Does the jingling of Fido’s collar, as he scratches his ears in the middle of the night, keep you awake? Have you noticed that your normally calm pet is obsessively licking her paws? Do those red sores on your pet’s skin give you cause for concern? If any of these scenarios sound like you, your pet may be suffering from allergies.
Allergies in pets is one of the most common problems we diagnose in our patients. Just as for humans allergy symptoms can cause significant discomfort for our pets, and wreak havoc on their quality of life. The team at the Whole Pet Vet Hospital and Wellness Center wants to increase awareness of allergies in pets and make sure pet owners have the information they need to make their pets more comfortable.
What Is an Allergy?
An allergy is defined as an overreaction of the immune system to a foreign particle (allergen) that has entered the body. The most common types of pet allergies include the following:
Food allergy – Various foods can produce allergic reactions in pets, but the main culprits are beef, lamb, chicken, corn, soy, and wheat.
Flea allergy – Many pets are allergic to flea saliva, and even one bite can cause severe itching and other skin issues.
Seasonal/environmental allergy – Particles in the air, such as mold, pollen, dust, or dander, can cause a host of uncomfortable symptoms.
Contact allergy – This allergy can develop due to direct contact or inhalation of certain chemicals, such as cleaning products, shampoos, or synthetic carpet fibers.
Symptoms of Allergies in Pets
Unlike in people, allergies in pets tend to manifest as skin problems. Signs your pet may be suffering from allergies include:
Scratching, chewing, or licking at the feet, face, armpit, and groin
Redness, bumps, or pimples on the skin
Red, rough, or blackened skin
Frequent head shaking
Managing Your Pet’s Allergies
If you suspect your pet is suffering from allergies, give us a call. We can help you determine the type of allergy your pet has and develop a plan to control the symptoms. Aside from medication and immunotherapy, the following tactics go one step further toward helping an allergic pet:
Grooming – Bathe your pet regularly with a hypoallergenic shampoo and conditioner as recommended by your veterinarian. Soaking the paws daily will reduce inflammation and keep pets from tracking allergens into the home.
Environment – Decrease allergens in your home by vacuuming, dusting, and laundering pillows and pet beds more often.
Parasite prevention – Make sure your pet is on a year-round flea and tick prevention protocol.
Acupuncture – The use of acupuncture can help build your pet’s immune system while reducing the uncomfortable symptoms of allergies. Give us a call to find out more about our acupuncture program.
Nutritional counseling – At the Whole Pet Vet, we are happy to provide in depth nutritional analysis and counseling, aimed at reducing your pet’s exposure to inflammatory ingredients that can aggravate allergy symptoms.
The itching associated with allergies in pets is not only uncomfortable, it can also lead to more serious health concerns if left untreated. Don’t hesitate to contact our staff to schedule an appointment for your pet.
If you’ve ever had a massage or are receiving massage regularly for a health condition, you probably know just how powerful this modality is for recovery and wellbeing. Although massage has been around for quite some time, it may come as a surprise to know that pet massage has been used as early as the 1800’s. There is also some evidence of animal massage in ancient China, Egypt, and India.
Canine massage therapy is much more than the “pats” we give our dogs. This is a field of animal health that focuses on therapeutic touch as a means to encourage better health. Certified animal massage therapists go through rigorous training and education in the areas of physiology, anatomy, and massage techniques. Some therapists receive additional training that is tailored to one or more specific species, as well as maintain a specialized focus on health or behavioral conditions.
Many massage therapists work in places that are high stress for pets, such as animal shelters, or with working animals like greyhounds and horses (used for racing) and service animals. Once they’ve completed the allocated hours of training, these professionals go on to work in animal hospitals, veterinary clinics, zoos, and other facilities that house animals.
The Benefits of Pet Massage
Along with the overall enjoyment of being massaged, dogs experience several benefits with this treatment, including:
Reduces pain associated with inflammation and stiffness of the joints and muscles
Promotes blood and lymph circulation
Improves muscle tone and flexibility
Reduces anxiety and stress
Promotes faster recovery from illness or surgery
Greater energy and alertness
Improves socialization and trust, as well as strengthens the human-animal bond
Massage for Your Dog? You Bet!
