Tick Talk! With Kit and Kapoodle

“Hey Kit!  Did you hear about that crazy guy, Tommy Holedigger?  What a character.  You know how Border Collies like to run and play?  Well, that guy just can’t stay out of the woods around his yard and yep… you guessed it… he came home with a bunch of ticks!”

 Kit was intrigued – “you mean sort of like hiccups? “, she purred.

 “No”, Kapoodle replied – “and not like fleas either!  I know, I know, you are too prim and proper to know anything about such things – but let me tell you, these little parasites are no fun.  Even for a fun guy like Tommy.  He was really ‘ticked off.”’  With that, Kapoodle rolled on the floor, laughing at his own joke.

Kit ignored his attempt at humour – but she was really curious now – “do tell”, she said – even though just the word “parasite” made her itchy.

 Kapoodle loves telling stories so he launched into it…

 “Tommy Holedigger had a bunch of ticks on him – his owner, who does a great job of checking him over after they have been out in the woods or for their long hikes in the grassy areas, found some ticks on him.  Did you know that a tick, which is about the size of a sesame seed, can get to be about the size of a lima bean when it has been acting like a little doggy vampire?  Ewww.  True fact – they swell up as they feed.  I have a picture I can show you.  Anyway, Tommy’s human checked online to see what to do – he saw all these crazy ideas like putting a lit cigarette on the tick!  Can you imagine?!?  Yikes – Tommy was pretty glad they didn’t try that.  Then they read about people putting finger nail polish on the tick…”

 Kit perked up at that – “oooo like going to the spa…I love the spa”, she purred. 

 “No no, you spoiled kitty – not like going to the spa!  Some people think they can get ticks out if they put polish on them – duh, not!  Anyway, the human kept researching and realized he would probably make things worse if he tried to pull the ticks off himself, and that the best thing was to visit PetFocus.”

 Kit asked why it wasn’t a good idea to just pull the ticks right off quickly.

 Kappodle, so proud of his new found knowledge, said that he heard Dr. Woodbury on CTV talking about this and that Dr. Woodbury said that if you pull them off and don’t get everything, the bacteria can cause even more problems.

 He continued with the story… “so, they went to PetFocus and got the ticks off with a little tick twister gizmo and they did a simple blood test on Tommy.  And, poor Tommy – the test showed that those deer ticks were carrying Lyme disease and he had contracted the organism carrying it!  Tommy had to take medication right away and now he is fine.”

 OMG, said Kit.  “Did he turn green?”

 Kapoodle shook his head… “Cats”, he said.  ‘Not that kind of Lyme – this Lyme is named after a place in the US where the disease was first discovered.  Fortunately, the disease is easily handled in dogs but it is much worse for people.  They can’t catch it from dogs or from each other – only from a tick – Tommy was pretty relieved to hear that as he loves to cuddle – when he can sit still long enough.  However, his human had some ticks too and they are being tested as well.  And his human was reminded about how important it is for Tommy to have annual checkups and vaccines too – I am so glad my human takes me to PetFocus every year for an exam and vaccine against a whole bunch of parasites. It would really ‘bug me’ to have ticks”, he said, rolling on the floor and giggling again.

 Kit was nervous now as she loves her humans so much and didn’t want anyone to be sick.  She wanted to know more – :”Why don’t I know about Lyme Disease?  Why didn’t we hear about it years ago?”

 Now Kapoodle could really show off his new knowledge.  Here is why, he said:

  • Deer ticks live on… guess where?  I bet even a cat can answer that one.  (Kit just rolled her eyes at him!)  Yep – on deer.  And there are more deer in Nova Scotia than there used to be and they are living closer to where people live and so there are more ticks being carried around.  Birds can carry the ticks around too.
  • The climate is a little warmer than it used to be and the ticks can live through the winter.
  • The rules about “no pesticides” to help the environment mean that ticks are not killed as much as they used to be.

 Kit was impressed.  She decided to tell all her friends who live with dogs to make sure they get tested right away at PetFocus.  She also said that she has new appreciation for dogs – the occurrence of Lyme in dogs is useful to know about so that humans can be protected too!  Well, she cooed – “Finally, a good reason for dogs to be around!”

