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Ask an Expert: Abnormal Dog Nails

Q: My dog has been losing nails and some nails are bent out of shape. Why could his nails be abnormal?

A: Dogs that have an active lifestyle or dogs walked on pavement generally wear their nails short.

Nails that are prone to fall easily or appear abnormal in shape and size are signs of medical problems in dogs. The most common condition causing misshapen or broken nails is called Lupoid onychodystrophy. This condition may be due to multiple underlying causes and is easily treated using a combination of medication, dietary management, and supplements.

Other common causes for such symptoms include nail bed infections due to bacteria or fungus.

Happy ‘Doggieween’: Halloween Treats for Dogs Do’s and Don’ts

Halloween can be fun for dogs too, if they’ll let you dress them up. But if they get into the “human” treats, it can mean an emergency trip to the vet. There are treats you can give your pooch, but be wary of the ingredients. Any kind of human Halloween treat, candy, etc. are forbidden for dogs! Lollipop sticks can get stuck in their throat and candy wrappers can cause obstructions.

This is a good time to use that obedience training. Using the command “Leave it,” if you spot your pup sniffing around; this command can be especially helpful if any candy or chocolate lands on the floor. If you see your dog ingest something they shouldn’t have, call your vet or poison control immediately!

Halloween Treat Don’ts

Carefully read the ingredients in all treats you plan on giving to your dog. Sugary, high-fat candy can lead to pancreatitis, and symptoms may not show for about 2-4 days. You may not know it, but raisins and grapes are toxic to dogs too.

The artificial sweetener, xylitol, that is in a lot of “sugar-free” treats can cause sudden drop in blood sugar, subsequent loss of coordination, and seizures if ingested by your dog. Some treats contain white chocolate, which is still chocolate and a big no-no for dogs. Theobromine is the main ingredient in chocolate, which is harmless to humans but toxic to dogs.

Signs of Chocolate Poisoning:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Rapid breathing
  • Increased heart rate
  • Seizures

Should you see any of these signs in your pup take them to your vet straightaway!

Halloween Treat Do’s

All treats for your dog should be only given for training purposes or on special occasions. Don’t let treats replace their meals and don’t let your dog overindulge on the good treats. If your dog has allergies or is on a special hypoallergenic diet, talk to your vet about what you can give them for treat options.

Don’t forget, your dog can have treats that are beneficial to their health. Dogs can get bad breath, plaque, tartar formation, and tooth decay. You can give them dental treats that cleans their teeth, freshens their breath, and controls plaque and tartar.

Don’t forget their coat and skin either! There are treats you can give your pooch that contain Omega-3 fatty-acids, which are good for their skin and coat health.

For pups who prefer really crunchy treats, feel free to give them bite-sized pieces of raw carrots! There are other certain fruits and vegetables you can give your dog too.

Halloween Treat Ideas for Dogs

Not only can you find treats in the store to buy for your pooch, but you can also find many recipes to make homemade dog treats, including online. It can be fun to make treats from scratch and there are some that you can enjoy eating too along with your pooch.

Pumpkin is an okay treat for dogs, but only in small portions. Unless your pup is allergic (which is unlikely, as pumpkin is not a common allergen), baked pumpkin makes a good treat idea. Peanut butter is also a tasty option (again, be sure it’s only given to your dog in small amounts). There are plenty of peanut butter-flavoured treats you can find in the store!

Speaking of treats, it may be handy to keep a bag of dog treats handy during this time of the year. That way, your pup will not miss out on the festivities and they receive treats that are appropriate and safe.

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Hastings Veterinary Clinic and a clickable link back to this page.

Emergency Tips to Use if Your Dog is Wounded on a Walk

When it comes to walking your dog, nothing is more panic-inducing than finding out your dog has been hurt by accident. If something happens to your dog, the very first thing you must do is to try not to panic and talk to them soothingly.

