Feline Leukemia, Doggy Diabetes and Much More!

Emergency Care Tips for Hurt Pets
Moberly Monitor-Index

One of the most distressing events for pet owners to encounter is witnessing their pet being injured in a road traffic accident, or some other type of mishap that causes injury.

When your pet does become injured, here are some tips from HomeoPet to increase your pet’s chance of a speedy recovery:

1. Get your pet out of harm’s way. If your pet was involved in a road traffic accident, move the animal to the side of the road, using slow, deliberate movements. You don’t want to scare the already frightened animal or worsen any injuries that your pet may have suffered.

2. Call a veterinarian. Add your veterinarian’s telephone number into your cell phone speed dial in case of an emergency, or if you are traveling, the number of a local veterinarian. Do not administer fluids or food to the animal in case of an anesthetic is needed, unless instructed by the veterinarian, as in the case of a diabetic with low blood sugar.

3. Stop any bleeding. To stop heavy bleeding, apply firm pressure with a clean towel or cloth. This is usually better than a tourniquet, which can lead to tissue death from lack of oxygen. To stop a graze bleeding, apply powdered pepper or turmeric, which are easily available and wonderful clotting agents.

4. If an injured animal feels icy cold due to shock, wrap a plastic bottle filled with warmed water in a towel to avoid burning or overheating the animal. Never put a hot water bottle directly against the animal. The animal can also be wrapped in insulating material such as a rug, a thermal blanket, or even bubble wrap. If an animal is in shock, a quiet, dimly lit space can be helpful.

5. When a pet has been badly injured and is not easily handled due to pain, use a large rug to transport dogs, or a cage (or box) lined with a towel for small pets such as cats, rabbits or hamsters.
If you suspect fractures, a board can be used like a stretcher. Remember, even the most friendly pet may bite when in pain.
A thick towel wrapped around your arm and hands can help. A tie or soft rope can be used as an emergency muzzle or leash.

6. Clean wounds can be washed with calendula herbal tincture (available at most health food stores), 10-20 drops in tepid water. Infected wounds can be safely cleaned with tepid salt water. Use as much salt as will dissolve in water.

7. Always carry a tube of healing cream for external application onto wounds, cuts, bruises, burns and bites, as well as a first aid kit for internal use for shock, sprains, injury and swelling.

For more information on HomeoPet, or to view case studies visit www.homeopetpro.com
Established in 1994, HomeoPet has become the leading source for advanced homeopathic pharmaceuticals in the veterinary field, with products sold in over 3,000 veterinary clinics, and is now available in eight countries around the world.

Pet Friendly Hotels: Great People PR
by Carrol Van Stone, Publicity Examiner

Pet friendly, pets allowed, and pets welcome at The Topaz Hotel, a property of the Kimpton Hotel chain, is an example of what traveling with your pet should be everywhere. First of all, pets are free. No extra charges by the night and no insulting upfront pet-potential-damage deposits. Clearly, at the Topaz Hotel they realize that if we are choosing to travel with our pets it is because they are well behaved. And, it follows that people guests have the same chance of breaking or damaging something as pet guests – so if the human isn’t getting charged an upfront potential-damage deposit then why should the pet? Other pet-friendly hotel chains not only charge you the insulting fees but place you in a designated “pet-room” which is code for a smoke-saturated, non-renovated room overlooking the trash container. This is not the case at Kimpton, where with or without a pet, your room is assigned based on your preferences of floor, location by elevator, size bed, etc.

As guests at the Washington, DC hotel, Topaz, we were "invited" rather than "permitted" to move about the lobby, hallways, front entrance and lounge with our dog. He was considered a guest of the hotel and as important as me and my husband. Greetings and courtesies were offered to the 3 of us by the charming staff we met including Katie Howe, Gwyan Moses, Justin Blau and Nikki Britt.

