Dr. D Recommends: Catification

 

“Dr. D Recommends…” is a sporadic presentation of something I love (or just like a lot) that pertains to pets and/or veterinary-type stuff.  Something I think you might also like or find useful.

 

Or it might be silly.  That happens around here sometimes.

 

Catification

Catification. 

 

It’s a made-up word that means “making small changes to your living environment that benefit the cats you reside with”.  It was coined by the wonderful Jackson Galaxy, a cat-whisperer who got his start in Boulder, CO.

 

If you’ve seen any of Jackson’s popular Animal Planet show “My Cat From Hell”, you know that he has an uncanny ability to understand cats and their specific environmental needs. In the book Catification, Jackson explains how to give your cat opportunities to practice their natural instinctive behaviors to climb, scratch, and rest safely in your home, while still maintaining a stylish and comfortable home for the humans who live there.  His ideas range from simple DIY to fancy store-bought, and everything in between.

 

If you have a cat, you have probably heard me talk about environmental enrichment for their mental well-being. Cats have very specific and instinctive needs that we can accommodate fairly easily in our homes.  Without opportunities to climb, scratch, play, rest and own their space, cats will develop behavioral and medical problems.

 

I love this book, and here’s why:

  1. Jackson explains the most common personalities of cats, including my personal favorites – the tree-dwellers vs the bush-dwellers.
  2. He helps cat people determine what, if any, issue is plaguing their feline roommates, and how to remedy most situations with easy solutions.
  3. He empowers and encourages cat people to live freely with their felines, embracing what we love most about them and improving the human to cat bond.
  4. There are so many amazing ideas that are quick and easy to implement, right now!  In fact, right after I read this book, I immediately gave my kitties a couple new beds (which I made myself) and some new toys.  My home is in a constant state of improvement for the kitties’ benefit.

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If you have a cat, go pick up this book from your library or purchase it for your future reference! Also, this would be a perfect gift for the cat-lover or veterinarian in your life… just sayin’.

 

 

Do you have a cat with behavioral and/or medical issues, and you are ready for some professional help?  Give Dr. D a call – she does in-home consultations!

 

Things You Should Know: Xylitol can kill your dog.

 

Easter-Dog

 

With another candy-filled holiday approaching, I wanted to take the opportunity to educate you about XYLITOL.

Do you know about Xylitol?  Have you heard of this chemical before?

It’s not necessarily a new thing; in fact, veterinarians have been doing their best to educate their clients about the dangers associated with Xylitol.  However, I am still finding plenty of people who don’t know why it’s an issue.  Enough people to warrant a blog article.   😉

 

Products containing Xylitol

So what is Xylitol?

Xylitol is a type of artificial sweetener found in many food and health products.  Typically we think of things like gum and candy containing xylitol, however it can now be found in prescription and non-prescription medications, mouthwash, and even some types of peanut butter.

 

From the Pet Poison Hotline:

Some of the places we have seen xylitol include chewable vitamins, gummy vitamins, lozenges/cough drops, sublingual supplements and medications (over the counter and prescription), liquid medications (over the counter and prescription), breath sprays, medication/supplement sprays, toothpastes, nasal sprays, mouth rinses/washes, essential oil products, cosmetics, and many sugar-free foods and baking ingredients.

 

That’s a long list, and it’s getting longer!  Xylitol may be very safe for humans, but it can be deadly if ingested by your dog.

(The jury is still out on whether it affects cats the same way.  We think they may be sensitive to xylitol, but they are too smart to eat gum, so there’s not a lot of research.)

 

Why is Xylitol toxic for my dog?

Without going into a bunch of technical jargon regarding pharmacokinetics (big fancy word alert!), suffice it to say that even a very small amount of xylitol causes severe hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and liver damage in a very short period of time after ingestion.  In as little as 24 hours liver failure can occur.

It might be a little shocking, but I want you to check out this graphic depicting the significance of the small amount of xylitol it would take to kill a dog, compared to chocolate:

 

Xylitol Toxicity Image

 

Did you see that a dog the size of a Border Collie would die if they eat ONE pack of gum containing xylitol??

As you can see, the ingestion of anything containing xylitol is not something to overlook or “wait and see”.

 

What should I do if I think my dog has ingested something containing xylitol?

Initial signs of xylitol toxicity can occur in as little as 10 minutes.  Some of the signs you may see include:

  • weakness
  • lethargy
  • ataxia (incoordination)
  • seizures
  • vomiting
  • increased respiratory rate

If you see any of these signs, and you suspect your pet has chewed or ingested something containing xylitol, take the packaging, any remaining product, and your pet, and GET THEE TO THE VET.

