Many of us would never dream of leaving home without our pets when taking a trip. The open road or open skies, if you need to travel by air, can be a fun and enjoyable experience. All it takes is a little planning. But, what exactly do you need to do before embarking on such an excursion with your furry friend?
Planning ahead is the key to a great trip with your pet. Here are some top considerations before you walk out the door!
Research transportation and lodging options. Make sure you know any requirements for travel with your pet, and any restrictions your lodging or accommodations might have.
Make an appointment with the vet. Make an appointment with us to discuss your pet’s health needs before traveling. We’ll want to make sure their vaccinations and parasite preventives are up to date. This is really important, especially if you’ll be traveling to a new climate or state, as we see different health threats elsewhere than we have here in New Jersey.
And, it’s the ideal time to make sure your pet is microchipped, or to confirm that your contact information is current with the microchip company.
Pack for both comfort and safety. You wouldn’t leave your favorite creature comforts behind while traveling, and neither should your pet! Whether you’re flying or driving, here are a few items to pack for safety and style.
A copy of their prescriptions (as well as the medications)
A sweater or jacket (if traveling to colder climates)
A recent picture of you with your pet (if your pet goes missing)
Pet Jet Setters
If you will be flying with your pet, it will be best if they can fly under the seat in their carrier. If they are too big to fit, they will need to travel in the cargo hold. If your pet must fly as cargo, talk to us as soon as possible, so we can discuss your pet’s safety or arrange boarding options.
Here are some of our best tips for the jet set.
Book a direct flight. This reduces some stress and anxiety, and reduces the chance that your pet will be left waiting on the tarmac in inclement or hot weather during a layover.
Purchase a USDA approved carrier or crate. Make sure your pet can comfortably stand, lie down, and turn around inside the crate. Leave it latched but unlocked, so that the airline personnel can open it in an emergency. Mark it carefully and clearly with your pet’s name, destination, and your contact information.
Come see us. All airlines require a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (health certificate) for pet travel. We can help you with this documentation. We can also make sure you have medications and prescription diets ordered in advance and ready for your trip.
Make friends with the airline personnel. We’re not joking! Letting the crew know you’re traveling with your pet can help them make accommodations and be ready if assistance or special attention is needed.
Many pets love riding in the car or RV, and traveling by road with them can be fun and a great adventure! Here are our tips for traveling with your pet on the open road.
Safety first. Your pet should travel in a carrier or crate to ensure their safety. And, remember to never, ever leave your pet alone in the car, even if it seems cool.
Stop and smell the roses. Research your route to find pet friendly places, hiking trails, parks, and the like.
Something new. Keep your pet entertained and happy while in the car by bringing along a few new or novel toys to give them along the way.
If you have any questions about traveling with pets or need to make a pre-travel appointment, give us a call. We’re happy to help you ensure a fun and safe trip before you hit the road.
“Did you know that Fluffy has a heart murmur?” Those words are enough to stop just about any pet owner in their tracks. Anything involving the heart not working properly is intimidating, yet heart murmurs in pets are a very common problem that we diagnose here at The Maywood Veterinary Clinic.
Read on to learn about diagnosing (and possibly treating) heart murmurs, should we hear that unexpected sound at your pet’s next visit.
What’s in a Sound
A heart murmur is defined as an abnormal sound that is auscultated during the heartbeat. Normally, blood is pumped through the four chambers within the heart as oxygen deprived blood returns and freshly oxygenated blood is returned to circulation. As the blood travels through the heart, it must pass through four valves. The closure of these valves results in that characteristic lub-dub sound we all know.
A heart murmur is diagnosed when an abnormal sound is present. Anything that causes turbulence in blood flow can result in abnormal noise. Possibilities include a leaky valve, a narrowing in one of the blood vessels, an abnormal hole between heart chambers, thin blood, or something foreign within the organ, such as a parasite like heartworms.
Heart murmurs are typically described by their location on the heart, their timing during the heartbeat, and by grade.
