Vaughn Road Veterinary Clinic | Pet Health & Wellness Blog
Located in East Montgomery, Vaughn Road Veterinary Clinic provides state of the art small animal medicine, veterinary surgery, diagnostics, cancer care, orthopedics, and dentistry as well as boarding, grooming, bathing and pet nutrition.
Slipping your pet a bit of whatever you’re eating is only natural – after all, it’s difficult to resist those adorable, pleading eyes. However, while some people food is perfectly fine for pets, others can create major health problems ranging from gastrointestinal upset to death. Even if the human food you feed your pet is safe, many pets are overweight and simply don’t need the extra calories.
Before you toss your four-legged beggar a scrap from your next meal, stop and think twice. Vaughn Road Veterinary Clinic wants to delve deeper into the complicated subject of pets and people food.
The Big No-Nos
By now, most pet owners are aware that chocolate is dangerous to pets. Other food items that are also high on the list include:
Anything sweetened with xylitol (a sugar substitute commonly used in sugar-free gum, candy, baked goods, cough drops, peanut butter, and more)
Fatty, greasy foods
Anatomy of a Pizza
Pizza is a beloved food for so many of us. Bread, cheese, and mouthwatering toppings baked to perfection – what’s not to love? Pets aren’t resistant to the aroma of freshly baked pizza either. Let’s take a closer look at this seemingly pet-safe food.
Crust – In and of itself, bread is safe as long as it’s cooked. Uncooked, yeasted dough may continue to rise in a pet’s stomach, creating gastrointestinal issues. Keep in mind that bread doesn’t hold much (if any) nutritional value for your pet, and the calories can quickly add up.
Marinara sauce – Tomatoes are safe for your pet, but pizza sauce is usually loaded with salt, sugar, and spices, none of which your pet should have.
Cheese – Pets, especially dogs, LOVE cheese. A tiny bit of low-fat dairy is probably fine (as long as your dog isn’t lactose intolerant), but the fatty cheese used on pizza is both high in calories, and it can trigger a dangerous inflammatory condition known as pancreatitis.
Toppings – Some pizza toppings, such as mushrooms and green peppers, are fine for most pets in moderation.
Pets and People Food
Small amounts of pet-safe people foods, like cooked green beans or sweet potatoes, are perfectly fine for most pets and make a healthy alternative to store bought treats. Whenever you introduce a new food to your pet, do so slowly, and always be on the lookout for negative reactions or signs of food allergies, such as:
Vomiting or diarrhea
Incessant scratching or licking of the paws, groin, or belly
Head shaking or pawing at the ears
If you have additional questions about pets and people food, please don’t hesitate to give us a call.
At Vaughn Road Veterinary Clinic, we are all about the DIY trend, and we love to peruse websites like Pinterest for home repair and craft projects. Our excitement falls short when it comes to do it yourself pet remedies, however. Read on to learn why DIY is better suited to revamping that old dresser than it is to treating your pet.
Do It Yourself Pet Remedies?
You can find almost anything on the Internet – some of it true, some of it not, and some of it perhaps loosely based in reality. It is hard to sort out who you are getting information from, what their background might be, what bias exists, and how rooted in science the advice truly is.
When your pet comes to visit our expert veterinary staff, you know who you are talking to. Our staff has your pet’s interest at heart and has a professional education behind their names.
We find that many times when pet owners are using do it yourself pet remedies, the pet ends up suffering. This occurs because:
Appropriate treatment may be delayed
The DIY treatment may actually be harmful
The DIY treatment interferes with more appropriate treatments
Serious problems go undiagnosed longer
If your pet is having a problem, we encourage you to call us before searching the web for at-home alternatives.
We encounter do it yourself pet treatments that go awry almost every day. Some of the more common things that we see include:
Using garlic to treat fleas — If you spend any time searching for flea treatments and prevention, you are apt to see garlic mentioned. Not only is this not a scientifically backed method for effective flea prevention, but garlic can actually be toxic to dogs and cats at high enough doses.
