Thursday, March 17, 2011

Paws for Japan help support animal rescue in Japan


I am sure that there is probably no need to inform you of the great disasters that the island of Japan is facing after being hit by a devastating earthquake and then by a tsunami. 

  The nation is still facing death and destruction a week after these events.  Thousands are missing, hundreds dead and many families are facing daily uncertainty.  There is no need to make clear the severity of the pain and devastation this nation is facing. 

  The destruction the earthquake and tsunami have brought do not only threaten the lives of humans, but also the lives of the animal lives on the island.  While many rescue teams are already busy handling human rescues there are few arms reaching out to the animals that are in pain and shock, terrified, many looking for their human families.

We must not forget that our humanity is measured by how we help the weakest in times of need and animals are living creatures that bleed when hurt, that feel fear when scared that deserve aid and at the very minimum a chance to find safety.  In such time of crisis we must make the effort to help these people in need but we must also remember that there is a need to help those animals in need as well.  

  There have been reports of animals found with small bags of money attached to them in hopes that who ever finds them will help them.  If the people of japan in the face of such horror still took time to look out for their pet companions shouldn't we honor them by continuing these efforts and lending a hand to animal rescue groups as well?   Please find it in your hearts to not only help the devastated people of Japan but to also donate to animal rescue groups like world vets.  As always after a huge disaster like this there are many charity groups that rise to the occasion as well as many more fraudulent groups so be smart and only donate to trusted groups and organizations. 

Lets show our humanity and extend our help to the hundreds if not thousands of animals that need our help.  Just think of the relief that the people of Japan will feel when they know that although they may never be reunited with their animal companions, these animals have someone out there looking to find and help them.  The comfort they will feel to know that if their pet survived someone is fighting hard to bring them so safety. 

So be the change you want to see in the world, every life matters, every ache and every fear deserves to be calmed and healed whether you walk around on four paws or two.  Donate today! Get involved and spread the word.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

How to have a successfull Vet visit

Inevitably at one point or the other a pet owner will be faced with a need to consult some sort of professional to entrust their pets health and well being.

   How cooperative your pet is during such consultation is important. 

Think back to the last time you were in a doctors office, whether for your self or for a loved one like a child. The scene is typical there are the loud children running around climbing over chairs and being over all rude.  There are the ones speaking loudly on their phones and then there's the rest of us just trying to get through the experience as quickly and as painlessly as possible. 

   Well the same can be expected from a veterinary visit the question is who will you be the one with the out of control pet or the well behaved pup sitting quietly awaiting to be seen.

  The smells the sounds even the feeling of the floor tiles can be new and scary to your pet.  Add on to that the possibility of discomfort caused by a health problem and you have a combination for a usually stable pet to act out of character. You may find your self in friendly chatter while you wait but this is not the place to take a chance and let your pet socialize.   A usually friendly dog can snap quickly under such a stressful situation.  Plus you don't know what the other animal is in for and you don't want to take a chance at your pet catching something like ear mites. 

   The vet visit doesn't have to be a stressful experience if you take the steps to prepare your pet for the experience and the examination from the day they enter your home.

   Expose your pet to different sounds and smells and teach them to stay calm when introduced to new experiences by not giving attention to a restless dog.  Dogs are not comforted by your petting and cooing when they are scared, what you are doing is reassuring them there is a need to panic. 

  Think like a dog. 

   We walk on two feet and for the most part these feet are deprived of most sensory exposure by being in shoes or socks.   So we are not often affected by the ground below us, not enough to keep us from exploring new locations based on the ground texture.  Yet most of our pets (theres always the stylish pooch in designer booties)  walk barefoot.  So our Dogs are on their four paws constantly receiving messages from their exposed paws.  Tile and linoleum floors are no where near natural to a dog and if they have long nails it will feel even stranger and may lead to them not feeling comfortable in the vets office. 

     If your dog displays strong dislike for such floors try having a practice run where you expose your pet for short periods of times to such flooring.  It may not seem like a big deal to you but these animals experience the world very differently to us.  

  Next are the sounds and smells.  All those chemicals can seem scary but if you remain calm and assertive your pet will understand there is no need to be alarmed and will associate the smells and sounds of this new environment with your calmness.  Bringing treats to offer a tasty bribe is never a bad idea.  

 The most important part of the visit is the examination, if your animal isn't comfortable during the physical exam it will affect how well your vet   will be able to render a diagnosis.  

  If you accustom your pet to being touched in the areas where your vet often checks they will not give it a second thought when being handled at the vet.  As young as possible touch your pets ears, snout, tail, paws underbelly and under paw pads and offer rewards when they stay calm.  This will help them think that being handled in those areas by your vet is OK.  This will also be helpful for when you take you pet for any kind of grooming. 

  The most important element is ...You.  You are who your pet looks to when they need to be reassured.  If you remain calm and comfortable your pet will trust your judgement and remain calm.  This behavior and bond is not learned at the office it is learned at home every day in everything you do. 

