Fall Pet Tips

Labor Day Pet Love

Labor Day is a great holiday to kick off the beginning of the fall season. Fall is one of the most enjoyable seasons because of its reasonable temperatures and beautiful foliage. Fall may seem like a safer season for pets than summer and winter, but it carries it’s own risks. Fall pet care can be a great way to ensure the safety and happiness of your pets.

Dog in Leaves for Fall Pet Tips Article

Courtesy of Josh McGinn/Flickr

Fall pet tips:

  • Dog obesity- Most dog parents enjoy exercising with their pooches during the summer months but tend to get busier and less active in the fall and winter. It is important for you and your dog’s health to keep active and keep off the cool weather pounds.
  • Pet malnutrition- On the flip side, pets need more calories and nutrients as the temperature cools to maintain their nutritional status. This is especially true if you have an outdoor pet with a short or thin hair coat. It is important to consult a veterinarian about the nutritional requirements needed for your pet when the temperatures drop.
  • Rodent poisoning- As the temperatures drop, the rodents will start to make homes out of your own to prepare for winter. Most people will combat this with traps or poison, both of which can harm your pet. You need to make sure your method of ridding rodents is not available to your pet. For more information regarding rodent poison, see the VetRxDirect blog post, Rodent Poisoning in Pets.
  • Coats for pets: Depending on your location, climate, and pet breed, you may need to consider shopping for a coat for your pet. Fall can be a season of dramatic drops in temperature while your pet is still working on growing their winter coat. If your pet doesn’t usually get much of a winter coat or if they haven’t quite developed it during a cold spell, they can suffer from hypothermia. A pet coat is an easy way to prevent hypothermia in pets. For more information regarding coats for pets, stay tuned for an article about how to pick out and use pet coats.
  • Fall plant poisoning: Some plants that bloom or produce fruit during the fall can be toxic to pets. A good example are some of the toxic mushrooms that grow in the fall. Your local DNR office and veterinarian can be great resources to know what you should protect your pet from.

This article highlighted some of the broad fall pet care tips to keep your pet safe. What specific tips do you have for other pet parents?

 

Rat Poisoning in Dogs

Rodent Poisoning in Pets

Most everyone has dealt with a mouse or rat in their home throughout their life. Even those who haven’t encountered a rodent are likely to use a poison to prevent such animals from making a habitat out of their home. Rodent poison, called rodenticide, also has the power to kill our beloved pets: a well-versed knowledge of rodent poison safety can prevent our pets from becoming victims.

3 common ingredients of rodent poison:

  • Anticoagulants
    • These ingredients block the body from using Vitamin K for blood clotting, eventually causing internal bleeding and death.
    • Common ingredient names: warfarin, coumatetralyl, difenacoum, brodifacoum, flocoumafen, bromadiolone, diphacinone, chlorophacinone, and pindone.
    • Available antidote(s): Vitamin K is administered to pets to counteract the effects of the rodent poison. VetRxDirect now carries a more convenient, chewable vitamin K.
  • Metal Phosphides
    • These ingredients react with the rodent’s stomach contents to form a toxic gas.
    • Common ingredient names: aluminum phosphide calcium phosphide, magnesium phosphide, and zinc phosphide. No specific antidote is available but supportive care can be successful in early cases.
  • Calciferol’s (Vitamin D)
    • These ingredients are different forms of vitamin D and a toxic dose is eaten by the rodent to kill them.
    • Common ingredient names: cholecalciferol and ergocalciferol.
    • Available antidote(s): No specific antidote is available but supportive care can be successful in early cases.

Signs your pet may have ingested rodent poison:

The signs of rodent poisoning in pets varies by type of ingredient. The anticoagulant poisons are likely to cause bleeding. Signs specific to anticoagulant rat poison toxicity include excessive bleeding from cuts and scrapes, bleeding gums, difficulty breathing, bloody stools, bloody vomit, bloody urine, nose bleed, weakness, and bruises.

Signs specific to metal phosphide poisoning include rotten breath odors, depression, rapid breathing, blood in vomit, weakness, and seizures.

