The veterinarians and staff at the Austin Veterinary Center are pleased to provide you with an online newsletter. This fun and fact-filled newsletter is updated on a regular basis.
Included in the newsletter are articles pertaining to pet care, information on our animal hospital, as well as news on the latest trends and discoveries in veterinary medicine.
Please enjoy the newsletter!
Current Newsletter Topics
You may have heard the saying, "You own a dog, but you feed a cat." It is true that cats value their independence a bit more than their canine counterparts. But, if you've ever been around cats, you already know they crave and require love and companionship. Cats make wonderful pets and most easily adjust to a variety of lifestyles and living spaces. Every cat is a true individual though, so it's important to take the time to choose a four-footed friend who's right for you. A cat's personality, age and appearance, as well as the kinds of pets you already have at home, are all things you should keep in mind when making your selection.
If you've ever been to a shelter, you have probably noticed that some cats meow and head butt the cage door while others simply lie back and gaze at you with a look of total ambiguity. There are as many different personalities of cats as there are cats in the shelter. Which disposition is best for you? YOU have to decide.
Regardless of individual personality, look for a cat that is playful, active, alert and comfortable while being held. At the shelter, ask an adoption counselor for assistance when you wish to spend some time with individual cats. Because they are in an unfamiliar environment, some cats that are usually quite social may be frightened or passive while in the shelter.
As a general rule, kittens are curious, playful and full of energy, while adult cats are more relaxed and less mischievous. Kittens also require more time to train and feed. Cats are only kittens for a few months, though, so the age of the cat you adopt should really depend on the level of maturity you are looking for. Young children usually don't have the maturity to handle kittens responsibly, so a cat that is at least 4 months old is probably the best choice for homes with young children.
They All May Be Cute, But Which Is Right For You?
Though dogs also have differences in coat, choosing the length of coat on a cat is a little different. Because the hair is generally finer and cats generally shed more, hair length can be an important part of your decision. Cats can have long, fluffy coats or short, dense fur and the choice between the two is chiefly a matter of preference, availability and your willingness to devote time to regular grooming. Short-haired cats are generally easier to come by since they're the most popular and the most common. Keep in mind that long-haired cats require frequent grooming to remain mat-free. Felines with short coats also require brushing, though less frequently. Most cats enjoy a regular brushing and look forward to this daily ritual.
If you already own a cat or dog, you're probably wondering how easy it is to add a cat to the family. The good news is that cats can get along with other cats, and despite the common stereotype, most dogs can get along with cats too. Unfortunately, introducing a new cat to a home with other pets can be time consuming and require patience on your part.
The best way to handle adding a new cat to the home is to provide time for a period of adjustment. You can do this effectively by isolating your new feline in a room of his own for a while, something that is a good idea for a new cat anyway. After several days, supervise meetings between the animals for periods of increasing length. Most cats will soon learn to accept each other. Some dogs simply won't tolerate the presence of a cat, but by carefully introducing them, most problems can be solved.
No matter which kind of cat you choose, remember that you're making a commitment to love and care for your new feline friend for his or her lifetime. That could mean 10, 15 or even 20 years. So choose you new companion carefully and be a responsible pet owner. In no time at all, you'll know how wonderful sharing your home with a cat can be.
For more information about Adopt-A-Cat month, please visit the American Humane Association's website.
With the summer months ahead, many of us have gardening on the mind. But your green thumb doesn’t have to come at Fido’s expense. Here are some tips to ensure that your garden is kept pet-friendly this summer:
- Avoid sweet-smelling mulch: parasites tend to thrive in mulch, and sweet-smelling cocoa mulch contains toxic ingredients if ingested by dogs and cats.
- Use nontoxic plants and fertilizers: Look over the ASPCA’s list of toxic and nontoxic plants in order to determine whether your plants are hazardous to Fido’s health (such as the popular azaleas, Easter lilies and rhododendron). This also applies to fertilizers and any pesticides you may use.
- Watch out for freshly watered lawn: Try not to let your pet walk on your lawn or garden areas after watering it. Chemicals you have applied can stick to your pet’s paws, which they may proceed to lick and ingest.
- Arm against fleas, ticks and heartworm: Summer brings in the bugs, so make sure to take preventive measures against fleas, ticks and heartworm. Visit your local veterinarians for suggestions and treatments.
- Watch for Allergies: With all the summer pollen in the air, watch for signs that your pets may be struggling right along with you. After taking your daily walks, wipe your animal’s paws down with a towel in order to keep any unwanted pollen out of the house.
With summer fun comes summer struggles. But with these few easy tips in mind, it may make it a whole lot easier – and healthier – for both you and your pet.
A complete examination of all surfaces of the teeth is impossible to perform while the veterinary patient is awake. The external surface of some teeth may be superficially examined, but the inside surfaces of the teeth (within the oral cavity) cannot be evaluated unless anesthesia or deep sedation is administered.
Laboratory blood tests along with an ECG and radiographs are often necessary before a dental patient can be anesthetized. The older the patient, the more tests that may be needed prior to administering general anesthesia. Animals with congenital disease and pets suffering from chronic conditions are a greater anesthetic risk than completely healthy pets. If your pet is considered an anesthetic risk, your veterinarian will recommend the tests that are necessary prior to administering anesthesia.
The anesthesia given to one pet may be completely different than the anesthesia given to another pet. Your veterinarian can choose from a variety of pre-anesthetic medications and anesthesia induction agents. After the pre-anesthesia medication and induction agents are administered, general anesthesia is usually maintained with a gas agent (isoflurane or sevoflurane) mixed with oxygen. Monitoring the anesthetized patient is a fundamental procedure in veterinary medicine.
