Wellness Care

It's Flea Season!

It's Flea Season!

Let’s talk about fleas…you know, those pesky little black bugs that like to live on your pets! Here is South Carolina, we generally don’t have cold enough winters to really kill off fleas - so while fleas are definitely worse in the spring, summer, and fall, they are still around in the winter as well, just in smaller numbers. This is why it is important to use flea medication year round in our climate. Your animals can get fleas any time they go outside (even if it’s just a quick trip to relieve themselves), from other animals, or even sometimes through the screens on porches or from you if you happen to carry some in on your clothes. Even indoor cats can end up with fleas!

Pet Hurricane Preparedness

Pet Hurricane Preparedness

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.

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!

Curiosity Saved the Cat: Ask Missy Anything Answers!

Hi Missy,

Our cat is an only pet. She is old, frail and never leaves her home. We hate for her to have to endure the annual visit and inoculations. Are all these shots absolutely essential for her well-being?

Love your glasses,
Pussy Willow's Mom

Dear Pussy Willow's Mom,

Good question, thank you!

While vaccinations are an important part of feline wellness care, the MOST important part of each visit is the doctor's physical exam. During a routine exam, veterinarians palpate (or feel) organs, check for arthritis which is common in senior cats, and listen to the heart and lungs in addition to noting the outward appearance of skin/hair coat, eyes, ears, mouth, etc. We also recommend annual blood, urine, and fecal testing which can help us catch and treat problems that are otherwise undetectable at early onset.

Cats are great at hiding problems until they become critical and the early stages of illness are usually very subtle. In the wild, this natural behavior extends life as an apparently strong, healthy cat is less vulnerable to predators. This instinct often does not dissipate within the protective walls of your home, but your watchful eye could help identify signs of trouble early. These signs could include increased thirst and/or urination, changes in appetite, unusual wandering throughout the house, howling, hiding, or not using the litter box appropriately.

As for the vaccines themselves, we recommend indoor-only cats remain current on their core immunizations: Rabies and FVRCP (aka HCP). The Rabies vaccine is required by state law to protect pets and humans alike. FVRCP is identified by feline veterinary specialists across the nation as a core vaccine group for all cats regardless of lifestyle. While exposure to these viruses is limited for Pussy Willow, their benefits likely far outweigh the risk of vaccination. Our doctors are happy to go through the pros and cons list on an individual basis during your pet's visit to help you make an informed decision as to what's best for you and your cat.

In short, while we do want to make sure our feline patients are current on their recommended vaccinations, we also want to stress the importance of regular exams with a veterinarian. We understand trips to our hospital can be taxing on pets and owners alike - especially for our elderly kitties - and sympathize with you whole-heartedly. Our entire team has been working hard to create a more relaxed environment for cats. A cat-only exam room with diffused pheromones and low-stress handling techniques are two ways in which we are achieving this goal. Ulimately, we truly believe that regular visits - ideally every 6 months, but at least once per year - are essential for a cat's well-being.

Linked below are some more articles that might help answer your questions! Please let me know if you have any follow-up questions I can answer for you.

"Carriers and Car Rides" article link

"Wellness Exams" article link

Thanks for being a great cat mom!

Missy

P.S. I love my glasses too, thank you!

Dear Missy,

One of my kitties, Charlie, likes to wake me up every morning by licking my face and hands and also poking me and meowing at me. I realize I've created a monster by serving her breakfast as soon as I get up so I know she wants to be fed (because she guides me right to her bowl) but why does she lick so much?

Thanks,

Charlie's Mom

Dear Charlie's Mom,

Please take a moment and read this article from the ASPCA, I think you will find the answer you are looking for! In this article, you will find helpful tips on correcting this licking behavior as well.  

