Hill’s Pet Nutrition Voluntarily Recalls Select Canned Dog Food for Excessive Vitamin D

A message from Hill’s Pet Nutrition

Update January 31, 6:30 pm CST:           

Hill’s Pet Nutrition is voluntarily recalling select canned dog food products due to potentially elevated levels of vitamin D. While vitamin D is an essential nutrient for dogs, ingestion of elevated levels can lead to potential health issues depending on the level of vitamin D and the length of exposure, and dogs may exhibit symptoms such as vomiting, loss of appetite, increased thirst, increased urination, excessive drooling, and weight loss. Vitamin D, when consumed at very high levels, can lead to serious health issues in dogs including renal dysfunction. Pet parents with dogs who have consumed any of the products listed and are exhibiting any of these signs should contact their veterinarian. In most cases, complete recovery is expected after discontinuation of feeding.

In the United States, the affected canned dog foods were distributed through retail pet stores and veterinary clinics nationwide. 

No dry foods, cat foods, or treats are affected.

Pet parents who purchased the product with the specific lot/date codes listed should discontinue feeding and dispose of those products immediately or return unopened product to your retailer for a refund. For more information, please contact Hill’s via our website or at 1-800-445-5777.

Hill’s Pet Nutrition learned of the potential for elevated vitamin D levels in some of our canned dog foods after receiving a complaint in the United States about a dog exhibiting signs of elevated vitamin D levels.  Our investigation confirmed elevated levels of vitamin D due to a supplier error. 

We care deeply about all pets and are committed to providing pet parents with safe and high quality products.  Hill’s has identified and isolated the error and, to prevent this from happening again, we have required our supplier to implement additional quality testing prior to their release of ingredients.  In addition to our existing safety processes, we are adding our own further testing of incoming ingredients. 

For further information, please contact Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. at 1-800-445-5777 Monday-Friday during the hours of 9am-5pm (CST) or at contactus@hillspet.com. Information can also be found at www.hillspet.com/productlist

This voluntary recall only impacts canned dog food and primarily in the United States. It is being conducted in cooperation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.  Impacted products outside of the United States will be subject to separate notices on the country-specific website.  If you are outside of the United States, please check your own country’s Hill’s website for more information.

SKU and Date Code/Lot Code Locations on Impacted Canned Dog Food Products:

Hill's Voluntary Recall

Locate affected products in the table below

Hill's Canned Food Recall

If you have any cans that are a part of this recall, you may bring those cans of food into Animal Medical Hospital & 24 Hour Urgent Care for a refund or exchange.


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The Scoop on Diet-Associated Heart Disease in Dogs

Dr. Amanda Slusky

In July of 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that reports of a type of heart disease called dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs had increased in breeds not typically prone to this disease. DCM is a heart condition where the chambers of the heart enlarge (dilate) and the heart muscle wall thins. As a result, the heart’s ability to pump blood forward decreases. Eventually, this will result in heart failure. As far as we can tell, there appears to be a link between the reports and the diet these dogs are being fed, though this link has not yet been proven.

Veterinary nutritionists, cardiologists, and the FDA are all working together to gather as much information as possible to come to an understanding of the underlying cause. Reports from veterinary cardiologists list certain ingredients such as peas, lentils, potatoes, tapioca, barley, chickpeas, etc. as primary components of these atypical DCM dogs’ diets for the majority of their lives.

The majority of diets containing these ingredients fall under what Dr. Lisa Freeman of Tufts University calls “BEG” diets, or boutique diets consisting of exotic ingredients, or grain-free diets. Initially, the thought was that these diets provided low blood taurine levels. However, many dogs eating a boutique, grain-free, or exotic ingredient diet had taurine levels within the normal range. The cause of these problems is unclear. It is not know if these problems are caused by deficiencies in other micronutrients or if they are caused by something in the way these diets are processed/digested.