Coconut oil for everything — Feeding coconut oil or putting it on the skin is popular remedy for skin irritation and allergies. Coconut oil doesn’t treat underlying skin infections or have high enough numbers of the appropriate ratios of omega fatty acids to have a huge benefit, though.
Mail in food allergy testing — There are plenty of people on the Internet willing to take your money and saliva or hair samples from your pet to tell you what underlying allergies exist. These scams are absolutely not scientific and have no value whatsoever.
The dreaded Dawn dish soap — Washing your pet with Dawn dish soap to rid them of fleas and other skin trouble is a big no-no. Not only will this not effectively control fleas, but dish soap is awesome at stripping the protective oils from your pet’s skin and coat.
Pet food roulette — While skin problems may occur related to a food allergy, just changing your pet’s food without guidance is unlikely to solve the issue. In fact, changing foods willy nilly can make it much harder for us to do an effective food allergy trial.
Ear cleaners — We hope that you will keep your kitchen concoctions food related. Putting peroxide, apple cider vinegar, alcohol, and other at home ear cleaners in your pet’s ear is likely to cause irritation and pain.
Knowledge is power, and while you may learn a lot on the Internet, we encourage you to use us as your first-line resource when it comes to your pet. We don’t think that you will be disappointed!
If you notice your pet shaking, you may be tempted to bundle him up in a blanket. Being cold is a possible cause, but there are so many other reasons why your furry friend may be trembling.
Some reasons for pet shaking are no big deal, but others require immediate medical attention. Vaughn Road Veterinary Clinic is here to help you navigate this common problem.
Reasons for Pet Shaking
Some causes for pet shaking are physiological or medical, while others are more behavioral. It can be difficult to tell the difference, but when you start to understand the more common causes for trembling pets, you can start to narrow things down.
Pets may shake due to:
Being cold — Trembling is an effective way to warm the body. If your pet is very thin or has a very sleek coat, the cold can affect them even more than the average dog. Even temperatures around 50 F can be chilly, especially if it’s wet or humid outside.
Being scared — A scared pet may shake, especially when he is uncomfortable. If shaking is isolated to particular circumstances, this may be the cause.
Excitement — Adrenaline can cause many side effects, and in pets sometimes excitement manifests as shaking.
Pain or injury — A quivering canine can indicate that something is hurting, especially when isolated to a particular body part.
Weakness — Many times pets who are weak from other illnesses or have muscle loss secondary to injury or arthritis will tremble, similar to your muscles when you try to eek out that last lift at the gym.
Toxin exposure — Pets who ingest or are otherwise exposed to something toxic can have muscle tremors or twitching as a symptom. Certain over-the-counter flea preventatives are notorious for this.
Other medical conditions — A handful of other medical problems such as seizure disorders, generalized tremor syndrome, distemper virus, and kidney problems can lead to shaking.
When to Worry
Sometimes pet shaking is normal, but it is natural to worry, particularly if you are unsure of the cause. Give us a call right away if:
The shaking does not subside with warming and/or calming
The shaking is interfering with your pet’s ability to function normally
Dogs and cats are notorious for having stinky breath, and owners are used to the distinctive odors emanating from their pet’s mouths. Those of us who have had our pets since they were young may fondly remember the sweet smell of that puppy or kitten breath. However, we’ve resigned ourselves to the fact that certain things simply change as our pets get older. After all, bad breath in pets is normal, right?
Not So Fast
The reality is, foul breath is not natural for pets. In fact, it’s most commonly-related to periodontal disease (although other health problems can sometimes be to blame).
It’s easy to forget that pets are at risk for many of the same health conditions as humans. By the time most pets are 3 years old, the majority of dogs and cats have some form of periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease begins when bacteria in the mouth combine with food particles to form plaque, a sticky substance that coats the teeth. Over time, the plaque hardens into a hard, mineralized buildup known as tartar. Eventually, tartar will lead to inflammation of the tissues surrounding the teeth.
