Buffalo Companion Animal Clinic
1214 Hwy 25 N
Buffalo, MN 55313

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7 am - 8 pm : Mon - Thurs

7 am - 6 pm : Friday

8 am - 2 pm : Saturday

Protect Your Cat from Feline Panleukopenia

 
 
Feline what? That's what I thought when I heard that this month's post was about feline Panleukopenia. If you haven't heard of the disease, that's a good thing. It means that routine vaccination has done a good job of wiping it out. Sadly, kittens and some older cats are still at risk. Keep reading to find out why.
 
Sincerely,
Carlos
 
Although feline panleukopenia was once a leading cause of death among cats, it’s now a rarely-seen and vaccine-preventable disease. Some people also refer to feline panleukopenia as feline distemper or feline parvo. However, the feline versions of both distemper and parvo differ from the canine versions. Neither one can affect humans. 

A Highly Contagious Disease
Feline panleukopenia starts when a cat or kitten acquires feline parvovirus. The disease has a much more severe impact on kittens than adult cats. It creates a virus that attacks cells that grow and divide the fastest, such as the bone marrow or intestines. Unborn kittens can acquire the virus from the placenta of their mother.

Common Feline Panleukopenia Risk Factors
Most kittens and cats face exposure to the feline parvovirus at some point since it is common. Those with the greatest risk of developing feline panleukopenia include unborn and newborn kittens, unvaccinated cats, and cats who already suffer from poor health. Three to five months is the most typical age of diagnosis. Unfortunately, this is also when feline panleukopenia causes the most deaths.

This disease typically spreads in animal shelters, kennels, pet shops, and cat colonies where groups of cats are together in smaller spaces. Veterinarians in every region of the United States as well as many foreign countries have reported active cases of feline panleukopenia. It’s most common during warmer months when people with domesticated cats let them outside. This increases the likelihood of contact with a cat who already has the disease or who has never received a vaccination.

How Cats Acquire an Infection and Receive a Diagnosis
When a cat already has the virus, she sheds it over a period of one to two days through urine, feces, and sneezing. A cat without feline panleukopenia can acquire it when she comes into contact with these discharges. Even though the time an infected cat sheds the virus is short, it can live for up to one year in the environment. That’s why it’s important to separate infected and uninfected cats. Direct contact isn’t required to transmit the virus since a cat can pick it up from a cage, food bowl, or bedding just as easily. The virus is also highly resistant to disinfectant spray.

If you’re concerned that your cat could have acquired feline panleukopenia, look for these symptoms:
  • Dehydration
  • Depressed mood
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Nasal discharge
  • Vomiting
When a pregnant cat has feline panleukopenia, she will typically miscarry or give birth to a litter of kittens with severe brain damage and body tremors. 

Treatment and Outlook for Feline Panleukopenia
It’s rare for a kitten under eight weeks old to survive with this disease. Additionally, 90 percent of kittens and cats older than that will have a fatal outcome unless they receive treatment. Because no medication exists that’s capable of killing the virus, treating an infected cat typically involves keeping him hydrated, providing appropriate nutrition, and ensuring that he doesn’t acquire a secondary infection. Once an infected cat makes it five days, the odds of survival increase dramatically.

Feline panleukopenia, also known as distemper, is part of a core vaccine that includes rabies, calicivirus, and rhinotracheitis. Your cat should receive this vaccine at her preventive care appointment. Please schedule an appointment with Buffalo Companion Animal Clinic if your cat doesn’t have this required vaccine yet.

 Photo Credit: Milkos / Getty Image

Regular Grooming is Important for Your Dog’s Well-Being

 
 
 
It's part of our job as pets to make a fuss when you try to make us look pretty or handsome. Deep down, we know you do it because you love us and want us to look, feel, and smell great. Here's a few tips that can make grooming easier for everyone.
 
Regards,
Carlos
 
 
Along with routine preventive care and dental check-ups, dogs need regular grooming to remain healthy. While bathing and brushing helps your dog look his best, grooming entails more than that in addition to offering several health benefits. For example, frequent brushing of your dog’s coat helps to ensure proper blood circulation. It also keeps levels of grease to a minimum, which is important because a build-up of grease can cause sebaceous cysts by blocking pores.

Loose hair on your dog can quickly form into mats. When mats remain in your dog’s fur, they can cause sores and other skin problems by dragging the skin down. Another common problem with dogs is that matted fur between the paw pads can attract dirt and grease. This can make it uncomfortable for your dog to walk. 

Establishing a regular grooming schedule with your dog can help deepen the bond between the two of you. Even though she may protest grooming at first, your dog eventually learns that she can depend on you to take care of her. It also allows you to get to know your dog at a deeper level by learning what she likes and dislikes.