The 3 main sub-categories DCM has been broken down into are:

  • Genetic – more commonly found in giant-breed dogs. For instance, Boxers, Newfoundlands, Saint Bernards and Doberman Pinschers. This category of DCM is not the main focus of the recent concerns.
  • Diet-related DCM with normal blood taurine levels
  • Diet-related (taurine-deficient) DCM

Symptoms of DCM

Symptoms of DCM include decreased energy, coughing episodes, difficulty breathing, and collapse. If your pet ever experiences difficulty breathing or collapse, this is absolutely an emergency. You should seek medical attention as soon as possible.

If you are concerned about your pet’s heart, please reach out to your veterinarian. They can perform a physical examination to listen to your pet’s heart for abnormalities. Together you can come up with a diagnostic plan if indicated.

So now that this information is out there, what do we do with it?

As a result of the new information, our current recommendation for healthy, asymptomatic pets, is to discontinue feeding diets that are grain-free, formulated by “boutique” companies that do not employ a veterinary nutritionist, or diets that contain exotic ingredients (i.e. duck, venison, kangaroo, etc) unless specifically recommended by your veterinarian. Please reach out to your veterinarian to discuss the best diet for your pet. Diet changes should always be made slowly over a minimum of 7-10 days.

These recommendations may not apply to every pet. If you have worked closely with your veterinarian to determine a diet plan, it is likely still going to be considered safe for them.

Dr. Lisa Freeman mentions in in her blog that there are feelings of guilt often associated with learning that what you have been feeding your pet may not be what is best for them. We understand how much love goes into choosing the “best” bag of pet food at the store. Navigating the complexities of the pet food industry, and what that label really means can be difficult. Please reach out to your veterinarian, they are a great resource to help pick the best diet for your pet.

BEG diet

Find the initial FDA report here: https://www.fda.gov/animalveterinary/newsevents/cvmupdates/ucm613305.htm

Find the FDA frequently-asked questions here:
https://www.fda.gov/animalveterinary/resourcesforyou/animalhealthliteracy/ucm616279.htm

Find the referenced blog, written by Dr. Lisa Freeman, a veterinary nutritionist out of Tufts University here: http://vetnutrition.tufts.edu/2018/11/dcm-update/

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How to Keep Your Pet Safe on Valentine’s Day

Dr. Sandy Tisdelle

Chocolates and flowers and candles, Oh My! I’ve always though Valentine’s Day was a sneaky little holiday.  When you’re single it creeps past you quietly then wags its tail in your face reminding you there is one less holiday to be had for us independent folk.  Then, when you’re in a relationship, it impresses upon you that even though you may have just picked out the perfect Christmas gift for your honey and splurged a little too much, now it’s time to do it again.  It’s sneaky for our pets too.  Most of us with pets have been reminded to be careful about candy on Halloween, fattening foods at Thanksgiving, and sweets and tinsel at Christmas; but what about Valentine’s Day?  What hidden dangers might be in your house?

  • Chocolate:

    Well, that’s a given.  I better not see a Valentine ’s Day without chocolate.  Chocolate is weight and dose dependent in dogs.  Smaller dogs need less chocolate to get a toxic dose than large dogs.  Also, darker chocolate is more dangerous than milk chocolate because it is all about the percent of cocoa.  Not all chocolate ingestion is going to result in a toxic dose but you will want to call your vet or animal poison control to be sure.  Better yet, just remember to keep it out of your fur babies reach. 

  • Flowers:

    “Just Say No to Lilies”, would read my cat mom bumper sticker if I ever made one. Every day I look at my cat and wonder what it is in her cat brain that makes her taste each and every plant that comes into my house. I’ll never know the answer but at least I have someone else to blame for my black thumb. While lilies may not be a common flower to give on Valentine’s Day they are highly toxic to cats and can result in death from kidney failure.  Outside of lilies, there are many other flowers that may cause gastrointestinal issues in cats and dogs. You can find a complete list from the ASPCA here. While they may not be as toxic as lilies, it is still recommended to keep your cat from eating them.

