Happy Thanksgiving Week!

I am happy to say that I have a lot to be thankful for…

In fact, most pet lovers can hopefully be grateful as well. We all should be thankful for our pets. A happy furry face after a long day, a wagging tail every time we come home, or a purring, warm body next to us on the couch… pets make us smile and help us close the door on life’s problems for a while. These are little gems pet lovers simply cannot live without. Unconditional love is getting hard to find these days!

There may have been times over the years when you may have lacked the companionship of an animal friend. And it usually feels like there is a small hole in our lives. Hopefully, you currently have at least one pet who, no matter how your day went, is happy to see you and ready to play or cuddle.

Although I’m sure pets (and non-pet lovers) think playing is mostly for their benefit, it is cathartic for us. They help us take our minds off the stresses of life and focus instead on the simplicity of watching a furry ball of energy chase a toy across the room, chomping and squeaking happily on their way back to us, before tirelessly repeating the cycle over and over again. Like it’s the first time ever.

As a surgeon, I’m thankful for being able to fix the various problems my patients have. I’m thankful for the many pet lovers who trust me with the lives of their beloved pets after only talking to me during a consultation. When I perform surgery on a patient, I am thankful that I can improve that life and, indirectly, the lives of their owner and their family.

On a broader scale, I’m thankful for all of the colleagues who refer patients to me and trust me with their care. They trust that I will be able to help them live happy and healthy lives.

In addition, I am thankful for all of the support staff for helping me on a daily basis. Technicians, assistants, receptionists and my wonderful traveling nurses all make my job immensely easier.

I’d be willing to bet that if you polled most people in the animal healthcare field, anyone from veterinarians to technicians, from kennel personnel and rescue groups, would all say that the main reason they do their “job” is for the love of animals. We love what we do.

It’s unfortunately becoming less and less common that someone can truly say they love what they do.

So as the holiday season gets closer, and the pressure of gift-giving, party-planning, and family gatherings rises, remember to take the time to step back and be thankful for that wagging tail or purring whiskery face. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to thank those who help keep them healthy and happy by your side – yet rarely get the recognition they deserve.

Sure, there are good and bad days in the field of veterinary medicine, but the occasional bad day is far outweighed by the good days. The thank-yous received after a successful surgery, the gift baskets, the thank you cards, a happy dog or cat leaving the clinic after being given a clean bill of health, or the smile on an owner’s face when the life of their beloved pet was saved, all serve as reminders that we have the greatest jobs in the world.

Enjoy your family and your pets, have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

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

5 reasons to spay your pet (Part 2)

Non-spayed pets and unplanned pregnancies can lead to life-threatening medial conditions and emergency surgeries that will sure cost much more than a simple spay at the appropriate time.

As promised last time (5 Reasons To Spay Your Pet Part 1), here are another 5 reasons to spay your cat or your dog.

6. False pregnancy

False pregnancy is a strange and stressful condition where a pet is convinced that she’s pregnant… when she’s not!

Females show nesting behavior (i.e. they literally make a nest for her imaginary offspring). Their belly gets bigger. They produce milk.

Spaying can eliminate the possibility of this condition.

7. Eclampsia

Eclampsia is a life-threatening complication of pregnancy. A pregnant female can have calcium levels that are dangerously low (hypocalcamia). This condition can lead to shaking, seizures, or heart complications. This is a major emergency that requires IV calcium and fluids.

8. C-sections

Sometimes, natural delivery just isn’t possible for health or anatomical reasons. Bulldogs, Chihuahuas and Yorkies are some of the breeds with an increased risk of needing a C-section.

A C-section is a wonderful event at a vet clinic when everything goes well. We love helping puppies and kittens come to life. But for the pet owner, it can be a stressful and expensive ordeal.

9. Pyometra

Pyometra is a serious condition where the uterus fills with pus. It is common in non-spayed dogs, and unusual in cats. In turn, pyometra can affect many organs, which can make a pet very sick or even kill her.

One of the organs that classically gets damaged is the kidney. It can get worse: a “mature” pyometra can rupture or break. This leads to having pus all over the belly (septic peritonitis).

Ironically, pyometras often seem to happen after hours (read: at the local emergency clinic on a Sunday), which increases the cost even more.

10. Genetics

There are countless genetic diseases, such as hip dysplasia, heart disease and eye conditions. Spaying a female who carries the bad genes is the easiest way to prevent babies with the same problems. Only through reasoned breeding can a breed improve over time.

Spaying also prevents behavioral problems and several other issues. Pet lovers who don’t have their pet spayed often tell us that they couldn’t afford the procedure at the time.

Please keep in mind that it could cost 5 or 10 times as much to treat mammary tumors or pyometra.

All always, prevention is the best policy…

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

5 reasons to spay your pet (Part 1)

Non-spayed cats and dogs are at a higher risk of developing multiple conditions. Here are 5 reasons to spay your pet:

1. Breast tumors

Over 25% of non-spayed female dogs will develop breast or mammary tumors!

In dogs, approximately 50% of mammary tumors are benign and 50% are cancerous.

In cats, 90% of mammary tumors are cancerous, so spaying is even more important.