While massage is often focused on canines with underlying health conditions, massage can be an incredible complementary, holistic treatment for your pet’s complete wellness. Through massage, your pet can grow in confidence and adaptability to new experiences. Massage also encourages relaxation, which can help calm and placate animals who are otherwise boisterous or have difficulty sitting still.
During a professional massage session, we can even discuss at-home massage techniques.
Would you like to learn more about the advantages of massage for your dog? Please call us! We’d love to have your four-legged friend come in for a soothing, healing session.
There are loads of odd occurrences that can befall a single pet, but they might not always indicate a pet emergency. Take, for example, a hairball. It sounds terrifying (especially in the middle of the night), but rarely signals the need for urgent veterinary care. On the other hand, there are undeniably serious symptoms that should never be ignored. So, how do pet owners tell the difference?
A pet emergency always strikes when you least expect it, so it’s best to remain as prepared as possible. Among other things, this can include collecting supplies for a pet first aid kit and learning skills like pet CPR or how to safely transport a wounded or ill animal.
Unfortunately, our veterinary hospital is not open 24/7. We refer our clients to nearby emergency pet hospitals after regular business hours. It’s recommended you keep these phone numbers and addresses handy to avoid wasting time during a potential crisis.
Preparation and Observation
Certainly, being prepared for an unexpected illness or injury is half the battle, but knowing what constitutes a pet emergency is an enormous boon to your confidence and ability to stay calm. Having a handle on what’s “normal” for your pet is key, such as eating, digestive habits, sleep patterns, activity levels, and personality.
If you notice a change, even if it’s subtle, take note. Jot down the exact time, other things that are going on in the house, where it occurred, duration, and other details. This will help you communicate with us or other emergency personnel when calling or checking in.
Know the Signs
The following list is a sampling of potential accidents that require pet emergency care. However, please don’t hesitate to reach out if you aren’t exactly sure what you’re dealing with. We’re always here to help you and your pet.
Eye Injuries (look for any bleeding, excessive tearing, blinking, and obvious signs of pain)
Bites or scratches from other animals
Abscess or open wounds
Ingestion of foreign bodies can trigger pain, bloating, vomiting, diarrhea, and other worrisome signs
Uncharacteristic exhaustion, aggression, dizziness, confusion, lethargy, or non-responsiveness
Respiratory distress (look for shallow or rapid panting without exertion)
Repeated attempts to vomit (uncontrollable dry heaving)
Sunken eyes and dry mouth can indicate dehydration
Straining to eliminate
Pet Emergency Care
We hope your pet never endures a painful illness or injury, but if they do, try to act quickly and remain as calm as possible. Undoubtedly, it can be scary to address a pet emergency, but we’re here to help you through it.
How we’re already to the end of the year is beyond us, but perhaps keeping busy in 2017 explains why the time has passed so quickly. Thank you to our growing community of dedicated pet owners in the Bay Area! We’re honored to continue offering comprehensive, personalized veterinary care that not only prevents disease, but also promotes wellness and longevity.
A significant component of our model of traditional care and alternative medicine is The Whole Pet Vet Hospital & Wellness Center’s pet care blog. Every month, we strive to offer relevant and timely topics to lend pet owners a hand at home. As a family-oriented practice, we welcome feedback, and all the clicks and shares from our pet care blog tell us what you like. As a result, we’re offering up the top 5 blogs of 2017. Enjoy!