  • Candles and Essential Oils:

    Curious cat + open flame = vet visit. Burnt whiskers may give your cat character but it’s a sure sign your cat is curious and fearless.  Unattended candles left in your cat’s reach could be hazardous.  Kittens especially will be curious about flames and end up with lopsided whiskers.  In addition, scented candles and certain essential oils can be irritating to your cat’s respiratory system.  Do not apply essential oils to your pets directly without asking your veterinarian first.  Be sure to eliminate all flames and diffusers from the room when you leave so as not to expose the pets for a prolonged period of time.

To be real, if you’re like me and your favorite valentine is your four legged valentine, keep a few things in mind when spoiling your special someone.   Your cat and/or dog is likely not accustomed to eating rich foods or human foods.  Don’t overdo it on the treats.  Give your pup a special day and spend it outside at a dog park, hiking, or just sun bathing.  Take some extra time and play with your cat or just snuggle (it’s hard to predict their mood).   They even make edible cat plants you can buy now!  Let’s face it, our pets are the “people” in our lives that don’t need gifts and just want our time and love.  Happy cuddles.

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How to Celebrate the Holidays with your Pets

Dr. Schoenig

With the holiday season coming up, we all look forward to spending time with our loved ones- including our furry ones!  The holidays can be a stressful time for your pets, with travel, out-of-town guests, and their normal routine being changed, so be sure to take some time to show your fur kids some holiday love! Need ideas of how to include your pet in your holiday celebrations?  Read below!

Thanksgiving

  • Before the food marathon that is the Thanksgiving holiday, get out on the streets or the trail with your family for some exercise to make some room for that extra slice of pie! While the official Charlotte South Park race does not allow pets due to the crowds, don’t let that stop your pup from getting his or her extra energy out.  Whether you do a long run or even just a short walk in the neighborhood (don’t push your pup to do more exercise than he or she is used to; we don’t want to cause injuries and necessitate a trip to the emergency vet on Thanksgiving!), the exercise and fresh air is a great way to start the day and your dogs will love the opportunity to spend some extra time with you!
  • For our feline friends who tend to be a little less leash-friendly, providing them with a new toy to run around with may be more up their alley. The laser pointer is a great way to get them to run around too, and can provide family entertainment while you and your family rest and digest after the big meal!

Christmas

Who doesn’t love Christmas baked goodies?  Christmas cookies aren’t just for the mailman.  Take some time to bake some extra treats for your furry kids.  Bonus points for using a dog bone or fish shaped cookie cutter to make them even more enticing!

Dog Christmas Cookies

  • Ingredients
    • 5 cups whole wheat flour
    • 2 tbsp peanut butter
    • 2 eggs
    • ¾ cup pumpkin puree
    • 1 tbsp water
  • Directions
    • Mix all ingredients together in a bowl until dough can be formed. Add more water in small increments if needed
    • Roll out dough on a well-floured surface until about ½” thick. Cut out shapes and place on a cookie sheet
    • Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes until slightly browned

Cat Christmas Treats

  • Ingredients
    • 1 can of tuna
    • 1 egg
    • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
    • 1 tbsp catnip
  • Directions
    • Mix ingredients until a thick mixture forms
    • Form 1/4” size balls and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
    • Bake 9-12 minutes at 350. Let cool before snack time

New Years’

When getting together your resolutions for the new year, consider making a resolution for your pet as well to keep them happy and healthy.  Some considerations…

  • Daily dental care – brushing, chews, treats. Oral health can have effects on your pet’s systemic health, as well, especially their heart!
  • Regular exercise – a 10 minute walk a day can give your personal “get healthy” resolution a boost, and that time the two of you spend together can help make your bond even stronger
  • Regular checkups with your veterinarian – just like we need to check in with our doctors every year, your fluffy child should be seen at least once (twice for our seniors) a year for a full wellness checkup. Resolve to keep up with their regular wellness visits, which may include routine bloodwork to be proactive about catching diseases early!
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What Happens if My Pet Gets Bit by a Snake?