This was our second experience at a Kimpton Hotel. Last year we stayed at the Hotel Madera, also in Washington, D.C., which was also a very positive stay. We know that all of Kimpton's nearly 50 hotels across the U.S. and Canada welcome and pamper pets for no additional charge. The chain understands it is about respecting the needs of all guests, including the four-legged variety. They provide welcome treats and in-room bowls, beds, toys and pooper scooper bags for furry friends, many Kimpton hotels offer additional pet services and amenities, such as pet psychics at the Hotel Monaco in Portland, or spa services like the "Hers and Furs Pet-icures" offered at The Muse Hotel in New York City. Several Kimpton hotels even have canine “Directors of Pet Relations” that helm the concierge desk, offering suggestions for pet friendly shopping and restaurants, pet sitting and walking and grooming services.

More than just public relations -- this PR is pet relations and it is fabulous!

Tips for Trimming Dog Nails, Part 1
by Kristina Murphy, Baltimore Pet Grooming Examiner

During winter months, our dog’s feet require extra attention as we spend more time indoors. The absence of outdoor activity allows dog nails to grow longer, faster. As nail length impacts health and comfort, we should ensure proper nail length for our dogs.

The mere thought of clipping dog nails sends many dog owners into gut-wrenching spasms of panic. “No,” they shriek, “I’m afraid I’ll hurt him!” It’s understandable. People fear they might trim the nail too far or shatter Fido’s trust. Who wants to be The Bad Guy? Nobody does, yet nail trimming is not so bad when properly approached. Educate yourself on nail anatomy, tips and techniques to provide this necessary service for your dog. If you cannot muster the confidence, please schedule regular visits with your groomer or veterinarian for routine trimming. If you can, the following suggestions should ease the process.

Calm Down …more…a little more…breathe…okay, that’s better.

Dogs sense our moods and energy levels. To say a dog smells fear is not farfetched. When we exhibit signs of anxiety, dogs lose trust in us. When this happens, some dogs attempt domination or resort to aggression. You don’t want a shaky, sweaty person with clippers coming after your nails, nor does your dog. Display a calm, confident demeanor and he should reciprocate.

Tip: Carry a boring conversation with someone else while clipping dog nails. This calms you as you focus on each nail and simultaneously distracts the dog.

Study Nail Anatomy

Dog claws differ from human fingernails- the outer layer of a dog nail encompasses an inner layer of nerves and blood vessels, called a quick. Therefore, trimming dog nails differs from trimming our own. View pictures for visual identification of dog nail anatomy and methods.

Create a Positive Association

Routinely handle your pet’s feet (preferably beginning at a young age) - pet them, rub them, massage them. Many dogs become over-protective of their paws, which causes extra difficulty trimming nails.

Introduce new tools (clippers, brushes) before use- allow your dog to sniff away at them and pet him while holding the tool in your hand. Familiarize him with the tool against his body. Gently touch his paws with the clippers and praise him for remaining calm.

Find a Comfortable Position

You can crouch down on the floor to trim nails, but it’s easier when the dog is elevated. So, how tall is your kitchen counter? Ok, so you don’t have to put him on the counter, but consider your coffee table. If your dog is small, it’s sometimes helpful to have another person hold him. If your dog isn’t happy handing over his paw, try laying him on his side for better access. Do not restrain him, as this will cause extra struggling (dangerous!) and create a negative association.

Tip ‘em, Don’t Chop ‘em

We cannot cut dog nails to desired length as we can with our own. When routinely managed, you should only need to clip the very tip from the nail. If your dog has white nails, you’re in luck! Take a close look and you will find a pinkish tint beneath the nail- this is the quick, which you want to avoid. If your dog has black nails, don’t panic, clip the tips and remain in the safety zone.

Angle the clippers slightly right when clipping. Generally, quality scissor and guillotine trimmers are the best tool for the job. Inexpensive trimmers found in department stores usually lack strength and quickly dull. Use a file or nail grinder to smooth edges if you wish. If you use a grinder, tap the nail against the grinder; do not hold the nail until it files down to size. Use caution, it is possible to hit the quick with a grinder.

Look at the bottom of each nail you trim. When you see a grey to pink oval forming in the center- stop- this is the furthest you can trim without cutting the quick. The quick grows longer as nails grow, so you want to maintain a good length. As the dog’s nails wear down from routine light trimming or walking on pavement, the quick will begin to recede.

