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Just like us, our pets can have New Year’s Resolutions to help keep their goals on track! And like us, a little help with their goals can go a long way. We polled 100 cats and dogs and these were their top 5 resolutions for 2017!
This is a mutually beneficial goal for our pets! Try adding a 30 min walk to your pet’s daily routine. There are also many pet-friendly hiking trails in our area! You can find a complete list here.
While this resolution can seem overwhelming, there are a few simple changes that can be made to help your pet’s health goals be more achievable. First, you can start by replacing their treats with healthier alternatives like carrots or green beans. Also, you can make sure your pet makes it to see a veterinarian for their annual health exam. Annual exams help us practice preventative medicine–we’d much rather prevent or treat any illnesses early than wait until bigger problems have developed! This is especially important when it comes to dental health!
Our pets all have activities that they enjoy! Does your cat go crazy for mouse toys? Spend an extra 10 minutes playing with them each day! Have a dog that can’t get enough fetch? Sounds like a great reason to go to the dog park on a pretty day!
Whoever said an old dog can’t learn new tricks must not have tried very hard. It’s never too late for our pets to pick up a new trick or hobby. Call us for a list of local trainers we recommend, or enroll your dog in an agility class! You might be surprised at what your pet is capable of!
Oftentimes, our pets favorite thing is simply spending time with us. More and more places are becoming pet-friendly (including these restaurants), so don’t be afraid to take your dog on more outings! You might even find that the more time you spend with your pet, the better your mood is as well!
To find out how we can help with your pets goals for 2017, visit our website or call us at (828)685-1650.
What do senior pets and fine wine have in common? They both get better with age!
November is Adopt-a-Senior-Pet month. If you need to convince your significant other that you have room in the house for an over-the-hill cat or dog, we’ve got your cheat sheet! Here are what we think are the top 5 reasons to adopt a senior pet:
The puppy years have passed. While everyone loves the puppy years, they can be exhausting and frustrating at times. When you adopt an older dog, those years are behind you!
They’re wiser. Many older dogs in shelters already have some training under their
belts collars. That means less time spent on potty training and basic commands, leaving more time for adventures!
You’ll know what to expect. You won’t be stuck guessing how big they will grow or how their personality will develop. When you adopt a senior pet, you’ll already know who you will be inviting into your home!
They’ll be the most appreciative. Pets end up at shelters for a multitude of reasons. Perhaps the most heartbreaking reason is when the pet must be surrendered from a home where they have spent many years. These pets know what it’s like to be part of a family and would be even more appreciative to be welcomed into yours.
You can give them the gift of a comfortable life. It can be daunting to know that adopting a senior pet means less years together, but it can also be a privilege to make sure those years are the best possible. Our pets love us unconditionally, and even just a year or two spent with the utmost care can feel like a lifetime to them.
We asked the Apple Valley Animal Hospital staff why they love their senior pets and patients. Here’s what they had to say:
“Senior pets tend to have the best back stories, whether it’s been adventures shared with their families or how they were rescued and found their forever homes. I think about the pets that have been a part of my family through the years. They are never with us long enough, and their senior years are the toughest for them. It is gratifying when we can help increase the amount of good quality time they can share with their families.” -Dr. Patrick McKee, DVM
“I love when they come in and still play like a puppy. It makes my day to see a senior wiggle and wag.” -Dawn Surrett, RVT
“With senior pets, I love the dedication and love they have for their people!!” -Teresa Surrett
If you have any questions about healthcare for your senior pet, visit our website or call us at (828)685-1650.
With Halloween right around the corner, we are bombarded with the usual advisories of dental hygiene and cavities. The American Dental Association recommends that people brush their teeth at least twice a day, floss daily, and visit their dentist every 6 months. When you compare that to the consistency of dental care for our pets, it’s no wonder that dental disease is one of the most common conditions we see in our clinic.
Just like us, our four-legged friends can acquire a number of conditions resulting from poor dental hygiene. These conditions can go on to impact your pet’s overall health, especially in cases involving tooth root abscesses or those where their eating habits are changed. And let’s not forget how PAINFUL this can be! Our goal as health practitioners is to help prevent and provide early intervention to reduce complications associated with dental disease.