 

Is there any good news?

The good news is that there is treatment available for your pet if they ingest xylitol!  It will likely involve hospitalization, but pets that are treated early typically recover well.  Yay!

 

I hope you feel educated and empowered by this information, rather than scared witless!  🙂

Prevention is key here.  Keep anything that is not dog food, treats, or toys far out of reach of your pooch.

If they can’t reach it, they can’t eat it. 

 

Did you know this information, or was it news to you?  I bet you have a friend with dogs who needs this… Will you share this and help me save more doggies?

How to Give Your Cat Liquid Medicine

 

this-is-spunkys-medicine

 

Your veterinarian has prescribed medication for your cat.  And how, you might ask, should I get said medication down kitty’s gullet without stressing us both out completely?

Again, Dr. D is here to help!  I have created two videos, just for you, to show how I give liquid medication to a cat.  These are my kitties – one is super compliant, and the other one… not so much.

 

Video the First:

 

Main takeaways from this video:

  • Let your cat sit comfortably in a normal position, without cranking their head backwards.  They will swallow easier and be less stressed.
  • Gently place the tip of the syringe or dropper right behind the canine tooth, between the lips, and give a very small amount of liquid at a time.  No kitty likes to feel like they are drowning while something pokes them in the gums.
  • Take it sloooooooooooow.
  • Give really yummy treats when you’re done (and even during, if needed)!

 

And now, are you ready for a giggle?  Watch on…

Video the Second:

 

When using the towel-wrapping method that I so gracefully demonstrated for you:

  • Have your cat lay down fully on the towel before starting to wrap them.  Less space between their body and the towel ensures a secure burrito.
  • Make sure you use a towel that is large enough to cover your cat’s bum.  That way they can’t back out.
  • Wrap the front corner of the towel around the neck and above the feet. Hold the corner tight as you continue.
  • After the first layer goes over, tuck it under their belly.  This gives the towel more holding power once you wrap the second side over.
  • Wrap the second side over top, pulling the front edge around the cat’s neck and above the feet.  Do not wrap loosely, or your cat will scootch out the front.
  • Swaddle the kitty like you are securely swaddling a newborn.  This way, your bunny-kicking kitty won’t escape from the towel burrito.

 

I hope this was helpful!  I know it can be a challenge to medicate your cat, but with some patience, practice, and really yummy treats, you CAN be successful!

And isn’t it nice to know that even the professionals have some trouble every once in a while?  😉

 

If you’d like your kitty to have a low-stress veterinary experience, call me – Dr. D!

 

Dr. D Recommends… All Dogs Go To Kevin

 

I thought I might start a new category of blog articles for you, just for the fun of it.

“Dr. D Recommends…” will be a sporadic presentation of something I love (or just like a lot) that pertains to pets and/or veterinary-type stuff.  Something I think you might also like or find useful.

Or it might be silly.  That happens around here sometimes.

For this first installment, allow me to present to you the following book for your consideration:

 

All Dogs Go To Kevin by Dr. Jessica Vogelsang

 

All Dogs Go To Kevin is a memoir written by fellow veterinarian Dr. Jessica Vogelsang.  Dr. V provides in-home hospice care for dogs and cats, founded the website Pawcurious.com, and writes for several other media outlets.

From the cover:

All Dogs Go To Kevin is a humorous and touching memoir that will appeal to anyone who has ever loved an animal… It reminds us, with gentle humor and honesty, why we put up with the pee on the carpet, the chewed-up shoes, and the late-night trips to the vet: because the animals we love so much can, in fact, change our lives.

Why I Love It

Because Dr. Vogelsang is a veterinarian, I found a kindred spirit in her stories about veterinary school and working in a veterinary clinic.  Her anecdotes about veterinary practice feel very familiar to those in the field; she does a fabulous job of weaving together the truths, challenges, and compassion of what we do every day.

However, her memoir doesn’t alienate the layperson, but rather brings them alongside in the journey to becoming a vet.

Dr. V is not just a veterinarian; she is also a dog person, a pet lover, a mom and wife.  She includes bits of her life that resonated with me on so many levels.

The struggle of balancing motherhood and the veterinary career.

The joys, frustrations, and heartache of being a pet owner.

The way it feels when you have a dog-shaped hole in your heart that can’t be filled by anything other than a big slobbery beast.

And how your spouse often rolls their eyes at your constantly bleeding, pet-loving, heart.

I don’t read very many books from the “yet another pet book” category, but this one got my curiosity peaked, and once I started I couldn’t put it down.  It was a breath of fresh air, a validation of what I hold dear, and full of giggles and tears.  It was like reading James Herriot again, modernized for my generation.

