Environmental Allergies

environmental allergiesYour pet can suffer from the same sorts of allergies that you may have. Inside your house, your pet may experience symptoms set off by dust mites, cat dander or even mold. For pets that frequently go outdoors, pollens and ragweed – even fertilizer and pesticides — can trigger allergic reactions. Symptoms like redness, itchiness or even perpetual ear infections, may signal that your pet has allergies.

But how do you know what’s bothering your dog or cat? Ordinarily, we investigate the most common allergies first and work from that point. If flea allergies are ruled out, then some type of food may be the culprit, and a food trial should be conducted to see if food allergies are the culprit.

If a food trial doesn’t yield conclusive results, you may be dealing with an environmental allergy. We can take a blood sample so that an appropriate allergy injection can be formulated or the offending allergen can be avoided. Initially, if immunotherapy is chosen, a weekly shot is needed; we train you to administer it. After a recommended time, the shot is only needed monthly.

Your pet completely depends on you – for her food, exercise and where she’s allowed to sleep. He can’t shop for gluten-free pet food or arrange for all your house’s air ventilation ducts to be professionally cleaned. It’s safe to say that without your intervention, it’s nearly impossible for your dog or cat to avoid certain allergens.

Taking simple steps can help your dog or cat feel much more comfortable, no matter the environment.

Food Allergies and Your Pet

food allergies for petsPets are like humans. They have allergies to all sort of things – including food. By being exposed to the same foods over and over, some sensitive dogs or cats can develop allergies. The most common food allergens for dogs and cats are chicken, beef, corn and wheat. Not so coincidentally, these food products make up the top ingredients in all commercial pet foods. And it’s harder to avoid them than you might think.

Fish flavored chicken. Even when a pet food is labeled as “fish,” you may find that the primary ingredient is fish-flavored chicken. You’ll also find lamb-flavored beef or chicken when you read the small print closely. So read the label, then read the ingredients to know what your pet is really eating.

Allergic reactions. Food allergies may manifest in symptoms ranging from itchiness to respiratory problems to digestive woes. If your pet suffers from a chronic problem, talk to us. We’ll help you narrow down the culprit, and come up with a plan to help ease the problem.

Here are our most common solutions for pets with food allergies:

1. Change your pet’s diet. Town N Country stocks the following lines because of their quality:

     a. Instinct. Rest assured that this pet food line contains very limited ingredients and is grain-free. Ingredients include exotic proteins like rabbit, duck and bison.

     b. Purina HA. Depend on hypo-allergenic dog food available by prescription.

     c. Hills ZD. Change to a pet food with hydrolyzed (or broken down) protein which is easier to digest and available by prescription.

2. Conduct a food trial.

     a. When you switch foods, your pet needs to be fed the new food exclusively for 8-12 weeks. You can’t give treats, and you can’t slip them anything under the table. By feeding them the new diet, you’re essentially detoxing your pet’s digestive system.

     b. After the prescribed time (8-12 weeks) give a piece of chicken (or the suspected food) and see if they react.

It will take a little detective work and probably some slight changes in diet, but it will pay off in the end. In the meantime, we’ll suggest things that can help your pet feel much more comfortable. And that will make you more comfortable, too!

Public Allergen #1: Fleas

the common fleaIt’s true: the number one cause of dermatitis and skin problems in dogs or cats is fleas. If you’re wondering if your pet is battling fleas, take a quick look at the primary symptoms:

1. “Come here, Scratchy.” If you’re thinking of nicknaming your pet “Scratchy” because she’s always scratching herself, you may be dealing with fleas.

2. Search high and low. Check your pet carefully, especially at the tail or the neck since these are common places to find fleas.

3. Check the hair line. Look for red bumps or pimples where your pet’s hair is thin.

The good news is that the problem of fleas is easily preventable. Talk to your vet about these possible solutions:

1. Trifexis® protects your dog from fleas, heartworms, roundworms, hookworms and whipworms. The last three mentioned are types of intestinal parasites. Effective on your dog for 30 days, Trifexis paralyzes the flea’s mouth when it bites your treated dog.

