1. Does my indoor cat need vaccines?
It seems counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? If my cat does not go outside and does not encounter disease, then why does he need vaccines every year? Here are a half-dozen good reasons your veterinarian wants to keep your cat up-to-date on vaccines. If you are unsure if your cat is up-to-date on vaccines, contact your veterinarian today to find out.
- Your cat could accidentally get outdoors. They are curious about that big exciting world outside their windows and will not hesitate to go exploring. It only takes a few hours outside for an indoor cat to come in contact with a stray cat or wild animal carrying disease.
- If your cat ends up at a shelter, he or she could be exposed to sick cats. We all hope that this never happens, but as mentioned before, cats can and do escape from their home. If your cat is found but does not have any identity, such as a collar or microchip, the next stop is the local animal shelter. The stress of being taken to the shelter along with crowded shelter conditions can make cats more susceptible to disease.
- You cat may have a lifestyle change. When you bring that adorable kitten home, you are most likely expecting to have him or her for life. However, sometimes life brings changes beyond our control, such as divorce, death in the family, or a move, which can all affect your cat’s lifestyle. There are numerous cats that start out as indoor kittens but later become outdoor cats.
- Stress can cause latent disease to flare-up. Cats are often exposed to the feline herpes virus early on in life, especially if they come from a shelter or contracted the disease in-utero. Cats without up-to-date vaccinations can more easily contract respiratory infections or other disease that can cause latent or dormant disease to flare up in an already sick cat.
- Viruses such as Calicivirus and Feline Herpesvirus can be spread by inanimate objects. A “fomite” is any inanimate object that can carry an infectious organism. Grooming supplies and even shoes and clothing can act as a fomite bringing disease into your home.
2. How can I help my pet’s dental health at home?
You have noticed recently that Buddy’s breath is less than fresh and you are wondering how to help him? Maybe you have noticed that Buddy does not like to chew on toys or dry kibble that he used to love? Depending on the stage of Buddy’s dental disease, there are some good home care remedies that help to keep tartar and gingivitis at bay.
A. Teeth Brushing: If your pet allows it, brushing their teeth daily with a pet toothpaste (NOT human toothpaste) is the gold-standard for treating dental disease. It’s more work but definitely helps the most.
B. Dental diet: We recommend Hill’s Science Diet T/D dental diet. The T/D diet is a complete, balanced diet that can be fed on a daily basis and has been proven to clinically reduce dental disease. The T/D diet can be fed as treats as well, but less frequent use decreases the positive results. T/D is available at Dupont Veterinary Clinic.
C. Chew Products: OraVet Oral Chews (by the makers of Heartgard and Nexgard) are daily oral chews that reduce both halitosisand tartar accumulation. CET Rawhide Chews are rawhide treats coated with enzymes to help inhibit plaque and tartar. Blue Buffalo Dental Bones are another simple option to help reduce tartar. All are available at our hospital.
D. Food Additives: We recommend Clenz-a-dent Food Additive as another easy aid in slowing down plaque and tartar accumulation.
Here is an image displaying the 4 stages of dental disease. Make an appointment with your veterinarian at Dupont Veterinary Clinic to determine if your pet needs a professional cleaning and polishing. Some pets, especially those in stages 3 and 4, can start to lose teeth if your veterinarian does not step in to help your pet.
3. Is my pet overweight?
Obesity in pets is on a steady incline in the United States. Overweight pets are at a much higher risk for developing arthritis, orthopedic disease, cancer, diabetes, and other illnesses. It is important to first determine if your pet is overweight and then determine what his or her ideal weight would be. Click on the following link to be directed to a resource that will walk you through these steps. This article will show you a body fat index risk chart to determine how overweight your pet truly is, then on the second page it will determine what your pet’s ideal weight should be. Feel free to stop by Dupont Veterinary Clinic at any time to put your pet on the scale for a more accurate weight, especially while they are losing weight. There are diseases, such as hypothyroidism, that can lead to weight loss because of a decreased metabolism. If you are concerned about your pet’s weight, contact your veterinarian to have them help you develop a diet plan or recommend a diet for your pet and look for any illness that may be preventing your pet from losing weight.