Dr. Ashley Gray

Spring is an exciting time of year where we start to come out of our winter hibernation mode and explore the great outdoors again. The weather starts to get beautiful as the flowers bloom, and we see an influx of wildlife in our backyards and parks. If you have your pets in a backyard, go to parks often, or hike in the mountains, you may come in contact with some critters that could cause harm to your pets. One of the most common injuries we see this time of year through our emergency department is snake bite wounds. Snakes are most active between March and October, which can pose a threat to your pets. The most common venomous snakes we see in the greater Charlotte region are Copperheads and certain types of Rattlesnakes.

            I would like to provide you with some tips to try to decrease the amount of snakes in your yard so that you can help keep your pets safe at home.

  • Keep your yard tidy by cleaning up and removing any undergrowth, leaves, toys, wood, and tools that can be hiding places for snakes.
  • Keep all walkways and paths around your house clear.
  • Try to prevent and remove any food, bird seed, etc, which can attract rodents, which are prey for snakes.
  • It is favorable to walk your pet on a leash so you can control where they go in your yard if it is wooded or has areas that could hide snakes.
  • It is important to know that snakes can strike at a distance equal to about half their body length. If you see one, it is imperative to head back the way you came from.
  • You may want to familiarize yourself with what the common venomous snakes look like in the event you witness a snake bite so that you can better prepare your emergency veterinarian as this can guide your pet’s treatment.

Below are signs you may see if your pet experiences a snake bite so that you can quickly bring them in to us or your local emergency veterinarian to be seen.

  • Local or Generalized Swelling in the region of the bite (if generalized swelling, it can cause other signs such as difficulty breathing based on location of bite)
  • Bleeding
  • Extreme pain
  • Low Blood Pressure
  • Dead tissue around the region of the bite
  • Shortness of breath or Respiratory Difficulty
  • Weakness
  • Kidney failure

If your pet experiences a snake bite or you notice some of the above clinical signs, you must remain calm as well as try to keep your pet calm by reducing their activity. If your pet was bit around the neck region, remove their collar to decrease issues with swelling. Bring him to us or your local emergency veterinarian right away so that your pet can get immediate veterinary attention. Treatments you may read online to do at home such as icing, tourniquet, alcohol, sucking out the venom, etc will not help and ultimately waste precious time when it comes to giving your pet the best care. Your veterinarian will assess the wounds, determine the current health status of your pet, and discuss next steps in their diagnostic and treatment plan.

We hope these tips help keep your pets safe this spring and summer. If you have any questions, you can always call us for advice!

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What is Canine Arthritis?

by Dr. Robert Brady

What Is It?

Arthritis is a joint problem that can reduce mobility and cause pain. Often seen in older dogs, arthritis can be caused by injury, infection, the body’s own immune system, or developmental problems. The most common form of arthritis is called osteoarthritis (osteo = bone; arthr = joint; itis = inflammation) or degenerative joint disease. Normally, joints form smooth connections between bones. Osteoarthritis involves thinning of joint cartilage (a protective cushioning between bones), buildup of fluid within the joint, and the formation of bony growths within the joint. Over time, this can lead to reduced joint mobility as well as pain.

  • Osteoarthritis affects one of every five dogs.
  • Thinning of joint cartilage can lead to a vicious cycle of joint deterioration, reduced mobility, and pain.
  • Supportive care is important, and treatment may include pain medication, NSAIDs, corticosteroids,supplements, massage, therapeutic laser, warm compresses, and/or surgery.
  • Regular, moderate exercise may help delay canine arthritis.

Signs and Diagnosis

  • Stiffness after exercise or rest
  • Wasting away of muscle
  • Limited movement
  • Joint swelling
  • Trouble getting up, laying down, walking, climbing stairs, or jumping
  • A grating sound in a joint
Normal Canine Hips- Arthritis

Normal Canine Hips

Recognizing arthritis in dogs can be difficult because the condition progresses slowly and dogs don’t complain about their aching joints. Also, some owners assume that signs of arthritis are “normal” in older animals.

