Limited Ingredient Diets For Pets

Limited ingredient diets have become more popular in recent years with regards to dogs and cats who have allergies and have issues with digestion, skin or eye irritations. Pet foods themselves are most likely to blame for ingredient allergies, but if left undiagnosed they can cause your pet extreme irritation, infections and hair loss from scratching. In extreme cases, food allergies can be quite dangerous and unhealthy for your pet. This is the main reason that we suggest avoiding cheap dog and cat food in all cases, and moving to more limited ingredient diets in cases where a food allergy has been found.

Food allergies in pets are usually diagnosed after the pet has either had a change in food and developed issues with skin or itching, or animals who have shown poor health for quite a long time and who have never been diagnosed with potential allergies to food. In many cases, the per food is the last thing that people consider, first attempting to self-diagnose the issues by bathing the animal more, avoiding certain areas or plants, or eliminating human treats. Many animals will continue to suffer even after the pet parent has tried multiple attempts at finding out what is causing the itching or poor health, only to find out later that their pet is actually allergic to an ingredient in their food.

Pets will usually have only limited choices with regards to food, consisting of what the parent feeds them. This will most likely be a dry or wet version of dog or cat food, and the assumption that all pet foods are created equal and provide all of the necessary dietary elements that an animal needs to thrive is not true. Many cheap pet foods are made with fillers and organ meat that is left over after human cuts have been produced. This poor quality meat is then mixed with filler agents like ground up bone and cartilage, old vegetables and chemicals. Your pet can be allergic to any one of these elements, and even in pet foods that are considered higher quality they still can be allergic to a specific ingredient. This is the point when your veterinarian will generally start to experiment with putting your pet on a more limited ingredient diet of specialty food, attempting to find the source of the allergy by eliminating the commonly known ingredients that cause allergies in some pets. The timeframes with regard to diagnosing food allergies is usually long, as the food must be administered gradually and over time so as not to upset the pet’s system with quick dietary changes, and then the results are observed over more time to look for improvements to health. If one limited ingredient food is found to not produce better health, it will then be the choice to try another food until a good result is found. The ultimate goal is to provide a complete nutritional scope to the animal while eliminating ingredients that they may be allergic to.

If you believe your pet may be food allergic, ask your veterinarian for suggestions on limited ingredient diets.

Separation Anxiety In Dogs

One of the more difficult conditions to deal with in many dogs is separation anxiety. This is exhibited by the dog acting out when they are not round humans or other dogs, and are left alone for periods of time. Typical separation anxiety behaviors will include incessant barking and howling, scratching doors and windows, destroying furniture and bedding or urinating on carpets. The dog will probably only act this way when left alone, and training is necessary, combined with exercise, to break the habits.

Dogs that act out when they are left alone will generally have learned this behavior from the times when they were puppies. When they are first brought to a new home, it is probably the first time they have ever been away from their pack and naturally they are feeling stressed out by a new and unfamiliar environment. Our first reaction to attempt to help the new puppy cope with being alone for the first time in their lives is to shower them with attention, and to socialize them as much as possible. Sooner or later this same animal is going to have to be left alone, and the learned behaviors are going to come back. When the puppy cried or howled when left alone, you probably came back and showered them with attention because you feel bad that they were sad. What you have actually done is reinforce that if the puppy howls loud enough they will get attention. Even if you verbally reprimand them for acting out, they will probably view this as reinforcement that they will get attention if they act this way. In addition to this, a dog who is left unsupervised has nobody instructing them on what to do, and a lack of training in this environment allows the dog to make their own decisions, which are probably not the best ones. They will amuse themselves by destroying things or barking incessantly, which is not corrected on the spot and therefor is never taught to be wrong.

Exercise and training are the best way to deal with separation anxiety in dogs. Making sure that you walk them as often as possible, especially before you are going to leave them alone, will get rid of a lot of the pent up energy that becomes frustration when they are left alone. Making sure they are trained that the bad behaviors that they have been exhibiting when you are not around are actually not a way to get praise and attention is accomplished by not showering attention onto your dog the moment you walk into the house. Even though you want to say hello, the dog is assuming that their acting out has brought you back and causes them to get affection…it is the wrong lesson to teach. Leaving your dog alone in a crate for longer and longer periods of time after walking them will be the best way to train them to be alone. It is going to be a slow process, but eventually the dog will understand that he should remain calm while you are gone.