If your dog’s nails are severely overgrown, please consult a veterinarian for proper course of action.

Be Prepared

Accidents happen. Even the most experienced groomers have cut into the quick of a nail. If you trim your own dog’s nails, you should have styptic powder on hand to stop a quick from bleeding. If this happens, remain calm. There will be blood, but it is not a life or death emergency. Styptic powder immediately stops the bleeding and the nail will heal. Familiarize yourself with the instructions and follow them promptly if this happens.

Safety First

If you don’t feel comfortable with clipping nails, for any reason, leave it to a professional and do so often.

For Valentine's, Spay or Neuter Your Furry Friend
By Paulette Keller, Special to the Times

Valentine's Day reminds us of the joy of relationships — with each other and our pets.

About 9 million pets will receive gifts on the 14th. But maybe a better way to show our love for our pets would be to spay or neuter them. February is Spay/Neuter Month, so let's dispel common excuses and myths. Cats are our most popular pet, but the most common one found in shelters, so we will focus on them, but the ideas work for dogs, too.

Overweight (fat and lazy): The obesity epidemic is not due to a lack of hormones — theirs or yours. Cats and their humans are overweight for two reasons: too much of the wrong kind of food and too little activity. Buy good quality food with higher protein and fewer carbs, purchase a few toys and play, play, play. Both of you will feel, and look, better.

Identity crisis: Our pets don't sit around all day wondering if they are manly or feminine, hip or dull. They don't need motherhood to be fulfilled or testosterone to be top cat. These are human concepts; let them go!

Health concerns: Spayed and neutered cats are healthier. Healthier pets cost less. They are less likely to want to roam and fight. They have less risk of certain diseases, especially cancers.

Personality: Our pet's basic personality stays the same. Behavior, however, can markedly improve. Spraying and marking, howling and trying to escape to the great outdoors are all behaviors that tend to decrease after spaying or neutering.

Age: Young or old, kitten or geriatric, our cats can be spayed or neutered at virtually any age.

Better behaviors, lower risk of serious injuries and illnesses, longer lives. Sounds attractive, doesn't it? Love is more than a food bowl. Give them a longer "leash" on life.

During the month of February, SPCA Tampa Bay is the referral source for participating spay/neuter programs, including its own program for pets of people on limited income. For information, call (727) 586-3591 or visit www.SPCATampaBay.org.

Paulette Keller is an SPCA Tampa Bay volunteer. To submit a question, e-mail northpin@sptimes.com or mail to 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756. Photos will be used as space allows and cannot be returned.

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Hints From Heloise
Washington Post

Pets With a Chip

Dear Heloise: I have both of my dogs, some of my cats and my horses MICROCHIPPED. The dogs wear collars with only my cell-phone number and the word "microchipped." In the event that your animal has not been chipped, I strongly urge you to get it done. By putting the microchip tag on an animal's collar, that gives instant access to the animal's ID number, owner's name, etc. I love my animals and have taken steps to ensure that they remain mine. -- Brooke Dahart from Texas

Brooke, our Cabbie (a silver mini schnauzer) agrees! Many a beloved pet has returned safely home because of that little chip! -- Heloise


Dear Readers: Do you have a new kitty in the household? Start litter-box training right away. Place your pet in the litter box the minute you notice kitty sniffing for a place to go. Push some of the litter around using a paw so kitty will know that's the place to go.

If your cat doesn't make it to the litter box in time, use a paper towel to clean it up, and take kitty and paper towel to the litter box so the scent is associated with the litter.

Accidents do happen, so be ready to follow the same procedure each time. Soon kitty will learn that this is the place to go. Be sure to praise your pet for using the litter box. If you get angry when there is an accident, kitty will learn to go to the bathroom when you are not around! -- Heloise


Dear Readers: Terri Jean Kuss of Wanatah, Ind., sent a photo of 10-year-old cat Cuddles snuggled in the blankets in the blanket basket. It's her way of saying, "Turn up the heat!" To see Cuddles, visit www.Heloise.com. -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: Several years ago when we took in an abandoned and starved kitten, it became apparent that she needed a special name. Her exotic lynx-point Siamese markings and regal manner inevitably had visitors bowing and exclaiming, "What a lovely kitty!" A queen indeed. We thought about naming her Neferkitty (after Nefertiti) but named her Cleocatra and call her Cleo for short. -- Bonnie B. Zediker of Billings, Mont.

