We had a pretty good summer, with few cases of this contagious cough, but definitely saw our share at the end of the summer! So what is Kennel Cough?
Kennel cough is an infectious bronchitis of dogs characterized by a harsh, hacking cough that most people describe as sounding like “something stuck in their throat.” Most cases are mild and short-term and require no treatment. But if your dog is coughing enough to be waking up, is restless, off food, lethargic or has discharge from their eyes or nose, then a vet visit is in order!
Lots of different organisms, viral and bacterial, cause kennel cough, which is why vaccines are not completely effective at preventing it, although they often shorten the course and the severity of the infection. This is also why vets do not routinely prescribe antibiotics for all cases; it depends on severity of the cough, and the degree to which they suspect a bacterial component. Puppies in particular are at risk for this disease, and are more prone to possible complications (including pneumonia and bronchitis), so need to be monitored closely.
A typical course is 7 to 10 days of coughing, but the dog may be contagious for up to 2 months. We ask that you avoid dog-dog contact during that time. If your dog's condition worsens at all, please contact the vet again. This includes going off food, seeming lethargic (lacking energy), being restless overnight or troubles breathing.
We live in a region with a rich Indigenous history and feel it is imperative for our community to come together and foster respectful collaboration with our local nations and across the country. We will be closed September 30th in recognition of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
Our feature topic this month as people get ready to return to work/school, is crate training!
Many pets are fearful of car rides and kennels, which makes it harder for us to give them good medical care. With a little preparation and patience, you can greatly improve your cat or dog's comfort level and our ability to care for them! A pet comfortable with their kennel is more relaxed when hospitalized, and they are less likely to be ruining your furniture while you're out too!
1. Start carrier training as young as possible (but it’s never too late). Starting as kittens or puppies teaches your pet that the carrier is just another fun hiding place, or play area, rather than a confined punishment space. Carriers that load from the top or especially those that come apart in the middle are helpful, as veterinarians can then take the top off and start their examination with the pet comfortably sitting in the bottom. Put the carrier in a room that the pet likes to be in, perhaps in a sunny location, with a soft piece of bedding to encourage exploration and voluntary use.
2. Add toys, treats or bedding into the carrier. If your pet has favorite toys, treats, bedding, or brushes, please bring them to the clinic when you visit (for training visits and the actual exam).
3. Encourage daily entry. Every day, put a piece of kibble or a treat in the carrier. When the pet eats it, calmly praise/pet it and give it a few more treats. If the pet doesn't take the treat right away, just walk away; if you try to persuade them, they will become suspicious! It may take a few days, but the pet should start to eat the treats, although maybe when you are not watching.
3. Gradually close the door. Once the pet happily goes into the carrier when you are around, gently close the door, give a treat, and open the door so that they do not feel trapped.
4. Extend the door-closure period. After several days of this, leave the door closed and walk out of the room for a few seconds before returning and giving another treat. Gradually work up to carrying the carrier to a different place in the house.
5. Begin car rides. If you plan to travel with the kennel, move on to placing the carrier in the car, then to short car rides, then a ride to our veterinary clinic for a treat (and love from our staff if your pet is comfortable with it). If at any point your pet becomes nervous (crouching, ears back, refusing treats etc.), go back a step and give treats until your pet is more comfortable with that level.
6. Cover the carrier when traveling. When you start taking the carrier in the car, place a towel over it; cats usually feel safer this way.
7. Consider using Feliway® or Adaptil® (pheromonal anti-anxiety spray) just before traveling. When the time for the examination arrives, the routine will be familiar and your pet will be much more comfortable. With especially nervous or suspicious cats, Feliway® can help with the initial training period as well.
8. Don’t put it away. Even when you don't need the kennel on a daily basis, leave the kennel out as a safe hide, with their fuzzy blankets, toys, treats, and even a warm beanbag or similar. The goal is to have the carrier familiar, friendly, and happy!
Just a quick mention that we're doing inventory July 13th for the morning. We'll be back at 1:30pm. We're here to answer phones!
Although we've talked about arthritis before, this time let's talk about our feline friends!
