Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Caution against Grain Free dog/cat food!


Grain Free pet food has been growing immensely popular over the past decade. Instead of traditional grains like rice, barley or oats, companies have been adding peas, lentils and chickpeas. The Food and Drug Administration have recently announced that they will be investigating a link between Grain Free diets and a common type of heart disease in dogs called dilated cardiomyopathy, or D.C.M.
CVCA (a practice of 19 veterinary cardiologists) is responsible for notifying the FDA about concerns. There has been a shocking increase in the cases of D.C.M that they are seeing and the common factor were Grain Free diets. There have been no definite studies done yet to verify this information but they are well on their way.
Dr. Lisa Freeman, a veterinary nutritionist and researcher at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tuft’s University, has been skeptical about the new “fad” diet: “Contrary to advertising and popular belief, there is no research to demonstrate that grain free diets offer any health benefits over diets that contain grain… Grains have not been linked to any health problems except in the rare situation when a pet has an allergy to a specific grain.”
Another concern about these diets is the low amount of taurine (an amino acid important in the metabolism of fats, which is required for both cats and dogs) Many dogs found to have developed D.C.M had shockingly low levels of taurine. This lack of taurine could also be the cause these heart related issues.
We are adamantly following the research and will be updating our clients as new information becomes available. We are advising that, if your pet is currently on a Grain Free food, to switch to a more traditional diet. We keep a well updated best/worst food list that we would be happy to share with you. If you have any questions or concerns about which diet is best for your pet, please ask! We are here to make sure you are well informed and your pet is healthy and happy!


Sources:
The New York Times, Popular Grain-Free dog foods may be linked to heart disease: Jan Hoffman July 24, 2018
Vetnutrition.tufts.edu, A broken heart: Risk of heart disease in boutique or grain free diets and exotic ingredients. Tuft’s Clinical Nutrition Team June 4, 2018

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Spring has sprung! Safety Tips for warmer weather

Spring is here! Finally…
Along with Spring comes lots of outdoor activities and some potential dangers, today we’re going to go over keeping our pets (and children!) safe this season!
First is ticks, all the snow hasn’t even melted in my neck of the woods (way up in the Berkshires in little known Peru, MA) but the ticks are already out, and abundantly so! Many all-natural products say they can keep your pet free of fleas and ticks but we have not yet found one that works as well as the commercial products. The good quality products are tested vigorously and are generally very safe to use so, make sure your pet is on a good flea and tick product (check out our other blog for more details). That may not be enough to keep those pesky pests off of you and your family. There are many natural products you can use on your self and outside to keep them off of the humans like Rose Geranium essential oils or Diatomaceous earth (DE) which is natural occurring sedimentary rock crushed into powder that works well for fleas, ticks, cockroaches and earwigs!
Check out this website: https://www.campwander.com/blogs/camp-wander/kid-pet-friendly-tick-repellent for an all-natural product that you can use daily on yourself and children. (You shouldn’t need to use this on your pet if they are already on a good flea and tick product but it is safe for them to come in contact with it.)
LAWN CARE
When it comes to lawn care and pesticides a good rule of thumb is to keep kids and pets away from ANY treatment for a good 24 hours. If you are using a lawn care company go by their recommendation and ask for a printout of products and ingredients they use!
*Dogs tend to eat fertilizers so always keep an eye for when he’s around those areas where fertilizer was laid. They have a sweet smell and taste and can cause vomiting and diarrhea.
* Ingredients that are very dangerous to pets: 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D), atrazine, dicamba. Avoid these completely, if able!
* Mulches: cocoa mulch is gaining in popularity but if ingested can cause the same dangerous effects as eating dark chocolate. Mulch is also a great place for fungi to grow! Eating any fungus could make your pet very sick or even be fatal. Rake mulch regularly to avoid any growth.
*Keep ground clear of any fallen or rotting fruits! Your dog or cat may think it’s a great treat but even fresh fruit can make them ill.
GRILLING
Spring and Summer are the best time to grill and hang outside but the grill brings with it a lot of dangers for your pet. Try and keep children and pets at least 3 feet away to protect against burns. Always keep grease and fat traps concealed and empty them regularly! Even grilling tools can make a dangerous snack: used skewers, tin foil and plastic wrap can be very enticing if they have marinade or juices on them! If ingested they can cause blockages or even intestinal tears leading to very expensive and invasive surgery.
Food no-nos: fat scraps can cause pancreatitis, GI pain and diarrhea in cats and dogs. Onions and garlic contain thiosulphate which can cause hemolytic anemia. Another forgotten one is corn on the cob, while corn itself is okay the cob cannot be broken down and can cause GI issues along with blockages.
Alcohol is never okay for pets. Wine is made of grapes which we all know is a food no-no and hops in beer is also very dangerous. Those main ingredients aside, the physiology of cats and dogs is different from humans. They do not process and breakdown alcohol the same way we do. They can get ethanol toxicosis and/or neurological issues from even small amounts of alcohol.
As a vigilant dog owner you may know all of these things but it is always a good idea to REMIND YOUR GUESTS! Many people who don’t have pets aren’t aware of the general do’s and don’ts.