The difference between simulated and true separation anxiety in dogs

When left alone, many dogs will act out. They will begin barking or howling, destroy bedding and couches, whine and possibly urinate on carpets even though they are housebroken. When a dog is left alone it is stressful for them if they are not used to it, and when a puppy is first brought home it may be the very first time in their lives that they are separated from the pack they were born with, naturally causing stress. Our immediate reaction is to provide them with lots of attention and affection, socialize them with other dogs and play with them. However, this may actually be contributing to a problem later in life known as “simulated separation anxiety.” The difference between simulated separation anxiety and true separation anxiety is that simulated anxiety is a learned behavior brought about by incorrectly providing affection to dogs. One of the most common mistakes is to reward the dog with extra affection when you come home after being away for a while. This extra bit of affection over and above the normal amount reinforces that if the dog was howling and carrying on while you were gone, he is being rewarded for this behavior upon your return. His crying and acting out was a cry for attention, and if he receives that attention after performing this action for some time he then believes it is a reward. It has been noted that some dogs even interpret reprimanding as a reward due to the fact that they are given attention. The best method of dealing with simulated separation anxiety is continual reinforcement of rules and boundaries, as well as ongoing training. Gradually getting the dog used to being alone for longer and longer periods of time without affection or reinforcement of their behavior, as well as longer periods spent in a crate each day if you are crate training them.

True separation anxiety is actually a condition where the animal feels panic and depression when they are alone, leading to behaviors like howling, barking and destroying things. While many veterinarians will prescribe drugs in order to deal with the behaviors of these dogs, the drugs are not a solution and will only prolong the problem. A dog with separation anxiety must we worked with as regularly as possible, providing calm environments and further extending times spent in a crate or isolated area while you are gone. One of the major factors that comes into play with separation anxiety in dogs is exercise, and dogs who have not been tired out will tend to act out more when left alone. Once again, a combination of healthy diet, exercise and ongoing training from the time they are puppies is the best solution.

Separation anxiety in dogs can be stressful for both you and your pet, and the temporary solutions of drugging them to calm them down or isolating them in a locked room or crate without training them to be in that environment will have little chance of helping the dog deal with his anxiety. Ask your veterinarian about their suggestions on how to cope with this common issue.

Protecting Your Dog In Your Yard

shutterstock_144178672When you got your dog, you probably went through a process to enclose your yard as much as possible to keep your dog from running away. While this is certainly a positive thing to do, it is also important to monitor your yard for changes that could potentially result in harm to your pet. There are several things to specifically look for, but it is a good idea to walk around in your yard every few days looking for any changes that may have risks associated with them. Dogs are curious, and will interact with nearly everything in their environment, especially if they view it as in intruder into their space. Here are a few things to scan your yard for regularly:

1. New plants. Recently “The Rock” Johnson made news when he found that his French Bulldog had been poisoned and died. Upon scanning the area where his dog was allowed to run free, he found that his dog had eaten poisonous mushrooms which had grown. Animals cannot tell which types of plants are poisonous and which are not, and many times if they find a plant that was not there previously they will eat parts of it. Mushrooms are quite dangerous in that they grow quite quickly and have many poisonous variations. A mushroom can grow quite large in less than 48 hours, so when you scan your yard keep in mind to watch for strange growth of mushrooms in shaded areas. In addition to mushrooms, many plants have flowers and leaves which can be poisonous to dogs. When planting anything in the same space that your dog will occupy, always remember to research if it is poisonous to animals. Even though it may seem out of the ordinary that your dog would eat these plants for any reason, always assume that your dog will eat anything in the yard.

2. Fertilizer. When landscaping and gardening is being done, many times people will use fertilizer to strengthen their plants. Many of these fertilizers are poisonous to dogs and many can cause sever vomiting, seizures and other health problems. Dogs are quite attracted to the smell, and will many times go as far as to rip open sealed bags to eat the fertilizer. Always store fertilizers away from your dog’s reach, and water them into the ground after they are applied.