How to Successfully Groom Your Dog at Home
You will need to have the right tools before you start any grooming session. Buffalo Companion Animal Hospital recommends that you start with the following:
  • Non-slip rubber mat
  • Shampoo appropriate for his breed
  • Fine comb and a coarse metal comb
  • Soft slicker brush
  • Eye and ear wipes
  • Nail clippers
Start the grooming process by carefully washing your dog’s fur. Depending on the size of your dog, you can do this in the bathtub or with a damp washcloth and shampoo. This helps to loosen any knots in your dog’s fur so you can comb them out easier. If you do notice a knot, bring it to the surface with one hand and comb through it with the other hand until it gets untangled. The type of comb you use will depend on whether your dog’s fur is coarse, thick, straight, or curly.

If you have recently heard your dog’s nails as she walks across a hardwood floor, you know that it’s time for a trim. Don’t be surprised it this is the part of grooming she protests the most. However, she should come to accept it if you’re gentle, patient, and persistent. Hold her foot gently and press on the paw pad so you can see the nails. Start by cutting off a small bit of each nail and then moving on to the thicker part. If you see blood, it means you have cut the part of the nail called the quick. Stop cutting immediately and place a gauze pad on your dog’s paw to control the bleeding. 

You can now wipe your dog’s eyes and ears using a hypo-allergenic wipe. Be sure to avoid placing anything directly into your dog’s ears as this can cause wax and dirt to go further down into the ear. Your dog shouldn’t need ear drops unless he has an infection.

Consider Occasional Professional Grooming
While it’s important to groom your dog at least once a week at home, consider bringing her in for regular professional grooming appointments as well. The groomer can advise you about any problem areas as well as let you know how to better gain her cooperation if you’re struggling. If you have additional questions about grooming, don’t hesitate to ask at your pet’s next preventive care appointment at Buffalo Companion Animal Clinic.
 
Photo Credit: Alexsokolov/ Getty Images

 

It Pays to Have a Well-Trained Dog

 
 
Sometimes dogs need a little help knowing how to behave. After all, they haven't always lived a domestic life with humans. In honor of National Train Your Dog Month, the human members of our staff have put together some tips to help make your life with a dog a happy one.
 
Happy new year!
Carlos
 
 
 
Dogs bring companionship, love, and loyalty to your life that you might not have imagined before you brought a dog home for the first time. There’s also no denying that training a dog takes a lot of work. Without proper training, few dogs learn to live in harmony in a human household. The following are some of the most common struggles that people experience with their dogs:
  • Aggression
  • Digging up the yard
  • Eliminating in the house
  • Excessive barking
  • Jumping up on people
  • Pulling on the leash while walking 
In fact, these behaviors can become so problematic that some people decide to surrender their dog to a shelter. Before you take that drastic step, we at Buffalo Companion Animal Hospital recommend that you invest in professional dog training. Not only does January start a new year, it’s also National Train Your Dog Month. The Association of Professional Dog Trainers has sponsored this awareness campaign for several years to highlight the importance of investing time and resources in training your dog.

Why Do Dogs Behave the Way They Do?
Dogs and humans see things quite differently. What you assume is a conscious effort to misbehave is totally logical to your dog. Aggression is one example of this. You see your dog lunge and bark at other dogs or people walking down the street. To him, it’s a way of sending the message this is his territory. That includes your house and the people who live in it.

Your dog doesn’t have the emotional or mental capacity to act a certain way out of spite, so don’t take her actions as a personal reflection on you. It’s often instinctual behavior that people just don’t understand. When you work with a professional dog trainer, you learn more about the motivation for your dog’s behavior and can understand it better. This is key to developing a plan to change problem behavior.

Classical and Operant Conditioning
Classical conditioning is a common tool used by professional dog trainers. It means they re-direct unwanted behavior in a non-physical way and use positive reinforcement as much as possible. 

Operant conditioning means that you give your dog a reward each time she displays a behavior that you like. The idea is to gradually decrease giving rewards until you only give one when your dog displays her very best behavior. Dog trainers refer to this as intermittent reinforcement. It means that your dog learns to perform to please you rather than expectation of a treat. If you choose negative reinforcement, you would take away a favorite toy to teach the lesson that certain behaviors make it disappear.

Additional Resources on Dog Training
We encourage you to visit our resource page for links to websites that can give you additional solutions on specific canine behavior. You’re also welcome to schedule a preventive care exam where you can ask your pet’s regular veterinarian more questions about curbing one or more problem behaviors in your dog. With persistence and lots of love, you would be surprised at what a little training can accomplish.

Photo Credit: Apple Tree House / Getty Images

 

Have a Safe and Happy New Year with Your Pet

 

 

If you think the years fly by quickly, try being a cat or dog! Then again, we don't really understand the concept of a New Year's Eve celebration. When you celebrate in a few weeks, please think about things from our perspective and make the night safe and stress-free. After all, it's almost as if you're celebrating the passing of several years on a single night.