Signs specific to Vitamin D poisoning include depression, loss of appetite, increased thirst, increased urination, and unpleasant breath odor.

Veda-K! Soft Chews for Rat Poisoning in Dogs

New Veda-K1 Soft Chews Available at VetRxDirect

Actions to take if your pet has ingested rodent poison or you suspect they have:

  1. IMMEDIATELY call your pet’s veterinarian. I emphasize immediately because starting treatment right away can save your pet’s life.
  2. Remove or enclose all rodent poison accessible to your pet. You now know they like the taste of it and it should be out of their reach.
  3. Consult a specialist in removing and preventing rodents from living inside your home.

How to prevent rodent poisoning in dogs:

  • The easiest way to prevent poisoning your pet is to not use rodent poison in your home or surrounding area. However this may not be feasible for those living in highly populated rodent areas.
  • Enclose the rodent poison in contraptions designed just for rodents that aren’t accessible to pets. These are simple devices that the rodent has to crawl into to eat the poison and can help prevent your pet from doing so.
  • You can also try mouse/rat traps, but these are also not completely fool-proof to pets. One curious snout or paw can easily get snapped in a mouse trap.
  • Know the ingredients in your poison(s) and the symptoms of poisoning in your pet. The symptoms may take a while to show but early detection is key for saving their life.

What questions do you have about rodent poisoning in pets? Have you ever experienced a pet ingesting rodent poison?

How to Prevent Dog Dehydration

The Hydration Station

Great summer pet care entails keeping your pet well hydrated at all times, especially during the heat of the day. There are many articles describing the health benefits of humans increasing their water consumption and the same goes for our furry friends. Keeping your pet hydrated can keep them healthy and less likely to experience heat strokes. Here’s a list of the top 5 ways to prevent dog dehydration:

  1. Good quality water is most important. A rule of thumb I like to tell pet parents is if you wouldn’t drink the water, then don’t expect your pet to. This is not to say we need to give them expensive, bottled water; rather we should ensure their water is up to our standards. Some well water, city water, and rural water can still be of good quality and great options for our pets.
  2. Fresh water is needed at all times. Giving your pet good quality water can turn to an effort-wasted if it isn’t replenished daily. Refreshing their water daily encourages them to drink it.
  3. Make it available at all times. This may seem like an obvious tip, but it can be a forgotten one. Pets that are able to go inside and outside will need two sources of fresh water that are refreshed daily. Sometimes, we can forget to refresh one or the other. Depending on your schedule, some dogs may need water while they are in their crate. It would be a great topic to discuss with your pet’s veterinarian and there are several devices designed for making water available to crated pets.
  4. Freeze the bowls on extra hot days. To help prevent dehydration and heat stroke in your pets, it may be a good idea to freeze the water bowls for a couple of hours before filling them. This will ensure a cool source of water for your pet to drink and it can cool their body temperature.
  5. Keep a good eye on their drinking habits. Most pet parents have a good idea of how much and how often your pet drinks. If your pet has any sudden changes (including a decrease or increase) in drinking water, you should contact the veterinarian. They may need a checkup to make sure they aren’t sick.

Since dogs are at a higher risk of dehydration, it’s important to know how to evaluate their hydration status. Below is a video of a veterinarian demonstrating how to evaluate a dog’s hydration:

What secrets and techniques do you have to keep your pet hydrated? Please leave us tips in the comments section below. Thank you.

How to Keep your Dog Cool

How Hot is Too Hot?

Summer is a great time to take our dogs with us for a variety of exciting excursions, from camping and hiking, to boating and swimming.  With a few simple precautions, we can make great memories and keep our pets safe.

How to keep your dog cool in the summer heat

Courtesy of Gloria/Flickr

Because dogs don’t sweat like humans, it can be difficult to keep your dog cool.  Dogs only sweat through the pads on their feet and release the heat in their bodies primarily through panting.  This can make hot pavement even more dangerous for dogs.