2. Ovarian diseases

Sure, diseases of the ovary, such as tumors, are rare. But a real good way of eliminating that risk is spaying.

3. Tumors of the uterus

Likewise, tumors of the uterus are not common, but spaying eliminates this risk.

Along with a higher risk for tumor development, there are other unfortunate complications that can arise when pets aren’t spayed.

4. Heat cycles

As a general rule, most females have their first heat cycle around 6 months of age, which is why we often recommend spaying before that age. A heat cycle causes mood swings, swollen nipples, attraction of males, a swollen vulva and a bloody discharge. It can be quite stressful for everybody involved – including you!

5. Unplanned pregnancies

Letting a non-spayed cat or dog roam is similar to gambling. Chances are, your little female friend will meet Mr. Not-Right.

Now… not only do you have to deal with the pregnancy, but in 2 months, you will need to make sure that the delivery goes well. And hope your pet won’t need an emergency C-section.

Then you will have to take care of the 1, 2, 3… or 10 babies or find them new homes. If mom can’t nurse, guess who needs to get up every 2 hours to bottle-feed the babies?

Multiply that by 10 or 100 or 1,000 pets, and you start to understand the complex problem of pet overpopulation. This leads to millions of abandoned or euthanized pets.

So please do the right thing: spay your cat or your dog.

Next time, we will go over 5 more reasons to spay your pet.

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

5 Things I Wish Every Cat Owner Would Know (part 2)

As promised last time ( https://bit.ly/2lvR22t ), here are another 5 topics you should be aware of and pay attention to when caring for your cat(s).

6. Follow discharge instructions

Discharge instructions are made to be followed. This is one of those times where you get to learn from someone else’s challenges. That can save you and your cat from some serious trouble.

We know that wearing a plastic cone for 2 weeks is no fun. We know that being stuck in 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 the time.

7. 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 companies and really good companies out there.

8. Know thy enemy

Anesthesia is not the enemy.

Surgery is not the enemy.

Your pet’s condition is the enemy.

We are here to help you choose the best weapon to fight the enemy.

9. Know that prevention is a critical part of pet medicine

Every year, countless cats die because they did not receive basic, effective, affordable preventive care. Yearly exams are crucial to ensure your cat is and remains healthy and happy. Vaccinations should always be kept up to date, even for indoor cats. You never know when one might escape, get lost, or get hospitalized.

That thought applies to heartworm, flea and tick prevention as well. Your cat may not go outside, but you or your other pets who do can bring parasites inside your home. And obviously mosquitoes, who can carry parasites, can fly inside your house and bite an indoor cat.

Keep your kitties protected.

10. Don’t inadvertently starve your cat

When you realize it’s time for your cat to lose weight, be sure to create a feeding plan with your veterinarian. So many make the mistake of unknowingly restricting cats too much by cutting the amount of food down significantly.

This is very dangerous in cats. It can lead to deadly liver complications called hepatic lipidosis. We would rather have you trust your family vet, and feed a diet that was made specifically for weight loss.

These 5 additional tips can truly make a big difference in your cat’s life.

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

5 Things I Wish Every Cat Owner Would Know (part 1)

Most cat owners are prepared to do whatever it takes to help their cat. Sadly, too many also rely on misconceptions and erroneous advice that can be misleading at best, and dangerous at worst. Every cat owner should be aware of the following issues:

1. Recognize pain and suffering

Most cats are extraordinarily stoic. It can be extremely difficult, but it is very important to recognize when cats are suffering.

If they are limping, they hurt.

If they are vomiting, something is wrong.

If they skip one or several meals, there is a reason.

If they have difficulty breathing, they may, in fact, be suffocating, and it’s terrifying for them. Seek help immediately.

Procrastination is heartbreaking for us.

2. Denial about weight can be deadly

If you describe your cat with words such as “solid,” “big boned” or “fluffy,” chances are your cat is overweight or obese. We know they love their treats, and that you love giving them, but too much weight is not healthy. Free feeding (i.e., not measuring the daily amount of food) is a recipe for chubbiness.

It takes years off of feline lives, it makes anesthesia riskier, and it makes recovery from surgery more difficult. Love your cats in ways that make them healthy and happy: hugs, petting, playing, snuggling, brushing, and interaction are all calorie-free forms of love and attention your cat craves!

3. Know whom to trust

As the saying goes, “You are what you eat,” so choosing the correct pet food is a big deal. Please talk to your vet when picking food. Feeding the wrong food to your cat can lead to obesity, bladder stones, urinary blockage 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 cannot examine or treat your cat over the phone. We sometimes need to run lab work to find out what is going on with your cat. Yes, that cost is going to be in addition to the exam fee, but these tests are best for the health of your cat.

These diagnostic tests are our “X-ray glasses” to understand your cat’s condition. Without them, we might be blind.

This is really no different than in human medicine.

5. Spay or neuter your cat

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

Neutering prevents testicular cancer and spraying.

Beyond those medical reasons, spayed or neutered pets are less likely to run away and get hit by a car or get into a fight. They also have a lower incidence of behavior problems.

We will go over 5 more tips next time.

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