2. Capstar®
is a similar product to TrifexisR but its effectiveness lasts only for 24 hours rather than 30 days.

Move here:

3. Vectra 3D® provides broad spectrum protection against ticks, mosquitoes, lice, biting flies and fleas. An allergic pet needs the very strongest flea prevention available.

4. Environmental treatment for your house and/or yard may be recommended, depending on the individual case.

5. Symptomatic treatments like antihistamines, steroids, antibiotics or antifungals can help your pet feel more comfortable and alleviate irritations like itchiness, dermatitis or watery eyes.

You’ll notice that flea shampoo didn’t make the list of treatments because it only gets rid of fleas temporarily. That type shampoo won’t prevent another set of fleas from setting up residence on your clean pet.

Spring may bring showers, flowers and (finally) some warmth, but it doesn’t need to bring fleas. Call today and set up a time to talk about what could be bugging your pet.

Protecting Your Dog from Kennel Cough

Bordetella

“Betsy, did you notice that nasty cough in the new dog? I’m not getting any closer.”

It’s a dog’s nature to be social. That’s why most of TNC’s patents need the Bordetella vaccination. This vaccine offers protection against “kennel cough” or “Infectious Tracheobronchitis”. You’ll find potential for this infection whenever and wherever dogs congregate.

So dogs that attend doggie daycare or training classes, compete in shows or sporting events, are groomed regularly or spend time in the dog park or overnight in the kennel all need protection.

All dogs cough from time to time – some even do something called a reverse sneeze – but kennel cough is characterized by frequent fits of coughing. Many dog owners describe the infection as: “my dog sounds like she’s got something stuck in her throat.”

The Nose Has It Immunization couldn’t be simpler because this particular vaccine is administered intranasally (through the nose – without needles!)

Your dog’s nose is exactly where you want his immunity to develop since that’s where the natural infection would attack. Puppies may be vaccinated as early as 3 weeks of age, and immunity lasts 12 to 13 months.

Some dogs may exhibit symptoms like sneezing or nasal discharge during the week after the vaccine. It’s recommended that the vaccine be given at least four days before any possible exposure (group setting), and boosters should be given every six months.

Certain strains of the virus are more prone to progress to pneumonia, so vaccinating your dog regularly is her best protection. If you’ve got questions about what’s best for your dog, give us a call.

New Vaccine Guidelines for Your Dog

dappled dogIf your dog tries to find the back door as soon as you come into Town N Country’s front door, you’ll be happy to know that one four-letter word (S-H-O-T) can be less frequent in your life.

Town N Country’s vaccine protocol has recently been updated to match recommendations of AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association), meaning core vaccines can be administered every three years rather than yearly.

Rabies has always been given every three years as long as the dog’s had the initial one-year vaccine. Now all future distemper, adenovirus and parvovirus vaccines can also be given every three years, given the expanded years of protection with updated medical technology.

Innovations formulated by ULTRATMDuramuneR means that the volume of vaccine is actually half of what it was previously. (The new vaccine is only 0.5ml in volume.) That’s very good news for smaller dogs that may have reacted to vaccines in the past.

PureFilTM Technology also reduces possible vaccine reactions by reducing extraneous proteins and cellular debris. So your dog’s vaccine has been updated to become a more purified product that’s more effective.

You can count on Town N Country to continually offer you and your pets the safest most effective vaccines, taking advantage of the latest proven technology. If you have any questions about vaccines and your pet, give us a call.

My Dental Cleaning Costs How Much?!

dental visit costNo, you’re not the only one shocked by the price of a dental cleaning. More than one customer has pointed out to us that cleaning the pet’s teeth costs more than cleaning their own teeth.