You will find often that I quote Jackson Galaxy, the cat behaviorist on Animal Planet. He is an amazing resource. He mentions in one of his many blogs that regulating a cat's digestion will help regulate their energy. I see you feed Charlie twice a day, canned Fancy Feast and 1/8 cup Royal Canin dry. You are already off to a great start! Why don't you try splitting up her portions into three meal times that fit your schedule? Plan the last meal about 1.5 hours before you go to bed. Before feeding, get a "Da Bird" wand (Amazon or PetCo) or something similar and interactively play with her for 10-15 minutes. Wear her out then feed her. Afterwards, she'll start to groom and head to bed with you with a full tummy and hopefully won't be as lovably obnoxious. Ideally, this should be done before breakfast too for best results.

Cats still have their ancestor's instincts even though we have domesticated them:

HUNT-->CATCH-->KILL-->EAT!

I would expect to see an improvement in this behavior within 10-14 days if you can commit. Consistency is key!

Thanks for your question! Keep me posted!

Missy

Dear Missy,

My cat was an abandoned cat in the Park Circle area and she was desperately thin and shy. Her owner had kicked her out since she is untrusting and will not be handled. After over a year living at my house she will let herself be gently petted sometimes but only with one hand, not two that could grab her unexpectedly. She has been living with me for 5 years now, but she is still not affectionate although I can corner her and get her in a crate for her annual visits to DIAH. The price I pay is that it takes about a month for her to let me touch again. So, as you can imagine, I don't crowd her. I have to let her come to me.

She will only sulk in the closet corner or under the guest bathroom sink cabinets (she is good at getting doors open) if I try to keep her indoors only. So, reluctantly, she has access to the doggy door which she uses easily. But, she mostly sits out on the back patio watching birds, chasing lizards.

She has been at DIAH several times with the crystals in the urine business. I have tried to convert her to wet food, but she just starts to not come home for days if she doesn't get her kibble which is the only thing she thinks is cat food, not cheese, yogurt, chicken pieces, etc. The big problem is that she doesn't drink enough on her own. Is there something I could put in her food that looks like kibble that would make her drink more water?

Nala's Mom

Dear Nala's Mom,

Thanks for your questions. I have some thoughts but there are situations where I feel like a home visit may be warranted. This may be one. I'll give you suggestions and we'll see.

Obviously, as you mentioned, she has trust issues. We can work with that. It will take time as there aren't usually any quick fixes.

I see you have two beagles. Just from reading some history she sounds like a big time stress kitty. Make sure she has a place in your living room where the family congregates where she can be with you all. Some place high, not just the back of a couch or top of the refrigerator. She needs to be able to have a quick escape from these high places so should she need to use a litter box, she can do so without feeling threatened.

Get a "Da Bird" wand off Amazon or at PetCo. Play with her for 10-15 minutes before meals...this will instinctively get her hunting behavior out. You may not want pups to be present during play. She needs a lot of environmental enrichment. It's awesome she gets to watch the birds and the lizards...let's get her to find something. Get a food puzzle, like the Pipolino, for cats and make sure you feed her just twice a day. She can roll it around and her food will drop out little by little.

Make sure she has 2 litter boxes in different locations. These boxes ideally need to be much larger than she is...she needs room to fully turn around inside the box. Wal-Mart and many other stores have done cats a disservice by selling the tiniest litter boxes known to man.

I am available for house calls. I would try the things described above (Da Bird wand, food puzzle, and verticle spaces) first to see if it helps with her trust.

Take care,

Missy

>^..^<

Combating Cabin Fever

We all know the phrase "Cabin Fever," and how boredom can make us do things we may not normally do if we were otherwise pre-occupied or content. This is something our pets may feel all too well. Statistics show that boredom, or lack of enrichment, can lead to many behavior problems if not caught soon enough. Lack of mental stimulation or opportunities for our pets to satisfy their natural instincts and behaviors can cause them to act out in ways that we only understand as "bad behavior." In a perfect world, humans and domesticated animals would live together in perfect harmony while entertaining one another's instincts.

Because this world does not exist, we must find ways to satisfy our pets' needs that don't involve our dogs digging to China in our backyard or our cats knocking every single item off of every shelf in an attempt to see which one will play back with them. The idea of enrichment is to provide mental and physical stimulation for our pets to help them live more rewarding and full lives. In the long run, this will help avoid naughty behaviors that may eventually break down that bond you and your four legged child may have.

