Friday, December 17, 2010

Help your pets lose weight

I found this helpful article today for pets who need to lose a little (or a lot) of weight. In addition to the suggestions below, we also have a medication called Slentrol that alters the way a dog's intestinal system processes fat, in order to to "fool" them into thinking they have eaten a fatty meal when in fact they haven't. This helps shut off their appetite, just as any actual fatty-food meal tends to do.  Too bad they haven't worked out the details of this medication for humans! (Do not take this yourself, it is not approved for use by humans).

Dr. Utchen

011 weight loss resolutions for your pet

2011 weight loss resolutions for your pet
(ARA) - OK, so you purchased new running shoes, joined a gym, and are ready for a fit and healthy 2011. But while getting in shape and losing weight is an admirable New Year's resolution for you and your family, it's important to remember that people aren't the only ones who might need to shed a few pounds. The number of overweight pets in America continues to rise. Nearly half (45 percent) of dogs and 58 percent of cats are overweight or obese (at least 20 percent above ideal weight), according to a recent survey of veterinarians by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention.

"Pet owners might mistakenly think that a pudgy dog or cat is cute, without realizing this extra weight puts the pet at a greater risk for developing serious health problems, including arthritis and diabetes," says Dr. Grace Long, a veterinarian with Nestle Purina. "But the good news is that with proper nutrition and exercise, pet obesity can be reversed."

Pet owners need to remember, however, that while their weight loss success rests largely in their own hands, paws don't have the same power. If pets are to be successful at getting in better shape - and health - their owners need to intervene. Fortunately, concerned pet owners can start the New Year off on the right foot. In 2010, Dr. Meredith Rettinger, a veterinarian with Laurel Pet Hospital in West Hollywood, Calif., supervised a group of eight overweight dogs and their owners as they participated in Project: Pet Slim Down - a 90-day weight loss journey documented online at Dr. Rettinger currently is overseeing a similar 120-day journey for dogs and cats and their owners. Project: Pet Slim Down is a nationwide program from Purina Veterinary Diets that unites pet owners and veterinarians in helping pets lose weight.

Dr. Rettinger offers five simple guidelines, "2011 Weight Loss Resolutions for Your Pet," to help you - working with your veterinarian - help your pet live a leaner, healthier life.

Resolution 1: Make an appointment with your veterinarian. Just as people need expert guidance and a physician's supervision when attempting to lose weight and/or improve their fitness level, veterinarians have the knowledge to help pet owners achieve sensible, lasting weight loss for their pets.

Resolution 2: Set realistic, measurable exercise and weight loss goals. Your veterinarian can help you rule out any medical reasons for excess weight and help you plan a fitness and nutrition program that takes your pet's age, size and breed into account.

Resolution 3: Discipline yourself to make exercise a priority for you and your pet. Sure, our lives are getting busier and we have less time to exercise, but even setting aside time each day for short walks with your pet will help both of you.

Resolution 4: Control portions. Just as limiting intake is important to your own weight loss goals, ensuring a daily volume of allowed food for your pet will be key to success. Your veterinarian can tell you the exact amount of food to feed your pet each day to achieve a healthy weight, so you don't have to guess. He or she also will remind you not to say "I love you" with food.

Resolution 5: Use treats correctly. It's OK to reward your pet with a treat for a successfully completed task. Just remember that these calories need to be subtracted from the total calories allotted for the day, and they shouldn't exceed 10 percent of that allotment. Consider low-calorie treats, or break treats into smaller pieces for more rewards with the same amount of calories.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Dogs and Chewing by Frank Utchen, DVM

Chew on this.

Some dogs seem to chew on everything: shoes, wood, stairs—you name it. This is one of the normal ways dogs investigate their environment, keep their jaw muscles strong, and to some degree help remove dental tartar.

However, every year we see numerous dogs (and cats) who have swallowed something indigestible and life-threatening, so I encourage you to monitor your pets’ chewing behavior carefully.