  • When walking your dog in the summer, try to walk them early in the morning before the pavement gets hot – if the pavement is too hot for your bare feet, it is too hot for your dog’s.
  • Dogs should be kept inside in air conditioning whenever possible, but if your dog must be left outside, ensure adequate shade, take into account the movement of the sun, and provide adequate water.  A sprinkler or kids’ pool with a couple inches of water can be a good way to help a dog cool down.
  • When hiking, ensure plenty of shade, water breaks, and avoid exercising in the hottest part of the day.
  • Pets can get sunburned too – if your pet has a thin coat or light-colored fur, apply a waterproof kids’ sunscreen at least to their noses, ears, and backs.

Ways to keep your dog cool if they become too hot:

  • Apply cool water to your dog either by soaking the dog in a kids’ pool or bathtub, applying water soaked towels, or using a water hose.
  • Ensure an adequate supply of drinking water, but don’t try to force your dog to drink, instead try running cool water over your dog’s tongue.

If you suspect your dog has overheated or is dehydrated, they may be in danger of a heat stroke, it’s important to contact your dog’s veterinarian or an emergency clinic right away. Heat stroke can be deadly, so watch for the following symptoms:

  • Heavier than usual panting
  • Tongue and gums may appear bright red and become tacky, and saliva may thicken
  • Skin may become less elastic
  • Excessive drooling
  • Weakness, muscle tremors, and seizures
  • If your dog vomits, becomes unsteady, or refuses to move, he may be getting worse
  • Gray or blue lips and membranes may indicate your dog is having a heat stroke

Other tips for a safe summer with your pet:

  • Bring your pet’s vaccination records – some parks may require proof of a rabies vaccination before permitting your dog into the park
  • Bring a pet first aid kit – you never know what trouble your furry friend may find
  • Locate the nearest emergency clinic when travelling with your pet
  • If you’re camping or hiking in an area with any venomous pests (like rattlesnakes) consult your pet’s veterinarian about the proper precautions to take and any additions to your first aid kit the veterinarian might recommend
  • When swimming with your dog, be careful not to let him drink too much pool water – the chemicals can cause an upset stomach
  • Make sure flea and tick prevention and heartworm medication are up-to-date
  • Take along plenty of medication if your dog has any chronic ailments
  • Double-check that your dog has proper identification or talk to your dog’s veterinarian about microchipping

Whenever you’re in doubt about the best summer care for your pet, contact your pet’s veterinarian – different locales can necessitate different precautions, and your veterinary clinic can offer great advice.

What are your tips for keeping dogs cool in the summer. Leave us a comment below. Thank you.

Bad Breath in Pets

We all love special kisses from our furry friends, but when your pet has bad breath, those kisses can be a little unpleasant. You benefit from good dental health by ridding your pet’s breath of odors and preventing your pet from getting oral diseases. There are many ways to keep up your pet’s oral hygiene, and using a combination of ways can provide the best benefit. This article can help you create a proper dental hygiene program for your pet.

Bad Breath in Pets - Dog Chewing Toothbrush

Courtesy of Linda N./Flickr

Brushing is Best for Bad Breath in Pets

Brushing your pet’s teeth is the invasive part of a dental hygiene plan, but it cleans your pet’s teeth the most effectively. Most dogs will eventually accept teeth brushing if they are rewarded properly, but some cats teeth may always be difficult to brush. Never force your pet to brush their teeth because it can be frightening for them and they may be experiencing tooth pain. Brushing your pet’s teeth removes disease causing plaque, freshens breath, and helps clean their gums.

The first part of brushing your pet’s teeth is gathering the right supplies. There are special toothbrushes for pets, designed to cover all three sides of their teeth for maximum cleanliness. There are some regular sized toothbrushes and small ones designed for small dogs and cats. Some toothbrushes are actually finger-brushes and resemble finger cots placed over your finger to brush their teeth with. Most veterinarians recommend brushing your pets teeth frequently, which usually is several times per week. Your veterinarian should give you a specific frequency for your pet because they will best know their dental health.

Human toothpaste should never be used because it can be too abrasive. There are several types of veterinary toothpaste available. Some are specifically labeled for tartar control if your pet is prone to tartar buildup. There are many flavors too; some of our flavors we carry at VetRxDirect include poultry, peanut butter, seafood, vanilla mint and beef. These flavors make brushing your pet’s teeth more enticing for them and easier for you.