When you bring your pet in for a visit, you might notice that we lift their lip and take a look at their teeth. Even with that glance (some glances more brief than others depending on the compliance of our patient…), we can pick up on abnormalities within the teeth and gums. Ideally, our pets should have clean, white teeth with healthy, pink gums. Red, inflamed gums or excessive build-up of tartar and plaque can indicate a problem. Other signs of dental disease include bad breath, excessive salivation, a painful mouth (your pet might shy away when you touch this area), or even disinterest in food and weight loss (when your pet’s mouth becomes too painful for them to eat). When these dental problems go untreated, what should have been a routine cleaning suddenly turns into a mouthful of tooth extractions.
So how can you help your cat or dog avoid getting to this point? One word: prevention. The simplest way is to give your pet treats and toys that help keep their teeth clean. While bones and antlers can do a great job at mechanically removing plaque, we do not recommend these particular treats since they can cause other problems such as fractured teeth or intestinal obstruction. Instead, opt for safer treats like Tartar Shield or those labeled for dental health. Be sure to look out for the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) seal on these products to ensure they have proven to be beneficial through proper testing!
Another very effective preventative measure is regularly brushing your pets teeth. No, we’re not joking. You can use a human toothbrush or one from a pet store, but be sure to only use toothpaste approved for pets. Introduce the brushing to your pet slowly over time and give lots of praise and encouragement. There are also some wipes that can be used once daily if your pet is not a fan of the toothbrush.
Finally, we recommend regular dental cleanings under anesthesia. Like any procedure requiring anesthesia, we do blood work beforehand to ensure that your pet is healthy enough for the procedure and to help us develop the proper anesthetic protocol. We are fortunate to have one of our veterinary technicians, Dawn, certified by the American Society of Veterinary Dental Technicians. A routine dental cleaning would include a full oral exam, charting of teeth pockets, grading of gingivitis and other disease, scaling, and polishing.
Before and after photo’s from a few dental cleanings:
By combining your at-home preventative efforts with our exams and routine care in the clinic, we hope to help your pet have a full set of pearly whites to keep all of us smiling throughout their life!
For more information on dental health and access to dental health products, or to schedule a dental health exam for your pet, visit our website at avvets.com or call us at (828) 685-1650.
***PET COSTUME CONTEST!***
Enter for a chance to win a prize bag of dental health products for your pet!
Step 1) Follow us on Facebook (Apple Valley Animal Hospital).
Step 2) Post a picture of your costumed pet to Facebook and tag us in the post by October 31st! One entry per pet.
We will announce the winner on our Facebook page on November 1st!
Last week, the CDC released an updated study on Cat Scratch Disease. As expected, numerous articles about the study began circulating through social media, sensationalizing the results of the study with headlines like “Cuddling a Kitten Can Kill You” and “Kitten Lovers Beware.” To help make this easier for you (and to give your cat a break from the media scandal), we have prepared this quick summary of important information!
Cat Scratch Disease (CSD) is an infection caused by Bartonella henselae, a bacteria that infects blood cells causing a bump at the site of the infection and infections in the lymph nodes. If the patient is immunocompromised (very young, elderly, AIDs patients, cancer patients, etc.), more serious complications can develop, including bone, heart, or central nervous system infections.
The bacteria that causes the infection (B. henselae) lives mainly in cats who show no symptoms. The bacteria is transferred between cats by fleas. Humans become infected from scratches and bites from cats that are carrying the bacteria.
Cat Scratch Disease was first identified in the 1950s, and the cause was later identified in the 1980s. While we knew it existed, there was no up-to-date data on the demographics of this disease–that is to say, how many people are affected and who makes up that population. This study looked at medical records taken between 2005-2013 to fill in these holes in our understanding of the disease.