The Whole Pet Vet’s Top 5 Blogs of 2017
Food Is Life: Pet Nutrition Counseling At The Whole Pet Vet – As we become more educated on the importance of high quality, whole foods diets for ourselves, it makes sense that this focus would eventually be extended to our pets. Indeed, the pet food industry has exploded in recent years, and much of that has been due to the demand by pet owners for better pet nutrition options. Read More…
Battle Of The Bulge: Weight Management In Pets – This holiday season, you may find yourself wondering if that extra piece of pecan pie is worth the calories. You aren’t the only one who needs to be watching your waistline, though. We know now more than ever that pets who are overweight suffer from health problems and decreased lifespan, just as we do. Read More…
Tip Of The Day: Training Your Pet To Stay Inside When The Door Is Open – Owning a pet who bolts through an open door can be frustrating and scary for a pet owner, and often downright dangerous for the animal. A pet who regularly races out as soon as the door is opened runs the risk of injury from getting struck by a car, becoming lost, ingesting harmful substances, and even putting other people or animals in danger. Read More…
A Walk In The Park: Dog Walking Safety And Etiquette – Ah, spring! What a beautiful time of year to dust off your dog’s leash and get back outside for some exercise and fresh air. Dog walking is one of the greatest pleasures of dog ownership, and ensuring a good time for your dog relies on dog walking safety, awareness, and, of course, etiquette. Read More…
Soothing Sounds: Pet Music Therapy Has Calming Benefits – For many years, we have been fascinated by the impact music can have on memory, emotional state, and even healing from physical injuries and illnesses. Amazingly, the more we learn about music therapy and its benefits to humankind, the more we find that this same knowledge can be applied to our four-legged friends. Read More…
As we move from one year to the next, we hope your confidence in us continues to grow. We’re always here for you and your pet, and we look forward to providing more important information via our pet care blog in 2018. Thank you for reading!
The holidays are filled with fun, but they can also be a time of temptation, anxiety, and even danger for our beloved pets. Wanting to include our pets in the seasonal festivities is understandable, but a pet emergency is no way to spread good cheer. Planning and preparing for holiday pet safety is a must to ensure a happy, healthy season for your furry family member.
One of the chief concerns around our holiday meals is the need to keep pets away from the food. Making sure your pet doesn’t have access to people food, as well as resisting the urge to slip them a bite here and there, reduces the risk of poisoning, GI distress/blockage, and pancreatitis (a dangerous inflammatory condition of the pancreas).
Xylitol (artificial sweetener used in sugar-free gum, candies, peanut butter, etc.)
Be on the lookout for food-related hazards, such as:
Uncovered trash bins and compost
Poultry bones or other bones
Fatty poultry skin, gravy, or other high caloric sauces
Meat string and wrappers
Christmas trees, wrapped gifts, string lights, and other decorative items are unfamiliar to pets and can arouse their curiosity. Holiday pet safety means ensuring the following items stay out of your pet’s reach:
Tinsel and ribbon – can cause dangerous GI obstruction if ingested
Strings of electric lights – pose a risk of entanglement or electric shock if chewed
Christmas tree water – may contain toxic fire retardants, pesticides, and preservatives
Pine needles – can be toxic if consumed in large amounts
Breakable ornaments – shards can cause injury to noses, paws, and mouths if broken
Holiday plants – lilies, holly, mistletoe and other common holiday plants can be toxic
Planning for Holiday Pet Safety
Although gathering with family and friends is an important part of the holidays, our pets don’t always appreciate a house full of people. Make sure your companion has a quiet, safe place to retreat from the noise or consider daycare or boarding if you expect anxiety levels to be high.
Also, in case they slip out an open door during the commotion, make sure your pet is always wearing a collar with ID tags and that they’ve been microchipped.
Your friends at The Whole Pet Vet hope you have a wonderful holiday season! Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns regarding holiday pet safety.
Families collect bags of candy in August, costumes are finalized in September, and scary decorations go up October 1st. While you may be 100% ready for the zany, thrilling, and hilarious event that is Halloween, your pet might be anything but prepared. How can you prime your pet for the endless risks, threats, and frights? Having a good handle on Halloween pet safety is the right place to start. From there, you’ll know how to make it through to November without illness, injury, or incident.
Know the Score
Many pets are well-equipped with socialization skills to weather the Halloween storm. If your pet isn’t accustomed to strangers, loud noises, or the unpredictable nature of the holiday, keep them at home. Provide them with a softly lit back room with soft music and other creature comforts.
