Monthly Newsletter

Animal Medical Center of Jefferson City Newsletter

Animal Medical Center of Jefferson City

The veterinarians and staff at the Animal Medical Center of Jefferson City are pleased to provide you with an online newsletter. This fun and fact-filled newsletter is updated on a regular basis.

Included in the newsletter are articles pertaining to pet care, information on our animal hospital, as well as news on the latest trends and discoveries in veterinary medicine.

Please enjoy the newsletter!

Current Newsletter Topics

Celebrate Thanksgiving Safely with Your Pets

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to gather with family and friends and indulge in delicious holiday treats. You can be sure that if your cat or dog is around for the festivities, they'll want to share some of the goodies, too. But no matter how much your pets purr, plead, whine or whimper, owners should remember that holiday treats that are tasty for people can be potentially harmful for pets.

Thanksgiving foods may look tasty to your pet, but they could be harmful.

The typical Thanksgiving spread is flush with a variety of foods, from savory fare like turkey and stuffing to sweet foods like yams and cream pies. Your pet's diet is much blander and boring, and for good reason—foods with lots of fat, dairy and spices can cause vomiting and diarrhea in pets. For this reason, it's best to avoid letting Rover dine on the usual turkey day leftovers. If you must give your pet some holiday foods, stick to dishes like boiled potatoes or rice, which will not upset your pet's stomach.

Some holiday foods, however, can cause much more than an upset stomach in your pet. Garlic and onions are members of the allium family and, if eaten in large quantities, can cause hemolytic anemia, a blood disorder that causes red blood cells to burst. Raisins and grapes are also toxic to pets and have been linked to kidney failure.

Chocolate is one of the most dangerous foods that pets can eat—it's also one of the most prevalent holiday foods. Whether chocolate is found in cookies, cakes, truffles or baking squares, any amount can be dangerous. Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, both methylxanthines that can cause stimulation of the nervous system, increased heart rate and tremors. Signs of chocolate poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, hyperactivity and increased thirst, urination and heart rate.

Chocolate is dangerous for pets

Other sweet treats, like gum and hard candies, can also make your pet ill. Sugar-free candies and gum are made with xylitol, a sugar substitute that can cause a drop in blood sugar, depression, loss of coordination and seizures in your pet. Xylitol is also linked to liver failure in dogs. Be sure to keep all candies, chocolate and other sweets out of your pet's reach. If you believe your pet may have ingested chocolate or candy, call your veterinarian immediately.

You may also be tempted to give your dog a leftover turkey bone or two once the table is cleared. However, poultry bones are small and easily breakable and can easily shatter and get caught in your pet's throat. These bones can cause damage to your pet's throat or lead to choking.

Holidays can also be as stressful for your pet as they are for you. Large gatherings of unfamiliar people may cause your dog or cat unnecessary stress and worry. If your pet does not interact well with strangers, keeping him or her in a separate room during the festivities may help keep your pet relaxed and worry-free.

During holiday gatherings, it's a good idea to keep your veterinarian's phone number handy. If your pet does get a hold of some Thanksgiving food and experiences mild vomiting or diarrhea, you can help settle their stomach by withholding food for a few hours then feeding small amounts of boiled rice and cooked hamburger. If the symptoms persist, contact your veterinarian immediately.

November is National Pet Diabetes Month

November is National Pet Diabetes Month, but with more than 50 percent of the nation’s cats and dogs overweight or obese, raising awareness of the common endocrine disease has been extended to pets – rather than just their human caretakers. It is estimated that one in every 200 cats may be affected by diabetes, being the most common endocrine condition found in felines. The numbers for dogs are similar and only expected to increase.

Diabetes results when a pet’s body doesn’t produce enough insulin (Type I DM) or doesn’t process it properly (Type II DM). When your pet eats, carbohydrates found in his or her food are converted into simple sugars, one of which is glucose. Glucose is then absorbed into the bloodstream through the intestines and travels to cells throughout the body. Inside cells, insulin typically helps turn the glucose into fuel. However, when there isn’t enough insulin, glucose can’t even enter the cells to be converted into energy and instead just builds up in the bloodstream.

Symptoms of Diabetes in Cats and Dogs:

• Lethargy
• Excessive thirst
• Frequent urination
• Always hungry, yet maintains or loses weight
• Thinning, dry and dull coats in cats
• Cloudy eyes in dogs


National Pet Diabetes Month

At-risk pets include:

• Those with genetic predispositions
• Those with other insulin-related disorders
• Those who are obese and/or physically inactive
• Dogs who are between 4- to 14-years-old
• Unspayed/intact female dogs are twice as likely to suffer from diabetes
• Dog breeds with greater risk for development: Cocker spaniels, dachshunds, Doberman Pinschers, German shepherds, golden retrievers, Labradors, Pomeranians, terriers and Toy Poodles

Although diabetes can’t be cured, it can be managed so that symptoms are reduced or eliminated entirely. Your veterinarian will decide which treatment options are best for your pet. Often, changes in diet and lifestyle, combined with or without daily insulin injections, can help your pet live a happy, healthy, active life.

