Feline Holiday Shopping Guide

Still November, still thinking about holiday gifting? Let’s consider what your cat may enjoy receiving this year. Since they are not small dogs, there’s a shift in toy selection. Domestic cat behavior is closer to the behaviors we see in wild cats - hunting, lounging, grooming, scratching. We want to keep them happy and engaged. We want to minimize or redirect their more destructive behaviors. Cats, like dogs, benefit from toys that keep them mentally and physically active. Indoor cats especially benefit from environmental enrichment - it lessens their stress levels, which can lower your risk of having a cat with behavioral issues. Win-win situation!

Hunting

One of a cat’s favorite activities is hunting! Toys that allow cats to track, catch and play with “prey” are key. Toys like Go-Cat Da Bird - feathers on a string attached to a rod, or a strip of fleece attached to a rod, etc - fosters their tracking and catching prey. Successful hunting provides satisfaction (think endorphins). It’s also a way to spend time with your cat. Some toys like the Petstages Tower of Tracks and robotic mice simulate hunting without requiring your participation. Catnip mice allow them to catch and play with their “prey”. Catnip or grass can be grown indoors for your cat to enjoy. The attraction to catnip is genetic, so about 50% of cats will have absolutely no interest in it. There are food puzzles for cats to provide mental stimulation and foster their hunting instinct. These may also be a good idea for cats that binge eat or are overweight.

Lounging

Another thing near and dear to cats is resting in elevated places. We have all seen a photo of a wild cat laying up in a tree - try googling ‘big cat laying in tree images” and it will become clear why your cat is up on your dresser/refrigerator/table. I came home once to find my first cat perched on top of my bedroom door! Big cats will be up in a tree surveying their territory - alert to the possibility of prey, resting and sleeping. Cats sleep a lot, conserving energy for the hunt. So instead of your counters or table, why not invest in some wall perches or hammocks to create some vertical space for your cats? Window perches allow your cat to survey the great outdoors, look for prey and bask in the sunshine. Catastrophic Creations makes perches, mazes and hammocks. Handimania has DIY kitty lofts for those of you who need a fun project!

Cats also enjoy hiding. How many times has an Amazon box become a hideaway for your cat? So this holiday, consider upscaling from empty boxes and paper grocery bags to fun things like cat teepees, tunnels and covered or enclosed beds. Easyology Cat Tunnel provides interactive mental stimulation and a hide away.

Grooming

Petories Double Arched Cat Groomer and Catit Design Senses Massage Center provide some level of massage/grooming as well. Cats spend a lot of awake time grooming - so if you don’t get the aforementioned cat groomer, consider a brush or grooming glove to use when it’s just you and your cat.

Scratching

Cat towers provide opportunities for climbing, perching, hiding as well as play-in models that sport dangling toys. They also provide vertical and horizontal scratching surfaces using sisal, carpet and/or cardboard surfaces. Scratching is a totally normal and daily behavior for most cats so it is important to give them something to work on other than your furniture! Scratching posts and corrugated board scratchers are great and there are a million of them to choose from. Feliway has a new product, FeliScratch, to use on appropriate scratching surfaces to help attract your cat. You can usually train your cat to use these preferentially.

Nature

If you want to enjoy the great outdoors with your cat you may consider pet backpacks or strollers to safely take your cat out. Some cats will accept being walked on a leash - it’s best to use a well-fitted harness here as most cat collars are breakaway ones. Beware of dogs - they may not like your cat and/or your cat may not want to mingle with dogs.

Hope these ideas help make your holiday purrfect! >^.^<

Canine Holiday Shopping Guide

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It’s November already!? There is a busy season ahead, and I bet you are wondering, “What gift to get my pet for the holidays?” Did you know, last year Americans spent nearly as much on toys, apparel, and over-the-counter products for their pets as they did on veterinary care? Food is in a category all its own and twice again as much. If this market research describes you, let us help you spend those dollars wisely. (These are not products we sell but are readily available at local/national pet stores and online.)

Accessories For Activity

Let’s consider what dogs might like first, besides food, dog parks and such. A cute outfit may come to mind, but does it spark joy for them or for us? A spiffy new collar or harness and leash ensemble can be exciting - it can lead to more outings - more walks, and what dog doesn’t love sniffing out new terrain? And we get to show off our perfect pet and our fashion sense.

Dogs benefit from toys that keep their minds or bodies active. So if your dog loves a tennis ball, frisbee, Chuck it Ball Launcher or squeaky toy - why not get a new one? For those times you can’t get outdoors to walk or play with your dog there are a lot of toys out there designed to keep your dog occupied mentally and/or physically. Automatic ball launchers allow activity without your involvement. Dog TV may provide interest to your dog’s day.