To learn more about Ticks and Lyme Disease – see:

https://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/Safe-use-of-flea-and-tick-preventive-products.aspx

Pictures below:

1. A Tick

2. A tick that is attached to a dog

3. A tick on a person

 ImageImageImage

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Family… see, family is da most important thing. Check out the shelters and rescues.

Hi! This is Al Catcino here… and I gotta deal you can’t refuse, see?  Family… you can’t ever forget how important family is and even though I’ve met some pretty tough cats (and dogs), I think they all need family and deserve respect.  You listenin’ to me?  Well, here’s the thing, see.  Dogs and cats deserve a real, forever family, see.   And the really sad thing is, not everyone has one and so even a tough cat like me likes to go to shelters and rescue groups to add to my family.  I’ve uh, lost a few family members from time to time, see, so I know how to find great new ones.  And, my father always said, a cat who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real cat – ya read me?

  So, here are some things to ponder before you add to your family, ok? 

  1. When making the decision to adopt make sure that the entire family is on the same page with how you are going to train your new friend, as well as what and how often you are going to feed them.  The family has got to be on side, see?  Just like my family in Sicily, everybody’s got to be on the same page!  All animals need some sort of structure to feel comfortable, but rescue animals tend to need a little bit more structure, especially at first as they are getting use to a new home, and their new family.
  2. Don’t jump the gun… you know what I mean?  Take your time.  When looking into adopting a new pet make sure you go and meet a few different animals, or some rescues have a website on which you can view their current adoptables before you go in to meet them.
  3. Patience.  My father always said, wait for the right moment.  Often times you are unable to adopt your new friend right away.  That’s ok.  It’ll be worth the wait.
  4. Do your research – check ‘im out first.  When you go to meet your new potential friend, watch for symptoms of behavioural issues, and always ask about medical history. Now if you notice they have a behavioural problem, always take them out of the shelter to a more open and grassy area where they may feel more comfortable, as well let them come to you versus you approaching them. These things can make a huge difference in their personality, sometimes they are just uncomfortable with being in a kennel or feeling like they are backed into a corner. Also behavioural issues don’t mean that they are a bad animal to adopt, just means that they need a special kind of family that understands their specific needs, and understands that it is going to be tough at first, but it can be very rewarding.  Loyalty see, that’s what’s important in a family and you will earn that with your new friend.
  5. Always be prepared – if you are adopting an animal with obvious anxiety issues or behavioural problems, be sure you are prepared to deal with those issues. If you don’t have a Godfather, like me, speak to your PetFocus veterinarian – he or she will give you the scoop.  My family knows the importance of training for every job we do – you may also want to be check out the PetFocus trainers, too.   Destruction – I know a bit about that – and so you should make sure  that your home is prepared for an animal that may chew or destroy items;  provide them with lots of toys which they can utilize instead of your shoe, or couch leg.

 For anyone who is interested in adopting a pet in the HRM you can follow this link and find the rescue that best suits you!  http://www.maritimeanimalrescue.com/contacts.shtml#ns

 Thank you for supporting you local shelters, and thanks for considering adoption as an option for your new friends.   You’ll be glad you did!

