5 (more) tips every cat owner should know

Cats are very independent and at times they may seem indestructible. But the truth is, they are just as fragile as any other pet. Many conditions require a surgeon to fix things up. Here are 5 more tips to help your cat avoid visiting your favorite vet or surgeon.

 

6. Mass removal

When skin masses are allowed to grow, they may become so large that an amputation is the only option. It stands to reason that a small mass requires a much less invasive surgery than a large mass, so don’t procrastinate.

7. Avoid fights

Cats are more fragile than they look. They can get into a fight with a housemate — canine or feline — causing extensive damage. Bites, although they may seem minimal on the outside, can go very deep and cause serious internal damage. Solutions include feeding your pets in different locations or at different times. Again, please keep your kitty indoors.

8. Recognize pain and suffering

Most cats are very stoic. They may hide, or move less, or stop eating. It can be very difficult, but is very important to recognize when they are suffering. Don’t procrastinate, seek help as soon as you notice something abnormal.

9. Get pet insurance

Pet insurance can make all of the difference in your cat’s life. If you cannot afford thousands of dollars in emergency or medical care, please consider getting pet insurance. And do your homework, as there are some really bad and really good companies out there.

10. Know thy enemy

Anesthesia is not the enemy. Surgery is not the enemy. Your cat’s condition is the enemy. We are here to help you choose the best weapon to fight the enemy.

Phil Zeltzman, DVM, DACVS, CVJ, Fear Free Certified

 

5 tips every cat owner should know

Cats are very independent and at times they may seem indestructible. But the truth is, they are just as fragile as any other pet. Many conditions require a surgeon to fix things up. Here are 5 tips to help your cat avoid visiting your favorite vet or surgeon.

 

 

1. Keep your cat indoors

Some cat owners are offended when I suggest that they keep a cat indoors (usually after I repair a broken bone). “But he enjoys the great outdoors! It would be cruel to lock him up!” they say. I understand the concern, but sadly we live in a world that is not designed to keep our cats safe. Keeping your cat indoors can prevent many injuries that would require surgical repair. These include getting hit by a car, breaking bones or getting into a fight with a variety of animals (wild or domestic).

2. Spay or neuter

Spaying females prior to their first heat cycle can almost eliminate the risk of breast cancer and does eliminate the risk of a deadly infection of the uterus, called pyometra. Neutering males reduces the level of male hormones, making your male cat less likely to run away, mark his territory and get into fights.

3. Kitty proof

Kitty proofing is easier said than done – yet critical. Any cat lover knows that cats can get in, on and around just about anything. But you can lessen the risk of trouble by keeping potential problems away. Lock up all strings, ribbons and sewing supplies to avoid the risk of swallowing deadly “linear foreign bodies.” Clean up small toys, especially if you have young children! Hair ties are a classic culprit!

Block off windows, balconies and lofts to lessen the risk of falling. Sadly, cats don’t always land on their feet.

4. Proper nutrition

Proper nutrition can prevent bladder stones or urinary blockage, which can be life-threatening in male cats. Many popular diets with creative names do not have appropriate or any research behind them.

It’s actually a joke among vets! The marketing is brilliant, the TV commercials are convincing, but the science is often lacking.

The best way to be sure your cat is on the right diet is to ask your family vet.

5. Weight control

I currently have a patient with a torn Achilles tendon in the ankle. He weighs 24 lbs!

Overweight and obese cats can have countless health problems. The extra weight can cause wear and tear on joints, ligaments and tendons. It has also been linked to urinary blockage, which may require surgery.

Phil Zeltzman, DVM, DACVS, CVJ, Fear Free Certified

 

5 (more) things every dog owner should know

In addition to our previous tips, here are a few more tips pet owners should be aware of, to keep their pets happy and healthy.

 

 

 

 

6. Follow discharge instructions

Discharge instructions are made to be followed.

We know that wearing a plastic cone for 2 weeks is no fun. But neither is an infection. Or worse, a second surgery to stitch up an incision that was opened!

We know that being stuck in a small room or a crate for 4 to 8 weeks is boring. If there were an easier way to do things, we would tell you! So please follow discharge instructions, all of them, all of the time.

7. Get pet insurance

Pet insurance can make all of the difference in your dog’s life. If you cannot afford thousands of dollars in emergency or medical care, please consider getting pet insurance. And do your homework, as there are some really bad and really good companies out there.

8. Know thy enemy

Anesthesia is not the enemy. Surgery is not the enemy. Your dog’s condition is the enemy. We are here to help you choose the best weapon to fight the enemy.

9. Prevention is a critical part of dog medicine

Every year, countless dogs die because they did not receive basic, effective, affordable preventive care. All dogs should receive an annual exam, all vaccines recommended by your vet or required by law in your State and preventive medications against fleas, ticks and heartworms year round.