3. Insects. You may not see any insects in your yard while you are walking around, but they are there. Keep a close eye out for increasing activity from ants, wasps, scorpions, spiders and cockroaches. Always maintain a pest service that uses safe chemicals to reduce the insect population, and therefor reduce the amounts of dangerous insects that prey on these other insects. Also remember that insects will eat dog poop, so clean up after your dog as often as possible. It is nearly impossible to eliminate the insect population in your yard, but keeping down the things that attract them can help. If your dog is bitten or stung seek veterinary help immediately.

4. Signs of attempted escape. Your dog will attempt to escape, especially around mating times. Even if the yard is fenced, look for areas around fences where your dog may be showing interest or digging, as there is a good chance that they are targeting that area as a way out of the yard. If you notice signs of attempted escape, immediately create a barrier that the dog cannot get through, as they will continue to attempt to dig under or go over any fenced areas that they perceive as weak.

By keeping an eye on changes in your yard, you will be able to potentially head off unsafe elements before they become a problem. It is best to never have the situation occur by preventing it, instead of dealing with sickness or injury that could have been prevented.

Spay And Neuter Your Pets

We are all familiar with the discussion that happens so often with regards to owning an animal, and we see the television commercials and ads that always remind us that it is important to spay and neuter your pets, but there are far fewer people that actually understand why this is important.

Homeless Pets:

There are an estimated 10 million pets that will end up in shelters and pounds every year for a wide variety of reasons. Many of them are lost or have been abandoned, and some are homeless and were born on the streets. These animals are picked up by animal control or turned in to the shelters due to the fact that they are not able to be cared for in a loving home, however we must realize that they are being produced by animals that are generally members of a loving home. If a cat is left out at night and is not spayed or neutered, there is a good chance that this pet is seeking other cats to mate with, which produces more cats that do not have homes. If a dog manages to escape from a yard, as they often do when they are seeking a mate, they are attempting to produce more dogs. These animals will generally be born on the streets or potentially within the owner’s home, only to have the owner desperately seeking others to give the puppies or kittens to. When homes cannot be found they end up in shelters.

Healthy Pets:

In addition to the homelessness problem, many people are unaware that it has health benefits to your pet if they are spayed or neutered. Many types of cancers that are common in dogs and cancers can be reduced through spaying and neutering. Additionally, most injuries and losses occur when an animal escapes and roams. Their desire to escape and roam is generally increased when they want to mate or are in heat, which are both eliminated when the animal is fixed. If we reduce the animal’s urges to escape in order to find a mate, we significantly reduce their propensity to be hurt while they are outside the yard and loose on the streets.

Even though many people will delay spaying and neutering due to “feeling bad” or “taking away their manhood” it is important to understand that it is completely safe to spay and neuter your pet as young as 1 year old. The health benefits and reductions to the pet population are worth the effort it takes, and the feelings that you get about the procedure are not shared by your animal. They will not notice that they are spayed or neutered, nor will they be “changed” as a result of it. They will still be your loving pet who wants to take walks, spend time cuddling and enjoys your company. They will just be a little safer and healthier after the procedure. Do not delay and wait until something bad happens to spay and neuter your pets, make it part of their regular health care.

A New Type Of Animal Hospital

animal hospitalThere are many animal hospitals in Las Vegas, and many fine veterinarians working within those facilities. We strongly encourage you to choose the best facility that you can afford, which is convenient to your home as well as being a caring and knowledgeable facility that has your pet’s best interests in mind. Convenience to your home is very important in that if it is not convenient there is a good chance that you will not take your pets in to see the vet for regular checkups as much as if it were closer, so we encourage you to find the clinic that is not only convenient but that makes you feel the most comfortable that your pet is in good hands. As long as you are willing to drive a few extra miles, sometimes the better choice may be a little less convenient, but in the end choosing the veterinarian that you will make the regular visits to is key. We are a different and new type of animal hospital in Las Vegas, in that our clinic was built on the philosophy of keeping your pet healthy, instead of just treating them when they are sick. We feel this makes us a better choice for your pet, even if it is a little less convenient for you.

