Cold Weather

In Seattle, we’re fortunate to rarely suffer the treacherous winter conditions routinely seen in other parts of the country.  Despite our relatively mild weather, winter can still cause problems for our furry friends either because of the cold itself or because of measures we take to deal with the cold, wet days.  Here are some things to look out for to keep our pets safe this winter. Several concerns arise with respect to warming up the insides of our homes.  Carbon monoxide detectors are crucial to warn you if your fuel-burning appliances are leaking the fatal gas into your home. Space heaters should be used with caution in locations frequented by your pet.  Pets can knock over these heaters resulting in fires. A pet sleeping too close to a heater for too long can burn itself, too.  Heating your home can reduce the humidity of your home which can worsen a pet’s skin or respiratory issues. Humidifiers can be helpful to keep your pet comfortable. During walks with your dog in the snowy pass, consider lubricating their paw pads, the skin, and the fur between the pads with petroleum jelly or musher’s wax.  These can protect their tootsies against the cold, […]

Feeding Your Kitten or Puppy

Making appropriate nutrition choices for your new puppy or kitten is an essential part of ensuring normal development and optimal health. However, with so many food options now available it can be difficult to know if you are making the right decision for your pet. So what do you need to know about your growing puppy or kitten in order to feed them appropriately? Here is a quick guide. Puppies should be fed a diet meant for growth because unlike adult dogs they are sensitive to calcium and phosphorus levels; too much or too little can result in abnormalities of bone growth, which may not show signs until adulthood. High fat diets should be avoided in large and giant breed puppies to reduce the risk of too rapid of growth which can also contribute to bone issues. Unlike dogs, cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they subsist on mainly animal tissues to provide nutrients their own bodies cannot create such as arginine, taurine, and vitamin B3. They have higher protein requirements compared to dogs as well. Kittens need 50 percent more protein than puppies do and adult cats need twice the protein compared to adult dogs. These special needs are the […]

Dog Owners: Beware Salmon Poisoning

Another summer is starting to wind down, and here comes autumn in all its golden larch glory.  These are great months for longer hikes – water is more plentiful, the temperatures are a little cooler and the trails are a bit more open.  With summer hiking well behind us, you’ve probably already composed your dog hiking pack.  You’ve packed extra potable water, extra dog food for the strenuous hikes and ensured you have bandaging material in case of paw pad tears.   You may even have tied a bear-bell to your dog’s collar (a great way to ensure they don’t sneak up on and surprise a foraging bear).   You likely know all about our giardia contaminated water.  But as you relax by the river and enjoy watching our migrating salmon leap, you may not be aware of the danger these beautiful fish can harbor.  Dogs that eat raw or undercooked salmon can become infected with a parasitic worm called Nanophyetus salamicola.  This worm can also infect non-salmonid fish and even salamanders! The end result is a condition called salmon poisoning.  This disease is rare, but when seen is specific to the Pacific NW, and the Cascade Mountains.  This is […]

Can My Dog’s Diet Cause Heart Disease?

Over the last few decades there has been a real change in the quality of pet food available to pet owners. We now have many choices of ingredients in these diets. There is a lot of opinion out there on what protein and carbohydrate types are the most optimal for dogs.  Grain-free diets have been quite popular over the last few years and are a reaction to concerns focused on food allergy. Recently, it has been discovered that some dogs have developed a form of heart muscle disease called Dilated Cardiomyopathy related to being fed boutique grain-free diets that are rich in legume based carbohydrates (e.g. Lentils, peas, etc.).  Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a disorder which reduces the heart’s ability to pump blood. It can lead to Congestive Heart Failure as well as clots forming in the circulatory system.  The underlying cause of DCM is not fully understood, but a genetic link is suspected. The most common breeds that are affected by DCM include:  Great Danes, Doberman Pinschers, Newfoundlands, Boxers, and Saint Bernards. It is infrequently seen in smaller breeds with American and English Cocker Spaniels being exceptions. Dogs with DCM may tire easily, cough and may have trouble breathing.  More dramatically, […]

Inappropriate Urination In Cats

If you have spent much time living with a cat you may have experienced the displeasure one does when they realize that “Fluffy” decided to skip the litter box and instead urinate on the bed, or in a pile of clothes, someone’s suitcase, or the bath tub. Although this can be a common feline behavior problem it is important to make sure there aren’t any underlying medical issues. Inappropriate urination is often a symptom of Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD), which is the most common cause for feline veterinary visits. Other symptoms include frequent trips to the litter box, producing smaller clumps of urine in the litter, blood in the urine, licking the genitals, and straining to urinate. In some cases a cat may develop a urethral obstruction and is therefore unable to urinate (“blocked”); this is a medical emergency. Although male cats are much more likely to develop an obstruction due to their smaller urethras, female cats are equally represented when discussing FLUTD. So what is “FLUTD”? It is a collective term used to describe a number of frequently diagnosed pathologies of the feline urinary system. These include the development of crystals in the urine, which can subsequently […]