WILDLIFE
Spring means lots of baby animals ALL OVER! Please keep children and pets away from wildlife. If they are in a high traffic area or appear injured get ahold of a wildlife rehabilitator. They will advise you whether the animal will need to be removed or just left alone. Please contact our hospital at 413-268-8387 or Cummington Wildlife at 413-695-6854 if you find any animal that looks like it might need help. If does not appear injured or in a dangerous situation PLEASE LEAVE THEM ALONE!
Mowing the lawn? Look out for rabbit nests: they look like a regular old spot of dead grass but can hold baby bunnies! If you do find a nest it is best to just leave it alone, even if momma isn’t there she will come back. A safe way to check is the tic-tac-toe trick: lay out some grass or twigs over the nest in a tick-tac-toe pattern, if in 24 they have not been disturbed momma bunny may be injured and you should contact a rehabber.
Please feel free to contact us at the clinic for any questions or concerns!
Enjoy the warm weather!

Monday, April 9, 2018

Heartworm Disease

Most dog owners are aware of the dangers associated with heartworm disease, what they may not know is that it is becoming more widespread and more prevalent in New England than it ever was before. At our Massachusetts veterinary practice the only cases of heartworm positive dogs were animals that came from down South. The past couple of years has shown a growing number of heartworm positive dogs that have never left New England. What used to be a southern endemic has spread up North.

Heartworm disease is spread by mosquitos, they bite an infected animal and pick up baby heartworms called microfilaria. Then the infected mosquito will bite another animal where the microfilaria enters the blood stream and mature into fully grown heartworms. These worms live in the heart, lungs and surrounding vessels and can cause severe lung disease, heart failure, other organ damage and even death. Treatment is also very expensive and can be risky.

Luckily, testing is easy and readily available and heartworm preventative is very safe and easy to give! We recommend pets stay on heartworm preventative all year (most protect against intestinal parasites as well; win-win!) Our practice uses Interceptor® Plus (milbemycin oxime/praziquantel), it prevents heartworm disease and treats adult hookworm, roundworm, whipworm and tapeworms. We have found this particular preventative is generally well accepted by our canine patients and see very few side effects. Of course, there are several preventatives on the market so the pet owner can do research and shop around if need be.

In order to begin a preventive an animal would  have to show negative on a heartworm test. Giving a preventative to a positive dog could cause anaphylaxis and may result in death. In the early stages of the disease it’s possible for a dog to show absolutely no signs or symptoms. The American Heartworm Association recommends annual testing, the sooner we can detect heartworm disease the better the prognosis for your pet! We only need a small blood sample and run the test in house, most of the time we get results within 10 minutes!

Heartworms can affect our feline pets as well, although they are not a traditional host. Please read this excerpt from the American Heartworm Association in regards to heartworm disease in cats: “Heartworm disease in cats is very different from heartworm disease in dogs. The cat is an atypical host for heartworms, and most worms in cats do not survive to the adult stage. Cats with adult heartworms typically have just one to three worms, and many cats affected by heartworms have no adult worms. While this means heartworm disease often goes undiagnosed in cats, it’s important to understand that even immature worms cause real damage in the form of a condition known as heartworm associated respiratory disease (HARD). Moreover, the medication used to treat heartworm infections in dogs cannot be used in cats, so prevention is the only means of protecting cats from the effects of heartworm disease.”

*Information gathered from www.heartwormsociety.org and www.interceptorplus.com/