CSD is an excellent example of the merits of the “One Health Initiative”–a movement that recognizes the link between animal and human health, and looks to partner physicians, veterinarians, and all health professionals for improved public health efforts in the future. Since cats are the main reservoir of this disease, and fleas are the main way the disease is transferred between cats, this adds yet another reason it is so critical that all domestic cats remain on year round flea prevention! Doing so will help prevent transmission of CSD between cats and limit the exposure of humans to the disease as well!
For more information on flea control for your cat, visit our website or call us at (828) 685-1650.
One thing every pet owner dreads is feeling helpless. Those fears became reality for Dakota’s owners when Dakota was attacked by a bigger dog. She was rushed through our doors lying on her side, covered in dried blood, and could hardly lift her head. As we prepared emergency supplies for her, we expected the worst.
There’s a special code in veterinary hospitals for cases like this: BDLD. It stands for “Big
Dog Little Dog” and gets its own code due to the severity of injuries typically seen in these cases. When two equally sized dogs get in a fight, we can see extensive wounds, but usually what you see is what you get. However, when a big dog attacks a little dog, the wounds can go much deeper due to the way the big dog can pick up and shake the little dog in the same way they would a toy. The scariest part is that this extensive damage can happen within seconds. It turns the case into somewhat of an iceberg–what you see on the surface might not be all that’s going on underneath.
In Dakota’s case, she only appeared to have a handful of puncture wounds on the surface. After ensuring she was stable, we brought her into the treatment room to begin the typical protocol for cases like this which includes thorough flushing and cleaning of all wounds. That’s when the iceberg became clear.
SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM OF THIS PAGE FOR IMAGES OF DAKOTA’S WOUNDS **WARNING: GRAPHIC**
Dakota had been shaken in a way that caused some of her skin to separate at its deepest layers. At that point, with antibiotics and painkillers on board, we could only hope that the skin would stay viable. But as we expected, her skin began to die off within a few days. The next step in her treatment was to remove the non-viable skin and close the wounds with sutures. However, there were some areas where there wasn’t even enough skin left to cover her shoulder. This meant a longer road to recovery for Dakota.
The wound had to be covered and allowed to heal on its own–a process that takes time, patience, and round the clock medical care. At first, this meant Dakota’s bandage had to be changed at least once a day, and even more if the bandage became dirty or if any discharge soaked through.
Now it has been 7 weeks, and Dakota is a brand new dog. Besides her cool bandage that she’s still sporting around town, you might not even know what a rough couple of months she has had! Dakota loves kids, especially Morgan, and seeing both of them light up when they’re together reminds us how privileged we are to provide the care that makes this possible.
For more information about our services, visit our website at avvets.com or call us at (828) 685-1650.
One of the biggest differences between human medicine and veterinary medicine is that our patients can’t speak for themselves. Imagine how easy it would be for us if the Labrador Retriever could come in and say, “Yeah, I was chewing on my mom’s socks yesterday and accidentally swallowed one. Think you could go fish it out for me?” Or for a cat to call and tell us, “Hey! I decided to go on sabbatical to explore our neighborhood this week and I didn’t eat anything for days! Now I’m feeling a little under the weather.” Since unfortunately this can’t be our reality, out pets rely on us to be their voice.
This is why we always start your pet’s exam with the history–the part where we bombard you with questions like some kind of pet pop quiz. Not only does this give us a baseline image of how your pet is feeling, it can also help us rule in or out certain diagnoses, help us decide which diagnostic tests are most important to run, and some answers can even help us catch diseases before obvious symptoms appear. If these questions have stumped you from time to time, you’re not alone! We hope this list of important questions helps you know what information you should have on hand the next time your pet comes in for a visit.
What do you feed your pet? It’s helpful for us to know what brand and type of food your pet receives and how much! We want to make sure they’re getting a proper balanced diet that is healthy for them and works for you! It’s also beneficial to let us know what treats and table scraps they get. While some of these are good for our pets, there might be something not so good for them that you are unaware of. Sometimes it’s impossible to keep up with the “Do’s and Don’t” of feeding your pet, so that’s why we’re here!