We all know that ideally dogs would love to walk miles and miles each day and sniff every single blade of grass along the way. Cats would love to chase butterflies in the sunshine for hours on end. Unfortunately, because of our busy lives, this is not always an option. This does not mean there is no hope for your dog or cat. There are many ways to help them achieve the mental stimulation they need. Many of these things can be accomplished with household items you may already have.

Tips to Combat Your Pet's Cabin Fever

Toys: A rule of thumb is that 3 toys should be provided per pet, per day. These items can be switched out and reintroduced every 5 days to help maintain novelty. Keep in mind that you should be cautious of your pet's normal chewing behavior to avoid ingesting any part of the toy. Examples for dogs are rope toys, tennis balls, squeaker toys, and Kongs. Some options for cats are toy mice, jingle balls, and feather toys.

Environmental: Animals naturally enjoy viewing their environment from different angles. This may be easier to accomplish for cats because they are more inclined to climb on counters, shelves, and basically anything in reach. If an option, it would be valuable to allow your cat to have an area, or several, that they are encouraged to climb up on. Empty shelves mounted on a wall that create a ladder effect work great but a standard cat tree is beneficial as well. An idea for dogs is to allow visual access through a window or door. Not all dogs are a good candidate for this especially if they are typically reactive to seeing other people or dogs outside. A good option for those dogs is to leave on the television or radio.

Exercise: This category is one of the most important ones. This is beneficial for overall health but can also have a major effect on naughty behavior such as separation anxiety and and other negative results of pent up energy. Routine walks for your dog are certainly beneficial but there are particular reward neurotransmitters (nerve messenger cells) that are not released unless your pet undergoes high intensity endurance running. Essentially, there are certain functions of your pet's brain that are not stimulated unless this type of exercise exists for them. If you are not typically a runner, dog parks, open fields that allow pets, and even your back yard are a great option to help them reach these needs. It wouldn't be recommended to harness your cat and take him on a 3 mile run, but they can get their daily workout with a little help from you. A cat will chase a feather string toy or laser light for hours. This is encouraged to help them burn energy but it also has a great effect on their self-confidence.

Brain Puzzles: With a little creativity, you would be surprised how many ways you can provide your pet with enrichment. Dogs and cats love new scents. Think of all the things there are to smell while they are on a walk or outside. By using a spray bottle and infusing scents like cinnamon, rosemary, lavender, or chamomile onto your pets favorite bedding or toys, you can provide them with a change to seek and explore. Toxicity potential should be evaluated before using any product. Alternating scents is the best way to keep this a fun adventure for your pet. Empty cardboard boxes with windows cut in them can provide a fun hideout for your cat to explore. Laundry baskets with or without fabric in them placed in various positions provide a new obstacle for your cat to conquer. Switching out different types of fabrics can create an opportunity for your pet to rub and roll for more tactile stimulation.

Fun with Food: Food puzzles are a wonderful opportunity for your pets to engage in their natural instinct to hunt for food. These puzzles can be purchased at most pet stores or made by using cardboard boxes and plastic containers. If you live in a single pet household, spreading his or her meal out in separate rooms gives your pet a great excuse to sniff and search to find the food. If your pet is food motivated, using food puzzles during stressful events like thunderstorms or separation can keep him or her occupied and help with counter conditioning. Using empty egg carton containers to feed your cat or small dog is an easy option. As a treat, you can fill a Kong with peanut butter or freeze a bowl of water mixed with treats or chicken broth to entertain them for a while.

The possibility for enrichment ideas are endless! As always, you must take your pet's individual needs and current health into consideration as not all of these options are suitable for every pet and household. For assistance or questions about anything in this article, don't hesitate to contact us!

Vaccine-Associated Sarcomas in Cats

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What is a vaccine-associated sarcoma (VAS)?