Heart murmurs are graded on a scale of one to six. A grade one heart murmur is very soft, whereas a grade six is quite loud. The grade of a heart murmur does not necessarily correlate with the severity of the problem causing the murmur.
Heart murmurs in pets are a frequent diagnosis, so should we hear one in yours, be sure not to panic. The next step is to gain more information.
Once a heart murmur is auscultated, we need to determine what its cause is and whether any treatment is required. In order to accomplish this, we may recommend diagnostic testing, including:
Obtaining radiographs (x-rays) in order to determine the size of the heart and presence of fluid within the lungs and abdominal cavity
Performing blood testing, including heartworm screening
Recommending a heart ultrasound (echocardiogram) to assess the heart chambers, blood vessels, and valves
Depending on what we find, we may just monitor the murmur or recommend treatment. Heart problems sometimes require nutritional changes, as well as medications, depending on the nature of the diagnosis.
For any pet, good dental care, weight management, appropriate exercise, and parasite prevention are essential components of maintaining a healthy heart. They become even more important for an animal with an underlying heart issue.
Heart murmurs in pets are nothing to be ignored, but they are not always a cause for panic, either. You are in good hands should your pet be diagnosed with a murmur. We are well-equipped to get to the bottom of the issue and help your pet.
Urinary problems in pets are unfortunately common, and can be extremely unpleasant for both the pet and their human family. Indeed, when a pet is experiencing urinary tract difficulties, no one in the home is happy. Learning about what contributes to urinary issues and how to manage them is our best defense against this uncomfortable problem.
Urinary Tract Infections
The urinary tract is supposed to be a sterile environment, but when bacteria gain entrance, problems can occur. A urinary tract infection (UTI) occurs when bacteria make their way into the other parts of the urinary tract, including the bladder, ureters (tubes that carry urine to the bladder), and kidneys. The bladder is the most common organ of the urinary tract to be infected.
UTIs are easily treated with antibiotics, but pets with recurrent UTIs may have an underlying condition that needs to be addressed, including:
Abnormal formation of the urinary tract
A growth in some part of the urinary tract
An antibiotic-resistant bacteria
A health condition, such as Cushing’s disease or diabetes
Cystitis, an inflammation of the lining of the bladder, is a common urinary problem in pets, particularly cats. Cystitis can occur with or without an infection, and is associated with many of the same symptoms as a UTI. Cats with cystitis may stop using their litter boxes, as they associate it with pain or discomfort.
Although cystitis is simple to diagnose with a urine sample, it can be difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of the condition. Cystitis is generally treated by managing the pain, the use of antibiotics, and often a prescription diet to prevent recurrence.
Stones can form in the bladder, kidneys, or other parts of the urinary tract and can cause serious problems for pets. There are a variety of causes, including recurrent UTIs, genetic conditions, or abnormal urine pH or mineral content.
X-ray and/or ultrasounds are necessary in order to diagnose urinary stones, and surgery is generally required to remove them. Once the stone is retrieved and analyzed, we can make recommendations for preventing a recurrence, such as dietary changes or supplementation.
Symptoms of Urinary Problems in Pets
The most common urinary problems in pets often have overlapping symptoms. These can include:
Blood in the urine
Inability to urinate/urinating in small amounts
Refusal to use litter box/sudden house soiling
Signs of pain while urinating (crying, straining, etc.)
Loss of appetite or thirst
If your pet is showing any signs of a urinary issue, please call the staff at The Maywood Veterinary Clinic right away to schedule an appointment. Delaying treatment may not only lead to unnecessary pain and discomfort for your pet, but may put them at risk for a more aggressive infection, or other serious health problems, down the road.
When it comes to illness, most of us probably don’t think about quarantining our pet. In general, diseases stay within one host species, but zoonotic diseases can be passed between animals and people, and so they bear special attention.
Every year, tens of thousands of Americans will get sick from zoonoses. They are very common and the effects can range from mild sickness to death. Fortunately, there are ways to avoid and prevent these illnesses. Below, The Maywood Veterinary Clinic explores the causes and the prevention of zoonotic diseases.