What preventative products is your pet currently receiving? We strongly encourage for all of our patients to be kept on year round flea and tick prevention, and for all dogs to be kept on heartworm prevention. Let us know what products you’re using for these and we can help make sure you get the proper supply and can take advantage of any discounts we can offer! Also, knowing this information can help us know whether to be on high alert for other diseases transmitted by those nasty pests.
Is your pet on any other medications? If your pet is receiving over-the-counter medications or medications prescribed by another vet, we may not have that on file! This is good information for us to have so we can avoid any problems from drug interactions and it can be helpful in accurately assessing your pet’s health.
How has your pet been acting at home? Of all the questions we ask, this one is probably the most important! We can look at your pet, listen to their heart and lungs, perform a physical exam, and run different blood tests until the cows come home, but we recognize that no one knows your pet quite like you do! Your interpretation of their attitude and behavior at home can be the answer that clues us in to a key diagnosis.
Hopefully this study guide will help you ace your pet’s next history test! If you would like to schedule an exam for your pet, visit our website at avvets.com or call us at (828) 685-1650.
One of the best things about working in a veterinary clinic is appreciating how our patients come in all shapes and sizes. However, “overweight” is one size that makes us worry. According to a recent survey conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), 58% of cats and 54% of dogs are overweight or obese. Obesity can be detrimental to your pets health, leading to conditions such as diabetes, fatty liver disease, arthritis, high blood pressure, and cataracts. Obesity can also make existing conditions that much worse–for example, an aging dog with hip and back pain could have that pain feel even worse when they’re carrying some extra pounds!
In one study, 40% of owners did not recognize that their pet was overweight. Sometimes it can be really hard to tell, especially if they have a thick coat of fur or natural skin folds. One method that has been shown to help it what we call the “two hand hug” technique. It’s simple–just put one hand on each side of your pets ribs and give them a little rub. Ideally, you should be able to feel the ribs without having to push in too hard, but you should not be able to see the outline of the ribs when you take a step back. Your veterinarian will use a similar method to grade your pet’s weight using the Body Condition System (BCS) on a scale from 1-9, with 1 being extremely emaciated and 9 being extremely obese.
Controlling our pet’s weight is easier said than done. We all love to give our pets treats, and who doesn’t enjoy spending a lazy Sunday curled up on the couch with their cat or dog? There are a few tips that can help make weight-loss easier for your pet:
While there might be more to love with an overweight pet, there could be less time to do so! If you feel you might have an overweight pet, the road to a healthy weight can be a long one. Give us a call at (828) 685-1650 or visit our website at avvets.com to find out more about how we can help along the way!
We’ve all been there. It’s time for your pet’s annual visit and as soon as you pull out their leash or carrier, they instantly become nervous. Suddenly your cat transforms into a master at hide-and-go-seek, and your dog (who normally loves car rides) tenses up as soon as you pull into our parking lot.
Anxious and nervous pets can impede the success of their visit. Their heart rate and breathing rate might increase, and some results on their blood test can be abnormal even if they are perfectly healthy. Sometimes, the veterinarian might not even be able to do a full physical exam if the animal is too nervous!
The last thing we want is for a pet to be uncomfortable in our care, so here are some tips to help make their next visit a little easier:
If your pet is in the car with you and you’re already passing by, come in for a treat and a quick weigh in! That way your pet will associate the building with a positive experience and not just the pokes and prods of a full exam.
This can serve as a comfort item for your pet. All the new smells at the veterinary clinic can make them anxious, so they will appreciate something familiar!
If your pet gets extra nervous around other animals, you can call us when you arrive for your appointment and wait in your air-conditioned car. That way, we can come get you as soon as an exam room is ready, and your pet can go straight in! On the other hand, some pets might like to come sit in the lobby and snack on a treat while they wait.
Composure™ is tasty treat-like product that can help calm your pet. It is a unique combination of vitamins and minerals that work to naturally balance your pet’s anxiety. It’s safe enough to be used daily in an anxious pet, or keep some on hand for especially stressful occasions like a weekend at a boarding facility or a trip to the vet. Make an appointment with us to get a sample!
