Tips for a Quiet Car Ride

Tips for a Quiet Car Ride
By Emily Hoppmann, DVM

We never want our pets to be stressed and car rides can be very stressful for them. Noise is a major anxiety trigger for pets during car travel so we wanted to give you a couple of tips on how you can help reduce your pet’s stress.

What pets hear on their car ride influences their anxiety level before they ever arrive at their destination, whether it is the veterinary hospital or a play date. You may not be able to avoid some car noises, such as highway noise (rumble strips are especially bad) and other environmental sounds – including sirens, horns blaring – and/or construction equipment. If you can keep your pet calm on your drive, they may be less stressed overall. This is especially helpful if you are heading to the veterinarian since they may be an easier patient than they would be if they were already feeling amped up.

One thing that you want to do is speak in your normal voice. It may feel very natural to want to reassure your pet with baby talk, but this can actually work against you. While your pet may not understand your words, your pet may have learned to associate your tone and type of talk, along with body language, with the idea that something bad is about to happen. When you talk to your dog it is much more soothing to use a matter-of-fact tone and relay instructions (such as “play with your toy” or “settle down”) with confidence and then offer a reward for the good behavior. Pets pick up on our anxiety, so the more calm and collected you are the better your baby will feel.

It can also be helpful to try to distract your pet with calming noise so they do not notice the loud environmental noises as much. You may try playing calming music in the car to ease tension for you and your pet. Consider music designed for pets or classical music that offers calming qualities and drowns out excess road noise that may be nerve-wracking for your pet. It is important that the music you pick does not become associated with the stress of a car ride, so it is critical to play this music around the house during a routine day. For smaller pets it can also be helpful to have them in a secured carrier covered with a towel or blanket to decrease the noise and stimulation.

It is best to start getting your pet used to car rides at a young age, but you want to start with short trips and then work up to longer trips or trips that result in arriving at a location that may be stressful for your pet (such as grooming appointments or veterinary visits). It can also be helpful to take trips to the veterinary hospital for a fun, reward-based visit where there are no procedures or treatments taking place. This will help your pet to have more positive associations with unfamiliar places.

Good Healthcare for Your Cats

Good Healthcare for Your Cats
By Emily Hoppmann, DVM
While cats are one of the most popular pets in the United States, they are often not seen as regularly by veterinarians as they should be. In fact, cats currently outnumber dogs as pets, but cats receive fewer veterinary visits than dogs. What’s more, cats are living longer and longer and putting off veterinary care puts your cat’s health at risk. Too many cats are not receiving the care they need and deserve. Scheduled wellness exams are vital to cat’s health, but when your cat is sick it’s even more important to have them seen by a veterinarian. Cats are masters at hiding illness, making regular trips to your veterinarian even more important. Also, if you see any subtle signs that your cat might not be feeling like him/herself, it’s time to schedule a visit right away! Did you know that a cat can go into liver failure in as quickly as 24 hours if they stop eating all together?

Cats are much better than dogs at hiding illness, so some things to pay attention to are litter box use, changes in interactions, changes in activity, changes in sleeping habits, changes in food or water consumption, unexplained weight loss or gain, changes in grooming, signs of stress (such as increased grooming, decreased socialization, spending more time awake, excessively scanning the environment, hiding or withdrawing, or changes in appetite), changes in vocalization, and bad breath. If you notice changes in any of these areas, or if something just feels off to you, it is best to schedule an appointment right away!

As your veterinarian, we want to be your partners in assuring your cat has the happiest, healthiest, quality life possible. Some different ways we are able to do that are bi-annual wellness exams, diagnostic tests, vaccines, parasite control, dental care, behavioral assessment, and nutritional counseling. Bi-annual wellness examinations are so important since, as we discussed before, cats can often mask how they’re feeling – especially if they’re under the weather. That’s why it’s critical to have your cat examined by a veterinarian every six months. Older cats or those with behavioral or medical conditions may need to be seen more frequently. With diagnostic testing, even if your cat seems healthy on the outside, an underlying problem may be lurking on the inside that testing can allow us to discover and treat or manage. Intestinal parasite testing, blood and urine tests, and other tests that screen for infectious diseases, such feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and feline leukemia virus (FeLV), will be recommended based on your cats age and lifestyle. Vaccinations are important even if your cat spends most or all of its time indoors. Your cat may still be at risk for certain preventable viral diseases and if your cat does happen to sneak outside, you want to be sure that they are protected. Every individual animal is unique and a vaccine protocol can be tailored specifically to your baby’s needs.

Monthly parasite control is also hugely important, whether your cat is an indoor-only kitty or spends time outdoors as well. Cats are prime targets for parasites such as fleas and ticks, not to mention the parasites that are not as visually obvious such as heartworms and intestinal parasites. There is no approved treatment for heartworms in cats, so protection is key. As much as we may think that an indoor cat is not as risk for these parasites and diseases, often the outside finds its way into your house – sometimes even as a hitchhiker on your clothes or other pets! Dental disease isn’t just an issue in dogs – cats are susceptible too and with regular visits your veterinarian can examine your cat’s mouth and determine if further action is needed. Most cats will need a professional dental cleaning and polishing by the time they are three or four years of age in order to keep the teeth and gums in good shape.

Veterinarians are also there to help with the behavioral and nutritional needs of your cat as well. Just as your cat needs to be physically healthy, they also need to be emotionally healthy. During veterinary visits, you can discuss your cat’s environment, whether there are other pets or children in the house and how your cat participates in the social aspect of your household, and inquire about any behavioral issues that need attention. Behavioral issues are one of the main reasons cats are relinquished to shelters, so making sure that any abnormal behavior is addressed is critical to having a quality relationship with your cat. Nutritional counseling is also very important, since cats are not small dogs – even though many cat foods are formulated from dog foods with just a little more protein. This can lead to obesity in cats, which in turn can cause diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and other serious, even fatal diseases. During visits you can discuss the type of food you’re feeding and the frequency of meals to ensure you are providing your cat with the best nutrition and avoid (or start to address) your cat being at an unhealthy weight. Your veterinarian can help determine if any adjustments need to be made in your cat’s feeding regimen in order to keep it in the most healthy weight range, which allows for a longer and healthier life!