Bringing your dog in for an annual checkup can help your veterinarian identify clinical signs early. Radiography (x-rays) can reveal bony growths and joint abnormalities.

Severe Hip Dysplasia and Osteoarthritis- Arthritis

Severe Hip Dysplasia and Osteoarthritis

Treatment

  • Getting or keeping your dog slim can help by decreasing the load on his or her joints.
  • Feeding your dog the right amount of high-quality food should help with weight control.
  • Carefully monitored exercise on soft surfaces can help affected dogs..
  • Because arthritis is aggravated by cold and damp, keep your dog warm and dry. Padded dog beds can help.
  • Warm compresses can soothe affected joints.
  • Massage and passive range of motion can increase your dog’s flexibility, circulation, and sense of well-being. Professional animal massage therapists are available.
  • Pain medication, including nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (commonly called NSAIDs), may help relieve signs, but you should never give your dog a drug without your veterinarian’s recommendation. Ibuprofen (Advil), Aspirin, and acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be toxic to dogs and cats so never give these medications to your pets.
  • Corticosteroids can be used to suppress inflammation, but they are usually used for short periods.
  • Glucosamine and chondroitin have been used to help manage arthritis in dogs and other animals.
  • Acupuncture isn’t just for people. It’s painless and has shown some success in animals.
  • Therapeutic Laser therapy has also been proven to reduce inflammation and pain associated with arthritis in dogs.
  • Surgery may be a good choice in advanced cases of canine arthritis including total hip replacements.
  • A low-stress environment, plenty of affection, and supportive care can help improve your dog’s quality of life.

 

Prevention

Regular, moderate exercise and a high-quality diet can help delay aging, keeping your pet thin, and early intervention when a problem is suspected all help delay the progression of arthritis.

 

Aids for Arthritic Dogs

  • Slip-free flooring/ grip enhancement for your pets feet
  • Soft bedding
  • Ramps (instead of steps)
  • A warm, dry environment
  • Assisted grooming
  • Regular veterinary visits
  • Pain medications when warranted
  • Rehabilitation and Therapeutic Laser treatments

 

 

Why does my pet need vaccines?

Dr. Kerri Blackburn

 How do Vaccines Work?

Vaccines are a method to teach the body’s immune system how to fight off a disease.

  • A vaccine has parts of a virus or bacteria in it- not the whole bacteria or virus. This is enough for the immune system to recognize that there is an invader present.  The body then fights off the vaccine’s bacterial and viral parts. This is why we sometimes feel sick after a vaccine.
  • The immune system stores the knowledge of how to fight the disease for a period of time. This in turn protects your pet in case the virus or bacteria comes back.
  • After awhile, if not used, the immune system will forget this knowledge. Your pet still needs this knowledge since many of the diseases you pet was vaccinated against, exist in the environment at all times. For this reason “booster vaccines” are given to remind the immune system how to fight these diseases.

Why are Vaccines Necessary?

  • Vaccines are very important to your pet’s health. They prevent several very dangerous, often severe and life-threatening diseases like rabies, distemper and parvovirus.
  • Aside from your pet’s health, the health of you and your family is also a reason that vaccines are necessary. Some of the diseases that your pet will be vaccinated for can pose a risk to humans.
  • North Carolina rabies law requires that all owned dogs, cats and ferrets must be vaccinated against rabies by four months of age. Rabies vaccinations must then be kept current with booster vaccines.

Vaccines are selected based on diseases frequently seen in a geographical area, the risks to humans (rabies), legal requirements and a pet’s individual lifestyle risks. At Animal Medical Hospital we take vaccines and the diseases they prevent very seriously. We routinely review our vaccine protocols to ensure the health and safety of the pets and their families that we see. If you have questions about our protocol or the vaccines we use, please ask our veterinarians. We are always happy to discuss and know that this can be a hot button issue for some families.

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Why Does My Pet Need Senior Wellness Bloodwork?

