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Entertaining Indoor Cats

Benefits of being an Indoor Cat:
If your cat is an indoor pet, you are able to develop a deeper and more satisfying relationship with them. Indoor cats tend to be healthier, live longer, and are at a lower risk of catching feline leukemia virus, feline immunodeficiency virus (Feline AIDS), and upper respiratory infections. They also won’t get into cat fights, hit by cars, and can’t get harassed by other animals, be stolen or lost, or kill wildlife. They are also less likely to pick up parasites, and have a lower risk of being exposed to environmental poisons.

Entertainment
Chasing & Jumping
Cats have an innate chase response, so use small fast-moving objects like small balls, scrunched newspaper, or try tying objects onto fishing lines or poles and dangle in front of your cat. Hand held laser pointers are also fantastic!

Feeding
Make your cat search for food:
•if you feed dry food start putting small clumps on the floor and slowly moving it further away from the bowl each day.
•eventually the food can be scattered throughout the house in different places.
•there are also tricky treat balls that you can place food in – your cat will need to roll the ball to get the food out. Or make your own by cutting small holes in a used water bottle and fill with kibble! You can order a tricky treat ball from Chestermere Veterinary Clinic by calling 403-272-3573.

Obedience Work
Cats can be taught to do tricks using positive reinforcement with food or toys as a reward:
•reward the desired behavior as soon as it occurs.
•break down the task into small steps in the beginning.
•start with very small pieces of a very tasty food so your cat doesn’t get full or gain weight.

Enjoy the View
Cats love to watch the world go by! Place a cat perch underneath a window, screen in a porch, or invest in a scratching post with a perch.
Placing a bird feeder or bird bath within view of the window also provides much entertainment! Some cats may even enjoy watching TV, or Cat Sitter DVD’s, which show birds, butterflies, fish and gerbils.

High Level Cat Walks
If you can, provide walkways between high points in the house. Shelves can be placed on walls or narrow pieces of wood can be placed between beams to create a catwalk.

Scratching Posts
Scratching is a normal behavior
•train your cat to use a scratching post by adding catnip.
•place the post in front of any furniture that they normally scratch and then slowly move it further away until it is in the desired location.
•reward your cat whenever they use the post.
•place tinfoil or cellophane over any spots you don’t want scratched to discourage them.
•posts with levels are extra fun!

Me Time!
Have a spot where your cat can go to feel safe or to get away from other pets or visitors if they are feeling anxious. You can use a cardboard box and cut a hole in the middle of one end just big enough for your cat to get in and out of, or buy a scratching post with an enclosed sleeping area. Placing an old sweatshirt that smells like you in it will also help them feel safe. Place it in an area where your cat can still watch the activity in the house.

Trips Outdoors
Use a harness and leash. Get your cat used to the harness first, and then train them to walk on leash by rewarding walking forward with tiny pieces of food.

Outdoor Enclosures
If your cat doesn’t like the harness, create an outdoor enclosure for them. Wire netting can be used to enclose an area alongside the house, and enclosures of different sizes can be connected with tunnels in between them and the house. Not a handyman? There are companies that make outdoor enclosures just for cats! Check out http://habitathaven.com for a catalog.

For more information or if you have questions, call Chestermere Veterinary Clinic at 403-272-3573 or visit us at www.chestermerevet.com.

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Cold Weather Reminder – Antifreeze Poisoning

antifreeze_jug

As we get into the cooler months remember…: Antifreeze Poisoning

Every year thousands of pets are poisoned accidentally with automotive antifreeze. Ethylene glycol, the main ingredient making up 95% of antifreeze, is toxic to many mammals, including people. Ethylene glycol tastes sweet, and many animals actively seek it out. Most cases of toxicity occur when antifreeze is left where pets can get to it. It only takes a very small sip of antifreeze to poison your pet. Cats are approximately FOUR times as sensitive to the poison as dogs.

Ethylene glycol has an immediate and long-term affect on the body. Once it is consumed it is rapidly metabolized. Within thirty minutes of drinking, your pet will become ataxic (loss of coordination and muscle movement) and will appear intoxicated. This phase continues for up to six hours. Eventually this tipsy behavior subsides and it appears that the problem is over. It is a common idea for owners to wait a problem out, but this can prove fatal because the ethylene glycol then enters the pet’s liver and kidneys where it turns into toxic products that acidify the blood and destroy cells in the kidneys. When the kidneys are damaged, they lose their ability to cleanse the body of waste.

