Busting Myths About Cats & Vet Visits!

Even though there are more cats than dogs in American households, cats still visit the vet much less often than dogs. We at Elkwood Animal Hospital want to help change this! Our cats are also members of the family, and deserve excellent veterinary care just as much as our canine companions.

Myth #1:

Cats Don’t Get Sick As Often As Dogs Do

Cats are very good at hiding signs of illness. Our cats do get ill, with stomach upset, parasites, diarrhea, urinary tract infections, diabetes, kidney disease, and more. Sometimes we don’t notice they are having trouble (because they would rather be seen as self-sufficient and independent!) until they don’t make it to the litterbox like they should, can’t seem to get enough water so raid the dog’s bowl, or feel so ill they just don’t want to get up and look out their favorite window. Having an annual vet check can help find the subtle early signs of illness so we can keep our cats feeling their best more of the time.

Myth #2:

Indoor Cats Don’t Need Vaccines

Cats are just as susceptible to rabies and nasty respiratory and gastrointestinal viruses as dogs are, and just because your cat is inside doesn’t mean he or she shouldn’t be protected from these deadly diseases. Indoor cats are often on the front lines of “defense” of the home when a bat sneaks in a window or chimney, or a strange animal enters the garage, or even the front door! Even if the cat never leaves the premises, sick (and rabid) animals can show up at our door or window any time and risk exposing our cats and our families to diseases which are preventable with vaccinations.

Myth #3:

Traveling To The Vet Is Too Stressful

This is a tough one, but not insurmountable!

A lot of the stress of coming to the vet comes down to the cat carrier and the car ride. If your cat is a kitten, NOW is the time to get him or her used to the carrier and short car rides, so that travel is much less stressful later on. Use the carrier as a special bed at home, leave it out with cuddly blankets and maybe tuck some treats inside from time to time, for kitty to discover. You’ll find this goes a long way to make the carrier a cozy place to be rather than a threatening transportation device. Taking practice rides in the carrier that just go around the block and conclude with a special meal or treat back at home is another great way to get younger (and older!) cats used to travel.

Talk with our veterinarians about anti-anxiety options for travel as well. Feliway is a common, side-effect free option for lowering stress levels in the carrier, car, and vet clinic. We also have nutraceuticals (with natural anxiety relievers) or medications that may be helpful for individual cats to make their annual vet trip.

We are working every day to make sure your time in the clinic as stress free as possible, as well. Let us know tips that work for your cat and we may be able to accommodate their individual needs. Also, don’t forget we make house calls! This lets your cat get the care he or she needs with no travel required!

 

In January 2017, we’re making felines our focus! We’re offering special discounts (10% off most care!) on wellness care for your cat, to make sure preventive care, routine screening tests, and parasite prevention can reach as many cats in our client households as possible. Have a cat who has never actually been to see us yet? These new cat patients are eligible for 15% off their services!

Call us to set up an appointment or find out more!

 

Veterinary Technician Appreciation

It’s National Veterinary Technician Appreciation Week and We LOVE our LVTs!

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Our Licensed Veterinary Technicians are a crucial part of our team and we don’t know what we would do without them! 

Licensed Veterinary Technicians are highly trained professionals, responsible for everything from taking patient vitals, placing IV catheters, monitoring anesthesia, taking x-rays, performing bloodwork and urine testing, administering medications and injections, caring for hospitalized patients, answering client questions, providing knowledgeable pet care education, and offering comfort during difficult visits. ALL of our staff are amazing, animal-loving people, but these ladies have gone above and beyond to get additional training (which they maintain with regular continuing education courses) so they can provide the best care for your pets.

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The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) designates one week a year in October to honor these animal care professionals, but our appreciation for all they do is year round. If you are lucky enough to see Sam or Erin this week, please give them a high-five or some words of thanks for all they do for us. We couldn’t do what we do without them!

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Is Anxiety Ruining Your Pet’s Summer?

This month’s Health Focus is Freedom From Anxiety!

Summer brings celebrations that often feature fireworks, explosions, and gunshots, but these things are frequently scary for our pets, who don’t understand the loud noises and bright flashes. Even if the fireworks don’t start weeks early in your neighborhood, Mother Nature is usually ready to deliver light shows of her own featuring lightning, thunder, and barometric pressure changes. Car rides or kennel boarding for summer trips can top it all off to make this a scary time of year for many pets.

Fortunately, there are a wide variety of things that can be done to help your pets be at their best and most comfortable. See below for some of the things we’re recommending this summer.