In people and pets, keeping the brain active helps delay the onset of dementia. Toys can also help keep your dog mentally engaged, less bored, and therefore less anxious or destructive while you’re busy working to afford the lifestyle to which your dog has become accustomed!

Food dispensing toys can keep your dog more physically active as well as engage them mentally. Sniffing for food releases dopamine in dogs which makes them feel more relaxed and happier. Many of the toys also help promote dental health, and we know how important that is to overall health (if you don’t, we will cover that in the near future). There are several different Kong toys which vary in difficulty that dispense kibble or treats. The Kong Wobbler is a favorite with many trainers. There are several Nina Ottosson dog puzzles which your dog must figure out what to uncover or slide to obtain a treat. Her Dog Tornado interactive toy is more difficult. The Kong Stuff-a-Ball and the Trixie Dog Activity Chess have multiple levels of difficulty. The Kong one also helps clean teeth.  It is important to start with easier puzzles so your dog gets rewarded and is not frustrated or loses interest if the game is too challenging. These feeding toys can benefit all dogs, including those who eat too fast, become bored or anxious easily, or spend a lot of time alone as they take time and energy to solve and provide mental stimulation.

There are toys that make noises or light up, etc. which can be fun for your dog as well. Choose carefully (annoyance factor) or put these toys away so you can sleep at night.

Your dog really loves spending quality time with you most of all, so why not sign up for a class together? Obedience, agility, frisbee, dock diving come to mind. There are even camps for owners and pets to do daily activities together like yoga, hiking, ballroom dancing!  If this is too much, consider using that new leash set and getting a group dog walk going in your neighborhood. These gifts allow you to make memories together, get out to meet other pets and their owners, gets you off the couch and out the door… possibly lowering your blood pressure, stress levels and releasing some endorphins. Perhaps these ideas for gifts aren’t just for the dogs!

Whatever you choose, by all means, enjoy the season… with your dog!

Happy holidays.

Pet Hurricane Preparedness

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The looming threat of Hurricane Florence is a great early reminder that hurricane season is fully upon us. There is plenty we could and should do to ready our homes and families, pets being a part of that equation. Both Hurricanes Matthew and Irma sparked widespread evacuations throughout the Lowcounty in 2016 and 2017. In the days prior, our practice was overwhelmed with urgent last minute calls to update vaccines, fill anxiety medication, and send records for travel and boarding.

This year, take "Vet Visit" off your frenzied to do list prior to evacuation and check your wellness due dates now. You can review your pet's exam and vaccine status anytime by logging into your Pet Portal. A copy can be printed by clicking your pet’s photo, then vaccine certificate. Contact our office for copies to be emailed/faxed directly to your boarding facility.

Vaccine Requirements for Boarding

When hurricanes are threatening our coast, boarding facilities within a 300 mile radius fill to capacity quickly. Vaccines and other wellness requirements vary from one to the next, including:

Dogs - Rabies Vaccine, DHPP aka DAP Vaccine, and Bordetella Vaccine
(additional requirements could include an Influenza Vaccine, Fecal Parasite Screen, and/or Heartworm Test)

Cats - Rabies Vaccine, FVRCP aka HCP Vaccine
(additional requirements could include a Feline Leukemia Vaccine and/or Fecal Parasite Screen)

Medication for Storm and Travel Anxiety

Over-the-counter and prescription drugs are available to help pets cope with the stressors of thunderstorms and lengthy car rides. These medications have varying effects on pets and finding the right drug and dosage sometimes requires a few attempts. If anxiety medication is something you feel your pet may need but has never taken before, we recommend contacting our office well in advance to allow for home trials.

As with administering vaccinations, dispensing/prescribing prescription medications requires a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR) which is defined as having an exam with one of our doctors within the past 12 months. If you have fallen behind on wellness visits for any of your pets, now is the time to catch up!

Additional Evacuation/Shelter-in-Place Considerations

While we hope storms blow over with minimal damage and evacuations are lifted quickly, best practice is to prepare for extended time away from home and without local services. For pets this includes:

  • Sufficient supply of food, water, litter, and chronic medications

  • Easy access to crates, leashes, litter pans, and collars with ID tags

  • Registered microchip with current contact information

  • Copy of pertinent veterinary records

A more inclusive list of disaster preparedness guidelines can be found on the ASPCA website: https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/disaster-preparedness

We aim to be a valuable resource for your family's pet-related needs. Please do not hesitate to let us know how we can best serve you. 

 

Happy Retirement, Dr. Abyad!

A letter from Dr. Abyad:

It has been my joy and privilege to practice veterinary medicine here at Daniel Island Animal Hospital for the past three years. It is with a lot of excitement and some sadness that I will be "retiring" from regular practice this summer. While I am on the verge of a new time in my life and look forward to travel, hobbies, and more family time, I will miss seeing all of our wonderful clients and their beloved dogs and cats.

