Our pet’s food can be more than a source of energy for our pet; it can influence weight as well as overall health. Just like us, our pet should have a well-balanced diet. A well-balanced diet includes a combination of protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, and water. Meat is a typical protein source, building muscle and promoting growth. Carbohydrates, the grains, are the source of quick energy. Oils make up the fat and provide stored energy. Vitamins and Minerals are necessary for body function and are specifically added.
The ingredient list will specify which source of protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals are in your pet’s diet. However, verbiage and unfamiliar products can make the ingredient list look like a foreign language. Here are some helpful tips:
· The ingredients are listed in order by weight and should be listed by their common names. This can be deceiving when a meat product is the first listed ingredient as this will include the water weight. Meat meal may be seen listed first followed by many types of carbohydrates, like barley, sorghum, wheat. By breaking up the carbohydrate group, the manufacturer strategically seats the meat product at the top of the ingredient list because each portion weighs less than the total meat meal.
· “Meal”- meal is the dried product of an ingredient. Contrary to belief, it’s beneficial because the nutrients are more concentrated since the product has already had water removed.
· “By-product”- the scary word! By product does not always mean it is the ground up “leftovers” of a carcass. By-product can be organs or a cut of meat not specifically sold for human consumption. The bag may not specify which by-product but if you call the manufacturer they can tell you what by-products are used.
Choosing the right diet for your pet can be difficult because there are so many options and multiple variables that persuade us to choose a diet. Here are a few guidelines to help you decide on the right food for your pet.
1. Read the AAFCO statement- This statement can be found near the ingredient list. The Association of American Feed Control Officials developed two strategies to qualify a product as balanced and complete. The food must either pass a food trial or meet one of two nutrient profiles. The two food profiles are reproduction & growth, and adult life stage. There are many diets that are formulated for all life stages. All life stages diets must meet the requirement for the highest stage of nutritional need: the reproductive stage. Most adult and senior pets do not require the same nutritional standards as those lactating or growing. Instead, a reputable senior diet will be labeled for adult life stage. We recommend choosing a product that is labeled appropriately for your pet’s life stage and better yet, choose a diet that also has passed a food trial!
2. Choose a diet for your pet’s needs- there are many foods that target a specific benefit to your pet: Dental, kidney, allergen, or urinary care lines. Your pet may need to avoid specific diets or ingredients. High protein diets are popular but are not always beneficial, especially to senior pets as the excess protein is not easily digested and can be hard on liver and kidneys. Your veterinarian may recommend a particular diet to benefit your pet. There are multiple veterinary brands so be sure to discuss your options.
3. Buy within your price range- unless your pet develops a condition that requires a diet change, your pet will eat the same food until it grows into the next life stage. Changing diets can cause upset stomachs so transitioning should be done over a week period to avoid diarrhea. Make it easy on yourself, choose a product that works within your budget. Also, the saying “you get what you pay for” is no longer necessarily true. Some pet food companies spend more on marketing than they do on research.
4. Be sure you choose a food that is manageable for your lifestyle. Raw food diets should be carefully thought out before committing to. We do not recommend a raw food diet for households with children as Salmonella and E-coli can be transmitted from feces. However, there are precautions that can be adapted to your daily lifestyle to safely feed a raw food diet should you choose.
With so many pet food products out there, you are sure to find a healthy diet that suits your preference.
We love our pets and want them to keep them happy and healthy! Although we are with them daily, it can be hard to tell when our pets are in pain. Cats are especially good a disguising their pain. Pain can be caused by many factors such as arthritis, urinary issues, dental problems, and following a surgical procedure. Each pet will display pain differently but it is important for us, as pet owners, to know our pet’s habits and identify when changes occur. The sooner the pet’s suffering is addressed, the quicker the issue can be treated and resolved.