Should your pet know how to deal with Halloween, please don’t assume that they’re safe. Update microchip contact information (if applicable), ensure tags can be easily read, gear up in reflective or light-up accessories, and know the signs of stress and anxiety.
Halloween is about stockpiling as many fun-size candies as possible, right? Your pet likely agrees. Chocolate, a major threat to your pet’s health, must be strictly off-paws. Likewise, candies made with the artificial sweetener Xylitol and those with raisins are big no-no’s.
Pets often consume cellophane or foil wrappers on the way to the payday, which can get stuck in your pet’s GI tract. The bottom line is that all candy should be stored securely, always off the floors, and put away at night and when you leave the house.
Halloween Pet Safety
When decorating the house, please consider Halloween pet safety. Pets can become scared of spooky decor, but real threats like decorative corn, beads, lights, etc., are also a big concern for choking and GI blockages. Low lying light strings can present entanglement and even electric shock risks.
Jack-o’-lanterns can be lit with LED tea lights or flameless votives to reduce singed whiskers, burns, or accidental house fires.
Play Dress Up
Pet costumes can be successfully worn, but to adhere to Halloween pet safety tactics, the following should be considered beforehand:
The costume should feel comfortable to your pet. Fabric should not be scratchy or too hot.
The fit must be snug. Too loose, and a determined pet can wriggle out of it, potentially restricting airways and causing accidents. Too tight, and the costume can cause choking, discomfort, and injury.
Your pet should be able to see, breathe, eat, communicate, go to the bathroom, and move around freely.
Are the costume materials safe and non-toxic for your pet?
Lastly, it’s a good idea to keep your pet inside starting a couple nights before Halloween. Animals, especially black cats, can become targets of cruel pranks. Never leave your dog unattended in the backyard.
Having any type of environmental allergy is no fun, but an allergic reaction to pets can put a real damper on things, especially when you consider that over half of U.S. households include at least one pet.
With an estimated 15% of the population suffering from pet allergies, it’s likely that you know someone who falls into this category. Keeping in mind the needs of pet allergy sufferers who visit our living spaces is important, and our tips aim to help you create a home environment that is friendly to both guests and pets.
What Are Pet Allergies?
Pet allergies are most often the result of an immune response to pet dander – tiny flecks of skin shed by cats, dogs, rodents, and birds. Other common pet allergy triggers are particles released into the air from dried pet urine, feces, and saliva.
Symptoms of a pet allergy include:
Itchy, watery eyes
Stuffy, runny nose
Hay fever or seasonal allergy sufferers may also find that their symptoms worsen in the presence of pets.
Grooming Makes A Difference
Regular grooming of both dogs and cats is essential in order to control dander. Consider the following:
Pets should be brushed several times per week, outside or in the garage, to keep dander from building up on the fur
Both dogs and cats should be bathed on a regular basis, either at home or with a professional groomer, using a pet safe shampoo and conditioner. Talk with your veterinarian about how frequently your pet should be bathed.
Dry shampoos designed specifically for pets, such as John Paul Pet Waterless Shampoo, can be useful for in between regular bathing sessions to remove excess dirt and dander.
Managing Allergens In The Home
Besides keeping your pet clean, care should be taken to keep allergens in the home to a minimum:
Clean your home frequently to remove dust and dander. Anything your pet comes into contact with, such as pillows, upholstery, area rugs, and pet beds should be vacuumed or laundered weekly.
Don’t allow pets on the furniture or in the bedrooms.
Use a HEPA air filter in your furnace or HEPA air cleaners throughout the home to trap and filter out pet hair and dander.
Cut down on allergy-trapping materials in your homes by replacing heavy drapery with blinds, carpets with hard flooring, and removing other fabric surfaces such as tablecloths.
Your friends at The Whole Pet Vet are committed to helping you keep your home as inviting as possible to pet allergy sufferers! Please let us know if there is anything we can do to assist you.