How to brush your pet’s teeth:

  1. Make sure you have your toothbrush and toothpaste ready and your pet is calm and relaxed.
  2. Place a small amount of toothpaste on the toothbrush bristles.
  3. Gently get your pet to open their mouth. A great way to do this is let them smell the toothpaste and they will likely want to open their mouth to eat it.
  4. Gently place the toothbrush into your pet’s mouth and brush their teeth like you would your own, working from back to front.
  5. Keep reassuring your pet and praise them for good behavior
  6. Once you are finished it would be a good idea to give them a treat or other reward, so they associate teeth brushing with positive rewards.

Rinse for Bad Breath in Pets

When brushing isn’t feasible or between brushing, using a mouth rinse can be beneficial for your pet. Rinsing, too, can help with plaque buildup and especially bad breath odor. Most of the oral rinses contain chlorhexidine which is an antibacterial agent to reduce the buildup of odor causing bacteria.  There is some variation in mouth rinses for pets because some are added to their water daily for them to drink and others are for use directly into their mouth. The water additives are all liquids and will help with daily cleaning of your pet’s mouth each time they drink.

The rinses for direct oral use are usually liquid solutions, but VetRxDirect does carry gels too. The advantage of gel is its use directly in the mouth; You use the applicator to squeeze a small amount of gel onto the teeth and gums, and it is distributed through your pet’s teeth itself. Other oral rinses can be applied to gauze or to a toothbrush and be applied to the teeth. Some of the liquid oral rinses can be squirted directly into the mouth too. Each product is quite different for the oral rinses, so be sure to thoroughly read the directions and ask your veterinarian any questions you have.

Chews for Bad Breath in Pets

           Dogs are naturally meat eaters and wild dogs kept their teeth clean by chewing meat and bones. Our dogs can also benefit from a similar mechanism, and there are many different chews available to help with oral health. Some have chlorhexidine in them as well to kill odor causing bacteria. Most of the chews are formulated with ingredients to brush off plaque on the teeth or are shaped in ways to clean off plaque. These are the easiest way to clean your pet’s teeth because they love the taste of chews, but they aren’t as effective. However, dental chews can be a great addition to a dental hygiene routine. The caveat to dental chews is the need to monitor your pet while they chew them because there is always a risk of choking.

The whole process:

           Together teeth brushing, rinsing, and providing dental chews can be a great combination for a winning smile in your pet. Your pet will benefit from having healthy teeth to help prevent disease and tooth decay. Not to mention how you’ll love having fresh kisses from your pet! This oral hygiene plan is just an idea and doesn’t replace your veterinarian’s special orders for your pet. Talk with them about what products they recommend and how often they want you to practice it.

What dental hygiene products do you use on your pets? Leave a Reply below. Thank you.

 

ABC’s of Pet Antibiotics

Almost every pet will have an infection at some point in their life; including fungal, viral, bacterial, or protozoal infections. Recovery depends on an accurate, timely diagnosis and also on choosing the correct antibiotic. Thankfully, we can trust our veterinarians to do these things for our pets; but there are a few jobs for pet parents. This article aims to go through the antibiotic basics to help parents of pets with infections.

ABC’s of Pet AntiBiotiCs:

  • Adhere to the veterinarian’s orders
  • Block all sources of infection
  • Check your pet often

Adhering to the veterinarian’s orders:

Your pet’s veterinarian will likely prescribe medications to help heal your pet’s infection. Sometimes these can be given as a shot by the veterinarian at the clinic, other times it is a medication given at home. For skin, eye, ear, and nose infections, the medication usually is a topical or local treatment. This means it is a medication applied to the infected area directly. For most other infections, the treatment will be an oral (by mouth) treatment.

