This Halloween, take a minute to make sure your pets are prepared for this weird and scary holiday. We get very excited about the costumes, decorations and trick-or-treating, but let’s take a minute to picture this from a pets perspective.
Some dogs and cats are very laid back and are not bothered at all by hordes of costume clad strangers coming to their home. For most pets, the costumes and high volume of people coming up to the house can cause a lot of anxiety.
Costumes for Pets Not all pets like to be dressed up, so if your pet seems stressed by the costume do not make them wear one.
If your pets does not mind dress up, make sure that the costume fits properly, allows for normal movement and has no little parts that can be eaten by the pet.
Costumes for People Make sure to let your pet see and sniff your family’s costumes before you put them on. If you have a mildly anxious pet, try to get into costume with them in the room so that they understand it is you. Have some treats handy to turn a potentially scary experience into a positive one.
If you have a very anxious pet, consider tucking them away for the night in their crate or a bedroom where they can be undisturbed by the costumes, decorations and events of the evening.
Trick-or-Treat Place pets in a quiet room away from the front windows and door before Trick-or-Treating begins so that they do not see all the strangers coming to the house and feel the need to try to protect you and their home.
If you have a pet that stresses easily, consider sitting right by the door or on your front porch so that Trick-or-Treaters do not need to ring the doorbell, knock or enter the house. Not hearing these things will help reduce any stress you pet may be experiencing.
If you are planning to take your pet Trick-or-Treating with you, make sure that they are comfortable with people in costume, excitement and high activity levels around them and their costume, if they will be wearing one. Also keep an eye out that they are not getting any dropped candy from the ground or porches.
General Tips Make sure your pets have current ID tags on and that their microchip registration is up to date with correct phone numbers. This is a scary night and lots of pets will get out of the house or yard.
Your Halloween candy is a big bucket of toxins for your pet. Not only is chocolate toxic to dogs, many gums and sugar free candies contain Xylitol, which can cause liver failure in your pets. Wrappers can also be a problem as they can create a foreign body that can cause gastro-intestinal obstruction that may require surgery. Make sure all candy is kept out of reach or your pets.
Consider getting either a Feliway or Adaptil room diffuser to help calm anxious pets. Set it up in the room your pet will be in during Trick-or-Treat hours or during your party. For best results, set up earlier in the day so your pet already thinks of this as a calm area before he/she is confined there.
In the veterinary world, we often see pets that have serious problems with only mild clinical signs. “He only vomited the one time”, “She has been coughing for a month, but only when she lays on her side to sleep”, and so on.
Sometimes little clinical signs are indications of mild illness, allergy or aging process. Other times they can be warning signs for a life threatening condition. It is often impossible to tell the difference when you are seeing these signs at home.
The radiographs below show a dog that presented for a physical exam after one day of diarrhea. I am sharing these radiographs with the owner’s permission. This was an older dog, who was well cared for, very well loved and current on his veterinary care. On exam, I could feel that there was a mass in his abdomen. We took radiographs and found not one, but two HUGE masses or tumors in his abdomen. The first picture shows the original radiograph. The second pictures shows the radiograph with the tumors highlighted.
This dog’s only clinical sign was a sudden onset of diarrhea, which had only been going on for one day. Due to the size, these masses had probably been growing for some time, but finally reached the point where they were compressing the intestines and causing loose stools.
All too often we see pets that have a long history of clinical signs that the pet owner has been noticing, but did not seem severe enough to warrant the trip to the vet. All too often, this delay in diagnosis has allowed the issue to advance to the point where more drastic treatment is needed, such as major surgery or referral to specialists, or it is no longer at a stage were treatment is a good option. The decision to delay is never made out of disregard for the pet. Most pet owners love their pets like family members. Postponing veterinary care is usually due to busy schedules, financial constraints or lack of understanding of health issues.
Our pets can have almost any medical problem that people can have, and a few more just to keep us vets on our toes. The body is very complex and animals have an amazing capacity to compensate for illness and injury, often without showing clinical signs. If your pet has a change in his or her usual habits, contact your veterinarian to ask their advice on whether or not the change is something that should be explored immediately, or if it can be monitored briefly and an exam set up if not resolved on its own in a reasonable time frame.