When we bring a pet into our homes to share our lives, we know it isn’t going to last forever. Regardless of how long we’ve had our pets or whether their passing was expected, saying goodbye is never easy.
The empty space left behind when a beloved pet passes away can feel vast and insurmountable; it’s common for pet owners, children, and other pets to experience some or all the stages of grief. Your friends at The Whole Pet Vet hope that our guidance and resources are helpful as you navigate the path toward healing after pet loss.
Begin at the Beginning
To truly heal your heart, you must allow yourself the time and space to grieve. In our fast-past society, this is easier said than done. People often trivialize the deep bond between a pet and their human family members. Know that feelings of guilt, anger, and despair are normal. Grant yourself and other family members understanding and forgiveness during this time as everyone processes their emotions in his or her own way.
Many people find solace in memorializing their pets in whatever way feels right.
Some ideas include:
Create a collage or scrapbook of favorite photos and memories.
Organize a memorial service.
Hang a framed photograph of your pet in a place of honor in your home.
Get together with loved ones who were close with your pet and share funny stories and memories.
Plant a memorial garden in your pet’s honor. Fill it with pet-friendly plants and a bowl of water for any four-legged friends that may be passing through.
Volunteer at a local rescue group or make a donation in your pet’s name.
Jessica Marie Klinghoffer, R.N., M.A. – Home calls to San Jose/Campbell, 408-499-8770
Shelley Dukes, M.A., M.F.T. – Scotts Valley and Los Gatos offices, 831-461-1951 or 408-348-6001, www.shelleydukes.com
Children and Pet Loss
Protecting children from the pain associated with the loss of a pet is a first instinct for many parents. However, this may deny them the opportunity to work through these complicated and meaningful emotions. Try the following ideas to guide kids as they grieve in their own unique ways:
Draw pictures of the pet.
Share lots of stories and memories together.
Allow your child to assist in the burial or ashes ceremony.
Help your child to select and plant a tree in your pet’s honor.
Check out your local library for books on helping children process pet loss.
We’re Here for You
Meeting each day without the sight of your pet’s face, the feel of his or her fur, and the sounds of barks or meows can be devastating. The Whole Pet Vet would like to offer our deepest condolences for your loss. Please don’t hesitate to contact us for help.
Owning a pet who bolts through an open door can be frustrating and scary for a pet owner, and often downright dangerous for the animal. A pet who regularly races out as soon as the door is opened runs the risk of injury from getting struck by a car, becoming lost, ingesting harmful substances, and even putting other people or animals in danger.
Teaching your pet to stay inside when a door is opened isn’t as difficult as it sounds, and may mean the difference between life and death for your pet.
Why Pets Bolt
For many pets, a door is not simply a door; it’s an escape hatch to freedom. The reasons a pet may race through any open door or gate vary widely:
Unneutered males have higher testosterone levels, which can increase and intensify roaming behaviors
Certain breeds, such as working dogs, may be more independent and interested in exploring
Personality often comes into play, as some pets are less inclined to stick close to home and family members
Immediate rewards, such as access to the sights, smells, people, and animals of the world beyond the door, may be enough to reinforce the behavior
Learning When to Wait
Teaching your dog the “wait” command is the ideal solution to stop him or her from running through every opening or entryway. Begin by keeping your pet leashed as you approach a doorway, and use your hand and body to block the door, telling him or her to “wait”. When your pet has waited patiently, release him or her by saying “OK” (your pet is rewarded for good manners by being allowed to cross the barrier).
It may be useful to begin this training inside, using doorways from one room to another, or even the barrier between two rooms, before trying it on an exterior door.
For safety’s sake, a pet should be trained to “wait” at all access points, such as front and back doors, cage doors, and car doors.
Teaching Your Pet to Stay Inside When a Door Opens
Training a freedom-loving pet to stay inside when a door opens is paramount to his or her safety, and should be a top priority. Try the following alternative safety methods:
Mat training – Create a “doggie area” by the front door using a mat, bed, blanket, or crate. Teach the command “Go to the mat” first, and then practice opening the door while your dog stays in place. Gradually move the mat farther and farther away from the door until it’s in a desirable area.