With appreciation, 

Carlos

 
It’s hard to believe that 2017 has just days remaining, but here we are staring down New Year’s Eve again. If you have a pet, it’s important to take a bit of extra time to consider the holiday from his perspective. It’s loud, it goes on until the wee hours of the morning, and he has no idea why people are shouting and hugging each other. In addition to heightened anxiety, New Year’s Eve can present unique pet safety hazards. The tips below can help you prevent a trip to the emergency veterinarian.

Keep Your Pet Isolated in a Safe and Comfortable Room
If you’re hosting a party or plan to bring your pet to one, it’s best to create a comfortable space for her in a room with no windows where you can close the door. That way she won’t become overly excited about things taking place outside of the home. You should prepare the room with your dog or cat’s regular food, plenty of fresh water, and her favorite toys and bedding material. Be sure to check on your pet often and reassure her if she seems frightened by noises. 

Fireworks and Noisemakers Can Terrify Your Pet
What’s New Year’s Eve without at least a few noisemakers? While you might not think a quiet December 31 sounds like much fun, the noises from these harmless party favors can really set your pet on edge. This is another reason why it’s a good idea to keep him in a separate room. 

As you probably experienced during the 4th of July and other holidays, hearing fireworks can be downright terrifying to a dog or cat. Unfortunately, you can’t control whether a neighbor or the person in charge of an organized city event chooses to light fireworks. Just offer your pet plenty of comfort and block the noise the best you can with calming music.

Consider a Microchip for Your Dog or Cat
You can take several precautions and your pet can still find a way to escape from the house in the chaotic environment of a New Year’s Eve party. Buffalo Companion Animal Hospital recommends microchip identification for all pets for this reason. A collar and tag can fall off or become stuck on a fence, leaving your pet alone with no way to identify her. With a microchip, anyone who finds your dog or cat can bring her to the closest veterinary clinic or animal shelter for scanning. Since the chip holds your contact information, someone will contact you to pick her up.

Pets and Alcohol Don’t Mix
Many New Year’s Eve parties include alcohol, so it’s important to make certain that it’s out of your pet’s reach. If you’re the party host, make sure your guests know there’s nothing funny about trying to get an animal drunk. Alcohol is extremely toxic for dogs and cats and they can become ill even when ingesting a tiny amount. 

Our entire staff wishes you and your pet a safe, happy, and healthy 2018.

Photo Credit: Judith Dzierzawa / Getty Images

 

 

 

Reconsider Giving Someone a Pet for a Holiday Gift

 

Puppies and kittens are adorable! I know, I was once one myself and only got more good-looking as I got older. They just don't stay that way for long and quickly grow into adult pets who need daily care for many years. Please think about this before you give a puppy or kitten to someone you love as a holiday gift. I thank you on behalf of pets everywhere who just want a fur-ever home.

Season's greetings!

Carlos

 

It's December, which means the chances are good that you have already watched a few holiday movies that end with one of the leading characters receiving an adorable puppy or kitten as a gift. He or she squeals with delight and the family adjusts immediately to having a new pet. Unfortunately, this is more the exception than the rule in real life. It’s just that you don’t see characters in a movie surrendering a pet once they realize the responsibility involved in caring for him for the remainder of his life.

Children and older people living alone tend to be the biggest recipients of pets as Christmas or Hanukkah gifts. You could really be inviting trouble if you give a pet to a child who isn’t yours without checking with his or her parents first. You might want to be the cool aunt, uncle, or grandparent when giving such a gift. However, the parents are likely to feel resentful at the responsibility that they will likely take on because their child isn’t ready for a pet. Older people may not have the budget for veterinary expenses or ability to keep up with an energetic animal. 

You Can Still Give Someone a Pet without the Surprise
Some people on your gift list may be ready for the responsibility of a new dog or cat and would feel touched that you thought to get one for them. However, you should allow the gift recipient to pick his or her own new pet and you can pay the adoption fee or offer to cover the first check-up at Buffalo Companion Animal Hospital. Before you even broach this subject with the person who would take in the new pet, consider these questions:
  • Does anyone in the home have pet allergies?
  • If the person lives in rental housing, does his or her lease allow for pets?
  • How much do you know about this person’s lifestyle? For example, does he or she travel often or work long hours? Is there already a pet in the home? The answers to these types of questions determines how much time and energy the person will have to devote to a new pet. 
If you have offered to pay the adoption fee, consider bringing your friend or family member to an animal shelter to choose a new pet. The animals living there have been neutered or spayed, are up-to-date on vaccinations, and have undergone a recent veterinary check-up. Best of all, both of you would be giving a deserving pet a second chance at finding a forever family.

We wish you a happy holiday season!

Photo Credit: MarkoNOKOV / Getty Images

 

How to Make Sure Your Pet Has a Happy Thanksgiving

 

It's that time of year again. The incredible aroma of turkey, pie, and other Thanksgiving goodies is in the air and your cat or dog goes crazy with anticipation. It might seem cruel not to let us share in the bounty, but deep down we know it's for our own good. People food isn't meant for pets and vice versa. Here are some other tips for everyone to have safe and happy Thanksgiving.