Scratch Cleo and tell her that no matter the name, she's a lucky dame! Here's another cute-as-a-kitten name. Angie H. of Madison, Ala., says: "My cousin had a cat named Peanut Butter. When she had kittens, my cousin kept one of kittens and named it Jelly!"

-- Heloise


Dear Heloise: My whippet, Sophie, gets really cold in the winter, so I use an old flannel sheet in her bed. One cold night, I put the sheet in the dryer for five minutes before putting it in her bed. She jumped in, snuggled down and went right to sleep. We've started a nightly winter ritual. -- Patti, via e-mail

Preventing the Spread of Cat Leukemia

Cat owners who educate themselves about the feline leukemia virus (FeLV) can help prevent the spread of this incurable though treatable disease.

Statistics show that about 2 percent of all cats in the United States are infected with feline leukemia, which is responsible for more cat deaths than any other infectious disease. Males are almost twice as likely to contract the disease, as are outdoor cats. The virus is not transmittable to humans.

"There is no cure for feline leukemia," says Dr. Deb Gehrke, founder of Pet Partners, a low-cost spay and neuter clinic based in Fall River. Symptoms of the disease include poor appetite, unusual weight loss and anemia. Infected kittens and cats may also exhibit low-grade fever and mild signs of discomfort.

FeLV usually spreads through infected saliva, but can also be transmitted through infected urine, tears or feces, and passed from an infected mother to her kittens during gestation and nursing. The virus can also be transmitted via shared litter boxes, food dishes and water bowls in multi-cat households.

"If a cat tests positive, you don't have to put it to sleep," Dr. Gehrke advises. "Keep it isolated from other cats."

The respected veterinarian, a graduate of Perdue University's School of Veterinary Medicine, adds that infected cats can be treated with antibiotics, for secondary bacterial infections, as well as prescription drugs to help protect the animal's already compromised immune system. Some veterinarians also prescribe diet supplements, blood transfusions and, for cats that develop tumors, chemotherapy.

Dr. Gehrke says that "prevention is key" to protecting cats from feline leukemia. While vaccinations aren't 100 percent effective, they are the best option to combatting the spread of the disease.

She emphasizes that it's important for kittens to be vaccinated at nine or 10 weeks of age, again three to four weeks later, and then annually. Cats also should be vaccinated against rabies and distemper.

"An animal should be examined once a year, or twice a year if they are elderly," Dr. Gehrke advises. "A cat ages five to seven years for every one of our years. A lot can happen in that time period."

The veterinarian warns owners to take precautions before introducing a new feline into a multi-cat household.

"Get a new cat tested immediately," she urges. "Be aware of the status of each new cat coming into your life." A cat whose medical history is unknown should always be kept in isolation before any test results are confirmed.

The prognosis for infected cats varies considerably, depending on the animal. About 70 percent of cats that are infected with FeLV develop immunity and are able to resist the virus before developing symptoms.

The remaining 30 percent are termed "persistently viremic" and may live months or years with the disease.

Cats with feline leukemia need to be kept indoors in a comfortable, stress-free environment. If an infected cat is allowed to roam outdoors or comes into contact with another animal, it could contract additional viruses that could compromise its already weakened immune system.

Experts also advise owners to wait several weeks before bringing a new cat into a home after the death of an infected cat. Floors should be washed and disinfected with a bleach solution and rugs should be thoroughly vacuumed.

Diane East of Habitat for Cats in New Bedford agrees with Dr. Gehrke that a diagnosis of feline leukemia is no longer a death sentence.

"In the old days, if we picked up a cat or kitten that tested positive for feline leukemia, we would automatically have put it to sleep," she says. "But now, if the animal appears healthy, we hold on to it and retest the kitty every three months, because we are finding that some have retested negative."

"Obviously, during the time the animal tests positive, we have to keep it separate from our other cats, which is difficult in a shelter situation," she says.