These simple emergency tips will help you reduce your pet’s anxiety in such situations and avoid further injury. Bring your pup to a veterinarian if you need their professional help.

Be Prepared for Accidents

No matter where you take your pooch for a walk, it’s best to be prepared for anything. Accidents can still happen even if you’re careful. Along with your water bottle, your “pooper scooper,” poop bags, and a collar and leash for your dog, here are some other useful items you should include on your dog-walking adventures:

  • Tweezers
  • Styptic powder or a pencil, or cornstarch
  • A small hand towel
  • A couple of non-adhesive absorbent dressings
  • A box of sterile absorbent gauze
  • A roll of first aid tape
  • A muzzle (only for extreme cases)
  • ID on you and your pet’s ID on their collar and/or placed on them as a microchip
  • A phone with your veterinary clinic’s phone number in your contacts list 

Call your vet immediately if an accident occurs and you do not feel comfortable treating the wound yourself. It is advised to take your pet to the vet to be checked out after any accident or serious incident (for example a bug bite).

What Can Happen and What You Can Do About It

In all cases—torn nail, skunk encounter, etc.—the first thing to do is to ensure your own safety as well as your pup’s. Stay calm, approach your pet slowly, and talk soothingly to them. Frightened, pain-stricken pets will usually try and bite anyone who touches them, including you, the pet parent. Talk gently to your pet and if he or she snaps when you reach out, you may try putting a cloth over their face or putting a muzzle on them, being careful not to hurt them in the process.

Situation – Torn Nail

Response – Remain calm. Examine your dog’s paw if you see the following signs of a torn nail: holding a paw in the air while on your walk, limping, visibly leaning on favored paws, constant paw licking, visible swelling, and resistance to your examining their injury. Some torn nails cause bleeding and these are very painful to your dog at the touch.

Wrap up the paw in a loose-fitting bandage or even a sock with Scotch tape. Styptic powder or cornstarch is okay to use on minor quick injury at the tip of the nail, but any nail injury should still be examined by a vet for signs of further injury. A loose bandage is acceptable for transport.

If the nail has been torn to the quick (the pink fleshy part inside of the nail), bring your pup to a veterinary clinic ASAP. Follow your vet’s at-home care instructions exactly to prevent infection.

Situation – Skunk Spray

Response – Keep your dog outside of the house so as to avoid the foul odor from going inside. Apply an over-the-counter smell neutralizer, or tomato juice, or vinegar diluted in water, or a mix of 1-quart 3% hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup baking soda, and 1 teaspoon dishwashing soap on to your dog as soon as possible (wear rubber gloves and don’t get these mixes in their eyes!).

Rinse out any of the aforementioned products and then bathe your dog in a dog-friendly shampoo (again, without getting it in their eyes). Wash your clothing if the smell rubbed off onto you with regular detergent and half a cup of baking soda.

If the spray got in your pup’s eyes and mouth directly, bring them to a veterinarian immediately as the skunk spray can cause nausea, vomiting, and irritated eyes.

Situation – Splinter

Response – Similarly to the torn nail, it’s best to remain calm and examine your pooch for signs such as favoring a paw, limping, etc. The tricky thing about splinters however is that bleeding is not an obvious sign, and some splinters are so tiny they can be tough to find.

Always use a calm, soothing voice as you examine your pup’s paw thoroughly. Gently clean their paw with warm, soapy water and a clean towel. Do not remove the splinter yourself, because if it breaks and a portion is left behind in the foot, it could cause infection and extend healing time. It’s best to bring them to your veterinarian so they can remove the splinter or recommend alternatives if it’s dug in too deep.

Situation – Bug Bites or Stings

Response – identify the bug in question as treatment for the bite or sting will vary.

If it’s a flea, keep your dog outside upon discovery to avoid them from infesting your home! You can prevent fleas before going out by applying a topical solution regularly; your vet can do so at your clinic or you can apply them at home, but follow your vet’s instructions exactly.