In gratitude, 

Carlos

 

Nothing can ruin a holiday celebration faster than a pet who suddenly becomes sick or suffers an injury. That’s probably not what you had in mind when you planned your Thanksgiving get-together this year. However, the excitement of different people in the house and the smells of forbidden food can make even the most well-behaved dog or cat act differently than you would expect. This includes getting into things that could harm him. The good news is that you can take several steps to keep your pet safe and stay out of the animal version of the emergency room this Thanksgiving.

If you’re hosting the holiday meal, keep in mind that some people may have animal allergies. In this case, it’s best to keep your dog or cat comfortable in a room as far away from the kitchen as possible. We also recommend keeping your pet elsewhere if you’re afraid she will become over-excited to the point of stealing someone’s food or accidentally knocking someone over. If your pet does remain out with the company, make sure that someone keeps an eye on the front door. It only takes a minute for her to dash outside and away from what she perceives as a stressful situation.

Re-Consider Sharing Part of Your Thanksgiving Meal with Your Pet
Like many pet owners, you might enjoy sharing a morsel of people food with your pet to make him happy. While a small piece of unseasoned turkey shouldn’t cause any harm, we urge you to exercise caution with other common staples of the Thanksgiving meal. Many of them are toxic for dogs and cats, including the following:
  • Grapes and raisins
  • Cake batter and bread dough
  • Sage and other common seasonings
  • Avocados
  • Chocolate
Depending on what your pet consumes, she could experience immediate symptoms such as abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. Other foods are more of a choking hazard than a gastrointestinal one, such as grapes and raisins. Your dog or cat could also try to knock over the garbage can to get a treat or even ingest dropped food wrappers. Be sure your garbage can is in a locked cabinet and that you pick up anything that you or your guests drop right away.

What to Do in an Emergency
Buffalo Companion Animal Hospital will be closed on Thanksgiving. If you experience an emergency, contact the Pet Poison Helpline at 1-855-764-7661. You can also contact us for a list of 24-hour emergency clinics before Thanksgiving.

We wish you a Happy Thanksgiving and hope that your pet stays safe!

Photo Credit: MDMilliman / Getty Images

 

It's Pet Cancer Awareness Month

 

When we hide our pain and sickness, it's not to make things more difficult for you. It's just in our DNA to never show weakness. That's why my fellow cats and my dog friends need you to look for the signs of cancer, especially in our golden years. Although your pet could be really sick, the good people at Buffalo Companion Animal Hospital will do whatever they can to make him feel better and live longer.

With appreciation,

Carlos

 

A diagnosis of cancer often takes pet owners by surprise. Because of this, Veterinary Pet Insurance decided to launch Pet Cancer Awareness Month in November of 2005. The good news is that awareness has increased significantly since that time. The bad news is that cancer is still the most common fatality for dogs and cats nationwide. It is so prominent that the Veterinary Cancer Center indicates that half of all dogs and cats who die from a disease had cancer. 

Although this deadly disease is diagnosed more often in dogs, it tends to act more aggressively in cats. The earlier your pet receives a diagnosis, the better her chances of beating cancer.

Indications Your Pet Could Have Cancer
Dogs and cats are notorious for hiding their sickness and pain. While certain things may be obvious, such as vomiting or an offensive odor, others require you to pay close attention to your pet’s routine to notice that something is wrong. We encourage you to contact Buffalo Companion Animal Hospital right away if you notice any of these symptoms:
  • Vocalizations when trying to eliminate
  • Eating less than usual
  • Stiff or unusual gait
  • Problems chewing or swallowing food
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Slow-healing sores
  • Fatigue
  • Bleeding without an obvious injury
  • Swelling anywhere on the body that gets more pronounced over time
It doesn’t necessarily mean your pet has cancer if he displays some of these symptoms. However, they typically mean something isn’t right and that your pet needs some form of treatment.

Common Forms of Cancer in Dogs and Cats
 
The following types of cancer are most common in household pets:

Feline Leukemia: Kittens receive this diagnosis more frequently than older cats since they can inherit it from their mother before birth. You may want to consider a feline leukemia vaccine if your cat goes outside or if you have two or more cats.

Canine Lymphoma: Specific to dogs, this cancer grows in the white blood cells, bone marrow, and intestinal tract.

Osteosarcoma (Bone): Most common in large dogs, bone cancer typically appears in the leg bone or ribs. It’s uncommon in small dogs and in cats.

Oral: Most common in dogs, this cancer typically presents with bleeding from the nose or a noticeable challenge in eating. 

Abdominal: Abdominal cancer can include tumors founds in the intestines, liver, kidneys, and spleen. Unfortunately, your pet’s swollen belly can disguise them for a long time.

Breast: Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer of female dogs. With cats, tumors turn malignant more than 80 percent of the time. 