Without treatment, this can lead to intense pain and tooth loss. As bacteria migrates from the mouth into the bloodstream, damage to the internal organs can also occur.
Open Up and Say “Ahhh!”
Chances are you don’t look inside your pet’s mouth very often – especially if they have bad breath! At Vaughn Road Veterinary Clinic, our team is here to help. Simply bring your pet in for their regularly scheduled wellness visit, and your veterinarian will perform an oral examination, ensuring your pet doesn’t have any underlying conditions that may be contributing to stinky breath. We will also provide recommendations for at-home and follow-up care.
In addition to icky breath, there are several other signs your pet may be suffering from periodontal disease, including:
Obvious tartar buildup
Red, swollen, or bleeding gums
Loose or broken teeth
Excessive pawing at the mouth
Change in eating habits
Combating Bad Breath in Pets
Fortunately, bad breath in pets and periodontal disease are entirely preventable. Daily toothbrushing is the single most effective way to ward off dental disease. Although it may take some time and commitment, most pets learn to tolerate or even enjoy this daily attention. Your veterinarian is happy to provide plenty of tips and tricks to get you started.
Most pets also require comprehensive dental exams and cleanings on a regular basis to maintain good oral health, especially those who are middle-aged or older. Remember, in-depth exams and cleanings require anesthesia. This allows us to examine the entire mouth, take digital x-rays (60% of dental disease occurs below the gum line), and thoroughly descale and polish each tooth.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us for more information about pet dental care or to schedule an appointment for your furry friend.
The average lifespan of dogs and cats has increased significantly in recent years, which is great news for animal lovers! We already know that we’ll probably outlive our pets, but keeping them around as long as possible is every pet owner’s goal.
Pet dental care is often overlooked, but it’s an extremely important factor in pet longevity. Good oral health can add 1-3 years to your pet’s life – a significant amount of a pet’s lifespan! In recognition of National Pet Dental Health Month, which occurs every February, our team wants to shine a light on pet dental care and the positive impact it can have on your pet’s health and wellness.
Why Pet Dental Care Matters
Studies suggest that by the time they reach age 3, the majority of pets have some form of dental disease. This condition occurs when plaque and tartar build up on the teeth, both above and below the gum line, which irritates the tissues around the teeth and allows bacteria to multiply. Eventually, damage to the supportive structures around the teeth can lead to significant pain, tooth loss, oral infection, and eventually widespread damage throughout the body.
A pet toothbrush, pet-friendly toothpaste, and a commitment to good pet dental care are your best weapons in the fight against dental disease. Daily brushing is the single most effective way to help your pet live a longer, more comfortable life – and it only takes about one minute a day.
Your veterinarian is happy to demonstrate proper brushing techniques and can make recommendations for other products you can use at home to encourage good oral health.
Keeping up with your pet’s regularly scheduled wellness exams are essential when it comes to pet longevity and oral health. After an initial examination of your pet’s mouth, your veterinarian will make recommendations regarding follow-up home or professional care. Many pets require regular deep-cleaning of the teeth performed under general anesthesia to ensure ongoing dental health and to correct any problems caused by dental disease.
Please bring your pet in to see us if you notice any of the following signs of pet dental disease:
It’s not uncommon for pets to stay away from the veterinarian if they show all the obvious signs of health.
Contrary to this approach, however, is the fact that preventive care is the most effective way to support pet wellness and longevity. If staying in front of developing problems in our own lives is the goal, then the same is true for the animals in our care.
The answer to this is maintaining annual pet wellness checks, and we’re here to help you do just that.
Isn’t it great to go to the dentist and leave with a clean bill of health? How else would you know that you’re cavity-free without the use of dental x-rays? Well, the same is true for general pet wellness checks. These appointments provide us the opportunity to assess and measure your pet’s general health, and systematically design an approach to safeguard their future health too.
We Get It
Some pets do not receive the veterinary they need because they fear the travel kennel, driving, and the possible experience with other pets. While this is understandable, the benefits of regular care far outweigh the potential stress and anxiety associated with veterinary visits.