If it’s a tick, do not remove it yourself if it’s latched onto your pooch. Bring them to a vet immediately.

If it’s a wasp or bee sting, remove the sting if it’s attached to your pup with a piece of flat cardboard or even the flat part of your debit or credit card. Do not use tweezers as it may squeeze the stinger and add more venom to the wound.

If it’s a spider bite, don’t treat it at home. Bring your dog to a veterinarian and be sure to identify what kind of spider bit your dog.

In all cases of bug bites, gently apply a mix of baking soda and water to relieve the pain. You can also use an ice pack or ice cube wrapped in a towel and apply to the stung or bitten area if it’s swelling or swollen. An oatmeal bath is recommended if there are multiple bites or stings.

If the bite or sting leads to infection or immediate allergic reaction, or in the case of ticks, bring your pup to a veterinarian ASAP.

In Case of Major Injuries

Major injuries such as road accidents, bites from other animals, broken bones, heatstroke—all of these situations are possible. If in the event they do happen, your dog will require immediate veterinary assistance. This is why we recommended microchips, ID, and having your veterinary clinic’s number on speed dial—in case emergencies such as these take place.

First aid classes are available if you’re interested in learning more about emergency tips for dogs and wounds, from minor ones like what we just described to major ones, and how to determine serious versus DIY situations.

In any case, you can be prepared with a few essential items in case your dog is wounded on a walk and you have to improvise with emergency treatment on the spot. Stay calm and help your dog stay calm. Always contact your veterinarian if you need assistance with your pup’s emergency.

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to the Hastings Veterinary Clinic and a clickable link back to this page.

5 Dog Food Myths that Need to be Busted, Pronto

Have you ever given your dog food that you think may be safe for them, only to find out it isn’t? Contrary to popular belief, not everything you feed dogs is good for them, and some things you think are terrible for them may not actually be so. These five dog food myths are common enough, but they need to be busted, pronto, for the sake of keeping your pooch happy, healthy, and safe. 

Beware the Common Myths

“Myths” in this case are exactly what the word implies: untrue stories founded on misconceptions about dogs, their food, and the ways in which various ingredients can affect them.

We love our pets and want to feed them food that will help them grow and live long and happy lives, but there are a lot of conflicting stories about what constitutes a good diet for dogs. Here are the most common issues.

Myth #1 – It’s Okay for Dogs to Free-Feed During the Day

“Free-feeding” is the term used for leaving your dog’s food out during the day for them to casually graze on, rather than giving them food on a schedule. This may seem convenient and easy if you have to leave for work for the day or go to school, but it may not be as convenient to your dog’s overall health.

A dog that free-feeds their food is more than likely to become overweight, leading to all sorts of long-term problems. It also can end up being unsanitary—especially if you tend to feed your dog outside. Unwanted critters such as rodents, bugs, and even stray cats or dogs may smell your pup’s food and come to your home to eat it.

It’s best to feed your dog with the portioned amount they need and on a schedule. A vet can recommend you a schedule and the portions needed based on your pup’s current lifestyle, breed, size, and exercise routine.

Myth #2 – Chocolate is Okay to Give to Dogs

This one’s a very harmful myth and one that should not be believed for a second! Chocolate is actually one of the worst things you can give to a dog. Chocolate contains the ingredients xylitol and theobromine, which are harmless to humans but highly toxic to dogs. Whether it’s around Easter, Halloween, or any other major holiday involving chocolate, always keep it out of their reach.

If at any point you suspect your dog has eaten chocolate, bring them to a veterinarian—even if obvious symptoms haven’t shown up.

Myth #3 – Bones are Okay for Dogs

Yes, dogs love to chew on bones, but it depends on both the bone and your dog. Here’s the general rule: cooked bones, whether they’re from pork, chicken, beef, or other animals, are more dangerous than raw ones because cooking makes them brittle and more likely to break or shred.