There are also multiple things that you can do at home to ensure that your cat is getting everything he/she needs to thrive. Following your veterinarian’s recommendations about the right type and amount of food your cat need to stay in a healthy weight range is critical. However, the environment you provide for meals is important, too. For example, putting food in a quiet area or offering it in toys like food balls or puzzles can make meal times more enjoyable. Cats are social creatures and need to have environmental enrichment. Cats need to be in stimulating and comfortable surroundings, so be sure to provide plenty of toys, hiding spots, scratching posts and elevated resting areas in your home. Also, do not forget the importance of one-on-one playtime with your cat (chasing a laser around the room, playing with a feather on a string dangled above your cat’s head, chasing down toys you throw, etc.). Having regular (at least 30 minutes a day) play time will also give you the chance to watch for any changes in behavior in your cat.

Cats are very clean creatures and so meeting their standards for appropriate places to use the bathroom is critical. The best rule of thumb is that you need to provide at least one litter box per cat plus one. With litter boxes, location is key so you want to provide litter boxes that are easily accessible in all the areas where your cat likes to hang out – that means upstairs and downstairs if your cat spends time on both floors. In general, cats prefer open litter boxes in a clean, quiet environment and unscented, clumping litter. Cats are also finicky and do not do well with change, so it’s best not to switch up the brand and type of litter you use. You want to be sure to scoop the box at least twice a day and do a full litter switch and cleaning of the litter box weekly. No one wants a messy bathroom! A cat being fastidious does not just apply to their environment and litter box, but also to their own appearance. Most cats are pretty good at keeping their coats in good condition, but cats with longer fur may need some help with grooming with frequent brushing or keeping them shaved down to avoid matting. Also, as cats age or develop medical issues, such as arthritis, they may also require more attention from you. They also tend to need your assistance when it comes to claw care. It is best to trim your cats’ nails at least monthly and to provide multiple scratching posts for a do it yourself option for your baby!

It’s no secret that getting your cat to the veterinary clinic can be challenging sometimes, since most cats dislike carriers, but it is totally worth the trip and there are things you can do so that your cat doesn’t hate the carrier or the ride as much! You want to condition your cat to feel comfortable in a carrier at a young age, if possible. It is best to have a carrier that has a top-loading option to make it easier to get them in and out of the carrier. You also want to leave the carrier out in the house and let your cat wander in and out of it. You can even place treats or special toys, or even feed your cat in the carrier, to help your cat associate the carrier with positive things. You also want to take your cat on short rides in the car in the carrier from a young age to get them used to riding in the car. It is often best to secure the carrier using a seatbelt and cover the carrier with a towel to decrease the stimulus on the rides. When you are getting ready for a trip in the car, it is best to avoid feeding your cat for several hours before the trip in case they get nauseated. It is also a good idea to take your cat into the veterinary hospital just for a fun, treat-filled visit, so he/she does not always associate the trip to the veterinarian with exams and procedures.

Pets and Pain

Pets and Pain
By Emily Hoppmann, DVM

When you are wondering if your pet is in pain or if a disease or particular procedure may cause them to become painful, it is helpful to keep in mind that anything that is painful for you will likely also be painful for your pet. Although people and the wide variety of pets in the world are all different species, we all process and feel pain similarly. Advances in modern veterinary medicine and surgery have aided in increasing the lifespan of our beloved pets, but also allowed veterinarians to improve the level of care provided to pets throughout their life stages. As pets are living longer and longer, certain geriatric diseases are becoming more common and many of these conditions are uncomfortable for our pets (from osteoarthritis to cancer). These advances have also changed how many of our beloved pets are undergoing more intense surgical procedures to treat a variety of disease processes, from a torn cruciate ligament to aggressive tumor removals. Pain management has become an important specialty area in veterinary medicine just as it has in human medicine. Veterinarians and owners alike want the best for our four-legged family members and that includes top-of-the-line treatments for pain management.

As hard as it is to believe, there was a time when physicians did not think that infants could feel pain and so procedures were performed with no pain medication. However, it was also once thought that animals did not experience pain and knowing when a pet is in pain can still be challenging since they do not outwardly react to pain in the same ways human do. Research has shown that all of us, regardless of age or species, feel pain in much the same way, even if we express it differently. Knowing that pets experience pain in the same way that humans do has allowed the medical community to understand that if a procedure or condition is thought to be painful to humans, it will also be painful to our furry friends as well. Determining if your pet is in pain can be difficult to do since pets go to great lengths to hide signs of pain from us. Since they are not able to vocalize their feelings to us, we often miss subtle cues that they do show that indicate pain; such as a reluctance to go up or down stairs or jump onto furniture, panting excessively, pacing/not being able to get comfortable, being slow to rise after sleeping and loss of interest in playing, running, or jumping (or not being able to be active for as long as they used to be). It is also important to remember that in the wild, an animal that appeared weak or injured would often be rejected by the other animals in his/her group and was more likely to become preyed upon, so hiding any signs of something being wrong was literally a matter of life or death. This is another one of the many reasons that bi-annual examinations are so important. When your pet receives a thorough head to tail exam, your veterinarian is often able to pick up on areas of discomfort that your pet may be trying to hide! In order to offer pets the best care and address all of their needs, proper pain management must be provided to all patients in need (even the stoic ones who do their best to put on a brave face!).

We take pain management very seriously at all stages of a patient’s life. If there is any pain associated with any surgical or medical procedure, your pet will receive appropriate therapy before, during, and after the procedure. If your pet is suffering from either a short-term or long-term painful medical condition, part of the treatment plan for addressing the disease will be an individualized pain management protocol. By working together as a team, we can be sure to keep your pets as comfortable and happy as possible throughout their lives. We want to ensure that our patients are able to live the highest quality life possible well into their senior years!

Flying With Your Pets

Flying With Your Pets
By Emily Hoppmann, DVM

As you plan for your next big trip, you may think about bringing your pet with you. If this is something that you would like to do, there are a few helpful tips that can make traveling with your pet much easier on the both of you. One of the most important things to do is to start getting your pet used to his/her carrier from a young age. You want the carrier to be something that does not elicit any fear or anxiety, but something your pet views as a regular item in the house. In order to do this, you can feed your pet treats or meals in the carrier so he/she associates it with good things and be sure to leave it out, with the door open, so your pet will feel free to explore it and become comfortable with it. Once your pet is used to the carrier, you will want to go on car rides with your pet in the carrier in a calm and relaxed state. This means that you want to start with very short outings, and may even have to start by simply placing your pet in the carrier in your car, and then increase the length of your outing at a slow enough pace that your pet does not become anxious or distressed. It is also a good idea to end the outing with a trip to the park for your dog or a special treat for your pet! There are times where a trip ends with a visit to your veterinarian, a grooming appointment, or a boarding stay, so it is important to start with trips that end at a fun place like the park or with simply coming back home so that your pet learns that trips in the carrier are nothing to worry about. Once your pet is well-adjusted to trips in the carrier that do not end in unfamiliar places, you can move on to taking them to an unfamiliar place that also has a reward for their good behavior. One great way to do this it to head over to see us so we can offer your pet a treat or two, helping them learn that even trips that do end in an unfamiliar place can be a positive experience too!

