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Pets at Work: The Pros and Cons

Have you ever felt guilty about leaving your pet at home alone when you go to work? While not every workplace is pet-friendly, there are exceptions to having pets at work that should be considered.

How Can Pets be Relevant in Your Daily Work Activities?

First of all, regardless of whether you think yourself more as a cat or a dog person, pets offer a feeling of relaxation to their owners that can certainly ease the daily pressures of work. Nurturing and looking after an animal offers a therapeutic effect relieving stress and creating a more positive environment.

Having a pet around the office means there is potential for a significant boost to productivity. Moods can be improved with a pet present and they can be a great reminder to take a break when you need to, leaving you more focused when you have to return to work.

Having a pet around while on the job can help out you and your co-workers as well. Bonding between pet owners happens naturally and encourages conversations between everyone at home, so why shouldn’t that be the case at work as well? It also helps if conversation on your part is tough to do in the first place; having a pet present can be a real ice-breaker.

Business owners, entrepreneurs, and even solopreneurs may even want to build their brand around being a service or company that not only respects pets but also cannot function without them. Companies such as Workday not only encourage their employees to bring their pets in to work but also insist upon it. Even Google has taken note of these benefits, establishing and encouraging a working environment that thrives on creativity and engagement while pets are present and supervised.

The Downsides of Pets at Work

For every pro to having a pet-friendly workplace there are cons as well. For instance, your co-workers may have an allergy to pets that will harm their work performance and decrease efficiency while on the job. Some pets may misbehave and grind productivity to a halt instead of the other way round while in an office. Some companies you work for may have a zero-pets policy in place anyway, and bringing a pet despite this policy could actually harm you and your company’s reputation – especially if it’s a restaurant!

So are Pets at Work a Good Idea or Not?

It all depends on where you work and the policies present at your company. We do not recommend bringing your pet to work where cooking and handling food for people is a daily task, nor do we recommend bringing your pet to your office if it’s not permitted. Aside from these situations, a pet can offer a sense of companionship to your work life.

Being alone in a cubicle, day in day out, can make you a little stir crazy! But having a little furry critter to lie at your feet as you work at your computer offers something to have a little chat with, even if he or she might not answer back!

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.

Animal Health Week 2017

October 1st to 7th is a very special week for our pets – it’s Animal Health Week! Sponsored by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, this week celebrates the wonder of the human-animal bond, which is the unique and wonderful relationship that exists between a pet and its owner – a relationship based on unconditional love. Many studies have already defined the healing power of this bond, especially in reducing stress and heart disease, and in providing critical emotional support for the elderly and infirm.

Never judgmental, always forgiving, and possessing undying devotion and loyalty for their owners, pets truly provide us with a unique relationship that is hard to duplicate between people. Not only is the human-animal bond unique to every pet and owner, it is celebrated in unique ways as well.

Every year the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) surveys pet owners throughout the United States and Canada in an effort to learn more about peoples’ relationships with their pets. Here are some of the highlights from the past few years:

  • 84 percent of respondents refer to themselves as their pet’s “mom” or “dad&”
  • 72 percent of married survey respondents greet their pet first when they return home, compared with 13 percent who say they greet their spouse or significant other first, and 7 percent who greet their children
  • 63 percent of respondents celebrate their pet’s birthday, and 43 percent give their pet a wrapped gift
  • 87 percent of pet owners include their pet in holiday celebrations, with Christmas being the most celebrated holiday with a pet at 98 percent
  • 65 percent of pet owners have sung or danced with their pet
  • 66 percent would opt for their pet if stranded on a desert island and given the choice of a companion

As a general rule, pet owners are far more forgiving of inadequacies or misbehavior in their pets than they are for their own friends and family members! And what do our pets ask for in return? Nothing but our companionship.

So take a moment to rejoice in the human-animal bond that you share with your own pet and ensure that you are living up to your end of the bargain. Call your veterinarian to double-check that you have availed yourself of all of the preventative health measures your pet requires. Make sure that your pet is on a quality diet appropriate for his/her age and health care needs. Have your pet properly identified (i.e., tag and microchip) to ensure a speedy recovery should your pet become lost. And, finally (especially for dog owners) – grab the leash and watch your pet come alive. Go for a walk – it will do you both good!

Arthritis Awareness Month

September is marked as Arthritis Awareness Month in our country. It is important to recognize that people, dogs, and cats suffer daily from this chronic painful, life-altering condition. We all know of a family member, colleague, or friend that suffers from arthritis. Similarly, we all likely know a pet that also suffers from arthritis. We may just not know the symptoms to watch for!