End results of antifreeze poisoning include loss of nervous system functions within a few days. Symptoms are dependent on how long it has been since ingestion, as well as the amount consumed. Early on, symptoms mirror intoxication. Dogs and cats may vomit because ethylene glycol can have very irritating effects on the stomach. They drink and urinate excessively and may be depressed and wobbly. After a day in cats and a few days in dogs, they may become depressed, weak and dehydrated. They may develop diarrhea, mouth ulcers, rapid breathing and seizures. Their kidneys are often painful and swollen.

When pets are presented soon after ingestion, the prognosis is fairly positive. Diagnosis is much more difficult after time. By the time ethylene glycol has attacked the kidneys it is too late for a cure. At this time the animal is very sick from uremia (kidney failure) and acidosis (acidic blood). The amount of ethylene glycol the animal consumed is very important in determining the success of treatment. Pets do not respond favorably to any treatment when they have ingested too much. The goal of treating antifreeze toxicity is to decrease absorption in the stomach and intestines as well as increasing excretion in the kidneys.

The first steps of treatment include inducing vomiting, and administering activated charcoal to absorb toxins. Large amounts of IV fluids are also indicated to increase urine production and in turn excrete toxins. Ordinary drinking alcohol is often used intravenously to counteract the effects of antifreeze poisoning. Treatment for ethylene glycol toxicity is very scary and is a pricey gamble. Timing is imperative. It is best to take preventative measures to keep your pets from ingesting any antifreeze.

When changing coolant in your vehicle, try to keep the fluid from spilling. If you do spill, wash the area immediately. If you have a coolant leak, do your best to keep the pavement where the fluid is leaking clean until your vehicle can be fixed. It is recommended to keep cats indoors as best you can, and supervise your furry friends while they are exercising their freedom outdoors.

For more information or if you have questions, call Chestermere Veterinary Clinic at 403-272-3573 or visit us at www.chestermerevet.com.

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Pet Safety at Halloween

halloween-safety

Here are some tips to keep your pets safe this Halloween!

Keep your Cats Indoors at Halloween. This is a time of year when cats (especially black and orange ones) may be stolen for pranks or for other unspeakable reasons. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Common Halloween Stressors
Halloween can be a frightening and stressful time for a pet. Here are some common stressors to consider:
The doorbell ringing continuously can get some pets so worked up they can potentially injure themselves or get stress diarrhea. Keep your pet in a quiet, calm location during trick-or-treat hours. Natural pheromone products can help keep your pets calm and give them a feeling of safety. Ask us about dog appeasing pheremone for dogs (adaptil) or Feliway for cats, which can be purchased at Chestermere Veterinary Clinic. See www.feliway.us or www.adaptil.co.uk for more information!

Strangers in costumes can make some pets fearful or even aggressive; ensure your pet is a safe distance away from trick-or-treaters to prevent unexpected bites.

Jack-o-lanterns and candles pose a fire hazard to wagging tails or frightened felines. Battery powered flickering bulbs are a nice alternative to real candles.

Chocolate is poisonous, but plastic candy wrappers can also be dangerous if ingested. Xylitol is especially poisonous to pets and is an ingredient in gums, baked goods, mints, and other sweets. Always make sure that candy containers are out of your pets reach, or placed in a sturdy pet proof container if on the floor.

The morning after Halloween scan your yard and sidewalk to ensure no candies were dropped overnight by trick-or-treaters. Ensure you set your children up with a good hiding place for their loot and inform them of the dangers of giving chocolate to pets. Double check after your child has treats, that they remembered to put their loot bag back in their special hiding place.

Signs of chocolate poisoning include rapid heartbeat, muscle tremors, vomiting, and seizures. Without treatment, pets can lapse into a coma and die.

For more information or if you have questions, call Chestermere Veterinary Clinic at 403-272-3573 or visit us at www.chestermerevet.com.

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Sources:
Tobiassen, Janet DVM. About.com Veterinary Medicine. “Halloween Safety Tips for Pets.” Web September 30, 2013. http://vetmedicine.about.com/cs/winterinfo/a/halloweensafety.htm.