Yes, you can buy raw marrowbones from butchers and pet stores and they will be safer, but bones carry no guarantees and might break, even if they’re not too small or not too big and are cooked or raw. More importantly, they can cause your enthusiastic bone-crunching pet to break a tooth or, worst-case scenario, cause a gastrointestinal blockage that would require immediate veterinary attention.

Bones may not harm your pup, but why take a chance? Give him or her something else to chew, such as carrots or chew toys.

Myth #4 – Grains are Bad for Dogs

Actually, grains such as wheat, corn, soy, barley, and rice are not harmful to dogs. They are harmful, however, if your dog has a diagnosed wheat allergy or a food allergy that is triggered by grains. If your dog is not intolerant to wheat, however, then it’s perfectly fine to give your dog food containing other grains. They should not be the only part of your dog’s diet—it’s best that they’re combined with protein, such as chicken.

Myth #5 – Pork is Bad for Dogs

This is only slightly true. Uncooked or raw pork is most definitely bad for dogs—but once it’s cooked thoroughly (minus any rubs or spices), it’s actually as harmless as cooked chicken, beef, or any other meats. Just be sure to trim any additional fat off of the piece of pork you want to feed your dog, and portions must be appropriate for their size. While straight-up pork from loins, chops, etc. is fine, what’s not fine is ham or bacon—both are made of pork, but they are processed and contain higher fat and salt content as well as ingredients that could harm your dog.

The best way to feed your dog is by keeping their needs in mind while choosing dog food, which means their diet will change over time. After all, what is suitable for a puppy (up to one year) differs for an adult dog (one to seven years or so) and a senior dog (seven and up). You may have to alter their diet if he or she develops health problems such as diabetes, obesity, or food allergies.

Your veterinarian will guide you through the mysteries of finding the best dog food for your pup, and can help debunk any other myths you may encounter—and there is bound to be others!

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to the Hastings Veterinary Clinic and a clickable link back to this page.

Pet Boarding vs. a Pet Sitter—Which is Better for my Pet?

Have you ever felt guilty for leaving your cat or dog at home when you have to travel? Whether it’s for an overnight trip or lengthy trips for business or pleasure, we’re sure you’ve had to struggle with deciding whether to choose pet boarding versus a pet sitter to care for your fur baby.

For those who have to make this decision for the first time, it is okay to feel anxious. To help lessen the stress for you, we recommend you consider the advantages and disadvantages of the kinds of care available before deciding.

The Cost of Pet Care Varies Widely

Your cat or dog can be boarded at a kennel or a veterinary hospital or clinic that offers boarding care for pets, or can be cared for by a pet sitter. The prices are scaled to the type of environment, the amount of individual care offered, and any add-ons that you choose. 

  • Veterinarian Facility – A veterinary boarding facility can provide a scrupulously clean and safe environment, and healthy animal companions for your pet who will all have their vaccinations up-to-date. Pets are professionally monitored for signs of illness or problems. If your cat or dog requires health care, it will be provided.
  • Kennel – A kennel can also provide very suitable boarding care and prices vary. Do your homework and be sure to have a thorough understanding of the type of individual and group care offered and the safety measures you can expect.
  • Pet Sitter – The least expensive care is available from a pet sitter, with the sitter taking your kitty or pooch to his or her home for the duration, or moving into your home, or simply making daily visits for feeding, playtime, and walks. The costs vary depending on which services you need.

Hiring a Pet Sitter Has a Number of Advantages

You can arrange for a pet sitter to visit your home a couple of times a day to feed your pet, take them out on walks (if they’re a dog), bring in the mail, and give your home the appearance of being occupied.

Cats, in particular, are usually happier in their own homes and may get stressed out when boarded. However, even an independent cat can become troubled if left entirely on their own and usually needs human contact, even if it’s just a daily visit by a pet sitter for feeding and playtime.