It is important that your pet is comfortable being in a carrier and with trips to both familiar and unfamiliar places before you consider taking them on a big trip with you. Once you are ready to travel with your pet there are a few things you should become familiar with when it comes to flying with a pet. Most airlines have all of their information about their pet policies on their websites and you can learn a great deal from visiting their sites. There is general “pet fare” fee and pets that fit in a carrier under the seat are generally allowed in the cabin but in limited numbers, so you want to book your flight early. Pets do count as one of your allotted carry–on bags if you are going to be able to have them in the cabin with you so keep that in mind when packing. Larger pets or pets that are on a flight when the number of pets allowed in the cabin has been exceeded can fly cargo but not in extreme temperatures. When considering the temperature, you need to think about not only where you are leaving from and where you are going, but also how much the temperature differs with the high altitudes that a plane reaches. Your pet also needs to be up to date on all vaccines and will need a certificate of health from your veterinarian to bring with you to the airport. It is also a good idea to have your pet microchipped and have all of your information on a collar and on the carrier. Be sure to reference the airport’s website to know exactly what you should expect when you arrive. Often times Transportation Security Administration officers require pets to come out of carriers at security, but be sure that you have your pet’s collar or leash on already so you can easily reach in the carrier and attach a leash to your pet before you pull him/her out of the carrier.

You do not want to leave food or water in the carrier with your pet, but it is a good idea to include some treats or toys. Be sure to pack some food or a travel bowl for water in your carry-on in case of an unexpected delay. It is usually best for your pet to travel on an empty stomach to avoid accidents in the carrier because your pet needed a bathroom break that wasn’t possible and to decrease the likelihood of your pet vomiting. If your pet is prone to motion sickness, there are very good medications that your veterinarian can provide for your dog or cat to take before the flight. Also, if your pet is anxious or tends to be a noisy traveler, it is a good idea to talk to your veterinarian about medications that may help keep them relaxed and quiet! Placing items from home, such as clothing or blankets, in the carrier can also help with nerves.

Hopefully these tips on how to best get your pet familiar with his/her carrier and traveling will allow for a great experience for both of you! As an added bonus, by getting your pet used to traveling with you will not only make vacationing together more pleasurable, but also make routine travel to your veterinarian or groomer easier as well.

Forget the Food’s Packaging, Read the Ingredient List

Forget the Food’s Packaging, Read the Ingredient List

By Emily Hoppmann, DVM

There is a great deal of information out there in the world when it comes to pet food – from television commercials to pet store sales people to the internet. However, a good marketing campaign does not always equal good food and much of the information that you receive is misleading or down-right false. In fact, did you know that a manufacturer only has to produce one batch of food that matches the ingredient list on the bag every six months?! Combing through all of this information on your own is overwhelming and when you read a pet food ingredient list there may be unfamiliar terms that may leave you scratching your head. Our goal is to help you better understand the ingredient list linguistics and what they really mean for your pet. Also keep in mind that just because a food is thought to be a high-quality diet, it does not mean it is the best diet for your individual dog. You want to be sure that the food that you are feeding is a food that provides the best nutrition for your specific pet and is not just the latest trend. A few things to pay attention to included the quality of your pet’s coat, which should be shiny and thick, and your pet’s bathroom habits, he/she should only be producing a bowel movement around 30 minutes after eating and it should be nice and firm!

You also want to keep in mind when reading the ingredient list that ingredients are listed by weight before processing. That means that just because “whole chicken” is listed as the first ingredient, instead of “chicken meal”, does not mean that food actually has more chicken. The cooking process will decrease the weight significantly as the moisture and fat are removed so if the ingredient list was based on the weight of what was actually put into the food after it is prepared the list may tell a totally different story.

Pet Food Ingredient List Terms:

1.) Meat: Muscle tissue that may or may not include fat and portions of the skin, sinew, nerve and blood vessels.

2.) Meat Byproducts: Most of the parts of the animal other than muscle tissue, including familiar parts such as livers, kidneys and tripe, but also udders and lungs.

3.) Poultry: The parts of the bird you would find if you purchased a whole chicken or turkey at the grocery store. This likely includes backs and necks and may include bone, which can serve as a source of calcium.

4.) Poultry Byproducts: This includes most of the parts that are not included in a dressed bird such as the heart, gizzard and liver, but also other internal organs, heads and feet.

5.) Meat Meal: This is a product made from mammal tissues that have been subject to cooking to destroy any harmful bacteria and to remove most of the water and fat, leaving primarily protein and minerals. Meat products are ground to form uniform sized particles.

6.) Meat and Bone Meal: Similar to “meat meal,” but contains added bone.

7.) Animal Byproduct Meal: Similar to “meat meal” and “meat and bone meal,” but may include additional byproducts.

8.) Poultry Byproduct Meal: Essentially the same as “poultry byproducts”, but in rendered form.

9.) Poultry Meal: Rendered part of the whole carcass and skin with or without accompanying bone.

10.) Vitamins and Minerals: Many names are recognizable. But others, like the following, may not be: Cholecalciferol (supplies Vitamin D from animal sources), Ergocalciferol (Supplies Vitamin D from plant sources), Riboflavin Supplement (a source of vitamin B2), Alpha-Tocopherol acetate (supplies vitamin E), Thiamine mononitrate (source of Vitamin B1), Pyridoxine hydrochloride (source of Vitamin B6).

11.) Chemical preservatives: Commonly used ingredients include absorbic acid, benzoic acid, butylated hydroxyanisol (BHA), butylated hydroxyltoluene (BHT), calcium ascorbate, citric acid, ethoxyquin, potassium sorbate, sodium bisulfate and mixed tocopherols.

12.) Conditioning agents, thickeners, emulsifiers, sequestrants, flavors and seasonings: Commonly used ingredients include carrageenan, propylene glycol (prohibited from use in cat food), sodium hexametaphosphate (to reduce dental tartar in dogs and cats), agar-agar and guar gum.

