Rely on Us: 4 Reasons Why You Should Choose Medical Boarding for Senior Pets

Dog with bandana outside.

There are many instances when traveling with a pet may not be safe nor suitable for them. Senior or geriatric pets often have a number of health conditions or limitations that make travel unsafe and unhappy for them. Yet, boarding with a standard kennel or pet resort is also unwise, because many of them cannot give the direct support and attention as medical boarding can.  

The team at Animal Medical Hospital and 24 Hour Urgent Care is here to explain why medical boarding is in our beloved senior pets’ best interests.

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Fun Indoor Activities for Your Pet This Winter

When we have relied heavily on outdoor time with our pet, it may be hard to come up with interesting things for them to do when it is too chilly to go out. Indoor activities for your pet are important for giving them the exercise and enrichment they need to thrive. 

Don’t let the winter blues get to you and your pet. Stay engaged and active through these fun indoor activities brought to you by your team at Animal Medical Hospital and 24 Hour Urgent Care.

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Dog Shampoo: Is it Really Necessary?

dog with shampoo on his head

Occasional (or frequent) trips to the pet supply store are a part of life for responsible dog owners, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the variety of choices when it comes to pet care products. Do you go with a conventional or boutique brand of food? Traditional leash or harness? Plain collar or the one made of black leather and covered with metal studs? 

With so many other decisions to make, it can be tough to face the grooming aisle with it’s rows upon rows of dog shampoo, conditioner, and other skin care products. It can be tempting to skip this step and just bathe your dog with whatever you already use on yourself at home, but this could have negative consequences for your pooch.

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10 Fun and Adorable Pet Costumes for Halloween 2020

dog in costume

If you agree that nothing is cuter than adorable pets dressed up in Halloween costumes, you’re in luck! We have scoured the internet for the coolest, cutest, and overall best pet costumes of the year for your consideration.

We know that finding the perfect Hallowen getup for your particular pet can be a tough decision. This is why your friends at Animal Medical Hospital and 24 Hour Urgent Care did some window shopping for you. Let’s dress those amazing pets up, shall we?

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Where Can You Find Pet Safe Pest Control Products?

pest control products

There’s no shortage of bug killers out there. Step into any home improvement store and you’ll find them in such variety you might easily assume you’ll never again have problems with spiders, mosquitoes, wasps, ants, rodents or any other pests. 

Unfortunately, many of the commercially available pest control products are incredibly toxic to pets. The good news is that there are ways you can enforce pet safe pest control at home. Your pet’s safety is assured and you can live without pests, too!

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Hill’s Pet Nutrition Expands Voluntarily Recall for Canned Dog Food for Excessive Vitamin D

A message from Hill’s Pet Nutrition

Update March 20, 2019

It is with sincere regret that I write to inform you that Hill’s is expanding the voluntarily recall of canned dog food products relating to the January 31st recall. As a company, and as pet parents, we always put our pets’ health and wellness first and pride ourselves on developing the best nutrition to meet their needs.

Following the recall, we conducted a detailed review of our canned dog foods. As we had expected, that review confirmed that that the issue is isolated to the same vitamix premix used in canned dog foods and limited to specific production lots.  However, our review did determine that there were additional products affected by that vitamin premix, and it is for that reason that we are expanding the recall. No dry foods, cat foods or treats are affected.

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

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

Hill's Expanded Recall
Hill's Expanded 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.

Details about the original voluntary recall made by Hills Pet Nutrition in January can be found here.

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.


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/

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.

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!