If you have a sitter move into your home, you have the added expense of providing meals, but it is still less expensive than, say, a pet hotel. Also, most pets are happier in their familiar surroundings.

You can hire a trusted family member or neighbour as a sitter, but if that doesn’t work, hire a professional. Check their references and make sure the pet sitter is insured and bonded.

Pet Boarding is the Most Popular Choice

Pet boarding is a good idea for cats and dogs who are more adaptable to change and will enjoy the companionship of others. However, if your pet isn’t very open in terms of being around people and other animals, or exposed to new experiences, or is old and less sociable than he or she was, they will probably be happier with a sitter.

Be sure and check out the choices of veterinary facility accommodations. Interview the caregivers, tour the facilities, and ask for references. There may be such advantages as supervised cage-free running around and lots of playtime with other animals.

You may find that your cat or dog loves the boarding experience when he or she is young but not so much when they age. However, if they are older and troubled by arthritis or other conditions, you may have more peace of mind and be happy to be able to board them in a veterinary facility with trained medical people watching over them.

When deciding who will look after your kitty or pooch, factor in their age, personality, and physical limitations. Interview caregivers, do background checks, give complete instructions, and have a backup plan for emergencies. Leave the family’s vet clinic contact info with whoever is caring for your pet, in case of an emergency. If you do your research and set high standards, you will enjoy peace of mind knowing that your fur baby has the love and attention they need, no matter what your decision.

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to the Hastings Veterinary Clinic and a clickable link back to this page.

Pet Care Tips to Keep Them Safe from Dangerous Tick Bites

Finding a tick anywhere on your pet makes for a bad day! Knowing how to keep your pet tick-free is great preventative pet care in that it keeps everyone safe from dangerous diseases transmitted by tick bites. You should also know what to do if your efforts fail and you find a tick attached to your pet’s skin.

It is important to use the right safeguards, inspect your pet for ticks after he or she has been outdoors, and consult your veterinarian right away if one of these nasty little brutes latches on to them.

Tick Bites Can Cause Your Pet Serious Harm

Ticks are parasites that can be found in city parks, forest and meadow areas, and your own backyard. Many pet owners don’t take tick warnings seriously enough and rely on simple tick and flea collars to keep their pets safe, only to have their beloved pets infected with terrible diseases carried by a variety of ticks.

Lyme disease, for example, is just as debilitating for pets as it is for people, and is becoming more and more widespread in BC. Other parasitic diseases, such as anaplasmosis, can be terrible, too, and the symptoms are often difficult to diagnose.

Use good preventative measures to keep your pet safe, and see that your lawns, bushes, and trees are trimmed to reduce the tick population in your yard. Keeping your dog or cat indoors during the height of the tick season can help, and be sure and check your pets carefully for ticks after outdoor exercise or playtime.

A Veterinarian is the Best Person to Remove a Tick

You can find instructions for removing ticks from pets, but nothing quite prepares you for the dangers of attempting this job yourself:

  • It’s difficult to get your pet to remain motionless—which they must be—while you do the job.
  • If you leave any part of the tick behind, you must take your pet to a veterinarian to dig it out.
  • Gloves must be worn for your own safety.
  • If the insect is twisted or squeezed while being removed, reaction to the embedded tick parts can cause discomfort and infection.

Play it safe and take your pet to a veterinarian for help.

There are a Variety of Preventative Measures to Use against Ticks

Work with your veterinarian to come up with the best kind of pet care plan to protect your little friend. Pets that live outside or are used to running free over large territories or that you take with you on camping trips in the wilds are more at risk from tick bites than homebodies. However, even a pet that is indoors most of the time can pick up a tick bite almost anywhere outside.

