Oh, you're a vet?!?!

-ramblings from a cranky vet.

Archive for the tag “vet”

Think of it like this… #3

Think of it like this:

Is your cat not using the litter box? How often do you clean it? Litter boxes should be scooped daily & emptied/cleaned weekly. Would you want to use a toilet that is only flushed once a week? I didn’t think so.

Think of it like that.

*”think of it like this” (TM) is a regularly irregular purely opinion-driven piece of thought about pets and their owners pointing out the seemingly obvious*


Think of it like this… #2

Why be confused when your indoor cat occasionally scratches your furniture?

We keep them in a house to keep them safe but that means their entire world is inside however many square feet you live in…

They are cats. Scratching things is what they do. So give them lots of other acceptable options or you are just setting them up to fail. (And you’ll have to keep replacing sofas.)

Think of it like that.

*”think of it like this” (TM) is a regularly irregular purely opinion-driven piece of thought about pets and their owners pointing out the seemingly obvious*

Think of it like this…

Why be surprised when bringing home a new dog or cat creates conflict among your pets?

Wouldn’t adding a complete stranger to your household kinda freak you out?

Think of it like that.

*”think of it like this” (TM) is a regularly irregular purely opinion-driven piece of thought about pets and their owners pointing out the seemingly obvious*

Q&A: July 16, 2011- Ticks- They Suck!

Yes, kids, it’s time for another installment of Ask the Crankyvet. Gather round.

Our first question comes from @sizah1:
How about tick removal, and tick identification?

This is a fantastic question. Well done.
I generally try to address multiple questions in each blog, but I am going to dedicate this entire blog to this topic. Why? Because it’s important. Also, I am The Cranky Vet and I say so.

The key to tick removal is speed and caution. Most diseases transmitted by ticks (such as Lyme’s disease) require that the tick be attached for at least 24-48 hours. One easy way to minimize the possibility of your pets acquiring these illnesses is to do a daily tick check, especially if you live in areas with high tick prevalence or engage in outdoor activities such as hiking or camping where ticks may be present. The most common places you will find ticks include the feet, head, ears, and neck, but I recommend running your hands over the entire body so that none would be overlooked.

When removing ticks, be careful not to expose yourself to possible disease exposure (though the risk is low) by either wearing gloves or using tweezers or specially made tick removal tools, which can be purchased at major pet store chains at a minimal cost. Lots of “old school” methods have been described as well, such as applying alcohol, petroleum jelly, turpentine, nail polish, and lit matches. These are not encouraged due to speculation that they may either cause irritation or even speed up the process of disease transmission from the tick to the pet. One such method (that I personally have employed when necessary with no negative results over the years) is to apply a dollop of liquid soap to a cotton ball and apply to the tick for a minute, effectively smothering the tick, which generally results in it detaching from the pet. Again, it is preferred that tweezers or a removal tool are used in a swift lift and slight twist motion to dislodge it. You want to grasp the tick as close to your pet’s skin as possible and pull steadily but surely. Try not to squeeze the tick when removing. If the head is accidentally left attached, it will dislodge on its own but may result in local irritation or swelling for a few days, which is generally self-limiting and not harmful.

Ticks can transmit many different diseases. Most people have heard of Lyme disease, but Ehrlichiosis, Babesiosis, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever are other concerns. In fact, Rocky Mountain Spotted fever is the most prevalent disease transmitted from ticks to humans. Ticks can also cause tick paralysis in pets, which is often resolved quickly one all of the ticks have been removed. Here is a link with more information about these diseases, their regional prevalence, and which ticks are responsible for their transmission. The information about the illnesses relates to human exposure. I will address these illnesses in pets later in this blog.

Generally, ticks require 3 separate blood meals during separate life stages (egg, larvae, nymph, adult) during their average 2 year lifespan. The larvae and nymphs require a blood meal in order to be able to successfully molt to the next stage. It is the final life stage and meal, or the adult tick, that attaches to pets and humans. Adult ticks are generally most active in the fall but can survive through the spring without a host. Interestingly, after the males feed, they generally detach and die.

The easiest way to prevent exposure from these harmful illnesses that ticks can transmit, as well as prevent your pet from a tick infestation is to use one of the many safe and effective monthly preventatives. My favorite is Frontline, though there are many on the market. Some may be only available through your vet’s offices, but this is because they are the most recent, well-studied, and safe products available. Always check the label for safety instructions based on size, age, and type of pet. This is especially important when shopping for products for cats as many insecticides are marketed solely for dogs and may be highly toxic to cats.