Bladder: Pets who live in homes with smokers tend to develop this type of cancer more often.

Skin: Skin cancer is the easiest to treat because it’s visible. The biggest risk factor is spending a lot of time in the sun.

Prostate/Testicular: These are aggressive types of cancer found in male dogs and cats. Your pet may have trouble defecating because of a tumor pressing on his lower colon. Testicular cancer shows up most often in pets who haven’t received treatment for a parasite infection or who live near many environmental toxins.

Preventive Care Can Help You Stay Ahead of Cancer
Since cancer is especially prevalent in older pets, it’s important to bring your pet in for regular preventive care exams. Cancer is a devastating diagnosis, but your pet has a better chance of avoiding it or overcoming it with proper nutrition, exercise, a healthy and stimulating home environment, and regular check-ups at Buffalo Companion Animal Hospital.

Photo Credit: Tverkhovinets / Getty Images

 

It's National Animal Safety and Protection Month

Even if you're not blessed to share your home with a pet, there's plenty you can do to look after the welfare of animals. There's even a special month dedicated to the cause.
 
- Carlos
 
Several years ago, the PALS Foundation launched National Animal Safety and Protection Month in October to encourage people to care for and handle animals in a safe and respectful manner. Through this campaign, the PALS Foundation hopes to encourage better treatment of both domestic and wild animals. The organization believes that animals and people can and should live together in peace.

What You Can Do as a Pet Owner
One way to get into the spirit of National Animal Safety and Protection Month is to continue to take excellent care of the pets with whom you share a life and home. If your dog or cat doesn’t have microchip identification yet, we encourage you to schedule this simple procedure. This allows anyone who finds your pet to take her to the nearest veterinary clinic or animal shelter to scan for a chip. 

While we also recommend a tag and collar, these can easily become caught on something or fall off. Taking the added step of getting a microchip for your pet provides you with valuable peace of mind. Here are some other steps you can take to ensure your pet’s health and safety:
  • Place potential toxins such as cleaning solution and rodent traps out of your pet’s reach
  • Keep your pet at a healthy weight by feeding him nutritious food, making sure that he gets enough exercise, and limiting treats
  • Consider how you would continue to care for your pet in an emergency and put a disaster plan in writing
  • Remember to interact with your pet each day as it’s important for her emotional health
  • Schedule a preventive care exam at Buffalo Companion Animal Hospital at least once a year or more frequently for kittens, puppies, and senior pets
  • When you bring home a new pet, commit to providing a home for the rest of his life
You Don’t Have to Be a Pet Owner to Help Animals
Many people love pets and want to help them, but can’t offer them a lifetime commitment. If that describes you, consider providing foster care for dogs and cats as they wait for their forever family to find them. Local animal shelters always appreciate donations of time and supplies. They typically need food, bedding, and toys the most.

Caring about animals also includes those in zoos and in the wild. Teach the children in your life to care for and respect animals from a young age by visiting the zoo and nature centers often. You can also let as many people as possible know about National Animal Safety and Protection Month.

Your Partner in Animal Care
Buffalo Companion Animal Hospital is proud to care for animals in our community. Please contact us at 763-682-2181 with questions or to schedule an appointment.
 
Photo Credit: Kosamatu / Getty Images
 

How Much Do You Know About the Feline Leukemia Virus?

There's nothing fun about being sick, and the feline leukemia virus has the potential to make us feel really awful. Getting preventive care and knowing the symptoms of FeLV are the best things you can do for your cat. He will thank you with his meows and purrs.
 
Much appreciation,
Carlos
 
 
FeLV, which is the abbreviation for feline leukemia virus, causes leukemia as well as other variations of cancer in cats. Approximately two to three percent of cats have the virus, with it being much more common in kittens and younger cats. The reason for this is that cats develop FeLV through extended contacts with another infected cat. It’s most common among kittens who acquire the virus from their mothers either through the placenta or when nursing. It can also be spread through a cat-on-cat bite. Humans cannot catch FeLV.

Common Symptoms and Methods of Transmission
A cat infected with FeLV sheds the virus through her saliva. That means an infected cat should never groom one who is not infected. Other typical ways cats transmit FeLV to one another besides bites include contact with feces or urine, touching noses, and sharing bowls of food and water. Unfortunately, FeLV can cause several serious health problems in addition to cancer. Some of the most common ones include:
  • Weight loss
  • Anemia
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Problems with reproduction
  • Neurological issues
  • Diseases of the eye
  • Infections
  • Gastrointestinal distress
  • Fever
  • Weakened immune system
  • Platelet disorders
 The good news is that some cats have no issues even when they pick up the virus. Their immune system is strong enough to defend against it. It’s also possible for cats to have a latent infection, which means they’re not strong enough to fight the virus entirely but can keep most symptoms at bay. Sadly, other cats have persistent FeLV infection and develop numerous and progressive symptoms a few years after picking up the virus. Kittens under eight weeks old at the time of infection have the most difficulty fighting FeLV. 