Many pets take emotional cues from their owner. If watching your pet get their vaccines makes you nervous, it’s okay to step out of the room or have us bring your pet to the rear treatment room so they do not pick up on your nerves!
To make an appointment to get more information on how to ease your pet’s anxiety, call us at (828) 685-1650 or visit our webpage at avvets.com.
Every patient that walks through our doors holds a special place in our hearts. But when Lucy, a 7 year-old smiling boxer, arrived for a tumor removal one warm June morning, we couldn’t help but smile back. Through unfortunate circumstances, Lucy had been surrendered to Blue Ridge Humane Society in Edneyville, NC. She arrived with a large mass on her abdomen, which limited her quality of life by affecting her ability to walk or lie down comfortably. Blue Ridge Humane Society knew that the best option for Lucy would be to have the mass removed, and that’s where we come in.
When we first saw Lucy, it was apparent that she had a tumor consistent with mammary adenocarcinoma (basically canine breast cancer). Lucy was an intact female, meaning she had never been spayed. Intact female dogs are at 90% higher risk of developing mammary cancer than those that are spayed before their first heat. It was also apparent that Lucy’s spirit had not been broken by her condition. The only time this sweet pup stopped wagging her tail was when she was sleeping and during the two hour surgery to remove the tumor. The mass weighed in at three pounds, one of the largest mammary masses Dr. McKee has seen at Apple Valley Animal Hospital.
A volunteer from Blue Ridge Humane Society returned to pick up Lucy after her procedure, and we each gave Lucy a hug goodbye and wished her the best in winning over a new family just as she had with us. However, Lucy returned to us one week later for a recheck appointment and the volunteer informed us that at that point, no one had applied to adopt her. This news resonated with Teresa, one of our wonderful veterinary assistants at Apple Valley. She had been thinking about Lucy ever since she left our hospital, and upon hearing that Lucy still had no family to go home to, Teresa immediately started persuading (bribing) her husband to welcome another four-legged child into their family. It must have been an easy sell, because Teresa applied to adopt Lucy within 24 hours!
Lucy is now living a happy, comfortable life with Teresa and her husband. Many people would question Teresa’s decision to adopt an older dog who has been diagnosed with cancer, but Teresa didn’t think twice. She knew that though Lucy might not have as many days left as the puppy in the cage next to her at the Humane Society, she had just as much love to give and deserved to be shown the compassion of living the rest of her life in a comfortable, loving home. Lucy still comes in to visit us at the clinic from time to time with that same goofy grin on her face and tail wagging nonstop, leaving every person smiling in her wake.
Lucy’s story helps us remember the benefits of spaying your pet at a young age, including preventing unwanted pregnancies, eliminating the risk of uterine infections, and dramatically reducing the risk of breast and ovarian cancer. For more information on our spaying and neutering services, please call us or visit our website at avvets.com.
For more information on the generous work done by Blue Ridge Humane Society, check out their website at blueridgehumane.org.
Imagine that you haven’t brushed your teeth in months…. ugh.
The same natural processes that cause us to need routine dental care are also at work in our pets. Our doctors see tartar buildup, tooth damage, and periodontal diseases every day. They are the most common, and also the most preventable medical conditions seen by vets. Periodontal diseases cause pain, oral infections, and a decline in general health. From the mouth, these bacteria can also enter the blood stream, traveling to various organs throughout your pets body, and cause liver, kidney, or heart disease. Proper dental care adds an average of TWO YEARS to a pet’s life!
There are many different specially formulated food, treats, and toys to help keep your furry friend’s teeth clean. Some of our favorites are Hills Prescription Diet T/D, and Tartar Shield Rawhide Chews (both available at our office!). Even the old fashioned method of just brushing your pets teeth can make a huge impact when done regularly.
Don’t ignore the warning signs…
-Loose, Discolored Teeth, or Teeth Covered in Tartar
-Discomfort in/around the Mouth
-Bleeding from the Mouth
-Loss of appetite, No Interest in Food
If you have any concerns, call our office to set your pet up for a free dental exam!
Don’t forget… during the month of February, we are offering 15% OFF DENTAL CLEANINGS!!!