The Difference between Holistic, Natural, and Organic Pet Foods:

The terms “Holistic”, “Natural” and “Organic” get used a great deal and often appeal to us as owners because it seems like these would be healthier options for your pet; however, it is important to understand what these terms actually mean. According to the FDA the term “Holistic” has no legal definition. That means that a manufacturer can place this label on their food without it being any different than the bag next to it.

The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) released their definition of “Natural” as being anything “derived solely from plant, animal or mined sources, either in its unprocessed state or having been subjected to physical processing, heat processing, rendering, purification extraction, hydrolysis, enzymolysis or fermentation, but not having been produced by or subject to a chemically synthetic process and not containing any additives or processing aids that are chemically synthetic except in amounts as might occur unavoidably in good manufacturing practices.” What this ends up meaning to you is that the term “Natural” pretty much covers all ingredients from sources that are not chemically altered, but these ingredients can still go through a ton of processes before the final product is put into your pet’s food. When it comes down to it, just because the ingredients are termed “Natural”, doesn’t mean the end product is any healthier for your pet.

While the terms “Holistic” is not regulated at all and “Natural” just refers to the source of the ingredients and not to any of the processes the ingredients go through before being made into food, the term “Organic” is more strictly regulated. The requirements or guidelines for a manufacturer to be able to put “Organic” on their label are handled by the USDA and require the plant ingredients to be grown without pesticides, artificial fertilizers, genetic modification, irradiation or sewage sludge. The animal ingredients must be from animals raised on organic feed, given access to the outdoors and not treated with antibiotics or hormones. If you are trying to decide between “Holistic”, “Natural”, or “Organic” remember that it takes much more to be allowed to have an “Organic” label than the others.

Understanding Preservatives and Why They Are Important:

There is a great deal of misinformation about preservatives and most of it paints preservatives in a very negative light, but without proper preservation, your pet’s food can quickly spoil and cause illness rather than the good health we are all looking to provide through optimal nutrition. Artificial preservatives in dry dog foods include ethoxyquin, butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT). These are very effective at preventing fats from becoming rancid (the primary problem we face in preserving dry dog food) and can greatly extend the product’s shelf life. There are natural preservatives, such as vitamin E (mixed tocopherols), vitamin C (ascorbic acid), and plant extracts (like rosemary), which can be added to a dry dog food to prevent fats from becoming rancid. Unfortunately, natural preservatives are effective for shorter periods of time than artificial preservatives, which means naturally preserved foods tend to have a much shorter shelf life. Please keep this in mind when you see labels such as “preservative free” or “natural preservatives only” because rancid food can cause a variety of health issues and the scary thing is that food can spoil weeks before you notice any smell or difference in texture in the food, making it too late to prevent your pet from ingesting rotten food.

The Truth about Raw Food Diets and the Hidden Dangers:

Most people who are interested in feeding a raw food diet are trying to provide a diet that most closely mimics the diet of wolves and wild cats, but almost all raw food diets are not nutritionally balanced or complete, and most are contaminated with harmful bacteria. All pet foods need to be nutritionally balanced and complete in order to avoid health issues in our pets, including everything from heart issues to poor joint health. Most raw food diets lack adequate amounts of certain nutrients or contain dangerous levels of others. Despite the fact that bones do provide nutrients, bones should never be fed to a dog (regardless of whether it is part of a raw food diet or not) because of the danger of the bone splintering in the intestines, resulting in loose and/or broken teeth, oral injuries, and intestinal blockages – which can have serious, even fatal consequences. Since the meat used in these diets is not cooked, pathogens such as bacteria, parasites, and protozoa can be passed from the raw meats to pets. This puts pets and the family members at risk when they come in contact with the food, the dishes, the pet and the pet feces. Studies have shown that at least 80% of these diets had Salmonella present and that a minimum of 30% were shedding Salmonella in the feces. Due to these diets not being balanced or complete, having the ability to transfer dangerous pathogens to your pet, and for the family to be exposed to these pathogens as well are all reasons raw food diets are not recommended by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Pain In Rabbits

Pain In Rabbits
By Emily Hoppmann, DVM

Even though we look at our pets as domesticated animals, they still have strong instincts from the wild and often the theory of natural selection, where only the strongest animals survive, plays a huge part in their behavior. Due to these instincts, animals learn early in life to hide weakness or illness because in the wild if they don’t they’re destined to be cast out from their group or even become some hungry hunter’s lunch. Unfortunately, with our pets, this protective instinct can come at a great cost because attempting to act strong and healthy makes it much harder for us to recognize their pain or illness. Since animals cannot tell us that they are in pain, the burden of pain assumption, recognition, and assessment lies with owners and our veterinary team. This involves keen observation skills to detect pain and working with our veterinarian’s team to uncover its cause.

Signs of pain in rabbits include:
Grinding teeth
Rapid and shallow breathing
Pulling hair
Decreased grooming
Hunched posture
Increased thirst and urination
A reluctance to move
Bulging, strained, or unfocused eyes
Lack of normal activities
Hiding or avoiding contact with other pets or people

Some bunnies in pain may appear to be breathing from their abdomens instead of their chests, and others will press their tummies to the ground or extend their necks. Without relief from pain your bunny’s intestines will slow down, called gastrointestinal stasis, which will generally lead to your rabbit not eating or defecating. Eventually the rest of the body will start to shut down as circulation decreases and the body temperature drops, often leading to death. This is it why it is so important to be very watchful for subtle signs that your rabbit is not acting like him/herself and to get in for an appointment with our veterinary team as soon as possible. Again, rabbits are masters at hiding disease from us so any change from normal behavior should be taken as a red flag, and immediate care from a veterinarian who is very familiar with rabbits should be sought out.

There are a variety of injuries, diseases, and/or infections that can be painful and it is just as important to determine and address the underlying cause of your rabbit’s pain as it is to control the discomfort. Some problems are more obvious than others because there are other clinical signs that can be seen, such as bleeding or swelling, diarrhea, or appetite loss. Painful musculoskeletal injuries include arthritis, broken bones, bone tumors and spinal disk rupture or fractures. Issues with the ears, including infections, ear mites, or foreign objects in the ear canal can also be unbelievably painful, especially if the eardrum ruptures. Issues with the mouth are also a big source of pain since rabbits teeth grow throughout their lives and if they are not fed the correct diet, the teeth can overgrow and cause ulcers or abscesses in the mouth or even entrap the tongue. Skin issues can also result in a great deal of pain and can range from cuts to infections/abscesses to parasites on or underneath the skin to ulcerative pododermatitis. Ulcerative pododermatitis is when sores are present on the areas of the legs where the rabbit places weight. Intestinal issues (such as infection and inflammation), diseases of the uterus (such as inflammation, the presence of excess tissue, or cancer) and bladder issues (such as sludge or stones) can also all be very painful. Sometimes there are very few outward clinical signs other than your rabbit not acting like him/herself, which is why a good physical examination and the necessary diagnostic tests are critical to getting to the root of the problem.