4. What food should I be feeding my pet?
There are numerous foods on the store shelves and it can be overwhelming when trying to select the appropriate one for your pet. For puppies, make sure to get a food that is labeled for puppies as this provides better overall nutrition for their growing bodies. If you have a large or giant breed puppy, make sure to get a large breed puppy food because this helps provide better nutrition for their large, rapidly growing joints. Hill’s Science Diet has a great large breed puppy, toy breed puppy, or even puppy food (for those puppies of average size) for those youngsters at home. If your pet is between the ages of 1 to 7 and does not have any other dietary restrictions, we recommend selecting a diet labeled for adult dogs. If your pet is 8 years or older, we recommend a senior diet because this type of diet provides less calories for our less active pets as well as added nutrients to support joint health. We do not recommend selecting a diet that is listed for “all life stages” (this label is often listed on the back of the label) as this type of diet provides the same nutrients and calories that would be appropriate for a lactating mother or puppy as it would for a less active senior pet! Just like humans, pets have different nutritional needs at different stages of their life and we need to change their diets accordingly. If you are unsure of the food that you are feeding your pet, feel free to bring the food bag into your vet to have them give you a better nutritional assessment.
5. How do I remove a tick from my pet?
With the warm weather upon us we are seeing an increasing number of ticks on our pets. Here is a link to a short video that can help walk you through safe removal of a tick from your pet and signs and symptoms to look out for after the tick is removed. If you are concerned about removing a tick from your pet, you can schedule an appointment with the technicians at Dupont Veterinary Clinic to have them help you remove the tick. It is important, especially if you are noticing ticks on your pet, to put your pet on a tick preventative. If you are not sure if the monthly preventative your pet is on works against ticks, call your veterinarian to have them help you pick out the best product for your pet.
By Ashley Dawes, DVM
Lex was a working military dog that went to Fallujah, Iraq, with US Marine Corps Cpl. Dustin J. Lee. Lex was wounded in an attack that killed his handler, but despite his own injuries, Lex refused to leave Cpl. Lee’s side. Lex had to be dragged away to be treated by medics. Lex was the first active-duty working military dog that was granted early retirement in order to be adopted. He was adopted by Cpl. Lee’s parents, Jerome and Rachel. Despite his mobility issues due to retaining over 50 pieces of shrapnel in his body from war, he still worked as a therapy dog visiting military veterans at VA hospitals and retirement homes. Lee was awarded an honorary Purple Heart and in 2008 was given an Award for Canine Excellence (ACE) by the American Kennel Club.
2. Rin Tin Tin
This German Shepherd, after being saved from the trenches of WWI, was the first ever canine movie star. He was found on a French battlefield by an American soldier Lee Duncan. After returning to the US, Duncan trained Rinty and he stared in a few small roles in some silent films. Rin Tin Tin’s first big break came in 1929, when he got the role in Warner Bros.’ “Where the North Begins.”
A trained search and rescue dog named Appollo was on-site with his handler Peter Davis of the NYC Police Department within 15 minutes of the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. In the following days, over 350 search and rescue dogs and their handlers came to the Twin Towers site, and to the Pentagon, to search for survivors.
Smoky was a Yorkshire terrier found in 1944 by an American soldier in the New Guinea jungle. After being Cpl. William A. Wynne’s partner for the next two years, she became something of a WWII mascot. She slept in Wynne’s tent, shared his rations, and followed him wherever he went. Smoky survived over 150 air raids on New Guinea and made it through a typhoon at Okinawa. Thanks to her keen sense of hearing and danger, Smoky saved Wynne’s life on multiple occasions warning him and his comrades of incoming fire. She was also the first therapy dog on record.
Sinbad was a mixed-breed canine sailor aboard the US Coast Guard Cutter George W. Campbell. Sinbad served 11 years of sea duty in the Coast Guard, including combat in WWII. He was originally intended to be a gift for Chief Boatswain’s girlfriend, but the girlfriend’s apartment did not allow dogs. Sinbad put his paw print on his own enlistment papers and was issued his own service identification number. He went on to be awarded the American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, and the Navy Occupation Service Medal.
By Dr. Ashley Dawes
The very thought of euthanizing a pet makes our heart sink to the pit of our stomach. When our beloved pets are elderly or ill, we have the enormous responsibility and great gift of deciding when it is the right time to let them go. Euthanasia is a gift to pets and, sometimes, can feel like a curse to owners.
Most of our furry companions are aware that their time to say goodbye is approaching before you do. Of course, this does not make it any easier on the owner. Our pets often times recognize our sadness, conflicted grief, and concern and worry that they might be the cause of our sadness. During the euthanasia process it is important to interact with your pet to comfort them and reassure them that they will always be remembered fondly.
