Saying Goodbye

By: Dr. Amy Sutherland
June 2017

Animal Care Center lost a beloved pet on May 28, 2017. Our precious Thomas left us to go over the rainbow bridge. With his crooked tail, creeper stalkings and incessant meows for food, and blinds/window open demands, the clinic will not be the same. I first started with ACC in 2003 and Thomas was shortly after, so I feel as though he was ‘mine’. I cannot explain how much I will miss those ‘head butts’ and morning talks we had. He always knew how to make my day better.

I know that with these monthly blogs we usually take this opportunity to educate our clients about some sort of disease or aspect of veterinary medicine that we frequently see everyday. Today, I am going to try to let you guys into my mind and heart. You will not see any ‘statistical facts’ or ‘reference citing’s’ for this blog, just my feelings. I will try to convey how I have learned to cope with euthanasia over the last 11 years of practicing medicine and being a life long pet owner.

No one wants to thing about the day that we will have to say goodbye to our beloved furry babies, but unfortunately that time always comes. There is no magic words that can take the hurt away, no article to read to ease the pain, no poem that makes us forget...but hopefully sharing my feelings will help one person understand how I cope. And that may ease the sadness just a little.

If I have had the privilege of seeing your pet as a patient, then you probably realize how attached I get to my babies. I especially have a soft spot for my geriatric patients, and the bond that they have with their families. With the advancements in medicine that we have today, we are able to keep our pets healthy and with us for much longer than even 25 years ago. I can remember having pets growing up and the average lifespan being 10-12 years, and that being considered ‘old’. Now, ’10 is the new 5’ and our ‘geriatric’ pets are living well into their teens. But, unfortunately, we do have to say goodbye one day. And that is a question that I get asked at least a few times a week - ‘Dr Amy, when will I know? Tell me when it is time...’

And that is one of the hardest questions to answer, because there is no right or wrong answer. For each pet and each owner, it is different. I personally lost four of my own pets last year, one to kidney failure, one to severe dementia/senility and two to cancer. I remember asking my colleagues the same question...what should I do??? Having to make that decision to euthanize my furry baby seemed so impossible. But, that is the one last ‘gift of love’ and ‘self sacrifice’ that we can give our loved ones. They provided us with years of wonderful memories, unconditional love...the least we can do is ease their suffering.

When I get asked, ‘What should I do?’ The best answer I can give is that they will let you know. The bond that we have with our animals is unique to each one of us. As your pet’s doctor, I can give you as much information as I am able regarding their health and options regarding their treatment/care. But, as your mental support, I can give you advice that ‘they will let you know’. It is a feeling that you get in your heart, and no matter how sad and painful it is for you, it is a peace that you feel knowing you can give them this last act of kindness. Ending their suffering.

For my precious Sophia, one of my babies that I lost to cancer, it was when she looked into my eyes and couldn’t give me that little ‘chirrble’ kiss. I could see the pain in her eyes and the struggle that she was having with each breath. For my love Moe, it was when he wouldn’t eat for me (he NEVER refused food in his 13 years of life). For my first husky Bailey Man, it was when he couldn’t keep anything down and had uncontrollable accidents in the house. The look of shame on his face and pain he was in, and knowing I couldn’t stop it; let me know what I had to have done. I could go on and on, but I am telling you this so that you may hopefully understand that each pet is different - it may be when they stop chasing the ball, stop burrowing under the covers, stop begging for food.... Although the pain is horrible in our hearts and the sadness consumes us, it is the last selfless act of love and kindness that we can give to our pets. They let you know when it is time.

And when it is time, we are here for you. We can help ease your pet’s pain, and we can hopefully help ease your sadness. Personally, I still cry every night for the pets that I have lost and the patients that I have lost; but it is a cry of knowing that they are in a better place and just a letting go of my emotions. The sadness stays with us, but knowing that our babies are in a pain free place gives me peace.

Thank your for taking the time to read about my thoughts and emotions. Know that we are here for you at Animal Care Center and Pet Care Center to help you with any hard decisions that you may need to face. It is a conversation that no one likes to have, but we can hopefully offer solutions and provide some insight for you to help make the right decision for both you and your pet.

Thomas

Thomas, I love you and you and your crooked tail will never be forgotten.

Dr. Amy Sutherland

There is a bridge connecting Heaven and Earth.
It is called the Rainbow Bridge because of all its beautiful colors.
Just this side of the Rainbow Bridge there is a land of meadows,
hills and valleys with lush green grass.
When a beloved pet dies, the pet goes to this place.
There is always food and water and warm spring weather.
The old and frail animals are young again.
Those who were sick, hurt or in pain are made whole again.
There is only one thing missing,
they are not with their special person who loved them so much on earth.
So each day they run and play until the day comes
when one suddenly stops playing and looks up!
The nose twitches! The ears are up!
The eyes are staring and this one runs from the group!
You have been seen and when you and your special friend meet,
you take him in your arms and hug him.
He licks and kisses your face again and again -
and you look once more into the eyes of your best friend and trusting pet.
Then you cross the Rainbow Bridge together never again to be apart.


The 411 On Heartworms

By: By Dr. Mary Beth Tamor
April 2017

Dr. Mary Beth Tamor

Have you heard of heartworm disease but want to know more? My goal for this blog post is to give you a basic overview. For more information please come see us or talk to your local veterinarian.

What exactly is Heartworm Disease?

Dogs develop heartworm disease when bitten by an infected mosquito carrying heartworm larvae. Once inside the dog, the larvae develop into adults over the course of several months. Adult heartworms can become up to 10 to 12 inches long and then live in the right side of the heart as well as the vessels leading to the lungs (pulmonary arteries). It is here that they cause damage leading to lung disease and heart failure.

Heartworm disease has been diagnosed in all 50 states and risk factors are impossible to predict. Even inside pets are at risk, YES, even if they only go outside to use the bathrooms. We live in south Louisiana; mosquitos are everywhere, even inside our homes!

Clinical signs of Heartworm Disease

Heartworm disease isn’t always easy to see. Some dogs can be infected for years before signs occur. Signs develop as the heartworms slowly cause damage to the pulmonary arteries. Dogs with this level of infection can have a persistent cough, exercise intolerance, decreased appetite and weight loss. Further damage causes decreased blood flow through the lungs and some dogs can develop right sided heart failure. This is typically recognized as a “swollen belly” as fluid builds up in the abdomen. Less commonly, a sudden obstruction of blood flow through the heart and lungs can be caused by a large number of heartworms. This blockage, called caval syndrome, can be life threatening. Be on the lookout for sudden onset of labored breathing, pale gums, dark red/brown urine and severe lethargy. Please seek veterinary care immediately since without quick surgical treatment to remove the heartworm blockage, many dogs will not survive.

Heartworm Testing

The earlier we can detect heartworm disease, the higher the chances of recovery as the disease may be less severe and easier to treat. With just a few drops of blood a test can be ran to detect heartworms either in our clinic or an outside laboratory.

Yearly testing for heartworms is recommended for all dogs to make sure prevention is achieved and maintained. We recommend that all dogs 7 months of age or older be tested for heartworms before starting heartworm prevention. More frequent testing may be required if you have missed a dose of prevention if switching from one prevention to another. At minimum, retesting is recommended 6 months after either first starting prevention or missing a dose, and then annually thereafter.

Treating Heartworms

Heartworm disease will worsen and may lead to more serious illness if left untreated. It is recommended that heartworm positive dogs are treated unless the dog is considered a poore candidate due to other medical reasons.A physical examination, bloodwork and x-rays may be needed before starting treatment to evaluate each dog’s potential for treatment. Your veterinarian can discuss treatment further.

Heartworm Prevention

Heartworm preventative medications are very effective when administered properly on a prescribed schedule. Carefully monitoring your pet’s weight is extremely important as preventatives are prescribed by weight. Heartworm preventatives come in many forms: chews,. tablets, topical serums, & injection. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the proper form of preventative for your pet. Approved heartworm preventions are typically safe, easy to administer, and relatively inexpensive and some even provide additional parasite treatments. Preventing heartworm disease is always safer and more affordable than treating adult heartworm infections.

