A word from our doctors and staff

 

Current Article: Monitoring your pet at home

Knowing how to monitor your pets health is the first step to keeping them happy and healthy. Oftentimes knowing what to watch for can help provide important information if you need to take your pet to the vet.

Most pet owners know the obvious signs of sickness, such as vomiting or diarrhea, but there are also more subtle signs that can be very important in providing information. A pet's eating and drinking habits are usually a good meter on how your pet is doing. We recommend meal feeding for dogs and cats, so that way if your pet is not eating you will know as soon as possible. Changes in appetite can sometimes be indicative of GI upsets, cramps, or nausea. Water intake is very important as well. Try to keep track of how often you have to fill the water dish or how much you put in it. If your pet seems to be drinking more or less, it may be the start of a problem. If your pet is not drinking enough for any reason they can become dehydrated. In addition, if your pet drinks more often or a larger amount this could be the start of urinary or kidney problems. As unappealing as it sounds, monitoring our pets bowel movements and urination are very important. Any changes in stool should be noted. This means firmness, color, smell, texture, and sometimes content (bird seed, grass, etc). Urine changes should be monitored by color, odor, quantity, and frequency. In both cases, straining with nothing happening has the potential of being a serious problem.

Sometimes it can be difficult to evaluate certain vital signs at the vet clinic due to stress, excitement, or fear. You can help your veterinarian by knowing some things ahead of time. Heart rate and respiratory rate are both things that can change drastically if a pet is excited or stressed. To take your pet's heart rate, place your hand mid-way down your pets chest. Once you feel the heart beat, count the number of beats for 15 seconds, then multiply by 4. You can use this same technique to find respiratory rate, by moving your hand a little higher on the chest or simply by watching the breaths they take. Normal heart rate is 100-160 beats per minute for smaller breeds, 60-100 for larger breeds, and 160-220 for cats. Respiratory rates should be 10-30 breaths per minute for dogs and 20-30 for cats. Temperature is another vital sign that can sometimes be affected, especially if the pet seems fearful on the ride to the vet's office. You may have heard us before refer to it as a "car ride" fever, meaning that your pet's temperature was probably high just from the stress of coming in. Just like you have most likely seen us take your pet's temperature before, the most accurate reading is done rectally. For this your pet will need its own thermometer. We recommend labeling it clearly "pet", so you know it is only to be used for that reason. When taking your pet's temperature, having another person to help is ideal and the use of a lubricant (such as KY Jelly) will help make it a little less uncomfortable. Normal temperature is between 100-103 degrees F.

If you notice any of these changes in your pet, it is important to make note of them and let your vet know. Small changes may not always require a trip to the vet, but if you do end up in the exam room, knowing the details can truly make a difference in the treatment and outcome of your pet's health.

August is Dental Health Month and there is no better time to discuss your pet's dental health than now. Did you know that dogs and cats can start showing signs of dental disease as early as 3 years old? This includes bad breath, tooth loss, painful or bleeding gums, drooling, and the presence of tartar.

Dental health is an important indicator of overall wellness. Your pet's mouth is where nutrition starts and even a minor problem can cause discomfort and health problems. Keeping your pet healthy from top to bottom is important in providing a long and happy life. It's easy to keep your best friend smiling by taking just a few minutes out of the day to brush, rinse, or give them a chew.

Daily brushing with pet approved toothpaste and a toothbrush is the best method of ensuring good dental health. Pet approved toothpaste is safe to swallow and can be found at most stores that sell pet supplies. We also recommend oral rinses such as C.E.T. Oral Hygiene Rinse to provide effective plaque control and help freshen your pet's breath without brushing. For those pets that are known to be difficult, using a water or food additive, such as VetriScience Perio Support or C.E.T. Aquadent, is a great way to get the job done with little hassle. Giving your dog a treat such as a dental chew or real bone helps remove plaque and can prevent it from building up as well. We carry C.E.T. HEXtra chews.

Doing the above actions will help prevent plaque and gingivitis. Most pets will still need dental cleaning under anesthesia, but maintaining your pet's dental hygiene should prolong the time between cleanings. Please talk to our staff about recommendations for your pet's specific needs.