We cannot always save pets with early intervention, but there is a much better chance when problems are discovered and diagnosed early on.
This is a question that almost every client asks at some point and I used to cringe a little every time I heard it. Why balk at the chance to educate clients and improve the nutritional health of pets you ask? Because no matter how careful we are as veterinarians to try and stay abreast of the commercial pet food market, it is always changing. The food I recommend today because it has had a long, consistent history of quality ingredients will inevitably have a recall next week. Pretty much every major company has had a recall at some point, believe me, I monitor the recall notice boards. Not to mention that no matter what I suggest or my reasons for recommending it, clients will always believe the T.V. network chef turned pet food mogul or the stock boy at the big box pet store over their DVM with a medical degree and the best interest of their pet in mind.
I recently attended a meeting for veterinarians on a newer company that is making nutraceuticals (supplements) and pet foods and was blown away. For those of you who have not yet gotten a chance to know me yet, I have a little skeptic streak (from my Dad) and do not, as a rule, trust advertising on face value. I need to see the science and research and real world studies before recommending products for my patients. But this company was something different. First, they can track all of their ingredients to the source and provide that information to clients with a click of your mouse. Next, they have done extensive, double-blinded studies to confirm efficacy for their nutraceuticals. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, they test their products for content AFTER production. Companies that make supplements (and are regulated by FDA) are only required to report what goes into their products. However, many of the supplement nutrients are fragile and significantly degraded during the manufacturing process. So that bottle of 200mg blank-vitamin had to contain 200mg before it was compressed into those capsules, but is not required to test and report how much in the finished product. More often than not over 50% can be lost during production.
Complete transparency in pet food ingredient and manufacturing is amazing, especially in the age of weekly recalls. I love that I can recommend a food that is not only completely traceable, tested post-production for quality and content and that the company makes it so easy for pet owners to access this information. I love that I can recommend a joint, skin or liver supplement to my clients and know that the concentration it states on the bottle is what their pet will actually get. I have to be skeptical of new trends and fads when looking out for my patients’ health. I am so excited to be able to recommend and offer a truly quality product that has been tested for efficacy and content. If you are looking for a true quality food or supplement for your pet, come in to see us and we’ll help you find one appropriate for your pet’s age, lifestyle and/or medical condition.
My name is Dr. Sarah Zuker. My first blog for MVA is to introduce myself as I recently purchased Mackinaw Veterinary Associates from Dr. Michael Scott. I have had the pleasure of meeting some of you while working with Dr. Scott over the past two months.
I was born and raised in Owosso, Michigan, and grew up in a small, family run business. I graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in Veterinary Medicine in May of 2012. While in vet school, I had the unique opportunity to work in MSU’s Advanced Rehabilitation Center for Animals. I was instantly drawn to how many different ways physical rehabilitation could help pets. I completed my rehab training concurrently with vet school and received my Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner (C.C.R.P.) certificate in June of 2012.
After graduation, I accepted an associate position in Florida and have spent the last four years practicing veterinary medicine and physical rehabilitation in the sunshine state. My husband and I have been keeping an eye out for the perfect practice in mid-Michigan for a few years now. We were very excited when we first spoke with Dr. Scott and when we came up to visit Mackinaw Veterinary Associates last May. We knew we had found our home.
In addition to physical rehabilitation, I have a strong interest in surgery, hospice and advanced therapies such as stem cell and immunotherapy. I truly enjoy getting to know clients and their pets. The best way to learn how to help owners best care for their beloved pets, and the best way to manage medical issues when they arise, is to have a good understanding of the family and the dynamic role each pet plays in that family.
You will likely get a chance to meet my husband Andrew, as well. He is the practice manager at MVA and has been helping out with appointments while both Dr. Scott and I have been seeing patients. We are both very happy to be home in mid-Michigan and to raise our daughter with her family and small town values.
We look forward to meeting all of you and to help you give your pets a long, happy and healthy life. Please feel welcome to call and schedule an appointment to meet with me and discuss how rehabilitation or newer therapies could benefit your pet.