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July is Preventive Care Exam Awareness Month

If you only visit Foley Blvd. Animal Hospital when your pet is injured or sick, you’re missing the opportunity to get a complete picture of her health. The preventive care exam allows Dr. Barr to detect potential health issues and begin monitoring or treating them right away.  By committing to preventive care, you could extend it by months or years. It’s well worth the investment when you consider how much love and joy your pet brings into your life.
 
Our Recommended Schedule for Preventive Care Exams
If your pet is normally healthy and between the ages of 12 months and seven years, an annual exam is usually sufficient. Pets enter middle-age around age seven and their senior years around age 10, so we recommend bi-annual check-ups for pets in this age group. This is when we most often start seeing issues such arthritis, diabetes, and kidney disease. Your puppy or kitten under one year will need to come in several times before his first birthday for routine vaccinations and monitoring.
 
Required vaccines for dogs include canine adenovirus, canine parvovirus, distemper, and rabies. The first shot offers protection for both hepatitis and respiratory disease. Essential vaccines for cats include feline calicivirus, feline panleukopenia, rabies, and rhinotracheitis. Dr. Barr will also discuss several optional vaccines you may want to consider for your pet depending on her species, age, lifestyle, and general health. Unless you plan to breed your dog or cat, we recommend sterilization as soon as possible. We can complete the spay or neuter procedure as early as six months.
 
A Typical Preventive Care Exam
If your pet needs a new vaccine or booster, we will provide it at this appointment. This is also a great time to talk to our staff about any behavioral concerns, parasite prevention, exercise, and diet. We will check your pet for parasites and let you know if we discover any. Our comprehensive preventive care exam also consists of the following:
 
  • Intestinal or stomach problems, which might show up as abnormal stools, diarrhea, or vomiting
  • Unusual urinary discharge or mammary gland issues in females
  • Nasal issues, which might include labored breathing, allergies, asthma, coughing, or sneezing
  • Coat and skin for problems with anal sacs, hair loss, pigment changes, or excessive shedding
  • Teeth and gums for oral health diseases
  • Legs and feet for problems such as torn nails, weakness, limping, or joint pain
  • Eyes and ears for signs of normal vision and hearing as well as absence of unusual discharge
  • We will check your pet's weight at each visit to establish a baseline and let you know if we have any concerns about being overweight or underweight
Our staff will complete further diagnostic testing if we notice any potential issues during your pet’s exam. This may include a blood or urine test, x-ray, stool sample, or whatever is necessary to diagnose the health condition. We will contact you with the results as soon as possible and discuss a treatment plan at that time as well.
 
If it’s been more than a year since your adult pet’s last preventive care exam or six months since your senior pet had an exam, please contact us at 763-755-3595 to schedule an appointment. We will let you know our preferred schedule for puppies and kittens the first time you bring your new pet to see us. 

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Preventing and Treating Hot Spots on Your Dog or Cat

Acute moist dermatitis, more commonly known as hot spots, occurs due to a bacterial infection on your pet’s skin. Your dog or cat will naturally bite, chew, lick or scratch his skin in response to an irritant. Unfortunately for your pet, this tends to increase rather than decrease his discomfort. Anal gland disease, allergies to fleas or food ingredients, mange, tick bites, and inadequate grooming are the primary causes of hot spots in companion animals. 
Hot, humid weather can cause excess skin moisture that in turn causes hot spots to develop. It’s especially important to check your pet’s skin for evidence of hot spots now that the weather is consistently warm.
 
How to Recognize Hot Spots
If your dog or cat has developed hot spots, she will exhibit at least a few of these symptoms
  • Lesion that appears red or raised
  • Unexplained swelling
  • Constant licking or chewing a certain spot of her skin
  • A red or brown color around the hot spot
  • Unpleasant smell coming from the affected area
  • Pus and oozing
  • Displaying obvious signs of discomfort or pain
Preventing and Treating Hot Spots
Keeping your pet’s skin healthy is the easiest way to prevent him from developing hot spots. We recommend using year-round flea and tick protection in addition to grooming his coat regularly. Matted fur traps moisture and can attract fleas, ticks, and other parasites. Occasionally, a pet may have a behavioral issue that causes the biting, scratching, and licking that leads to hot spots. If that’s the case with your pet, speak to one of our doctors to help determine what could be causing the unwanted behavior. We are happy to recommend a specific product to prevent parasites as well.

Treatment at Foley Blvd. Animal Hospital typically consists of clipping the fur around the hot spot and cleaning it with a mild anesthetic. A variety of prescriptions or medications to control itching may be appropriate as well. We encourage you to contact us right away if your pet displays any of the potential signs of hot spots described above. Our telephone number is 763-755-3595.