The Importance of Senior Wellness Bloodwork

 One of the most frequent questions I receive from pet owners is “Doc, why does my dog need bloodwork?  We just did that last year and everything was normal.”  Senior Wellness Bloodwork semi-annually in our pets is an important part of their physical exam.  Animals age much more rapidly than humans, and dramatic changes to bloodwork values can happen in a short period of time.

Senior Wellness Bloodwork allows us to screen for numerous diseases and begin treating them before our pets become ill or debilitated.

Often times our owners do not recognize that the signs their pet is having could be indicative of disease.  Changes in thirst, urination, appetite, activity, coat quality, weight, or mobility could all be early indicators of potentially serious diseases that often go undiagnosed until pets are ill.  An up to date blood panel can also aid your veterinarian in selecting which medications are safest for your pet to use.

What is included in Senior Wellness bloodwork?

  1. A CBC (complete blood count)
    • The CBC evaluates red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Red cell, white cell, and platelet counts can change very rapidly over a period of hours.  Often veterinarians will evaluate the CBC daily in critically ill patients.
      • Red blood cells carry hemoglobin and are responsible for delivery of oxygen to the tissues of the body.
      • White blood cells are an important component of the immune system and are the first line of defenseagainst infections.
      • Platelets are important for allowing the blood to clot normally in response to injuries.
  2. A blood chemistry
    • Provides information on numerous organ systems in the body such as the liver, GI tract, kidneys, and immune system.
      • The liver has several enzymes which can indicate dysfunction such as the Alanine transaminase (ALT), Alkaline Phosphatase (ALKP).  These values can also be affected by toxins and certain medications your pets may take.  Many pets on arthritis medications or seizure medications will have mild liver enzyme elevations that are important to monitor over time.
      • The kidney is assessed by Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN) and Creatinine (Crea).  Elevations in these enzymes can indicate dehydration, urinary disease, or kidney dysfunction.  Kidney disease is the number one systemic disease in elderly cats with almost all geriatric cats developing some degree of kidney disease in their lifetime.
  3. Senior Boston TerrierScreening the urine
    • It is important to assess urine concentration.  Low urine concentration can be the very first sign of kidney dysfunction.  The urine can also help indicate diseases such as diabetes and Cushing’s disease which are common in the aging pet population.
  4. T4
    • Assessing the T4, allows your veterinarian to evaluate the thyroid.
      • Elderly cats frequently will have elevated thyroid levels which can predispose to heart disease and blood clots.  Thyroid disease can also mask the signs of kidney disease in older cats.
      • Elderly dogs are prone to low thyroid levels which can predispose to hair loss, skin/ear infections, and weight gain.

 

Semi-annual bloodwork can help your veterinarian to help your pet before illness becomes severe.   Finding diseases before your pet becomes ill allows them the best chance at enjoying a long, healthy life.

 

Visit our Services page for more information about Senior Wellness visits here at Animal Medical Hospital.

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7 Things to Know Before Getting a New Puppy

Dr. Abigail Brady

A new puppy is so much fun, and truly such an adventure. Even if you have raised a puppy before, each one comes with its own personality and new challenges each day. Some are cuddly, some never stop running, some chew anything and everything while others are picky and will only eat one particular food. But there are some things are the same across the board and should be kept in mind whether this is your very first puppy or one more being added to your crew.

puppy-visit
1. Puppies are a financial investment:

Whether we like to admit it or not, a new pet is a huge financial (and time) commitment. Before bringing a new pet into your home, please consider if it the right time for you to add on this expense. Puppies need multiple veterinary visits, they will need to be spayed or neutered, they will need preventative medications and unfortunately emergencies happen when we least expect them. Here at AMH, we offer preventative healthcare plans to help budget the cost of routine veterinary visits which can be helpful. There are also many different companies that offer pet insurance plans. Unlike human health insurance, most pet insurance plans require you to pay up front at the veterinary visit and they will reimburse you for the portion covered by your plan. This can be very helpful for those unexpected vet bills as well as the routine ones.