Some aches and pains that might be harder to detect include lacerations or abscesses hidden under the fur or in the mouth. Abscesses in rabbits are very different than in other animals because the body tends to wall-off the infection and the “pus” does not drain because it is much thicker than the discharge from infected areas in other animals. This is why abscesses in rabbits usually have to be addressed with a combination of medical and surgical intervention.

It is equally important that your rabbit’s environment be set up in an ideal way to try to minimize the chance that he/she will become affected by any painful conditions. For example, rabbits should never live outside and the bottom of your rabbit’s cage needs to be flat and padded with a substance like Carefresh bedding (and never any type of wood chips). Your rabbit should also be on a monthly flea prevention that is safe for rabbits and dosed to the individual weight of your pet (since most flea preventions for dogs and cats can be fatal for rabbits). Your rabbit’s diet is just as important as his/her environment and all rabbits should be on at least 90% Timothy Hay (not pellets) to encourage the rabbit to chew on the hay throughout the day in order to wear the teeth down correctly. It is best to have your rabbit’s mouth examined by your veterinarian at least every six months so that if there are any issues with the teeth, they can be addressed. Also, you want to limit the amount of calcium rich foods in the diet so that the body is not excreting a large amount of calcium in the urine, which can lead to higher incidences of bladder sludge and/or bladder stones. It is also best to have your rabbit neutered or spayed at a young age, not only to avoid certain behavioral issues, but also to try to prevent diseases of the reproductive organs.

Things that you can do at home to help are to really observe and know your pet’s quirks and habits – any changes should alert you to a potential problem. If you suspect your pet is in pain, carefully look him/her over, check out his/her environment for signs of illness (such as diarrhea or blood), and then call your veterinarian to schedule an appointment. Your rabbit needs to be seen as soon as possible if you suspect that he/she is having any issues and it is an absolute emergency if your rabbit acts lethargic, stops eating or defecating, or is bleeding. Keep in mind that the causes of pain are almost infinite and it may take some time and additional testing to get to the bottom of the problem. However, we will always do our best to provide your baby with the relief he/she deserves and needs.

Flea Allergy Dermatitis

Flea Allergy Dermatitis
By Emily Hoppmann, DVM

According to the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC), flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) is extremely common in pets and accounts for about 50 percent of all canine and feline dermatological (skin) cases reported to veterinarians. Some clinical signs you may see are scratching around the tail base, rear, and groin in dogs, and scratching or crusty bumps around your cat’s neck. Cats with FAD may also lick constantly, often to the point of exposing bare skin and causing skin lesions. Live fleas living on your pet are not always present with FAD, and just because you don’t see a flea doesn’t mean they aren’t there (they do a very good job at not being spotted!). This is especially true with cats because they are such good groomers that they often will ingest a flea before you ever see it (this can cause your pet to develop tapeworms, which can look like small grains of rice, and will need to be treated with specific medication). At your veterinary appointment, a special comb can be used to try to better detect fleas and their waste. However, even with a thorough examination and the use of a flea comb there may not be visible evidence of fleas since fleas are fast, pets are good groomers and may remove them through grooming, and if your pet is on a flea prevention the flea may have just had enough time to bite before it died and fell off your pet. Unfortunately, with flea allergy dermatitis all it takes is one bite to cause a chain reaction in your pet that can result in inflammation, itching, and sores on the skin.

Most of the more popular parasite preventives from your veterinarian’s office work great for the average pet, particularly when used year-round, but they are not magic. When a flea jumps on your pet, the preventive doesn’t kill it instantly- there’s always a bit of delay. If your pet suffers from FAD, a few bites over time can result in hours of scratching or licking. Over-the-counter flea control products are not as reliable or as effective as the products you can get from your veterinarian. Some are even too potent, which can make them toxic to pets, especially if administered incorrectly or applied to a young, underweight, or sick animal. Also, there are some dog products that are fatal if administered or applied to cats. Prescription flea control agents have been extensively tested and approved by the FDA to determine their safety and efficacy. Also, everyone working at Elgin Veterinary Hospital uses the products we carry on our own pets because we trust them and would never prescribe any products for one of our patients that we would not personally use. As an added bonus, since we all use these products, we can help answer any questions you may have about the products or their application or administration. A veterinarian can prescribe the best product for your pet based on his individual needs and his lifestyle (does he swim? hunt rodents?) and show you exactly how to apply it. Many flea products are combined with agents that control other parasites as well, which help to protect your pet from additional diseases- some of which can be transmitted to you. One of the most common mistakes made is not giving year-round flea prevention to all pets in the household. If a pet is exposed to fleas intermittently due to flea prevention not being used every month, it can result in a pet being more likely to develop flea allergy dermatitis, which leads to itchiness, skin lesions, and hair loss (most often affecting the back half of a dog, closest to the tail, and around the neck of cats). Also, just a few fleas can turn into a massive infestation in a matter of days and once there are that many fleas in your environment it is even more difficult to get rid of all of the fleas. Additionally, the outside and inside of your home will need to be treated for fleas, as well as all of your pets. We carry products that are safe to use around your pets for your yard, specific areas outside that are more likely to harbor fleas (such as under porches or in shady spots in the yard), and for your carpets. Keep in mind the adult fleas that you are seeing are less than 5% of the flea population (the rest being the flea eggs and immature fleas, which will all become adult fleas if not addressed).

Not all pets are affected with flea allergy dermatitis, though any pet is at risk of developing the disease, so how a pet reacts to a flea bite will vary a great deal depending on how sensitive they are to flea bites and if they are suffering from any other diseases (such as atopy, also known as environmental allergies). Therefore, even if you’ve administered the same parasite preventives to all of your pets and they all spend the same amount of time outdoors, one might spend all day scratching his itchy coat while the other remains relatively unaffected depending on each individuals specific allergies (flea allergies, environmental allergies, food allergies, or a combination of different types of allergies all affecting one pet). It is important to make sure you are treating all of the pets in your household – especially all of your cats, whether indoor or outdoor pets, and even your small mammals (such as guinea pigs, ferrets, rabbits, etc). We recommend this due to the fact that if you only treat the pet that’s scratching and has fleas, he’s likely to be reinfested by other pets in the house that also have fleas but aren’t giving you the same itchy signals.