From A to Zoonotic
Zoonotic diseases can be found in many different types of animals, both wild and domestic. They are caused by germs in bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi. Because of the close connection between pets and people, it’s important to understand how zoonotic diseases are transmitted.
Direct contact – Coming into contact with blood, saliva, urine, or feces of an infected animal
Indirect contact – Coming into contact with an area where pets live or animals roam, such as feces or urine in soil, chicken coops, and food and water bowls
Vector borne – Vectors, including flea, tick, and mosquitos bites, are transmitters of zoonotic disease
Food borne – Eating something that transmits disease, such as undercooked meat or unwashed fruits and vegetables
Who Is at a Higher Risk for Zoonotic Disease?
Everyone is vulnerable to zoonotic disease, and even healthy people can get sick, but the CDC lists the following groups as those who should be especially vigilant:
Immunosuppressed people, such as those with cancer
Children under 5 years
Adults over 65 years
This doesn’t mean that we can’t enjoy our pets, however. Let’s explore simple steps to prevent and avoid zoonotic diseases.
Common Zoonotic Diseases in Pets
Many animals carry zoonotic diseases. In pets, there are relatively few to be aware of. Below are the diseases that we work hard to prevent:
Toxoplasmosis – Cats carry this parasite that can be spread in their feces and cause birth defects
Rabies – Still common in many parts of the world, rabies is deadly to humans
Leptospirosis – A bacterial infection spread through the urine of an infected dog
Lyme Disease – A serious disease transmitted through a tick bite
Roundworms – An intestinal parasite in pets
Hookworms – An intestinal parasite in pets, which can bore through skin and cause a rash
Cat scratch disease – Bartonella organisms found in flea feces that can get into the body through scratches or open wounds
Preventing Zoonotic Disease
Here are some precautions to take to prevent the spread of zoonotic diseases in your family.
Maintain annual veterinary wellness exams
Vaccinate on schedule against leptospirosis and rabies
Zoonotic diseases are a serious problem, but the good news is that we can prevent them by staying informed and taking precautions.
Contact us if you have questions about zoonoses, or if you wish to schedule an appointment. Regular wellness care for your pet is the best way to prevent zoonotic disease, as well as keep your pets happy and healthy.
After back-to-back holidays, many of us may be letting out that waistline and thinking about a diet plan in the new year. Our concern about extra weight and its perils isn’t unfounded; obesity is in the headlines as a serious epidemic in our country and, not surprisingly, our pets are catching up with us!
Obesity in pets isn’t something we used to worry about. For many animals, their lives were spent outside, working on the farm or guarding property. More recently, and for many good reasons, pets are now being seen as part of the family, which inevitably includes being privy to more food and treats than ever before. Unfortunately, there are big problems with pets packing on the pounds.
Obesity in Pets
With an estimated 30% of all household pets being overweight, many pet owners don’t have a clear understanding of the effects of obesity in pets. Many still hold on to the belief there’s nothing wrong with a pleasantly plump dog or cat and, in fact, this makes them cuter and more cuddly. In addition, the portions we doll out to our pets have increased significantly over the years.
So what’s the problem with all this? There are actually many health complications that are directly related to being overweight, including:
Increased stress on joints, resulting in injuries or arthritis
Slower healing and increased risk during surgery
Respiratory problems as a result of decreased lung capacity
Increased risk of cancer
Lower quality of life
Diabetes mellitus occurs when the body no longer produces insulin or does so inadequately. Diabetes affects both dogs and cats and is more common among older animals, as well as those who are overweight or obese. It’s also true that certain dog breeds are more at risk of diabetes, such as dachshunds, toy poodles, terriers, and German Shepherds.
Diabetes can cause a number of serious repercussions when left untreated, and pets with this disease often require daily insulin shots and more frequent examinations and lab work. Because diabetes can be serious and costly, both health-wise and financially, prevention is key. And the key to preventing this disease is weight management.
Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure
Keeping your pet from packing on harmful pounds is as simple as monitoring diet and encouraging exercise. Working with your veterinarian to get the proper diet and exercise regiment suitable for your best friend is a great way to start off the new year. Your veterinarian is also a good source to help you determine the ideal weight for your pet.
The holidays are coming! There are people to see, presents to wrap, and cookies to bake! Sure, some pets like to wait out the winter underneath the bed or at the back of the closet, but others are excited to jump into the holiday chaos and revelry.
Whatever your pet’s point of view, winter pet safety must never be relegated to the back burner. We know you have a lot going on this month, but take time to set your pet up for success with the following tips and tricks.
There’s a lot to look out for when it comes to pets and the holidays. Please be aware of the following threats:
Seasonal foods – Alcohol, rich, fatty foods, macadamia nuts, raisins, bones, raw bread dough, chocolate, Xylitol-sweetened goodies, and more can all endanger your pet. A good rule of thumb is not to leave anything out for them to discover and sample. Also be sure to maintain a regular food routine, add opportunities for exercise, and consider providing your pet with a scrumptiously healthy plate of their own.
The tree and greens – Reduce the risks associated with greenery by anchoring the tree to the ceiling or wall. Use an artificial tree or be sure to consistently vacuum up needles to reduce injury to the paws, mouth, and GI system. Cover the tree stand to inhibit drinking from possibly contaminated water. Do not bring toxic plants such as poinsettia, mistletoe, lilies, or holly into the home.
Baubles galore – Glass or ceramic ornaments can cut the paws or mouth. Also, never leave electric cords or light strings on the floor.
Displays – Keep an eye on lit candles, liquid potpourri, and anything requiring batteries or electricity.
Presents – Ribbon, string, and tinsel should not be used at all or sparingly. Responsible for serious GI obstruction, these items aren’t passed easily (if at all). Surgery is usually needed to address this preventable situation.
Snow, ice, wind, and rain all make for quick potty breaks to the backyard. However, some pets enjoy the cold or find themselves outside longer than anticipated. Apply these safety measures for winter pet safety:
If it’s too cold for you, it’s definitely too cold for your pet (even if they have a thick winter coat, long legs, and enthusiasm for the elements).
Clear a path for your pet that allows them to go to the bathroom without trouble.
Wipe your pet’s paws after time spent outside. Ice, snow, rock salt, and chemical deicers can cause damage to the paw pads. Also wipe down the coat (especially the underbelly).
Keep antifreeze stored in a locked cabinet. Clean up any leaks, spills, and drips, and do not allow your pet to drink from melted snow puddles.
If you’re out for longer than a few minutes, invest in a nice jacket or vest for your pet and booties for their feet.
Tap on your car’s hood before turning the ignition over. Many animals find warmth next to the engine block, but it’s a dangerous place for a nap.
Winter Pet Safety
Your pet may need a place to get away from the weather and/or holiday festivities. All pets benefit from this, but senior pets and arthritic animals definitely need a comfortable place to rest that’s free from cold drafts and loud, unpredictable action. Make their crate as comfy as possible or encourage them to relax in a back bedroom where they can rest safely.
People who share their homes with cats are definitely a lucky bunch, but not because they have to visit the vet less. Alarmingly, however, the prevailing perception is that indoor cats require less veterinary attention. Sure, certain risk factors associated with outdoor exploration are significantly reduced, but indoor cat care should still include disease prevention on numerous fronts.
We know well that cats generally dislike the travel kennel, driving in the car, and leaving their territory. It can be extremely threatening for cats to smell, hear, and see other cats and/or dogs in the waiting room. Now add to this the cost of wellness visits – especially when cats are otherwise healthy – and the draw of the internet to diagnose possible problems.
What’s the result? Fewer cats receiving the support and care necessary to sustain lifelong health and wellness.