Robinson, B.A. Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance. “Halloween Hoaxes: Ritual Abuse and the Sacrifice of Black Cats.” October 29, 2006. Web September 30, 2013. http://www.religioustolerance.org/hallocat.htm.

Thanksgiving Pet Safety

Thanksgiving is a great time to spend with your family, friends and pets. It is also a great time for sharing some delicious meals! However, there are some hazards to think about at this time of year. How can you keep your pets safe and have a great holiday?

To start, a safe place for pets to go, prevents potential exposure to hazards in the kitchen. People can easily trip over pets that are waiting under foot for some yummy treats to drop. If you are handling hot food, pans or boiling water, your pet should not be in the kitchen.

Although very tempting to feed your pets leftovers from dinner, remember that the foods we most often eat at Thanksgiving are very high in calories and fat. Ask your guests and teach your children not to feed your pets table scraps. Foods to avoid include turkey skin, gravy, fat trimmings, onions, chocolate and alcohol. Eating fatty human food puts pets at risk of pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). This can be a life threatening disease and signs include vomiting, diarrhea, painful abdomen, lethargy, inappetance and dehydration. Most pets require hospitalization on iv fluids, iv painkillers, antibiotics and other supportive treatments.

Fatty food also puts pets at risk of being overweight which increases their risk for diabetes, joint issues, heart disease, high blood pressure, and heat intolerance among other concerns. Overfeeding can also increase the chance of bloat, where the stomach twists on itself. This is often a fatal condition which requires emergency surgery. Remember that any change in diet can also cause stomach upset.

Instead of feeding human foods, give your pet a favourite toy or put some of their regular kibble in a puzzle treat ball for them to play with. Once dinner is over make sure leftovers are stored safely away. Never feed turkey bones to your pets. All poultry bones splinter very easily and can cause intestinal perforation or blockage. Skewers, string, roasting bags, cellophane wrap, tin foil and plastic bags can also act as foreign bodies and cause intestinal blockage. Put these items into a pet proof garbage. Please note that Chestermere Veterinary Clinic will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, so if your pets get into trouble take them to an emergency veterinary clinic. You should always have your veterinarian’s number by the phone, and a good pet first-aid book that lists common poisons and what to do if your pet ingests them. If you can bring a sample of what your pet ingested, it can help your veterinarian treat your pet faster.

Emergency Numbers:
Western Veterinary Specialist & Emergency Centre 403-770-1340
CARE Centre 403-520-8387

If you have any questions or concerns, call Chestermere Veterinary Clinic at 403-272-3573, or visit us online at www.chestermerevet.com.

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Rabies Case in Calgary

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency released an announcement on August 13, 2013, that a puppy in Calgary had to be euthanized after it was confirmed the animal had rabies. The puppy had been adopted from Nunavut. There was no record that the puppy had been vaccinated.

Rabies is transmitted by the bite or scratch of an infected animal. Therefore it is passed very easily between hosts. Rabies is a serious and fatal disease that can be transmitted to pets and people. Rabies infects the central nervous system, causing disease in the brain and death within days of contracting the virus. Symptoms include fever, headache, weakness, discomfort, insomnia, anxiety, confusion, paralysis, excitation, hallucinations, agitation, hyper-salivation, difficulty swallowing, and hydrophobia (fear of water). Once symptoms begin to appear, survival is rare.

Any bite or scratch from a wild animal is treated as a rabies case, unless the wild animal is captured, tested and shown to be negative for rabies. Procedure dictates that pets exposed to rabies that have not been previously vaccinated, should be euthanized immediately, or be placed in strict isolation for 6 months with a rabies vaccine given 1 month prior to release. If your pet’s rabies vaccine has expired, their case will be evaluated to find the best course of action. If your pet has an up to date rabies vaccine, they will be kept under observation for 45 days.

Unfortunately, keeping away from wild animals is not always something that you have direct control over. Bats have been known to inhabit barns, attics or eaves troughs of homes. If you frequent off leash areas coyotes, badgers, porcupines or even beavers may come into contact with your pet, and these wild mammals have the potential to be infected. The best thing you can do to keep your family and pets safe is to make sure your pet remains up to date on their rabies vaccine.