"We have been fairly successful in adopting out feline-leukemia-positive kittens and cats to people who we know are educated about the disease, who don't have other cats and who are emotionally capable of dealing with a cat that could potentially become sick and die."

Swansea resident Brian J. Lowney has been writing about pets for more than a decade. He is a past president of the Wampanoag Kennel Club, an active dog show judge and shares his home with two shelter-adopted cats. All of Brian's columns are available online in our new pet section. Visit http://pets.SouthCoastToday.com.

43 Cats, 39 Birds, 1 Big Problem

The Pima Animal Care Center is dealing with another case of animal hoarding. On Thursday afternoon, 39 birds and 43 cats were removed from a home on the southwest side.

The humane society assisted Pima Animal Care by taking of the birds.

"Cockatiels, parakeets, finches, one lonely love bird, and a chicken outside," says Sheena Stewart is with the Humane Society. "A lot of them came in really bad health, from bad environment, stress, a lot of them missing feathers, missing toe nails. A couple of the finches had to be put down. They had broken legs. They were either deformed or broken."

The Pima Animal Care Center is still investigating.

Spokeswoman Jayne Cundy says, "The owner of the animals signed them over to us and we asked the humane society if they could take the birds and they very kindly did so for us."

Of the cats, all but one had to be euthanized.

Cundy says, "Some were thin, covered in fleas, gingivitis, and their eyes were closed shut. They were pretty bad."

So far, no citations have been issued to the owner of the animals.

Cundy adds, "We have allowed one cat and two dogs to remain on the property, but that's going to be pending an inclusive of a follow up from one of our officers."

The Humane Society plans to put a majority of the birds up for adoption sometime next week. For adoption information you can call 520-327-6088.

Higher Costs Taking Toll on Pet Owners

A few weeks ago I offered some suggestions about how to economize on pet food costs without diminishing the nutritional quality of the pet's food.

Since then, figures have been released confirming the increase in pet food costs was not in your imagination.

We now know that the cost of pet foods have increased 14 percent since the start of 2008. As you will have noticed, some foods increased a good bit more than 14 percent, and a few have stayed close to their earlier prices.

So — how does this increase in cost impact pet ownership? Less than you might have thought, at least for dog owners.

According to a recent survey conducted on the American Kennel Club website, 51 percent of respondents stated that the current economic downturn will have absolutely no effect on their dogs. But 18 percent said that they would delay the purchase of another dog; 11 percent will delay regular grooming appointments; 10 percent will delay routine medical care and 11 percent are buying less costly food or treats.

A few food manufacturers have noted an increase in sales of grocery store brands and a concomitant decrease in sales of some premium foods.

I suspect that even more owners would seek less-costly foods if they were not worried about the dangers of foods that use products from China. Based on fear of food-based illness or even death of their pet, many are sticking with premium foods even though the cost may be a stretch.

That 10 percent plan to delay regular medical care is very worrying, but those other responses seem to confirm that the majority of pet owners will sacrifice in other areas before they will abandon their pets or cause the animal to suffer from need of any necessary care.

As evidence of this — Wal-Mart stores recently has increased pet food displays, advertising and shelf space. Why? Because pet products are second only to baby products in their sales figures.

As one of my New Jersey friends likes to say — "SUCH A DEAL!" The AKC now publishes a bi-monthly magazine, "The Family Dog," that is crammed full of really useful and entertaining information for anyone who lives with a dog. The most recent issue contains articles ranging from training and behavior tips to how to give medications to a dog, grooming tips for those who "do it yourself," and a rundown on the best doggy TV.

The good deal aspect is that this magazine will cost you only $9.95 for a one-year subscription (6 issues) or $15.95 for two years. Subscriptions can be ordered by phone at 1-800-490-5675 or on the web at www.akc.org/pubs. Can't beat this deal!

Pet dogs and chubby children: Is there a connection? Many have believed that children and dogs just naturally go together, but a recent study done in Australia at Deakin University in Victoria proved a surprising connection between living with a pet dog and a child's weight.