Here are some of the Standard Safeguards:

  1. Topical medication – Such products work very well but you must choose carefully and follow all directions faithfully. Many products such as Advantix and Revolution are available through veterinarians and pet stores; it is best to use a veterinary approved product. Ask your veterinarian for advice and assistance with these products as they vary in the spectrum of the ticks they cover. Your vet can help you determine what product is best suited to your pet based on their size, lifestyle, and so on.
  2. Oral medication – These products are safe and effective protection against ticks and fleas, and should be administered by your veterinarian. These are almost as effective as topical medication and are very useful for dogs who love water! Whether they are to be applied once a month depends on the product; most can be applied once a month such as Simparica and Nexgard, but there is a once-every-3-months product available called Bravecto. Again, consult your veterinarian on which oral products would best suit your pet.
  3. Tick shampoos – Medicated ingredients in a tick shampoo will kill ticks, but this is not the best plan for either your cat or dog because their effectiveness doesn’t last very long. The aforementioned products (topical and oral) are much better and safer preventative products.

Keep your pet tick-free and safe with proven tick-bite preventative measures. Check them after they’ve been outdoor during the height of tick season and, if your pet has the misfortune to be bitten in spite of your efforts, get professional help to remove the horrible little disease-carrying pest.

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6 Tips on Caring for Your Dog on Summer Camping Trips

Summer is in full swing now, and you know what that means: it’s time to go camping! If grabbing your tent and venturing out into BC’s beautiful wilderness is high on your must-do list this summer, then you know how much fun dogs will have while they’re with you in the great outdoors.

That being said, caring for your dog while camping is just as important as it is at home. They are perhaps even more prone to accidents while in the outdoors and playing. They’re put at higher risk if somehow there’s an emergency and not a single veterinarian office is in sight.

Summer should be enjoyed by both you and your pooch! Whether you’re going out in an RV or packing along a tent, these tips will ensure you will enjoy your camping trip while caring for your dog this summer.

Tip 1: Do Your Homework

Not every campground in Vancouver or BC accepts dogs, and not every beach is dog-friendly. Many areas are inaccessible to dogs in order to protect the natural wildlife.

You can avoid unwittingly destroying BC’s natural beauty, avoid receiving a penalty fee, and avoid the humiliation of being asked to leave the campground by doing a quick Google search. You can also try contacting the campground owner directly if you’re not sure. Be aware that there may be regulations for dogs even in the more dog-friendly areas, which again are in place for a good reason (for example, preserving the wildlife).

Tip: 2: Pack Properly

Don’t forget your dog in your camping trip’s packing itinerary! As well as food, water, and their food and water bowls, you should try and bring dog-friendly and environmentally-friendly shampoo or dry shampoo or wipes to help wash off the dirt and debris they may roll around in (after all, that’s all there is out in the forest!). Bring along their favourite toys as well as a Frisbee for hours of fun for both of you!

Tip 3: Pest Prevention

Just like anywhere in the city, pests like fleas, mites, and especially ticks can find their way onto your pooch in the wilderness. We highly recommend you come to your veterinarian to receive and apply any oral or topical solutions for pests before you go anywhere on your travels. The best treatment for ticks is prevention!

In the event you find a tick on your pooch, or see any signs and symptoms of an infected bite in your dog, come immediately to the nearest dog hospital for treatment!

Tip 4: Train, Train, and then Train More

Behavioural problems are a biggie for dogs this time of year, as they won’t understand that there are rules of conduct for dogs outside of home for a reason. Teach your pooch the basic commands—“Come”, “Sit”, and “Stay” should always be followed by their name. Keep a sharp eye out for hazards while on your trip, such as broken glass on trails or campfire embers getting too close for comfort. Also be sure they don’t jump onto random passersby if they’re dirty or have been swimming.

Tip 5: Know Your Wild Plants

One of the common dangers of dogs in the wilderness is the plant wildlife, as there are several toxic plants to beware of in BC. These plants are dangerous to both you and your dog, so keep an eye out for them:

  • Poison ivy
  • Holly
  • Thistles
  • Bloodroot
  • Giant hogweed
  • Water hemlock
  • American nightshade
  • Scotch broom
  • Spurge laurel
  • Tansy ragwort

Some of these plants are not only toxic to dogs but also to humans, and can cause some severe allergies!