Just a few of the problems we see each year:

Bones. Although most dogs love to chew on bones, there are two main problems I see from this. First, as expected, some dogs will get a bone stuck in their throat or elsewhere in their digestive tract. A bone stuck in the throat or the intestines is excruciatingly painful and constitutes an emergency. A bone caught in a dog’s throat can often be easily removed after being placed under general anesthesia, but a bone lodged in the intestines requires major abdominal surgery to remove.  It is life-threatening and can cost several thousand dollars depending on the severity of damage to the intestines and other complications.

Second, every year I see dogs who have cracked and broken teeth from chewing on bones. These dogs always have abscesses in the jaw bone surround the roots of the broken tooth. The only way to get rid of the infection is to either extract these teeth or perform a root canal on them. Either one involves general anesthesia and significant expense. Consequently, I do not recommend dogs be given hard bones to chew on.

Squeaky toys. Although rubber toys that squeak when a dog bites them are generally safe, I have seen two dogs in the past few years who chewed up the toy completely and swallowed the metal squeaker inside, which subsequently became lodged in the intestines and required surgery to remove. One of these dogs had to have a section of severely damaged intestine removed.

String, ribbon, etc. Sadly, I have seen several dogs die from having swallowed string, ribbon, dental floss, and the like. These are collectively referred to as “linear foreign bodies”. Once a dog begins chewing on something like this and swallows the beginning of a long strand, it can be impossible for them to spit it out. As a result, they keep swallowing until the entire ribbon-like object has been swallowed. This can become tangled in the intestines, causing severe damage over a long length of the intestinal tract, which can be fatal even when surgery is performed to remove it. I have seen this happen with video tape, leather belts, loose strands of fibers from rugs, shoelaces, panty hose, plastic “grass” used for filling Easter baskets, and virtually any other long, linear material.

Corn cobs. Every year we see several dogs that have swallowed chunks or corn cobs when then become lodged in the intestines. Corn cobs are not digestible and should never be given to dogs to chew on. I have seen one dog that died as a result of intestinal rupture from having a piece of corn cob stuck in the digestive tract.

Gorilla Glue. This is a particularly strong and expansive glue that some dogs find tasty. After chewing on the bottle and swallowing some glue, it expands to fill the entirety of their stomach and then hardens. The surgery is very much like removing a bowling ball from their stomach.

And that’s just giving you a brief taste of the kinds of things dogs chew on and develop serious complications from. Virtually anything can become a problem if swallowed (e.g. , socks, rocks, peach pits, gardening gloves, stuffing from pillows, coins, buttons) although every year I am amazed at some of the stories clients tell me about their dogs and the things they have swallowed that were eventually passed without complication, like the dog that chewed up and swallowed a complete terra cotta planter pot and managed to pass it (with some difficulty).

But I recommend you do not take chances. Monitor your dog’s activity closely. Offer rubber or digestible treats. And when in doubt about giving your dog something to chew on, err on the side of caution.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Different but the Same

Despite the obvious differences between dogs and cats and humans, the diseases we all experience are virtually the same. As an example, in the past 2 weeks I've seen 2 new diabetic dogs and 1 new diabetic cat. All 3 were showing the typical indicators of diabetes: drinking and urinating more, and losing weight. Often, diabetic pets eat more while still losing weight. If you notice changes like these in your pets--or for that matter anything that seems out of the ordinary--give us a call or shoot us an email any time.

Frank Utchen, DVM

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Cold Weather Tips by Dr. Leanne Taylor

As winter approaches, those of us that live in California think, ‘Ah, thank goodness I don’t have to worry about winter-proofing’. Albeit true that we and our pets are not subjected to the cold like those in Minnesota, there are still some important things that all pet owners should be aware of during the colder months of the California year.  For those of you that travel to Tahoe, or other cold regions with your pets, the tips below are even more important to be aware of.  The ASPCA puts out a great list of tips for the cold weather that we highly recommend reading.  For your benefit and your pets.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tips before boarding your pets

If you, like many pet owners, will be boarding your dog during the holidays, now is the time to plan for your pet's healthy, happy stay. Whether boarding your pet at BRVC or elsewhere, create a dog-boarding checklist to avoid last-minute hassles and worries about your pet's health. Here are some tips from Dr. Frank Utchen of BRVC:

The Before-boarding Checklis
Take these precautions before you board your pup:

Update vaccinations "Make sure all vaccinations are current at least a week to 10 days before boarding your dog," says Dr. Utchen.