A sarcoma is a type of cancer that affects mesenchymal cells, which can be found in tissues such as fat and muscle.  VAS is a sarcoma that is potentially induced by a vaccination. The real cause is a genetic predisposition which can cause the effected cat’s inflammatory cells to get out of control and release a substance that causes DNA damage.  It is normal for a vaccine to cause a little localized inflammation. It is only in a small minority of cats (about 1 in 10,000) that this inflammation can get out of control ultimately leading to a sarcoma. This situation is very rare, but concerning if it does occur.

My cat has a bump at his vaccination site, should I be worried?

Often, cats will have a slight inflammatory reaction and a small granuloma (bump) will form. A granuloma is not a concern and should go away in a few months. However, if the bump does not go away or continues grow, you should talk to your veterinarian about testing the lump to determine if it is cancerous. 

What if my cat’s lump ends up being a sarcoma? Will my cat be okay?

At this point, you and your veterinarian will discuss treatment options. This may includes surgical removal of the lump, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. The extent of treatment necessary is very dependent upon your individual animal and how far your animal’s cancer has progressed. Though rare, this is a cancer, and a very serious disease and prognosis will depend heavily on the extent of disease present and response to treatment.

Even though it’s rare, why even take the risk? Should I continue to vaccinate?

Yes! This may sound like a simple answer but neglecting core vaccinations will likely do your pet more harm than good. Vaccinations are given for a reason and they are often to prevent very nasty and often fatal diseases. Some of these diseases, such as rabies, are also zoonotic (can infect humans). If you avoid vaccinating your cat you may end up not only putting your cat at greater risk for infection, but putting yourself and others in harms way as well.

Can I at least limit the amount of vaccinations I give?

Yes – you and your veterinarian may discuss if there are certain vaccinations that may not be necessary. These vaccines will most likely be vaccines for certain diseases that are not prevalent in your area or your cat will unlikely be exposed to. To reduce the risk of sarcoma further, our hospital uses the PureVax line of vaccines specifically formulated for cats without an adjuvant so post-injection inflammation is even less likely.

Have questions about your cat’s vaccines? Please ask! We are happy to address any specific concerns you may have about your furry family member. That’s what we are here for!

Sentinel is Back!

Sentinel.jpg

We can hardly believe it ourselves, but Sentinel is back on the market and in stock at our hospital! Even better - the price point has dropped dramatically making it a more affordable options for our clients. We are now selling a 6 month supply of Sentinel for $40-60 (based on weight) plus a $10 mail-in rebate.

Why We Love Sentinel

Sentinel is our doctor's best recommendation for canine parasite control because in addition to heartworm, roundworm, hookworm, and whipworm protection, it has the added benefit of a flea "birth control". This component, lufenuron, has stood the test of time as the best foundation for a flea-free home. Sentinel can be used as a stand-alone monthly preventative, but because Charleston provides the perfect playground for fleas, we recommend adding an flea "adulticide" (like Frontline Plus or Comfortis) to the regimen for complete coverage.

Our Doctors Recommend:

Sentinel + Frontline Plusfor owners who want to protection against ticks or prefer topical flea control.

~or~

Sentinel + Comfortisfor owners who do not have a tick concern and prefer oral medication.

Cats and Other Dog Products

We continue to recommend monthly Revolution for all cats, including our indoor-only patients. This is a topical flea/intestinal parasite/heartworm prevention. We also now carry Seresto, an 8 month flea and tick collar for cats for added protection.

If you prefer other products on the market, we're happy to help you sift through the options. Products that our doctors approve of, but have chosen not to carry in our hospital, can be found on our online pharmacy: ePetHealth. This includes heartworm and flea preventions such as Trifexis, Heartgard Plus, Program, and Advantage.

Sentinel and Comfortis Backorder

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Flea and Heartworm Prevention Backorder

Sentinel – and now Comfortis – have been on backorder for much of the year, causing flea and heartworm prevention to be a hot topic around our office. Our receptionists joke that they can now give an explanation of the industry situation and our doctors’ replacement recommendations in their sleep! While we were hopeful Sentinel would return in the next couple months, we recently learned that Novartis will not ship the product until some time in 2013. Respectively, Elanco is extending their backorder of big dog (40+ lbs) Comfortis for at least another month.