Team Up – Consult With A Vet

Our veterinarians are here to help with behavior, training, and phobias as well as your pet’s other health concerns. Set up a consult to discuss your pet’s particular fears, triggers, or problem behaviors and what can be done to help. Sometimes there is training that can help calm fears or manage frightening situations, other times there may be medications that can make things better or easier. Did you know there’s a great anti-nausea medication for pets that can calm queasy stomachs and turn that reluctant car rider into an eager copilot? Or a jacket that can help provide a snug “hug” for a pet and may make thunderstorms easier even without ANY additional medications? Our vets are here to help your pets’ well being in all ways, including their sense of comfort in stressful situations.

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Pheromones – Pill-Free Relief

Pheromones are chemicals processed through a pet’s olfactory system (the same system that processes smell, such an important sense to our dogs and cats!) that can have a direct calming effect on the brain without the use of oral medications. Specific products for both dogs and cats are available, and replicate chemicals that have a calming effect on the brain. For dogs, Adaptil® products are available as collars that can be put on in the morning if the weather is calling for thunderstorms so they can work gently throughout the day. Feliway® products for cats are available in a room spritz or even set-it-and-forget-it plug-in diffusers that are especially helpful for times when you’re having house guests, or that week around the 4th of July when there are stray fireworks going off in the neighborhood.adaptilfeliway

Nutraceuticals – Calm By Nature

There are some great non-prescription products out there that can be helpful as well. Some proteins and amino acids have been studied to support our pets’ sense of calm and healthy brain chemical balance. For example, the product Zylkene® makes use of a protein from milk, and Solliquin Chews use the amino acid L-Theanine from green tea and other botanical extracts to promote balanced behavior and relaxation. While we recommend you check in with our doctors before starting on any supplement for your pet, these products are over the counter and do not require a prescription. Consider adding them to your routine to help your furry family members to be more comfortable.zylkenesolliquin

This June we are offering 50% off the Behavior Consult exam with the veterinarians, and 10% off anxiety and calming aids, including all the products mentioned above! Help you and your pets have a great summer, and call us with any questions or to schedule a consult!

Feline Health Month!

Cats need regular veterinary care too! Join us this month for specials for your feline friends, and make sure these family members get just as much of the attention they need and deserve as their canine compatriots!

In addition to the services listed below, our wellness labwork screening panels are also discounted, and highly recommended!

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Parasite Prevention Month!

Our focus in April this year is making sure we keep your pets and your family free from dangerous parasites!

We are offering 10% off our regular parasite testing, which includes:

• 4Dx testing, which screens for heartworms, as well as tick-borne diseases (Lyme, Ehrlichia, & Anaplasma)

• fecal testing, which screens for intestinal parasites

We also have some amazing specials on the routine parasite prevention your pets need to stay safe from parasites year round. The coupons below can be brought in and redeemed for extra savings on these preventatives, and there may be additional rebates available as well!

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**Note! The above special (Heartgard and NexGard) has been extended through the end of May! Click here!

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Lyme Disease Prevention

Our health focus topic for March is Lyme Disease Awareness and Prevention! Just like humans, dogs are susceptible to Lyme disease, and can have long lasting issues from contracting this disease.

Ticks in our area carry Lyme disease, as well as other nasty blood parasites like Ehrlichia and Anaplasma. Virginia is one of the states on the East Coast with a very high prevalence of Lyme disease.

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Unlike humans, dogs very rarely get the “bulls-eye” lesion on their skin after a bite from an infected tick. Some dogs will get an irritated area around a tick bite whether or not the tick is carrying a disease, and others will not react at all.

The disease itself can cause fever, lethargy, achiness and arthritis, and in some cases, even permanent effects on the kidneys. Just because your dog has been exposed to Lyme disease doesn’t mean that he or she will necessary develop these symptoms. However, since some dogs do experience illness, we strongly recommend prevention for EVERY dog in our area.

Lyme infection in dogs is only detected with a blood test. We use a quick, in-hospital test that only requires a few drops of blood to screen for this disease.

Knowing your dog’s status is an important first step in preventing or treating this disease!

If your dog tests positive, our doctors will discuss with you the next options, which could include further testing or medications. If your dog tests negative, he or she is eligible to start the Lyme vaccine series to help prevent future infection!

This month, Elkwood Animal Hospital will offer 10% off Lyme disease vaccination and the testing to start the vaccine!

Additionally, if your dog completes the Lyme vaccination series for the first time, you will be eligible for a FREE gift…  your choice of a travel dog water bottle or a light-up, night time safety collar! (while supplies last!)

The Lyme vaccine is an important means to prevent disease in your dog, but tick prevention is ALWAYS the best way to prevent ticks and the many diseases they can transmit. We recommend keeping your dog on tick prevention year round, as our mild climate often means ticks can be active even in the winter months.