FeLV Positive Cats Can Maintain a Good Quality of Life
According to the American Association of Feline Practitioners, cats should receive a FeLV test when ill, if they live with other cats that have recently tested positive, immediately after adoption, or if they have been bitten by an unknown cat. We typically diagnose FeLV after running several blood tests. It’s also important that a cat who already has the disease not receive the vaccine for it as it won’t be effective. 

Cats with a latent infection and those who completely fight off the virus can potentially live for several years after acquiring FeLV. If your cat has received a diagnosis, be sure to keep him or her indoors to avoid the possibility of spreading it to other cats or of additional contact with infected cats. We also encourage you to minimize stress in your cat’s life and make sure that each veterinarian you see knows about the diagnosis.

Buffalo Companion Animal Hospital offers an optional vaccine against FeLV. Please speak to any member of our staff if you’re concerned about the possibility of your cat having the virus.

Photo Credit: Anurakpong / Getty Images

 

September is Senior Pet Wellness Month

 
My friends and I like to say that we're not getting older, we're getting better. Even so, we may start to have many of the same health issues you humans have. Here are five that you especially need to keep an eye on
 
Much appreciated,
Carlos
 
Most people have heard that a pet ages seven years for every one year of a human’s life. However, the American Veterinary Medical Association states that formula isn’t exactly on target. By a dog or cat’s first birthday, he is approximately 15 years old in human years. By age two, the equivalent is approximately 24 years old. After that, aging accelerates at the rate of five years for every one year a person lives.

Regardless of the formula you use, no one can deny that pets age at an accelerated rate compared to people. They hit middle age around seven years old and the senior years after one decade of life. For this reason, we at Buffalo Companion Animal Hospital recommend that people start bringing their pets in for bi-annual preventive care exams around age seven. A lot can happen in an older pet’s life in six months.

Senior Pets and People Have Many of the Same Issues
Sadly, cats and dogs aren’t immune from common health problems that people experience more often as they get older. Some of these include:

Arthritis: Arthritis is a painful condition that occurs when the cartilage present in bones wears away and causes them to rub together. Your pet can experience pain and inflammation without the natural cushioning of the cartilage. Since she can’t tell you this, look for a reluctance to jump, stiff walking gait, loud meowing or howling when you pick her up, and the tendency to favor some limbs over others.

Cancer: According to several veterinary organizations, dogs and cats over age 10 succumb to cancer more than any other disease. Leukemia is most common in cats and mast cell tumor is most common in dogs. Some of the first indications of potential cancer in your pet include changes in behavior, fatigue, weight loss, and wounds that seem slow to heal.

Cognitive decline: Approximately 50 percent of all dogs and cats show at least mild cognitive decline in the senior years. Your normally docile pet may become aggressive or a typically confident dog or cat could become anxious and not want to leave your side. Skill regression is also common.

Diabetes: The increase in obese and inactive pets has caused more of them to develop diabetes. However, it can also occur due to genetic inheritance, normal aging, and other risk factors. Your pet with diabetes will urinate more frequently, lose weight, appear irritable and fatigued, and possibly display vision problems.

Kidney disease: Healthy kidneys enable your dog or cat to eliminate waste properly. Kidney dysfunction can cause waste products to remain trapped in the body, causing pain, weight loss, vomiting, inability to hold urine or feces, and increased thirst. 

Dogs and Cats Are Masters at Hiding Pain
The need to never appear weak to potential predators is hardwired into dogs and cats. This causes them to hide when they feel pain rather than express it. It’s up to you to look for signs of declining health in your older pet and seek the appropriate treatment. Feel free to contact us with questions or to schedule a senior wellness exam.
 
Photo Credit: BigRedCurlyGuy / Getty Images

 

August 30 is National Holistic Pet Day

 
 
Doesn't this dog look relaxed? He's actually getting great healthcare too. Complementary medicine in veterinary care helps us pets who, ahem, might be getting up in years or who deal with chronic pain. We even offer acupuncture right here at the clinic! Be sure to ask our staff about it the next time you visit.
 
Regards,
Carlos
 
With National Holistic Pet Day coming up on August 30, we wanted to make sure that you’re aware of the acupuncture services at Buffalo Companion Animal Clinic. Like people, pets don’t always respond to traditional medical treatments for the management of ongoing pain and chronic diseases. Although people have benefitted from acupuncture for thousands of years, the practice is relatively new with pets. We believe that animals’ bodies can self-heal if provided with the proper stimulation, and we invite you to schedule an acupuncture appointment to find out for yourself.

Acupuncture as Complementary Veterinary Medicine
With medical acupuncture for pets, our doctors first determine which areas of the body do not function properly. After making this diagnosis, they create a treatment plan that stimulates your pet’s central nervous system to start the self-healing process. By placing tiny needles at your pet’s pain points, it helps to interrupt chronic pain signals. The more long-standing the pain, the more sessions your pet requires to be free of it. 