If you’re a pet lover, I think you’ll like this.  If you read it, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Don’t Let Anesthesia Fears Delay Your Pet’s Teeth Cleaning

 

I have many senior patients in my practice, most of which are in need of dental work.  With good reason, the owners of these pets have concerns about anesthesia and the risks involved for elderly pets.

I spend a good amount of time talking with my clients about benefits vs. risks, and all the precautions and monitoring that go into anesthesia for pets (young and old).

Dr. Marty Becker wrote a great article that addresses most of the talking points I cover with my clients. I thought it would be helpful to share this with you on the blog.  Click the graphic to read it!

Don't let your fear of anesthesia delay your pet's dental cleaning.

 

The most important points I’d like you to know are these:

  • There is a risk involved with every single medical procedure and treatment that your pet has experienced, not just anesthesia.  But if your vet is recommending something, they have already determined that the benefits outweigh the risks.
  • Your veterinarian will take every possible precaution, choose anesthetic drugs specific to your pet, and will monitor them throughout the procedure and during recovery.  Just like in human medicine.
  • You will be amazed at how much better your pet feels after those yucky, uncomfortable teeth are cared for.

 

What other questions or concerns do you have about anesthesia for your pet?  Send them to me or write them in the comments – I’ll answer every one!

 

Does your pet have “dog breath” or “tuna breath”?  Let Dr. D take a look!  You can find all the contact information on the Small Things website.

Don’t Believe The Marketing: “Dental” Products Dogs Shouldn’t Chew

During the month of February, we are discussing important information regarding your pet’s dental health.  In the previous article on keeping your pet’s mouth healthy, I alluded to “dental products your dog shouldn’t chew”…

 

I know you want to purchase the right things to help your pet have a healthy mouth, and to help them with their instinctive need to chew things!  There is a lot of marketing hype out there.  It seems like every diet, treat, and toy package is screaming benefits for your dog’s teeth.  But many are actually unsafe!

 

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I know it’s hard to believe that something that is supposed to be helpful could actually be harmful – leading to fractured teeth, intestinal blockage (gastrointestinal obstruction), and/or tummy upset (gastroenteritis) – but these are things that veterinarians see regularly in practice.

I’m here to give you the low-down!

 

First, a few guidelines:

  1. For aggressive chewers, don’t give your pet any chew toy that’s hard enough that you wouldn’t want it to hit you in the knee.
  2. Always supervise your pet while they are chewing, since they may swallow large pieces (this could lead to problems!).
  3. Avoid products with abrasive surfaces, such as tennis balls.  These have a sandpaper effect on the teeth, wearing them down to the sensitive parts.
  4. Give a dental chew or treat every day for the best results.

 

 

No Rawhides

And now, I am going to tell you which commonly purchased products are not recommended by your veterinarian!

 

Bones (cooked, uncooked, butcher shop bones)

These are hard as a rock and slinter-prone.  Not a good idea for the teeth OR intestines.

 Antlers

Lots of tooth fractures with these. Beware!

 Cow hooves

Commonly cause tooth fractures, gastroenteritis, and pancreatitis!

Rawhides

Generally speaking, most dogs do okay with rawhides.  However, please exercise caution!  Your dog has to actually chew them for them to be effective, not swallow them whole (which commonly causes intestinal obstruction).

If you must give your pooch a rawhide, supervise them while they are chewing and take it away once it gets small enough to swallow whole.

Also, these treats have a ton of calories.  Not the best idea if your pet is overweight!

Pig’s ears

I have seen many dogs develop gastroenteritis and/or pancreatitis after eating these.  They are also very high in calories and fat.  And they can be swallowed whole.

Overall, not a good idea.

 

 

So what can I give my dog to chew?

 

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Here are the treats and chews I most commonly recommend for both dogs and cats:

  1.  Greenies
  2.  C.E.T. Chews (rawhide-like)
  3.  Hill’s Prescription Diet t/d  – You can feed this as your pet’s regular diet, or buy the small bag and use the kibble as treats!

 

You do have an advocate (other than me, of course)! The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) is a trusted resource for choosing an appropriate dental health product for your pet, and has approved several products for dogs and cats.  Look for their seal of approval on the packaging when choosing a treat or toy for your pet.

VOHC_Accepted_Seal

 

I hope this helps clear up some confusion for you!

If you have questions about specific products, or dental health, let me know in the comments below.  I will answer every question!

