to pets. Have your guests put their medications in a closed cabinet and take them in a bathroom where they may close the door so if one tablet is dropped, they can find it before your pet does. A list of the names, milligram strength, and number of pills from your guests is useful in an emergency situation.
  5. Salty treats are tempting for our pets. Salt can be found in holiday products such as dough ornaments, homemade treats, and ice melt. Be sure your pets avoid making contact with these dangerous items.

I often read the ASPCA website and found the above especially pertinent at this time of year. I wanted to share it accordingly. Should you have reason to believe your pet has been poisoned, call your vet immediately. If you are unable to reach your vet, you may call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center 24/7/365 at (888)426-4435.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

It’s that time of year when we’re wrapping packages and generously giving holiday treats to our beloved pets. But did you know that your pets actually prefer praise to treats? It’s true. Research reveals, such as in a recent article that was published in Science of Us, that “most dogs would take affection-verbal good boy or a belly rub-over food.”

A recent study in the Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Journal used an MRI scan. Dogs were put in a maze: some with food at the end; others with their owners at the end. Most dogs, with only a few exceptions, preferred their owners. Doesn’t that just feel good? So while I won’t discourage you from buying gifts for your pets during this holiday season, I will remind you to keep safety as the top criteria for gift selection. And remember, your pup would likely prefer your attention over anything you can find in a store, anyway.

Happy Holidays!

There are 10 most common human medications that are poisonous to pets:

a. Ibuprofen - Advil/Motrin - most common medication ingested by pets. These have a sweet outer coating that makes it appealing to pets. Ibuprofen can cause stomach ulcers and kidney failure.

b. Tramadol - Ultram - is a pain reliever. Your vet may prescribe it for your pet but only at a dose that's appropriate for your pet. Too much tramadol can cause sedation or agitation, wobbliness, disorientation, vomiting, tremors, and possibly seizures.

c. Alprazolam - Xanax - is an anti-anxiety medication and sleep-aid. Pets who ingest this medication may become sleepy and wobbly; however a few will become agitated instead. Often people leave them on their nightstand so they remember to take them. Large doses can lowere the blood pressure and could cause weakness or collapse.

d. Adderall - a combination of 4 different amphetamines and used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children. It acts as a stimulant in out pets and causes elevated heart rate and body temperature, along with hyperactivity, tremors, and seizures.

e. Zolpidem - Ambien - is a sleep-aid for people. Pets often eat pills left on the nightstand. This medication may make cats wobbly and sleepy, but most pets become agitated and develop elevated heart rates.

f. Clonazepam - Klonopin - used as an anti-convulsant and anti-anxiety medication and sometimes prescribed as a sleep-aid. When animals ingest clonazepam, they can become sleepy and wobbly but too much may cause low blood pressure, leading to weakness and collapse.

g. Acetaminophen _ Tylenol - is a very common pain killer. Cats are extremely sensitive to this medication but dogs can be affected also. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage. It may also cause damage to cat's red blood cells so that the cells are unable to carry oxygen.

h. Naproxen - Aleve, Naprosyn - over the counter pain reliever. Dogs and cats are very sensitive to naproxen and even small amounts can cause stomach ulcers and kidney failure.

i. Duloxetine - Cymbalta - prescribed as an anti-depressant and anti-anxiety agent. When ingested by pets it can cause agitation, vocalization, tremors, and seizures.

j. Venlafaxine - Effexor - is an anti-depressant for people. Cats love to eat the capsules. Ingestion may cause agitation, vocalization, tremors, and seizures.

Always keep human medications away from pets unless you are specifically instructed by a vet to give the medication.

*Information in this article was obtained from the American Veterinary Medical Association

Most clients do not realize that rabies vaccinations-- even for indoor cats-- is state law. Even an indoor cat can escape outdoors if a door is left open or there is a fire in the house. The main animals that get rabies include raccoons, skunks, foxes, and bats. Cats are more likely to be reported rabid in the US since they are often in close contact with both humans and wild animals. Bats, for example, can and often do get into homes through the attic or chimney. Their bites are so small that they are not visible on human skin and humans often do not even feel them. Animals can get bitten similarly. Children often report a bird in their bedroom when it is actually a bat. The bat should be captured alive or dead and the local animal control official notified. Please keep your cats-- whether indoor or outdoor-- current on their Rabies Vaccination.

*Information for this article was obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The fear and anxiety associated with noise is commonly called noise sensitivity or thunderstorm fear. Common triggers for fear are fireworks, thunder, celebrations, construction work, or traffic or street noise. If left untreated, noise aversion can progress resulting in an increased intensity of signs. There is a new FDA-approved treatment indicated for the treatment of this aversion. The drug is known as Sileo and is comes in a convenient gel-dosing syringe which is given orally to a dog. Please contact your vet to help your dog with this fear.

*Information for this article was obtained from Zoetis.

As Spring begins to show her lovely blooms, please remember to keep your dogs and cats away from lilies (any of the plants of the genus Lilium). Lilies are often poisonous and therefore potentially toxic to your pets. Lilies typically have bright colored, trumpet-shaped flowers. Ingestions can cause tremors, anorexia, gastrointestinal distress, and depression. If your dog or cat consumes lilies and these signs appear, immediately contact your pet care provider or an emergency clinic.

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