I have worked alongside the most talented and congenial group of people anyone could hope to work with. Each person on the team, from my veterinary colleagues to the technicians, from office to reception, has been welcoming and supportive and I know you will be in the best of hands. I am especially grateful to Dr. Flood, both for the opportunity to practice here and for her commitment to the community.

I have greatly valued our relationship, send all the dogs and cats good health wishes, and look forward to seeing all of you on the sidewalks and streets of Daniel Island and Charleston.

Sincerely,

Roselle Abyad, DVM

We are so thankful for the time Dr. Abyad has spent with us and will miss her affable nature and obvious passion for veterinary medicine and commitment to her patients. Her last official day on the schedule will be Friday, May 19th and we look forward to continue working with her from time to time as she has offered to fill in as needed moving forward.

Congratulations to Dr. Abyad on her retirement and we wish her the best with this new life chapter!

Support After the Loss of a Pet

"How do I love thee? Let me count the ways." -Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Sonnet 43

Our beloved pets, we love them purely. We love them deeply, fully, and completely. They are our best friends, our confidants, our partners, our counselors. So often our pets are our support system; they understand us, they accept us, they forgive us, they love us unconditionally. The human/pet relationship is shaped by an emotional and physical commitment and this investment is powerful. The bonds we develop encourage and shape us on many levels. We are often better people because of this bond. We certainly are stronger, happier, healthier, more purposeful, and productive because of our pets.

At some point, most of us will be faced with the loss of a beloved pet. This loss can be devastating, the grief overwhelming and it can be difficult to find the much needed support that one might need when faced with the loss of a loved one. We can talk with our families, our friends, other pet owners. However, there may be times when professional assistance can best help us navigate the deep sorrow we feel when losing a beloved pet. We can turn to our veterinary professionals to help guide us. 

Awhile back, I was faced with tremendous grief after losing several precious pets in a short period of time. Dr. Flood helped me find a grief counselor named Judy Heath, founder of the Life Guidance Center in West Ashley. Judy was a tremendous help: she encouraged me to laugh, cry, talk, write about my pets and other things. She helped me sort out a great deal of pain, helped me realize I was OK, grieving is OK. One resource I became aware of while working with Judy is the Association of Pet Loss and Bereavement. It is a nonprofit organization committed to helping those grieving a beloved pet. Their services are free and available to anyone who is in need.

If you are in need of support, please know you are not alone. There is caring, committed help waiting to put its arms around you. Love is such an important experience. Shared love never leaves us, it stays in our heart.

I started with Elizabeth Barrett Browning, I end with Lord Tennyson - "'Tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all."

In truth, it all starts and ends with love. 

Hyperthyroidism in Cats

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Quick Facts: Hyperthyroidism...

  • Is the most common glandular disorder in cats.
  • Can be found in cats of all breeds and sex.
  • Has an average onset at age 12-13 years (although in rare cases can occur in cats younger than 10).

Clinical Signs Include:

  • Weight loss despite an excellent appetite
  • Excess thirst
  • Restless and needy behavior
  • Intermittent vomiting or diarrhea
  • Urinating outside the litter box

Diagnosing the Disease

During your cat's physical exam, the thyroid glands will be palpated. In normal cats, the lobes of the thyroid gland cannot be felt with your fingers. In a hyperthyroid cat, at least one lobe is usually prominent and may be detected by your veterinarian. A full lab work panel, including a Free T4 by Equilibrium Dialysis, will determine your cat's thyroid function. Findings from the exam and lab work along with noted medical history and clinical signs will help determine a definitive diagnosis. 

Symptoms if Left Untreated

Hyperthyroidism is caused by a benign growth in the thyroid gland that is over-producing T4. Hyperthyroid cats often have a reduced quality of life through weight loss, muscle deterioration, chronic vomiting or diarrhea, heart disease and high blood pressure which can result in heart failure, sudden blindness or sudden death. Good news...all of the above can be prevented with treatment for thyroid disease!

Treatment Options

Radioactive Iodine (I 131)

The gold standard for treatment of hyperthyroidism in cats is a radioactive scan to confirm the disease location and size of the glands followed by a therapeutic dose of Iodine 131. This treatment involves an injection followed by 3-7 days of hospitalization. No anesthesia is required and the treatment is curative. Disadvantages to this option are that the owner is separated from their pet during the hospitalization period and children and pregnant women can have no contact with their cat for 1-2 weeks after therapy. Also during this time, a special flushable litter must be used. This treatment method is not appropriate for cats with kidney or heart failure. I 131 therapy is available locally by referral to the Feline Hyperthyroid Treatment Center of Charleston and is quoted at $975.