Check requirements Call the boarding facility to inquire what its vaccination requirements are. Bring proof of the vaccinations with you when you arrive at the facility.

Visit your veterinarian Even if a facility doesn't require a veterinarian's clearance, it's a good idea to schedule a checkup for your dog within 30 days of its stay, especially if your dog has chronic ailments or is elderly.

Double-check medication supplies Ensure medication supplies are adequate for the stay and bring the prescription in its original container. "It's extremely important that if for any reason your dog has a reaction, or another dog ingests the medication, the staff knows exactly what the prescription is as well as the dosage amount," says Utchen.

Keep up with flea prevention Almost every facility will require you to treat your dog with a monthly flea preventive. Schedule a treatment just before your dog checks in to the kennel.

Questions to Ask
Steer clear of boarding facilities that don't offer direct, fully explained answers to all your questions. Here's what to know:

Can your dog eat its usual food? Dogs may have touchy digestive systems, says Dr. Utchen. Your dog will likely fare better if it can follow its usual diet, so when possible, carefully label its food before boarding.

What treats are given?
A facility might serve your dog its usual food but offer unfamiliar treats.

How will the facility handle health issues? Ask if the kennel has a relationship with a veterinarian or if veterinary technicians are on staff. At Bishop Ranch Veterinary Center & Urgent Care the veterinary staff are always available to monitor or care for any pet who begins showing signs of illness.

Share the Right Information
Your dog is more likely to enjoy a safe, healthy stay if you also keep the boarding facility well informed. Let the kennel know the following:

Special needs If your dog is prone to anxiety, aggression or other issues, let the kennel know well in advance. Booking early can ensure that your dog receives the right boarding space, says Utchen.

Your contact info Share your emergency contact number, along with a local number for someone not traveling with you. Provide contact information for your pet's veterinarian.

Any allergies Provide a list of your dog's potential allergens along with its other known health information.

Your Dog
If your dog hasn't boarded in a while, Utchen recommends a half day or so of doggie day care in the facility. Reintroducing your pup to the facility will ease stresses during the actual boarding stay.

As you're shopping, packing and otherwise planning for your own holiday trip, following this checklist may seem like a daunting task. But keep in mind why you're taking these steps: "It's about the safety and health of your dog," says Utchen.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Bloat update

We had an unfortunate case last week of a shepherd-mix who was discovered at home after having died from "bloat". This is a condition, almost exclusively of large breed dogs, where the stomach twists around on itself, for no clearly understood reason, and becomes progressively more distended with gas. Once sufficient gas has accumulated in the stomach it can no longer untwist, and without emergency surgery at that point the stomach continues to distend with more trapped gas and the situation is invariably fatal. The only proven way to prevent this problem is with a relatively minor surgical procedure called a Gastropexy, where the stomach is fixed in place so it cannot rotate. For the past 7 years we have been performing this procedure laparoscopically. Dogs can have this procedure performed on an outpatient basis. You can read a more complete discussion of this condition here:

Thanksgiving Pet Tips by Dr. Kristel Weaver

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because it is all about the food.  Of course getting together with family and watching football are also highlights.  I have compiled a few tips to keep your dogs and cats healthy this Thanksgiving.
  • Avoid giving your pets rich fatty foods.  Dogs and cats are at risk of getting pancreatitis or gastroenteritis from eating turkey fat or buttered mashed potatoes.
  • Avoid giving turkey bones to your pet as they can lead to choking, splintering, or an intestinal obstruction.  The risks far outweigh the benefits.
  • Be sure to get any baking strings right into the trash.  If eaten, they could cause a linear foreign body which means surgery and an extensive recovery time.
  • Avoid feeding raw turkey meat or parts.  Any raw meat, and especially poultry, carries the risk of salmonella poisoning, abdominal cramping, and severe diarrhea.
  • And as a reminder, dogs cannot have onions, grapes/raisins, or chocolate any time of the year.
For some extra tips to help train your dog during a holiday celebration check out the following article from our Pet Health Library: 

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with tasty food, close family, and plenty of couch time!