Tip 6: Breeds

It’s unfortunately true that not all breeds of dogs make for great camping trip companions. There are breeds, specifically the snub-nosed variety of bulldogs and pugs, who are going to require extra attention and care while you’re camping. Why? Because the way their snouts are formed makes it tougher for them to cool off, and they may have more difficulty in breathing and panting.

You need to make sure you’re both hiking and camping in areas that are very shady, if your favourite pooch is a pug or bulldog. Always, always provide them with water and put their bedding in a shaded area so they can cool off or rest.

Keep dogs with dark or black-coloured coats cool and in shaded areas. Keep hairless, short-coated, and light-coloured or white-coated dogs protected from excessive sunlight, as they have less protection from prolonged exposure to the sun.

Basically, any safety tips that apply to you such as protection from the sun and from toxic plants or other dangers will apply to your dog too. By using common sense, you can easily prevent further harm to both of you and above all, have fun on your camping trip! Bon voyage!

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to the Hastings Veterinary Clinic and a clickable link back to this page.

Why Veterinary Professionals Do What They Do!

What makes veterinary professionals take up pet care as a profession? Undoubtedly it is our passion and will to help animals in their time of need. The biggest benefit of this desire lends to the fact that compassion is not required to be taught during the training of a veterinary professional.

The beauty of pet care also derives from the patient’s family being an extension of the veterinary team. In times of illness, aging, and even in good health, the family is essentially the at-home nursing staff of the veterinary community. Our pets are adorably expressive about a lot of things (ask any pet parent and hear their pets’ unique ability to express themselves), but when it comes to sharing what they ate off the floor, which alley cat may have fought with them, feeling a tooth ache, or nausea, the information is not always as forthcoming (nor as endearing!).

Signs of chronic life affecting conditions such as allergies, gastric problems, arthritis, diminished eyesight & hearing, anxiety, and obesity are often subtle to start with. Over time, these signs slowly progress and without keen observation and routine monitoring of well-being, such symptoms can be easily missed. Do you know what the general symptoms associated with such illness might be?

There is usually a big range of nonspecific signs associated with chronic conditions such as arthritic pain, anxiety, allergies, etc. As an example, when an older pet is pacing and vocalizing for no apparent reason; this may be due to a range of possibilities including spinal pain, loss of sensory functions (eyesight, hearing, etc.), all due to anxiety related to changes in the environment, or even an old age illness.

No pet owner or veterinarian can simply hear the description of the symptoms and make a diagnosis. To best help a pet with medical concerns and to diagnose illness early, the combination of a close bond between the pet and parent, clear communication between the parent and veterinary team, and a thorough evaluation of health as well as compassion towards the implications of potential illness are essential.

While compassion is second nature to veterinary professionals (think veterinarians, vet technicians, office assistants, kennel attendants etc.), it is best used while helping nurture improved pet parenting through loving pet owners. This is why the veterinary community is advising increased vet visits. Advertising campaigns on the role of nutrition, exercise, and monitoring pet health, as well as special events at vet clinics, are all geared towards improved pet parent education. After all, by bringing a pet into their family, pet owners are signing up to be an extension of the pet healthcare system.

As the Canadian Nurses Association likes to say, “Health begins at home!”

By – Dr. Jangi Bajwa,
Veterinary Dermatologist & Practice Owner
Hastings Veterinary Hospital, Burnaby.
Twitter @BajwaJangi

Eye Care for Pets: Our Top Tips

Your pets’ eyes are one of the more sensitive organs, making eye care an essential part of pet care. Some awareness and monitoring goes a long way to ensure proper eye care and monitoring by pet parents. If there is any eye related discomfort, pets will typically rub their faces against carpet or furniture. They may even try to scratch/soothe themselves with their paws. This can be unsafe as the nails can traumatize the eyes or other facial structures. Like many other things, your pet depends on you to provide this important part of his or her well-being.