Owners often apologize for crying over their pets, but we as a veterinary profession want you to know that crying is allowed and welcomed. We at Dupont Veterinary Clinic are also pet owners and understand how difficult it can be to see our loved ones suffer. This is a time for pet owners to grieve and remember their loved one’s long and happy life that they have shared together.
The vast majority of pet owners opt to stay with their pets for the euthanasia process. If you can, we highly recommend accompanying your pet through this difficult process. As a veterinary profession it is our responsibility to comfort your loved ones as they pass on when you as the owner cannot do so; however, pets are much more comfortable and relieved when their owners are present. Pets are much more confident when their owners are there to reassure them. If you can find the strength to be there with them during this difficult transition, please let your love, your touch, and your presence be the last thing your pet experiences.
During the euthanasia process, you are welcome to bring treats, tell stories, laugh, cry, and celebrate your friend’s life. Surround yourselves with their favorite blankets or toys. Share your favorite stories of your loved one about that trip you took together or their favorite toy, trick, or past time. This is going to be one of the hardest days of your life, but it does not have to be for your best friend. The more you celebrate your pet’s life, no matter how long or short, the easier it will be to continue to live your own after this difficult transition.
This moment between you and your pet should be just that, entirely about your lives together. Prepare yourself ahead of time to understand the process if possible. Speak with your veterinarian or veterinary technician prior to coming to the clinic to have them discuss the steps with you so you have a better understanding of what is to come.
Each relationship between pet and owner is different, just as every euthanasia is different. While it can be incredibly difficult to cope with and experience euthanasia with your pet, we at Dupont Veterinary Clinic hope to guide you and your furry family member through it as seamlessly as possible. As I heard a veterinarian once say, “We love animals so much, we are willing to experience pain right down to our souls in order to keep them from hurting. What greater gift to give a friend than to suffer in their place?”
By Ashley Dawes, DVM
Reef had no idea how he would begin to impact a life in November 2015. Reef was raised with an organization called Canine Companions for Independence, which is the largest non-profit provider of assistance dogs. The organization is recognized worldwide for the excellence of its dogs and the longevity of the matches it makes between dogs and people. Canine Companions is volunteer based, from the caretakers that provide homes for the breeder dogs and whelp the puppies until they are eight weeks of age, to the puppy raisers that provide socialization and obedience training to the puppies. Between fifteen and eighteen months the puppies make the journey back to one of five regional training centers across the country for six to nine months of training with professional instructors. The new owner is then required to travel to one of the regional training centers for two weeks to train alongside their new companion.
Reef was selected to help his owner that has been diagnosed with MS (Multiple Sclerosis). His owner is wheelchair-bound and Reef has been trained in multiple capacities in order to assist her throughout the day. Reef can pull her manual wheelchair, pick things up that she has dropped, retrieve bottled water from the fridge, turn light switches on or off, push the button for automatic doors, as well as about 40 other commands. In addition to helping her physically get through her day, Reef has helped his owner emotionally as well. His owner remarked that it only took one day to fall in love with Reef and that he has changed her personality for the better.
Reef was one of only 40% of dogs that make it through service dog training. There are four types of assistance dogs that Canine Companions helps train which are as follows: service dogs, hearing dogs, skilled companions, and facility dogs. The service dogs, like Reef, help assist adults with physical disabilities by performing daily tasks. Service dogs have also been trained to help disabled war veterans. The hearing dogs help to alert the deaf and hard of hearing to important sounds. Skilled companions are placed with children or adults with physical, cognitive, or developmental disabilities that cannot guide the assistance dog themselves. There is a family member that directs the skilled companion in ways to help the disabled owner. The final type of assistance dog is a facility dog that works with a professional in a visitation, education, or healthcare setting. If you happen to see Reef, or another assistance dog, out in public it is important to remember that they are working and to never approach them to pet them without the owner’s consent.
If you or someone you know would benefit from a dog like Reef, they can visit www.cci.org in order to learn more or even apply for an assistance dog. The Canine Companions for Independence organization is always looking for volunteers or even donations so they can continue to provide assistance dogs free of charge to owners in need. We at Dupont Veterinary Clinic love to see the numerous ways that animals, like Reef, continue to impact the lives of humans every day. Reef is truly an extraordinary companion and continues to bring joy to his owner’s life every day.
By Ashley Dawes, DVM
Are your pets getting cabin fever? Here are 5 quick tips on how to keep you and your pets active this winter.