Bishop Ranch Veterinary Center & Urgent Care's holiday hours are the following:
  • Wednesday, November 24th      7 a.m. - 10 p.m. 
  • Thursday, November 25th          CLOSED
  • Friday, November 26th              7 a.m. - 10 p.m.
  • Saturday, November 27th          8 a.m. - 8 p.m.
  • Sunday, November 28th            8 a.m. - 8p.m.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Lawn edging hazards for dogs

This report was just released, and points out the importance of evaluating the safety of your yard with respect to your pets--

Study looks at risk of landscape edging for the first time

Injuries in children due to metal landscape edging (metal strips half-buried in the ground to edge lawns) have been previously documented. A 2001 study showed that over a two-year period, 126 children were admitted to the Children’s Hospital in Denver for lacerations caused by metal lawn edging, mostly to the feet and knees.
This dog sustained tendon injuries (left) from contact with metal landscape edging. The injuries had to be surgically repaired with mesh (right). (Photo courtesy of CSU VTH)
But what about the risk to pets? The danger of metal landscape edging to animals has not been documented until now. A new study shows that the sharp-edged landscaping tool also poses a risk of injury to dogs.

Amanda Duffy, DVM, MS, DACVECC, led the study while at Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital (VTH). Her team looked at the frequency and severity of limb injuries in dogs resulting from contact with metal edging.

Over a 10 year period, the VTH admitted 60 dogs that fit the conditions for the study. These 60 dogs accounted for nearly one-third of all paw injuries at the VTH’s emergency service, according to the study.

"Most dogs were young, large breed dogs," the study says. "All 60 dogs suffered traumatic pedal lacerations when contacting metal landscape edging, the majority of which occurred on the forelimbs."

Duffy said that during her four years of working in Colorado, she treated many dogs that had been injured by metal edging, although she did not treat any of the dogs in the study.

"When I moved to Colorado from the Boston area, I was surprised to see so many injuries related to lawn edging," Duffy said. "Since it had never been reported, I thought it was important to write a paper to increase public awareness of the issue."

Duffy said she was surprised to learn how severe the injuries from edging can be. In some cases the injuries were life-threatening, she said.

Of the 60 dogs in the study, 85 percent of them needed surgery, and 18 percent required extensive surgical repair of skin, subcutaneous tissue, and muscle, tendon, or fascia.

"I think the most important thing to be taken away from this study is that lawn edging injury does occur frequently and can cause significant damage to pets, with a significant expense," she said. "I think that all lawn edging should be covered or that it should not be made from metal, in order to prevent these types of injuries, which occur in children, too."

The study, "Canine pedal injury resulting from metal landscape edging," was published in the Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care. 

Friday, October 29, 2010

EPA issues warning on counterfeit Frontline and Advantage

Sales of counterfeit "Advantage" and "Frontline" over the internet has led the EPA to issue a warning about purchasing these products from internet sources and from big box stores. At best these counterfeit products are ineffective, and at worst they can be toxic. Please see the following link for the EPA's warning regarding possible toxicity of counterfeit products:

If you purchase your Advantage or Frontline through Bishop Ranch Veterinary Center, you can be assured of its authenticity and purity. We place our orders directly with the manufacurer and our product is delivered directly to us overnight.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Welcome to Bishop Ranch Veterinary Center's Dr.'s Blog

Welcome to our blog. Post questions or comments on veterinary-related topics and our doctors will respond.