 

Dr. D’s Tips: Keeping Your Pet’s Mouth Healthy

 

Okay, I know you get tired of hearing it.  Every time you see the veterinarian she tells you that you should be brushing your pet’s teeth.  But, seriously.  Doesn’t the vet know that I find it difficult to follow my own dentist’s recommendations for MY teeth every day, let alone my pet’s teeth?

I get it.  Truly I do.

I still have to tell you how to care for your pet’s teeth… because if I don’t tell you how to prevent dental disease, you’re going to be upset with me when you have a very expensive bill for tooth extractions later in your pet’s life.  Not to mention the possibility of heart, liver, and kidney disease that is associated with severe dental disease.

So, humor me, just one more time.  I’m going to try to make this easy!

 

The GOOD, BETTER, and BEST of pet dental health goes like this:

 

Dog::Essential Healthymouth water additive

GOOD:  Water additives and dental gels

 

These products are relatively new to the pet-product scene, and so there aren’t many that get the veterinary seal of approval.  One water additive, Dog::Essential Healthymouth, is approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) which is a group of leading board certified veterinary dentists from around the world.

It works just like you’d think it does – you add the liquid to your pet’s water daily, and it helps slow the accumulation of dental plaque.  It helps a bit in pets with otherwise healthy mouths, but isn’t going to do much if your pet already has significant dental disease.

 

 

Greenies Products

 

BETTER:  Dental chews and treats

 

You’ve seen them in the pet store.  It seems like every treat, toy, and food is screaming at you that it’s Great For Your Pet’s TeethFreshens breathEliminates Dental Tartar!

The marketing is fabulous.  I would love to believe it, too!

Unfortunately, no treat or toy is going to magically make your pet’s dental disease disappear.  Certain chews and treats, however, can minimize the build-up of dental plaque, thereby slowing the progression of dental disease.

Not all treats and chews are created equal.  Look again for the VOHC seal of approval!  I personally prefer Greenies and C.E.T. chews for this category.  One per day is enough, and make sure to purchase the right size for your pet.

(By the way, be on the lookout for a future blog post about “dental health” products your dog shouldn’t chew on!)

 

 

Dog Toothbrush

 

BEST:  Brush your pet’s teeth!

 

If you really want to earn a chocolate chip cookie from your veterinarian, brush your pet’s teeth a minimum of 3 times a week.  No really.  You’ll be my favorite client EVER.

Brushing your pet’s teeth (I like this kit) is the only surefire way to keep your pet from developing serious dental disease. Use a pet-specific toothpaste (they have fun flavors!), a soft-bristled toothbrush, and lots of positive reinforcement!

I’m sorry to say that once a month isn’t going to do the trick.  The veterinary dental specialists have spoken, and they say that brushing every day is the gold standard.

But 3 times a week is acceptable.

Once a week or less?  You might as well start saving for that dental cleaning next year.  🙂

 

Added bonus:  Here’s the video I made, just for you, to show you how to brush your dog’s teeth.

 

 

 

Great Indoor Games to Play With Your Dog

The weather outside is frightful…  but my dog is going crazy!

 

When you can’t get outside with your pooch, here are some ideas for great indoor games that will give your dog some mental and physical exercise.  Feel free to involve your kids as well if they are big enough!

 

Play Hide and Seek

Give each family member a handful of treats and have them take turns hiding somewhere in the home.  The hiding person calls the dog to them and then rewards them with treats.  When the treats are gone, tell your dog “all done!”, and then go hide again.  Repeat ad nauseum!

 

Tug and Fetch

Playing tug and fetch are great physical games that can be played anywhere!  A long hallway or stairs can add extra exercise to a game of fetch for a young and healthy dog.

 

Find It!

This game involves sniffing and eating, two of your dog’s favorite things!  You can use your dog’s regular meal or some low calorie treats for this game.  Show your dog a treat or piece of kibble; say “find it!” then toss the morsel onto the floor.  If your dog doesn’t quite get the point, start by dropping the food right in front of her, and gradually toss the food farther and farther away.

You can make it even more difficult for good sniffers by asking your dog to “stay” while you hide the food somewhere, then release them to go find it!

 

The Muffin Tin Game

I love this game for its simplicity and mental enrichment!

Place a treat (or piece of kibble) in each cup of a muffin tin, and place a tennis ball on top of the treats in about half of the cups (not all of them).  Put the muffin tin on the floor for your dog.  Once they find all the uncovered treats, it won’t take them long to figure out that they can find more treats by knocking out the tennis balls!

 

Training Manners and Having Fun

Using your stuck-indoors time to reinforce your dog’s obedience training can be an excellent way to exercise his brain and tire him out!

You can test and treat your dog on the “Basic Five” – sit, stay, come, down, and heel.