One or more of the following monitors may be used:
• Electronic Respiratory Monitor
• Pulse Oximeter
• Blood-Pressure Monitor
• Electrocardiograph (ECG)
• Esophageal Stethoscope
• Carbon Dioxide Monitor
Along with patient monitoring, it is important to keep the pet warm and comfortable during the dental procedure. Since many procedures may last longer than an hour, the pet's core body temperature may become lowered. By using blankets, hot water bottles and heated tables, the veterinary patient's body temperature can be maintained at its normal value.
Anesthesia or deep sedation is necessary for oral examination and dental cleaning because:
• Dental tartar is firmly attached to the surface of teeth and needs to be removed.
• Scaling by ultrasonic scalers and sharp hand instruments are necessary in order to remove the dental tartar.
• Any sudden movement can cause injury to the animal or individual performing the dental procedure.
• Dental scaling is performed above and below the gum line. Scaling the teeth above the gum line usually does not cause discomfort, however, scaling below the gum line (can cause discomfort. The area below the gum line, or subgingival space, is the most important area to clean as periodontal disease begins here.
• Humans cooperate during dental procedures, however without anesthesia or deep sedation, dogs and cats do not.
• Scaling above the gum line offers nothing but cosmetic results. Scaling must be done below the gum line.
During the last few years, veterinary dentistry has made tremendous strides. By taking advantage of the dental procedures offered at your veterinary hospital, your pet can enjoy the benefits of having excellent teeth well into his or her senior years.
Thanks to the creation and marketing of cat litter in the mid 1940s, more and more cats have become indoor-only pets. As such, cats are now leading longer lives, with some living 20+ years. Our homes offer a safer, healthier environment than life on the street. The average life span of an indoor cat is 10 years, whereas the average lifespan of an outdoor cat is just 2 years. There is no doubt that indoors is safer.
Creating An Indoor Adventure
Yet, when we choose to make our cats indoors-only companions, we have a responsibility to provide the stimulation that was previously provided by the great outdoors. Scratching and climbing posts become trees; interactive toys become hunted birds, bugs and field mice. A rotating array of cat playthings provides excitement, unpredictability and exercise which, in turn, gives your cat everything it needs while extending its life inside. With that said, many cat lovers still prefer to commune with nature with their feline friends. Fortunately, there are several ways to minimize the risks.
Ensuring the Proper Vaccination Protocol
Most importantly, while vaccinations are important for indoor cats, they are absolutely critical to the health of outdoor cats. The threat of rabies, FeLV, FIV and FIP, transmitted through altercations with wildlife, or interaction with stray, un-vaccinated cats, should be enough to have your cat immunized in order to give you peace of mind. All of these diseases can be prevented and can provide your outdoor cat with proper protection should he need it.
Leash 'em Up & Go!
If you feel as though your cat deserves the fun of being outside, but want to provide a safe way to experience nature, there are alternatives to opening the door and watching him go. Harnesses and leashes (gasp!) have been developed for cats. Either cat specific or small dog accessories fit well and are relatively inexpensive. Training your cat to walk with the harness takes patience (unless you start with a kitten, in which case it could take less time), but the reward is worth it. Your cat will be able to experience the joys of being outside in a controlled environment. How far he can travel is up to you!
Consider An Outdoor Enclosure
Outdoor enclosures are another great alternative. Since outdoor enclosures are usually homemade, they come in all shapes and sizes. For durability, chicken wire or wire hardware cloth - secured around a simple wood frame - is preferable to ordinary window screening. The most successful structures usually feature climbing and resting furniture inside. A shaded area is necessary for warm or hot weather. Whether you choose an outdoor enclosure or add cat-proof netting to the top of traditional fencing, they are safest used only when you are at home able to check on them often.
Don't Forget Identification
Even with the option of training or providing your cat with an enclosed outdoor adventure area, you still need to consider identification. Lost cats result in heartache that can easily be avoided. Microchip and ID tags provide easy identification and may be what reunites you with your cat should he/she get lost or scooped up by a caring, but ignorant stranger.
When deciding whether or not to let your cat outdoors, it is important for you to consider the alternatives. As the pet industry expands and becomes more creative, more and more indoor/outdoor products are going to become available. Of course, there is nothing better than being outside. If you can provide your cat with the proper care and protection, allowing your cat to go outdoors can be a fun and healthy existence.
Concerned pet owners may have come across a Facebook post warning against giving dogs ice water. The post claims that giving dogs ice water can cause bloat, which can lead to a life-threatening condition called gastric dilation and volvulus (GDV). It’s often accompanied by a seemingly true story of a well-meaning pet owner trying to keep their dog cool on a hot day only to later needing to rush their pet to the emergency vet.
It sounds scary, but it’s absolutely false. Veterinarians across the country have been addressing this myth for years but the misinformation continues to spread in part because of social media. Frigid gastric ‘cramping’ is a falsehood similar to those that inform you that your hair will grow back coarser if you shave it (myth), or that you shouldn’t go swimming for 30 minutes after eating lest you drown in a fit of cramps (also myth).
Bloat can be caused when your dog drinks too much too quickly, but the temperature of the water has nothing to do with this. In fact, putting ice cubes in your dog’s water can sometimes slow your dog’s water consumption, keeping the risk of bloat at bay.
If you have a large dog and are concerned about bloat, we recommend feeding a few small meals per day instead of one large meal, and avoid exercising for an hour or so after eating. But if your pup is thirsty on a hot day, there’s nothing dangerous about helping them cool off with ice water.
Bloat or gastric torsion is a disease in which the dog’s stomach dilates and then rotates or twists around its axis. Bloat is primarily a disease of large and giant-breed dogs. Deep-chested breeds such as Great Danes, German shepherds and standard poodles are most commonly affected.