10. Don’t inadvertently starve your dog

Cutting a dog’s food (or worse, a cat’s) in half can have serious negative consequences.

When you realize it’s time for your dog to lose weight, be sure to create a safe plan with your family vet.

We would rather have you trust us, and feed a diet that was made specifically for weight loss. It will have fewer calories, may have more fiber to fill the stomach, or may trick your dog’s brain into thinking that he or she is not hungry anymore.

Yet it will have all of the nutrients and vitamins required.

At the very least let’s review the diet together.

Phil Zeltzman, DVM, DACVS, CVJ, Fear Free Certified

 

5 things every dog owner should know

We know you love your dog, and we know you want what’s best for your dog. But many dog owners are under dangerous misunderstandings that concern me as a veterinarian, and my wonderful technicians. Speaking candidly, here are 5 things we do our best to tell every client.

I hope that these points will help more dog owners better understand their dog and their veterinarian.

 

1. Recognize pain and suffering

Most dogs are extraordinarily stoic. It can be extremely difficult, but is very important to recognize when dogs are suffering. If they are limping, they hurt. If they are vomiting, something is wrong. If they have difficulty breathing, they may be, in fact, suffocating, and it’s terrifying for them. Seek help immediately.

2. Denial about weight can be deadly

If you have to use words such as “solid,” “big boned” or “fluffy,” chances are your dog is overweight or obese. It takes years off of their lives, it makes anesthesia riskier and it makes recovery from surgery more difficult. Love your dogs in a way that makes them healthy and happy: hugs, petting, playing, brushing, various interactions and walks are all calorie-free forms of love your dog craves!

3. Know whom to trust

As the saying goes, “You are what you eat,” so choosing the correct dog food is a big deal. Please talk to your vet when picking food. Feeding the wrong food for your pet can lead to obesity, bladder stones and a poor hair coat. In addition, given the regular pet food recalls, choosing a reputable brand is very important. The composition of pet food should be based on scientific research, not slick marketing.

4. Never assume

We sometimes need to run lab work to find out what is going on with your dog. Yes, that fee is going to be in addition to the exam fee, but these tests are best for the health of your dogs. These diagnostics are our X-ray glasses to understand your dog’s condition, and without them we might be blind. This is really no different than in human medicine.

5. Spay or neuter your dog

Spaying a female before the first heat cycle virtually eliminates the risk of breast cancer. Spaying also totally prevents pyometra, a deadly uterine infection.

Neutering prevents testicular cancer and almost eliminates prostate conditions. Beyond those medical reasons, spayed or neutered pets are less likely to run away and get hit by a car. They also have a lower incidence of behavior problems.

Phil Zeltzman, DVM, DACVS, CVJ, Fear Free Certified

 

You did cosmetic surgery on your dog’s WHAT???

Piper, a 6 year old Labrador, had battled bladder infections for her entire life. They cleared up with antibiotics, but kept coming back.

Her family vet at South Mountain Veterinary Hospital (www.southmountainvethospital.com) diagnosed what is called a redundant vulvar fold, which is an extra fold of skin covering her vulva. It is also called “recessed vulva” or “vulvar fold dermatitis”. This is a fairly common condition, especially in overweight dogs, and many go un-diagnosed for years.

How can a skin fold cause bladder infections?

The extra skin fold creates a deep pocket that traps urine. In turn, this pocket creates a warm, moist and dark environment, which is perfect for bacteria to multiply. This causes ongoing infections and sometimes a foul odor. Here is a picture of Piper’s back end before surgery: you can’t see her vulva at all.

Signs of bladder infections may include licking of the vulva, scooting of the back end, bloody urine and “accidents” in the house. Other conditions may cause similar signs, so your family vet should eliminate other problems, such as bladder stones and even bladder cancer.

How can we fix this annoying condition?

  1. The Band-Aid approach is the “medical” treatment. We only treat the symptoms by wiping the area and prescribing antibiotics. This does not treat the cause, so it often frustrating because the infection is likely to come back.
  2. The ideal treatment is surgery. It’s basically plastic surgery on a dog’s vulva! Surgery involves removing the extra skin to provide better ventilation of the vulva.

This reconstructive surgery is called a vulvoplasty or an episioplasty. The main difficulty of the surgery is to remove exactly the right amount of skin: not too much and not too little. Here is a picture of Piper’s back end after surgery.

Recovery generally takes 3 weeks. I don’t use external skin sutures, so there are no stitches to remove in this sensitive area… All stitches are internal and eventually dissolve. An E collar (plastic cone) is worn for the full 3 weeks to prevent licking and to protect the incision.

Overall, this is a common yet frustrating condition. Fortunately, surgery is typically very successful and pet owners are usually very happy with the end result… as well as their dogs!