Or, you can teach your dog some new tricks, like spin around, roll over, shake a paw, or close a cabinet.  Let your imagination run wild, and have fun!

(By the way, there are some excellent training videos online to learn from…  just make sure that you are only using positive rewards during your training so you and your dog are both having fun!)

 

Schedule A Doggie Playdate

Does your dog have a best friend?  Invite them over for a playdate!  This is a great way to wear your dog out.

Just make sure you clear some space of breakables… we all know how crazy dog play can get!

 

Stuff A Kong

Are you worn out from all this play, but your dog is still full of it?  While you sit with your cuppa tea or coffee and a good book, give your pup a stuffed Kong to occupy his time!

You can stuff a durable Kong toy with peanut butter and kibble, or freeze it full of peanut butter or broth.  I love this article from Puppy Leaks with some excellent Kong-stuffing ideas!

 

If you use these or any other ideas for your indoor play, I’d love to hear about it!  Leave me a comment below with your favorite indoor games!

 

Dr. D’s Tips: How to safely walk your dog in the cold

Okay, so this is an old article…  but it’s still relevant!  If you’re getting outside with your dog this winter, check out the following tips to make sure you both have a great time!

 

In Colorado, we don’t let a little winter get in the way of our outdoorsy-ness  (is that a word?).

Our dogs go with us, most of the time.  How can you keep your furry friend safe while they are participating in winter activities?

Here are Dr. D’s top tips for keeping your woof safe and happy while you’re out in the fresh winter air:

1.  Make sure your pet is properly dressed.

Just as you wouldn’t go out in the elements without the right clothing, your dog may need a jacket or sweater to wear, too!  Just because they come equipped with a fur coat, doesn’t mean they’re warm enough to be outside for long periods of time.  Unless they are a Husky or other thick-coated breed of dog, they need to wear some extra protection.

2.  Protect those paws!

You wear shoes outside in the winter, right?  Let your dog wear some fancy kicks, too.  Most dogs don’t have a protective layer of fur over their paws, so they need some protection from the, literally, freezing sidewalks, snow, and ice.  A set of booties won’t set you back too much, and it’s certainly cheaper than treating your dog’s paws for frostbite.

3.  Use a solid leash, not the retractable leash-of-death.

Seriously, I would outlaw those retractable leashes if I could.  A jogger’s leash, which attaches around your waist and is hands-free, could be a great alternative for you and your pet.

4.  Use a front-clip harness or Gentle Leader to reduce pulling.

If your pup hasn’t quite mastered the idea of walking gently while on the leash, these are fantastic tools to help keep you safe from a slip and fall on the ice when Rufus tries to pull like a sled dog.  You also might consider taking this opportunity to teach Rufus to walk nicely.  Just sayin’.

5.  Make sure your pet stays dry.

We Coloradans know there’s nothing worse, or more dangerous, than a wet and cold base layer.  It’s no different for Fido.  If he gets wet, head home.

6.  Stay away from frozen lakes and ponds.

Your dog can easily fall through thin ice.  Then you’d have to jump in after him to save his dog-gone life.  And that would be unpleasant.

7.  Towel off those tootsies!

When you get home or back to your car, dry off your pet’s paws (all four, now).  Be sure to get between the toes.  This is done in order to get the ice melt and/or ice off your pet’s feet.  Ice melt can cause major irritation to the paws, and if they lick it off… well, that causes a whole other problem (can you say toxin?).

As always after exercise, be sure to give your doggie some fresh water!

And one more Bonus Tip:

If your pooch is shaking, trembling, or pulling toward home… take that little warm-blooded creature home!  It’s just too cold for them outside.  There are some other great indoor games you can play until it warms up a bit.

Did you enjoy this article?  Fantastic!  Now see those little buttons down there?  Click Like or Share!  It only takes a second.
Also remember, Dr. D is always here for you and your pets!  Go HERE to find all the ways to contact her.

How to Teach Your Dog Patience

 

Dogs typically don’t have a lot of patience, especially when it comes to something they really want – like food, or going outside, or their favorite toy.  Teaching your dog “impulse control” can be very useful in these situations.

The following link will take you to a video by trainer Mikkel Becker that will teach you the basics of training your dog to be patient.  Although she focuses on “waiting for the food bowl”, this technique can be applied to many other situations in which patience is a virtue.

Video: Learn How to Train Your Dog to Wait for the Food Bowl

I promise it’s not too difficult!  In fact, I often use similar techniques to encourage patience during my veterinary visits with dogs.  Many times, the owners don’t realize what I’m up to, and the dogs learn very quickly what I am asking of them.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments if you try this training skill with your dog!