First, we need to realize that cats don't show pain the same was as a human or a dog! We often have people ask about their pet slowing down on walks or struggling up stairs, but the fact that their cat has stopped climbing to the top of the cat tree or now pulls themselves up instead of jumping cleanly goes unnoticed! 40% of cats over 7 years of age has arthritis and 90% of cats over 12 years of age have arthritis. Common locations are elbows and hips!
Here's a fun interactive tool to explore looking for arthritis in your cat! In a nutshell, a change in behaviour is your flag. We've got a bigger list below but some examples include:
This is particularly the case if they injured a joint previously or had an abnormal joint to start with. There are many things you can do as an owner to help your cat continue to live an active, happy, pain free life despite this condition. While many of these overlap with dogs, here is the feline version including a NEW therapy just for our felines!
1. Weight control.
It's hard, but a lot of our cats (especially indoor ones) are overweight. The weight makes arthritis more painful and speeds along the development of more arthritis. If your pet is overweight, please talk to the veterinary team about organizing a plan for controlled weight loss (and check out the section HERE). Cats, however, don't burn fat well. Thisis why we have to very careful with dieting cats. If they try to use their fat, they can end up dumping it into the liver and causing life-threatening liver disease. We want SLOW weight loss in our cats, achieved with a combination of increased movement and lower calories. Your vet is the best resource for creating a weight loss plan that is safe and effective.
Adjust your environment. Give them a step up to the bed. Get a low-sided litter box or cut the edge down for ease of access. Move their favourite bed down. Use gentle play to get them moving without it being a strain. Jumping is hard on joints!
Many supplements can reduce inflammation in the joint AND reduce the amount of medications required to maintain an already painful condition. Quality-controlled products from reputable sellers provide peace of mind that the label is accurate and the product consistent.
Glucosamine alone has little effect; its success is improved by being mixed with chondroitin. Additional remedies, such as Devil's Claw, also reduce the pain of arthritis. Because Devil's Claw works faster than most supplements (having some effect within 2 weeks, instead of 6 weeks such as glucosamine and chondroitin alone), we recommend Flexadin supplements.
Omega 3 fatty acids (aka fish oils) are one of our favourites (and the cats love them too!) We are looking for 66 mg/kg dose of EPA or DHA fatty acids. If the bottle doesn't show the breakdown of the fatty acids, find one that does. You'll need a liquid for dosing cats! These take weeks to months to show benefits, so don’t give up too early. That said, they do not work for every patient; studies show anywhere from 50% to 75% of cases respond, even at correct doses.
Other supplements that have been found to help include Green-lipped mussels, CBD, and turmeric, but remember that no one controls quality of supplements and little is known about dosing. Please discuss any product with your vet; they will be able to advise you about amounts and risks.
Cartrophen Vet (sodium pentosan polysulfate) is an injectable treatment for arthritis that promotes healing of joints and reduces inflammation. It is given as a subcutaneous (under the skin) injection once weekly for 4 weeks, then monthly. Often owners can learn to do them on their own at home, although we're also happy to help those who are more shy of needles! See this LINK for more information. We love this for our cats with allergies that limit oral supplements. It is also super safe even with advanced kidney disease and only has to be given once a month. it used to be our only monthly option. That has changed (see below)
4. NEW Solensia
Modern medicine has come up with a unique approach to chronic diseases, the strategy first seen in the revolutionary injection 'Cytopoint' which blocks the itch of allergies but was NOT available cats. This is the first feline version of the technology. In short, Solensia is an inject that contains an antibody, not a drug. The antibody is cat-specific and blocks the nerve growth hormone that goes up in response to arthritic pain. The response has been amazing; the pain reduces. And because it's an antibody, it's broken down with the natural antibodies over time, leaving no strain on the organs. It lasts about 1 month from one shot and kicks in with 6 days. It's a huge advancement in safe arthritis management!