Help us protect your dog from Lyme disease this spring!

Caring For Your Pet’s Teeth At Home

This is the third article in our series of dental health articles, and arrives just in time for February, which is National Pet Dental Health Month!

In case you haven’t heard, our February Dental Health Month special is 10% off all dental procedures (see our article on the “COHAT” and what this includes!) as well as FREE dental goody bags for pets after their procedure. Read on for more information about what to do with the great home care samples you’ll find in that goody bag!

Home Dental Care – The Most Important Part of Your Pet’s Dental Health!

What would your breath smell like if you NEVER brushed your teeth? Like your dog’s breath, maybe? Our pets’ mouths have bacteria and plaque just like our mouths (and often theirs have more, especially depending on what your dog likes to chew…).

There are many things that you can do at home to support your pet’s dental health, to reduce buildup of plaque and tartar, and to prevent periodontal disease. None of these options require advanced or special skills, and any or all of them could make a difference for your pet. Your bottom line could benefit as well, as home care may be able to reduce the frequency of professional dental cleanings for some pets, and often, can prevent expensive tooth extractions or restorations later.

Brushing – The Gold Standard

Dog owner brushing an Australian Shepherd puppys teeth. Educational showing the proper method of handeling the puppy.

Brushing your cat or dog’s teeth is the absolute best way to prevent tartar and gum disease.

Ideally, we would brush our pets’ teeth daily, but the truth is even occasional brushing can still make a difference. The brushing action is the best way to remove the bacterial film that builds up on the surfaces of teeth, which would otherwise develop into plaque and eventually dentaltoothpastetartar. Pet-safe toothpastes in flavors like poultry, seafood, malt and vanilla-mint are available to help make the process more enjoyable for your pet, and may contribute a little to cleaning the teeth as well. You should not use human toothpastes with pets, as they frequently end up swallowing a good deal of toothpaste in the process.

Brush options vary from traditional pet bristle brushes to smaller rubber finger brushes. Human baby toothbrushes with SOFT bristles can be used as well, and sometimes work well for cat mouths or very small dogs. Experiment to find what is most comfortable for you and your pet!dentalbrushes

Introducing your pet to brushing could be a whole article itself, but the basic principles are: start young if you can, start with only brief sessions and work up, and make the experience fun and rewarding for your pet! Almost any pet can learn to have their teeth brushed and all will benefit from this special care you give them!

Here is a great video about dental disease that gives specific demonstrations of brushing and introducing your dog or cat to brushing!

Dental Chews, Treats, & Toys

dentalchewsThe chewing action dogs (and some cats!) enjoy can help them keep their teeth clean by physically rubbing off the bacterial film on the teeth, just like brushing can do. Some dental chews and treats may also contain other ingredients to help combat bacterial buildup. Brushing helps us address all the surfaces of the teeth – it has an advantage over products that clean the teeth by the chewing action because pets may chew using some areas of their mouth preferentially. They may be cleaning only those areas. Still, some cleaning of the teeth is better than none. Therefore, products that clean the teeth as the animal chews are still useful.

Dental chews and treats vary in how effective they may be – there is no regulation to prevent a company from claiming their product is good for teeth even if they have never tested it. Treats that have received the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) seal have standards for their product with trials and are an excellent products with which to start. Other treats may also be effective, but one rule of thumb is if your pet is not actually chewing on the treat, they are likely not getting a lot of benefit from it!

Water Additives, Rinses, & Sprays

dentalrinsesWater additives and rinses are used to try to decrease bacteria in the mouth of our pets. Water additives like Oratene or AquaDent are put in the pets’ drinking water in small amounts, and act as a safe-to-swallow “mouthwash” each time the pet drinks. Oral rinses like DentaHex can dentallebaiiibe squirted over the pets’ teeth daily to help kill bacteria in the mouth.

Leba-III is a spray we offer that helps to promote a healthy bacterial balance in the mouth – it can be spritzed in the mouth twice daily to help keep teeth healthy.

Food – The Other Daily Dental Care Option!

td foodYou make an important health decision for your dog or cat every day – what to put in the food bowl! We carry not one but TWO food options that are clinically proven to help cats and dogs maintain healthy mouths. Both Hill’s t/d diet and Purina DH have the VOHC seal and are available for long term feeding that daily helps remove plaque and bacteria. They are suitable for almost every pet, and can be fed lifelong. They may be an especially good idea to start early in pets prone to dental disease.

Both foods use special kibble technology to help clean the teeth as the pet crunches their daily meal. These work best after a thorough cleaning, as they prevent buildup on clean teeth, but both are beneficial in ALL pets to slow down plaque and tartar accumulation.