Cats not only age much faster than their human owners, but they’re also notoriously skilled at hiding symptoms of illness or injury. In fact, subtle shifts in feline behavior or habits commonly escape the notice of even the most involved owner. Many cats end up suffering from a problem long before they’re actually seen by a vet, but we’re determined to stop this trend.
Indoor Cat Care
Regular wellness care allows for great insight into your cat’s overall health. After discussing the components of lifestyle, we thoroughly examine the following aspects of indoor cat care:
Additionally, indoor cats still deserve protection from parasites. Fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes can come inside your home, exposing an otherwise unprotected animal to various diseases and health conditions.
Preventive medications (and regular de-worming) help indoor cats keep a healthy immune system in tact. Heartworm, carried by infected mosquitoes, is especially damaging to cats, and there is no cure.
Do Cats Brush Their Teeth?
Like the care of all pets, indoor cat care must include regular dental care at home. We also recommend routine cleanings under anesthesia to keep your cat’s dental health in peak condition.
Regular wellness exams give us the opportunity to establish your cat’s healthy baseline, so we know how to compare results when your cat has a health problem. When we see your cat 1-2 times a year, early detection and treatment of developing diseases yields better results. For instance, obesity, diabetes, arthritis, periodontal disease, cancer, and kidney disease can affect all cats whether they lead strictly indoor lifestyles or not.
Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns about indoor cat care or would like to discuss solutions for crate training and traveling. Together, we can help your cat live a long, full, and healthy life.
Have you noticed Fido scratching a lot more than usual? Are Fluffy’s ears particularly itchy? Or have you noticed skin issues, such as inflammation, in your pet? Allergies in pets is one of the most common problems our patients deal with, particularly our canine friends. Not unlike us, pets do suffer from allergies, which can wreak havoc on their quality of life when left untreated.
The team at Maywood wants pet owners to know more about this problem – which affects many of our fur-bearing friends, and how we can help your pet feel much better.
Allergies in Pets: What Causes Them?
An allergy is a hypersensitivity of the immune system to a particular substance called an allergen. Among the causes, we typically see the following types of pet allergies:
Food allergy – Many foods can cause a reaction in our pets, most notably beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, soy, corn, and wheat.
Flea allergy – This very common allergy is caused by flea saliva, often showing up as dermatitis or other skin conditions.
Contact allergy – Contact allergy develops when your pet is exposed through direct contact or inhalation of a substance or chemical, such as synthetic fibers used in carpet, household cleaners, or shampoos.
Atopy – This includes seasonal and environmental allergies resulting from pollens and plants, mold spores, and dust mites.
Symptoms of Pet Allergies
Achoo! Sniffles and sneezes are something we associate with allergies, but for our pets there other, less obvious symptoms. In some cases, pet owners don’t notice an allergy because they are looking for signs of an upper respiratory illness, like weepy eyes or sneezing. Although these can manifest as an allergic response in pets, some more subtle signs of allergies include:
Chronic or persistent scratching
Skin conditions, such as hot spots, hives, and hair loss
Vomiting and/or diarrhea
Inflamed ears and ear infections
Respiratory symptoms like coughing
It is important to have your pet seen, should these symptoms occur. Many pets with allergic reactions will develop a weakened immune system, and persistent scratching can lead to infection, hair loss, and discomfort.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Clinical symptoms noted by your veterinarian can be helpful in determining the source of the allergen(s), as can your own observations, such as when the allergy became noticeable and whether it’s persistent or intermittent.
Allergies that are suspected to be caused by food will be assessed through a food trial, eliminating certain types of food over time and gauging the response. Certain symptoms of allergies can be relieved by antihistamines and other medications prescribed by your veterinarian, as well as topical solutions and medicated shampoos to soothe the skin.
In some cases, allergy shots, which are designed to desensitize the immune system to the allergy, can be effective.
If you suspect your pet might be allergic to something, please schedule an appointment. There is no reason for the discomfort of allergies for anyone – including our furry pals. With the many good treatments available, we are sure to have your friend itch-free and feeling great very soon.