5. Pain medications
We often have to use medications for pain relief periodically or chronically. Common medications include NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories) are used cautiously in cats because they are processed by the kidneys and cats have a pendchant for kidney disease as they age. We also use gabapentin or opioids like buprenorphine as things worsen. We aim to reach the lowest effective dose but please remember: do not increase the amount or frequency of medications without consulting us. We are more likely to add other modalities than increase the dose of a given medication because of dangerous side effects.
Talk to us as your cat gets older and their behaviours change. We're here to help them age gracefully and comfortably!
To encourage people to make use of the NEW Online store, we've got FREE shipping NOW for orders over $50. Or if you'd rather, order online and have it delivered to us for pickup! Sorry; Sooke Vet clients only. Click below to get your account started today! This is a limited time offer!
As things settle a bit around here, some people are keen to get moving again! Here are a few things to think about before you head out!
If you're leaving your pet behind:
1. Please ensure you have enough food and medications for the duration of your absence, plus some. Sometimes pet sitters don't follow precisely the same routine, and you don't want to run out!
2. Ensure your pet sitter or kennel/cattery has all the information they need, like your pets' vet name and number, your contact information, any wishes you have regarding their care, your pets' diets, and a list of all current medications.
3. Let your vet know you're traveling without your pet and who will be in charge. This also gives you a chance to discuss any wishes you have about potential treatment, vital for senior pets in particular. We are not legally allowed to treat your pet without your permission, so we need to know if you've assigned someone to act on your behalf. We don't want to be scrambling to reach you!
If you're bringing your pet with you:
1. Check out not just your destination but all the stops along the way, and find out the requirements. Check with your airlines before providing travel medications; some won't fly sedated animals. Some campgrounds require bordetella vaccinations. Crossing into the States (and getting back into Canada!) require rabies vaccinations. International travel will need at LEAST a health certificate, but often much more, including a microchip! No one wants a trip derailed by a surprise requirement! Check out the CFIA website for international information, and talk to us about the timing for these treatments well in advance.
2. If your animal has to be kennelled for some of the trip, get them comfortable with the kennel now! Check out this page about kennel training and start early! (Honestly, being kennel trained is excellent for surprise travel needs, moving, and vet visits, so worth a look!)
3. Call a "local" vet. If you can, call a vet local to your destination and ask them about some of these diseases and whether they advocate for protection in their area. We're so lucky on Vancouver Island that we don't see some of these, but when traveling, your pet might be at risk. We can also guide you for some regions, but local knowledge is beneficial!
Some issues abroad: Leptospirosis, Heartworm, Leishmania, Tick-borne diseases, Intestinal parasites
4. Make sure your pet is protected against Heartworm and Ticks, if at ALL applicable (and in most of North America, they are!) These are easy to prevent with monthly anti-parasiticides! Ticks can carry many diseases, which can be deadly if left untreated. Heartworm treatment is sometimes dangerous, but a significant infection can cause heart failure and death. Prevention truly is so much better than treatment in these cases!
So wherever your travels take you (with or without your pet), please include them in your plans! And remember, we're here to help! Have a great time!
We love our pets and one of the things we get to do to show our affection is to feed them. They meet us for meals, or do tricks for treats, or chomp for chews!
But is your beloved pet getting too wide? Being overweight is a common condition we face as veterinarians. So how can you tell?
You score your pet.
Due to the huge variation within breeds, let alone across the species, it is impractical to simply assign a desired weight to any given cat or dog based on just its breed. Instead, veterinarians will use the 'Body Condition Score' (BCS) to explain if the pet is very thin, underweight, ideal, overweight, or obese. These exist in scales of 5 or 9. They aare done with 3 easy steps. Get hands on; a furry coat can trick us!
How to Body Condition Score
Step 1. Feel for the ribs
Place your hand on the side of your pet's rib cage. If you can feel, without pressure, individual ribs under your hand already, you pet is probably too skinny. Now move your hand back and forth along the ribs, still without pushing (think of ruffling a kid's hair). Can you feel the ribs now? If you can and they feel 'like a box of pencils' then you're perfect and go to step 2. If you can't feel them, push a bit until you can find them. Everything you pushed through is fat, and there should be very little of it over the ribs.
Step 2. Check the waistline.