Containment – In some instances, a simple containment method, such as a pet gate, fence, or even a strategically placed leash, is helpful in preventing a pet escapee from making a break for it.
Your partners in pet care at The Whole Pet Vet are here for you every step of the way as you work toward optimal health and wellness for your furry family members. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with your questions or concerns!
For most of us, the thyroid is one of those mystery organs. We all know it exists, but the average person has very little idea what it does or where in the body it can be found. Just as in people, though, the thyroid gland can wreak havoc on the health of our animal friends. Thyroid problems in pets are not uncommon and something animal lovers everywhere need to understand a bit about.
The thyroid gland in people, cats, and dogs shares many similarities. This bilobed gland that resides in the neck region is an integral part of the endocrine system. The endocrine system is the body system that is responsible for hormone production. Other integral players include the adrenal glands, the pituitary gland, and the sex organs (ovaries or testicles).
The thyroid gland produces hormones called thyroid hormones. These hormones are largely responsible for the regulation of metabolism.
The production and function of thyroid hormones can be a little more complicated to assess than just a simple measurement, and many times we must measure several thyroid-associated values to get a gauge on your pet’s thyroid gland.
Total T4 (TT4) – Levothyroxine is the main hormone produced by the thyroid gland, but it is not directly metabolically active. It is typically easy and inexpensive to measure, but can be affected by many other things going on in the body and is not always an accurate assessment of overall thyroid function.
Free T4 (fT4) – Free levothyroxine is less affected by other factors and is often a more telling factor in overall thyroid health. It is more involved to measure this value, however, and so it is not always used as an initial test.
T3 – Liothyronine, or T3, is produced directly by the thyroid gland. It is also made by other tissues as T4 is broken down.
TSH – Thyroid-stimulating hormone is produced by the thyroid in response to the pituitary gland’s signal to produce more levothyroxine. Increased levels may be seen in pets whose levels are low due to an inability of the thyroid to produce enough T4.
Too Much of a Good Thing
If a pet makes too much thyroid hormone, his or her metabolism skyrockets. This condition, known as hyperthyroidism, is frequently seen in older cats. Dogs are not commonly diagnosed with hyperthyroidism.
Pets affected with too much thyroid hormone will typically exhibit:
A ravenous appetite
Vomiting and/or diarrhea
High heart rate
High blood pressure
Untreated, hyperthyroidism can be quite serious. Routine blood testing can usually detect this condition if it is present.
Too Little, Too Late
When the thyroid gland produces too little hormone, the resulting condition is known as hypothyroidism. This condition is fairly common in dogs, especially medium to large breeds who are middle-age and older. Cats are infrequently hypothyroid.
The lack of production of thyroid hormone results in some fairly characteristic symptoms. These often include:
Decreased activity level/lethargy
Unexplained weight gain
Hair loss/increased shedding
Recurring skin infections
If we suspect that your dog could be hypothyroid or is at risk for hypothyroidism, we may recommend blood testing to further investigate.
Managing Thyroid Problems in Pets
Thyroid problems in pets are common, but thankfully they are typically very treatable. If your pet is diagnosed, the doctors at The Whole Pet Vet Hospital and Wellness Center will work with you to find an effective treatment for your animal’s individual situation.
Dogs who are diagnosed with hypothyroidism often need to take some sort of synthetic thyroid supplement monitored with blood testing. Pets, especially those whose thyroid function is borderline, have also been know to benefit from herbal supplements and/or acupuncture.
Cats who are hyperthyroid may need medications to dampen thyroid hormone production, or may be referred for radioactive iodine treatment or managed with dietary changes. Some of these patients can also benefit from supplements or other alternative therapies, often in conjunction with more mainstream medicine in an integrative approach.
The thyroid gland is an essential part of your pet’s well-being, and knowing it is healthy and functioning appropriately is key. Please be sure to ask us if you have concerns about your pet’s endocrine function or questions otherwise. Your pet’s overall health is our top priority.