Avoid the Winter Blues – Keep your pet active all winter long

Tommy Holedigger here! Cold weather brings some challenges for keeping your furry friends fit and free from cabin fever. Since I am a Border Collie, I know a bit about having lots of energy, so my good buddy, Kapoodle, asked me to “weigh in” on how to keep your pets active during the winter. Remember to have your people check with your PetFocus vet first to ensure any changes to your exercise program have been given the green light!
Many pets can handle outdoor activities if it isn’t too cold. We play with our family, go for walks, and enjoy the winter wonderland along side of our humans.
The problem is, we often don’t know when to quit so we rely on you to tell us when enough is enough or, when it’s just too cold to go outside at all. The general rule is, if it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for us…and yes, that applies to those of us with lots of fur too!
There’s a lot to consider when taking a pet outside in the winter so I thought you might like this link from the American Animal Hospital Association to help you out a bit:
http://www.healthypet.com/PetCare/PetCareArticle.aspx?title=Winter_Pet_Care
“So Tommy (you ask), what can I do for my pet if it’s too cold to go outside?”
“Ruff ruff ruff” (I say), which means “You’re in luck!” I have some great options to rid your pets of the winter blues on cold, snowy days. Let’s talk indoor play!
First and foremost, always make sure you have removed any “obstacles” that may be harmful to your pet prior to playing with them indoors. Dog tails and fragile trinkets don’t tend to mix…not that I’d know anything about that. [Why do people put ornaments on low coffee tables anyway?]
The first game happens to be my personal favourite – “hide and seek”! You might know that one! Playing “hide and seek” is a good way to get dogs moving. Supplies needed: you, a few other humans, and some good hiding spots. Get a couple of people to hide in different places around your home and let your dog go. We will have to try and find the humans (that’s you) who should then give us a small treat. It’s always good to reward us after we find you so that we know exactly what you want us to do.
Another variation of this would be to hide treats in select places around your home and have your pet search them out; this game is especially rewarding for any dog that is considered a “hunting breed” as they are bred for these specific types of activities! Cats, being natural hunters, enjoy this game as well. I’ve been told that pet food is so yummy that some tiny humans will eat it too, so keep that in mind if you’re playing hide and seek with food! Another outdoor version that some of my friends like involves hiding things in the snow – that can be really fun.
Laser pointers are a great way to get your pet moving. While they are usually considered a toy for cats, lots of dogs actually enjoy playing with laser pointers as well. It’s an excellent toy to use indoors as you have a lot of control over where your pet goes. Make sure there is something other than just light at the end of the tunnel though or we might get a little frustrated. When you shine the laser in the last location, it’s a good idea to have a reward there that your pet can pounce on. A nice “catch” at the end of the chase helps eliminate any feelings of frustration.
Another toy that can be used for cats is a toy on the end of a string. You can get cats to jump and run wherever the toy is moving and it keeps them engaged for a long period of time. My friend Kit asked me to tell you that any toys involving string should not be left for cats to play with unattended. Apparently they like to eat them…even if they’re not coated in bacon. I’ll never understand cats.
What about a good old fashioned stair climber? Have your pets go up and down steps with you. This may take some tempting (and a little bit of exercise on your part as well) but it’s worth it for everybody.
You could also set up obstacle courses in your home. Use things like pillows for pets to jump over, and hula hoops for them to run through – and my favourite part – make sure to always reward your pets with a treat when they do something you want them to.
How about revisiting some of the obedience training you worked on during your pet’s developmental stages. Being housebound presents a great opportunity to teach new skills. More and more people are clicker training their cats now so even your feline friends can get in on the action!
Here are some more suggestions from AAHA that could come in handy for you: http://www.healthypet.com/PetCare/PetCareArticle.aspx?title=Exercising_Your_Pet
Remember that with some planning, you can keep your pets happy and healthy all year round – and you might get a little extra exercise yourself too!

Meow, Me-OUCH! My Teeth hurt!

Crunch, crunch, “ouch!” crunch, crunch “OUCH!!”  Hi it’s Kit here.  This was me a few weeks ago when I was having lunch with my Pomeranian friend Zsa Zsa Dogbor.  Eating had become painful and was losing its appeal.  I didn’t know what was wrong but Zsa Zsa had an idea.  She felt the same way a few months ago and it turned out it was her teeth!  She suggested that I visit Dr. Woodbury and have a dental exam done.  The next day I got the news: I had a resorptive lesion, and infected gums.

“Oh Dear!” said Zsa Zsa when I told her that evening. How did Dr. Woodbury diagnose your problem? 

“Well”, I told her, “It was a wonderful visit, and thank goodness I went in”

“Cindi the Dental Technician met me at the door. After listening to my story about how painful my mouth was, she took me into the office and had a chat with me. She placed me on the exam table, turned on the light and then lifted my lip to look at my teeth.  She winced when she saw what a state my teeth were in.” 

“She told me that my bad breath was not just because I ate that piece of salmon I snuck off the owner’s plate the day before. It was much more than that.  Cats and dogs should not have bad breath, and because I did, it indicated I had infected gums. My infected gums were red and red gums HURT.”

“Then Dr. Woodbury came in to see me. He wrinkled his brow and he patted my head

 “Poor Kit’ he said “You must be in a lot of pain. It has been a few years since you had a dental cleaning. That’s what happens when you don’t have yearly dental check ups. Bad things happen to a pet’s teeth the same way they happen to other parts of a pet’s body. It’s easy to tell when a paw is sore because you start to limp. But when a tooth is sore, it’s not as obvious. You did the right thing coming in to see me today.’”

Zsa Zsa Dogbor looked very concerned when she heard what Dr. Woodbury said. 