Place your hands on either side of your pet's chest, while standing above or behind them. Bring your hands symmetrically towards their tail. Your hands should noticeably come closer together as they pass from the chest to the abdomen. All dogs (even bully breeds) should have a waistline, although some are less dramatic than others. All cats should have one too along the spine (not down near the belly though; some of them have extra skin there). If the pet is straight from shoulder to hip with no 'tuck', then they have too much fat!
Step 3. Check the belly.
While your pet is standing, place your hand on the lowest part of the chest underneath and run it towards the back end. Your hand should travel up as you reach the abdominal 'tuck'. This is usually the last spot to 'lose' as the pet becomes overweight so a flat belly (no tuck) is a strong sign your pet is overweight. However, remember that cats can hold extra skin dangling down there so don't count that! DO count the fat under the skin though.
Now that you can assess your pet, check out the chart and decide where they fall. If 2.5-3, you're good! If higher, keep reading
5 tips to Trim their Tummies!
1. Play the pounds away
We'd all like to do more walking, and that can help too, but often we're already do as much as we can consistently schedule into our lives. So add in searching games. Hide dinner around the house or toss it into the yard. Use a Kong or other feeding toy. Cut holes in a box and invite them to toss it around to get the food to fall out. Even chasing tossed a kibbles down the hall burns fat.
2. Switch it around
Vegetables make great treats instead of cookies. Try limited amounts of broccoli, peppers or green beans. Small amounts of apple or carrot can replace a dog cookie. Please remember: no grapes or raisins! Alternatively, use the kibble itself; set the dinner meal on the counter and pull each 'treat' from the bowl through the day. Whatever is left becomes dinner. They get their 'treat' and you control the calories.
3. Size does not matter
To a pooch, a treat is a treat. The size isn't important. So break that treat, whatever it may be, into smaller fragments and give a fragment instead. Save the others for the next treat, or the next day.
4. Cutting back Calories
That may mean a new brand, but weight loss diets may not be as good as they look; often they are as little as 5% different from their 'full fat' version. But you can also consider swapping to a canned food (so long as the 'per feeding' calorie intake is less and you take care of their teeth). You can also reduce the portion of the food being given. If they notice the volume change, soak the food to increase the volume (but don't forget their teeth like to chew, so check out our links about dental health!)
5. Let them guide you
The feeding guidelines on the side of the bag are just that; guidelines. Many pets need less than the recommendations. If your pet is padded, adjust the calories down until they are lovely and lean. If summer adventures lower their weight, increase the calories until they are back to their ideal weight. Just remember to bring those calories back down when winter inactivity starts. Let their weight, energy and needs guide you.
Leaner pets live up to 2 years longer than their chubbier counterparts and experience fewer health problems. Act now; use these tips to trim their tummies and keep them with you, healthy and happy, for years to come.
Unsure if your pet's weight is perfect yet? Check with your vet. The in-clinic scales are no-charge and the advice from the front desk staff can be priceless!
We wish we were posting to wish a Happy New Year to people, but sadly we've had a huge increase in COVID-19 in Sooke lately, including the Omicron variant that is threatening to take us out of action. In addition to precautions within the practice, we are implementing a temporary "curbside" regime once more.
While there will always be some exceptions for pets that need their people, overall we are reducing contacts by having only the animals enter our building. We want to be here for you and your pets. Please be patient with us as we get your animals the care they need!
1. Please call us from the parking lot upon your arrival so we can direct you.
2. For product pick ups, we will deliver the items to the downstairs door.
3. If you are arriving for an appointment, do not leave a message; call back or knock on the door. Once checked in, a staff member will call back (usually on an outgoing blocked number) to get the information, then will come collect your pet. The veterinarian will contact you via phone again to go over all information and discharge the pet.
4. If exceptions are required (such as euthanasia or extremely nervous pets unsafe without their owners), please minimize the number of people entering. We still require masks in our building for all staff and clients unless medical exemptions apply.
We are working with each individual animal and their owner to ensure our stellar care of the animals is maintained! Please talk to us if you have any questions!