The veterinarian will prescribe a dose with directions to give the treatment, and then a duration the medication should be given. It is very important to follow these directions carefully. Some antibiotics require a certain dose to kill the organisms in your pet’s body: It is important to measure the dose correctly and ensure your pet receives it all.  Other antibiotics need to be in the body for a certain amount of time to kill the organisms, so it also important to follow the frequency the veterinarian assigned closely. Most organisms can develop resistance to antibiotics, which is usually caused by some of them that are exposed to antibiotics surviving. This is why it is important to finish the entire course of antibiotics your pet is assigned, to prevent any from remaining inside your pet and becoming resistant.

Block all sources of infection:

The best way to prevent any future infections in your pet is to remove the source it came from. It depends on the type of infection your pet has, and your veterinarian will have lots of helpful tips to prevent another infection. If your pet has an infection on the outside (such as in the eyes, skin, nose, or ears), careful cleaning of your pet and their environment can be helpful. This usually means cleaning bedding, water bowls, food bowls, and other areas and items with which your pet comes into contact. For example, a skin fungus can be transferred to your pet’s bedding. It needs to be cleaned to remove the fungus and prevent it from reinfecting your pet. For infections within the body, it may not be as necessary. Contagious, or spreadable, infections should be handled by cleaning water bowls, food bowls, toys, etc.. Another example would be if your pet gets a contagious cough, cleaning their water and food bowls is important because the bacteria can be hiding in their bowls. Consult your pet’s veterinarian about specific ways to reduce the chances of reinfection in your pet.

Check your pet often:

After seeing the veterinarian, check your pet’s infection often. Infections on the outside of your pet can be readily seen and monitored. It may be helpful to document the progress by taking pictures, making a log of what it looks like, or just by watching it. For internal infections, watch your pet’s symptoms closely. Make a diary of the severity of their symptoms, and any new ones which may arise. If your pet’s symptoms of internal or external infections get worse despite treatment, you should contact your pet’s veterinarian. If you finish the antibiotics and your pet still has symptoms of infection, you should also contact your veterinarian. These signs may indicate your pet needs another round of antibiotics or possibly even another kind of antibiotic. It is also important to watch for any side effects of the antibiotics. Most of them can cause some minor diarrhea or stomach upset, but severe symptoms can be dangerous. Notify your veterinarian if you are concerned about possible side effects of the antibiotics. Carefully monitoring your pet can prevent complications from their infection or the antibiotics.

Adhering to your veterinarian’s recommendations, Blocking sources of infection, and Checking your pet often can be great ways to ensure your dog or cat heals properly and promptly while on pet antibiotics. Remember these ABC’s of AntiBiotiCs the next time your pet has an infection to help them heal!

What recommendations do you have about infections for other pet parents? Let us know by clicking the “leave a reply” link below.

Joint Disease in Dogs

Many dog parents have faced a diagnosis of joint disease in their canine friend, which often leads to lifelong treatment and management. There are several types of joint disease, including osteoarthritis (OA), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and dysplasia. Although these are just a few types of joint disease, they affect many dogs. This article discusses osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and dysplasia to help dog parents obtain a well-rounded understanding of the diseases.

Typical Joint For Reference in Joint Disease in Dogs

Joint Overview Image Courtesy of vetsci.co.uk

Basic anatomy of dog joints:

  • The place where two bones join together is called a joint and most joints are mobile, or designed to move.
  • Joints are full of cartilage, which is a protective layer between the two bones. Cartilage functions to reduce the friction between the two bones, protecting them from rubbing together and breaking.
  • A membrane, called the synovial membrane, covers the bones involved in the joint and secretes fluid. This fluid is called synovial fluid and it functions to lubricate the joint and also reduce friction.
  • Fluid filled sacs, called bursae, are located in the joint to help cushion it.

Common Joint Disease in Dogs

Osteoarthritis:

Osteoarthritis is the most common joint disease and is caused by degradation of joint cartilage over time. The cartilage production slows down as dogs age, resulting in the loss of the protective layer between the two bones in a joint. This eventually lets the bones to rub against each other, causing pain and inflammation. The bones also lose their shape and are damaged.

Rheumatoid Arthritis:

Rheumatoid Arthritis is not as common as osteoarthritis in dogs. It is caused by the dog’s immune system attacking the joints. This also causes a loss of cartilage and usually very painful inflammation.