As a pet owner, you are responsible for giving your dog the heartworm prevention as prescribed. It is recommended you give prevention year round to reduce the risk of heartworm infection in your dog.

Finally, heartworms disease is not subject to only dogs. Heartworms can also infect other common household pets such as cats and ferrets. It is recommended to apply heartworm preventatives to these types of pets as well, though clinical signs of heartworm disease may vary from species to species. Speak to your veterinarian to learn how heartworms may impact your pet's life.

For more information regarding heartworms and heartworm disease please come see us at Animal Care Center & Pet Care Center or talk with your local veterinarian. As always our staff is happy to assist you with any of your pet related concerns. Please call (985) 542-6300 with questions.


Common Toxins for Cats and Dogs

By: Dr. Melanie Lavergne
March 2017

Dr. Melanie Lavergne

With Easter just around the corner there are some common toxins we all need to be mindful of and keep out of reach from our pets:

  • Milk chocolate can be dangerous if ingested in large amounts. However, it is dark chocolate and Baker’s chocolate are the most toxic. The darker the chocolate the greater the amount of theobromine, which is the primary toxin, as well as caffeine. White chocolate contains negligible amounts of either of these.
  • Many sugar-free products contain the ingredient xylitol. Xylitol is a sweetener commonly found in sugarless gum, candy, and baked goods. Xylitol is now also found in mints, toothpaste, mouthwash, medications, nasal sprays, and as a powder. In dogs, Xylitol causes liver failure and a rapid drop in blood sugar. If xylitol is listed as one of the first five ingredients on the package, a severe toxicosis can develop within 15 minutes of ingestion.
  • Macadamia nuts are especially toxic, but it is best to avoid all nuts. In dogs, as little as one macadamia nut per two pounds of bodyweight can result in toxicity. With proper treatment, most patients quickly recover.
  • A single serving of grapes or raisins can be enough to lead to kidney failure in dogs. Both red and white grapes are included, as well as fermented grapes from wineries. No known reports of grape toxicosis exist in other species. The exact cause of kidney damage in dogs is unknown.
  • Plants in the Lilium and Hemerocallis species are toxic to cats. These lilies include Easter lilies, Tiger lilies, Asiatic lilies, Stargazer lilies, and Oriental lilies, as well as Day lilies. All parts of the plant are considered toxic, including the pollen. Even with a minor exposure acute kidney failure can develop. Lily of the Valley plants are toxic to the heart. Calla lilies and Peace lilies are not true lilies; therefore, ingestion of these may only result in a mild gastrointestinal upset.
  • Other Common toxins we may see include Rodenticides, over the -counter medicines, Sago Palms, and topical flea and tick products.
  • Rodent baits are all similar in appearance. However, some are anticoagulants, some are neurotoxins, and some are toxic to the kidneys. There is also a Rodenticide that releases phosphine gas which can also be toxic to humans. It is always very important to note the toxic ingredient in each exposure case.
  • Over-the-counter cough, cold, and allergy medicines that include acetaminophen or decongestants such as pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine can be toxic. Acetaminophen, the ingredient in Tylenol, is toxic to blood cells and the liver, and can be deadly to cats.
  • Ibuprofen and naproxen are found in products such as Advil, Motrin, and Aleve. These drugs are not easily metabolized by dogs and are very toxic to cats. These drugs can cause stomach ulcers and kidney failure.
  • Sago Palms or cycads are a most deadly plant. These plants are very popular in landscaping around homes. All parts of the plant are toxic, with seeds being the most toxic. These plants cause acute liver failure in dogs and once clinical signs have developed the prognosis is grave.
  • Flea and tick spot-on products that are labeled for dogs only, can lead to tremors, seizures, and possible death in cats if not treated. Many people do not read the package or think a smaller amount on a cat would not be harmful.

If you suspect your pet may have been poisoned, seek immediate medical attention. Three places you can go to for help are:

  1. Animal Care Center & Pet Care Center
    We accommodate to emergency cases, as well as, take emergency after hour calls 6 days a week until 10pm. Call (985) 542-6300.
  2. Pet Poison Helpline at (844) 442-0881 or (855) 764-7661. www.petpoisonhelpline.com
  3. ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435. www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control

If you have question concerning common toxins that might be harmful to your pet we at ACC & PCC care to help. Please don't hesitate to call us, ACC - (985) 542-6300 or PCC - (985) 370-7387.


Nutrition 101

By: Dr. Jessica Downing
February 2017

Dr. Jessica Downing

Many of us, including myself, consider our pets our children, and want to do the best we can to keep them healthy and live as long as possible. One very important aspect of our animal’s health is their diet. Starting from the time they are puppies or kittens, you need to make educated choices about what you feed your pet, how much to feed them, and how often to feed them. Factual information must be provided on pet food labels, but it is important to be aware that the label is also a promotional tool to attract pet owners. This means that much of the information provided - including the ingredient list and use of unregulated terms such as ‘holistic’, ‘premium’ or ‘human grade’ - is of little practical value in assisting nutritional assessment. The veterinary team plays a vital role in helping pet owners make informed decisions about what to feed their pets.

Feeding Puppies and Kittens

One of the first choices you have is small, regular, or large breed puppy food. Generally speaking, small breed refers to puppies that will stay under 10 pounds and large breed refers to any dog that will be greater than 50 pounds once reaching adulthood. Regular puppy food should be fed to puppies who will be somewhere between the two once reaching full maturity. Another important aspect of feeding your puppy is choosing the brand. As a veterinarian, the companies that I currently have the most confidence in recommending are Science Diet/Hill’s, Purina Proplan, and Royal Canin. These three pet food companies employ at least one boarded veterinary nutritionist and do extensive research on their products. They continue to come out with new innovations to keep our pets healthy and help them live longer. Puppies should be kept on puppy formulas until they are fully grown (or at least 90%), which occurs anywhere from 9 months to 2 years depending on breed. At this time your dog should be transitioned to the appropriate adult formula which would again depend on size, nutritional and health requirements. Kittens are usually a little easier because there isn’t quite as much variation in size. The same is recommended that you transition to adult food when the kitten is about 90% of its adult size and weight which is generally at about one year of age.

Transitioning is also an important thing to remember. Make sure to gradually transition to the new diet over 5-7 days. Stopping one formula and starting another, even with the same brand, can cause gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting and diarrhea.

Most puppies and kittens can be fed 2-3 times per day. Look at the feeding guide on the back of the bag and break the total daily amount up into separate feedings. Not all food contains the same caloric amount per cup so be sure to go by the guidelines provided by the manufacturer. Small and toy breed puppies can also be prone to getting hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) so feeding frequent, small meals is very important. These puppies generally need to be fed 4-6 times per day. Fresh water should also be provided at all times.

Feeding Adult and Senior Pets

If you have a healthy adult dog or cat, usually an adult maintenance formula is adequate from the ages of 1-7. Senior pets, 7 years of age or older, should be fed a diet for mature adults/seniors 7+. What many people do not know is that diet can be a very important factor in managing many different types of illnesses, prevent progression of these diseases, and even prolong your pet’s life. Both adult and senior animals may need a prescription diet depending on specific health issues. One of these examples is Science Diet J/D prescription diet. This food contains essential joint supplements to help slow down the progression of arthritis and even alleviate some of the pain and discomfort once the disease process is already active. This diet even comes in a weight control formula if your dog or cat is obese and dropping a few pounds could help alleviate some of the pain associated with arthritis. Our veterinary recommended diets (Science Diet/Hill’s, Purina Proplan and Royal Canin) have pet food formulas to help slow down, prevent, or even in some cases, cure certain disease processes. Some of these include, urinary and kidney disease, skin disease and food allergies, heart disease, obesity, arthritis, diabetes, and more! These diets are extensively tested by veterinarians and proven to work.