Pet parents should perform a weekly health maintenance check up on their pets (more frequently for puppies and kittens) – during the routine evaluations, look for any redness or swelling in or around the eyes. If your pet squints or is abnormally sensitive, it may be an early indicator of a potential problem. If you notice green or yellow mucus discharge in excessive amounts, this would indicate towards an eye infection. Dogs and cats will get some “sleep” (normal physiological eye discharge) in their eyes routinely. Regularly checking the eyes will help you differentiate between what is normal and abnormal for your pet. Healthy eyes of dogs and cats are moist and clear.

Dogs with long hair-coats can be prone to eye infections due to the hair irritating the cornea. Professional groomers are good at identifying the appropriate length of facial hair for dogs and their advice should be sought, if you cut your pets hair at home. Bathing can also lead to eye irritation if the shampoo comes in contact with the eyes. It is best to do wipe downs of the face carefully rather than splashing water or shampoo on the face when bathing pets. This should help prevent irritation to sensitive parts of the face including the eyes, nose and ears.

Many dogs can get brownish stains below the inside corner of the eyes, especially the light-coloured breeds. There are several causes of the overflow of tears. Miniature dog breeds and Persian cats often have more prominent eyes. This stretches the eyelid and may cut off the drainage system. This is the most common cause and there is little we can do to correct it. Some animals are born with an abnormal drainage system that may or may not be surgically correctable. Sometimes, the eyelids turn inward and block the drainage. This is also surgically correctable. It is important to remember that while most of the staining due to tears is a cosmetic problem, it can get quite unsightly if not cared for.

Your veterinarian should be able to advice you on appropriate treatments if the tear staining is considered due to other potential causes such as allergies, eyelid anatomy, or other irritation to the eyes. Annual health checkups by your veterinary team will ensure that more subtle changes to your pets’ eyes do not go unnoticed.

By – Dr. Jangi Bajwa,
Veterinarian at Hastings Veterinary Hospital, Burnaby.

Pain Control in Pets: Important Then, Important Now

It has been known for centuries that pain affects a human’s quality of life greatly. This fact holds true not only for acute pain from injuries to muscle, ligament, and orthopedic pain from fractures.  Chronic (or long lasting) pain from spinal disease, arthritis, kidney stones, etc. can cause a much greater degree of distress and affect quality of life negatively.

Surprisingly, the importance of pain has only been given due importance only in the past few decades. Thankfully, during recent times, the importance of pain alleviation in pets’ healing process has become well recognized (duh!). This has led to further research on the existence of pain in pets and how best to alleviate it.

Currently many options exist for treating pain in the furry critters, while more options are being explored. Pets can tolerate and receive benefit from some of the drugs humans are given as well. This is not without the potential for adverse effects, some of which may not be the same in our pets. For example, cats are much more susceptible to the adverse effects of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories than humans and dogs would be.

Using a multi-modal approach to fight pain compensates for such potential for problems while managing pain in companion animals. Additional options include appropriate nutrition, supplements (such as sources of omega 3 oils, glucosamine, etc.), physiotherapy, laser therapy in certain situations, and most importantly treatment for the underlying cause of pain.

Likely indicators of pain in pets are numerous, including change in behavior, stiffness, decreased appetite, vocalization, change in facial expression, change in grooming habits, or posture while sleeping to name a few. Some of these changes can develop over time and may often be regarded as an aging change. Arthritis is the most common source of pain in pets and can go untreated for long periods in senior pets. Again, it is very manageable and may not even need painkillers if managed early.

Even though pain control for pets has come late to the party, it is every bit as important in pets as it is for us.

By – Dr. Jangi Bajwa,
Veterinary Dermatologist & Practice Owner at Hastings Veterinary Hospital, Burnaby.