Pet acupuncture helps to access areas of the animal’s body that stimulates the release of endorphins and other natural pain-relieving hormones. You may notice a difference in your pet after a single session, but it could take up to several sessions for the maximum benefits. We recommend scheduling appointments once or twice a week. According to the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society, the practice is most useful for pets who suffer from the following disorders:
  • Arthritis, traumatic nerve injury, intervertebral disc disease, or other chronic musculoskeletal conditions
  • Reproductive issues
  • Diarrhea and other gastrointestinal problems
  • Allergies and asthma
A Typical Acupuncture Session
If you feel your pet will become anxious, feel free to accompany him or her to offer comfort. At the start of each session, our acupuncturist inserts several tiny needles into the area where your pet is experiencing ongoing pain. This does not hurt your pet. After a short time, your pet will feel sleepy and relaxed. Many dogs and cats even look forward to their acupuncture sessions once they associate the appointment with these feelings. Don’t feel alarmed if your pet seems lethargic or sleepy for up to 24 hours after each session as this is completely normal. 

If traditional treatment approaches are not giving your pet the relief from chronic pain that you would like, please contact us to schedule an appointment or ask additional questions about acupuncture. This is just one more way you can show commitment to your pet’s well-being
 
Photo Credit: BigshotD3 / Getty Images

 

Is Now the Right Time for You to Adopt a New Pet?

 
Being the clinic cat at Buffalo Companion Animal Clinic is certainly the cat's meow, but I know all my animal friends are so lucky to have a great home. We're cute and cuddly, but also a big responsibility. Here are some things for you to think about if before deciding to share your home with a new animal friend.
 
Regards,
Carlos
 
 
Living with and caring for a pet is both rewarding and challenging. Unfortunately, some people fail to understand the responsibility involved and quickly decide they don’t want a pet after all. These animals end up at shelters or with friends in best-case scenarios or simply abandoned and left to fend for themselves. 

Even though surrendering a pet to a shelter is better than abandonment, shelters can only keep animals so long before euthanizing them. That’s why we urge people to consider the responsibility involved in pet ownership as well as how a dog, cat, or other animal will fit into their lifestyle before bringing a new pet home.
 
You’re Making a Commitment for the Lifetime of the Animal
The American Humane Association estimates that dogs live for 12 to 15 years and that cats have a lifespan of 15 to 20 years. Of course, the breed of the animal and his overall health at adoption play into the average lifespan as well. The fuzzy kitten or rambunctious puppy you adopt today will eventually grow old. Pets require time and resources at every stage of the life cycle. Here are several factors the American Humane Association recommends that people consider before bringing home a new pet:

  • Does anyone in your house have asthma or allergies that might be triggered by animal fur?
  • What do you plan to do if a family member just doesn’t care for the pet?
  • Do you anticipate major changes such as moving, a new job, having a baby, or getting married that could affect how well you can care for the pet?
  • Are your finances stable enough to handle basic pet necessities as well as emergency care?
  • Are you getting the pet for your kids? If so, do you consider them responsible enough to provide her with consistent care? If the answer is no, are you willing to provide the care yourself?
  • Who will care for your pet when you go on vacation or need to travel for business?
  • Will you commit to getting your pet spayed or neutered as well as keep up with required vaccinations?
  • Does your family have such a busy schedule that your pet will end up spending a lot of time alone?
  • Does someone in the family have enough time to provide the pet with the exercise and play time he needs?
  • What kind of living arrangements do you have? A large German Shepherd needs plenty of outdoor space to run around while a senior cat would do just fine in a small apartment.
  • Do you know how you would handle behavior problems?
Although this list is long, we encourage you to take the time to answer each question honestly. If you decide that you’re not ready for a pet after all, you can always reconsider it later when your circumstances change.
 
Bring Your New Pet in for a Check-Up as Soon as Possible
When you adopt a new pet, whether that’s now or in the future, make sure to schedule a comprehensive physical exam with Buffalo Companion Animal Hospital shortly after bringing her home. We will make sure your dog, cat, or other animal has the necessary vaccines to stay healthy and check several other things as well. We look forward to seeing the newest member of your family soon.
 
Photo Credit: Ablokhin / Getty Images

 

 

 

Tips to Reduce Stress When Traveling by Plane with Your Pet

 
It's summer, glorious summer, and that means travel season. Many people can't stand the thought of being away from their pet for too long, and who can blame them? We're adorable. That doesn't mean we like traveling by plane, but it can be done. Just ask the fine folks at Buffalo Companion Animal Clinic who compiled the tips you see below.
 
Happy traveling,
Carlos
 
 
The thought of boarding an airplane with their pet strikes fear into the heart of many people. Dogs and cats can become highly stressed in a busy airport, not to mention on the flight itself. You both end up feeling stressed and feed off each other’s anxious feelings. Whether you choose to fly with a pet in tow or it’s your only option, try to remain as calm as you can to set the expectation for your pet. The tips outlined below can make the experience more enjoyable for the entire family as well.
 