Some symptoms may be displayed in the following ways:
Vocalizing: meowing, hissing, growling, even purring
Expression: vacant stare, enlarged pupils, flattened ears
Posture: arches back, lays with feet underneath, protecting limb, limping
Behavior: acting out of character: aggression with a typically friendly cat
Activity: hiding, decreased appetite, failure to use litterbox, won’t
Vocalizing: whining, howling, yelping, groaning
Expression: glazed eyes, panting at rest, vacant stare
Posture: hunched, laying on side, hiding, protecting limb, limping
Behavior: acting out of character, restless, reluctant to move
Activity: decreased appetite, change in sleeping habits, less active
Vocalizing: whinnying, grunting, groaning
Expression: glazed eyes, flattened ears, wrinkled nose
Posture: low head, kicking at belly, “parked out”
Behavior: restless, reluctant to move, swishing tail
Activity: decreased appetite, less active, lameness
If you notice symptoms of pain, consult your veterinarian. We use a pain scale to determine each pet’s pain level. The scale is rated 0-4 based on behavior, response to palpation, and body tension. Based on the pet’s pain level, the doctor may make recommendations for a course of action. Treatment can vary from a prescription medication, acupuncture, or oral and injectable supplements. Different types of pain require different treatments, sometimes multiple treatments in coordination. Never administer medication or change the dosage of a current prescription unless directed by your veterinarian.
We are seeing an increased number of kennel cough cases around Gallatin Valley. “Kennel Cough” is a highly contagious respiratory infection that can be contracted through the air or nose-to-nose contact with another infected dog. Although dogs cannot get it from the air, the viruses or bacteria can stick on surfaces like fences, water bowls, fire hydrants, and other communal areas. Summer is a prime time for an outbreak as many of us are more social and active.
Symptoms to look for:
Symptoms can begin 2-14 days after exposure and last 1-2 weeks. An infected dog may shed the infection for up to a month after being treated.
Common places dogs can contract kennel cough:
If you notice your dog is showing symptoms of kennel cough, contact your veterinarian. Do not let your dog participate in socialization or have access to other dogs until recovered. The Bordatella vaccination can help to minimize infection, however there is no way to completely prevent the chance that your dog will contract kennel cough. Kennel Cough can be caused by 10 different viruses or bacteria and only 4 viruses can be vaccinated against. Therefore, a fully vaccinated dog can still contract it. The best form of prevention is to vaccinate directly prior to potential kennel cough environments.
If you have any questions or concerns about kennel cough and your dog, do not hesitate to call the office at 406-586-4919.
April 9-15 is Dog Bite Prevention Week
We all love dogs and consider them to be members of the family. But it is important to recognize that any dog, put in the wrong situation, has the potential to bite.
In the United State there are over 70 million dogs living with families. Each year there are 4.5 million people bitten by a dog. Of these, 800,000 dog bites require medical attention, with over half of these cases being children.
Every dog owner has the responsibility to properly socialize their dog when they are a puppy to maximize their exposure to a variety of situations, people, other pets and environments. This is crucial to having a well-adjusted dog that is not likely to bite. The majority of a puppy’s learning of social skills is in the first 12 weeks of life; so starting young is key!
Most dog bites occur in the home and with a familiar dog. And many dog bites occur in children who are unable to recognize behavioral cues. Below are some simple things to keep in mind to help prevent dog bites, especially in young children.
• Do not approach unfamiliar dogs, and teach children that if approached by a dog they do not know, “be a tree.” This means plant your feet – running away from a dog may cause it to chase.
• Always use a gentle touch – do not hit or climb on a dog and do not pull on tails and ears.
• When greeting a dog, allow it to sniff a hand first. Avoid petting the dog on the top of the head, standing over the dog and approaching it from above can feel threatening.
• If a dog is sleeping or eating, give it space. A dog should not be disturbed during either of these activities.
• Make sure dogs (and all pets) have a safe, comfortable place to get away from the action and commotion of a family.
• Teach children that if a dog is trying to get away or displaying behaviors indicating that it may be either avoiding the attention or anxious from it (such as looking away, yawning, licking lips), they need to give it space.
• Do not punish a dog that gives a child a growl. A growl is a warning that a bite is next, so instead of punishing the growl, appreciate that the dog has given a fair warning and decide what you need to do to make a safe environment.