Most veterinarians are in the business of treating sick or injured animals, or preventing major diseases through vaccinations or dental cleanings. At Pet Health Hospital, we believe that the practice of medicine goes beyond that point, to a place where we believe that if we an prevent an illness and will make less money from a customer in the process, we want to prevent that illness. Too many animals are put down or given up for adoption each year due to the fact that the owners either cannot or will not pay the high prices associated with treatments and surgeries when the animal is sick, and nothing is worse than knowing that an inexpensive treatment or checkup could have prevented that illness. We built our practice with this in mind, that the ongoing maintenance procedures that guard against the known illnesses of individual breeds of animals should be the first though with regards to medicine, and the treating of the illness should be the second. If there is a way to prevent the illness from happening in the first place, we believe that pet owners should understand how to do it and be presented with the ability to perform the low cost procedures that might be able to prevent the high cost ones that force decisions that nobody wants to make. We practice “wellness care” in the same way that it is practiced for human beings, and we believe that animals can benefit from being healthy the same way people do.

If you are seeking a veterinarian or animal hospital in Las Vegas, come by our facility and ask to be given a tour. We would be happy to discuss with you how we can help your pet lead a healthier and happier life, free of injury and disease. We will take the time to tell you why we are different, and why we feel we are the best.

Make Sure Your Pets Are Safe If You Are Hurt

Many people do not think about how much their pets rely on them every day. If you think about it, they are completely reliant upon you to provide them with food, water, shelter and all of the aspects of life that happen on a daily basis. While this is never a concern for most pet parents who take great joy in caring for their animals, even the best and most concerned pet parent will many times forget to take precautions in case anything was to happen to them. Most people do not think about what would happen if they were injured or died, and even though you take great care to spell out instructions about family members in those cases, people forget about their pets.

If you were injured in an accident and were unconscious in the hospital, is there someone who would be notified that you have pets in your home that need food and water? This simple thought eludes many people, as they assume the police would take the time to figure it out. This is not the case, and if you live alone and do not have any close relatives who would know that you have pets, it could be days or weeks that your animal has no food or water before anyone figured it out. If you are hospitalized, the procedures are to figure out your best care, and there is nobody in place who has the job of coming to your home to find out if you have pets that need care. In cases where people cannot communicate or are unconscious, there is no way of conveying this information to someone. This is why it is always suggested to keep a card or note in your wallet or purse along with your identification and insurance information that states how many pets you have and where they are located. It is also a good idea to inform neighbors that you would be putting them onto the information card as a contact who can be called to care for the pets in the house, as neighbors are not on a contact list for people who are injured, and hospital staff can usually not be bothered to leave their duties to travel to your home. Specify a neighbor’s contact information and give them permission to be contacted and enter your home to care for your pets if you cannot.

In the unfortunate circumstance of you dying, who will care for your pets? Shelters are filled with animals whose owners have passed away and the next of kin does not want to care for the pet. It is always a good idea to specify in a will or other document where your pet is to go in the circumstance of your death. Contact your friends and relatives to ask them if they would be comfortable caring for your pet if you were to die, and if they are not then contact someone else. Precautions must be taken because there are no services in place to track down those who would want your pets if you do not specify. If you were to die without making arrangements, your pets will end up at the local shelter.

Some simple precautions on the parts of pet parents can make your pet’s lives more bearable if something was to happen to you, just like the case with human beings. Take a few minutes and create a contact card for your wallet or purse, and make a few phone calls to see if your friends or neighbors would take your pets if something happens to you. You can be a good pet parent even if you are not able to be with them directly, it only takes a few minutes.

Changing Weather In Las Vegas

shutterstock_142135174Anyone who has lived in Las Vegas for more than a year realizes that the weather changes pretty dramatically and pretty quickly here, and with the first day of fall now officially over, we can expect the change to colder temperatures to be happening over the next few weeks. While this break from the heat of the Las Vegas summers is welcome for most residents, we must take into consideration how this change of weather effects our pets, and what we must do to keep them safe and healthy. In Las Vegas, it is never suggested to keep your pets outside for extended periods of time during any part of the year, but what we will observe many times is pet owners feeling that it is safe to keep their pets outside of the safety of their home for longer periods of time as the weather cools off. While the imminent threat of heat may not be as obvious as it once was a few months ago, it is important to remember that your pets are still exposed to the elements during the cooler months as well, and while we do not have much for snow in Las Vegas, we do get freezing temperatures that can be quite detrimental to your pet’s health.