2. Vaccines in puppies are crucial to prevent them from common diseases:

Puppies require vaccines every 3-4 weeks from the time they are around 8 weeks old until they are 4 months old. Puppies have protection from their moms from viruses when they are born but unfortunately, sometimes that fights off vaccines as well. To ensure that they are appropriately protected, frequent vaccines are required when they are young. The distemper vaccine is a combination vaccine that protects dogs from 4 different viruses, some of which can be fatal. The rabies vaccine is required by law and rabies is always fatal if a pet is infected. Rabies can be transmitted to humans as well, so all pets should be vaccinated. Another vaccine that is recommended for all dogs is the leptospirosis vaccine. Leptospirosis is a bacteria that can cause kidney and liver disease in dogs and it is contagious to humans as well. Many of these viruses can be contracted from the environment and from other dogs. Please do not bring your puppy to public places like pet stores or dog parks until they are fully vaccinated at 4 months or older. Please talk to your veterinarian to set up an appropriate vaccine schedule for your growing puppy!

3. Flea and heartworm prevention are recommended every month for the life of your dog:

Flea prevention can be purchased as an oral tablet or a topical liquid. Fleas can lead to severe skin disease and can transmit some other unwanted diseases to your pets. Some flea products protect from ticks as well. There are over the counter flea preventatives available but many of them have frequent side effects including trembling and even seizures. Please talk to your veterinarian about the prescription preventatives available that are regulated and are safe for your new puppy. Heartworm disease is transmitted by mosquitos. Only one mosquito bite is needed to pass the disease to your puppy. If a dog gets heartworm disease, it can be thousands of dollars to treat. There are oral and topical heartworm preventions available and most of them prevent your dog from intestinal parasites as well.

puppy-prevention-packs
4. Intestinal parasites can cause severe problems in pets, and some are contagious to people:

There are many different types of intestinal parasites that puppies can have. Unfortunately, they are pretty common in young puppies. Intestinal parasites are easily contracted in kennels, breeding facilities, or even from their mother. Puppies are routinely treated for parasites when they first go to the veterinarian and many vets will check a sample of feces for any parasite eggs. You can help facilitate this by bringing a sample of your puppy’s stool with you to his or her first vet visit. Many parasite eggs can be picked up on your hands and some can even go through your bare feet. Please make sure you clean up dog poop regularly from the yard where you or any children walk, and wash your hands after every time you clean up.

5. Having your puppy spayed or neutered reduces the risk of many health problems:

A puppy can be spayed (for a girl) or neutered (for a boy) at about 6 months of age. They may be done younger sometimes when they are in a shelter olah-puppyr your veterinarian may recommend that you wait until they are slightly older (about 1 year) if he/she is a large breed dog or if here are any health concerns related to reproduction. Having a female dog spayed before her first heat cycle (which is usually around 6-8 months) reduces the risk of mammary tumors by 99.5%. This will also prevent any unwanted pregnancies and eliminates the risk of uterine infections, which can sometimes be fatal. Having a male dog neutered eliminates the risk of testicular cancer and decreases the risk of prostate disease. Neutering also decreases the risk of wandering and decreases behavioral problems and aggression.

6. At home dental care can begin right away and helps to prevent dental disease and dental cleanings in the future:

The only way to clean a dogs teeth once they already have tartar buildup and gingivitis is to put them under anesthesia since we can’t just ask them to “say ahh”. You can introduce your puppy to a toothbrush as soon as you get him/her. This will get them used to it and make daily teeth brushing much easier. You can even make it fun with flavored toothpaste for dogs and give a treat to follow. Please ask your veterinarian to show you how to brush your new puppy’s teeth or watch our video!

7. Nail trims and ear clepuppy-huskyaning does not always have to turn into a wrestling match:

Some dogs hate to have their nails trimmed and ears cleaned. You can help to prevent this and make these events much less stressful (for you and your dog) by exposing them to it at a young age. When your puppy is sitting with you or resting, you can play with his/her feet and run your fingers between all of the toes. This will get them used to having their feet handled and will let them know that it is not as bad as some dogs think. You can do the same thing with the ears. You can look in the ears and rub the inside with a tissue or cotton ball to get them used to their ears bring touched. These practices hugely reduce stress and make any nail trims or ear medications in the future much more manageable.