Obesity

Preventing obesity is another important health consideration when feeding your pet. Once cats and dogs begin to reach adulthood, their metabolism can start to slow down and they can begin to gain weight. Another thing to remember is that after a spay/neuter in either dogs or cats their daily caloric requirements usually drop by 20-40%. Portion control is VERY important! Unless your pet has a specific health condition, at adulthood, animals can be decreased to once or twice a day feedings – and YES, this includes cats. You should feed the amount for the ideal weight of your animal. This means if your pet weighs 60 pounds, but your veterinarian recommends that your pet lose 10 pounds, you feed your dog for the 50 pound weight requirement. Make sure to measure out the appropriate amount (according to the back of the food bag) and break that up into one or two feedings. Once that amount has been consumed for the day, your pet is done. YOU are in control of how much food your pet consumes. Free choice feeding is NOT recommended because many animals will over eat, which will quickly lead to obesity. Unless your pet has a specific health condition, HUMANS are generally the cause of obesity in animals. And NO, table food is not recommended. I have heard many times from clients that “my dog won’t eat dog food”, but never have I seen a healthy dog starve. Your pets will eventually get hungry and eat what you provide for them. Also, remember to factor treats into your pet’s total daily intake. Even with portion control, treats can add up and lead to weight gain. Obesity can play a role in many problems down the road, including diabetes and arthritis, which can be difficult and expensive to control. Prevention is Key!

In closing, I hope this has helped educate you a little bit about nutrition for your fur baby. I know there are so many options out there and sometimes selecting the best food for your pet can be a very difficult decision. If you have any further questions or concerns, any of our veterinarians at Animal Care Center or Pet Care Center would be happy to assist you and your pet!


Taking Care Of Your Geriatric Pets

By: Dr. Bethany Brewer
January 2017

Dr. Bethany Brewer

With the marvels of modern veterinary medicine it's no surprise that our small animal companions have a much longer life expectancy than they did even 20 years ago. It's not uncommon for a dog or cat to live well into their teens! Preventative medicine such as annual vaccinations and heartworm prevention is becoming a gold standard of care and has a huge impact on why our animals are living so long.

I adopted my first dog when he was a spunky, obnoxious 12-week old puppy. This year we celebrated his 14th birthday and through the years I've watched him slow down. He has trouble seeing in the dark. He used to pop up and bark at any little sound but his impaired hearing means that he sleeps harder and often requires a soft pet in order to wake up from a nap. He sleeps a good portion of the day but is happy to go for a walk even though he tires quickly. He still reminds me about an hour before dinnertime that it's almost time to eat.

Since our pets are living longer, we are seeing more age-related issues that come along with aging. Here are some tips on how to care for your elderly companion.

Annual Physical Exams and Bloodwork

While annual exams are important in pets of all ages, it's even more crucial in animals that have hit middle age. Even if their appetite and demeanor haven't changed. Most owners can tell when their pet can't see as well in the dark or if they are having to yell their name in order to hear it. The things that the veterinarian checks for are things that cannot be seen or appreciated without knowing what to look for. Heart murmurs, kidney issues, and thyroid levels are just a few of the things that are picked up on annual exam and senior bloodwork. More often than not I can pick up a treatable medical issue that owners had no idea was even there. Our pets can't verbally tell us what hurts so it's up to us to be their voice.

Nutrition

Once your pet reaches that "senior" status, it's advised to switch their food to a senior formula. These recipes are typically lower in salt, protein, and calories to take it easy on the aging kidneys. There are many different types of pet food and trying to pick the best one can make your head spin. Did you know there are special foods for many types of medical issues? Hyperthyroidism, arthritis, obese-prone, allergy-prone, sensitive tummies, heart disease, kidney disease, and many more! Our veterinarians are happy to provide nutritional counseling for your four-legged family member. Together we can pick the best food for your pet.

Weight Management

"Fat" does not equal "happy"! Overweight pets are MUCH more susceptible to diseases such as osteoarthritis, diabetes, and breathing difficulties. This is exceptionally important in large breed dogs prone to hip dysplasia. A 13-pound Chihuahua that should weigh 7 lbs. is the human equivalent of being 150 lbs. overweight. One french fry to a small dog is equal to an entire large-sized order of french fries to us. This is why it's so easy to overfeed our pets.

Annual Dental Cleaning

This is especially true for cats and small dogs. Many owners think that their animals cannot have a painful mouth because are still eating normally. The truth is that the vast majority of animals will not stop eating even with a severely infected mouth! Pets with several broken teeth and a tooth root abscess happily take a treat from my hand. Bad breath is never normal. Older pets can safely be anesthetized for a thorough dental cleaning. Don't hesitate to address any concerns at annual checkups.

Keep Them Comfortable

Some issues, such as osteoarthritis, are unavoidable no matter how hard we try to prevent it. This is a common age-related change. The good news is that it is manageable in several different ways! Adding an approved glucosamine supplement will help slow the arthritic changes as well as calm the existing inflammation within the joints. Laser therapy has helped many of our painful patients live more comfortably. Adding beds around the house, elevating food bowls, and providing slip-free surfaces for your pet to walk on will help those aging joints. Keeping nails trimmed will making walking a bit easier. Regular grooming will prevent matting and knots in longer fur. The saying in humans is "bodies in motion stay in motion" which reminds us that regular exercise will keep those joints from stiffening up. Older pets have a lower muscle mass than their younger counterparts so they tend to shiver and get cold more often. Sweaters can help with staying warm. If your pet has trouble getting up in the morning or not jumping up on the furniture anymore, they may be painful. Most over-the-counter pain medication for humans are toxic to dogs and cats but we have many options for managing pain with or without medication.

Remember that age is not a disease. Don't accept abnormalities such as stiff joints, bad breath, and itchy skin as being normal for an older pet. We at Animal Care Center and Pet Care Center are here to help you keep your companion pet happy and healthy for a very long time to come.


November is Senior Wellness Awareness Month: Common Health Conditions in Senior Dogs

November 2016
by Dr. Darryl Bubrig

At Animal Care Center & Pet Care Center we see the special love you have for your senior pets. The bond you've developed with these pets over numerous years is something we can appreciate. We understand that as they age your worries for their health often grow. It's true, many diseases become more likely as dogs age. Kidney disease, heart disease, cancer and diabetes are among the ones that are of greatest concern. While we hope that your pets live out their years in great health, we want you to be informed of these diseases in the event your pet has an illness he/she cannot tell us about.

Cancer

Cancer is a major disease of senior dogs. Warning signs depend on the cancer, but can include a new lump, sores, weight loss, lethargy, limping, breathing problems, coughing, vomiting or collapse. Treatment also depends on the type of cancer, but may include surgery, chemotherapy or radiation.

Heart Disease

Heart disease is also a major disease of older dogs. Signs can include coughing, breathing difficulty, loss of appetite, lethargy and abdominal distension. We can diagnose the condition by listening to the heart and conducting more extensive tests such as EKG, radiographs (x-rays) or cardiac ultrasound (echocardiography). Treatment may include a special diet and medications.

Arthritis

Arthritis very common in older dogs. Signs include limping, difficulty getting up, whining and reluctance to exercise. It can be especially evident after a day of excess exercise. Your veterinarian can prescribe drugs that can help ease the pain. Some dogs benefit from joint supplements (ask us for the best recommendations) and lifestyle adjustments like weight management, controlled exercise and physical therapy. At Animal Care Center we offer Companion Animal Laser Therapy which has proved effective in helping senior pets with arthritis.

Dental Problems

Dental problems are also very common in older dogs. Bad breath, bleeding gums, loose teeth, recessed gums and reluctance to chew are all signs. We can examine and/or radiograph your dog's mouth, and may extract infected or painful teeth (anesthesia is required for these procedures). We may also prescribe medication for pain or infection, and at-home care to help slow down future tartar buildup.

Kidney Disease

Kidney disease is very common in older dogs. The condition may take months to years to develop, and usually doesn't show any outward signs until the disease is fairly advanced. Signs include excessive thirst and urination, weight loss, appetite loss and vomiting. We can diagnose the condition with urine and blood tests, and can prescribe treatment that may include a special diet, medication and fluid injections.

Cushing's Syndrome

Cushing’s Syndrome, or hyperadrenocorticism, occurs when the body produces too much of the hormone cortisol. This produces signs such as increased hunger, thirst and urination, as well as lethargy, muscle wasting, hair loss and a pot-bellied appearance. Your veterinarian can run urine and blood tests to diagnose it, and can then place your dog on drugs that will help him feel much better. Sometimes, surgery is recommended.