This is a concise and informative summary about the common tick diseases affecting dogs in the U.S.

Also a concern is a disorder called “tick paralysis” which is caused by a neurotoxin secreted by the female tick while attached. Several varieties of ticks may cause this condition. It is most commonly seen after 5-7 days of attachment which is why early detection and removal of ticks from your pet is so important. Unlike the other diseases mentioned, once the ticks are removed, the condition does not continue to progress and usually resolves.

There are different types of ticks which are more prevalent in different areas of the country. Not all ticks spread the same diseases: Here is a quick guide to the most common varieties of ticks, how to identify them, where they are prevalent, and what diseases they are associated with transmitting. The information about disease symptoms on the following link applies to humans. Pets may exhibit different symptoms and often do not generally develop the famous rash or target lesions like humans do when exposed to Lyme’s disease. It is important to talk to your vet if you are concerned about tick exposure in your pets. It is especially helpful if you can identify the type of tick or have your vet examine the tick if possible to determine what exposure risks may be present for your pets. Not all ticks spread all diseases. Different areas of the country have different prevalences of tick types and disease concerns.
I believe these cards are available from this website for download or possibly even ordering for wallet sized guides.

Finally, this is a link to a map to the prevalence of reported tick-borne diseases and heartworms in dogs in the U.S.

Bottom line? While ticks can certainly be a nuisance and even a threat to the health of pets and humans, regular body checks, rapid removal, use of preventatives, and discussions with your local health professionals can minimize the risk and lead to a safer and more enjoyable summer and fall with your pets outdoors.

If you’ve made it this far, thank you for your interest and stay tuned for more Q&A from me, The Cranky Vet, (when I feel like it of course.)

Summer Dangers for Cats

While summer is often a fun time for us, it can pose some increased
risks for our pets, including our cats.  A little knowledge and
prevention can help ensure your summer is enjoyable for everyone in
your family, including your pets.
Heatstroke is a very common and deadly problem for our pets.  Cats are
more sensible about regulating their body temperature when it is hot
outside than dogs, but underlying medical conditions such as heart
disease, which may not be apparent in normal circumstances, can be
exascerbated by heat and result in obvious symptoms of distress such as
open mouth breathing.  A regular exam by your vet each year can help
detect such problems early.  Never leave your pet unattended in a car
on hot summer days because the temperature rises quickly to levels that
can be fatal.  Even more temperate weather (70 degrees) can become
dangerous in enclosed cars in very short periods of time.  If you
suspect your cat is having difficulty with heatstroke, use cool, not
cold, water to help lower the body temperature and seek veterinary care
There are many summer activities such as gardening that also pose
increased risks to pets.  Fertilizers and insecticides may contain
ingredients that can be deadly if ingested.  Many foods grown in
gardens such as tomato plants can also pose risks if ingested.  Plants
such as lilies cause kidney failure if ingested, even in small amounts.
For a complete list of common toxic plants and foods, visit the ASPCA
Many people travel more in the summer to visit friends and family.
Always be careful that your pet cannot escape and get lost during
travel.  Having a microchip implanted can also help ensure if you do
become separated from your pet that you will be more likely to be
reunited since most shelters and vet offices scan all stray animals
they encounter to determine if the owner can be located.
Cats that are allowed to roam outside have increased risks for injury
including fights with other animals and getting hit by vehicles.  In
the summer, more animals are out roaming and the likelihood of a
danerous encounter is also higher.  If your cat does go outside, make
sure it is up to date on all recommended vaccines, including the rabies
vaccine and feline leukemia vaccine to help reduce the risk of deadly
disease transmission.
White cats and cats that have been groomed/shaved are at an increased
risk of sunburn.  Even indoor cats that spend time near windows
sleeping in the sun are at risk.  Besides being uncomfortable,
increased exposure to the UV rays may also pose a greater risk of
certain types of skin cancer developing in these cats.  The ears and
nose are common areas for potential problems.  Always monitor these
areas for any changes in the skin’s appearance, including changes in
pigment color and appearance.  Sunscreen for human babies is safe for
daily use on cats and may be used in lotion or spray form.  The
waterproof varieties tend to be more resistant to grooming.
Keeping these potential risks in mind can help prevent common but
dangerous health problems in your cats so that everyone can have a safe
and enjoyable summer.

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