Your pets should be on flea preventative year-round, as fleas can thrive any time of the year in warm, humid areas like South Carolina! Not to mention, fleas don’t just nest outdoors; other pets can carry them into the house or they could sneak in on you or other humans. This means that even indoor-only pets can suffer from FAD. As long as fleas have a warm place to thrive and a delicious host to snack on, they pose a threat to your pets. We are here to help with advice on what year-round protection is best for your pet and to help you manage your pet’s flea allergies and the skin issues that come with having flea allergic dermatitis. Unfortunately, most pets that suffer from one type of allergy are also affected by other allergies and allergies are one disease that tends to get worse as a patient gets older. However, we have great ways to help manage all types of allergies and together we can keep your pet happy and healthy!

What is Your Cat Really Saying?

What is Your Cat Really Saying?

We all may wonder when our cats are trying their best to communicate with us – “what are they really saying” with those tiny little voices? Nonverbal communication from our pets is fascinating to most of us animal lovers, but we may still be left scratching our heads so this fun paper is meant to help you interpret your furry friend’s vocalization patterns a little better! Humans rely heavily on verbal and non-verbal communications with each other and misunderstandings happen all the time (and we are the same species). Imagine how much more difficult is it to understand the body language of a different species- such as our beloved feline companions!?

Compared to dogs, cats are not as obviously vocal. However, certain cats are more vocal than others and it has been shown that cats can learn to use specific vocalization to try to communicate with people. Failure on our parts to read a cat’s dictionary correctly can lead to human injury, a fracture in the human-animal bond, and a decrease in animal welfare; while success in learning their language can greatly enrich our bond. Therefore, it is worth taking the time to familiarize ourselves with some of their common phrases!

Murmur. A soft, rhythmical pulse given on exhalation which usually means a request or greeting.
Meow. Characteristic feline call “mee-ah-oo” which usually is an all purpose greeting.
Purr. Soft, buzzing, rapid contractions of the muscle of the larynx which is usually a sign of contentment; however, a cat may also purr when it’s anxious or sick.
Growl, hiss, and spit. Harsh, low-pitched, open-mouth sound which can be explosive which usually shows that a cat is feeling defensive, frightened, stressed, or aggressive. If you hear this, you want to leave your cat alone!
Squeak. High-pitched, raspy cry which is commonly used in play or feeding.
Shriek. Loud, harsh, high-pitched sound which usually means that a cat is feeling intensively aggressive or painful. You want to stop whatever you are currently doing if you hear this because it is not making your cat happy at all!
Chatter. Teeth chattering together, which can be a very odd thing to see or hear, but usually means that a cat is hunting or wants to be hunting but is being kept from this behavior.
Estrus Call. Long-lasting, variable-pitch sound, where your female cat starts with open mouth then gradually closes it, signifies that your cat is in heat.
Howl and yowl. Loud, harsh, drawn-out calls that can either mean that your cat is feeling aggressive or in distress, but in older cats it can be a sign of cognitive dysfunction (which is similar to dementia in people).
Mowl or caterwaul. Variable-pitch call by a male cat that is looking for a mate.
Mew. High-pitched, medium-amplitude, long “eee” which is usually heard when a mother is interacting with kittens.
Moan. Low-frequency, long-duration “oo” or “uu” which often occurs right before your cat coughs up a hairball so try to get your kitty to a place where clean up is easy!

Tips and Tricks to Prevent Pet Escapes and Lost Pets

Tips and Tricks to Prevent Pet Escapes and Lost Pets

Dr. Emily Hoppmann, DVM and Amanda Clark, Veterinary Technician

Great summer weather means more time for us all to enjoy the beautiful outdoors and spend more time doing outside activities! It also signals time for friends and family members to start running in and out of yards, patios, and garages— providing plenty of opportunities for our pets to get creative and find escape routes to the outdoors. Unfortunately though, as the temperatures rise, we tend to see a dramatic increase in runaway pets and lost animals. One of the best ways to ensure a happy reunion with your pet if he or she escapes is to be sure to have him or her microchipped; however, we also wanted to offer these simple guidelines and tips that can help ensure that your pets remain happy and stay safe throughout the summer and all year long!

Periodically check your yard for escape routes. Dogs especially are naturally territorial animals and love to explore familiar areas; however, when they make an unplanned escape to the backyard, you need to be sure they remain safe in the confinements of your yard. Over the winter and throughout the stormy spring/summer seasons, fences, gates, and posts can shift in the ground and open up easy-to-fit-through holes or spaces. Check the perimeter of your fence throughout the spring (particularly after heavy winds and storms) and periodically throughout the year to help you pin-point any potential problem areas. If a gap has occurred, you may find it useful to apply zip-ties in order to bring pieces of the fence back together. Additionally, you can also place PCV piping into grooves in the fence if there are small spaces that your pet may be able to escape through within the fence. Always make sure that all gates remain closed and locked during the busy in and out times in the backyard. Keep playtime in the backyard monitored to prevent digging along or near the fence line. If your pet is a digger, it is helpful to pour a concrete barrier or to place concrete blocks below the fence level and cover it with dirt. Be mindful that dogs are extremely clever— any small hole dug under a fence can provide a great place to wiggle out and run away from home. It is not advisable to have invisible fencing as the only barrier in your yard because it allows other animals to enter your property while essentially trapping your pet in the yard. It does work well, though, as an addition to a physical fence (especially if your pet is a digger).

Inspect your pet’s leash and collar. Before your next walk or adventure out on the leash, inspect both the leash and collar to be sure they’re still in good working order and that they fit properly. Frayed leashes or old collars can allow for an easy and fast escape if they suddenly break, or if your pet can slip out. Be sure to check that all the clasps are working properly and provide a secure ‘click’ when clicked into place. If your pet’s collar is the type that fastens like a belt, pay extra attention to how it fits. Collars should fit snuggly against your pet’s neck—they should not be too tight as to cause unnecessary pressure on the trachea, nor should they be too loose to allow your pet to easily slip his/her head out. A quick and easy way to test whether or not your pet’s collar is fitted correctly is to follow the “three-finger rule”. You should only be able to easily slide three fingers side by side underneath the collar and have no extra room. If you’ve had bad luck with finding a quality leash or collar we recommend Lupine® brand leashes and collars due to their dependability, durability, and guaranteed lifetime warranty—even if the collar or leash becomes frayed or was chewed it’s 100% replaceable! We have a variety of Lupine® leashes and collars to choose from in our clinic.