 Certain Breeds of Pets Should Not Fly
According to the American Humane Society, some breeds of dogs and cats have extreme difficulty breathing on a plane due to reduced oxygen in the pressurized cabin. These include any type of brachycephalic dog or cat, which technically means the animal has genetically inherited a pushed-in face. Bulldogs, pugs, and Persian cats fit this description. Their nasal passages are too short to allow for normal breathing on a plane. 

Keep Your Pet in the Airplane’s Cabin if Possible
Your dog or cat will probably still feel anxious about flying, but riding in a carrier where she can see you can dramatically reduce her stress. Some airlines allow limited numbers of small pets contained within a carrier to remain with their owners. Each airline has its own rules, so be certain to check on this option early. Most cats meet size limitations, but your dog may not. 

When Your Pet Must Fly in Cargo
If you’re unable to keep your pet in the cabin with you, be sure to follow these tips for the trip in the plane’s cargo hold to go as smoothly as possible:

  • When an airline loses a pet, it’s usually during a connecting flight. You can reduce that risk by booking a direct connection.
  • Do not give your pet tranquilizers before the flight unless you have received a prescription from Buffalo Companion Animal Clinic. Also, avoid feeding him for at least four hours before the flight to reduce the likelihood of motion sickness. 
  • Try to avoid flying with your pet when outside temperatures are extremely hot or cold, both in your departing city and your destination city.
  • Leave your pet’s carrier out at home for a few days before the trip to allow her to get used to it.
  • Be sure that your pet has proper identification, including a microchip, tag, and collar. You should label his pet carrier as well. 
  • Groom your pet a few days before the trip and be sure to trim her nails. This prevents her from getting them caught on anything at the airport or on the plane.
Once you land and collect your pet from cargo, examine him from head to tail to ensure he didn’t sustain any injuries during the flight. If anything seems amiss, be sure to take a photo while still at the airport in case you need to file a complaint later.

Visit Us for a Check-Up Before You Fly
We recommend scheduling a preventive care exam approximately two weeks before your trip to make sure that your pet is healthy enough to fly. Our staff will check his vaccination status and give any vaccines that are due soon. We also advise you to learn the airline’s pet policies well in advance to avoid additional stress on the day of your trip.
 
Photo Credit: Damedeeso / Getty Images

 

July 15 is Pet Fire Safety Day

 
I will let you in on a little secret: dogs and cats can be quick and mischievous. Okay, so maybe it's not such a secret that we're curious and can get into trouble in a hurry without your help. This Pet Fire Safety
Day, be sure to think like a dog or cat and pet-proof your house so we don't accidentally start a fire.
 
Best,
Carlos
 
 
Several years ago, the American Kennel Club (AKC) and ADT Security Services started an awareness campaign called Pet Fire Safety Day on July 15 of each year. This was in response to the alarming statistics about pets and fires. Did you know that companion animals start approximately 1,000 home fires every year? Even more startling, 40,000 pets die in fire-related incidents each year and another 500,00 receive some type of injury. Many of these fires are in the home, but they can also be burns received in a backyard barbeque or accidental contact with another form of heat or fire.

Tips to Prevent Your Pet from Becoming a Fire Statistic
One of the easiest ways to prevent a serious fire in your home is to install a smoke detector on every level. However, that only alerts you to a fire after it has already started. We recommend taking the following actions to prevent fires and unsafe situations for your pet in the first place:
  • Walk around your home with your pet’s mindset and look for areas where you need to pet-proof. The stove is a common example. A dog who is excited to see you at the end of a long day could easily jump up and bump a burner with his or her paw. Loose wires are another potential way that your pet could start a fire. Additionally, make sure that you keep all hot items like curling irons and heating pads out of your pet’s reach.
  • Never leave your pet unsupervised around an open flame. Whether you’re cooking on the stove or burning candles to get a nice scent in the house, extinguish flames when you’re done and don’t allow your pet to approach the fire source.
  • When you must leave pets home alone, put them in a room or entrance near the front of the house where a firefighter could reach them more easily. You should also check to make sure they’re not located near any fire hazards when you leave the house.
  • Place a window cling or note on your door that states the number of pets inside in case of an emergency. Both AKC and ADT offer free window clings and you can find them at community safety events as well.
Create a Fire Escape Plan That Includes Your Pet
We have written before about the importance of preparing for disaster before it happens. This includes the possibility of a house fire or burn injury. Make sure that you have a first aid kit prepared for your pet and keep an extra leash and collar by the front door that you can grab quickly. These precautions don’t take long to implement, but can make a life or death difference for your pet. If your pet does sustain injuries in a fire, please contact Buffalo Companion Animal Hospital immediately for treatment.
 
Photo Credit: JStaley / Getty Images