YOU Can Do It – And We’re Here to Help!

brushcatteethThese are all wonderful ways for you to take an active role in protecting your pet’s health! Dental disease is such a common condition, and with just a little effort on the home front, pet parents can make a BIG difference in their pet’s oral health!

Please contact us with any questions about getting started with home dental care for your pet! Our doctors and staff would love to help find the right match for you and your pet.

Holiday Safety! Xylitol, Salt Dough, Poinsettias, oh my?

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! As you’re celebrating, are you aware of what you can do to keep your pets safe and happy, along with all the other family members?

 

Here’s a list of some great overview articles on important winter and holiday safety for pets!

 

Additionally, here are some specific things we’d like to feature for you this year in our efforts to keep your pets safe and healthy!

Xylitol

There has been an increase in products that use the artificial sweetener xylitol, which can be incredibly toxic to dogs. (and real bad for cats too!) Even tiny amounts can cause poisoning, especially in small dogs. For something like sugar-free gums, depending on the xylitol content of the particular product, we are talking 3-4 pieces of gum in a small or medium sized dog! More peanut butters and diet foods are being made with this, so make sure to check the label before you “treat” your pets to any special holiday snacks!

This link has a large list of xylitol containing products!

Salt Dough Toxicity

Salt dough toxicity has also been in the news recently, and while this is an infrequently reported home poisoning risk, salt dough Christmas ornaments are certainly popular and prevalent! The amount of salt in these homemade doughs can cause severe toxicity, neurologic issues, and even death in some cases. If your dog or cat is an “unpicky” eater, and eats things he or she shouldn’t, make sure that these decorations are kept up high!

Poinsettias – good news!

This falls in the category of good news! Poinsettias are one of the most commonly cited holiday hazards, and while your pets certainly shouldn’t go around chomping on them, the good news is that they are much less dangerous than other things on our watch list. Chewing a poinsettia is likely to result in some mouth and stomach irritation, but usually doesn’t cause lasting damage for your pet. All the same, it’s best to avoid letting your pets chew on these living decorations.

All of us here at Elkwood Animal Hospital hope you have a very happy and safe holiday season 2015-2016!

November Microchip Special

We believe in microchip identification for all pets! Getting lost pets home is our health focus for November, and we are offering 10% off our microchip placement with lifetime registration!

WHY MICROCHIP?

As many as one third of all pets may find themselves lost or separated from their owners at one point in their lifetimes. Dogs get excited and run off to explore; fences are damaged in storms; delivery people or family friends accidentally leave a door open and a pet who normally stays indoors is suddenly out, scared, and lost – all of these can happen and create a very scary situation!

Pets should wear collars and tags with contact information as well, but collars and tags can come off or can be removed, while a microchip stays with your pet for a lifetime. Tattoos sometimes fade, and sometimes they could be altered. A microchip is programmed with one unique number, and are in place for life.

Microchip implantation is a reliable way to ensure your pet’s identity is known wherever they may turn up – when a lost pet visits a shelter, animal control,or a good Samaritans who bring a found animal to a vet, the animal can be scanned for the microchip and its unique identification number that can set him/her on the path to getting back home.

HOW IS IT DONE?

The microchip is inserted with a quick and simple injection in the loose skin between the shoulder blades of cats and dogs. (Other species may have different locations) After that simple process, your pet’s ID is in place for life. A physical exam is not required for microchip placement!

Once the chip is placed, a scan is done right away to be sure everything is functional! Microchip scanners are made to be universal now, and able to pick up chips from any manufacturer. Having your pet’s chip scanned every year is also a great idea, to make sure no changes have occurred and help ensure your peace of mind.

HOW DOES MY PET GET BACK TO ME?

Once a lost pet’s chip is scanned, the person or organization will use the number from the chip to help get the pet back home. Through phone numbers and websites, the microchip number allows the pet’s rescuer to find the contact information for the pet’s owner. The American Animal Hospital Association manages the http://www.petmicrochiplookup.org/ which is a universal search site anyone can use, and one of the easiest ways to look up information on a scanned microchip number.

Each microchip contains a unique ID number – but no other information. Your personal information is NOT stored in your pet’s chip! ID numbers will need to be registered and kept up to date so that the number leads back to the pet’s human family members.

You will receive a lifetime registration form to complete and submit when your pet gets the microchip. Your pet’s number will initially be linked to our hospital, and then to you when you register. Make sure to keep your registration information up to date with us and with the microchip company!

Again, in November we are offering a 10% discount off all our microchip services! And every new microchip implanted includes lifetime registration! Please call us with any questions or to schedule to have your pet microchipped today!  540-825-1777

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