Filling in the Gaps
A thorough and complete physical examination can reveal subtle signs of medical problems. We closely observe your pet’s posture, their overall appearance, and the condition of the ears, eyes, nose, and teeth. Palpating the abdomen, sides and back gives us insight into the general size and health of the stomach, kidneys, liver, spleen, and bladder. We listen to the heart and lungs, value muscle tone, and check the lymph nodes.
A Word On Weight
Your pet is weighed every time they visit us. Any fluctuations will be noted and compared to previous results. Because weight is often connected to health problems, we will discuss nutritional needs, portions, and exercise at every pet wellness exam.
Beyond the Obvious
Bloodwork and other diagnostics, such as thyroid testing, parasite screening, heartworm/Lyme disease screening, urinalysis, and a biochemistry panel are often essential to diagnose and treat health problems. Given the annual opportunity to see, test, and treat any developing issues, your pet can experience more effective and less invasive treatments. In other words, early detection and rapid response are the best strategies for long term pet wellness.
Did We Mention Teeth?
Routine pet wellness exams have been directly linked with overall quality – and length – of life. Given the chance to detect problems in the mouth, we can prevent further damage. Left alone, dental issues can be difficult to treat and possibly expensive. Brushing your pet’s teeth at home is an excellent preventive measure, but professional exams, cleaning, and x-rays are critical to pet wellness. Periodontal disease and oral infections can be very harmful to the entire body.
Pet Wellness Questions
Pet owners naturally want to discuss lifestyles, vaccinations, parasite prevention, and behavior at pet wellness exams. This is the best time to get the best information, tailored specifically for your unique pet, and we’re happy to talk with you at length about your pet’s health and happiness.
We’re in shock that another year has come and gone already, and what a year it’s been! We’re honored that you’ve entrusted us to care for your furry family members, and we’re committed to providing exceptional supportive, empathetic care to all of our pet patients.
Vaughn Road Veterinary Clinic’s Top 10 Pet Care Blogs of 2018
#10: Sounds for Hounds: Music Therapy for Pets Music is a universal language that can uplift, connect, and energize. It’s something many of us rely on as a means of communication and validation, as well as entertainment on those long commutes to the office. But, have you ever wondered if your pet actually listens to music? Do they get anything out of those random sounds? Read more…
#8: Gotta Get Outta Here: What Really Motivates an Escaping Pet? Spring brings to mind soft, petal-sweet breezes, yard sales, and tadpole counting. We’re not the only ones simply itching to take advantage of the sublime temperatures, though. Pets also enjoy all of the novel scents in the air, and attempts to bolt down the street are common this time of year.
#7: Make Your Own! DIY Cat Toys That Score Really Big Have you ever paced the aisles in a pet store looking for just the right toy that would appeal to your feline’s highly discerning tastes? Sure, they might like that feather dancer, but what about that package of 12 catnip-filled toy mice? While they try, commercial toys designed for domesticated cats don’t always get it right. If you’re frustrated by the constant investment in toys that ultimately gather dust bunnies, DIY cat toys are customized just for the cat in your life. Meow?
#6: Promote Hydration This Summer with Cool Pet Treats Summer’s high heat and humidity spell trouble for pets and people alike. While it means different things to different folks, when we apply a healthy dose of prevention, we’re all better off. As far as animals are concerned, it’s vitally important that they stay out of direct heat and always have access to fresh, cool water. To promote their well-being during the season’s hottest days, we have a few ideas for deliciously cool pet treats. Bon(e) appetit! Read more…
#5: Cat Clicker Training: This Could be a Game Changer! Dogs get all the attention when it comes to training, but what if we told you that cats are just as trainable as their canine counterparts? Indeed, their intelligence and focus, paired with a distinctly feline hunger for action, foster excellent opportunities for learning. What’s more, cat clicker training can strengthen the unique bond between you and your pet. Sounds like a winner to us!