Cognitive Dysfunction

Cognitive dysfunction, somewhat similar to human Alzheimer's disease, is seen in some older dogs. Signs include aimless wandering, loss of house-breaking and training, confusion and disorientation. We may be able to treat the condition with medications.

Visual Loss

Visual loss can result from cataracts, retinal problems, brain problems or other diseases. See your veterinarian for a diagnosis.

Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid glands do not produce enough thyroid hormone. Symptoms of hypothyroidism vary widely, but the most common are weight gain or obesity, hair loss or poor haircoat, rough or scaly skin, and exercise intolerance. It can be diagnosed with a blood test, and is usually well managed with medication.

Understanding Symptoms

Some of the more common symptoms and their possible causes in older dogs include:

  • Diarrhea: liver disease, pancreatitis, cancer
  • Coughing: heart disease, tracheal collapse, cancer
  • Difficulty eating: periodontal disease, oral tumors
  • Decreased appetite: kidney, liver or heart disease, pancreatitis, cancer, pain, arthritis
  • Increased appetite: diabetes, Cushing's Syndrome
  • Weight loss: heart, liver or kidney disease, diabetes, cancer
  • Abdominal distention: heart or liver disease, Cushing's Syndrome, tumors
  • Increased urination: diabetes, kidney disease, bladder infection or stones, Cushing's Syndrome
  • Limping: arthritis, patellar luxation, back pain, neck pain, cancer, ligament injury
  • Nasal discharge: tumor, periodontal disease

 

Don't just ignore a change in odors. They could indicate specific problems, such as periodontal disease, impacted anal sacs, seborrhea, ear infections or even kidney disease. Any strong or unusual odor should be checked by your veterinarian.Vomiting and diarrhea in an old dog can signal many different problems; keep in mind that an older dog is less able to tolerate the dehydration that results from continued vomiting, diarrhea or reduced fluid intake, and you should not let it continue unchecked. An older pet should see his veterinarian at least twice a year, or more often if medically warranted. Routine screening blood tests and other diagnostics can help detect early stages of many diseases that can benefit from treatment.

Animal Care Center and Pet Care Center want to be sure that we give our seniors the attention they need and deserve.Please don't hesitate to call us today if you feel as though your pet may be affected by a disease such as one of these.

Floods, Hurricanes, Tornadoes... Are you prepared if disaster strikes?

September 2016
By: Kellie Wheat
Veterinary Assistant

September is “National Disaster Preparedness Month,” no surprise as this is about the time the Gulf of Mexico starts turning it's wheels and sending hurricanes soaring our way. While we can't prevent the floods and storms from coming, we can be prepared for the obstacles we may face when natural disasters arise. Hopefully living in Louisiana you've prepared yourself and your loved ones for when disasters strike, but did you remember to prepare your pet?

What would you did with your pet if you had to evacuate? Do you have the supplies your animal needs to survive at least 5 days away from home? Do you know what to do if your pet gets injured in a natural disaster? These are just few of the many questions you need to ask yourself in order to be prepared for your pet and hopefully these tips can help!

1. Have an evacuation plan!
Know where you're going should you have to evacuate. While it's tough making the decision to leave your home, sometimes we have no choice in the matter. Never underestimate the power of a natural disaster. Keep a list handy of the places available for you to stay. If this is with a friend or family member then make sure this is a safe environment for your pet. For example, if your friend or family member has pets, are they friendly with other animals? Also, if your pet is anxious or acts out around unfamiliar people or foreign situations then it's probably a good idea not to evacuate to a household with children or those uncomfortable with animals. If you are evacuating to a hotel or camp ground, is it pet friendly? Know the environment you will be taking your animal to and make sure he/she will be comfortable.

2. Have pet supplies ready and easily accessible!
Whether you are evacuating or not, it's best that you have at least 5 days of supplies ready for your pet. I suggest that you get either a plastic container or a bag and label it with your pet's name and your information. Put in it all the items your animal might possibly need. This probably includes: food, a gallon of water, bowls, treats, leash, collar, litter box, litter, pee-pee pads, doggy waste bags, towel, blanket, toys, heartworm/flea medication, ect. Most importantly, don't forget your pet's medication if they are on any!!! I also recommend keeping in it an up-to-date copy of your pet's medical history and a photo of your pet. Store the container or bag in an easily accessible location in case you need to evacuate in a hurry.

3. Invest in a pet carrier!
You never know the situation you might end up in. Sadly, some of the recent flood victims experienced evacuating their neighborhoods via boat, many with animals. This is a very stressful experience for humans, much more so for animals who can not comprehend what is occurring. They are nervous and scared! Having a space for them where they are comfortable and that they know is their own is essential. It is also the key to preventing them from escaping because animals often run off and hide when they are scared. I suggest lining the carrier with pee-pee pads (easy clean up) and towels. If the pet is too large for a carrier then make sure they have a leash and collar that is secure. Hint: a secure collar isn't too tight or too lose; you should be able to fit two fingers in between the collar and the animal's skin! Having a carrier for your pet when your family is displaced also ensures it will have a place to call its own, making them comfortable in an unfamiliar place.

4. Microchip your pet!!!
Like I said before, animals like to run and hide when they are scared. Sometimes pet owners are forced to leave them behind because they can't find them or aren't prepared to evacuate with them. If this is the case, microchipping your pet increases the chances of being reunited with them significantly. A microchip is a small identification marker that is inserted under the skin on the animal's back. A microchip scanner can then detect the chip which has a registered number that identifies your pet. The pet owner registers the chip in a large database annually. The first thing we do at a vet's office when someone brings in a lost pet is scan them for a microchip. If the pet has a microchip then reuniting it with it's owner is very easy; all we have to do is look up the microchip number in the nation wide database and find the owner's contact information. However, if the animal doesn't have a microchip then locating his/her owner is usually rather difficult. The cost of microchipping your pet and registering it annually is a small price to pay if it can prevent you from being separated from them forever.

5. Know where the nearest emergency veterinarian is!
It is very common for us to see emergency pet cases during or post storms. With that being said, it is important to know where the nearest emergency veterinarian is located. If your pet is injured you want to be prepared to bring them to a veterinarian as fast as possible. Make sure that the vet you have in mind offers emergency services. In your evacuation plan note if the area you are evacuating to has a relatively close veterinary practice. Have the vet's office contact information available. It is also a good idea to know if the vet's office offers boarding facilities if needed.

I sincerely hope and pray that we can catch a break from natural disasters occurring in our area any time soon. Certainly Louisiana has had to endure plenty enough distress in recent times. Nevertheless, it is essential to be prepared just in case. After all being prepared relieves an enormous amount of stress if/when a natural disaster occurs! I hope that these tips have helped you, but should you have any questions concerning natural disaster preparedness for your pet, Animal Care Center and Pet Care Center are happy to help. For further assistance, call us at (985) 542-6300 or (985) 370-7387.


To Pee or Not to Pee.....

August 2016
By: Dr. Amy Sutherland

Dr. Amy Sutherland

I have been a practicing veterinarian for 10 years now, and no one that knows me will argue that I have a fond love for my kitty patients. One of the most common complaints/questions I get asked by friends, family, or clients is, “why is my cat peeing on things?” Having multiple cats, I have had this smelly (and frustrating) situation in my own home. And although your first reaction is frustration, anger and asking your cat “WHY?????”, it most likely is not because they have decided to seek revenge on you for whatever reason. Sometimes it can be the first sign of a severe condition, which can ultimately threaten your cat’s life. The dreaded “Blocked Cat”....

Kidneys are “filter organs” meaning they filter out minerals, water, and reabsorb nutrients that our bodies need. They also "dump" toxins, or waste products, that build up by normal metabolism into the urine. As long as urine outflow is normal, and urination can occur, then all is well. The body is rid of the waste products and the kidneys are happy.