“What did he do next?” she asked

“Well”, I told her, “He suggested that I have an anesthetic (so it wouldn’t hurt) and that he clean my teeth and get all the tartar off. Then he said he would do some x-rays so he could see underneath my gums to see if there were problems there that couldn’t be seen just by looking.” 

“So I came back in the next day and Dr. Woodbury and Cindi the Dental Technician gave me a full dental procedure. When they got a closer look at my mouth, they were able to diagnose tooth resorption. This is when a tooth is dissolving in the tooth socket. To stop the pain and cure the infection, they took out the tooth and they cleaned the socket really well. Now the infection will go away and I won’t have any more pain.”

Zsa Zsa was wide-eyed and looking at me with great concern. 

“I’m so glad that you are not hurting anymore Kit. It must have been a relief to get that taken care of. It is horrible to have a tooth ache.”

I nodded. “Thanks’ Zsa Zsa.” I said. “It was a relief to no longer have a tooth ache, but as it turned out, having an infected tooth is also serious for other reasons.  Dr. Woodbury explained that if I hadn’t gotten rid of the infection in my tooth, the infection could have spread to other parts of my body and infected my brain, my lungs, my liver, my kidneys or my heart!” That could have been a life threatening problem!”

“Oh Kit!” exclaimed Zsa Zsa with tears in her eyes. “Thank Goodness you caught it in time! I would be heart broken if anything happened to you! You’re my best friend!”

I smiled at Zsa Zsa showing her my sparkly white clean teeth. 

“Aw, gee Zsa Zsa, I love you too.” 

I told her “That’s why I wanted to thank you for sending me to Dr. Woodbury. I also want to remind you to get your dental check up done soon as well. Dr. Woodbury told me that up to 50% of cats suffer from tooth resorption at some time during their life. I know you are a dog and not a cat, but it is still really important that you go.  Periodontal disease is the most common condition diagnosed in both cats AND dogs! AND, up to 70% of dogs and 80% of cats have infected gums by two years of age! Even if you don’t have brown tartar on your teeth, your gums could be infected. So you need to make sure you get your dental check done every year. You know the old saying: ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’.

“I’ll make my appointment right away” she told me. “It’s Dental Health Month!” It’s a perfect time for me to phone PetFocus and get Dr. Woodbury to examine my teeth right away.”

Dogs on Thin Ice

Kapoodle here! I wanted to talk about something that sadly happens every year during our freezing winters – dogs falling through thin ice.

For us dogs, it’s harder to differentiate between where it is safe to walk on and where it is not safe, and sometimes when we are used to being on a leash, we tend to just run free, not worrying about any of those dangerous things that are out there. It’s your human’s job to make sure that you are monitored at all times when you are outside, even at an off leash park as many off leash parks have ponds in or near by them. If you do happen to fall through ice, your owner should call the local fire department right away, as it is not necessarily safe for your human to get to you. However if your human is able to get you out without a hitch, or if you’re able to swim your way out of it, then your human should take the following steps prior to going to your PetFocus Veterinary Hospital. They should:

  • Take note of whether or not you’re shivering. If you’re shivering, then you are losing body heat, which could mean that hypothermia is a possibility.
  • Dry you off right away, and try to warm you up, wrapping you up in a towel or warm blanket (if nothing else their jacket) is a good way to keep your body heat in.  I love that part at any time.
  • After they have you safe and warm, they should rush you to your PetFocus Veterinarian to ensure that your body temperature hasn’t plummeted drastically.

Of course, it is not a bad idea for your human to have a basic idea of First Aid for situations such as this, and if your family goes for a lot of walks to off leash parks, some good items to keep in the vehicle are warm blankets, heating packs, a first aid kit, and a list of emergency contacts – this is just for the winter time, and should be changed for the summer time. The best prevention is to never give us the chance to end up on thin ice. Avoid dog parks that have ponds in the winter time, and double leash us when out walking – it’s always better to never have to deal with the situation in the first place. Play safe!