  Remember to discuss any questions on you pets nutrition with your vet.  Voice your concerns and ask about the importance of balanced nutrition.  Now remember to remain the owner of your pets health and investigate even the food that your vet will recommend.  We all know that human doctors stand to win compensation for recommending a certain brand of prescriptions over an other, the same is true for the veterinary world and often times the vet will recommend a brand that is not particularly the best but rather what they may be in contract to mention.  The point is own your pets health and inform your self and always read the labels. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

My dogs ears suddenly swollen

When you brig home a new pet you're full of new hopes and imagine the wonderful life ahead of the both of you.

Very few of us actually think let alone prepare for a health problem when it comes to our pets. 

   Sometimes everything is OK until its not.  Our family dog Snoopy is a six year old German shepherd
Pit bull mutt, he is my baby.  I came home to visit my parents on Sunday and as I was petting Snoopy I noticed that both his ear flaps were swollen.  The feeling was so alien to me that I even asked my mother to feel them and asked her have his ears always been like this?  I even had to take off his collar because it didn't seem to fit right all of the sudden.

     My heart sunk all sorts of thoughts came to my mind.  I kept asking myself is this an allergic reaction, an infection, bug bite or ear mites? So many possible diagnosis for such similar ailments.  If you asked me I would have sworn he was dying just from how scared I was. 

  With a little research I found out that many things could cause your dogs ears to swell up especially for dogs with floppy ears.  It could have been a reaction to an infection that had been left untreated and worsened. As well as the possibility of a sort of allergic reaction either to something he ate or rubbed up against.  It could have also been a reaction to ear mite infestation.  The scariest possibility was something called aural hematoma

   Ear mites are most commonly transmitted from contact with an infested host animal, there needs to be some sort of contact.   They are most commonly found in cats but dogs can get them too and they will live off of your animals ear wax and skin oils.  Their life cycle from egg to adult is usually three weeks so treatment needs to cover that time span at the very minimum. 

   Their presence can create very irritating ear infections and a lot of inflammation.  They very rarely travel outside of the ear onto the host head and usually stay on the ear canal skin.   You might see a black discharge.  Infections can sometimes have similar discharge and so some infections are misdiagnosed as ear mites and so not treated properly.  If you suspect infection or ear mites have you animal checked by a professional who can appropriately diagnose and treat.

Aural Hematomas happen when the small blood vessels in the ear flap rupture and fill the ear with blood.  The ear flap will be extremely swollen and when touched will feel like filled with liquid.  This can often be caused by excessive head shaking that causes the vessels to rupture.   Infection of some sore or fungal infection is often the cause for the excessive scratching and ear shaking. 

   If left untreated the hematoma will usually lead to more swelling and a heaviness and discomfort to your pet.  It will usually go away in a few weeks and may leave a deformed "cauliflower ear".  It should be treated quickly to avoid further discomfort, to treat for any possible infection and to prevent deformation. 

  Treatments can be aspiration with a syringe to drain out the excess liquid. As well as surgically opening the ear flap to drain the blood and remove blood clots.  Another treatment possibility is to place an "indwelling cannula" to drain the blood as the ear heals.  With aspiration there is the possibility of infection, dogs rarely tolerate the cannula and surgery is usually the quickest way to deal with a hematoma.  With either treatment or lack of there will always be some sort of scarring tissue.  It is important that any treatment be done by your vet do not attempt to drain the blood your self. 

    There is also the possibility of a yeast infection which also requires treatment.

  So we took Snoops to The North shore Animal League medical center.  Not only was it affordable, at time of visit a wellness exam was $35.00  but everyone was very friendly and the vet thoroughly checked for all possibilities.  He said Snoopy's ear canal was clean and clear no signs of mites, no sign of infection or yeast.  And determined that the swelling was probably caused by an allergic reaction.  I told the vet the swelling went down in about 48 hours and so he probably had an allergic reaction to something he ate since a bug bite would have probably cause swelling on the original bite site. 

   Before we took snoopy to the vet we consulted with a family friend who is a life long dog breeder and he instructed us to rub the ear down with mineral oil or baby oil to kill any possible ear mites and to rub the ear flap with bacitracin or triple antibiotic ointment to treat possible infection.  But he explained to us that if it was an infection it was a serious one.  So we decided to take his advice and make an appointment to see the vet as well. 

          The point is that when an animal exhibits this sort of swelling it could be many different things and you don't want to self diagnose because you might mis treat the problem and therefore not really help at all.  North shore offered affordable treatment and now I have peace of mind that my baby is OK.  Look for clinics in your area that are affordable many shelters will offer affordable health care as well.  Don't try any sort of human treatment unless instructed by a professional because what  may be safe for humans can be deadly for animals.  

   Be safe and be informed on the possible health problems your breed is prone to so you can prepare accordingly.  And remember when you get a pet its a life long commitment they get sick just like we do and when left untreated can be costly and life threatening.