Imagine the difference between being able to pay for life-saving veterinary care versus opting-out because of the potential for financial fallout…the choice is clear for many pet owners. Pet insurance helps cover the cost of veterinary medical expenses should your pet become ill or suffer an injury. Some plans even cover routine wellness exams and some procedures. But how does it work – and how can it work for your pet?
The Best Way to Use Pet Insurance
Sure, some pet owners budget for pet emergencies, but it’s far more likely that you’ll have to pay for expenses when they pop up (using CareCredit, for example). Pet insurance comes in handy when unexpected or catastrophic events occur and can be used as a risk management tool.
Works Like This
Pet insurance has monthly premiums, co-pays, and deductibles, just like our own human health plans. Most plans do not cover pre-existing conditions and have specific waiting periods before defined coverage commences.
Pet insurance is a reimbursement program, meaning you pay for veterinary services at the time of treatment and then submit the receipt to the insurance company. Unlike human plans, pet insurance companies do not have “networks,” so you can use your plan wherever (and whenever) the need arises.
Do the Research
If you can cover the cost of a worst-case scenario out of pocket, you may not need pet insurance. Many plans have a “maximum payout limit” that may not cover the cost of a worst-case scenario in your geographic location. It’s a good idea to look into a plan’s specific payout limit with regard to lifetime, per incident, per area of the body, or based on an advanced benefit schedule.
It’s also important to understand the premium amount, how the company pays claims, and if there are exclusions (based on your pet’s medical history) or special requirements for the plan.
Read and Then Read Again
When choosing the right pet insurance plan for your pet, it’s important to research:
If only accidents are covered (if so, read the fine print regarding what exactly counts as an accident)
Age limits (some companies will not cover animals over a certain age, making it worthwhile to purchase a pet insurance early in a pet’s life).
Before purchasing pet insurance, it’s critical to have a realistic approach to this enterprise. It would be unfortunate to think that something is covered by your plan, only to find out later it is not.
Our staff is always here to answer your questions or concerns. If you need help understanding the world of pet insurance, please let us know.
What’s the size of a grain of rice and encased in a biocompatible glass capsule? It may sound like science fiction, but pet microchips have been the way of the future for years now. Each year, millions of pets enter shelters around the country. Of these, less than 30% of dogs, and 5% of cats are ever returned to their rightful owners. There are lots of reasons why you should microchip your pet, but because it adds insurance against untimely separation, that’s enough for us.
Do All You Can
Pet owners of the modern age are quite fastidious. As a group, they are deeply committed to the health and wellness of their pets, and it shows. Any trip to a pet store will reveal hundreds of leashes, collars, foods, treats, bowls, beds and toys. Pet owners go to great pains to secure their homes and yards to ensure their animals stay within certain boundaries. There are even devices and apps that facilitate total supervision.
Even the most responsible pet owners can face catastrophes at times. Indeed, every pet owner faces the reality that pets can wander, go missing, or get lost. To prevent this issue from becoming ultimate separation, we strongly recommend that you microchip your pet.
How It Works
It’s easy to microchip your pet. While the process doesn’t cause significant pain or discomfort, many owners opt to have it done while a pet is young, or during the anesthetized spay or neuter surgery. Inserted just below the skin between the shoulder blades, it likely resembles the feeling of a standard vaccination.
A microchip does not have batteries and cannot transmit information (meaning that it is not a GPS locator). Instead, it is considered “read-only”. Each chip has its own numeric code attached to it. When an animal is scanned at a shelter or hospital, the code pops up on the reader.
After you microchip your pet, it’s imperative that your register your contact information directly with the chip’s manufacturer (and keep it updated whenever you move or change your vital information). When the chip’s number is keyed into the national database, it’s your contact information that comes up, enabling a swift reunion.
Microchip Your Pet
There are never any guarantees that you’ll locate a missing pet, but when you microchip your pet you are increasing your chances of finding your best friend. An added defense to ID tags attached to a collar, microchipping happens once early on in life and never has to be done again.