 

 

Please develop a relationship with your veterinarian and don’t hesitate to go to them with any questions or concerns. No question is too small, the more you ask the more you can learn. Also, find out where the closest 24-hour emergency clinic is located, in case you ever need their services. Enjoy your new puppy, take lots of pictures and have fun!

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NSAIDs – What you need to know!

Dr. Melissa Schupp

Your best pal Lassie comes in from playing outside and you notice she is limping on one of her back legs.  You begin browsing through your medicine cabinet looking for some medication that may relieve her pain.  You see some aspirin, naproxen, ibuprofen and acetaminophen.  You also see an old bottle of carprofen left over from when your other dog had knee surgery.  Naproxen always makes your headache go away quickly so, why not give some to Lassie?  STOP!  Call your veterinarian before you give anything!  Medications meant for you or for another dog may not be right for Lassie and could even hurt her.

With the exception of acetaminophen, the drugs listed above are all nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS).  These medications are used frequently in both people and pets for their pain-relieving, anti-inflammatory and anti-fever effects.   They are often prescribed for animals for arthritis or post-surgical pain.

So what do NSAIDS actually do?  Bear with me while we go through a bit of science.  NSAIDS block an enzyme in the body called cyclooxygenase (COX).  COX stimulates damaged cells to produce substances called prostaglandins which have several functions:

-Protect the stomach lining from the damaging effects of acid

-Helps maintain blood flow to the kidneys

-Supports platelet function

-Contributes to pain, inflammation and fever

When COX is blocked by NSAIDS, pain, inflammation and fever are reduced which is great, but there can also be side effects.  Some of the common side effects seen with NSAID use are vomiting, decreased or absent appetite, decreased activity and diarrhea.  More severe side effects can include stomach and intestinal ulcers, stomach and intestinal perforations (holes in the wall of these organs), kidney failure, liver failure and even death.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved many NSAIDS for use in dogs (carprofen, meloxicam, deracoxib, firocoxib, etodolac and robenacoxib); only two are approved for use in cats (meloxicam and robenacoxib).  This means that those medications have been shown to be safe and effective for use in that species.  NSAIDS that are approved for human use do not have the same effectiveness and particularly the same safety margin if given to your pet.

Dogs and cats are not small people!  People, dogs and cats are different species and will absorb, metabolize and react differently to medications.  A medication used for a human may last longer, have a higher absorption rate in the stomach and reach much higher concentrations in the blood stream when given to a dog.  Cats lack an enzyme allowing them to break down NSAIDS making them particularly sensitive.

Let’s look at an example.  Naproxen is a very safe and effective NSAID used in humans.  But just a single dose when given to a dog can cause severe gastrointestinal upset, stomach ulcers, intestinal perforation and kidney failure.  Effective treatment can require many days or even weeks in the hospital and cost thousands of dollars.

So, what should you do?

First, never give any medication to your pet without discussing it with your veterinarian first.  We are too often faced with a well-meaning pet owner who unintentionally caused their pet harm by giving a medication.  It is one of the most devastating problems we face.

Next, always inform your vet of any medications your pet is on – prescribed or not.  Two different NSAIDS or an NSAID and a steroid should never be given at the same time.

Ask your veterinarian about performing baseline blood work prior to starting any long-term NSAID therapy.

Never change the amount or frequency you administer to your pet without first talking to your veterinarian.

Finally, if your pet is on a prescribed NSAID, monitor him for side effects and inform your veterinarian if you see them.

NSAIDS are a very valuable and important part of medical treatment for our pets and for us.  But we must take care to use them safely!  This is not only true for NSAIDS but any medication we choose to give.  Before you reach into the medicine cabinet for a medication for Lassie, please call your veterinarian.  We are here to help you keep your pet healthy and happy for a long, long time!

 

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