Use caution when visiting dog parks. Take some time to scope out the dog park before you take your pet in – be sure to walk the perimeter of the fence to be sure that there are no places that your pet could make a break for it before letting them off leash. Not only do you want to look at the fencing, but you want to know where all the gates and exits are so that your pet is not able to slip out when another person enters or exits the park. This is why it is important never to take your eyes off your pet and be sure that they can obey commands such as “Come” and “Stay” even with the distractions of other people and pets around. It is often helpful to work with a professional trainer to ensure that you have complete control over your pet at all times. Observe both your pet and the other pets as well so you can get a feel for if the park is a safe environment for your pet and to ensure that your pet is not anxious in this environment. Are the pet owners bringing friendly dogs and keeping them under control? If not, use caution because aggressive or unruly dogs have the ability to scare your pet and provoke a fight or flight response, which could lead to an unwanted escape attempt—or worse, a dog fight. Generally speaking though, dog parks where people pay membership fees, owners have to show proof of vaccines, and parks that have breed restrictions (or have separate areas for small and large breed dogs) are typically well taken care of. However, if you ever notice an issue in the fencing or see problem areas where dogs could potentially escape from, make the park officials aware. You never know, you could potentially not only save yourself the nightmare of having your baby escape, but also save other pet lives by speaking up!

Protect your pet from loud noises. Noise phobia is a major culprit behind pet escapes—especially in the summer months when fireworks and thunderstorms are almost a weekly occurrence. Noise phobia escapes can be some of the worst and most dangerous type of pet escapes. Some animals become so afraid of loud noises, that they even go so far as to chew or break through wood doors, glass windows, and even metal fencing to escape the noises. It’s important to be aware of these types of events so you can better protect your pet and help them to feel safe and comfortable. On holidays that fireworks are expected to go off (Memorial Day, Fourth of July, New Year’s Eve, etc.) OR in preparation of large thunderstorms, you should keep your pet confined in a comfortable place within your home. This could be in a crate or carrier, a bathroom, or even a laundry room. Because dogs/cats are inherently den animals, typically any small, dark, confined area makes them feel safe and protected. It is also important for you to remain calm and act normally in these situations so that your pet doesn’t feel that there is anything to be feared. You do not want to show any extra attention or reward the fear behavior because that will reinforce your pet’s fears. It can help to have a recording of the noises that your pet is afraid of so that you can play it in a controlled way, slowing increasing the volume as your pet continues to not have anxiety to the noise, to work on helping ease their fears. However, some dogs that have extreme cases of noise phobias do require medical intervention to help sedate, or calm them during these traumatic events. If you suspect your dog has an extreme case of noise phobia, call us and voice your concerns so we can work with you to find a medication that allows your pet to rest easy. For some pets this is done with a medication that is just used for specific events that you can anticipate (such as fireworks) and for others, they need a daily medication if they are overly anxious or have extreme cases of distress over events that you cannot control, thus cannot pre-medicate for, such as thunderstorms. In some cases of extremely anxious pets, a combination approach works best but we can work together to help ease your pet’s fears.

Tag and microchip your pet! It only takes that one accidental slip through a collar or wiggle through the fence, and your beloved animal is all on their own! Microchipping pets has proven over the years to be the most effective way to reunite lost pets and their families. Microchips are small coded chips that are inserted with a needle underneath the skin, between the shoulder blades. This can be performed either awake or during a routine surgery such as a dental cleaning or spay/neuter. The microchips each have their own unique number, specific to your pet, which can be linked with your contact information. Your pet’s microchip information can be quickly accessed and easily managed online, making it very convenient and reliable to update throughout your pet’s life. All veterinarians and many rescues/ shelters, police, and other emergency responders worldwide have internationally recognized scanners that can read and translate the numbers associated with the family’s contact information. In addition to having your pet microchipped, all pets should wear identification tags in the event they become separated from you. Tags should include: ID tags with the pet’s name and your contact info, Licensing tags for your city (if applicable), Rabies tags (received when vaccinated, the microchip ID tag (signifies that the pet has a microchip implant), and emergency health protocol tags (if your pet has a medical condition that professionals should be alerted to). All of these forms of ID can help reunite you with your pet and potentially help to save their life if they get lost! It is also a good idea to have an identification card for your pet, with a photo and description (age, breed, sex, etc.), so you have all of that information at the ready in case you need it. We are able to provide you with a pet identification card for your pet with all the necessary descriptive information about your pet and all of our contact information, which can come in handy if your pet escapes or in times of natural disasters with potential evacuation scenarios.

Our hope is that these tips and tricks will help to keep your pets safe and happy for many years to come! We encourage you and your four-legged family members to enjoy outdoor time, but also to remain aware of potential escape routes and situations that could provoke your pet to want to escape. If you feel you have made all or many of these adjustments and your pet still seems to keep escaping, there could be an underlying cause for his or her anxiety and/or fear. We recommend that you make an appointment so we can have a more in-depth discussion about these extreme phobia behaviors if they are a concern. Also, always remember we are here to help provide you with all the necessary documents you should have in case you and your pet are ever separated. This includes everything from issuing duplicate vaccination certificates and providing your pet with an identification card, to implanting your pet’s microchip or helping to find the right medications to keep your babies from being so anxious that they try to escape!

Caring For a Newborn Puppy or Kitten

Caring For a Newborn Puppy or Kitten
By Emily Hoppmann, DVM
Elgin Veterinary Hospital

Caring for a newborn puppy or kitten is very labor-intensive and great care must be taken to ensure that you are providing the necessary aid to ensure they are able to sustain a normal body temperature, are urinating and defecating normally, and that they are getting all the nutrients they need while they are developing. The first thing you should do with any newborn animal whether it is found or whelped, is schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to be sure that they are healthy and there are not any issues that need to be medically addressed.