Contrary to what you’ve imagined, your pet’s dental bill payments don’t go into a Swiss bank account or purchase a luxury home on the French Riviera. Your cat’s or dog’s cleaning cost more because:

1. You probably go to the dentist more often. Your visits are scheduled every six months, so you have less tartar in your mouth than what your cat or dog exhibits. Most people don’t bring in their pet for a cleaning unless they can see tartar or signs of periodontal disease.

2. A neglected mouth needs more attention. Full mouth radiographs are routinely done at each visit. Scaling, polishing and charting each tooth takes a bit more time than you might anticipate.

3. To clean your pet’s mouth properly, anesthesia must be administered. We have to do this in order for the vet or vet tech to thoroughly examine and complete necessary procedures. If you’d like to read more why anesthesia is best for your pet, click here.

But look on the bright side. This month, for a limited time, receive a free Rin Tin Grin bag when you bring in your furry baby for a dental appointment. February’s dental health month, and we would love to see you and your pet very soon.

Photo Credit: russelljsmith via Compfight cc

Dental Cleanings at TNC: 5 Things You’ll Never Hear

5 thingsAt Town N Country, questions about cleaning a pet’s teeth come up frequently. Ads for “sedation cleaning” or “sedation dentistry” mislead and confuse pet owners. Trying to clean an animal’s teeth without anesthesia presents many problems, which is why the American Veterinarian Dental Society (AVDS) considers such a procedure malpractice.

Your pet is much better served (and healthier too) when she receives a professional cleaning using anesthesia. Take a look at five things you will not hear during a cleaning at Town N Country.

1. “Just relax, Buster. Now spit.” When’s the last time your pet spit on command? Aside from prepping your pet for a procedure he truly doesn’t understand, a veterinary hygienist needs to protect the animal’s airway. Keeping debris and fluid out of the lungs of a panicked pet would be impossible without anesthesia. (Think about how many times your mouth was suctioned during your last dental cleaning.)

2. “Raise your right paw if this starts to hurt too much.” An animal in pain doesn’t react the way you and I do. A thorough cleaning means cleaning below the gum line where tartar and bacteria often develop. A sedation cleaning might manage to clean a pet’s teeth above the gum line, making teeth appear whiter; however, very significant problems could still lurk beneath the surface.

3. “Did I tell you that you get a biscuit when this is over?” A professional cleaning takes time because it does more than clean. The veterinary hygienist’s tasks include charting, radiographs, scaling and polishing the teeth. These tasks would be impossible to perform on an alert, frightened animal, no matter how many reward biscuits you promised.

4. “I do this all the time. Really.” There’s a good reason AVDS calls sedation dentistry malpractice. The people who administer this process are often not trained in dentistry or veterinary procedures. For the safety and well-being of your pet, only a licensed veterinarian or a supervised and trained veterinary technician should provide dental services.

5. “OUCH!! $%#@!!!!” At Town N Country, we’re also concerned for the safety of our staff members. No one wants to have hands inside of an easily roused animal’s mouth or within scratching distance of active paws with claws.

You want the best for your pet – that’s why you ask questions about procedures. At Town N Country, your questions are always welcomed. With a little help, your pet’s good dental health can lead to a long and healthy life.

Bad Breath is No Joke

your-pets-bad-breathCould your dog’s bad breath….

1. straighten your hair?

2. Make skunks get high?

3. Peel paint?

4. Take karate lessons? (Because it’s sure kicking! – Get it?!)

No joke – your pet’s dental health deserves serious attention. No matter what you’ve been told, doggy breath shouldn’t be synonymous with bad breath. A healthy mouth means gums look pink (not red or purple) and there’s no foul odor. Bad breath can be an early sign for infection.

Just as your own health can be compromised by periodontal disease, your pet’s dental infections can lead to problems with her heart, liver and kidneys that can consequently result in a shortened lifespan.

Take a closer look in your pet’s mouth. If you can find tartar accumulation or see red or purple gums, it’s time for a cleaning. Or if Barney’s breath is something the whole family avoids, it’s time to give us a call. Remember, this month, you’ll get a free Rin Tin Grin Bag at your dental visit!