The problem comes in when there is an obstruction, or "plug" in the plumbing system called the lower urinary tract and urine flow stops. With this blockage, waste products build up and can lead to a life threatening situation, Kidney Failure. One of the most common ways that this can happen in male cats is when their urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the litter box) gets blocked, or plugged. The actual "plug" is usually made of a mixture of mucus and protein called a "matrix," that is thick and collects crystals/debris from the urine and forms the blockage. How and why this matrix forms is still a mystery, like most things with cats.... but there are factors that can be addressed to help prevent and avoid this life threatening situation.

Common factors that can predispose to urethral blockages:

  • stress

  • lack of access to water/or not drinking much water
  • poor nutritional diet
  • indoor lifestyle
  • obesity

  • infectious agents/urinary tract infections

Signs that your cat may be blocked:

  • straining repeatedly in litter box

  • inappropriate urination (urinating outside the box, on towels, carpets, beds)
  • crying or howling when urinating

  • licking at genitals/below base of tail repeatedly
  • hiding (more so than normal)
  • not eating/vomiting

  • grumpy or aggressive behavior

A Urinary Tract Infection (or UTI) can be the first step in the process that leads to the life-threatening Blocked Cat. It is important to realize early signs and get treatment to avoid the plug from forming. If caught early, antibiotics and anti- inflammatories can be prescribed to treat the UTI.

Signs of Urinary Tract Infection::

  • excessive water drinking

  • urinating only small amounts of urine at a time
  • will notice ‘small clumps‘ of urine in litter box
  • urinating frequently and in multiple spots
  • inappropriate locations - towels, carpets/rugs, beds, etc
  • bloody urine or strong odor to urine

If your kitty does unfortunately become obstructed it is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT to seek veterinary care ASAP!! Time is of the essence, and the MOST important thing that needs to be done for your kitty is for the blockage to be removed. This is an EMERGENCY and cannot wait! I cannot stress enough how important it is to bring your cat in for treatment right away!!

Immediate Treatment for a Blocked Cat:

  • Sedation to pass a urinary catheter to relieve the blockage

  • Diuresis, or flushing of kidneys, with either intravenous (IV) fluids or fluids under the skin
  • Blood work to evaluate kidney function

  • Urinalysis to evaluate for a UTI and assess kidney function
  • Antibiotics and pain medications

Once the obstruction is cleared, and the kitty is stabilized, the urinary catheter will be kept in place for a minimum of 24-36 hours, based on length of time kitty was obstructed and the status of kidneys. If there is evidence of kidney damage (which we will be determine based off of blood work and urinalysis), with aggressive fluid therapy and treatment, more often than not we are able to clear the kidney failure. Unfortunately, there are instances where the kidney damage is permanent and longterm treatment is needed for the chronic kidney failure.

Based on how kitty responds to treatment, the urinary catheter is removed and kitty will be monitored very closely for urine production and flow. This is a critical time, and re-obstruction is most common in the immediate hours/days following catheter removal. It is usually recommended that kitty is hospitalized with a veterinarian for at least 24-48 hours after removal of the urinary catheter.

In a perfect world, kitty responds to the treatment and will be discharged with medications and sometimes a change of diet. It is VERY COMMON for there to be changes in urination after going home - sometimes bloody urine, different behavior habits of litter box. The MOST IMPORTANT thing at this time is to continue the medications/advise of your veterinarian and to be patient with kitty....He just escaped a life threatening situation and now is working with 8 lives. Please be sure to follow up with rechecks and having your veterinarian recheck urine in the next couple of weeks. Often times, a longer course of antibiotics is needed to clear the UTI completely. We definitely want to avoid re-blocking!

To summarize:

Things to do to Avoid Urethral Obstruction:

  • Good quality diet, for indoor kitties - diet designed for less active cats

  • Appropriate weight, in my experience most of my blocked cases have been in cats that had some extra weight on them

  • Fresh water access, water fountains, encourage water drinking
  • Fastidious cleaning of litter boxes - for two reasons:
    • cats prefer a clean box, will decrease chances of inappropriate elimination for behavioral reasons (another blog topic coming soon!)
    • if there are multiple, small spots of urine, this will be noticed sooner and is a chance to treat a UTI and avoid potential blockage
  • Routine annual/semi-annual exams/urinalysis for all cats, especially if they are prone to getting UTI’s or have had a blockage in the past

AGAIN....if your kitty decides to surprise you with urinating in a place other than the litter box, chances are it is NOT just him being a butt...it could be the beginnings of a very serious situation! Bring him to your vet ASAP!


The Pavement! The Pavement! The Pavement is on fire!!!

July 2016
By: Dr. Mary Beth Tamor

Dr. Mary Beth Tamor

It’s officially summer in south Louisiana. What does that mean? Among many fun activities such as festivals and pool parties, it also means a generous portion of HEAT. Our local average daily temperatures for July hover around the mid-90’s; these temperatures are reason for caution for both human health and also our pets’. During this time, It’s important we all take precautions to prevent overheating. Here are a few basic summer safety tips for our animal friends:

Never Leave Pets in Parked Cars
The interior of a parked vehicle can become extremely hot in a very short amount of time even with the windows cracked. Sophie may enjoy a ride in the car, but planning to run errands where she is not allowed is reason enough to leave her home this time. The following chart shows how quickly the temperatures inside your car can turn deadly.

Limit Exercise to Coolest Part of the Day
Many of us love the companionship of a jogging partner. If you decide to take CoCo for a run, tailor the length and difficulty of the workout to a cooler time of day such as first light in the morning or late in the evening or even after the sunset. This strategy will help limit the health risks such as sunburns, hot pavement, and heat stroke. Always test the road’s temperature with your own hands or walk in the grass if necessary. Pay special attention to our short-nosed friends such as Pugs, Boxers, Boston Terriers, and Bulldogs that can have difficulty breathing.

Be Aware of Humidity
Not only does the temperature affect our pets, but also the humidity, and in south Louisiana there’s plenty to go around. The method by which dogs cool off is by panting, so If the humidity is high, Duke’s panting is much less effective at cooling him, just as sweating is less effective at cooling our own bodies in high humidity. This can lead to dangerous elevations in your pet’s body temperature.

Ensure Adequate Shade and Water
Make sure Bella has easy access to both shade and water even if only outside for a short period of time. Double checking automatic water systems is essential, and adding ice to water bowls or giving other frozen treats is a simple way to encourage water intake.

Be On the Lookout For Signs of Heat Stroke
Pets most at risk for heat stroke include the very young or senior animals. Short nosed, overweight and dark or thick matted fur also increases the risk.

Some signs of heat stroke include: elevated rectal temperature, typically over 104 degrees F, altered mental behavior such as staggering or not responding to their name, dark pink to red gums which are dry and tacky to the touch, and increased breathing effort and rate. Sometimes vomiting, seizures and unconsciousness can occur.

If you are concerned your pet is suffering from heat stroke, quickly move them into the shade or air conditioned area. Apply cool water or wet towels to the head, neck and chest and bring them immediately to a veterinarian.

All of us here at Animal Care Center and Pet Care Center wish for a safe and fun-filled summer for you and your beloved pets!


But Doc, Do We Really Have To Neuter Him??

April 2016
By: Dr. Bethany Brewer

Dr. Bethany Brewer

I get asked this question all the time when talking to owners of a male puppy. It’s often followed by several excuses and misconceptions from owners on reasons not to have to neuter… all of which I’ve heard many times before. In this blog, I hope to debunk some of those myths that Dr. Google has perpetuated.

It’s not like he’ll come home pregnant.
True. But he will get someone pregnant. Many unplanned pregnancies in female dogs come from litters of an unknown male. An unplanned pregnancy can be life-threatening for females if the male is significantly bigger than she is. Dogs will mate regardless of size difference and puppies can be too large for her to pass naturally.

He’ll get fat.
Dogs become overweight for the same reason humans do; because their caloric intake exceeds their daily caloric use. Too many treats and not enough exercise will cause an animal to put on weight. Neutering will help to calm a rowdy male, but it will not make him fat and lazy.