Symptoms in dogs include stiffness of the gait, reluctance to jump on couches or run up and down stairs. Tiredness during walks, panting, pacing and shaking are other symptoms. Cats may show any of these symptoms as well, but also can demonstrate more subtle signs such as inappropriate defecation, over-grooming, matted hair coat, irritability, and vomiting to name a few signs. If your pet has been showing any of these symptoms, it is likely time to help his or her comfort levels by seeking your veterinarian’s advice.

Similar to people, young pets may also be affected by arthritis. Irrespective of age, the quality of life of an arthritic pet can be immensely improved through early diagnosis and treatment. Pets with a history of injuries or previous surgery are more likely to develop signs of arthritis earlier in life. While osteoarthritis is not curable, it is generally manageable with anti-inflammatory medications, appropriate exercise (swimming is a better activity than running is), glucosamine, and other nutritional supplementation and appropriate bedding for the pet. Multimodal therapy is often desirable as the pet ages, as one single intervention will likely not work in the long haul.

From a human perspective, a study in 2012 by the Arthritis Society found that one in three Canadians living with arthritis had to quit working as a result of their condition, making it one of the leading causes of long-term disability in the country. The disease costs the Canadian economy billions of dollars every year, both directly and indirectly in human healthcare costs and lost productivity. Let us educate ourselves and help spread awareness regarding arthritis in people and pets, and fight this chronic painful condition.

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

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.

Ask an Expert: Cat Flea Prevention

Q: My indoor-outdoor cat has never been itchy; does he still need to be on flea preventives?

A: Yes, all pets that have any kind of access to other outdoor pets should be on a flea prevention program.

The old saying “prevention is better than cure” is especially true for a flea-infested pet. It can be very difficult to clear your house of a flea infestation, once your pet brings fleas home.

While most pets itch due to fleas, cats can carry a large amount of fleas in their hair coat without obviously suffering from this parasite.

Use only flea preventives approved for cats; some flea products made for dogs can be very toxic to cats.

Dr. Jangi Bajwa
Veterinary Dermatologist
Hastings Veterinary Hospital
Burnaby BC.

Caring for Kittens, The Series. Stage 1: Age 0-8 Weeks

Congratulations, you’re a mother! Well, your cat is. While your cat is like any mother, you as a new owner of kittens have a few motherly duties yourself in terms of kitten care for these precious new babies.

That being said we do not recommend home breeding of cats! Spaying and neutering (especially if they are outdoor cats) is also important especially if you are not financially ready or have the space for properly raising a litter of kittens. We understand though that “oops” moments happen however, or perhaps you’ve even adopted your kitten from a shelter like VOKRA or other rescue shelters for foster care, so this article should help prepare you for those sorts of situations.

And if you just got your first kitten, this post is for you too!

Week 0-1: Babies have Arrived!

I’m sure many have heard that newborn kittens are born with their eyes shut, but did you know they are also born with their ears shut as well? Without any hearing or sight, they rely on their sense of touch and smell. Their mother will lick and clean them, a lot! This helps to stimulate the kittens, who also need their mother for warmth, stimulation of intestinal function for their bowels and bladder, and source of nutrition.

As with most babies, kittens eat, sleep, and poop. But unlike human babies, before being litter box trained, after they eat, mother cat licks their bellies and genital areas, stimulating digestion and keeping them clean.

Kittens need their environment to be kept consistent so they don’t develop hypothermia or hyperthermia. At this stage, your kittens will eat constantly which is vital to their growth, development, and immunity buildup against diseases.

Here’s something I bet you didn’t know: each kitten has a preferred nipple they feed from and rely on its unique smell to locate it.

Week 2-3: My, What Bright Blue Eyes You Have!

Not too much happens this week, but every bit of development counts. Your kittens’ eyes should be starting to open, and their eyesight will be blurry. DO NOT force open their eyes! This can result in permanent eye damage, making them more vulnerable to infections. Keep watch for signs such as crustiness and white/yellow secretions. If you think something doesn’t look normal, bring them to your veterinarian’s office.

Like human babies, kittens are also born with blue eyes. As they get older, their eyes may change to the colour they will be permanently.

Your kittens should be twice the size they were when they were born!

Week 3-4: Tiny Explorer Ever Growing. Hello, Squeaky!

At this stage, the kittens’ sense of smell is getting better, their eyes may start to change colour, their ears are standing up and their hearing improves. Like humans, kittens get milk teeth (baby teeth) and eventually adult teeth.