YOU’RE tired of this situation and WE’RE tired of this situation, so we’ve come up with an alternative solution. We will happily sell 6 or 12 months at a time of these new recommended products with equivalent ingredients so you do not have to continue to make a trip to our office every month – unless you want to! When Sentinel finally returns to the market, Dr. Flood will reassess our options and make a medical recommendation at that time to provide your pets the best protection against parasites. Thanks so much for hanging in there with us!

Our Current Best Recommendations

DOGS ON COMFORTIS

If your pet regularly gets Comfortis and Sentinel for flea and heartworm prevention; we are now recommending TRIFEXIS + PROGRAM.*

DOGS ON FRONTLINE

If your pet regularly gets Sentinel and Frontline for flea, heartworm, and tick prevention; we are now recommending HEARTGARD Plus + FRONTLINE Plus + PROGRAM.*

*Pets with conditions such as heartworm disease, food allergies, flea allergies, or medication intolerance should seek advice from our veterinarians before changing prescriptions.

CATS

We continue to recommend REVOLUTION for all cats. This product has not been affected by the recent backorders. 

What's the difference?

There are lots of flea and heartworm medications out there and new products are popping up on the market all of the time. We work hard to scour through all the options, researching efficacy, side effects, and safety. Just to give you an idea, some of the current popular drugs on the market include: ivemectin, milbemycin, moxidectin, imidacloprid, spinosad, fipronil, lufenuron, s-methoprene, cyphenothrin, pyrethrin…! We’re not expecting you to know the difference between all these medications (never mind pronouncing them); that’s our job! Our doctors research and recommend the best medications that keep your pet healthy and parasite free.

Buy local!

I could write an entire book on why purchasing medication directly from our hospital (as opposed to a national pharmacy) benefits all involved, but I’ll keep it simple. Purchasing medication directly from your veterinarian ensures your pet gets the right products, helps keep our fees for medical services affordable, and supports your local economy.  We TRULY appreciate your business!

Keeping Our Pets Safe

We had a recent request for a blog about keeping pets safe on Daniel Island. This question is important because of the natural predator population on the island. The following hunting species are part of the natural beauty of our community:
— Alligator, Bobcat, Coyote, Eagle, Hawk

    We also have abundant raccoon, opossum and feral cats who would fight a cat for territory.  In 2009, a case of rabies in a raccoon from Daniel Island was confirmed; proof that the virus is present here. View the SC DHEC annual rabies report here.

    Other diseases carried by wildlife which can affect our pets are heartworms, intestinal parasites and Leptospirosis. The best way to avoid exposure to these diseases is to keep cats indoors and keep dogs on a leash and out of wildlife habitat areas. For more on the "Indoor Pet Initiative", check out The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine website.

    This question is also timely with the recent Post and Courier news story about a pet cat on Daniel Island being trapped and moved off the island because a neighbor found the cat to be a nuisance.  Our neighbors may not be pet loving people, and it is in our pets’ best interest for us to prevent them coming into contact with people who do not appreciate their unselfish, loving companionship.

    On Daniel Island, we are in the city limits of Charleston proper.  Chapter 5 of the city’s municipal code states:

    “Every person owning or having possession, charge, care, custody, or control of any animal shall keep such animal exclusively upon his own premises; provided, however, that, any such animal may be off such premises if the animal is restrained by a chain or leash or other means of adequate physical control, provided, however, that, when any animal destroys or damages any property, attacks, threatens to attack, or interferes with any person in any manner, becomes a nuisance, or strays onto the private property of another, there shall be a presumption of law that the animal was not restrained by a chain or leash or other means of adequate physical control.”

    If a neighbor’s cat is a nuisance, and you wish to keep them off your property, I recommend a motion-activated sprinkler by Contech called the ScareCrow.  The sudden noise, movement and spray of water are humane ways of teaching animals of all types to avoid your landscaped areas.