#4: Get Ready for the Big Chill with Fall Pet Grooming Preparing for cooler weather is a big part of saying goodbye to summer. While we may not have the cold, icy winters of northern states, that doesn’t mean there isn’t work to be done to prepare for a new season. Our furry friends also need extra attention this time of year. With our fall pet grooming tips, you’ll be ready for winter just in time! Keep reading…
#3: Tackle Spring Cleaning With an Eye on Pet Safety There’s nothing quite like a beautiful spring day, when you can throw open the windows and enjoy a nice breeze through the screens. There’s also something about this season that prompts us to tackle cleaning and organization around the home. Read on!
#2: Why You Need a Catio: Create an Outdoor Haven for Your Cat For many of us, cats are family. They are wonderful company, beautiful, and seemingly independent. We want to keep our cats safe, but for some of us it’s difficult to deprive our cats of the outdoors, especially if they are sitting at the door looking out and yowling. Read more…
#1: Making Biscuits: Why do Cats Knead? Have you ever seen your cat make biscuits? If you don’t know what we’re talking about, it’s that motion cats make when pushing their front paws (and sometimes claws!) in and out. It resembles kneading bread dough, hence the phrase “making biscuits.” It can be cute and funny when your cat jumps on your lap and kneads contentedly, but it can also be painful! Keep reading…
The Best is Yet to Come
Regardless of how you feel about the past year, the start of a new one is the perfect time to explore opportunities for positive change. When it comes to your pet, we’re always here to provide assistance and answer questions. We hope you and your pet have a fabulous 2019!
Having a pet who’s constantly scratching, losing fur, and dealing with rough, scaly, swollen skin or open sores can be extremely frustrating. Not only is your pet miserable, but you’re at a loss as to how to help them feel better.
Coming up with an accurate diagnosis for itchy skin may involve testing for a food allergy. Food allergies in pets can seriously undermine a pet’s health and wellbeing, which is why it’s important that pet owners be able to recognize certain signs and seek treatment as soon as possible.
An Itchy Situation
Food allergies occur when a pet’s immune system reacts to food that’s been ingested, typically resulting in itching or other skin-related issues. Food allergies in pets differ from food intolerance, which is a physical response to food, such as spoiled food, chemical additives, or an abrupt change in diet.
Food allergies are most often triggered by a protein, although, in some cases, a carbohydrate may be to blame. The most common causes of food allergies in pets include:
Beef (most common)
Corn (least common)
Pets who have reactions to certain foods may lick or bite at their paws, sides, groin, or ears. Hives or sores may develop, and, in some instances, a pet will experience vomiting or diarrhea.
Diagnosing Food Allergies in Pets
Because other types of allergies can also manifest as itchy skin, it can be difficult to diagnose food allergies in pets. Blood tests are available, but they’re not always reliable. If a food allergy is suspected, a feeding trial is usually ordered to determine the specific cause.
During a feeding trial, your pet is fed a prescription diet for 4-6 weeks that contains new (to them), highly digestible protein and carbohydrate sources with minimal additives.
During a feeding trial, you can expect the following:
Your pet must not have access to other food sources, such as the garbage, yard, or begging/stealing from other people or pets (all family members must be on board; other household pets should be fed the same diet during that time period).
If your pet’s symptoms improve or go away completely during the feeding trial, it’s considered a positive test result. You will then be asked to resume feeding your pet their old diet. If symptoms reappear, a food allergy is confirmed.
What Happens Next?
The only effective treatment for food allergies in pets is to permanently eliminate the offending protein or carbohydrate from your pet’s diet. Your veterinarian will work with you to select the right commercial pet food and treats to ensure your pet’s symptoms do not return.
Theirs is the first face you see as you and your pet wait in the examination room. A smile and a word of comfort is first on the agenda as they handle your pet with ease and skill. They ask you the important questions that will help structure the background of your pet’s visit that day. In case you haven’t figured it out by now, we’re talking about veterinary technicians. October 14-20 is National Veterinary Technician Appreciation Week, and we couldn’t think of a better time to highlight the crucial role these staff members play in the health and wellness of your pet.