Call Chestermere Veterinary Clinic 403-272-3573 to book your pets appointment, or to find out if your pet is up to date on their rabies vaccine. Most veterinary clinics offer rabies vaccines that are valid for 1 year until your pet is over the age of 2, when they can receive a 3 year rabies vaccine.

If you or your pet does come into contact with a wild animal and gets scratched or bitten. Wash the wound immediately with soap and water and seek urgent medical care from your doctor or veterinarian. Try to note where the wild animal is so you can report it to wildlife officers who may be able to trap the animal and have it tested for rabies.

If you have any further questions about rabies or vaccines, please contact us at Chestermere Veterinary Clinic 403-272-3573, chestvet@telus.net or visit us at www.chestermerevet.com.

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Sources:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Rabies.” Updated December 13, 2012. Web January 28, 2013. http://www.cdc.gov/rabies/index.html

CBC News. “Rabies Case in Calgary Confirmed.” Posted August 24, 2013. Web August 29, 2013. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/story/2013/08/24/cgy-rabies-case-dog.html

Natural Mosquito Repellants for Dogs

Pesky mosquitoes bug pets and humans alike! While you may have found some good repellants that work for you, be cautious about what products you use on your pets. DEET containing products do tend to be most effective against mosquitoes for humans, but DEET can also be harmful to our pets. Even the OFF brand clip on – a repellant that is not applied to your skin but rather spread out in a cloud around you by a little fan, says directly on the product that the metofluthrin (active chemical) can be harmful if inhaled, and it should be noted that this particular chemical has also been shown to cause neurotoxic symptoms in dogs.

While protecting your pets from mosquitoes might not be the first thing on your mind when outdoors, it is a good idea because: itchy annoying bites on their skin can lead to further skin problems if excessive scratching leads to irritation and infection, and mosquitoes can carry a parasite that can be fatal to pets, called heartworm.

So what can you safely use on your pets to repel mosquitoes?
First note that products that can be used safely on dogs cannot always be safely used on cats. Many of these products will be based on essential oils, and many essential oils are toxic to cats. Some of these oils include: Peppermint oil, Lemon oil, Lavender oil, Melaleuca oil, Tea Tree oil, Cinnamon Bark oil and Wintergreen oil. If you are unsure of a certain product or recipe, check with your veterinarian at Chestermere Veterinary Clinic, and do not use unless it is specifically marked safe for use in cats.

“Outdoor Life Oil” from Herbal Healing can be purchased from the Calgary Farmer’s Market at 17th Avenue, Ogden or Symon’s Valley. It is based on oils like: Geranium, Eucalyptus and Clove. It comes in a spray or oil form. Our own veterinarian Dr. Gabby Rotaru has tried the spray on her dogs and finds it works well, but needs re-application every 1 – 2 hours.

Make your own: Check out www.ottawavalleydogwhisperer.blogspot.ca for some recipes.

“Herbal Defense Insect Repellent Spray for Pets” can be ordered directly from www.petco.com.

Advantix (only for use in dogs) can be purchased from Chestermere Veterinary Clinic by calling 403-272-3573, or sending an e-mail to chestvet@telus.net. Advantix repels mosquitoes, ticks, sand flies and stable flies, and is applied once per month.

If you have questions please call us at 403-272-3573 or visit us at www.chestermerevet.com.

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When Pets Eat Grass

No one really knows why pets, especially dogs, eat grass. There are many theories including that they lack fibre in their diet, boredom, or that they eat grass when they feel sick which helps them vomit up what is “unhealthy” in their stomach.

Regardless of the cause, there are a number of reasons why letting your pet eat grass is not a good idea:

– Grass sprayed with pesticides or fertilizer can make your pet very sick. Some pets need to be hospitalized and treated for fertilizer or pesticide toxicity after eating grass.

– Large amounts of ingested grass can cause obstruction in the stomach and sometimes even bloat which can be deadly.

– Some pets have to have surgery to remove the grass they have ingested.

– Dry grass (like foxtails) can cause severe irritation of the throat or choking: dogs will start coughing and retching and show signs of discomfort after eating foxtails. The foxtails can become lodged at the back of the throat at the tonsils and create inflammation and infection, as well as a lot of discomfort. Pets often require general anesthetic and a throat scope for the grass awns to be removed, and 7 – 14 days of home care depending on severity.

If your pet becomes sick after ingesting grass be sure to call Chestermere Veterinary Clinic at 403-272-3573 and have your pet seen by a Doctor.