I want to breed him.
Maybe he comes from a good bloodline. Maybe you paid a lot of money for him. Maybe he’s a rare color for the breed. Before you decide to stud out your buddy, I encourage you to simply take a walk through a local shelter. Have a look at the hundreds of animals overcrowded in kennels because of over breeding and unplanned litters.

I want another one just like him.
All dogs, just like all humans, are individuals and are products of both their genetics and environment. I guarantee you will not get a puppy that looks or behaves just like him.

I don’t want to take away his manlihood.
Sexual identity is a human thing. Just like he doesn’t know he’s never been skydiving or snorkled on the Great Barrier Reef. He won’t know the difference.

I don’t want to put him under anesthesia.
I completely understand! I get nervous when I have to anesthetize my 13-year-old Dachshund for his annual dental, but it’s something that has to be done and his overall health is improved afterward. Every surgery is a risk. Every patient undergoing a surgical procedure is carefully treated as such. You have the option of running “pre-op” blood work and EKG to evaluate heart and kidney function before they go under anesthesia. And yes, I have had patients that I’ve postponed surgery because their liver values were high or they didn’t feel well that day.

Studies show that neutered pets live longer than intact ones. As mentioned before, neutering greatly helps decrease roaming behavior and lost pets. The vast majority of dogs that I see after-hours that have been hit by cars are intact males (several of which have electric fence collars on). When castration is performed before a year of age we see fewer instances of “leg lifting” and house soiling as well as less dominance (humping) behavior. Neutering also prevents issues of the prostate, scrotum, and testicles. We can prevent certain cancers, benign prostatic hyperplasia, scrotal dermatitis, testicular torsions, hernias, and even self-inflicted injuries simply by castrating!

Although he won’t come home pregnant, it will help him live a longer, healthier life. In the very least it will help prevent him from chasing women and fast cars.


What Planet Are Veterinarians From?

March 2016
By: Dr. William Wheat

Dr. William Wheat

Have you ever wondered who veterinarians are, what are the qualities that make a good veterinarian, why we chose this profession, and just what makes us ‘tick’ (pun intended)?

Author John Grey eloquently spelled out the differences between men and women (how we think, how we feel, and how we react to situations) in his book ‘MEN ARE FROM MARS WOMEN ARE FROM FROM VENUS’. Accordingly, he contends we have been predestined by our DNA for certain traits at a very young age. I believe that veterinarians also contain unique characteristics that lead us to the profession of animal care. One study actually supports this belief with results showing that veterinarians choose their career at a much younger age than any other profession.

By understanding who we are and why we do what we do, perhaps it could be a valuable component in choosing the right doctor to provide health care for your beloved pet. More importantly, it could help build a better relationship between you, your pet, and your vet.

Perhaps the answers to many of your questions is best achieved by first dispelling some common myths about our profession, while also acknowledging some obvious things we all share.

The first myth is that we choose this profession because we like animals more than people. Granted, it would be hard to continue for any period of time without a truly inherent love for the animals we care for. For many of us, the initiating factor in our decision to become a veterinarian was driven by the love of a personal pet. Love of animals would seem to be a prerequisite, and I believe that it is; however, there is something more to it than that. After 33 years in veterinary practice, some of the most profound moments were not with the animals but with the owners themselves. The truth is that every dog and cat comes attached to a person! We talk to people all day long on the phone and in person, we educate, console, remember, laugh, and cry with owners. We build long lasting and meaningful relationships with our clients. I believe a good veterinarian certainly must love animals but equally important they must love and be great with people as well.

The second myth is that working with animals has to be the more fun job possible. Yes, we cherish moments of playing with puppies and kittens (yay!). In reality the profession is much harder and more serious than that. Most of our day is spent doing things like working with sick animals, diagnosing diseases, interpreting lab reports, counseling owners about end of life decisions ,writing in medical records, etc, etc, etc. Veterinarians are challenged with a huge communication barrier - you know - our patients can’t talk! Its kind of like a TV episode of CSI-VetClinic. We look for symptoms and signs of disease, listen to owners, and try to solve mysterious illnesses. We are called on routinely to use our five senses in extraordinary ways. We diagnose by smells, sounds, sights, feels, and sometimes even tastes. Jokingly, if we were to build scented candles to describe the SMELLS we encounter, there certainly must be a ‘wet dog variety’, or an ‘anal gland aroma’, or even better a ‘parvo potpourri’. We use SOUNDS, like the ear piercing pitch of a pot belly pig, the warning of a hissing cat, and the beautiful tune that a newborn puppy resonates when taking their first breath of air. We use our sense of TOUCH to feel the softness of a bunny’s coat or palpate a mass in an abdominal cavity, and sometimes we are unlucky to be the recipient of the fangs of a scared angry patient. And of course, there are the SIGHTS. How can we not be touched by the sad eyes of an abandoned injured dog hoping for the comfort of someone’s assistance, or the exuberation on the face of a child with their first puppy cuddled in their arms, or the sadness of the tears as an owner says their last goodbyes to their cherished loved one. And yes, sometimes even our sense of TASTE has been put to the test. More than one unlucky veterinarian has been on the wrong end of a stomach tube relieving a bloated animal. Successfully providing service to our patients requires a keen development of these senses and more. We use our broad training to become a wide variety of specialists unparalleled by our human doctor counterparts- - -like pediatricians, gynecologists, dentists, radiologists, surgeons, ophthalmologists, dermatologists —- and the list goes on. We work with many different species of animals that have unique qualities and vast differences. Our patients come in a variety of sizes and shapes, and make completely different sounds. Some bear feathers, some fur, and some fins. All the above create challenges to us animal doctors, but in reality, that actually does add a fun component to our job. Certainly it is never dull!

The last myth is the idea that veterinarians make lots of money. The truth is very few of us were drawn to this profession for the money. We graduate from vet school with huge debt loads (today’s average is $180,000). Combine this with starting salaries in the low $60,000 range makes loan payback difficult in many cases. Owners of veterinary clinics also face huge challenges in running a business. High start up costs with land, a building, medical equipment, drugs, employee costs, insurance, etc. A recent study concluded that compared to most other professional businesses that veterinary clinics have the lowest margin of profit. Unfortunately, spending money on health care for pets is listed in the discretionary income part of most budgets. Understandably, prioritization must be given to things like education, food, housing, and human health care. In turn, veterinarians are constantly trying to maximize health benefits to our clients while minimizing costs. We work with clients offering choices, while trying to to provide the best care to our patients. In many cases, the limiting factor for working up cases is not the knowledge or medical technology, but the financial constraints. As gratification for our work, we depend on more than just the financial rewards. Making pets well, preventing diseases, and happy clients are essential to our well being.

Now let’s look at some qualities I believe elevate our profession and make me proud to be a veterinarian. I truly believe that veterinarians are some of the most compassionate people on earth. Veterinarians routinely take in homeless animals nursing them to health and adopting them out. We work with humane organizations and shelters for adoptions and provide sterilization procedures at or below cost to reduce pet over-population. We often work with indigent pet owners providing pet care at low cost and many times free of charge. We support many organizations within our community with sponsorships, donations, and the investment of our time. Veterinarians go to great lengths to meet the needs of the families we serve including making house calls, visiting sick patients outside in the owners car, and staying late to see sick patients, sometimes to the detriment of our own family. We are humble in nature and don't hesitate to get down on the floor in exam rooms to greet our patients. We even make some rather embarrassing noises mimicking animals in an effort to communicate. Our work ethic is simply and accurately described in the latin origin of the word veterinarian—it comes from the word “veterinae” which means, ‘working animal’. Other qualities, like a keen sense of observation, honesty, integrity, patience, a good sense of humor, and good communication skills make us worthy to earn your trust in providing health care for your pet.

Ok then, from what planet do veterinarians originate? Not being very astute in astrology, my answer is most certainly speculative and not based on any scientific facts, but perhaps it is ‘Pluto’. In 1930, Walt Disney animated a mixed-breed brown pup named Pluto that was in the business of making the viewers smile, making us happy, and thus improving our quality of life. I hope that by making animals healthier, and clients happier we as veterinarians can do the same. So, yea, I think it’s the planet ‘Pluto’.

Veterinarians are from Pluto!!