• Commit to socializing your dog and learning how to read the dog’s body language and behavioral cues.
For more information on dog bite prevention, visit the website of the American Veterinary Medical Association (avma.org) or the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (aspca.org).
Clover is an 8 year-old female lab-pointer mix Dr. Shari Bearrow adopted when she was 12 weeks old. She is a high-energy dog and loves to run and run and run! She goes with her family hiking, skiing and mountain biking. She has never had any chronic health problems.
One day when petting her a 1” soft lump was noticed on her left elbow. Labs and Lab mixes commonly get “fatty” lumps on their bodies as they get older. But luckily having a Veterinarian Mom, she knew “fatty lumps” uncommonly occur on the legs. So why wait, aspirate! A fine needle aspiration involves aspirating cells and placing them on a microscope. The cells were suggestive of a type of cancer called a soft-tissue sarcoma.
This is a cancer from connective tissue that can send out microscopic threads from the primary tumor and require an aggressive surgery to remove. She was signed up with Dr. Karyn to have her mass removed. Dr. Karyn was as aggressive as possible considering the elbow area does not have much extra skin or fat.
The histopathology (analysis of the mass) confirmed the lump was a soft-tissue sarcoma. But unfortunately, the margins of the tumor were not “clean”, meaning there were tumor cells along the surgical border of the tumor. The term for this is “dirty margins”. Due to the behavior of soft-tissue sarcomas, recurrence of the tumor is very likely. The only way to “cure” her of this would be to amputate her leg. Being such an active dog, her family wanted to avoid this option. Dr. Shari consulted with a Veterinary Oncologist at Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Radiation therapy for these tumors tend to be very successful. On average, 90% of dogs who underwent radiation treatment after surgery had no tumor recurrence 5 years later. The Bearrow family packed up for the 7 hour drive to Pullman Washington to drop off Clover. She stayed at WSU for 3 and ½ weeks and underwent 18 radiation sessions. Each session involved general anesthesia.
She did fabulous with her treatments but her absence was probably harder on her family instead of her! Dr. Shari drove back out to Pullman to pick her up and she was ready to run! Unfortunately, a side effect of radiation is a “radiation burn”. These are not true burns, but are due to skin damage from the radiation, which can be as painful as a burn.
She tried very hard to lick at the wounds, so she lived in an e-collar 24/7 for 3 weeks. 2-3 times daily her wound was cleaned with a wet cloth and Aquaphor gel was applied to soothe the area. The affected area got worse before it got better.
But eventually after 3 weeks her wound healed. Now 6 months later she is starting to regrow her fur, but it is re-growing gray (which is common after radiation).
She is back to her full activity level and loving life. Not all dogs are lucky enough to receive full cancer treatment. The cost of surgery, radiation and post-op care can cost $3,000 to $4,000! The Bearrow’s are so happy to have a cancer free dog with 4 legs and years of adventure ahead of her.
The only way to tell if a lump is cancerous is to aspirate or biopsy it. Feeling a lump is not a diagnostic test! Fine needles aspiration is a low-cost test that can be done in awake dogs with minimal to no pain and is usually diagnostic. Why wait, aspirate!
Meet Roz Kirk. Roz had been attacked by two dogs in September. He suffered severe injuries to on the abdominal inguinal skin and muscle. When Roz came to us in October, he was dehydrated, not eating and had developed pressure sores from the bandaging. Along with the massive wounds, Roz had contracted a Pseudomonas infection, a bacterium that is often resistant to many antibiotics. He was hospitalized to monitor hydration, eating and licking of the wounds before performing surgery later on in the week.
During the surgery, the dead and damaged skin was removed and the wounds were closed. He was hospitalized for a few more days to monitor licking and get the infection under control. For the next couple of weeks, Roz visited us twice a week to ensure proper healing, repair and appetite increase. Roz;s family was very creative in fitting him with various shirts to cover the healing wounds. With his family’s dedication, by December Roz had healed and kicked the infection. Amazingly, Roz was always a cooperative patient and we all fell in love with him.