Joint Dysplasia:

Joints can be formed improperly or incompletely, called dysplasia, which can eventually result in the two bones separating from the joint. Dysplasia in dogs most commonly affects their elbows and hips, and it is believed to be partly caused by genetics.

How to help your dog without medicine:

  • Keep your dog at healthy weight. Their joints are already working hard and extra weight will only make their condition worse. Have a veterinarian evaluate your pet’s weight to see if weight loss is needed. Your dog’s veterinarian will likely be able to help you design a weight loss program.
  • Feed your dog a healthy diet. Your dog’s veterinarian will be able to suggest diet changes, if needed, to help maintain a healthy weight while providing nutrients your dog’s joints need.
  • Make your dog’s environment safe and easy on them. When your dog’s joints deteriorate and they experience pain, using stairs and jumping on/off objects can be difficult. Keep  your dog’s mobility in mind and moving objects like bowls, beds, and toys can be beneficial.
  • Exercise your dog as directed by your dog’s veterinarian. Some joint conditions will benefit from exercise and others are worsened. The veterinarian will know if exercise will help your dog’s joint disease and will likely have some great recommendations.

Medications for joint disease in dogs:

  • Joint supplements provide key nutrients for your dog’s joints. For more information about joint supplements, stay tuned to the VetRxDirect blog because an article will be released soon talking about joint supplements for dogs.
  • Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAID’s) are prescription medications for dogs that decrease inflammation and pain. Examples include Rimadyl (Carprofen) Meloxidyl (Meloxicam), Etogesic (Etodolac), Feldene (Piroxicam) Deramaxx (Deracoxib), and Previcox (firocoxib). See our blog post “Important Information on NSAID’s for Pets” for more information about NSAID’s for dogs!
  • Steroids also decrease inflammation and swelling, but to a larger degree than NSAID’s do. With their increased effectiveness, come increased side effects. Usually steroids are given as a last resort or for bad flare ups of joint disease.

Does your dog have any other joint diseases? What other bone and joint supplements or prescription pain relievers have you given your dog? Please share with our pet parent audience by leaving a reply below. Thank you.

 

Gingerlead Dog Support Harness

Help Dogs with Weak Hind Legs Walk with GingerLead

Sometimes dogs have trouble walking or going up and down stairs because their hind legs are weak.  We carry the GingerLead dog support and rehabilitation harness to help veterinarians and dog owners effectively assist dogs with weak hind legs.

GingerLead Dog Support Harness

Above is a picture of Ginger, the inspiration for GingerLead.  She had surgery to reconstruct her hip at just six months old (triple pelvic osteotomy).  She was sent home with instructions for her owners to support her weight on the hind end and to restrict her activity.  A bath towel was provided, but it didn’t work very well for any of them.  When Ginger had to have another surgery for a luxating patella, a sling and the same instructions were given to her owners.  The sling was better than the towel, but provided little comfort for Ginger or her owners and no control.  Ginger frequently wanted to dart down stairs or chase a squirrel…  Her owners, determined to find a better tool, attached a leash and handle to a soft, padded support sling and the GingerLead was born.

GingerLead’s features include:

  • Easy to Use
  • Soft, Padded Sling Designed for Comfort & to Minimize Bunching
  • Male Slings Available
  • Machine Washable
  • Adjustable for Height of Dog and Owner
  • Attached Handle & Leash Maximizes Control, Safety & Comfort
  • Made in the USA

It is ideal for dogs recovering from orthopedic surgeries (knee, hip or back), dogs suffering from arthritis, degenerative myelopathy, stroke recovery, other debilitating conditions, rear leg amputees, or older dogs needing some help with their mobility.  It is great for taking dogs out to relieve themselves, helping them up and down stairs, or taking them for walks.  It may be used for support or even just some stability for dogs that may lose their balance.

GingerLeads are Available in Wide Ranges of Sizes

GingerLeads are available in various sizes to fit all dogs from toy to giant breeds.

If your dog has trouble going up or down stairs, here’s a video showing how the GingerLead can help:

Does your dog use a GingerLead? Do you have any questions about this dog sling? Please leave us a reply below. Thank you.