They start to be more aware of their siblings and surroundings, and start to stand and crawl, exploring away from mom for short periods. But this still means you should resist handling those cute little bundles of fur. Too much handling in early stages upsets mom, and in worst cases, mom can reject them because of it.

By the end of this week, your kittens should be four times their birth weight. As they start to hear better, they will squeak when hungry, purr when they’re happy, and hiss when they’re scared, which means they’ll be extra sensitive to loud noises.

Week 4-5: Kitty Bobble Head, Potty Training, & Mom Weaning

Their hearing should be well-developed but their eyesight is still improving. At this stage, your kitties are starting to try and balance out, as they have reached the “bobble head stage” in which their head is bigger in proportion to their body. They will be exploring more but still sticking close to mom. The kitties can now start to groom themselves.

This is considered to be the weaning stage, to help reduce their dependency on mom. As the kitties start exploring more, be careful of things around the house that can be harmful to them such as chemicals, plants, and small openings as to minimize the risk of illness and injury.

During the weaning stage, provide a small litter box and shallow bowl with kitten milk replacer (as to not upset their digestive system with cow’s milk)in a small separate area. The litter box should be easy for the kittens to climb into.

With litter box training, keep the kittens from trying to eat the litter in case of obstruction; this is not normal behaviour. Make sure you get the appropriate kind of litter. Also, be wary that like any animal or human, they may have accidents or miss the litter box. Be sure their bedding is easily washable and keep their area clean regularly.

Week 5-6: Boy or Girl? Human Cuddles!

The kittens’ eyesight should be fully developed. They will now start to use the litter box voluntarily. The kittens may still be nursing, but as you start to help them wean, you can introduce them to a mix of canned kitty food or dry kitty food with kitten formula. You can try and place a small amount of food or formula on your finger and see if they will lick at it to accept it. Not all will take to food so patience is needed. Your vet may also provide you with diet recommendations should they be needed – just ask!

As the kitties become more explorative, they will be more graceful, start playing with toys, and pounce on each other. This is the time to start giving them lots of human cuddles! Handling them physically helps their development by getting them used to humans and help them be more social and friendly.

Weeks 6-8: The Cat Babies are Now Toddlers!

This time frame is typically when it’s best to take your kitties to your veterinarian for their vaccinations as well as precautionary worming treatment.

As you know, they are becoming a lot more active and playful, which means their claws are developing and they are going to start scratching to sharpen their nails. This is the time best to find a suitable scratching post to teach them that anywhere else (curtains, furniture, etc.) equals bad behaviour.

Between weeks 6 and 7 is the time you can gently start grooming them. Use a brush, give them a bath (careful with the soap), and handle their paws regularly. Their paws should have five toes on each front foot and four toes on each back foot unless they are polydactyl (more than the usual number of toes on one or more paws). Handling their paws helps to make nail clipping easier (gently press to extend the nails), cuddles, and handling their ears and mouths help make basic health inspections, medicating, and teeth brushing easier. This also helps give mom longer “me time.”  This interaction makes an active part in their socialization process without being intrusive.

Kittens can be homed from about seven weeks if they are fully weaned from mom.

By week eight, they should have all their baby teeth and be eating four small meals a day and mostly solids.

Be sure to keep records of their weight, to be sure they are gaining steadily. Look for signs of sickness: loss of appetite, sleeping alone (at a very young age), rejection of milk from mom, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, discharge from mouth, eyes, anus, etc. When in doubt, talk to your vet.

Now you’re on your way to having happy, healthy kitties!

Part 2 is available now! Read Caring for Kittens, The Series. Stage 2: Age 8-12 Weeks.

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.

Relieve Kitty’s Pain With Cat Arthritis Treatments

Cat arthritis is a joint inflammation disease causing pain and reduced mobility and is experienced by many middle aged and older pets. Fortunately, veterinarians offer a number of effective treatments for arthritis, and cat owners should keep watch for the symptoms as their pets age, especially when they reach the age of seven. Consult your vet for a diagnosis and help if your cat seems to be suffering from this disease. Read more

How To Introduce A New Pet Into A Multi-Pet Home With Care

A smooth transition may be challenging but if you are patient and careful each time you introduce a new pet into a multi-pet home, you can successfully raise several pets, including a mix of cats and dogs together, in harmony. The saying “fighting like cats and dogs” doesn’t apply in family homes where the two species learn to coexist happily. Read more