Cooler weather in Las Vegas also brings about the additional concerns of predatory animals who find their food sources getting scarce as winter sets in. Combined with the leaving pets outdoors for longer periods of time becomes problematic as you are exposing them to possible interactions with wolves, coyotes and large birds who are venturing closer to your home as their regular food supplies begin to dwindle. Typically, predatory animals are opportunistic and will avoid residential areas unless they are forced to seek food closer to humans, but it is always a good idea to realize that these types of animals look at small pets as food sources,a and will attack them if given the opportunity. In this regard, the best way to keep your pets safe is to keep them indoors when you are not supervising them.

Another concern is water when animals are left outside for longer periods. Although water that is left outside for your pets may last longer without drying up in the cooler weather than during our summers, animals will still need access to fresh water every day even if it is not hot outside. When people find that they can leave their pets unattended for longer periods, many times they forget about the ongoing needs of the animals simply because it is not a constant reminder. When your pet is outside they are essentially on their own, yet confined into an area where they cannot seek water from any other source other than you.

Insects are another issue with leaving your dog outside in cooler weather. Your pet is curious, and will potentially be bitten, stung or infected by any one of the hundreds of different types of insects in your yard. Just because you do not see them does not mean that your pet will not find them when exploring your yard. Take precautions and always be on the lookout for insect bites or stings on your pet. If they encounter an insect and are stung, get them to a veterinarian immediately.

The cooler weather in Las Vegas is a welcomed break that can allow you to spend more time with your pets outside walking, playing and relaxing. Keep aware of your surroundings and remember that your pet needs you.

Pain Management In Pets

Pain management in pets is one of the more difficult aspects of veterinary science, due to the fact that animals will typically hid their pain as much as possible due to their natural instincts to appear healthy.  Due to the fact that they will show as few telltale signs that they are in pain as possible, we cannot know for certain that the drugs, treatments and therapies are working without noting the small behavioral changes that would show improvement when compared to the past.  In animals who are elderly are in a weakened condition already, it can be very difficult to notice the differences without careful observation.  In cases of chronic arthritis where the animal may have been struggling with pain for years and may be lethargic and slow moving naturally, the expectations of seeing the animal running and playing would probably never happen, so the determinations of if the pain management program is working or needing to be modified is reliant on far more subtle observations.  While there are many different approaches to pain management and hundreds of possible combinations of drugs, surgeries and therapies, coming the the correct mix for your particular animal is probably going to be a process of educated trial and error until the animal appears happier and healthier.  There are no x-rays that actually show pain, they only show the makeup of the bones, joints and internal organs that can cause the pain.

Most pain management programs in pets come about as a result of the pet parent noticing changes in their pet’s behavior.  Where they used to run and play, they are now beginning to lay still and sleep more.  Other potential signals that an animal is in pain is excessive panting, avoidance of touch,licking their feet or body parts, whining and limping.  If you are noticing changes in your pet that involve any of the symptoms that are discussed above, or potentially any other changes to your pet’s behavior, it is probably time to speak to your veterinarian about pain management.  The first step will be a thorough examination of your pet to see if the source of the potential pain can be pinpointed.  In many cases, x-rays can show areas where bones may be rubbing together, nerves may be pinched and arthritis is progressing.  Once these kinds of determining factors are explored, the next step is to begin to consider the options to see if the pain might be able to be relieved surgically or through therapy, or if there is no alternative except ongoing managing of the pain.  When the options of eliminating the sources of pain are exhausted, the next logical step is to attempt to reduce the amount of pain that is being endured.  This is where pain management in pets becomes a series of decisions based upon how severe the pain is, the quality of life of the animal, and the ability of the pet parent to bear the financial responsibility of the drugs and therapies.