This study concluded that children of 5 or 6 are 50 percent less likely to be overweight or obese if they live with a dog, compared to same-aged children who do not live with dogs. The effect is less marked with older children, but still significant; 30 percent of children not living with a dog were shown to be overweight or obese.

One might jump to the conclusion that the weight difference was caused by the child taking the dog for regular long walks. Surprisingly, this is not so.

Dr. Jo Salmon, director of this study, comments: "... we think maybe they are outside playing with the dog and just spending more energy generally ..., it's not through dog walking, just through playing" with the dog.

One might then conclude that socio-economic status would skew these results, but that was not the case. The relationship between the child's weight and the presence of a family dog persisted regardless of the economic status of the family.

One other benefit children derived from having a resident dog is that they were encouraged to play with the dog outdoors. In my book, anything that gets a child away from the TV and computer, junk food and video games and to the out-of-doors cannot be a bad thing.

Dogs and Cats Can Have Diabetes Too
Dr. Michael Watts/Vet Care - Star Exponent

At the beginning of the year, my practice began a new senior pet wellness program called “Paws In Time.” Several weeks ago, this column discussed some of the benefits to regular blood pressure, glaucoma, and laboratory screening tests for older pets. This week, I already have some terrific success stories to share with you.

In the first week of January, we examined a small dog who was in for her regular check-up. Even though Buffie’s owner had not detected any changes, she welcomed the additional testing we recommended. It is a good thing she did, because Buffie had high blood pressure and very early kidney insufficiency. A change in her diet has already been made. If her blood pressure stays high, we will add a simple pill to her daily routine.

I am confident that Buffie will live a longer life because of our early detection of her problems. It is also quite likely we will keep her from suffering some symptoms she otherwise would have needed to experience. Most high blood pressure is only detected after a pet has a stroke, sudden blindness, or goes into severe renal failure. As a veterinarian, the only thing more rewarding than curing a pet’s illness is preventing suffering in the first place.

The following week I examined a long time patient of mine. Greta is one of my patients from my days in Centreville who still comes to see me. In my previous practice, we had started a senior pet program several years ago. As a result, Greta’s owner was used to bringing her in every six months for an examination and testing. January’s visit was eight months since Greta’s last exam and blood work, which were completely normal.

We discovered Greta had lost a little weight. Initially, we were pleased. Greta needed to lose some weight. The next day, her lab report revealed Greta had a severe case of diabetes. Her blood sugar was 470 and her urine sugar was strongly positive. (Blood sugar in a cat should be below 130 and there should be no sugar in the urine.)

Greta’s owner was very concerned about potentially needing to give insulin injections to her pet. She had a bad experience previously with a cat who strongly objected to needles. I explained that some early diabetic cats can be treated with a special diet and an oral medication. Unfortunately, Greta’s blood sugar was quite high, so I was not very optimistic we could avoid insulin treatments.

We changed her diet to a canned formula with high protein and low carbohydrates. Her owner started administering a daily pill. This week, Greta came in for a recheck. Her weight has stabilized. Her blood sugar was down to 147. There was no sugar in her urine. A fructosamine level confirmed that over the past three weeks, Greta’s diabetes has been extremely well regulated – without insulin.

If the diabetes stays this well regulated, in three months we may be able to stop the pills. It is extremely unlikely that Greta’s owner will ever need to give her a single insulin injection. I suspect the outcome would not have been as positive if we had only seen Greta once each year, or if her owner did not understand the importance of regular laboratory screening tests.

In addition to these two success stories, we already have two dogs on glaucoma medication, several pets on early intervention renal diets, and one cat with a newly discovered heart arrhythmia being treated for hyperthyroidism. Preventing illness and suffering in so many pets in only a single month is immensely satisfying.

ClevengersCorner.com now includes detailed information on the health of older pets. You will find age conversion charts, symptoms to watch for, and health recommendations. I hope the information leads to even more success stories. If your pet does benefit, please share the story with me through the Web site. Maybe your pet can be featured in this column, too.

Dr. Watts is a companion animal general practitioner and owner of Clevengers Corner Veterinary Care. He can be reached through ClevengersCorner.com or by calling 428-1000.

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