 

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Safety Tips for a Fun Summer with Your Pet

Your pet is part of the family and you naturally care about her safety. You also want to include her in family activities whenever possible over the carefree days of summer. By keeping the following safety tips in mind, your entire family can have a summer to remember.
 
Swimming Doesn’t Come Naturally to All Dogs
Dog owners can become too relaxed keeping an eye on their dog near water because they assume all dogs possess an innate ability to swim. This simply isn’t true, particularly for dog breeds with small hindquarters and large chests. When bringing your dog to a pool or beach this summer, make sure you’re in the water with him and remain no more than an arm’s length away. If you decide to go boating with your dog, he should have a life jacket just like everyone else in the boat.
 
Parasite Control During the Summer
Internal and external parasites can be a problem all year long, but they’re especially prevalent in the summer. Fleas can survive long periods without a living host and may burrow in your carpet or furniture until one becomes available. Be sure to vacuum your carpet regularly, wash your pet’s bedding in hot water, and give your pet frequent baths during the summer to minimize fleas.
 
Ticks are more than just a nuisance because they can transmit serious or deadly diseases. Since they’re attracted to warm areas on your pet’s body such as the skin folds, they can be difficult to see. Be sure to check your pet’s body from head to tail every night, whether she goes outside or not. Ticks can easily get into the house through another pet or on someone’s clothing.
 
Intestinal worms such as heartworm, roundworm, and hookworm can cause serious illness or death in severe cases. Vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, breathing difficulty, and general lethargy are just some of the indications that your pet could have an intestinal worm. Dr. Barr would be happy to recommend a parasite prevention product based on your pet’s lifestyle factors.
 
Gardening and Lawn Care
If possible, keep your pet indoors when you’re mowing the grass, applying chemicals, or working in the garden. Chocolate mulch is popular among gardeners, but can be toxic to pets if ingested. Insecticides, snail bait, and slug bait are among the top 10 accidental poisonings for domestic pets. If you set rodent traps outdoors, make sure your pet can’t get at them. Some of these chemicals can cause seizures, tremors, and death. You may want to consider an organic alternative for your lawn and garden products.
 
No People Food at Picnics
There’s no shortage of opportunity to cook outside in the summer. Your dog or cat would like nothing better than to find scraps of meat on the ground or even grab whatever is cooking on the grill. Food meant for people can be toxic and a choking hazard while your pet could burn himself on a hot grill. Having a pet underfoot is probably not a good idea at these events. If your pet is present, make sure that all guests know he is not to receive any scraps.
 
In the event of an emergency this summer, please contact our clinic at 763-755-3595. After hours, you may call 763-754-5000.

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April is Heartworm Awareness Month

Dogs and cats get heartworm disease when an infected mosquito bites them. The heartworm then gets inside of their body and can reproduce, which only worsens your pet’s symptoms. The illness is much more prevalent in dogs, but cat owners also need to know about the symptoms so they can prevent and treat it if necessary. Puppies can start on preventive heartworm medication at eight weeks old without any type of testing. At six months of age, a puppy needs to test negative for heartworm infection before a veterinarian can prescribe preventive medication.

Heartworm testing in dogs requires only a simple blood test. Testing is a bit more complicated in cats and requires several blood tests before a veterinarian can make a diagnosis. This testing is typically done at the request of the cat owner when he or she suspects the animal may have contracted heartworm disease.

Previously, it was common practice for pet owners to give preventive heartworm medication from early spring to the first frost of winter. However, the American Heartworm Society now recommends keeping up with treatment all year long. This has the added benefit of killing other parasites that may be inside of the animal.

Signs of Heartworm Infection
Cats and dogs show signs of heartworm infection differently. Because of a cat's smaller body size, it's more likely for heartworm to affect their lungs and make it difficult to breathe. In dogs, heartworms live in the ventricles of the heart and the heart itself. The following are common symptoms of heartworm disease, although some pets show no symptoms at all:

• Lethargy
• Coughing
• Vomiting
• Weight loss
• Fatigue unrelated to exertion
• Loss of appetite

Treatment can be long and painful for an animal infected with heartworm. Fortunately, heartworm disease is almost 100 percent preventable with the proper medication. We encourage you to speak to the staff at Foley Blvd. Animal Hospital for specific recommendations. Your pet's veterinarian takes your pet’s species, age, weight, lifestyle, and several other factors into consideration before recommending one product over another.

Our Heartworm Prevention Products
We offer Sentinel Spectrum, Nexgard, and Bravecto heartworm prevention products at Foley Blvd. Animal Hospital. Our staff is happy to instruct you on how to give each of these medications to your pet.

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