William Wheat,DVM


February is National Pet Dental Month!

February 2016
By: Dr. Melanie Lavergne

Dr. Melanie Lavergne

All of us at Animal Care Center and Pet Care Center feel that dental health is very important to your pet’s well being. We are offering 10% off of dental cleanings scheduled during this month, and we encourage you to take advantage of this offer at either clinic.

Periodontal disease is the most common problem we see in cats and dogs. By two years of age, 70% of cats and 80% of dogs have some form of periodontal disease. Basically, periodontal disease develops when bacteria have invaded the gum tissue. In very severe cases, the bacteria can get into the bloodstream and lead to damage of the kidneys, liver, and heart muscle.

Your pets cannot tell you when they are suffering from a toothache. Very often, pets do not show obvious signs of dental pain. This is a survival mechanism they have in common with their wild ancestors. However, there are some signs of periodontal disease that you can watch for. Bad breath is the most common sign. Bad breath, or halitosis, is caused by the bacteria that infect the gum tissue. You may notice that your pet repeatedly chews on one side of the mouth, drops food when eating, or they have stopped grooming themselves. Sometimes they are reluctant to allow you to touch them around their mouth or their face. You may see thick, ropey saliva or spots of blood on toys, beds, or in their food and water bowls. This can be from gingival infection or a fractured tooth. There might even be bleeding from the nose or a bloody discharge when sneezing. Small breed dogs with severe periodontal disease are especially prone to infection entering the nasal cavity.

Animal Care Center in Hammond now offers dental radiography, which can be helpful for pets for a number of reasons. Large breed dogs, often times, will chip or fracture a tooth. Dental x-rays help determine if a tooth root is infected and needs treatment. Small breed dogs can develop a weakened jawbone from infection which can eventually lead to fracture of the jaw. Cats often suffer from disease that erodes the crown of the tooth and leaves the sensitive root under the gum line. This problem can be diagnosed with dental x-rays.

All too often we hear someone say, “My pet is too old to have their teeth cleaned.” This cannot be further from the truth. The incidence of periodontal disease increase with age. We can perform simple blood tests to check your pet’s blood sugar and assess the function of their liver and kidneys before any procedures. Then your pet is treated as though they are at the spa, with clean teeth, fresh breath, nails trimmed, and warm fluids given during the procedure. While senior pets may have some circumstances that warrant special care and planning, proper dental care can improve the overall health of your pet.

After your pet’s teeth are cleaned and polished, we apply a barrier sealant to the teeth called Oravet. This sealant has been shown to decrease the buildup of plaque and tarter. While this is not a replacement for brushing, you can choose to take home an Oravet Kit to reapply to your pet’s teeth weekly to help maintain their clean teeth.

Just as with people, brushing your pet’s teeth is the best prevention for tooth and gum disease. It is best to begin preventive care when they are puppies and/or kittens. You can start with a damp wash cloth wrapped around your finger or a finger brush and later advance to a soft pet toothbrush. You will want to use toothpaste that is made for pets since they cannot spit and swallowing human toothpaste can cause an upset stomach in pets. We offer toothbrushes and a variety of toothpaste for your pets to try.

There are many other products to help remove plaque and tarter. You will want to choose products that have the seal of acceptance from the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC). You can visit their website at http://www.vohc.org/AcceptedProductsTable.pdf

We carry Hill’s Prescription Diet T/D for both cats and dogs. This product is a food that promotes dental health for your pet. Additionally, we have treats that are available in which promotes dental health as well by the Greenies Brand.

Help keep you and your pet’s smiling by promoting dental health.

Click below for a demonstration on how to brush your pet’s teeth:
http://veterinaryteam.dvm360.com/client-education-video-how-brush-pets-teeth


Getting Healthy With Your Pet In 2016
Happy New Year!!!!

January 2016
By: Danielle Spinks
Practice Manager/Fitness and Nutrition Coach

Practice Manager

It's that time again where we look back at last year and set goals to improve ourselves in the coming year...you know....your New Year's Resolution!! Of the 50% of people who make New Year's Resolutions, it no surprise that 38% of those people vow to get healthy or lose weight in new year. But what about your furry friend? Could he or she stand to make some healthy changes or lose weight in the upcoming months?

As in humans, pets that are overweight can have significant health problems. Obesity in pets can lead to many diseases such as diabetes, IVDD, and urinary incontinence. It can also put extra stress on joints and hips leading to orthopedic issues such as ACL tears and hip displasia. Pets who are overweight have a shorter life expectancy as well.

Here are some tips to insure that your pet can get on the healthy track in 2016:

Diet:

  • Make sure your pet is on DOG OR CAT FOOD!! No table food!!!! Determine with your veterinarian what specific diet he or she should be eating.
  • Feed the recommended amount ONLY! Buy a real measuring cup and begin keeping track of portions.
  • Remove your pet from the room when the family eats to eliminate begging behavior.
  • Reduce all treats and feed all meals in your pet's bowl.
  • Unless your pet has allergies, use fresh veggies like carrots or green beans for treats.
  • Provide non-food related attention with lots of affection.
  • Practice TOUGH LOVE! Dogs will often skip meals in hopes that their humans will put table food in with their dog food.

Exercise (for your pet and YOU!):

  • Go for walks with your pet. Dog owners walk twice as much a week over non-dog owners.
  • In our warm climate swimming is an excellent exercise and easy on the joints as well.
  • Play fetch! So many toys to choose from! And if you don't have one use a good old fashioned stick!
  • Take your pet on Doggy Playdates! Schedule times with fellow pet owners for socialization and play time. Just make sure your pet and playmates are up to date on all vaccines.

And last but not least, keep track of your pet's progress. Bring him in to your veterinarian's office regularly for weight checks on the scale. Animal Care Center and Pet Care Center offer this service free of charge. Write it down and keep a record. Reward your pooch with a new toy when the two of you hit a goal!!

Here's wishing you and your pets health and happiness in 2016!!


Do Pets make good Christmas Presents?

December 2015
By Candice Piediscalzo & Emily Hatfield

Head Receptionist

It is all too familiar, red bows wrapped around a small kitten or puppy's neck to surprise the kids for Christmas. It seemed like a great idea at first, especially seeing the ecstatic look on the kids precious faces. They have always wanted a pet!

Then, reality sets in. The children being typical children do not want to feed the pet or take the pet outside. So, mom or dad have to fulfill the obligation. It gets really tough when the puppy play bites, and the child then does not like her Christmas present so much anymore. This occurs often, but not always. It occurs enough that there is over a 5% increase in the number of pets returned to the shelters after Christmas.

All too often, these pets are an impulsive purchase and not well thought out . Pets are a 10 to 20 year long commitment and require so much more other than a typical present will offer children.

If you are considering purchasing a pet for Christmas anyway, there are rules of thumb to follow in order to be a great fur-parent.

  • Make certain pets are vaccinated properly. Vaccinations are necessary for your pets in order to protect them from fatal illnesses and require a series given where as to build up their immunity.
    Puppy Vaccinations Kitten Vaccinations
    6 Weeks 9 Weeks
    10 Weeks 12 Weeks
    14 Weeks Yearly's
    18 Weeks
    6 Months
    Canine Yearly's
  • Ask yourself, the breeder, or the shelter the right questions.
    • Is the fur baby house broken?
    • Will this pet be age appropriate for my children?
    • Is this breed good with kids?
    • Will this pet get along with my other pets?
    • If adopting the pet from a shelter, why was the pet in the shelter?
      • Is there a history of behavioral concerns?
      • What is the pets medical history?
      • Is the animal up to date on vaccinations?
  • Make sure a new puppy does not come from pet stores, puppy mills, or backyard breeders.
  • Stay in touch with a reputable breeder.
    • Visit the home where the mom dog is located.
    • Most puppies have a “health guarantee” if utilizing a reputable breeder.
  • Visit the vet within 24hours of receiving the pet to have a health check-up.
  • Make certain, if giving a precious pet as a gift, that both parents are aware of the “gift”. Again, pets are a commitment!

Pets are living beings whom deserve a loving and kind environment in which to live. They do not deserve to be an abandoned gift..............