The most common form of pain management in pets is treating older animals who suffer from arthritis.  Just like human beings, over time the body does not function as well as it did when younger, and the lack of adequate padding between bones causes them to rub together and cause damage.  In other cases, arthritis or degenerative joint disease causes inflammation of the joints which leads to ongoing, localized pain.  In cases like these, the treatments are much the same in pets as in humans, combining a diet that assists in keeping bones and joints healthy and supplemental drugs which will reduce inflammation and pain.  In cases of arthritis in pets, many times the pain management process will involve a combination of anti-inflammatory drugs like Rimadyl and pain reducers like Tramadol, which is the generic name for analgesic drugs like Ultram, Tramal and Zydol.  Rimadyl must not be used in larger portions than are prescribed by your veterinarian due to potential complications like liver damage that can result from over-use.  Narcotic-like drugs that reduce moderate to severe pain can be used in larger percentages to body weight (generally .45 to 1.8 milligrams per pound of body weight every 8 to 12 hours for Tramadol,) which is why in many cases pet owners will find that they quickly hit the limits that Rimadyl can be safely used within, and the next step in attempting to relieve pain is the increasing of the dosages of the drugs like Tramadol.  The veterinarian will usually experiment with dosages over time, asking the pet owner to watch for signs of improvement and adjusting the medications dosages until the correct balance is achieved that keeps the animal as pain-free as possible.  It can be expected that this process will take a few visits discussing the animal’s demeanor with the veterinarian.  Side effects of narcotic drugs like Tramadol can include tiredness, difficulty breathing, loss of appetite, constipation, diarrhea and vomiting.  Overdosing on any drug should result in an immediate visit to an emergency veterinary center, as it can cause the pet’s lungs and heart to stop functioning.

The last option must be considered if the animal cannot find relief from the options that are available.  If the quality of life of the pet is compromised and there are no options left that effectively manage the pain, euthanasia is a consideration.  While no pet parent wants to consider this option, in many cases there are no other options that can assist the animal and the pet suffers needlessly.  This decision is an extremely difficult one that must be made with careful consideration from both the pet owner and veterinarian.

Keeping your pet as happy and pain free in their senior years is a challenge, and the options for pain management that are at the disposal of pet parents have a very large range, many times now extending into treatments that were once only considered for humans.  Acupuncture, massage and alternative medicine has become popular in the past decade for animals, as have therapy centers where  everything from physical rehabilitation to water therapy programs can potentially provide results that were not possible before. Pain relieving surgeries that were once thought of as “only for humans” are also available through specialized centers.  All in all, there are many potential pain relieving options at your disposal, and either your veterinarian or a specialist recommended by your veterinarian can help your pet to live out their older age comfortably.

What Happens During My Pet’s Exam?

Pet ProgramsWhen a veterinarian examines your pet for a routine checkup, they are looking at your animal’s vital signs, possibly taking blood samples for testing against known potential health risks, looking for signs of disease or infection, and generally taking into account any changes that can be noticed since the last time they were seen.  Weight loss and attitude changes in the pet are some of the telltale signs that something might be wrong, and at the visit the veterinarian is looking for signals that there may be something wrong that can be treated.  Many times, the pet itself will not give any physical signs of illness, and not yelp, or cry during their daily activities.  This is due to the fact that animals will hide their illnesses or injuries through instinct, as in the wild an animal that is sick or injured is easy prey for predators.  You pet is a patient that is not willing to give many signs of illness, so it is the job of the veterinarian to use the knowledge of physical signals to diagnose illnesses or injuries even if you or I would not see them.

During the examination, the veterinarian may do additional procedures to get a better understanding of what is happening inside of the pet’s body.  This is usually the case if the veterinarian finds some area of concern and wants to get a better look.  This will generally involve x-rays or bloodwork.  An x-ray will allow the doctor to see inside the pet’s body, giving them the ability to see the shape, size and position of bones and internal organs.  The doctor will be able to get a sense as far as things like enlarged organs or arthritis inside of your pet that could need treatment.  In addition to x-rays, bloodwork will allow the veterinarian to get a sense of the chemistry of your pet’s body, and look for specific deficiencies or diseases that can be seen through elevations or low counts of specific chemical bodies in the blood.  Things like diabetes and cancer can help to be diagnosed through bloodwork.

In addition to typical veterinary exams, Pet Health Hospital also utilizes a system of “pet wellness” tests, which compare your pet’s health status, breed and age to other known cases.  What this does is gives the veterinarian a baseline of known characteristics of good health in a pet like yours, and also pinpoints specific potential health issues that are known to exist in pet’s like yours.  Each breed and type of pet has specific issues that we have learned effect them, and by looking for the specific signs that we know exist for that type of issue we can potentially identify it earlier and provide more effective treatments.  Combining preemptive analysis of the pet’s health with vaccinations and regular maintenance procedures, we find that we can help pets live longer and healthier lives by avoiding known conditions that lead to expensive surgeries and treatments.  This is what makes Pet Health Hospital so special, and why we hop that you choose us for your veterinary services.