If you are concerned your pet may not be getting enough fibre in their diet, ask the team at Chestermere Veterinary Clinic about foods with more fibre that you can feed your pet.

If you suspect boredom may be the source of your pets grass eating activities, try to make the backyard more exciting with hidden toys or treats, or go out into the yard with them and have some fun!

Should you have any questions call Chestermere Veterinary Clinic at 403-272-3573, or visit us at http://www.chestermerevet.com.

Camping With Pets

Tent – check!
Sleeping Bags – check!
Cooler – check!
Kids & Pets – check!

As nice as it would be to pack up the car and hit the road, here are some things to consider before heading out with your furry friends…

Ensure your pet’s vaccines are up to date and consider parasite prevention, especially if your pet likes to hunt or eat animal feces. Tick protection is also a good idea if your pets will be hiking with you. Talk to your veterinarian to determine which parasite prevention suits your pets needs best.

Slowly introduce your pet to the campground. Bring their own blankets, food and water bowls and toys to make them more comfortable. Ensure your pet has a clean dry place to sleep and fresh drinking water. Be sure to remove any uneaten food to prevent wildlife visitors!

Also make sure you always have ample water for your pet, they too can become dehydrated just like us, especially if having an active day out in the heat. If hiking, remember to bring a water bottle and bowl for your pet to drink out of. Collapsible and disposable bowls are great for hiking as they take up very little space in a pack. Alternatively, pet water bottles that have a special drinking spout can be purchased so that a bowl is not necessary.

When you can’t directly supervise your pet, have a leash or chain in a shaded area for them. If you have a dog that may become aggressive, consider putting up a sign to warn other campers to keep their distance.

One of the most important things when taking your pet to a strange new place is identification. A tattoo or microchip can help a lost pet find its way home. ID tags can be purchased at most pet stores including temporary ones that allow you to write information directly on a paper insert that slides into a protective tag. Make a temporary name tag with your campsite number on it in case your pet explores without you!

Pets can have a fun weekend camping with no injuries or illnesses, especially if you are prepared. Do your research ahead of time to find a veterinary clinic nearby so you can save time if an emergency situation arises.

Remember to keep your pet away from campfires and cook-stoves, and consider a life-jacket for your pet if you are spending time on a boat or near water. Don’t forget to have a stocked pet first aid kit on hand – just in case!

Happy Camping!

Collapsible bowls, pet water bottles, pet life-jackets and pet first aid kits can all be ordered through Chestermere Veterinary Clinic, call us at 403-272-3573, send a message to chestvet@telus.net or visit us at http://www.chestermerevet.com!

Healthy Snacks for Pets

We all love to shower our pets with love and spoil them with tasty treats, but did you know that just a few of their favorite high calorie treats can really spoil their diet? Some of the most loved treats include bacon, cheese, and hot dogs, and these treats can really cause a pet’s waist to expand! Fat and sugar is also loaded into many packaged treats you can buy at the store. Obesity in pets is on the rise and along with it comes increased rates of arthritis, heart disease and cancer.

So next time you want to give your pet a tasty treat, consider some of these healthier lower calorie options instead:

Raw Vegetables (or your pet may prefer them cooked, just make sure you do not add any salt or butter!)
– baby carrots
– green beans
– yam
– celery
– pumpkin (remove seeds)
– zuchinni

Dried meat strips are a good option for store bought treats, check the ingredient list and make sure there is no added sugar or salt.

A great idea for summer time is freezing small chunks of fruit into ice cubes and giving to your pet outside to munch on. Safe fruits include:
– apple (remove seeds)
– kiwi
– watermelon (remove seeds)
– strawberries
– banana

You can also hide these foods inside of a rubber kong toy!

If your pet is struggling with a weight issue, be sure to talk to the team at Chestermere Veterinary Clinic at 403-272-3573, chestvet@telus.net (or visit us at http://www.chestermerevet.com), so we can help you start your pet on a weight loss program.

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Sources:
Kam, Katherine. “Healthy Dog Treats: Natural, Organic, and Other Treats to Help Keep Dogs Fit.” Web MD Healthy Dogs Guide 2012. Web June 15, 2013. http://pets.webmd.com/dogs/guide/healthy-dog-treats

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