Medication Warning

Occasionally, well-intentioned owners are tempted to treat an ailing pet by using over the counter medications or medications prescribed for another animal without first consulting a veterinarian. This choice can cause unintended harm to a beloved pet. One may understandably choose to research treatments on the internet or phone a friend for an opinion due to decreased cost and increased convenience.  But, bear in mind that if your pet ends up needing medical care due to drug toxicity, this can be exponentially more expensive and can result in illness, long term organ damage, or even death.  Mistakes can be easily made with respect to appropriateness of treatment, dosage, frequency, or duration of therapy.  Even if toxicity does not result, it may limit your veterinarian’s ability to prescribe superior treatments when at-home remedies fail. Over the counter medication may seem like a safe, cheap, immediate fix to whatever is ailing your favorite furry friend.  However, medications available for purchase on the drug store shelf were formulated for use in humans. Because these medications have not been tested and certified as safe for animals in FDA safety trials, their use in pets is termed “off-label.”  Off-label use does occur commonly in both […]

Chronic Kidney Disease and Your Cat

A large part of my job as a veterinarian is practicing preventive medicine. As pets age, they are prone to a variety of different diseases, many of which can be diagnosed early through a simple blood test. One of the most common diseases diagnosed in our feline patients is chronic kidney disease (CKD). Cats with CKD may demonstrate the following: increase thirst, urination, weight loss, decrease in appetite, and vomiting. If you feel that your cat may have any of these signs, it is important to discuss your concerns with your veterinarian. CKD is a progressive disease where the underlying cause of the kidney insult is often not determined. Patients usually have elevated kidney values on blood tests and poorly concentrated urine. More advanced cases can develop increases in blood pressure, anemia, and imbalance of potassium, phosphorous, and calcium. It is important to realize that not every cat with CKD has all these imbalances, so therapy may differ from one affected cat to the other. There are four stages of CKD, one being the mildest and four being the most advanced. Intervention is routinely instituted in stage two or three. The main goal of therapy is to help slow progression […]

Preparing For A Rodent Invasion

  As the ambient temperature cools, our rodent brethren may seek to join us indoors in our warm homes.  Here are some of the more common concerns regarding your pets coming into contact with these pesky squatters: Intestinal parasites such as hookworms and roundworms Our pets can contract intestinal parasites from rodents by having direct contact with their sometimes interesting (to our pets) feces (i.e. ingestion of at least a microscopic amount of the rodent’s stool) and through hunting.  Heartworm prevention usually keeps intestinal parasites under control as most of these medications also contain an ingredient that treats hookworms and roundworms.  Since most of the pets in Seattle do not receive heartworm prevention (pets who have not left the Seattle area are extremely unlikely to contract heartworm disease), we see a higher incidence of intestinal parasites than other parts of the country.  Please remember to have your pet’s stool checked at least every 6 months, more often if there are any episodes of diarrhea or worm-shedding.  Some households especially those with young children or immunocompromised adults, elect to keep their pets on heartworm prevention in order to reduce the risk of contact with intestinal parasites as they can have an […]

Ticks In Seattle?

  Who likes ticks? I sure don’t.  And I’m unhappy seeing more and more of them in and around our Seattle neighborhoods where I practice.  But I am taking action to prevent the little bloodsuckers from creating problems for my patients and clients.  Thankfully, there are some excellent new options for safe tick control currently available for our dogs and cats. It’s Getting Warmer What seems to be a rising number of ticks on pets may be a sign of inevitable changes in our local climate and the environmental factors that favor their spread. We in the Pacific NW have long been favored with a relative lack of ticks affecting our dogs and cats.  When I moved her nearly 25 years ago from Florida, I was so excited to learn of the paucity of these disgusting creatures around Puget Sound!  I’d seen few cases until the past 3 years.  Now I’ve heard many more clients reporting or presenting with ticks on their dogs. Not all of these afflicted dogs have been out hiking in the woods.  I had even pulled a tick off of the forehead of a cat last fall.  Unheard of in the decades past! Ticks are parasitic arthropods […]

Warning to owners who use pill splitters for pet medications.

Our doctors have become aware of a dangerous accident that can happen when using a pill splitter to prepare your pet’s medications. Pill splitters use a razor to cut tablets. It may be possible for the razor to become dislodged during normal use resulting in accidental ingestion of the razor depending on how your pet’s medication is administered. We recommend careful inspection of your pill splitter before and after each use. Never use a pill splitter that is worn or damaged and if damage is discovered after use make sure to inspect your pet’s medication before administration. Your pet’s safety is important to us. Take an extra moment to check, for their sake.