If you’ve noticed any of the above symptoms in your pet and suspect he or she may have diabetes, contact your veterinarian today. Veterinarians are the only professionals who can accurately diagnose your pet and provide proper health management. Diabetes can affect a pet differently over time, even if your pet has experienced a long period of stability. The sooner your pet is diagnosed, the better, and the less likely you'll incur the cost of an expensive emergency visit for diabetic complications.

Coping with Pet Loss and Grief

Sadly, everyone who cares for a pet will one day face the illness, old age or passing of their beloved animal friend. It is as natural and necessary to grieve for the loss of a pet as it is for any loved one who dies. And it is important to have compassion and support in one's time of grief. While grieving is an internal and private response, there are certain shared processes that most people experience. By understanding the grieving process, you will be better prepared to manage your grief and to help other family members who are also experiencing the pain of loss.

Consider adopting a cat.


The Stages of Grief

There are many signs of grief, but not everyone experiences them all or in the same order. You may experience denial, anger, guilt, depression, acceptance and resolution. Your first reaction may be denial... denial that the animal has died. Denial is frequently the first stage of grief and is a normal coping mechanism that helps us cope with the loss. This reaction may occur even before death, when you first learn the extent of your animal's illness or injuries. Often, the more sudden the death, the more difficult the loss is to accept.

Anger and guilt often follow denial. This anger can be directed toward people you normally love and respect, including your family and your veterinarian. People will often say things that they do not really mean, perhaps hurting those whom they do not mean to hurt. You may feel guilty or blame others for not recognizing the illness earlier, not doing something sooner, not being able to afford other types of treatment, or for being careless and allowing the animal to be injured.

Depression is also part of the range of emotions experienced after the death of a loved animal. This is the period when you usually feel the greatest sense of loss. The tears flow, there are knots in your stomach and you feel drained of all your energy. Day-to-day tasks can seem impossible. Sometimes you may even ask yourself if you can go on without the animal. The answer is yes, but there are times when special assistance may be helpful.

Acceptance of a new reality is a sign that we are ready to move forward. Eventually, you will come to terms with your feelings. While you will still feel the pang of loss, you can begin to resolve and accept your pet’s death. When you have reached resolution and acceptance, the feelings of anger, denial, guilt and depression may reappear. If this does occur, the intensity of these feelings will be much less, and with time, these feelings will be replaced with fond memories.

Although the symptoms of grief are felt whether the loss is of an animal or a human loved one, grieving is a personal process. Some people take longer than others to come to terms with denial, anger, guilt or depression, and each loss is different. If you understand that these are normal reactions, you will be better prepared to cope with your own feelings and to help others face theirs. Family and friends should be reassured that sorrow and grief are normal, natural responses to death. They may not understand. Well meaning family and friends may not realize how important your animal was to you or the intensity of your grief. Comments they make may seem cruel and uncaring. Be honest with yourself and others about how you feel. If despair mounts, talk to someone who will listen about your pet and his/her illness and death. Talk about your sorrow, but also try to recall the fun times you and the animal spent together, the activities you enjoyed and the memories that are meaningful.

If you or a family member has great difficulty in accepting your animal's death and cannot resolve feelings of grief and sorrow, you may want to discuss those feelings with a person who is trained to understand the grieving process and who understands the pain associated with losing a pet. Your veterinarian certainly understands the loving relationship you have lost and may be able to suggest local animal loss support groups and hotlines, grief counselors, clergy, social workers, physicians or psychologists who can be helpful. Talking about your loss will often help ease your pain and comfort your heart.

Consider adopting a cat.


Informational links to pet loss support groups are included here for your reference.


Pet Loss Information and Support Hotlines

Pet Loss Support Hotlines
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)
National Pet Loss Hotline
(212)876-7700, ext. 4355
http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/pet-loss/

C.A.R.E. Helpline for Companion Animal Related Emotions
University of Illinois
College of Veterinary Medicine
(217) 244-CARE (2273)
http://vetmed.illinois.edu/CARE/grief.html

The Chicago Veterinary Medical Association
Pet Loss Support Hotline
(630) 603-3994
http://www.chicagovma.org/petlosssupport#.UcrkWJwQV8E

Pet Grief Support Service
Companion Animal Association of Arizona, Inc.
(602) 995-5885
http://www.caaainc.org/petgriefsupport.htm

Pet Loss Support Program
Michigan State University
College of Veterinary Medicine
(800) 565-1526
http://cvm.msu.edu/alumni-friends/information-for-animal-owners/pet-loss-support

Pet Loss Support Hotline
Iowa State University
College of Veterinary Medicine
(888) 478-7574

Pet Loss Support Hotline
Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine
(508) 839- 7966
http://www.tufts.edu/vet/petloss/

Pet Loss Support Hotline
University of Florida
College of Veterinary Medicine
(352) 392-4700, ext. 4080
http://smallanimal.vethospital.ufl.edu/resources/pet-loss-support/

Pet Loss Support Hotline
Cornell University
College of Veterinary Medicine
(607) 253- 3932
http://www.vet.cornell.edu/Org/PetLoss/

The Ohio State University
Pet Loss Hotline
College of Veterinary Medicine
(614) 292-1823
http://vet.osu.edu/vmc/pet-loss-support-hotlines-and-helplines

Pet Loss Support Hotline
Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine
(540) 231- 8038

P.A.T.S. Pet Loss Support Hotline
Pacific Animal Therapy Society
(250) 389-8047
http://patspets.ca/wordpress/pet-loss-and-bereavement

How to Measure Your Pet's Quality of Life

Veterinarians take many things into consideration before recommending humane euthanasia for a sick, injured or elderly pet. When it comes to setting your own mind at ease, there are ways to rate or measure your pet's overall well-being.