Poem to an Abandoned Gift

Author Unknown

'Tis the night before Christmas and all through the town,

every shelter is full - we are lost but not found.

Our numbers are hung on our kennels so bare,

we hope every minute that someone will care.

They'll come to adopt us and give us the call,

"Come here, Max and Sparkie - come fetch your new ball!!

But now we sit here and think of the days

we were treated so fondly - we had cute, baby ways,

Once we were little, then we grew and we grew -

now we're no longer young and we're no longer new.

So out the back door we were thrown like the trash,

they reacted so quickly - why were they so rash?

We "jump on the children", "don't come when they call",

we "bark when they leave us", we "climb over the wall."

We should have been neutered, we should have been spayed,

now we suffer the consequence of the errors they made.

If only they trained us, if only we knew...

we'd have done what they asked us and worshiped them, too.

We were left in the backyard, or worse, left to roam,
now we're tired and lonely and out of a home.

They dropped us off here and they kissed us good-bye...

"Maybe someone else will give you a try."

So now here we are, all confused and alone...

in a shelter with others who long for a home.

The kind workers come through with a meal and a pat,
with so many to care for, they can't stay to chat.

They move to the next kennel, giving each of us cheer...

we know that they wonder how long we'll be here.

We lay down to sleep and sweet dreams fill our heads

of a home filled with love and our own cozy beds.

Then we wake to see sad eyes, brimming with tears -

our friends filled with emptiness, worry, and fear.

..... In parents' haste to think of a gift for the kids,

there was one important thing that they missed.

A dog should be family, and it's just not humane

To put a living, feeling pet outside on a chain.

If only Santa exclaimed as he rode out of sight,

"You weren't giving a gift! You were giving a life!"


My how far we have come

November 2015
Dr. Darryl Bubrig

Dr. Darryl Bubrig

Having practiced for over a quarter of a century now, I look back at how things were then and how things are now. We have always tried to keep up with our ability to provide the best care for our pets and yours. The technological age has enabled us to do things that I never thought we could do in private practice. Back in the day, our lab consisted of a microscope, centrifuge and a refractometer. Today we have a full lab with chemistry analyzers , laser blood analyzers, digital urine test analyzers among a few other high tech gadgets. All these things help us to diagnose what our pets can’t tell us.

Our surgery room is a lot different than it was a quarter century ago also. We now have digital surgery monitors that give us heart rate, blood pressure, blood oxygen levels, blood carbon dioxide levels and temperature in real time so we can know if our patients are in trouble. These tools enable us to react quicker to problems that are inherent with performing surgery and anesthesia on animals. Another big advancement is the surgical laser that we use for many of our surgeries. The laser reduces bleeding during surgery and also greatly reduces post operative pain. All of these devices are a big change from the stethoscope, thermometer and scalpel blade.

Our newest technology addition is digital dental radiography to complement our whole body digital radiography unit. The whole body unit allows us to rapidly take high quality images of the inside of our patients. What use to take 5-10 minutes per image now takes 5-10 seconds. Our digital dental unit enables us to see with great detail the tooth and bony detail in our patients mouths like never before. Now we can see why our pets have tooth aches like we never could before with the naked eye or magnifying lenses. We can tell better if a tooth should be pulled or if we can fix it. It is so much better to be able to know it there is a problem than guess or assume what is there.

I could go on more about how much things have changed but the main point I want to make is that I am glad that we can do so much more today than we could do before to keep our pets healthy and happy. I am so grateful to live in the technology age that we do. I look forward to what the future will bring for us to continue to make our lives and our pets lives better.

Dr. B.


The Doctor Will See You Now

October 2015
By: Dr. Bethany Brewer

Dr. Bethany Brewer

We've all made appointments for our doctors, dentists, or veterinarians and ended up having to wait 20 minutes or longer to be seen. Why is that? What's the point of even making an appointment if the doctor is going to be late anyway?

Veterinary medicine is similar to human medicine in that you can't plan for emergency situations. A full appointment schedule is often thrown behind because of a puppy that was hit by a car or a cat that has just returned home in terrible shape after being missing for several weeks. Emergencies happen... often. Emergencies cannot be planned for and often take priority over healthy patients. The term for this is "triage". A cat who is having trouble breathing is going to be treated before a dog with an appointment for itchy ears. This doesn't mean that Beaux's itchy ears are not important or your time is not valued. Appointments are next priority. Walk-ins will be seen as doctors become available. On busy Saturday mornings this means that walk-ins will often have to wait.

Veterinary medicine differs from human medicine in that our patients cannot tell us what's wrong or where it hurts. Veterinarians are heavily dependent on diagnostic testing to achieve a definitive diagnosis. Diagnostics are tests such as bloodwork, radiographs (xrays), ultrasound, fecal samples, urinalysis, needle biopsies, skin scrapes, and anything involving a microscope. These tests take time to run and interpret. Once a diagnosis is achieved the doctor will present treatment options for the owner and together they will come up with a game plan on what to do next.

Here are some tips on minimizing wait times:

Make an appointment.

Walk-ins are always welcome into our clinics but please be prepared for a wait. Ideally, walk-ins should be reserved for emergency or urgent situations whenever possible.

-Come in 5-10 minutes early. 
This allows us time to prepare for the appointment. Vaccines and medications are prepared for your pet immediately before their appointment. This usually takes a few minutes.

Fill out paperwork ahead of time.

New clients and boarding agreements will have to be filled out with your most current contact information. Here is a link for a few of those forms: http://www.vethammond.com/forms.aspx

Be complete and specific when booking an appointment.

When scheduling an appointment, mention to the receptionist ALL the issues at hand. Another reason veterinarians fall behind is because an appointment was made for "check eye" but failed to mention hair loss, frequent urination, and occasional vomiting. Each of those symptoms can be caused by different issues and it'll take time to come up with a treatment plan for each of those. Also, be sure to mention if you will be bringing in more than one pet at a time so we can allot the correct amount of time on the schedule.

Avoid scheduling peak times.

Early mornings, right before closing, and Saturdays are the busiest times. Tuesdays and Thursdays tend to be a bit more relaxed.

Call ahead for refills.

If you see that your pet's medication is running low, call a day or two in advance. This can give the doctors time to review the chart and determine if bloodwork is current and to be sure we have the medicine in stock. It also means that you don't have to wait for someone to count out and split 90 pills!

Drop off your pet for the day. 

If you have a hectic schedule and cannot wait, take advantage of boarding your pet for the day (at no additional charge) and the doctors will work them in as they become available. Don't forget to leave a reliable phone number so the doctor can call with questions.

Come prepared to answer questions.
Bring in a "list" if you are not the primary caretaker of the pet being seen.

Many pet owners cannot make it into the office due to work or conflicting appointments. It is more difficult for veterinarians to diagnose appropriately when the primary caretaker isn't present to answer health-related questions. Bring in a detailed paper with as much information as possible including brand of dog food, heartworm and flea prevention, current medications, changes in appetite, changes in litterbox habits, and a thorough description of the issue the animal is being seen for. 

If you do find yourself waiting at Animal Care Center or Pet Care Center, please know that it’s probably not our fault. It’s the fault of a dog who ate half a tray of brownies when his owner went outside to check the mail!!!


Welcome to our blog!

September 2015

Welcome

With all of the excitement of our new website, we decided what better opportunity than to begin blogging for our clinic as an addtiional tool for our clients and potential clients to virtually stayed connected with us.

Once a month, you will hear from one of our amazing Doctor's or other terrific team members informing you of current events, special cases, professional achievements, tips, health, and many more topics. We will discuss topics that are important to you and your pet. We want to be your resource for all of your pets needs.

Make sure to check back with us often. There may even be a future prize to our faithful readers!

Happy reading pet lovers!

Pet Care Center

799 Campbell Lane
Ponchatoula, LA 70454
(985) 370-7387

Monday 7:30am-5:00pm
Tuesday 7:30am-5:00pm
Wednesday 7:30am-5:00pm
Thursday 7:30am-5:00pm
Friday 7:30am-5:00pm
Saturday Closed
Sunday Closed