Tuck’s Story

tuck and his dad

Tuck and his dad

We wanted to share this heartwarming story with all our Facebook friends. A few weeks ago, we started our day meeting a Boston Terrier named Tuck. Tuck was a bright-eyed, big-eared 5-year old that woke up one morning and couldn’t use his right leg. By the next morning, all 4 legs were paralyzed and he could barely raise his head. Because he was paralyzed, he couldn’t get in a position to eat or drink or go to the bathroom.

When I met Tuck he was laying on his side, with no attempt to move. After our exam, we suspected he had granulomeningoencephalitis (GME) which is an immune mediated type of encephalitis that can affect dogs causing varied but sometimes widespread neurological signs. It was recommended that he be seen by a neurologist for an MRI and CSF tap.

Unfortunately, those advanced tests were too costly. We counseled the owner to consider treatment for GME even though we couldn’t be 100% certain that’s what he had without a CSF tap. He needed immunosuppressant therapy that could get quite costly over time. The owner consented knowing that if this didn’t work, they would have to put Tuck to sleep.

tuck

Tuck standing and eating!

Tuck’s Angel The owner’s employer’s heart was so moved by Tuck’s dilemma that they paid for some of Tuck’s test and treatments. A few days later Tuck was able to move one leg, but just barely. The owners again were afraid they were going to have to put him to sleep. The physical therapy and supportive care he was requiring was wearing them down.

We persuaded them to wait for at least the medications to have enough time to see their full effect. We would even take care of his physical therapy/supportive care during the day while they were at work.

We just had a feeling Tuck wanted to get better. After a few more days, one back leg was working better. On Sunday we received the post showing Tuck standing on his own with his head in his bowl. We were elated to see that Tuck was continuing to improve.

Tuck has been a great, great dog to work with. He never says a word with anything we have to do to him and he’s always a willing participant in his therapy. We are all working for him to get him back to function again, but he’s working the hardest.

Keep up the good work Tuck! We are all cheering you on!

by Dr. King

What’s in Your Pet’s Bowl?

Feeding Your Wee Darlings for Optimum Nutrition and Health

over feeding your dog or catGood nutrition keeps your dog or cat energetic and healthy. If your dog’s usually happy to head out for a daily walk with you or your cat enjoys a robust playtime, that’s a great indicator of good health.

However, a recent study* found that roughly half of all pets would be classified as overweight. So someone (ahem) has been overfeeding the wee darlings. If you suspect your little dear may have overindulged, a closer look at your pet’s food and habits would be prudent.

Here are 5 strategies to help your pet maintain (or shed ounces to be at) his best weight:

1. Start with a check-up. Most pets become portly simply because they exercise too little and eat too much. However, before you put your pet on any sort of special diet, you need to know her health is good. Several diseases or health problems are indicated by an increase in weight.

2. Find a measure of excellence.
You can begin with an old fashioned-measuring cup and measure your pet’s portions. If you’re in the habit of eyeballing portions, you may be surprised by what a half-cup of kibble (or canned food) really looks like. Talk to us about the right amount for your pet.

3. Time the meals. Keeping your pet on a regular schedule helps you monitor for any health differences or potential problems. Most adult dogs and cats eat morning and evening.

4. Water, waiter, water!
Your pet can’t snap her fingers or ask for water, but if her bowl’s empty or low, she may drink out of the toilet when you’re not looking. Keep those water bowls full!

5. Check out Purina OM*.
Talk to your vet, but this dog food is specially formulated to help an overweight weight pet obtain the best nutrition with carefully managed caloric intake. (And until the end of the month, Purina OM is on sale.) *Overweight Management

Loving your favorite pets doesn’t have to mean a little extra food here and there. Express your affection with an extra walk, a romp at the park or a ride to see us. You may discover that your pet’s improved health improves yours too.

*Fifth annual Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) survey found that 55% of adult dogs and 53% of adult cats would be classified as overweight.