Medicating with Methimazole

The most common treatment for hyperthyroidism is a medication called methimazole which blocks the production of T3 and T4. After the treatment has been given for 2-4 weeks, the thyroid levels must be checked and regularly monitored to insure the correct dose is being administered. This option is often popular because the medication is relatively inexpensive and no hospitalization is required. Disadvantages to this method of treatment include the inconvenience and difficulty of medicating every 12 hours. While side effects are uncommon, those that do occur will typically become present within the first three months of treatment. Medicating with methimazole can sometimes unmask or worsen kidney disease. 

Prescription Diet y/d

For the occasional cat who is not a good candidate for routine medication and Radioactive Iodine is financially out of reach, there is a commercial diet available through your veterinarian. Hill's Prescription Diet y/d is reduced in iodine with the idea that excessive thyroid hormone levels can not be produced if there is not enough iodine in the diet to support their production. It is claimed that this diet can normalize a cat's thyroid in 8-12 weeks but must be fed exclusively, meaning no treats, access to other pets' food, or time allowed outside. Once a cat is transitioned to this diet, it is recommended that thyroid levels, kidney parameters, and urine concentration is checked at 4-8 weeks then monitored every 6 months thereafter. 

We <3 Microchips!

Check the Chip Day! August 15, 2016

This is a great time to ensure all of your pets are microchipped, that our hospital has that number on file, and your contact information is current with the microchip manufacturer.

Unsure who manufactured your pet's chip? Check online now:

http://www.petmicrochiplookup.org/

Infographic: Microchip Your Pet

Puppy Preschool!

What is Puppy Preschool?

Erin Waldrop, a Licensed Veterinary Technician at Daniel Island Animal Hospital, is PASSIONATE about puppies! (Who isn't?) Based on animal behavior research, she has developed a curriculum with the intent of giving puppies various socialization opportunities in effort to prevent behavioral issues, like fear and aggression, down the road.

This weekly class will allow time for guided puppy play, exploration, and mini educational topics. These topics will go beyond what time allows for in the exam room and cover:

  • Early Development
  • Handling
  • Enrichment
  • Community Health
  • Grooming 
  • Dental Care
  • Nutrition
  • Pet Insurance

Tell me more about this "animal behavior research."

Behavioral problems: the number one reason dogs are re-homed or relinquished to shelters, the number one cause of death for dogs under three, and the greatest threat to the owner-dog bond. We know you love your puppy and we want to do everything we can to keep it that way!

Prime socialization happens within the first 4 months of life when sociability outweighs fear. This is the period of time when puppies should be exposed to and have the opportunity to adapt to as many people, places, and things as possible. Read more from the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior.

Typical puppy classes focus on obedience and begin once the vaccine series is complete at 16 weeks: after the prime start-up socialization window has passed. While there is a small risk of virus exposure when introducing puppies earlier in life, our doctors feel the benefits to socialization far outweigh this risk. We require that puppies attending class are current on all recommended vaccines for their age. This class can be used as a great stepping stone towards future obedience classes and at-home training.

Sign me up! When, where, and how much?

Erin will be holding class every Thursday from 5:45-6:30pm in our hospital's lobby. All puppies age 6-20 weeks are welcome. Class size is limited to 3-8 puppies...don't miss out! To register, call/text/email and we will reserve your spot: 843-881-7228, info@danielislandvet.com

Package Pricing:

  • Full Program (8 weeks): $150 - for puppies 12 weeks or younger at first class
  • Half Program (4 weeks): $75 - for older puppies/those who cannot commit to full schedule
  • Pay-Per-Class: $25/class (subject to available space)

Have to miss a class? We'll work with you to make it up!

Members: earn and redeem rewards dollars on this service!

Happy Visits!

Does the thought of a trip to the vet leave your pup a bit anxious? Help him fight his fears with happy visits!

Our hospital tends to be at its calmest and quietest between 1-2pm daily during the week. This is a great time to pay us a social call and help build a positive, trusting relationship between your dog, our team, and our office. Your visit could be as simple as special treats and some time roaming our halls or we could help build towards a specific goal like fear free nail trims.

Some activities to try during your happy visit:

  • Extra special vet-only treats like Cheese Wiz
  • Hang out in the lobby or meander through the treatment area
  • Practice weighing in on our scale
  • Meet and greet the team 
  • Stand on an exam table or ride the lift table in the back
  • Have a tech gently work with the toes, ears, mouth, tail, or other sensitive spots
  • Get cozy in a kennel

The more positive associations your pet has with our practice, the better each subsequent visit will be for the whole family! We look forward to your visit!