Canine Holiday Hazards with Schnitzel the worrisome Dachshund

Oh Christmas is coming, and it can be such a scary time of year for dogs. Did you know about all the different hazards out there right now? There are so many things we can get into such as:

Alcoholic Beverages: Alcohol is around during the holiday season and can be easily accessible to dogs; we tend to just follow our noses! The effects of alcohol in pets are similar to those in humans – it causes depression of our central nervous system which causes us to become drowsy, and lose coordination.  I hate that!  If we are exposed to a larger amount of alcohol, it can cause a greater depression of the nervous system, potentially causing slowed breathing and heart rate, as well as a drop in body temperature. Even if a dog doesn’t die from the acute effects of alcohol, it can cause problems in the kidney and liver.

Source: http://www.natural-wonder-pets.com/how-harmful-is-alcohol-to-dogs-and-cats.html

Human food: There are a lot of different kinds of food that humans can eat but we can’t – even some really yummy things! All of these types of food smell delicious to us, and sometimes our humans don’t know that they are toxic for us.  Garlic and onion can cause hemolytic anemia in pets, and which is a very severe issue. Grapes and raisins can cause G.I upset, all the way up to kidney failure – I love grapes but they are not safe for dogs at all!  Chocolate is of course toxic as we learned before from our friend Indiana Bones. And did you know that avocado can cause G.I upset?  Who knew?

Christmas Trees and decorations: These can be dangerous because of the low hanging ornaments, and strings of lights.  As much as I like to play with some of those decorations, our humans should always try to hang the ornaments out of our reach and to cover the wires wherever possible. Also real trees require tree food, or preservatives (which are often added to the water) – they can cause G.I upset if we have a little drink from that tree holder-water bowl. Garland and potpourris can be dangerous as well. Garland can get caught up in the intestines if ingested, or potentially be a choking hazard, and potpourris can be an irritant if we eat it… it smells so good…

Antifreeze: Antifreeze is dangerous if ingested, and only a small amount can be lethal to a small animal. Spills should always be cleaned up immediately, and if your human even suspects exposure they should take you in right away. The ingredient in antifreeze that makes it so dangerous is ethylene glycol, and it can cause some very serious damage to the central nervous system, as well as damage to the kidneys and liver. Yikes!

So there you have it, a list of some very serious hazards that your human may have around the home. If your human has any questions, they should always seek the advice of their PetFocus Veterinarian. I hope all of you stay safe during the holidays!

Sources: http://www.vetinfo.com/dtoxin.html

Tinsel Trouble

Kit: Hey Catrina! Have your humans started putting up all the Christmas decorations!? I love that giant tree to climb with all those shiny things, and the cozy stockings to sleep in. Not to mention the warm fireplace to sleep in front of, the cookie house to chew on, all the food I can steal and I always get gifts from my humans because I’m always a purrfect cat! Oh! It’s just my favorite holiday of the year! You know, the best part is once the humans open up all their presents, we get to play in those boxes and with all those ribbons, and all that tinsel, it’s absolutely amazing. Don’t you agree, Catrina?

 Catrina: Well, I agree for the most part, but my family doesn’t have tinsel anymore, not since last year. I was pretty confused because they put it all over the tree, and it was just the most beautiful toy I had ever seen. It would shine in the glow of that tree, and I was certain that it was my Christmas gift, they just gave it to me early. So, I ate a few pieces and I was pretty proud of myself because my humans never even noticed! But the next day, I started to feel sick.  I was vomiting, I completely lost my appetite, my stomach was hurting, and I began to excessively drool. I knew it couldn’t be the wonderful tinsel that I had eaten the day before because that stuff was magical, and Christmas magic doesn’t do that to cats! My humans were concerned and rushed me into the PetFocus location at Petworks. Dr. Swinemar explained to my humans that I had a “foreign body” and that the only way to fix it was to surgically remove it. Yikes! I thought it would be the worst Christmas after that, but it actually turned out better than expected.  I wasn’t allowed to move around very much because of my stitches, but my humans doted on me more than usual, and I got all sorts of fun toys in my stocking. The only downside was they took down all my beautiful tinsel toys; they didn’t even leave me one. 

 Kit: Wow, that’s awful. I didn’t realize that tinsel was so dangerous. I had heard about Cat Albert eating all those Poinsettias – you know that crazy Maine Coon, he’ll eat anything. He was feeling pretty sick that evening and he had to find out the hard way that Poinsettias, although they are not deadly, they are toxic, and will cause gastrointestinal upset. My humans always talk to their PetFocus Veterinarian if they are unsure about what they are bringing into my home, and I’m glad because sometimes I just can’t help myself if they have flowers on the table.