The Veterinary Medical Center at Ohio State University published a survey designed to illustrate your pet's quality of life which was adapted from several other common methods. The survey asks you, the pet owner, to rate 25 different prompts on a scale from one to five. A score of one indicates strong agreement or a condition that is present all the time or is severe; a score of five indicates strong disagreement or a condition that is never present and nonexistent. Thus, higher scores indicate a better quality of life.



The Survey

Scale

1: Strongly Agree / All the Time / Severe

2: Agree / Most of the Time / Significant

3: Neutral / Sometimes / Mild

4: Disagree / Occasionally / Slight

5: Strongly Disagree / Never / None

My pet...

1. Does not want to play

2. Does not respond to my presence or doesn't interact with me in the same way as before

3. Does not enjoy the same activities as before

4. Is hiding

5. Demeanor/behavior is not the same as it was prior to diagnosis/illness

6. Does not seem to enjoy life

7. Has more bad days than good days

8. Is sleeping more than usual

9. Seems dull and depressed

10. Seems to be or is experiencing pain

11. Is panting (even while resting)

12. Is trembling or shaking

13. Is vomiting and/or seems nauseous

14. Is not eating well (may only be eating treats or if fed by hand)

15. Is not drinking well

16. Is losing weight

17. Is having diarrhea often

18. Is not urinating well

19. Is not moving normally

20. Is not as active as normal

21. Does not move around as needed

22. Needs my help to move around normally

23. Is unable to keep self clean after soiling

24. Has coat that is greasy, matted or rough-looking

25. How is my pet's overall health compared to the initial diagnosis/illness?

Once you have rated each prompt, tally up the number of responses for each number and then place an 'X' on a "Quality of Life line" labeled "Good" at one end and "Poor" at the other according to your most frequent response.

The purpose of this exercise is to help you better visualize your pet's general well-being. Of course, not all pets are the same and what is rated poorly for one may not be so bad for another. For pets currently undergoing treatment, some poor ratings may be liked to symptoms and side effects which will subside. It is always important to discuss your concerns and your pet's overall demeanor with your veterinarian, especially when considering humane euthanasia.

The Health Benefits of Owning a Pet

Owning a pet is a lot like having a child. It will require food and drink, opportunities for physical and mental exercise, guidance, attention and love. And, it will give you something back in return. There’s an adage that claims “healthy pet, healthy you,” and it’s true for several reasons.

Imagine bringing a new puppy home. You’re already on the road to being a good pet parent because you’ve done some reading and know how important socialization is for young animals living in a world full of people and the sights and sounds that go with that. After getting settled at home and making sure your pet has visited your veterinarian for any necessary vaccines, you decide to introduce your pet to your neighborhood by taking him for a walk. As you strut around the block with your new prized possession, people begin to notice your adorable ball of fluff. Children and adults you pass will ask to pet your pooch and conversation will follow about his age, breed and so on. These conversations continue to occur and grow into possible friendships at training classes, the dog park and even with other pet-minded individuals online. Pet ownership increases opportunities for exercise, outdoor activities and socialization – as quickly as that.

Pets Lead to More Physical Activity and Socialization

With all those bathroom walks and outdoor adventures, it isn’t surprising to find dog owners are more physically active and less likely to be obese than those without a canine to care for. Other pets may not require outdoor walks, but they do require cage or litter-box cleanings, daily replenishing of food and water, and some form of indoor exercise or interaction that takes away from time which may otherwise be spent planted in front of a television.

Pets can also influence us to be more social and develop relationships with other people and their pets. This may not seem important, but studies have shown people with more social relationships often live longer and are less likely to experience both metal and physical decline as they age.



Additional Health Benefits of Pet Ownership

Heart Health: The National Institute of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have both conducted studies showing people with pets are less likely to suffer from heart attack. Pets are proven to lower blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and because pets help reduce stress, pet owners who are recovering from a heart attack will do so more quickly.

Emotional Health: There’s nothing quite like coming home to a wagging tail or purring cat. In addition to reducing feelings of loneliness, pets provide their owners with a sense of purpose, which is crucial in combating depression. It’s understandable why pets are used to bring joy to the sick or elderly in hospitals and nursing homes.

Immune System Health: Research published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology has shown children develop stronger immune systems when exposed to animals early in life. One pediatrician found having a pet in the home can lower a child’s likelihood of developing pet allergies by as much as 33 percent.