All About Veterinary Technicians
The job of a veterinary technician is to assist the veterinarian in technical matters, much like a nurse assists a physician. The typical duties that veterinary technicians are responsible for include:
Assisting veterinarians during examinations and procedures
Conducting routine procedures (such as vaccinations, nail trims, and anal gland expression)
Providing first aid and nursing care
Performing or assisting with diagnostic testing (fecal exams, blood draws, urinalysis, and more)
Preparing pets for surgery, assisting during procedures, and monitoring post-surgical recovery
Documenting medical charts
Monitoring anesthesia during surgical procedures
Preparing prescription medications
Answering client questions and providing education on a wide variety of topics, such as nutrition, pet care products, vaccinations, and behavioral issues
No Small Feat
In order to become a licensed veterinary technician, you must complete a two or four-year program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), as well as passing a national board examination. Real world training for veterinary technicians includes lots of time in the lab and clinical work with live animals in a professional setting.
They’ve Got What it Takes
Education, experience, and an intrinsic desire to work with animals are common characteristics among veterinary technicians everywhere, but perhaps a lesser-known trait is physical and mental stamina. Because pets in general have much shorter lifespans than humans, a good portion of any career working with animals is marked by grief. Our vet techs experience the intense emotions that accompany pet loss and often carry those emotions home with them at the end of the day.
Veterinary techs also spend long periods of time on their feet and are regularly called upon to lift, restrain, or otherwise manage animals of all sizes. An ability to think on their feet and to adapt to a variety of different situations throughout the work day is also key.
At Vaughn Road Veterinary Clinic, we absolutely love our veterinary technicians! Without them, we simply couldn’t provide the high level of care and compassion you’ve come to expect from our hospital. We hope you’ll join us this October in expressing our gratitude for everything these devoted professionals do each and every day!
Preparing for cooler weather is a big part of saying goodbye to summer. While we may not have the cold, icy winters of northern states, that doesn’t mean there isn’t work to be done to prepare for a new season. Our furry friends also need extra attention this time of year. With our fall pet grooming tips, you’ll be ready for winter just in time!
The Need for Fall Pet Grooming
Severe thunderstorms and wind characterize autumn in Alabama, and these conditions can do a number on your pet’s skin, fur, and paws. Fall pet grooming is all about caring for these areas and making sure they’re protected no matter the weather.
Skin and Coat
While you’re pulling winter clothes out of storage, your pet is also changing their “clothes” in the form of cyclical shedding that occurs when the seasons change. Daily brushing helps remove loose hair and dander, redistributes oils in the fur, and stimulates blood flow to the skin. This keeps your pet’s coat free of mats, makes it more breathable, and helps insulate them from the chill of winter.
Be sure to maintain your pet’s regular bathing schedule throughout the fall. Take special care to remove mud or debris that can result from a walk in the damp weather. Don’t let your pet back outside until they’re completely dry.
Regardless of the weather, walking your dog remains necessary, but rainy, muddy conditions can be hard on delicate paw pads. Wipe your dog’s paws thoroughly after each walk, and inspect them for debris or injuries. Make sure to continue nail clipping on a regular basis, as well.
Those Pearly Whites
Taking care of your pet’s teeth is an often overlooked component of grooming, but it could have serious implications for long-term health. Brushing your pet’s teeth on a regular basis and following your veterinarian’s recommendations for professional dental care should be included in your grooming regimen.
Ticking Towards Winter?
Slightly cooler temps doesn’t mean that ticks and other parasites are no longer a concern. Regular grooming can help identify problems or potential issues early on. Don’t forget to maintain your pet’s parasite preventives throughout the fall and winter for the ultimate level of protection.
Grooming Services at VRVC
At Vaughn Road Veterinary Clinic, we’re proud to offer an array of services at our grooming salon. Whether you need help with regular grooming or prefer to get a seasonal head start on at-home care, our team of friendly professionals is always here to help!