- Hide and Seek
Position your dog in a different room in the house, preferably with a staircase or a couple rooms between you and them. Then call your pet to come and find you and reward him with a treat when he finds you. Each time your dog (or cat!) finds one family member, the other person changes location so your dog has to seek them out again.
- The Searching Game
Hide your pet’s favorite toys with treats inside or even just treats around the house and then prompt your dog to go search to find them. Here is a short video on how to train your pet to search for treats. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aSa3JMjq5EI )
- Teach Your Pet New Tricks
Keeping pets mentally stimulated is very helpful in beating the winter doldrums. There are endless tricks and training sessions that you can do from home. Start with simple tricks, such as “stay” or “shake,” then move on to more complicated tricks like “roll over” or “high five.” Keep training sessions to about 15 minutes so it is fun for everyone. Teaching your pet new tricks helps encourage good behavior and helps you bond with your pet.
- Make Mealtime Fun
Pets like to scavenge to look for their food. Try offering his meals in a feeding toy rather than just in a food bowl. They will not eat as quickly and it will help to keep them busy.
- Create an Indoor Agility Course
Build obstacles for your pet to navigate, like an agility course, with household items. You can use chairs as weave poles to navigate around, place a blanket over the tops of chairs to create a tunnel for your dog to run under, or a hula hoop in your hands for your pet to jump through. Train your pet to run through the course with a hand target and use a lot of treats and praise as a reward. These obstacles encourage your pet to be more active and help you bond with your pet too.
We at Dupont Veterinary Clinic want to encourage healthy relationships between pets and their owners. Cold weather and short days make it easy for us and our pets to become a bit lazy in the wintertime. We hope these 5 tips help you and your pets stay busy this winter.
By Ashley Dawes, DVM
Choosing a dog that is a good fit for your family can be a very exciting time, but knowing which breed is the perfect fit for you and your children can sometimes be daunting. The most important characteristics to consider are the dog’s age, size, temperament, energy level, and how much he or she may need to be groomed. Here is our list of top 10 dog breeds for families.
- The Mixed Breed
The mixed breed dog is typically found at shelters or with foster families, which allows the whole family to visit them and get to know them really well before adopting. Mixed breed dogs tend to have fewer health problems than pure breed dogs. There is a mixed breed perfect for every family!
- Labrador Retriever
The Labrador Retriever is one of the most popular dog breeds, especially for families. They are known to be playful, loyal, patient, and reliable. They are an outgoing breed that plays well with other people, children, or other pets.
- . Golden Retriever
The Golden Retriever is very loyal, intelligent, and patient, which is great for families with kids. They do require more exercise, but they love to play which makes exercising them fairly easy. They do require some grooming, which entails fairly regular brushing of their thick, longer coat.
- Standard Poodle
The Standard Poodle is a very proud breed that is smart, caring, and loyal. They do require regular grooming, but they shed very little. They need a moderate amount of exercise to stay happy and healthy.
- Irish Setter
The Irish Setter is known for their beautiful red coat. They are playful, energetic, and love being around people. This breed is considered high energy and needs a lot of exercise, but is a great fit for energetic kids.
Beagles are scent hounds that require regular exercise. They are curious, friendly, loving, and easy going. Since this breed is known to follow their nose, having a fenced in backyard for them to play in would be ideal. Their short coat does not require a lot of grooming.
The pug is a wrinkly-nosed breed that is loving, charming, and mischievous. They are eager to please and have a moderate amount of energy. Their short coat requires little grooming. During the warmer months they will need to have access to air conditioning as they can over-heat more easily. They are great for kids as they are clowns at heart.
The Newfoundland is known as “Nature’s Babysitter” and is great with children. They are very sweet, patient, and devoted dogs that are great swimmers. The Newfoundland has a moderate energy level and their thick coat requires regular brushing and grooming.
- French Bulldog
The French Bulldog, also known as the Frenchie, is playful, smart, easygoing, and adaptable. They are indoor dogs that will require air conditioning in warmer weather. Their coat requires minimal grooming and they are not a very active breed.
- Basset Hound
The Basset Hound is charming, easygoing, laid-back, and even a bit lazy. Their coat requires minimal grooming. They are a very patient breed that is great with families.
We hope this list helps you find the perfect breed for your family! Are there others that might also be a good fit? Sure – and we are here to help answer your questions before you bring home a new dog. We want pet ownership to be a great experience for you and your family for years to come. Call us at 260-637-7676!
By Ashley Dawes, DVM