The best environment to keep a newborn in is an isolated plastic swimming pool so that you can ensure that there are no sharp edges they can hurt themselves on and if there is an entire litter, that there is no possibility that one of the puppies or kittens could be suffocated by being pushed up against a hard edge. You want to be sure that there are no other animals around the newborn(s) so that there is little to no risk of trauma and you can decrease the risk of the young pet being exposed to any parasites or illnesses. Using a plastic swimming pool also helps you to contain the animal, while making for easy clean up and allowing you to see exactly what the pet is producing (as far as urination, bowel movements, and vomitus). If you notice any abnormal diarrhea or any vomiting, you need to seek immediate medical care with your veterinarian. You also want to be sure that the newborn animals stay warm enough while caring for them. This can be achieved by placing heating pads in the environment. One of the benefits of using the plastic swimming pool is that it creates a good barrier between heating pads and the puppies or kittens. The thin plastic allows enough heat to transfer through to create an area that is warmer if the puppy or kitten needs supplemental heat to help maintain a normal body temperature. There should also always be unheated areas in the pool so that the animals can move away from the heat source and there is no risk of thermal burns. It is best to keep the heating pads under the pool so the animal does not have access to the cords and thus eliminating the possibility of electrocution. You want to check your newborn’s temperature several times throughout the day with a rectal thermometer. The temperature should be between 99.5 degrees and 101.5 degrees. If the temperature is any higher than normal or is not high enough, despite having an extra heat source, you need to seek immediate medical attention because this may indicate a severe medical issue.

Young animals cannot urinate or defecate on their own until two to three weeks of age, so you will need to stimulate them regularly to be sure they are urinating and defecating normally and do not run the risk of getting constipated. This can be done by using a warm moistened washcloth or cotton ball. You want to be sure to test the temperature of the cloth/cotton ball on your wrist before using it to ensure it is not too warm so that you do not accidentally burn such a sensitive area. You will want to rub the warm washcloth on their penis or vaginal region and anus lightly until urine and feces is produced after feedings (every 2 hours). By doing this, you are mimicking the mother dog or cat licking those regions on her babies. Kittens can begin to be litter trained at around four weeks. You will want to use either a litter that is dust-free or shredded paper/newspaper (just avoid the shiny ad paper) in order to avoid respiratory irritants, and you should clean the box every time that it is used to be sure that you are keeping track of bathroom habits. If you notice any changes in color, texture, or frequency, be sure to contact your veterinarian and question if medical attention is needed. It is also very important to have your newborns taken to your veterinarian every two weeks, starting at two weeks of age, to have them tested and treated for intestinal parasites. Additionally, it is important to remember that the vaccine series should be started at six weeks of age in order to fully protect each puppy or kitten from common diseases. Puppies and kittens are not fully protected from disease until the series of vaccines in completed (vaccines are done every three weeks for a series of four vaccines in total usually), so they should not have any contact with other animals or environments where other animals have been present and could be contaminated with serious, potentially fatal, diseases and parasites.

If you are raising a newborn, the most important part is the responsibility of feeding the puppy or kitten. Bottle feeding is essentially offering a size-appropriate bottle to deliver nutrition through suckling on the bottle’s nipple. It should be implemented until a kitten or puppy has the strength and coordination to eat and drink on his/her own. Both puppy and kitten formula and bottles can be purchased from most pet stores to provide the appropriate substitution needed to take over the feeding responsibilities from the mother animal.

The amount of each feeding and number of feedings to be given each day depends on the size and age of the pet. To get started, a kitten or puppy liquid formula will be needed. This is available both in powder and bottled/canned liquid forms. Powdered formulas are generally less expensive but have to be reconstituted with water. Carefully follow the instructions on the back of the container to reconstitute each meal just before feeding. A scale that weighs in grams should be used regularly to monitor the growth of the newborn and also to gauge how much to increase the size of the meals provided (caloric intake). Gram scales are available at most stores in the kitchen section if needed. A guide to providing the appropriate meal size according to the weight of the kitten or puppy is generally provided on the back of the formula container. Bottles with rubber nipples are readily available commercially at most pet stores. Neonatal formulas (for puppies and kittens), are better accepted at room temperature or slightly warm and should be warmed (for example, holding the bottle against your body) for 5 to 10 minutes before feeding. You want to test the temperature of the formula before feedings by placing a small amount on your wrist to be sure it is not too warm, just like you would do with an infant.

The risk of aspiration (inhaling the fluid/food into the lungs by accident) and subsequent pneumonia exists with each type of feeding method; it is the greatest risk with bottle feeding, therefore you want to make sure to let the puppies or kittens nurse at their natural speed. The most commonly made mistake is purposefully or accidentally squeezing the bottle during a feeding, usually to try to “speed things up.” This is a potentially disastrous move because it can force formula straight into the lungs and cause choking, pneumonia, or suffocation. If a pet is wheezing or having trouble breathing at any time after bottle feeding or starts to vomit after feedings, an immediate visit to a veterinary hospital is in order. One easy way prevent this accident from happening is to allow a pup or kitten to suckle from the bottle on his/her own and never squeeze the bottle!

With bottle feeding, the goal is to allow the pet to suckle from the nipple and swallow normally. When a pet is nursing normally, a meal should take a while to be finished (up to 10- 30 minutes is possible). It is easy to get discouraged by how long bottle feeding takes, so be mindful of your technique during the process. Avoid the desire to cut the hole in the tip of the nipple to allow faster meals, as this can lead to aspiration/choking. Holding the pet upright or allowing them to rest on their stomach is appropriate for feeding. While feeding, you should also resist the temptation to hold them on their back like a human baby—this also can also lead to aspiration and/or choking accidents. The number of bottle feedings per day depends on the age of the puppy/kitten and on the type of formula. Feeding times can range anywhere from 3 to 8 feedings per day or every 3 to 8 hours. This information should be available on the formula purchased.

You should always use extra care when attempting to bottle feed a cat. Cats can easily develop food aversion, which is an acquired dislike for any food and is a step backwards, meaning a further decline in appetite. It can start when a cat refuses syringe feeding, and your response is force feeding. The result is often the cat’s complete unwillingness to eat anything. If a cat is refusing all food for more than 1 day, call a veterinarian to determine a course of action. Simple tricks (slightly warming the food or giving appetite stimulants) may be needed and suggested by your veterinarian.

There is a great deal that comes with raising a newborn puppy or kitten, but hopefully these tips will help! Always remember that if you are worried or concerned about something, contact your veterinarian right away. Newborns do not have fully developed immune systems and can get sick very quickly and very easily. Ensuring that the newborn animal is not in contact with other animals, as well as keeping a very clean environment, can limit their exposure to unwanted illnesses. Taking care of a newborn is a big job, but it is also very rewarding. Remember to stay focused on the animal’s basic needs with a proper enclosure which allows them to be protected and maintain a healthy temperature, making sure that they are having normal bowel movements and urinating normally, and providing proper nutrition and medical attention so that they are able to grow and develop into amazing puppies and kittens!